The chicken soup paperweight – and other columns I’ll never write
I remember when I created the computer file – just under a year ago. I was talking with someone about those paperweights that you shake up and it looks like it’s snowing, and we wondered what it would be like if you filled them with chicken soup instead, so that after you shake it you see noodles and tiny flecks of chicken draping the little underwater skyscrapers. I raced to my computer to capture this bold and surreal concept before it vanished, all in the hopes of turning it into a column. One that you could be reading right now. Yesterday I opened the file, which I had titled “Chicken Soup Paper Weight,” to find that inside the file I had merely rewritten the title: “Chicken Soup Paper Weight.” I guess I hoped it would somehow gestate, and that when I opened it a year later I would find, rather than the exact same four words from the title, some brilliant and hilarious exploration into the world of paperweights, or chicken soup, or both. You know, something that I could send off after a quick spellcheck. “Chicken Soup Paper Weight” is not a one-time occurrence. I have these aborted bursts of inspiration all over my laptop. Every now and then I like to sort through them and clear them out. But before I drag them to the trash, I figure, hey, why put them to work? Why not gather them all together for an embarrassingly regular feature called:Columns I’ll never write My father likes to use this colorful Southern expression: “He couldn’t pour piss out of a boot with the instructions written on the heel.” Pretty funny, except that it was usually directed towards me. I imagined a technical school where victims of similar childhood derisive slogans could learn to cope in the world. I opened a file, named it “Hole.doc,” and wrote:…Woman (attractive): Wow, you’re so smart! How did you learn all this stuff?Man: I went to Ass From a Hole in the Ground Institute!…That’s as far as I got, and that was about four years ago. Time to let it go, I guess. And besides, my dad had a point – I would most likely NOT pour piss from a boot. But not because of incompetence, just because of a lack of motivation. He was also correct about my inability to distinguish Shinola. “Logic Police.” This one from last July. Inside I find:MAN: Honestly, officer, I haven’t had anything to think tonight.OFFICER: Sir, please step out of the fallacious argument.And that’s it! Silly, pretentious, about 681 words shy of the 700 I was hoping it would expand itself into. “Enlightened Sayings.” I thought I’d write a “serious” column containing little nuggets of wisdom that I’ve come up with over the years. After over two years, this file contains exactly one such nugget, which I recall coming up with one night after drinking lots of apple juice that had fermented without my knowledge:”There is no yesterday. There is no tomorrow. There is no today. There is only now. And, really, there’s barely even that.” “Reasons I’m Glad Bush Was Re-elected.” I opened this file on Nov. 7, 2004. I had in mind a big list of reasons that, you know, I’m glad Bush was re-elected. But this is as far as I got:1. When all the oil is gone, his friends will be bankrupt.2. Uh … “Maltese Falcon vs. The Burning Bush.” This file was created in November 1999. It’s empty – I didn’t even bother to retype the title into this one. I have no memory of starting this file, and no idea of what I could have been thinking at the time. This creeps me out a bit, like I was sleeptyping or something. Whatever the case, I think I can safely, after seven years, drag it from my “Columns To Write This Week” folder and into the trash.
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“Many of these stoic commuters endure brain-numbing traffic jams so they can service vacant mega homes, making sure all the lights are on and that the snowmelt patios, driveways, sidewalks and dog runs are thoroughly heated so as to evaporate that bothersome white stuff that defines Aspen’s picturesque winter landscape and ski economy,“ writes Paul Andersen.