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6:09 a.m. - 2001-03-31


My sister and her boyfriend are coming to visit today.

They live about three hours away in Macon, Georgia ... the armpit of Hell. There's two things to do in Macon ... stare at each other and ... well...I guess there's only one thing to do in Macon.

This is the sister that I really like. She's funny, has a great personality, tells great stories and is just fun to be around.

She's eight years younger than me, so growing up we didn't really click all that much.

I was the first one to ever make her smile. I was looking at her in her crib and making funny noises and she smiled. I called out for my mom and dad who came running in the room and I made her smile again.

Then she farted.

And subsequently ... quit smiling.

That's when I learned that babies smile when they're doing stuff in their diapers.

When she was about four years old, she came down with a muscle disorder that paralyzed the left side of her body, including her face.

When she'd smile, only the right side of her mouth would turn upward. The left side stayed paralyzed.

At the time, I was 12 and I cared about the whole thing, but I had no idea how devastating this was to my parents. As a parent now, I can only imagine the horror something like this brings with it.

One day, my sisters and I were playing in the front yard. Some neighbor kids showed up and one of the boys started making fun of Kristi, doing a half-smile and making grunting sounds.

I beat the living shit out of that kid. And I cried the entire time I did it. My mom had to come outside and pull me off of him. When I told her what he had done, Mom cried. I was crying. My sisters were crying.

Yeah. We were the big puss family on the block.

Miraculously ... the paralysis went away. For years we were all kinda on edge, wondering if it would ever come back, but it didn't. Doctors said it was just some temporary thing that lasted about a summer long.

She and I always got along well. And she got along with our other sister, which I didn't. I guess Kristi was the kid that got along with everyone.

She's got Obsessive Compulsive Disorder now, which cracks me up ... mainly because I don't understand it and think it's a crazy assed disease. It's not enough for her to blow out a candle at home and go somewhere ... she has to take the candle with her wherever she goes to make sure it doesn't reignite and burn her house down.

And God...don't get her started on if the Iron or stove is still on. She will check both of them a dozen times before leaving a house.

Personally, I don't think she's a big freak about it ... and her boyfriend suffers from it too ... so they're a match made in Obsessive Compulsive Heaven.

Other than that, she's normal and fun.

And I'm looking forward to seeing her again and showing off my perfect little baby to her.

I'm writing an unusual story for next week's paper.

There's a guy here in town who is a Buddhist. When it was time to renew his tags for his car, he decided he wanted a personalized vanity license plate for his car.

So he ordered one that said "KSN-RUFU", which is short for Kaisen Rufu, which is a Buddhist term that means "Shitloads of Enlightenment" or something like that. I'm not even exactly sure what the exact phrase is, I'd have to check my notes which are at the office and I'm not driving all the way to the office to confirm either the actual phrase or its translation.

Deal with it.

So anyway, he orders the tag and it's rejected by the guys who issue tags.


The letters "FU" at the end of the tag.

Those letters could be construed as "vulgar".


I make no bones about it...I live in one backward assed state.

But this is insane.

So the guy explains that it's a Buddhist term and it's not vulgar.

The Department of Stupidity doesn't want to hear such nonsense. It's vulgar to them and that's all that counts.

So this guy is PISSED. Pissed that he can't get his tag and pissed at the idiots at the Department of Ignorance who are shitting all over his religion.

So I say I'll do a story on the whole thing and expose the Department of Morons who have laid the smack down on this guy's license plate.

The drunken boss wants me to take it a step further.

"Go find some vanity tags that are vulgar," he says between belches and hiccups.

"Okay," I say, not really knowing how I'll do this, but knowing better than to argue with him when he's been drinking scotch for breakfast.

"If you see a tag with 'RA' on it, take a picture of that, because that could stand for 'Rat's Ass'," he cleverly points out.

I really wanted to just quit right there. I no longer wanted to have to admit that I work for a drunken imbecile.

But I didn't.

So I go to one of our local malls and drive through the parking lot slowly, taking pictures of any tags that could be misconstrued as vulgar.

There weren't any. I was looking for tags with "FU", "RA", "BS", "SOB"...anything.

I found nothing.

I did find one that said "LATRENA".

Which...I figured could be kinda vulgar. Because "LATRENA" is where Italian soldiers go to piss.

...In the "Latrine-ah".



(Uncle Bob wipes the tears of laughter from his cheeks, realizes he's the only one who found the joke remotely funny and continues his boring story).

So I go to the Walmart parking lot and find some tags that say "HE LIVS" and "BLESS 5".

Which ... celebrate Christianity. Which means it's okay for your tag to celebrate Christianity ... but not Buddhism.

Which is the route I think I'm going to steer this story on.

So anyway...I'm driving slowly through the Walmart parking lot, snapping photos, when I see a tag that says "MY HOOD". my eyes, that can be construed as celebrating gang life. Come on over to MY HOOD where I'll pop a cap in that ass of yours.

So I go to take a picture.

I didn't see the old man sitting in the car at the time who got out of the car while I was snapping the photo.

"What are you doing," he asked me.

I panicked.

"I'm Uncle Bob, I'm the editor for the local paper," I said. "We're doing a story on personalized license plates and I saw yours and was taking a picture of it."

"I don't want my license plate in no newspaper," he said.

"That's fine," I said. "I have so many already that I don't really need yours."

"I don't want my license plate in no newspaper," he reiterates, as if I didn't hear him the first time.

"That's fine," I said again. "I won't use it."

"I want that film," he says.

Now then.

Every other license plate that I had taken pictures of was on that film. I wasn't about to hand over a full roll of film for a story I was working on to this cranky old bastard.

So I said "Can't do that, I won't use your picture" and drove away.

That old man scared me.

Most old men do though.

I've gotta start cleaning house for my sis.

Don't forget to set your clocks ahead one hour tonight.

And check your batteries in your smoke alarms.

And check your dog for worms using your index finger.

Uncle Bob.

Over and out.

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