Blogs > Jim Collins' Editor's Notebook

Jim Collins is editor emeritus of The News-Herald and also serves as executive in residence at Lakeland Community College. His popular weekly column appears each Sunday in Comment in The News-Herald.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Picking topics to avoid getting too grumpy

We are far enough into the new year that you’ve had plenty of opportunity by now to break most, if not all, of your new year’s resolutions.

I don’t know about you, but I always thought such foolishness was a waste of time. If you want to do something, do it NOW, don’t wait for a new year, when you have no idea what might happen.

That is why I never made new year’s resolutions — until now. This year I have made two. If you can stand the suspense, I will tell you in a minute what they are.

But first, let’s think about what most people resolve. They resolve to lose weight. (I am happy with what I weigh.) They resolve to quit smoking. (I don’t smoke.) They resolve to eat more sensibly.

Now wait a minute! I think I eat fairly sensibly, unless fanatics who made this resolution are talking about giving up dessert.

For me, that resolution would last about two days, maybe one. Because you don’t complete a meal unless you  have dessert. And everyplace the lady of the house and I go, I order dessert.

Now, she’s not a big dessert eater. At 4 feet 11, she’s not a big anything, except for the intangibles, like love, affection, compassion for animals and things like that.

In those departments, she is about 10 feet tall.

By the way, Morris Beverage, the man we call “Duke,” who is president of Lakeland Community College, was once forced by the aforementioned lady during a speech on ethics to add “compassion” to his list of virtues shared by you and me and others like us.

He listed “honesty” and “loyalty” and about a dozen other traits we all admire, but he didn’t mention “compassion.” He promised to add it.

But I digress.

I said she never orders dessert. But I always ask for two spoons, because she always wants “just a taste.”

I don’t mind in the least, except that everywhere we go, she knows what dessert tastes like because she has tasted all of them.

At Noosa, it’s the tiramasu. At Skye Restaurant, it’s the pecan ball. At Molinari’s, its The Bomb. At Hellriegel’s,  it’s the peppermint stick ice cream.

By the way, they don’t always have peppermint stick ice cream, which is very upsetting for two people I know — me and Bryan Flanigan.

So here’s my question: If it’s a seasonal item, why can’t they just order a couple hundred gallons ahead of time and keep it in the freezer? Isn’t that where you keep ice cream?

Speaking of Hellriegel’s, we go there on Saturday night, about 7:15. Know why? Because Jim and Marge Zampini go there on Saturday night. They make a reservation for 6, get there about 5:45, are finished in an hour, and are gone about the time we are arriving.

When I call, I ask for their table. It’s the best location in the house. But that has nothing to do with my two resolutions. One of them is not to be grumpy, and the other is to take more time when I am writing so as not to scribble.

I am a terrible scribbler. When I take notes, I cannot read them. I make entries in my checkbook that I cannot translate into common sense.

We once had three terrible scribblers at The News-Herald. The other two were Dudley Thomas and Dave Jones. The Historical Society once asked for samples of our handwriting. That’s how bad it was.

Last month, I addressed one Christmas card. When I looked at it, I couldn’t read it.

I hollered out for help. Guess what? She addressed the cards and I put on the stamps and mailed them.

I guess they arrived on schedule, because the post office didn’t return any. She attributes her exquisite handwriting to the nuns who wouldn’t accept anything less than perfection.

Signing the cards was no problem. Fortunately, I once ordered several boxes of cards from the Professional Golf Association and inside was printed “From Jim and Mary.”

But that doesn’t work when am writing checks. So I am writing slower, because that is the best way to overcome scribbling.

So far I haven’t broken either of my resolutions. I am writing much slower now, even though there is great temptation to write faster and get it over with.

And I haven’t been grumpy all year. That means there are certain people I cannot watch on TV any more because they have an infallible knack for making me grumpy.

Some of them hold very high office. But I will not get into that, because thinking about them only makes me grumpy.

That is why I will not worry about the Cleveland Browns in 2014. They only make me grumpy. Talk about an inept organization. Good grief! They have a losing season, so the owner fires the coach and leaves in place the two lugs who hired him.

Isn’t that what they call a “Ship of Fools”?


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