Mikel KellyYa gotta love that wild man Ben Bernanke. Who knew, with all that economic heavy-ocity bouncing around in his distinguished looking bean, that he would be the one to introduce America to the “fiscal cliff?”

Now, before you get all indignant — I know he didn’t invent the term; it’s been around for some time already. But he was the one back in February who told Congress that failure to resolve the problem presented by the expiration of the perennial Bush tax cuts would amount to the country driving off the you-know-what.

I don’t know about you, but whenever I hear the term fiscal cliff, while the speaker or the commentator or the news person is blabbing on about the economy, I tend to picture the old “Saturday Night Live” sketch about Toonces (“the cat who could drive a car”) — starring a sort of animatronic-looking silvery-tabby-type cat — which always ended with a shot from an old movie of a car flying off a cliff, exploding in flames and doing massively violent somersaults all the way to the bottom of a giant canyon.

There are plenty of other going-off-a-cliff images, of course — including every Road Runner cartoon episode ever made and the conclusion of “Thelma and Louise,” although we were not allowed to actually watch that one because the camera turned away. Look away, that movie seemed to say — it’s too hideous.

A couple of weeks ago, I got a press release seeking to generate some heat with the cliff imagery in another way.

Touting a piece by author and lecturer Robert E. Hall about the holiday we just survived (with a little politics mixed in), this opus was titled “Surviving Thanksgiving and the Relational Cliff: Can’t We All Just Get Along?”

Yes, you heard that right. “The Relational Cliff.”

Apparently, Mr. Hall knows plenty about family issues, especially about the “fight or flight from relationships.”

But a relational cliff? Come on.

Stuff like this is enough to send you careening right over the Headache Cliff.

Or maybe even make you fall off the Anger Cliff.

I am pleased to report, however, that I’ve yet to stumble off the Inappropriate Violence Cliff, which would just be, well, wrong.

We don’t have those trying Thanksgivings at our house anymore because most of our family members have either died or gotten tired of being around us. And I must admit, I don’t miss my Uncle Jack standing in the middle of the room dominating the conversation with his theories about what an underappreciated genius Richard Nixon was.

I’m telling you, Uncle Jack flew off the Sanity Cliff before the 1950s were over.

Last week (when I was just beginning to work on this) it was just being rumored that our national leaders were getting close to an agreement that might keep the country from going over the fiscal cliff. No word at this point where that stands.

There was also similar-sounding conjecture that a ceasefire might be in the works between Israel and Palestine to keep Gaza from falling (on a daily basis) off the Rocket Attack Cliff. Later, of course, that turned out to be true, though we can’t be sure how long that peace will last before it all clatters off another cliff.

Meanwhile, I’ve now spent Turkey Day 2012 at home with a bunch of good friends. We squandered our Thanksgiving Day stumbling off multiple cliffs — you know, the ones of laughing too much, eating too much, drinking intoxicating beverages, playing cards and saying things to each other that your normal sober person usually doesn’t.

Of course, then, after they all left, because we had decided to get out the good china and the good crystal (which cannot go into the dishwasher), I personally fell off the Dirty Dishes Cliff. That was a really tall cliff. I didn’t land until well after bedtime.

Former managing editor of the Beaverton Valley Times, The Times as well as the Lake Oswego Review, Kelly is now chief of the central editing and design desk for Community Newspapers and the Portland Tribune, and he contributes a regular column.

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