'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
A CORRECTION OF THE CLARIFICATION OF THE EXPLANATION
Every once in a while I have to offer a correction for something I’ve written in a previous column. Usually blanket clarifications work best, such as: “Regarding the column of December 17th, everything I wrote was totally made up. Don’t believe a word of it.” (And then, after I finish typing, I look at my wife and say, “Is that good, Hon? Is that the way you wanted me to phrase it?”)
But now I have to offer a very specific correction. In last week’s column, what I wanted to write was, “That’s not exactly what I had in mind now that I’m in my late 40s (forty-thirteen, to be precise).”
Get it? Forty-thirteen? That’s supposed to be a smart-aleck way of saying I’m really 53 years old.
However, it got lost in the translation somewhere (or else the smart-aleckyness was discernable only to me), and when the column was published in the newspaper the “forty-thirteen” was changed to “43.” So the sentence appeared as, “That’s not exactly what I had in mind now that I’m in my late 40s (43, to be precise).”
This was a major “Huh?” situation for a couple of reasons. First, age 43 is not late 40s; it’s early 40s, or maybe mid-40s at worst. Second, 43 was my age back when Al Gore and George Bush were fighting over hanging chads in Florida. In other words, it was a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. (Um yeah, the smart-aleckyness of my Star Wars reference also was discernable only to me.)
Anyway, when last week’s column ran in the paper, I immediately received emails from people who offered variations of this gentle inquiry: “What are you frickin’ talking about?! You ain’t 43 years old! Who you tryin’ to fool?!” (I’m not sure why these emails always seem to be written in the Redneckese dialect, but they usually are.)
At first I was going to reply to the emails by explaining the misunderstanding with “forty-thirteen” and “43,” but then I decided, oh what the heck. So I replied with this explanation:
“You are mistaken. I am actually 43 years old. Although I have mentioned in previous columns that I am in my 50s, I recently obtained a doctor’s note which says it is now acceptable for me to start counting backward regarding my age. So I decided that beginning back when I was age 48, I officially went the other way. (No, I don’t mean THAT definition of “went the other way.” My wife and I are still happily married—as long as I keep offering corrections for the things I write about her.)
“So right now I am 43. Next year I will be 42. In a few years I will be in my 30s again. I’m looking forward to NOT making many of the mistakes I made the first time thru that particular decade. Soon I will have to start looking at colleges again. This time I’m going to attend a school in a warm climate. I wonder if I’ll get a football scholarship? After that, I’ll be going thru puberty. I hope it’s not as awkward this time around.
“In conclusion, thank you for your email note and your concern that I might have misrepresented my age. Now you understand why I am in fact 43 years old. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.”
And, of course, the correction for everything written in this column will be appearing in the newspaper very soon.
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