1. He was a writer who just happens to be on TV. You could see that the words were more important than the images. I mean, take a look at that office. Even my classroom (and certainly my home writing desk) look cooler than that.
2. The jowls! The wrinkles! The slouching! You got a problem with that?
3. It was a long time before I realized Andy Rooney and Mickey Rooney were two different people– the reporter and “let’s put on a show.” For a long time that confused me. I was like, “THAT guy made movies with Judy Garland?!”
4. Don’t sign any autographs. Don’t answer any letters. Just because you share your work with lots of people doesn’t mean you owe them anything more. You already gave them something. Shrug.
5. Practicalities are important. Junk you collect. How you organize your stuff, how you hold onto it, or don’t. It’s interesting.
6. Keep working until you die. If you don’t like your work, you’re wasting your life. So why would you ever want to “retire”? If you’re lucky, you can do something you love until you’re real close to dying. Being a writer is usually good this way. Barring serious mental illness (and even, possibly, through it), you can write up to the end. That makes me happy.
7. I just loved his sing-song cadence, his questions and his answering himself, which sounded sorta crazy. Most people are sorta crazy like that, asking and answering themselves. Especially people who are overly verbal, like Mr. Rooney, and, I’m afraid, me.
8. I loved the insets of reenactments, like the video of him walking down the street, or looking at a parking meter. (I just made that up. But he would always be doing something incredibly banal.)
9. I loved how his hands would shake like a desperate honeybee dance every time he held things up for the camera. In the world of television, even really old people can’t be who they are: old. They’ve gotta look ten years younger, or twenty years younger, and then just die. Andy Rooney, in my memory, was always, unapologetically old.
10. There was always a touching amateur feel to his segments, even though they came from someone in New York, someone connected to one of the most prestigious programs on television. They always looked like they had been awkwardly edited by an intern at a local PBS station, circa 1979. (That is the first year I remember watching television. I love low-budget PBS production values, still, especially now that we have these weird, multiple PBS stations in Kansas City.)
11. Crazy eyebrows! The only thing I like better than crazy eyebrows is crazy hair. Every time I meet someone with crazy hair, I immediately like them. Crazy hair draws me in like chocolate.
12. Go ahead and be cranky. Get it off your chest. It’s okay to be cranky. Life is suffering, right, Buddha? Right, Westley? Go ahead and be Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, Andy Rooney cranky. Be cranky and ponder and make stuff anyway.