Naughton Fatigue Syndrome
by Travis Naughton
Summer in Southern Boone County marks a reprieve from school for educators and students. It is also a chance for educators, students, and the general population of the area to get a reprieve from Travis Naughton.
During the summer months, most folks in and around Ashland are able to avoid me for the most part. Sure, I continue to write columns throughout the summer, but it’s easy enough for you to skip past them if you’re trying to limit your exposure to me and my relentless ego. Come fall, however, there’s no avoiding me, and I’m only a little bit sorry for that.
Fall is my favorite season for many reasons including the cooler weather and the birthdays that four out of five members of our family have at this time each year. But really, I love fall because it marks the return of Travis Naughton, community presence/egomaniac. Brace yourselves, Ashland/Hartsburg/Englewood/Wilton/Claysville: I’m back!
For starters, with school back in session I will be resuming my substitute teaching duties whenever I am called to serve. I will also be in the press box for every middle school, junior varsity, and even one or two varsity football games this season, serving once again as the public address announcer, or as I like to refer to myself: “The Voice of the Eagles.” (Read that again in a booming announcer voice for the full effect.) In October, I’ll be donning my ministerial robes once more when I conduct my sixth wedding ceremony of 2016, this time in Englewood. And of course, I’ll keep on churning out Pulitzer-quality newspaper columns week after week, too.
I can see how it might appear to some folks that all of this is just a pathetic cry for attention from an insecure man with a huge ego and low self-esteem. Those folks would be correct. However, there is something more to it than just me being an insufferable narcissist.
The fact of the matter is that I really love our community. I love the people. I love the schools. I love the small-town vibe and everything that goes along with it. Southern Boone County is a special place, and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. Before Bethany and I settled here in 1999, I never felt truly at home anywhere I had lived previously. Even in my hometown of Hannibal, where I lived for ten years until I graduated from high school in 1990, I often felt like an outsider. It wasn’t until my senior year, when I was the president of the student council, the editor of the yearbook, and the drum major of the marching band, that I finally started to feel like I belonged. Then I moved away.
Nine years later, when we moved to our hidden house in the woods near Hartsburg, I felt like an outsider once again. We didn’t know a soul in the area. I felt virtually invisible for several years until I decided to come out of hiding and become involved in the community. I started getting to know the people of Southern Boone County. I began writing for the Journal. I took a stab at mentoring kids as a school volunteer. I applied to be a substitute teacher. I agreed to coach t-ball and have a go at announcing football games. I became ordained and started solemnizing the marriages of friends and neighbors. And just this summer, I accepted an offer from an Ashland couple to serve as a board member for their charitable foundation. In short, I decided to give everything I could to my adopted hometown, and in return my adopted hometown gave me the enormously comforting feeling that I belong.
Good people of Southern Boone County, if you are suffering from overexposure to Travis, (also known as Naughton-Fatigue Syndrome,) you really have no one to blame but your own wonderful, accepting, and supportive selves. Thank you, friends. For everything.