The very first e-mail I opened Wednsesday morning was an invitation from AARP.
“Happy Birthday to me,,‘’ I thought.
Then I thought, “Hey, hold your horses on that invite, hoss. I’m only 49 today!’’
Wednesday was my birthday. I was born on July 9, 1959. Do the math. I am 49. Honest.
That’s the problem with being 29 or 39 or 49, I suppose. Any birthday with a “9’’ at the end invites skepticism.
Fortunately, my birthday fortunes improved as the day progressed.
Part of my morning ritual is to read through the Valley’s two newspaper websites and I quickly discovered that Arizona Republic columnist Laurie Roberts had chosen Wednesday to publish a column about me. I doubt that she wrote the column to coincide with my birthday, though. I suspect it was mere happenstance, one of those rare days when Sheriff Joe isn’t up to some self-promoting nonsense.
Laurie was very generous to me in her column. She even included this blog address and, boy, did readers flock to it. Normally, I’ll get a couple dozen visits per day. By early Wednesday afternoon, more than 300 people had chosen to visit the blog. Of course, that means I’m going to have to be a little more diligent in writing blog entries, now that I’ve captured a wider audience.
Many of the visitors to the blog followed up with an e-mail to me. I even reconnected with a few of my old readers from my days at the Tribune, which was very nice.
One guy from Prescott e-mailed me to ask my advice. He’s headed to prison for a four-month DUI sentence later this month. I called him Wednesday evening and we talked for more than an hour about what he could expect in prison. It made me feel good to be able to answer his questions, to assure him that he can get through the experience. I thought back to how frightened I was about the prospects of going to prison.
Laurie also forwarded me responses she received. Several of them mentioned job prospects. So we shall see. I am hopeful, as you might imagine.
I’m certainly grateful to Laurie. I can‘t see much news value in a column about me, to be honest. I will say that is very odd to be the subject of a columnist. I had always been on the other end of that particular stick, after all. She was kinder to me than I deserve, I realize, although she didn't mention in the column anything about my rugged good looks. Maybe the editor took that part out because of space limitations. I’m going with that theory, anyway.
All of my brothers and my sister called with birthday greetings. Birthday cards arrived in the mail from my kids and ex-wife (we have a surprisingly good relationship now that she’s shed of me, oddly enough) and my dear, sweet friend Ann in Queen Creek.
So, on the balance, it was a very good birthday.
I look forward to hearing from AARP this time next year.