Oh, boy! It’s here! The long wait is over. Pull the kids out of school and knock off a little bit early from work. Decorate your home and invite a few people over, why don’t you? ‘Tis time to rejoice and spread good cheer, remembering always that this day comes but once a year.

Does it get more exciting than this, my friends? Notebook Orphans Day is here at last.

OK, I’m sensing a little bit of confusion. Clearly, the long year of anticipation has muddled your memories. A little refresher course, then, on the history behind this most excellent holiday.

Once a year, like Santa toiling in his Arctic paradise, I gather up all of my notebooks amassed during a year of arduous news gathering. These blessed pads of paper have survived fires and shootings, car wrecks and dog attacks, court hearings and city council meetings. Together their pages contain the short history of our community; page upon page of thrills and chills.

And mystery. Lots of mystery in the form of the orphans. These are the stray words and phrases that occupy otherwise blank sheets of paper. They are like prisoners who jumped the wall only to die on the other side. They are ghosts who haunt the world of coherent thought, offering few clues to their deeper meaning.

And so, like Kris Kringle (the sainted bearer of gifts, not the porn star) before me, I pluck out those lonely orphans and share them with the world, often with shocking results. Which is why you get so excited around The Big Day, you can barely keep from wetting yourself.

Are we ready? Got your Notebook Orphan Day hat and noisemaker? Good, good. Let’s go.

“There were four of us trying to catch it.”

I found this one scribbled at a slant and all by itself on a page. Who was trying to catch what, I don’t know. A wild animal? A football? Some exotic disease? The words were ugly on the page, clearly written in haste. I get the feeling that whatever those brave souls were trying to catch, I wanted no part of it.

“The luxury of 60 more seconds.”

This one rings no bells at all. I do recall covering a beautiful moment where a young man proposed to his girl at a big band concert but as far as I remember, I didn’t cover the honeymoon. And this one, to me, sounds like something uttered during a honeymoon. Whatever it was, I hope this person got that extra minute and that he used it wisely.

“Some look nervous. Some don’t.”

Again, just those two short lines on one page. Whose bravado or lack of it was I writing about? A gang of thugs during Operation Hot Spots? The brave men who drain the Lewiston canals? That dude on his honeymoon? Beats me. Oddly, there was nothing on any of the pages before these lines and nothing on the pages after. Apparently, the rest of my notes were nervous, too, and beat their little feet for some place safer.

“Bread, wine, KFC.”

Ah, yes. That local church that introduced fried foods into their communion ceremony. You can hardly blame them. These are hard times for places of worship. I hear one church upstate is offering pizza and Jagermeister in hopes of building a bigger flock.

“Dead animal parts.”

Three words written in all capital letters. What the . . . did I join a cult this year? Was this a list of things I need to bring to the next meeting? It seems unlikely. I don’t know what this means, but I’ll tell you this. I don’t think it’s the first time that exact sentence has appeared in one of my notebooks and it’s got me a little concerned.

“Oh, my God. This is amazing.”

The honeymooners again, no doubt. Aren’t you glad I’ve stuck with notebooks instead of carrying video equipment around like the other reporters?

“That’s pretty psycho.”

The bank when I told it my business idea? Pretty sure I didn’t get the loan.

“Better than I could have imagined.”

The funny thing about this one is that there was a woman’s name scrawled next to it. I won’t tell you what that name is in case . . . well, it just wouldn’t be in good taste. I have no idea what this line means or who she is. That’s what I told my wife and that’s the story I’m sticking to.

“Guys looking for hookers.”

Again, just that one line without any context. Guys look for hookers all the time and yet here, I felt I needed to write it down? Why? And how much for how long?

“I need a drink.”

Troubling. I sometimes think I write things down without any real conscious knowledge that I’m doing so. Can you imagine if I was a deranged killer? The cops investigating me would find in my notebooks all they need to send me to the gallows. “I think I’ll kill a guy,” I might scribble, “and bury him beneath my shed.” Ha ha! Funny! Can you imagine? No need to look beneath my shed.

“Jolly White Elephant.”

Fantastic. Now I’m writing down my hallucinations. I looked on nearby pages to see if I might find “machete wielding elf” and “Brooke Burke eating a banana” but there was no sign of them. Seriously, what is the significance of “Jolly White Elephant?” Is it code for something? A pet name for a new friend? No idea. I’m going to stick with hallucination. And I’m going to stop smoking my house plants at once.

“Most people do it from north to south.”

Say what? I happen to know that most people do it from east to west in honor of the equator. Only amateurs do it from north to south. You can really mess up your back that way.

This one is inexplicable. I can’t think of a single thing a person would do specifically from north to south. Fly-fishing? Pogo-sticking? Hula-hooping? Color me baffled.

“It was wonderful. I refused to take any books.”

These two sentences don’t work well together but there they were, hogging an entire page. It sounds like some sort of protest at the public library but beyond that, I’m stumped. I suspect the Rev. Doug Taylor might be involved somehow.

“Wearing only his socks.”

OK, that one wasn’t in any of my notebooks. I’ve just always wanted to use that line in some shape or form. See what you can do, OK? Maybe we’ll have something to share with the others come next Notebook Orphans Day.

Assuming that there is another one, that is. In this time of accelerated technology, it’s hard to imagine a reporter sticking with archaic notebook and pen with so many new gadgets at his disposal. Voice recorders, video cameras that fit in your mouth, smart pens that give voice to every word you write. By this time next year, maybe I’ll be conducting interviews telepathically and reporting from our new bureau on Mars.

Frankly, I look forward to it. Now if you’ll pardon me, I’ve got a meeting to get to and I haven’t even picked up those dead animal parts yet.


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