A not-so-perfect end

“Endings are kind of awkward. In movies or fiction, the events leading up to the conclusion are perfectly scripted. They all build toward a climax and then culminate in a poetic send-off. If it’s a Hugh Grant film, for example, the protagonist will make a series of untimely, yet incredibly charming mistakes in a coincidental sequence that ultimately lead to him winning the heart of a woman who is disproportionately attractive compared to him.”

Endings are kind of awkward. In movies or fiction, the events leading up to the conclusion are perfectly scripted. They all build toward a climax and then culminate in a poetic send-off.

If it’s a Hugh Grant film, for example, the protagonist will make a series of untimely, yet incredibly charming mistakes in a coincidental sequence that ultimately lead to him winning the heart of a woman who is disproportionately attractive compared to him.

It’s beautiful.

But real life isn’t so well scripted. In real life, Hugh Grant occasionally sleeps with prostitutes and sits alone on Saturday nights.

And so it is with this column. No, I don’t plan to lie down with any hookers, but it does remind me of the time I walked into a Canadian strip club for the purpose of researching for a column. You’ll be glad to know I don’t plan to go back.

That’s how endings are made bearable in real life. We pause for a moment to reflect on what transpired over the past few days, months or years. I guess it brings closure.

Since you’ve been reading along with my adventures over the past several months, I’d like to invite you into my reflection process.

After all, you were basically there when I ran the entire Akron Road Runner Marathon without training. You might not have looked at me as an intelligent human being from that point on, but at least you were there to laugh at me when I started to cry.

I hope you didn’t think even less of me when I went to have my marathon-induced ankle injury healed by Ernest Angley the following week. The miracle healer might not have cured my pain, but if you recall, he did administer a spiritual flu shot to the entire audience. Just to let you know, there was no flu for me this winter.

Coincidence?

After that, a lot of my story ideas were a blur. In my columns, I gambled $60 on slots machines for election purposes, visited a local psychic to get an election preview, walked around Akron intentionally trying to get mugged and personally attempted to enforce the smoking ban, to name a few.

When the weather was unbearable this February, I put on my investigative journalism hat and tracked down the true identity of the 972-SNOW Lady (the university willingly told me her name and number). She turned out to be Corky Calderone, an incredibly enthusiastic and kind woman. Unfortunately, she passed away later in the semester, after several years serving the UA community.

This semester, most of my energies have been focused on more
substantial causes, as demonstrated by a four-part series about Duane Crabbs, a local man who quit his job and moved his family into the ghetto with the sole purpose of serving the poor.

During Spring Break, I kept a week-long journal as I worked alongside 120 students, each hoping to rebuild New Orleans, post-Katrina. We all learned that the work we were doing was, in the grand scheme of life, very futile. But our willingness to serve had the power to restore joy in people so desperately in need.

It was one of many lessons I learned this year. I guess I’ve done some whacky things and, as a result I’ve received even whackier feedback. After I visited Angley, I received a lengthy e-mail from a woman concerned for my soul. The message contained steps to tell if Angley had damaged my psyche.

Even when readers have misunderstood me, it has been fun. After I wrote a column about the smoking ban where I jokingly tried to enforce it because I actually believe in the rights of small business owners, a smoker called me and left a voice message laced with more than 10 profanities and declared that I am nothing more than a worthless piece of … Well, you know.

Angry smoker guy, this one goes out to you. Because in the end, I’m grateful to everybody who’s read anything I’ve written. That also goes out to the few people who have written letters declaring that I am offensive and even to the man who publicly questioned the credibility of my faith, referring to me as a so-called Christian.

All of my readers have been a huge part of my life over the last year.

Ultimately, that’s why this ending is so difficult. I’ve grown fond of having your attention.

The nice thing about endings in real life, though, is they are rarely the end. Endings in our context are probably better described as transitions.

With that said, I’d like to thank you for your attention during the last two and a half years. If you’re, for some reason still interested in reading my writing, I’ll be working at the Record Courier in Ravenna. It’s time to transition to a world where journalism actually leads to monetary gain.

Be forewarned though, I probably won’t be running marathons or putting my life in danger. Actually, I’ll likely be covering village trustee and school board meetings.

But, hey, you have to start somewhere.

I guess that’s the nice thing about endings.