You all need to drop whatever you're doing and give me a big pat on the back. I'm serious. This column—what you hold in your hands right now—is the 800th item I've had published in the Boise Weekly. Eight hundred! Figure an average of 1,300 words per piece—(not an unrealistically high estimate considering the feature-length articles and my early ramblothons that are included in the count)—that would mean I wrote my millionth word some 40,000 words ago. 1,040,000 words! That's contingent upon me finishing this one, of course, but even if I stop writing right now, this second, I'm still at 1,039,440 published words or so. Do you know how many words Tolstoy wrote in War and Peace? Neither do I, but I bet it doesn't come out to 1,040,000. Or even 1,039,440 words. Were I a 60-words-a-minute typer, this would indicate I've spent 17,333 minutes writing articles for BW. But I'm not a 60-words-a-minute typer. I'm lucky to scratch out 20 wpm, and that's when I'm hot. So now we're up to 52,000 minutes I've dedicated to getting you something else to read every week. Do the division. That's 36 days of round-the-clock writing. And these figures do not include the hours I spend staring at the wall trying to think of what to write next. After all these years and words and columns, I have worked out a little ratio of the time I spend actually pounding a keyboard to the time I spend just sitting there with a keyboard in front of me. Here it is: For every word my fingers manage to stick onto Mister Mac's face, I spend an average of 2.3 minutes yawning, rubbing my belly, wondering what's for dinner, wishing I were in Jackpot, Nev., trying to remember when I fed the dog, burping, feeling sorry for myself because I have to get this damn thing done or I can't go bowling, thinking about getting up and wiping away a spiderweb I just spotted, re-reading what I've already written to remind myself what I'm writing about, lighting cigarettes, putting out cigarettes, checking out the length of the hair growing from my ears, making sure my fly is zipped ... that sort of thing. So if my formula is correct, the real time I have put into writing these articles comes to 2,392,000 minutes, or slightly more than four and a half years. I have been at this column job since January 1995, so out of the last 15 years, I have sacrificed almost one-third of the last decade and a half for you, dear reader. Almost one-half, if we're counting only the awake hours. Even more depressing, I am 62 years old, so I have spent 13.777 percent of my life so far trying to make you happy. And if I continue writing these columns, that number will climb. Fourteen percent! Fifteen percent! What if I live to be 90? That wouldn't be so hard to imagine. Two of my closest neighbors are in their 90s, so it could happen. And if I were to live until I'm 90, and if I were still writing columns for the Weekly, now we're talking 20 or 25 percent of my complete existence, given over in service to your reading habits! I sure goddamn hope you appreciate it! (I haven't actually crunched those last numbers, but I bet I'm not far off. If you want to catch me in some puny mistake, feel free to extrapolate my figures on out. Just multiply one-half of my waking hours by the difference between 62 years and 90 years, then divide that figure into the projected nine decades, then take whatever the final answer is and cram it up your ass, you nit-picking little ninny!) Excuse me, but I think I'll finish this up later. Something's got me feeling a little tensed up all of a sudden.
OK, I'm back. I took a nap and I feel all better now. What were we talking about? Oh, that's right. Eight hundred columns. And now you're probably wondering what I'm going to do to celebrate such an auspicious occasion. Right? Hey, after all, it's not every day a fella slaps out his 800th article. Well, frankly, friends, I didn't look far enough ahead to realize this would be Numero 800. It wasn't until just this morning that I even noticed. So obviously, I didn't get any big tootle-ee-oo planned. No Sweet 800th party, no Greek islands cruise, no engraved gold watch, no having the mayor hand me a commemorative plaque with a bunch of photographers flashing pictures of the event. And if there were anything like that planned as a big surprise, I would have had to plan it myself, you can bet on that. I don't think anybody but me is even keeping track of how many articles I've had published in BW. I know my wife's not. And I seriously doubt if anyone at the paper is. And if there were a regular reader out there somewhere who's been punctiliously counting all these years and knows this is The Big Eight-Oh-Oh, I'm not sure that wouldn't make me a little nervous. So no, no big tootle-ee-oo. But I do think I'll take the rest of the day off. I have a couple of critical opinions I wanted to get to, but they can wait. I think I'll just hand in what I've got as is and call it "800." I'm not even going to indent for paragraphs. Screw paragraph indentation! And if a few readers just can't live without paragraphs, they can do it themselves. So yeah, I'm gonna call it a day and maybe go buy myself some ice cream. Maybe if my wife sees me eating ice cream this time of day, she'll ask why I'm doing it and when I tell her, she'll get excited and maybe bake a cake to go with the ice cream. Who knows? So anyway, for anyone who's keeping track, I figure my 1,000th will be published in late May or early June 2014. But if you're planning on getting the mayor involved, I wouldn't tell him any later than February. Seriously. Those commemorative plaques take a few weeks to get engraved, that's what they told me.