Opinion

Losing Southern Weight ain’t easy, y’all

Losing weight is hard. Losing Southern Weight? Well, my friends, that’s a totally different challenge. What exactly is Southern Weight, you may ask? Well, before we get down to defining that unique term, let me throw a few numbers at you, to put things in perspective: 235: That’s the alleged number of pounds that registered on those lying, slanderous bathroom scales when I stepped on them this morning. 3,149: That’s my cholesterol and triglyceride count combined, last time the doc checked. 138/96: That’s my blood pressure on a good day, with that one pill a day.

You have to be this tall to ride Facebook

“Daddy, why are you always on Facebook?” my 8-year-old son asked me over breakfast. Using a technique taught in only the best parenting seminars around the world, I mumbled something about minding his own business and continued to ignore the family, until the wife snatched the phone away and handed me a fussy, hungry baby. “Daddy, can I have a Facebook page? Or a Twitter? Two kids in my class have one.” I scoffed heartedly. That’s not an easy thing to do with a mouth full of pancakes, but I managed a pretty good scoff, and then threw in a disdainful look for good measure.

Camo: The uniform of the South

My wife, for all her wonderful qualities, is always asking me silly questions:
- What exactly is wrong with you?
- You are going to clean that up, aren't you?
- You aren't going to eat that, are you?
- Are the kids going to turn out like you?
But one line of spousal interrogation over the weekend sparked my interest, and I figured it worthy of a column, if not an entire manifest or thesis paper:
"Why in the world are you wearing camouflage? Are you going hunting?"

Catfishing the Internet can get you in hot water

This whole Internet dating thing has me confused. In fact, I was so befuddled that I resorted to asking my wife about it last night.
My naïve questions must have seemed awfully silly and distracting to her, judging by the way she almost mistook my head for a piece of round steak she was tenderizing with a mallet. But when you combine life's two greatest enigmas - women and computers - I don't know whether to boot up, restart, or call the IT department for dating tips.

Meet Sean Gruber, your new reporter

Rose Williams shifts in her wheelchair, eyes involuntary squinting with long remembered pain.
She slides her hands along her body, pausing where the bullet entered her back and shattered her spine.
Her voice drops to a whisper when she describes her fear and helplessness, reliving the moment she changed from a fourteen year-old high school student to an accidental victim of a drive-by shooting.
"I just screamed," Williams said. "All I could do was scream."

Dads, deer dogs, and dear memories

You can learn a lot from a dummy, says my kid, especially when the dummy takes you on a few father-son hunting trips.
Despite my personal lack of success this deer season (the AP and BCS polls have me finishing this season ranked just outside the Top 25 at No. 26 and a half, behind all the hunters who know what they are doing, a couple of Girl Scouts, and my mom, who has killed three deer with her new minivan), my kid and I learned a lot this fall, and here is just a sample of that knowledge I'd like to share with you:

Cub Scouts, career days, and curious kids

Despite the fact that I am a bad role model -I occasionally use swear words and I have been known to be attracted to women - I continuously find myself forced into being a role model for children of all ages.
Right now, sitting on my desk, is a request from a local school inviting me to attend Career Day. (And it will remain sitting there, covered with dust while I try to ignore it, until the nice school lady calls me up and tells me what a great job I did last time and they would love having me back, and then I'll probably feel guilty and cave in. I'm a sucker. Darn kids.)

A bird in the hand is worth how much?

All good sportsmen say that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. But I wouldn't know. Thanks to my uncanny sense of myopia and my nonlethal accuracy, I've never actually held a bird in my hand.
Nevertheless, that legendary, brave, trustworthy, fabled Hampton County hunting guide, Jimmie Polk, invited me to participate in a "redneck buddy dove shoot" last week at Legacy Farms near Luray, where I learned a lot about the fast-paced, often frantic sport of redneck buddy dove shooting.

How to have a proper domestic dispute

Writer's Note: This column is not about domestic violence. Domestic violence is a scourge that affects too many families and is no laughing matter. If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, get help as soon as you can.

My wife and I were walking around the yard the other day, hand in hand, just taking a romantic tour of the front lawn and sharing our feelings (which means that basically I was listening to her blab on and on. She has a lot of feelings, you know), when I heard a loud conversation drifting over the afternoon air from one of our neighbor's houses.

Look out, Bambi, it’s deer season

How I became a wildlife conservationist of sorts - and a voice for the Department of Natural Resource's South Carolina Wildlife Magazine - remains unclear even to me sometimes. While I don't often share this chapter of my family history, I come from a long line of deer-hating farmers, hungry poachers and vicious Bambi killers.

Screamers, clingers and back to school basics

I've been a parent long enough (it seems like 100 years, give or take a rec soccer game or two) to know that the whole back-to-school thing is for the birds.
No, I'm not worried about the kids. Those little monsters are tough. They can take care of themselves. But why should I, a man who has already paid his debt to society and been paroled from education, have to get up early, fix breakfast, pack a lunch, put on long britches for the first time all summer, and then drive through traffic to a school I escaped from years ago, all before 9 a.m.?

Honey Boo Boo, here comes Hampton County

When alien archeologists unearth the remains of our civilization a thousand light years from now, I can sum up for them in five words what triggered our ultimate demise: Snooki. Jwoww. Honey Boo Boo.
That's right, folks. Reality TV. Forget nuclear holocaust, global warming, and the Democrats taking over Washington. Reality TV - and the helpless people who watch, like my poor wife - is what's going to be the end of us and our great modern civilization.

Are you truly ready for deer hunting season?

In my usual tardy fashion, I'm about to get ready for the opening day of deer season, which, according to trusty smartphone calendar, begins Aug. 15.
But my calendar also tells me that heatstroke season and sand gnat season and West Nile skeeter season and water moccasin season are also in, so truthfully I'm in no big hurry to get out there. I might be a hunting fanatic, but I ain't crazy. They'll be plenty of big ones left out there in October. And there might even be some deer left, too.

Are you friendly with your bacteria buddies?

Youngsters beware: as you get older you will find yourself making some new friends. Maalox, for example, will become a close and treasured pal. As will Extra-Strength Tylenol, handy for all your little aches and pains.
And Mr. Ben Gay will come visit you at least once a week, a smelly buddy that your spouse really doesn't approve of.
But after my most recent trip to the old age doctor (she's my doctor, I'll call her that if I want to. You call your doctor whatever you like!), I brought home about three billion new friends: live bacteria.

How to plan that perfect, near-fatal vacation

There I was. Flat on my back on an emergency room stretcher, enjoying that near-death feeling that only comes from extreme dehydration, an IV inserted into my arm pumping meds and vital fluids back into my tortured, wracked body.
That's right. You guessed it. I was on vacation.
As I stared up at those blinding, bright lights of the ER ceiling, the meds quickly forcing me into drowsy La-La Land, still wearing my favorite vacation shorts and flip flops, I heard a voice from beyond:

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