My personal credo

Mark-Sherman SQUAREYou know, when you’ve been doing a humor column for as long as I have, coming up with new ideas is not as easy as it used to be. Actually, at my age, nothing is as easy as it used to be, except perhaps sitting in a chair. (Of course, getting up from the chair is a different story.) So I have to admit that sometimes I “cheat.” To me, cheating means looking at a list of topics someone else has come up with.

Talking about “cheating,” Dave Barry, the iconic nationally syndicated humor columnist, has often credited “alert readers” with suggesting topics to him. At least I’ve never done that. People will often, on their own, suggest things I might write about, but I’m sorry, most of you just aren’t that funny, so I probably won’t use what you suggest. On the other hand, your quirky behaviors and neuroses may well appear on these pages, though I never use names or other identifying characteristics. To all those people who recognize themselves in what I write, Come on, get a life!

Today, I did look at a list of topics, and found one that definitely appealed to me. It is “My personal credo.” Wow, what a great topic! What is my personal credo?


Of course, before I started, I had to look up the word “credo.” I mean, I kind of knew what it meant, but I had to check to be sure. Here’s what I found: a credo is “an idea or set of beliefs that guides the actions of a person or group.” Obviously, since we’re talking “personal credo” here, I can skip the “group” part. I don’t like “group credos,” anyway. Maybe it’s just me, but when I free associate to the word group, I immediately think “Nazis.”

Part of my personal credo is that you can’t do anything simply. You have to make sure everything is accurate. This makes me very hard to live with or to be around for any significant length of time, and could be called OCD or perfectionism, but if you look up “OCD” or “perfectionism,” you will find … oh, never mind.

Another part of my very own personal credo is not to say my credo is better than your credo. For example, mine includes not purposely insulting people, and perhaps yours doesn’t embrace this prohibition. Maybe your credo includes being like Don Rickles, but really meaning it. That’s fine. If you want to be that kind of idiot, go ahead.

A third element of my credo is to try not to use the same word for something all the time. I believe very much that it is my duty in life not to bore people, and if you keep hearing “credo” over and over again, you’re going to turn away and watch reality TV. So if you’d like, think of my use of synonyms as being one of my precepts, or principles. Or part of my doctrine of life, or my belief system.

And that’s “principles,” not “principals.” Yes, another part of my set of life rules is to correct people’s grammar and spelling whenever possible. I know that many people find this annoying, but please understand, I am just trying to help you.

I could go on and on about my personal credo, because that is another component of how I run my life: If something can be said in 50 words, why say it in five? I know you may wince when you get an email from me and see three long paragraphs instead of two short sentences, but what else do you have to do? Come on, relax, put your feet up and read my response as to whether or not I’d like to join you for coffee on Monday. It’s in there somewhere.

But really, are personal credos actually so important any more? This is 2016, and far more significant than your credo are your creds. According to Urban Dictionary, “creds” are “credentials earned in life by experience.” For example, I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “street creds,” which means you know how to behave on the street (or, as UD puts it, “Commanding a level of respect in an urban environment due to experience in or knowledge of issues affecting those environments”).

I have not lived in an urban environment for more than 45 years now, so whatever street creds I ever had are long out of date. But if you want anxiety creds, I’m your man. In fact, that’s part of my personal credo. I believe that a person who isn’t worried is a person in denial. So come join me in my world of fear and dread. Believe me, it will make you the life of any party.