Kansas veterinarian and writer Randy Kidd helps Last Laugh make fun of magazine editors who don't always manage to please readers of popular magazines.
Last Laugh shares MOTHER EARTH NEWS reader submitted American humor with other readers.
Editorial Interruption: A few readers have written in complaining when their home area was the subject of this column's jokes. In keeping with journalism's fairness doctrine, we hereby offer some humor that picks on editors. This piece comes from a long-time friend, Kansas veterinarian and writer Randy Kidd. (Mind you, Randy's not necessarily talking about us!)
There are a lot of things about this business of writing that I really enjoy, but one of my favorites is when I have the occasion to call one of my back-East editors. Folks are just so doggoned cute back there, so different and homespun in their own peculiar way. Talking to them I often feel like I do when I'm around a squirmy, fluff-eared puppy dog: all agush with the want to pick 'em up and squeeze 'em.
Folks back East talk at 78 rpm, while the rest of the world listens at 45 rpm, and many of my local friends don't want nothing to do with it. "Too damned fast for my ears," says my neighbor, Claude. But I've learned. When I dial one of my editors in an Eastern area code, I automatically switch my hearing into the 78-rpm mode.
"Good Morning, GourmetCountryLeisurePublishing. ThisisEvelynspeaking. MayIhelpyou?" I take the time to mentally play all that back at 45 speed.
"Howdy." I figure that since an Easterner's voice player is out of whack, I'd better give them plenty of chance to understand me. So I a'purpose speak at 33 rpm.
"HowmayIhelpyou?" She sounds a little fidgety this morning, like a greenbroke mare on a frosty dawn, dancing under the weight of the saddle blanket.
"Say," I ask, remembering to keep it slow and easy at 33, "how's the weather back there?"
Now around here this is a question of substance, not just an inquiry into the cause of her fidgetyness. My day's work is of necessity outlined around the vagaries of wind, rain, sleet and tornado. At least, I can plan four or five hours ahead that way—can't trust Kansas weather any longer than that.
"Geesh," she sighs, slowing down just a moment, "I don't know. Never bothered to look this morning."
Now I ask you, ain't that just the cutest thing? Don't even know what their own weather is.
Back up to speed. "MayIhelpyou,sir?" Suspecting this lady's not in the mood for much sittin' and spittin', I say I'd like to speak to the Big Boss, Mr. Editor. "Justamoment, I'llseeifMr.Editorisin," she informs me. "MayItellhimwhoiscalling?"
"Nope." Round my way, if you don't feel like talkin', you don't pick up the phone in the first place.
"Uh . . . mayItellhimwhoyourepresent?"
"Oh." She reins her rpm's in hard. "Just . . . a . . . moment . . . please."
Seems that just being from Kansas explains a lot to the Easterner.
Next thing I know, I'm talking to some editorial assistant, who hears what I want from Mr. Editor and says he'll find it out for me. "I'll call you back tomorrow afternoon," says he.
"Well, how'bout I call you? I never know where I'll be until I take a look at the weather."
"Don't you have an answering machine?" he asks, incredulous.
"I did buy one of those contraptions a while back," I offer. "But I can never remember to use the danged thing. Could you call me tomorrow morning and remind me to turn it on before I leave?"
"Hmmm." Long pause. "Where did you say you were from?"
"Oh. OK. Why don't you just call me tomorrow?"
I don't know exactly what images Kansas conjures up in an Easterner, but its mere mention surely seems to get them to snap to. I do know, however, some of the things Eastern editors don't want to hear about Kansas. For example, I once received a note from an editor who said the article I'd sent him was fine except for one thing: It had trees in it, and everyone knows that Kansas doesn't have trees.
Well, I'm easy to oblige. I rewrote the article and cut out all the trees that the pup and I walk through almost daily. 'Course I thought the article lacked a little something . . . since it was about hunting raccoons. But the editor was happy.
I remember another article I wrote that described the ancient way the Plains Indians used deer brains to tan animals' hides. The editor called me straight away, most distraught. Seemed, according to him, his readers didn't want to hear anything about Indians. He put a pretty good phone bill together, making sure I understood there was to be no reference to Indians in the article.
"Mustn't upset the readers, must we," he whinnied.
Apparently, this is another rather quaint trait of Easterners: Unless they made the history, it ain't really history at all.
No real problem. I rewrote the article as if the original white settlers of the Kansas Territory came up with the tanning methods—as something to do with the brains of any visiting Easterners.
We're all wild as hell out here, anyway.
Editor's Note: Do you have a distinctive bit of regional American humor you think the Plumtree boys should hear on their travels? If so, send it to Last Laugh, MOTHER EARTH NEWS, Hendersonville, NC. We'll pay $10 for any joke we publish (that the fellas didn't know already!).