Monday, January 1, 2007

resolution resale - recycling human nature

This column of mine appeared in 1/2/91 issue of The Reporter, a now defunct weekly newspaper in North Conway, New Hampshire.

So it's Jan 2, 1991. (Well it was when I wrote this.) Resolutions already broken?
Don't throw them away. My Uncle Jake has a friend who's in the recycling business. "Fred's Old Age Home and Recycling Center for Broken New Year's Resolutions, Dreams and High Hopes." Every January 1st, the sandwich sign at the end of the driveway says "Big Sale today: two for one."

Uncle Jake and I rode out to see Fred last week, to see what the specials were for 1991. Now, I have personal statute of limitations on New Year's resolutions, Once their year is up, it's up. I never make the same resolution two years in a row. Why spin your tires on sheet ice?

Fred's place is a long, rangy one-story shack with lots of little rooms added on one at a time, probably without asking the planning board. The stove pipes all stick out sideways and the shingles are falling off.

Old Fred looked pretty scruffy and sad when he came out to meet us. I guess it's pretty depressing work cleaning up after all those broken resolutions. "What can I git yah this year?" he asked, slapping Jake hard on the back as they ducked through the low doorway of the shop.

"Well, I'm not so sure," Jake said. "What you got that's cheap?" Fred ushered us over to a dusty table with heaps of old papers with fancy letters. Resolve: No more drinkin' cussin' or lyin.' Resolve: To invite your crabby mother over for dinner once a month and treat her nice no matter how bad she acts. Resolve: To be a better neighbor and to paint the kitchen for Molly. Resolve: To save $10 every week and mend my own socks. Each scroll was tattered and had strips of crinkled, yellowed scotch tape where Fred had mended it.
"So - did you bring a trade-in?" he asked. Yep. Last year I resolved to show how I felt toward people more, try to let the soft heart show instead of always playing the wicked cynic. I had some mixed results there. (I guess I really am a wicked cynic.)

Old Fred said he had a wide selection of barely used, mostly broken resolutions that could replace it. He highly recommended that I swap for a "No more negative attitude" resolution. Fred says that resolution is out of favor now, because with the declining economy, negativism is in, and he'll sell that one cheap. No surprise there.

Uncle Jake couldn't decide between a "Not talking so much when I drink," and a "Keeping the cellar clean," which I must say he would break in half an hour taking some Christmas present apart to see how it worked. (He'd break the other one too.) To trade,  Jake  brought along a "Not to pinch my wife in public," resolution which he broke at 12:07 a.m. on on January 1, while he was still at a New Year's eve party at the neighbors house. (Fred is very fond of Jake because he often has something unusual to trade...)

Uncle Jake suggested I might want to get a diet resolution because he was worried about the springs in his truck. "Mind your own business," I snapped. "I don't need one of those right now." Besides without a "self discipline" resolution, there's no sense to it.

I hope your resolutions last longer than mine. I won't tell you what I finally swapped for at Fred's. I'll probably break it anyway. Happy New Year.