ERROL CASTENS: Chip has je ne sais quoi, among other faults

By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal

Chip was helping me lug hoses around the blueberry patch, given that watering was about all we could do to help them survive the bad heat.
He told me he’d come up with some new activities for my next family reunion.
“First you get some Moon and Stars watermelons, and see who can orally propel the little gene pods the farthest,” he said.
I knew with all the convoluted description, something bad was coming.
“At the same time, you have everybody play musical chairs,” he added.
As expected, he then dropped the other shoe.
“You combine seed spitting with speed sitting,” he said.
After we’d dragged the first set of hoses into place, I went over the ridge to turn on the faucet.
By the time I returned, Chip was reloaded. He told me that when his wife, Nan, had asked for wardrobe suggestions for a business trip to Phoenix and Flagstaff, he’d suggested taking several hens.
“With visits to an extremely hot climate and a cool one, I figured she should dress in layers,” he said.
I began wondering if it wouldn’t be better just to let the plants die than to endure Chip’s banter, but I stayed with the work, laboriously laying the second set of irrigants, albeit wishing desperate for my MP3 player and some Sousa.
We snaked the hoses around each bush to get the most water on top of its roots, while Chip started telling me about his latest barbecue discoveries – one of which was grilled cheese sandwiches made on the smoker.
“They’re best when you take a really sharp cheese, a manly slab of bread and smoke the whole thing on the grill until it’s way past toasted,” Chip said. “I especially like Swiss charred.”
I took it as a sign that God is still merciful when Jenna, the usual package delivery person in this part of the world, interrupted his spiel by driving up with my latest seed order. I walked to the driveway, offered a greeting and signed for the little box.
Chip was right behind. Nodding to the uniformed lady, he demanded, “Repeat after me: ‘Kwah.’”
Jenna gave me a puzzled look, as though I were responsible for the BBs bouncing around in Chip’s head.
“Just do it,” I said. “He’ll hound you ‘til you do.”
“Repeat after me,” Chip ordered again. “‘Kwah.’”
“Kwah,” she said. “Now, what was that all about?”
“Oh, nothing, really,” he answered.
I’d finally figured it out and didn’t mind exposing him.
“He’s showing off the only French he knows,” I said. “Chip has always fancied himself having a certain Jenna say ‘kwah.’”

Contact Daily Journal Oxford Bureau reporter Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or

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