I had a stick of Carefree gum, but it didn’t work. I felt pretty good blowing that bubble, but as soon as the gum lost its flavor, I was back to pondering my own mortality.—Mitch Hedberg

Look, it’s not my fault that I didn’t write a column this week. I planned on it. But Monday I was too disgusted to write anything. I had never really hated Carolina before. I’m not sure that I do now. But I did Monday.

It would have to wait until Tuesday, then. But things come up, and before I knew it, Tuesday was gone and Wednesday afternoon had rolled around and it was finally nice outside and Duke students were back in their pastels and seersucker and everything just seemed right in the universe.

And then before I knew it the deadline had passed and I don’t even know what they’re going to put in my spot. An editorial cartoon? A syndicated columnist? I hear that George Will writes good stuff.

If you had a friend who was a tightrope walker, and you were walking down a sidewalk, and he fell, that would be completely unacceptable.

Where will my column not be? Top of the page? Bottom? Will it not be marginalized? That’s where I usually end up. That’s the third-rate position. The top is the first column people read. The bottom comes next. And then most people throw the paper away because they only picked it up to do the crossword or to see if “The Boondocks” has come back.

It isn’t that I didn’t try to write a column. I practically begged for ideas on Instant Messenger via my away message. But few buddies seemed to take it seriously. Several suggested that I write about how awesome they are. Someone wanted me to write something about trying to keep dogs in a bathtub. My roommate asked me to say a few words about Michael Jackson.

A few responses were moderately insulting. I was told to write something that in a roundabout way shows that Bush is a terrible person, because apparently I have done that before. I was also told to write something about how English majors quote lengthy passages from literature in their away messages to try and make themselves feel smart. But I refused to tolerate their insolence.

The best idea, by far, was to give a brief lecture on proper techniques for NBA Jam. It would have been beautifully ironic, as I am quite possibly the worst video game player of all time. I would have said that the Orlando Magic can be beaten. And defense is crucial.

When people hand you flyers it’s like, here, you throw this out.

I think part of the problem this week was that there has been nothing in the news except the passing of the pontiff. Apparently nothing else has happened in the world. While I respect John Paul II for honorably guiding the Church into the 21st century, it is not in my place to write a proper biography or to comment on the future of Catholicism.

And apparently nothing is happening in the world this entire year aside from famous people dying. Johnny Carson died. Johnny Cochran died. Terri Schiavo was in the news because she hadn’t died, but then she did. Authors have not fared well: Hunter S. Thompson, Arthur Miller, Saul Bellow, Jack Chalkner and Andre Norton are gone. Max Schmeling, Prince Rainier Grimaldi and Shirley Chisholm have passed on. Barney Martin—Jerry’s dad on Seinfeld—died.

But I didn’t write a column because I was too busy raising my glass in homage to Mitch Hedberg, who was found dead in his hotel room in New Jersey last week. He was absurd. He took drugs. He mumbled one-liners. But he was unique in his observations of the world. And his humor was brilliant.

A friend came up to me and said, “You know what I like? Mashed potatoes.” And it’s like Dude, you have to give me time to guess. If you’re going to quiz me, you have to insert a pause.


Eric Vivier is a Trinity senior. His column appears every other Friday.


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