Growing up, I was taught never to pay someone else to do things I could do for myself. Every Saturday, for instance, I shined my own shoes to make them presentable for wearing to services the next day because our church used a version of the Bible that said no one could walk the road to the Kingdom of Heaven in scuffed shoes. That’s probably in the same book that said the 11th Commandment was, “If you’re a little boy wearing itchy wool pants, thou shalt not squirm during the sermon.”
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Ernest Hemingway novels
• Learn to like Hemingway.
Most educated readers consider him one of America’s greatest writers, but the only book of his I ever tried to read was “The Old Man and the Sea.” After 30 or so pages I found myself shouting, “Ernie, catch the damn fish and shut up.”
• Learn to like Scotch.
Unlike me, Scotch is very sophisticated. I’ve sipped it a few times and it always tasted like really bad lighter fluid probably tastes. So maybe the only way I’m ever going to like it is if they come out with a Scotch that tastes like Yuengling.
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• Bake a pie.
I like to cook, but hardly ever bake. That’s because most of the things I cook have a wide margin of error and my mistakes can be covered up by adding an extra can of chicken broth. There probably aren’t a lot of pie recipes that call for chicken broth.
• Write something that’s fit to print in The New York Times.
I’ve had stuff published in dozens of newspapers, but appearing in The Times would be the ultimate achievement because it only accepts material from very intelligent writers.
• Become very intelligent.
George H. W. Bush did it at the age of 80, so maybe it’s not too late for me. On the other hand, I’ve always said the only good reason for jumping out of an airplane is if it’s on fire. So I definitely won’t do that until I’ve done all those other things.