Good morning and welcome to my first post-turning-47 Sunday Flashback! The fact that I’m even able to say “post-turning-47 Sunday Flashback” proves that 1) I am still quite dexterous, at least verbally, and 2) there wasn’t nearly enough tequila involved on my birthday. But one thing I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older is that you don’t need a lot of alcohol to have a good time. In fact, I can experience that same lack of inhibition and disorientation just by getting up from the couch too fast, or having a Red Bull with my Twinkie. Speaking of being disoriented, I believe it’s time we get to this week’s Flashback. As always it comes from long ago, back when I thought “Freshly Pressed” was a website for people with a fetish for naked dry cleaners; back when my only followers were WordPress sites I opened for my pets; back when the only comments I got were things like “Back to work, Hickson!” and “Honey, can you grab some milk on the way home?” Some of you may recognize the photo, which is from my “About” page. And yes, we do have flies that big in Oregon…Every journalist has a routine. For example, I always write my column early in the morning. The earlier the better. That’s because, generally speaking, I’m not awake yet. Sure, I may be drinking coffee and typing, but if you were to monitor my brain activity, it would register somewhere between an earthworm and the average American watching Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.
Admittedly, my brain doesn’t open for business until about 10 a.m. By then, I’ve been at the keyboard for three or four hours with no real memory of what I’ve been writing. I assure my editor this unique quirk is the sign of a seasoned professional.
And she assures me the reason we need to keep replacing my keyboard is because, at least once a month, she finds me face down drooling on the return key. That may be true, but I tend to do my best work under pressure. And there’s nothing like the pressure of trying to finish a column before saliva short-circuits your keyboard.
In addition to a lack of cognizance, I also prefer writing early in the morning because there aren’t any distractions, such as…
oh, I don’t know…
How about being blinded by a crazed fly?
The truth is, this column was going to be a stunning piece of social commentary. I had planned to utilize all the tools I’ve acquired as a columnist (namely, spell-check and the “delete” button, assuming it hasn’t been drooled on) to discuss a little-known but steadily growing segment of the voting population:
Chihuahuas who have mistakenly been issued voter registration cards in Florida.
Anyone who has written Pulitzer Prize-winning material will tell you it takes an incredible amount of concentration and skill to produce work of such significance.
As a recipient of the Putziler Prize for “Most Consistent Use of Spelling Errors” in 2009, I was, quite literally, only a few scrambled letters away from a Pulitzer myself. In keeping with that standard, I should’ve been able to finish my Chihuahua column in spite of being the unwitting target of a psychopathic fly. I have no excuse other than to say, before this experience, I would’ve never considered sealing up my cubicle and installing an air-lock door complete with retinal scanner and emergency fly swatter.
It actually started out like any other annoying man-vs-fly situation.
Fly lands on hand.
Hand shoos fly away.
Then, and without warning:
Fly attacks eyeball.
Things immediately moved into the realm of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, complete with — I must admit — screaming that would’ve frightened Janet Leigh. In all fairness, I now had only ONE good eye, which limited my peripheral vision and put me at a distinct disadvantage to the fly which, as we all know, has enough eyes to see in all directions at once, including behind, which is the direction I happened to be running from.
Yes, I probably should’ve stood my ground.
And if it hadn’t blinded my other eye, I probably would have. However, as I stood there swinging blindly at the fly with a rolled up magazine, I realized two important things precisely in this order:
1) I looked like a Star Wars fanatic pretending to be in Jedi training, and;
2) Someone could walk through the door at any minute.
Because of this, the Pulitzer Prize committee will have to wait. In the meantime, I still have a chance at another Putziler, depending on how I spelled Chihuahua.
(Ned is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. You can write to him at email@example.com, or at Siuslaw News, P.O. Box 10, Florence, OR 97439)