I was watching MSN the other day and a picture of presidential hopeful Ted Cruz caught my eye. He had his arms spread out in a supplicating gesture and, for whatever reason, it reminded me of the comedian who said, “My mother always liked to encourage me, and one of her favorite things to say was that anyone could grow up to be president. I look around and see that she was right.”

But, I have no wish to get political, I have enough to deal with. It just reminded me of an incident in my young newspaper editor days when I came close to being put in jail for calling a town justice by his first name. Really. And his first name wasn’t jackass, or poophead or anything like that. It was Jack (not really, but I don’t want to use his real name).

First a question. Do you think you’ve spent more time this long, lousy winter reminiscing than usual? I mean, what else could you do, right? It was just soooo cold. Sure, it didn’t deter ice fishermen, as far as I could see. But, c’mon, ice fishermen? Is that how you want to measure the severity of winter? Don’t get me wrong, plenty of our friends are ice fishermen. Love ’em, but the fact that they have to cut a hole in the “water” before they can even start? Enough said.

Anyway, I had an instant recall — I don’t even think it was reminiscing — when I saw that photo of Ted Cruz.

About 40 years ago, shortly after the unceremonious end of my career as a rock and roll disc jockey, and just as my career in journalism was off to a shaky start, I was in the town hall of one of the municipalities I covered when one of the town justices came up to me, took me by the arm (a gesture I truly hate), pulled me to one side and confidentially told me, “I’m not running for town supervisor this fall.”

I was underwhelmed. The election was months away and more than 30,000 other people weren’t running for supervisor either, so I said, “Thanks, Jack,” and that was the last I thought of it until about two months later.

I was right in the heart of the town hall, surrounded by the assessors office, tax collector and town clerk offices, and the police department, at a sort of four-way intersection.

Jack comes running —yes, running — at me and demands to know why I didn’t put his announcement in the paper. I gave him the too early-30,000 people argument and he started yelling, screaming and spitting on me.

His arguments started with, “Who do you think you are?” — never a good start in my experience — hit on how young I was (24-ish), and how little I knew (OK, so he got that one right). And then it got nasty (ha ha). I don’t know if he’d gone a little crazy, or anything, but, if that wasn’t crazy, then crazy is something I never want to see.

So, I’m standing there and he’s yelling, spitting, insulting me, and I noticed most of the people around us, though pretending to still be working, were all leaning their heads in our direction. I took it for a while, and as he started to repeat himself, I tried to wrap up the conversation.

“Look, Jack…” And that’s as far as I got.

“That’s another thing,” he screamed (screamed!). “From now on that’s Justice Nothisrealname to you.” Well, that seemed to have brought us to the last stop on the crazy train, so I simply said, “Look, Jack,” admittedly curious as to what would happen next.

“You’re under arrest.” As God is my witness, those were the next words out of his mouth. “You’re under arrest.” I said the obvious: “For what?”

“Harassing a town justice, ” Jack said, and ran off to get the chief of police. When they got back, I said what I thought was the new obvious: “Go ahead. Arrest me. Just know that my one phone call will be to our photographer to have him come out and take a picture of me raking my tin cup across the iron bars of my cell.”

No arrests were made and it sort of fizzled out after that, sadly. Years letter, Jack was in the news for being involved in some malfeasance involving thousands of dollars in court funds.

I hadn’t thought about that incident in years, believe it or not, but I wouldn’t put it in the book as a cancer-inspired recall or even the result of becoming older. I just think crazy has a long shelf life and this had been sitting there, waiting to be dragged out and since everything around it was frozen shut, out it came. Wow, huh?

Jim Arnold is a former copy editor for the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel. To read more about his journey through cancer, visit his blog, findingthepony.blogspot.com.


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