Parting shots—and a fond farewell—in this final column

One day when I was speaking to a third grade class, a little girl asked, “How long does it take to write a column?” “About a six-pack,” I told her. “Maybe a Jack and Coke if I’m struggling for material.”

And that was the last time I was ever invited to speak on “Career Day.” Which is probably good, since I still have no idea what I want to be when I grow up. All I know is that I haven’t figured out a way to turn this writing hobby into a source of food for my daughter, and will, therefore, continue my stupid tradition in which every two years or so I stop writing a newspaper column.

The columnist gig is a fun one. Where else can you announce to 30,000 people that the JUCO mascot got caught with a prostitute? Or that we should blow up the rest of the world because they like soccer? Or that during the “Sound of Music” you rooted for the Nazis? The fact some people actually believed me was just a bonus.

It’s also good for your ego. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in the grocery store when a stranger has approached — completely out of the blue — and asked me: “What aisle is the rump roast in?” But I guess that’s what happens when you go into City Market wearing a blood-soaked apron.

Other times I’d be at the mall, or Home Depot, or the 24 Road Bookstore when someone would come up and say something like, “Hey, you’re the one who writes that column in the newspaper,” and I’d always reply, “Yes. I’m Dixie Burmeister.”

Closer to home, I love it when my daughter points at my picture in the paper and says, “Dada!” It was significantly less cute that one time when she said it while pointing at a picture of Jim Spehar, but I promised myself I wouldn’t get mad until the paternity tests come back.

The God’s honest truth is that it was a privilege to be in the newspaper each week.

I shake my head whenever I hear about the supposed death of the community newspaper. The Internet has only expanded man’s desire for information, not contracted it. Newspapers replaced by blogs? Please. True, the democratization of opinion via blogs is a positive development. And the guy down the street who blogs may be informed and intelligent. He may even be able to write a little. But he won’t get up out of bed at 11:37 p.m. and go out to the scene of a Clifton fire and interview upset neighbors or tired firefighters about the incident. He won’t talk to the State Patrol about a fatal accident or sit down with an open mind and give a fair interview with candidates from both parties. That’s the job of a newspaper. A blogger won’t ever break a story. They will comment on, or link to, stories written by people who work for an actual newspaper.

That’s why I think the dust is settling, with the newspaper industry back on the upswing. Mankind’s thirst for reliable, timely information is eternal — has been ever since prehistoric days, when curious caveman would take breaks between mastodon hunts and talk about the controversy surrounding the Tiara Rado vendor bidding process.

So I’m honored to have been allowed valuable real estate space here in the pages of western Colorado’s chronicle of record. I really want to thank Laurena Mayne Davis for not only hiring me, but for taking angry phone calls and explaining to upset readers that it was just one columnist’s opinion and that it was not the official position of The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel that “the annoying lady from the Progressive Insurance commercials die in an industrial accident.”

Lastly I want to express my gratitude to those of you who read the column, especially the many of you who gave positive feedback. Every single Wednesday I’d open up my e-mail and see several messages. Usually they were e-mails promising me discounts on Viagra. But there’d also be kind words from some of you folks, which I appreciated.

I’ll leave you with a sweet, charming, old French expression my Grandma Beauregard used to whisper to me as a child. If you don’t speak French, you’ll have to look it up.

J’espère une chèvre urinates jamais sur vos chaussures.

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