MANY COLUMNISTS, perhaps due to what some see as undue adulation that columnists receive from the reading public, become vain, self-centered, ego-centric and can only think "I, me, mine." Well, Gary Gaddy is not like that. He is not so self-absorbed that he can't get outside of himself and write in the third person.
In his 23 columnar months, Gary Gaddy has had so many gratifying, edifying, immortalizing, self-glorifying, death-defying experiences that it would be hard to select only a few to highlight for his loyal readers, but, with the assistance of his crack team of expert wife, he has done just that. So, to assist in motivating budding writers, young and old, who may have delusions about becoming the Chapel Hill Herald's leading regular Thursday columnist, Gaddy now brings us "Great Dates in 'Local Voices' Column History: The Thursday Edition."
Sept. 5, 2006 -- It all began with "Get Onboard with FireAnsonDorrance.com". Gaddy, breaking all the journalistic protocol he used to indoctrinate into his news-writing students, emailed the column to Anson Dorrance for pre-publication approval (mainly because the once-and-future columnist's sweet wife thought it was "mean"). Dorrance replied that he enjoyed the column -- which called for Dorrance’s firing after his team lost its first game of the season unless it continued undefeated and won a national championship. Dorrance simultaneously emailed the column to his wife and coaching staff – then did right his soccer ship, going undefeated and winning a national championship -- and kept his job.
Dec. 29, 2006 --On their trip to the Orange Bowl, Gaddy's Demon Deacon dad hands out copies of "How Does Wake's Football Team Win?" to nearly everyone he meets (even though the answer was "It cheats"). Later, the editor of Wake’s medical school alumni magazine asks if they can reprint it. Gaddy acquiesces.
Feb. 8, 2007 -- Not long after the publication of "Fair or Unfair? A John Edwards Quiz," John Edwards responds to a question from a major media outlet, prefacing his answer by saying, "That's fair."
Mar. 22, 2007 -- The Sunday after publication of "Hooters' Carrboro Encounter," Gaddy is interrupted in his duties as usher handing out church bulletins to end an argument between a couple he knows, who ask him to say, definitively, whether or not a Hooters was coming to Carrboro. He declines.
May 3, 2007 -- One of his best and most dedicated readers tells him that she made copies of "God Concedes: Atheists are Right" and "gave it to all her atheist friends." The then-current upsurge in atheism abates.
May 31, 2007 -- Neil Offen, the titular editor of the CH Herald, reports that the chancellor's office had received several calls inquiring whether the "University of North Carolina to Hire Republican" was true. (Gaddy's inference: they were outraged at the prospect.) He keeps his job.
August 30, 2007 -- Trinity School, in an apparent attempt to discourage unqualified persons from applying to be substitute teachers at the school, sends Gaddy's column "One Long Day at Trinity School" home with every kid in the school. Gaddy later discovers he is “at the very bottom of the sub list.”
May 4, 2007 -- At 8:15 a.m. on the very morning that "Prophets, Prophecy and Me" was published, which column ridiculed Dr. H. Mitchell Simpson, Ph.D., Gaddy discovered that he had gotten a call while in the shower. The caller ID said: "Dr. H. Mitchell Simpson, Ph.D." After taking a deep breath, Gaddy returned the call. Simpson thought it was hilarious. Another bullet dodged.
Nov. 1, 2007 -- The next time he sees the eponymous subject of "A Sketchy Portrait of Tom Bordeaux" Gaddy is not killed or even maimed.
Dec. 13, 2008 -- Daniel Goldberg, CH Herald reporter, months after the fact, tells Gaddy, after Goldberg stops himself from laughing, "I can't believe that they let you publish 'Honky's: Just Like Eating at Home.' It was great." Gaddy basks in the warm glow of one of the few benefits of being a member of the last unprotected class.
April 17, 2008 -- The mother of named defendant and Girl Scout Clara X. will still talk to him after the publication of "Gaddy v. Girl Scouts of the U.S.A." Gaddy decides to buy more cookies next year -- and to re-submit the lawsuit.
June 5, 2008 -- Jane Gaede sends Gaddy a handwritten inquiry regarding the "three-mile grade" in "The Wreck of Old (Southern) 97" -- and includes a stamped, self-addressed return envelope -- a practice future correspondents should take note of.
Aug. 14, 2008 -- The Sunday following "Just two songs away from Galax" Gaddy’s wife is accosted at the church door as "Banjo Gal." She fails to file for divorce. After he takes her to a bluegrass jam at Benny Greenhill's in south Durham on Sunday afternoon, she says she forgives him.
Gary D. Gaddy is the Chapel Herald’s leading regular Thursday columnist.
(To see any of these columns, go to the top of this page and click to the listed date on the little calendar in the upper right.)
A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald August 21, 2008.Copyright 2008 Gary D. Gaddy