For the week of July 21, 1999  thru July 27, 1999  

Prankster tricks reporter

Ketchum character pulls a fast one on a journalist

Commentary by PAT MURPHY

Characters have always been fixtures in small town America. Sometimes eccentric, always colorful in their ways, town characters are sources of harmless gossip, even grudging community pride.

Crusty characters of the Wood River Valley’s harsher days of boom-and-bust mining are long gone.

Despair not, though.

A modern-day "character" is on the scene – although this one, Glenda Nicol, bears a unique R rating because of mature language.

Local folks have encountered Glenda’s repertoire of the ribald for years in her incarnations as bartender, salesperson, and optician since she arrived from Vancouver, B.C.

Now others outside the Wood River Valley know Glenda’s idiosyncratic humor.

(From this point on, readers beware: explaining Glenda Nicol requires anecdotes not suitable for young eyes or the easily offended.)

Old-timers exposed to Glenda’s tomfoolery with language have heard her call herself "World Famous Glorious Glenda from Canada with the Alabaster Breasts," as well as the "Red-Haired Double Breasted Mattress Thrasher."

And worse.

The outside world finally caught up with Glenda last week when Associated Press reporter Mark Warbis does what most out-of-town newsmen do on a slow day: Interview locals for an angle to a bigger story they’re covering.

Abandoning the Allen & Co. confab at Sun Valley Resort, Warbis wandered Ketchum’s main drag asking locals what they thought about mega-billionaire corporate bigwigs meeting in their small town.

Whereupon, Warbis stuck his head into Main Strip T’s, and discovered salesperson Glenda Nicol, a stunning gray-haired version of her former flaming red-haired self, effervescent and effusive, theatrical and tantalizing, cleverly concealing her purple wit from the stranger.

Until he asked her name.

"Fonda Peters," cooed Glenda, slowly, seductively oozing out each syllable, hoping reporter Warbis would grasp the off-color humor of her concocted name.

Alas, poor newsman Warbis didn’t get it. So, he dutifully dispatched to the world on the Associated Press news wire "Fonda Peters" exclaiming that titans don’t impress her.

Locals who read the story and understand Glenda’s off-color wit winced and sympathized with newsman Warbis. Otherwise, "Fonda Peters" went over the heads of readers around the country, except for a Pocatello friend of Glenda who phoned to share heavy laughter.

Trying to restrain Glenda in a serious interview is impossible, as I discovered when visiting with her to discuss her bawdy linguistic sleight-of-hand with the Associated Press.

"I didn’t come here to make money," Glenda said, for example, of her arrival here 30 years ago. "And I haven’t been disappointed. I still haven’t made any money"

How long has she been here?

"I remember when ski lift tickets were $9 a day."

How old is she?

"I never get older than my bust measurements – 38."

Where are you from."

"My mother’s womb."

And so it went.

It may only be a matter of time before another big city journalist unwittingly encounters our Glenda and naively asks her name.

I shudder to think of how she’ll improve on "Fonda Peters."

Murphy is the retired publisher of The Arizona Republic and a former radio commentator


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