Sometimes I feel like Walter Winchell. I have people who want to be mentioned in my column and then there are those who do not, under any circumstances, want to be in it.
Hardly a day goes by when someone I know doesn't come up and say, "Hey, big shot! Put me in your column!" I try to tell them that I'm not syndicated in 500 papers around the world -- it's the local paper, for crying out loud. But I appreciate the fact that so many people think I'm a big shot.
Still, the other day I was walking my dog, Regis, when my old friend Missy stopped me and began to humiliate and berate me for never mentioning her in my column. We were born only three days apart and we got acquainted in the old Union Protestant Hospital maternity ward. (She left before I did, but I promised to write.)
Anyway, she reminded me that we go back pretty far, but that I've never mentioned her in my reminiscences about my tortured and brutal childhood.
Duly noted. But space constraints prevent me from going into any great detail about Missy. Some other time, maybe. But for now: Missy, Missy, Missy. Satisfied?
On the other side of the coin are those who are engaging me in friendly conversation and they relate certain adventures in their lives only to suddenly stop and ask: "You're not going to put that in your column, are you?"
Generally I'll ask what it's worth to them to keep it out of print. I've managed to pick up some spare cash that way. Oh, I know that some might call it extortion or prior restraint. I call it free enterprise.
And then some folks will tell me something that I would never think of putting in the column because it would be just too embarrassing for them.
For instance, I could have done a good 20 inches or more on my father-in-law. He was turkey hunting once when he saw a flock of them fly out of a large tree in the clearing. He decided to take a break and sat beneath that very tree for a respite. It wasn't long before he felt something hit his jacket. A second later a larger portion of something hit him all over. Suffice it to say, one wild turkey had stayed behind in that tree because he had some personal business to take care of.
Tragic, don't you think? I would never do a column about someone's personal misfortune. I don't know how anyone could see the humor in someone's pain.
I had planned on publishing a rate card outlining what it would cost to get a mention in my column. It would cost even more to avoid getting a mention. But I've been told by the powers that be here at the paper that I would be violating my journalistic ethics. I tried to explain that I had no journalistic ethics, but I was flatly told to find some.
Oh, well. Goodnight, Mr. Winchell. And all the ships at sea.
News Editor James Logue can be reached at 626-1031 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.