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Mark Couhig has been a writer for more than 50 years.
His first experience with the written word arrived at a very early age when he was required to painstakingly hand-trace dotted lines in a notebook, a process that led first to a mastery of the straight, purely angular letters of the English alphabet. He soon turned his attention to the curved letters, exhibiting a full proficiency in that skill by the end of his seventh year.
Before another year had passed, Couhig had begun to cluster letters into meaningful compositions, an accomplishment for which he was awarded a coveted gold star, the first-ever public acknowledgement of his extraordinary aptitude with words.
In time he would take these words and strategically create further clusters, which he called “sentences.”
Paragraphs soon followed.
In the third grade Couhig learned the skill of cursive writing, allowing him to greatly expand and accelerate his output.
Over the ensuing months and years Couhig’s now-renown facility for dramatic narrative developed. He was able to work the delicate filigree of fiction — dramatic, purposeful action that engages the reader — to a degree that astonished Ms. Sweeney, his teacher and mentor. Of one of Couhig’s early works, “Run, Tom, Run,” she wrote, “I’m so proud of you.”
As his facility with words grew, so too did his worldview, aided in part by his assiduous readings of “The Weekly Reader,” which he continues to regard as a formative influence in his later, more mature works.
In the fifth grade, Couhig’s repertoire and love of the written word translated to a sterling turn on the stage as Shepherd No. 3 in a new and dynamic dramatic reading of the Gospel According to Luke, a popular work of the time.
Approximately 50 years later Couhig moved to Sequim where he writes a blog.
Lately, a lot of people have been coming up to me to ask me the same question:
“Mark, do a lot of people come up to you to ask you questions?”
The answer is yes. And that’s fine. Asking questions is the only way you’ll ever learn anything, other than perhaps reading a book, and let’s be frank: who among us is likely to do that?
To save my readers the effort of seeking me out, coming up to me and asking me a question, I’ve provided a helpful sampling of recent questions I was able to ably answer. This should serve as a sort of reference guide for your own inquiries.
• For example, after parking behind the office this morning I was approached by someone who asked, “Hey, is this the Sequim Gazette?”
I told him, “No, and I’m rather surprised by your confusion. The Sequim Gazette is a flat rectangular thing, about 20 inches by 12, and constructed entirely of paper. You’ll recognize it immediately because it has ‘Sequim Gazette’ in very large letters across the top.”
• The other day a lovely woman, a coquettish blonde, stopped me as I was taking in the morning air on Washington Street. “Say,” she asked, “do you know where a girl can get a drink in this burg? And by the way, my eyes are up here.”
“Why!” I cried. “This is a civilized community. We have no truck with gender discrimination. You are free to purchase an alcoholic beverage anywhere a man is welcome. And damned be he who says different!”
• An older man, too, recently came up to me, apparently a stranger in town. “How do I get to the Safeway?” he asked.
I pondered the question for a moment before answering. “Most people take a car,” I helpfully responded. “And because this is a small town, many also walk.”
“And,” I added, “a shockingly large number arrive and depart via personal mobility devices.”
“Any of these means of conveyance are acceptable.”
• And just last week a young woman pulled up to me in her car. She was in obvious distress. “My husband is bleeding profusely from a fly fishing wound he received to the neck,” she cried. “Where is the nearest hospital?”
“Well,” I responded. “it’s exactly where it has always been. That your husband is bleeding, no matter how profusely, is entirely unlikely to effect a change in the location of a structure as large and weighty as Olympic Memorial Hospital. If your husband survives, I certainly hope the two of you will further acquaint yourselves with certain basic facts of physical science.”
• And finally, my wife just this moment came up to me with a question. “Mark, don’t you think you’ve beaten this joke to a point well beyond a dignified death?”
To which I responded, “You’ll know when that has occurred when you see the appropriate sign, to wit”: