by Jim Harris

Excuses are like greeting cards; there’s one for every occasion. For thousands of years now, men have been coming up with ingenious excuses for all sorts of bad behavior. Here in the U.S., we are especially adept. Whether invading Iraq or ogling women, we are always able to find extenuating circumstances.

Jim Harris is a very reliable, hard-working employee except that he takes a day off of work every year on the anniversary of Elvis’ death. He also takes a day off every year on the anniversary of the death of King Henry VIII. Also the anniversaries of the deaths of Nero, Machiavelli, Grover Cleveland, Julia Child, Socrates, Roy Rogers, Mozart, Paul Revere, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Theodore Roosevelt, Charles de Gaulle, Evita Peron, Ernest Hemingway, Walt Disney, Chiquita Banana ... well, you get the idea. He doesn’t come to work much.

For instance, in both of the above examples, one might say, “I invaded Iraq/stared at your bust, because it was in my a.)field of vision, b.)breast interest, er, BEST interest c.)contract with America.” Or you might simply say, “I thought I saw weapons of mass destruction.”

Back in the days when there was job security, employees would call in sick all the time. Each one would have a more outrageous excuse than the next. It was in that era that I began composing my list of reasons for missing work. As a public service, I will share some of them with you now. Used wisely and in moderation, they can return America to the great nation that we imagine we once were.

You should say these out loud as you read them. The more comfortable you are with them, the more convincing they will sound to your boss when you call in. Okay, take a deep breath, and begin.

•“Hi, this is [your name]. I won’t be in today because:”

I have a collapsed brain. I have work anxiety disorder. My paradigm shifted. I’m having my shoes repaired. I’m reinventing myself. I’m nurturing my inner child. I’m stuck to the floor. I’m covered with mold. I just heard that Elvis died. It’s Klingon mating season. I’m having myself demagnetized. I accidentally shaved off both ears. I’m waiting for the ball to descend.

•I have to sandblast my mud flaps. My dog has restless leg syndrome. I’m due for a beard inspection. My boa constrictor has a gopher stuck in her throat. It’s a day of reflection. I have to stay in front of the mirror. I took too much Ginkgo biloba, and now I can’t stop remembering things. I think I found something of historical importance in my nose.

•I’ve changed my name to Lucifer, and I’m afraid people won’t like me. My great-grandfather was killed in a golf cart accident. (You can use this one four times.) I just found out from a TV commercial that I’m a candidate for depression, and that’s depressing me. It’s the anniversary of my great- grandfather being killed in a golf cart accident.

Please note: all of the above excuses so far have been lies. If you have a problem with lying, or if you just want to experiment with something new, consider trying the truth. For instance, “I don’t care” is the truth if you, in fact, don’t care. It is also a valid, though not always acceptable, excuse.

As a non-caring person myself, I get tired of constantly saying “I don’t care” every time someone asks me why I don’t exercise, eat right, pay my taxes, go to the bathroom or grow up. As an alternative response, I now just hand out business cards containing one of the following phrases.

•I don’t care.

•You are now entering a no-care zone.

•Thank you for giving me back the ability to not care.

•I’m really interested in what you have to say, but I left my hearing aid in my other pants.

So how about you, dear reader. Do you have a favorite excuse? If so, please email it to me. I’ll send you $25. And if I don’t, at least I’ll have a good excuse: I lied.

(Ed. Note: I apologize for running this politically incorrect and socially irresponsible column. I was trying to think of an excuse for not running it, but fortunately for Jim, I’ve had terrible post-menopausal cramps, and I really can’t think of anything but ice cream.)