Cheatamowski….just don’t call me late for dinner…


I have spent my whole life with my last name.  One of those things I was born with, there is no cure for it.  It comes attached with family and all the history behind it.  I never gave it much thought, never felt a need to “carry on” the family name…guess I never felt truly traditional when it come to names.  My Joy did take my last name.  That does make me very happy, not in I needed to put a tag on her kinda way, but that she would even marry me. It makes me feel especially good.

Now, when she married me, I was had been fired from my job as a manufacturing engineer…rehired four months later to work in product support (now back in engineering) where I had to answer the phone; “Hello, this is Mike Cheatham”.

“How do you spell that?”

“Well, it is like Cheat and Ham slapped together” was my response.  It changed the tone of the call and also made it easy to use two small words people knew.  It kept Cheatum, Cheetum, Cheethum…and any number of other misspellings from happening. I still spell it that way when asked.

Then there is the long list of “Dewey, Cheatham and Howe” jokes; “Can’t beat’em, Cheat’em”, etc..  When I used to cut tobacco they would call me “Cheetah”….guess that was better than “punkinhd” in reference to my big ‘ole head looking back on it….

All this was ok….until a couple of weeks ago I was at the FLW tournament.  There in front of me was the legendary Jimmy Houston.  I had watched him forever, loved to see him catching fish…enjoyed the trademark laugh that makes him recognizable.  Jimmy freaking Houston was smiling at me!


I had taken pics of Joy with him.  A good friend and fellow angler Arlie Minton had asked me to take a couple of pics also…then I turned away from Mr. Houston and he saw my name.

I heard that laugh that I love so much.

“That’s a (heck or hell…not exactly sure, plays like hell in my head) of a name for a fisherman.”

I turned around to see him looking at my jersey.

“I bet you have to take lie detectors after every tournament!”  That laugh again.  “Cheatham won again, let’s get him over here!”

“The only thing that would make this better was if you sold used cars!”

And there it was.  One of my heroes joking about my name.

“I told him they never ask me for a lie detector, cause I don’t win.  Then asked him if he was looking for a car, I could get him a very trustworthy version!”

Then we both laughed together because I have learned time is too short to take yourself and everything that comes by too seriously.  Now, don’t get me wrong…I would have loved for our first conversation to have been around fishing and some great new technique I had discovered, or during his fishing show (I am free to fish with you anytime Mr. Houston sir…just sayin…), but it was great to hear that laugh.  And it was fun.  We talked for a few more minutes and I had one of those fan moments I had always dreamt of coming true!

So….Jimmy Houston…if you ever need some company on your show, I am available.  I will run that used car on by….runs good, low miles…only driven by a little old lady to church on Easter…let me know.



P.S.  Bill Dance…or Hank Parker…same offer….just sayin….willing to take a lie detector….

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