Maybe this job doesn’t rise to the level of trapping alligators in a swamp, but it is hard enough.
In the first place, I am dealing with editors across the state who wonder if I skipped school when the subject of punctuation was covered in my high school English class. I tell them I was too busy diagramming sentences in Birdie Parker’s class at Russell High School to pay much attention to punctuation.
That turned out to be an unwise decision. The editors don’t seem to care as much about my skill in diagramming a complex sentence complete with adverb modifiers as they do me getting an occasional comma in the right place. Editors can be like that.
And then there is the Woman Who Shares My Name. She says politics are boring and that you would probably like reading about other things. I tell her she needs to understand that you are depending on me to provide you in-depth analysis on the major political issues of the day so that you can make informed decisions.
I remind her that I am a highly respected political pundit. I have this innate ability to easily spot political trends before my media colleagues do. I tell her that is one of the primary reasons you eagerly pick up this paper. You want to be able to quote one of my patent-pending political observations when next in the grocery checkout line or at a yard sale and have everyone look at you with wonder and awe.
I wouldn’t expect her to understand what I am talking about because while she knows a lot about broccoli — too much, in fact — the Woman Who Shares My Name doesn’t know squat about politics. For the sake of matrimonial harmony and to avoid the prospect of having broccoli shoved up my nose, I try to say that to her with a bit more delicacy, but the fact is the intricacies of the political process are simply beyond her realm of understanding.
We were having a conversation about this very subject last week when I informed her I was working on a column about how the monetary fluctuations in Tajikistan could impact the race for Georgia’s insurance commissioner. (Sorry, I can’t give you a hint, for it is a very complex subject that I want to get exactly right so you can wow them in the checkout line or at the garage sale.)
She wondered if I kept a file of my previous columns. Of course, I scoffed. I am making history and it is incumbent I have documentation available for future generations seeking to mine the political wisdom of times past. “Could you find the column you wrote in February 2001?” she asked. Piece of cake, I said.
It was a column about the upcoming governor’s race. “Would you please read aloud the first sentence in the fifth paragraph?” she requested. Sure. “Gov. Roy Barnes has his hand firmly on the throttle.” Next sentence, please: “He is helped immeasurably by a Republican leadership in the Legislature that can’t find their backside with both hands.” “Now,” she said, “the next sentence.” Uh-oh, I wasn’t liking where this was going. “Roy Barnes will easily win a second term.”
“Did he?” she asked. I told her I didn’t remember. That was a long time ago. “Let me refresh your memory,” she said. “A Republican state senator from Bonaire, George E. Perdue, won and became the first Republican governor in Georgia since Reconstruction and only the second in our state’s history.” She had to have read that somewhere.
“I have an idea,” she said. I hoped it was a better one than having me read that column aloud. “Over the years, I have gotten to know a number of your editors well. I thought I might share this column with them,” she chirped, “and remind them of just what a highly respected political pundit you are.”
Please don’t do that, I whined. “Then do you think you could find something else to write about instead of politics?” she asked. I told her there was a good possibility of that if she would destroy that column.
So, it is with much regret that I must inform you that due to circumstances beyond my control, I am unable to explain how the monetary fluctuations in Tajikistan could impact the Georgia insurance commissioner’s race. Maybe it’s time I thought about trapping alligators for a living.
Dick Yarbrough is a North Georgia resident whose column appears Saturdays. Contact him at P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, GA 31139; or via his website, dickyarbrough.com.