The Best of Andy Rooney

(Andy Rooney is taking the day off. In his absence, we are reprinting one of his classic columns, originally published Aug. 25, 1999.)

Bragging is boring and rude, I know that, but I can't keep myself from saying that there's one thing I do better than almost anyone. I make a mess of things.

Whatever it is -- a bed, a newspaper, a refrigerator, a garage, an office, a freshly pressed suit -- I can make a mess of it in a matter of minutes.

My office is a shambles. I make a pile of papers marked IMPORTANT because I know I ought to do something about them right away. I don't do anything about them right away and, the next day, more papers arrive that demand immediate action. I put those on top of the ones that demanded immediate action yesterday. This continues through the week.

When the camera crew arrives in my office to tape a piece for television, I want the office to look neater than it is, so I put the piles marked IMPORTANT, all jumbled in together, in a big box and mark the box, IMPORTANT. I have dozens of boxes marked IMPORTANT and the boxes are in a closet, all jumbled together. If you wrote and didn't get an answer, your letter is in there. Thanks for writing.

At night, away from the office I made a mess of, I go home, make a mess in the kitchen, make a mess of the living room while watching television and reading, then I go upstairs, where I destroy a made bed. Because I'm claustrophobic, I feel trapped in bed if the blankets are caught under the mattress and my feet are not free. The first thing I do when I get into bed is pull out the sheet and blankets where they're tucked in.

In bed, I toss and turn. Every half hour, I change positions to allow blood back into the arm I've been sleeping on to restore feeling in it. My manner of turning makes clear what the phrase "tossing and turning" means. When I turn over, I don't simply turn, I toss. With a bouncing motion, I try to get enough elevation to get clear of the sheet underneath me. I give a strong, quick, upward thrust to the blanket over me, hoping that it will catch enough air under it to sustain its elevation while I make my turn before it settles back down over me.

The bed I've been doing this in all night is not a pretty sight in the morning.

Earlier this week, I looked at what I had done to the Sunday paper. Most Sunday newspapers in America are already a mess when we get them, but I'd be willing to bet there aren't 10 people in the whole country who do to a Sunday paper what I do to one.

Everyone takes the section they like and separates it from the body of the paper and never puts it back. That's pretty standard Sunday newspaper reading, but when I read something I want to save, I tear it out. Even if I use scissors and cut it, this seriously damages that section because you can't just cut out one side of a page.

I have a special talent for making a complete mess of the interior of a car. A car is not merely a method of transportation for me; it's a clothes closet, a tool chest and a wastebasket.

The top of my dresser is a mess. My idea of how to straighten it out is to sweep everything there into one of the two top drawers. My drawers are a mess.

You may think none of this is important, but the messes I make are not limited to beds, cars, garages, dresser drawers or offices. My days are filled with things I put off doing, can't do, or don't feel like doing. If there's a mess to be made anywhere in my life, I get right at it.

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