Every now and then, a certain situation rears its ugly head again, and since I can’t evade the responsibility any longer, readers are about to learn the answer to that persistent question that keeps popping up and just won’t go away, namely; “Why do you write this stuff?”
Well, you asked for it. Now you’re going to get it.
Maybe I should throw myself on the mercy of the court, but as the court’s mercy isn’t what you’d call a sure thing, it’s apparently time to simply face the music, seize the bull by the tail, look the issue square in the face, and try to cop out as best I can.
You see, it’s like this.
For years, I’d done what most people do. I checked my everyday news sources and found nothing but calamities, collisions and crashes, robberies, people being arrested, fires, floods, dire happenings and predictions on the World News front, political tempests in teacups, and all kinds of worrisome things that tend to drag a person down if you take them too seriously. This seems to be a way of life in the news game, and there just isn’t a snowball’s chance of changing it.
It’s what they do.
Occasionally they get to the good things, the enjoyable happenings and a little of the fun in life, but for the most part it’s negative, and bad news makes good news, and that’s the way things are.
But when you look a little farther you can find that there are lots of things that tend to get overlooked; the odd, unusual incidents that are worth a quick look; untold amounts of this and that which ought to be passed along just so they don’t get missed altogether.
They aren’t going to change things, they aren’t earthshaking, they aren’t even important, but they happened, someone reported them, and the world just sort of shrugged them off.
This is where we can find a chuckle or two; the oddities, the little rarities that nobody pays much attention to, and there are many, many people out there who never hear the jokes, the puns, the limericks, the humorous sidelights to otherwise everyday anecdotes that, although not particularly important in themselves, can bring a little smile to someone because they’re different, may be a little closer to home, unexpected, oddball, or just plain funny.
Well, since I had my fill of bad news, I decided to try and help relieve this cloud of gloom by offering some of these incidents just to brighten my day a little, and since nobody else was doing it, I’d do it myself.
Soon I began to receive comments which proved that I wasn’t the only one who thought this way, and even heard from one or two that said “It’s about time I found something enjoyable in my day besides the Funnypapers, which aren’t all that funny,” so I was apparently on the right track.
This was all the encouragement I needed, and that’s how our “On The Loose” column was born.
Luckily, ever since I can remember, I’ve always had a small streak of irreverence, a liking for the off-beat, a tendency to deflate a stuffed shirt, and have usually managed to find a silly or whimsical side to things, which provides a handy safety valve when things begin to look grim.
It obviously worked for other people also, since every now and then someone would comment, saying “That’s just what I thought, too.”
On the other hand, there’s always the person who sooner or later just can’t help himself and feels compelled to ask, “What are you? Some kind of nut?”
Well, I won’t deny the obvious – but I try to keep it under control, and when we get right down to the nitty gritty, we find that people like this stuff, even if they hesitate to admit it.
Like the rest of us, they’ll read their newspaper, look to make sure their name isn’t in the Obituaries, then take a quick check to see if there’s anything they can feel positive about.
And after many years of enduring this quirk of mine in solitude, I finally decided to simply accept it because it’s incurable, like a lifetime case of the Seven Year Itch, and I have come to the point where I can explain this stuff and maybe even make it sound logical.
Shucks, I might even be able to excuse it - if that isn’t asking too much.
— Newton columnist Mike Morton writes weekly for the Kansan. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org