What follows is something I wrote a while ago, but as I’ve promised a few, I’m slowly moving over some of my “notes” from Facebook for others to enjoy. (Apparently not everyone thinks I’m worth friending on Facebook). I chose to post this one because it’s always been one of my favorites, and I think it’s “clean” enough to post without pissing anyone specific off, especially since it’s going out public without the ability to lock it down for some. Yes, I do that, if you’re reading this and think I don’t have some I keep under lock and key you obviously have no idea what real humor and satire are, nor do you fully understand the therapeutic value of angry typing.
So without further ado, I give you:
Amish Man Attacked by Cat
written by Laurissa Doonan, 10/23/08
Yes, I admit it, I’m one of those people who regularly reads the headlines of news stories. I do this mainly to keep on top of the day’s top stories, but each time I do my quick scan there is always the quiet hope that a good one will jump out at me and entertain me.
Maybe there have been staffing changes at the newswires, maybe it’s that people have just lost their pizzazz due to the economy or the elections, but lately it’s been nothing but news. Then just as I began to focus on just the headlines, there it was, staring back at me in black and white.
Amish Man Attacked by Cat.
It was beautiful. The perfect headline. It was at once tragic and hilarious. It made the reader want to know more, and yet made you hesitate so as to allow yourself a few moments to let your mind wander in the imagination of what on earth could the story behind it be.
It was written by one of two types of headline writers: the talented but as yet undiscovered intern who is potentially 13 steps from genius, or the nephew of a VP who is trying to find himself and just slapped the words together. It’s too soon in their professional lives to be able to tell which it was but I secretly hoped it was the talented one.
I could picture him sitting there as the VPs nephew callously put words together that somehow had something to do with the story. He got all the credit because he puked out more copy, but his titles were bland and didn’t capture the story.
No, you have to READ the stories, not just skim them, to get the headline just right. Sure, every once in a while the words would get put together correctly and it would be recognized, but it was just dumb luck and the odds. It was better to have consistently good headlines that were legitimate and thorough, and well crafted.
This is the image I had of my frustrated and as yet undiscovered genius headline writer as he hammered away angrily at the keyboard crafting his prose. With each keystroke the bile builds, and as it simmers to a near unbearable level, a glance at the clock reveals it’s almost Happy Hour. Instead of a sense of relief that the work day is almost over, a sense of nearing the finish line takes over our tragic hero as he types faster and faster as if it will make the minutes tick away quicker. Just a few more moments until the first burning shot of smooth scotch slides down his throat and he can start the process of difusing the anger, and by the time the half-price happy hour is passed, he is well on his way to formalizing the first chapter of his unwritten manuscript in his head. But this masterpiece will of course be lost along with the simmering scotch in his belly late in the evening after the spinning stops.
Yes, this is who I envision writing this glorious headline.
Amish Man Attacked by Cat.
I allow myself to poise my mouse over the link into the story, feeling a sense of sadness leaving my young alcoholic artist behind. The story is not his world, only the headline. The headline gets my imagination running again.
What on this earth could make a cat attack an Amish man of all people, I thought. Not that there wasn’t good reason. Afterall, only recently in the news were several accounts of Amish men extolling their right to have control over animals, since they, as the chosen people of God, held a higher standing over them and therefore could treat them as they saw fit based on natural law. These quotes were part of a spate of articles and news items about local puppy mills and the deaths of over 100 animals after a state inspection, and as part of a larger public relations effort to get a new state bill passed by horrifying the public. Often these puppymills are owned and run by Amish folks.
But I knew this was not the reason for the cat to attack. Cats do not read newspaper articles so they would not have known what the Amish claimed as dominion over them. So what could it have been? What would have caused a gentle housecat to attack an Amish man, a person so close to God that they often mistook themselves for the other? I held off as long as possible, shaking my head to erase the image of the tabby cat dangling from the side curls and beard of the man as he swung around and his hat fell off. I had just erased the image of the spot on the man’s blue shirt which now looked navy blue as the blood from the scratches dripped from the mans cheek where the cat had reluctantly let go and soaked into his shirt sleeve. What could have angered the little kitty so much to go on such a rampage.
The cat had attacked because he shot at it.
I did not need to imagine the reaction of the cat to the sound of the gun shot, I could see the very reaction in the startled and scared faces of my co-workers when they heard my high pitched shriek that quickly became a silent blubbering laughter.
That the story went on to say that it was a large cat, likely a bobcat, as described by the only witness, the victim, was utterly immaterial at this point. In the days and stories that followed the Amish man’s claims of a rampaging pack of bobcats was backed up by Samuel and Abraham, and many others, but it was too late, the story was already out there and now in my head, there was no going back.
By reading the story I knew, I just knew that it was my tragic venom-filled genius who penned that title. No amount of dumb luck could have gotten the headline so right as to inspire such a graphic anticipation of the story and then provide such a perfect fulfillment to the expectation. It was truly inspired, as was the event itself. Kitty attacked God’s Chosen one, in apparent revenge for arrogance. Yes, only a truly frustrated and pained writer could combine the words properly to express such karmic justice on a people claiming dominance.
I hope he doesn’t end up in rehab before the election.