Ray Mosby Column

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ray Mosby

Mosby’s guide to idiots coming to bookstore near you

“You certainly can judge a book by its cover—if it’s one of those paperback romance novels.” —Me.

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ROLLING FORK—If I can ever find just a little bit of time, I really am going to get around to writing a book one of these days about this place. I don’t mean just this town, but the greater place, the two counties that even in following the Hatfield and McCoy model get around to making up the sorta, kinda extended community we call the South Delta.

I suppose that might be taken as a warning in some quarters.

I already have a working title, one that I suspect will require some explaining to a publisher, but I figure the biggest fight I’m going to have with the publishing house is whether my book should be labeled  fiction or nonfiction. I won’t have to make up the first thing in it or even get off into the exaggerating that we call literary license, my book can literally be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

But that doesn’t mean anybody outside of the folks who live here would ever believe that.

Now, don’t get me wrong, in just over a month I will have lived here for 17 years (I know, I’m still that new guy in town and “not from here”), and I actually have come to love this place. It’s what I think of now when I think of home, and trust me on this one, folks, it is a newspaperman’s dream. There’s stuff that happens here that doesn’t happen anywhere else  (just consider how many times the phrase: “Only in (pick one) Rolling Fork, Sharkey County or Issaquena County” is the only appropriate thing to say) and I get to write about all of it that’s fit to print and just a little that probably isn’t.

There’s a lot that we suffer from a lack of in these parts but news is not often one of them. Almost  from the day I got here and on way too many other days since, it has been my observation that there is an almost impossibly high percentage of our population who might as well be walking around with placards on that read: “Hi, there. I’m an idiot and if you’ll stick around for just a few minutes, I’ll do something idiotic.” And, of course, they then very promptly do.

Note to journalism schools everywhere: Idiots doing idiotic things is a splendid definition for “news.”

Now, honesty also compels me at this point to note that it has also been my observation that some of the very smartest people I know live here too, and a lot of those folks spend a lot of their time trying to overcome the sadly predictable effects produced by the cause of the idiots. But I would advise the smart folks that in any strategies they might be trying to formulate for dealing with the unfortunate idiot problem, they probably can rule out trying to surround them.

And to touch on another of our distinguishing characteristics, as some of the more devoted  readers of this column may recall, I’ve set forth a number of possible theories over the years, speculating as to what might be the strange, mysterious and yet unidentified root of the always bountifully flowering weirdness that seems, at least to this point, to be confined to our little area. I’ve considered space alien colonization, insidious government experiments and too many folks being way too  friendly with their cousins as possible explanations for the Twilight Zone-quality phenomenon that is daily life in the South Delta, but I have yet to settle on any that is completely satisfactory.

Oh, jeez, and I forgot all about curses. This place certainly has a lot of secrets and just suppose that one of them, buried now, of course, with the passage of time, is that some long ago curse was invoked on this place. Oh, man, I hope it wasn’t the Indians. We got a lot of Indian Mounds.

Who knows, maybe I’ll just throw them all out there in my book and let the readers decide on which one they like best. That’s what some people did in all those books about the Kennedy assassination and Roswell and neither one of those was anywhere near as interesting as this place.

Don’t know if I can convince a publisher my book will be a million-seller, but I’ll bet you one thing: Folks here sure are going to read it. And a few of them maybe then weep.

(Ray Mosby is publisher of the Deer Creek Pilot and was recognized by the Mississippi Press Association with the 2010 Oliver Emmerich Award for Editorial Excellence.)