2,500 newspaper slots is a lot of newspaper slots.
That’s the number of newspapers Jerry Scott is in.
Jerry writes the comic strips Zits (1,600 papers) and Baby Blues (900 papers).
And newspaper slots are hard to come by these days.
So I devised a plan.
It began with a “family vacation” to Morro Bay, California. That’s not too far from where Jerry lives.
I did everything I could to make it look like a regular vacation. Even took photos with some of William Randolph Hearst’s sculptures at Hearst Castle.
Then I set the plan in motion.
The first step was to call Jerry’s wife, Kim, to invite them to dinner. They were hesitant.
“Jerry’s really busy,” Kim said, “He’s got to go somewhere the next day and –”
“Come on over,” I said. “We’ve rented a great beach house. You’ll love it.”
I hung up before they could say no.
A few hours later, they begrudgingly arrived with wine. That was the deal. They would bring the wine and we would buy the take-out food from a Mexican restaurant they recommended.
As it turned out, we had no cash. So they had to buy the food, too.
So far, I was up big time.
1) Didn’t have to drive (saved $ on gas).
2) Didn’t pay for the wine.
3) Didn’t pay for the food.
Then I asked them if they wanted to roast marshmallows. Told them we had this awesome fire pit in the backyard composed of nothing but broken glass. All you had to do was light a match, and WOOSH, you had a Flaming Pit o’ Glass.
So we all went out to see the flaming pit and roast marshmallows. But it was cold and windy. The Scotts looked like they wanted to go back in the house.
“C’mon,” I said, “We’ll just roast a couple.”
So we all took our places by the fire.
My kids, informed of the scheme, took the seats I told them to take. As did my wife Staci. Leaving Jerry with the seat I wanted him to take.
So there we sat, all happily roasting our marshmallows by the fire.
His side of the pit didn’t have any fire.
That’s something I learned about the fire pit in my experiments before the Scotts’ arrival.
The fire didn’t come out of the Flaming Pit O’ Glass evenly. It only rose from spots where you dug little holes in the glass beforehand.
And that made Jerry and his marshmallow sad. Because all the fire was on the other side of the pit.
So he did what anyone would do in that situation. He reached across the pit.
With his drawing hand.
And this is where I’ll share a little secret with you that I didn’t share with Jerry.
Just because fire didn’t come out of your side of the pit didn’t mean it could NEVER come out of your side of the pit.
And so he reached. And a huge flame engulfed his right arm.
And that’s where I made my only mistake.
I had estimated that Jerry had the reflexes of a 90 year-old man. He’s slow and quiet, so it’s a natural deduction.
But no. Jerry had the cat-like reflexes of a Kung-Fu master. Think of Grasshopper grabbing those pebbles from the old man’s palm. Only faster.
“Owww, my hand!” he yelled, yanking it from the fire.
“You okay?” I asked, feigning care.
“Yeah. I think it just burned off the hair on my wrist.”
“Oh,” I said, disappointed.
And that was that.
His right hand was still intact.
No end of Zits. No end of Baby Blues. No free newspaper slots for Pearls Before Swine.
And that wasn’t even the worst part. The worst part was this:
I had to pay for the marshmallows myself.