Just before leaving work this afternoon, I received an email from a woman in Post Falls who blames me for the provincialism she finds in our area.
As rants go, hers was reasonably under control. She lectured me, but never came out and wished me bodily harm.
The funny thing is, this woman has submitted potential items to The Slice a few times. I'm sure I've used one or two and credited her.
But perhaps the real reason I was surprised was the fact that most of my correspondence has been pretty holly jolly in recent days. And maybe, in the spirit of the season, I had allowed myself to forget my father's all-purpose advice.
"Keep your guard up."
His other admonition was "keep punching." But I wasn't really in the mood to tell that Post Falls woman what I thought of her insight. So I just shook my head.
Then I thought about Clark Hallas.
I worked with Clark, who was considerably older than I was, in Tucson. He and another reporter shared a Pulitzer Prize while I was there.
Once, at lunch, we were telling stories. My mention of having worked in El Paso reminded him of his time there.
I can't remember if he was there while in the Army or during his stint working for United Press International. But his story was about being in a bar on the other side of the border when someone got killed. I can't recall if it was a shooting or a stabbing. The key detail was that this took place on Christmas Eve.
Clark, who died in December of 1992, could be a delightfully deadpan storyteller. And he had one of his finer moments just a couple of beats after finishing that anecdote.
"Feliz Navidad," he said.