Living up to one's reputation with a quote from H.L. Mencken


May 04, 1994|By DAN RODRICKS

I see where some chap reviewing a new book about H. L. Mencken says I often quote the late great writer. Tell you the truth, folks, I can't remember the last time I quoted Mencken. (Frankly, it's been so long that when I hear the term "Sage of Baltimore," I think of McCormick's.) So maybe I better quote him now and then. Here's today's carefully selected Mencken quote: "Self-respect is the secure feeling that no one, as yet, is


Dinner adventure

A man and his wife, along with another couple -- all of them at least 70 years of age -- went to dinner at the Hunt Valley Szechuan restaurant on Schilling Road last week. Their waiter was a young man, recently arrived from China, who neither spoke nor understood much English. At the end of a highly enjoyable meal, one of the diners said, "Don't forget the sherbet and fortune cookies." One of the women added, "Bring me a good luck cookie."

The waiter returned with dessert and cookies. When the men and women cracked open the cookies, the messages they discovered were filled with profane prophecies and four-letter directives. There was nothing even slightly charming about the messages. We're talking X-rated. When the manager was approached about this, he explained that certain customers who place large orders for parties frequently request the X-rated fortune cookies. Offered as a possible explanation for the foul-up was the inexperienced waiter's confusion over the term "good luck cookie."

Jimmy Wu, top man at Hunt Valley Szechuan, recalled the incident with the four senior citizens and gave the same explanation. "Usually we don't mix the [regular and X-rated] cookies together," he said. "We keep them separate." Wu said he keeps the X-rated fortune cookies in stock because certain customers request them. Otherwise, it's not an item he advertises. Wu -- no relation to the famous Baltimore restaurateur by the same name -- mentioned another Baltimore County restaurant that offers obscene fortune cookies. "Friends give them to friends," he said. "You know, for a joke." Aren't you glad this service is now available in our area?

With apologies

As Betsy Ross once said: "Everybody wants to be the art director!" If it makes them happy, I concede a trifling error to all the carps who called about a mistake in a recent malaprop. (I know it's confusing, but a person can actually make an "unintentional error" while intentionally making a malaprop.) "Sepository" should have been spelled, "suppository," even if the word being intentionally fractured in the April 22 This Just In was "repository." Satisfied? Now back to your holes! . . . A reader in Wiltondale found a real estate listing for a house on Coventry Road with "lonely landscaping." An obvious appeal to people who want to live in exile. . . . Sign in front of a church on Mount Carmel Road, Upperco: "Spring is God's way of saying, 'One more time!' "

Secret is revealed

I heard the first question about a month ago, and it went like this: "Hey Dan, have you seen those little plastic crowns in cars in the city? Ornate little crowns on --boards and in rear windows. What's that all about?" Then, a week later, it came up again in conversation: "I'm seeing crowns in car windows -- what's the symbolism? Is that, like, a symbol for Rodney King or something? You know, crown, King. King, crown?" And, last week, one more inquiry: "I keep seeing these crowns in --boards and rear windows of cars in the city. You know urban stuff, Dan. Is there some kind of cult giving out these crowns?" Finally, I contacted Clifton Cox, an acquaintance who keeps a crown in the rear window of his Jaguar. What's the deal, Clifton? Do you belong to a secret cult? Are you trying to make a statement? What's the point of the crown in your car window? "It's an air freshener," Clifton said. "Pep Boys sells them."

Bank promotion

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.