Burton Cole column

Getting organized sounds fishy

The first mistake was drifting into the pet store. Pet stores are such calming diversions — especially when one is supposed to be somewhere else. There’s something about the leathery wrinkles of iguanas, the ear-bending squawking of parrots and the pointless scurrying of mice that ...

Ask doc or my wife, I’m fine

Whenever possible, I take my wife to all my doctor appointments. It saves a lot of blood pressure points for both of us. It’s not that I need someone to hold my hand. But I don’t mind — needles still frighten me even after more than a half century of doctors’ offices. The problem is ...

Socks don’t get a darn

Does anyone darn socks anymore? I’m not talking about muttering mild oaths at smelly footies. I mean the old-fashioned process of mending socks with thread, needle and light bulb. In the dark, cold days of my youth, Mom never got to just relax. She blamed it on three boys ricocheting off ...

Let’s chew the fat over this annual New Year’s resolution thing

EDITOR’S NOTE: One week into the new year, and Cole already slipped out the back door to go on vacation. While we track him down and drag him back to his desk, here’s a topical Cole Classic first published Dec. 30, 1997. xxx It has long been my practice to avoid all New Year’s ...

Time to turn off and tune out with Gilligan

I found the posting while surfing the Internet: It was a photograph of a lavishly serene cabin shaded by a luscious forest and fronted by white sand and clear blue waters. It looked like an upscale “Gilligan’s Island.” The caption asked, “Would you live here without TV or Internet for ...

Nobody does up joy like humans

There is no greater collection of grumps, cranks and grouches than what shows up during the joys of the Christmas season. Five more days and then everyone can stop being so snarly, take off the shopping shoulder pads, get some sleep and return to just being pleasantly petulant as usual. Well, ...

Key answer for reader

People often pepper me with tough questions. It’s because of my ridiculously overstocked storehouse of knowledge. “Thanks, professor,” the pests guffaw with relief after I’ve solved another dilemma. “Nobody does ridiculous like you.” So I wasn’t surprised when I found in my ...

Great aging, great benefits

One of the greatest benefits of aging is no longer straining to make your own excuses. For example, if I can’t keep up with a much-younger hiker, he’ll say, “Hey, good effort, man. I hope I can be as spry when I’m as ol... uh, have as much experience as you do.” If I do keep up, ...

Making peace with cat and mouse games

I tried not to gag as I picked up her still-warm gift. Molly meant it as the highest order of peace offering. It’s just that — how shall I put this? — I, unlike Molly, am not a cat. I’m not even a cat person. I’m more a fish tank guy. Come to think of it, so were all of our ...

Men not to blame for stunts

I am fat — sturdy; I meant to say sturdy — because I am married. Science says so. New research released last week shows that men eat twice as much when dining with women than they do eating alone or with other men. The conclusion, according to the study from Cornell University: “Men ...

Locked out, lost in thought

A number of thoughts swirl through one’s mind when one discovers one has locked oneself out of one’s car. Chiefly: “Idiot!” “What a ding dong!” and “Why do I keep referring to myself as ‘one’?” I called roadside service. An operator in Massachusetts, Maine or possibly ...

Obtusities go bump in the night

I shuffled to my wife’s side of the bed, felt around for her tissue box, knocked over her phone, found the box, bumped a bottle of water, grabbed a tissue, blew my nose, tripped over the wastebasket, and wandered back to my end of the world. Terry’s eyes flickered. If I’d known she ...

Essay fair or fowl: You be the judge

A few years back, I crafted what I hoped to be a small piece of brilliance to wow the judges of the annual Robert Benchley Society Annual Award for Humor Writing. They weren’t wowed. I got chucked in the first round. The problem may be that it was a departure from my usual style of writing. ...

Get gooey with pumpkin innards focus group

Editor's note: Cole is on vacation yet again. This pumpkin goop of a Cole Classic originally ran in 1996. xxx All I wanted was some practical, fulfilling uses for that gooey, squishy stuff you scoop from inside pumpkins. So I put the question to a bunch of otherwise reasonably intelligent ...

Draamaw strikes without warning

Life has become a bit more, well, ordinary since we lost my mother-in-law this summer. She was the gift of quirkiness that kept on giving. Quite often, the gifts she gave were big manila envelopes full of expired coupons, clipped newspaper articles about people you didn’t know but she ...

Worries box fun out of old days

The disc jockey dusted off a recording from 1975 and announced, “Here’s a flashback from the carefree good old days.” He must not have lived in the same decade I did. Or he was already out of junior high school. How come we never recognize the days as good old while we’re slogging ...

Cows with a beef run rogue

We are at their udder mercy. Utter. I mean, utter mercy. I speak, of course, about the rash of rogue cows running roughshod in our neighborhoods. The latest reports came last week from New Hartford, N.Y., where police set a trap in hopes of finally catching a cow that’s been on the run ...

Questions rain like dogs and cats

It’s been a random kind of week, the sort that leaves me with more questions than answers. For example: * I heard a discussion on the radio about which is correct, “bacon and eggs” or “eggs and bacon”? I think it’s “bacon and eggs,” but apparently some people are ready to ...

Red face clears over white beard when green saved

It’s gotta be the beard. Surely, it can’t be the wrinkles. They’re more like the Modest Canyon, not etched Grand Canyon deep. It can’t be the pops and creaks when I walk. The little stoop should muffle those. It can’t be the way I dress or the way I talk. I found the threads ...

Married life hamstrings date night

I almost went on a date with my wife. Once again, life logjammed logistics. When did it become so difficult for married couples to schedule a night out together? Ever since Terry and I vowed to spend the rest of our lives together, we’ve spent the rest of our lives trying to get ...