Is There a Colonel in the House?
Posted by Larry Wallberg on 01/06/2010
Take a few minutes to try to figure this one out before reading any further.
What do Ann-Margret, Hunter S. Thompson, and Winston Churchill have in common?
The answer is: They’re all Kentucky Colonels.
Some other famous KC’s are or were
- Omar Bradley (whose Kentucky rank was a demotion from his national one),
- both Roy Rogers and Dale Evans (“happy Mammoth Cave Park Long Loop trails to you”),
- Pope John Paul II (His Colonelness),
- Muhammad Ali (“float like an admiral, sting like an army ant”),
- Tiger Woods (who prefers privates), and
- Mae West (“Why don’t you come up and see my bourbon some time?”).
What got me thinking today about Kentucky Colonels was, of course, my previous post. Harland Sanders was probably the most famous K(F)C of all.
But my thoughts didn’t spring only from my recent writing. Ever since I moved to Kentucky in October, wise-ass friends have been asking me, “When are you going to become a Colonel?”
I’m not big on honorifics. Even “Mr.” is too formal for my taste. When people call me “Mr. Wallberg,” my first thought is that they’re talking to my father. My second thought is that they’re nuts, because my father has been dead for more than thirty years.
But “Colonel” is different, because – outside of its actual military use – it’s hilarious. How can anyone take seriously a title associated primarily with a person who fried chicken for a living?
And that’s why I’d like to be a Kentucky Colonel. The comic value would be enormous. If I were a Kentucky Colonel, I could probably get laughs from humor that’s even more lame than my usual drivel. “Colonel” would surely come in handy on those occasions when the only joke I can think of is the one about the twelve-inch pianist. And apparently, I’m not the only comedian who has thought of that, because Betty White, the Smothers Brothers, and Phyllis Diller are all famous KC’s.
So why didn’t I ever try to become a New Yawk Colonel? Well, in order to be a Colonel in New Yawk, you actually have to be a colonel. Obviously, that’s not the case here in Kentucky, where Barry Manilow, Marie Osmond, and Bob Barker have all been named “Colonel.” The only use they’d be to the real military is if someone were needed to smile the enemy to death.
Anyway, today I visited the official Web site of the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels. I figured I could just fill out a form. “Yes, please make me a Kentucky Colonel, and rush me my official string tie.” But it turns out that “[t]o obtain a Kentucky Colonel Commission, an applicant must be recommended by an individual who holds a Colonel Commission.”
Uh-oh. I guess I’ll have to try getting a recommendation. Naturally, I flipped around the site to find a list of Colonels I knew. True to the state’s educational standards, the roster is alphabetized in order of first names. It’s like iTunes, except that the only song available is “My Old Kentucky Home.”
Anyway, I’m putting out the call to Johnny Depp, Jeff Foxworthy, Whoopi Goldberg, and Ashley Judd. (Sorry, but old sorting habits die hard.) And, of course, I’d be grateful to any veteran chicken-fryer who might want to recommend me.
In the meantime, readers of this corn are encouraged to call me Kernel.