Burton Cole column

Wake up and smell the chocolate chip cookies

Science says sleep deprivation can cause the brain to eat itself. This is why I always keep a healthy stash of chocolate chip cookies in my desk. Give the brain a choice between mushy gray cells or chocolate brown chips and my suspicion is it will chomp the cookies every time. Think about it. ...

I forget what it’s like to remember

I’m worried about my wife. She can’t remember anything anymore. She’s much too young to have grown this forgetful. I mean, she’s only... her birthday is... I should probably look that up. Anyway, the other day, I followed the coils of the garden hose through the yard to find water ...

Same words but spouses speak different languages

The times I’ve been in the most trouble at home are either for something I said or, more likely, that I didn’t say. I never know which. My wife and I speak entirely different languages. Our words are the same. We use the same syntax. Even our accents match. But what it all means — and ...

Jumble of odd thoughts excavated from ill-advised cleanup

Cleaning out the garage ranks as one of the most dangerous tasks a guy can do. The temptation to tidy tingles when the garage reaches maximum capacity. Disrupting this delicate balance of clutter can bring the piles crashing down upon you, burying you in boxes you forgot to unpack when you ...

Gramps grumbles tall tales, poor puns about farm life

“Gramps, tell me one of your made-up stories of growing up on the farm.” The old man embedded in the easy chair yawned. “My yarns are true, every last one.” The kid clambered into the old man’s lap. “Did you have sheep on your farm?” “We had bunches of sheep. A wool lot of ...

Alliterative procrastination alleviates predicament

Terry and I hurried to get gussied up for an event we really didn’t want to attend. We’d putzed and procrastinated until we couldn’t putter around anymore. There was nothing left to do but dress and go, like it or not. “I guess I better get my shoes.” She sighed. “Have you ever ...

House ghost pulls pranks, collects mail

The ghost who lives in our house is about to retire. I know, because his junk mail last week included an offer to supplement his brand new Medicare eligibility. Donnell is our ghost. His junk mail’s been showing up in our box for about as long as we’ve lived in our house. Or possibly his ...

A Burt by any other name is just as confused

I need a name change. It seems that to succeed in life, one needs great talent, a delightful personality, stunningly good looks or a really cool name. My option was obvious. A nom de plume it is. Mom and Dad planned to name me Martha Louise, but I didn’t cooperate. So they settled on ...

Unmarked boxes, butter bowls add adventure to storage

There’s treasure in my garage. Well, there might be. It’s hard to tell. I never finished unpacking when I moved in 20 years ago. When we ran out of room in the house, I shoved the final unopened cardboard boxes into far corners of the garage. They’re still there. These days when we ...

Reader’s joke file filled to top with chuckles

A message was penned on the back of the envelope: “If I was meant to pop out of bed, I would sleep in a toaster.” I opened the 6-by-9-inch packet and shook out a sheaf of papers. The sender, Marcie Danyi of Niles attached a note: “Look what I found in my joke collection.” Now this is ...

Cake, ice cream smart choices for breakfast

Last month, I brought you the extremely important scientific scoop that — despite what Mom claimed glopping oatmeal in your bowl — ice cream is the intelligent choice for breakfast. Ice cream makes your brain run as smoothly as cookies and cream. The revelation raised serious questions ...

Go ahead, get lost for peace and adventure

“We never get lost anymore,” she said. “Why don’t you ever take me some place where we’re lost?” It’s true. The adventure, the excitement, the romance of getting lost is, well, lost. “This neighborhood doesn’t look familiar,” Terry said. “I must have taken a wrong ...

Sick days spoiled by upset tummy and queasy brain

I called off sick the other day. It was a horrible experience. Plus, I felt lousy. The worst thing about calling off sick when you actually are is feeling far too yucky to enjoy the yearned-for day off. The second-worst thing is that one’s brain tends to be as unreliable as a queasy ...

Critical spirit shows lack of critical sense

Some people get paid to be critics. The rest of us offer the service for free. It’s easy to do, because the less we know about a thing, the more confidently we can lecture someone else how to do it. This is why, for example, the people who know parenting the best are the critics who never ...

Everybody’s talking about the weather …

One of the greatest quotes ever uttered about life in northeast Ohio is this: “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes.” Never has a philosophical platitude proved to be so true. And perplexing. I am writing this column two hours after my wife and I took a lovely spring walk on ...

Brain fog’s morning musings

I am not at my mental best in the morning. Actually, I’ve never been at my mental best, but mornings rank even lesser best than my normal less best. See what I mean? It’s morning. Even if a proper thought tries to latch onto my brain, it slides off in the shower suds and gurgles down the ...

Ice cream: Science says it’s what’s for breakfast

I’ve championed ice cream for breakfast for years. “But why can’t I have a banana split this morning, Mom? Bananas are fruit. Ice cream’s got milk. Eggs, too, I think. And chocolate’s made from beans. It’s healthy.” “Shut up and eat your oatmeal, kid.” Mom wasn’t terribly ...

PA systems crackle memories of principal’s office

Before the PA system’s final crackle, I’d burrowed beneath the table. “Will Burton Cole please come to the front desk. Burton Cole, please come to the front desk.” I whimpered, and perhaps sucked my thumb a second or two. I might be 40 years removed from the cold, steel door of the ...

Not every dad has Powers

Today my dad celebrates his 82nd birthday, and I think it’s high time that he shared his greatest secret with me — Dad Powers. When I was kid, I couldn’t wait to grow into Dad Powers. My firstborn filled the crib with howls and giggles more than 28 years ago. Now she’s a fully ...

Senior discount doesn’t match how old he feels

It happened again. “That cost less than I expected.” The pretty young fast-food clerk never bothered to glance my way as she handed over the receipt. “Your order number is 22.” I slipped off my bifocals and squinted at the receipt to find the pricing error. There it was. The words ...