I don't know about you, but I hate change.
In fact, I'm pretty sure that most of us do.
Oh, yeah, there very well may be examples out there of changes that could be considered good things — labor-saving inventions, technological advances that don't seem to be designed to frustrate or anger us — but we hardly ever hear about those.
No, the changes that I find myself confronted by every day of my life are things like the scramble that ensues when your doctor retires; they no longer make the kind of running shoe you prefer; your favorite neighborhood restaurant — O'Connor's, in Multnomah Village, say — suddenly closes; every day you wake up with a different part of your body hurting; and they cancel your favorite TV show and yet, somehow, "Gilligan's Island" goes right on appearing eight or 10 times a day.
This is the kind of change I deal with all the time, and I don't like it.
You develop an attachment to a favorite movie theater (KOIN Cinemas, The Broadway, Film Fare in Beaverton, the Sellwood Theater, The Movie House, etc.) and they turn them into something else — something you have no use for.
Saigon Kitchen on Broadway, home of the best pad thai ever? Gone. Eng's Chinese in Hillsdale, where the Triple Crown take-out was an entire meal for two? Now a real estate office. And Beaverton Mall, once one of the nicest, easiest walking shopping centers in the Portland area (complete with G.I. Joe's, Emporium and Tower Records)? Now a "mall" with a different name and nowhere near as interconnected as it used to be.
OK, OK, I get it. Nothing stays the same. Get over it, Kelly, you're thinking. From that reaction I can tell you're young, and you simply haven't encountered enough of these surprises. You just wait.
A year or two before I retired in 2015 (just to give you an idea how long ago it was), I ordered a wrap at Subway and got the most perplexed look from the young woman behind the sneeze guard. I asked her what the matter was. "We haven't had wraps for a couple years now," she said. "In fact, we've never had them since I worked here."
Now, in all sincerity, I tell you I could certainly live without the wrap. But being reminded that I was talking about something as old as spats, or spittoons or the Korean War was a bit shocking to me. And, after four decades in the newspaper business, I don't shock that easily.
In keeping with my general hatred of change, I should point out that I also don't like changing my mind.
Ask my friends. They'll tell you. "Oh, sure, Mikel Kelly does not like changing his mind."
My boss, newspaper publisher and CEO Mark Garber, likes to remind people of "that time that Mikel Kelly made us all go to a hot tub even though it was 80-some degrees out" — and it's true. About a dozen of our friends decided, back in the '80s, when none of us had a hot tub but all of us liked doing that, that we would go to this public hot tub place. It was early spring and not an especially warm time of year, but after we'd made our reservation and were on the way there, it was pointed out that it was getting downright hot out.
"Maybe we should just bag this hot tub idea," one of our wives said — one of many friends who is always ready to change our plans — which I hate.
So, I made a speech in the car that has now become famous. "Why the hell can't we just once do what we said we were going to do?" I screeched. I was so loud and scary, in fact, nobody was brave enough to argue with me. It's been known ever since as the Great Hot Tub Incident, in which several of us almost boiled to death.
And it was the first time in my life I truly understood the power of my words. But it's not an aptitude I employ often. Like Superman, I chose to use my powers more for good than bad — like trying to explain why I think Bob Dylan actually is a good singer, or attempting to convert a novice to the writing of our own Willy Vlautin.
Yes, I will admit, I'm a bit set in my ways. But I would like to point out that my attitude is somewhat rooted in a general satisfaction with the status quo. I do tend to like the way things are, whatever that is. If I'm up, for example, I don't want to go to bed. If I'm in bed, I don't want to get up.
See? I'm pretty easy to please.
I was especially pleased the other day when I found a T-shirt at Value Village. It was bright blue with white letters that said: "GRUMPY OLD MAN CLUB: Founder and member (Only happy when complaining)."
I love that shirt, and I wear it proudly. And when it gets thin and grows holes and I can't wear it any more, I'll hate that, too.
Mikel Kelly is a retired newspaper guy with not that many friends, but he has a pretty good idea why that is.
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