It was my twelfth birthday. I blew out the candles and made a wish. If you would have asked what I wished for I might have told you: (a) to meet Jim Varney, and (b) to be a columnist.
I fell in love with columnists when I was young. For extra money my mother and I used to throw the newspaper at 2:30 A.M. each morning, and as a result I read the newspaper religiously. I came to idolize old-school newspaper men.
I bring this up because today is the birthday of this column/blog/whatever-you-call-it. And it has me feeling nostalgic. I’ll never forget when a small newspaper in Texas told me they were going to actually run a few of my columns, I got so excited when they sent me copies in the mail.
“This makes you a real columnist!” insisted my wife, waving the paper like a street-corner newspaper hawker.
And although I wanted to believe her, I didn’t. Because columnists, you see, are educated smart guys. They have multiple degrees, career accolades,
and they drive Mercury Grand Marquis sedans. I drove a beater pickup. I typed 12 words per minute using only my index fingers.
Not long after that, I got another job writing short columns in Georgia. Whereupon I drove all the way to Savannah, carrying along a small manual typewriter. I wrote a few 500-word columns about baseball while seated at a KOA picnic table, eating a cold can of baked beans. I can’t remember feeling so happy.
“See?” my wife announced when she held a Georgia newspaper. “Now do you believe me? You’re a columnist now.”
Silly girl. You can’t make chicken salad out of chicken doo.
The hard truth is I’m not much of a writer. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not putting myself down. And believe me, I love writing. But I’m no fool, either. There are artists out there who are true poets.…