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Well wishes for the new year

Gary Caruso | Friday, January 19, 2007

With the advent of a new calendar year comes greetings and well wishes that – like the beginning of each school year – roll off the lips of everyone for about a week until routines smother the outwardly moment. What a wonderful place it would be if we coddled that openness throughout the entire year. With that in mind, here are well wishes for 2007.

To the senior class, drink in every moment of your last semester. By savoring every moment of your final semester, you can actually slow the progression of time. The semester will seem much longer, and you will truly enjoy yourselves. Ten years from now, you will recall more fond memories from this semester than most of your college career because you seized the semester and absorbed every precious moment that will not be repeated in this lifetime.

For Notre Dame’s Director of Security Police Rex Rakow, whose herculean battle against a debilitating disease teaches us the meaning of dignity and courage, my thoughts are often of you regardless of time of year. Speaking with Rex in my section at the UCLA football game capped a wonderful weekend beyond expectations. My prayers have always been soaked in admiration and will continue throughout 2007.

One of the loudest well wishing calls goes out to 200 of the late Rev. Robert Griffin, CSC’s closest friends to assist in establishing a Notre Dame scholarship in Griffin’s name. Thus far, the Notre Dame Development Office has only heard from nine of you … only 191 more yet to be found. Last semester this column called for Father Griffin’s 200 dearest friends to contribute $500 each to achieve the minimum $100,000 endowment goal. “Griff,” as the many young souls whom the priest comforted and sometimes saved affectionately called him, had legions of followers. May 2007 be a time to contact them with what can most commonly be called, “the word.”

Turning to the world of politics, we Democrats could gloat over our congressional gains by repeating Newt Gingrich’s immortal statement when Republicans swept the legislative branch in 1994, “Get over it.” But that was the recipe for more than a decade of acrimony which must end with Democrats being gracious winners. It is humorous to see how quickly the president abandoned his over-the-top “doom and gloom” campaign rhetorical characterizations and begin admitting his mistakes. My wish has two parts. First, the president cannot ever again tell us that “the American public needs to understand” one thing or the other. Secondly, for the president’s 30 percent of support, the Bush side of life needs to understand Coca-Cola’s newly launched advertising campaign. It is perfect for the beginning of a new year with the jingle, “You give a little love, and it all comes back to you. The Coke side of life.”

On the lighter and arguably more comfortable side of life, my two new year’s wishes for the auditioning contestants this week on “American Idol,” the reality television talent contest, can prevent much heartache and many tears. First, avoid dressing in costume or using props. Boxing gloves never impress the judges. Neither do juggling batons, excessively large Cat-in-the-hat top hats, cowboy hats or pants pulled up above your belly button. Dress to fit the Idol brand, not to impress nor depress the judges.

Additionally, judge yourselves by listening to your tape before Simon describes you as “juvenile, mediocre and horrible” while you make fools of yourselves before 37 million viewers. Do not expect your 10 years of singing lessons or your degree in vocal anything to magically advance you to Hollywood. Expect the judges to ask you to sing Abba’s “Dancing Queen” when your initial song repeats the lyrics, “I had a bad day.” One girl in pigtails violated both rules by propping her handmade Wizard of Oz poster while singing the cowardly lion’s “courage” song … complete with rolling animal noises. When asked to sing a Prince song, she included her unique (and atrociously sounding) rolling noises during that performance. Any wonder the judges did not even want her poster?

My college classmate – an English major and Notre Dame graduate – who considers himself “a maker of book,” for sports entertainment purposes only, notes that all four of last weekend’s NFL underdogs beat the Vegas odds. His new year’s wish is more of a personal resolution, namely to be the most possibly accurate “maker” this year for clients. He offers advice with new year’s generosity and good humor for the upcoming championship and Super Bowl games … the Saints over the Bears and the Colts to win, but to “push” by equaling the point spread. For the Super Bowl, note that the game has never gone into overtime, and the odds favor its likelihood.

Personally speaking, our world would be better this year if everyone followed the decade’s old Coca-Cola slogan, “A Coke and a smile make you feel good.”

Gary Caruso, Notre Dame ’73, is a political strategist who served as a legislative and public affairs director in President Clinton’s administration. His column appears every other Friday. He can be contacted at hottline@aol.com

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.