McKeithan Column

Published 4:10 am Friday, June 13, 2008

By Staff
Nips problems in bud at the office
As an “executive” of one of the world’s great newspapers, people often assume I am in the know about affairs extending well beyond our county lines. When I am brave enough to venture out in public, I am frequently asked questions of worldly import.
Some inquire about religion: “Uh, Keith: (people often call me Keith, I don’t know why) Why don’t you just go straight to (rhymes with ‘smell’)?”
On popular culture: “How is it possible that the Incredible Hulk can grow nine times his regular size, yet his pants still fit?” (Yeah! I gain just one pound and it’s elastic-waistband-Sans-a-Belt-trouser time for me.)
And this oft-asked question about international politics: “Dude, what’s with your hair?”
Always ready with an answer
Of course, I don’t have the (correct) answers to these very astute questions. But, that has never (ever) stopped me from giving one. I usually respond the same way to difficult questions: “You should know, experts support my belief that reflexive chrioning will marpilate into a plevian response.”
Of course, these are made-up words; but people never question them. If they manage to verbalize any response AT ALL, I continue the conversation with, “You see, in Clintonian theory, a glass is only half-full while being poured.”
At this point, I say, “Look at the time, I’ve got a THING. Take care now.” They usually just look at me, dumbfounded as I strut away, George Jefferson style.
I should be a politician.
Has a tough job
A dear, close friend of mine recently asked, “Keith, just what is it you DO at the paper?” After I gave the standard reply (see previous paragraphs) he STILL wanted to hear more.
I continued, “A typical day for me goes something like this: I report to work sharply between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. I usually walk around the building for 15 minutes so people know I’m here. I follow that with a 2-hour catnap; a 30-minute trip to the bathroom; two games of computer Solitaire; one hour of prank phone calls and then I call it a day.”
In the news
Did you read this week about the Japanese man who had surgery to remove a “tumor?” (This is a true story.) Surgeons discovered that the “growth” was actually a towel left from a surgery 25 years earlier.
Not surprisingly, the patient is in talks with the hospital over compensation for its mistake. If this had happened in the U.S., I’m sure the hospital would also have quickly rectified its grievous oversight — by charging for the towel.
To my Mom, for calling Sound Off frequently — on the days I was unable — with positive comments about my columns. You (and I) have inspired me to write more.
To my wife and the rest of you who, with fingers crossed, were hoping my column writing days were over. They’re not. I took a brief hiatus to focus on yard work. I hope to have future offerings for you on (some) Fridays.
Editor’s note: To cancel Friday (only) delivery of the WDN, call our friendly customer service representatives who are standing by: 1-800-555-0000.
Ray McKeithan is associate publisher of the Washington Daily News. He can be reached by phone, 252-940-4205 or by email,