Updating the rsum 

Hear about Denny's new breakfast menu item, honoring that California woman with all the kids? It's the Octomom Omelette: 14 eggs, no sausage and the other people in the restaurant have to pick up your bill.

It's possible I heard that joke and stole it. Frankly, I'm almost positive someone told me the joke. Nevertheless, I say proudly that I made the joke up and hereby declare myself the, uh, world's best joke-maker-upper-person.

While I'm at it, it's time I updated my biography. Crank out a new rsum. The old one, well, it isn't all that impressive. (The only thing that stands out: "1981-89: Aide to President Ronald Reagan. In charge of wiping black shoe polish off the headrest after he left the limousine.")

In this bio-writing effort, I will use as a guideline folks such as the RadioShack CEO who was fired after it was discovered he didn't graduate from MIT, as he'd claimed. And George O'Leary, Notre Dame's football coach for five days in 2001 until forced to resign because he never played college football at New Hampshire, as he had claimed, and because he lied about having a master's degree from New York University.

Before those guys, Janet Cooke falsified her rsum to get a job at the Washington Post and then wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning story about the life a young heroin addict. It was a terrific story, tarnished only slightly by the fact that the young man didn't exist and Cooke made it all up. The Post had to give the Pulitzer back.

On a smaller scale, right here in our village, we have Steve Pope, new publisher of the Gazette "newspaper." Pope got nabbed by the Indy for pumping up his rsum just a teeny bit ("Believe it or not," Between the Lines, Feb. 26). As it turns out, he did not, technically, "discover America" nor, apparently, did he "invent the cotton gin."

Pope did claim to be the co-founder of an alternative newspaper in Houston, which came as a surprise to the two guys who actually were the founders. Seems Pope joined the paper four years later, and the two actual founders couldn't recall meeting Pope. (In Pope's defense, on his first day here he "founded" a good parking spot about a block from the paper, which is probably what he meant.)

Jon Segal of Freedom Communications, which owns the Gazette for the time being, said the process that led to Pope's hiring "took a considerable amount of time and included pretty extensive reference checks." (On an unrelated note, on Tuesday, Segal proudly announced the appointment of Freedom's new chief financial officer, Bernie Madoff.)

Pope also claimed to have been publisher of a small Detroit newspaper. He was actually general manager and, later, associate publisher. (Pope did not, apparently, "invent the automotive industry" or "start Motown" and was never "married to Diana Ross" nor was he ever "one of the Supremes.")

Anyway, I really should update my own rsum. I remember what my old buddy Ernest Hemingway said one grand day as we tied the boat to the dock in Havana with a strong but well-worn rope of twisted gray fibers, strong fibers weathered by the relentless sun, after another day of pursuing the sleek yet impossibly powerful marlin across the great rolling sea.

"Go ahead, my friend. Write your rsum," he said. "I'll be up at the house playing with the shotgun."

Ern was funny like that. He always insisted I read his stuff before he sent it to the publisher, which was a good thing the day I suggested he call a story The Old Man and the Sea. Not that Ern's title, Marv Catches a Real Whopper, wasn't good, too.

Then there was my friend John Kennedy and those touch football games on the lawn in Hyannis Port. A few weeks before his inauguration in 1961, Jack said to me: "You know, Rick, people should stop all the goddamn whining and get off their asses and do things for themselves. Maybe even do something for America, you know, if it isn't too much goddamn trouble."

I thought about that and an hour later I jotted down, "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country."

After that, he let me use the sailboat whenever I wanted.


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