You can call me Bamanishas.

Published 2:17 pm Thursday, September 3, 2009

There&squo;s a good reason that becoming a stand up comedian was relatively easy for me: I&squo;m from the south. Living here, you don&squo;t have to write material, it generally just happens. And while it&squo;s difficult for others residing north, east, and west of here to fathom, tales that are intrinsically southern happen with, at least to me, appreciative prolificacy.One such example occurred several years ago while still living in Los Angeles. My dear, late, theatrical agent, Judy Schoen, had invited both my manager and myself to a

luncheon in her beautifully ppointed home. Judy, originally hailing from Atlanta, enjoyed her tipple, smoked like a chimney and could cuss a sailor under the table.As we sat around her dinner table, the late afternoon light streaming over open bottles of wine and crumpled linen napkins, Judy suddenly flung both hands in the air and crowed, &dquo;Pam Stone! I am so glad you are here because each time I tell this story, no one believes me, but since you&squo;re also from the south, you can back me up to all these Californians who think I&squo;m crazy.&dquo;I took a mouthful of burgundy and grinned, pleased to be her comrade in arms.&dquo;Well, &dquo; said Judy, stubbing out her cigarette and warming up, &dquo;This happened a good while back, but a neighborhood lady in Atlanta had, for years, a housekeeper named Bamanishas.&dquo;It should be pointed out that each guest, upon hearing this opening gambit, raised a collective eyebrow. Noting her credibility was being questioned, Judy pointed a crimson-tipped finger at me and said, &dquo;Now, see there, Pam? Right off the bat, they don&squo;t believe someone could be called Bamanishas.&dquo;&dquo;Trust me,&dquo; I said to the others, coming to her aid. &dquo;In the south it&squo;s entirely probable. Likely, even.&dquo; Giving me a nod of approval she continued, &dquo;Well, Bamanishas worked for this woman for years and years and every Friday, the woman would pay her in cash for her week&squo;s wages. Now, one Friday, she says to Bamanishas, &dquo;I&squo;m so sorry, Bamanishas, but I didn&squo;t get to the bank in time to get your money. Would you mind awfully if I wrote you a check?&dquo; And Bamanishas said, &dquo;No ma&squo;am, that&squo;ll be fine.&dquo; So the woman takes out her checkbook and starts to write out a check but says, &dquo;You know, Bamanishas, I&squo;m embarrassed to say this after all the time you&squo;ve worked for me, but I don&squo;t know how to spell your name!&dquo; &dquo;That&squo;s no problem,&dquo; says Bamanishas, &dquo;You spell it M-a-r-y J-a-n-e.&dquo;Here Judy broke off the story as she leaned forward to light up another Benson and Hedges and waited deliciously for the confusion that followed. Taking a hearty drag and exhaling slowly through her nostrils, she smiled slyly and continued.&dquo;But I don&squo;t understand,&dquo; said the woman. &dquo;That spells Mary Jane.&dquo;&dquo;Yes Ma&squo;am.&dquo;&dquo;But you told me your name was Bamanishas! The first day you started working here, I asked you what I should call you and you said Bamanishas.&dquo;&dquo;No, Ma&squo;am~ you asked me what you should call me and I said you can call me by my initials.&dquo;Surrounded immediately by a chorus of &dquo;I don&squo;t believe it!&dquo; and &dquo;No way!&dquo; Judy threw back her brassy head and roared with laughter, &dquo;It&squo;s true! It&squo;s true!&dquo;And the thing is, even if this particular story isn&squo;t true, being the south, it certainly could be true. Afterall, we are the home of sweet tea at all three meals, children who call their grandmothers, &dquo;Meemaw,&dquo; and men who, in tribute to Dale Earnhardt, have shaved the number &squo;3&squo; in the hair on their back.You see? It just happens…

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