I was logging into my online e-mail one morning and I happened to notice, below the spot where you type your user name and password, there was a link that asked, “No account?”

I thought, “Well, I guess I am, come to think of it!”

Probably no better way to describe myself: No-account. I can hear my father saying many years ago, “That fella’s about as no-account as they get.” I have grown into my father’s analogy, I’m afraid.

Ah, what grand schemes I made for my future! There were hundreds of them. Even in grade school, I knew I wanted to be a writer. I remember mentioning to my sophomore year ag teacher, Mr. Pat McKoin, that I intended to be a writer.

He said, “That’s fine, if you don’t mind starving to death.”

Wise words, there. My father took a dim view of crafting the written word as well. He was a man who, at various times in his life, earned his keep by carpentry, cutting and inscribing marble tombstones and such, and working at the carbon black plant. The notion, to him, of writing for a living was about the same as being a philosopher. As Patrick McManus once noted, “Scholars have long known that fishing eventually turns men into philosophers. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to buy decent tackle on a philosopher’s salary.”

But I merrily threw myself into this sordid business at the tender age of 15, in 1980. Ah, the folly of youth! And here I sit, some three decades later, and yeah, the ends are meeting, but the rope sure is pulled taut!

Oh, and there were other schemes. I’d be an environmental scientist. I’d be an anthropologist. I’d make a fortune selling seashells by the seashore. You name it. About the only thing I didn’t try was Amtrak, or Amway or whatever the devil that thing is called.

I’ve noted before, I can see the so-said mourners at my funeral after I’ve gone to Happy Hunting Ground standing around with coffee in those little paper cups with the pull-out handles talking among themselves:

“Ol’ Stouff, he sure didn’t amount to much, did he?” one would say, probably one of my closest friends.

Another beloved compatriot nods solemnly. “Yeah, lots of waste there. All those years babbling on and on about his cat and his dog and creeks and politics! Meanwhile, half of his classmates from high school are making six-digits and retired at 40.”

The third says, “I wonder if his family had the money to bury him, or they had to take out a loan?”

Finally the fourth, the true friend in this den of snakes, pipes up, “Yeah, but he caught a helluva lot of fish!”

Ah, heck, I don’t want a funeral anyway, except maybe at most one like Curtis Lowe got:

Old preacher said some words

And they chunked him in the clay–

(Lynyrd Skynyrd Band)

Or maybe no funeral at all, I’d go out how John Prine described when he sang his wish for his final resting place…er, places:

Please don’t bury me

Down in that cold cold ground

No, I’d druther have ‘em cut me up

And pass me all around

Throw my brain in a hurricane

And the blind can have my eyes

And the deaf can take both of my ears

If they don’t mind the size –

No account. Yup. Last thing in the world I want to be is a fine, upstanding citizen. Takes up to much creek time. Last spring, I had so many commitments I could barely step into a puddle of water in the yard, much less wade a creek. Heck with that.

See, they way I look at it, the only legacy I want to leave behind is the one that made me happiest when I was alive. Sure, I got books that might linger on for a few decades, if they don’t go out of print from lack of sales before this summer. Yeah, I’ve got this vast collection of columns floating around the Internet that might even outlive me. But beyond that, I am quite satisfied being a no account, as my father feared I would become.

Oh, I moan about having lots of money and nice stuff. But the proof is in the pudding, that the best things in life may not be free, but for the cost of good food and some vet bills, you can’t go wrong with puppy dogs, my friends.

As it happens, I do have accounts. Mostly e-mail accounts, web forum accounts and credit card accounts that I vigorously abuse in pursuit of the perfect fly rod and wading sandal (I’m still looking for both.)

There’s a little house for sale in the red dirt hills north of here, long, long away from anything, near a buncha fine, fine little creeks. It’s a cute little cottage with a nice little yard, good trees and great views, and the price is really nice. In fact, it’s got about everything I need, except a job within a hundred miles.

So it goes.

I get folks from high school come back to town and tell me now and then, “Man, you need to move to (name a major city) and get out of this Podunk little town. I got (name any number of expensive material goods) and you could have all that too!”

My response usually is, “Yeah, but you got a creek and a puppy dog, Mr. Big Shot?”

I reckon, after all, I’m pretty happy with my no-accountedness. Heck, some of the best people I know are no accounts. You know who you are, don’t try to hide.

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