It was something of an unwelcome tradition in that town, and I'm sure that a lot of people (including the parents of all of that year's cheerleaders) agreed with my sentiment. The editor let the sentence go through, but when the publisher read it and hit the ceiling, the editor dove for cover, leaving me hanging. I was about to get fired when a strange bedfellow came to my defense. It was the bishop of the local ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a man with whom I'd had epic disagreements over politics and sociology.
One of his daughters was a cheerleader that year, but he said that even if that weren't the case, he supported my having said it. It was a surprising moment, and--considering he was a big shot in that town and a long-time friend of the publisher--it probably saved my job. I ended up leaving a couple of weeks later to pursue an athletic dream, but whenever I went back to that town, I made a point of looking him up and saying hello. We still disagreed about everything (foremost being that his church, at the time, didn't allow blacks to enjoy full membership), but we were cordial, and it was cool.
I told you that story so I could tell you this: I've lived a pretty good life. I've seen a lot of good things and too many bad things. I've lived so long that I've actually voted for two different Democratic presidential candidates who won their respective elections!!!
I've seen man walk on the moon and my beloved Rams win a Super Bowl. I've seen a movie written by and starring Sylvester Stallone win the Oscar for Best Picture (and I still think it deserved it).
But I'm greedy. I want more. For example:
· I'd like to have a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses come to my door, find out that I'm Catholic and say, "OK, we won't knock on your door any more. See you in heaven some day."
· I'd like to see every member of the Arizona State Senate and House, while driving to the opening session of the Legislature, get crashed into by people who are text-messaging while driving. I don't want anybody to get hurt, but I want to watch as they take one for the cell-phone-lobbying team.
· I'd like to go into a Wal-Mart and not have to stand in line to pay. (When I'm in line, I always calculate the savings in money versus the loss in time. I don't believe that "time is money," but I see how whoever first said it came to that conclusion.)
· I'd like to go the rest of this political season without hearing one more mention of Mitt Romney's religion. Wasn't this battle fought nearly 50 years ago when John F. Kennedy ran for president?
On the classic Stan Freberg comedy album, The United States of America (which first came out in the early 1960s), there's a bit about a guy running for mayor of the Plymouth colony. His poll numbers are flagging, so his adviser suggests that he take on an Indian as a running mate. The guy snaps, "Are you kidding?! If anything happens to me, you'll have a mayor who takes his orders directly from Chief Powhatan!" (I'm sure that Freberg knew that Powhatan had died a couple of years before the Pilgrims landed and that he was from down Virginny way, but it's still a funny line.)
After rejecting the suggestion of a running mate, the politician decides to invite an Indian to the big Thanksgiving spread as a publicity stunt. The ensuing song goes,
Take an Indian to lunch ... this week.
Show 'em we're a regular bunch ... this week.
Show 'em we're as liberal as can be.
Let 'em know they're almost as good as we.
· As a matter of fact, I'd like to see everybody go out and buy that CD, which is still available. Not only will you all enjoy it; it will probably double the number of CDs sold this year.
· I'd like to see an NFL cheerleader who doesn't look like her name is either Tawny, Shawna or something that ends with an "i" or two.
· I'd like to see a TV newscaster who looks like Jack Elam. I'd probably be more likely to believe what he's saying.
· I'd like to see somebody from the Bush administration go before Congress and, while bragging about how well the troop surge is working in Iraq, explain why they didn't do it more than three years ago when the military leaders first suggested it.
· I'd like to see the Tucson Weekly declared the "Official Newspaper of the Beijing Olympics." Not that I would go to China (I don't even like going to Phoenix), but it would look cool on the masthead. Hey, maybe we should just declare ourselves that anyway. What are they going to do, take one of their lawyers off one of the hundreds of lead-filled-toy cases to sue us?