Friday, February 24, 2012

TOP STORY >> Representative roasted to help wellness center

Leader staff writer

Could it mean something?

The day state Rep. Mark Perry files for re-election, he gets raked over the coals in public by his dad, younger brother and two best friends.

But the “raking” was in fun and for a good cause as Perry was the honored guest at the Jacksonville Senior Wellness and Activity Center’s 17th annual roast and toast.

More than 200 people spent Thursday night at the center laughing, snickering and smirking as the roasters all took shots at Perry and each other.

The annual event raises money for the center’s many activities, which include transporting seniors, delivering meals and providing health, welfare and social events for the city’s seniors.

The center’s mission is to improve the quality of life for seniors with a primary focus on the prevention and postponement of the requirement for nursing-home care. The center is staffed mostly by volunteers who logged about 6,500 hours of service with the center during 2011.

Other activities provided by the center include blood pressure and sugar testing, hearing testing, diabetic footwear fitting, health and nutrition education, scheduling doctors appointments, computer classes, day trips, holiday celebrations and in-house concerts.

Phillip Carlisle of First Arkansas Bank and Trust and a longtime friend of Perry’s, served as the master of ceremonies and let everyone know that Perry has been a salesman all his life from renting out beach chairs at Panama Beach to hawking T-shirts on the street corner. “I knew it was in his blood when he asked his wife, Valerie, to marry him and offered her a limited lifetime warranty,” Carlisle said.

Carlisle said with Perry there was no middle ground. “You either hate him or despise him. And let me tell you, he doesn’t know the meaning of the word ‘fear’, and like most politicians he doesn’t know the meaning of most words.”

Like so many roasts, many of the one-liners don’t bear repeating.

Introducing Bob Johnson, who is an accountant, Carlisle promised the crowd that Johnson’s jokes “would add up.”

Johnson told the crowd that when an accountant is asked what two plus two is, a real accountant will always reply, “what do you want it to be.”

Johnson started out by asking the crowd if they knew why God created politicians. “To make used car salesmen look good.

He also recalled a time he and Perry, who is a sports enthusiast, were out golfing and a hearse drove by. “Mark stopped right there on the tee and put his hat over heart and was solemn as the procession passed by. I told him that was very polite. He said it was the least he could do since it was his grandmother,” Johnson said.

Another time Johnson said he was out fishing with Perry and Perry told him not to worry that he would supply everything. “We got out into the middle of the lake, and I asked where the poles were. He said we didn’t need any poles that he had dynamite. Just throw it in the water and scoop the fish off the top. I told him I thought that was illegal. That’s when he lit the stick I was holding and said are you going to fish or talk.”

Johnson said as a legislator, Perry had a set of rules he always followed. Those rules included “Don’t lie, cheat or steal—unless you have to; if its worth fighting for, its worth fighting dirty; and an honest answer will get you into trouble and show up in the newspaper.”

Perry’s half-brother Scott was referred to by Carlisle as “the other mother’s son.

Scott talked about some of Perry’s work ethic. “He’s a firm believer in pack it, stack it and rack it and his favorite saying is let’s get busy, which means everyone else should get busy racking, packing and stacking.

He told the crowd one of the most important life lessons he learned from his big brother was “not to date two girls at UCA at the same time.” Scott made it clear the incident did not go well for his brother. “Especially when one of the girls was a better athlete than Mark, had a baseball bat and knew how to swing it,” Scott said.

He added that his big brother would often embarrass and cited a time when he was coaching his school team and Mark and Phillip came in whooping and wearing Hog hats. “The problem was, we weren’t the Hogs, we were the Bearcats.”

Perry’s dad, Bud, had a very important question for Mark. “You remember when you borrowed the truck to start your beach chair rental business? When do I get the truck back?”

Bud answered a lot of nagging questions when he told the crowd about Mark’s birth. “It was a bitter cold night in December 1961, and two boys were born that night and the hospital got them mixed up. So the other dad and I decided to flip a coin — I lost and got Mark. The other dad? Well, he got Bill Gates.”

Bud took the time to straighten out Mark on a few things about college. “Just in case you haven’t figured it out by now, you can’t take eight years to get a four-year degree. You don’t have to color your hair orange to get into UCA.

Hell-raising and partying are not credit course and boys aren’t allowed to sleep in the girls dorm.”

Both Perry’s dad and brother referred to a Hall High incident. Perry’s dad asked the crowd if they remembered the song “The Streak?”

“Well, I can tell you Mark didn’t write the song and he didn’t record it or sing it, but I’ll leave it up to you to make the connection.”

Perry had the last word and a chance to get even with his friends for the roasting they gave him.

Of Johnson, he asked the crowd if they knew how an accountant could liven up a party? “By leaving,” he said.

Perry admitted that Scott was his half brother. “That means he got half the brains and half he looks.

“And you don’t want to ‘diss’ your dad too bad, what with the inheritance coming up soon.”

The longtime Jacksonville resident and state representative closed the night saying it was a great honor to serve the people of Jacksonville and to be able to help the senior center.