About three or four days each year, my life goes haywire. As the sports guys say, "The wheels start to come off." Last Friday, for example, even Bobby Burns couldn't have laid plans for me that didn't go awry.

It started with a simple trip to the bank. That's all. But Little Red Riding Hood braved fewer hazards.I'd made an 11:30 lunch appointment and needed some money for a burger. I went by the bank to cash a check. I was running late, so naturally I missed every light. And, naturally, I got frustrated and missed the turn and had to double back. Naturally, there was a car stalled in the left-hand lane, sending me two more blocks out of my way.

When I reached the bank, someone was at the teller machine, so I waited in my car. When I finally got the machine, it was broken, naturally.

Inside, a long line had formed, naturally. And - naturally - there was only one teller. My pen ran out of ink and I messed up the date on the check.

Finally, I flew out of there - 20 minutes late. I opened my wallet and, lo and behold, there was a $20 bill. I'd had plenty of money all along.


Tell me that's never happened to you . . . .

Henry David Thoreau said "all journalism is gossip," so Henry would agree with me: What this town needs is a good gossip columnist. The closest thing we have are the want-ad "personals" - and I bet they're read more often than the front page.

Salt Lake City is starved for catty, inside-info.

Imagine all those thousands of people in Village Inns all over Utah leaning in to each other and saying, "Did you read who was drunk (or naked, or dead, or with Miss Puerto Rico) at the Big-Whig Christmas bash?"

A newspaper could triple its circulation with a good gossip columnist.

I'd volunteer, but I'm horrible at gossip. I like it, I just don't do it very well. I always fall victim to Johnston's Law.

Johnston's Law:

a. No matter how careful you are, what you say will get back to the person you say it about and he'll get you for it.

b. Ninety-nine times out of 100, the person you're gossiping about will walk into the room just as you say his name.

c. No matter how much somebody swears never to repeat what you tell him, he'll repeat what you tell him - and credit you.

By the way, nobody famous was really drunk or naked at the Big Whig Christmas bash this year. Well, not that drunk or that naked, anyway.

Finally, my latest invention: verbal cartoons. I invented "verbal cartoons" because whenever I draw a horse, it ends up looking like a house. Here are three variations on a theme.

1. Picture two guys walking off a golf green. One golfer has a superior look on his face. He says to the other, "Say, read any good greens lately?"

No, no, wait a minute. Don't start laughing out loud yet.

2. Two mediums are walking down the street in their robes and turbans. One says to the other very earnestly: "Say, read any good palms lately?"

3. A guy in a Cincinnati baseball uniform with "manager" written across the front is at the gate of a prison. He's whispering to the warden, "Say, booked any good Reds lately?"

OK, let it out . . . and don't worry, there's more where those came from.