Ask a stupid question…

People often ask me, “Has writing a column for the Northern Light changed your life in any way?”

They ask me this question all the time. As a matter of fact, George Clooney asked it to me just the other day as I was taking a much needed rest in the upscale Northern Light Lounge, a highly-exclusive club situated in an undisclosed location on campus.

“Has writing a column changed you life in any way?” he reiterated, and I considered my answer, leaning further back into the sinfully luxurious diamond-studded Atelier Viollet as I took a pensive puff off my Havana cigar and a contemplative sip of my brandy (Otard Dupuy, vintage 1978, compliments of the Northern Light Cellars). I was about to answer when all of a sudden there was a commotion in the room.

“Look!” shouted Matt Damon, pointing out the window.

My heart sank when I saw what he was excited about. Can’t I enjoy just a moment’s peace? I agonized, but of course I could not. For there, emblazoned across the overcast Alaska sky the bold letters NLC.

“It’s the Northern Lights Columnist signal,” I said. “I’ve gotta go.”

“No!” said Angelina Jolie, curled up next to me on the love seat, snaking a soft, scented arm around my neck and pleading so gently with her eyes, “Don’t leave!”

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“Sorry, baby,” I whispered to her. “Duty calls.”

Soon I was riding in my custom made low-rider Columnist-mobile, deftly finessing the controls of the hydrogen-powered scramjet engine as I switched on the voice-activated hologram transmitter. The virtual image of my editor hovered before me in high-resolution, almost tangible resplendence.

“There’s big trouble brewing,” she said. “A riot’s started over at the campus bookstore.”

Curtly, she filled me in: the riot had started during the fifth weekly installment of the Bookstore’s seventeen-week seminar on “Writing about Salad.”

Apparently someone had made a disparaging comment about radishes, and an argument had led to a brawl, which soon degenerated into fighting and rampant, uncontrolled looting of valuable textbooks and binders.

“It’s a war zone out there,” she told me. “Be careful.”

Parking was impossible: someone had doused the meters and most of the cars with kerosene and set them ablaze. Fortunately I could use the exclusive Northern Light parking lot, where there’s always plenty of space.

The valet took my keys and waited for his tip, but there was no time. I had a story to cover. The entrance to the bookstore was a snarled mass of human bodies trying to wrestle each other to the ground, shouting obscenities, throwing bricks, trying to escape with three-ringed binders under their arms. I broke in through a high window and lowered myself down on a rope from my columnist utility belt. The mayhem was even worse inside, people screaming, firing automatic weapons, the bookstore staff trying in vain to enforce the no-backpacks-or-food-in-the-shop rule. Just as I landed on the floor someone noticed me.

“Look!” shouted a voice. “A columnist from the Northern Light! We are saved!”

“Yes!” shouted someone else. “He bears the official press badge! He shall bring peace and order! Hurrah!”

The room went silent, all eyes focused on me, brawlers frozen in mid-brawl.

“Hey,” I said, “Why fight each other? Let’s all just try to be friends.”

The whole bookstore erupted in cheering. The riot had ended. The jubilant crowd carried me outside on their shoulders. A ray of sun pierced through the clouds, doves sang and the crowd gave three cheers for student journalism.

It was just at that moment that I remembered George Clooney and his question: “Has writing a column for the Northern Light changed your life in any way?”

 No, I thought, not really.


Tradionally Speaking is a humor column written by nursing student Paul Bryner. To contact him please call 786.1313 or e-mail [email protected]