Nick Coleman sits in the newsroom and stares thoughtfully—perhaps quizzically—at his computer monitor. He is either working out a knotty bit of syntax for his next column, or he is playing solitaire. A shadow grows across his desk that engulfs Nick and obliterates the light from the florescent overhead lights.
I want a word with you, Buster!
Nick flinches and hits the "minimize" button in the corner of the monitor. It was solitaire. He replies:
Oh, it's just you, Katie. I thought it was Tice or Pear or whatever than new dude's name is.
You're gonna wish it was one of them.
Nick swivels his chair around to stare at Katie's belt buckle and says:
What did I do to offend you this time?
My daughter—my baby daughter—is reading your column.
Glad to hear it. At least somebody in the family has the reading chops to tackle what I write. She's what, a high school senior?
At Most Holy Sepulp—never you mind that. When I talked to her over breakfast recently, she called you "Nick."
Well that is my name.
Ever since I started working here I have tried my best to keep my daughter away from you and your influence. But it is obviously not working. Are you stalking her?
Stalking? Are you crazy? Never mind. I shouldn't dignify that with an answer, but in your case I'll make an exception. Of course not. But I am glad to hear that she is capable of considering or expressing a thought independent from yours. It must be terrible to realize you've failed as a parent. What's she been reading by the way?
Your column on Wednesday about tax equity and raising the top marginal rate in the income tax in Minnesota. About how the current system of sales, property, and income taxes is actually regressive.
I know that doesn't bother you. But why does the column make you so mad at me?
Because in my column the next day I criticized the DFL for proposing tax increases, and my daughter cross examined me from your column. I won't have you coming between me and my children!
A smile crosses Nick's face:
You mean a thinking child, don't you?
Oooh, you! From now on, I want advance copies of your columns so that I can rebut them—and so I know when to hide the paper at home.
You aren't serious, are you?
I am serious.
'Fraid not, Katie. And you know, Katie, next year your daughter will be away at college. Then she'll be in the clutches of all those liberal academics that you complain about so much. If your intellectual vaccine isn't working now, think how bad it will be when she's in college!
Aaaaraaaauugh! I'll get you, Coleman.
Katie stalks away from Nick's desk. Nick looks at the little crowd of people that has gathered, gives a little shrug, then turns around in his chair and restores his solitaire game.