LIVE LONG enough and you'll be amazed by how much stuff you accumulate. Like mail-order catalogs. There's a pile of them three feet high in the garage. I don't know why they come to us with such great frequency, but it's a rare day when the mailbox doesn't yield a couple. My wife says the one-day record is 13. I believe it. I have a suggestion for most of these mail-order places: just put all your stuff online, at one Web site. You could call it Schlock.com.
But it's the holiday season, I'm desperate for gift ideas, and I find myself leafing through these things anyway. I'm stunned by what I learn. I had no idea you could buy a book called Bedtime Stories for Dogs, featuring The Three Little Pugs. Isn't that special? Or how about a nice set of electric-guitar figurines?
And for the man who has everything, one catalog offers a see-through toilet seat with real starfish inside. Great, now I'm going to have nightmares for a month.
However, I must give these folks their due. I have decided that some of the best writing in the land happens not just in One of America's Great Newspapers but on the T-shirts and coffee mugs available in these catalogs.
Here's a list we compiled of some of the best and wittiest we've seen. A certain attitude is a recurrent theme, but a world without cynics and egocentrics would be a lonely place.
"I'm not bossy, I just know what you should be doing."
"Obey gravity it's the law."
"What if the Hokey-Pokey really is what it's all about?"
"Start each day with a smile and get it out of the way."
"You're starting to make sense. It's time to up my medication."
"I'm not a waitress, but I play one at home."
"Do I look like I'm kidding?"
"My Indian name is Runs With Beer."
"Mama said there'd be decades like this."
"Well-behaved women rarely make history."
"Even if the voices are not real, they have pretty good ideas."
"Everyone is born right-handed. Only the gifted overcome it."
"They say I have A.D.D. but they just don't oh look! A chicken!"
"Mirror, mirror on the wall, I am my mother after all."
"Doesn't play well with others."
"Keep staring at me. I may do a trick."
"I'm still HOT, it just comes in flashes now."
"Very affectionate On an as-needed basis."
"Nothing ruins good parenting like teenagers."
"A credit to my species."
"Instant human-Just add coffee."
"Every day at this time I FREAK OUT!"
"Not now. I'm working the room."
"What is the speed of dark?"
"Bad spellers? Untie!"
"Multi-tasking: screwing up several things at once."
"You remind me of someone. I don't like HIM either."
"I'm actually quite pleasant - until I wake up."
"Nobody knows the trouble I've been."
"I have issues."
"My therapist thinks I'm a scream."
"Sometimes I wonder, why is that beer truck getting bigger? Then it hits me!"
"Of course I'm hungry. I'm a vegetarian."
"Still young enough to know everything."
"Always being right is an awesome responsibility."
"Back by popular demand."
"I'm not a doctor, but I'll take a look."
"I cannot comment during an ongoing investigation."
"I childproofed my house, but they still get in."
"What am I? Flypaper for freaks?"
"Your opinion, although interesting, is irrelevant."
"I started out with nothing, and I have most of it left."
"I've seen normal. It ain't pretty."
"Yes, it IS always about me."
"It's not Princess. It's Madam Queen, Goddess of Her Royal Highest. May I Kiss Your Feet? Now try it again."
"Am I getting smart with you? How would you know?"
"Honey, have you seen my glasses?"
"Organized people are just too lazy to look for things."
"I'm only wearing black until they make something darker."
"I don't suffer from insanity. I enjoy every minute of it."
"It IS as bad as you think it is, and they ARE out to get you."
"I'm the quiet neighbor who always kept to himself."
"I'm here for the free lunch."
"Life is short. Break some rules."
"We have enough youth. How about a Fountain of Smart?"
"My back goes out more than I do."
"Errors have been made. Others are to blame."
"•'You're never too old to do goofy stuff.' - Ward Cleaver"
"Ever considered being a mime?"
"If you're happy and you know it, go away!"
"National Sarcasm Society (like we NEED your support)"
"Take my advice. I'm not using it."
"Why be difficult? With a little more effort, you can be impossible."
And finally, "If life's a journey, shouldn't you be moving along?"
Well, yes, I should, and in a moment, I shall. But you have to admit, that's quite a list. There are people who are paid a handsome sum to think these things up. It's obvious that T-shirt messages have come a long way from the crude early efforts you can still find at flea markets, although my wife keeps threatening to pull out her old "I'm With Stupid" shirt now that I'm around 24/7.
That is SO yesterday.
Of the new wave of T-shirts, I have three personal favorites. One shows a band of native Americans in full war paint, astride their horses. The shirt reads: "Homeland Security. Fighting terrorism since 1492."
The second one says: "You know that Social Security they keep taking out of your paycheck? Well, it's going to me."
I guess I like that one because of its personal relevance.
The third one asks simply: "Where are we going, and why am I in this hand-basket?"
If I ever run into Dubya again, I'll ask him.
And here's one I happen to be wearing at this very moment:
"Will Not Work For Anything."