By Gail Keck, 2019 AAEA First Place Humorous Article Winner
Click here to read What Do You Do if You Discover a Tick in Church.
The idea for a column on ticks in church came while I was in church. And I found a tick. I must confess I did not pay much attention to the sermon after that because I trying to decide what to do with the tick and all of the disposal options had drawbacks.
By the time I got home, I realized that ticks in church had potential for a humor column although I can’t really define why it’s funny to find a tick in church. Maybe it’s the juxtaposition of things that don’t normally go together or the contrast between the sacred and the repulsive. In any case, I knew most Ohio Farmer readers would be able to relate to a tick disposal dilemma because ticks are so common in Ohio’s rural areas. I also figured most are church-goers who would be able to relate to the awkwardness of dealing with a tick in church.
For this particular column, I wasn’t trying to make any serious point. I figured the readers were already well aware of the dangers of tick bites and prevention measures, so I just focused on the humorous aspects. But humor is subjective and not everyone sees a joke the way I do. I got a very concerned letter from one reader who told me I should be more careful about avoiding ticks in the future.
I’m fortunate to have the flexibility to write about a wide variety of topics for my monthly column. Sometimes there is a serious point I want to make about an issue, but usually I’m just writing about whatever is on my mind as the deadline approaches. More often than not, there is some element of humor in the column, because life is so often ridiculous.
I’m also fortunate to have an editor, Jennifer Kiel, who is good at giving my work a tweak when it needs it. For this particular column, she helped me rewrite the last few sentences, which improved the punch line.
Years ago, when Farm Progress editors Tim White and Mike Wilson asked me to start writing a column, I didn’t think I could come up with something funny every month—and I can’t. If you want to write something funny, you have to start with something funny, but it’s hard to seek out funny things like you might seek out sources and facts for an article. It’s more a matter of catching something funny as it goes by, then throwing it back out for readers to catch and enjoy.
Speaking of catching things, I had a heck of a time catching a tick so I could take a photo to go with this column. I wrote it a couple weeks before the deadline and figured I’d see a tick soon enough, but none turned up. I ended up taking a walk through tall grass just to find one. I guess I should have saved the church tick after all.