Have you made your New Year's resolutions yet? No? I haven't either, because I have come to realize that if you live long enough you pretty well become accustomed to the way you are and find it tedious to try remaking your body, behavior and mind.
Even if you feel comfortable in your own shirt, though, there is always the matter of the people you live with: They might have their own ideas about how to change you. Therefore, with the goal of improving the world - letting my wife tell me what I'm doing wrong with my life - I hesitantly asked her what resolutions I should make for 2010.
"I can't tell you what to do," she said, "and pick up those books you laid on the coffee table."
"But surely there's some small change I could make," I offered.
"The only thing I can think of," she said, "is to do something about your clutter."
"But I work for a newspaper," I replied. "Remember, it could be worse. I could be a ..."
She held up her hand.
"I know, I know. You could be a mortician and your clutter could be laid out on slabs; you've said that before. But I have to tell you, I doubt that bodies would collect dust the way papers, magazines and books do."
"Let's agree to disagree on that one," I said. "Anything else?"
"Well, there's the matter of helping more with the housework."
"What?" I shouted. "Just a minute. Let me turn off this vacuum cleaner so I can hear you. Would you move your feet so I can get that spot? Now, what were you saying?"
"Oh, nothing. Perhaps you could be more generous with your possessions. Uh, what's that ice cooler doing on the floor?"
"What, that? I just used a razor knife and the bathroom mirror to remove my good kidney so I can take it to the hospital in case someone else needs it. Now, what were you saying about sharing?"
She sighed again and said, "Just don't drip blood on that freshly vacuumed carpet. You know, our garage always needs straightening up."
"I really wanted to clean it out today," I said, "but that bird's nest is still in my leather tool belt hanging on the wall out there, and I'm afraid that if I rearrange things the mama bird might not be able to return home in the spring. That would be so sad."
I grabbed my car keys.
"Where are you going?" she said. "I've still got a few resolutions for you."
"Could you type them out on the computer?" I said. "After I drop off the kidney, I was going to cruise the neighborhood to give handouts to stray animals and then spay and neuter the homeless. Well, you know what I mean."
My wife sighed again. A woman who lives with perfection sighs a lot.
"Fine, but you might pick up another ream of computer paper while you're out."
SPEAKING OF PRINTERS: Nearly the whole family (we missed you, Tommy) camped out in our house the weekend before Christmas, and it was a joy having to step over that many people. Of all the memories from Christmas 2009, this one stands out:
As we opened presents, No. 1 grandchild Kelsey tore the paper off a present we gave her but didn't open the box, which was the one our computer printer had come in and was so marked.
As the other kids tore open their gifts with tornadic glee, we asked the always cool and collected Kelsey to open her box. In it she found a purse that my wife had picked out. She loved it, but when we asked why she had hesitated to open the box, she said, "I was OK with a printer."
You have to love kids like that. And we do, all seven of them, with No. 8 on the way.
Reach Glynn Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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