Where Do We Start These Things?
It was a dark and stormy night.
Okay, I'm lying. It wasn't, really. It is more like fifty-some-odd degrees, not a cloud in the sky. Texas is the same way it usually is. Whatever you think the weather will be, pull your favorite coin from your pocket, pick a side and flip it, and the weather will change. This isn't about Snoopy or the Horns.
Have you ever had that moment of familiarity where you realize that there were things you liked about "the way things used to be" and wish they remained?
For example, I was in love with the newspaper when I was a kid, which probably explains a lot, I know.
In the 1980s, the rag of choice in our household was the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Most kids my age loved the comic strip page, and I was no different. Where we diverged was my attraction for the latest Lewis Grizzard column.
As a culture, we're so bombarded with information and positions, forced to take this side or that one, and frankly, it's become tiring. That was the purpose of columns, reading them with the morning cereal, the smell of newsprint mingling with pure oat goodness, and no need to take in anything that might get you punched in the face later at the water cooler.
For those of us that have about a half-century under our belts, we can remember when you weren't supposed to discuss sex, religion, or politics. If you chose to do so, it involved those inflatable sumo wrestler suits found in the intermissions of local hockey games. Now newspapers are on par with dinosaur fossils, and we get regular updates on what politicians have sexual congress under which banner of faith. Those facts are useless in our general lives, and this is no less a waste of your time; however, reading my column will not make you want to hose yourself in naval jelly and Listerine.
For every advancement, some things need to continue breathing to keep us grounded in the fact that not everything in our lives has to be so damned serious. We now hold the world in our hands, and everything is accessible immediately so fast that dopamine flows like the Chattahoochee. Or the Brazos. Pick a river, any river.
At least we get to keep the cereal. You never know these days.
I loved reading the daily column, and as a kid, there was so much to learn and take in without any of it being serious. The fact that we were, for the most part (and against the rest of the family), Jackets instead of Bulldogs didn't matter when his daily dose was being ingested in the early morning.
Celestine Sibley was another favorite, and I grew into Dave Berry.
Columns helped to get away from the business of life without losing too much time. I will admit that we weren't so much watching the daily schedule back then as we are now.
Maybe we need to slow down. What would that look like? Literary small talk isn't such a bad idea. It's time-tested. It's also mother-approved, the best I can tell.
Columns need to come back. A daily dose of whackery to make everything else in life go down like a spoonful of cod liver oil in the springtime.
Just me? Okay.
You have to admit that a six-minute break every day to let your brain relax and change the subject is not a bad proposition. Want stories to help distract you? Of course, you do. And, buddy, I got stories to tell.
Come and see me tomorrow.