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No-style travels

Chutzpah is alive and well and working for South Africa

For those who don't know the definition of that Yiddish term, read the transcript of this recent phone conversation:

"Mr. Jenkins, it's Beth (name withheld out of thoughtfulness), with the public relations firm representing tourism to South Africa. A top South African tourism official will be in Florida soon and we thought you'd like to interview him."

"Thanks, but my paper printed a lengthy article on visiting South Africa, less than a year ago."

"Oh. Well, it seems opportune, what with February being Black History Month."

"Excuse me, but do you know what you're suggesting? That I speak with a representative of the one nation in the whole world that is most associated with racism, as America observes contributions by blacks?"

"Oh, uh . . . well, let's see. There are actually two men touring here now, and one is black. Maybe you could talk to him?"


See the sentence run on; run, sentence, run

From the mailbag, this one bears a return postmark of Blue Bell, Pa.:

"When we first entered the country town of Yangshou after a five-hour boat cruise from the heavily commercial city of Guilin in Southwest China, we were confronted by a common sight: a myriad of stalls heaped with bunches of fat bananas, embroidered silk tablecloths, and dark gray Chairman Mao caps sporting big red stars."

So, he was one of the Founding Great-Grandfathers?

I wonder about the would-be correspondent in Key Largo who began her story on Charleston, S.C., with an error in the first word:

"Three centuries have passed since George Washington danced all night in Charleston . . ."

That would make it 1694 _ or 38 years before he was born.

Manuscripts I never finished

"Southeast Kansas will be a hot bed of activity April 14-16 . . . not with wheat harvests and cattle round-ups, however. The place will be crawling with theater types of the 42nd Street variety."

Manuscripts for which I'm sorry trees died

"Our steamship sliced through the tranquil waters of the cobalt blue Caribbean. Rays from the late-day sun streaked through the fitness center's floor-to-ceiling windows and highlighted my presence on the Stairmaster . . . As tropical sweat rolled down my nose, I smiled at the thought of a landlubber like me here in the middle of the ocean."

Resting too hard

"A holiday stay at an Edenlike English working farm can be a time of idyllic tranquility for the most jaded of travelers. At first glance there may not appear to be much to do on a farm holiday in the English Midlands _ other than pass the time with leisurely strolls along one of the many hedgerow-bordered footpaths, watch a shepherd and his dog work a flock of sheep, observe a duckling hatch or a ewe lambing, ride a pony, or see a sheep sheared."

Not Letterman or Leno, but he brings a smile

Finally, from the cover letter to a brochure sent by Bob Maynard, owner of Country Walkers hiking trips:

"Dear Journalist,

"After 16 years offering customized travel vacations throughout the world, (I'm still) asked by my parents, "What are you going to do with yourself now that you're 43 and have three children?' So I did what I do in response to any probing inquiries: I sent them a press kit, too."

And, one paragraph later:

"If you need any further information on our company or previous trip participants to interview, I would be happy to help. Oh, and if you would like to speak to my parents, I'm sure they would be glad to tell you all about me."