Robert Cox

Writing on the Wall

Robert Cox is a reporter and page designer for Carroll County Newspapers. His email address is CCNnews@cox-internet.com.


Did you hear the one about ...

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

I donít get writerís block.†

For me, writing is like talking, and if youíve ever met me, youíll know Iím hardly ever at a loss for words.

I canít guarantee those words will always have substance, but I donít usually have trouble finding something to say, even if it isnít especially profound.

Sometimes I say the wrong thing at the wrong time. Iím a bit of a smart-aleck. I love puns and my personal sense of humor can be both dark and snarky, as well as a little inappropriate.

Sometimes, I talk to hear myself talk (not that Iím especially enamored with my own voice, but sometimes it gets too quiet).†

Writing is similar. I write to work out things that have been bugging me, to try to figure out whatís going on in my head, to crack a joke, or to tell a story.

Telling stories is one of my favorite things. Every once in a while, Iíll get a good one and add it to my permanent list.

You might hear a few of them here, at least in part. Thereís the raccoon in the car, the attempt at water skiing in a field, the mouse in the newsroom, the armadillo in my driveway ...

As the comedian once said, ďIíve got a million of them.Ē After all, Iíve been around the sun quite a few times ó I wrapped up my 48th trip last month óand, after a while, the stories add up.

There are personal stories, work stories, family stories, happy stories, sad stories ó stories of all shapes, sizes and colors. Some are mine, some belong to other people. Some I donít tell as well as the person I heard it from, but I do my best to do it justice.

Most of the stories I like to share are at least a little funny. I enjoy making people smile and laugh, even in the middle of a sad tale.

Thereís enough doom and gloom in the world without adding to it on a regular basis.

Part of the reason I talk so much, write so much, tell stories so much, has to be a desire for human contact.

I grew up an only child in a house with three working adults. My grandparents and my mother all worked hard to make a life for our family, something I will always appreciate and try to emulate. I was never an afterthought, but I learned early on that ďNot nowĒ meant, well, not now.

As a result, I had a lot of time to myself. I had friends ó some good, some more acquaintances ó and was never lonely. Far from it, in fact.†

I had my books, my movies and my imagination. Growing up in a house with my grandparents expanded my horizons beyond what was current, exposing me to far more sources of inspiration for play than many of my peers.

By that, I mean old movies. I grew up a fan of classic westerns, swashbuckling sagas and film noir.

My heroes were characters played by Errol Flynn, John Wayne, Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, Gene Kelly, James Coburn, Clint Eastwood ó all the greats.

I was also a huge fan of comedies, like the Bing Crosby/Bob Hope road movies, W.C. Fields, the Marx Brothers, Ma and Pa Kettle, Laurel and Hardy, the Little Rascals and the Three Stooges.†

Which reminds me of my favorite trivia question: How many Stooges were there? Iíll give you a hint. Itís not three.

Now that Iím grown, my imagination hasnít dulled and neither has my ability to entertain myself. I still have my books, my movie list has only grown and I still have friends, although many are far-flung and some are seldom heard from.

As a result, Iím still often alone ó but seldom lonely. Thatís just the way things are. Iím social, but I donít like to go out. I enjoy the company of other people, but Iíd prefer they come over. To tell the truth, if I didnít have to work, I might have a real shot at a second career as a hermit.

Despite all that, there are times I wish I had someone to tell my stories to or to tell stories about. Itís been nearly five years since my wife died. I miss her. I miss being married.

I miss my daughters, especially the time when they were still small. I miss the noise.†

I miss finding naked Barbies hanging from the towel rack in the bathroom, and trying in vain to remove glitter from the coffee table, the couch, the floor, the cat and inside my shoes when I know for a fact that glitter was banned from the house years before.†

I miss arguing with my wife over whose turn it is to do this or that, the frustration of trying to pick someplace to go for dinner, the thrill of actually winning an argument over nothing substantial, and the comfort of sleeping next to someone you love and waking to a pair of cold feet in my back.

In short, I miss life. Iím not dead, not by a long shot, but sometimes it feels as if Iím being left behind.

Maybe one day Iíll find someone new to tell my stories to and to learn new stories about.

For now, I guess youíll have to do.