You say you want a resolution?

Doing what I can

Jeffrey Denny

So, another new year and decade is dawning, and as the traditional Robert Burns New Year’s Eve poem/song goes:

As we twa hae run about the braes/and pu’d the gowans fine and twa hae paidl’d i’ the burn/frae morning sun till dine/we’ll tak a right gude-willy waught.

You know, the old Auld Lang Syne.

The song always reminds me of old acquaintances I’ve forgotten — or who never came to mind — and all the other terrible horrible no good very bad stuff I’ve accomplished by commission or omission in the past year. I always blame too many gude willy waughts, i.e., “cups of kindness.”

But once again, to celebrate the annual New Year’s resolution tradition, and ease my free-floating guilt and self-loathing, I resolve to be a better person in 2020. Starting with:

1. Accepting modern grammar and usage.

For example, no more throwing screaming hissies when hearing “impact” used as a verb or worse, “impacted by.”


My new patience for assaults on good taste and decency, to reference John Kennedy Toole, also goes for irritating Millennial up-speak, vocal fry, and saying “um” and “ah” to sound authentic, which our late, great beloved Cokie Roberts never did and yet always sounded authentic because she was.

2. Being more verbally “woke.”

Furthering Resolution #1, I’ll avoid spraining my ocular muscles rolling my eyes at Merriam Webster’s endorsement of “they” as a horrifically ungrammatical and confusion-creating yet respectfully sensitive substitute for gender-specific/hateful pronouns such as “he” and “she.”

I’ll use whatever pronouns avoid triggering irremediable idiots while cognizant that clients who pay me to write grammatically will sprain their ocular muscles and thank me for my efforts (i.e., fire me) when I’m just trying to help them be “woke.”

3. Letting bad drivers be bad drivers.

Bless the beautiful hearts of those who don’t pay attention to, or care about, what’s going on around them and would be denied license to drive and sent to the slowest, most distant and frustrating DMV gulag under my presidency.

Why should I compound my life’s overwhelming stress when a 1995 Subaru Forester meanders up to an intersection going 10-15 mph and then hits the gas to make the yellow, leaving me stopped and seething at the red? I’ll have plenty of time to catch up and glare at him/her/they and look over muttering, “Subaru drivers — classic case of loving humanity and hating people.”

4. Being more “bon vivant.”

Ok, I’ll count to ten to prevent amygdala hijack and blowing up when fancy restaurant waiters speed through the word salad of specials including ballotine en brodo with shiso and guanciale in gougère; bibimbap with yuzu and gochujang; and a starter of geoduck with sea urchin and citrus.

I’ll just calmly inquire, “Kindly, what the fridge is golden osetra, abalone cabbage and smoked crème, fermented allium and white truffle with pumpkin and pain d’epices? Good sir, with all undue respects, do I really need the ‘reserve white sturgeon and koji’ for freaking $45?”

(BTW, “geoduck” is not a mallard with a GPS leg band but a big Northwest Pacific clam and pronounced “gooey duck.” Who knew?)

5. Being less political.

I’ll no longer tear hair, gnash teeth, rend garments and shake my fist screaming at the heavens like Shakespeare’s Lear at the president’s childish, gratuitous, mean-spirited, incoherent and divisive nastiness not befitting America’s Chief Executive, Commander in Chief and Leader of the Free World, or any decent person except perhaps a teething, croupy infant.

In 2020, I’ll merely smile when MAGAs cheer, mirror and take churlish pleasure and glee in the president’s needless bullying and demonizing, or when they delight in posting snarky memes smearing and intending to rile anyone who dares to question His Greatness.

I’ll also nod understandingly at country-club Republicans who tolerate or tune out even the most ghastly presidential behavior that would outrage their parents and grandparents and ancestors back to the Mayflower because, after all, the Dow is up past 28,000 and all Democrats are Venezuelan socialists.

Then I’ll take another cup of kindness with a splash of Xanax.

6.Judging not, lest me be judged.

Furthering Resolution #7, I’ll avoid declaiming in high dudgeon about political hypocrisy, whether on the right or left.

C’mon — we’re all hypocrites. Nobody is logically consistent all the time, even though we love to call out the inconsistency of others to “win” arguments. “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds,” Emerson famously observed. “A great person does not have to think consistently from one day to the next.”

Take the white evangelical Christian right.

While hating government and fearing its intrusion on our freedoms, militant fundamentalists worship at tax-shirking churches and pay millions to elect politicians — even gleefully slimy ones who screw the working poor, like our current president has done — to force government to intrude on our freedoms.

For instance, the government-hating right-wing Christians want the government to endorse the right to discriminate against certain of God’s children, i.e., LGBTQ+, and intrude into our most private personal rights, i.e., reproductive health and choices. All in the name of Jesus, of course.

In 2020, however, I’ll turn the other cheek, just like Jesus teaches, and forgive the multi-billion-dollar Fundamentalist Christian Industrial Complex for deftly playing a cynical political game for power and money and suckering the faithful for riches. I promise not to quote P.T. Barnum.

7. Being more self-aware.

I resolve to stop posting Medium pieces like this that are mostly sound and fury signifying the obvious, compelling mostly to the writer, i.e., me, and desperately needing a hard-core editor who, in the end, will strongly urge not to publish.

Damn. Already failed. On to 2021!

Jeffrey Denny is a Washington writer.



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