MAJOR ASHPOLE                                                                                        


   There is a popular conception that it’s good to be popular, but I don’t think popularity is worth it.

   Popular people don’t have much peace and quiet in their lives.

   Maybe they like it that way, but the less the telephone rings, the happier I am, especially at meal times.

   People who know how to make good fried chicken are usually popular.

   I don’t know whether popular people are naturally good at frying chicken or whether people become popular because their fried chicken is so good. 

   Either way, sooner or later, if your fried chicken is the key attraction, you’ll have to wonder whether people really like you for yourself or whether they’re just after your well-turned thighs and juicy breasts.

   Popularity is good if you’re a prostitute, and you don’t have to wonder what the attraction is. 

   They say the way to man’s heart is through his stomach but if I were a woman and wanted to be popular with men, I think I’d spend a lot of time on their eyeballs.

   Men are visual.  Most men can get turned on by a mannequin if the proportions and protrusions are right and she’s wearing something tight and low cut. 

   She doesn’t even need a head.  In fact, I think most men would prefer it that way.

   My sister understood the eyeball principle for attracting males and she wanted to wear tight, low cut clothes to school to stay popular, but my mother wouldn’t allow it.  So my sister would stuff skimpy clothing into her book bag and change later.

   Then she’d come home crying because she’d had a problem with some other popular kid at school who wore even tighter clothes, and then she’d spend hours on the phone to see if she was still popular.

   I spent a lot of my time alone in the back yard shooting baskets and squirrels. 

   I wasn’t all that popular with the squirrels, but I didn’t have to face them in school every day and none of them knew how to use a telephone, so I kept shooting them, and on the whole, I think I was a lot happier than my sister. 

   I used a bb rifle to shoot the squirrels, and I pumped it up just enough to sting them.

   They may not have fully appreciated my restraint, but whether they did or not didn’t affect which parties I got invited to.

   A back yard is a wonderful thing if you have a good one. 

   It’s a place where you can be alone and still be outside, and you can have a snack while you’re shooting something and you don’t have to share it with what you’re shooting.

   Eating outside at fancy restaurants has become popular over the years, but if it’s warm enough to go al fresco then it’s warm enough for mosquitoes and bees, so I stay inside.

   It’s one thing to have to swat something away while you’re eating a Twinkie in your back yard. 

   But if I’m paying through the nose for ambiance, I don’t want anything else with a proboscis sucking my blood while I’m sucking bordelaise.

   And I resent it if I have to carefully time my stabs at the teriyaki shrimp so I don’t get stabbed by a hornet who’s even grumpier than I am if he doesn’t get to eat alone.

   Single people want to be popular with other single people because they’re afraid of being alone.

   Then they start meeting other singles in bars and they realize that the main reason people get married is to not be single. 

   Even a bad marriage is better than a string of good ladies’ nights, and that probably goes double if you’re one of the ladies.

   If you’re one of the single guys, throwing parties that attract hordes of single women is a good way to be popular with other single guys. 

   Introducing them to a woman whose name ends up in the same sentence as “hordes of” and “Kwell” isn’t.

   It’s always a risk when you introduce one person to another.

   If they don’t get along they blame you for introducing them to each other, and then you’re not popular with either one of them.

   I’ve started introducing everyone I meet to everyone I know, and now I seem to be enjoying more peace and quiet than ever before.

   I’m not as popular as I used to be, but when I make a great batch of fried chicken I don’t have to worry about someone else grabbing my well-turned thighs and juicy breasts before I do.


Dear Major Ashpole,

   In a previous essay, you objectified women through your comments about female aerobic instructors.

   Now, you’ve objectified women as little more than headless mannequins to be mindlessly drooled over, and you’ve managed to defile fried chicken at the same time.

   What’s next?  Corned beef hash as a body massage?

   By the way, I’m a recently divorced 41 year old woman who will match my thighs with any young aerobics instructor--male or female--and I like frying chicken, making corned beef hash, and receiving gifts of expensive jewelry.

Dominique Younglove, Ph.D.

Licensed Sex Therapist

Hormel, MN

Dear Dominique,

   Actually, I thought I had objectified fried chicken as something headless to mindlessly drool over, and handed a compliment to mannequin designers, but I’m willing to defer to a reader’s perception in these matters.  

   And I’m glad I’ve been able to help you address your repressed sexual feelings.

   My advice is to make sure the corned beef hash cools down before you start the massage, especially if it’s one of the fattier brands.

Dear Major Ashpole,

   In a previous essay, you suggested that bicycle riders running over squirrels in the woods is a desirable activity. 

   But now you’ve really gone too far.

   As an organization that would rather see human beings die by the thousand than have research performed on lab rats, we don’t find any humor in the practice of shooting defenseless animals for sport, even if, as you claim, you were only stinging them.

   Perhaps worst of all, by writing about this barbaric activity, you glorify it for young readers who may unfortunately be moved to follow your horrid example.

   We suggest that you take greater care before writing about such practices in the future, unless you want your computer screen covered in imitation mink blood.

Ernest Khilling

Director of Threats and Usurping The Civil Rights Of Others

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

Washington, DC

Dear Ernest,

    I suggest you leave the care of young readers to their parents.

    That’s what I do.

   P.S. Apple Computer specifically recommends against using anything on its computer screens other than a cloth dampened with water.

   So when abusing the computers of citizens who have exercised their Constitutional rights of free speech and personal choice, please use only a soft, lint-free cloth, dampened with the aforementioned liquid, and be sure not to get any liquid into the edges of the screen.

   P.P.S. If I had to shoot animals who could defend themselves, it wouldn’t be with a bb rifle.

   P.P.P.S. For the benefit of parents of young children, I would suggest that the best bb rifles--and safety instructions for their use--can be seen online at:

Dear Major Ashpole,

   I make great fried chicken but I’m not popular at all except with people who only know me from television.

   Could it be that my breasts just aren’t juicy enough?


Joy Behar

New York, NY

Dear Joy,

   I wouldn’t touch that line with a ten foot gizzard.

Dear Major Ashpole,

   I consider the world of concerned citizens to be my back yard. 

   If only we could all live in peace as if we did live together in one great big back yard, we could forget about silly things like global warming and children in the United States living in poverty, and prepare for the Rapture as one big family.

   Beat Harvard! (or Yale, I forget which).

George W. Bush

America’s Greatest Living Ex-President,

Crawford, The Country of Texas, or Connecticut (I forget which)


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