This is an accident waiting to happen. I rarely write a column early, but some papers — I’m not naming names (it starts with “Prairie” and ends with “Pioneer”) think they want Labor Day off, so they want a column “right now.”
Remember those Paul Masson wine commercials starring Orsen Wells: “We will serve no wine before its time?” That’s where I’m coming from when it comes to columning. Admittedly, if I waited that long before a column was good, I’d never send one out. But this one might be pretty much grape juice.
Don’t they get this is a process? I can’t just slosh into the entry, tug my mud boots off after pulling a calf or whatever it is famed rustic columnist Dean Meyer does, and start hitting typewriter keys with my toes. Dean writes like Jackson Pollock used to paint. He just splashes stuff out there. As long as it includes old pickups, horses, cows and broken down cowboys, it’s literary gold.
My columns mostly involve housecleaning and pets. I’ve sorta become the cat lady of columnists. Frankly, I don’t understand why the Prairie Pioneer even keeps me around. I feel like little more than a mascot. One of these days they’re going to make me dress up like George Will or some other freak.
I get treated like that loopy old uncle you feel obligated to invite to Thanksgiving dinner. Allan Burke, the legendary publisher emeritus of the illustrious Pioneer, even calls me “Uncle Tony.” He’s like a 100 years older than me. It’s not just the words either, it’s the way he pronounces them — with a lilt, adding five or six syllables like he’s greeting a dim stepchild and has to annunciate slowly.
And it’s not just the newspaper community showing disrespect. Twice in the last couple of weeks I’ve had visitors with little warning. Two of them were siblings, Sherry and Mike, coming back from the airport in Bismarck. They gave me exactly 70 minutes to make the house look “lived in” as opposed to post-Vesuvius Pompeii.
That’s a lot of pressure, because my sister pitched in to deep clean my house a few years ago. I know she’d take it personally if I’d let things slide. And she’s scary.
I frantically vacuumed enough dog fur to build another pug, polished the bathroom, washed the dishes and even dusted. I finished just as they pulled up.
So there you go, Prairie Pioneer. A column.