The year is almost up. I want a refund.

I don’t want money. I want time. I want back every minute wasted on subjects that were trivial, gossipy or just plain idiotic.

Subjects on which I can’t believe we wasted any breath at all. Things that dominated our newspapers and our TVs and, therefore, our conversations, like whether the Spice Girls have any talent.

The answer is no. There. That took half-a-second. I want back anything over that.

Same goes for all that talk about aliens coming to Earth, sparked by the dumb summer movie “Contact.” Guess what? After all that, no spaceships landed. I want the time back.

Minutes. Hours. I want reimbursement.

And I’ve made a list . . .

For every word I read about Jenny McCarthy, the blond bimbo who keeps telling us how talented she is while sticking out her chest. I want it back. It was a complete waste of time.

For every minute spent on “Ellen” and her “coming out.” I didn’t care then. I don’t care now. We’re talking days, maybe weeks of conversation. I want them back.

For all the hours spent on Frank Gifford and his fling with a flight attendant. You know what? All that makes him is another ex-jock who cheats on his wife. Get in line, Frank. I want a refund.

Speaking of ex-jocks, O.J. Simpson owes me a bundle. I’d say about a month — and that’s just on his civil trial. I blew an hour alone on whether his mother gets to keep the piano.

And regarding the film “GI Jane”? Did we really care that Demi Moore shaved her head and did 100 push-ups? For every second beyond what it takes to say
“lousy movie,” I want payback.

Same goes for “Speed 2,” “Flubber” and “Batman and Robin.” They’re just movies, not presidential inaugurations. Why does the country have to stop to talk about them for two weeks before they open?

Did I mention the presidential inauguration?

Also, every time I heard the name Robert Downey Jr. Refund!

Marv, Brad and Mike

Let’s see. That’s about six weeks of credited time. I’m just getting started

For every time the words “El Nino” were uttered, I want reimbursement. I don’t know what El Nino is. I don’t care what El Nino is. It makes rain and wind, right? Now give me back the hours we spent discussing it.

And Marv Albert? Please. It’s hard to say how much time we wasted on him. Start from the words “garter belt.”

Also, there’s payback due for all those Brad Pitt/Gwyneth Paltrow stories. Honestly, I still can’t tell whether they’re married, engaged, split-up or in love. All I know is they wasted my time.

Also, I want a JonBenet Ramsey refund. I feel sorry for the little girl. But there are a lot of absent children I feel sorry for. We don’t get daily updates on the lack of progress in their investigations. Hey, police. Tell us when you’ve arrested somebody. Until then, I’m filing a credit slip.

Did I mention Yanni?

Wait. There’s the Mike Tyson ear-chewing incident. It was gross. It was reprehensible. But in retrospect, we sure spent a lot of time talking about it.

Same goes for those Heaven’s Gate cultists. By the end, I could tell you what sneakers they wore and what “Star Trek” episodes they liked. Do we really need to know that much about people who prepared for the next world by taking a roll of quarters for the toll booth? I think not.

I think a refund is in order.

Also, one word: Cunanan.

Di, Barbra and Jenny

I want credit for Princess Diana. Not for her death. For the weeks and months spent turning her into a goddess, a martyr and a saint. Mother Teresa, who was closer to all those things than Diana, also died this year, and she was in and out of the public forum in less than a week.

Did I mention the pop group Hanson?

Also, Barbra Streisand and James Brolin. I’m happy for them. I really am. But I want a refund for every second I had to hear how they snuggle in bed on Sundays.

And a big refund is due for all the stories about Michael Flatley, Lord of the Dance. Can I tell you a secret? I don’t know who this guy is. I don’t care who he is. And I still gave him at least two hours this year. How sad is that?

Did I mention Jenny McCarthy? I’ll mention her again. Just in case she’s getting another show.

And please, no more explanations about why the stock market went up or down. It’s just guessing. Admit it.

So, OK. Add it all up, and I’m looking at five months worth of accrued time. Five months to spend on smarter, more fulfilling things. I promise in 1998 not to be so frivolous. Now all I have to do is figure out where to file my claim.

I’m not sure. Maybe I’ll ask the aliens.

To leave a message for Mitch Albom, call 1-313-223-4581.

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