PENNSYLVANIA—There are three men sitting on a bench outside my hotel. They are wearing crimson jackets with giant University of Alabama logos on the backs.

I am in a remote community in Pennsylvania, not far from the New York line. A rural hamlet with sprawling fields, rolling hillsides, and breathtaking single-wide trailers with Chevy Camaros on blocks in the driveways.

In these parts, you do not see many Alabama Crimson Tide sympathizers.

I approach the men. They notice the University of Alabama ball cap I am wearing. When we see each other we are all smiles. We are complete strangers but it doesn’t feel like it.

“Roll Tide,” they say.

“Roll Tide,” I say.

“Roll Tide,” my wife says.

“Roll Tide,” their wives say.

“Roll Tide,” says their teenage son.

I know it seems odd that complete strangers would shake hands and chant a football related battle cry for a greeting. But you’re missing the point. What we’re really saying is “I love you.”

“Our dad lives up here,” says one man. “We always come up to

see him because this is the best time of year to see Pennsylvania. The fall colors are awesome.”

The fall colors in this place are no joke. Where I live in the Florida Panhandle, we have two colors. Green and greenish-green. Unless there is a forest fire.

But Pennsylvania has a wide scope of color. The rolling golden farmland is cut with the distant flame-red leaves of an autumn-colored Appalachia. There are old barns, grain silos, and withered cornfields. To say it’s beautiful would be selling it short. This is pure America.

Earlier today we got stuck behind an Amish buggy on the highway. That was a real treat. A young man and young woman were in the carriage together. She was bird-skinny. He had the faintest hint of an Abraham-Lincoln beard. I waved at them. They scowled at me.

Next, I saw…

We get to the subject of Coca-Cola, which is pronounced “Ko-KOLA” by anyone who loves the Lord.

BUFFALO—A grocery store. I am at the deli counter looking for something to eat. We have been driving through Upstate New York countryside since this morning and I am hungry. If I could just secure a ham sandwich, I’d be in business.

The deli has fresh baked ham. Still hot. They offer samples.

“May I have a sample of that ham?” I ask the woman at the counter.

“Huh?” she says.

So I repeat myself.

She smiles. “Say it one more time.”

So I do.

Then she calls her coworker over. “Eugene,” she says. “You gotta hear how this guy talks.” Then she tells me, “Say ‘ham’ one more time.”

I’m waiting for a please in there somewhere.

“Go ahead,” she insists.

I clear my throat.


Eugene enjoys this very much. Apparently, I am a real knee-slapper.

“Teach me how to say it with two syllables like that,” says Eugene.

“Well, it’s very simple,” I say. “And I don’t mind teaching you, but first I’m gonna need a free sample of that hay-um.”

We get along famously. It’s great. They give me all the free

ham I can stand. Then they point to objects in the store and ask me to name them. Among the words they ask me to say are: shopping cart (pronounced “buggy”), pen (“pee-yin”), chair (“chay-er”), fire (“fie-yer”), and chest of drawers (“that thar chifferobe”).

We get to the subject of Coca-Cola, which is pronounced “Ko-KOLA” by anyone who loves the Lord.

“I’ve never heard it said that way,” says Eugene. “We just say ‘pop.’ What would you say when you order pop at a restaurant?”

We wouldn’t. We would order sweet tea.

“But what if they don’t have tea?” he says. “Then what would you order?”

If a restaurant does not have sweet tea, we would ask to speak to the manager, reason with him or her, then set fire to the establishment. After…

BRADFORD—I am doing a show in a small Pennsylvania town in an old theater. We are recording our 100th podcast. I have never been this far north in my life. It was so cold when we flew into New York that I saw Lady Liberty place her torch inside her dress.

There is a band playing. And I am playing music, too. And this is ironic because—not that you care about this—I was once rejected from a major university where I once hoped to study music.

It’s sort of a long story, but I feel like telling it.

It all starts with a guitar. A cheap guitar. Much like the kind I am playing tonight. I began playing when I was a child. I was god-awful. But I practiced a lot.

I tried to teach myself, though I had no idea what I was doing. I tried strumming, plucking, picking, patting, flicking, smacking, etc. Anything to get a sound out of the thing. Finally, my uncle was kind enough to put strings

on the guitar. That made all the difference in the world.

So music was important to me. I started playing piano at age nine. And I loved all music. I enjoyed the country music that my grandfather’s generation two-stepped to. Jimmie Rodgers, Hank Williams, Ernest Tubb, and Lefty Frizzell.

I like other music, too. Namely, old-time jazz. When I was a young man, I was obsessed with jazz. I taught myself to play “Laura” on the piano, and “Satin Doll,” and “Georgia On My Mind.” These songs were important to me.

I also liked classical music to some degree. I’ll never forget when I was in community college. I was a grown man who felt out of place being surrounded by so many teenagers. I felt sort of stupid, actually.

I was on my way to an ethics class when I heard singing from a nearby classroom. I…

I am sitting with hundreds of people whose mothers never taught them to talk with inside voices. Like the two women behind me.

NEW YORK—LaGuardia Airport is located in the Queens borough of New York, smack dab in the Fifth Circle of Hell.

The airport is big, rundown, covered in bubblegum wads, and full of angry people who are waiting for delayed flights. I am told that LaGuardia always has thousands of delayed flights.

In fact, three quarters of New York’s population is comprised of airline passengers, most from the Midwest, who have been waiting for a flight home since 1940. They are sleeping atop their luggage, huddled in various corners, living on breath mints.

I am sitting with hundreds of them. Most of these are people whose mothers never taught them to speak with inside voices. Like the two women behind me.

One woman says loudly, “Have you ever seen that one movie with, oh… What’s his name?”

“What movie?” says the other.

“It has that movie star… Oh, what’s that movie? He was real funny.”

“Chevy Chase?”

“No, not Chevy Chase.”

“I love Chevy Chase.”

“I don’t remember the name of the movie.”

“Look it up on your phone.”

“My phone’s dead.”

“Why don’t you charge it?”

“I forgot my charger.”

“Are you sure it wasn’t Chevy Chase?”

“No. It wasn’t Chevy Chase.”

“Chevy Chase was in a lot of movies.”

“I’d remember if it was Chevy Chase.”

“I like Chevy Chase.”

“I wonder what ever happened to him?”

“Who? Chevy Chase? He’s still going at it.”

“Chevy Chase is?”

“Chevy Chase won’t quit.”


“Did I ever tell you about my hysterectomy?”

Sweet Jesus.

Beside me are boys playing games on smartphones. They barely speak. They are not even in this world. Their heads are craned forward. They are staring at bright screens.

Every few minutes one shouts something like, “HAHA! I JUST DECAPITATED YOU!”







Maybe I should be concerned about America’s youth. But of course these…

When my speech was done, the last thing I wanted was to eat lobster with the Royal Family...

I am at a bar. It’s loud. There is live music. And cheeseburgers. I missed dinner tonight because I was making a speech at a dinner banquet. Which is ironic when you think about it.

Everyone at this big banquet was eating hors d’oeuvres, sipping expensive chardonnay, and chowing down on Maine lobsters the size of baby grand pianos.

I could hardly keep my mind on my speech because the ballroom was full of people in tuxedos, all wearing little plastic bibs, making a chorus of slurping, sucking, licking sounds.

A woman at the head table who looked like Queen Elizabeth II was wearing a bib. She kept asking me, “Now, how exactly were you invited to this dinner again?”

Each time I answered, she would get this far-away look in her eyes and start sucking meat from a lobster leg like a baby Wolverine.

So I felt out of place. I felt even worse when the waiter informed me that the bar didn’t stock Natural Light.

Pretty soon, Queen Elizabeth forgot all about me. Butter sauce

dripped down her chin, all over her bib. She would lick her hands violently when she didn’t think anyone was watching. And I don’t mean just her fingers. This woman was actually licking her forearms and her tennis bracelet.

When my speech was done, the last thing I wanted was to stick around and eat lobster with the Royal Family, so I found a beer joint that was open late. Which is where I am now.

It’s a dump, and there are lots of people here. There’s a guy playing guitar. He plays a rendition of “Brown Eyed Girl” and sings in a voice that is faintly reminiscent of the late Daffy Duck.

The lady bartender gives me a menu and asks, “What’re you so dressed up for?”

“I was just at a banquet.”

“Wow. Fancy pants.”

“You shoulda seen them eat lobster.”

After I gave a short speech, I took questions. I was met with more unmoving faces.

Today I was invited to Auburn University Montgomery. Professor Juanita Barrett asked me to speak to her English composition classes.

When the morning bell rang, I was ready. I even dressed like a legitimate adjunct college professor. By which I mean that I wore a T-shirt, jeans, I removed all money from my wallet, and applied for food stamps.

Before I got to class, something happened. A kid saw me standing outside the English building and said, “HEY! I RECOGNIZE YOU! YOU’RE FAMOUS! CAN I GET MY PICTURE WITH YOU?!”

So we posed for a selfie. Then three more kids wanted pictures, too. It was great. And I started to feel warm all over. It’s not every day teenagers give you this kind of compliment.

Then the kids shouted to their buddies, “COME QUICK! IT’S THE GUY FROM THE MOVIE ‘THE HANGOVER!’”

Well, I get this sometimes. People occasionally mistake me for a famous actor from “The Hangover.” A movie star who has the misfortune of looking like me. His last name is

hard to pronounce. I just looked it up on Wikipedia. His name is Zack Galifasgoswsssswer333oiaks.

So giving lectures was fun. The first thing I discovered about college kids is that they do not move their faces. Not even a little.

I don’t like to make generalizations, but this one is true of every teenager ever born in America since the dawn of civilization. They suffer from a condition called Chronic Facial Paralysis.

This is your college kid’s typical demeanor. They practice this stiff-faced glare in the mirror before each class by not moving a single cheek muscle for hours on end. It’s an expression which lies somewhere between moderately annoyed, and severely constipated.

After I gave a short speech, I took questions. I was met with more unmoving faces. The kids had a difficult time coming up with actual questions. So what ended up happening was, one…

These are just a few things our mothers taught us...

Be nice. Eat your vegetables. Arrive early for appointments. Use the word ma’am often. And never, EVER, unless you want to wake up strapped to the roof of your family’s Ford station wagon, leave the toilet seat up.

These are just a few things our mothers taught us, along with many others. But I am starting to think these outdated ideas don’t matter to younger generations.

One of the cardinal rules of my boyhood was to open doors for females. This was such a big deal that whenever my buddy Gary and I were in public and noticed a female approaching a door, we would race to see who could open the door first. Gary had longer legs, so he definitely had the advantage speed-wise.

I remember one time when he raced to hold the door for a beautiful young woman. She batted her eyelashes at Gary while he was trying to catch his breath.

That’s when I appeared out of the blue and said, “Gary! The doctor said you shouldn't be running

after your colonoscopy! Just look at what you’ve done to your pants!”

Whereupon Gary chased me for six miles.

Our mothers taught us to be polite. To listen more than we talk. To say please and thank you. To never take the last serving of ANYTHING.

Anyone who had a mother like mine doesn’t need clarification on that last sentence. Still, I’m going to explain it just in case a young person is still busy trying to Google colonoscopy.

Food. I am talking about food. Biscuits, deviled eggs, Swedish meatballs, muffins, or the last piece of casserole. If you take the last serving of any sort of food you will go straight to hell. Do not make any mistake about this.

I once knew a kid who took the last piece of cornbread at a family reunion. He was dragged into the backyard and beheaded with a…