This column is not ready for print

jsoutherniconNot ready for print.

That’s the very first thing I write on every story I pen for publication. As soon as I create the Word document, I type out those four simple words. It’s a helpful reminder to me that I haven’t finished writing a story, no matter how obvious it may seem. It’s also a warning to aggressive copy editors who come seeking my deadline-busting prose before I’m ready to send it.

I started writing that little note about 15 years ago after an editor went into my folder and grabbed stories that looked ready but were not. I was unaware of the maneuver and was horrified to see incomplete and unedited stories under my byline in the paper. It was embarrassing.

More recently I’ve continued the trend not to ward off any eager editors but to deal with my own forgetfulness. When you’re writing multiple stories, starting and stopping, editing and revising, it’s easy to forget if a particular story is completed or not. As soon as a story is finished, I erase my note and replace it with a suggested headline.

No note: Check.

Headline in place: Check.

OK, it’s good to go.

Being forgetful is an ever-increasing problem as we age. It begins with most males fairly early in life. The most recent scientific studies have shown that forgetfulness in men may be caused by wedding cake. The minute a man becomes a husband he starts to forget things. The last I checked, I was a husband and have been for a long time. I forget exactly how long but I’m sure to get reminders as our anniversary rolls around – or on by…

I’m pretty good at forgetting the usual stuff. What day is it? What time is it? Where are my keys? Have you seen my glasses? Was that today?

I’m also very good at forgetting unusual stuff. I often wash my hair twice in the shower because I forgot I had just washed it. I forget to bring things to my wife just moments after saying I’d get them. I forget to fill up that gas tank before heading out of town.

I have some papers sitting on my desk that I told my wife I would turn in at a Scout meeting about two months ago. I recently went to make some hardboiled eggs. I put them on the stove and, well, the rest is history.

I keep thinking I should see a doctor about my memory problems, but I forget to make an appointment. Maybe I did make an appointment and forgot to go. Oh well, it’ll come to me sooner or later.

The worst thing I’ve forgotten was my baby. About 23 years ago during my first marriage, my wife and I would meet at the health club to exercise after work. Typically, the first one done would take the baby home with them. After our workouts we went home and were fixing dinner. Noticing how quiet it was, I asked where Heather went. That’s when we realized that each had assumed the other brought her home. I raced back to the health club, walked into the nursery and nonchalantly picked her up like normal. No one was the wiser for it.

Of course, with all my forgetfulness, it’s funny the things I do manage to remember. One of those things is an old meme on Facebook that says, “When a man says he will do something he will do it. You don’t have to nag him every six months about it.” I showed it to my wife. She didn’t laugh. In fact, I can still feel the burn from the glare she gave me. Maybe that’s why I remember it so well.

Anyway, it’s about that time to wrap this up and declare this column ready for print. At least that’s what I intend to do if I can just remember what I did with that little zinger I was going to use to finish this column with.

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