"Attention, readers: Given a spate of comments in this space recently that I found to be rude and insensitive, I wanted to inform you that I have ordered Richard to visit the exquisite little Georgia Sea Grill on St. Simons Island and consume massive quantities of corn-fried shrimp. It is my fervent hope that a snootful of shrimp will dramatically improve his attitude and greatly reduce the amount of hyperventilation his intemperate opinions have generated among many of you."
"Hey, lady, who in blazes are you? With that white robe and stupid halo, you look like that cranky old broad in the butter commercial who was always getting her nose out of joint about fooling Mother Nature. And who is this Richard character you keep rattling on about?"
"I am Dick Yarbrough's good side, if you must know, and I refer to him as Richard because that's what his parents called him. Richard was such a sweet and sensitive boy. Said the blessing before every meal. Looked both ways before crossing the street. Never scratched in public. This is the person I want his readers to know. I want them to see him as he can be. Now, might I ask who you are, you horrid little person in your red outfit holding a pitchfork?"
"I am Dick Yarbrough's evil side. I am the one who encourages him to tell it like it is. We are so damned politically correct these days that it makes me want to barf. But not Dick. For example, you'll never see him hyphenate terms like African-American, Arab-American or Lesser Antilles-American. You are either an American, or you are not. Period. No hyphen. I taught him to think that way. If you would take time to read his mail, you would see many people appreciate his unvarnished directness. Those who don't should be forced to do Susan Sarandon's laundry for a month."
"So you are the one responsible for all those mean things he says. Shame on you! And yes, I do read his mail. Some of it is right on target. One reader last week said Richard was 'boring.' That is one charge neither of us can refute. He is about as exciting as crabgrass. But some of his mail shows that readers really don't know him well. One called him a redneck, yet flaggers are convinced he is a Yankee sympathizer. Another accused him of being a conservative extremist, but Southern Baptists believe he is going to you-know-where because they don't allow women preachers and Richard thinks that is dumber than dirt. One reader has labeled him - and I blanch - 'Republican,' but he admires Harry Truman, Sam Nunn, Andrew Young and all of Georgia's past governors more than many Republicans you can name. Richard just has a hard time understanding how anybody could belong to an organization that claims Ted Kennedy as a member."
"Listen, goody two-shoes, leave my man alone. Dick Yarbrough is a lot of things, but he isn't misunderstood. He loves his country passionately and can't abide people who don't. He doesn't like the French because they only work four days a month and spend the rest of their time drinking wine and being jealous of us. Somebody needs to tell them the 17th century is over. Dick hopes that if there is such a thing as reincarnation, Muslim terrorists will come back as pink-clad, purse-toting sissies and find themselves in the meanest honky-tonk in Fannin County on a Saturday night. He hates broccoli, liver and anything broiled. He isn't wild about Alec Baldwin, either. I could go on, but I think you get my point."
"Yes, I do, but let me warn you: I haven't given up on Richard. I am determined to show readers his good side, even if I have to feed him corn-fried shrimp intravenously."
"Lady, give it up. Dick Yarbrough isn't going to pay any attention to you. He is having too much fun listening to his evil side. Besides, when he makes folks mad, he can just shrug and say, 'Don't blame me. The devil made me do it.'"
Reach Dick Yarbrough at P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, GA 31139, or online at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.dickyarbrough.com.