Thou Now 

Wow is me!

"Listen, this importance we attach to particular numbers... this fetish we hold for certain figures--100, donuts by the dozen, the millennium, sweet sixteen, a million bucks--it's all capricious and superficial. Think of our animal friends. Does a wolf throw a party when he brings down his 100th mule deer? Does an aardvark worry whether he should get his ants in the handy six-pack, or the time-saving 24-unit case? Does it matter to the fish of the sea that a nautical mile has 6,067 feet in it, or to a bird on the wing that a regular mile is 5,280 feet... as the crow flies?"

Guess who wrote that. You can do it. And trust me, it's definitely by a writer you know. I'll give you a few seconds.

OK, OK, I'll tell you. It was me! I wrote that. More than 16 years ago. It was in a column I did about our very humanish fascination--some would say "obsession"--with numbers. At the time--October 1997--I was experiencing some personal fascination (some would say "obsession") with a couple of very particular numbers as it was my 50th birthday, for which I was treating myself with an article all about how I was turning 50.

I should mention I headlined that piece "50," a perfectly natural title given the subject matter. However, I could as easily called it "100," as that very column was the 100th piece (counting columns and feature articles and everything else) that I had published in Boise Weekly. Exactly 100 on exactly 50, down to the day. Doesn't that just seem weird for two big milepost numbers to coincide like that? Even spooky?

All right, it doesn't seem all that weird to me now, either. But at the time, it did. It probably just seems silly to you that I ever got weirded out by a coincidence like that, but you have to remember, I was only 50 at the time.

•••

Then, 400 articles later, I used the exact same passage as an intro to my 500th article. Five hundred! "Wow!" I exclaimed to myself, and passed that sentiment on to my readers in a column entitled "500."

Had I ever imagined when I started this that I would, or could, ever whack out 500 of these things? No, I had not. In fact, as I said back in my 100th column, I thought that after 10 or 20 of these, I'd be done. Sucked dry like a juice box in a day care. That I would have said every last damn thing there would be to say about everything.

Of course, I am willing to admit the possibility that after 10 or 20 columns, I actually had said every last damn thing there was to say about everything. But that didn't stop me, no sir. After 10 columns, I just kept on writing. And after 20 columns, too, all the way up to a 100 columns. And then to 500 columns.

Incidentally, the one I called "500" came out in the very last BW of 2004. I didn't think much of that coincidence at the time, but three years later, when my 666th column (titled: "666") was the very last thing to appear in 2007, I started to get that weirded-out vibe again. But as it turned out, it meant absolutely nothing. No Armageddon, no four horsemen of the Apocalypse, no seven-headed beasts rising out of the sea... nothing. But you probably already know that.

•••

Now, as you might have guessed, on this day, I have reached another milestone. This is it--1,000 columns! One! Thousand! Things (counting columns and feature articles and everything else)! Wow! And it only took me 19 years to do it. (My first BW piece ever was published on Jan. 19, 1995, so actually, it took me 19 years and 10 days to do it. I have tried like crazy to find some weird coincidence linking these numbers, but have come up with nothing.)

So what am I going to do to celebrate such an auspicious event?

Well, I thought about running a monthlong retrospective of my greatest hits. A "Cope's Classics" sort of thing, with all of my column-based friends and a few imaginary surprise guests stopping by to introduce their favorite opinions from the many I have penned over the years. Did you see what they did for Carol Burnett at Lincoln Center?... that sort of thing, only with a smaller orchestra.

But in the end, I've decided to keep it a more intimate affair. Just me and my self-satisfaction enjoying a quiet evening at home writing a column--this one--with as little fuss and effort as possible. In fact, by using the same passage I've used in two other columns as an intro, I can knock 100 words or so off my work load. (Plus, I get paid three times for the same stuff. Good thing there're no laws against plagiarizing yourself, huh?)

I'd like to end by thanking a few of the people who've made the past 1,000 columns possible: Rush Limbaugh, Red, Sarah Palin, Dirk Kempthorne, Glenn Beck, Annie, Helen Chenoweth, Bob Berzerquierre, the Clintons, the Church of Latter-day Saints, Osama bin Laden, Butch Otter, global warming, global warming deniers, Saddam Hussein, Newt Gingrich, gun nuts, the Idaho Legislature, the U.S. Congress, hillbillies, Tom Luna, poor people, rich people, gays, Christians, Muslims, racists, African-Americans, mince meat pies and, of course, George W. Bush.

I also want to thank everyone ever at Boise Weekly--from Andy Heddon-Nicely and Larry Regan straight through to Sally Freeman--for indulging me these 19 years (and 10 days), and a special thanks to those, whatever number they come to, who kindly read what I write.

And to those who read what I write unkindly... bite me.

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