"Tiny Republican Scruples would be an excellent name for a rock band."
While I have, on occasion, borrowed certain of Dave Barry's techniques and phrases (crediting him when an editor made me), I have a different style, so I've never actually copied how he writes — until this week. On July 3, everyone in the United States, except one, will celebrate Dave Barry's 60th birthday. In homage to his craft, I write this column á la Barry.
I'll start with the Highlights of Dave Barry's life. Ha ha, just kidding. There are no highlights in Dave's life, but there are Moments of Interest.
Dave delayed his birth until 1947 to avoid World War II and guarantee a kindergarten exemption during the Korean conflict, which was not called a war because someone lost the paperwork.
His father was a Presbyterian minister, which explains the reverent tone and spiritual slant that characterize his writing. (Yes, Virginia, there is a spiritual slant to boogers, but you'll have to ask Santa to explain.)
Barry wrote 20 years of humorous columns that, by clever cutting and pasting, he was able to morph into enough books to start Amazon.com as a viable business. Besides writing, Dave likes music but is not well known for his musical maneuvers or for his feats of fatherhood, although he has delved into both areas. ("Delve" is an Irish leprechaun expression meaning "to dig a hole you can't climb out of.")
On his 40th birthday, Barry wrote a book cleverly titled "Dave Barry Turns 40." When he turned 50, his wit went wild with the title "Dave Barry Turns 50," in which he refers to "… this last decade or so before our powers decline and we start showing up for work with our pants on backwards."
My journalistic instinct (not everyone has this) tells me we can expect a book this year titled — you might want to sit down — "Dave Barry Turns 60." OK, he doesn't hit it out of Humor Park every time. It's his birthday and he's no doubt depressed because he faces another decade wearing the same Beatle haircut. Nevertheless, his "do" notwithstanding, Barry has been a role model for budding humorists, championing his patented fact-free style of reporting. I hold him legally liable for my own journalistic motto: Use facts only if funnier than fiction.
Barry won a Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 1988, "for his consistently effective use of humor as a device for presenting fresh insights into serious concerns." The committee was no doubt referring to his frequent discussions of exploding cows, whales, vacuum cleaners and toilets.
In 2002, Barry penned the immortal lines that forever relieved men of doing household laundry: "We worry that if we get just one variable wrong, we will find ourselves facing a wrathful spouse, who is holding up a garment that was once a valued brassiere of normal dimensions, but is now suitable only as a sun hat for a small, two-headed squirrel."
By 2005, unable to top the two-headed squirrel imagery, Dave announced he would not continue writing his weekly column because he had run out of absurd metaphors and was well aware that his trademarked drollery was only an "o" away from "droolery." He looked everywhere. He checked under the rocks in his south Florida yard where Godzilla's relatives are in a constant battle with spiders the size of the Astrodome. He even looked in his garage, designated an historic landmark site and recently renamed the Museum of Partially Completed Home Improvement Projects and Cheap Musical Instruments Played in the '60s.
Though he searched for days, all he found was a tiny simile. How tiny? As tiny as a Republican scruple. Thus did Dave Barry prove what the great mathematician Isaac "Fig" Newton couldn't: there are only 162,321 humorous ways to exaggerate the size of something and "tiny as a Republican scruple" isn't one of them — though Tiny Republican Scruples would be an excellent name for a rock band.
So, Dave did the only honorable thing and quit writing columns because all that was left unwritten was trite, which is neither his middle name nor his beat. Boogers are his beat.
Meanwhile, if you see a guy shorn like a Beatle with his pants on backwards, wish him a happy birthday and point him towards Miami.