Then, as it does in this digital age, the swirl of fame began. The article got sent around on Twitter and picked up in other local newspapers. A CBS radio affiliate in Atlanta, about an hour west of here, called for an interview, as did the crew from Comedy Central. There was talk of T-shirts and ball caps. A large urban newspaper took interest.
Why was the cultural landscape ripe for the rise of Bobby Kirk, a man with straight-up opinions — “air-conditioning has ruined everyone” — and an unremarkable country life?
It may be that he managed, in a simple sentence, to say what for much of a scorching July weather forecasters, journalists and the co-worker in the next cubicle have struggled to articulate.
Or it could be that he offers a diversion during a summer consumed by the national obsession with the Casey Anthony trial, a heart-wrenching terrorist attack in Norway and the numbing grind of the debt ceiling debate.
“People can identify with what Bobby was saying,” said Wayne Ford, the veteran staff reporter for The Athens Banner-Herald who found himself at Mr. Kirk’s house when another story fell through that day. “He’s just a plain-spoken, average guy. I think it’s just time for the average guy’s opinion to come out.”
Gordon Lamb, an Athens resident who follows a fake Facebook page someone established in Mr. Kirk’s name, said he was “emblematic of a South that has disappeared entirely from the Atlanta area.”
“I’m sure some people like him out of a sense of absurdity or irony,” he added, “but I think he’s great. And besides, he was right. It was too hot to fish.”
On the Bobby Kirk Facebook page, someone pretending to be Mr. Kirk answers questions and posts thoughts along the lines of “Got a hankerin’ for some pork. I think I’ll head up the road to Hot Thomas’ for a spell.” (Mr. Kirk has no computer, has no idea what Facebook is and watches a television so old that one is surprised to see that the picture is in color.)
Other things to know about Mr. Kirk: He cannot remember if he completed the sixth or seventh grade. He does not go to the grocery store much, eating mostly game and fish and the vegetables from his prolific garden.
“If I had a million dollars,” he said, “I would still want butterbeans and tomatoes and okra.”
He was raised nearby in a family so poor that his mother made his coveralls out of fertilizer sacks. Even so, there were not many stores nearby when he was a boy.
“If you had a pocketful of money, you couldn’t buy a dime’s worth of nothing,” he said.
Mr. Kirk has had four marriages, only two of which were legal. Three of his wives died (leukemia, complications from alcoholism and a car accident). The fourth? “I had to run her off,” he said. Her children were stealing his deer meat.
He has two children. A daughter has been missing since 1982. His son, Bobby Kirk Jr., lives down the road and says his father was strict with them as children but has always been friendly.
“He’s a card,” he said. “In the grocery store, he will start talking to anybody.”
Mr. Kirk said he once went to jail, in the early 1980s, for growing marijuana in the Georgia woods for a friend.
“I made mistakes,” he said, “but I never did make the same mistake.”
He knows how to make brandy from peaches and corncobs, but he himself does not drink anymore. He keeps an empty soup can in his pocket to spit tobacco when he is in a restaurant or a reporter’s car.
In addition to fishing, he raises beagles to hunt rabbits. “I gave a pair of dogs to get that roof put on,” he said.
Diet tips are among the plentiful advice he is more than willing to share. Put pickled pepper juice on pork chops to cut the fat. Do not drink more than a cup of coffee a day. “It’s like liquor,” he said. “If you just keep pouring it in you, it’ll work against you.”
Jud Smith, the sheriff of Barrow County, does not dispute that fish will not bite when it is too hot. He trusts Mr. Kirk, whom he has known for years.
“We have quite a few characters around here, and it pays to listen to them,” Sheriff Smith said.
A waitress at a local Golden Corral restaurant, like several other people Mr. Kirk talked to as he worked the buffet line, was delighted with his jokes and advice.
“He doesn’t have a care in the world,” said the waitress, Barbara Brown. “You just don’t see many people like that. We need a little bit of that humor, a little bit of that lightness.”
Mr. Kirk asked the waitress to get him some ice cream, because he was famous.
“You’re precious,” she said.
Does it bother him that he is getting famous in part because people might be making fun of him?
He answered with all the smarts of a savvy country boy.
“No,” he said. “They can make a monkey out of me as long as I get some money.”