Starting today, for one week only, to clear space on our
showroom floor for exciting new columns in 2001, we're slashing
prices on all of last year's unsold inventory. My editors
wouldn't buy these ideas, but now you can. It's a winter
liquidation, a January closeout on our entire stock of leftover
columns. Everything must go--every idea that went unfinished in
model year 2000, for whatever reason: because it was half-baked,
or because I was half-baked, or because the entire enterprise
"didn't quite work for me," which is what an editor says when he
hates your idea with every fiber of his being. That's right: If
you thought my three Carnac pieces were lame, wait till you read
samplings from the columns you didn't read on this page last year!
You were spared the following, written as a memo to Vince
McMahon, pitching new professional wrestling villains I'd like
to see: "Citizen Pain, who beats opponents over the head with a
sled named Roseblood.... Andro Lloyd Webber, an elfin,
effeminate, steroid-gobbling git with a flair for musical
theater.... Pennsylvania Dutch, the Amish Assassin, raising hell
with one hand and barns with the other...."
Likewise, you narrowly avoided having to read a year-in-review
column written entirely in limericks like this:
A Mariner--crazy like Queeg is--
Said, "I'm not crazy, the league is.
My demands will be met
(Except for the jet)
And I'll be one chichi Rodriguez."
You don't know how lucky you are to have missed my
almost-column--widely panned in previews at the watercooler--on
sports Christmas carols: Silenced Knight, Jingle Bells Rocker
and the poignantly pointless I Saw Mommy Kissing Shawn Kemp.
Why, just this week I very nearly forced upon you that perennial
"idea" of the deadline-bedeviled scribe, New Year's Resolutions
of Professional Athletes. ("Rae Carruth: 'I will start using
soap-on-a-rope.'...") But had I written that column, I wouldn't
have respected myself in the morning. A less principled
columnist might have tried to get away with another chestnut: a
series of tiresome New Year's predictions, presented as a look
back at the year 2001. ("March 9: Seeking a more lucrative
contract, Penguins player-owner Mario Lemieux attempts to kiss
his own ass, necessitating lifelong, live-in chiropractic
care....") Thankfully, I came to my senses before writing that.
Indeed, Lemieux's move from owner's suite to locker room inspired
all manner of aborted essays. Ever wonder what it would be like
if other owners took to the field? Wouldn't you love to see Rams
owner Georgia Frontiere getting pancaked by someone other than
her makeup artist? Or Yankees boss George Steinbrenner standing
naked at his locker while female reporters--whom Big Stein once
tried to ban from the clubhouse--dressed him with their eyes? (No?
Neither would I, which is why that column never made it to your
Tragically, my treatise on the prevalence in professional sports
of the mullet hairstyle--a.k.a. mud flap, a.k.a. hockey hair,
a.k.a. BIFPIB (Business in Front, Party in Back)--will remain
forever unfinished, like Beethoven's 10th symphony. So, though it
scarcely does them justice, let me salute in this space Mark
Gastineau, Dan Gladden, Rod Beck, Barry Melrose, Kevin Greene,
Jaromir Jagr, Randy Johnson and all the other men whose tonsorial
courage at one time or another gave succor to Michael Bolton.
All these ideas must go. So act now, and make your best offer on:
Fraternities Pledged by Professional Athletes ("Mike Tyson: I Eta
Tot"), Vanity Plates of Professional Athletes ("Fred Couples: I
H8 MY XM8") and the inevitable sequel, More Vanity Plates of
Professional Athletes ("Don Zimmer: PL8 IN P8").
You're right. These are all terrible ideas, barren fruit from
which--I promise you--I will never try to squeeze a column.
To do so would be shameless.
COLOR ILLUSTRATION: DAN PICASSO