It was Mark Twain who wrote, in 1897, something to the effect that the reports of his death were greatly exaggerated.
Seems he was traveling around the world on a speaking tour when a rumor started that he was ill. The rumor soon gave way to another one, more serious, that he had died. One newspaper, it seems, believed it and printed his obituary.
To which Twain is said to have responded when informed of all this by a reporter, “The report of my death of was an exaggeration.”
I bring this up because I now know, at least a little, how Mark Twain felt.
We recently received an email that referred to my untimely demise.
It read (edited to protect the writer’s identify and italics added for emphasis):
”I’m a longtime Kauai resident. I saw the nice press release for my friend Jordy today and was reminded that I was in touch with Bill B to do a press release in August before he passed away. My good friend had recommended Bill to me at the time. Anyway I was wondering if at some point if you might have a space and time for a CD release mention for my new record …”
Well, I can assure everyone — and likely to the dismay of many — that I’m still alive and breathing. The reports of my death, like Mark Twain’s, have been greatly exaggerated.
I have no idea what led this person to believe I had passed away. When one of our reporters asked him about it, he didn’t know why he thought I had died, but that’s what he heard. I can imagine that one making the rounds on the coconut wireless. People will think that’s my ghost running most mornings on Ke Ala Hele Makalae.
What was quite amusing about this letter, and a reason I share it, is because Friday is a day to have a few laughs, and that normally, when mentioning someone’s death in a letter like this one, you would express some kind of condolences, even just the standard, “Sorry to hear of his passing,” and then move on.
Not so much in this one.
The writer didn’t waste time with unnecessary words or pretend sorrows, and got right to the point: Bill B passed away, but can you still write about my CD?
No problem. And who even knew he was gone?
And speaking of amusing email messages that made me smile, I received this one in response to a recent column I wrote about running on Kealia Road to the Spalding Monument, and how I was struck by the beauty of the area. The message, from someone I don’t know personally but know of, wrote:
Wish you hadn’t told the world about the run to Spaulding monument, It is one of my favorite spots, in part because I never see anyone else there.
Keep the rest of the secret spots secret …”
I admit to being honored that the writer said my column reached the world. I hope so. Quite flattering, really, though I’m not sure the note-writer intended that. I also had to chuckle at the thought that a 2.5-mile public road leading to a monument would be considered someone’s secret spot.
While I see occasional vehicles on Kealia Road and a cyclist now and then, it is generally a place of solitude, which is what I and the note-writer love about it. It could be that my column will send scores of tourists and even locals motoring uphill to check out this stunning scenery (in which case I would regret writing the column). Or that we’ll have folks running up to Spalding Monument and back down (which would be a wonderful sight).
Anyway, I’ll make you a deal.
If I come across any other secret spots during my runs on Kauai, I’ll try not to divulge them. You will note I didn’t reveal how to find Kealia Road or Spalding Monument. I kept that a secret.
And if you hear reports of my death, please remember, they really are greatly exaggerated.
Bill Buley is editor-in-chief of The Garden Island. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.