Okay, I finally finished reading The Sun Also Rises. I sat on the porch this afternoon and I read the dang ending. The weather was too nice for anything except loafing. I knew how it was going to end, but it was still fun, and there were breezes and blue skies.

Scrappy Pappy came over for some attention. He was puffed up and cocky today. Last night he fought another big tom and “won.”

The truth is, I came out of the house swinging a broom about the time scrappin’ commenced and the other beast (truly the largest feline I’ve seen that was not pulling down a gazelle) decided the balance of power had shifted in favor of Scrappy Pappy and Man With Broom. Adios, varmint. Tell your buddies.

Hemingway’s novel was not the book I thought I knew. It was much funnier and sadder than the story I’d been carrying around in my head.

The book, of course, hasn’t changed. Perhaps I’m a better reader than I was in my 20s and 30s. One would hope so. (Hope, that fine spray of mostly honorable sentiment! Don’t cost nothin’. Might as well spritz away!)

Thanks to everyone who chimed in on DNA testing and allergies. I intend to get these issues sorted out now that I’ve finished reading The Sun Also Rises, which a hip sixth-grader could polish off in about two hours.

I saw some llamas today. Well, I guess they could have been alpacas or some other llama-like species. I like llamas. I like llamas so much I named a division of my sprawling media empire LlamaVision. Which I decided should be a subsidiary of LlamaVision USA. And then I made myself president and CEO of the American Council of Llamas, a very bold move, if I do say so myself. At that point, it was no trouble at all to declare 2011 the Year of the Llama, and then the International Year of the Llama.

Anyway, I took some photos of the llamas, which reacted with typical llama snootiness, refusing to do anything cute or extraordinary. I guess I expect a lot from llamas, even Alabama llamas, now that I have a lot of fake llama credentials.

Over the last several months, I spent upwards of five minutes researching llamas on the internet. Most of what I learned about them I’ve already forgotten. I did check to make sure there wasn’t an entity called the American Council of Llamas.

I would have been surprised to find such an organization already existed, because llamas are not known for forming councils. As far as I know. Maybe they’re obsessively bureaucratic animals. I don’t know and I don’t care as long as I’m not getting sued.

So llamas are a big part of my professional and civic outreach. I’m a reacher-outer. You gotta be a reacher-outer or a hand-slapper in
these here parts. You better believe it.

The llama is but one of many outreach tools I employ to, you know, reach out.

Good manners go hand in hand with a vaguely identifiable animal brand. Do you have good manners? I hope so. Let me spray you with the fine mist of hope. Don’t you feel better?

Let’s start with an easy one, politeness. If we were all polite, I’ll tell you what. I mean everybody, everywhere. The world’s billions wake up tomorrow morning and everyone is polite.

There would be no more wars or bombings or shootings or stabbings. No more greed, exploitation and waste. People would say things like after you and let me help you with that and I no longer wish to blow you up, because that would be rude.

The unharnessed potential of politeness is staggering, which is why being polite is an important part of my outreach message.

An acquaintance once told me, “John, there’s more to life than being polite.” Then he stole my girlfriend. I mean, talk about conviction!

But he was wrong to do that. I’m sure he felt badly about it later on, though I have zero proof of this because I never saw either one of them again.

As we all know, you can’t “steal” someone’s significant other. It’s not like you break out some alligator clips, hot-wire the starter and drive off with a new partner. It takes two to tango, and many more to mount a respectable Broadway musical. (Your joke here. I know what mine is, but it is not polite.)

Finally, the big question: Is it bad manners to laugh at llamas?


No, it is not. But I will ask you to join me in wearing the Llama Awareness Blue Bandana. The simple blue kerchief, worn cowboy-style around the neck, will inform others of your solidarity with Llama-Americans everywhere.
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John Hicks is not an animal expert, but he has watched several television shows about animals.

John Hicks lives outside the city limits, where eagles dare.

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