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Life summed up in 6 words

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"NOT QUITE WHAT I WAS PLANNING," edited by Smith Magazine, Harper, $16.95

Could you sum up your life in six words? "It has been a living hell," maybe?

Hundreds already have in the best seller "Not Quite What I Was Planning" (Harper, $16.95). Get it?

Now the editors at "Smith Magazine" have revised the book and expanded it into a deluxe edition. Maybe a good Christmas gift for friends who need to get a focus.

The book is filled with six-word phrases in which dozens of people — some famous, most not — succinctly sum up their lives.

Stephen Colbert adds, "Well, I thought it was funny."

Roy Blount Jr. takes a more detached view: "Maybe you had to be there."

I like novelist Joyce Carol Oates' summation: "Revenge is living well, without you." Not that she's bitter.

Summing up your life in just six words is a fun game for a winter's evening. Think of it as cheap therapy.

It can be kind of surprising, too. The end result might be more honest than you ever expected.

Some of the book's "memoirs" are a tad sad.

Kelsey Ochs wrote, "Followed yellow brick road. Disappointment ensued." Who can't relate?

Gino Serdena came up with, "Should have risked asking, he sighed." How many times have we regretted the road not taken?

"On the playground, alone. 1970, today," writes Charles Warren. Makes me want to ask him out to play.

And I can relate to "I wrote it all down somewhere." It's from Ben Greenman, who probably can't find his glasses, either.

But then there are the optimists, the ones who have looked upon their lives with a positive attitude. Like Hillary Carlip: "Take a left turn, then fly."

"Outcast. Picked last. Surprised them all," Rachel Pine says.

And Jacob Thomas? "I colored outside of the lines." Good for him.

There are the unapologetic, too, like Carletta Perkins. "Never really finished anything, except cake." A woman after my own heart.

Richard Schnedl probably spoke for all optimists with his "Many risky mistakes, very few regrets."

And Ruth Haworth is making her fellow Baby Boomers feel better these days. "It got better after middle age."

It got better for my cousin Liz for another reason. She followed writer Nora Ephron's rule: "Secret of life: Marry an Italian." Liz did and the family has been eating well ever since.

I'm still trying to think what my "memoir" would be. Six words to sum up almost 60 years.

Maybe "Dad was Santa. Downhill from there."