Opinion: A column is worth … 500 words?


MONDAY: People sometimes ask me if I can finish a column in one sitting (like I do with Denny’s Grand Slam breakfast) or if I dabble with it, like my wife’s spinach soufflé. I’ve used both methods, but the pressure of completing a story in one day has taken its toll. I’m not as young or as creative as I used to be. My column can be no more than 500 words each week, so if I take weekends off and divide by 5 days, I’d have to write exactly 100 words a day. Which means that I’m done today.

TUESDAY: OK, here’s my idea for this week’s humor column. One of the medications I am now taking lists a major side effect as belching. When I was a kid, that would be the kind of drug we would have all been hooked on because there is nothing funnier than belching in class when you are seven years old. And then I realized how bizarre it would be if I took an overdose of that medication as an adult and had to go on TV. But here’s the funniest part: uh, oh, sorry. I’m out of words. Have a nice …

WEDNESDAY: Not sure about that belching idea. Seems awfully sophomoric. Here’s a topic possibility: I can’t sit at the computer and write my weekly column if there are dirty dishes in the kitchen sink. Or if my bed isn’t made (nah, that’s just too weird, even for me). Wait, how about this: My spice rack in the kitchen is arranged alphabetically and I couldn’t fall asleep last night because I didn’t know if I should put the garlic salt under G or S. I could develop that into a column, but why would I? It’s quitting time. 100 words. Exactly.

THURSDAY: My column is almost complete for this week. While you might question why any legitimate newspaper would print this drivel, a few readers may think this is a clear work of creative genius. That’s the wonderful thing about humor: it’s so subjective. Of course, the truth is I didn’t write about anything of substance this week because I never sat down long enough to have one good idea. I was so obsessed with how long each paragraph would be, I forgot to put in any funny lines. So what? This is also exactly 100. Take my word for it.

FRIDAY: Thank goodness it’s Friday. I could have said TGIF, but why save words? I’m liking the idea of spreading the writing out each day. The only downside is that this may be the worst column I’ve ever written. But it will be exactly 500 words, and accuracy is very important. Occasionally, one of the newspaper’s editors gets a little touchy about some obscure grammatical point and next thing you know my intentional double-negative is gone. So, please, editors, don’t not not change this sentence, because it will mess up my count. Otherwise, this is another perfect 100 words.  Bye.