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Gator

Posted: February 13, 2017 3:45 p.m.
Updated: February 14, 2017 1:00 a.m.

A while back, we were in Canada for a movie that was filming there. One night, the shooting lasted until late so it was about midnight when we got back to the room. Trying to key down from the day, I started surfing the channels when, suddenly, I squealed with delight.

"Gator! I can’t believe this!"  I clapped my hands and danced around the room like a child. I love the movie “Gator” which stars Burt Reynolds as Gator McKluskey. It is the sequel to "White Lightning," which is about a Southern moonshiner who is given an early prison release in order to help the feds. I don’t like it near as much as “Gator” which has, basically, the same plot.

Tink, unbuttoning his shirt, stopped and looked at the plasma screen on the wall. “Oh, no,” he groaned. “I came to Canada to get away from that.”

"That," of course, would reference the Southern redneck movies which I adore. Give me Burt and his sidekick, Jerry Reed, together in a movie and I’ll be entertained a long time.

I sighed. "I love Canada. It's been so long since I’ve seen this movie." Canadians are the nicest people in the world, always pleasant and courteous. Take my advice and visit Canada for the people and not the television. It's about five channels of terrible television and what they do have is mostly recycled bad American shows. This probably demonstrates, though, why they’re so nice  -- they don’t watch all the violence, rudeness, and ugliness that we watch.

Tink was subjected to that movie for the next two hours. When Lauren Hutton blew a kiss to Burt and he climbed into his car to drive off up a long, graveled, tree-lined road, I was blissfully content. Throughout that movie as with other similar movies, I laughed out loud whenever someone made a crack about Southerners or Reynolds poked fun at himself.

"How can you laugh at that?" Tink will ask. “Aren’t you insulted when people make fun of Southerners in these movies?"

"Why? I only laugh when it’s true and I NEVER laugh when anyone besides a Southerner says it. That’s one of the best traits about Southerners -- we can laugh at ourselves. We're united in wit."

We Southerners have a unique sense of humor where we tell stories on ourselves or on each other then howl with laughter. But dear Lord, please protect the outsider who casts one sideward glance at our people or says one word about the way we talk. Once in Los Angeles, someone asked with a mocking laugh, "Do you guys really marry your relatives?"

"No," I replied without a second’s delay or even a smile. "We have laws agin it." Tink, who had drawn a sharp breath and held it when he heard the question, threw back his head and roared at the reply. I looked at him and said, straight-faced, "We do."

When Burt Reynolds’ memoir, "But Enough About Me," was published, Tink bought me a copy and I relished every chapter and every story. Burt, a proud Southerner, said they discovered a formula that worked and repeated it for several movies -- Southern good ol’ boy gets in trouble and outsmarts the law and the bad guys with a lot of car stunts.

Hal Needham, famed stunt man, was living in Burt’s guesthouse following a divorce. One morning, Needham walked in and threw down a yellow legal pad on which he had hand-written a script. It was "Smokey and The Bandit." It would become the second highest grossing film of 1977. The first was "Star Wars."

Here’s three things you might not know about me: 1) I once got thrown out of the White House (a story for another day), 2) I love buttermilk and 3) I have never seen a Star Wars movie.

But I still have my original vinyl of the "Smokey and Bandit" soundtrack.

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