You’re probably wondering where Floyd is. Allow me to explain.
Around the newsroom, I’m known as a guy who has an opinion or two. And being the generous fella that I am, I’m willing to share those opinions for free—you don’t even have to ask.
Yet when my editor came around and said, “Howie, Floyd’s retiring and the board would like you to take over his column,” I was suspicious. Chet’s not my biggest fan. Okay, maybe I yank his chain from time to time. Everybody needs a hobby. But here’s the deal. Chet’s family owns the paper, and a wise observer might say Chet is an excellent example of why nepotism is a bad idea. Me, I’m not saying that. Just that a wise observer might.
I leaned back in my chair. “You want to pay me for my opinion?”
“It’s the road to regret, I know. But I was outvoted.”
Like I said, not a fan. Of course, hearing that Chet wasn’t in favour of me taking over the column only made the opportunity immediately irresistible.
“I’ll do it,” I said.
“Hold on. I don’t need an answer right away. This is a big decision, and you should take some time to think about it.”
“I don’t need more time.”
But I knew he wouldn’t give up. Not yet. He still had to caution me about what big shoes I had to fill.
“Floyd’s leaving some darn big shoes to fill,” he cautioned.
Chet’s as predictable as gas after a burrito grande.
“I’ve got darn big dogs,” I said. “Sounds like a match.”
Chet looked defeated. He can only go a couple of rounds.
“All right, then. You’ll take over in two weeks.” He headed to his office.
“Sounds peachy, boss! Can’t wait!” Howie’s Recipe for Addressing a Superior: Half cup of sincerity, half cup of sarcasm. Mix well. Enjoy.
But Chet stopped and turned around. This was a new move. And I didn’t much care for the look on his face.
“Howie, I know how fond you are of rules, so I’m going to lay out a few for you.” He was smiling now. No good could come from that.
“For starters,” he began, “no profanity and no off-color jokes. No sexual innuendo. No sexist remarks, no racist remarks. No culturally insensitive comments. No—”
“Geez Louise! Who the hell am I writing for? Amish kids?”
“That’s exactly the kind of language I’m talking about.”
This column idea was suddenly losing its appeal.
Chet wasn’t done. “Look, the board expects you to express your opinion. And you’ll have some latitude. But this column isn’t a licence to say anything you want. Go off the reservation, even once, and you’ll be covering tee-ball games.”
“Off the reservation? Why Chet,” I said with mock shock, “I don’t think that remark was very culturally sensitive.”
Chet reacted. I waited patiently as he scoured his brain for a response. I could practically hear the gears grinding away.
“That was a test,” he said finally. “You passed.”
I snorted. I do that sometimes, drives Mrs. Dew crazy. “You’re full of—”
“Don’t screw this up, Howie.” He glanced toward the corner office. “Don’t disappoint my mother.” He walked away.
So, the Queen Mum was a backer. Interesting. She has a salty tongue herself and no shortage of opinions. This could be fun after all.
* * *
And that, my friend, is how this Dew was given his due. In my humble opinion, it’s about @#$% time.
Now hang on to your hat. Because I ain’t Floyd and pulling punches ain’t my style.
That’s all I’m sayin’.