Monday, February 06, 2006

Truly sophomoric

An English professor at Penn State, who had written a few novels and several freelance magazine articles, told our class that for every seventy-five pages a person writes, there will probably be about one page worth keeping. Since I’ve been writing this column every week for a year now, I hope to hit upon that page sometime in the next twenty-three weeks or so.

With today’s edition of the newspaper, I’ve reached my goal of keeping “Just humor me” going for one whole year. True, if this column was a human, it wouldn’t even be eating solid foods yet. Or maybe it would. I don’t know. The point is, don’t leave your baby with me.

One year might not sound like such a long time to most people, but I had serious doubts coming into this that the column was going to survive for that long, mostly because I knew that I didn’t have fifty-two things to say. To illustrate, here is a list of the thoughts I have in an average day:

1. I’m tired.
2. I’m hungry.
3. I’m tired again.

Also, sometimes I think about how it would be a lot easier to be a vegetarian if more plants were made out of pepperoni. Not that I’ve ever tried to be a vegetarian. I wouldn’t last two days – my wife Kara calls me a “chlorophobe” because vegetables scare me, unless they’re fried and on a cheesesteak. But I have the utmost respect for vegetarians, except for the ones who eat chicken and fish and still insist on being called vegetarians, because trout isn’t a vegetable. Tilapia sounds like maybe it should be, but that still doesn’t count.

Anyway, I’ve found that it is quite possible to fill up this little part of the newspaper page week after week without actually saying anything at all. The trick of writing a newspaper column is to develop a strict regimen of doing something stupid each and every week. This is called “research.”

Last week, my wife Kara and I met up over our lunch breaks, and we ran to the Post Office to mail a package to our friends who just had a baby. To our amazement, there was nobody in line. A lunch-break Post Office with nobody in line is the holy grail of errand-running.

We quickly assembled the priority mail box, stuffed all the little baby presents into it and sealed it up, expecting a stampede through the door at any moment.

“What’s their address?” Kara asked, pen in hand.

“Dude, they live in like, Connecticut, right?” I said. She slumped over the box.

“You didn’t bring the address?”

“Baby, I’m researching,” I said.

Also, if you write a humor column, you can deduct from your taxes any expenses incurred while doing something stupid, because if you write about it later, that makes it a work-related expense. This helps ease the pain of your patio umbrella snapping in half because you left it open during a blizzard. So I hear, anyway.
I’ve also learned that it’s a columnist’s primary responsibility to discuss events that have wide-ranging significance, like how Kara stops shaving her legs in the winter, and how I dropped my car keys down a storm drain that one time. Universal stuff like that.

So now that I know what it’s like to write a column for a year, I think I’ll keep it up and see how it goes for a while longer. Thanks for reading, or, at the very least, for not mounting an angry letter-writing campaign to eject me from the paper. I hope you’ve found this column to be fun and not-at-all educational, like an IMAX movie, but cheaper, and hopefully less likely to make you nauseous.

You can offer Mike Todd some asparagus online at He won’t eat it, though.


  1. I know that I, for one, am thrilled to read your writings. Often I find myself snorting and laughing out loud at your antics. I do have to say that Kara must be quite a forgiving woman because if my husband announced to the internet that I didn't shave my legs in the winter he'd be getting no booty for a loooooong time.

    Keep up the great and funny work!! You totally rock

  2. I would have asked the English prof - "How exactly did you arrive at the number 75?" but then again I was always the smart-ass.

    Also - why do they call it RE-search? If I'd already searched for it, I'd hardly be doing it again, would I?

    Happy Blogiversary, man - I find your column to be like a hilarious blog post, only funnier.

  3. congrats. in my opinion you had a couple of good columns in the past year. should I worry the next two years?

  4. Dude- you're asking for congrats just for writing a newspaper article for a year?

    Uh, I guess I shouldn't talk though... I just blogged about being a lighting designer for 5 years and was getting little congratulatory responses.

    So let me raise a glass...

    Here's to writing about your wife and your house, because without them I don't know what your writing inspiration would be!

    Oh and thanks for visiting my blog (that was in a sarcastic tone - just in case your brain didn't process it that way when you read it). haha! Kidding man!

  5. Hey Mike;

    Congrats... looking forward to the next year!

  6. Congratulations... you are truly hilarious!

  7. Sheri -- No, dude, you rock. Party on, Wayne.

    JL -- Shite, man, we've been at it for a while, eh? Been fun. Glad you're still keepin' it reeeal. I was going to say keepin' it up, but that didn't sound right.

    Buster -- All downhill from here, man. Lookin' forward to seeing some more of your pictures over in your neck of the internet.

    Jered Earl -- How many ways do I hate thee? A lot. I'm sure I'll get some inspiration for a couple of columns from my gay, one-eyed, narcoleptic friends one of these days. They just never seem to do anything that I can talk about in a family publication.

    Anna -- Keep on rockin'. You rule.

    Joe Brown -- I can't believe you still have this mofo bookmarked. I know it doesn't stack up to "Right Angles to Reality" (that's the column Joe and I used to write in high school) -- but you the frickin' man. I hope we catch up sometime this year, Pops.

    I just failed the word verification test to post this comment, by the way. I'm no good at these literacy tests.

  8. Sorry I'm late, dude... Happy Blogiversary... or should that be Columniversary... or just plain Writeversary... hmmm... now I'm confused. Whatever, all I know is it's darned good writing!

    Oh, and the word verification things are the bane of my existence! I just had one telling me what IJ was doing to RM and it was just plain RUDE!