Dear Alice: So’s. Thanks to you, I just got my 120th major journalism award recently. Appreciate it, Alice. Profoundly. You’ve no idea how much this will irritate one of my dearest pals, Tim Whyte.
Tim’s The Signal’s vaunted Mojave Bureau Meth Lab Correspondent. Or, editor. Can’t remember which. This award (No. 120) is a beautiful thing because Tim and I share this decades-long relationship of kidding one another and Whyte’s sensitive because he has just the one (1) award and that was for “Cooperation” in second grade that was revoked after he got in that fight with the two Norwegian widget hockey players from the women’s national team.
Alice. You’re probably wondering: “John. What’s a — ‘widget’ — have to do with women’s hockey?”
But, as The Signal gets more sensitive, we can’t use the word commonly associated with “little people.” But, if you turn your newspaper (or computer) upside down and read the “W” in “widget” — well…
You do the math.
Over the eons, Tim and I love kidding each other. Please. Don’t tell him, but he’s the guy who deserves 1,476 awards. Recently, someone flirting with the Endangered Species List (because he’s a genuine good soul AND a politician) misguidedly presented Tim Whyte with an award.
After the widget debacle, his first.
Your son-in-law, state Sen. Scott Wilk, frisbeed Tim one of those Certificates of Recognition Sacramento prints out like North Korean toilet paper. Looks all official with the State of California seal (which should sport a toothless grinning lunatic over the backdrop of an insane asylum in flames, if you ask me, Alice).
Who we kidding? These certificates can be generic. The acceptee’s name, like Otto E. Rahtika, is stamped, along with his accomplishment: “For Recognition In Spilling Yogurt On Your Hairy Tummy From A Sippy Cup.”
Tim got one from Sen. Wilk. Whyte’s award? Being “THE Best Columnist In Santa Clarita….”
Oh. No. You. Didn’t.
I think your son-in-law forgot to add: “…in Tim’s house in Saugus…”
All for writing: “Today, my hockey story is about…”
I’ve yet to see anything on YouTube of a sobbing Scott Wilk apologizing for the error. But, fortunately, a good woman saved Scott’s sorry political bacon from the flames.
That good woman? It was you, Alice Safoyan. Scott attempted to right this career-ending wrong by presenting me with me one of those “Successfully Ate A Yogurt” certifs.
Here. In case you haven’t seen it, let me read to you our 21st District senator’s own words on my big, huge, drive-in theater-screen-sized 120th major journalism award (119 more than Tim):
“It is my honor to recognize you (John Boston) as my mother-in-law Alice Safoyan’s favorite columnist. Your ability to make Alice laugh and not be frustrated by the (… adjective not discernable due to mustard stain on award) has brought domestic tranquility to the Wilk household. The SCV community is a richer place due to your entertaining and imaginative columns.”
Of all darn things, Alice. You know what that last sentence honestly reminds me of? My dear and dopey mother-like substance, JoAnn Peters. She passed away just two years ago. I smile as large as one can possibly smile, every day I think of her. All us kids were lucky enough to throw a giant birthday bash to honor JoAnn. Held it in Vegas. The last evening, we had a dinner in her honor. Everyone shared favorite stories about this remarkable woman. When everyone was done yapping, JoAnn took the mic. She spoke simply. I’ll never forget her words: “I don’t know what the big deal is. All of you were so easy to love.”
When you see Scott, thank him for the award. But, you see, I’m the richer person for having the Santa Clarita Valley. I came here as a scared little kid a million years ago. Teachers not only encouraged me, they rooted for me to become that man I’m supposed to be. A few are still cheering. Heavens. I’m still waiting for that day to come. When I was hungry or alone, front doors opened. I was — not warmly invited — but humorously threatened to sit my butt down at the dinner table and ask for seconds. Sometimes there were pre-meal prayers. Sometimes not. But, the food was good and hot, the love beyond Christian.
Santa Clarita gave me friends so close, we share the same soul. Few people know this, but, in part, I added an “a” and named my daughter after the Hart High Indian because I was so proud of that legacy. Proud of her.
Santa Clarita gave me roads. I still love jumping in the car and driving way, way, way up our many beautiful canyons. Bouquet. San Francisquito. Lake Hughes. Soledad. Windows open. Fresh air. Problems? They fly out along the way. I hike Placerita, or Mentryville, find a rock, sit and smile. Home. It’s beautiful here.
I’m beyond flattered people (some) get a kick out of my writing. It’s as trenchant as making a flat trombone noise by blowing on your bicep. Which unsmiling, long-dead substitute teachers will tell you is about as funny as an upside-down widget. Once I got a card from a lady in the hospital. She had been dying for a year from cancer. She thanked me so tenderly for something I take for granted — silliness. She wrote that she knew she was checking out soon. She said reading my stuff kept her going a few extra months. My writing made her laugh. The card ended with a thank you and: “What would I do without you?”
It’s quite backwards.
What would I do without her?
Still. Was there ever a better commendation?
I’m paraphrasing from my second mom, JoAnn here, when she was so surprised at all the fuss. “I don’t know what the big deal is. You guys — you Santa Clarita — are all so easy to love.”
Alice. Don’t tell Tim. But I think that’s what makes the guy such a good writer…
John Boston is a local columnist. With more awards than Tim Whyte.