Mandan News

Brian L. Gray: Answering your personal fan mail inquiries

This job isn’t always cotton candy and rainbows.

I’ve come to understand what a challenge of the human spirit it is to wake up every morning and stifle my natural impulses, which want nothing more than to either stay in bed or hit the open road. I constantly fight those urges and get myself to work, where I must sit in a chair, drink bottomless cups of coffee and fill up a newspaper with words.

This job demands an abundance of words. A multitudinous amount of them, in fact. Oftentimes, I run out of words. My saving grace in these situations is a thesaurus. I normally use it to find another description for the word “a lot,” which I tend to use a lot. A rule of thumb in journalism is to keep your “a lot” usage limited to five each story. And I’ve already used it three times.

On the positive side of this job, people often come to me seeking advice. Being in this position, I receive stockpiles of letters from people who think I somehow have the answers to improve their lives.

Whether in letters or in person, people are always asking me questions like, “Hey Brian, what’s it like being an editor?” “How in the world did someone like you get a job like that?” and “Would you please get that camera out of my face?” People always say “please” to the individuals they respect. And I wish I could answer all of their questions, but as I only have so much time in the day, I’m unable to appease everyone.

So I thought I would devote this column to respond to some of the questions people have asked me in their letters. I assure you that my responses have been verified by my legal counsel, who has informed me that I am, without a doubt, on my own with this one.

So without further adieu, here are my answers to your questions:

To “How Often Do You Bathe?:” Yes, yes, no, and twice on Tuesdays.

To “I Can Guess Your Weight:” You’re way off. I’ll take the stuffed dinosaur.

To “Life As A Midget:” Don’t worry about a thing. Just remember – in the land of leprechauns, the midget is king. You should move to Ireland.

To “Confused About Life:” The world outside is confusing, I agree. But that’s no reason to keep yourself hidden in your parents’ washing machine. We’re surrounded by intertwining sanity and lunacy, which makes it difficult to know what’s definitely and quantifiably true. What seems to have a lot of profundity sometimes turns out to mean nothing in the end. Even a recent study proved that 90 percent of all studies show that 10 percent of all studies don’t show a thing. Now I can’t help you change your mind, but seriously, come on out. Your parents need to do the laundry.

To “Friend Of The Sun:” Friends are important. They are based on mutual understanding, trust, and whether your friend has money to borrow. In my experiences, you really don’t really know a person unless you look them directly in the eyes. I’d advise that you stare at your friend for at least a minute to gauge your friendship.

To “What Does The L. In Your Middle Name Stand For?:” It stands for the 12th letter of the alphabet.

To “Looking For The Right Vehicle:” Cars, I’ve learned, are a lot like women – they’re profound and complicated, they’re difficult to lift, and if you give them love and respect they’ll love and respect you right back. And if you ever get in their way, they’ll run you over. My advice to you is the same I’d offer you when finding a wife – get one that will last a long time, who will treat you good, and won’t empty your wallet. Ones that fit this mold are usually Japanese.

To “Living With Mortal Fear:” There’s nothing to be scared of. Generally speaking, clowns laugh because they’re happy, not because they want to eat you. But the one hiding in your furnace sounds like a cannibal. Better keep your distance.

To “Mourning In Mandan:” People in pain are hard to deal with. They tend to be inconsolable, and are often so overwhelmed by what has impacted them that they’re unable to either function or pay attention to you, therefore making them annoying. Here’s my tip – personally, I’ve grown tired of offering the same old thoughts and prayers to people who are in mourning. It almost feels like a clichĂ©. Instead, I’ve begun offering people in pain something my uncles used to give to me when I was younger that always made me feel better – shiny quarters.

To “Marries On A Whim:” Yes, I’d love to.

To “What Is Your Favorite Animal?:” A bear, because when people ask stupid questions like this when the weather’s cold, they can just ignore you and go to sleep.

To “Wondering About The Future:” College is good. Go for it. But don’t go for a doctorate. Stop after a master’s degree. After a lengthy and exhaustive education, it’s much more healthy for your ego to be addressed by people as “Master” than “Doctor.”

To “I Wannabe Like You:” Don’t do it.

To “Hopping To Be A Poet:” Well then, “hope” to it, Ginsberg. Just remember this – creating an artistic piece of work is 50 percent motivation, 40 percent skill, and the remaining 25 percent intelligence.

To “Desperately Seeking Love:” Go to Fourth Street, take a left, then a right on Fifth Avenue, go another left three blocks down, then look for a blue house. Find that house, then continue driving until you reach the count of 85. Then stop your car, step out and sing “Beer Barrel Polka” at the top of your lungs, get back in your car, slap yourself in the face four times, take another left until you reach a large oak tree, and then climb the tree and act like a monkey until 10 people see you. Once that is completed, get back in your car, take five more right turns, and then go back home. If you do this, love will find you.

I hope this has helped those who have come to me in need. And if you seek any more advice, please, don’t hesitate to ask. However, I can’t guarantee that I’ll be able to respond to your issues immediately. As you know, I receive inquiries like this a lot.

Oh – I’ve reached my limit.