BLAST FROM THE PAST — another column from 1990, Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette
Barb’s Annual Apology Column
One of the things that amazes me about writing a weekly column is how easy it is to offend large segments of the population. For example, I wrote a column that mentioned Florida’s official junior hunting season, an outgrowth of the NRA school of sociology which teaches that allowing armed children to bag their first Bambi fosters family unity and decreases the drug problem. (I did not make this up.)
At the time, we were living in Virginia, which is closed for deer hunting season. Offending an armed segment of that population was not one of my better ideas. Despite my proclamation that people who display the bumper sticker “My wife says if I go deer-hunting one more time she’ll leave me. Too bad, I’ll miss her” are clearly great humanitarians with a terrific sense of humor, we decided to move to another state.
I also once offended the State of New Jersey by mentioning it in print.
Then there was the column about my problems with my ancient Volvo. Yeah, I ran that in a town with exactly one Volvo repair shop, which made as much sense as telling surgeon jokes just before the anesthetic. Um… editorial correction from the Hub:
The Volvo mechanics who fix Barb’s car
constantly are competent, friendly professionals who carry really big wrenches. It certainly is not their fault that Barb chooses to drive a vehicle which breaks down almost as often as politicians break election year promises.
After my column about the severe shortage of brain cells among our pets, I was served with papers in a civil suit filed by my dog charging me with “breach of ownership and defamation of dog.” Frankly, I’m suspicious: I think that outside agitators like that Russian wolfhound up the street put her up to it. But I expect to reach an out-of-court settlement. She agrees to drop the lawsuit in return for being allowed to live following a certain episode last spring in which she got Child#3 to open the fridge and give her the better part of a dozen eggs. Most of these she ate, and then regurgitated as usual under my dining room chair. But several she hid in thoughtful places like behind the stove and other sites which became horrifically apparent as the summer (hottest on record!) wore on.
[Why I don’t think I’ll get a fair trial in my dog’s lawsuit…]
I should probably also apologize to all the people who are waiting for thank-you letters for the holiday gifts we received. These gifts have certainly done quite a bit to bring our family closer together than ever, especially now that we have to share house space with the 4,382,573 pieces of toys given to our children. Unfortunately, toy makers now make toys that share two common features:
- They have a minimum of 173 moving and removable parts small enough for the baby to choke on.
- They can survive a nuclear holocaust.
So, despite our kids’ best efforts, they only succeeded in breaking about a fourth of the toys before the end of Christmas day. Thus my son is now the proud dispatcher of the largest privately owned fleet of vehicles in the Free World while his sisters received enough doll accessories to outfit a miniature Princess Di and enough matching shoes to turn Imelda Marcos green with envy. My only consolation is that they form a carpet which will certainly thwart any midnight burglar—assuming that said burglar is attempting to cross our floor barefoot in the dark as I usually am. (Hopefully, the burglar will not use the words I usually do…)
While I’m on a roll, I also need to apologize to my family, my greatest source of writing inspiration. The 8-year-old was going to write a rebuttal column in which she points out all the stupid things I do, but she said that it would be too long, plus she needs me to keep this job because she has to think about us paying her college expenses eventually.
To the Hub, who spends most of his time worrying about the libel suit which may bankrupt us, I offer condolences and the following promises.
I promise for next year to:
- Try to call my children by their own names, or at least by names that might have originated on this planet and/or are not currently assigned to one of our pets.
- Boycott all toys that have more than one moving part and all clothes that are dry-clean only. (If you see kids dressed in towels and playing with one Tinkertoy, send them home to me for lunch.)
- Try to remember that God must have a great sense of humor, because there is no other possible explanation for election-year politicians and 3-year-olds.
- Say very, very nice things about anyone who is at all likely to carry a gun or a wrench.
- Never, ever mention New Jersey. Seriously. Never.
- Send thank-you letters within the same century as the gift
without telling the giver my real opinion of their piss-awful gifting choices, or suggest that they must have done their Christmas shopping after hitting the drinks limit at the pub, or out of revenge for that teddy I gave their kid last year—the one who sang “It’s a small world after all” with no visible off-button (on the teddy. Well, then the kid too, mwahahah. C’mon. It was a little funny.). Another editorial comment from the Hub: What’s a thank-you note?