My Nine Fizzleutions for 2021
It’s never too early to make promises you’ll never keep
By Ed Goldman
I’ve never kept nor even made a New Year’s resolution. I tend to call them Fizzleutions because before I get the chance to even float them, opportunities abound to sink them.
Even so, at the suggestion of my dearest friend Joe Coomes—he’s a senior lawyer at the BB&K firm and one of the most respected attorneys in the known galaxy, who just turned 88 on December 13 and is giving no hint of slowing down—I’ve decided to make a list of things I may actually be able to pull off in 2021.
A Case of MisCoomesunication
- I vow to get my “real” driver’s license even though I have an up-to-date passport and no plans to travel until science comes up with a vaccine to inoculate me from other travelers—not just the ones who might be infected but also the ones who like to introduce themselves by saying, “You might say I became a whole-life insurance salesman kinda by accident.”
- I plan to double my exercise regimen. This is a promise I know I can keep as long as mathematicians don’t change their minds about two times zero equaling zero. To make sure, I have a call into MIT—where, I’d like to add, my aforementioned dearest friend Joe Coomes was invited to be a visiting professor some years ago. I’m pretty sure this doesn’t happen to very many lawyers from Sacramento but go Google it if you must.
- I plan on continuing my daily study of an extremely difficult, highly changeable language: American.
No, no, I don’t mean English—not Old Saxon English, Anglo English nor Oxford English. I mean the lively patois that includes:
- West Coast American, in which entire monologues can begin with and be regularly interrupted by the word “like”; and
- East Coast American, in which Hamlet’s famed soliloquy would begin, “To be or…Hey, leave me the #$@!&* alone, awright?! I’m doin’ something here.”.
Admittedly, those were examples of West Coast Valley and East Coast Brooklyn. West Coast East Bay Area is more like the following:
SAN JOSE GAS STATION ATTENDANT: So, you, like, work here in the Silicon Valley?
CUSTOMER (A SOFTWARE DESIGNER): Silicon is an ideal material to host spin qubits: it supports long coherence times, has excellent prospects for scaling, and is ubiquitous in the semiconductor industry. While semiconductor spin qubits were proposed over two decades ago, it is only within the past few years that we have learned how to fabricate and control multi-qubit devices in silicon. (Note: This response is actually courtesy of the University of Pennsylvania, and is used here without permission.)
Meanwhile, East Coast Manhattan is more along these lines (Old-Joke Alert):
HOMELESS MAN: Ma’am, I’ve had nothing to eat for a week.
WOMAN (Exiting Bloomingdales): How ever do you do it?!
As you know, or will a few words from now, American language can embrace a full range of local idioms in response to a simple question like, “What time is it?”
- In Maine: “Well, I don’t know much, but I can tell you this: I don’t know much.”
- In the Midwest: “Oh, I’m pretty sure I know the time but if I’m slightly off, I don’t want to cause any trouble.”
- In the South: “Well, Honey, you just park your lil’ buns over there while I fetch you an icy bottle of orange Nehi® an’ we can discuss what time it is until the moon sets, how’s that sound?” (Oh, Dear Diary, I would soooo move there tomorrow if it weren’t for the oppressive humidity and that pesky racism.)
- I resolve to try to not take such long digressions as above. Even though that reminds me of a story… .
- I resolve to not tip my head downward to reveal bald spots whenever anyone graciously compliments me on, or enviously mocks me for, my unruly hair. Since I don’t get these compliments or mocks from people taller than I am—who can see for themselves that I’m not exactly Wolverine on the top floor—my commitment to journalistic integrity frequently inspires me to keep the record straight when my hairline receives undeserved flattery. I should just learn to shut up and say, “Thanks. It is luxurious, isn’t it?”
- I resolve to come up with better excuses for declining invitations to Zoom calls. Saying, “Sorry, but watching the opening of ‘The Brady Bunch’ and an entire episode of ‘Hollywood Squares’ gave me nightmares for years. To this day, I think Charles Nelson Reilly may be hiding behind my water heater in that little closet.” Accordingly, let me try out three new excuses on you and see if they seem credible:
- “I’d love to join your Zoom call but I’m experiencing an outbreak of adult acne and I plan to watch the Jonas Brothers until it passes.”
- “My secretary screwed up my calendar and scheduled another Zoom call for the same time as your Zoom call. (Pause) What? You’re willing to change the time of your Zoom call? Look, so’s my secretary—and as many times as it takes, Pal.”
- “All of my pants are in the washer and I’d feel funny sitting there not wearing any, even though you wouldn’t be able to tell. I’d keep thinking I was a news anchor and start reading completely nonconsequential stories labeled ‘Breaking News.’”
- I resolve to cook at home more frequently, as long as the restaurants stay closed.
- I’m definitely going to cut back on the vodka martinis. I mean, look, Sean Connery, who made the drink famous in his role as James Bond, just died! So what the hell am I doing?!—On the other hand, Sean Connery was 90 when he died. For all we know, the vodka martinis helped him get to 90. Where’s that damn shaker?
- I plan to start walking a lot more often, as I used to. I mean, miles at a time. Just have to get the right shoes. And I was about to when Governor Gavin Newsom—who’d gone to The French Laundry only to get his mask washed, honest—shut down the economy again. To do so he deployed his entire arsenal of whimpers, nervous half-smiles and unintended smirks. (Yes, I’m a Democrat. I’m just not blind, deaf, dumb or the other dumb.)
Anyway, you can see my dilemma. A neighbor just told me that retail stores are open if I really want to buy some new running shoes. But they’re blowing leaves in my community today so I’m not sure I heard the neighbor correctly. He either said “The stores are open” or “The stores? Here’s hopin’.” Will check on that soon. In fact, I resolve to.