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The Observer March 24

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COWBOY FANS: In Afghanistan.
  • COWBOY FANS: In Afghanistan.
Army National Guard Maj. Paul Suskie, North Little Rock’s city attorney who’s now lawyering over in Kabul, Afghanistan, has been sending regular newsletters to his friends back home. The Observer doesn’t know what Suskie wrote last time out, but it must have been something about missing the Dallas Cowboys, or the sun, or both. In the return mail came 72 Dallas Cowboy hats, and a note that another 72 were on the way from Cowboy vice president of marketing Bill Priakos and Amanda Hines. The Cowboy fans at the Kabul Compound of Combined Forces Command grabbed some, and the rest Suskie took to a local orphanage. Suskie writes that the hats were a “huge hit” with the kids, who, unlike every kid in Arkansas, have never owned gimme caps. He sent along a picture of the kids, and noted, “Maybe we have a future Dallas Cowboy, the NFL’s first Afghan, in one of these pictures.” Now there’s some forward progress! Kabul to kickoffs! When the mail brought The Observer a toy catalogue specifically aimed at grandparents, we knew the marketers of the world had our number — our age, that is. What they didn’t know, and maybe the only thing, was that we started late and our child is but a teen-ager. It’s like Megan Woodell. Megan was born in 1986 at a flea market in Louisville, Ky., but other than that her life has been uneventful. Marketers have tracked her and her parents through three address changes in three states: Diaper coupons at first, then toy catalogues, then the credit card companies came knocking. Did she need contact lenses? Insurance? Now, the mail has come full circle, and she’s getting the baby business again. Their persistence has not paid off. Megan’s not much of a mail-order girl. She’s not even much of a girl. She doesn’t exist. She was created by Peggy and Tony Woodell, who, in trying to win a free vacation on one of their Sunday jaunts to the flea market, were asked to write down what name they’d give a child if they had one. That’s all it took. The Woodells are happy to see Megan’s mail arrive. If you’re going to be hounded your life long by people wanting to sell you something, it’s nice to have the last laugh. Advertising is everywhere, and we hate it — the fact that ads keep the lights on in the Observatory notwithstanding. We must admit, however, that a new species of this intellectual kudzu gave us a bit of a chuckle. Tanking up on $2-a-gallon petrol the other day, we spotted a small placard, no bigger than a paperback book, attached to the hose that came out of the pump. “Advertise here!” the sign said. It gave us a smile, one of the few we’ve had at the gas station lately, thanks to the Mobile Observatory’s seemingly bottomless 20-gallon tank. Because on the flip side it asked “Need Extra Money?” It gave a toll-free number and instructed, “Ask for Charity.” Talk about perfect placement. If go-juice gets any more dear, The Observer may soon be forced to take Charity up on the offer. The Observer’s delight at a Southwest Airline gate attendant’s sense of humor drew a comment from reader Mary Waters. She wrote to say that when boarding began on her Southwest flight recently, the attendant announced: “Those travelers with children may board early ... [pause] ... of course, you must actually have the children with you in order to do that.” They’re a stitch, those Southwest folks. A flurry of e-mails in the Times office debated the various merits of the city’s liquor dealers and showed us, in the fine tradition of newspaper staff everywhere, to have our opinions when it comes to spirits. The capper to the debate: “I like Warehouse on Main. They have every fruit flavor of Cisco in existence and the fifths of Mad Dog 20/20 are the least expensive you’ll find.”

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