Last updated: August 24. 2013 4:23AM - 23 Views

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It was a few years ago that this first came up. I was sitting in a local restaurant, minding my own business and that of a few other folks about me, when a sweet-faced older woman approached rather sheepishly to ask me the simple question: ďArenít you that guy that complains about things?ĒďYes,Ē I replied, ďbut the bank has asked me to stop signing my checks that way.ĒThankfully, this sweet woman was approaching to tell me how much she enjoyed my writing. That happens on occasion though, as you might imagine, it doesnít always go that way.Still, as innocent and genteel as the womanís query may have been, it did draw my attention to the obvious fact that some people consider me to be what a Hungarian-Jewish friend of mine used to call a mintze.Now to be honest, Iím not completely certain what a mintze is. Even my friend wavered some on the derivation of the term and Iíve had disappointingly little luck tracking down other Hungarian Jews in Fort Shawnee. I used the word in a column about a decade ago and heard from two people at the time who grew up using the word in their homes, but Iíve yet to see a thing in writing verifying the actual existence of the word. What I do know is itís pronounced MINT-Zah and the general consensus has always been that it is a person who gripes, bitches or generally kvetches about things, usually without taking any action to actually improve the situations about which he or she mintzes.In short, itís a perfectly wonderful word that says something it would take three sentences to say in English, yet further evidence against the ďEnglish as a national languageĒ set. Itís a foolish and unimaginative man who would limit himself to one language.As fond as I am of the word mintze, itís not easy to accept that I am one. Iíd like to think I am more of a rager and less of a whiner. I donít really complain quietly to myself or friends as much as I pace and shout and holler about stuff.Still, I have been known to complain on occasion and, by the nature of my job, I tend to do so from the sidelines. Like most journalists, I make mean-spirited and undeserved comments about generally hardworking public servants who are actually acting to improve the plight of the many while doing almost nothing to contribute to the common good. It would be the perfect gig if it werenít for the pay.Ironically, I canít stand to be around real mintzes. You know the sort, they mintze about their jobs and they mintze about their private lives and do absolutely nothing to improve their plight. In my youth I was probably a bit of a mintze myself. I would complain about grades that came as a result of my laziness. I would moan about being mistreated by women I didnít have the cheek to call. And I would whine about everything that was wrong with the world while propped happily in my La-Z-Boy catching peanuts in my navel.But at some point I realized that I had lost a lot more sleep over things I had not said than what I had said. That said, I quit mintzing and began outright raging.Now, when I do run into mintzes I get annoyed. I canít understand why they donít rally their nerve and yell at someone; why they donít say the nasty little thing they always claim they had on their mind; why they donít just take mean-spirited jabs at these people in their weekly newspaper columns?At which point my lovely and gregarious wife notes that, as it happens, some people donít have their own weekly newspaper columns.I have to admit, all this came as a shock to me. I was rather under the assumption that by the time someone like myself is handed 18 column inches of prime news space to spout off about pretty much anything that comes to mind, every Tom, Dick and Erma in America would have already had their say. At the very least they could get a radio show or something.I suppose thatís just one more thing for them to mintze about.


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