I knew that, on the funny meter, this meeting would register somewhere between getting hit in the testicles with a golf ball and an SPCA television commercial for neglected puppies.
Mullen told me to stop trying to be funny, a theme I've been hearing pretty much since the third grade. This is how he put it: "Our readers don't get it. Most of them aren't very educated. Your humor doesn't work with them."
I was so stunned I looked down at my big floppy shoes and stopped pedaling the tiny tricycle I was riding around his office. The publisher of the daily paper had just said the villagers at least those who read the Gazette were morons.
(Footnote: Then-and-still-editor, Jeff Thomas, routinely tried to classify and categorize the alleged humor in my columns. He used a vast collection of colored pencils, which he kept in a big sandwich bag, to make charts of the humor. He was not kidding.)
Anyway, it has been five years since the Gazette's publisher told me his readers were as dumb as a sack full of hammers.
Now, apparently, the newspaper is actually trying to prove it. Here is what the Gazette is advocating for our village: more guns!
Honest. We should, the Gazette tells us, start packing handguns. On our belts.
From the paper's June 16 Our View piece: "When people see firearms owners as the friendly guy ahead of them in line at the grocery store or the woman sharing a joke with them at the coffee shop, they're likely to have a good opinion of firearms owners."
I don't know about you, but nothing makes me feel safe like being in line at King Soopers behind a guy with a handgun who takes a National Enquirer from the rack and draws a goatee and eyeglasses on Kirstie Alley.
Frankly, the only thing that would give me more of a warm and fuzzy feeling would be sipping lemonade under a cottonwood tree while snuggling in a hammock with the Unabomber.
From this week's Thank Jesus for Handguns file:
A guy was shot to death inside a Colorado Springs bar over what was likely a big deal involving whose turn it was to play pool. Bang!
And Denver police shot two men, killing one, after the Mensa club pair pointed a gun at them during a typical drunken, violent weekend night in downtown, a place one resident said is filled with "guns and fools."
The Gazette, not only on June 16 but also on June 20, said the answer to such crime is to have more handguns on the street. Really. And sandwiched between those diatribes was an editorial blasting a recent play in Washington, D.C., portraying our town as a right-wing evangelican Christian nuthouse.
I wonder where the playwrights got a goofy idea like that?
Tuesday, the newspaper blasted Hewlett-Packard for its decision not to build customer support and technical centers in Colorado Springs, instead choosing towns in Arkansas and New Mexico that offered more incentives. Such as newspapers that don't advocate handguns.
From the daily newspaper: "That's good news, because incentive packages given to for-profit companies are a waste."
In towns with a brain, of course, that's called economic development.
(We do, however, give monstrous incentives to "nonprofit" enterprises such as Focus on the Family. And I think we all know just how much those lovely folks give back to the community.)
So we don't need Hewlett-Packard. But we do need more handguns. All in all, not a surprising theme from a newspaper that tries to appease its readers by hiring an editorial writer whose biggest previous job was as an assistant editor of a magazine. Soldier of Fortune magazine. No kidding.
And then the Gazette wonders why people write frightening plays about us, portraying us as idiots. And it wonders why we've become a minimum-wage town, as Hewlett-Packard and "for-profit" companies hit the road.
Someone might want to buy the Gazette a mirror.