February 17, 2020 12:12:33 PM
Over the last 30 years as a member of the Mississippi Press Association (MPA), I have attended dozens of "roasts." It is MPA's main fundraiser for its education foundation, which supports journalism internships for Mississippi college students.
The Oxford dictionary has two noun definitions for "roast." The first is "a cut of meat that has been roasted." The second is "a banquet at which the guest of honor is subjected to good-natured ridicule." It was my turn to be subject to the latter.
Roasts are great fun, yet they seem to be dying out. I'm glad the MPA is continuing the tradition. It's a great night of fun. I have learned a lot about many interesting Mississippians through their "roasts."
Hours before the roast, my wife Ginny asked me if I was looking forward to it. "I'm looking forward to it being over," I responded. Maybe Donald Trump likes being in the spotlight, but it's a bit disturbing to me. Nevertheless, it was for a good cause.
There are really two things you want in a roast: First, you want a packed house. Second, you want lots of laughs. I am relieved to say we got both last Thursday night.
One reason for the crowd was my shameless twisting of my friends' arms. I was terrified we would have my roast and nobody would show up.
I must say, my friends delivered in spades. To every person who showed up, thank you, thank you, thank you. I will never forget it.
My children were definitely not impressed. My daughter Ruth begged off to go to a friend's birthday party. John had to study for an exam. My sister came close to flying out for the event, but I persuaded her to watch it on YouTube. That would have been too much pressure.
There was one tense moment when Ginny was about to stand up and contribute to the roasting, but her friends held her down. Thank God for small mercies!
Marshall Ramsey was the event moderator, having been roasted himself in 2017. Marshall is perfect for these events. His wit is guaranteed to get dozens of laughs.
The roasters were Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann (one of my favorite politicians), lifelong friend Wilson Carroll, entrepreneur and golfing buddy Jeff Good, mover and shaker Hayes Dent and Charlie Dunagin, editor and publisher emeritus of the McComb Enterprise-Journal.
Having roasters who really knew me and could tell true funny stories greatly added to the event. Reality is always funnier than fiction.
At the start of dinner, photos of my life were displayed on two big screens at the front of the room. It made me feel like I was attending my own funeral. That's a strange feeling, but I must say I can't complain. If I can avoid any major screw ups over my remaining years, I'll die to reasonably positive impressions of my life (at least among my friends.)
A good time was had by all, and there were nothing but laughs and smiles and good moments.
Thirty-five years ago, armed with a graduate business degree in computers and information systems, I was headed to the Silicon Valley to invent the internet. As God would have it, I was destined to return to my Mississippi roots and go into the family newspaper business. As I looked out across the room with so many fine people with whom I have worked and played and loved, I didn't regret a single minute. God's providence is amazing.
I also want to thank the readers and advertisers of the Northside Sun for allowing me to pursue a challenging, rewarding and joyful career with which I have been able to provide for the family I so dearly love.
It's been a wonderful run. And it's far from over. In fact, I'm just getting started!
Wyatt Emmerich is the editor and publisher of The Northside Sun, a weekly newspaper in Jackson. He can be reached by e-mail at [email protected]
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