Burton Cole column

Of mice, grumpy men and cats looking for the maternity ward

All my life, I’ve had this distressing problem with animals. They like me. It’s nearly impossible to keep up my reputation as a grumpy old codger with a kitten curled up in my lap. What’s a grouch supposed to do? My childhood was filled with cats, dogs, cows, pigs, chickens, ...

Curmudgeon club will pad your obituary

I need to start padding my obituary. Otherwise, it’s going to read, “Who?” I’ve taken to glancing at obituaries lately and noticed that every last one of them is for a wonderful person who was loved by all. I tried being wonderful once but it was exhausting. I gave it up after three ...

Marital ESP fades slowly into the sunset

Terry looked thoughtful. “Is there a side road that I can take to get there?” “Oh, sure,” I said. “Six or seven of them.” “Which one would you take?” “That depends. ... Where might you be going?” She had done it again. She had dropped me into the middle of her internal ...

Keep the high-tech away from my low-flow toilet

Enough! Not even our bathrooms serve as refuges from technology invasion anymore. I quivered and quaked enough when I read an article a couple weeks back about high-tech homes. No, I’m not opposed to carpets that vacuum themselves. That’s neighborly technology. I understand the ...

I’ve decided to bulk up on fitness for fat health

My doctor talks dirty. If words like “diet” and “exercise” aren’t profanity, then I don’t know what are. Trouble is, I’m beginning to suspect that she might be right. When I was in my teens, people shoved food at me out of fear that a mild gust would blow me away. I gobbled ...

Fountain of pens lies drying, dying

Editor’s note: Because of a family emergency, we present this Cole Classic, excerpted from April 2, 2000. Burt will be back with fresh adventures next week. I dug furiously through the desk drawer trying to find a working pen. One after another, I tossed dried out and chewed up pens back ...

‘Writer Boy Burt’ would make a boring action figure

Sgt. G.I. Joe crept through the weeds in his black scuba gear and rubber flippers. He ducked as the Hot Wheels car full of bad guys jumped the green sand bucket. With his perpetually frozen fingers, G.I. Joe signaled Chief Cherokee and Johnny West, who waited in shrubs on the other side of ...

Science says guys lacking in senses of smell, hearing

She crossed her arms and wrinkled her nose. “Can you not smell THAT?” I reached for the remote and pushed mute. “What?” “That T-shirt you’re wearing.” “Old faithful? What about it?” She narrowed her eyes and coughed. “You heard me.” I shook my head. “You talk too ...

The price just went up on buying happiness

The price of happiness has gone up. Now it costs $95,000 a year. But be careful. Haul in more than $95,000 and you'll be just as miserable as the guy getting $20,000, but in a nicer car. That's the word from the financial planners at LearnVest, whose researchers crunched the numbers for the ...

Suffer as if living each day by distorted wise words

“Live each day as if it was your last,” the sage said. So I called off work. If I knew these were my last 24 hours on Earth, there’s no way I’d squander eight or 10 of them chained to a desk. With work out of the way, I hustled to a breakfast buffet and poured a gallon of sausage ...

Romance, thy name certainly is not Burt

Does any span of the calendar crush more spirits than Valentine’s week? Oh, sure, it’s meant to be a warm, fuzzy celebration filled with hearts, diamonds, balloons and roses. But for guys like me — the clueless kind — it’s just another painful taunting of romantic ...

Blame the oatmeal for eroding reading skills

Oatmeal is killing literacy. That’s my theory based on extensive breakfast research conducted at my house. I have reached that certain age when metabolism takes lots of naps and my body sounds like a Rice Krispies concert when I wake up. Snap, crackle, pop, groan. No longer can I wolf down ...

Reluctant adult packs up to run away from home

How old is too old to run away from home? I already slapped together peanut butter and strawberry jelly sandwiches. I stashed a few comic books in my knapsack. I pulled the blanket off my bed. I'm ready to go. Who knew this being an adult stuff was so wearying? OK, Mom and Dad said so. I ...

Strong, silent type shortens prospects of a long life

There was a time when I believed talking would kill me. True, my mouth has almost gotten me clobbered more than once. He who smarts off learns to duck quickly. No, I’m talking about the little-boy logic that drove 8-year-old me into become the strong, silent type. I’d run out of comic ...

Taste-deaf husband tries to hear wife

I remember years ago slicing a banana into my bowl of CoCo Wheats. My 9-year-old daughter, drenching her waffles in syrup, wrinkled her nose. “Ew. That’s gross.” With all the sophistication of a then-35-year-old man eating children’s cereal, I replied, “Waffles are gross. Bananas in ...

A grammatical tirade never fixed the roof

I have always admired the kind of guy who can move into a broken-down place and renovate it exquisitely. The kind of guy who stands in the middle of a shambles and sees a room's potential. The kind of guy who replumbs a kitchen, miters a chair rail and installs a countertop. The kind of guy ...

I resolve to solve these mysteries …

In the coming new year, I, Burton W. Cole, hereby resolve to discover the answer to these perplexing life questions: • How can one size possibly fit all? That has to be some serious elastic. Maybe it works by squeezing a person so much that he’s suffocated into the same size as his much ...

My way bypasses the muss and fuss of the ‘right way’

There are two ways to do anything — the right way, and the way it gets done when my wife isn’t watching. This is why I waited until Terry wasn’t home to repair the curlicued support rails on the back porch. If she’d caught me, she would have made me brush and polish all the metal ...

Pack lots of toys on the sleigh!

It happens every year. Just when I finish the 17th addendum to my Christmas list, one of those horrible, awful, terrifying reports flutters onto my desk: “Scientists say stop giving so many toys to kids.” I am within full rights to ignore such nonsense. My 18th birthday is so far in my ...

Joke file chuckles help relieve season’s stressings

While I know the true meaning of Christmas, I’ve also been around plenty enough years — never mind how plenty — to know the true reality of the season: Stress! Planning, parties and not-quite-perfect presents; baking, cooking and unintended roasting; church services, play practices and ...