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Confessions of a Senior Citizen Shot Put Juggler

By Garret Mathews

Dear Mr/Ms. High-Powered Publisher,

I’m retired from writing the metro column for the Evansville, Ind., Courier & Press.

And, for what it’s worth, I have Asperger’s.

But never mind that right now.

My oh my, do I have an opportunity for you.

I’m pitching a can’t-miss book proposal that will net millions the world over.

And I promise to give most of my share to our grandchildren.

After I buy a villa in Cannes.

My challenge to readers is so simple, yet so compelling, that they will bust their humps to play along.

And when it’s all said and done, our book will be in more homes than ceiling fans.

The hook: There are around 7 billion people in the world. Come up with seven factoids about yourself that — when considered cumulatively — sets you apart from every other soul on the planet.

Here are mine:

  1. I can juggle a 16-pound bowling ball and two bean bags. Note that I practice safe shot put by juggling over the bed. Better to have a dent in the mattress than my foot. Shot-put juggling is a great way to entertain little boys. I almost always fart.
  2. I have never tasted coffee.
  3. I can do 100 pushups in five minutes.
  4. I have interviewed members of a snake-handling church in West Virginia.
  5. One of my books got a nice review in The New York Times.
  6. I once jumped out of an airplane.
  7. I produced a 17-minute video on an oldtimer from rural Kentucky who may be the best backwards-speller on Earth. (Go to YouTube and search Norris McElmurry)

I invite you to play along, Mr./Ms. High-Powered Publisher.

Review your life’s experiences. The good. The bad. The stupid.

Now pick seven that will separate you from everyone else in the world.

Maybe you traveled to Antarctica.

Or managed a base hit off Greg Maddux.

Maybe you’ve put a liplock on a Galapagos Island sea turtle.

Or cashed a check from Justin Timberlake.

Maybe you gargled alongside Tom Jones.

Or wrapped a python around your neck to scare the mailman.

Trust me. The list craze will spread like wildfire.

Celebrities will send me their seven.

Twenty-years-to-life inmates will send me their seven.

Shopkeepers, sushi-eaters and sky-divers.

Jackhammer operators, jacks-of-all-trades and Jack Paar lookalikes.

They’ll compare lists on subways, at airports, at bus stops.

No kidding. Dennis Rodman really spilled beer on you at a wrap party.

Is that a fact? You crossed the country on a skateboard.

You don’t mean it. You once borrowed Lenny Bruce’s biology notes.

I ask you, Mr./Ms. High-Powered Publisher. Is this not the best book proposal you’ve ever received? Please show your appreciation by sending a max contract at your earliest convenience. The sooner the word gets out on the lists, the sooner we’ll be rolling in the dough.

Yours in best-selling prose,
Garret Mathews

— Garret Mathews

Garret Mathews is a retired metro columnist for the Courier & Press (Evansville, Indiana). His 12 books include Swing, Batta (Michigan State University Press). His website includes links to some of his favorite columns as well as material he wrote about Appalachia and the civil rights movement.

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