When you're a big-time syndicated columnist and you go on vacation, you don't file a column that week. The newspapers that subscribe to your column then have to run a "best-of" or find something else to run in your normal spot with a little note that says you're on vacation.
When you're a columnist for the local paper and you go on vacation, you have to file a column anyway. A smart columnist writes one in advance. A dumb one waits until the last minute.
When you wait until the last minute during a week when you've taken a self-imposed, literal vacation from the news, you find yourself not only short on time but also short on ideas.
So you rack your brain trying to come up with something about which you can fire off a few paragraphs while sounding half-way intelligent. Nothing comes for the longest time. And then finally, it dawns on you.
Choose Your Own Adventure.
For those who don't remember them, Choose Your Own Adventures were books that let the reader take an active role in the story. If Billy came to a fork in the road, you got to choose if he went left or right. Depending on which you chose, the book would instruct you to turn to the right page to see the consequences of your choice.
It worked great with childhood adventure tales, so why not here? Get ready for Choose Your Own Column idea.
It works like this: You pick from the list of choices, then skip down for your very own, customized newspaper opinion piece. (And no cheating by reading ahead.) Here we go.
This week, does Nate:
a) offer insight on a topic of great importance,
b) just complain about something, or
c) try to make you laugh?
If you chose option a:
Health care ought to be available and affordable to everyone. And the best treatments, too, not just the basics or the bare minimum. Your life's worth should not be based on how much money you have. A ditch-digger is no less deserving of cutting-edge cancer treatment than a corporate executive.
But health care isn't available or affordable to everyone, and it's never going to be until we take the emphasis off profits and place it back on health.
It won't be available because we allow insurance companies to deny treatments in order to pad the bottom line. It won't be affordable because we allow providers to charge $90 for a couple of ibuprofen tablets in the emergency room. (And that's a true story, so help me God. It was itemized on the bill along with some $400 bandages and crutches that were apparently made of platinum.)
Add to that the fact that we allow pharmaceutical companies to inflate prices to recoup the costs of billion-dollar advertising campaigns, and you can start to see why the health care system is in the shape it's in. And if you think those clowns in Congress are going to do anything to really change all that, then you're a little sick in the head and need a doctor. But you probably can't afford one.
If you chose option b:
I've had it up to here with slowpokes in the left-hand lane. What's the point of having cruise control if you have to hit the brakes every 30 seconds because some guy who got his driver's license free with his fifth combo meal never learned that the left lane is the fast lane?
These idiots' pokiness is usually attributable to one of three things, too.
They're either driving a 30-year-old junker held together by nothing more than rust and good fortune, they're lost, or most likely, they've got a cell phone jammed in their ear. Of course, the other day I saw a lady driving down Ga. Highway 316 while reading a book, so the list of reasons is really endless.
I'm so sick of these morons that I'm thinking of getting one of those James Bond rocket launchers for my truck.
One last time people: The left lane is the fast lane. If you're just going to mosey along, move your blankety-blank over.
And finally, if you chose option c:
A kangaroo walks into a bar, hops up on a stool and orders a beer. The bartender says, "That'll be $10." The kangaroo reaches in his pouch, pulls out a $10 bill and pays him.
The bartender pours a beer, slides it over and says, "You know, we don't get a lot of kangaroos in here."
The kangaroo says, "At $10 a beer, I can see why."
Hopefully, you enjoyed your choice. Of course, if you didn't you can always do like we did with those books and go back and choose again.
As for me, I now choose option d, which wasn't on the list earlier. What's option d you ask?
d) Nate e-mails his column to his editor, and then takes a nap.
E-mail Nate McCullough at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears on Fridays.