Early this past February, the Union-Tribune hosted its third annual Successful Aging Expo at the Town & Country Conference Center in Hotel Circle. I telephoned the event organizers and asked if I could present a program on “The Gift of Age,” and they ceded me an hour on Sunday morning.
Then I asked two questions that changed my life:
“Do you have an author’s table at the Expo?”
“Yes, we do, right in the exhibitors’ hall.”
“Would it make sense for me to set up and sign my books in that area on Saturday morning, the day before I am to present?”
“We think so, Rich. It’s one of the best-located booths in the hall, right in front of the entrance. But we have to tell you that no other author has ever hung out and signed there for a whole day.”
“Well, this author will,” I said. And throughout that Saturday, I spread my wares on the authors’ table and signed and inscribed. (Authors love to sign and inscribe their books because first, it means more to the recipients and second, the recipients can’t give the books away to someone else.)
Around 11:00 am that Saturday, a smiling, enthusiastic gentleman approached me with an outstretched hand: “Hi, I’m Jeff Light.”
“I’m a subscriber, so I know who you are, Jeff,” I smiled back. “You’re the Editor of the Union-Tribune.”
“And you’re Richard Lederer,” he continued.”Why aren’t you writing for us?”
“Because you haven’t asked me, Jeff.”
“Well, I’m asking you to meet me for lunch to talk about what you might be able to contribute to our vision for a more dynamic and responsive newspaper.”
A month later Jeff Light and I had that lunch, and out of that has come the Presidential Trivia series you’ve been seeing on page 1 of the U-T since April 29, and, having started on May 12, “Lederer on Language.”
Clichés become clichés because they are often true. One such hackneyed expression (which is itself a cliché) is “Half of success is simply showing up.”
Well, I showed up that Saturday morning three months ago, and I’ll be showing up on B-2 every week. Because I am unremittingly ignited by my mission of teachership, I showed up early at “Successful Aging.” And because I am always jonesing to expand that mission, I’ll be right there in the U-T each Saturday sharing my thoughts and emotions about that glorious, uproarious, notorious, outrageous, courageous, contagious, stupendous, tremendous, end-over-endous adventure we call language.