Tim WhytePauline HartePatti RasmussenRichard RiouxLeon Worden

Black N Whyte

Observations from Zonta's rotating spit

Tim Whyte · October 12, 1997

It was that portion of an evening schmoozefest in which people mill around, sipping cocktails and browsing the silent auction items before adjourning to the dining room.

Usually, I'm fairly at east during this portion of the evening. My wife and I have been excused of diaper duty for the evening. We're all dressed up. I'm not at the office, I don't have any editorials to write, I'm going to have a couple of drinks that will eventually find their way to an expense report . . . yeah, at that time, life's pretty good.

But it was a bit different during the schmoozing hour before the Zonta roast last weekend.

People would walk up to me, with you-know-what-eating grins, and knowingly ask, "Are you ready?"

As if my doom awaited on the other side of the partition that separated the silent auction from the banquet hall at the Odyssey.

I admit, I was a little nervous. For the first time ever, Zonta had chosen an organization -- The Mighty Signal -- as the recipient of its annual roast, the club's only major fund-raiser. I knew there were plenty of targets here at the newspaper, but Will Fleet (our general manager), John Boston (our columnist) and I were slated to respond to the roasters. That meant we had a figurative bull's eye on our chests.

The roasters did not disappoint. Marlee Lauffer, the "dry clean queen" of The Newhall Land and Farming Company, got plenty of revenge for all those Newhall Land and Firewood jokes we've printed. Congressman Buck McKeon and his much-prettier-than-he wife, Patricia, did a wonderful Burns and Allen-style routine satirizing the newspaper and its "Red (read) all over" promotion campaign. Carl Goldman, owner of KBET AM-1220 radio, played a mock tape from a Signal answering machine, poking fun at us for everything from spelling someone's name wrong to allegedly being in the pocket of a certain local developer.

And then there was Clyde Smyth.

Clyde Smyth, Santa Clarita's mayor and former superintendent of the William S. Hart Union High School District, produced a mock copy of my high school diploma and copies of actual pictures from my high school yearbook, complete with bad hair and my senior memory of "Greg and I watching Ms. D write on the blackboard."

(Ms. D was our math teacher. She was fabulous. And a pretty good teacher, too.)

It seems Clyde had tracked down a copy of the yearbook via my mother, who tracked down an old high school buddy of mine to borrow his copy of the yearbook.

And yes, Dave, I know it was you. And I will return the favor someday. I promise.

But it was all done in good fun, and as fearsome as some of those "are you ready?" questioners seemed to think the roast would be, it was actually pretty harmless. None of the roasters' barbs were hurtful. They were just plain funny.

Zonta does a lot of good work in this community, promoting the interests of women and young people. It was an honor for this newspaper to be roasted, and on a personal note, I haven't had so many good laughs in one evening in a long time. You can't have much more fun with your clothes on, as I'm sure the ladies (and one gentleman) of Zonta can attest.

For that, I extend my sincere thanks, and also drop this not-so-subtle hint: If you're ever looking for roasters, please feel free to call me.

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