hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

January 17, 2013

Thoughts to ponder while shaving

Tom Vartabedian
The Haverhill Gazette

---- — Time to lather up my face, get out a sharp razor, and go to work. Not that it’ll change my appearance any. But it’ll give me a chance to get some thoughts together.

New Year’s musings

I know, it’s the start of another year and I’m prepared to meet the ravages of time. My idea of a celebration these days is to take in a movie and dine Chinese. No hoopla. No false hilarity. No resolutions, either. I’ve never had any success keeping them.

How about a fresh start instead? Let’s start by putting on a happy face and maintaining a friendly disposition throughout the day. Works every time.

Raffle tickets

Want to buy a raffle ticket? I know. You’re sick of them, same as I am. You can’t get by the door of your home without someone approaching you to take a chance. Used to be they were a quarter a pop, five for $1. Now, the going price for one of these tickets is $100 and they’re coming at you from all directions.

Much too often, the guy selling them is the one who winds up the winner. What are the chances of pulling your own name out of a box? Pretty slim I would say.

And there are people like my niece who can win an all-expense-paid trip for two to Ireland and be housed in a castle with all the amenities, only because she entered a raffle at some church drawing.

“You don’t win if you don’t enter,” they tell me.

In most cases, I’ll subscribe to the offer, just to get these people off my back. I know they’re supporting a good cause, but if you buy enough of these, you might wind up becoming the charity instead of the philanthropist.

A day rarely goes by when I’m not receiving address labels through the mail. If I’m getting them, so must you. All they want is a little generosity. On occasion, they’ll also send you a pocket calculator, a calendar, notepads, stickers and a certificate for framing. I got one that read “Man of the Year” and there was no applause rendered.

“Anyone who’s a lush gets that,” my wife reminded me. “About time you stopped sending money through the mail.”

Obnoxious TV commercials

Headlining my list of pet peeves are these inane television commercials that irritate the dickens out of me. One after another, they never stop, causing me to surf other networks, only to find the same thing no matter where I look.

To make matters worse, sometimes the same commercial is repeated within moments of airing. Television commercials wouldn’t be so bad if they weren’t so often. They either insist you want a product you don’t need — or need a product you don’t want.

I usually take the moment to make a quick run to the refrigerator or bathroom and still return in plenty of time for another look at the weather.

The worse culprit has to be these auto dealerships that offer no letup. How they can expect to entice a customer with such badgering and consistency is beyond me? I see no value in airing five consecutive car promotions, other than turn viewers off.

Many of them wind up giving you a headache, then try to sell you a remedy for it.

Eat, drink & be merry

The diet starts tomorrow. Famous last words. My doctor is always on my case. “Smaller portions,” he tells me. “And think brown. That means wheat bread and wheat pasta, even brown rice.”

He reads me the riot act whenever I get on his scale and the arrow tilts askew. I don’t even weigh myself anymore because it frustrates me. I can’t imagine a world without sugar and a little chocolate, especially during the holidays.

I’m usually surrounded by two classes of people: Those who tell me what to eat and those who are always telling me what not to eat. Either way, you’re bound to come out a loser.

The way I look at life, make the most of it every day. Before you know it, it’s gone and we wish we had more.

News that makes sense

Some of these newscasters can get on my nerves, especially those who use certain adjectives. There was one the other night who reported “another senseless killing in Boston.”

Senseless as opposed to what, I might ask? A sensible killing? A man was beaten and robbed of $10 in a senseless killing, but on the other side of town, there was a sensible killing for $100?

Much of it is my fault in watching the news every night, so I wind up going to bed depressed. Just one night, can’t the good news get reported? People would be a lot happier!

Photographer and writer Tom Vartabedian is retired from The Haverhill Gazette. He contributes this regular column.