And Another Preposterous New Year to All

December 30, 1993|By JOSEPH GALLAGHER

The papers reported that Forrest Schoenbachler was among the score of lunchers taken to hospitals when a car speeding backward smashed into a Wendy's restaurant near Baltimore. Unreported was my friend's quip to doctors in Shock Trauma: ''Wendy's has got to clarify its drive-through policy.''

* Another friend carries a wallet card saying: ''I am an optimist. In case of an accident, I'd rather not know about it.''

A 60-year study of more than 1,000 men and women recently concluded: ''Despite assertions that optimism and a sense of humor are healthy, we found no evidence for this claim. Cheerfulness predicted a shorter life, perhaps because it indicated an unrealistic optimism, which led people to ignore risks to their health.''

* A passenger in a New York city cab asked the driver to slow down a bit. ''I've been in two accidents already.'' ''That's nothin','' replied the driver, ''I been in over a hundred.''

* With a gun in his head, another New York cabbie told a robber he could get him more money from a nearby bank. What was really nearby was a police station, into two of whose patrol cars the cabbie calmly crashed. The fleeing robber was caught.

* A brawl that began in a Bronx bar spilled out into the street and into a nearby police station. The 25 or 30 brawlers were eventually ejected.

* Until recently Palestinians in the Gaza strip were arrested for carrying watermelon slices because the colors were the same as those of their banned flag.

* Names in the News: Geneticist Dr. Teepu Siddique; novelists Banana Yoshimoto, Ms. Fae Ng and Will Self; consumer analyst Faith Popcorn; the novel ''Maudrew Czgowchwz,'' and Somalia's nyong-nyong fever. The late Audrey Hepburn was born Edda van Heemstra Hepburn-Ruston. A problem: How to pronounce Michael Bodsky's forthcoming novel entitled ''***''?

* Favorite Palindrome: ''Go hang a salami; I'm a lasagna hog.''

* An eye-opener: Sanka comes from the French ''sans caffeine.''

* Double-take Headline: ''Marines Shoot Dead Somalian Gunman.''

* Ingenious Retort: ''Don't mess with me. I have an IQ of 160.'' ''You don't even know how to spell IQ.''

* Intriguing Signs:

1) ''Ear Piercing. While U wait.''

2) On a bank door, at Halloween: ''We Will Be Unable to Transact Business For Any Customer Wearing a Mask or a Facial Disguise.''

* In Amsterdam the New Church next to the Anne Frank house bears a small plaque which says: ''Rembrandt was buried near here in an unknown pauper's grave.''

* Lord Byron to his friend Thomas Moore: ''I should, many a good day, have blown my brains out, but for the recollection that it would have given pleasure to my mother-in-law.''

* True Movie Stories: A woman was seen carrying a copy of Edith Wharton's novel, ''The Age of Innocence.'' ''You mean it's a book already?'' asked a friend.

''Have you seen any movies lately?'' ''Yes, I saw 'The Firm,' but the book is better.'' '' 'The Book?' I don't know that one.''

Private Joker, the Marine who wisecracks his way through the film ''Full Metal Jacket,'' was based on Gustav Hasford, who died this year.

Hasford was arrested in 1988 for stealing nearly 10,000 books from dozens of libraries. He needed them for research on a Civil War novel he was writing.

When the movie ''Alive'' opened, the 16 rescued survivors of the 1972 Andes crash were all still alive. The one soccer teammate who luckily missed the plane was later killed in a car crash. As for their cannibalism, Pope Paul VI sent a telegram saying ''You must do what you have to do.''

* A father and son separated for 16 years were reunited when a nurse at the military hospital at California's Camp Pendleton called for patient Robert McDonald to go in to the doctor, and two men got up. The son had been reared by foster parents since the divorce of his natural parents.

* In Vancouver, to give his siblings a chance to develop further, doctors halted the birth of triplets after a 2-pound boy was born. His brother and sister were safely born 45 days later.

* Siamese twins Yvonne and Yvette McCarther died this year at 43. Joined at the head, they had great spirit. When a passing classmate praised their coats. Yvonne replied: ''Thanks, hon, but I can't stop to talk; I'm late for class.'' Yvette

added. ''I can't stop either. I'm late for class, too.''

* Tipping Tales: On a visit to Chicago this year, Frank Sinatra asked a helpful doorman what was the biggest tip he ever got. When he said $100, Sinatra gave him two $100 bills. ''By the way,'' asked the singer, ''who was the guy who tipped you $100?'' ''You sir,'' came the answer.

A man received a Merry Christmas card from the attendants who parked his car in a New York garage. When he delayed giving the expected tip, he received another card marked ''Second Notice.''

* Lesley Wood of England explained why dropped toast occasionally lands buttered-side up. ''One must conclude that it was buttered on the wrong side.''

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