To folks that go to Kerr Lake…

An open letter to the folks that travel to and from Kerr Lake.

I certainly appreciate the economic impact that all of you folks with big trucks, SUV’s, boats, campers, etc. make in this area. I really, REALLY want to tell the folks that consistently decide that yards and farm fields that line the highways and roads to the lake are actually large trash dumps how much I appreciate the extra exercise that I get on holiday weekends.

How hard it must be for you to drink all that beer and then decide that your floor-board or passenger area of your spacious vehicle didn’t have enough room to hold the empties until you arrived at your destination. Guess you didn’t see the bag that your beer was purchased in sitting there next to your Wal-mart house brand bags of potato chips and cheap corn cheezes.

And to the person that threw a pair of latex gloves out the window into our ditch…well, let’s just say you’re the reason I keep a pair of latex-free gloves in my truck for just such special occassions. My day was complete.

And how I envy the care-free days when you’re young, drunk, stupid and decide that a sign inviting persons to attend a small country church is a target for long-neck bottles. Silly me for wanting to keep the grass cut around it so that folks will actually know that there’s a church that’s interested in people hearing the Gospel. You’re the reason that I have to take one of my lawn mower tires in this week to have the hole that your broken glass punched in it repaired. Nothing is more fun than to have to change a lawnmower tire when it’s 95 degrees and 140% humidity. I hope that you enjoyed that cool dip in the water while I struggled to see through sweat to put a “c” clamp back on the axle the right way.

And, apparently, those canned and bottled energy drinks are just SO DANG STRONG that you can’t help but sling it as far as you can out the window of your car into a pile of briers and poison ivey that I’ve been working for a month to get rid of but still have some leaves and spurs. You couldn’t be the water boy on the football team but you can sling the heck out of a glass bottle. Bet your Daddy would be so proud!

And to the ladies…I don’t care if it’s in a bag, wrapped up in something or permanently sealed in hard plastic…”hygine” products and baby diapers DO NOT BELONG in a yard or a field. Despite what it says on the package they are NOT easily “bio-degradable”.

This is nothing new to me. With the exception of a couple of years living in town I’ve spent the majority of my life living in houses that are located on roads that go to Kerr Lake. But apparently some of you folks out there weren’t paying attention in elementary school when “Woodsy the Owl” came by to tell you “Give a hoot, don’t pollute”! You were probably too busy sniffing your magic markers during that assembly.

So, in closing, please feel free in the future to allow that beer bottle to roll around freely on the floor-board until you get to the lake. You’ll find that they have these wonderful things there called TRASH CANS where you can deposit all your empties, chip bags, cigarette packs, “4-corner Nab” wrappers, latex gloves , hamburger and hot-dog wrappers, hygene products, empty snuff tins and your kid’s nasty diapers at absolutely no extra charge. I’ll try to manage without them.

“What’s that smell?”

I have a confession to make…. I smoke cigars.

No, I’m not talking about White Owls, Dutch Masters or anything else that can be purchased at a convenience store and used by the younger generation as paraphernalia. I’m also not talking about that nasty pile of strip-house sweepings like “Backwoods” or even (shudder) those sweetened cigars with the plastic whistle on the end.

No, I have become a fan of real, hand-made, long-filler cigars made from Cuban-style tobacco, wrapped in aged wrapper leaf from the Connecticut Valley and lovingly aged by some well-trained senor in the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua or Honduras. If gas wasn’t so expensive I’d go to Smithfield, NC just to hang out in the huge humididor sales room at the J&R Outlet, sit in the leather chairs they have there and spring for at least a single of a Montechristo White Robusto or an El Rey del Mundo. J&R Cigars makes it possible for a person on a Coca-cola budget to have a champagne level cigar every now and then. Bless them.

Despite what a lot of folks think it was not my cousin Dick that started me smoking cigars. That blame lies squarely on the shoulders of my former boss, Glen Allen, who’s now Chief of Police in Clayton, NC. Glen would offer up a La Finca cigar every now and then when something good was going on and after I learned how to cut an end and light a “stogie” the right way Mr. Nick O’Teen finally found a way to get my attention years after I quit “dipping” and “chewing”. Smoking cigarettes was never a problem as I found out in college that I’m allergic to flue-cured tobacco smoke (which results in MASSIVE sinus infections) and which also means that I’m a happy person now that restaurants and public buildings are smoke free. Cigar smokers are different because unless you work somewhere really unusual you don’t smoke a cigar at work. As a matter of fact, “cigar” and “work” really don’t go together in the same sentence very well. If you can’t enjoy a cigar then there’s no reason to smoke one. That’s why you never hear someone say that they’re going on a cigar break.

Of course, this enjoyment of fine imported tobacco products doesn’t make four women very happy: those being my wife, my daughters and my doctor. I’m starting to get used to hearing every other Saturday “What’s that smell?” (“Nothing. Just burning some old tires.”) or “Were you smoking a cigar?” (“No. Rabbit-grass.”) I try to be nice so I keep these comments to myself…most of the time. My usual comment that “cigars are like Bill Clinton…you don’t inhale” usually don’t get laughs from my wife either.
However, I do owe Dick a thanks (yeah, I know…that sounds strange but it’s his name…) for cluing me in on the J&R Alternatives brands of cigars which, along with the Consuegra and Bock & Ca. brands can allow someone like me that has more bills than a duck farm to get a really good quality imported cigar to enjoy. Consuegra Governors and J&R Alternative Montechristo Eduardo Robustos are the favorite “budget” cigars that I’ve found so far. As far as the “real deal” Montechristo Whites, El Rey del Mundos, Bolivars and H. Uppman are my favorites. However, these are limited to grabbing a five-pack every once in a while or relying on the “kindness of cigar smokers” for one every now and then.
There’s something of a wonderful combination of a lawn tractor, freshly cut grass and a good cigar as well. It’s right up there with the combination of French fries, a hot dog, onions and the paper bags used at road-side grills. For a lot of men, this is as much sensory fun as a dog has riding down the road with its head out the window.
So, for those of you who know me well that see me one day with a good cigar enjoying it, please don’t ruin the experience for me asking if it’s “cherry flavored”. You probably won’t like my answer.