And here is my final column for Boise Weekly. It has been an honor and a joy to be allowed this forum. We all have opinions, but to be given the opportunity to share those opinions with so many--and from a vantage considerably more prestigious than a bar stool--has been one of the high points of my life. I cannot end it and not again give my profound thanks to the people who made it possible.
BW founders Larry Regan and Andy Hedden-Nicely took me on, bless their hearts. And bless the subsequent owners, publishers and editors who were kind enough to keep me on, especially the generous and energetic Sally Freeman. Her dedication to this paper and the town it represents is astonishing, and the people of Boise should know it.
If memory serves correctly, I have reported weekly to a succession of 13 different editors. Dave Madison, Bob Steel, Shea Anderson, Rachael Daigle and Zach Hagadone were standouts, each leaving an indelible print on the development of both the paper and myself. I've been proud to call them friends. In fact, I have many friends now that I wouldn't have, if not for these two decades of working around such talented, bright people.
I must acknowledge Agatha Christie for my title these past two weeks and to those readers who've sent kind cards and letters over the years, I apologize for not always returning...
"Cope! Say it ain't so! Tell me y'r playin' another one o' them dumb jokes what y'r always cookin' up!"
"Red, I wish I could. But it's true. This is it."
"But all them years together! But all them dispussions we had! All them tender momen's we shared!"
"Tender moments? Red, we've spent the last 20-some years arguing politics like a couple of grumpy uncles."
"Gull durnit, it weren't all arguin'. Like when y'r daughter coul'n't show up an' sing in her little kid Christmas play acause she had the croup. Or when she gradualated on out o' highschool and went off t' college. Or when y'r daddy died... n' y'r momma. Ya' can't deny there was some tender momen's."
"Red... buddy. I didn't realize you were paying attention all those times."
"'Course I was payin' attentions! I was there ever time, Cope. Ever gull durn dang time. I been there whether you knew it or not. Good times an' bad."...
"I was there too, dippy. You can't just stick us in a f***ing mop closet anytime you're not turning us into metaphors."
"Badger! Gosh, I'm glad you could make it. And listen, you guys, you're like weird, crazy, cranky ghost brothers, or something, but I don't know if I could have done it without you. Honestly, you've bailed me out more times than anyone will ever know. And I'm sorry if you feel like I exploited you for material."
"And thanks for splitting the paycheck with us, you selfish p***k."
"Aw jeez, Bob. I'm going to miss you. You too, Red. I mean that."
"You're not going to sit around on your a** and fester, I hope. It's in your bones to be a f***ing know-it-all. If you try to stop cold turkey, you'll end up one of those guys who hang out on bar stools, muttering about how the whole world is going to sh**. You ought to start a blog. "
"Yeah, I'm thinking about other things I might do. But I gotta tell you, an independent blog is sort of scary to an old fart like me. Like stepping off a dock without knowing how deep the water is."
"Maybe so, Cope, but ol' Badge's right. Y'r way too mouthy t' keep all that poop bubblin' 'round in y'r noggin t' y'rself. "
"You know, the hardest part of this is losing that connection I've had with my readers. I have no idea how many people that amounts to, but even if it's just one or two folks out there, I've felt them. I'm not kidding. For 20 years I've felt their presence on the other end of this... what do I call it?... this communion I've had with them. I've felt their frustration and isolation, their loneliness in what so often seems a hostile environment, and I've felt their support and appreciation... their relief, even... that somebody was saying what maybe they'd say, if only they had the stage like I've had. I know that sounds a little... a little..."
"Full of yourself?"
"Yeah. OK. Maybe sort of self-important, I admit. But it's not my imagination, Bob. And I know a lot of what I've written over these 20 years has been comforting and sympathetic... maybe even intimate... to some number of people. And I'd like those people to know they've meant the same to me. However many there are... whoever they are... I think of them as friends and I'm sorry I have to say goodbye. And sad. Damn sad."
"So, Cope. Would a beer cheer ya' up any?
"And you're buying, a**hole. You owe us weird, crazy, cranky ghost brothers that f***ing much."
"A beer? Sure. Sounds good, Red. And Bob, you bet. I'm buying. But listen... if we end up on bar stools, let's keep the conversation to a minimum, OK fellas? We wouldn't want anyone to think I was talking to myself, right?"