I don't recall why I came into the newspaper office on a Saturday morning, but it wasn't because I was planning to meet anyone of note.
I was wearing over-sized glasses to give my eyes a break from excessive contact lens wear and a thinning orange T-shirt featuring a huge green cartoon alligator. I remember it being humid and feeling sticky.
One of my coworkers told me Walter Cronkite, the legendary CBS anchorman, was up the street signing a new book on sailing he had co-authored. I grabbed some stuff off my desk and ran up the avenue to Waldenbooks.
When I got to the table, he looked up and smiled.
"Hi, Mr. Cronkite," I said. "I apologize for not buying your new book, but I'm a just a poor reporter at the local newspaper, so I hope you understand. Would it be OK if you signed my AP Stylebook instead?"
Looking up over his reading glasses, he gave me a grandfatherly chuckle.
"Not at all," he said.
When he finished signing, he asked, "Just print journalism? No TV?"
"No TV," I answered. "Just print, sir."
"Good for you," he said as he handed back my book and smiled.
Two decades later, it's now a few days after Walter Cronkite's death at age 92, and I finally realized what the person once voted the most trusted man in America was saying to me.
He wasn't commending me on my choice of vocation. Instead, I think the old guy was dissing my appearance.
My Uncool Past
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