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Striving for sense of neighborliness

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By Reggie Ponder
Columnist

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Jerry Seinfeld and his show “Seinfeld” became known for a lack of heavy content. The phrase often used was “a show about nothing.”

Seinfeld has continued that stance in the standup comedy and other things he has done since the show’s run ended.

Of course a show could not actually be about nothing, so we might ask what it really was about. The answer, I guess, is that it was about the simple moments in people’s ordinary lives that become the stuff of comedy. We don’t often think of our lives as venues for the comical, but most of us have things happen regularly that might be considered funny — in hindsight if not at the time.

From time to time this column is funny, or at least tries to be. I even have had a few people introduce me to someone as “a humor columnist for The Daily Advance” or “someone who writes a funny column for The Daily Advance.”

I appreciate that some readers get the jokes. Others don’t, and I’ll take the responsibility for that. It’s not that you don’t have a sense of humor. It’s that I have a strange one.

Jane likes to remind me of this. If she doesn’t laugh at my joke I’ll often ask her, “do you get it?”

She’ll nod. And then: “What little there was to get.”

So again, if you get some chuckles now and again from this column, I’m delighted.

Sometimes it’s not funny, of course. Last week I wrote about Memorial Day, which was and is a serious topic. I write sometimes about faith, about love, about loyalty — the things that matter.

I try not to get into politics but I slide over there occasionally. Most of you already have your opinions and aren’t likely to change them because of anything I wrote, so I don’t want to waste too much time on that subject.

Besides, somebody needs to write about country music, barbecue, the Bible, family and the Good Old North State.

The first columnist I ever knew anything about or cared much for was Dennis Rogers at the Raleigh News and Observer. As I was growing up in the 1970s he wrote about barbecue, country music, veterans, North Carolina history and the everyday lives of people in eastern North Carolina. I didn’t know him but I knew he lived in the same place — relatively speaking — that I did.

Some of the other columnists I tried to read seemed to live in a place that only existed within their own minds.

Sometimes Dennis wrote exactly what I was thinking. Other times I disagreed with him.

But it always seemed like neighbors talking over the backyard fence.

More than anything else that’s what I’m aiming for — a sense that we’re neighbors.

Reggie Ponder is a staff writer for The Daily Advance.

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