"I don't want you to write about me again until Labor Day," he said. "I want my fans clamoring for news about the Jaybird."
"Some would be deliriously happy if I never wrote about you again," I said.
"Because eventually you'll be 30 minutes before deadline, and you'll think, what lies can I spread about Jay Bell?"
"'Touche';, senor pussycat.'"
"What's that? A TV reference?"
"Yeah, from 'Tom and Jerry.' Jerry's little mouse friend said it."
"I don't do TV."
Aha! He always accuses me of making things up about him, but I'd just caught him in two whoppers. First, if I waited too long, the Jaybird would hop in his car, drive to Tupelo and repeatedly punch me in the arm until I put him in the Mighty Daily Journal.
But I think I understand why he's pretending reluctance. Today, May 29, is his birthday. The same Budweiser-soaked guy who once slurred, "I ain't gonna live past 35," has turned 42.
As Mick Jagger sang, "What a drag it is getting old."
"I don't feel old," Jay Bell said. "Well, no, that's a lie. The hangovers hang on a lot longer than they used to. Plus, I'm getting fat like you, Morris."
In many ways, Jay's the same guy I met more than 15 years ago in a small, Alabama town. His marital status is single, and he vows to keep it that way; the things you might call sin, Jay calls fun; and no matter what recent headlines say, there's no beating a red Toyota with black interior.
Sadly, no man is immune to the passage of time. That's where Jay's second lie, "I don't do TV," comes in.
True, he doesn't rate sports on television as actual television, and anybody who disagrees "doesn't know nothing about nothing."
Television started to creep into his life when he became a "Survivor" fan. When I pointed that out, the Jaybird said, "That's not TV. That's nearly naked women on a beach."
"What about the men?"
"Don't be an idiot, Morris."
When I called while "Survivor" was on, he answered, "What do you want?"
"I'm watching 'Survivor.'" Click.
I recently got the same treatment when I called during "American Idol." Apparently, he's a big fan of Crystal Bowersox, who placed second to Lee DeWyze in Thursday night's "Idol" finale.
I wanted to confront him about his growing TV habit. Fair's fair: He's been giving me grief about my TV addiction since we met.
Then I remembered he's turning 42. Considering the hard living he's done, that's more like 82 for you and me. Even if I brought up his new-found love for TV, the old guy probably wouldn't remember what we were talking about.
Happy birthday, Jaybird.
M. Scott Morris is a Daily Journal entertainment writer. Contact him at (662) 678-1589 or firstname.lastname@example.org.