By Jack Cawthon 2009

In between the media hype of pig flu and General Motors going down the drain there was a major diversion to England where a talent contest featured a woman who looked like the devil but who sang like an angel.

Susan Boyle came out of nowhere, and everyone was prepared to laugh and make fun of her, but when she opened her mouth to sing, even Simon was cowed. When I learned of Miss Boyle's rocky road to fame, I immediately identified with her, except I'm not a woman, can't sing, and some of you cruel-hearted readers may say that I don't write too good either.

Miss Boyle grew up looking less than glamorous. I grew up as a skinny, funny-looking kid; I am now a skinny, funny-looking old person. She was laughed at and bullied considerably. So far, we are on the same page.

I was laughed at and bullied as a kid who grew up lacking in sports ability in an environment that was governed by athletic supporters. In addition, I made good grades which only called attention to my failures in the jock arena. So, I sunk into the "gentleman's C" where I continued on through college, loafing along on a course set in high school, only in college there were many more failures such as I to hide among, but by then it was a lifestyle.

Little was I to know that I, too, like Miss Boyle, would have my share of fame coming late in life, but as with her it comes with pain. At last report, Miss Boyle had placed second in her talent contest, but among charges that the voting was rigged against her, and promptly entered a sheltered home for the emotionally scarred. (Late breaking report: She is out, buoyant, and on a shopping spree, a fast reprieve, or proving that there is better living through chemistry.)

As writers must be mentally unstable to begin with, having an ego sufficient to believe that their words are important enough to be read by others, I have a definite advantage over her; only the best writers are put away, usually on a shelf somewhere.

When fame does come unannounced it is like another bully inflicting pain as Miss Boyle found from the ever-present media attention which hounded her until she finally broke, voicing some choice words that she must have picked up around athletic events at some time in her life.

Now, as to my new found fame. Little was I to know that someday I would become a famous columnist flaunting around in cyberspace. The paper and ink print of long ago, now going the way of the dinosaur, garnered a few readers, and I thought I was on the yellow brick road when the Charleston Gazette -- is it still in existence? -- paid heed a few times to something I wrote. But that was kid stuff!

Only when I became a star here at the Herald and reached out to a national audience did I achieve the acclaim so long denied me. I now have a readership across this great country, and sometimes the magnitude of it when it registers causes me to call for Annie my cat, as Miss Boyle called for Pebbles her cat when tension became so great. Cats don't care a whit whether we are famous or not and bring us down to a reassurance that we are loved regardless, fame or not.

So what that I have only three devoted readers and no pappa…, papprot…, however it's spelled as I have enough trouble with English, let along Celtic, following me around shooting pictures.

I know that Bill, the Ramp King of the Pacific Northwest, has declared an addiction to both the ramp and my writings and, as with most addicts, has tried to instill both in others, which is fine with me as long as he doesn't become so addled by one or the other that he can't tell the difference and confuses the two, as one can't go by smell alone.

John, in Atlanta, tools around in a classic El Camino, caring not a bit about a General Motors warranty. I suspect him of having parts up on blocks to the consternation of his neighbors. But if so, he would only be honoring a hallowed West Virginia tradition from his younger days in Snalbans.

Then, there is Betty in Florida who is ever watchful of the rising waters that global warming may cause, sloshing more alligators her way, which may require her to tread water to the Georgia border. You may note that my readership is concentrated a little too much in the South. I desperately need support from the center of the country, say Kansas or Iowa, but so far nothing. Maybe the folks out there are too busy farming, or making ethanol.

I did receive reports from Maryland and North Carolina by persons claiming to be fans, and one time Michigan was in the mix. But people, if you want to get on the bandwagon you gotta get with the program!

But, please, don't all of you respond at once, as I don't think my frail ego—frail? I wouldn't be doing this stuff if it were, now would I?—can't handle too much fame at one draw. Should I be inundated, you can bet I'll be clinging to Annie, my cat. She could care less about fame, but much, much more about Kit & Kaboodle.

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