July 6, 2022


Think real hard here. Try to remember. What do these names mean to you: ZEUS, MARS, VENUS, HELEN OF TROY, MERCURY? Do you remember any of them? Of course you do. These are a few of the names we all learned when we studied the mythology of the ancients. Greek gods and goddesses, Roman gods and goddesses, they’re all up there in the mythical mix along with more local names like Paul Bunyan, Pecos Bill, Joe Magarac, and Dale Earnhardt. Oops, slight overstatement there.

Everybody knows these names and they think they know the stories behind them. That’s where they’re wrong! Sure, these were the big time mythological figures who lived in famous places like Mount Olympus and all those other fancy-pants resorts. But what about the REAL mythological figures? What about the ones who lived out in the country, or in real honest down home places? You know the ones I mean–the working myths. They never got the attention they deserved because the rich special interest myths hogged the spotlight.

Well, I’m here to set the record straight. Gonna tell you about the honest–for the most part–hardworking blue collar myths who lived and worked in a little out-of-the-way place called Mythville, Mythissippi.

First and foremost there was Don Bob Zeus, King of the gods. Don Bob drove a gold Cadillac with a license plate that read “CCC.” This stood for “cigars, chicks, and Coors.” Don Bob drove all over the place in his big fancy car. Some called him “King of the Road.” He had a trailer for sale or rent. Don Bob’s Daddy was Dr. Zeus, who’s famous for having written “I Do Not Like Green Eggs and Whey.”

John L. Henry (the steel drivin’ man) was the town’s used chariot dealer. He was called that because he dealt only in steel chariots. So, if you bought one from him, you could be a steel drivin’ man, too. John L. advertised good, clean used chariots (driven by little old lady gladiators who only raced on Sundays) no money down, E-Z financing, and a free bale of hay with each sale. He used to say there are only three ways to trade – give sandal, take sandal or trade even.

Betty Lou Venus was the town tramp. She spent most of her time hanging out at the Toga and Sandal, the local honky-tonk, cadging drinks from the boys. There were lots of stories floating around about her, but nobody believed she could have done all the things she claimed, because she had no arms. The guys used to tease her a lot knowing she couldn’t slap them in the face.

“Buddy” Neptune was the king of streams, ponds and bayous. He traveled in a flashy bass boat pulled by a team of catfish. Buddy liked to hang around the swimmin’ hole at the local health club, The Achilles, where his friend Davy Jones ran the locker room.

Every town has a rowdy, the guy who’s always at the center of the barroom brawl, always showing up with a few teeth missing. In Mythville, that was “Catfighter” Thor, the town tough guy. Saturday night’s Cat would whoop it up by breaking into the local power substation out at the edge of town. There he’d mess with the electricity and make sparks, bolts of lightning, lots of flashes and funny crackling noises. All this made the air smell kinda funny.

Saturday night was also a big time down at the Toga and Sandal. All the guys would gather to hear Helen of Memphis sing. Helen could belt out a ballad that would bring tears to the eyes of the most hardened man. Guys would sit staring like deer caught in the headlights as she sang the story of Daedalus and Icarus flying toward the sun, “You Are the Wax Beneath My Wings.” Nobody could match her when she sang the NASCAR favorite, “Billy Joe McMercury Jumped Off the Talladega Bridge.” Once she sang a fishing song so sweet she became known as the “voice that launched a thousand bass boats.”

With all this going on, somebody had to look after law ‘n’ order. That man was Sheriff “Slim” Mars. He was the subject of the popular song:

“You don’t tug on Superman’s cape,
You don’t spit outta your cars.
You don’t pull the mask off the ol’ Lone Ranger and
You don’t mess around with Mars.”

Slim was known as the meanest man east of the Pecos. (Where the heck is Pecos, anyway?) Weekends Slim worked as a bouncer down at the Toga and Sandal. “Homer” Sampson was the town writer. He was best known for the “Iliad” and the “Odyssey.” The Iliad was a guide to bowling for fun and profit down at the Iliad Lanes on the West Side Highway. The Odyssey was a best-selling handbook detailing the odds on various games at the casino boat down on the river.

The town preacher was Brother Vesuvius. Every Sunday he let fly with a real fire and brimstone sermon. This caused no end of headaches for the guys who had spent the previous evening cavorting at the Toga and Sandal.

Finally, there was the town shopkeeper, “Fancy Dan” Narcissus. He always dressed to the nines in the latest toga fashion. Dan ran the Antiquities Shop down near the Forum. Here, you could marvel over many delicate and lovely things while sipping a cup of Dan’s special herbal tea, which he offered to his customers with a big, toothy smile and a sincere, but somewhat limp handshake.

Glad to have set the record straight.

See ya around.


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