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Mike Tasos: Resolutions and memories of the past year
Mike Tasos

New Years’ resolutions have been since before the three wise men said: “If you’re writing a song about us, then give us our props. We are now billed as We Three Kings. And we’re cutting way back on giving away all our gold. 

“We’re not worried about the frankincense and myrrh. No one seems to know what that is anyway.”

My one resolution was easy. Less depressing to break one rather than four or five. One broken resolution can quickly be forgotten and tucked way back in the closet, accompanied by tactical flashlights, ugly ties and a 78th edition of “The Great Gatsby.”

No more cigars. 

No more humidor chock-full of Nicaraguan beauties. In fact, no more humidor. The torch lighters are tucked away in a drawer.

From now on, anyone fanning the air or holding their noses around me ... let’s just say it will be because of me and not lit tobacco.

I was hoping satellite providers, whose noses grow at alarming rates, could promise to provide excellent customer service, not sneakily raise your rates and provide a somewhat English-speaking person to answer the phone. Check your bill. I’ll bet you’re paying a lot more than you used to pay. Their resolution would be simple, yet impossible: We’re going to tell the truth and be up front with our beloved customers.

I’m doing pretty well with mine. Settle down. I know we’re only six days into 2019. 

I’ve been test-driving my cigar-less resolve since October, just about the time Papa Kenny Cagle went to that big crawfish boil in the sky. Seems like with him gone, there just wasn’t the fire to light up. Not saying the cigars killed him, but it’s pretty logical to reason they didn’t help him live any longer either.

Cigar smoking was a great leisurely activity. This will be a severe adjustment for Order of the Restless Knights meetings. I know Cheech and Pops Howard don’t crochet. Neither do I. And we don’t want to learn.

Perhaps we’ll have storytelling as an activity. We have plenty of memories, plenty of stories. For me, hanging on to the tales is a perfect way not to forget them.

For some reason, a quiet Christmas was as welcome as bacon and eggs in the morning. Our Christmas was just Vicki, the boys and me. It was marvelous. 

I made good on my vow to torment all telemarketers. My new shtick is to hook them into a conversation. They’ll ask me how I’m doing?

“I’m fine. And how are things in Manila today?” 

I wait for the standard “I’m doing fi” but that’s all they get out.

I’ve stolen the Rock’s line: “It doesn’t matter how you’re doing! Can you smell-l-l-l what the Rock is cooking?!”

This has resulted in fewer calls and lots more fun. Even though it’s post-Christmas, I believe my antics have landed me on some sort of telemarketer naughty list.

It’s a lot of fun and requires no cursing, ancestral smears or rude sounds.

I also kept my promise to contact lots of folks who I have worked with through the years. Most were happy to hear from me, but to be honest, some people are confusing reality from nonsense.

“Aren’t you the Italian guy who used to cut our lawn? I promise we’ll send you a check for the last bill.”

I knew his train had left the station because a) I’m not Italian, b) if he knew me, he’d know that I hate yard work, and 3) for a guy like that, I would have collected the debt personally with Cheech and one of his cousins.

That was the exception. 

The other calls were jam-packed full of laughter, lots of “remember when” and figuring out how long old bosses have been deceased.

The best guy I ever worked for, Maurice T. Phipps, passed away in July. He was 94, had been married to Virginia for 73 years. Virginia died 20 days after Morry. He was one of the people whose wisdom has sustained me for the 35 years I had the privilege of knowing him.

He was a member of the Greatest Generation, serving as a pilot and navigator. So many great times and stories he shared with me.

And I never thanked him for his service. 

Won’t make that mistake again.

Mike Tasos’ column is published every other Sunday. He connected with his eighth-grade teacher, Sister Rosann Fraher, who’s still active in San Francisco. Some great stories. But those will wait for another day. Comments can be sent to