I tend to make resolutions in May rather than January. Birthdays do that to me. This year, I'm sticking with just one: that I will stop and think before I believe anything I read or hear. Here are some of the messages I've learned to think about carefully.
"Yes, of course your new kitten is litter box trained." OK, maybe, but I'll line the bottom of his carrier with lots of newspaper before I try to take him home.
"Dearly beloved, I am writing to you because I have been assured of your veracity." Do people really talk like that any more? Apparently the only ones that do are orphans in Nigeria who need help getting a small fortune safely deposited in an American bank – or British lawyers that have just discovered that I am the only surviving heir to the fabulously wealthy Lord Muckety Muck of Trentwell-on-Thames. There are some e-mails I just don't answer.
"This won't hurt a bit." Oh, really? Why mention it, then? Forgive me if I see that phrase as my cue to hunch my shoulders and clench my teeth, particularly if a needle is somewhere nearby. Let's face it. Even small children see through that one.
"Grandma's Home Cookin'." Yes, she must be cooking at home, because the fellow in the kitchen with the bare biceps and a sweaty rag tied around his forehead doesn't look like anyone's Granny to me. And menu items such as a super-thick, triple cheeseburger smothered in onions and hot peppers and accompanied by chili cheese fries doesn't sound like anything that ever graced our vegetable-laden family dinner table.
"Huge Going Out of Business Sale. We've lost our lease, so shop quickly." I'll be back in a year or so. Chances are good that the same stuff will be waiting on the shelves. In fact, I suspect there are some stores that only open so they can start holding closing sales.
"Easy assembly. Even a child can do it." It will take hours to put this piece of furniture together. Worse, it will require seven tools that I do not own, and at least two burly stevedores to manhandle the pieces together.
"No interest until 2013." Yes, but after that, the interest will be 120% per month, and some guy will follow you around with a baseball bat aimed at your kneecaps.
"The greatest movie ever filmed." If it were really that great, they wouldn't have to announce the fact. This one is probably a re-make of a movie you saw as a teenager, now updated with the current heart-throbs playing roles they don't understand. You can only hope that the director hasn't done anything too silly, such as making historical figures use the latest slang or dress in modern garb.
"Lose ten pounds by the weekend." Short of chopping off a limb, I doubt that this is possible. This one is right up there with "I lost two hundred pounds and you can, too."
"The only cleaning tool you'll ever need to buy." Nothing does everything. If it's a monster of a vacuum, I'll only spill little things in cracks.. If it fits in tiny spaces, it will take forever to accomplish big jobs. And even if it's perfect for everything, it will get misplaced, or borrowed, or stolen.
"Men working ahead." Or "Your tax dollars at work." Oh, there may be men ahead, and they are probably pocketing your tax money, but the chances of them working are pretty slim. They'll be standing in a group talking about work, perhaps, or watching the traffic go by, but you won't see much hard labor as you whiz by the work zone.
"We need more rules of ethics." Absolutely, but don't expect those rules to apply to any politician who makes such an announcement.
"Unbreakable." Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! Want to bet?