I often reserve my final column of the year to discuss some of the most memorable events of the previous 12 months. It’s an opportunity to reflect on where I’ve been, recall the people I’ve met and chastise myself for not doing a better job of telling their stories.
So, with that in mind, I’m not going to do that this year. I will, however, discuss some of the things I’ve learned not to do and perhaps will save some of you the pain and/or embarrassment of making similar mistakes.
Consider this your don’t list for 2006.
• Don’t attempt to stand on one foot in swift water, especially if that one foot is teetering precariously on an unstable boulder.
• When your waders begin filling with icy cold river water, don’t hold on to that fly rod you bought for $19.95 at K-Mart 30 years ago. Just let it go.
• Don’t admit to your fishing buddy that you fell into the river. Insist that a large trout dragged you into a deep pool where you sloshed a little water into your waders and that after a 30-minute battle through raging rapids and treacherous eddies you landed the fish and released it quickly to improve its chance of survival.
• Don’t hit your friend with your good fly rod when he insists that, once again, you have fallen into a river.
• It is not a good idea to risk breaking the tip off an expensive fly rod to retrieve a 79-cent fly.
• Never allow a cat with a urinary tract infection to sleep in your bed.
• Never trust a cat, even when it’s supposedly cured of a urinary tract infection. Never, never, never.
• Don’t forget when trying to poke an antibiotic down a cat’s throat that most de-clawed cats still have claws on their rear feet.
• If the vehicle ain’t yellow, with a bubble on top, don’t assume you’re going to pay the flat rate for a ride from Kennedy Airport to downtown Manhattan.
• Don’t walk the final six flights to the Empire State Building observation deck unless you are in the final stages of training for the New York City Marathon or can easily scale Mount Everest.
• Don’t pass up any opportunity to do something nice for your wife, husband or anyone else you care about. It comes back.
• Never buy a used car in a neighborhood you wouldn’t walk through unarmed.
• Don’t be surprised when, after suggesting the possibility of a holiday get-together with friends at your house, your wife buys festive new dinnerware.
• If you can’t smell saltwater or hear sea gulls, don’t order the “fresh” seafood special.
• Don’t roll down your car window to get a better look at a West Texas dust storm.
• Never visit the High Plains after Labor Day without packing a jacket, and a sweater, and a pair of shorts.
• Never pass up an opportunity to play with your grandchildren in a big pile of leaves. The squeals of joy will more than make up for the itchiness of debris in your underwear.