Columns

2008.04.23 Distinguished clown award

on . Posted in By The Way

By DAVID GREEN

I’m having a busy weekend with children visiting and the darn Morenci Education Foundation dinner getting in the way.

In other words, I’m short on time and I’m just going to recount my episode on the stage Saturday night when I was given one of those Distinguished Alumni Awards. Most of you weren’t there anyway, and those who were there might have missed portions. My delivery certainly wasn’t the best.

I wanted to make the foundation board question its judgment in selecting me, so when called to the stage, I first wrapped an arm around foundation president Bill VanValkenburg, held a camera out in front of us and snapped a photo.

I walked to the podium and remarked on how this was a fine way to ruin an otherwise nice evening. I mentioned this must be a very frightening moment for my children who are probably quietly saying to themselves, “Do not let him go to the podium. He’s going to do something silly and embarrass us all.”

I said that sometimes I tend to think in terms of headlines and announced one for the event: “Local boy does good,” and then gave a few more: “Local boy stands nervously at podium. Local boy forgets his speech. Local boy feels faint.”

That’s when I keeled over onto a Lane recliner. I was so glad to see that chair next to the podium. That’s the seat where auctioneer Duane Dunbar operated before he auctioned off the chair, too. I was a little concerned about flopping onto the hard floor, but the chair made fainting easy.

Continuing with the show—what kind of acceptance speech was this, anyway?—I announced that the only way I could get through this thing was to take an approach that I was more accustomed to. I reached into a sack, withdrew an old dial telephone, and called myself for an interview.

Right Ear: Hello, this is David Green from the Observer. I want to talk to you for a story about the alumni awards.

Left Ear: OK, what do you want to know?

Right Ear: Are you looking forward to the awards night?

Left Ear: Are you kidding? It’s like I’m going into major surgery with all my family gathered around.

Right Ear: You want me to print that?

Left Ear: No, I trust that you’ll make me sound good.

Right Ear: I hear that line a lot in my business.

Left Ear: You could say that I’ve dreamed about this night for a long time.

Right Ear: Really?

Left Ear: It was more like a nightmare. I actually did dream about it. I was failing so miserably at the podium that people started talking to each other. Even my mother found something better to do and walked away.

Right Ear: You probably aren’t accustomed to standing at the podium.

Left Ear: No, I’d rather be taking notes. Actually, I’d rather be somewhere else. I try to follow Henry Thoreau’s advice to be wary of events that require new clothing.

Right Ear. No, Left Ear still: In a good year, I never put on a necktie. This year I made it to April 19.

[Note: My necktie was handcrafted from the April 9 Observer. It wasn’t the best, but it worked.]

Right Ear: Still, it must be nice to be honored as a distinguished alumnus.

Left Ear: I don’t have a big list of organizations and clubs like most of those honored. I just make a newspaper every week. Just doing my job.

Right Ear: Are you going to give a speech?

Left Ear: I’m hoping to be the last one so I can say that the other two said everything I wanted to say. Then I can just say “Thanks” and go sit down.

Right Ear: I see that all three honorees are living in Morenci.

Left Ear: Yes, I noticed that, too. I thought I could talk about how unique I was until I learned that all three of us live here.

In all the years of the awards, there have only been three Morenci residents honored. Until tonight.

Right Ear: Are you the first member of your class?

Left Ear: I think so, but here’s a better one. I’m the first second-generation honoree. My father received the award in 2001, also for making newspapers.

Right Ear: So it’s a family tradition.

Left Ear: Sort of. My grandfather and father actually wanted to do newspaper work. I just didn’t find anything else to do and decided to give it a try.

Right Ear: And it’s gone well?

Left Ear: I feel very fortunate. I work with words, images and design every week. It’s a very creative job.

Right Ear: Well, I hope your big night goes well.

Left Ear: It could be worse. When my father got the award, he had to go to classrooms and talk to students. I think he had to give the same speech three times.

Right Ear: What’s the matter, you don’t like talking to kids?

Left Ear: I don’t like giving speeches. If I had to talk to students, I’d probably address the underachievers and tell them there’s still hope for all the clowns and bums because eventually they just might rise to the top.

Right Ear. No, still more Left Ear: I hope you can get something out of all this for a story.

Right Ear: Yeah, me too. It could be a challenge. Well, thanks for talking with me.

Left Ear: OK. Goodbye.

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