Don Williams
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Don Williams is a prize-winning columnist, blogger, fiction writer, sometime TV commentator, and is the founder and editor emeritus of New Millennium Writings, an annual anthology of stories, essays and poems. His awards include a National Endowment for the Humanities Journalism Fellowship at the University of Michigan, a Golden Presscard Award from Sigma Delta Chi Society of Professional Journalists, a best Commentary Award from SDC, Best Feature Writing from the Associated Press Tennessee Managing Editors, the Malcolm Law Journalism Prize from the Associated Press, Best Non-Deadline Reporting from the United Press International, Best Novel Excerpt from the Knoxville Writers Guild, a Peacemaker Award from the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, five Writer of the Month Awards from the Scripps Howard Newspaper chain, and many others. In 2011 he was inducted into the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame. His 2005 book of journalism, Heroes, Sheroes and Zeroes is under revision for a second printing, and he is at work on a novel and a book of journalism. His columns appear at and have been featured at many other well-known websites. To run his column, gratis, at your website, post this link to a dedicated spot: Need a speaker, panelist, tv commentator or teacher for your group or to lead a writing workshop, in your town? Email

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Why the black cat crossed the road; Americas scariest people respond
(Copyright by Don Williams, All rights reserved   10/31/2003)

In honor of Halloween we've convened a panel of the nation's scariest people to answer a question that arises whenever the moon waxes yellow and graveyards yawn: Why did the black cat cross the road?

"Crossing Over" host John Edward. Everyone wants to know what's on the other side, so I understand the cat's motivation. However, I was born with this gift of reaching the other side without physically crossing over, and I can do this for others. For instance, in your case, I'm sensing... um, do you have a departed loved one who twirled a baton... I'm just seeing silver glinting in the light, maybe a cigarette lighter, no? How about somebody who built a fire, possibly in Canada... I'm seeing a snow bank or maybe a big pillow... know anyone who liked to sleep on a big white pillow? Your cousin, um, Myrtle, maybe? She lost something... or, um, lost a fierce competition... thumb-wrestling perhaps... no wait, she was hitchhiking to Canada and... you don't have a cousin Myrtle? Is there someone named Verlin or Lyn, I'm getting a strong 'n' sound, maybe John, in your family? Don't ask how I do it.

Singer Britney Spears, who recently appeared topless in "Rolling Stone" and bottomless in "Esquire." Gee, why did the cat cross the road? I know it sounds silly, but there comes a time when you have to stop teasing and put yourself on parade just to let the whole wide world see how svelte and grownup you've become and to prove you do more than purr. That cat needed to demonstrate its sexual allure and prove it was more than a candy-cream kitten for teenaged boys who, after all, have all grown up, like me, hee-hee.

Under Secretary of Defense, Paul Wolfowitz. Some of us were discussing just that question, speaking metaphorically, right after 9-11. Back then it was a hypothetical. We all agreed the road into Iraq needed to be crossed, but we had six different rationales as to why. We decided the thing we all could agree on was this this need for a red herring and so we tried it out before a study group composed, coincidentally, of black cats. We thought great, cats are independent thinkers, this should tell us something and they mostly followed that red herring across the road into Iraq. In retrospect we should have realized people are smarter than cats and if something smells fishy, like herring, they'll eventually sniff it out. I still say the road needed crossing but we could've come up with a better excuse.

Hot young violence-prone rapper, '50 Cent.' I can hang with the feline, cause I been shot nine times, once in the face, but I won the race, cause I keep comin' back, keep comin' back, crossin' that road just like a cat now what do you think about that?

Professional Jackass, Johnny Knoxville: Dude, that cat'd do anything to stop people in their tracks and make 'em do a doubletake, just like me. Only if it was me crossing the road I'd do it on a unicycle while naked except for red tennis shoes and a paper bag over my head and you know what would really rock would be if somebody was to set that bag on fire right while a bus load of Mennonite missionary women were passing by. Yep, I could teach that cat a thing or three about crossing the road. Go Vols.

The Rev. Jerry Falwell: I can't pretend to know what's in a black cat's heart, only to say it's likely lust. Lust is what all vessels of the flesh hold in common. That cat has most likely fallen prey to the Clintonites or homosexuals or some other brand of hedonist and libertine. Now, is that cat beyond redemption? Of course not. God doesn't hate the cat, he just hates the way it jumps up on the table when it thinks he's not looking and the way it mews and climbs the screen doors if he puts it out, and, of course, he despises any act born of feline lust. One day he'll remove his protection from the feline nation and it'll go to the dogs, just like our nation, I'm sad to say.

Hillary Clinton. I can speak only for myself, so let me say this as clearly as I can. I am NOT crossing the road. Not in 2004 at any rate. I intend to stay in the Senate like I promised and complete my work. Oh, sure, if the convention should be tied in knots next summer, who knows what might happen? But the last thing I want is to end up as road kill-I mean as a roadblock--on somebody's road to the White House, so if I cross that road, it'll likely be in 2008 or 2012 and only after a lot of careful study and discussion with Bill, and believe me, you will know about it. Maybe sooner than you think. What could be more clear?

Arnold Schwarzenegger. That cat crossed the road for a very good reason and it had nothing to do with girl cats or with Hitler. No. It was determined to terminate a rat, like I terminated Gray Davis. I am the terminator. The black cat is the terminator. Too many taxes? I will terminate them. Too much bureaucracy? I will terminate it. Too many fires? I will terminate them. If you don't believe me I will terminate you too. Happy Halloween.