I've written dozens of sports columns for the Local - if not, hundreds. And this may be the most difficult of them all. After all, it's not too often that you say goodbye to something that means so much to you.
It's time to move on, and probably long overdue. But trust me when I say this: it's in the best interest for us all.
Are you ready? This will be the final week you will see the cheesy thumbs-up mug shot that goes along with my weekly column. It was a great run, but people in the community have told me it's time for a change, and I finally agreed.
Man, I'm glad I got that off my chest.
On this day - February 27, 2008 - the legendary thumbs-up mug shot will no longer continue. So hang this picture on your refrigerator at home, by your speedometer in your car, or by your desk at work because it's officially retired. And in a few weeks, I highly expect my previous mug shots to start selling on ebay.
We've had a good run. I remember that first day - September 27, 2006 - exactly 17 months ago. It was a sunny, near-perfect day with a slight breeze towards the east. I wrote the column "I'm just too fragile." It was about my new trainer Bob (Body Opponent Bag) that I purchased to add more muscle mass to my frail body and eventually become a body builder. Now, almost a year and a half later, I'm still patiently waiting to see those results.
A few weeks later, I wrote about horse betting, which, as it turned out, isn't my cup of tea. I then wrote about an agonizing 50-mile race I completed, my Christmas wish list and my failure at darts against my coworkers, who ganged up on the only male in the office in a conspiracy for me to finally lose.
Perhaps my favorite column - about the dream I had that my wife birthed a hotdog - was written in early 2007. In May of that year, when Emma Lee was finally born, I wrote about that joyful experience, too. I've also written about the winning seasons in the county, the losing seasons and everything between.
The thumbs-up mug shot was there to see it all.
I've been debating with myself if I should get a new mug shot for a few months now, and after I caught Emma (who's now nine months old) giggling at my picture in the paper last week, I knew it was time to call it quits. Someone brought it to my attention at the Smith-Berry Winery two weeks ago, my sister Melissa agreed, and the Emma outburst was the last straw.
So if you see me moping around town with my head down, don't worry, I'm just in mourning with the departure of my favorite mug shot. But I'll be over it in no time - as long as I find a new picture that's more fitting to take its place.
But first off, before the long-awaited departure, I want to give a special thanks to the people that pointed me in the right direction. A direction I'm unfamiliar with. A direction I should have gone long ago.
Tommie Kendall can be reached at email@example.com.