Opinion » Bill Cope

Bill's Delete Treet

This space reserved for columnal waste only

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Spatially discerning devotees of Boise Weekly will have noticed that several weeks ago, the paper got smaller. From one edition to the next, it went from, like, a size "L" to an "M." To my eyes, it looked like a wool sweater that went through the wash. Even now, I keep wanting to pull on the corners and stretch it out to its rightful size.

My esteemed editor tried to explain why this change had to be made—something to do with adjusting to the realities of the available printing facilities... or something—but I did what I usually do when someone tries to explain anything technical, administrative or procedural to me. I drifted off into that recurring daydream about how great things would be if I were king of the world. However, just as I was getting to the part where I would save the remaining elephants and rhinos in Africa by boiling all the poachers and ivory traders in oil, out of a corner of this pleasant reverie, I heard the words, "and, of course, we're going to have to cut your word count."

CUT my WORD count?!

I considered... briefly... throwing a fit. You can't DO that! Do you know who I AM?! I was writing columns for this paper when YOU were still eating peas with your FINGERS! How DARE you tell me I gotta lose... uh, wait. How many words did you say I would have to lose?

As it turned out, I didn't have to lose very many of my precious words. About 40, was all. So I never did actually throw that fit I was daydreaming about throwing. But I soon learned there was indeed a problem. Turns out, I have been producing the same number of words for so long, I could not stop. It was like trying to retrain a corpse-sniffing dog to sniff only for corpses of people who weigh less than 150 pounds. Or something like that.

Anyway, the paper went to its new dimensions weeks ago, but I continue to submit the same sized column, week after week. Can't stop. I hand in my 1,000 words, then a day or two later, my editor calls and says, "OK, Bill. Which 40 of 'em do you want me to throw away this week?"

It is thoughtful of him to allow me to pick which words might be amputated from any particular column without doing irreparable damage to the rest of the piece. Yet to simply throw them away goes against every instinct I have as a writer. Those 40 words, useless as they may be, come with the same sweat and tears and existential anguish as all the other words. And to imagine them lying unprinted and pointless out in the Dumpster behind Boise Weekly offices?... why, it makes my skin crawl.

So every week, I tell him to go ahead and cut from blah blah blah to blah blah blah, but to send the severed remains back to me, where I could preserve them for some future use. And today, I've come up with a future use. I am going to re-submit them as a column of their own. I'm going to put these little trimmings in one framework—this framework—and hand them back in as next week's column. Think of it like what butchers do to all the odds and ends that don't make it as far as steak status, or even ground beef status. Or Vienna sausage status, even.

I shall call this collection "Bill's Delete Treet," and if you've ever shopped for Spam substitutes, you will understand the apparent misspelling isn't a misspelling after all. Furthermore, don't be surprised if "Bill's Delete Treet" doesn't become a semi-regular feature on this page. And after I've done enough of them—each one getting 40 words cut from it, of course—I'll put together a "'Bill's Delete Treet' Deletions: Special Edition" from all the leftovers left over from these leftovers columns.

So let's get started. The sooner I get 'em written, the sooner I can decide which ones to cut.

• ... and at the very moment the government shutdown, Sen. Cruz, with the goat under one arm and the orphan Nicaraguan boy under the other, was seen scurrying into a Georgetown Motel 6, where police later discovered items of women's ...

• ... appointed to the Idaho Department of Labor, laughed. "This just goes to show what happens when misinformed citizens are spoon-fed the absurd perception that this agency has anything at all to do with making their working conditions a little more ..."

• ... Gwartney allegedly sat down on the trussed dogie and explained, "Butch, the best part of getting this broadband shit up and running is to spread some of that heavy corporate grease around to the right wheels, if you catch my ..."

• ... for which they blamed President Obama, in spite of the facts he was in China when the car-jacking took place, and that he was unaware there even was such a place as Bumwater, Ala.—aka "The Home of the Deep-Fried ..."

• ... "Cope, is you trying t' tell me yer ne'er had a bowl o' Fritos and Mountain Dew f'r breakfast? 'Caus'n if you are, i'd 'splain a lot 'bout hows come you don' know nuthin' 'about why us reg'ler people sees ..."

• ... of events gets murky, as the grand jury could not decide if the deceased screamed "Don't shoot" before the officer discharged his weapon, or if there was a ventriloquist among the witnesses, throwing his voice and making it only seem ...