I was feeling a little down last weekend. I have been in a lot of pain lately and my cancer meds have really been kicking my butt. I never have any energy and can’t seem to get enough sleep no matter how early I hit the hay or how long I stay in the sack each morning. There have been days I have even thought about throwing in the towel and giving up the good fight.
But I picked up the Sunday Citizen and proofread my column to see how many mistakes I had failed to catch before I initially submitted it to the editors and there, right below my column, was a love letter from my dear old friend, Milton Longbottom.
And I thought he had forgotten me.
I have never met Milton Longbottom, but he has written a lot of letters to the editor over the years, calling me names and questioning my intelligence. Old Uncle Milty, as I call him, seems to a bastion for the defense of freedom of speech, unless someone is expressing an opinion contrary to his own very liberal opinion. In that case those free expressions become ignorant and misguided statements or outright lies.
Uncle Milty doesn’t always dress me down in public. Sometimes he sends me private email messages, which are kind of nice because I can just hit delete when I see who they are from. Of course the published letters are nice, too, because they give my friends a chance to have a good laugh at his expense and to ask me, “Who is that guy and what does he have against you?”
To this I reply, “I think he’s just a little misguided.” I usually add, “I think he must be a Yankee, because that’s the only explanation I can think of for some of his ideas. And I always tell them, “I really don’t think he dislikes me. He couldn’t, because he doesn’t know me.” Like I said, we haven’t met.
Well, Mr. Longbottom was in rare form last week. He tried to give me a backhanded compliment by remarking on a few of the outstanding columns I have written over the summer — outstanding, of course, except for the political statements he didn’t agree with. He took exception to the fact that I marred columns dedicated to the bravery of our military and the Arizona firefighters with negative comments about the current president and his policies that didn’t seem to have anything to do with the content of the column.
I get that. I do. I even considered leaving them out. But I didn’t because if I had left them out I would have produced just another of a long stream of columns about God and country and the greatest of America and Americans and the assumption would be that we continue to be the same great nation that we have always been. But we aren’t.
Those seemingly out-of-place criticisms were put there not to distract from the subject but to create contrast between what was, what used to be and what is. Milton also accused me of lying about the president. If I had embraced Obama like Milt has, I would try to pretend that the revelations concerning his actions weren’t true, either.
Then he said that he was tired of me shamelessly promoting my travel agency in my columns. I don’t have a travel agency, y’all. Don’t be calling me to book a cruise or get you discounted airline tickets. I am a tour organizer. I put together splendid trips and negotiate group prices so that people can travel with me cheaper than they can travel alone. I take them to interesting places and show them interesting things and we stay at nice places and eat good food.
Why would someone be ashamed to promote a business like that? It’s a win-win deal, and we are going to the Civil War battlefields and Georgia historical sites and New York City and the Holy Land and all sorts of places. I think of my readers as my friends and I want my friends to know what I’m up to. Milton can even go with us if he wants to, and if he doesn’t like what I write about, well I’ve given him a simple solution a dozen times. Just don’t read what I have to say.
The last suggestion Uncle Milty gave me last week was to write more about being a barefoot boy from Porterdale. I will, too. When I am good and ready. That’s the great thing about this country. For the time being it is still free.
But thank you, Milton, for caring enough to voice your opinion. I am glad you are still out there and I am glad my ideas are still 180 degrees opposite of yours. And someday I hope we can sit down and have a cup of coffee together.
You’ll have to buy, though. I’ve spent all my money on my cancer treatments and starting my new tour business. I will tell you a story or two about Porterdale that you haven’t heard, though.
Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. Email him at darrellhuckaby.net. For past columns, visit www.rockdalecitizen.com or www.newtoncitizen.com.