This is my farewell column.
Sort of. Kind of. Well, not exactly.
In all honesty, I should have drafted a farewell about three weeks ago. That was when I was to have posted my last column as an employee of this fine paper. But my kids did something funny that week, so I ended up writing about that instead. I would have fit it in last week, but the Olympics were on and you really can’t pass up a shot to write about something when it only comes around every four years, so I skipped it then as well.
So here, belatedly, is my farewell column. Sort of. Kind of.
So long is appropriate because I have left The Lima News. After nearly 16 years of service, interrupted occasionally by side gigs and sundry adventures, I have hung up my reporter’s cap (and no, it is not one of those cool ’40s fedoras with “press” in the band) and moved on to greener pastures. And by greener, I mean something that offers a paycheck that, when I go to cash it, doesn’t leave the bank tellers looking at me with the sort of moist-eyed empathy typically reserved for injured kittens and the homeless.
I hesitate to draft my au revoir for a variety of reasons. For one, I hate goodbye columns. I’ve read too many overwrought missives from various writers and reporters offering up recollections so teary and warm they feel as though there should be a Sarah McLachlan song playing in the background.
Most of them come off as self-important, as though the writer believes the absence of their weekly diatribe on why Browns quarterbacks stink will leave a huge, unfillable gulf in the readers’ desperate lives. All presume a level of reader loyalty I suspect went away with the Ford Pinto.
I am also resistant to the idea of announcing my retreat because it has happened before and it never really stuck. Actually, twice before I have walked away from this paper to try my hand at other things. Once, it was a poorly considered move to Sioux City, Iowa — an experience that goes a long way in explaining my enthusiasm for Lima — and the second time I left for a career in radio that turned into a career in nonprofit management, then a career in television. In both instances, I returned to the paper. In the words of my second-favorite girly-voiced singer, “Breaking Up is Hard to Do.” (Love your work, Neil Sedaka, but you’re no Leo Sayer).
Finally, I have avoided writing a final column because it’s not really all that final. My bosses have offered me some pretty serious cash to continue writing this column. I can’t go into specifics, but let’s just say it’s somewhere in the mid-two figures. I would like to believe they asked me to keep writing because they respect my wit and eloquence and fear my army of readers would storm the offices if I left, but I suspect it has more to do with the need to fill space. The day “Marmaduke” comes in a panel large enough to fill the top third of Page A2, I’m out of a gig.
Until that day comes, I will continue to use this space to provide you, the reader, with vital information about my kids, my pets, and which parking lots offer the best lunch options for the week.