With this column, I mark a milestone that is the writer equivalent
of the 50-year wedding anniversary or the 100th birthday: I have
been gainfully employed as a columnist for 10 years.
Of course, it depends on your definition of gainful.
"Tell me why I shouldn't reduce your pay," my editor opened a phone
It was her way of saying congratulations.
It also depends on your definition of employment.
When he was younger, my son might have wondered, upon returning
from a hard day at elementary school, why his dad was padding
around the house in his skivvies while all the other dads were at a
place called work.
If I'm lying on the couch staring into space, a reasonable question
might be, "Hey, Dad, wanna throw the football around?" To which a
reasonable answer might be, "Can't you see Daddy's working?"
He can be forgiven for thinking layabout is a synonym for
I wanted to be a columnist since I was young enough to want to be
something. Of course, last column I said I wanted to be a pilot all
my life. Next column I'll say I always wanted to be a rock-and-roll
star. As it happens, all of them are true.
But columnist is the truest.
I learned about this strange occupation by reading the sports
pages. As a boy growing up in suburban Philadelphia back in the
Sixties, I loved sports. The City of Brotherly Love was, and
remains, legendary for its sports passion, although some might call
it boorish, obnoxious, brutalizing hatefulness. Semantics. You say
tomato. I say, "Hey, you wanna make somethin' of it?"
Fans in Philly have thrown batteries at players and hurled
snowballs at Santa Claus. The city's sports franchises have
responded to this tough-love approach to fandom with one colossal
failure after another.