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Tyrades! by Danny Tyree

At approximately the time this column is uploaded to the syndicate website, I will be attending the funeral of my Aunt Jean.

I’m sure the eulogist will wax eloquent about heaven, but I want to nominate Aunt Jean to the Babysitter Hall of Fame.

When I was six and my brother Dwight was four, our parents dumped … er, entrusted… us to Aunt Jean while they attended a social event at the local municipal recreation center.

A boringly routine assignment, except that as soon as our parents drove away, Dwight developed separation anxiety and wailed, “I wanna go to the re’reation center!”

Dwight darted out of the house and zigzagged through the yard. He would need to cross approximately seven unfamiliar streets and the railroad track to reach his destination. There was no GPS and he couldn’t navigate by the Big Dipper, so I guess he was planning to fly by the seat of his pants.

(Spoiler alert: The seat of his pants would be in no shape for flying by the end of the night.)

Aunt Jean was still in her prime, so retrieving one runaway boy was no biggie – except for the tag-team aspect of the situation.

“Let Dwight go to the recreation center if he wants to,” I solemnly intoned.

I didn’t fully comprehend why the trek meant so much to my little brother, but I was heavily influenced by Alfred Lord Tennyson. (“Ours not to reason why, ours but to do and let our sibling wind up in a hobo jungle.”)

I only knew that I was supposed to take up for my little brother, like when I tried to perform a C-section to give him an early entry into the world or when I was going to launch him into outer space in a gasoline-powered rocket or… Wow. I was like a low-budget soap opera: I was my own evil twin.

Casting my gaze at infant cousin Steve in his highchair, I continued, “You let Dwight go or I’ll throw this baby on the floor!”

(Really, this was a compliment to Aunt Jean’s immaculate housekeeping. Lots of people talk about eating off the floor, but how many have a floor clean enough to hurl an infant onto?)

Aunt Jean was frantic, torn between letting her nephew disappear into the night or having her only offspring become a crash test dummy.

With some quick thinking, she wedged Steve between the refrigerator and the wall so tightly that I couldn’t dislodge him and chased down Dwight in the yard.

I was disappointed that she didn’t do one of those adrenaline-enhanced maneuvers and lift the fridge, but I cut her some slack.

(Spoiler warning: you’d think that with Major Appliance already on the scene, there would be no need for Corporal Punishment, but…)

When our parents returned, Aunt Jean somehow managed to put a negative spin on what had transpired!

Predictably, the Riot Act got read in our household more often than “The Three Little Pigs.” (“This time, read the part about ‘an act for preventing tumults and riotous assemblies’ with a funny voice, Daddy!”)

I’m glad that Dwight and I didn’t scare Aunt Jean out of having a second son or doting on her three grandsons.

And I’m glad she went to all those family reunions, even when they began with, “Let’s go to the recreation center!”

Copyright 2023 Danny Tyree, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Danny Tyree welcomes email responses at [email protected] and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.”

Controversial author Harlan Ellison once described the work of Danny Tyree as "wonkily extrapolative" and said Tyree's mind "works like a demented cuckoo clock."

Ellison was speaking primarily of Tyree’s 1983-2000 stint on the "Dan T’s Inferno" column for “Comics Buyer’s Guide” hobby magazine, but the description would also fit his weekly "Tyree’s Tyrades" column for mainstream newspapers.

Inspired by Dave Barry, Al "Li'l Abner" Capp, Lewis Grizzard, David Letterman, and "Saturday Night Live," "Tyree's Tyrades" has been taking a humorous look at politics and popular culture since 1998.

Tyree has written on topics as varied as Rent-A-Friend.com, the Lincoln bicentennial, "Woodstock At 40," worm ranching, the Vatican conference on extraterrestrials, violent video games, synthetic meat, the decline of soap operas, robotic soldiers, the nation's first marijuana café, Sen. Joe Wilson’s "You lie!" outburst at President Obama, Internet addiction, "Is marriage obsolete?," electronic cigarettes, 8-minute sermons, early puberty, the Civil War sesquicentennial, Arizona's immigration law, the 50th anniversary of the Andy Griffith Show, armed teachers, "Are women smarter than men?," Archie Andrews' proposal to Veronica, 2012 and the Mayan calendar, ACLU school lawsuits, cutbacks at ABC News, and the 30th anniversary of the death of John Lennon.

Tyree generated a particular buzz on the Internet with his column spoofing real-life Christian nudist camps.

Most of the editors carrying "Tyree’s Tyrades" keep it firmly in place on the opinion page, but the column is very versatile. It can also anchor the lifestyles section or float throughout the paper.

Nancy Brewer, assistant editor of the "Lawrence County (TN) Advocate" says she "really appreciates" what Tyree contributes to the paper. Tyree has appeared in Tennesee newspapers continuously since 1998.

Tyree is a lifelong small-town southerner. He graduated from Middle Tennessee State University in 1982 with a bachelor's degree in Mass Communications. In addition to writing the weekly "Tyree’s Tyrades," he writes freelance articles for MegaBucks Marketing of Elkhart, Indiana.

Tyree wears many hats (but still falls back on that lame comb-over). He is a warehousing and communications specialist for his hometown farmers cooperative, a church deacon, a comic book collector, a husband (wife Melissa is a college biology teacher), and a late-in-life father. (Six-year-old son Gideon frequently pops up in the columns.)

Bringing the formerly self-syndicated "Tyree's Tyrades" to Cagle Cartoons is part of Tyree's mid-life crisis master plan. Look for things to get even crazier if you use his columns.