Sometimes, an editor has to delegate. But only sometimes, and only when he’s run out of options. When he’s already written the editorial about how hard it is to write an editorial; the editorial about things he could write an editorial about; and the editorial about how he’s not a racist, you overreacting bunch of Very Poisonous Snakes – then, and only then, will he get someone else to write his editorial.
In a letter all the way back in issue 6, the Off Peak Boy had advice for James: “If I couldn’t write a decent editorial, I wouldn’t print it. I’d fill up the space with something useful like, oh I don’t know, the periodic table. Or porn. Or periodic porn. On a table.” Really, the periodic table lends itself better to erotica: A subtle distinction, but one that any busty chemist who’s been interrupted in the shower by her Proust-reading plumber and who only has a teeny-tiny towel to protect her ample modesty would appreciate. Probably.
“Or”, the Off Peak Boy wrote, “turn to a page in your dictionary for topic inspiration.” I’ll go you one better, Off Peak Boy! Dictionary.com’s word of the day today is “cataract”. It’s a big issue, as those milky-eyed mature students could tell you. James likes to stare into the sun, all flinty-eyed and hard, but he should be wearing sunglasses while he does it. Sure, shades look ridiculous with a beard, but so does Helen Keller.
So here’s the thing: James has been writing editorials all year, but what have they told you about him? Nothing, because you haven’t been reading them. If you had, you’d know that he finds it hard to write an editorial every week, but has lots of ideas for things he could write about, and isn’t a racist, you overreacting bunch of penguins.
And that is why Salient builds its cults of personality in the letters pages. Or tries to. Frankly, this year’s letters have been disappointingly thin on the insulting ground. Gone are the days, apparently, of “[Insert writer’s name] is a [insert animal]-molesting, [insert gross thing]- eating practitioner of [an illegal sexual activity].” What happened? Reviewing the letters this year with a view to getting to know your editor is a markedly different experience to reading them back when he started out. So, have Salient readers grown up, or has James?
Issue One, letter one, from Boo, James’s putative flatmate: “James, can you do the fucking dishes?” Interesting question, Boo. Can James do the fucking dishes? Nineteen issues in, we’ve yet to find out. One could surmise that James works a ridiculously long week and, thusly, is rarely home to dirty the dishes, let alone do the fucking dishes. Or maybe that one letter was all it took to get James to do the fucking dishes – maybe he does the fucking dishes every night now.
But are his bodily needs being met? In Issue Three, Belly Scratcher Extraordinaire applied by letter for the position of voluntary belly scratcher, offering not just a professional name that promises satisfaction and delight, but also “… belly rubbing, smoothing and tickling and even drift to other parts of the torso…” Was James so stressed by Issue Three that he needed to hire a stranger to provide tickly relief? Had doing the fucking dishes pushed him over the edge? For three weeks, the matter was unresolved, but in Issue Six, we discovered again in the letter pages, that Belly Scratcher Extraordinaire hadn’t even had an interview. Since we can assume that BSE would have been a shoo-in for an interview, if not the job itself, then if BSE didn’t get an interview, clearly no one was taken on for the role. UNLESS: James found his own personal belly scratcher outside the pages of Salient. And if he has time to do that, then he has time to do the fucking dishes.
He certainly has time for ritualistic killing. After Eleanor Toland was awarded letter of the week in Issue Four, for a severe dressing-down of the Salient crew, Manuel Hung (high five for that pseudonym) exposed all in a letter in Issue Five: “It was all a diabolical plan to lure poor Toland down into the depths of the Union building, where the Salient staff will abduct her, administer the rohypnol, torture her Abu Ghraib-style, then harvest her bones for their weird hippy religious festivals.”(Such immeasurable pathos is that one phrase: “Union building”. There was a time when it was the “Student Union Building”. “Meet you atthe SUB,” we’d say. Meet you there.)
Has James, in just half a year, gone all Deliverance on us? Herman Toothrot notes in Issue Ten that James has “fucked up teeth.” Frightening thought, especially coupled with this bombshell, found while perusing the Issue Fifteen letters pages, “James, I’ve seen you around… I want your babies.” James has babies! No wonder he has no time to do the fuckingdishes.
Or write his own editorial.