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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Dogs, Chickens, High Fashion, and Dave

So, did all you alert readers (to borrow a signature Dave Barry phrase) notice a ''house ad'' - that's newspaperspeak for ads in the Herald promoting Herald people/things/events - on page 5B of the final edition this morning?

''We're serious about blogs,'' it says, then goes on to picture four Herald bloggers - including yours truly - and a decidedly unserious photo of Dave (is there any other kind?), who's no longer an official Herald person but remains involved in several ways, including writing his own blog for us.

Well, this gives me the opportunity to reprint a column Dave wrote about me and my pets in 1993, which conferred immortality on my barnyard fowl, Chuck E. Chicken; Harpo (pictured here), the golden/collie mix who came to Florida with me from Kentucky in 1989, and Maybelline, a rescue Dalmatian (all, alas, deceased).

I had recently been the Herald's fashion writer which, considering my uniform of jeans and more jeans, was so absurd that I'll borrow another Dave-ism and swear I'm not making this up.

In the meantime, here's the column, which is as funny today as it was at the time (who else but Dave can throw dogs, chickens, high fashion, Henry Kissinger, and of course, boogers, into the imaginary hopper and come up with something that makes sense, in its own whacko way)?



DAVE BARRY Herald Columnist

Recently I had the honor of being asked to vote in the International Best Dressed Poll. According to the information accompanying the Official Ballot, this is a worldwide poll, conducted annually since 1940, of 1,000 "fashion professionals, journalists and others with the daily opportunity to see fashion at its best."

I was very proud to be asked to vote, although in all honesty I should note that I was not, technically, asked by the Best Dressed Poll Committee. I was asked by Ellie Brecher, who received a ballot because she used to cover fashion for The Miami Herald. She gave me her ballot because she was busy trying to get somebody to adopt an extra dog she had acquired.

Ellie collects stray animals. One time she collected a chicken, named Chuck E. Chicken, which she found wandering around as a baby (I mean the chicken was a baby). When you went over to Ellie's place, there would be Chuck, striding nervously around on the floor, trying not to get stepped on, shooting her head forward and back in the manner of chickens and middle-aged people trying to read restaurant menus.

Me, I'd never have a house chicken. I'd be afraid that some night, while I was sleeping, the chicken, fed up with almost being stepped on, would hop onto the bed and peck my eyeballs out. Why not? What would stop her? Fear of arrest? No, society has very little hold over chickens, unlike dogs, which are desperately eager to please society, because society, unlike dogs, knows how to open dog-food cans.

Speaking of dogs, Ellie has acquired a stray one, a Dalmatian named Maybelline, because, as Ellie notes, "she looks like she's wearing eye makeup." Ellie can't keep Maybelline, because she (Ellie) already has three dogs, including one named Harpo, who has asthma, which means that Ellie has to squirt a nasal inhaler up each of Harpo's nostrils twice a day, a procedure that, if you count the time required to get Harpo calmed down afterward, can consume as much as seven hours per nostril. Thus we see why, what with one thing and another, Ellie simply did not have time to participate in this year's International Best Dressed Poll.

To help voters decide whom to vote for, the Poll Committee sent along a recommended list of "international personalities," including princes, princesses, counts, duchesses, entertainment stars, moguls and people with names such as -- this is a real name -- "Mrs. Sumner Pingree III." You just know that a person with a name like that has a monthly footwear budget larger than your mortgage payment.

Also included with the ballot was a list of people who have been inducted into the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame, including Ronald Reagan, Mrs. Henry Kissinger, Queen Elizabeth II and Bianca Jagger. I'm sure these international personalities all deserve the honor, although in all candor the Queen does occasionally appear in public wearing what appears to be motel furniture on her head. But we all have fashion lapses. Two years ago, for example, I flew all the way from Miami to California to make a speech, and when I got there I discovered that I had one black shoe and one brown shoe. Fortunately I was speaking to people from the newspaper industry, where you're considered to be at the height of fashion sophistication if you have your pants on frontward, so nobody noticed.

Speaking of the newspaper industry and Mrs. Henry Kissinger and nostrils, I feel compelled at this time to tell you about the Nov. 13, 1992, issue of the Brazilian newspaper Jornal do Brasil, which was sent in by alert reader James Phillips. The front page features two large color photographs of Mr. Henry Kissinger, former U.S. Secretary of State and winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace, aggressively picking his nose at a trade conference in Rio de Janeiro. I am not making this up. The first photo shows Mr. Kissinger sitting with his translation earphones on and a little American flag in front of him. He has that faraway look that guys get when engaged in nasal maneuvers; his whole consciousness appears to be centered in his left pinkie, which is wedged deep into his left nostril. In the second photo, he has the same look on his face, only now he is holding something between his thumb and his forefinger, and his mouth is open, and . . . yuck.

The caption under the pictures makes no mention of this. It merely states that Mr. Kissinger is in town for the conference. Apparently the Jornal do Brasil did not wish to cause any embarrassment for Mr. Kissinger, other than to run two large color photographs of him on the front page playing Booger Patrol.

I felt bad for Henry, so I decided, as a humanitarian gesture, to vote for him in the International Best Dressed Poll. I had a harder time deciding whom to vote for in the women's category, but I finally settled on an individual who has perfected an elegant yet exuberant look, a brand-new "take" on the classic black-and-white motif. This is an individual with breeding, personality, soulful eyes and -- above all -- a keen sense of smell. I refer of course to Maybelline Brecher.


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