It is 100 days this morning since Bill Gold retired and left me to inflict my columnist's wisdom on a waiting world.
Nice guy, that Gold. He didn't warn me about some who come with the territory -- the ones who call up and insist that the CIA has placed radios in their earlobes. He didn't warn me that everyone in the world has an opinion about every subject in the world -- and they all expect you to write every word about it. He didn't warn me that the word "lunch" would take on a new definition: "Only when you have time."
I haven't had eight hours sleep a night since June. I haven't had six, come to think of it. So Gold golfs, while Levey types. Some bargain.
But Bill did warn me about one thing, and on that, he was a prophet.
This job is the greatest in the world.
After 34 years in this space, I figure that Bill's entitled to worry about putting. And after 14 1/2 weeks, I figure that I'm entitled to say this:
This column is so much fun to write that I'm sometimes afraid to admit it, for fear that everyone else will want to do one, too. My bridge game may be going to heel from disuse, but here at my perch I sit. And I plan to keep it up for so long that 100 days will seem like a mere appetizer.
In planning this column three weeks ago, I dropped Bill Gold a note to ask him to put together a synopsis of how the first 100 days of retirement have treated him, or vice versa. When I hadn't heard from him by the morning of the afternoon it was time to write, I called.
"Dammit, Bob, how long have you known me? You know I never do anything except when I have a deadline."
"You've got one, pal. Today. As in right now."
"I'll call you in two hours."
He called in an hour and 57 minutes. This is the text he dictated:
"The first 100 days have been only a limited success because too many people have been offering me work -- especially my wife, who wants to know how come a husband can retire but a housewife can't. She makes me feel so guilty when I go to Indian Spring to improve my golf swing, I can't really concentrate on it.
"Nevertheless, the exercise has helped me get rid of 15 pounds, and I feel as good as an old man has a right to feel.
"The only 'work' assignments I have accepted so far are speaking engagements. As always, I am in greater demand with poor organizations than with rich ones because I work free. If the group can afford to pay a speaker's fee, it goes to Children's Hospital. Anybody who wants to book me can write to Virginia Rodriquez at The Washington Post. If they forget Ginny's name, perhaps if they write to you, you will be kind enough to forward the letter to her."
Consider it done, Mr. G. And happy backswinging.