Here's Johnny - My April Fools’ fantasy
Many Dear Readers of Here’s Johnny know I am a recovering television anchor/reporter. I spent more than a decade doing such things in Bowling Green, Louisville, and my hometown of Lexington. (To this day, I’m still occasionally recognized in Central Kentucky, so my plan to supplement my meager newspaper earnings with the occasional bank robbery is, for now, on hold.) I never thought having my face on television meant all that much, so when I left the TV news biz, it was with few regrets. There was one, though. I never got to – anonymously, mind you – serve my fellow employees a pâté the likes of which they’d never seen, smelled or tasted. Let me back up. Each of the newsrooms I worked in had one thing in common: If any sort of remotely edible food was brought in by an employee, on-air guest or complete stranger, it was devoured within minutes. Doughnuts, lady fingers, cheese cubes, Spam: it didn’t matter. It was free food, and if you didn’t race for the plate as soon as it was set down, you went without. None of the photographers, reporters, producers, assignment editors or production staffers I worked with were starving, as far as I can tell, though certainly none of them were getting rich on the job. Even relatively well-paid anchors weren’t immune to the lure of free food. In defense of my former colleagues – at least the folks who spent much of the day outside the station – the TV news biz has irregular hours. You may know when you’ll arrive, but you have no idea where you’ll go, whether you’ll have time to eat, or when your day will be complete. That’s one of the fun things about the job. Another is the free food. Many moons ago, I began to fantasize about making my own contribution to the free food fest for the ultimate April Fools’ Day gag and, perhaps, the end of my career in television. I would find one of those big serving plates. In my dreams, it is blue with flowers or something classy on it. I would buy a box of Town House crackers or something equally classy, and arrange the contents in a circle just inside the edge of the plate. And I would buy a can of top-notch cat food like Fancy Feast or something just as classy, then treat my co-workers to a pâté party. The plate would be brought in while no one was looking, of course. If my fellow employees knew I was the caterer, they might be too suspicious to enjoy the pâté party. That’s the last thing I’d want to happen, because I care about them, and because I invested about $3.50 in the meal. Half of the semi-gelatinous cube would be gone before anyone got suspicious, in part because Town House crackers can cover a multitude of sins. Here’s the way I see it playing out: Photographer Doug: “Hey, I’ve never had pâté before. This tastes really classy!” Reporter Steve: “It’s pretty good. A little, I dunno, fishy. I’ll try another.” Anchor Chet: “I used to eat pâté all the time when I was hanging out with Maria and Arnold. This isn’t quite as expensive, maybe, and it doesn’t smell quite as good. Hmmm.” Anchor Chet and Reporter Steve began to look at the classy blue plate with another, far less hungry look in their eyes, while Production Assistant Cindy walks by the display and sniffs. Production Assistant Cindy: “This smells just like the cat food my mom buys.” Photographer Doug: “It’s good, though.” A crowd has assembled around the nearly empty plate, and a furious debate begins. Production Assistant Cindy: “I’m telling you, this is cat food. Good cat food, but cat food nonetheless.” Photographer Doug: “The crackers or the pâté?” Production Assistant Cindy: “It’s Fancy Feast, bonehead.” Anchor Chet: “Hey, what day is it? Isn’t today a holiday or something?” Photographer Doug: “Um, Friday.” Anchor Chet: “Good point. Back to you.” Production Assistant Cindy: “You guys are disgusting. And your breath is terrible.” Photographer Doug: “I was going to brush my teeth the next couple of days anyway.” Just then, Executive Producer Alison – the brains of the outfit – walks by. She sniffs the air and races into the news director’s office. News Director Todd walks out of his office, takes a gander at the classy blue plate and walks back into his office to call the consultants who tell him what he believes in. He shuts the door. By now, even the flies have left the scene, though Photographer Doug is considering one last Town House/pâté combo. Executive Producer Cindy looks into News Director Todd’s office and sees he’s getting no help from the consultants. She shakes her head, then looks around the newsroom. Executive Producer Cindy: “McGary! You’ve crossed the line this time.” Author’s note: Feel free to try this out on your own unsuspecting co-workers, friends and relatives. Just promise to let me know how it comes out, so to speak. And whether Fancy Feast lives up to its name. Happy April Fools’ Day, Dear Readers.