The Corner

A Title and a Name

The first item in Impromptus today is on Michelle Obama and her recent consuming of ribs. (This pleased me, seeing as she has been such a food-and-health scold.) The column is titled “A lady’s rib, &c.” A reader in Tel Aviv writes, “I read, and enjoyed, your latest. [I blush.] But didn’t you mean to title it ‘Madam’s rib . . .’?”

I can only say, Homer Simpson-style, d’oh! That’s a much better title. Some of my critics claim that I take my instructions straight from Israel. Maybe I should . . .

I also have, in today’s Impromptus, a great name, supplied to me by a reader in, I think, South Carolina. That name: the Rev. Demon Sox. He showed up in a news story recently. A different reader now writes,

Dear Mr. Nordlinger,

Your reference to Rev. Demon Sox in today’s Impromptus inspired me to offer Quail Bantam Partridge.

I worked for Mr. Partridge in the summer of 1970 when he was superintendent for an Oklahoma-based construction company that was building a pipeline across northwest Iowa. He hired my best friend and me as laborers to help the skilled guys from Tulsa dig, set, and weld the pipeline.

Whenever the rain prevented the welders from working, which happened at least once a week, the pipeliners would bring out their own felt-covered dice table. Then they would drink beer and gamble. Mr. Partridge was right in the middle of it. Once I saw him win more than $3,000 on a single throw. I had never seen that much cash money in one place; I had not even seen gambling.

You might think that the pipeliners, who never tired of razzing each other, would make fun of Mr. Partridge’s name. But they never did, not even when he was out of earshot. Maybe it was a combination of respect, because he was a very good boss, and prudence, because he also was big and formidable. I always wanted to ask him the origin of his name, but never summoned the gumption to do so.


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