By Andy Young
Special to The Windham Eagle
Years ago, I wrote for a newspaper where columns were limited to 800 words or less because, as the editor eloquently put it, “No one wants to read more than that.” Which is why I faithfully adhered to that guideline. Until joining The Windham Eagle.
Hoping to prove even old dogs can learn new tricks, I decided to abandon my comfort zone, which is why I arbitrarily decided that going forward, each column I’d write for this publication would consist of 600 words. Precisely 600 words. No more, no less. Not 599. Not 601. Exactly 600.
This requirement wasn’t forced on me by a sadistic, power-hungry, numbers-obsessed bean counter. The truth is that Ed Pierce, the Eagle’s managing editor, has given me free reign to write about what I want, how I want. But I was up for a new challenge, and clearly, completely, and concisely expressing random but specific thoughts into a precise number of words seemed like a worthwhile one. The 600-word minimum/ceiling I’ve adhered to since July 8 was completely my idea.
But after 19 straight 600-word essays, I’m satisfied. It’s time to try something else. But what?
How about three 200-word essays in the same column?
Americans have too much stuff.
When I was growing up people didn’t accumulate more belongings than they could comfortably house. Those who acquired more tangible possessions than their residence could accommodate could stash it in the garage (if they were fortunate enough to have one), the basement (if they were fortunate enough to have one that stayed dry in the spring), the attic (if they were fortunate enough to have a family member under 3 feet tall, who could help move things around when the need arose) or, for the uber-wealthy, a barn or stand-alone shed.
Today the country is being overrun with what society euphemistically refers to as “storage facilities.” The first such places were often created by retrofitting existing buildings that had become vacant. Later, repurposing underutilized warehouses or motels seemed like a great idea. But there’s currently an epidemic of new buildings being created solely for the purpose of housing excess items whose owners lack the space (or in many cases, the need) for. I’m not sure what the monthly fees are for renting space in such facilities, but I do know that for those who limit themselves to needs rather than wants, the expense is zero.
I really should retire from competitive athletics.
Last summer I got talked into playing in the Greater Portland Over-50 Men’s Softball League.
Okay, no one twisted my arm. It didn’t take much convincing to get me to sign up. And although initially I was unsure if the “Over 50” requirement was referring to age or IQ, I wasn’t worried, since I definitely qualify in the former category and most likely do in the latter.
Naturally I had a blast! The people on my team were great guys, as were the players on all the opposition squads. I got some hits, made a couple of nice catches, and even got to play shortstop and bat cleanup in a few games near the end of the season. But I also tweaked my hamstring three or four times, including one night when we had no subs, which necessitated me having to play first base statue-style for the last couple of innings. And when we had games on back-to-back nights, my prosthetic hip got awfully sore.
So that’s it. I’m done.
Unless I start getting the itch again next spring.
One eighty-eight. One ninety. One ninety-two. Yes! I can do it!
Next challenge, please. <