I love the Southern question that begins, “Who In Their Right Mind...” It's such a well-known phrase that we don't even have to finish it into a full sentence. Just saying, “Who In Their Right Mind?” is enough to tell the listener that someone — somewhere — has done something really, really stupid. Who in their right mind? Doesn't that bring back memories? “Who in their right mind would paint their house Pepto Bismol pink?” I heard that one as a kid, and it's haunted me ever since. I hate to think that someone might drive by my house and comment on its paint job, so I've never even considered owning a pink house. The first house I ever owned was painted light blue. Who in their right mind would make fun of light blue? See? See how easy it is to fall into that cliche? That's the power of “Who In Their Right Mind?” We all want to be in our right mind, so we work like crazy to avoid being the subject of this verbal mudslinging.
“Who in their right mind, would wear that awful outfit?” I've heard this one many times. I might have even been guilty of saying it a few times, but most likely, it was what someone said about me. I have an inability to coordinate my clothing colors, as my wife can confirm. The way I get around this is by sticking with black shirts, blue or khaki chinos, blue jeans, and the bare minimum of pastel shirts and short pants. Even then, I'll sometimes put on a blue shirt and blue pants, but I'll find out that they are conflicting shades and if I wear them in public I'll cause someone to go blind. “Who in their right mind, would wear that awful outfit?” Well, it would be me, if Jan wasn't kind enough to stop me before I leave the house.
“Who in their right mind” is an insult, but it's part of our Southern charm, I suppose. That's the thing about us. We can take something judgmental and make it part of our standard discourse. And who in their right mind would use the word “discourse” in a humor column? See? See how easy it is to utter that question? There are so many phrases we've inherited from our ancestors, and I'm confident many of them are just as sassy as this one. And to answer that question about who in their right mind would use the word “discourse” in a humor column, let me be the first to say that I never claimed to be right minded. When you write a weekly humor column where you have to produce giggles on a deadline, you pretty much give up any claim to sanity.
And speaking of humor columns and sanity, I've decided to end the Barbed Wire Wrapped in Seersucker series and shift my writing focus to short stories and an attempt at Christian Apologetics. I need to act on my handful of stories that have sat in rough outline form for over a decade, and my desire to write on the defense of the Christian faith is more a calling than a hobby. Last year, I shared an outline of a piece I'm considering with one of the world's leading apologists and he suggested that my writing skills might be used for a higher calling. He made a great point and one that was already resonating with me.
It's very hard to be a humorist in 2015, especially when you reach a point where you're more shocked by the world's situation than you are amused. The label of humorist is too much to bear when you feel the world has enough wiseacres and jokers, and you really don't want to be in that club anymore. That mental state is the kiss of death for someone who is on deadline for a humor column, so I've concluded that it's time to end the funny business and shift to a more serious focus with my word processor.
I know what you're thinking: “Who in their right mind would give up a cushy pastime as a humor columnist? All that money? All that fame? Supermodels? Endorsements? Caviar?” And I laugh to think that some folks might actually believe that's what my little hobby is like. It's not. Well, there is a tiny bit of fame. The columns picked up a few awards, and one of my early columns is hanging in Mary Mac's down in Atlanta, and that's a source of pride for me as long as no one reads it and says, “Who in their right mind would hang this nonsense in a fancy dining place?” But who am I kidding? This is The South. Someone has probably already said that. We say sassy things like “Who in their right mind” because we can, and because we're all looking for a laugh. I went to print in 2009 looking for a laugh, and we've had a wonderful run that made many people happy. And that's how I'll leave it. I hope I made you happy with my silliness. If you see me around town, do say “Hi!” And if I'm wearing a red shirt and red pants, shield your eyes, for your own protection, and just mumble, “Who in their right mind would wear that awful outfit?” Do it for old times' sake and remember me fondly.
David McCoy is a lifetime resident of “The Glorious South” and a repeat winner of the Georgia Press Association's Joe Parham Trophy for his humor column, Pecan Pie for the Mind. David lives in Covington, Georgia but can often be found among the North Georgia mountains, depending on the weather and the availability of clean towels and fresh, hot coffee. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.