Today's topic was the shiftlessness and basic evil of Cousin (Deleted) and her no-account grandchillins. And it was time for this middle-aged, bearded Alice -- stuck, alas, up here in the Great White Nawth -- to telephonically step through the looking glass into a surreal land called the Gret Stet.
Now, note please that I'm just repeating what I was told, which is entirely subject to the funhouse mirror of Mama. That said, here we go.
WE WERE OFF AND RUNNING on the subject of "dat lyin' bitch (Deleted)" the second Mama mentioned that Deleted's brother-in-law -- who also is my cousin on the other side of the family . . . roll wid me here, it's Louisiana -- had called to ask if she had gotten an invitation.
"What invitation is that?" I foolishly asked.
"Oh, (Deleted Granddaughter) is gettin' married when her boyfriend get back from I-raq. She ain't send me no invitation. I bet (Deleted) takin' over the whole weddin' like she did dat other one," Mama fumed. "She take over everthing, and she lie on people. She a lyin' bitch is what she is."
(From Omaha, silence.)
From Baton Rouge, Mama is just getting warmed up:
"You know he been sendin' (Deleted Grandddaughter of Cousin Deleted) money every month from I-raq. Now what he do dat for? When I was comin' up, dey call dat a kep' woman.
"You know what a kep' woman is?"
I do think I've heard that phrase, yes.
"All I know is when I die, I don' want dat lyin' bitch anywhere near dat funeral home. I'm gonna call David [pronounced DAH-veed in the Gret Stet -- R21] over at Rabenhorst an' tell him dat if she show up, dey need to throw her ass out of there.
"She try to take over if you let her. She try to take over the funeral."
I HAD a question. That's because I am not a smart man.
"Why are you even worrying about (Cousin Deleted)?" I ask.
"I AIN'T WORRIED ABOUT HER!" Mama says, and we're off to the races for another 10 minutes. Now it's about (Cousin Deleted's) grandson, who shall remain Nameless.
Cousin (Deleted's) brother-in-law's oldest daughter's husband, who works for the railroad in Prairieville, apparently had gotten Nameless hired on there.
"Which railroad is that," I ask.
"The one in Prairieville," says Mama.
"The Union Pacific . . . ?"
"I don't know if it the Illinois Central or what. It's the railroad in Prairieville."
PERSONALLY, I prefer to think it might have been the Cannonball, running daily between Hooterville, Pixley . . . and Prairieville. But I digress.
Nameless' employment by the Prairieville Railroad came, in fact, despite Nameless being shiftless, and a high-school dropout to boot. But (Cousin Deleted's) brother-in-law's oldest daughter's husband (etc., etc., yadda yadda, so on . . . Prairieville) got Nameless the job, and the railroad helped him get his GED.
Apparently -- and this is where Mama's funhouse mirror starts doing some really weird s*** -- the railroad, the one in Prairieville, supposedly let Nameless use a company truck to get back and forth to work. Until, one day, the truck disappeared.
"He tol' 'em dat the truck broke down one night, and he left it on the side a the road," says Mama, recounting Nameless' Excellent Adventure. "Dey ask him where he left it, and he tol' 'em he didn't know.
"Den the truck show up on that fella's lot, and he SOLD it! Dat's when they found it."
How could he sell it without a title? And why weren't both Nameless and the "fence" in . . . uh . . . jail?
Who knows? I guess that's just not how the railroad in Prairieville handles stuff. Needless to say, Nameless no longer is employed by the railroad in Prairieville.
"Oh, he quit that job," says Mama. "He just uses people. He used 'em, and then he quit."
I SUPPOSE by now you wouldn't be surprised that Louisiana isn't exactly a businessman's paradise. Forbes isn't either.
Louisiana ranks as the second worst state for business. It has been ranked in the bottom two each year in our Best States list. Louisiana is still reeling from the devastating effects of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, but it also struggles with two major problems that existed long before the storms: an uneducated labor force and an unhealthy reputation for corruption.MY FAMILY is a stone-cold economic wrecking crew. I ga-ron-tee.
Louisiana boasts a high-school graduation rate of only 80%; only Texas has a lower rate. This is a long-term problem that Governor Bobby Jindal, who took office in January, will need to address. In the meantime, Jindal, a rising star in the Republican Party, has made rooting out corruption in Louisiana one of his chief priorities.
"We adopted comprehensive governmental ethics reforms that have made Louisiana a national leader in accountability and transparency," says Stephen Moret, head of the Louisiana Department of Economic Development. Moret also cites the elimination of several unconventional business taxes and the adoption of the largest personal-income tax cut in state history as ways that the state has improved its economic competitiveness.
Louisiana and West Virginia both feature low labor costs, 11% and 7% below the national average, but that is not enough. "These states are lower cost areas, but their labor forces are not competitive and therefore are not going to attract venture capital money or big outside investments," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Economy.com.