I knew a radio was on at Marie’s Diner in Duryea but paid little attention to it as the waitress brought our breakfast and poured each of us a second cup of coffee. Just as I started to dive into my French toast, however, I heard this dietician, being interviewed about weight loss, proclaim, “Bread is not the culprit.”
“Did you hear that?” I asked my friend who also had ordered French toast. “Now that’s a lie I’d like to believe.”
Lie is a strong word, of course. But bread not the culprit? My ever-expanding love handles beg to differ.
“That’s going to become a column someday,” I told my pal. “A list of all the lies I’d like to believe.” I did something similar one time after reading a sign on an airplane that said my seat could be used as a flotation device. “That’s something I hope I never have to do,” I said to myself and then wrote a column I called my “Reverse Bucket List.” All the things I never want to do. Eating raw seal eye, as Anthony Bourdain once did, was on that list. So was dancing the Macarena and keeping up with the Kardashians.
Unfortunately, a year and a half after hearing “bread is not the culprit,” I’ve come up with only two other lies I’d like to believe. Bald is beautiful. And I don’t look my age. So, no column there.
I get a lot of ideas like this during the course of a year. Ideas that could become a column but then never quite pan out. Many I’ll turn into a blog. Those are typically much shorter. But others just hang around in the notes section on my cell phone waiting to be fleshed out, even though I know they never will.
Then, maybe every five years or so, I attempt to cobble them together, as I am doing now. Disjointed that they are, perhaps they will spawn some conversation among readers. Just because I cannot come up with more than three lies I’d like to believe, doesn’t mean you can’t. (By the way, if you do, please share them with me.)
I got this idea after hearing John Lennon (I think it was Lennon, but it could have been McCartney) on the Johnny Carson Show explain that the famous “second side” of The Beatles’ album “Abbey Road” was a bunch of half-written songs strung together. While I’m not claiming any resemblance of this column to “Abbey Road,” that is sort of what I’m doing here. My own attempt, let’s say, at linking “Mean Mr. Mustard” with “Polythene Pam.”
The seed of another potential column that failed to germinate was planted a couple of months ago when one of my colleagues at the college used the expression “Like it or lump it.” Hearing it stopped me in my tracks. “I thought my mother was the only one who ever said that,” I exclaimed. We were sure to hear it if any of us Ackerman kids dared to complain about what she made for supper.
“Oh, no,” my friend said. “We’ve been saying that in my family for as long as I can remember.”
And that made me think of another expression a fellow teacher uses that I had also believed the exclusive property of my mom: “Jeepers Cats.” This guy is a good 25 years younger than I. I can understand my sister saying “Jeepers Cats,” but how’d this youngster latch on to it?
You’ll never hear me say “Jeepers Cats.” But you know what I do say? “Holy mackerel.”
I didn’t even realize it until I was talking with Paul Cooper one day and he stopped me in mid-sentence to ask, “Ed, is ‘Holy mackerel’ a common expression of yours?”
“Oh my God,” I answered, feeling myself blush. “I guess it is.”
At the time we were standing by the outdoor seafood stand on New Year’s Eve at Cooper’s Restaurant in Pittston. I’m pretty sure they weren’t selling mackerel, holy or otherwise, but “Holy smelts” didn’t have the same ring.
Another column idea that has gone nowhere hits me every time I go to the movies. As soon as I step inside I start thinking they may have automatic recliner seats these days, and they may have perfected surround sound and 3-D, but one thing remains the same: movie theaters still smell like movie theaters. It’s the popcorn. But I can never think of a way to expand on that.
But wait. Holy mackerel. Something just came to me. That “butter” on my popcorn? Well, that’s one more lie I’d like to believe.
Ed Ackerman writes The Optimist every week. Look for his blogs online during the week at pittstonprogress.com.