But as anyone who has ever made the mistake of asking for my opinion can testify, I will also opine at the fair market value - gratis. And sometimes I just keep giving and giving until the room is cleared or someone hangs himself.
My writing, I like to believe, is concise and to the point, almost blunt, some - perhaps the subject of the expose - say rude. But put me in a conversation, I am quite the opposite, verbose, annoyingly so at times.
That's step one in the program - recognition of the problem. I'm working on step two. Have been for a quite awhile.
I point out this character defect because of what happened earlier this week while at the dentist's office. I will grant my dentist anonymity because I have to return to his office on Oct. 25 at 10:30 a.m. and I don't want to risk upsetting anyone who pokes around inside my mouth with needles, drills and sharp objects.
But this dentist is just like my former - now retired - dentist, and I bet he is a lot like yours. Specifically, he likes to talk. More specifically, he likes to ask questions. The only problem is, I have trouble answering a question when someone's hand is knuckle-deep inside of my mouth and my face is contorted into a clench at the anticipation of someone literally hitting a nerve.
Here's how our conversation went. Remember, as the conversation took place, the dentist had the tip of my tongue secured between two fingers as he searched for gum disease.
My dentist: "So, do you think Dubyah got himself in trouble again?"
Dentist: "Say ahh."
Dentist: "I saw something on TV last night, some Woodward guy wrote a book that says some bad things about the president. I think his name was Woodward. You know who I'm talking about?"
Me: Anguished silence.
And so it went, but then it got worse, much worse.
Dentist: "So, what are you thinking about Carolina football this season? You think Bunting's going to get the job done?"
Me: Tortured silence.
Dentist: "You know, Donnie, you've got some of the nicest teeth of any of my patients. Perfectly aligned and pearl white. You should be proud."
Me: Nod of agreement.
Finally, the exam - and the agony - ended.
Free at last, I said, "Woodward's the guy who helped take down Nixon, the Washington Post reporter. No new revelations in his book. So Bush was anxious to invade Iraq? I think we already knew that. But you can believe that '60 Minutes' will have an attack piece on Bush every Sunday until the election.
"Bunting, I hope he makes it. But someone's going to win with the players he has recruited. I just hope it's Bunting."
Then I got my free toothbrush and Crest toothpaste, the kind for sensitive teeth.
I'm happy to be able to say - no cavities, no gingivitis.
That's a fact, not my opinion.