Frank Mulligan: Clever banter? You’re a clever banter

Frank Mulligan

Yes, once again it’s time to play the passively interactive column game, “Did this conversation actually take place?” the game that all the kids are talking about when they’re not talking about something else.

The rules are simple enough for an editor to understand.

The reader must decide whether the dialogue outlined below actually took place, is partially contrived or is totally the product of a train of thought that should have been derailed before leaving the station.

And what will the reader gain from successfully participating in this exercise?

Nothing save the realization that the 15 or so minutes spent in the endeavor are non-refundable.

The setting is a newspaper office somewhere within the confines of the North American continent. There are two participants, a male editor and a female reporter.

Now buckle your seatbelts and enjoy the thrill ride that is “Did this conversation actually take place?”

Reporter: Are we on early deadline?

Editor: You’re an early deadline.

Reporter: No, really. I need to know because I’ve got an appointment.

Editor: You’re an appointment.

Reporter: Are you doing that thing your kids used to do where you just keep repeating the last thing someone says and turn it around back at them? Because it’s very annoying.

Editor: You’re very annoying.

Reporter: Do your kids still do that?

Editor: No, they outgrew it.

Reporter: But you still do it?

Editor: Yes.

Reporter: They moved on and you decided to continue with this childish imitation of wit.

Editor: You’re a childish imitation of wit.

Reporter: I don’t get why you find this so funny. It just goes nowhere. It’s about as clever as my desk.

Editor: You’re a desk.

Reporter: That’s so dopey.

Editor: You’re so dopey.

Reporter: Just stop it and actually give me some useful information, please.

Editor: You’re useful information.

Reporter: You really find this hilarious.

Editor: You’re hilarious.

Reporter: It’s not funny.

Editor: You’re not funny.

Reporter: Are we on early deadline?

Editor: You’re an early deadline.

Reporter: Work with me here. I’ve got stuff I’ve got to do.

Editor: You’re stuff you’ve got to do.

Reporter: That’s not even close to making sense. It’s like talking to a parrot.

Editor: You’re a parrot.

Reporter: An annoying parrot.

Editor: You’re an annoying parrot.

Reporter: Are we on early deadline or not – because I’m brilliant and beautiful.

Editor: You’re brilliant and beautiful – and that’s cheating. And, yes, yes. We’re on early deadline.

Reporter: You’re an early deadline.

Editor: See, it’s fun.

There it is. Now it’s up to you.

Did this conversation actually take place?

Frank Mulligan is an editor in GateHouse Media New England’s Raynham office, and can be reached at