“Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen”

          This is my final column for the Monmouth Daily Review-Atlas, and I want my faithful fans – both of them – to know that I’m giving it up with deep reluctance.  The editor hasn’t banished me, though he probably should have many times over; in fact, Matt Hutton has proven to be a man with the patience of Job and the flexibility of Gumby.  In my book, he’s right up there with Perry White and Lou Grant, and he’s miles ahead of J. Jonah Jameson.  

These losers all wish they were as cool as Matt Hutton.

            Don’t get me wrong:  I would love it if my departure had been prompted by something more dramatic, like a fierce clash which erupted between me, the dashing, maverick writer, and Matt, the hot-headed editor, when he dared stand in my way after my sharply-honed investigative reporting uncovered a convoluted web of corruption that extended all the way up to the highest echelons of our government’s intelligence community and implicated even the President himself in a scandal that threatened to shake the very foundations of our republic. 

            I tried that, by the way.  But the best I came up with was some weak evidence that the zoning commissioner may or may not have an overdue library book. 

            It didn’t rile Matt enough to provoke a red-faced screaming match across his desk during which we yank each other’s neckties while he shouts in my face, “Bennett, if you weren’t a Pulitzer prize-winning columnist who once saved my life by chewing through my seatbelt to free me from a burning car that had been firebombed by the mobsters who were trying to prevent me from printing your bold, fearless, hard-boiled expose’ of organized crime, I’d can you right now!” prompting me to throw down my press credentials in disgust and yell, “Hutton, YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!” and storm out while a young cub reporter who has always looked up to me with awe follows on my heels and says, “You sure told him, Mr. Bennett!”

            Man.  That would have been cool.  Robert Duvall could have played me in the movie. 

            But no, the simple fact of the matter is this:  In the past few months, I’ve come under conviction that my Lord would have me focus entirely on the two most important callings He has placed on my life:  My wonderful family, and my loving, faithful flock at Rozetta Baptist Church.  The painful process of giving up other worthy pursuits began a few months ago, and I held on to the pleasure of writing this column as long as I could.

            You’re thinking, “Churning out 750 words of that artless dreck Bennett calls ‘writing’ is too much of a load to carry once a week?  Does it really take all that much time to plagiarize old Dave Barry columns?  I mean, he’s not exactly seated at the Algonquin Roundtable between Robert Benchley and Dorothy Parker.  Why, that newspaper could train a ring-tailed lemur to write just as…”

Jim Bennett wishes he was as cool as this lemur.

            Alright!  Dang!  You’ve made your point!  I get it!  So I’m not Art Buchwald!  It still literally takes me anywhere from six to nine hours to grind out the nonsense that finally makes it to the page (You don’t even want to know how long it takes me to write my sermon every week – unlike my column, those actually have to make sense).  Mama always said, “Anything worth doing is worth doing at the pace of a three-toed sloth on Ambien.”            

            But my inexplicably slow rate of production is compounded by my inability to accomplish anything whatsoever until the day of deadline.  This quirk has haunted me through high school, college, and my brief career as a street mime in Little York.  Some scribblers devote a little time each day to their weekly output, but for some reason, I have to do it all at once, and on the day it’s due.  I’ve been driving the Mrs. crazy every Sunday by coming home from church only to lock myself away with my laptop to await my weekly visit from Muse Thalia. 

            Upsetting the Mrs. is something I hate to do. 

            As I always counsel the husbands of Rozetta Baptist Church:  Happy wife, happy life.

            There is, no doubt, a more capable ink-slinger waiting in the wings, someone who, unlike me, is raising fewer than seven children right now.  So it is with a heavy heart that I bid you adieu, Dear Reader.  You’ve been most charitable and indulgent to read what I’ve written. 

            Thank you for that.   

            Oh, and one last thing:  Jesus loves you!  I pray that you’ll taste and see that the Lord is good, and seek Him while he may be found.  Merry Christmas!

(Fear not, readers…you can still tap into the repository of genius that is “The Bloviating Hammerhead” blog.  My next post relates a horrifying, true story of murder and mayhem on the high seas!)

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