Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Class of 2020: Don't Feel Bad About That Graduation Ceremony

There's been a lot of talk about the hardship endured by the Class of 2020 because they don't get to have a regular graduation ceremony.

Are you kidding me? Do they realize how lucky they are?

Here's what I remember about my high school graduation: boring speech, boring speech, boring speech, walking across the stage to get my diploma. That's it. (Well, and maybe a few more boring speeches.)

Also, they made me pose for pictures next to a couple of doofuses. 

I've been to a few graduations since my own, and I can tell you that if anything, I am understating the amount of speeches and the sheer boringness of them. There's the introductory speech by the vice principal (or some other school official), which has a 92% chance of being completely boring. Then there's the speech by the valedictorian, which has a 74% chance of being completely boring. (You might get lucky enough to have a valedictorian with a good sense of humor, but don't count on it.)

Then there's the speech by a random member of the school board. (Or, should I say, school bored.) This speech has a 99.998% chance of being completely and utterly boring. In the entire history of high school graduations, no one has ever said, "Gee, I hope someone from the school board talks! I really want to hear what some person I've never heard of who is on the school board has to say!" (They should really look into using school board graduation speeches as a cure for insomnia.)

And, finally, there is the speech from the principal, which has an 88% chance of being boring, and, as a bonus, also includes a 63% chance of the principal crying and a 96% chance of the principal declaring that this graduating class is "the greatest graduating class I've ever had the privilege of dealing with."

Other graduation ceremony staples include a couple of heartfelt songs and at least two instances of someone stating that this class "will change the world." Oh, and there's also the waiting in an extremely long line when they finally start calling names and letting people go up to the stage to get their diploma. (Which, by the way, isn't actually the diploma.)

Just a few students waiting their turn to walk across the stage.
So, the Class of 2020 should be just fine with not having the traditional graduation ceremony. Don't get me wrong, there are some things they are missing out on, like Senior Prom, yearbook signings, and those last crazy few weeks of school.

But, the Class of 2020 graduation ceremonies will be much more memorable than everyone else's. They'll have stories of drive-thru graduations, or graduation parades, or wacky Zoom meeting graduations. They'll be able to remember their graduations without having to deal with all of those sleep-inducing speeches!

So, Class of 2020, enjoy your unique graduation ceremonies! Then go out there and change the world.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

20 Things I've Missed About Restaurants

I've missed restaurants. Don't get me wrong, I love my wife's cooking. Heck, I don't even mind my own cooking. But, there's something about being able to go someplace and letting other people take care of the food and the cleanup. Here are 20 things I've missed about restaurants:

1. I've missed getting to decide what I want to eat when I am hungry, instead of having to decide, plan, and prepare meals hours (or even days) beforehand.
2. I've missed trying to decide WHICH restaurant to go to. (There are so many to choose from!)
3. I've missed the joy of hearing my mispronounced name yelled (or having a round buzzer go off in my hand), meaning we're getting called up from the lobby and going to be able to sit at an actual table.
4. I've missed walking into a restaurant to the smell of food cooking.
5. I've missed getting the seat with the view of the television, so I can keep my eye on the score of the game. (Remember when there used to be games on the television?)
6. I've missed looking at all of the choices on the menu, even though I know I’m going to get the same thing I always get, because I know it is good.

7. I've missed the sense of accomplishment when I find all of the words in the word search on the children’s menu (without having to circle them.)
8. I've missed the sight of multiple servers bringing out all the plates for the entire table all at once.
9. I've missed touching the plate that the waitress/waiter has warned me is REALLY hot, just to see how hot it actually is.
10. I've missed being around other people. (Even those noisy people at that table in the corner.)
11. I've missed having someone else clean up all the mess from cooking the food.
12. I've missed the joy when they bring that second (or third) basket full of tortilla chips (at a Mexican restaurant) or breadsticks (at an Italian restaurant.)
13. I've missed eating food prepared by someone other than myself.
14. I've missed when my wife asks me if I want to try a bite of her meal, because, maybe I should have ordered that?
15. I've missed that satisfying feeling when the waitress/waiter refills my drink at the exact moment I thought, “I could use a refill on this drink.”
16. I've missed having someone else clearing the table and doing ALL of the dishes.
17. I've missed trying to figure out how much to tip.
18. I've missed after dinner mints.
19. I've missed taking home the to-go box.
20. I've missed the satisfying feeling of actually remembering to bring the to-go box in from the car.

Edited from the version originally published in the May 2020 edition of the Serve Daily newspaper, available in fine locations throughout southern Utah County.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

5 Ways to Stay "Social" While Social Distancing

A month ago, I had never heard of the term “social distancing.” Now, it’s a way of life.

I’m spending most of my days cooped up in my house. I’m lucky, because I’m here with my beautiful wife and four wonderful kids. They’re great, and they help make sure I’m not lonely. That being said, I do miss having some social interaction with other people. I miss being able to talk face to face with others. I miss seeing the interactions between my daughter and her friendly teachers as I drop her off at preschool. Heck, I even miss that annoying person in front of me at the express checkout lane who clearly has more than 25 items in her cart!

But, there are still ways we can be social in the times of social distancing. Here are a few ideas:

1--Wave at people. On those rare times when I get out of the house, I’m extra appreciative when I see one of my neighbors. I’ll excitedly wave at them. And usually, they’ll wave back or give me a big smile. It’s just so nice to see other people!

2--When you get a chance to talk to people, do so. If you see your neighbor outside on their porch, or someone out walking in the neighborhood, step outside and say hello to them. It’s okay to talk to people, as long as you maintain some distance.

3--Call people on the phone. It’s easy to forget that we’re all in this together. Call your friends. Call your family. Call your neighbors. Call people you haven’t talked to in years. It may not be physical contact, but it can really be great to hear someone else’s voice.

4--Video chat. There are a number of apps that enable you to video chat with someone. There’s Facetime, Zoom, Marco Polo, Skype, Google Hangouts, and many others. It’s like we’re living in the time of “The Jetsons.” Phone calls are great, but sometimes it’s even better if you can see people’s facial reactions. It’s hard to see someone roll their eyes over the phone. (Just be sure there’s no one walking around in their underwear in the background of your video chat.)

Just make sure you don't become a screen zombie.

5--Write to people. You can send texts, or emails to let people know you’re thinking about them. Heck, you can even write a good, old-fashioned letter and send it in the mail. Wouldn’t it be great to go to the mailbox and be surprised by getting a letter from someone?

These are tough times, but there are still ways we can get through it together. We don’t have to be alone while we’re social distancing.  

This post first appeared as an article in the April 2020 issue of the ServeDaily newspaper.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Watching My Kids Watch "Star Wars" For the First Time

A few years ago, our oldest daughter started to show an interest in Star Wars. She knew the names of the main characters, and often included them in her "Pretend World" activities. (Chewbacca was her favorite.) But, she hadn't seen the movies--and we decided she wasn't ready to see them yet. (She cried during Muppets Most Wanted because Kermit's evil twin was too scary.)

Several years have passed, and circumstances seemed right to end our Star Wars embargo. (We're stuck at home, and all the movies are available on Disney+.) My wife, who isn't too familiar with the movies, wondered which movie to show them first. I guess there are some people who would think it best to start with Episode I: The Phantom Menace, because it says right there in the title that it's the first episode. But, since I wanted our kids to actually like the movies, I started them out with the one that started them all, Star Wars!

[NOTE: In order to clear up and/or add to the confusion, let me explain. Star Wars, also known as Episode IV: A New Hope, was the first movie to come out, back in 1977. So, even though it's the fourth episode, it was the first movie, and since I'm old and grumpy, that's the way it's always going to be to me.]

As I sat down to watch the movie with my kids, I decided to take a few notes. I wanted to watch my kids watch Star Wars for the very first time. It was pretty fun! But first, roll call:
                                         Thing 1--11 year-old daughter
                                         Thing 2--9 year-old son
                                         Thing 3--5 year-old daughter
                                         Thing 4--3 year-old son

Her are there reactions.

*The Opening Note--That opening note from the John Williams score is one of the best opening notes in cinema history. I jumped a bit in excitement when I heard it, and my kids all jumped along with me, and laughed at me a little.

*The Opening Scroll--Thing 1, as many have done before her, felt the need to read the opening scroll out loud. Thing 2 observed that as the words faded out of view, it appeared that they were turning into little stars.

*The movie starts--"That is one big ship," says Thing 2. It's the exact same thing I thought when I first saw the movie in 1977.

*Darth Vader appears--"Is that him breathing? It sounds like someone slurping a straw."--Thing 2

*More Darth Vader--"He says 'I want them alive' right after he kills one of them. Doesn't make much sense."--Thing 1

*C3PO--"Is he always that bossy?"--Thing 1

*R2-D2--"Is R2-D2 going to die?"--Thing 3 asks. "No," I reply. "Okay."--Thing 3. (I don't think Kermit's evil twin would make her cry.)

*Jawas--"Oh, they're aliens. The sound a little bit like Minions."--Thing 2

*C3PO--"Is he always that bossy?"--Thing 1 (again.)

*Two moons over Tatooine--"The red one is for the aliens, and the other one is for the people."--Thing 3

A long time ago....

*The Sand People--"More aliens?"--Thing 2 (I remind him that this is a planet far, far away.)

*Luke gets his lightsaber--Luke lights up his lightsaber and is waving it around the room. Thing 1 warns him, "Be careful! Don't hit anyone with that!"

*Obi-wan uses Jedi mind tricks--Obi-wan tricks the Stormtroopers into saying, "These aren't the droids we are looking for." The kids love it!
"That was cool!"--Thing 1.
"(Excitedly) How did he do that?"--Thing 2

*In the Cantina--The camera pans around to the different aliens in the bar. "Some of those are definitely just people in masks."--Thing 2

*Greedo--As Greedo and Han Solo exchange words, Thing 3 laughs and says, "He talks really funny."

[NOTE TO GEORGE LUCAS: Look, George, you made a great movie back in 1977. Why won't you let us watch it? The changes to the Greedo/Han Solo shootout are bad enough, but the added scene with Jabba the Hut is preposterous because it a) is totally unnecessary; b) is actually harmful to the plot of this and the next two movies; and C) looks terrible--as if some 6th grader was trying to create a movie scene using Photoshop. It's too bad I couldn't show my kids the real movie.]

*Jabba the Hut--Thing 1 has a hard time understanding what Jabba is saying. "Did he just say, 'I'm a very happy cheese steak?'"

*On the Millennium Falcon--As Obi-wan trains Luke, Thing 1 says, "For a second there I thought he sounded like PopPop." (Interesting, because PopPop is not a Jedi master.) (At least, not as far as I know.)

*On the Death Star--As the action moves to the Death Star, the kids are too involved in the movie to make as many comments. But, as Han Solo "rescues" Princess Leia from her cell, Thing 1 observes, "Wow, he's very rude."

*Lightsaber fight between Obi-wan and Darth Vader--"They're fighting! That's a fun part!"--Thing 4, who has spent most of the movie up until now in wide-eyed silence and awe.

*Millennium Falcon shootout--As the heroes are escaping the Death Star, they get into a laser fight with some Imperial fighters. Han Solo and Luke each strap into moving chairs and fire at the enemy, looking as if they are playing a video game. Thing 2 stands up off of the couch in excitement. "This is good!!! Now I know why this movie is so famous!"

*The rebel forces prepare to attack the Death Star--Leia gives Luke a pep talk before he climbs into his X-Wing to face almost certain death. "Boy, she's wearing a lot of lip gloss!"--Thing 1

*Luke hears Obi-wan's voice--"I don't think he's really dead."--Thing 1, stating the obvious.

*Several rebel fighters fail to destroy the Death Star--"I think it's going to be Luke."--Thing 1, stating the obvious. (She's good at that.)

*Death Star blows up--"Woohoo!!!"--Thing 1, Thing 2, Thing 3, and probably Thing 4.

*THE END--"Is there a scene after the credits?"--Thing 1. (Today's kids have been spoiled.)

*Waiting for a scene after the credits--They're not sure if they should believe me, so they want to watch the credits. "James Earl Jones. He was really good as Darth Vader!"--Thing 2

*After the movie was over (with no scene after the credits)--
"That was the best movie ever!!!"--Thing 2
"No, Frozen 2 is better."--Thing 3
"Nope! Star Wars is the best movie ever!"--Thing 1
(Sitting in silence with a big smile on his face.)--Thing 4
It's official. Two out of four children think Star Wars is the best movie ever.

I asked the kids who their favorite character was.
"Han Solo, Chewbacca, and Darth Vader!"--Thing 1
"Luke."--Thing 2
"The big guy--not the one who lost his clothes."--Thing 3 (I'm not sure, other than that Obi-wan Kenobi is not her favorite.)
"The robot who says beep."--Thing 4
"--and the little aliens who sound like Minions, and C3PO!"--Thing 1, unable to limit her list of favorites to fewer than 13.

Later in the evening, Thing 2 is walking around repeating, "Obi-wan Kenobi. Obi-wan Kenobi."
"What about him? I ask.
"Nothing. It's just fun to say."--Thing 2

As they're going to bed, I play the song "Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band" by Meco for them.
"That's an old song!"--Thing 4
"Well, it was from the nineteen hundreds!"--Thing 2

Yes, it may be ancient, but that doesn't mean it can't be "the best movie ever!" (I'm so glad I didn't start them with The Phantom Menace.)

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

The Day I Made Chuck Norris Chuckle

Chuck Norris loves babies!

Sure, most people say they love babies, but Chuck Norris actually does something about it. Chuck Norris is an American hero!

It was a normal day. I was at home with my two youngest kids, Thing 3, the two and a half year-old girl, and Thing 4, the eleven month-old boy. (Thing 1 and Thing 2 were in school.) I was trying to figure out a way to entertain the kids without resorting to songs from Moana or Frozen when I got a text from my brother alerting me to the fact that Chuck Norris would soon be making an appearance in the town where I live.

My first reaction, as it often is, was to question my brother's sanity. Why would Chuck Norris be coming to small town Utah? But, my brother insisted he had seen this announced on the semi-reputable website for one of the local television news stations. I checked it myself and, yes, Chuck Norris was scheduled to appear at a convenience store/gas station less than a mile from my house in about an hour! (He was coming to promote his new line of bottled water, CForce.) And so I did what any responsible parent would do: I loaded up my kids for an opportunity to stand in line in the hot sun so they could have a ten second meeting with some guy they had never heard of!

When I showed this picture to my 2 year-old daughter she got excited and said, "It's HulkSmash! It's HulkSmash wearing pajamas!" 

As I approached the gas station, cars were lining up and parking along the side of the road. I got my kids out of the mini-van and plopped Thing 4 in the stroller so I could roll him the rest of the way to the convenience store. Because of all the Chuck-related traffic, I was holding Thing 3 in one arm and trying to push the stroller with the other. That's when my neighbor and his wife (and their young son) came along and helped me out. (Shout out to Aaron and Leah!) The neighbor pushed the stroller for me as we made the longer-than-it-seemed walk to the end of the line to see Chuck Norris.

Chuck Norris waits for no one, but everyone waits for Chuck Norris.
Chuck was meeting people in a tent in the front of the store, and the line to see him came out along the side of the building, out to the edge of the parking lot, around the end of a dead end road, and down along the side street toward the traffic light. It was a pretty long line. I had been in line with my kids and my neighbors for about twenty minutes when a bigwig from the convenience store (I recognized him from their commercials) came out to the line and announced, "Chuck would like anyone who has babies in a stroller to move right up to the front of the line. He doesn't want the babies to get dehydrated out here in the sun." Yes, Chuck Norris loves babies!

I looked at my neighbors, who had helped me out so much, and who were there with a young son who just as easily could have been in a stroller, too. Was I somehow more worthy to jump in the line than them just because I had a stroller? I felt bad...but I ditched them in a heartbeat. (Sorry about that, Aaron and Leah!)

I strolled up to the front of the line and there he was in the tent: the one and only Chuck Norris!!!

As I started to undo the straps to get Thing 4 out of the stroller, a small joke formulated in my mind. I walked toward Walker, Texas Ranger, carrying my baby boy. When I got close enough that I was sure Chuck Norris could hear me, I reached up to take the binky (pacifier) out of my boy's mouth and said, "You can't meet Chuck Norris with a binky in your mouth!"

And Chuck Norris chuckled. Yes, I made* Chuck Norris chuckle! (*NOTE: That's not true. No one makes Chuck Norris do anything. It would be more accurate to say that I said something that Chuck Norris decided to acknowledge with a chuckle.)

Chuck chuckled, and then quickly said, "No, no, that's okay." Because Chuck Norris loves babies, and he wants them to be happy, even if it means that baby is sucking on a wimpy binky. But, I defied Chuck Norris and took the binky out anyway, because I knew my son was tough enough he wouldn't cry in the presence of Chuck Norris. (He didn't.)

The next ten seconds are pretty much a blur. Thing 3 hid behind me because she was apparently afraid of this bearded stranger and foolishly thought I could protect her from Chuck Norris. So, I had to herd her around to the front of me, but she still was a little leery of him. I held Thing 4 up between Chuck and I. And, worst of all, I forgot to suck in my considerable gut. It's not a very good picture.

As my wife said, "Why look at the camera when you can look at Chuck Norris?"
A few things about the picture: 1) My daughter wanted nothing to do with Chuck Norris. 2) I think my son's forehead might be touching Chuck's cheek, and the boy is staring intently at Chuck's beard. 3) Chuck Norris is not a very large man. And D) I held onto my baby because I figured Chuck Norris wouldn't want to hold other people's babies. I was wrong. It turns out he posed holding a lot of babies. Of course he did, because Chuck Norris loves babies! (If I had known this, I certainly would have had him hold one, or maybe both of my babies. Oh well.)

After the picture was taken, I headed into the store, because if Chuck Norris is there to sell CForce Bottled Water, then by golly I'm going to buy me some CForce Bottled Water! I didn't do this just because I wanted the water. I did this because they were handing out "free" swag to people who purchased Chuck's water. (I'm always a sucker for buying stuff I didn't really want in order to get some free stuff that I also didn't really want.) 

So, I bought four bottles of CForce water and took two of them to my neighbors who were still in line. (Still feeling bad about ditching you, Aaron and Leah!) I then went to the "free stuff" line and got myself a t-shirt and a pair of fake wood sunglasses! 

I look much tougher and skinnier in a Chuck Norris t-shirt! (And when I suck in my gut.)
(I should mention that appearing with Chuck Norris was Truck Norris. Unfortunately, Truck Norris is not some muscle-man cousin of Chuck's, but a large, tricked-out truck.)

(Also, while standing in line the guy in front of me was whining because they only had shirts in sizes L and XL. The person handing out the shirts rightly called him out, saying, "Dude, it's free stuff. Stop complaining.") 

I then took my water bottles, t-shirt, sunglasses, and babies, and went home. I had a really good time. It's not every day you get to meet Chuck Norris and turn him into Chuckle Norris!

Edited from a post originally published in May 2017.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Friday Fiction: The Rise of Sleighrider

"It's less than a week before Christmas!" Santa exclaimed. "This is the busy time. We have last minute preparations. We don't have time for this!"

"I'm sorry, Santa," said Blinky the Elf. "I know the timing is not good. But it needs to be today. The elves won't wait."

"I just don't understand it," said Santa. "I treat the elves wonderfully. They get great benefits. Plenty of vacation time. All I ask is that during the busy season I get their best work. And the elves usually love their work!"

"It's true, Santa," Blinky replied. "It's just that this time there are extenuating circumstances."

"More important than their work?" Santa asked.

"Yes," said Blinky. "As much as the elves love their work, they hate spoilers even more."

"It's just one week," Santa begged. "Can't they wait until the 26th? My golly, I'd even let them watch it on the 25th, once I get back with the sleigh!"

"Sorry, Santa. It's Keebler. Even as we speak the entire company has shut down and they are having a private screening. Those cookie-baking cretins would love nothing more than to send spoilers our way!" Blinky had a rare look of disgust on his face.

"Keebler!" exclaimed Santa, angrily. "You'll never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy! That Ernie Keebler has just earned his way onto the naughty list! But wait--how did Keebler manage to get a private showing?"

Blinky blinked, then stated, "Simple bribery. Let's just say that J.J. Abrams won't be running out of E.L. Fudge anytime soon."

Santa looked defeated. "Is there no way to get around this?"

"No, Santa," said Blinky. "They all want to see the movie, and they all want to see it now." Blinky thought for a second. "Well, 90% of them, anyway. There are some who say they'd rather watch old Star Trek reruns, and a few weird ones who prefer Doctor Who. And there's also a small percentage who brag about the fact that they haven't seen any of the Star Wars movies like it's some kind of badge of honor. But there's not enough of them to make it worth keeping the production floor open."

"Fine, then," Santa said. "I'm not a monster. I'll let them watch the movie. But, as soon as it's over, they'll go right back to work, right?"

"Yes, Santa! Oh, yes!" Blinky was jubilant.

"Go set things up," Santa told Blinky, who ran off hurriedly.

Mrs. Claus, who had been listening the entire time, hugged her husband. "It's a good thing you are doing today. The elves will be happy," she said.

"They will," Santa replied. "I just hope, for their sake, my sake, and the sake of J.J. Abrams, that this movie is better than The Phantom Menace. The last thing I want is a bunch of angry elves."


Now choose a title that best fits the story.

O A. Santa vs. Star Wars
O B. J.J. vs. E.L.
O C. The Spoils of Keebler
O D. Star Wars: The Rise of the Sleighrider
O E. Harry Potter and the Phantom Menace
O F. The Angry Elves

Edited from a post originally published on 12/18/2015. (The day Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens opened in theaters.)

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

When Your Kid Needs That ONE THING for Christmas

Every year the news will run a story about that ONE THING that every kid is clamoring for; the ONE THING all the kids just must have; the ONE THING the stores are sold out of and that you can't find anywhere.

I've always laughed at those stories. I've scoffed at the idiotic parents driving all over town to try to find that ONE THING. I hadn't really worried about it, because it wasn't going to happen to me. Why? Because I'm not a very trendy person, and neither are my kids. And even if my kids did say they wanted that ONE THING, we often don't have enough money for it. I had never experienced the hunt for the ONE THING.

Until this year.

A few weeks ago I was walking through Walmart with my three year-old boy. He likes dinosaurs, and he loves monster trucks. (Sometimes he'll call them "monstrucks!") On the toy aisle we walked past some little monster trucks that were shaped like dinosaurs. I know--dinosaur monster trucks make absolutely no sense whatsoever. Dinosaurs were extinct before the cavemen invented the wheel (or so they'd like us to believe), and definitely long before the redneck invented the monster truck. But, toys don't really have to make sense to a kid. I made the mistake of pointing them out to the boy. He, of course, was pretty excited. "Dinosaur monster trucks!" he exclaimed.

Dinosaur Monster Truck!!!
I didn't think much  of it at the time, but as the days and weeks passed, whenever anyone would ask him what he wanted for Christmas he would say, rather emphatically, "Dinosaur monster trucks!"

It soon became apparent that, for my three year-old, this had become his ONE THING. (I have no idea what the real ONE THING is this year for most of America. I'm too backwoods to know.) So, I returned to the Walmart to get the boy some dinosaur monster trucks. Of course, they weren't there anymore. The problem is, when I first saw them, they weren't in the main toy section--they were in the seasonal toy aisle. The products in the seasonal toy aisle get swapped out frequently. To make matters worse, the dinosaur monster trucks were not a name brand product, they were the generic Walmart brand, so that made it difficult to look them up online.

I searched the store. No dinosaur monster trucks. My wife scoured the interwebs. She couldn't find them on her mothership, Amazon. She eventually tracked them down on Walmart.com, but they were not something that could be ordered, and it said that none of the nearby stores had them in stock.

The hunt continued. My wife and her mother searched an out of town Walmart. No dinosaur monster trucks. Then, after getting the kids to bed, I went for a late Saturday night hunt. I tried a Walmart about 20 miles away. They had some monster trucks that were bigger, and looked a little like dragons, but they were not the ONE THING. (I bought them anyway, to have as Plan B.)

There was only one more nearby Walmart I hadn't yet searched. It was my last chance. I was desperate. I went up and down the toy aisles and found some monster trucks that looked like sharks. So close! But not the dinosaur monster trucks I was looking for. It was approaching midnight, and I was about to give up, when a kind, courteous Walmart employee sauntered into the area. She had a shopping cart full of items that she was restocking to the shelves. I grabbed the shark monster trucks and asked her--no, begged and pleaded with her--if there was any chance they had some monster trucks similar to the shark ones, but shaped like dinosaurs instead.

She looked at me and didn't say anything. She held up her finger, motioning me to wait, and walked to her shopping cart full of go-backs. She reached in and pulled out a package of dinosaur monster trucks and--with a look of uncertainty on her face--handed them to me. "Yes!!!" I shouted. I didn't hug her, although I did think about it. Instead, I just said "Thank you!" to her about 17 times.

The hunt was over! After spending many, many hours searching through four different Walmart stores, plus the time my wife spent digging through the internet, we finally had our son's ONE THING! I was so relieved.

Four days later I was back in the neighborhood Walmart where I had first seen the dinosaur monster trucks. (I needed some Pepto-Bismal, possibly because of the stress from the search.) For no other reason than out of sheer habit, I walked past the seasonal toy aisle. There, on the shelf, were a dozen more packages of dinosaur monster trucks. The ONE THING was now overstocked.

The ONE THING, many times over.

Because, of course.