First, howdy. Second, a word of caution.
If you are squeamish or easily offended, you might not want to go any further.
That is because this week’s Pembroke Mafia Football League column is when I get my comeuppance for years of gently poking gentle fun at my fellow members - and one member-ette.
And I knew it was going to happen.
It had to. There were signs the PMFL was growing restless and wondering when it would be their turn to call me names.
One sign was when I almost caught Pembroke Downtown Development Authority Director Alex Floyd in the act of pondering whether he should either
A) let the air out of one of my tires
B) turn loose in my car his pet squirrels named Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ronald Weasley.
Off record, Alex has herds of tame pet squirrels named after characters from the Harry Potter series. Stay away from the one that calls itself "Mad Eye Moody." He’ll turn you into a newt if he’s in a bad mood.
Then there was the time I thought I got invited to lunch at the Black Creek Golf Course by our founding father, B.J. "The Big Bandicoot" Clark. After I got my food he kept pointing behind me and saying, "look at that over there, yeah, that, see it, I think it was Bigfoot! Bigfoot on the back nine! Keep looking, maybe it’ll come back. What a story!"
I suspected this was all a trick so he could do something to my hamburger, perhaps using an old Navy sleight of hand move every old salt knows.
It involves a hamburger and what is known in the trade as a urinal biscuit.
I know, it’s juvenile and you’re shocked, but this is the Navy we’re talking about and all that salt air and nuclear reactor stuff does something to their sense of humor.
Anyway here’s how it works. First, they get you to look in the other direction by yelling "Bigfoot!" and then they slip the biscuit between the lettuce and cheese of your hamburger. The pranksters even keep the things in their pockets, just in case they run across someone they want to "give the old biscuit too," in Navy jargon.
An aside: I hear the Navy had to put a stop to retiring sailors running off with cases of the biscuits, because they were running out of the things.
But I digress.
Being in any mafia is tough, I know, but the Pembroke Mafia is particularly tough. We’re a rowdy bunch of goat ropers.
There’s Ernie Mitchell, who like B.J. is also retired Navy. Ernie and B.J. head up the North Bryan Navy and are both serious cheeses in the Pembroke American Legion Post 164. Sometimes they like to stop people riding into Pembroke and make them give up their guns before going into saloons. Just in case you ride into Pembroke anytime soon armed and looking for a saloon, remember that and humor them.
There’s District 1 County Commissioner Noah "King of the North" Covington, the man who singlehandedly and all by himself last week brought full beards, big belt buckles, electric fiddles and large hair back into fashion amongst the North Bryan political elite. Now, everybody’s who anybody looks like Charlie Daniels or Wynona Judd.
We have secretive Bryan County Development Authority CEO Anna Chafin, famous for politely saying, "I don’t know what you’re talking about, Whitten, you gamey little person." There’s the aforementioned Floyd, whose city-issued suspenders double as high-powered slingshots and also can work as emergency fan belts.
There’s Trey "Say Hey, Trey" Robertson, Bryan County Schools assistant superintendent and head of its newly formed secret service detachment to protect the Central Office from Chatham County germs.
There’s Mike "Tyson Summers" Clark, who still wears bermuda shorts and listens to Wayne Newton, wondering where all the great country rap music went;
And there’s Mark "Mad Muppet" Rogerson, who goes to college to study molecules, and Ted O’Neil, the Bryan County News assistant editor and a proud Michigan State man.
Ted was lead bongo player in the popular ’80s boy-band, "The Ready Teddys." They had big hits up in Michigan, and got to be on a Spongebob rerun. A cartoon eel played Ted.
Anyway, the other day B.J. decided I needed a nickname. He asked the PMFL to supply them.
Not everybody participated, but here’s what those who did came up with, the churls.
B.J: "Half Cock" and "Rabid Rooster." Har.
Ted: "The Red Menace," and "Whitten the Winless."
Oh, Ted, Ted, Ted. He had another one, but this is a family newspaper.
Alex: "The Kicking Chicken," "Charlie Farquherason," "The Short Stack Hack," "The Scourge of South Bryan" and "Press Secretary of The Independent Republic of North Bryan, Emperor Noah Presiding." I had to look up Charlie Whoever. He was that old radio dude on "Hee Haw." Somehow, that figures. Alex doesn’t have cable and he probably got turned into a newt.
I like the "Scourge of South Bryan," though. Thanks for that one.
Noah, who is famous for his personalized Yeti cooler, (it has little unicorn stickers on it) went all out. "Red Troll," he wrote. "Leprechaun," he added. "Lucky Charms," he added again. "Tyrion Whitten," he added one more time, a reference to that short heroic guy on "Game of Thrones."
And still he wasn’t done, the scoundrel: "The Mark Twain of his time but there are plenty of reasons this isn’t so," Noah wrote. Ah, yes, hit me where I hurt.
Mike chimed in as well: "Paul Johnson’s Boy Fan," a reference to my unabashed admiration of the former Georgia Southern coach. Then, even Mike had to go the extra mile: "Bryan County’s Lewis Gizzard," he wrote. "Spelled incorrectly on purpose"
So there you have it.
Meet Lewis Gizzard, aka Tyrion, the Red Troll.
And with that, two true stories regarding my height - I’m 5-foot-5, these days, but some folks still mistake me for whoever that guy is who starred in the Jason Bourne movies, Matt somebody, but I digress.
Once, when I was a teen, a guy walked out of a bar, looked at me and said. "Look. It’s a leprechaun," then ran into parking meter and fell down. And, once while I was covering a story at a Christmas tree farm, a first-grader pointed at me and told his teacher, ‘Hey, it’s an elf!"
She said, "Don’t say that about that little man."
On to the standings:
Ted, Anna (and her husband Justin) are tied for first with 23 misses; Noah is in second with 24 misses; BJ is third with 25 misses; Mike is fourth with 29 misses; Mark and Ernie are tied for fifth with 30 misses; Alex and Trey are tied for fifth with 35 misses. I’m first in the race for the most misses with 43.
Now for an abridged version of this week’s picks, and this week I’m picking whoever Trey picks, as a show of support for our schools.
LSU vs. Ol’ Miss: Everybody takes the Tigers.
Louisville vs. Florida State; B.J., Mike and Mark go with the Cardinals. Everyone else says Free Shoes University.
Oklahoma State vs. Texas: Mike and King Noah go with the Longhorns. I don’t know why. The Oklahoma State coach has the winning hairstyle to Make North Bryan Great Again.
Georgia Southern vs. UMASS: I remember the 1998 I-AA championship game when Georgia Southern fumbled 1,000 times, missed 4,000 tackles and lost by only a couple points. This is gonna be worse. Still, Alex, B.J., Mark, Noah and Mike stay "True Blue."
That’s it for this week.
Signed, Your friend, the Gizzard.