At least we liked to think so in 1980. We were the minions of the Charlotte Observer, the lowly reporters, suffering under idiot editors, who just wanted to express ourselves. Power to the people. At least the female people at 600 North Tryon. Thirty-one years later, we have still not mellowed. Oh, we may be on pain medication or hormones for one thing or another, but we have not mellowed.
We are getting together, five of us, at a cabin in the Smokies tomorrow. A reunion of the round pegs that never would fit into those square holes. Most of us are greying, but we were always fuzzy around the edges.
There is Jody Jaffe, perhaps the most contentious and worst-dressed fashion editor ever to grace the Observer newsroom. She was an editor’s nightmare. Argumentative wouldn’t even begin to cover it. That’s what made journalism great, back in the day. It was a world filled with unreasonable, feisty, creative people. Jody has gone on to write novels and become what I assume to be a competent horsewoman, although she keeps breaking bones so I am not quite sure about that. She will arrive at the cabin with a cast on her arm, yet another unfortunate fashion statement.
Then there is Miriam Durkin. She is now an acclaimed artist. To be honest, I do not even remember her drawing stick figures in the ’80s, but clearly she was. We were all extremely left-brain people. Miriam was not as contentious as Jody, but she held her own. And she was the prettiest pregnant woman I have ever seen, just her normally slender body with what appeared to be a football in front.
Kathy Haight is also joining us. She’s still at it. I will be curious to know what she thinks about the landscape of journalism today, where the round pegs are few and far between. She looks disgustingly young in this photo. In fact, she looks just like she did when we all worked at the Observer. Cruel. Just cruel. We’ll make her go out and buy the wine to see if she gets carded.
And then there’s JoAnn. What can I say about JoAnn. She was an extremely talented theater critic who did not appreciate the value of hard news reporting. One time, when actual news erupted on her beat, she turned to me fearfully and said, “This isn’t a story, is it?” Late in my tenure at the Observer, she decided she wanted to write a series about dairy farming. Really? You know there’s actual reporting involved here, don’t you? Undeterred, she selected a family in Harmony, N.C., spent months interviewing them, wrote a lyrical series on their lives, and then up and married one of her subjects and moved to the dairy farm.
So we’ll all meet up again tomorrow and the e-mails have been flying about food. I am making my world-famous spaghetti sauce. There has been mention of bacon-wrapped dates and chicken fajitas. Jody, who is not an observant Jew, is bringing both bacon and sausage. Heresy! Here, here. I will catch holy hell for smoking, but that hasn’t changed in the last 30 years. We will, I hope, be wildly inappropriate. As unapologetic as we were three decades ago.