COLUMNS

Tearing off the Band-Aid

Frank Mullen III/Guest Opinion
Frank Mullen III

In the end, life's difficulties are reflected in the Band-Aid dilemma: do you pull the bandage off slowly and drag out the misery, or do you rip it off quickly and get the pain over with?

There's something to be said for the slow method. It's like the Midwestern Goodbye, where you stand in the doorway saying "Well, see you later" until the next mealtime rolls around and your host invites you back into the kitchen and fries you a pork chop.

But, as you know, I'm not a Midwesterner. In New York, we tear off the Band-Aid, kiss our loved ones goodbye and walk out into the dark night toward the next beacon.

So it's time for me to tell you: This is my last weekly column for The Times Record.

There. Now our nation can begin the long process of healing.

For the fourteen months my column has been on this page, I've had the best job in Mercer County. But, as congressmen and White House advisors say when they're about to be indicted for perjury, it's time for me to "pursue other interests." In my case, these interests include eating and breathing, both of which require time, attention and a certain level of financial activity.

Writing for you has taught this city boy a lot about living in a community where the National Guardsman is your neighbor, the firefighter is your friend and the farmer is a respected businessman. I've been more than fairly paid by the readers who wrote letters, called me on the phone and stopped me on the street to say hello. I was even invited to Aledo High School to address a biology class. Don't ask.

I've also learned the importance of our local news outlets. Mercer County's heart is its volunteers and civic organizations; imagine trying to organize a blood drive, recruit trumpeters for a community band or form an emergency sandbag brigade without the active presence of the Times Record and radio station WRMJ. Your support of these businesses is crucial.

I'm particularly grateful to Times Record reporter Cathy Decker for suggesting to editor Robert Blackford that he give this column a try. We agreed to start on a six-week trial basis, it's been fourteen months and I think I'm going to cry.

I know I'm leaving a hole in the lives of those who thrive on jokes about the mighty Edwards River, cement clocks in busy intersections and a city hall that is in danger of floating into the stratosphere on currents of hot air. But beyond the one-liners, may I remind you one last time:

-- A healthy, growing community does not accept controversy--it thrives on controversy.

-- The people, not the government, run our country and our hometowns. The president and the mayor work for you.

-- Creating positive change requires standing up in public, not cutting people down in private.

-- In a small town, you're never more than three blocks away from one of your wife's old boyfriends. Deal with it.

 I'll still be in Mercer County. I couldn't leave if I wanted to--I keep asking for directions out of here, but I can't find the Rainbow Barn or Perryton Church. I can barely find a street address in Aledo.

Ah, but what streets they are. As I wrote fourteen months ago, they're streets that lead to the golden cornfields of July mornings and the glowing lights of November evenings.

Streets that bear the footprints of dragons.

Streets where you're never far from Joy.

Streets where even teenagers say hello to you.

I think I'll stick around here a little longer.