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WTVD-TV News came to East Chapel Hill High recently, to meet with anyone who was interested and talk about what's going on here in the southern part of heaven. I figured this could be the big break I've been waiting for. They'd see me enter and all heads would turn. I planned to stand in a corner, mysterious yet approachable. When I spoke, they would discover my awesome intellect and delicious sense of humor. Then, they would offer me a regular gig, maybe a local talk show on a variety of subjects of my choosing.

I dressed very carefully, in my best jeans and the sweatshirt that sets off my eyes. (Hey, I'm from Chapel Hill, we don't "dress up" here. We are academics and "earth mothers"--I maintained the flavor, OK?) When I entered, all heads did turn, but I think it was because I'd popped a bag of Orville Redenbacher and eaten it on the way over, so my entrance was accompanied by a cloud of popcorn essence. Also, there were too many empty chairs to make standing in the corner seem mysterious instead of just plain stupid. So, I sat. As mysteriously as I could.

There were lots of story ideas thrown out by the audience: "Why does the news have to be so violent?"; "Is there a water shortage or isn't there, for Pete's sake!?"; "Why aren't there more happy, uplifting things on the news, and why doesn't our culture value children and stop beer commercials, and why is society just going to hell in a hand basket?!" (The news guy didn't know, but promised to look into it.) A sweet, older lady said she, too, would like to see more "life affirming" things on the news. I can't blame her. I guess when you're around 102, you need all the life affirming you can get.

The news guy was still smiling, but began rubbing his forehead at this point, as if he were remembering that Mary Tyler Moore episode where a news photographer goes to the scene of a major fire and instead, films a colony of ants on the sidewalk. The photographer says he wants to show that just yards away from the fire, life is still going on. And, Lou Grant is apoplectic, because just yards away from the ants, a fire is still going on.


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