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By Frank Thomas Croisdale

There comes a time in a man's life when it becomes necessary to pause and take stock of where he has been and what roads are left to travel. I woke up recently and thought, I'm old enough to remember at-home doctor visits. I've been around a long time.

What I realized in contemplating my ever-advancing years is that I have learned a whole lot kicking around this big blue marble. Not in the traditional sense of learning, mind you; much of what we learn in classrooms never gets applied outside of the school. I mean in the fundamental kind of way.

For instance, I have learned that whenever a person starts a sentence with the words, "I'm not even going to lie," the next words that come out of his mouth are always dishonest.

I've learned that when you are running late, you will hit a much higher percentage of red lights than when you are in no hurry. The same holds true for lines at the bank drive-through.

I've learned that people rarely repay money with the same sense of urgency they professed when they desperately asked if you could help them out of a jam.

I've learned that no human being will ever love you as much as your dog does. If they even come anywhere close, you will probably need to seek a restraining order and a pistol permit to keep them at bay.

I've learned that when someone asks you, "Hey, how's it going?" your only response should be, "Fine, and with you?" The second you actually begin answering that question honestly is the same exact moment that they regret asking it in the first place.

I've learned that a slice of chocolate cake and a salad covered in bleu cheese dressing have about the same amount of calories, so if you're jumping in anyway, you may as well have the cake.

I've learned that really drunk people think that they're having the most interesting conversations. Take it from a sober guy -- you're so not.

I've learned you can never over-spoil a woman with gifts on a special occasion. She may even get mad at you short-term for doing too much, but when she talks to her girlfriends she will find it a tough sell to get sympathy for having a man who spoils her rotten.

Speaking of women, I have also learned that if you are going to send roses, send them to her work. As much as she will enjoy receiving them, she will enjoy her co-workers envy even more.

I've learned that it really sucks that there is no manual for proper parenting. That is why there is no sweeter feeling than the first time your adult child tells you that you did OK after all.

I've learned that when a woman asks you, "How do I look?" while she is getting ready for a big event, she wants honesty because she still has time to fix what might be wrong. When she asks the same question once you are in the car and on your way, you'd better shut your pie-hole if you think the dress she has on makes her butt look big. I've learned that getting a fish tank is always a bad idea. For the first three days you sit in front of it transfixed, forgetting that you even own a television. After that, you just complain and moan about what a pain in the ass it is to clean the damn tank and you find yourself saying things like, "I spent $15 on that angelfish; is it too much to ask to have him come out of the damn sunken ship once in a while?"

I've learned that the older I get the more statements like, "Sure, I'd love to see the Eagles in concert, but at $150 a ticket and the whole ordeal of fighting the crowds, I think I'll just stay home and listen to 'Life in the Fast Lane' for free," make a whole lot of sense to me.

I've learned that some people always give the telephone priority. They will answer a call no matter whom they are with or what they are doing. I hate those people, and it takes everything inside of me not to say, "You know what, I'm going to go home and call you instead, and then you can ignore whatever poor schlub happens to have the misfortune of being in the grace of your company, and pay attention to me."

I've learned that this marketing ploy of McDonald's to begin each drive-through transaction by asking me if I want to try their newest item is really annoying. Listen, Ronald, if I ever decide that I want a bowl of oatmeal at 5 p.m., I'll let you know, OK?

I've learned that I'm really offended by people who leave their Christmas decorations up way too long. Here's a rule of thumb: When Santa's now wearing a leprechaun's hat and drinking a pint of Guinness, it's time to get him off the roof.

I've learned that most Americans would have a major panic attack if it was announced that the government was going to have a little look-see at their computer browser history.

I've learned that human beings get dependent on new technology really quickly. Soon most people will need GPS to walk up to their attic.

I've learned that people in their 20s get the daily newspaper to see which of their friends are getting married. People in their 30s get it to see which friends have been arrested. People in their 40s get it to see which friends have been recognized in the business section. People in their 50s get it to see if anyone they know has died. Anyone 60 and above gets the paper to make sure they aren't listed in the obits themselves.

've learned that it's really difficult to carry a 100 pound weight for very far. It's far worse to carry a grudge for any distance at all. "I'm sorry" and "I forgive you" are two of the most powerful phrases in the English language.

I've learned that the far left and the far right are separated only by the delusions running amok in the minds of the people residing there.

Finally, I've learned that there are three questions one should never ask: "If I'm hired, will a drug test be necessary?" "Why are you so fixated on how fast I was going, officer?" and "Was it good for you?"

I've also learned that when you write a column like this one, you need to have a really strong ending, or it better have a really good moral.

So, here's the moral: If you think you've learned all that there is to learn, you haven't learned a thing.

Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com Feb. 15, 2011