I have a couple of things to tell you before I go too far on this one.

First, I must make a confession. I am 65 years old, and here I am unable to go to bed when I want to because I have to do my homework. Seriously. In this case, my homework is this column and if it is going to be in the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel on Saturday, I have to get it to the editor now.

So many of you have come up to me in so many different, sometimes unusual, places, to tell me how much the column in the papers means to you; how much it has helped you; how much you enjoy it.

So blowing it off is not an option; well, not a serious option. I have known since last Thursday that I would need to get my column done by this Thursday. What is the matter with me? That’s a rhetorical question by the way; no need to send me your answers.

I can always claim the thrill of writing on deadline, but that ship sailed years ago. There was a time that knowing I was on deadline added an edge to working. Now, it just makes me wonder why I’m still doing it after more than three decades in the newspaper business.

Second, I guess I have an apology to make, but I don’t think I do. I make it because I’m 65 years old, and while I may not have learned much about getting my homework in on time, I have learned a remarkable amount about treating my wife properly, while keeping her happy. And, more importantly in this particular situation, keeping people who know us both happy.


Last week, part of the focus on my writing centered on the Jimmy Soul song, “If You Want to be Happy for the Rest of Your Life, Never Make a Pretty Woman Your Wife.” I suppose you can see already how that might not have turned out as I’d planned.

In my defense, I thought that it went without saying that I hadn’t taken the advice myself. It was strictly do as I say, not as I did. Honestly. However, it apparently didn’t actually go without saying; not according to a number of you. “What the heck were you thinking?” or variations on that theme were popular. “Why would you suggest something like that after all Sheri has done for you?” No. Wait. You missed the point… No one wanted to hear it.

Sheri seemed to get it. She may have suggested confusion in her comment about the column when it appeared in blog form, but I definitely didn’t get the stink-eye over it. Well, I thought I might have caught her preparing to give me one, but it doesn’t count unless her stink-eye slams you in one, or both, of yours.

So, I’m sorry I suggested any of my current happiness comes from getting an ugly girl to marry me. Look, Jimmy Soul died of a drug-related heart attack at age 45. If I was serious about getting marriage advice from pop/rock music, I surely would have gone with John Lennon when he opined: “Semolina pilchard climbing up the Eiffel Tower, Elementary penguin singing Hare Krishna, Man you should have seen them kicking Edgar Alan Poe. I am the egg man, they are the egg men, I am the walrus.” That, my friends, is how you have a happy marriage.

It comes as no surprise that my “sense of humor” should cause me problems. After all, it did bring an already mediocre career in rock-and-roll radio to a halt when I got fired, at least in part, for a “humorous” comment I made at a company Christmas party. People laughed a lot, though not, it seems, the two new station owners at whose expense the comment was made.

But, I remain convinced that I’m a funny guy. I’d say ask anyone, but it might actually be better if you submitted names to me before you asked them about me and my sense of humor.


My confidence in that area can be shaken though. Just the other day, my local oncologist was reviewing my blood work and trying to figure out why he couldn’t come up with a solution to the stomach problems I’ve been having. He seemed tense, trying to save my life and all, so I said to him: “I was thinking about going to a voodoo expert, but I understand you now have to bring your own chicken.” Nothing. Well, he did say something that sounded like “Mumble, mumble, what.”

Not being one to give up easily, since the doctor’s concern for my current and future health was more important than being amused by me, I decided to tell one of my nurses the joke, which I still thought was funny. Nothing, and she’s normally funny. Nothing, until I explained it to her, but then, of course, it didn’t seem funny even to me.

I went through a mini-crisis because funny is one of my best things. If I wasn’t funny, who was even going to talk to me?

Well, it didn’t take long to get my confidence back. I just needed to fall back on some vintage material: “Two drunks walk into a bar. You’d think the second one would have ducked.” Bam! Who’s funny now? Yeah. That’s right. This guy!

Jim Arnold is a former copy editor for the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel. To read more about his journey through cancer, visit his blog, findingthepony.blogspot.com.

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