“When you get your groove going, time flies.”
I can’t tell you who said that but, oh my, my groove must be soaring because it has been 15 years since Cynthia Calvert asked me to write a Tall Tale every couple of weeks.
“Nothing political,” she said. “Just write something funny.”
Cynthia had “founded” the Kingwood Observer and was setting up shop getting reporters on board and looking for local people to write columns and make the paper truly local.
The plan was Diane Blanco, then at Lone Star Kingwood, and me, gainfully employed at Memorial Hermann Northeast, would alternate. When Cynthia and Larry Shiflet subsequently founded The Tribune, we followed, and Diane and I have been alternating ever since.
Back then, I didn’t think I had enough to write about every four weeks. Boy, was I wrong.
Fifteen years and 200 Tall Tales later, Diane and I are still at it.
I remember my very first tale. What a convoluted task. I parsed ever word. Sweated over every sentence. Is my beginning compelling? Am I drawing people in? Will they stay to the end? Did I share something they find interesting?
Two hundred tales later, I have the routine down to a science. Adela Holda, The Tribune’s managing editor, emails me that “ … it is time.”
I know. Pretty pathetic that I need a kick in the tush to get going but I am retired now. I must look at my schedule for the day to decide if I am wearing pants.
So, Adela sends me that reminder and I immediately — I am at the point in my life where I forget if I don’t it something immediately — get comfortable in my ergonomically-correct computer chair, stare at the two enormous screens in front of me and start to type.
I learned two or three tales into this adventure that I should just write the way I talk. When you read what I write, you ought to be able to hear me talking. And the best topics always come from the people who read me. That is why I always put my email address at the end of my Tall Tales. Keep those ideas flowing.
If the ideas didn’t flow that week, and Owner Cynthia Calvert or Editor Adela Holda aren’t after me about a topic, I have my infamous file folder filled with “stuff” that has terrific reader potential.
Coming up with 200 different topics over these 15 years isn’t what has surprised me, though. I am amazed that only one person has groused about something I wrote. That was early and, when I reread what I wrote, the reader, as usual, was correct. It was insensitive, and we were able to have an interesting email conversation.
The fun part of this adventure, though, is the Tribune readers that I have gotten to know — and never met.
I was pushing my cart through Kroger one day and a nice lady came up to me and said, “Hi, Tom Broad. I just want you to know how much I enjoy your columns.”
That got me glowing, and I thanked her, then told her how nice it was to see her again. I figured she had to be one of the volunteers at Memorial Hermann Northeast. The director of volunteers had left and I “got them” while they searched for a new director, so there were lots of volunteers that I didn’t know.
I was wrong.
“Oh no, you don’t know me,” she said in her best mom voice. “I am Mike Sullivan’s mom and he told me about you.”
My very first Tall Tale was in anticipation of my 40th high school reunion. We are about to celebrate our 55th reunion. My 199th column was about “General Hospital,” the subject of at least two other columns over the years and my one bad TV habit.
Am I up for another 200 tales? That is up to you, and Cynthia and Adela. Keep those ideas flowing into my email inbox, and I will keep that “idea folder” well-packed with amusing topics.
Yes, over these past 200 Tall Tales, time has flown. I’ve got my groove going and made some lifelong friends, readers I have never met but I still value what you share and what you suggest.
“If the only prayer we ever say in our entire life is thank you, it will be enough.”