The Columnist

CAPE SAN BLAS—It’s a sunny day on the beach, but cool, with a steady breeze. It’s the perfect kind of day to have the blood sucked from your body by Old-Testament-style mosquitoes. Which is exactly what is happening to me.

I have never seen mosquitoes this bad. I just walked my dog, and for three minutes I whined, “Go tee-tee, for the love of God!” while mosquitoes had their way with my body.

Soon, my white T-shirt was painted with blood smears. My poor legs were chewed to shreds. I have so many swollen bites that I look like the Michelin Man. On my upper body alone my wife counted—this is an actual number—190,281,333 bites.

Why am I telling you this? Because I always tell you worthless stories that have no basic point. This is the role of a columnist. Which, I suppose I am.

I come up with tiny pieces of insignificance to fill this column (if you call it a column). And I have been writing this thing every day for six years now. I can hardly believe it.

When I started doing this, there were a few people who offered me advice such as, “Don’t do it,” or “Nobody reads columns anymore.”

One tidbit came from a prominent writer who I once asked for advice. He said, “Why would anyone read YOUR writing? What makes you so special?”

The prominent writer was only trying to give me a dose of reality, but it made me feel ridiculous. Then he went on to tell me that column-writing was a total nightmare.

For one thing, Mister Prominent pointed out, how in God’s name would I come up with new things to write about?

Well, he made a good point. To find something that’s important to write about every single day must be very difficult. But then, I wouldn’t know. I write about mostly unimportant topics. Mosquitoes, being just one of those things.

And if you’ve been reading this column for any length of time—and I don’t know why you would—you know I’ve written entire pieces on other universally vital topics like:

Leaving the toilet seat up; body odor among Methodist choir members; T-shirts with dumb slogans printed on the fronts like, “I hate being so sexy, but somebody has to do it”; people who take a penny but never leave a penny; elderly beach goers who hand the Piggly Wiggly cashier sweaty cash from their bra; and cheese dip.

Once, I actually wrote an entire column about my dog eating a remote control and about how the tiny rubber pieces from the number-pad reappeared two days later in my dog’s—how do I put this?—daily column.

I’m not kidding. When my dog went to the bathroom, there were eight undigested numbers from the remote in this order: 0, 3, 28, 54, 19. We never did find the 7. Or the 6.

And because I was raised right, what I did next was drive to the nearest convenience store and play these exact numbers in the Florida Powerball.

To my wonderful surprise— and I know that what I am about to tell you is hard to believe, but I can only attribute my good fortune to the mysteries of heaven—I got a flat tire on the way home.

Bada bing! There’s your column.

And this is what I love about column-writing. It’s the most bizarre thing, placing your life into short-story form. It changes the way you see the world.

Instead of just going through daily life not noticing things, now I go through daily life paying very close attention to my dog during her most private moments in the backyard.

The truth is, for my entire childhood I wanted to be a newspaper guy. Before bedtime, my father would read aloud the works of humor columnists to me. We would giggle before I finally fell asleep. And when I got older, I found that I had read every Erma Bombeck and Andy Rooney compilation book ever made. And when Lewis Grizzard died, so did a piece of me.

There’s a story my mother tells. I was in second grade, I had lost my two front teeth. Without these crucial teeth, people said I looked exactly like a miniature version of my Uncle Ray Ray who lived in the trailer next to the sewage processing facility.

Anyway, one day the second-grade teacher asked our class what we wanted to be when we grew up. I announced that I wanted to be a columnist. But because of my missing teeth what actually came out of my mouth was, “I’m gonna be a communist, ma’am.”

In those days, this remark was not taken in good humor. The Cold War was still going on and Gorbechev was still a thing. I was taken to the principal’s office whereupon the principal, in what would become one of the most patriotic moments of my life, looked at me and said, “HEY! You’re Ray Ray’s nephew, aren’t you?”

So I have kept this column going for longer than anyone thought I would. And right now I just want to say how grateful to you I am.

I started out as some bumbling guy who posted short stories on the internet. But over the last six years, I have been transformed into a bumbling guy who posts medium-short stories on the internet.

And even though I will probably die due to mosquito-borne disease, I want any child out there who reads this to know two very important things:

One: The Powerball jackpot is up to 140 million as of right now.

And two: Prominent people don’t know everything.


  1. Sherry Gorman - October 28, 2019 5:58 am

    Mosquitoes love O negative blood. Is this your type? Good luck!!!

  2. Tracy Thurman - October 28, 2019 6:38 am

    Sean. I love your column. Keep it up! Thank you! God bless you and yours.

  3. Cathi Russell - October 28, 2019 7:49 am

    We’re so very glad you didn’t take columnist’s advice. You’ve made me LOL and/or ugly cry every morning for two years. And I introduced you to my mom, who read every book you’d written when she went to heaven 2 years ago. Please keep that up, OK?

  4. John Wilcox - October 28, 2019 8:25 am

    Better smear that remote with peanut butter.

  5. Meredith Smith - October 28, 2019 8:31 am

    Useless piece of information: Wisconsin State Bird: Mosquitoe. True Story.

  6. John Wilcox - October 28, 2019 8:32 am

    Better smear the remote with peanut butter Buddro.

  7. GaryD - October 28, 2019 9:49 am

    You keep writing your columns and I’ll keep reading them. I ain’t got nothing better to do. 😇

  8. Elizabeth - October 28, 2019 10:28 am

    Sherry, is this true? Would explain their love of me!

  9. Elizabeth - October 28, 2019 10:29 am


  10. Randy Smith - October 28, 2019 10:34 am

    Please keep it going! I enjoy it every day!

  11. Nancy Miller - October 28, 2019 10:53 am

    My pleasure every morning to wake up, thank the Lord for this day, grab my coffee and read my Sean column. Please keep the columns coming. You give so much to so many 🤗

  12. Anna - October 28, 2019 10:55 am

    You didn’t mention those spawns of satan that live on the Cape: black flies that love to bite and draw blood. (I still love vacationing at Cape San “Blast”)

  13. Dale Edwards - October 28, 2019 10:58 am

    I read your column every morning with my coffee. It starts my day with a laugh! You have an amazing gift with words, that turn into the most interesting sideways look at life and I love it! Please keep writing no matter what a “prominent” anyone says!

    I’m 72, retired nurse, and all my mornings start with emailing girl friends I’ve had since kindergarten ( long time) and reading your column! Such a positive way to start the day against a crazy, negative world! Keep it up!

  14. Alan - October 28, 2019 11:19 am

    I always look forward to reading what you write. Keep up the great work!! You have a gift of being able to connect with people.

  15. Dennis Lowery - October 28, 2019 11:20 am

    Lewis Grizzard Story. My wife and I moved to Orlando in 1993. I went to pick her up at the Orlando airport one night and it just so happened that Lewis Grizzard and his girl friend and her daugher were on the same flight into Orlando that night. I guess Girzzard had on the same shirt all day because when we rode the tram into the main terminal he was next to my wife and held the strap with his arm pit up next to my wife’s face. In those days, you could go to the terminal where the plane came in and meet the plane. I went to the plane to meet my wife. She was trilled that she got to smell Grizzard’s arm pit for the tram ride in! We read his column every day.

  16. C.F. David - October 28, 2019 11:31 am

    Back about 2003, as a small town editor, I had a single column by a teen writer. It was interesting, timely, and written from the heart…it was good. So I, always trying to fill holes in my little rag, put out a plea for more teen columnists. However, spellcheck, in its infinite wisdom changed it to Communist.
    I made the 6 oclock news.

  17. Michael Easley - October 28, 2019 11:41 am

    🙂 If you’ve not read, “Miss Phillips, You Were Wrong: A Formula to Handle Rejection” by Peter J. Daniels is might be worth a scan.

  18. Sherry Gorman - October 28, 2019 11:46 am

    Yes, sure is. Aren’t we the lucky ones 😫

  19. William H Clark - October 28, 2019 11:56 am

    Love the column!! Keep it going please!! Oh and…………..War Damn Eagle!!!!!

  20. Cathy Weaver - October 28, 2019 11:57 am

    Your column is the one and only column I read. Don’t ever stop! ❤️

  21. Kathy Daum - October 28, 2019 12:05 pm

    I’ve always had a soft spot for well-written columns, like yours. I’ve read Mike Royko, Dave Berry, Vicki Covington and a little known man from the Columbus Dispatch named Ben Hayes. I read him faithfully every time his column appeared. Once I wrote to him, and he answered. I still have that note. That’s how I now feel about you.

  22. Teri - October 28, 2019 12:11 pm

    I never know when I begin reading your column where it’s going to end up! I love your little observations that you manage to turn into a funny or sad or thoughtful story, so keep taking notice of the little things in life-it makes me slow down and take notice too!

  23. Jackie Keeling - October 28, 2019 12:18 pm

    Just started reading your columns after s friend forwarded me one. Love them ! First thing I do every morning, well, after peeing, is read your column with my coffee ! From Carrollton, Ga by way of Montgomery. Roll Tide !!

  24. Betty F. - October 28, 2019 12:43 pm

    “It changes the way you see the world.” And that is exactly why we can’t get enough of your witty and profound observations. You put our simple moments into perspective and you help us remember our humanness and connection to others..

  25. Melissa Westberry - October 28, 2019 1:03 pm

    You’re doing what I wanted to do 38 years ago. Keep going! I enjoy reading your thoughts. I, too, was a fan of Erma and Lewis. You do them justice. I love reading your column then posting it to my Facebook for others to enjoy.

  26. Katherine Young - October 28, 2019 1:09 pm

    I smile, Mona Lisa like, as soon as I begin to read your “medium short story”, and it sticks. It helps in the AM routine. Don’t stop writing. You aid a lot of folks a lot with your playful observations & love.

  27. Cassie Kevt - October 28, 2019 1:11 pm

    Moving to KY from CA where the mosquitos only come out at dawn and dusk and I rarely got a mosquito bite, I have learned to spray bug killer on every time I do more than walk from the house to the car. They are not big, but they are mean and nasty and I’ve heard they have invaded CA and my old buddies are all going to the doctor trying to find out why they’ve suddenly broken out in this itchy rash all over their legs. And my dog is taking heart worm medicine for the first time in her life. And that’s just the mosquitos. All the rest of the bugs are bigger, too. My point? Protect yourself! We want you around to read your columns every day and not dead of some obscure disease.

  28. Connie Havard Ryland - October 28, 2019 1:29 pm

    I’ve been reading your column every day for a few years now. Somehow I missed the first couple of years, so I bought your books. All of them. I read Erma Bombeck, Lewis Grizzard, Andy Rooney. Loved them all, and look forward to yours every morning. You are most definitely a columnist. Love and hugs.

  29. Ned Wheland - October 28, 2019 1:31 pm

    Here’s to six more; at least

  30. Pat - October 28, 2019 1:33 pm

    Thank you for sharing your talent and creativity each day! Never change your style, you are a truly gifted writer.

  31. Ann - October 28, 2019 1:36 pm


  32. Linda Vaughan - October 28, 2019 1:55 pm

    Thanks for keeping it real!

  33. Laurie Ulrich - October 28, 2019 2:07 pm

    I, too, have often wondered how you find something new and entertaining to write about every day. I think it’s God’s gift to you. Whatever–I just hope you continue to do this for the rest of my natural life, if not your own. You are a gift with which I begin every morning~

  34. Ala Red Clay Girl - October 28, 2019 2:18 pm

    Thanks for sharing your life and observations with us everyday!

  35. Rebecca Cotney - October 28, 2019 2:33 pm

    Thank you for sharing your life with us. I look forward to your post everyday especially the ones about Thelma Lou & Otis.

  36. Wanda Willis - October 28, 2019 3:15 pm

    I LOVE your communists, uh I mean columns! You are the first thing I read in the mornings. After my daily devotions that is. My husband is not a reader but he knows your columns because I always read them to him. Its very hard to read out loud and giggle at the same time but I am getting better at it! Please keep them coming! 🙂

  37. Susan Kennedy - October 28, 2019 3:31 pm

    Good night!! I thought you were about to say you are quitting!! Please don’t. Not ever. We need you!!

  38. Mary Kay - October 28, 2019 3:33 pm

    I look forward to reading your column everyday! They always make me smile, laugh or cry!! Keep up your wonderful work!

  39. Susan Kennedy - October 28, 2019 3:33 pm

    Good Night! I thought you were about to say you were quitting! Please don’t! Not ever! We need you!

  40. Shelton A. - October 28, 2019 3:35 pm

    I have had the pleasure of reading you every day for close to a year now (more or less) and I have a few observations. You love to write about your dogs, your wife’s driving rituals, Episcopalian bishops with beer, and what your mom or mom-in-law is up to…amoung many other things (why does the computer say I’ve spelled amoung wrong-it’s the only way I know to spell it). You have made me laugh, cry, say “Yes!” so loud my dog is scared, and just so moved spiritually or emotionally. A writer who really does care what he writes and what he writes about can do those things. I hope I am still reading you every day six years from now. That would be satisfying. God bless you and Jamie (and the dogs). Just write, Sean, you were born for this.

  41. Linda Moon - October 28, 2019 3:40 pm

    Mosquitoes “having their way” conjured up a somewhat disturbing visual for me. But in your descriptive role as a columnist, the reference is perfectly acceptable, at least in my mind it is….a mind that knows why I read YOUR writing. I was actually JUST THINKING ABOUT ERMA BOMBECK yesterday! You know what they say about “Great Minds”….the ones that think alike. So, I guess I’m in good company with you, Sean Dietrich. And I am grateful to you, Communist,….er, pardon the typo….COLUMNIST!!!

  42. Sharon - October 28, 2019 3:41 pm

    I have been reading your work and either laughing or crying for about two months now. Keep up the good work, dude. Absolutely love your column.

  43. Eileen Odegaard - October 28, 2019 3:48 pm

    I enjoy your column very much -would not start the day without it!. Everyone in the world has a story but it takes only a few to tell them well!

  44. Andy Gartman - October 28, 2019 3:48 pm

    You are most definitely a columnist. One who shares from the heart and showcases the best of Southern culture: things like good manners, faith, being kind, and common sense, among other genteel characteristics. Like so many others, I read your column each day when it drops into my email inbox. Thanks for keeping it positive and remember, Aim Low, Boys, They’re Riding Shetland Ponies.

  45. Melissa C Williams - October 28, 2019 4:51 pm

    Lewis Grizzard and Celestine Sibley were my two favorite columnists. Now I have three. Thanks Sean for brightening my day.

  46. Lori Whittaker - October 28, 2019 6:36 pm

    Sean I love you column! And I love Cape San Blas! You are so right those Black flies are murderous this time of year – Sooth your soul at some of the wonderful restaurants and music venues that dot the Cape St. Joe and Apalach!

  47. Harriet - October 28, 2019 7:08 pm

    Oh my gosh! You are hilarious! I look forward to your columns every day. You make it look easy it – makes me want to start one. You’ve won half the battle because you follow through on you commitment to write a column EVERY DAY! That’s a lot of work.

  48. Nancy M - October 28, 2019 7:15 pm

    Mister Prominent knew you were good and was afraid of the competition! He was right.
    I never missed Erma Bombeck, Lewis Grizzard, and now, Sean Dietrich!

  49. - October 28, 2019 8:22 pm

    I understand your loss when Lewis Grizzard died. I too grieved. I believe you’re here to sort of fill in the void. Nobody can replace him but Sean of the South does a very good job making me smile….just like I used to while reading Lewis Grizzard. FYI….nobody can replace Sean Dietrich.

  50. Deanna Bundick Jones - October 28, 2019 8:31 pm

    I always find a lesson in your column, but then again, the teacher and optimist in me always tries to find a lesson in everything. Back in my classroom days, I would use your column as an example to reluctant writers to let them know, “see, you truly can write about just about anything!” The trick is to using tools…you know, like figurative language, allusions, sensory details and imagery, voice, etc….to make it interesting. Now that I’m retired, I continue to read your column just for kicks; I don’t even get paid to read it anymore! Write on!

  51. Bkr - October 28, 2019 10:19 pm

    Sean! I loved This column. In fact I pretty Much love every single one of your columns -maybe except for baseball. Don’t really like baseball -don’t hate me for that. My hope
    And prayer for you is that you don’t get to big for your britches -I mean you really are so good and I am just afraid one day you will wake up and realize how flipping good you really are and there you go. You will join the ranks of the really cool famous people. It’s good to know how good you are don’t get me wrong. But just don’t get to big for your britches ok? We would miss you. For real.

  52. Lynn Pappas - October 28, 2019 10:31 pm

    I look forward to reading your column every day…

  53. Ali - October 29, 2019 2:40 am

    Thank you for writing every day. I’m sure it is hard to come up with new things to write. I read your column every day to my mother in law who is dying of cancer. She looks forward to our “story time” every day. I think it helps her to think about something else for a little bit and laugh…we especially love the stories about your dogs. We’re dog people too. So thanks for writing and helping us laugh even in some difficult days.

  54. David Gibson - October 29, 2019 6:59 am

    Funny how out in prominent lives lived out through you seem so much more fun!

  55. Kim Fernandez - October 29, 2019 2:09 pm

    I have been (off and on) following your column for close to five years now. Your words had brought smiles, tears, and fond memories to my mother before her death in 2016. I stopped reading your column for a little while after, because the memories hurt. After your trip to AUM, I began reading your stories again and while I have missed your stories, it is more important to me how I am now able to read your stories and remember the smiles and laughter of my mother. It doesn’t hurt so bad now. You have touched so many lives with your columns and stories. I thank you for having the strength of will to continue through all of the negativity and naysayers. Please continue writing. Please continue giving people like me moments to cherish. Thank you for sharing your moments so we may have ours.

  56. Maxine - October 29, 2019 3:43 pm

    It’s amazing how many of your readers, like me, have enjoyed the same columnists prior to now anticipating your column in our emails every morning. Keep it up. You brighten mornings for so many of us..

  57. Melissa - November 22, 2019 5:21 am

    When I was in 2nd grade, the teacher asked what will grow in your ears if you don’t clean them. I proudly raised my hand as I relied on the folksie wisdom handed down to me from my mother and her ancestors. “Potatoes will grow in your ears,” I proudly proclaimed. Everyone laughed. It took years for me to forgive my mother for that.

    Thank you for sharing your mundane stories. It makes us all feel not so alone.

  58. Martha - November 22, 2019 6:27 pm

    You are a seeker, a finder & a teller. You seek out life & the sweet things in it and although some bitter comes along with that sweetness, you’ve not allowed it to overcome it. You embrace what you find & get the goodie out if it, then you tell us all about it. Never stop seeking, finding & telling us following along the way. You’re the scout on the trail, but you call it a being a columnist, or a writer……..


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