For heaven’s sake, it could have been a snippet of information gained when a Guantanamo Bay detainee was forced to wear a pair of tuxedo shoes that enabled U.S. forces to locate Osama bin Laden.

When you do the same thing over and over for an extended period of time, it can be easy to slip into a bit of a routine.


As someone who has been writing a weekly column for 15 years, I sometimes forget things like whether I’ve used a quote before or written on a certain topic.


While stuff like that doesn’t matter much to anyone but me, I can also forget something more important, like the fact there are, indeed, people who regularly read this column.


How do I know this? Because of the comments these folks make to my wife, Nancy, and daughter, Anna, regarding what I’ve written. It especially seems to reach my wife and/or daughter quickly when I’ve mentioned them in a column.


Contrary to popular opinion, I’m not a complete moron. Consequently, I fully realize it is not healthy for me to write something that could be deemed embarrassing by either one of the two females with whom I live. Of course it must be noted that what I consider potentially embarrassing and what they are comfortable with me revealing to the world don’t always coincide.


Last week, I caught heat at home for writing in a blog post one morning about my wife sharing some Iris flower bulbs with a stranger. I didn’t think it was a big deal. Based on the tone of my wife’s remarks, I was wrong.


“Sometimes, I can’t tell when I’m talking to my husband and when I’m talking to the journalist,” Nancy said.


I must confess, sometimes I don’t know, either.


Not only do I forget that there are people reading my column, there are on occasion people outside of the few thousand folks who subscribe to the Hannibal (Mo.) Courier-Post’s print edition who read my work.


Thanks to the Internet, people far and wide have the opportunity to read my columns. And on occasion, when I feel particularly good about something I’ve written, I’ll offer it to Gatehouse Media, which owns the Courier-Post along with a number of other newspapers across the United States. As a result, it’s conceivable that “a little salt” could be spread over a wide distance.


I mention this fact because of a phone call to the Henley household this past week from North Carolina. It was my dear sister-in-law, Heather, calling to answer some pre-Italy trip questions that Nancy had. During the course of their conversation, Heather, who has for weeks been coordinating this amazing excursion to Italy, suggested to Nancy that I stop whining about having to wear a tuxedo or not knowing how to speak Italian, which regular readers know have been column topics in recent weeks.


It was conveyed to my bride that if the “whining” continues, I’ll be required to wear a pair of shiny tuxedo shoes when I don the tux. If memory serves me correct, I believe I read somewhere that requiring tuxedo shoes to be worn ranks right behind water boarding as the most popular intelligence-gathering method employed by the Central Intelligence Agency.


For heaven’s sake, it could have been a snippet of information gained when a Guantanamo Bay detainee was forced to wear a pair of tuxedo shoes that enabled U.S. forces to locate Osama bin Laden.


And while I hope my dear sister-in-law’s comments were made with the same spirit of humor that were at the heart of my recent columns, I haven’t been brave enough to call and ask.


Let me for the record say I deeply appreciate the generous gift this trip represents that Heather and her husband, Steve, are providing. Even though I’ll be far from my comfort zone, I vow to be the poster child of happiness while in Italy.


How will you know if I kept my word? If I haven’t, I’m sure I’ll be the travel-weary guy stepping off the plane in St. Louis wearing tuxedo shoes.