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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, January 22, 2006

OUR HONOLULU
Who's old? At age 82, work's fun

By Bob Krauss
Advertiser Columnist

Don Ho still loves to draw audiences. Dan Inouye still can't wait to get re-elected. What's wrong with them? The great American dream is to retire and take it easy. I looked at my wristwatch calendar recently and discovered it was my birthday.

Age 82, same as Sen. Inouye. So why don't we retire?

I'd go out of my mind if I didn't have anything to do. The hardest thing for me to do is sit still. Something Edward Ayau, the executive director for Hui Malama I Na Kupuna O Hawai'i Nei, said when the judge let him out of jail really struck home with me. He said, "My mind's gotta be busy, otherwise I get nuts. ... Your mind can be your best friend in prison; it can be your worst enemy."

The real reason I haven't retired is that I'm having too much fun.

It's true that there are bad days. Right now, Honolulu is going through a blah period. My phone hardly rings. It makes me feel old and useless. Add the stomach flu and a loose tooth and you have a recipe for dejection.

But step back and look at the big picture. Hawai'i's economy is on a roll. It looks like men's volleyball is going to do pretty well this year. They averted a cement strike. There's always hope that the Legislature will finally appropriate some money for the Department of Education.

The bottom line is that my job is fun. Don't tell the boss. She might think I'm overpaid. The truth is, I've got the best newspaper job in the country. I mean, consider the fact that I get to meet all kinds of interesting people like yourself. And I get paid to do it.

Then I get to write it all down. Better yet, what I write gets printed in something like 165,000 copies twice a week. To me, it's a continuing miracle that people actually read what I write. When is everybody going to wake up and discover that I'm a fraud?

Do you know how it feels to walk to the bank and have people on the sidewalk say, "I liked that one today"? That's better than money.

So my advice to young people is like Mayor Mufi Hannemann's: "If there's something you really like to do, go for it."

When I was a boy, I never dreamed that you could make a living by writing because, for me, writing was just play.

Or course, you've got to retire sometime. Even Ronald Reagan did. The way I figure, you retire when you get old. I've got everything ready for when I get old a house at Volcano, all kinds of projects that I'm saving up. But I can't seem to quite get around to getting that old.

Frankly, I'm too busy. Wait until you hear about my new book. So I guess I'll keep going for a while. Until it stops being fun. But every time I get really discouraged, somebody calls up with a whizzer of a story and away I go again. I'm not sure there's a cure for this disease.

Reach Bob Krauss at 525-8073.