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**PRINT: FRIENDS FROM CINCINNATI: Installment 24 features this part coming-of-age short by Chicago's Patrick Somerville, author of the Trouble collection of shorts out in 2006. | PAST BROADSHEETS |

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Kevin O'Cuinn

A.D. 2005? Oh boy. Good Christmas? Listen: Who was it said 'All change is resolution or revolution'?

Me neither.

I didn't make any New Year's Resolutions in 2005, apart from the usual one about not starting to smoke heroin. I usually would (make resolutions), lots of them, but in '05 I was far too busy having my mid-life crisis. Which means what exactly, midlife crisis? That I have another 35 years of this madness to look forward to? Hmm.

So after I started smoking again, I quit my job and went home. To Ireland, Connemara to be precise. There had to be more to life than being a circus strongman. I'd become so tired: of crowds, of the road, of guys hitting on me all the time. The moustache didn't last one hour of my midlife crisis, not a single one. Back home, I enrolled in a course that might one day qualify me to instruct Alphamale Activities such as rock climbing and white-water rafting. I know! You should have heard my girlfriend when I called her in Germany to tell her the news. She was really surprised, and had been worried sick about where the hell I was and what had become of her dry cleaning. I'd told her I was just stepping out for cigarettes. The fact that I was stepping out to buy ciggies should have started alarm bells ringing. I mean, I quit in 1999 when I was at the clinic for the penile extension operation. Oops, I mean appendicitis.

I miss Germany, though, I really do. But don't think for a second that my midlife crisis was brought on by the change of government there. Hey, I'm not one of those guys who's antsy about Chicks in Charge. I'm all for it! Unless of course you elect one who's an ultra-conservative right-winger. On the plus side, new Chancellor Angela Merkel's old man was a pastor in communist former East Germany. Yup, plus side, best I can do.

But back to my mid-life crisis. You'd love Connemara, it's about as west as West goes in Ireland. The locals have a saying here, 'The West looks after the West, and fuck the rest.' Still unsure how I feel about this, but since August or so I've made progress deciphering their accent. Prior to that? Not a breeze, just smile and drink up. Speaking of breezes, a word on the weather: yuch.

I wasn't home a week before I had the most amazing idea for a novel -- but I was two miles offshore, on a windsurfer. By the time the Coast Guard found me I'd pretty much forgotten all about novel writing. Damn offshore wind. Back on my feet and recovered from hypothermia, I began keeping a 'Connemara Hitch-Hiking Log.' It seemed like a good idea at the time, but OK, maybe you had to be there. You wouldn't believe the number of weirdos out there driving cars.

So '05 has been a gas. I did think that by this stage in my life I'd at least be running for office or have my own perfume, or something. A car would be nice, or maybe a wristwatch, but something. 2006 will perhaps reveal the extent of the fallout from this old midlife crisis of mine -- so be it, bring it on. Moreover, with the help of the guys and girls on my Alphamale Activity Programme, I've pinpointed a couple things that I can improve upon next year. Schluss with revolution already, here are my New Year's Resolutions for 2006...

1) You don't have 'a graveyard full of skeletons' in your closet. There are some clothes in there, a monopoly set -- and oh, by the way, an unfiled tax return. Dude, it's time you paid the man.

2) Stop telling people you worked in a circus, freak. Only your niece believes you, and remember, she's four. You wonder why you have a credibility problem?

3) Also, no more with the 'couple of years back when I had a full beard, long hair and was chunkier, people were always mistaking me for The Big Lebowski.' It's not true, and you're still chunky; lose some timber, fat boy. And stop introducing yourself as 'The Dude,' for crying out loud.

4) Likewise, 'The Mighty Quinn' aka 'Quinn The Eskimo' was a fictional character in a Manfred Mann song, not your great uncle Mick. Kayaking is not in your blood, practice makes the master.

5) Be nice to your neighbors. In Connemara your only neighbor within two miles is Ramses IV, who, yes, is a ram. Those are sheep Ramses shows a good time to, stop giving him a hard time for 'chasing bog dogs.'

6)Get married. You've been together 15 years, or do you need more time to think it over?

7)Be kind to everyone, we're all fighting great battles.

8)Practise sobriety regularly, not just before noon.

9)When you board airplanes, stop identifying yourself to cabin crew as 'a medical doctor, just in case you need one.' What the hell is that about?