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Consider This

By LC Van Savage

There Was Once A Big Gap In My Life

Well, here it comes again. Itís midnight Ď03/í04, good husband Mongo slumbers abovestairs and I sit alone in front of the TV with the ball in Times Square about to drop, and Iím loviní it. Itís how I bring in every New Yearís Eve, writing my first column of the year, and watching our newest year get birthed.

As it happens, tomorrow January 1st, Iíll be 66 years old. Now there are those who think I already have a couple of sixes somewhere on my scalp (plus a third of course) but thatís just rumor. Sixty-six. Too close to seventy, if you ask me, and I canít believe Iím even typing the word "seventy" now, regarding my life. Before, that number was just something I was busted for doing on a 55 MPH highway. Boy, time flies when youíre having fun.

Letís see. Should I look back over 2003 and rhapsodize about its wonderfulness? Yawn. Should I write about all the greatnesses I expect in í04? Zzzzzzzzzzzzz. No. Theyíll happen if theyíll happen. í03 was great. I am content. Letís talk about gifts.

What did I get for Christmas and for my 66th? Youíre burning to know, right? Well, letís see. I didnít want anything wrapped and shoved under the tree. Truly. I didnít. Iím of an age where itís getting too difficult to fake joyful enthusiasm over something new to dust. In fact, our family does Secret Santas, so Mongo and I got great gifts; a yearís worth of free car washes and a yearís worth of video rentals. How nifty is that? Doesnít get much better. No dusting. No dealing. No hanging it. No wondering what it is or where to put it. No freezing and forgetting it. We are both relieved and incredibly grateful.

But the best gift came from my dear Mongo, a thoughtful, practical, generous man. It was a combination Christmas and 66th birthday gift and I absolutely love it. Itís a gift thatíll keep on giving. He didnít even have to wrap it! I should have asked for it years ago but didnít because frankly, until I began my TV show I never paid too much attention to it. Want to know what my present was? Mongo gave me a visit to a good local dentist who closed the gap between my lower front teeth.

One day last year, I was stealing glimpses of myself on a show I did and ugh, I saw that gap and thought, "Yikes! Get rid of that! Itís a doorway! The Holland Tunnel. Carlsbad Caverns! You could drive an SUV through that grotesque gulch!" I began to brood that everyone had been staring at it all my life. I know TV distorts things, makes everything bigger, but that gap looked like --- well, I already told you.

So now itís gone. Did everyone notice? Not a living soul. Not even our grandchildren and God knows they notice everything and are pretty vocal about embarrassing things, especially mine. I had to bare my teeth and grin horribly at everyone and demand they look. Finally, they peered at the closed fissure, and were bored to sobs.

Odd isnít it, how things we obsess and worry over are unseen by others. And look, I know in the Great Scheme and all, this is pretty trifling, Iím keenly aware there are folks out there with real handicaps, but forgive me for being pleased. Oh, I canít spit or whistle through my gap anymore the way I could as a kid (teachers never knew where those whistled tunes were coming from because I could do it with no facial expression and no O of my lips) but at least I no longer have to hide my shame behind my lower lip.

I wish you all a healthy and prosperous 2004, thanks for reading my columns, and may all your gaps be gone.

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