Those of you who read this column regularly (no doubt with a bottle of BRIOSCHI near at hand) have likely noticed that my first column every new year is devoted to reviewing the old year. Last year I griped bitterly about 2019. Had I known what 2020 held in store for us, I would’ve declared last year a walk in the park. So it is with great trepidation that I place my faith and trust in 2021. I dare not tempt fate and utter the words, “How could it be worse?” Or when the hell do I get my vaccination? I’m tempering my expectations for the coming year. Let’s take a look back—
It comes as no surprise that my first column in 2019 was about President Donald J. Trump in THE GREAT WHITE HOPE. I drew a symbolic comparison between white reaction to Barack Obama’s presidency and Jack Johnson becoming the first black to hold boxing’s heavyweight title. The analogy might’ve been a bit overdone, but then I could’ve titled the column THE GREAT WHITE DOPE.
The next week, I was obviously struck by the need for a non-political theme. The best I could do was relay my troubles purchasing a pair of chino slacks. In retrospect, I fear that my belief in your interest in my waist size was overly optimistic. My column RETURN OF THE TOP TEN LIST was written because I thought you were longing for the return of David Letterman. I found out that many of you have already forgotten Mr. Letterman and didn’t grasp my astounding display of talent in recreating his humor. But it was better than me writing about my inability to find a pair of cotton pajamas at Macy’s. Yes, I’m old enough to wear pajamas.
It’s evident in rereading my column HANG IN THERE that much like President Trump, I was ignorant of the threat of COVID-19 last January. It was much like someone speculating on Dec. 6, 1941 that a vacation in Japan would be a good deal at the right price. I followed with a column ANSWERING THE MAIL — that columnists often write when they have nothing else to write about.
Still in my retro mode, I inexplicably recreated Johnny Carson’s character “Carnac” in the next column. Sad to say that the most recognized CARSON in this city is Carson Wentz. Kit Carson is a distant second. Turns out most folk think “Here’s Johnny!” is a line from THE SHINING.
I railed against technology the following week. Apparently, I’d finally gotten a pair of chinos that fit and had moved on to more familiar rants. In my next column STOP and FRISK, I defended politicians who promoted such laws as well-meaning. As an old white guy, it’s relatively easy for me to forgive. I’m not apt to get stopped and frisked. Although I was once a suspect when a neighbor’s package of LA COLOMBE DE CAF was reported missing.
It wasn’t until my column of 3/18 that I mentioned the COVID pandemic. By then, I was in full-blown panic mode about the virus while being reassured by my wife that we’d be fine. That’s the story line of our marriage — me panicking and Fran calming me down.
March found me yearning for a Don Quixote figure, possibly because I’d heard someone sing THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM. I speculated on whether Trump would leave office if he lost the 2020 election. In that column, I assured you that he would leave. Shows you what I know.
In subsequent columns, I wrote about discovering the virtues of ZOOM sessions. I channeled Streisand with the title PEOPLE WHO NEED PEOPLE. Maybe it was the coming of spring, but I’m astounded at how optimistic I was by April. Perhaps aliens had invaded my body or — more likely — I’d eaten a few especially good roast pork sandwiches.
I lapsed into pessimism in June. Lamented that some hooligans had hijacked the peaceful protests. Questioned who was policing the police and offered the belief that tearing down statues hurt the cause more than the statues themselves did.
In an ensuing column, I grew overly sentimental about baseball’s bastardized return. Watching Phillies baseball in 2020 was like eating a veggie hot dog on a stale roll.
In August, my wife and I discovered the joys of outdoor dining (DINING IN THE TIME OF CORONA — 8/12). By now, much to the annoyance of many of you, many columns were sprinkled with gratuitous negative comments about our president. He gives me agita for so many reasons. I summed up my feelings in the column of 9/30 — THE PRESIDENT WHO WOULD BE KING. Trump’s defeat at the polls prompted my return of optimism in the next column — A REASON TO BE THANKFUL. I had found a reason to be thankful and hoped you did, too. The vaccine was on its way. The president could rightly take credit for that. Instead, Trump insisted that his losing in the Electoral College and again in the popular vote had somehow earned him a second term.
I’m hoping the coming year brings peace and calm to our city and country. That I can find chinos in size at Macy’s. And that maybe, if Trump goes away quietly, I can write a column without mentioning him. Yeah — and maybe he goes on a KETO diet. In the meantime, did I tell you about my problem finding sneakers that don’t aggravate my bunions?
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