Jake Chairs An ESM

Life On The Back Page - October 2022

Daryl Gay | September 17, 2022

The machinations of a magazine colossus are wondrous things. GON ain’t quite reached them epic proportions just yet, but we’re working on it. I can, however, give you a brief insight into our inner workings, as well as the answer to a question I am frequently asked: “Where in the world do you come up with all those crazy ideas?”

OK, so for starters here’s a look inside one of our monthly ESMs. (That’s Executive Staff Meeting for the non-professionals among you. Of which I am one.) GON frequently has three or even four such ESMs, complete with occasional paper/pen/clipboard tossing with analogous invective. Seldom does one see chair-hurling; these are nice folks I work with.

Further, none of this is exactly classified information, since if you are actually reading it, things seem to have gotten through my personal editor/censor. I ask only that you share none of this with our competition. (Or my co-workers…)

By the way, the more astute among you may have picked up on the fact that I never mentioned actually ATTENDING an ESM. Mine are rather different; as in…

Me and Jake the Hermit are down on the crick, settin’ in the shade as he advises me on my upcoming agenda. Story ideas such as mine don’t merely materialize from the mist, you know.

Well, not always.

“Tell them boys about that there Canerder trip for them gruesome bears you blabber on about all the time,” the Hermit is asserting. “Why, me and you could leave here termorrer at a trot, and we’d likely be thar by Christmas…”

When Jake gets wound up, the only way to interrupt is with a large limb waved 360 degrees. Threateningly.

“There’s just a couple things I can see askew with that scenario, Jake,” I blurted. “First and most importantly, there ain’t no WE in MY trip! Secondly, this ain’t Canerder, er CANADA, Outdoor News. And on a final note, they’re grizzly bears.”

“Well, that’s what I said. Grisly. Same thang.”

Just. Move. On.

“Jake, I have something to tell you and I don’t want you to get all disquieted. I AM in the middle of planning a trip; and I don’t think you can make this one.”

Brother, that did it.

“What you mean I cain’t go??? And don’t accuse me of being noisy. I’m the quietest heathen you ever seed; don’t make no noise a’tall when I ain’t a’wantin’ to be found out. Why, I can snatch a chicken out from under Ol’ Man Sapp’s nose while he’s still tossing scratch feed! If you’re a’goin’ then I’M a’goin’!”

“To Africa?”

There are few places on earth as peaceful and quiet as a crick bank. Suddenly.

As soon as his eyeballs unglazed, the first retort was a snort.

“Humph! Afreker. Least’un, you’re even nuttier’n than that fruit cake of yer Ma’s I swiped. Uh, er, guess I kinda forgot to tell ye about that, huh? I’m sayin’ she’s still wonderin’ how that thing grew legs and walked off,” he cackled with a knee slap. Then remembered…

“If’n yore bosses ain’t gonna pay for no Canerder sashay, they shore as shootin’ gonna balk about driving all the way to that there Afreker. Wait; we CAN drive there, right?”

Let’s see now; how would I explain this to a five-year-old? Or maybe three…

“Essentially, no. Africa is the other side of the world. Only options are airplane or ship. So you see…”

“What I see is a long boat trip, because I never learned how to fly, you know, just in case one of them spark plugs fouls in that plane. I can dog paddle fair if we happens to sprang a leak. Say, I best be digging wigglers pretty quick. How long you thankin’ if we fish our way there? And is the boat got room for a couple gallons of my medicine? And what we gonna hunt when we gets there…?”


His mouth flopped fair to spill his wooden teeth.

“You ask more and quicker questions than my wife!”

“You ain’t got no wife,” he snipped. “Don’t need one now that you got me all da time.”

So at this point in the ESM I’m thinking of proposing marriage. To anybody. Know any prospects? Can she tote water and fetch wood? Is she a she?

Time for a strategic shift.

“I ain’t got no shot yet, neither, and that’s gotta be done before I leave.”

“Bird or buck?”


“Whoa up there,” he fairly gasped. “Sounded like you might have mentioned a needle.”

“Oh, yeah, heaps of them, Jake. You get shots for everything from toenail fungus to whale blubber allergy.”

“Humph. I’ve beat toenail fungus 40 time. Jes’ gulp a quart or two of my medicine and that fungus melts right away; at least you don’t seems to notice it as much. And ain’t no self-respecting whale gonna bite no wiggler, so he’s welcome to keep his blubber away from my boat.”

But I could see that my needle needling injected enough doubt…

“Afreker, huh? Ain’t that where them gollywomper snakes is? Thems what wraps a man up until he’s fit to bust, then takes about three days to swaller him?”

“Yep. Boa constrictors, I believe they’re called.”

“Wal, I believe I’m calling this whole thing off. And tellin’ yore bosses you need to be workin’ closer to home. How far is Erlasker?”

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