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want to poke fun at politicians, even though they are wonderfully easy targets. What I wanted to do is produce "feel good" humor, situations where people would laugh with and not at other people.

When I looked around for stories that would make people laugh, while not putting anybody down in the process, I had to look no further than my dinner table. My dear bride, the saintly Susan, and I are the button-bustingly proud parents of seven active, intelligent, and sometimes truly nut-ball children. With six sons and a daughter, who is the youngest of the widgets, I realized I had an enormous reservoir of material.

So just as if I had good sense, I dove head-first into the process of producing a weekly column. Each Sunday I gathered a few thousand of my closest friends around my dinner table and I told them stories about the Aylworth clan. They got to know the widgets, and as they grew we added widgets-in-law and later grandwidgets to the character list. As the years passed, the stories changed and other characters joined the cast, but the essential elements remained the same. During that period, I returned to my first love, reporting, and left the important decisions to others, but I kept the column.

Each week the column made people laugh. They laughed, not because the things that happened in my family were unique, but because they found their families in my words. They all understood what it was to have a teenage son driving the family car, or the madness that could grip a dad watching his baby daughter go on a first date. They laughed because they could see their own kids gather around the toilet for the reverent burial at sea of a goldfish.

Over the years people regularly asked, "When are you going to write a book?"

If pressed, I would explain I was just an aging newspaper reporter while Susan, with seven (soon to be eight) published novels to her credit, is the real writer in the family. However, over the years the question was repeated on a remarkably regular basis. Then one day I looked down and realized I had written a book. With something on the order of 780 columns done, I had a giggling history of the clan going back for years.

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