Bernhardt: And now, a few words about Andy Rooney

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 7, 2011

Iíll miss Andy Rooney on CBS. He ended his long run on CBSís ě60 Minutesî Oct. 2 Ö at the remarkable age of 92, after delivering his 1,097th commentary.
In an industry preoccupied with youth, Andy was a bit of an oddity. Yet, there he sat nearly every Sunday night since July of 1978, dispensing his words of practical wisdom.
And somehow, in spite of his usual whiny delivery, we more than often found ourselves in total agreement with the kindly curmudgeon with a twinkle in his eye.
Andyís secret was, he had no secret. He just kept it real. He simply lived his everyday life and wrote down what he experienced.
Comedian Victor Borge once said that about Mozart. ěMozart and I basically do the same thing,î he told an audience while playing a classic Mozart piece. ěWe both doodle in our heads. The only difference is, he wrote his down.î
The things that Andy liked were the things that most of us like:
Speedy service at the checkout. Candles that have a familiar, homey smell instead of an orgy of perfumes. Drivers who signal their intentions well in advance of an intersection instead of waiting till the last minute. We all like those things.
And when Andy Rooney didnít like something, he has his own unique way of telling you.
ěAnyone who watches golf on television would enjoy watching grass grow on the greens.î
ěComputers make it easier to do a lot of things, but most of those things donít need to be done.î
ěIf you donít return your census form, the area you live in might get less government money, and you wouldnít want that to happen, would you.î
Rooneyís style has often been characterized as ěcreative.î Yet there was never anything creative about it as far as he was concerned.
ěColleges teach courses in creative writing as if a course in just plain writing werenít enough. Trying to teach someone to be creative is as silly as a mother trying to teach her child to be a genius,î he wrote.
Rooney never waited for a good idea to come along before he started writing.
ěThereís nothing magical about the process, no flashing lights.î
He just lived life and wrote about it. And when he told us about it on TV, it seemed real. We could relate to every word.
Thereís something else I like about Andy Rooney. He apparently never believed in retirement. Long after most men his age exchanged their work boots for bedroom slippers, Rooney kept churning out the wisdom.
I donít believe in retirement either.
Iím frightened of the thought of waking up one morning and realizing that waking up is probably the most exciting thing thatís going to happen to me that day.
Even if Iím not still actively engaged in the workforce, I hope at the age of 92, I still have something to do and something to say.
What will CBS do now that Rooney is stepping down?
The worst thing they could do it try to find ěanother Andy Rooney.î There isnít one, just like there wasnít another Paul Harvey. The quest to fill Rooneyís slot should begin and end with that fact. Donít subject us to some young guy doing his Andy Rooney impression.
As my own tribute to one of my favorite journalists, this morning I downloaded Rooneyís book ěAndy Rooney: 60 Years of Wisdom and Witî on my Kindle. I plan to spend a lot of my day enjoying some of his best work.
I donít know how Andy feels about Kindles, but I can almost hear him saying ěI donít really like the idea of a Kindle. I prefer holding a good book in my hands. I like the feel and smell of the pages and the sound they make when I turn them.î
ěStill, I also like the way my bank account grows when someone downloads one of my books on one.î
Kent Bernhardt lives in Salisbury.