The perks of being a key-to-the-city recipient


​In late 2018, I was given the Key to the City of Jasper – yes, the Key to the City – from then Jasper Mayor Terry Seitz, who, at the time, had only a few days left as leader of our fine city.

What the hell was the mayor thinking? some of you – who know me (really well) – are probably thinking. “Has Terry lost his mind? You shouldn’t give Scott the key to anything; first and foremost, he’ll lose it; or he’ll forget what it’s for (as attested by a half dozen mystery keys in his kitchen’s junk drawer).” Fair enough.

​Personally, I think Terry made a sane decision: after seven productive years shaping the future of our fair city, Terry, hoping to make one final noteworthy executive decision – perhaps his greatest to date, the capstone of his local political career – soon realized he only had enough time left to desperately grasp a piece of low hanging fruit (so low he actually had to bend over to pick it) and shouted to his personal assistant, “Lisa, quick, make up one of those key things for Scott Saalman. What? Yes. Seriously, Scott Saalman. No, no, not the play-by-play sports radio guy Scott Sollman. Scott Saalman, the Herald guy. Or the other Scott. Whatever. That whole Scott and Scott thing always confused me. What? I don’t care if Scott Sollman lives in Huntingburg. Just order a key before my stint is up. We’ll go with whatever Scott the engraver spells. I still think they’re the same person anyway.”

​Spelling error or not, I am humbled by the honor bestowed by the mayor.

​What does the Key to the City open? you ask.

​Truth is, I can’t answer that question. It’s so top secret that the mayor has yet to tell me, and since he’s no longer the mayor now, I may never know. Based on the key’s largeness, I suspect it might have something to do with opening Patoka Lake’s dam gates to flood our city should angry space aliens land in Jasper and attack. I could be wrong, but I keep watching the skies.

​What sweet perks come with the Key to the City?

• Legally, you now must apply the title Sir to my name. Sir Scott Saalman. It’s in the fine print of your official Jasper residency papers that you likely misplaced. Trust me on this.

• Legally, I have to go to the front of lines at all local restaurants so I can get my food quickly in case of an alien attack. Oh, and I am pardoned from tipping.

​I cannot think of a better city-sanctioned honor than Key to the City. Well, other than naming a street after me (maybe the motion was tabled for 2019). OK, I admit it, I’ve long been jealous of famous Jasper High School graduate Scott Rolen. Forget the eight Gold Gloves, seven All-Star Game appearances and a World Series ring earned during his amazing Major League career. I’m most impressed with Scott Rolen Drive.

​I’m envious that he has a Jasper street named after him, but not obsessively envious. ​

​Driving to work this morning, I went out of my way to take a spin on Scott Rolen Drive. Pausing to stare at the street sign, I fully closed my left eye while squinting my other eye just right so that Rolen was blurred out and imagined Saalman in its place. Scott Saalman Drive. It has such a nice ring to it, though Scott Saalman Street sounds cooler.

​Like I said, I don’t obsess over Scott Rolen Drive, especially knowing that owning the Key to the City comes with its own distinctive coolness.

​OK. I was going to leave this part out, but I’ll be honest with you. While cruising on Scott Rolen Drive a second time this morning, I measured the street end-to-end with my car’s trip odometer. The street is .05 tenths of a mile long, a half-of-one-tenth of a mile, an eye blink of a street really, perhaps the tiniest street/drive/avenue in town – or in the nation for that matter. I mean, who was this street built for? Kids on Big Wheels? Lilliputians? To become more pavement worthy, what else does Rolen have to do? – win the Kentucky Derby (and I don’t mean as a jockey)?

​At least I’m not obsessed over Scott Rolen Drive.

​Tonight, I decided to measure my Key to the City. The tape measure determined it was a whopping 9.5 inches long, which is monster-sized compared to the common 2-inch household key. I felt good about the size of my Key to the City in comparison to the smallness of Scott Rolen Drive, that is, until I calculated it would take 333 Keys to the City to stretch from one end of Scott Rolen Drive to the other.

​OK. I get it. Rolen clearly earned his street sign, and I earned the Key to the City – likely because the acrylic engraver accidentally spelled Saalman instead of Sollman.

​Don’t worry, dear reader. I won’t let this local fame go to my head. I’m still the same old Scott Saalman I ever was – just don’t forget to call me Sir Scott Saalman.

​Oh, and if you’re reading this, new Jasper Mayor Dean Vonderheide, Scott Saalman Alley isn’t beneath me. You can leave off the Sir to save space. Just saying.

​Crap, now where did I put that key?

See humorists Scott Saalman, Abbie Rumbach and musician Debbie Schuetter perform their stories and songs at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 17, at the Jasper Library. No charge.

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