Just the Other Day: A Walk in the South

While visiting my wife’s parents in Gulf Shores, Alabama, I decided to take a walk down the road one morning. June went with me. The air was very pleasant, as was the walk.


We came upon a gentleman walking down the opposite side of the road. He waved and called over to me, “Good morning, how are you today?” “Very well, sir,” I replied, adding “It’s a beautiful morning for a walk.”


He continued, “Yes it is. And how is your dog today?”  I smiled and replied, “She’s doing well; enjoying this weather as well.”  Then I asked him, “And how is your dog today?”


The man stopped for a moment. He turned 180 degrees to the left, then to the right, dramatically looking around him toward the ground. He didn’t have a dog.  He looked back at me, chuckled and said, “I might be old – but you’re crazy”


We shared a good laugh over that, waved goodbye, then went about our separate ways.”


Later that day, we drove west to the Dauphin Island Ferry. Alongside the parking and loading area is a building with a restaurant and another with restrooms.   We stopped for a break.


The restrooms are single seaters, if you know what I mean. While Melissa and I waited for her parents, another group of three people approached. “Are these restrooms open?” The man asked in a loud, boisterous voice, “Yes, they are, “ I replied, telling him, “but they’re both currently in use.” “No problem, we can wait.” He said, adding,”When ya gotta go, ya gotta go.”


I thought I was a talker, but had nothing on this guy. It took about thirty seconds to find out he was Bob. Bob, the bus driver. “I’m an over-the-road bus driver. I’ve been all over the country.” He said, then asked, “Where are you folks from?”


“Northern Minnesota.” I answered. “You’re kidding me!” He said, “I’m up there by your house several times a year. International Falls, Minnesota.” He stated. I started to say, “Well, we’re a couple hundred miles from…” He jumped in, “Have you heard any of the Ole and Lena Jokes?”  “Yeah,” I answered, “I’ve probably heard them all.”


He interrupted again, “One day, Ole was upstairs in bed.  Real sick. He couldn’t even move. The doctor came by and told Lena, ‘He’s not gonna make it. His time is near.’ Lena made sure Ole was comfortable, then went downstairs.


“Ole was so sick he wasn’t thinking clear. He thought maybe he’d died and gone to heaven, because he was smelling chocolate chip cookies. He loved chocolate chip cookies. Anyway, Ole went downstairs to the kitchen and there were chocolate chips cookies everywhere.  When he reached to pick one up, a hand came out of nowhere and slapped his hand away. It was Lena. She told him, ‘You can’t eat those. Them’s for the funeral.’ You get it? For the funeral!”  His laughter was hearty and booming loud.


“That’s a pretty good one.” I said, then walked to a display about twenty feet away.  He followed me. “Here’s another one…” He told his joke, and I said, that’s a good one, too. You have a nice day.” Then walked another thirty feet away. He followed me.


“Here’s one for ya…” He said, then told another Ole and Lena joke.  That one I didn’t laugh at because I’d heard it a hundred times before and it was dumb, everytime.  “Yeah, I’ve heard that one before.” I said, explaining, “Being from Minnesota, I’m sure I’ve heard every Ole and Lena joke ever written.”  He jumped right in again.


“I’m surprised being from Minnesota, you’ve never heard of Ole and Lena.” He said, then offered, “Go online and Google Ole and Lena Jokes.  There’s hundreds of them! I know them all.” I politely thanked him for the tip, “Thanks, I will. I’ve got to go now.” I started to walk away.


He followed me, saying, “The best part of all, is all the Swedes in Minnesota just love them, too. I can keep a whole busload of tourists laughing for hours with Ole and Lena jokes.” “I’ll bet you can.” I replied.


“Here’s another one…” he started, but this time I interrupted him. I wanted to scream, “Dude! Stop!  I’m from Minnesota! Our ancestors WROTE the Ole and Lena jokes!” Instead, I just said, “I really have to go now.” Then turned toward the car, walking faster, seeking protection.


“Well, the next time I’m in International Falls, I’ll look for ya.” “Okay,” I said, “maybe I’ll see you there – in International Falls.”


I continued briskly to the car, not looking back. I had no idea how my wife and my inlaws were going to get past him… I wished the best for them.


The next afternoon, Melissa and I were walking the sandy beaches along the Gulf of Mexico.  Her parents, Phil and Carol, went with us. The sun was shining and the skies were blue. It was warm, yet comfortable, with the cool breeze blowing in over the gulf waters.


We came upon a couple who had just settled in to their beach chairs.  She was wearing a large rim, straw hat, holding a book. Her intentions seemed clear. A relaxing day on the beach, with a good book, wiggling her toes in the sand when she got to a really good part.


He was holding a tall fishing pole.  Next to his chair was a tackle box and a container of shrimp to bait his hook. His intentions for the day were equally clear.


Being from the state I am, I was curious about his fishing. I greeted them with Minnesota enthusiasm, “Beautiful day, eh?”  “Boy, It sure is.” He replied. Melissa and I stopped to chat. “Have you caught anything today?” I queried.  “Nothing yet.” He answered.  I continued, “Is anything biting?” “Well, not yet.” He said, explaining, “but I’m just getting started.”


I had a business proposal for him. “If you give me fifty-cents, I’ll take your line, swim out into the ocean with it and put up one heck of a fight. You’ll have a blast, and you can go tell all your buddies about the 200-pound flounder you reeled in.”


We shared a good laugh over that. He declined my proposal, “I appreciate your offer, but I’ll be okay.” He said. “Ain’t got four bits, eh?” I questioned, prepared to offer easy financing.


We shared another good laugh, then I gave my parting salutations. “I hope your catch is plentiful.”  “It won’t matter,” he replied, “I don’t keep anything I catch. I release them all back to the water. I get my fish for eating from the store.”  We shared another good laugh, “It’s certainly cheaper by the pound at the store.” He agreed. “I hope the fish keep you busy.” I said, as we started walking to catch up to her folks.


Today, we were going out to eat. I dropped Melissa and her parents at the door, then went to park the car.


On my way into the restaurant a man was standing near the front door with a lady. “I love y’all.” He said, to which I replied, “I love you, too.”  He wrinkled his brow and looked at me.


“Oh. You weren’t talking to me, were you?” I asked, then quickly explained. “I’m from Minnesota where ‘you all’ means everyone present. I keep forgetting I’m in Alabama, where ‘y’all’ could easily be just one person.”


We shared a good laugh over that. He said, “Y’all are pretty funny.”  To clarify, I asked, “Do you mean me?” Then, Waving my finger between his gal and myself, “Or both of us?” He chuckled and explained, “No, just y’all.”


I stared at him. When it occurred to him what he just said, we all had a good laugh. He was shaking his head. “You guys have a great day.” I said reaching for the door handle. “Y’all do,the same.” He said, and w’all had another good laugh. I’m not sure if w’all is actually a southern word. If not, I may have started something new.


Our visit went by fast, as always, and soon it was time for us to go.  To the folks of Alabama, I thank you for your hospitality and certainly appreciate your southern charm.


Until next time, bye, y’all.