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No Surprises For Readers Around Here

They say time flies when you’re having a good time. I was recently called upon to come up with the date I started writing this column, and I figured roughly six to eight years ago. I was dumbfounded to find my first column dated Aug. 6, 2003, almost exactly 11 years ago. So I must be having a good time.

I have an idea all my fellow columnists are looking back similarly as we mark the 30th anniversary of MidWeek‘s founding. Although we are a very diverse group — sometimes pushing the conservative/liberal boundaries to the bulging limit — we are united (or should be) in appreciation for the opportunities to exercise our freedom of speech, and collectively the freedom of the press. Ain’t freedom grand!

I reread my inaugural column critically to see if I had stuck to my promises. “A coffee break is a time for no pretense, no B.S., no political correctness, a time for straight talk among friends and work mates. The best coffee breaks are the ones we take with people we trust, or maybe sometimes even alone. (There’s a difference?)

“I feel especially honored to be among MidWeek‘s distinguished lineup of writers, true professionals, reflecting a wide diversity of opinion and who form the foundation for MidWeek‘s enduring appeal … It has been said we shouldn’t be surprised or offended when a military officer talks like one, or when a minister talks in spiritual terms, or when a conservationist goes on about the virtues of a pristine forest.”

So what might you have been expecting of me? Consider my 80 years of life experience from which I have written, and you decide if my writing has reflected it.

Small town, Central Valley California boy, a loving, functional family — alcoholic dad notwithstanding, close to all four grandparents (so lucky) … Boy Scout but didn’t make Eagle (maybe my life’s greatest regret … discovered girls) … high school student body president and quarterback (school’s worst football season in years) … UCLA (crammed four years of college into five) … Navy flight training (used to say every Navy pilot thought he was Tom Cruise in Top Gun but not any more since Cruise got weird) … husband (married hometown sweetheart) and father … aircraft carrier pilot, USS Saratoga, recon flights fast and low over Soviet missile sites in Cuba … father again, and again … Vietnam, USS Kitty Hawk, shot down, seven-year POW in North Vietnam (saw communism up close and personal) … father again but absent … Master’s degree, Cal-Berkeley … squadron commander in Hawaii … National Defense University in D.C., Pacific Fleet air operations officer … divorce … Honolulu Marathon finisher … professional motivational speaker, 35 years … remarried, over my head, to Susan Page! … dad X 4, step-dad X 2, grandfather X 10, great-grandfather … heart attacks X 4, heart bypass surgeries X 2, bad knee surgeries X 2 … 14-year-old yellow labs X 2 (almost as decrepit as their master) … home remodeler, golf ball chaser, Wahine v-ball fan, would-be kama’aina (does 39 years count?) … and MidWeek columnist! … Whew, have I been blessed or what?

I finished that first column with, “So what’ll it be for our next Coffee Break? Decaf or Regular? Cream? Half ‘n half? How about sugar? Sweetener? A little brandy? No thanks, not on the job!”

So in any case, don’t be offended or turned off when a columnist writes in accordance with their life experiences. But it does help to have some idea what they are.