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Commentary: Revenge of the Ninja Columnists

I read William Carter’s column last week titled “Sometimes You Just Gotta Let it Go” and well, I couldn’t let it go. 
I believe that William was bullied, not just because he is much older, smaller, weaker, and less attractive than the intimidator who menaced him, but because William Carter is a newspaper columnist. Not once but twice, days apart, Carter apologized to the testosterone-fueled motorist whom Carter unintentionally pulled out in front of in traffic. Although everyone knows that is the kiss of death in the Manimal Kingdom, Carter did safely kneel and cower before the savage beast in hopes of being spared. 
While Carter showed wisdom and self-restraint in his response, I believe the story needs a different ending. It’s time for us newspaper columnists to stand our ground and flex our muscles--granted they’re rather small muscles so you have to look closely or you’ll miss it.  
And we need to be there for one another, have each other’s back. So I’ve taken some poetic liberty here and re-written the ending of Carter’s near-death experience, an ending where (cue dramatic music) another Herald columnist steps from the shadows and to his aid. 
“Excuse me, sir, did you just call Mr. Carter a derogatory name?”
“What the…Ramon Presson, is that you?” William said, with more surprise than relief. 
“Yea, it’s me. But call me…The Columnist (cue dramatic music)
“You look much younger in your photo.”
“Bill, this is no time to discuss aging writers and vanity. I’m here to save your life and stand up for newspaper columnists everywhere.”
“You two know each other?” said the young assailant.
“Yes, we write columns for the same newspaper. Have for years but we’ve never met.”
“You guys work for the same local paper and you’ve never met?”
“Happens all the time,” Presson replied. “Columnists work in solitude. 
Sometimes we go months without seeing or speaking to another living being.”
“Well, I’ll give you something to write about. I’m just about to kick your friend’s butt,” said the man.
“That won’t be happening,” Presson replied. “You’re disrespecting our newspaper staff and that must be stopped and punished.” 
“Really, what are you two old farts gonna do?” 
“Who you calling old?”
“William, I’ve got this.” Presson took another step forward. “Young man, you may recall from your history books that our great nation was established by columnists who came over on the Mayflower.”
“Ramon, those were colonists, not columnists.”
“Huh? Okay, whatever.  Well then, let’s remind ourselves about two particular newspaper guys who were the nightmare of villains and criminals.” 
“You referring to Woodward & Bernstein?” said the man.
“The Washington Post reporters that exposed Watergate and took down Nixon? No, but that was an excellent guess,” said Presson. “No, I was referring to Clark Kent and Peter Parker, better known as Superman and Spiderman. They appeared to be mild-mannered and even bumbling journalists but in reality were fierce crime fighters, the dreaded nemesis of evil doers like yourself.”
“Oh good grief,” murmured William.
“Son, did you ever see the movie Second Hand Lions with Robert Duval and Michael Caine?”
“You really should see it sometime. It’s the story of an introverted young boy who is sent to live with his eccentric great-uncles on a farm in Texas. There’s a scene where a bunch of young punks like yourself are rude and very disrespectful to Duval & Caine while they’re having a drink in a dusty old bar. The leader underestimates and threatens Duval who responds by single-handedly whipping all four of the thugs. It’s really a great scene—you can watch it on YouTube. Just Google…
“Oh good Lord,” murmured William.
“So, you’re gonna whip me? Is that what you’re saying?” said the agitated man.
“I’m gonna take this right foot,” said Presson, “and I’m gonna whop you on that side of your face,” (pointing to the man’s right cheek)…“and you wanna know something? There’s not a damn thing you’re gonna be able to do about it.”
“Aren’t those lines from the movie Billy Jack?” whispered William as he leaned in.
“Yes,” said Presson quietly. “But he’s too young to have ever seen the movie.”
Just then the clerk came storming out of the store and said to the big man, “Pump dee gas in your car and geet out of here! You are holding up dee line for dee other customers!”
At that the young man got in his car and screeched away from the pumps, his tank still dry, and his gas cap resting on top of the pump. The three men stood and watched him drive away, run a red light, and get T-boned by a Prius.
“Well, I think my work here is done,” said Presson. 
“Where did Derby Jones find you?” said William, shaking his head.
“I can be found any place where newspapers have space to fill. I am…The Columnist.”
 (cue dramatic then fading music)
Author and therapist, Dr. Ramon Presson, is the founder of LifeChange Counseling and the Marriage Center of Franklin, TN.  He can be reached at

Posted on: 2/27/2014


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