The last two weeks, I’ve been looking at the dark side of the news, which got a bit darker last week when another man died while in police custody, although this time it didn’t involve shooting. You probably heard about the resulting riots in Baltimore already.
Despite that turn of events, I was determined to lighten up in this week’s essay and write about something more light-hearted and maybe even amusing. To do that, I turned to the newspaper, which is what you would expect from a journalist, even though journalism is his second career.
Well, I did, and I found something to write a light-hearted essay about. But it didn’t come easy. Fortunately, a newspaper here in the heart of …uh… whatever the Big Horn Basin is in the heart of, provided me with a resource. That publication devotes a section of its back page to offbeat stories it mines from the AP wire. And it’s there that I turned to for inspiration, albeit with mixed results.
My first thought was to comment on the wife who removed her wedding ring back in January because her pregnancy was causing her fingers to swell. It disappeared and was lost until recently, when she saw the ring’s picture posted on a Facebook page. Another woman had found it while cleaning up an athletic field. How did it get there? Well it seems the lady had walked her dog on that same field a few days earlier.
Need I say more.
At first, I thought this was the perfect item to write a light-hearted column about, but then I remembered my old Basset hound and the nearly continuous job of cleaning up the yard after him. That unpleasant job reminded me of the sad day back in 1987 when I buried old Tevye, a good dog otherwise, who gave us 15 years of affection and exercise.
I also rejected a story about two guys who differed over whether Michael Jordan or Lebron James was the better basketball player. They ended up fighting, and police had to be called to break things up. The fact that such a stupid argument would require police intervention is kind of depressing.
I did get a kick out of a guy back east whose obituary requested votes against Hillary Clinton in lieu of flowers, but decided not to use it. It’s depressing to think that the election campaign is going to start so soon. Couldn’t we wait until after Christmas?
Dumb criminals are always good for a laugh. Consider the guy who, while robbing a house, warmed up some tater tots in the microwave and ate a snack. After that, he fell asleep on the couch in the living room. When the lady of the house found him in the morning he ran off, but was caught about a block away. But while it is funny, it’s about crime, and I’m trying to avoid writing about that this week.
Finally, I found a story worth a few chuckles. A lady managed to set a record by eating a 72-ounce steak dinner, complete with baked potato, salad, shrimp cocktail and a roll, in four minutes and 11 seconds in an eating competition. She went on to two more dinners just like it, finishing all three in about 20 minutes.
Now that made me laugh, and I laughed again when I wondered if, with that appetite, she gets any dates. And cost aside, wouldn’t eating that much that fast require pretty bad table manners, so would anybody have her over for dinner?
Then I began to dwell on those 72-ounce steaks. That’s 4.5 pounds of meat! My mother could feed six kids and a husband Sunday dinner and have leftovers, at least until we kids began turning into teenagers. The three steaks together weighed 13.5 pounds. McDonald’s could turn that into 54 quarter-pounders, enough to fill up 50 ordinary people or, shortly after the state wrestling finals, half a dozen high school wrestlers.
In the end, I thought about all those starving children in China my mother told me about whenever I didn’t want to eat the canned peas that went along with my share of the meal. That aroused my moral outrage at wasting that much food on one person, and it spoiled my efforts to be light hearted.
That left me with one last choice. Back in New York, a Canada goose attempted to take over the high school parking lot. He launched ground attacks, hissing, honking and nipping at people, taking to the air to buzz people at low altitude, occasionally making contact. Imagine how terrifying such an attack from a bird of that size would be.
It turned out that Mother Goose was nesting on top of a nearby shed, and Father G. was protecting her. The staff roped off the area with yellow tape and then, as you might expect of teachers, created new lesson plans that included Canada geese.
At last, a happy ending for this week’s column.