Opinion » Bill Cope

I'm So Vain

I'll bet you think this column's about me


Did you happen to notice who was voted the best local writer in last week's "Best of Boise" issue? Huh? Did you? Did you? Huh? Did you?

Me, that's who. It's official. It's in the bag, baby! I no longer have to rely solely on my own high opinion of myself. I now have solid evidence to support what I have suspected all along. From now on, if anyone asks who the best writer in town is, I can answer with no reservations, "Why ... that would be me. And I'm not the only one who thinks so."

Hoo-ah! I rock! God, I'm good! And the best part is, it's not even bragging for me to say so because I didn't say it first. The people who voted for me brought it up, not me. I'm just agreeing with them, that's all. I'm goin' with the flow, bro. And that's not bragging. It's more like congeniality. It's like me being easy to get along with. We're simpatico. We're on the same page. And is it bragging for me to mention my fans think I'm better than everyone else?

Oh, sure. I bet there are still some jealous Nellies who think I'm tooting my own horn a little too loudly here, but that doesn't bother me. I look at it this way: It's the burden I have to bear for being the best. It goes with the territory. It's part of the package. It comes with the crown. And I refuse to feel wrong about it. I refuse to feel ashamed of being the best, and most of all, I refuse to keep quiet about it. Used to be, once a fellow was voted "The Best," he was expected to shuffle off to Humbleburg and never bring up the subject on his own. Well, I'm not one of those closet besters! Don't expect me to shut up quietly! This is my statement. This is my proclamation. I'm taking a stand here for all of those who were voted the best. We have to stick up for ourselves because ... well, who the hell could do it better?

Besides, does the Boise Co-op or Flying M Coffeehouse act ashamed to be voted best at what they do? Do Larry Gebert or Dave Bieter get all humble and self-depreciating when they're named the best? Do the Boise State Broncos and Built To Spill start putting out disclaimers? "Oh, m'gosh. We're sooo embarrassed. Thanks a heap to those who chose us as the best thing Boise has going for it, but golly gee ... we're really not that good."

CRAP no! First thing any business does when it's voted the best is stick a sign in the front window: "WE'RE PROUD TO HAVE BEEN VOTED THE BEST (such 'n' such) IN BOISE." And that's what I am, a business. Just 'cause I don't have a window, and just 'cause there's only one employee, and just 'cause I'm not in the Yellow Pages ... that doesn't mean I'm not a business. You don't think I do this for my health, do you?

You watch. For the next several weeks, every winner that advertises with this paper will be cramming an extra line or two into their regular ad spot--"Jerry Joe's Pork Grill ... chosen Boise's Best sausage joint by Boise Weekly readers." "Capitol City Sewer Slickers--named the best rooter crew in town." "Aunt Pauline's Pay-Day Loans: THE BEST way to get your hands on some fast cash, as seen in BOISE WEEKLY." That sort of thing.

And that's OK. What's the point of being the best if you can't turn all that excellence into an extra trip or two to the bank?

But listen, like any other Tom, Dick and Idaho Shakespeare Festival who's the best, I didn't get that way by resting on my laurels. I'm always striving to be even better, as hard as that may be to fathom for those people who will never be as good as I am right now, anyway. Case in point: I spent months trying to talk the management down at BW into rephrasing this year's "Best of Boise" ballot so that the word "living" was dropped from the question, "Who is the best living local writer?"

Why? Because it wasn't fair to me, that's why. They don't ask "What is the best living place to swill beer and watch a football game on a wide-screen teevee set," do they?" They don't ask, "Where is the best living place to eat Thai?" They don't even ask, "Who is the best living local news anchorperson," and when it comes to some of those folks in the KTVB organization, I don't consider that such an unusual question to ask.

Besides, it was a nit-picky qualification that served only to keep you from knowing how good I really am. Why should I be held on a short leash, restricted to competing with living local writers only? I'm ready to take on the local big boys, I tell you ... no matter how long ago they croaked. I've been itchin' to climb into the ring with Vardis Fisher ... Ezra Pound ... Hemingway, and I knew all along that I could whup their dead asses, by damn.

And let me tell you something else. Since Ezra and Ernest are thought of as Idaho writers only by Idaho tour guides, that means I should be strutting my stuff far beyond the borders of Boise. Next year, I'm gonna to try to get BW to drop the "local" part of the question, too. I should be on the national writer's circuit. Even the international writer's circuit. Think about it, if I can cream Hemingway here, I can cream him anywhere. Hand over that Pulitzer, Papa. It don't belong to you no more! And say, hows 'bout a little recitation from The Old Man and the See, I Told Ya' So!

Frankly, I don't understand why anyone would read anyone else's writing but mine. Why piddle around with the also-rans when you can have the best? It's like ... it's like ... ummm ... give me a sec here ... (Sometimes a best writer like me can't think of the right simile off the top of my head just exactly when I need it. But eventually, I always pull it out--which, of course, is just one of the many elements that goes into making me the best.) ... OK. I think I have it. It's like, why would you order a chicken-fried steak when you can get a Kobe prime tip for the same price? Why drive a Geo when someone is offering you the keys to a Caddy? Why go to the pound for a six-breed mutt when you can take home a genuine best-in-show? Why drink Coors when someone's giving away free Heineken? (Here's a best local writer's tip for you: There's no such thing as too many similes. It's like ... ummm ... I'll think of whatever it's like later. Trust me. I'm the best.)

Before I go, I must take this opportunity to thank those who voted for me over of all those local memoir writers and novel writers and fancy-pants poets. I think you definitely made the right choice. That artsy-fartsy stuff is okay, I guess. But if you can't sell ad space in it ... why bother?