I’ll never forget it. I was a boy. An old man visited our house. He was a friend of our family, though I don’t remember how.
“I knew your daddy before he died,” the man told me.
I can hardly remember that man. All I can remember are the colorful socks he wore. They were bright-colored, with pictures of dogs on them.
Before he left, he handed me a book. It was a hardback, entitled: “Kathy Sue Loudermilk, I Love You: A Good Beer Joint is Hard to Find, and Other Facts of Life.”
I read the first page. The words sort of jumped off the page and made me smile.
It’s funny what a few words can do to a boy.
I read the book of humor columns in one sitting. Then, I read it again. The next week, I went to the library and found every book the columnist ever wrote.
I’ve loved him ever since.
After my father’s death,
we lived in Atlanta, briefly, in the upstairs bedroom of my uncle’s house. In the mornings, I would trot to the end of the driveway to retrieve the newspaper before Fifi the Terrorist Pomeranian made her morning rounds.
Often, I would unfold the paper and read my favorite columnist, there in the driveway. Then, I would use scissors to cut out the column for a keepsake.
In the evenings, when my uncle would shake open his paper after a long day at the office, there would be a large hole on page A4. And he would cuss.
I loved everything the columnist wrote, and I read almost every one of his words.
When he wrote about his father, I cried. When he wrote about his dog, I laughed. When he wrote about traveling backroads, I knew what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.…