Columns

2011.02.02 Monsters of days gone by

on . Posted in By The Way

By DAVID GREEN

It’s so easy to get behind in my position. I know I’m not alone with such a complaint, but it’s this person’s behind-ness with which I’m most familiar.

I missed work last Wednesday morning because I had to accompany my wife somewhere. Then on Friday morning I made my first visit inside a court room at John Skelton’s hearing.

What? A reporter for 30 years and never before inside a court room? It’s true. I’m not much of a follower of crime and Chief Weeks jokes that I might become a court reporter after all now that I’ve made my first appearance.

I’ll make that general, non-committal statement that’s often spoken: It was interesting.

I sat in the media section along with the television guys and the other photographers. I felt a little sorry for the first three prisoners. They were facing charges such as failure to pay child support and breaking-and-entering, but as each one entered the court room, he was suddenly facing four TV cameras and the rest of us.

So there were two mornings gone and I still had Saturday to toss aside because of the Michigan Press Association convention. I wouldn’t have gone except for the need to pick up a plaque from an award the Observer won last fall.

Now that I think about it, there was one plaque that went unclaimed. I don’t recall that ever happening before. It was for the best daily paper in its circulation class and no one made the trip to Detroit to accept the award. Tsk, tsk. I paid for my $100 dinner (the one-day registration cost) and braved the icy roads leading to the Renaissance Center.

But as I mentioned at the start, all of this time out of the office has me way behind and searching for an old column to use.

I looked for the column about another press convention where I let the family take the elevator and I decided to race down 20 flights of stairs at the Amway Grand Plaza. 

I got to the bottom floor, pushed open the door and stepped out into the snow. Then I watched in puzzlement as the door closed behind me. It had no handle on the outside, so I had to walk coatless in very cold, windy weather past the diners in the fancy restaurant, pretending I was just out for an ordinary stroll.

As I looked through old Observers to find that incident, I soon discovered a trail of stories that fit into the theme “Country Bumpkin Goes the Big City.” Every year about this time was a tale of embarrassment or silliness and yet they still allow me to attend.

I never did come across that particular By the Way, but here’s what I found instead, called “A Failed Treasury of House Monsters.” It was written Jan. 20, 1993. when my daughter, Maddy, was four years old:

I was on bathroom duty with Maddy the other day when I should have run off for paper and pencil. The problem is that she screams whenever I leave my post.

We were talking about monsters that day and I thought our conversation would have made good column material. Monsters are the reason I was there by her side. There are two known monsters that live in our bathroom and Maddy isn’t about to stay in there on her own.

 I tried to convince her there were no monsters, but she claimed to have seen five of them. Here’s what I remember.

The Toilet Monster: If you thought there was a monster in the toilet, you wouldn’t want to be left alone, would you? When she saw the Toilet Monster, it consisted of a long tongue that came out of the bowl. She later saw its blue eyes.

The Shower Monster: This is tough because the shower is so close to the toilet. Monsters on two sides. The Shower Monster has blue eyes, but the eyes are in the back of its head.

“You only see the mouth,” she said. “The monster doesn’t see you.”

The Basement Monster: “It’s brown. It talks.”

The Closet Monster: It’s gone to the store. No details.

Now back to 2011. Maddy is now 22 years old and likely faces a new array of monsters in her life. None, I hope, are nearly as fearsome as the long-tongued Toilet Monster.

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