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Life out here by Bret Kofford: Rubbing baloney

August 29, 2001

"Obviously you rubbed baloney or something like that all over your face before that picture was taken," the woman on the phone said, referring to this newspaper's recent in-house ad campaign regarding this column. The ad features a photo of my two dogs kissing me on the face.

"No, I swear I didn't rub baloney on my face!" I responded with a laugh because I thought she was kidding.

"I'm not kidding," she said sternly. "I'm sure that's what you did, rubbed baloney or something like that on your face so your dogs would kiss you for the photographer. That's what I think. "

I started to tell her, OK, yes, I usually start my day with a crisp slap across the mug with a slab of baloney as a combination after-shave/aphrodisiac. This day, though, knowing I would be the subject of this photo shoot with my dogs, I did not douse myself with Passion by Oscar Meyer because I am a dedicated journalist and wanted to make the photo depiction an honest one.

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I chose not to be a wiseacre, though, deciding instead to play nice with the lady on the phone.

"Really, my dogs love me and they always kiss me like that when I come home," I said.

"Yeah right," she said.

"If your dogs don't kiss you like that when you come home, maybe you should treat them better," I said.

"Yeah right," she said and hung up.

The truth is I wasn't wild about such an ad campaign in the first place. I could live without my face being published in the newspaper any more than it already is. Despite what some people who don't know me write in letters to the editor, I don't write this column to be "famous." I write this column because it is fun, because I like writing. I do it because I like making people laugh, like making people think. I love making people laugh and think on those rare instances when both come together.

A good thing about the ads is that my dogs get their mugs in the paper. They deserve fame. They are good girls (most of the time). An interesting thing is that my head is so big, so gargantuan, that in the photo two rather large dogs look like Chihuahuas. A weird thing is that my boxer, a licking machine, a dog that would lick passing Chevys if they would just slow down and give her a chance to show her deep and abiding love, has her tongue in her mouth in the photo.

So while the dogs are cute in the photo, and that's good, I also was concerned that people might think that I, as the managing editor of the newspaper, am promoting myself through the ads.

I am at best a reluctant participant in this whole thing. I put it off as long as I could. While I am the managing editor, I am far from being the boss here and have little to nothing to do with advertising and promotions. I was told that such an ad was going to be done and I was going to participate.

I also am in the strange and rare circumstance of being both managing editor and columnist. Yet, I was a columnist long before I was a managing editor, and the decision that I be given a regular column was made by the people in charge at the time, and I was not one of those people.

So if I seem like I am trying to distance myself from this ad campaign, I am. I also am not enamored with some of the "copy" in the ad. Specifically, I hope I am not the writer people "love to hate."

Despite what people say to me and others here at the paper, I never try to provoke people with this column. OK, I rarely try to provoke people with this column. I just write what I honestly feel, which tends to provoke some people. Oh well.

I also at times try to test the boundaries of column writing, the time-space continuum, the walls between readers and writer. That also tends to provoke some people. Oh well.

People often tell me they don't understand what I was trying to do with a column. There could be worse responses. One reader told me that as much as she likes my column usually, she thought it was almost torture to read last week's P. Diddy column. I told her that was kind of the point, that was how it became a true P. Diddy overkill experience.

The good thing for the newspaper, I guess, is the ad campaign is getting a strong response. Several people have called to tell me they like it, that they think it is cute. Some readers have called others at the paper to say that no matter how much my dogs kiss me, they still are convinced I'm a jerk.

I guess even if I got my dogs to write their own testimonials on how much they truly love me, some people still wouldn't believe it.

Time to rub on my baloney cologne,

Jerry

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