I appreciate the fact that you read my columns. But in light of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s recent decision to forbid its employees to smoke – even on their own time – I’m afraid that I’m going to have to impose some ground rules if our relationship is to continue.
1. No smoking while you read. We need to set an example here by running a healthy column. I don’t want residual smoke to get into the paper fibers and be passed on to other readers who might pick it up after you. The jury’s still out on whether I will yet require you to stop smoking when you read the column online.
2. No eating or drinking while you read, either online or by using the physical Observer-Reporter. If you eat while reading online, crumbs might fall into your keyboard. If you read the column in the newspaper, crumbs may collect in the fold and fall to the floor when you stand up. These crumbs then may be eaten by your dog or cat, causing it to choke, requiring a visit to the vet. If you have no pet, the spilled crumbs may clog your vacuum and cause a fire that destroys your rug. I’m not leaving myself open for frivolous lawsuits claiming that reading my column made your computer inoperable, your dog sick or your home uninhabitable. Ditto medical bills because you spewed milk through your nose or choked on a Pop-Tart because I wrote something funny.
3. No reading while wearing T-shirts or baseball caps bearing offensive slogans. That “Free Hernandez” cap that Maurkice Pouncey gave you? Stow it in the closet as if it were a gay uncle in the 1950s. State your opinion. But remember: Everyone is offended by something. Plain white tees and nondescript caps are OK. For now.
4. No reading in bed. Beds are for sleeping, having sex and storing guests’ coats during a party. Don’t think you can get away with it reading under the covers, either. It didn’t fool your mom, and it won’t fool me. The NSA stuff Edward Snowden revealed is only the tip of the iceberg.
5. No playing of country music while reading. Country music begets tailgating, over-consumption of alcoholic beverages, public urination, fistfights and the inability to see or pick up trash, or – to use the medical term – “Chesneyopia.”
These rules may seem a bit harsh. But think of me as a benevolent columnist/father who must lead his readers/children down the correct path by occasionally loading them into the car, driving them to the orphanage and telling them to get out.
We’ll give these restrictions a few months to take effect then – only if necessary – introduce Phase II. Exactly what Phase II entails will be determined by how well you implement Phase I.
But just to be safe, I’d wean myself from alcohol and red meat, stock up on electronic cigarettes, drive a car that gets at least 35 mpg, start wearing socks – even with sandals – and stop making decisions without having all the facts.
Fair warning. I have big car.