When you've been writing a weekly column for a long time, you're likely to get requests. People I don't even know come up to me on the street and say, "I liked the column on your granddaughters, could you do one on mine?"
And sometimes their story about a precocious, curly headed 5-year-old is so hilariously engaging that I can actually craft a column around it. Sometimes.
One reader gave me a clever cartoon depicting the various modes of transportation we use over our lifetime; it ran the gamut from baby stroller to wheelchair, and the picture-by-picture evolution from dependency to dependency was fairly sobering. I know he was hoping I could put that cartoon to clever use. But I cannot seem to muster up 520 words; however, I do have the cartoon taped above my desk to remind me to walk more frequently.
It's been suggested I write a column about hummus, perhaps because I seem to be nearly addicted to it lately, and our refrigerator has three containers of it inside. Just checked — make that four. The suggestion to write about that nearly-perfect food came from one of our grandchildren, who seem to have the same affection for "bean dip" that I do. It's surprising we have so much remaining in the refrigerator because her visit ended a few days ago. I suspect all those containers are less than half-full. Just checked — yup.
I get other suggestions about foods that I should consider highlighting in my writing — "something about strawberries" is typical at this time of year. And I do have a lovely and luscious idea about taking a decapitated strawberry, tucking a fresh, fat blueberry down into the little hole you have created in the berry and topping it with a dollop of whipped cream cheese. Maybe I could have a few of those for breakfast.
Are you still with me? I would not blame you at all if you opted for the sports page. Many of the requests I've received for columns center around pets. In my time, I've apparently done some engaging writing on our family's various dogs, and people want more of those kinds of stories. No one has asked for, or offered up, a compelling cat story, however. That is rather strange, don't you think? It's hard to pin down a cat story — or a cat for that matter.
My husband is highly allergic to cats. Immediately after we were married, he and I made a cross-country trip with our newly blended family of pre-teen children and a cooler full of leftover wedding cheesecake. My daughter's unhappy, caged cat rode with us all the way — in the front seat of the U-Haul truck my husband was driving — right behind the stick shift. Screeching and hissing as only a mad-cat can do. Pacifying the cat involved "¦ you guessed it "¦ cheesecake.
That would be a good column.
Sharon Johnson is a retired Oregon State University associate professor emeritus. Reach her at Sharon@hmj.com.