MONKEY THINK, MONKEY WRITE: What’s the matter with Kansas? I’m about to find out

I’m going to give it my best.

But first I want to dispel the rumor that’s been going around the neighborhood.

While it’s true that I’ll be leaving town, I do not have a spaceship in my backyard and I have not been called back to my home planet. Or, the mother ship, as the other rumor goes.

I think the rumor started because people who have walked past the house in recent days have heard loud shouts from inside. They sound something like: “Forty-eight hours!” “Thirty seven hours!” “Twenty four hours!”

It’s not me doing all the yelling. The Little Missuss has been very excited about our upcoming trip to Kansas, and her family reunion there. She’s been counting down with such enthusiasm that it sounds like we’re about to have a rocket launch at the old Kelly homestead.

I haven’t caught the fever yet. I’m not very familiar with Kansas, but I seem to recall it’s one of those Mason-Dixon, or Massey-Ferguson, type of states, or something hyphenated along those lines.

To get ready for the trip, the Little Missuss has been doing all sorts of preparations beforehand. One of them is to keep telling me that once we get there, I need to be on my “best behavior.”

I’ve been having a little trouble understanding what she means by that. When I was younger and the brothers Kelly were told to be on our “best behavior,” it was a standard that fell not far below “regular behavior.” Regular behavior included such activities as inscribing the name Davy Crockett on the bottom of the dining room table with our new Cub Scout woodburning pencil.

Overall, “best behavior” usually depended on where the brothers Kelly were at the time.

“Best behavior” sometimes meant something as simple as using napkins, eating utensils and holding gaseous eruptions to a minimum if we were eating out at a restaurant, or all that and a few “Yes, ma’ams” if we were at grandma’s.

But if we were visiting somebody at the hospital, for example, our mother wouldn’t even tell the brothers Kelly to be on our “best behavior.” She’d just turn to us and say, “Do that again and you’ll be spending the night here, too.”

Being on my “best behavior” in Kansas, according to the Little Missuss, now means not reciting my great knowledge of history as I see it.

It also means no attempts at talking in rhyme; no where, no time. Hand gestures should be limited, controlled but natural looking.

“Please don’t embarrass me,” she begged. “Don’t start telling those big exaggerations of yours when you’re talking to my relatives.”

“Everything I say is based on historical facts. And alternative preferable time horizons,” I said.

“Please don’t go into your George Washington spiel again.”

“I’m just saying,” I said.

“Don’t. Do. It.”

“He could have served another term with proper dental care. Everyone knows about those wooden teeth he had. Few historians mention, however, that a single wooden sliver led to a minor mouth infection that, untreated, caused great discomfort to one of our founding fathers and may have taken years off his life.”

“Stop. Now.”

“Yes, you could say it was a tragic case of the unvarnished tooth.”

Next issue: Straight from the heartland.

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