I just realized that I have been writing this column for more than 20 years. My first stab at this was published Dec. 13, 1995. Going back and reading it, I have to say — I cringed a little. I was a 23-year-old reporter with mile-wide idealism and ambition and the deep philosophical insight that only a worldly 23-year-old such as myself can make.
The column was about moving back to my parents’ house, one year after having graduated college. Now, I will say — I had some points, even if I presented them in a way that makes me twitch a smidge now. The column talked about how so many people my age had earned the “Boomerang Generation” title by circling back home after college.
When I left college, I took a job in Orlando as a college textbook editor. Note to those searching for jobs after college: Getting paid to read college textbooks does not make you want to read college textbooks any more than when you were in college.
After a year, I had had enough of that job, and I just wanted to go home. And so I went. I got a job at the newspaper and started on Adult 2.0.
And so here we are, 20 years of Mike’s Life columns later. More than 1,000. There are columns I am very proud of. There are columns that make me want to figure out time travel so I can go and find me writing said column and smash the keyboard over my head.
I have received some very nice comments from folks over the years. I have received some very not nice comments, including one from a gentleman who hated everything about me and my stupid column. That one was delivered in person, and included an invitation to step outside at a bar. I declined. A week later, at the same establishment, a beer I had not ordered arrived at my table. The waitress said, “It’s from that guy over there. He said he’s sorry about last week.” We made eye contact. He gave a quick nod. All good, sir.
I think I’m like most writers in that I absolutely hate reading my own stuff. All it becomes is an exercise in questioning yourself or, even worse, finding a mistake. It’s just not good for the soul. Once I realized I had been doing this for 20 years, I did go back and read some, and I’m pleased that I really haven’t changed that much. Sure, having a family and changing careers and such tweaks who you are. My hair may have some gray, my pants may be an inch (or two) bigger at the waistline, and my ability to eat two Whoppers in a single sitting may be gone forever. But that’s a natural evolution. I’m glad I didn’t go back and read old columns and think, “My goodness, you were an awful person!” Or worse, read and think, “You were such a nice boy! What have you become, you monster!?!?!”
In reviewing two decades of columns, one fact was driven home: I have the most patient and tolerant wife on the planet. I have written about her getting her hair stuck in a curling iron. I have written about her having to crawl through the trunk of her car when she locked her keys inside. I have written about the time she killed a drifter just for sport. (That last one may be slightly off. Memory’s fuzzy.) But she has been a heckuva good sport over the years, often enduring this question from her friends: “Why do you let him write those things about you?”
So it’s been a good 20 year run, and here’s to the next 20. It’s a treat to be able to visit with you each week and share the silly and pointless observations I have. I realize this column is not exactly the Federalist Papers, but I hope they have brought an occasional moment of levity to your world. If you have read my column for a while, thank you. That means a lot. If you haven’t read my column regularly (or at all), that’s fine. There are plenty of other things you can do with your time. Such as putting up your shopping cart.
Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he now lives in Charleston. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.