I’ve reached a milestone in my journalistic career. George Washington Harris had Sut Lovingood, Mark Twain had Mr. McWilliams, Langston Hughes had Jesse B. Simple, “Red Dog” Webster’s got Tie Rod, Jimmy Breslin has any number of people from the streets of New York City, and finally I’ve snared one myself: a valuable resource person who doesn’t mind being quoted in my column. So I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce my readers to Charles Quinlan Farley. Or Chuck Q. Farley, as he seems to prefer it for some reason.
I wouldn’t call Chuck Q. a fan so much as a worthy adversary. I like him well enough and he claims he likes me, but when I published “The Reign of King Mob” last spring he Facebook messaged me, threatening to rock my windows like Ernest T. Bass after the November election for condemning our patriotic forefathers who voted Andrew Jackson into office to set our people free. He renewed the threat after my “Pulpit Politics” series for my criticism of God’s Anointed, who he felt must never be touched. But since the election’s over, my windows are still intact, and he blocked me on Facebook, I figured I at least owed him a phone call to hear what had changed his mind. Apparently it was either the election itself, or a change of heart on his part. Or maybe both.
“Aw, Drackler,” he said, using his favorite nickname for me,“since the election turned out okay and everybody’s goin’ back to work now, you couldn’t of done no harm to it. And besides, nobody much ever reads nothin’ no way, so rockin’ your windows wouldn’t do no good. But I seen the error of my ways and got right since the last time you and me talked. So now I’m just gonna warn you about your wicked writin’ before Jesus Hisself rocks your windows for you at the Judgment, praise God!”
“Well, Mr. Farley,” I attempted to answer, “Um… would it be okay if I called you Charley?”
“No!” he snapped. “Charley Farley? That’s plumb ignorant! You persecutin’ me? I’m Chuck Q. Farley!”
“I understand, Chuck Q.,” I replied. “Just don’t ask me to repeat your name several times fast. So you say your candidate won, and now you’re going back to work?”
“Wasn’t just MY candidate, it was God’s too,” he countered. “All the preachers said so, and how could that many of ‘em be WRONG? But work… well, you see, I RESPECT work. I respect it every bit as much as I do my own dear sweet old mother. In fact, I respect both work and my mother so much that I’ve never struck either one of ‘em a lick in my entire life. But my neighbors that ain’t workin’, them that wants to work, anyhow, surely some of THEM’ll go back to work.”
“Well, Chuck Q., downstate where I work on weekends, if the new President gets his way there’ll be a lot of farm jobs open. Good hard labor too, out in the sun where you’d get lots of Vitamin D. Maybe you should ride down with me and talk to some of the farmers and get your foot in the door for early planting. Tobacco’s a nearly year-round crop. They raise horses and cattle too, and they’ll need workers.”
I could hear him snort through the phone. “FARM work? Too hard for too little! Let them people stay where they is!”
“But since your candidate won the election, and you voted for him and his program—”
“I did not!” he exclaimed. “Vote? Me? If I registered to vote I could get called up for jury duty, and I hain’t about to set on no jury, no more’n I’d join the Army!”
Then the truth came to me: he was right. With that lifelong attitude, how could he vote, sit on a jury, serve in the military,or do anything with tobacco besides smoke and chew and dip it? So I had to tip my hat to him, because he had thoroughly out-argued me. That’s when I asked him if I could use him as a resource person for my Common Tater column, and he agreed, vowing to point me back to the Strait and Narrow Path yet. He Facebook friended me again, too.For all this I thanked him.
So from now on, when I get stumped on an issue I’ll ask Chuck Q. Farley about it and share his wisdom with you. Next week I’ll tell you how I first met him. And why he calls me Drackler.