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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Boldly Going Nowhere

Thursday, December 27, 2001

The Year of Surprises

2001 was a year of surprises:JANUARY: The presidential election was so close it was still being debated during the inauguration. The Democrats had presented us with a man from Tennessee who had the charisma of a hickory tree and falsely claimed he had invented the Internet. The Republicans countered with the only man in Texas who had no personality and managed to get through life with a vocabulary of about 85 words. In the end, the voters did the best they could to make sure neither one of them won -- they made it a tie. After much political wrangling and a close examination of dimpled chads, one of them won anyway.

FEBRUARY: My fourth novel was published. After years of writing and a ton of rejection letters, all four of my novels were now in print. For a long time, I wondered if it would ever happen. While they aren't on any best-seller list (yet), I'm genuinely surprised I actually managed to pull it off.

MARCH: I began writing a weekly newspaper column for The News. Surprise #1 -- they actually published it. Surprise #2 -- they continue to publish it. Surprise #3 -- after 10 months, I still haven't run out of things to say.

APRIL: Doing my federal taxes cost me about 10 hours of lost time and gave me a massive headache. The surprise was that I managed to get through it without having to consult a tax accountant or a clinical psychologist.

MAY: It rained quite a bit and everything turned green, including several fuzzy items on the lower shelf of my refrigerator. The surprise came when one of the fuzzy green items in my refrigerator sprouted legs and began to move. I think it was either a cucumber or some guacamole dip. I shot it twice and threw it into the woods.

JUNE: The chiggers made their annual pilgrimage to my country estate. While this wasn't a big surprise, they were a bit more organized this year. They posted a schedule of my daily activities and set up a buffet line near my back porch.

JULY: It was a dull, hot month. The surprise was that it turned out to be the only month without a surprise.

AUGUST: After more than 30 years as a computer programmer and consultant, I accepted a position as a college instructor. This may not be a surprise to the rest of the world, but it was a big surprise to me.

SEPTEMBER: A bunch of crazed terrorists surprised the whole world when they attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon without warning or regard for human life. Apparently, these malicious jerks had this overwhelming desire that every man on the planet wear a towel on their head and keep their women indoors at all times. They were led by a man named Osama who has five wives and a brain the size of a walnut. Of course I'm just guessing, but I assume anyone with five wives must have a brain the size of a walnut.

OCTOBER: A disgruntled, trigger-happy neighbor shot and killed my dog. It was a stunning surprise since I had never been forewarned that my dog was causing a problem. The second surprise came when the shooter denied knowing it was my dog even though he had dumped the carcass over onto my side of the fence.

NOVEMBER: My father fell off a ladder and landed on his head. He chose to do this on a day my mother was out of town and we were under a tornado watch. I drove him down to an emergency room in Batesville, during one of the most violent thunderstorms in recent memory, where 21 staples were inserted into the back of his head. While this accident was not so unusual, the surprise was that he is now more coherent than before.

DECEMBER: The stock market recovered to previous levels that had existed prior to the September terrorist attack. My ex-wife paid $600 for a cat with a terminal illness. A band of thugs in Afghanistan were hiding in caves like a pack of cornered rats. I've been approached to do a computer programming contract for a firm in Memphis. Miami and Nebraska are headed for the Rose Bowl. My new dog threw up in my shoe. Surprises come in all forms, including chunky liquids.

At least I survived another year. At my age, this is always a surprise.