This week marks the start of the 13th year of this column being a regular weekly feature of this publication. Thank you. I feel old now. You shouldn't have gotten me a gift, but I appreciate it anyway.
There'll even be a sampling of the new Sugar-Free Peeps. Think about that for a second. A Peep without sugar. That's like promoting "Fat-Free Lard." It just doesn't make sense.
As best I can recall, I've done this column every single week except about six since 1993. I was in the hospital for a week last year, and took a three-week vacation in 2002. Even if the ideas have been recycled, the content itself has always been new.
Which makes this anniversary even funnier because, for the first time since '93, I have absolutely no idea what to write about this week. Deep Throat? Zzzzz. Danica Patrick? Old news until she hits Playboy. Colts players getting arrested with guns? Happens every day.
I could go meet a colleague for drinks, and then write two incredibly detailed columns about my absolutely uneventful social meeting, but the other weekly beat me to it. I had already started mine, too:
"Hello," I said to my colleague.
"Hello," the colleague said. "How are you?"
"Fine," I said. "And you?"
"Also fine." Then there was a meaningful silence, almost as if we were both waiting for the other to speak. Finally, after a pause of some 30 seconds, I summoned up my courage.
"Would you like a drink?" I asked.
"Please," she said. "Vodka and tonic."
I approached the bartender. "One vodka and tonic and one large bottle of codeine cough syrup, please."
But the slave-labor-fueled weekly did it first. So I have to go back to the drawing board.
There's always the Ed Anger approach, as perfected by the legendary Weekly World News columnist:
I'm as mad as Michael Jackson without his Jesus Juice about the latest proposal by the governor blah blah blah.
I'm not really angry about anything at the moment, though.
I don't make nearly as much money as Bob Kravitz from The Star, but I have to admire the way he handled this same problem recently. Answering questions posed by readers is always a way to keep the bosses happy.
Question: I am doing research on the Continental Football League. On what field did the Indianapolis Caps play their home games? The Caps were quarterbacked by Johnnie Walton, who also played in the WFL, NFL and USFL. (Lance from Oregon City, Ore.)
Answer: Can anybody help Lance here?
Seriously. He did that. I am not making it up. Let me play, too.
Question: I am facing a life crisis. I suspected that my husband is cheating on me but I had no proof. Until yesterday, that is, when I used his computer to find a recipe. He had all kinds of phone numbers and addresses and e-mails from other women. Should I confront him about it? (Worried in Westfield)
Answer: Lady, I have no fucking idea.
It's hard to sustain that for an entire column, although Dear Abby seems to do well with it.
Don't get me wrong; I have the best job in the world at the best place in the world. I've gotten to speak to many of the people I admire most and I've had a hell of a lot of fun doing it. The pressure of coming up with something provocative and entertaining every week isn't much pressure at all, compared to what most people go through to make a buck.
I don't have to mop out peep-show booths, clean the puke out of the back of my cab every night or work for an evil multinational corporation. The hours are good and the pay is, too.
When Harrison Ullmann hired me in 1993, he was producing a column twice this length every single week, as well as long, very detailed political stories. I write about candy bars and crazy people I know and I get paid for it.
Speaking of candy, the All-Candy Expo will take place in Chicago next week and I'm trying to find a way to scam myself inside. Thousands of candy manufacturers will be there with their exciting new product lines. There'll even be a sampling of the new Sugar-Free Peeps. Think about that for a second. A Peep without sugar. That's like promoting "Fat-Free Lard." It just doesn't make sense.
The All-Candy Expo will feature cutting-edge seminars on such weighty topics as "America's Demographic Trends - How are They Affecting Candy Purchases and Consumption?"
Yeah, screw Social Security, immigration reform and the aging of the baby boomers. HOW WILL IT AFFECT SNICKERS SALES? Will Gummi Bears survive the generational shift? Does Republicanism encourage or discourage consumption of Jolt Caffeinated Gum?
Anyway, onward and upward. I can't close this anniversary column without remembering the people who've helped me most in my life, such as Mr. Ullmann; my late, beloved mother; the management of NUVO; and, especially, you, the readers. It's amazing to me, still, that tens of thousands of people read my stuff and some of them actually like it. I could never imagine being so blessed.
All jokes aside, it has been an honor and privilege to vent, rant and hopefully entertain and educate you over these past 12 years. Here's to 12 more.