Comments & Curiosities: This time he really has 'gotta go'

Editor's note: This is Peter Buffa's final humor column for the Daily Pilot. We thank him for 15 years of Sunday morning smiles. Columnist Patrice Apodaca will move from Saturdays to Sundays next weekend.


Ever seen a sports movie?

If you have, you know they always end the same way. Always. It's the law. Time is about to run out, just a few ticks left on the clock. All those years of sweat and pain and practice have come down to this. The final seconds slip away as the hero (villain) goes up (down) to make (stop) the last score that will win (lose) the big game, which, 74.3% of the time, is the state championship.

Most important, in the last few seconds, everything goes into slow motion. That's because in addition to showing the clock running down, they have lots of shots of players straining and fans screaming and loved ones covering their eyes to fit into the span of a few seconds. It also allows them to slow down the soundtrack so everyone sounds like Barry White on Valium.

The clock always runs out just as the basket (touchdown) is made (or not) and everyone goes bonkers, or groans, but it's usually bonkers because who wants to find out they just invested 22 bucks and two hours to watch someone blow it? The game is over, the story has ended, the drama is done.

Well, this is like that, sort of. It is my sad duty to inform you that my time has run out.

Not me personally. I think I'm good for another 18 months, at least. But this will be my last column for the Daily Pilot. That's because I have a new job, which I am very excited about — second assistant cart retrieval manager at Costco. There was a little drama on my first day when my bungee cord snapped and got caught in an elderly Taiwanese woman's hair, but it's been going really well since then.

At any rate, my new schedule will not allow me to do whatever this is, not that anyone has ever figured that out.

First, last and always, I want to thank my loyal readers, all seven of you, for sticking with me for what has been a good, long run and then some — more than 15 years, believe it or not. Yikes.

I also want to thank the Daily Pilot, a lot, for giving me an opportunity to make more bad, tasteless jokes than Lady Gaga has fright wigs and putting up with my never even coming close to making a deadline.

So what did I learn from all this? As always, nothing, but one thing that was fascinating over the years was finding out what you liked and what you didn't, because I was the worst possible judge of which was which.

From the responses I got from you, mostly e-mails in recent years, things that I was sure were totally funny would lie there like a lox, and things that I never intended to be funny apparently were just a riot.

Being totally devoid of talent, I leaned heavily on gimmicks. Trivia was always a great distraction. I also did a lot of "guides" to this and that, packed with as much useless "advice" and satire as I could jam in there.

The two you liked the best were the Complete Guide to Hanging Christmas Lights and the Men's Guide to Valentine's Day Gifts. I always loved hearing from you, and at times you made me laugh a lot more than I did you.

Every now and then I was somewhere between amused and horrified when I got a message from someone who actually took something I said seriously, which always shocked me.

I would get back to them as fast as my mouse would allow and say, "No, see, actually, when I said you can save money on dog grooming by picking your pooch up wet and holding him out the window on the way home but make sure you have his mouth pointed into the wind, that was a joke. You really shouldn't do that."

There were a few nasty-grams now and then. My favorite was from a couple who was furious about a snarky comment that I had made about Bakersfield. It was a long, impassioned note about how they were born and bred in Bakersfield and had raised their family there and just loved the place and how I dare I say anything bad about it, signed, "Mr. and Mrs. So-and-So, Corona del Mar." Apparently, Bakersfield is a great place to have been from.

But by far, the biggest response I ever got from you, and I am still asked every year to repeat it, was the story of how my mother arrived in this country at all of 4 years old on a snowy Christmas Eve in New York in 1919, only to end up lost and stranded in a nearly deserted Grand Central station a little before midnight as the snow piled high outside. It was a story about Christmas and angels and why everyone in my family firmly believes in both, no one more than I.

And so, for one last time, there you have it. Thank you so much, stay well, Godspeed, and laugh wherever and whenever you can. It's good for you. You've heard me say this roughly 884 times before, but this time, I'm serious: I gotta go.

PETER BUFFA is a former Costa Mesa mayor. He may be reached at

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