Be gentle and kind, please

Published 8:48 pm Saturday, December 22, 2012

We’ve mentioned on this page recently that when Andy Damiani speaks, people should listen. That’s advice I take very seriously, so when he called to ask me if I’d do a last-minute fill-in for his cable television show “Roundtable Talk,” I nervously agreed.

With only a couple of days to prepare, I skimmed our website to remind myself of some of the year’s top stories and then resigned myself to the complete embarrassment of someone who was doomed to utterly fail on national (or at least citywide) television. You’ll have to judge for yourself how badly I performed under the bright lights, but I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to see the moment, about two-thirds of the way into the show, when I found it necessary to push down a full-scale panic.

The panic, of course, was not a result of anything that everybody’s favorite Suffolkian did or said. The simple fact is that there are reasons I write for a living, instead of working in television. First, I cannot afford the extra 10 pounds everyone says the camera adds. I need a camera that subtracts those pounds. And second, there’s something about a microphone that causes my vocal chords to constrict, turning me from tenor to soprano. It’s not pretty.

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But Mr. Downtown was gracious as ever, and he assured me I’d made no mortifyingly awful mistakes. My wife is sure to be more brutally honest. I dread hearing her point out how many times I said, “uh” or “umm.” You can count for yourself when the program airs in January.

I want to publicly thank Mr. Damiani, however, for the opportunity to appear on his show, for his gentle and constructive pre-taping advice and for the chance to talk about this city that I love so much and the newspaper that has given me such a unique perspective on it.

As I think back on the different journalists who have sat in front of keyboards for the Suffolk News-Herald, I realize how blessed I am to count myself among them. And as I think of the people I’ve come to know during my years as a journalist in Suffolk, Andy Damiani distinguishes himself as a rare gem.

And today, as we all make our last-minute preparations for Christmas, I want to take a moment to thank you all for reading this newspaper, for reading this column and — especially if you see me on Andy Damiani’s television show — for being gentle and kind.

Merry Christmas, everybody!