Tara Cutlip, 21 and pregnant with her second child, was shot and killed Saturday in her Bahama Drive home. Loved ones gather in front of Tara's home to remember her and speak out against domestic violence.
I’m not altogether certain I should be making this announcement. It could be construed as bragging or, at the very least, taunting. It may well lead to a glut of unwanted phone calls from neighbors seeking my expert counsel. At the worst, it might make some of the fellows out there feel a bit, well, inferior.
Be forewarned, what you are about to read is a shameless promotion. It is presented with considerable bias by a writer with more than a bit of skin in the game. The bias, in this particular instance, is exceptionally egregious, as the skin in question is the author’s daughter and a group of her friends, of whom he is shamelessly fond.
My buddy Bill called Monday to grouse about the challenges of raising his 7-year-old son. In the process of his complaining about short attention spans, long snow days and the high cost of keeping up with the high cost of keeping up, he finally got around to asking my advice.
There’s not much Joe Lepo left undone in his 93 years on this planet. By his own telling, he rose up from a poor, coal-mining town, helped whoop Hitler and his nefarious friends, had highly successful careers in both newspapering and retail and, with considerable input from his beautiful Croatian bride, managed to raise three fairly remarkable kids. All that, and he still made time to perfect the game of Bocce and write a few thousand letters.
I don’t want to know.
It all started innocently enough, as these things typically do. An old writer friend of mine from Chicago sent me an email commenting on the past week’s performance in our fantasy football league. I replied, as is the custom, with some witty if slightly mean-spirited retort. Then he replied, and I replied. He shot back and, well, the war was on.
It is probably inappropriate to give myself the title of Lima’s Poet Laureate. Then again, inappropriate is kind of my thing.
I have read pretty much the entire book of Revelations, a good chunk of the writings of Nostradamus, and bits and pieces of the end-of-times literature from a half-dozen other cranks and cultures, so it’s fair to say I’m versed in the signs of bad things to come. But nowhere do I recall reading about what is almost certainly the surest sign of the devil’s dealings in this world.
There comes a time in life when we begin to search for wisdom from new sources. Some look to books, scouring libraries of literary and philosophic texts in search of meaning. Others reach out to mentors, wiser elders who have come before. Others still turn to religion, seeking in faith the answers they cannot find in knowledge.
There have been some questions recently as to whether or not I have ambitions toward running for public office. Let me take this moment to assure you that I have absolutely no ambition whatsoever. Ask anyone who knows me and they will support me on that note.
When I heard folks at the University of Vermont had declared Lima the saddest city in Ohio, the first thought that ran through my mind was: Well, they apparently have never been to Union City.
A wise old editor friend of mine once told me “Everyone has a story to tell. It’s just that some people are too stupid to tell it well.” He went on to explain that, since I was slightly less stupid then the rest of “them,” it was my job – nay, mission – to tell their stories.
My wife had a very literal A-ha moment the other night, one that has left her concerned about the future of today’s youth.
Looking out over the past week’s ample harvest of celebrity embarrassments, I’m reminded of a line from a former teacher, who would tell us “When the well is empty, there’s nothing to drink. When it is wet, there is. Water, I mean.”
Hope is a hard sell these days.
This being my last column for 2012, I was tempted to do what I’ve done in years past and pass along my advice for setting resolutions one might reasonably expect to keep. The condensed version of that column has always amounted to pretty much the same thing: set the bar low.
For a second, maybe two, I thought about skipping the poem this year. After all, the world is reeling and we have serious issues to consider. Some contrived Seussian homage on the Mills family’s vaguely comical holiday rites seemed, well, goofy.
I can’t help but think that something should be said. A few kind words passed along, a line or two written in memoriam of a good and once-pleasant place, now rather unceremoniously dumped.
This may come as a surprise to a lot of folks out there, but I don’t now a lot about anything.
The story of the pork tapeworm nearly blinding the old man probably should have tipped me off. Certainly, by the time they killed off the baby infected with the raccoon roundworm, I knew we were in trouble. But hearing her tell me about the baby leech playing peek-a-boo out a plumber’s nose was the final straw.
When a friend of mine told me that Lima, Ohio, was the last place on earth she wanted to be, I had to inform her that, actually, we did not make that list.
Some kids dream of growing up to be astronauts. Others hope to end up firefighters or cops or even president of the United States.
I suppose it is fair to say I am feeling a certain amount of guilt over the whole Hurricane Sandy affair. I won’t go so far as to say the devastation of large parts of the northeast is entirely my doing, but I did play a part.
It is the time of year once again when we are asked to make a choice, one that can have dire consequences. It is a decision that demands study, reflection and a serious inventory of one’s principles.
“I will be surprised if there is a symphony in this town five years from now. They get rid of the Maestro and it’s over.”
Ennui is one of those words I’ve never quite figured out. I almost never spell it right, I have no idea how to pronounce it, and the overtly French nature of the word leaves me feeling like a character in a Sartre play every time I try to use it, all mumble and distressed and inner-dialoguey.
This whole writing just once a week thing is a pretty nice arrangement. That is, until someone decides to marry off Jesus on a Wednesday evening.
I suppose I could begin with the tale of the Newfoundland that ate the TV remotes. Not just one remote, but a half-dozen over time. I could move on to the story of the empty brownie tin or the classic “Pumpkin Pie Caper.” Eventually, I would have to get to what has come to be known in my house as “The miracle of the Lee’s 21 piece.”
I have painful memories of a distant Thanksgiving spent in a hospital emergency room nursing three broken ribs and a vague memory of how they got that way. And the year I celebrated Christmas in a Sioux Falls, S.D., Ramada Inn remains a low point. But no misspent holiday has disappointed quite so deeply as the one misspent on Tuesday.
So my eldest just sprang it on me that she’s scheduling college visits for later this month. And no, thank you for asking, I am not dealing with this particularly well.
It is no small irony that a book titled “Fifty Shades of Grey” tops The New York Times bestsellers list at the same time both political parties are holding their election year conventions.
I can tell you the very moment I realized I got something right with my kids.
There are events so loud and bright and full of cacophonic adventure they seem as though they were crafted by excitable children for their own amusement. There are others that offer so much of the sort of trapped-in-time nostalgia you suspect they were drawn from your grandmother’s dreams.
This is my farewell column.
By Bart Mills