For possibly the first time ever, I'm at a loss for words. This may be what writers call writers' block; I'm not certain since that devil's never inflicted itself on me. Oh sure, there have been weeks when I've been in Serious Procrastination Mode. But it wasn't because I didn't know what to write; it was laziness, distraction, or a pressing need to do something other than the pressing need before me.
But this time's different. I really don't know what to say. That's because I'm standing on the edge of a metaphorical forest. I can clearly see what's behind me but I'll be damned if I can glean any clue about what's to come. Naturally, whatever that may be is the only way forward.
Pique without Bob? Frankly, I don't know if that's even possible. Oh sure, next week's paper will bear the familiar Pique name and logo. There'll be an attractive cover, probably a clever Free, a volume and number notation, date, web address. But what'll be on the inside? What will appear on the masthead? Will Kathy still be the founding publisher? Clearly Bob won't be publisher, and I doubt he will want to be listed under some emeritus title.
And what of Bob? He'll be free to channel his inner bon vivant and cycle around France, sipping fine wine and training his tongue to speak the language — speak admittedly being used somewhat tongue-in-cheek given Bob's infrequent verbalizations — while he ponders what may come next. I only know what came before.
One day in August 1995 I was surprised to see Bob amble into the place I was working and beeline up to where I was standing. I was having one of the worst days ever. I'd just been informed that Blackcomb — pre-merger — wasn't going to rehire me for the winter. Seems I had an attitude problem, brought on, no doubt, by watching the young woman working for me pass out from the heat in our "office" and the company's reluctance to do anything about it. My brand of self-help apparently wasn't the kind of entrepreneurial spirit they were wanting to unleash in their employees. But that's another story.
Bob, in characteristic Bob-style, mumbled something about wondering whether I'd be interested in writing a column for Pique. I was dumbfounded. I'd written some humourous letters to the editor, a couple of features, a rant or three disguised as letters to the editor but nothing in my background suggested any sane editor would offer me a column.
I don't know if Bob had second thoughts about it, after I agreed to give it a try, but it took him a full three months to finally run the first Maxed Out. I figured I could fake my way through it for three, maybe four weeks before I ran out of things to say.
Fortunately, it was the third week's column that convinced me there was some fun to be had. That was the week both a municipal councillor and a developer burned up the Pique phone lines threatening to sue us for the inconvenient truths I'd written. Bob's only question was, "Are you sure you're right?" I was. Kathy's only comment was, "Ha! Way to go!" She often spoke in exclamations.
There are other papers where I would never have written a fourth column. Not Pique. There are editors who would never have stood behind me time and again when, for example, the mayor and CAO demanded I be muzzled, fired, run out of town or, preferably, all three. Not Bob.