Steve Eaton: No regrets? Your pants are on fire

Published: Saturday, Feb. 23 2013 1:35 p.m. MST

Are you one of those people who say that you've lived your life with no regrets? Liar, liar, pants on fire.

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Are you one of those people who say that you've lived your life with no regrets? Liar, liar, pants on fire.

I've interviewed quite a few people as a real journalist and as a pretend journalist. Usually, they were people who had been recognized for doing remarkable things like becoming the U.S. calf-roping champion, the developer of the Beddleman Towers, or being recognized by the Redundant Federal Commission for Redundancies.

For years, I asked these people I interviewed if they had any regrets in life. I can't think of one person who didn't stop and think about it and then say something like, "No, you know what, I don't think I have any regrets."

I don't understand how someone can go through life with no regrets. Have they never hurt anyone's feelings, run out of gas, eaten the last two brownies in the pan, or talked to a large group of people with their zipper down or lettuce in their teeth? (I regret the way I wrote this sentence. Now I've accidentally made you imagine a large group of people with their zippers down and lettuce in their teeth.) How could you go through life with no regrets?

I can't go an hour without thinking of something I could have done better. If I could go back in time to, say, third grade, oh, I would do things differently. It was in third grade that I made some critical bad decisions that messed me up for the rest of my life. It was mostly my parents' fault that I went off track.

Did I do cocaine as a youngster? No, it was worse. It was in third grade I decided that I would center my life on becoming just like Batman. That was back in the days of TV Batman, before they invented the superhero, Bowflex muscular build. Back then, Batman was supposed to be laughable and overly dramatic. He didn't drop from the rafters in the dark, scaring people and saying clever things in a deep voice. No, he pranced around in pastel colors with Robin following him everywhere he went. Did anyone tell me I should not be taking him seriously? No!

I got in my first fight because someone mocked me and knocked my Batman hat off my head. I didn't go out and play baseball with the other kids who all went on to become attorneys, doctors and successful entrepreneurs. No, I was preparing to spend my life living in a cave and fighting crime at night.

And then there was that time in sixth grade when my best friend, Bob, and I liked the same girl and she decided she would love Bob and me, just Bob more. I was a boyfriend with absolutely no boyfriend privileges. Where were my parents then? Couldn't someone have pulled me aside and said, "Ah, Steve, you're being a complete dope." Would that have been too hard? I'm lucky the "Jerry Springer Show" hadn't been invented yet.

I can't blame all my regrets on my parents. When I went to BYU, I dated, I went to parties with dates, I went to football games on dates and, yes, I even remember studying for a test — with a date. This other guy, Steve Young, who went to BYU at about the same time, probably did the same things but he also turned out for the football team. When he graduated, he made a bajillion dollars a year and I, well, I made less than a bajillion dollars. It never occurred to me to turn out for the football team, probably because I didn't play football in high school. Back then, if you had a Batman tattoo, people would make fun of you in the locker room.

So, I can't believe it when people tell me they have no regrets. I used to think that we were all different and that it was a virtue to try to see things through other people's eyes. I later realized that, if you think about it, lots of people are just liars. I mean, I have heard people say that they like cooked squash, Bill O'Reilly and making healthy lifestyle changes, which is just code for giving up pizza. Think about it. Could they possibly be telling the truth? Not a chance.

No regrets? Really? I know there are a lot of people in Utah who have regrets about the last election, some who regret they didn't buy more assault rifles at the last gun show and people who wish they had invested in Apple 20 years ago. Don't tell me you don't have regrets. Some of you read this entire column only to be called a liar. You probably regretted that.

Too bad — at least, now you know your pants are on fire.

And I don't regret telling you that.

Steve Eaton lives and works in Logan. He can be reached at Eatonnews@gmail.com

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