In two days, I begin my annual ritual of writing the wrong year on personal checks at the supermarket. In two days, I start my 32nd January on Earth. (Some days more than others.)

In two days, it will be 1986.

I don't know about you, but there were a bunch of things I really meant to do in 1985. Most of them will take longer than two days.

One of them was to stop -- once and for all, with the aid of costly therapy if necessary -- being so absentminded. This way, I wouldn't ruin so many perfectly good checks every January. (This annoys my wife. She was already annoyed because I never remember what it was she wanted for Christmas or her birthday. I would give her money, but then I'd have to ruin another check.)

Another one was to stop succumbing to an inexplicable, long-standing desire I've had to tell strangers about my most embarrassing personal problems.

Uh-huh. Maybe next year on that one.

A few other goals -- milestones, mended ways, major appliances -- come to mind. As I recall, in 1985 I swore I would:

*Stop smoking. And, as I recall, I did -- and I had such a great time I plan to do it again in 1986. I have some advice for those of you who also quit in 1986: Do not go, as we did, to a Caribbean resort where you pay before you get there, and when you get there everything's free: all the food; all the drinks; all the you-know-whats. Consider a healthier, alternative vacation environment. Jog to Utah, for instance. Hunt gazelles with a sharp stick.

*Become fit, trim, healthy. As if by magic, presumably. In my bedroom, I have an exercise bike and a rowing machine. In my mirror, I have a problem. In my hand, I have a Twinkie.

*Bring technology into the home. We did get a VCR in 1985, to go with the cable TV we got in 1984; what we still don't get is what you're supposed to watch on it. (I mean, "Hardbodies?" "Porky's II?" Is anyone else having this problem?) This year we also bought a nifty wooden stand for the microwave. It would be even niftier if we had a microwave.

*Invest wisely. We still have all day today and tomorrow to start the IRA, the mail-order Bible business or to purchase six rental properties in New Carrollton. Investing involves risk. Risk is something I've been avoiding for a long time -- unlike, say, taxes.

*Write the novel. Ditto for the rock opera, the screenplay, the Carson monologue, the "Hill Street Blues" episode. And the letter to my brother thanking him for the birthday gift last July (a paperback copy of "Overcoming Procrastination").

*Spend more "quality time" with friends. As one who is unreasonably irritated by the very existence of a phrase like "quality time" (mostly because I've always found it hard to budget my spontaneity), I'm not sure I'll ever get to this one. And besides, all my friends hate me because I'm a fat ugly scatterbrained procrastinating ashtray-breath. Which brings me to:

*Quit whining and get to work.


That's the first time I ever ended a story with that thought. Maybe there's hope for me in 1986.