I remember handing out some advice to a young friend who was thinking about getting married. Back in those good ole days, the advice I was so free to hand out was worth exactly what my lovesick friend paid for it ... nothing, nada, zip, nothing. But to me, I thought it was priceless.
Here, in a nutshell, is what I told the ole boy: before you marry this lovely young thing, check out her mama — more than once — because it's very likely that her daughter (your future bride) is more than likely going to be the spitting image of her mama.
I told the future bridegroom that when I found myself getting the least bit serious about a girlfriend I would instantly turn into a "pot sniffer." Now, before you get the wrong idea of what a pot sniffer is all about, let me explain.
Say your girlfriend's family invites you to their house for dinner.
Make sure you arrive early to give yourself a little time alone in the kitchen with the mama. While making small talk, you make your way over to the stove, and lift the lids of a couple of the pots on the stove ... taking a good whiff of whatever is cooking. This is the point in the process where you immediately start singing the praises of mama's cooking. For instance, you should say something like "that's got to be the best smelling pig's feet I've ever come across." You might try channeling your best Andy of Mayberry along the way! It's a win-win situation.
By the way, if she were really cooking pig's feet you might want to re-think any nuptials plans — unless your sweetie is loaded ... I'm talking cash — not Jack Daniels. And if she starts talking about how good her pickled pig's feet are, then it doesn't matter how much money she's got, take the next train to Clarksville.
Getting back to the real world for a moment, about fifty percent of our conversation so far today is fiction. I'll let you figure out which is which.
But now to a truthful subject that breaks one of my long held rules ... don't talk about politics during our weekly conversations. One of my long-time Republican friends got into politics a little later than many politicians. His name is Terry Everett. He was elected to the 2nd District of the U.S. House of Representatives in the 1992 general election. He beat out the Democrat in the race, George Wallace, Jr.
I met Terry though his lovely wife, Barbara, who worked as an optical technician for my Dad in Dothan in the early '60s.(Terry definitely out-kicked his coverage when it came to Barbara). Before getting into politics, Terry was the owner and publisher of a number of small-town newspapers in the southern half of the state.
He told me a classic story about his relationship with then-president Bill Clinton.
The summer before his being elected for the first time, he was at a newspaper convention out in Little Rock, Arkansas. He remembers talking with a fellow newspaperman when the two of them were approached by then-Governor Bill Clinton. They introduced themselves to Clinton and he returned the favor. "Are you fellows out here for the newspaper convention?" Clinton asked. Terry and his friend said they were. After a very brief conversation, Clinton excused himself saying he was about to address the convention.
Fast forward to Terry's first White House Christmas gala in December 1993. He and Barbara were going through the reception line as President Clinton was greeting the members of Congress. When it was Terry's turn, he began to say his name, when the President interrupted saying, "I know you — you're Terry Everett. I met you in Little Rock when you were at a newspaper convention." Terry said the White House may have briefed the President, or had someone telling him who all the guests were as they approached the Clintons ... but he said the aides certainly did not know about that brief meeting at the convention in Arkansas nearly 18 months earlier.
While they were nearly always on opposite sides, politically, Terry never forgot that chance encounter between a small-town newspaper owner and the President.
And if they had been in a kitchen in Alabama instead of a White House function in Washington, chances are good both the President and my old friend Terry both would have remembered what was cooking in the pots on the stove.