Longing for the Old World Order
Perhaps, it is due to the long 4th of July holiday. But there seems to be a lack of important news. Or, maybe we are just not turning on the TV for the daily ration of mayhem and chaos.
Here is a headline that provides an example of the kind of news that was moved across the wires by the Associated Press this weekend: “M&Ms melt into new era.”
The story went on, in great depth, to report: “After 46 years as plain-old M&M’s, the chocolate-coated candies are being renamed milk chocolate M&M’s.”
Actually, the makers of M&M’s have only felt it necessary to refer to them as “plain” since the introduction of peanut M&M’s in 1954. Now, 46 years later, the company has decided to make another bold move and further differentiate the company’s flag-ship product from the rest of its product line which now includes peanut butter, almond and crispy versions of M&M’s. Frankly, all these changes make my head spin.
One of the downsides of a news period highlighted only by this stunning news from the makers of M&M’s, is having the time to do something about the clutter on my desk. For some reason, probably related to growing up as a child of The Great Depression, this observer finds it virtually impossible to throw anything away.
This is a life-long bad habit. Yes, I know one is supposed to handle a piece of paper only once. One is supposed to look at it and decide whether or not to take action on the item right then, and do it. Otherwise, the item is supposed to be terminated with extreme prejudice.
But I look upon each item as an old friend with yet-to-be-discovered redeeming values. I know if I throw something away that it will only be a matter of hours or days until I will need the information on was on that piece of paper.
In college, I often shared rooms in our fraternity house with brothers of approximately the same height and weight. All of us had a habit of throwing our clothes on top of a chair that sat in the middle of the room. In the morning, we would get up, pick through whatever clothes we could find (irrespective of ownership) and get dressed for class.
We all had the same taste in clothes in those pre-Animal House days because everyone had the same conservative tastes. We wore open-collared dress shirts under V-necked wool or cashmere sweaters with slacks, white-buck oxfords and Argyle socks. The only time we were allowed to wear blue jeans was while attending classes that took place in laboratories.
When I was a lowly pledge, the pledge-master caught me wearing jeans on campus. I told him I was en route to a lab. But, when he discovered it was only a language lab, I was in big trouble.
My salvation in college came in form of brother Jack Powers. Jack always reminded me of the character Felix Unger as played by the actor Tony Randall in “The Odd Couple.” I was clearly in the mold of Jack Klugman or the late Walter Matthau.
When I was elected president of the Interfraternity Council, I appointed Jack to serve as the executive secretary of that organization. Thanks to Jack, we got through that year without my losing any important documents. Jack has a genius for looking sorting things, for keeping the important and pitching the superfluous. Maybe, that is what led Jack to become a minister, a profession that tends to focus on the really important things in life.
After a gap of 42 years – almost as long as M&M’s have been called “plain” – Jack and I are back in contact. I told Wonder Wife about how Jack Powers kept my life organized back in college. Now, she is hoping Jack and his family will come visit and do something about the mess in our garage.
William Hamilton is a nationally syndicated columnist and a featured commentator for USA Today.