YOU HAVE YOUR nightmares, we have ours.
That, by the way, is not merely the ordinary pretentious editorial "we" we are using, but rather the full-blown, all-inclusive journalistic We -- the one that presumes to speak for our whole business, nothing less. Your nightmare is -- what? -- the one about falling down the elevator shaft or being chased by a fanged beast or not being ready for the big test. Ours is the one about putting some hokey jokey wise-guy thing into type and . . . then . . . discovering that someone actually put the type into print. It is for this reason that there is a rule around this place that people aren't supposed to cause joke headlines or joke copy to be set in type. (All the jokes you read in this newspaper are either intentional or, God forbid, unconscious and inadvertent. They aren't pranks that somebody forgot to kill or that somebody else took seriously or picked up and put in the paper by mistake.)
All this is by way of reflecting on what happened to our revered and beloved colleagues at The Boston Globe the other day. They crafted a fine editorial generally supporting the president's newly announced anti-inflation program and then, well, someone must have started horsing around and the next thing you knew there was the lead editorial in Saturday's Globe bearing the startling headline: "Mush from the Wimp." It is said to have run through about 140,000 papers before it was caught. The Globe, in an apology, deemed the headline "inappropriate and not intended for publication." It said the editorial was supposed to have been called "All Must Share the Burden."
That's the part that got us. All Must Share the Burden. Some awful, sinking feeling tells us that we ourselves (we're back to the homely, less ambitious editorial "we" now) must have used that headline a thousand times. In fact -- or as we Big Thinks like to say, "Indeed" -- just put us in the presence of that headline and, we can't help ourselves, we start automatically and compulsively writing the editorial that goes with it. It's all about how men of good will should cease the bootless acrimony as there can be no winners in this tragic dispute only losers and the biggest losers of all will be -- are you ready? -- well, of course, the nation's children. What is the headline, someone will ask, at about five minutes to headline time, and someone else will say, How about: "All Must Share the Burden"?
It is our considered view, and we have been thinking about this thing with a there-but-for-the-grace-of-God inner chill for some time now, that when the end ofthe world finally comes about and all editorial writers are all callled to judgement, it won't be the headline pranks run amok, that sort of thing, that will get us. No, it will be all those other miles of editorial prose that fit so nicely under the headline "All Must Share the Burden" for which we will, collectively, fry. Say this for whoever it was at The Globe who did the Mush from the Wimp headline: Somebody over there is alive -- no longer employed, perhaps -- but alive. And that's already something.