By JEFF PICKELL
Last week David and I had a work shadow. In order to graduate, Kevin Foss, a rural Morenci resident and senior at St. John’s Jesuit High School in Toledo, has to follow three workers around for for a week apiece. We got the middle shift.
The problem with following a reporter, such as me, is that three fifths of my job is comprised of sitting, staring at this darned computer screen and screaming to myself “Write, Jeff! Write!”
Garrison Keillor, the host of “A Prairie Home Companion” says writing isn’t as difficult as everyone makes it out to be.
To Mr. Keillor, I say, “You wanna fight?”
He may think writing is easy, but that’s because he’s good at it. It’s kind of like Einstein saying understanding the photoelectric effect is easy, or Ray Lewis saying it’s easy to play middle linebacker in the NFL.
Writing comes naturally to Mr. Keillor, and he’s found a way to do it and make a living. The only thing that comes naturally to me is sitting. That makes me 50 percent qualified for this job.
Unfortunately, I still have to write, and that stinks. It’d be tough for me to host the “Let’s Sit Down on Things Home Companion.” I imagine it going something like:
Jeff: Well, it sure is nice to sit down on things.
Lefty: It shore is, Ace. Say, you remember the time we ran into that wrangler down in New York City, then went to the library?
Jeff: Quiet! I’m sitting!
Lefty: I was just saying, Ace. It’s funny when we get into comical situations, like that time we—
Jeff: [takes out gun, shoots Lefty in the head.] This show is for sitting, not talking.
This would be followed by 87 minutes of dead air, while I sit. It’d probably go down in history as the worst Western ever. Next to “Paint Your Wagon.”
Which reminds me, I am, myself, currently engaged in a kind of Western. “Paint My Kitchen,” it’s called.
A former reporter painted the kitchen in the apartment above the Observer office yellow, which, next to Communist Red, is my least favorite color). After putting up with the shade for an unbearable 12 months, it had become a buzzing in my eyes that I just couldn’t take any longer.
So, last Wednesday, I went next door to Gamble’s and purchased a bucket of “Periwinkle Frost,” i.e. “Light Blue” paint, and began transforming the kitchen from enraging yellow to serene blue. The process was anything but serene.
Before this, the only thing I’d ever painted was a toilet building at Proud Lake State Recreation Area, and that I did poorly. I’d never even attempted painting the inside of something, but I remembered that when my Mom painted my room once, she taped a bunch of stuff off. I bought a bunch of blue tape and taped the heck out of the room. I even taped the oven, microwave and refrigerator shut. But that had nothing to do with painting; I’m a fat slob and need to drop some pounds.
Following the taping, I sprayed the walls down. I’d called Mom beforehand and asked, “Mom, how do you paint a kitchen?” She said the most important things to remember were to keep plenty of windows open and to wash the walls before painting. I doused them with Fantastik and spent a roll of paper towel wiping it off, which led the garbage to overflow.
Then the painting began. After passing out from a combination of Fantastik fumes, paint and forgetting to open the windows, I finished the first coat in a world record time of four hours and fifteen minutes. Altogether, the process took over eight hours and included some Cirque du Soliel-grade acrobatics, as in back flips and swearing whenever paint accidentally dripped from my brush to the floor.
I still have another coat to put on, and David just sprung the cheerful news that the rental rehab inspector is coming tomorrow. Which means I not only have to attend the Fayette Village Council meeting this evening, but finish off the paint job, clean things up, and dismantle my meth lab.
If I don’t get things done tonight, I may have to enlist Kevin’s help tomorrow morning. Besides, as David says, he often considers putting “Publisher/Janitor” beneath his name in the paper. Isn’t writing/cleaning/reporting/painting what working at a small weekly is all about?
Mr. Keillor may have me beat when it comes to writing, but I’m the Babe Ruth of the combined sport of writing and scrubbing toilets.
P.S. Be sure to visit Gamble’s for all your painting needs. They handled me wonderfully.