I wrote this piece in July 2011. I find myself missing Andy Rooney every Sunday, so thought I would resurrect this tribute written right after he went to what many call “a better place”.
“A writer should be sitting over in the corner watching the dance and not be out there dancing.”~ Andy Rooney
It was a little bit freaky. I watched Andy Rooney’s last night on air about a month ago, and promptly went to my computer and wrote two things on a post-it note that stays in a little corner of the computer until you erase it. The first was “Writers never retire”; the second: “It is the writer’s job to tell the truth”. For some reason on Friday, I erased my post-it note as my computer was acting up. As my technical savvy is somewhat limited, I get rid of anything extraneous that may be causing the trouble. I thought that having the post it note up might be a way gremlins were eating computer information.
I know that my methods of bringing my computer back into line make no sense whatsoever, but if you need your email up and running in order to send in words of wisdom such as these to your place of employment, you try anything. Now, I know I am not responsible for Andy Rooney’s death on Friday night—I know this, but I feel really bad that I erased his words.
Andy Rooney to me was a saviour. Not in the religious sense, but he saved the sometimes dour and stuffy and very serious journalistic endeavours of the program 60 Minutes from being a total downer. At least at the end of the program, he provided an almost always humorous breath of fresh air. I loved his quirky take on the world. And Andy never considered himself a television “star”—he was first, last, and in the middle, a writer.
He fulfilled the philosophy that Saturday Night Live comedian Gilda Radner once put forth that there is “always something.” From the clumsiness of vacuum cleaners, to the fact that designer jeans are merely a means of advertising on the posterior of Americans, he made lots of sense, albeit a little grumpily. An article by Dennis McLellan of the Los Angeles Times cemented my admiration of the man. Of baseball, he said “My own time is passing fast enough without some national game to help it along.” I like playing baseball, (and when my kids played I liked watching them) but I went to a pro game in Detroit once, and I swear it went 105 inning. Seriously, as if nine were not enough!
The word curmudgeon has been pulled out from under the rug to describe this lovely, warm, if slightly irascible human being. Mike Wallace said that he had not met a man he admired more and praised him by saying, “he’s got the guts to say what is on his mind”—a trait I admire greatly—even though it got him into trouble on occasion.
McLellan described Andy this way— “Wry. Curmudgeonly. Whimsical. An articulate Everyman. Unruffled yet quizzical. A crank. A complainer. The man of a thousand questions.” He seems to not have been lazy and merely gone to a thesaurus for words to describe Andy, as nowhere would you find the words curmudgeon and whimsical as synonyms. He was a man of many flavours, whom USA Today’s columnist Bob Minzesheimer quoted as saying “I’ve done a lot of complaining, (but) I can’t complain about my life.”
According to Minzesheimer, colleague Morley Safer described him as thus: “Underneath that gruff exterior was a prickly interior, and deeper down, was a sweet and gentle man (with) a delicious hatred for prejudice and hypocrisy.” Andy described himself as “average in so many ways that it eliminates any chance I ever had of being considered a brooding introspective intellectual.” Personally I have a bone to pick with his self-description and revere him as an intellectual, if not the brooding kind. I saw through the façade, he was a sweet and gentle man, who preferred to be simply known as a “writer” and not a celebrity.
I shall be reinstating my computer’s post-it note. I am sorry I erased it.