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Jeff Whitten: More fun than a barrel
editor's notes

Random stuff. 1. My mother, bless my heart, has had some mind-blowing dreams over the years. Once, she dreamt a large woman came into the house while she and Dad were asleep, then, sat down on the edge of their bed, opened up a paper sack and started throwing tomatoes at her. That, according to Dad, caused Mom to start – in his words, “whooping” – and obviously woke him up wondering what in the world was going on.

More recently, Mom said she dreamed she couldn’t find Dad and went outside and found him in the backyard, naked and rolling around on his back in a pile of leaves, sort of like a dog.

“I had to yell, “stop that! Get back in this house right now!,” she said.

And, just the other day, Mom told me she dreamt she’d been elected lieutenant governor of Michigan. “Which is crazy,” she said, “because I’ve never been to Michigan in my life.”

2. Recently, I got a text out of the blue from Dal Beck – a guy I hadn’t heard from in decades. We went through Army AIT together at Fort Sill in Oklahoma back in the 80s.

Given the poor state of our finances and the dearth of good bars in Lawton, OK, Beck, who remains I think a sort of midwestern hippy, created a club whose members met after hours at a picnic table outside a dental clinic near our barracks – which were World War II wooden open bay whatchamacallits with no partitions to divide up the commodes, but that’s another story.

This story is about how we’d sip 3.2 beer (all they sold at the PX in Lawton in those days) at Beck’s Dental Club and solve all the world’s problems for free.

For some reason, I particularly remember a debate over whether someone from the west could really understand something from the east like Zen Buddhism. I came down on the side that we couldn’t, because we weren’t born into it.

Somehow, three or four Budweisers under the Oklahoma stars made Buddhism seem pretty relevant to a handful of GIs back in the 1980s. It was one of many fine moments I had in the Army, come to think of it.

Finally this: 3. I was reminded recently that writing this weekly column is one of the perks of being a weekly newspaper editor. Which led me to think of some other perks associated with being a weekly newspaper editor.

Here they are, in no particular order. We get free lunch. And breakfast and supper.

Seriously. I haven’t paid for a meal since I got out of the Army in 1993 and went to Georgia Southern to study being a weekly newspaper editor. Soon as they found out my major, they started chucking free food at me. I didn’t have to say a word, they just knew and started dishing up the biscuits and gravy. A quarter century later, I still get that treatment.

My wife says it’s the way I walk, all stove up like I got jumped by a disgruntled reader with a corncob. That and my size 8 head and rumpled shirt stained with yesterday’s free lunch condiments give me a certain gravitas that apparently says, “hack weekly newspaper editor” in 10 foot tall letters.

And that leads to this: “I see you’re an editor of a weekly newspaper,” they say. “What can I get you, and, no, no, it’s on the house. Here, just try one of everything, please. It’s our small way of paying you back for all you do for the universe.”

I know. Hard to believe, but it’s true. People just naturally look up to us weekly newspaper editors. I can’t stress this enough. Bankers and developers and lawyers and doctors and real estate moguls and dentists and hyperactive school superintendents and engineers are all just failed weekly newspaper editors. And trust me, they’re jealous.

And, naturally, women love weekly newspaper editors, because they know all men want to be us.

That’s why, as an obvious weekly newspaper editor, I’m often confused for Brad Pitt, the lucky devil.

Truth is I hear he’s often stopped in Hollywood and asked, “Hey, aren’t you that hack weekly newspaper editor named Jeff?”

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