Some athletes like to leave at the top of their game, surrounded by analysts' accolades and the sweetness of fame. Some performers hang on for decades past their prime, performing their hits at halftime at the Super Bowl to an adoring fan base now sporting knee replacements. Of course, some artists only achieve critical success for their creations years after their deaths.
For regular working people, however, none of these scenarios generally applies. And we are mostly grateful, especially when it comes to the third scenario. Because we would gladly take the banal moments in our unremarkable lives over death — with or without subsequent honors — any day.
Yes, we in the largely uncelebrated majority will take our suburban Saturday mornings, sitting with a just-perfect-sipping-temperature cup of coffee, staring out the kitchen window at the dog sitting in the backyard leaves. We'll take the chuckle that comes from our child's elementary school report card tacked on the bulletin board with its thoughtful teacher comment: "Needs to show his work." And we'll take the simple blip of happy that comes from realizing the grass didn't grow tall enough to mow this weekend; that our car made it home after a driver chose incivility in the mall parking lot; or that every single time we caught a glimpse of our reflection today, our hair looked fantastic.
These are the kinds of moments I have relished writing about in "Janet's World" weekly for the past four years in The Baltimore Sun. Now, it is time for me to move on.
But when you have been raised by parents who instilled in you — or more accurately, drilled in you — the importance of good manners, you know that you can't just leave a party without thanking the host and hostess. I am grateful for The Sun and the many editors I have had the pleasure of working with — and for all of you intelligent readers, whose names I wish I could spell backward for privacy to make up the remaining 350 words or so of this somewhat difficult, final "Janet's World."
No, I have not been named Dave Barry's replacement at The Miami Herald. Neither will I be substituting occasionally for Joel Stein in Time or Anna Quindlen in The New York Times.
But I feel certain that you are not disappointed in me, or in the fact that I have not experienced a meteoric rise in my humor columnist career path, because I have given you the opportunity to read your life in mine, week after week.
The fact is, newspaper budgets continue to constrict, and when I learned from my editor last week that my column would not be able to appear every week starting in January, I thought it was a sign.
I thought it was a sign that I ought to run for president of the United States.
No, actually, I thought it was a sign that I ought to change things up a bit — maybe write a poem about the wheel of brie that my husband found behind a drawer in the refrigerator today, its expiration date September 2008. Maybe perform a spontaneous interpretive dance at the county executive's swearing-in ceremony. Maybe learn to play the zheng. (I just threw that in there so you would have to look it up, readers who e-mail me complaining that you always have to have a dictionary handy when you read my column.)
At any rate, all of these are truly bad ideas, so it is likely I will do none of them. But my work will still appear occasionally on the opinion pages of this newspaper whenever I am feeling irritated with a touch of witty. So when you think about it, I'm really not going anywhere, except to the bathroom right now, to get a tissue.
Thank you for inspiring my world, and reading about yours.