ERROL CASTENS: Chip punishes the King’s English



I was standing in the front-end loader on Chip’s tractor, whittling an 18-wheeler load of pulpwood into small chunks. Chip moved me and the loader over a few feet at a time as the logs became a pile of billets below.

Operating a chain saw seven feet off the ground on a narrow platform that can move seven directions probably doesn’t merit a chapter in “How to Reach Old Age in One Piece,” but it’s fast and cheap and counts toward renewal on my Man Card. Chip lowered me to the ground for a break. When we killed both engines, he started filling the silence with his own noise.

“Those who wear a sleeveless jacket to cover a concealed weapon must consider their pistol a vested interest,” he mused.

I wished for a Dremel to sharpen the saw – more for the racket than the convenience – as Chip started telling about a dentist who frequented a house of ill repute.

“The madam noticed a couple of her employees had imperfect teeth, so she asked the dentist for a few free dental crowns,” Chip said. “But he balked at doing charity work for a for-profit enterprise: He asked the madam, ‘Am I my brothel’s capper?’”

I was refilling the saw’s tanks when he began a tale of his days in the Oregon woods. Lumberjacks went to local taverns after work most days to wet their whistle.

“If you’re of a sensitive nature, never frequent a bar in timber country. Wherever you find loggers drinking lagers,” Chip said, “there’s going to be a distinct atmosphere of homophonia.”

I drank some water and tried humming to drown out his nonsense but only succeeded in nearly drowning myself.

“Some people have contracted diseases from social media,” he deadpanned. “You’ve probably heard of the mania called ‘ROFL.’ The most severe strain must come from China, as it was apparently named for the country’s late chairman.”

I must have looked blank.

“You know,” he said. “ROFLMAO.”

While I sharpened a few more teeth on the saw, Chip asked, “Did you hear about the funeral director who stole a competitor’s hearse?”

I hadn’t but was sure he would fill me in.

“He pushed it into a lake to try to sabotage the other guy’s business, but those last-ride Cadillacs are built so watertight, it just sat there and floated,” Chip droned. “It was still dry enough when the police found it that they got his fingerprints off the steering wheel.”

By that time I was well-watered, and the saw was filed and filled, but Chip wasn’t quite finished.

“The moral of the story is this,” he said as he reached toward the tractor key. “‘You can leave a hearse in water, but you can’t make it sink.’”

Contact Daily Journal Oxford reporter Errol Castens at (662) 816–1282 or

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