I've written many year-in-review columns and even some decade-in-review stories. I like to start each one with a joke, so readers know it won't be very serious. Tiger Woods screwed so many people he's now licensed to practice law in 42 states. But this time I'm not going to tell a joke like that and will instead get right to a recap of the decade.
It was, by most standards, a tough 10-year stretch, due somewhat to our two-term president who believed the U.S. won the Cold War with the Soviet Union because we had more Vitamin C.
And the economy struggled despite Americans' willingness to buy actual items such as Frank Farter the Dog, a "flatulent daschund who wiggles his arms (personal note: arms????) as he farts." We also tried to revive our economy with Pooping Santa that is filled with small candies and "when you push down on Santa's head he poops out one of the candy balls." (If you buy both Frank Farter the Dog and Pooping Santa at prankplace.com, you get a free autographed copy of Sarah Palin's Going Rogue.)
And we were entertained by criminals who weren't very smart, including 25-year-old Derrick Kosch of Kokomo, Ind., who accidentally shot off his right testicle during a robbery when he shoved his handgun into his pants and it went off. At his arraignment he pleaded not guilty. In a really sad, high, squeaky voice.
But none of that was a match for the folks here in our own village, and I'm not going to name any names except for Doug Bruce and a few others.
Speaking of our ex-El Paso County commissioner and short-lived state representative, here is Doug's actual on-line dating bio as he searched frantically — and unsuccessfully — for a soul mate in 2001: "I have a wry, dry sense of humor (Twain, Monty Python, Robert Benchley, etc.). I'm well educated (recovering attorney — quit years ago) — strong but kind — somewhere between tender and well-done — honest to a fault. I plan to build a vacation home on two acres 75 yards from the ocean in Belize in a few years — how's your papaya stew?"
Until he finds a mate, however, Doug will walk alone on that beach, leaving behind in the sand only a long solitary trail of cloven hoofprints and the drag marks made by the hideous, spiky red tail.
The decade also brought drought and wildfire. Then-Indy columnist John Hazlehurst noted in 2002 that our village was "as vulnerable to a minor climactic shift as were the Anasazi centuries ago." The Gazette editorial writers responded to that dire analogy by calling for more handguns in preschools and then chiseled six woolly mammoths into the walls of the newsroom.
In 2005, Focus on the Family messiah James Dobson railed against the obvious homosexual leanings of the cartoon SpongeBob SquarePants. Dobson was particularly irked by the episode in which SquarePants lathered up his good friend with soap, gently caressed him and then rubbed him back and forth on the countertops until the kitchen sparkled, as gay people like to do.
But even that failed to prepare us for 2006, when we learned that when Pastor Ted Haggard dropped to his knees, it wasn't always to pray. The founder of New Life Church dabbled in methamphetamines and also dabbled in a guy named Mike Jones, although I probably could have worded that sentence a bit better.
The point is, Pastor Ted, who made a fortune preaching about the evils of homosexuality to a highly intellectual Colorado Springs crowd, got caught dipping his toes and other things into the Pool of Hypocrisy, a pool where the lifeguard, Bruce, wears an official SpongeBob SquarePants thong.
"I am a sinner," Ted said. "I have fallen. I desperately need to be forgiven and healed."
New Life Church, just as Jesus taught, responded by kicking him out of the church, making fun of him and banishing him to the vast wasteland of the merciless desert. Or as we call it, Arizona.
That was four years ago. Ted is back in town now and might even start a new church. And as 2010 arrives, I say we start behaving not like Colorado Springs Christians but like actual Christians. I say we welcome Pastor Ted back.
And I don't want to sound greedy, but the whole process might go a little faster if Ted were to buy each of us a nice gift. Like Frank Farter the Dog.