Not many 11-year-olds would give all their birthday money to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. But Smokey Youngs isn't your ordinary birthday boy.
Smokey is a black and white, domestic short-haired cat. A mixed-breed for sure, says his adoptive mother,Susan Youngs.
His real mother was an abused calico that had taken refuge at theSPCA of Anne Arundel County. Youngs, a volunteer at the Bay Ridge Road shelter, says Smokey's mom died when he was born.
"I thought hewas dead, too," she recalls. "He was just a blob sitting there."
From the time Youngs brought Smokey to her Annapolis home 11 years ago, she has never let him forget his parents.
"His mother and father had such a terrible life that I told Smokey for one day a year he has to do something to help other animals," Youngs says. "So every year on his birthday, I invite people over, cook a vegetarian meal, and we sing, 'Happy Birthday to Smokey.' "
This year, Youngs also served a cake that read, "Peace to Animals" and had 11 candles.
The party, which raised more than $200 for the SPCA, was last month, thoughSmokey's actual birthday isn't until March 27.
Anyone who wants to wish Smokey well on his birthday is asked to send greetings -- and,more to the point, donations -- to the SPCA of Anne Arundel County, P.O. Box 3471, Annapolis, Md. 21403.
Youngs said Smokey is beside himself at the generosity of his friends.
"Smokey is very excited by all this, because he's never had his name in The Anne Arundel County Sun before."
ILLUSTRATION: PHOTO SPECIAL TO THE ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY SUN -- AARON GOODMAN
CAPTION: Susan Youngs introduces the party animal himself, Smokey, in his birthday hat. Well-wishers are asked to send donations to the county SPCA.
GOP FACTS FOR VIDEO AGE
Statistics are so much fun. They're simple, they're factual, they're easy on the eye, and they seem to reveal something deep and meaningful about society, even when they really don't.
One of the better ones came out last week with the Lisa Renshaw campaign for Congress.
Renshaw, a Republican from Severn who wantsto unseat Eastern Shore incumbent Wayne T. Gilchrest in the 1st District, decided to woo voters at home. In a modern twist on direct mail, she delivered her campaign by video to 15,000 Anne Arundel County households.
This was not just some long shot, either. A survey by her campaign found that 92 percent of Anne Arundel Republicans have video machines, in contrast to the national average of about 60 percent.
That's right -- nine out of 10 households in this county, at least the Republican ones, have video machines.
Of course, this does raise some questions about statistics, Republicans and videotape.
Does that 90 percent mean that Republicans here are better off than elsewhere? And do Democrats fare as well in video machines?
Maybe, all the Republicans have kids, leaving them exhausted by Saturday night. Maybe, they all lead Norman Rockwell lives -- you know, sitting around the television set at night, eating popcorn together and going to bed by 10 p.m. so they can get up for the early church service.
Or, maybe, they're just boring and can't think of any better entertainment than sitting at home with a movie.
It's puzzling. Here are some other, completely random statistics that leave lots of room for sociological analysis:
* About 1 percent of the homes in my Annapolis neighborhood still have Christmas wreaths and other decorations up. (I took mine down last week, and then walked around to see if anyone else was as late.)
* Three out of four St. John's College students were wearing sunglasses while soaking up the rays Monday afternoon. But at least 10 percent of those without sunglasses were reading books! Hmmmmm.
* Ten out of 10 people working that same balmy day said they wished they were doing something else, like lounging around on St. John's campus. That's a whopping 100 percent. Who knows, it may say something significant about the work ethic vs. sunshine.