I’ve got to confess something.
But first you have understand that I’m a manly man.
Slept under a sheet of plastic through a raging thunderstorm; driven American muscle cars, tractors that even then were antiques, grain trucks and English roadsters; castrated hogs; got a twofer pheasant hunting; trained my own bird dog; climbed Long’s Peak.
My buddies call me Dub.
I have shot snooker in a smoke-filled joint as a child; handled a rattler; been called Man-Mountain Levings when skiing ’cause I brought so much of it down with me; been punched dizzy by a sculptured brute named Pudge.
Nearly drowned trying to canoe a wildly flooded Current River; came this close to scattering a single-engine airplane over east Nebraska; lost control on “Dead Man’s Curve” — yes, the locals really called it that — on a rainy night, plunged into a hardwood forest and walked out, no airbag, thank you very much.
I have told foreign officials I was a spy; run with the Muslim Brotherhood from Egyptian security forces; felt a revolver muzzle jammed in my back while trying to penetrate Strategic Air Command headquarters (no, I’m not really a spy).
I have ’et snapping turtles that I have kilt. I have gazed upon the tomb of Shah Jahan in the Taj Mahal; gone deep into the Great Pyramid; escaped by an eyelash being trapped in the Himalayas for a winter.
I can grow a ponytail, using either eyebrow. In a barracks one night, I came within about two fingers of knocking off a fifth of good Scotch; not sure why I didn’t die, although for a few hours there after it seemed a really good idea.
I have survived two teenage daughters. Yes, I am a manly, manly man.
I live just a bit across State Line from the mean streets of Mission Hills.
The crumbling manse, the casa de chaos, resides atop one of the little swells of the buried prairie. One direction is busy Ward Parkway, the other the border crossings.
Because of this hill, when my daughters were little and zooming around on bikes, scooters and such, I worried that one day they would be roaring down the slope, lose control and plunge off the sidewalk.
One might be flung into the traffic and — here’s the scary part — emerge on the Johnson County side and become a Republican.
Fortunately, my children are in the earthquake zones on the West Coast now, out of harm’s way politically. The other good news is that they have declined to follow their father into journalism.
“The surest way to ruin a good newspaperman is to put some money in his pocket.” That was said by this glorious rag’s founder, William Rockhill Nelson. I’ve known a great many very good newspapermen in my days here.
Q: What’s the difference between a pigeon and a newspaper reporter?
A: The pigeon can make a deposit on a BMW.
My youngest will graduate from the University of Puget Sound in a matter of weeks, ending about three decades of me coughing up blood, uh, private tuition.
She wants to stay in the Tacoma/Seattle area, so while looking for more permanent work, it appears she will be sleeping cheap on a Vashon Island farm where her job will be to feed a gross of goats and a few other beasts every morning.
The older girl is in Hollywood. While a starving artist, she does have the pleasure of working at J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot production outfit in Santa Monica.
Someday, she might tell us what she saw at Pinewood Studios outside London, where the bulk of the coming “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was being filmed.
I’m proud of my girls, both outliers. I apologize for all this sentimentality, but it’s a tradition, if not a requirement, for Star columnists to wax on about daughters.
Speaking of The Star, this is where I’ve been suburbs reporter, Jefferson City correspondent, city editor, national editor, war editor, pope editor, fill-in business editor and, lately, editor/senior writer on the FYI desk, where they let me play with this column.
This Watergate baby was deposited near the chattering teletypes and learned to yell “copy!” without self-consciousness. Yep, more than 40 years at this newspaper, riding along like a lucky hobo on a train loaded with talent, compassion and hard-eyed mission, making friends forever, sweating a lifetime of deadlines, reeling out millions of words hoping to catch a gasp or a chuckle.
I confess I’m going to miss it.
You can reach Dub these days at email@example.com.