I should’ve known when I was a kid that I’d come to no good. While other kids were playing with Barbies and toy cars, I was over in the corner … reading … always reading.
Sure, I played too, but reading was what I really relished. And once I’d tired of reading kids’ stuff, I moved on … to the newspaper, especially when there was a column by Erma Bombeck or Mike Royko or, best of all, Lewis Grizzard.
Yep, you’re right; I was a weird kid. Still am, really.
I was reminded of that last week by a friend and colleague who was probably just as weird as I was growing up and who quotes Young Frankenstein and Grizzard at the drop of a noncliched hat.
There’s something about well-timed, well-written humor, especially that of the Southern variety, and Grizzard was a master, even if just for the titles of his books, some of which I’m sure are still in storage at my Grandma’s house: Elvis is Dead and I Don’t Feel So Good Myself; Don’t Bend Over in the Garden, Granny, You Know Them Taters Got Eyes; Shoot Low, Boys, They’re Ridin’ Shetland Ponies; and one of my all-time favorites, They Tore My Heart Out and Stomped That Sucker Flat.
You can’t get much more Southern than that. Try reading those titles aloud with a “Nawthen” accent or no accent at all … it’s just not the same (and not possible for me despite my lack of a strong accent).
Grizzard died 20 years ago this March, but I often think of him, and aspire to even a tiny bit of his vast talent.
Though I did take an eight-year detour into broadcasting, my first love has always been print journalism, and Lewis Grizzard is one of the reasons I ever considered a writing career. I’m far from matching his success, but he inspires me, and makes me very happy.
And the guy’s just funny. That may have a little to do with it.