Phil Goldstein | North Forty News


Since this is a November column, I believe some thanksgiving is in order. As I come up on the end of my fourth year of writing for North Forty News, I’d be remiss in not thanking Publisher Blaine Howerton for continuing to include my work in his unique, independent publication.

This column and the writing I also do for several other area publications came along at a time in my life when I was struggling with a post-retirement lack of relevance and identity. That dilemma was compounded by an increasing cynicism and skepticism about life and times in general. I definitely needed the distraction and distinction of a new challenge, and I found that expressing my frustrations and irritations via the satire that’s the frequent subject matter in my writing brought me valuable recompense. The positive feedback from readers for what I do is a bonus.

I’m certainly thankful for my wife Amy. She tolerates my obsessive quirks—although I don’t know what’s wrong with alphabetizing the cans and jars in the pantry—and I’m proud of her two separate, long-time careers and now-thriving, post-retirement business. 

I’m pleased that I’ve mastered disingenuous patronization, which is infinitely helpful for killing time at boring parties until I get to go home. It’s sure easy keeping some people talking about themselves.

I’m thankful I’ve learned the art of domestic reverse psychology, as in, “I think we should eat out tonight,” when all I really want is to dine at home.

I’m a big fan of the men and women in the military who keep us safe, especially the really fit ones who do the dirty work. Therefore, I’m thankful for those parents who don’t buy their kids e-bikes, e-scooters or e-anything that doesn’t require muscle power.

I’m thankful for large families at restaurants who, rather than engaging in worthwhile conversation such as, “What did you learn in school today?” are instead engrossed in their phones. That makes the establishment a lot quieter. 

I’m grateful to the friends who coaxed me into taking up the drums six years ago. I have a band that practices in my home studio, and I’m as loud and cool as I’ve wanted to be since I was ten years old. But unfortunately, I still haven’t mastered the drum solo from “In A Gadda Da Vida.”

I’m thankful to Timnath Town Council for the continued privilege of serving on the Planning Commission and to my fellow commissioners for the honor of serving as your Chair these last nine years. 

I’m thankful for wonderful next-door neighbors for their sincere friendship and selfless favors. 

I’m thankful for incompetent people. Imagine how much more competitive the world would be if everyone was better at what they did.

And I’m especially thankful that the last two years are behind Amy and me. Between the loss of both of her parents, recreation-induced orthopedic surgery for both of us, and extended uncertainty about a major illness, this is one biennium I’m glad to see in the past.

Finally, I’m thankful for the many readers who let me know with their comments that they appreciate my work, especially the satire that’s my usual style. Knowing there are those who relate to my musings is certainly worth celebrating on the fourth Thursdays in November. And to any readers who’ve wondered if my satirical barbs are directed specifically at them, well, if the shoe fits…

Phil Goldstein is in his fourth year writing Tales from Timnath for North Forty News. Phil is a 13-year Timnath resident who is finally using his West Virginia University journalism degree after getting sidetracked 50 years ago. The views expressed herein are Phil’s only. Contact him with comments on the column at [email protected].


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