I’d like to tell you Bob Cole is unique, but he wouldn’t like that. He hates clich?s. Prepare to get ridiculed on an overhead projector if you write something like “a good time was had by all” in a feature story for class.
Everything is unique. Therefore, it’s pointless and extraneous to say that something is unique. It would be a waste of a word, a luxury reporters can’t afford.
But Dr. Cole wasn’t the first to make this point, and it would be a forgettable piece of advice if he made it a normal way.
“The only thing that’s unique is my lovemaking!” he bellowed into a room of mostly freshmen and some sophomores, most of whom couldn’t believe what just came out of the septuagenarian’s mouth.
This is why I can hear him in my head when I write. I never mess up “fewer” and “less,” because, according to Dr. Cole, it’s the difference between a horse having a normal bowel movement and diarrhea – there are fewer individual feces and there is less diarrhea. (Note here that Microsoft Word is advising that I change that to “fewer diarrheas” – Bob Cole 1, Bill Gates 0.)
I’m careful with commas because my class was once beseeched not to “make it hard for people by leaving out the little weenie things.”
And I remember not to identify a speaker at the very end of a long quote because delayed attribution, according to Dr. Cole, “sounds like a sexual problem.”
Good advice can be forgotten, but not when it’s phrased like that.