• How long could you go without saying a bad word about somebody?

    The reason I ask is that I got off the phone with an old friend from college who tells me that for the season of Lent (search) this year, he's swearing off swearing about anyone. Not one nasty comment — ever.

    I ask him if it's been tough.

    "A lot of the times, yes," he says. "But after a while, I feel pretty good about myself."

    Which, by the way had me feeling pretty bad about myself.

    Keep in mind, yours truly is the same Catholic who always forgets and goes ahead and eats meat on Fridays in Lent... a huge no-no. And I'm the guy who can't let a day go by without at least "thinking" bad things about the French.

    So I'm wondering, after talking to my pal, just how long could I go not bad-mouthing something or someone?

    My late mom wouldn't have had any trouble. She always told me, if you don't have anything good to say about someone, don't say anything at all.

    It was easy for her though. I really think she "was" a saint.

    I never remember her saying a nasty thing about anyone — ever — even when my siblings and I suggested she should. She didn't. And she would remind us that decent people don't say indecent things — which ruled me out.

    By the way, my Italian dad didn't share his Irish wife's views on this subject. But at least when he was bad-mouthing people he was doing it "to" their face! Can you imagine "my" guilt complexes growing up! But I digress...

    So here I am reminded all over again by a friend, who I swear my mother sent this season, who remains as decent and kind as when we were in college together: still warm, still gregarious, still succeeding in a rat-race world without once looking like a rat.

    I know Easter's almost here and I'm the one who should be "rising" to the occasion. So maybe I should just give up bad ties instead of bad thoughts?

    On second thoughts, let's not go crazy here.

    Happy thoughts — one and all.

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