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Burton Cole column

You can lose the fill-in-the-blank game

Long-married couples have a knack for finishing each other’s sentences. Terry and I do that. It’s too bad that we’re never talking about the same thing when we do. You’ve seen those creepy couples. They’ll be all smiles and doe-eyed as they carry on coded cut-off conversations ...

Get ready to hurry up and wait

“Wanna hike through the woods?” “That’s a great idea,” my wife said. “Just give me a minute to gather up a couple things.” “No!” I cried. “We’ll never get there.” “Don’t be silly,” Terry said. “Once upon a time, when we decided to do something, we got up ...

Science says men do stupid things to have good story

Never ask a man how he got that scar. Not because it’s impolite. But because he’ll tell you. Repeatedly. In glowing, gory detail after detail after detail. The only relief from total monotony is that the stories usually improve over the years — the alley cat morphs into a mountain lion, ...

I could really use dum-dum-dumm background music

I’ve figured out why I’m in trouble so often — no background music. At first, I thought it was me. Maybe I am an insensitive clod. A clumsy oaf. A lazy laggard. Don’t be ridiculous. She was just having another bad day at the exact moment when I opened my mouth or spilled the ...

3 boys, or one husband, equals no help

The great Canadian philosopher Red Green (Steve Smith) once said, “The smart handyman knows that your best projects are done alone. That way, there’s nobody there trying to tell you how stupid or impossible they are.” I have tested this axiom and found it true, as both helper and ...

Mowing the lawn is time well wasted

I stood at the picture window, staring at nothing in particular while my thoughts frittered and frolicked a million miles away. The voice froze a thought either mid-frit or mid-frol: “Yes, that grass sure is high.” I blinked myself back to the present. Turned to see my sweet wife. And ...

Having a sensible, adult breakfast

The stealth Pop-Tarts were left at the newspaper office in a brown paper bag. The attached note read: “Here is a Terry-approved breakfast option. I advise that you store it toward the back of your pantry, but if she should find it, you can blame it on a factory error.” I peeked inside ...

Without experimentation, Pop-Tarts still worth craving

“Stop! You almost passed the Pop-Tarts.” “Let’s not leave the job half done,” my wife called over her shoulder. She pushed the shopping cart farther down the grocery aisle. I grabbed a 12-pack of frosted strawberry and caught up to her. “Don’t worry. I got them.” Terry ...

The script for 2020 has been rejected

Right from Day 1, it’s been a weird spring. Day 1 of the spring equinox fell on March 19 — the first time in 124 years that spring didn’t begin on either March 20 or 21. After that little oddity, life grew more bizarre by the day. If the events of 2020 had been submitted as a movie ...

Only two constants in life — birthdays and sales tax

Like all my other schemes to get rich, this one collapsed due to circumstances no one could have predicted. At least, I didn’t. It certainly seemed better than the time I set up a roadside stand to sell cow pies fresh from the pasture. Who could have known that wasn’t how city gardeners ...

Setting the world record for most naps taken

“My life has no meaning, no purpose,” I said. “I’ve been meaning to tell you, clean out your car,” my wife said. “What’s the purpose of all those receipts, napkins and batteries all over the floor?” I shook my head. “I’ve never done anything that makes people whisper, ...

What to write when there’s nothing left to write about

I rocked my easy chair up a smidge so that I could brush Pop-Tart crumbs off my belly. I didn’t want the strawberry filling to stain my favorite T-shirt, the one that proclaims: “Please don’t interrupt me while I’m ignoring you.” I cued another hand of spider solitaire on the laptop ...

Let the great philosophers of the ages help us through this

I’m fed up to the tippy-top of my mask (which I don’t wear because, you know, no place to go) with people ranting dire directions and worrisome warnings at me. I need wisdom — mixed thoroughly with wit and whimsy. I need insights from the great philosophers of the ages, such as Groucho ...

Trub the Lethargic wades in shallow pondering pools

Great people contemplate lofty concepts, complex equations and thoughtful immensities. Me, I ponder why I’m stuck with such an embarrassing dragon name. Scrolling through the social media posts a couple days ago when I should have been working, I happened upon these instructions: “Your ...

Pig pushes pandemic to pandemonium

In England, a pig pooped out a pedometer, which plunged four pens into flames. In North Wales, a gang of goats roams a seaside town. Peacocks parade along streets in Spain while pigeons promenade along the streets in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Mobs of monkeys have scampered into homes and even ...

That Nigerian prince wants to send me money again

I’ll say this about pandemic life — a strange new pestilence of ads and scams have pelted my email inbox. I’ve been smacked with so many offers for face masks resembling the hankies that the bandits wore in the old Westerns that you’d think I was planning to hold up the stage coach at ...

Lewis and Clark didn’t have it this rough when roughing it

We’ve been roughing it in the Cole household. First, the clothes dryer quit. Then the washing machine refused to finish another cycle. Next, the hot water heater — which had lasted three times its expected lifespan — hollered, “What more do you people expect from me?” It snuffed its ...

The honeymoon phase of quarantine appears to be over

Quarantine Diary, Day 1: “This is so wonderful.” Warm waves of love flowed from her embrace. “You’ll be home with me all the time.” I inhaled her fragrance. “We’ll be together all day every day.” Quarantine Diary, Day 3: “Should I thaw the sirloin or the swordfish for you ...

Even the mice understand the stay-at-home order

We ran barefoot that summer day at my cousin Dale’s farm. We were explorers or pirates or spies — I forget which — on a secret mission through the cow pasture. Why we were barefoot in a cow pasture, I don’t recall. Barefoot in a cow pasture is not the most intelligent choice a ...

Escaping chores spoiled by COVID-19

I’ve never gotten around to installing the baseboards in the living room. I meant to do that shortly after moving in — 20 years ago or so. You tend to notice subtle details like that working from home. “More like glaring,” my wife, Terry, said. “When are you going to put those ...