It's the time of year when one sits by a crackling fire and ponders, as beads of remorseful sweat collect on one's forehead, all the things that went unaccomplished in the preceding year. For me, Gravity's Rainbow remained unread, as it has every year for the past decade. The garage door is only half-painted. And though a respected food writer implored her readers at this time last year to "do something with chervil in 1988," the year came and went and I did nothing with chervil.
Worst of all, though, were my failures in keeping up with events and trends in my own profession. Countless times this past year someone said to me: "You're a sportswriter and you don't know that?!"
Well, in 1989 I'm going to knuckle down and find out what's really happening in the wide world of sports. It may leave precious little time to do something with chervil, but life is about choices, right?
Thus I hereby resolve:
•To monitor the results of the preliminary matches around the globe leading up to the 1990 World Cup, so that I'll be prepared for 1994, when the Cup is held in these United States. It won't be easy, because it's said the sun never sets on Cup zone games—this week, for example, Qatar plays Jordan in Qatar—but I'm going to take a crack at it.
•To investigate the phenomenon of the disappearing celebrity golf sponsor. There was a time when any thespian/tap dancer/comedian/crooner worth his subscription to Variety sponsored a tournament, but now, were it not for the LPGA Jamie Farr Toledo Classic and the patronage of those two enduring perennials, Bob Hope and Dinah Shore, the golf tours would be bereft of Hollywood appeal. Andy Williams recently took his name off the Shearson Lehman Hutton Andy Williams Open. Granted, Shearson, Lehman and Hutton were a hell of a vaudeville team in their day, but there's no denying Andy was the drawing card in that mix.
•To try to concentrate on the grace and beauty and finely tuned choreography to be found in NHL games instead of castigating the league for allowing senseless violence. And then I'm going to save the Tyson-Givens marriage.
•To find out what happens to Winter Olympic athletes in non-Olympic years. What do they do, all these speed skaters and Nordic skiers, bobsledders and biathletes? Do they hang out at some mysterious, snowcapped retreat in the Rockies? Migrate to Innsbruck? Dine at Dick Button's? For that matter, what happens to Dick Button?
•To pore over the NBA's illegal-defense rules so I'll know what in the world is going on when the referee suddenly whistles the action to a halt, makes a weird quasi-military salute signifying an illegal-defense call:
1) and all the defensive players whirl and stare at him with you-can't-mean-me looks on their faces.
2) and the coach of the defensive team bounds off the bench as if his firstborn had just been ripped from his wife's bosom, and begins screaming, owllike, "Who? Who?"
3) and the fans look bewildered, because they have no idea what transgression has been committed.
On second thought, I don't want to know. Never mind.
•To get a handle on the 1989 Grey Cup game, to learn such inside stuff as: Who plays in it? Whatever for? And who was Grey?
•To get the skinny on John McEnroe. We have been getting a miasma of conflicting Mac-info. He either is or is not still a brat. He either is or is not getting serious about tennis again. He either is or is not planning to increase his tournament commitments. He either is or is not still playing air guitar. He either is or is not an attentive father. One thing I'm sure of: He's still lefthanded. I think.
•To draw up a comprehensive genealogical chart for auto racing, both stock and Indy cars, to find out whether every driver really is named Andretti, Petty, Allison, Dallenbach, Unser or Parsons.
•To learn the sport coat colors worn by representatives of every college bowl game. I know the Cotton Bowl guys wear green (the color of chervil, if I'm not mistaken), while the Fiesta Bowl reps favor canary. I suspect Orange Bowl guys wear orange, but does that mean Rose Bowlers wear rose? And what color is Sugar? Aloha Bowl reps wear Hawaiian shirts. Why don't some of the lower-profile bowls put their people in those flashy satin jackets favored by rock groups? An inscription on the back like THE GET DOWN AND BOOGIE AMOS ALONZO (RAPMASTER) STAGG BOWL WORLD TOUR would have a nice ring to it.
•To get to the bottom of Steve Timmons's hair. Or, more radically, to get to the top of it. Dozens of people said to me during the Olympic Games: "Some volleyball team, eh? Listen, what's the deal with that big redheaded guy's hair?" And I would have to plead ignorance.
Well, ask me again in 12 months and I'll have an answer, to all this and a lot of other things.