Danny Tyree: Do you think you’ll survive 20 more years of this?
Computer crashes, power outages, Y2K, prostate surgery, parenting crises … I laugh in your faces!
Despite these obstacles, I have now reached the milestone of writing a (published) “Tyree’s Tyrades” newspaper column each and every week for 20 years.
(If your newspaper carries this column LESS than weekly, a letter or phone call singing my praises would be sincerely appreciated.)
I couldn’t have accomplished all this without my long-suffering wife Melissa, who still schedules her Tuesday nights around my writing.
I am also eternally grateful to “Pulaski (TN) Citizen” publisher Scott Stewart, who took a chance on me back in ‘98 and gave me a platform for gradually working my way into a handful of other Tennessee newspapers, before I finally achieved national distribution via Cagle Cartoons syndicate in 2010.
And let’s not forget the other writers who have inspired me, including Dave Barry, Erma Bombeck, Art Buchwald and George Carlin. Yes, I stand on the shoulders of giants. (You wouldn’t believe how much dandruff a bellow of “Fee fi fo fum” stirs up!)
What questions have I been asked the most over the years? First is, “Where do you get your ideas?” Well, I spend countless hours skimming umpteen newspapers and apps for topics (preferably non-political) that resonate with me. Also, God inspires me. Unfortunately, that assignment of blame for Tyrades ranks right behind “Sunday is my only day to sleep late” and “Why did you take my 110-year-old grandmother, God? Why? Why?” as Reasons For The Decline of Western Religion.
The second-most frequent question is the disturbingly personal “You’re a columnist? Cool. How much does it PAY?” Why are writers singled out as oddities who provoke the blurting out of such uncomfortable interrogations? Even in these cynical times, citizens are more likely to ask firefighters, “Can I ring the bell?” or “Does your firehouse have a Dalmatian?” than “Are you on food stamps?”
My GREATEST regret is that my father didn’t live to see me reach hundreds of newspapers, sometimes even getting picked up by the Associated Press or USA TODAY Network; but there are OTHER things that bug me.
I can handle constructive criticism, but some people have no conception of how difficult it is to cram Something To Please Everyone into a 600-word essay.
It’s like telling a Chinese restaurant vendor, “Well, your fortune cookie message made a salient point about perseverance; but it did very little to compare and contrast the War of 1812 and the Franco-Prussian War.”
I’m a people pleaser, so it disturbs me that some folks (including my mother) just don’t “get” my sense of humor. It’s not like I’m the first person to plant tongue firmly in cheek, lampoon a ridiculous trend or ford a stream of consciousness. But I know somewhere out there a casual newspaper reader will bolt upright in bed and declare, “Maw, I’ll bet that Tyree feller was just joshing us about the undersecretary of HUD having a talking dog!”
If God (who has suddenly, mysteriously unfriended me on Facebook) grants me another 20 years, I promise to continue pouring my heart and soul into the weekly tomfoolery.
Just don’t expect me to be anyone other than myself.
“But…but…you don’t use the exact same grammar and sentence structure as Mr. Strudelmeyer, my sophomore English teacher. And I’ll bet your wife’s name isn’t even MRS. Strudelmeyer…”
Danny Tyree welcomes email responses at firstname.lastname@example.org and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.”