Columns

2012.12.28 The themes of 2011

on . Posted in By The Way

By DAVID GREEN

I’ve been reading through old “By the Way” columns in search of an underlying theme from the past year. Instead I found three, in addition to a little insanity and the continuing need to fill space.

First of all, I learned that I wrote fewer columns this past year than ever. There was one guest column—from Sandy Shepherd—and 10 repeats from years gone by.

The repeats are an indication of how busy I am, and this must have been a very busy year. I ran out of time often and turned to the archives every month but March and October. September was particularly rough: Sept. 14 and Sept. 20—two weeks in a row.

I’m guessing that’s OK by readers because they probably don’t remember them anyway from 20 years ago. Besides, they’re stories about my kids when they were young and those stories are probably more entertaining than the current themes.

Theme number one: Out of the Loop.

I discovered there were major reports of UFOs hovering over Chinese cities and that was completely new news to me. I’d never heard about it until last January. 

That column was the very first of the year and at the time I wrote: “When 2011 comes to a close, the previous sentence just might remain one of my favorites from By the Way for the entire year.”

I was right, and here it is: “Brother Guy is also the curator of the Pope’s meteorite collection.”

I was out of the loop on that, too. I never would have guessed that the Pope has a meteorite collection. Who da thunk it? Lucky guy. I would love to have a collection of meteorites.

I was out of the loop when it came to the possibility of a banana pestilence and out of the loop for not knowing what a Kroger Card is. I even feared I would have to return my romaine lettuce and go home empty-handed.

I was ignorant about the profession of Aaron Rodgers. I’m pleased to report now, at the end of the year, that I’ve witnessed some sharp passing of the football by the guy.

Another theme is The Odd.

That included reporting first-hand about the throwed rolls at Lambert’s Café, learning about retired astronaut Rusty Schweickart’s plan to save Earth with a gravity wagon, and reading about Harold Camping’s ideas about the end of the world.

I learned about barf art, about eating grubs (what I referred to as the other other white meat), and I learned that Dr. Bass thinks foods should be eaten one item at a time—first your watery food, then the not-so-watery food and on to the really dry stuff like old bread.

The final theme could be classified as Home Life.

This includes items such as sucking my wife’s bath towel into a vacuum cleaner; about operating in the dark and facing the consequences such as eating a salad made of compost, thinking hair gel was hand cream and getting the wrong toothbrush because someone turned the holder around.

There are tales of fighting ants, of finding a bug in an ear, of how to handle a snoring wife, and of searching for my other wife. I still don’t know that I have another wife, but my real wife often mentions her, as in, “That must have happened with your other wife.”

Someone sent an e-mail with information about my other wife, but she was misinformed. Wrong life.

One column that didn’t fit into the three themes was the one about an Observer from Scotland. Carol (Bachelder) Steck brought a photo of the Stirling Observer with almost an exact replica of the State Line Observer’s “flag” at the top of our front page.

There are similarities between the two communities and there are differences. Morenci is 178 years old; Stirling has been around since Stone Age times.

Finally, the column that I personally found most interesting from the year was written on day nine of no internet service at the Observer. A line was severed in the demolition process next door and I was trying to slide back into the 1990s.

I was completely lost. I no longer knew how to waste time without the internet. All I could do was stand at my standing desk and stare out the window. It was one of the strangest days of 2011, and those days have now come to an end.

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