Dale and I are among the mighty few who still subscribe to a newspaper – two, actually. The local paper used to be somewhat renowned, but times are tough for newspapers, and our daily read is pretty skinny. We also subscribe to the paper copy of the The Washington Post, which provides broader coverage.
We still go out to the driveway to pick it up. Our current delivery person is excellent – the paper is always there way before 7 a.m. I will be sending a holiday bonus. A previous delivery person was habitually late, and I would be camped out in the driveway pacing and waiting. I called and called until finally someone more punctual took over.
In my infinite generosity, I give Dale the front page first. We pass sections back and forth over the breakfast table, sometimes interrupted by our cat, who loves to sit on top of whatever you are trying to read. We both love the food section. I read obituaries and advice columns, and I seek out crossword puzzles and all variety of what might be called soft news. Dale calls it fluff. If the section is called Style or Entertainment, I’m in.
However, Dale religiously reads the comics. Every single one of them, even the ones that suck. I don’t read the comics. It’s some sort of impairment. Against my will, Dale will read aloud from one of the strips, trying to make me see the humor, and sometimes I actually do.
For example, Dale told me about a line from the comic strip Pearls Before Swine. In short, after a discussion about all the things we eat that aren’t good for our health, the character in the strip says he does it anyway.
“Because life is an amusement park.
And while you’ll stay there longer, all the rides will be closed.”
I laughed out loud, but damn, that hits close to home.
Then it was my turn. From the fuzzy animal section, I shared news that a female lion in the Indianapolis Zoo killed her boyfriend. Or mate, or whatever they call him. The father of her three cubs. They’d been together eight years. As I read it to Dale, we learned it was highly unusual for a female to dominate like that, and they don’t really understand what happened.
Dale said he probably left the toilet seat up.
Our local paper also reprinted a feature about NPR’s Terry Gross originally published in The Washington Post. The interviewer said, “You’ve interviewed tens of thousands of guests. Can you share any advice from any of your guests that has particularly affected you?”
This was her response:
Live your life, live your life, live your life.
She said it was a quote from Maurice Sendak, who was nearing death when he said it. She continued:
I do that mantra a lot. It’s just so easy to get caught up in the problems of day-to-day life, that you forget to kind of pull back a little and put everything in perspective and realize it’s the only life you have and make the best of it.
I like my shrinking morning newspaper, those little bundles of fun. Dale and I enjoy the experience of exploring it together. Even if we zip through the newspaper in 10 minutes, the morning doesn’t seem complete without it. We learn new things, sometimes we get mad and we almost always laugh.
All journalists make mistakes from time to time, and certainly there’s bias, but I don’t believe journalists are the enemy of the people, and it’s not fake news. My thought is to pay attention, read broadly with a discerning eye, slow down to enjoy the fluff and live your life, live your life, live your life.