This column first appeared in a newspaper in 2009.


My wife likes ring tones.

For those of you who don’t have cell phones (and God bless you if you don’t), a ring tone is a sound, or perhaps a bit of music, that you can somehow program onto your cell phone so when someone calls you, the sound or bit of music will “ring.”

I’m not so much a fan of ring tones. I don’t see what’s wrong with a simple “ring-ring” to signal me that someone is trying to call me. It seems to me that “ring-ring” was working pretty well long before cell phones came along. I don’t seem to recall anyone saying — back in 1974 — “Wow, I can’t wait until 2010 when we will have flying cars and, instead of going ‘ring-ring,’ my phone will play ‘Let it Be.’”

Maybe folks back then weren’t as forward-thinking as folks are today, but “ring-ring” wasn’t a big deal when I was a kid.

In particular, my wife likes to pair certain songs for certain people who call her or, who she calls, so when a certain song plays on her cell phone, she will know who’s calling. My wife also likes to do the same thing with my cell phone even though I have explained — many, many times — that I don’t want her to put songs on my phone.

Last week, we purchased new cell phones, and my wife decided it would be fun to put new music on our phones. My wife knows that I like Jimmy Buffett, so she figured I would like Jimmy Buffett music on my cell phone.

To be honest, for once, I had a hard time finding a flaw in my wife’s logic.

My wife thought it would be “cute” if she programmed my phone to play Jimmy’s classic romantic ballad “Why Don’t We Get Drunk?” whenever she calls me. For those of you who aren’t Jimmy Buffett fans (and what is wrong with you if you’re not?), “Why Don’t We Drunk” is not the complete title of Jimmy’s song. The full title asks the musical question “Why Don’t We Get Drunk?” and then asks another musical question that is definitely not family newspaper material.

Although I appreciated my wife’s sense of humor, I wasn’t sure I wanted my cell phone to play “Why Don’t We Get Drunk?” There was a possibility of a certain amount of awkwardness if my phone were to ring, is what I said. My wife told me I was a “fuddy-duddy.”

I had never been called a “fuddy-duddy” before. I’m not even sure what a “fuddy-duddy” is. I just know it doesn’t sound like someone who is the life of the party.

So, I let my wife program my cell phone.

Thursday afternoon, I drove up to Lamar to check out the groundbreaking ceremonies for St. Mary’s Catholic Church. I went to the groundbreaking ceremonies because Pat Williamson, a very nice lady, invited me. I like the folks at the church, and I was happy to see that they were moving so quickly to rebuild their church after last year’s fire, so I decided to make the drive north.

That, plus the fact the trip would get me out of the newsroom, and I could spend some quality time in my car listening to Jimmy Buffett’s radio station.

The groundbreaking ceremony was neat, and afterward, we all ambled into the parish hall for coffee. I was standing there chatting with some nice folks when Bishop James Johnston Jr., of the Springfield-Cape Girardeau Diocese, walked into the hall and approached the group of people I was chatting with.

As Bishop Johnston approached, I frantically tried to recall how I was supposed to address him. “Your highness” seemed a little over the top. So did “My lord.” But I was also pretty sure that calling the Bishop “Bubba” wasn’t the way to go either.

Fortunately, just as the bishop got to me and held out his hand for me to shake, I remembered what I was supposed to say.

“Your excellency, it’s an honor to meet you,” is what I said.

Well, that’s what I said. I don’t think that’s what the bishop heard. Instead, I’m pretty sure what the bishop heard was:

“Your excellency” and then, because my wife picked that moment to call my cell phone, which was in my coat pocket, I’m pretty sure the bishop heard Jimmy Buffett singing “Why Don’t We Get Drunk and. …?”

While the bishop stared at me and while Jimmy Buffett sang, I made a mental note to kill my wife.

I’m pretty sure there is not a jury in the world that would convict me.

Unless I got some fuddy-duddy judge.