Ettie Newlands

Every couple of years, someone asks me how Column B got its name. Last week was one of those times.

Years ago, in Chinese restaurants up north — and maybe down south too, I don’t know — menus had two lists, Column A and Column B.

When you ordered your meal, you could choose two items from Column A and two items from Column B.

Column A had the basics. That included the rice which was white or fried, and the noodles that didn’t have options, and the soup.

But Column B had the fun stuff.

It had the chow mein and the chop suey, with the chicken or pork or shrimp or beef or vegetables.

Column B offered the specials such as the egg foo young, the moo goo gai pan, the dishes with snow peas and cashew nuts and lobster and all kinds of surprises.

Column B had the tidbits you searched around for with your fork, through the rice and the noodles, hoping they weren’t all gone.

In the early ‘80s, Wayne Weible, who owned the Horry News and Shopper, asked me to write a personal opinion column for his newspaper.

I told him I didn’t have any personal opinions, and honestly, I didn’t think I did.

I was in my 30s, I didn’t think my ideas were opinions, I thought they were facts. As in, “I’m in my 30s and I know everything.”

Everything was black and white in the ‘80s for me, and absolutes were myriad.

But I did start making notes about other people’s opinions, and behaviors, and conversations. And when I had amassed a few observations, they needed, like a baby, to be named.

I wanted the column to be fun and interesting, delicious, and chock full of one more forkful of the good stuff.

And so, Column B was named.

Since its early days in the Horry News and Shopper, Column B has been a regular feature in several other local publications.

The South Carolina Press Association has been kind to it, and I’ve been told it’s been under magnets on a few refrigerator doors.

Opinions and thoughts and even my facts have changed dramatically over the years, and Column B has reflected that.

Age has brought a whole lot of pigment to those black and whites absolutes, allowing me the luxury of simply changing my mind.

My hope has been that when people read Column B, it evokes a “Me too” response.

There is, after all, nothing new under the sun.

Thank you for continuing to read Column B. As long as you do, I’ll keep writing it.

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