Hon Man called. Monday, the day we noted the absence of "Hon" from the otherwise ordinary welcome sign on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. The secretive sprite who keeps that familiar Bawlamerism in place called to explain why northbound commuters haven't seen it of late.
"I've been under a lot of pressure at work the last couple of months," Hon Man said. "And I gotta be in a good mood to put that sign up. I gotta be happy. I'm basically a happy fellow. But I've been under a lot of pressure lately."
About two years ago, someone spray-painted "Hon," the Bawlamerese term of endearment, after the words "Welcome to Baltimore" on the wooden sign at the city line. It was an act of grand eloquence, humor and pride. But state workers were ordered to erase the word. We never knew the name of the mysterious person who committed that first act of honorable vandalism. "It wasn't me," Hon Man said. "It was somebody else. I saw that [spray-painted] 'Hon' right after it went up and I almost drove off the road laughing so hard. But I didn't think it should be painted on. So, one day, I was sitting around my office with nothing to do, and I took out a ruler and a Magic Marker and some paper and I made the letters for 'Hon.' And then I Xeroxed them and attached them, then I laminated them. . . . I reversed them and made them white-on-black letters, but only a few times. Mostly, they've been black on white.
"I never put it up it at night. I went once at night and that place on the parkway, well, that's not the kind of place you want to be at night. So I go during the day. People see me doing it, some of them honk their horns. I staple the sign on. I center the 'o' in 'Hon' right below the 'i' in Baltimore.
Why do I do this? I like the mischief, I guess. Look, I'm 59 years old, I sell toilet paper and janitorial supplies for a living, I've been married 39 years. I'm a conservative guy. I don't drink, I don't smoke. I play the Lotto once in a while. This is a thrill for me. This is my 15 minutes of glory, of fame." Hon Man said he's feeling better now. "Your column cheered me up," he said. "Tell everyone I said thanks for the support." By Monday afternoon, "Hon" was back in place. But count on a roads crew to take it down. "No problem," Hon Man said. "I have a whole trunk full of Hons."
Hope for civilization
A new gas gas station and minimart has opened on the east side of Ritchie Highway near Jumpers Hole Road boasting two things: Low prices and clean bathrooms! When was the last time you heard of a gas station pushing bathrooms? There's still hope for Western civilization.
High-fives to the Woodlawn Rams, Maryland Pop Warner football champs in the 10-12 age group. They clobbered a team from Jersey Shore, Pa., 37-12, last Saturday to take the Mid-Atlantic Championship. That's impressive, considering there are about 1,000 Pop Warner teams in the 10-12 division around the country.
Now the Rams will face the Georgia state champs at the Pop Warner Super Bowl Dec. 11 in Santa Clara, Calif.
The team and its boosters, anticipating success that could take them out of state, have been raising money for travel and accommodations. But coach Tony Lee thinks he'll need another $13,000 to make the trip to California.
Twenty-nine players, five coaches and two team moms will be going, if the Rams can come up with the cash.
"One thing you should know," Lee says. "All our boys have to have at least a 73 average in school to stay on the team. We had 30 boys and only one didn't make it. We're really proud of that." High-fives all around.
Bob Marchinetti, a fellow connoisseur of malaprops, is blessed with a friend who has produced countless slips of the tongue. His friend, who lives in Arbutus, has acknowledged as much. "I know I have a tendency to blooble," he once said. "So," adds Marchinetti, "that's what we always call it -- bloobling." Marchinetti, being a generous fellow, shares some of his friend's bloobles with us today.
On giving directions: "If you can't find us, just call. We're in the phone booth."
On sports: "I hate games played on sympathetic turf. . . . It was so crowded, the seats were jammed apart. . . . I bought some souvenir ivory at Wrigley Field; it grows on the wall there. . . . This could turn into a real fist-a-fuss. . . . Let's play until 10 or 11, whichever comes first."
Marchinetti also recalled a classic slip from the lips of a Baltimore TV reporter: "The escaped convict vowed to be taken alive." Film at 11!
A wonder in Hebbville
This you gotta see: A 30-foot high Christmas tree -- huge! -- constructed of steel, adorned with artificial evergreen and garland and lights, tiered 10 times and with enough narrow, wooden platform along the tiers to hold up to 110 singers. Awesome!
This is the eighth year the "living tree" has filled the large sanctuary of Arlington Baptist Church, North Rolling Road, Hebbville. Choir members will take their places in the tree Dec. 12 for the first of five concerts. This might be one of the seven wonders of Baltimore.