2006.11.01 The 45-minute column
By JEFF PICKELL
About one in every four of the columns I write doesn’t turn out to be for popular consumption. In such cases, I usually panic because it takes me a good eight or nine days to brainstorm for my next column. Right now, I’m in a panic.
It’s 11:16 a.m. Saturday morning, and I definitely want to have my column written before Monday, but after five aborted starts, it appears that someone found the writer’s block I’d hidden in the basement and clocked me with it during last night’s slumber.
I’m scheduled to hit up the Western Michigan University football game this afternoon, so I’m trying something new—the 45-minute column. For the next 45—well, 39—minutes, I’m going to type whatever rattles its way into my head. We’ll see how that works.
All right. Let’s get things started.
My friend Allison dressed as a noun for Halloween. She wore a shirt with “noun” printed on the front and back. She’s involved in plays and stuff, so she can get away with artsy fartsy “statement” costumes like that. Too boot, she looks intelligent.
In high school, no less than three girls told me they thought I had a mental disability when they saw me walking down the hall. That’s probably because I tend to let my mouth hang open. I also stare at my feet when I walk. And when I stand.
So, I probably couldn’t pull off “noun,” but I think “cheeseburger” or “Sylvester the Cat” could be a hit.
Speaking of cheeseburgers, I like to rile my friends at the Morenci Pub when I order takeout.
“I’d like one hamburger with cheese,” I say.
“You mean a cheeseburger?” they usually reply.
“Is that what they call them where you come from?” I ask.
I have 24 minutes left. How about those Tigers?
Ah! I just took a phone call about an ad update! Eighteen minutes left and I’m not even halfway done!
I’m such a poor fair weather fan that I’m not even a bad weather fair weather fan. By that I mean that I had every intention of walking across the street to watch the Friday night game at the pub, but a look out the window into the gloomy, rainy night erased the possibility of that ever happening.
By 8 p.m. I was robe- and slipper-bound and rooted for the night in my bed, playing “Trauma Center: Under the Knife” on my Nintendo DS.
At some point, I noticed that I had left the kitchen light on and got angry at myself.
I have eight minutes left. Things are looking pretty bleak.
Since I moved here, I’ve really cut down on my personal energy use. In fact, my friend Amanda calls me the energy Nazi because I insist she turn off her computer monitor—and all the house lights—before she leaves home.
She maintains that she can waste her money anyway she pleases. I insist that I can save her money anyway I please, and turn the electric devices off myself.
Five minutes left. Ah, my nose has started running. Great, another distraction.
You should know that for every word I write, I erase about 10. If I erased no words, this column would be about 8 pages long and include things like “What’s the big deal with iPods? Doesn’t anyone whistle anymore?”
That’s when I remember that at least an eighth of my readership of eight consists of iPod owners, and it’s not a good policy to alienate your fans—or, in my case, the people who don’t hate me. Yet. I also remember that I can’t whistle.
It’s 11:59. Will I make it? WILL. I. MAKE. IT?
No. It’s noon. Shucks.
The Observer office is now officially closed and I guess I’m off the hook for the weekend. But, I can’t just abandon a column that’s supposed to represent my stream of consciousness, can I?
Well, I can, but it would be intellectually dishonest. Besides, if I disembarked for Kalamazoo right now, I’d have to listen to the entire hour of “Wait, Wait. Don’t Tell Me,” aka “BOOOOORING” on NPR. If I wait an hour, I can get a good start to my journey with “This American Life,” which is my favorite radio show.
It’s 12:05 now, and as I edge ever closer to my 4,250-character column limit, I’m beginning to think that this was a pretty good one-time exercise. There were a lot of little snippets in here that I’d always wanted to write about, but never got the chance.
Well, I’ve reached the character limit, and it’s time to jet on out of here. This is Jeff Pickell, signing off. It’s 12:11.- Nov. 1, 2006
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