Sunday, September 13, 2015
Today I am grateful for my first feature by-line. But when I saw the headline of my story, which is in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Travel section today, I about flipped out. “Bicycling” Through Europe While Never Leaving Bucks”? What? Bicycling? Really? Where on earth did they get that from? I mention some bikes in the piece, but clearly said, “driving through the Pennsylvania hills.” Curious!
Okay, for the non-writers out there, here’s the deal. You write, edit, proofread a hundred times, sometimes get someone else proofread, then submit. By the time a story is done you are just about sick of looking at it. The fun is in getting it down, the rest can get tedious. Once you send it. . .and it is accepted. . .and you’ve done any re-writes they’ve requested. . .it’s out of your hands. Final. Then you wait. And waiting can be traumatic. Like watching a kid at Dairy Queen build your sundae, hoping they don’t slight you on the hot fudge and making sure they go for the pecans, not the peanuts.
Someone goes through it and you hope they actually read it before they “tweak” it. Well for whatever reason, my favorite line, written phonetically, was altered. It’s supposed to read, ““Izz make vine tasss lak chiscike. You lak chiscike?” Who doesn’t like cheesecake?”” Probably to be politically correct, which I find funny in the news media, they wrote it straight. . .”In heavily accented English, “This makes the wine taste like cheesecake.” It isn’t the same and doesn’t even border on being funny and smacks of boring, which I am not. They left another similar line completely but I didn’t even notice that right away so I guess I’m okay with it.
But the headline? The headline? Bicycling? I gotta tell you that offends me. I know many people, even seniors, hike, trek, mountain climb, run the Appalachian Trail backwards carrying refrigerator size packs, or bicycle. We do not. Every time I have tried to ride a bike in the last few years, my sciatica kicks up, my feet go numb and my butt. . . well it just isn’t good. I will ride a bike when they can outfit the seat with a Lazyboy. If you think that’s a great visual, imagine me on a regular bike, with the seat swallowed by my considerable derriere and me bitching and sweating like a boar hog. If that isn’t enough, picture my husband with enough sunscreen to look like Casper, a wide brimmed hat, long sleeves and a worse attitude than mine. Why on earth would we put ourselves through that? The world is a better place because we don’t.
From Lansdale, winding willy-nilly through Bucks County, PA, over the bridge to Stockton, NJ, then along the Delaware River to New Hope, PA, inland to Doylestown, PA, and back to Lansdale would have taken us three weeks or more on a bike (even pushing it). I bet we put over 50 miles on the odometer that day.
The whole point of the piece was that older people who aren’t able to be as physical anymore, or who just don’t want to be. . . can still play pretend and have a great time doing it. Driving. In a car. With air conditioning. This headline makes it sound like the article is about Super-Seniors! Not normal people. If I hadn’t written it, I might not even bother to read it. I don’t need one more article shaming me because I’m not interested in riding a bike over hill and dale. I’m all done with that. Just like the elliptical machine.
When I was bemoaning how the headline was probably written by a perky, young, exercise nut-case and how it doesn’t reflect the content or point of the story, a friend said, “Yes, but look, right here! You got a by-line.” Yes, yes I did. “By, Mary Mooney, For The Inquirer” My first by-line in a feature article. And for that I am grateful. Headline be damned!