Royko didn’t like me. He didn’t like anybody. Well, I guess he liked his family and a few other people in life, but he sure as hell never liked any up-and-coming columnist, whether it was someone at his own paper or a punk at the rival rag.
Well now, that makes whom look bad? Royko or Roeper?
Roeper quotes an Esquire Mag writer in a 4/1/03 article about Bob Greene in which Royko meets Roeper at Billy Goat’s in 1990 and vents his irritation while treating him to some rough, raw, masculine, funny-as-hell humor.
“Roeper! What are you doing at my table!” Royko asked, having joined Roeper and others at their table.
Then: “Roeper! Where the hell did you come from, anyway!”
Then: “Roeper! Do you use your column to get laid?”
At which point, if Roeper had the wit and nerve for it, he would have, could have said something along lines of: “Why else do you think I do it?”
Ah, but to be thus belligerent in response to the much-lubricated belligerent great man would take more wit and nerve than most columnists or most news people sitting at Billy Goat’s could call up on the spot, and Roeper instead said, “Excuse me.”
Which leaves us with the question, Why is Roeper bringing it up now?
His own career has been one long often wise-acre commentary in the reliably liberal, progressive, left-wing, whatever, vein for which the market has always been present, as opposed to Royko’s heavily reportorial, expose-oriented, not reliably liberal five-day-a-week production touching four decades.
Royko drank too much and alienated people and along the way did become a legend. The better for a glib fellow 19 years later to call him out, safely in the grave, for once making the glib fellow the butt of barroom humor. Even pigmies have their day.