The deed is done. After months of hype and well-intentioned buildup I can no longer be referred to as Short-timer, a name Iíve been called since January. I am officially out of here, done, finito, retired. Iíve completed a fulfilling, wonderful 23 years at Tarleton State University and over 36 years of work in the theatre. Itís been a fantastic ride.

My friends and colleagues have asked the same question, ďWhat are you going to do?Ē

Do? Are you insinuating that I must continue to do? The more appropriate question is, ďWhat are you NOT going to do?Ē

I will not wear ties, button down collar shirts, shoes with tassels, or belts. I will not wear long pants nor shoes and socks except when going to church and funerals and maybe out to dinner. Not even in the winter.

I will not have a schedule. I will not get up every day and go to work for up to 60 hours per week. I will not go to work early in the morning while itís still dark and return home in the evening when itís dark. I will not be stressed by endless deadlines and production schedules. I will not eat everything on my plate at luncheons I am expected to attend. I will not go to luncheons I am expected to attend. I will not deal with rude, irrational, emotional people for the good of the company.

I will not miss any more Dallas Cowboys games on television due to work conflicts and I will not miss a Super Bowl, ever again.

I will not be receiving a paycheck. Oh, wellÖ

Certainly there are many things I am looking forward to. I will wear the neat T-shirt my wife purchased that says, ďIím Retired, Youíre Not, Nah- nah- nah- nah- nah- nah.Ē I will only wear it occasionally so as not to annoy all of you hard working folk.

I will spend the majority of my time outside. Iíve always found it ironic that my passion is outdoor pursuits including hiking and backpacking but my profession kept me indoors, most of the time in a dark theatre designing lighting for a production. Those who know me well will tell you Iím always in the dark.

I will continue to write this column as long as the new Managing Editor will accept my work and/or I donít get run out of town for boring stories.

There are plenty of honey-dos around the house, travel to be taken, more fishing, avoiding home every weekday from 1 - 3 p.m. when my wife watches her soaps, volunteer work to be done. You might even spot me grocery shopping more often.

I will spend a lot more time with my wife. Iíve missed her immensely over the years. I look forward to being with my family and friends, enjoying life.

Please donít ask me to do anything just yet. Iím too busy trying to figure out what Iím doing today.

Richard Denning is Professor and Department Head Emeritus of Fine Arts, Tarleton State University and a Texas high school football official. He was raised in Miami, Florida, which accounts for his large collection of tropical shirts and the ability to walk in flip-flops without making noise. ďBackstageĒ focuses on people and events that keep life interesting.