This month marks my 35th year in television. It seems like just yesterday I was nervously standing in front of a camera, not sure which direction to look, unprepared for my segment and babbling incoherently. Wait a second — that was yesterday!
I originally wrote that paragraph in 2009, lamenting that after all my years on earth, I had failed to improve in 10 specific areas. I pledged to make strides and then update readers on my progress in about five years. So, as promised, here goes:
1. Am I a better dresser now? For the past five years I have tried very hard to get my shoes, shirt and pants to match. The pressure has been so great that I wore a tux to last year’s neighborhood pool party.
2. Am I a better driver? I haven’t gotten any better in the last five years. In fact, a few months after that article came out I was stopped by the police in Broad Ripple for hitting the curb while making a turn. The cop thought I was drunk. “I’m not,” I told him. “I’m just a lousy driver.” Did you know you can get a ticket for that, also?
3. Am I a better golfer? Not by a single stroke. I’m up to 2,500 rounds of golf, 5,000 lost golf balls, 200,000 swings and 11,000 expletives. Since writing the article I have qualified for the senior league, which means I can hit from the ladies’ tee. My score hasn’t gotten much better, but I’m meeting new people and getting invited to play mah jongg.
4. Do I have a better sense of direction? In downtown Indianapolis, I still get all turned around. I know that California is west and New York is east, but that doesn’t seem to help me find the City Market. Now that my wife is retired, I have a GPS (global positioning spouse) in my car, which is a big help.
5. Am I a better typist? Since that 2009 column, I have written three more books and 200 more columns. But after all these years I still can’t figure out that shift key, which is why when I finally look up at the page, a sentence will look like something like this: mARY eLLEN AND i JUST RETURNED FROM sEATTLE, wASHINGTON.
6. Am I a better dancer? I have gotten better this past year just from watching “Dancing with the Stars.” I’m thinking I might even be good enough to give Bill Nye the Science Guy a run for his money.
7. Am I better at fixing things? Nope. I still hire a handyman to fix everything. The hourly rate has never changed. He charges $50 an hour, or $75 if I insist on helping him.
8. Am I better with names? Actually, I am. I know more names now than I did five years ago. I just don’t know whom they belong to. I am very, very close to just calling everybody “Buddy.” The problem is that my barber’s name is Buddy, and this is really going to confuse him.
9. Am I better at buying and reserving stuff online? No, I’m worse. I hate it when I make a mistake or omit something, and then they outline the error in a red box, like I was in the third grade. Last month I booked a hotel in Washington State instead of downtown Washington, D.C., which would have put me 2,700 miles from my reunion. Too bad — I was really hoping to see all my “buddies.”
10. Am I a better writer? Seriously? Did you read this column?