Here in the newspaper business (Motto: ``Eventually, We WILL Find Your Driveway'') we have a strict rule: We don't print ANYTHING unless we know it's true.
Except for the horoscope, of course. No offense, but if you take the horoscope seriously, your frontal lobes are the size of Raisinets. Also some of the comics are not 100 percent accurate. For example, in real life, Garfield walks on four legs. He's a CAT, for gosh sakes!
Also, to be honest, many of us who work at newspapers don't hold the opinions that our newspapers express in the editorials. Some of us don't even know where these opinions come from. They just mysteriously appear, like Batman.
But basically we try to be accurate. When we're writing our stories, we don't guess about facts. If we have ANY question, we thoroughly check the fact out by taking a poll of the journalists sitting around us in the newsroom.
For example, if we need the name of the U.S. secretary of state, we yell, ``Anybody know the name of the U.S. secretary of state?'' Then we listen to the various opinions of our cubicle neighbors. Only when we have carefully weighed their views do we proceed with writing the story (``The U.S. secretary of state, a short little lady possibly named `Marge,' said today that ...'').
Yes, we have high standards for accuracy. That's why - despite all these new-fangled inventions such as the Internet, TV, the telegraph, etc. - surveys show that newspapers remain the most trusted source of news for consumers in the coveted demographic of People Who Are Dead Or Older.
And that is why today I am deeply concerned about a letter I received from a concerned reader named Lloyd Peyton, who believes that I made a mistake in a column I wrote last year about my living room being infested by frogs. In this column, I quoted the Lone Ranger as saying: ``Hi-ho, Silver, away!'' According to Mr. Peyton, this is incorrect. He contends that the Lone Ranger said, quote, ``Hi-yo, Silver, away!'' - in other words, a ``yo'' instead of a ``ho.'' Mr. Peyton says that having the Lone Ranger say ``Hi-ho'' is like having Santa Claus go ``Yo! Yo! Yo!''
This really stunned me, because I grew up watching the Lone Ranger, and I always believed that he said ``Hi-ho.'' I never questioned this. What I DID question was how come he thought that putting on a little black mask would protect his Secret Identity. I mean, if you put on one of those masks, I guarantee you everybody will still know who you are. (You are a dork wearing a mask.) I had the same problem with Superman, who put on a pair of ordinary eyeglasses, and suddenly all the other characters thought he was a completely different person. (I bet they were BIG horoscope fans.)
Anyway, to settle the issue of ``Hi-ho'' vs. ``Hi-yo,'' I contacted William Safire, who is the world's highest-ranking English-language authority who is willing to take my calls. He did not hesitate for a second.
``Hi-yo,'' he said.
Next I checked with various professional newspaper editors, most of whom were certain, without even consulting their cubicle neighbors, that the Lone Ranger shouted ``Heigh-ho.'' In my dictionary, ``Heigh-ho'' is defined as ``an exclamation of mild surprise, boredom, disappointment, fatigue, greeting, etc.'' I find it hard to believe that this is the mood that the Lone Ranger wanted to convey to his horse moments after rounding up a passel of varmints.
I also checked with various authors whom I happen to be in a very bad rock band with, including Amy Tan and Ridley Pearson, who both said ``Hi-ho.'' (Amy noted, ``In the dubbed version in China, it was ``Ai-yo, Shrivah!'')
Stephen King said: ``Hi-yo. I used it in `It' (my novel `It,' that is) and I'm sure. My brother thought it was `Hi-Lo Silver, away,' but that makes zero sense.''
Other responses from friends and relatives included ``High ho,'' ``Hiyo,'' ``Ohio'' and various versions that I cannot print in the newspaper, because they suggest that the Lone Ranger and Silver had perhaps spent a little too much time together alone together, if you catch my drift.
Anyway, having weighed the evidence, I now believe that I was incorrect, and that the Lone Ranger probably said ``Hi-yo, Silver'' as he rode off into the sunset with his faithful companion, who, according to my cubicle neighbors, was named Madeleine Albright.
But now I'm wondering: If I was wrong about the Lone Ranger, am I also wrong about what I believe the little boy on ``Rin Tin Tin'' yelled to call Rin Tin Tin (``Yo, Rinny!'')? And what about what I believe was the Secret Yell that the boys on ``Lassie'' used to signal each other (``Kee-ah-kee!'' answered by ``Ki-yi-yi-yi!'')?
Am I wrong about EVERYTHING? If so, all I can say is, I'm in the right business.
Dave Barry is a humor columnist for the Miami Herald. For Internet addicts, Dave's Web site is www.herald.com/davebarry/.