Two weeks ago, my first biweekly column for the local newspaper ran in print and on the Web. It had the immediate impact with the public that I expected. I'm think the term, used in most media circles, is "meh."
Several of you read it out of a sense of loyalty, curiosity or, most likely, the same bizarre impulse that makes one continually use their tongue to probe a painful canker sore. I appreciate your obvious lunacy and how well technology has taught people to click with Pavlovian reliability on any link sent to them via e-mail, Facebook and Twitter (because I did all three -- I'm that desperate for attention). Now, can I interest you in some herbal Viagra?
Meanwhile, the reaction of the rest of the world whom I didn't cajole or bribe, well, mmm … let me give you two examples of how fame (or even infamy) did not reach these parts.
First, there's the Mother of All Uncoolness.
In the roughly 10 years I worked as a reporter for a daily newspaper, I'm not sure she ever once commented on anything I wrote with the exception of an interview I had with actor Kirk Douglas (whom, you should know, was 4-foot-7 and frail in real life but still gave off an air that he'd kick your ass if your questioning got out of line). To date, she still won't let me have back the autographed photo his publicist sent of the two of us.
So, in an experiment, nobody told the Mother of All Uncoolness about my column appearing. Two days passed. I called her.
"Hi, Mom -- so, did you read the newspaper Friday?"
"Yes, I read it every day."
"Even the editorial pages?"
"Oh, yes. I always scan the pictures to see if I know anybody."
"So you're saying you didn't recognize your own son!"
(I realized that The Mother of All Uncoolness, being quite hard of hearing, might have thought I said "obituary pages.")
"My photo was on the EDITORIAL page. Right below the cartoon. I have a column now."
"You were on there? Well, you should come over and visit more often."
She called back later to say she fished the newspaper out of the recycling bin and found my column.
That was it. Two weeks later and she still hasn't told me if she liked it or not.
And, yes, I have stopped by and seen her since. Twice.
The real test, though, was going to be my neighbor -- a retired lawyer whose wife told me that he not only reads the paper cover to cover, word for word, but even reads the week's worth of back issues he has waiting for him whenever they return from vacation. The three times in the past year I either had something I've written or written about me appear in print, he has always made mention of it the next time we've seen each other around the neighborhood.
A few days after the column ran, I was walking the dog home after escorting the Things to school when my neighbor drives up the street and pulls his immaculately clean and shiny black sedan over next me.
"Hey!" he yells across the front seat through the rolled down passenger window. "What year did you graduate?"
An odd way to start a conversation about how brilliant my piece was. Well, the column was about mandated standardized testing in schools, so maybe he's going to give me his thoughtful analysis of academic expectations of children during his era, mine and today's.
"You were salutatorian of your high school class, right?"
"Uh, yeah," I said. "How did you know that?"
"There's a plaque up in the front hall of the school listing all the valedictorians and salutatorians. I was reading it before the basketball game the other night and saw your name," he said. "You know, you're a lot smarter than you look."
Well, apparently not.
My Uncool Past
- ► 2014 (16)
- ► 2013 (30)
- ► 2012 (61)
- ► 2011 (57)
- ► 2010 (100)
- The Joy of Proficiency
- Fame - Is It Any Wonder
- Everywhere at Once; Nowhere at All
- Shedding Extra Light on Your Seasonal Demise
- She's Not Testy Over Standardized Tests
- First Day. Rest of Life. Blah, Blah, Blah.
- My Blogiversary -- Exposed!
- When Blood is Not Enough
- Between a Hug and a Choke
- Around the Block
- ▼ March (10)