But You Don't Look Funny

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But You Don't Look Funny

          For twenty-two years, Linda Salisbury delighted readers with her weekly humor column, first published in the Punta Gorda Herald, then the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Two collections, Good-bye Tomato; Hello Florida, and Read My Lips: No New Pets delighted readers, and this new book is filled with new material, plus a few favorites from the early books.

          But You Don’t Look Funny covers a wide-range of her favorite topics: clutter, fruitcake, Mad Cat Disease, cooking mishaps, grits, red lights, marriage, dieting, kids and much more. Salisbury describes her dog as having teeth that included wire ships that he used to break chains. “His paws had glass cutters to remove jalousie panes. He is a cross between a terrier and a Swiss Army knife.” Another frequent topic is Man in My Life, who “suffered from delusions of neatness,” and had personal encounters with the Red Light Fairy, who saw him coming on U.S. 41 and waved her wand at the traffic signals.

She writes about vacationing with family at a timeshare, where all the towels were beige, and finds and pokes fun at herself and situations she finds herself in.


When cats curl up with a book

“Here’s how you are supposed to read a newspaper,” Man in My Life explained one recent morning.
          “You must hold it at no more than an eighty-five-degree angle to the kitchen table, elevate it at least four inches above your lap, like so. Whatever you do, don’t let it touch the table.”
          His words of advice came too late. I can’t even say that they were appreciated. MML was happily reading the local section. My efforts to digest the morning news had come to a halt. The article that had captured my attention was covered with about eight pounds of purring fur. “She likes you,” said MML.
          It was not the first time I had such cat obstructions. The cat, who has nothing to do with me the rest of the day; the cat, who will not sit on my lap while I’m relaxing in my chair in the evening, is the same cat that is obsessed with sleeping on my newspaper while I’m reading it in the morning. What’s more, she knows what story I’m reading, and makes sure that every word is blocked.
          I suppose I should listen to MML’s advice to avoid the daily interference from the wild kingdom, but how one reads the newspaper is a very personal matter. I have observed various folding techniques. My father was a commuter on the Long Island Rail Road. He and his fellow travelers folded their papers into long narrow strips to conserve elbow space as they crowded together in the passenger cars. Their paper-folding skills were matched only by international origami experts.
          Some people spread out the sections all over a table. Others use their papers as a tent, hiding behind it to avoid too much conversation before coffee. Sunday papers are another matter. They are best read after being dismantled and spread out on a couch, a series of coffee tables, or the floor.
          That is in an ideal world. An ideal world for newspaper reading, as those of us with cats know, does not include cats. Cats are attracted to paper—the noisier the better. Cats are not readers and would prefer that anyone who has the time to read should instead spend quality time with their cat.
          The cat that is fond of using my newspaper for a morning nap has a sister who dislikes books. Just as I’m comfortably settled down in bed to read for a few minutes, Tippy invariably arrives. She has quite a lot to say as she traverses the bedspread. She ignores her beloved MML and his book, and settles down in my lap, pushing and shoving my book until there is no room for it. If I am in a feline-heartless, literary mood and push her aside, Tippy has been known to take revenge. She kicks all the books off my night table.
          “She likes you,” said MML, happily reading his book, while I set my trifocals and book aside to pet his cat, who has settled determinedly where a book—my book—should be.
          “If she liked me any better I would be illiterate,” I mumbled.
          “She wants you to pet her and talk to her,” said MML, his eyes fixed on the printed word. “She misses you while you’re at work all day. Then you come home. Is your first thought about the cats and their needs or do you read the mail?”
          He had a point. I’ve been preoccupied with projects. I do look at the mail before I feed the cats. It’s been a long time since I had the cats gather around for a little game of bird.
          (Lest the Audubon Society misunderstand, the game of bird is played as follows: You take a yardstick, tie a string on one end and tie a wadded piece of newspaper—the bird—on the other end of the string. You flick and dangle and drag the bird in front of the cats. Kittens will crouch and leap for hours. However, older sedentary cats will position themselves in a circle and watch the woman of the house absurdly wave the yardstick wand in front of them. They will perhaps yawn and occasionally raise a lazy paw to snare the bird as it flies by.)
          I know I’m being used—that they may even be laughing at me behind my back—but I can’t think of many other games to play with them that I find pleasurable. I declined their invitations to the garden to hunt lizards and snakes. I haven’t had much ambition to climb the screens or bat a variety of objects (such as pens, refrigerator magnets and bottle caps) across the kitchen floor to a secret hiding place under the stove. I haven’t had much desire to take a nap on top of the printer, or to walk on the piano keys. I haven’t thought about climbing in a brown paper bag since I was in elementary school and we used them for Halloween masks. I’ve never thought of listening to someone call and call and call my name while I sat just out of sight and said nothing—not one little meow.
          By cat standards, I guess I’ve lead a dull life. No wonder they want to get me out of my routine—away from newspapers and books.
          On the other hand, cats do not know what they are missing by not reading. A friend recently gave us a book on the history of cats. In the brief moments that I was able to peruse its pages, I saw an invention that intrigues me: a Victorian cat piano. There were a series of boxes attached to a keyboard. In each box sat a cat. When keys were depressed, a lever poked the appropriate cat, which involuntarily sang a note of choice.
          The Victorian Cat Piano is not something that would be allowed today. I certainly am not advocating its use, especially by small children, even if they are taking music lessons. Forget I mentioned it.
          If I am serious about spending more quality time with the cats, perhaps I should try reading to them. Maybe if they felt more included in my activities, they would be less disruptive and more understanding. I’ll read the morning newspaper to Lo and Behold (her name) and bedtime stories to her sister, Tippy. Perhaps I’ll start with the chapter on musical Victorian cats—once I figure out how to fold the book.

“I downloaded ‘You Don't Look Funny" on my Kindle & laughed myself to sleep!’ ”

Alice  Dalton Brown 

I want to tell you, I read "But you don't look funny" yesterday . . . ALL of it. O. MY. GAWD. I peed with wild laughter when I read the camping slideshow . . . . ahahahahahahahaha . . . I, literally, had to put the book down and wipe the tears away when you were trading for COFFEE. . . .OH what a glorious day of reading it was! I laughed and laughed and cried (you were right downstreet from me on 9/11) and cried and laughed some more.

Jennifer Hlavach

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