EDITOR’S NOTE: On this special occasion — that of Eric’s 25th column — we thought it might be nice to have a question/answer session with the award-winning columnist.
Q: You never won any award.
A: Shut up.
Q: How did you start writing “On the Light Side?”
A: I wrote a really funny letter to the editor-in-chief, with whom I have since become very close — I think his name is Bob, or something like that — telling him that if he didn’t hire me as a columnist, he would never see his children alive again. After I threatened to scratch the paint on his car, too, he gave in and hired me. This is more or less that way people get themselves elected to public office. They tell you that if you don’t vote for them, all these terrible things will happen to the Economy and the Government in General, when everyone knows that the only consequence of them not getting elected would be that they would have to go out and find real jobs, which might be difficult, since many of them have the brains of a phone book.
Q: Have YOU ever been elected to public office?
A: No, but I’m considering running for Student Body President in May, just to see if anyone really votes for me.
Q: What if you win?
A: Heck will have frozen over, so I don’t think anyone will care who Elsinore’s A.S.B. president is.
Q: Why did you say “heck” instead of “hell?”
A: After my October 24 column, in which I said “hell” twice, my father told me to say “heck” from now on.
Q: What else did he tell you?
A: To clean my room.
Q: Did you?
Q: When you started writing this column, what previous writing experience did you have?
A: When I was in the fifth grade, I wrote about the happenings at Elsinore Elementary for one of the other local papers whose name I won’t mention, but it involves the name of a very hot heavenly body, and then the word “Tribune.”
Q: You wrote for the “Julia Roberts-Tribune?”
A: What are you, a moron?
Q: I’ll ask the questions around here. What am I, a moron?
Q: Did anything else interesting happen when you were in fifth grade?
A: Yep. I asked this girl I liked if she would “go with me,” the primary result of which would have been that I would have been able to honestly say that I was going with someone, and do you know what she said?”
A: She said, “Go find a stray dog.”
Q: Oh, my. What did you do?
A: My lawyer told me not to answer if you asked me that.
Q: Has anyone ever become really upset over something in your column, I mean so upset that they wanted to burst through your bedroom window one night and set fire to your pajamas and feed your carcass to wild forest animals?
A: Oh, my, yes. Back in October, I talked about how football was going to be the destruction of western civilization, as well as my social life, because all the girls I ask out can’t go because they’re either a football player’s girlfriend or else because they’d rather spend their Friday evenings watching a bunch of athletic guys in tight pants run around and sweat, I have no idea why. I also subtly suggested that all football players and football fans are drooling idiots with IQ’s somewhere between “artichoke” and “Geraldo.”
After I wrote this, I was surprised to learn that not only had a lot of football players read it (and I won’t make any “football player/literacy” jokes here), but that most of them liked it! There was, though, one guy (whose name I won’t mention in the interest of me not having to flee to Mexico) who DIDN’T like it. What he said was, “It’s funny and all, but, you know…don’t do that kind of thing.” I believe he belched once or twice, too. I didn’t know it was blasphemy to make fun of football.
Q: It is.
A: Oh. The next time I really annoyed someone was just two weeks later, on Halloween. I made a comment about a certain group of girls at school called “Death Rockers” who apply their make-up with paint sprayers, and, naturally, they didn’t take it too well. I got a few death threats, but I knew that if they ever came near me, all I’d have to do is throw water on them and they’d melt. They never tried anything.
Q: Are you afraid of them?
A: No. I am afraid of that football player, though. Hey, guy! Don’t take all that football stuff seriously! I love football the way I love my editor, Jim!
Q: Which of your columns do you like the best?
A: Why do you keep asking me all these questions?
Q: It’s my job.
A: Oh. I think the one from July where I talked about the school administration and how I thought they’d made some ridiculous decisions is my favorite one. It was very funny (if I do say so myself, and I do), but it had a message, too, although for the life of me I can’t remember what it was.
Q: Which of your columns do you like the least?
A: I’m beginning to not like this one, if you get my drift.
Q: I’ll ignore that. What is the toughest part of writing “On the Light Side?”
A: Probably dealing with all the people who, anytime something remotely amusing happens, quickly turn to me and say, “You should write a column about that!”, apparently thinking that even though I am very funny in writing, I have no idea when things in real life are humorous and that they should take it upon themselves to tell me.
Q: What does the “D” in your name stand for?
A: I don’t know.
A: Your mama.
Q: Why, you–
A: Bring it on, pal.
EDITOR’S NOTE: At this point, Eric and the interviewer began trying to poke one another’s eyes out. After the fight was broken up, the interview resumed…
Q: Is it true that you have a book out?
A: Why, yes. Funny you should mention that. It’s a collection of all my columns so far, including this one.
Q: Why should people buy this book?
A: So I can make money.
Q: But what is the major attraction of the book?
A: Well, from time to time (like every week), something gets cut out of my column either because of space limitations (very often) or because of taste limitations (not so often). But in this book, all of the columns have been restored to their original, pure forms.
Q: If someone got really rich or really stupid or really drunk and actually wanted to buy this book, how would they go about it?
A: It will be on sale at Bits, Bytes, and Books, a new bookstore near Builder’s Emporium in Lake Elsinore, for $8 later on this month. The title is “The Unedited Eric, Volume I.” Ask for it by name.
If you’d rather, you may send $8, plus $2 for shipping and mishandling, to Eric D. Snider, “The Unedited Eric, Volume I”, [my home address followed, but I’m not putting it here on the Internet, or else you’ll all just send harassing letters to my parents]. Please don’t call or write this newspaper about it. The receptionists have enough to worry about.
Q: Are you serious about all this?
Q: Well, thank you for the interview.
A: You’re welcome. Now who are you?
I figured I might as well celebrate myself a little bit on the occasion of my 25th column. I even got some extra space, to facilitate this long "interview." The "your mama" part got removed; I guess "your mama" is too offensive a thing to say in a family newspaper. The column I refer to as being my favorite is column #6; the one about the football players is column #14; and the one with the Death Rockers is column #16. Enjoy!
I was QUITE serious about the book. I slapped together about 50 copies of my first 25 columns into something that resembled a book. My friend Mike drew a few really cool illustrations to accompany the columns, and I photocopied and stapled together the whole thing at work. I sold all 50 copies over the space of a few months, mostly due to me pestering people enough to give me money. But hey, whatever works.
After the next 25 columns were done, I was all set to do Volume 2. In fact, I had it all laid-out and pasted together. All I lacked were a couple of illustrations, which Mike never got around to. Somehow, I never finished the project; I guess I lost interest. In 1996, I unearthed the old stuff, realize how close it was to being done, and finished it -- five years late. I printed a few copies and gave them to a few people as Christmas presents.
On a more serious note, that second book was dedicated to my grandmother, Joanna Merrifield, who was in the hospital when I gave it to her, and who died the next month before ever having a chance to read it. As far as I know, she didn't even know it was dedicated to her. I'm sure she knows now, though, and I'm sure she's very flattered. She was always one of my biggest fans.