By Robert Pocklington

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 29, 2005

We all have them, piled up in our brain over time, available when an opportunity presents itself, and on most any subject. I’ll bet you have one on the cultural center, downtown spending, how to elect a mayor, Hilton hotel, Suffolk tourism, the Suffolk News Herald, city government, trash pickup, recycling, on and on. But do you ever express those thoughts to anyone besides friends and members of your family? Right or wrong it gives you a sense of power just to have formed one; it proves you are thinking.

Try this list of subjects: police, the mayor, post office, traffic, road conditions, and checkout lines at your favorite store. How about schools, your boss, price of gas or groceries, and looters down in Sunken City, La.? Lets not forget teenagers, kids’ clothes, barking dogs, pit bulls and your congressman. The list is endless and if you hold in too many unexpressed opinions it begins to hurt. Your spleen needs to be vented or bile collects in your stomach, blood pressures the brain, even your beating heart can cause sleep loss. Worst of all you take it out on your spouse or kids.

You don’t have to go to such lengths as the lady in Texas, now forgotten, who had collected a mob of stand-bys who take over for her when nature calls. Certain reverends seeking a cause found their way to her event and glory in the publicity, good or bad. You can voice your opinion without creating banners, placards, and there is no need for name-calling. A simple letter to the News Herald will do, short and to the point. Or, as I do, write a column based largely on opinion.

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Take Mr. Schaab, an excellent letter writer, who took issue with me for stating that Roger Leonard is educated, articulate, and right on. The fact is that I have never known anyone more so, and Roger is wealthy, too. Mr. Sharpe suggests the editor keep a careful eye on what I write and edit certain expressed thoughts. Perhaps I should be submitting my opinion columns to Mr. Schaab before sending them to the editor? Reminds me of David Brinkley who wrote &uot;Everyone Is Entitled To My Opinion.&uot; I know this about opinions: once formed they are difficult to alter. The Texas lady and Mr. Schaab are adamant about the war in Iraq and that’s OK with me. Debating with either of them would be like arguing with a parking meter. As for Judith Sharpe’s depiction of New Orleans environment, amen, been there, left quickly. It’s getting the scrubbing it needed. If God was responsible, what was He after?

If you don’t appreciate my opinions there are remedies galore including averting your eyes to &uot;Times Past,&uot; for instance, or the obits. &uot;Suffolk’s Most Wanted&uot; can provide entertainment if you are into cop shows. Now and then the editor offers the paper staff’s collective opinion and I fire back if I think differently. It’s called discourse. Yes, I have passed the 80 mark and some might believe a person that age has a dried brain rattling around in the cranium. Well not quite although my much better half insists the skull appendages called ears are not functioning well. I have had plenty of time to form my opinions and lived through a variety of experiences that affected them. It takes me awhile to form one…I still have not decided if Clinton should have been impeached.

The Supreme Court has ruled that there cannot be a Nativity scene in Washington, DC this Christmas. This isn’t for any religious reason; they simply have not been able to find three wise men and a virgin in the nation’s capitol. There was no problem, however, finding enough asses to fill the stable.

There are subtle and not so subtle differences between men and women. See these examples. If Laurie, Linda, Elizabeth and Barbara go out for lunch, they will call each other Laurie, Linda, Elizabeth and Barbara. If Jim, Chris, Eric and Tom go out, they will affectionately refer to each other as Fat Boy, Godzilla, Peanut-Head and Scrappy. When eating out and the check arrives, Jim, Chris, Eric and Tom will each throw in $20, even though the bill is only for $32.50. None of them will have anything smaller and none will actually admit they want change back. But when the girls get their bill, out come the pocket calculators.

A man will pay $2 for a $1 item he needs. A woman will pay $1 for a $2 item that she doesn’t need if it’s on sale. A man has five items in his bathroom: a toothbrush, shaving cream, razor, a bar of soap, and a towel from the Marriott. The average number of items in the typical woman’s bathroom is 237. A man would not be able to identify most of these items.

A successful man is one who makes more money than his wife can spend. A successful woman is one who can find such a man. A woman knows all about her children. She knows about dentist appointments and romances, best friends, favorite foods, secret fears and hopes and dreams. A man is vaguely aware of some short people living in the house. But, remember, it’s merely my considered opinion.

Robert Pocklington lives in Suffolk and is a regular News-Herald columnist. He can be reached at