My year began with the flu. At least I thought it was the flu. I felt as if I had been smacked by a freight train down at Brosnan Yard.
But the nurse said I had some cheap imitation of it -- probably made in China -- and I might not feel better until about Jan. 23. By then, I had a dentist appointment and a summons to report for jury duty, both in the same week.
If 2011 was the year of the rabbit, mine had started like the year of the skunk.
Things did get better, though. Except for the humiliating afternoon when I was passed on the road by a Smart Car, one of those tin cans on wheels. Or the morning I nearly got run over by a man driving a scooter down the aisle at Wal-Mart. Now, that would have been one heck of an obituary.
The other day, in a moment of reflection, I looked back on my most recent trip around the sun.
I wrote 196 columns, published two books and did the foreword to a cookbook. So I spent most of the year laughing in the face of deadlines. In November, I researched 185 random facts for the anniversary of The Telegraph, the oldest business in the city. It was fun, and there was a terrific response. (In retrospect, I wish I had included something about Archibald Willingham Butt, a Telegraph reporter in the 1890s. He later served as an aide to Presidents Teddy Roosevelt and William Howard Taft and was one of the 1,517 people who perished on the Titanic. The 100th anniversary will be in April.)
An eventful year? Well, since you asked. ... I got kissed by a camel and dressed up as Petals the Poodle for the Cherry Blossom Festival. (Oh, the things I will do for a column.) I received a prescription for a new pair of glasses during the summer, just in time to finally see it rain for the first time in weeks. Those same eyes shed tears when they closed the Georgia Music Hall of Fame.
I broke bread with the Cracker Queen (Lauretta Hannon) at the Silver Skillet in Atlanta. I dined on a cheeseburger in a honky tonk on Music Row in Nashville. During a three-day span, I ate Chinese on Thursday, tacos on Friday and French toast on Saturday morning, so I’m a culinary man of the world. A sandwich named after me -- the Monte Gristo at Molly’s -- was mentioned in the March issue of Southern Lady magazine, along with a fabulous seven-page spread on Macon. During early voting at the Board of Elections, I observed a lady wearing a hat with grapes hanging over the brim. It made me want to go home and pour a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.
I turned on the TV for the Royal Wedding just long enough to claim I did. I shamelessly watched the entire fall season of “Dancing With the Stars.” At first, it was because Nancy Grace was on it, but then I got hooked. I attended one Atlanta Braves game (they lost to Washington, 9-2) and one Georgia football game (they lost to Boise State, 35-21), so I’m no longer invited along as a good luck charm. I went to only one movie at the theater, “The King’s Speech,’’ but it was a fabulous choice.
From January to December, there was some trusted advice. Eat less, chew more. Talk less, say more. A smile is the best way to improve your looks.
I made my contribution to world peace, since I refused to Occupy Wall Street, Pio Nono Avenue or Gray Highway. I also resisted getting into any fist fights over Air Jordans, even though I’m convinced the shoes would improve my vertical leap by at least 4 inches.
If I had really thought the world was going to end back on Saturday, May 21, I would not have bothered to write columns for Sunday and Monday. I penned an open letter to filmmaker Michael Moore and told him if he wanted to boycott Georgia, that was OK, because we had changed the locks.
I became the serendipitous owner of an iPad. According to my children, it elevates my coolness level as an iDad. I soon discovered there is an “app” for just about everything, including one called “Shazam,’’ which is something Gomer Pyle used to say. I can hold Shazam up to the sound of any song that is playing and it will identify the name and artist. This blows my mind. (It works for Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” but unfortunately not for my own version.) Through the wonders of technology, I found a friend on Facebook I had not seen since the fifth grade. He even came to visit. For Christmas, he sent me a box of Twinkies, something he remembered my mother used to pack in my lunch box every day.
I still believe in the power of the written word. “A small drop of ink,’’ Lord Byron called it, “falling like dew upon a thought.’’ Over the past 362 days, I have witnessed the affirmation. Words can plant seeds, build bridges and change lives. The newspaper, in whatever form it is delivered, remains what we refer to as the “daily miracle” around here. And we’re about to embark on a bold, new journalistic adventure in July. Please pray for our traveling mercies.
In 2011, my motto was to “make good things happen.’’
I plan to have it stick around for another year.
Reach Gris at 744-4275 or firstname.lastname@example.org.