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Time’s pinch 





When I was just a lad, my highest ambition was to leap tall buildings in a single bound. It didn’t matter much which ones.

Most of my pals aspired to another of Superman’s powers, namely his X-ray vision that let him peer beneath women’s garments and undergarments any time he took the notion. In the case of my pals, they would have had theirs turned on pretty much constantly.

I was intrigued by that too, but my real hankering was to go bounding over those skyscrapers. Faster than a speeding bullet and more powerful than a locomotive were matters of relative indifference. I told this ambition to a psychoanalyst one time, and he said it was kin to my flying dreams — soaring on outstretched arms over the Home Place and familiar environs. A common longing: Meant I hoped for fame and glory, to rise above my humble earthbound circumstances and achieve great things.

Duh, I duhed. Didn’t all youngsters aim so high?

Well, actually, no, he said. There’s a git-r-done multitude content to gambol along with the herd. Not everybody wants to be Christopher Columbus or Clark Kent.

Sure enough, the day came when I got a fairly confident sense of Ol’ Moi and his place in the Great Chain. And soon after I felt the tug of herdplay, or admitted to it, and by and by lost the Icarus dreams and ceased to see tall buildings in the same way I did the high hurdles on the cinder track out behind the school.

A lot of life is getting acquainted thus with the ordinary, and learning and accepting the confines of experience, and recognizing the titans, the supermen, as trifling things. They only have archfiends to contend with, not relentless mortality, or real loss, or the pinch of time. Their course having been laid out for them, they would not, in other words, be candidates for New Year’s resolutions.

The foregoing existential murk notwithstanding, today’s topic is those New Year’s resolutions for the rest of us who are not out to leap tall buildings or reach the unreachable star. My modest goal this coming year is to better heed the received wisdom. I don’t mean pondering pipsqueak advice like quit digging your grave with a knife and fork. I mean earnest counsel from people who are now dead and so will no longer suffer the mountebank’s yak.

For instance, ’06 NY rez No. 1 is: I’m really not going to take any wooden nickels. I’m sorry, I’m just not. I’ve always taken them before, and resented those who passed them off on me, thinking they’d pulled a fast one — but no more. No wooden nickels or metal ones either. Not even the new buffalo nickels with the fisheye Thomas Jefferson obversed. Just keep ’em. Nickels have come to be as worthless as pennies got to be back in 1954. That was the year it went from a penny to two pennies for the handful of peanuts from the peanut machine to put in your 5-cent Coca-Cola, which went up to 10 cents the following year. The world hasn’t been worth a damn ever since then, and I can’t help but think that the nickel’s sad decline had something to do, if only as augury, with the consequent universal entropic creep.

No. 2 is, I’m not going to jump out of the frying pan into the fire. I used to do that regularly, or frequently, in a manner of speaking, but the thrill is gone, as it is with the slots, where the best you can hope for is as many nickels, or quarters, banging back into the pan as you’ve already stuffed the machine with. Lunacy. I’m curious where the expression came from. If it came from literal experience, it would’ve had to have been a mighty small person doing the jumping from the pan to the fire. Much smaller than dwarf or pygmy, maybe no larger than one of those zygotes that the professional pro-lifers love so — because wouldn’t a creature big enough to jump at all make sure to put enough oomph in it to achieve the velocity to land out beyond what the Man in Black called the burnin’ ring of far? I’m just asking. A saner resolution might be to stay out of frying pans altogether. When a fire is going on under them. Or when someone is lurking nearby who you think might be entertaining the thought of sneaking up when you’re not looking and turning the burner on.

I won’t be taking the bull by the horns, or, as Tiberius described the posture of one who had assumed political power, the wolf by the ears.

I won’t beat around the bush. Never have, and see no reason to start in 2006. Not sure I’d even know how. What is it around the bush that beaters-around-the-bush beat? And what do they beat it with? Do they sell beaters for this purpose at Wal-Mart? I’m guessing it’s not like an eggbeater or drumbeater or meat-beater, and a further guess is that the bush isn’t a presidential relative, and a further one is that the expression isn’t descriptive of inexpertly attempted coitus.




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