By Jack Cawthon 2006

A few days back, I called Bob Weaver, who holds some sort of executive management position at the Hur Herald, to report that our computer had blowed up, and that my column would be delayed for an undetermined time.

I was somewhat disappointed with the lack of disappointment in Bob's voice, as I had always modestly assumed that my column was of vital importance to the Herald's worldwide readership.

But I concluded that as Bob had once worked in a profession in which he had to handle grief and human misery on an almost daily basis, he had steeled his emotions to deal with it. I knew that inwardly he was torn by news of my no news.

I always enjoy talking with Bob, as we understand each other. Well, maybe not in regard to my writing, but dismissing my column, as many people do, we speak the same language stemming from roots in adjoining counties of Calhoun and Gilmer.

When I told Bob our computer had blowed up, he knew exactly what I meant. "Blowed up" is good hill talk, but it must be interpreted in context and inflexion. Drema Sue might remark to a friend that "My old man right nigh blowed up when he found out how much my dress cost." Burvil might refer to one of the vehicles up on blocks in his yard as, "That air Mustang got a good body, but the motor she's blowed up." And, in discussing the weather, Okey Hanshaw might observe, "That was a right smart helligan that blowed up last night."

This is all good homemade hill talk. While there is concern in some circles that Spanish might overtake English as our official language, my fear is not from this quarter, but from computer spew that will overload the system.

I am not about to state that our computer "crashed." How can an appliance that stands only a few inches tall on a solid base crash? And how does "boot up" a computer make sense? How about boot out the cussed thing? For a long time I couldn't understand how I had performed an "illegal operation," as I would sometimes be warned on the screen. Then, I learned of the government spying on us all; oops, I may have said the wrong thing at the wrong time!

And how about "fatal exception"? How can one become a fatal exception? Doesn't fatal mean, well, the ultimate fate? Was I made an exception, given one more chance, to change my ways and contribute something worthy to society?

By now you may see why I enjoy just talking plain old hill talk that we all understand. Maybe not all. In the middle of my conversation with Bob, he suddenly interrupted with, "Are you going to be brought back to Gilmer County?" One of Dick Cheney's spy masters, listening in on our conversation, might have immediately been alerted to a coded message between two terrorists. Could, possibly, be "brought back to Gilmer County" infer horrors, bombs?

Those of you who speak hillese will know right away what Bob was asking: When my immortal soul leaves its earthly coil, what do you want done with the leftovers?

Bob may have had two reasons for asking this question. As I have mentioned, he once was in a profession dealing with leftover remains, and from old habits he might still unconsciously be trying to promote business.

Or, as I like to think, he was really wanting to know whether I might go home again, a return that would allow cheers from old classmates who failed to cheer my athletic achievements of long ago.

Bob caught me a little off guard, and I didn't have the heart to tell him that I had guessed the Little Woman (5 ft., 2 ins.) had already made pre-arrangements for me, which may include an extra heavy Glad bag and a trip to the landfill.

I once worked with a fellow who always said he intended to cheat "those lousy undertakers." Bill hated lawyers, which I could understand as he had a law degree from a prestigious law school but never practiced because, he explained, they never would discuss or define "justice," but why he hated undertakers I never quite figured out.

Anyway, he up and died, and sure enough he cheated them by having his body donated to a medical school. That's something I would never do, as I wouldn't want a bunch of fuzzy-cheeked medical students, including females, standing over me and snickering.

I did tell Bob that I thought I would be incinerated and have my ashes spread over Yuppie Lake so that every time an upwardly mobile looked out over the million dollar view, not including real estate commissions, he or she would be looking as through a glass darkly.

As for the immortal soul, that is a different worry. With all my exposure to journalism and its earthly presses, there are some tasks that even a good undertaker won't undertake.

Hur Herald from Sunny Cal
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