Weekly Wire
Austin Chronicle Hearth & Soul

By Suzy Banks

DECEMBER 29, 1997:  My New Year's Resolution? Be a better quitter.

I have a tendency to hold onto things for a long time. I keep my cars over a decade on average. I keep my husbands -- at least the first one -- for sixteen years and counting. I still have a ceramic cup I painted a rabbit on when I was five. My Panasonic stereo, complete with super-mod cylindrical speakers, has been with me since seventh grade (circa 1972). It finally blew up a couple of months ago and I still can't seem to part with its corpse. I've lived in (and around) Austin since the day I graduated from high school. In these instances, my long allegiance has been without remorse.

But the dark side of my loyalty takes the form of staying way too long at parties, obstinately hanging onto obsolete computers, and keeping cheese in my refrigerator until it is a hard, green lump of fungus. And sometimes I take far too long to quit a job when my zeal for it has run its course. I waited tables until I finally threw a 40cents tip, along with a jarring obscenity, at a table of rowdy fellows who told me at the end of a double shift that I should use it to get my clothes cleaned and pressed. I should have quit before I lost my sense of humor about servitude. I remodeled houses until the mere thought of opening a bucket of wallboard compound made me weep. I worked at my sister's zoo for months beyond the time both she and I knew that family -- at least our family -- shouldn't work for family. We just barely salvaged our relationship.

And, in typical fashion, I have clung to this column for at least six months too long. For nearly four years, I had so much fun riding this old horse into the back pages of the Chronicle each week, taunting every tradesman, harassing the poor readers who dared to ask me a question, and launching into absurd non sequiturs with abandon, that I didn't notice my horse was dead. I don't know the exact count of columns I've written, but it's somewhere around 220. Somehow that doesn't seem like much, but when you think about the span of four years -- a student's sentence to high school, the President's term in office, or 28 dog years -- you get a little frightened. Frightened enough to take action. Frightened enough to finally, mercifully shoot the horse.

I've sent my resident cynic from the room so I can plainly and sincerely thank my reader(s). When I whined for attention, you sent questions, cards, and encouragement. I'll miss you more than you'll miss me. And as long as that skeptic is outside, I'd also like to sneak in a teary thanks to Louis and Nick for the opportunity and the free rein they gave me. And thanks to Ben Davis who suggested me for this writing gig in the first place.

Just because it's over, it doesn't mean it hasn't been great, silly fun.

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