The Unkindest Cut 

Fewer words; so much to whine about

Hey, Mr. Bill Cope--

It is me! Anonymous! From the Cope's-Latest-Column Discussion Group? Remember? I almost feel like we are bosom buddies now, since I write to you much and often, even though you do not know what my real name is. Some day maybe, I will walk right up to your face and say, "Hey Mr. Bill Cope! It is me! Anonymous!" Would that be a hoot or not?

Anywho, the reason I write this time is over last Thursday's Cope's-Latest-Column Discussion Group meeting, during which we decided that we could not wait along with your regular readers to find out if you hired Red back as your sidekick. Some of the group said they were sure you did, and even hypothesisimized that Red was never really fired in the first place because it was all a publicity stunt that people like you and Paula Abdul do now and then when you need attention. I said that could not possibly be true because Bill Cope does not need any more attention since he gets way too much of it already. We got into an argument and a certain Mr. So-and-So stomped off and quit the group. That is not his real name, which I will not tell you, but before he left, he yelled, "Cope had better not hire that incomprehensible mush-mouth back!" To which I yelled back, "Bill Cope can do whatever he wants with his own column, and that includes hiring back an incomprehensible mush-mouth if that is what he wants!" It was quite the yelling match, as you can maybe tell. But I won because I have always been a pretty good yeller and partly because Mr. So-and-So has something wrong with his esophagus and sounds like a duck whenever he tries to speak above a whisper.

But I decided that as Chairlady of the Cope's-Latest-Column Discussion Group, we could not afford to wait until next week to find out if you hired Red back. Our group is very turmoiled over this. Some don't want you to hire Red back, but think you did. Some think you didn't, but want you to. I am worried that the tension could break our group apart. So I volunteered to request that you tell us what happened. We are the only Cope's-Latest-Column Discussion Group that I know about, and if we break apart, there will be no groups left to discuss your latest column. That can't be good for either you or me.

--Yours Truly,


Dear Anon--

Thank you so much for the note. It could not have come at a better time because as of late, I have been thinking, "What's the use?" with an alarming frequency. But before I proceed, I must thank Badger Bob for filling in these last three weeks. He may be a bit rough around the edges, but I am fortunate to have him around to carry the ball when circumstances prevent me from performing my duties.

Sadly, Bob has returned to the boonies where he has always felt more comfortable. His last words to me were, "I gotta get the hell outta here, Cope, before I end up like you!" I wish him well with his newest raison d'etre, i.e., thrashing through the woods, banjo in hand, scaring wolves out of the telescopic sights of the unquenchably blood-thirsty.

I say it was sad to see him go because, frankly, I am not yet up to coming back to work. I still suffer with lingering symptoms of this sickness of soul that has laid me so low. For instance, I can't even hear the words "glenn" or "beck" without falling into a fit of uncontrollable retching. The merest glimpse of Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann makes me lose control of my bladder. Whenever I see John Boehner or Eric Cantor give press conferences, my throwing arm goes berserk and I cannot stop lobbing my wife's invaluable knickknacks at the television set. Truly, does it sound like I am ready to return to my column full-time?

To further complicate matters, I learned just days ago that, because of a makeover down at BW Central, I shall be losing 150 words or so from my long-accustomed count. On the surface, that would seem to be good news, yes? ... that I have approximately 13 percent less work to do every week?

No no no no no! That may be what makes them happy in public schools and STD clinics, but I have yet to meet a writer who would rather say less than more. After all, if we weren't convinced we were bursting full of wit and wisdom, we'd have taken up other pursuits. (I knew a haiku poet once who insisted he be allowed 18 syllables, rather than the established 17. When refused, he took up blogging.)

Believe me, I'm not just thinking of myself here. The way I see it, losing 13 percent of my word count is 13 percent less erudition for you, dear readers. And as to my faithful stalwarts in the Cope's-Latest-Column Discussion Group? ... I am afraid you will have to get by with 13 percent less to discuss.

Oh, but the very worst of it is, I'm losing 13 percent of my firepower at the exact time in history when the Right has grown at least 48 percent more repugnant! Gad, could it be more depressing!?

But I have to stop now. I have reached the end of my new tether. And look what I forgot to tell you! About Red, yes. I honestly meant to let you know where that stands, Anon, but it will have to wait. Sorry, but it's not my fault. I'd tell you whose fault it is, but they might rip from me another 150 words.

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