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Paul Turner: Do not call when the Zags are on TV unless …

Paul Turner (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

I returned a friend’s call Thursday night.

It was not going to be a long conversation. We were just trying to schedule a get-together. We’ve known each other for about 30 years.

We spoke for a couple of minutes and came up with a plan. Then, in an altogether good-natured way, my friend noted that I had committed an egregious “Spokane faux pas” by phoning when I did.

He didn’t have to elaborate. I knew where he was going with that. A GU basketball game was on TV.

“But it’s a WCC game,” I countered.

He chuckled at my implied suggestion that the contest could not possibly be competitive, and thus not all that riveting. Then I told him I had seen an in-progress score before phoning and knew that Gonzaga was up by some ridiculous margin, as usual for conference games.

Then we started talking about sneaker failure.

But after we concluded our conversation, it occurred to me that perhaps we in Spokane need a few formal guidelines. When is it OK to call someone during a televised GU basketball game?

I’ve come up with a few. Perhaps you have some of your own.

It’s all right to call (or knock on the door) when it appears that the person’s house is on fire.

It’s OK to call when the Zags are ahead by five touchdowns.

It’s OK to call when you have received an email that says “I’ve fallen and can’t reach my beer.”

It’s OK to call when you enjoy projecting performance obtuseness about sports.

It’s OK to call when an invasion from Outer Space is imminent.

It’s OK to phone when you know the recipient of your call is a known violator of the Spokane ordinance requiring interest in college basketball.

It’s OK to call when you know the other person’s hoops fandom is not imbued with evangelical zeal.

It’s all right to call when you know the person cares deeply about college basketball, just not about Gonzaga.

It’s OK to call when you know the person doesn’t enjoy watching TV games that do not feature Bill Walton as the analyst.

It’s OK to call when the person owes you money.

It’s OK to call when you have decided to declare a national emergency.

It’s OK to call when you are in the middle of a recipe but can’t make out one ingredient obscured by a butter stain.

It’s OK to call when your baby daughter wants to say goodnight to Grammy.

It’s OK to call when it’s not the NCAA tournament.

Have your acceptance speech ready?

Most of us in Spokane will never win an Oscar. But the Sunday they get handed out seems like a good occasion for reflecting on just to whom we owe thanks.

I’ll start with a few ideas. Then you’re on your own.

“I’d like to thank my shower-loving daughter for saying she’s sorry after using all the hot water for the 116th consecutive day.”

“I want to thank my ecstatic dog for believing that I am responsible for the snow.”

“I’d just like to say a word of appreciation for copy editors who thanklessly save me from my own embarrassing goofs.”

“I’d like to thank Val at Thai on 1st for always knowing I want the No. 33, three stars.”

“I want to thank that one cashier at the Rosauers on 29th who gave me back the second $100 bill that, unbeknownst to me, was stuck to the first one.”

“Just want to say thanks to that grizzly bear who decided to let me live when I wandered away from my parents at Glacier National Park many years ago.”

Moon landing

If we can put a man on the moon, it seems like we ought to be able to …

“Perfect a fail-safe lie detector,” suggested Rosanna Gray, after I asked about updating that expression. “Think of the empty law schools.”

In the matter of why people stay in Spokane even though they have issues with winter, Jerry Weaver had an answer. “Golf is a whole lot cheaper here.”

And Jim Williamson proposed that there might well be an Inland Northwest accent that goes unnoticed by local ears. “Because of being accustomed to it.”

End note

We met with our accountant last week to discuss our tax return. She noted that since I am no longer an employee of the newspaper, I would want to keep track of work-related expenditures. You know, items that once I might have submitted to the S-R as work expenses.

All I could think of in the moment was a new set of pajamas. But I know some of my readers work from home. Perhaps they might have some creative tax season suggestions.

As Frasier Crane used to say, I’m listening.

Columnist Paul Turner can be reached by email at

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