The Best of Andy Rooney

(This classic Andy Rooney column was originally published Nov. 6, 1979.)

This is my first column.

What follows are some clues to my character. It seems only fair that if you're going to read what I write, I ought to tell you how I stand.

-- I prefer sitting, but when I stand, I stand in size 8-1/2 EEE shoes. There are been periods in my life when wide feet were my most distinguishing characteristic.

-- When it comes to politics, I don't know whether I'm a Democrat or a Republican. When I was young, I was under the mistaken impression that all Democrats were Catholic and all Republicans were Protestant. This turns out to be untrue, of course, and I've never decided which I am. Those of us who don't have a party affiliation ought to be able to register under the heading "confused."

-- I like cold weather better than hot, rice better than potatoes, football better than baseball, Coke better than Pepsi. I've been to Moscow three times and don't like that at all.

-- This morning, the scale balanced at 203 pounds. I'm 5 feet 9 inches. My mother always calls me "sturdy" and says I have big bones. A little fat is what I am.

-- I have an American Express card but often leave home without it and pay cash.

-- The following are among the famous people I have met: Richard Nixon, George McGovern, Arthur Godfrey, Frank Gifford, Barry Goldwater, Art Buchwald, Jimmy Stewart and Carol Burnett. I have never met Teddy Kennedy, although I've seen a lot of pictures of him.

-- I have been arrested for speeding.

-- I speak French, but Frenchman always pretend they don't understand what I'm saying.

-- It's my opinion that prejudice saves us a great deal of time. I have a great many well-founded prejudices and I have no intention of giving up any of them except for very good reasons. I don't like turnips and I don't like liver. Call it prejudice if you wish, but I have no intention of every trying either again just to make sure I don't like them. I AM sure.

-- I don't like anything loud.

-- Fiction doesn't interest me at all. I haven't read a novel since "Lorna Doone." I meant to read Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea" when it came out but I didn't. Fiction takes too long for the ideas contained in it. I'm not interested in being diverted from life.

-- Good ideas are overrated. It makes more difference how a writer handles an idea than what the idea was in the first place. The world is filled with people with good ideas and very short of people who can even rake a leaf. I'm tired of good ideas.

-- When I write, I use an Underwood No. 5 made in 1920. Someone gave me an electric typewriter, but there's no use pretending you can use machinery that thinks faster than you do. An electric typewriter is ready to go before I have anything to say.

-- I know a lot about wood, ice cream, the English language and Harry Reasoner. In other areas, I have some serious gaps in my knowledge.

-- Writers don't often say anything that readers don't already know, unless it's a news story. A writer's greatest pleasure is revealing to people things they knew but did not know they knew. Or did not realize everyone else knew, too. This produces a warm sense of fellow-feeling and is the best a writer can do.

-- There's nothing mystical or magic about being a writer. A writer is just a person who writes something. There are almost no people who are not dentists who can fix teeth, but there are a lot of people who aren't professional writers who write very well. This is one of the reasons why being a writer is tougher than being a dentist.

-- I admire people who don't care what anyone else thinks about what they do but I'm not one of them. I care what people think and would not want you to know how much I hope you like what I write.

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