Did you ever wonder…about Andy Rooney?

He’s quitting, finally, that guy with the eyebrows long enough to braid.

If you don’t watch the show, there is a chance that you’ve never heard of him, despite the number of awards and years of experience he brings to 60 Minutes. Andy Rooney has been on the show since 1978, but his segments are relatively short and have not been featured in promo announcements for years.

Mr. Rooney has reached the age of 92, and is at a point that coming up with topics for his weekly essays is difficult, and the production involved in getting his segment recorded has begun to wear on him. So, he’s hanging up his typewriter.

I have no doubt that he still uses a manual to tap away in writing his essays. There is a computer keyboard and screen in his publicity photograph, but I’ll bet it is a painted cardboard prop. Far be it for me to sell him short, but he is usually identified of late as curmudgeonly – which makes me believe he is not given to changing old habits.

He was using the typewriter back in World War II, when he was reporting from Europe.

If you haven’t heard of him, don’t feel too badly. He probably hasn’t heard of the things you are interested in either. Rooney is like the grandfather who likes to speak his mind but doesn’t bother himself to educate himself to debate modern technology, politics, or music. “What’s the deal with baseball caps?” he might ask, as gangsta-fashions would be easy targets for the seasoned writer.

I recall him describing that last bit of soap in the shower, that tiny remnant that you just keep using. “It’s like a little cookie,” he said in his essay. It struck me as both accurate and funny. Certainly, it was no knee-slapper, but his setup and delivery helped sell his odd take on things.

He could describe what bothered him and set in on a spotlighted platform, and suddenly it took on an importance that made us all examine it. We usually agreed with his position and for years people watched the CBS news magazine with Andy Rooney at the top of the viewing menu.

In later years, he became the object of Saturday Night Live impersonations, and – still later – he was simply overlooked as viable joke fodder. He was too easy a mark.

Still, he has a lifetime of credentials that pre-dated his essay-writing on 60 Minutes. He has a Peabody award. He is 92-years old and still has the wherewithal to put on a coat and tie and sit under hot studio lights, giving his opinion.

He loved to pose questions in his essays – Did you ever wonder – and then expound on something that he might be wondering about along with us. Did we ever wonder, for example, just how long a career Andy Rooney would have before claiming retirement?

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