Friday, August 31, 2018

The Pinto Station Wagon Adventure

The Ford Pinto is widely regarded as one of the worst cars ever made. According to Wikipedia (which is correct more than 64.8% of the time) the Pinto made the list of "The 50 Worst Cars of All Time," and "The Ugliest Cars of the Past 50 Years." Not a lot of love there.

The Pinto had a reputation for exploding if it got in a rear end collision. That's not a feature most people want in an automobile.

And, just in case the regular Pinto wasn't ugly enough, Ford decided to make a station wagon version of the Pinto. (For those of you too young to remember what a station wagon looks like, it's like if you crossed an SUV with a 1982 Toyota Corolla, except uglier.)

For some unknown reason, my grandparents bought a Ford Pinto station wagon. (Did Grandpa buy it on a dare? Did he win it at a poker game? Was his bank giving them away as a prize for opening a new savings account? I really don't know.)

What I do know is that, after owning it for a short time, Grandpa decided he didn't want to own it anymore. Unfortunately, my Mom decided that she did want to own it. I'm not sure if Grandpa sold the car to Mom or if he just gave it to her. Either way, we were getting a Pinto station wagon! (I was very enthusiastic in my indifference.)

There was one big problem with this proposed change in Pinto station wagon ownership: Grandpa lived in Virginia, and we lived in Idaho. So, Grandpa came out to Idaho for a visit in his van. (He could have saved a lot of hassle if he had brought the Pinto with him when he came. But, he had no desire to drive that car across the country.)

When his visit was over, Grandpa loaded up our family and took us back to Virginia with him in his van. (It was a nice 1970's van, with a bed, shag carpet, and a rockin' 8-track stereo!) We spent some time vacationing in Virginia. But, when the vacation was over, we would have to drive back across America to Idaho in the Pinto station wagon.

There were five of us that needed to make the trip back to Idaho: me, my Mom, my brother John, my sister Lynette, and a high school friend of my sister who, for some unfathomable reason, made the trip with us.

The Pinto station wagon had four seats. Let's do the math here. That's five people and four seats. Something's got to give. That would be me. As the youngest of the five of us, it was left to me to ride in the very back of the station wagon. (I wasn't the shortest of the five of us. That would have been my Mom. But, since she was the adult and I was 12 years old, she thought she was more qualified to drive than I was.)

Here's a picture of my family from around the time of this trip.
From left: Dad, John, Lynette, me, and Mom.
(My Dad didn't go with us; he stayed to work on the farm.)
I was surprised I couldn't find any pictures from our vacation to Virginia.
I was not surprised I couldn't find any pictures of the Pinto station wagon. (No one liked that car.)

Just to be clear, when I say "the very back of the station wagon," I don't mean the back seat. I mean the section between the back seat and the hatchback door.

Now, before you go thinking about how much room there was in the back of a station wagon, let me remind you that the Pinto was considered a compact car, and the Pinto station wagon was much more compact than most station wagons. (In this case, "compact" is another word for "small.") The "very back" section that I was relegated to was wider than it was deep. That is to say there was more room from the driver side to the passenger side than there was from back seat to back door.

Obviously, there were no seat belts in the back of the Pinto station wagon. Back in 1978 the laws and attitudes toward seat belt use weren't as strict as they are today. (No one was calling child services for an unbuckled 12 year-old back then.)

I had two ways to get into the back of the Pinto station wagon. Usually I would get in the car and climb over the back seat in order to wedge myself into my riding spot. But, sometimes someone would open the back hatch so I could climb in that way.

To get out of the car I had to wait. I either had to wait for someone to open the back hatch to let me out, or I had to wait for my sister and her friend to get out of the back seat so I could climb over it to escape. It was a bit claustrophobic.

My Mom was in the driver seat, my sister and her friend were in the back seats, and my brother was in the front passenger seat. He sat there as the navigator, which is a good thing because if he hadn't been there my Mom may have driven us to Nova Scotia in her attempt to get us to Idaho. (At one point she actually got Indianapolis and Cheyenne mixed up.) He needed to be there.

At one point, though, my brother John took pity on me and offered to take a turn in the back of the Pinto station wagon. It only lasted for a couple of hours. John was 16 years old and much taller than me. It was very difficult for him to fold himself into that small space at the back of the car. So, he spent the rest of the trip up front and I spent the rest of the trip in the back. (Near the end of the trip John fell asleep and Mom used that opportunity to get turned around and drive back toward Virginia for an hour. He really was needed in the front.)

It was a long drive, well over 2,000 miles. I squished myself in the back of that Pinto station wagon over and over and over again. I wasn't back there by myself, either. Most of the luggage was on the luggage rack on top of the car, but some of it was in the back with me. It was a long, strange trip.

For some reason, I haven't seen a Pinto station wagon on the road for a long, long time.

Eventually we made it to Idaho, and I was able to forever escape from the back of the Pinto station wagon. I'm not sure what, if anything, Mom paid for that stupid car, but it wasn't worth it. We had it for a couple of years until one day the engine burst into flames while my brother was driving it.

It was a fitting end for one of "The 50 Worst, Ugliest Cars Ever Made."

Edited from a post originally published on 8/28/2015.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

In Defense of Hawaiian Pizza

Pizza is delicious! It's one thing almost everyone can agree on. It's the do-it-all meal featuring bread, sauce, cheese, meat (usually), veggies (sometimes), and even fruit (occasionally.)

Yes, I said "fruit." You see, there is a wide variety of foodstuffs that you put on top of a pizza, and most of those things are accepted by everyone. Oh, you may not like a particular topping, but you generally recognize that someone else might like that topping, and you're fine if they have that topping on their pizza. (Even anchovies.) And that's the way it should be. But, some people draw the line at pineapple. They'll say that if there is pineapple on it, it can't be called a pizza.

People feel very strongly about this issue. The president of Iceland stated that he wished he could make putting pineapple on pizza against the law. (Like a true politician, he later clarified that he's glad he doesn't have the power to tell people what to put on their pizzas. He then made a recommendation for seafood toppings, further eroding any authority he might have on the subject.) Meanwhile, a friend of mine who thinks he's an authority on the subject because he has an Italian last name once wrote, "If it has pineapple on it, IT ISN'T PIZZA!!!!!!" That's some serious ALL CAPS, plus six exclamation points, if anyone is counting. (And apparently, I am.)

That's a GOOD LOOKING PIZZA!!!!!!! (With seven exclamation points, if anyone is counting.)

I'm not sure why these people have decided that pineapple is the one topping that they must make a stand against. Are they afraid of pineapple? Is it too delicious? Were they emotionally scarred by that Tiki episode of The Brady Bunch? Do they think pineapple will be a gateway fruit, paving the way for bananas or mangoes?

Everyone has toppings they don't like. Personally, I can't stand green peppers; I think they are insidious and disgusting, and their smell and taste overpower any other pizza ingredient they are paired with. And yet, I'm perfectly fine if someone wants to put green peppers on their pizza, as long as they keep them off of my pizza. I'm not going to declare, "if it has green peppers, IT ISN'T PIZZA," because I'm willing to allow others the freedom to choose their own pizza toppings. (This is, after all, 'Merica!)

Meat! Cheese! Veggies! And, yes, fruit!
There's such a great variety of toppings that can be put on a pizza, it's a shame to limit them. Just a few years ago, I had never heard of BBQ/chicken/pineapple pizza, or pizza with chicken, spinach, and alfredo sauce. And yet now, I would be quite happy eating either of those pizzas alongside my pepperoni and/or sausage.

So, I will have pineapple on my pizza, whether you like it or not. And I will call it a pizza, whether you agree or not. And my suggestion to you would be to get your own pizza, and put whatever you want on it. And enjoy that pizza, because pizza is delicious!

(Having said all that: anchovies? Really?)

Friday, August 24, 2018

Keeping Kids Contained at Church

When The Wife and I first got married, I really liked going to church with her.

We would sit close to each other. We were shappy. ("Shappy" is a combination of the words "happy" and "sappy.") Usually we would be holding hands, or one of us would have an arm around the other. Sometimes one of us would use a finger to "write" a message on the other one's back, and the person being written upon would guess what the writer had written. Usually it would be something shappy like "I love you," or "You are so wonderful."

It was so nice sitting next to The Wife at church. She would even gently nudge me if I started to fall asleep, and if that's not true love, I don't know what is. (Or maybe she just didn't want to be embarrassed by my loud snoring.)

Those were happy, wonderful days. But, over time, things have changed.

We now have four children; we never sit together at church anymore. I sit at one end of the pew, and The Wife sits at the other end, with the kids in between us. We do this for containment reasons. With an adult on each end, we can (hopefully) contain the children in the middle.

Of course, that's assuming we actually get to church on time in order to get a pew to sit in. Quite often we are late getting to church, and end up sitting in the folding chairs in the overflow area. Why are we late for church? Well, each additional child brings his or her own supply of reasons to be late, from, "Mom, can you help me do my hair?" to "Wait, the baby just pooped through his diaper, down his pants leg, and into his socks."

When we get there, we set up our containment walls, me on the one end and The Wife on the other. Of course, just because there is a wall, it doesn't mean it can't be breached. Our youngest (a two year-old boy) regularly escapes over, under, and around our walls. And, he is at an age where reasoning doesn't work, and threats hold no sway. (Reasoning and threats are two of the "go to" tricks for most parents, but they are generally ineffective on young toddlers.)

So, we often resort to another tried and tested parental method: bribery. I used to look down with condescending disdain at those parents who brought treats to church for their kids. Couldn't they just teach their children to behave without resorting to plying them Cheerios and fruit snacks? Well, no more. Now I am that Cheerio plyer.

Some bribery snacks, featuring: Cheerios, Goldfish, Life cereal, and a Frozen graham snack. (Because it's never too soon to get your kids indoctrinated into the Cult of Elsa and Anna.)

When he gets past my personal containment wall (usually by going under the bench in front of us), I am left with two choices: A) waving snacks in attempt to bribe him back to me; or 2) getting up out of my chair and physically retrieving him. Because objects at rest tend to stay at rest, getting up out of my chair is not the preferred option. So, snack bribery it is. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn't. (Sometimes we just let him roam. He usually comes back.)

There is a light at the end of the containment wall tunnel. My two oldest children can usually often occasionally behave in such a way that they don't need constant adult supervision. I can see a time in the not-so-distant future when The Wife and I might actually be able to sit next to each other at church again!

And when we do, I'll put my arm around her, and with my finger I'll write a secret message on her back. It will be, "Did you bring any snacks?"

Edited from a post originally published on 6/28/2016.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

10 Best Ways to Annoy People

I know, I know: we're supposed to be nice to people. It's something I've been taught my whole life, and it's something I'm trying to teach my children.

But, there are times when you really want to not be nice. You want to annoy someone. Maybe someone has rubbed you the wrong way (metaphorically speaking) and you want to get back at them. Maybe they've done something to offend you. Maybe you just feel like annoying someone.

Well, here are 10 tried and true ways that you can annoy people. Go ahead, take your best shot!

1. Scrape you fingernails on a chalkboard.

Some people are flinching just at the sight of this picture.
2. Take more than 20 items into the express lane checkout.

Some people apparently don't know how to count to 20.
3. Drive slowly in the passing lane.

It's called the passing lane. You should only be there if you are passing somebody.
4. Eat a KitKat bar the wrong way.

Gimme a break!
5. Clip your toenails at the dinner table.

Yes, I staged this photograph myself. No, I am not proud of that fact.
6. Pay at the drive-thru entirely with pennies.

Be warned: if you do this you might get some extra spit in your food and/or drink.
7. Don't wash your hands when leaving a public restroom.

To be extra annoying, offer to shake hands with others as you leave the restroom.
8. Pick your nose.

Just don't. (It won't make you happy.)
9. If you do pick your nose, eat what you picked.

(I don't have a photo for this one, and I was not going to stage one myself, either.)

And there you have it! Ten great ways to annoy people. Have fun and annoy away!

Friday, August 17, 2018

I Have a Crack Problem

I have a problem with crack.

And once you have a problem with crack, you will always have a problem with crack. It won't go away. It's just a matter of how well you can cover it up.

Some people have no idea they have a crack problem. They go through the course of their life as if nothing is wrong. But, if you truly have a crack problem, that's all anyone else will see. They won't see you as a person, they'll just see you for the crack. So, one of the first steps in successfully dealing with a crack problem is admitting that you have a crack problem.

know I have a crack problem. My wife has been great in helping me with my crack problem. She has stood by me, not been judgemental, and offered to help in any way she can. And, she has come up with the best solution I have yet found for dealing with my crack problem: Really long shirts.

(I am, of course, talking about my butt crack problem.)

Yes, I did an image search for "plumber's crack." (No, I wouldn't recommend it.)

I've always thought of myself as a normal-ish looking guy. As I've said before, if you took 50 guys at random, I would not be one of the ten handsomest, nor would I be one of the ten ugliest. I would be one of the 30 guys covering the middle ground. I'm a fairly big guy, standing at 6' 2" and (currently) over 250 pounds. Those numbers would be pretty good for an NFL linebacker. Unfortunately, my belly fat-to-muscle ratio numbers would not be anywhere near good enough for the NFL. (Besides, as someone once said, "you gotta be fast to play linebacker.")

I never thought of myself as having an unusually long torso. But then, I met my wife. Even though I'm a full four inches taller than her, our legs are about the same length. This is great for driving, because we never have to adjust the seat in the car. (I used to smash my knees regularly back in high school when I got behind the wheel after my Mom had been driving.) (My mom is 5' 2", although some of those poofy 1970's hairdos could bump her up to as much as 5' 7".)

At first I thought that my wife and I having legs the same length was because she had unusually long legs. But then I thought it might be my unusually long torso. (It's probably a little of both.)

It took me a while to admit that I had a crack problem. Sure, I would feel that occasional breeze hit me between the bottom of my shirt and the top of my pants when I would bend over or sit down, but everyone gets that sometimes, right? I would think that my shirt wasn't reaching my pants in the back because of my oversized gut in the front. Maybe it was because my pants weren't tall enough. (The Wife actually thinks this is part of the problem. She thinks I wear my pants too low. It's a fair criticism, but I really doubt she would like it if I went full Urkel on her.) (No one wants to hear, as my aunt once said to my grandpa, "Hey, are those pants a little tight on your armpits?")

So, before I fully came to terms with my crack problem, The Wife was trying to fix it. She started buying me longer shirts. My regular shirt size is "extra-large." (XL) You would think if they made a shirt that was "extra" larger than regular large, that some of that "extra-ness" might go to the length of the shirt. No. All of that "extra-ness" is used to get around the belly and the chest. Adding another "X" (as in XXL, XXXL) only adds to the width of the shirt, not the length. (This makes no sense at all to me!)

The Wife was able to find a shirt size called "XLT," which stands for "extra large tall." These shirts were a godsend. I started wearing them and suddenly I wasn't noticing that butt-crack breeze as much. I could sit in a vinyl chair without having to peel my lower back off of it like a piece of fruit leather. It didn't take long for me to notice the difference between the "XLT" shirts and the "XL" shirts, and start seeking out the "XLTs." I think that is when I finally started to come to terms with my crack problem.

Unfortunately, the "XLTs" are pretty hard to find. Most stores don't offer them. The Wife usually has to scour the interwebs. And even then, not all "XLT" shirts are created equal. Some "XLTs" still aren't long enough, especially after a few washings. And some of the "XLTs" are actually a little too long, seeming more like a tunic or a muumuu than a shirt.

There are a lot of people who could benefit from "XLT" shirts. (As a former truck driver, believe me when I say that there are a lot of people who could benefit.)(And not just the ones who wear the shirts.) I'm surprised an enterprising "XLT" shirt manufacturer doesn't set up shop at a plumber's convention. "XLT" shirts could also find huge sales if marketed as "tramp stamp" covers, especially as the bodies of those women who fell for the "tramp stamp" fad begin to age and sag. (Sorry for that image.)

So, yes, I have a crack problem. I know it, and I'm working on correcting it. It's going to be a lifelong problem. I'm going to have to be diligent about it for as long as I live. Because no one wants to see my butt crack. Not even (maybe even especially) my wife.

Edited from a post originally published on 12.13.2012.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Texting and Driving Is Stoopid!

Some people are stoopid*. And dangerous. Stoopidly dangerous!

Don't text and drive! Especially if you have a flip-phone.
(Photo courtesy of the website Pixabay.)
(I did not take a picture of the woman who was texting while driving, because I was actually paying attention to the road.)

Yesterday I was driving with my family. We went on a little weekend getaway and were on our way back home. It was a long drive, and we all just wanted to get home safely. Since we had all six of us in the van, I was driving in the carpool lane.

There are two solid lines that separate the carpool lane from the rest of the flow of traffic. Posted frequently along the freeway are signs that say, "Do Not Cross Double White Lines." There are not signs that say "Do Not Straddle Double White Lines," because that really should go without saying, shouldn't it? There are also no signs saying, "Do Not Weave In and Out of Double White Lines" for the same reason. And yet....

We were almost home when we came upon a black Volkswagen Passat that was straddling the double white lines. Then the car would ease back into the lane where it was supposed to be traveling. And then it would veer back over one of the double white lines. Then both white lines. Then back into its lane.

We followed this vehicle for a few miles, then I decided I wanted to get around it and get some distance between it and my vehicle, before it wandered into me. I waited until one of the moments when it was actually in its proper lane, then attempted to pass it. Of course it immediately drifted back over one of the double white lines, and was almost at the second white line when I honked my horn to let the stoopid driver know I was there. The Passat swerved back into its own lane again, and I was able to get around it.

As we passed the Passat, my wife took a look at the driver. (I would have looked, too, but I've found that while I'm driving it's usually better if I pay more attention to the road than to what the idiot who almost crashed into me looks like.) According to my wife, the driver of the Passat had her cell phone in her hand and, even though I had just honked at her to get her out of my lane, was paying as much attention to her phone as she was to the road.

Passat: Without the p, second a, and the t, all you're left with is an....

I sped up to put a little distance between me and the Asshat Passat for safety purposes. Over the next several miles, I occasionally glanced at the Passat in the rear view mirror. Yes, sure enough, she continued to weave out of her lane and straddle the double white lines several more times. Eventually she drifted over a couple of lanes in the other direction and exited the freeway. I was glad to see her go.

It all seems kind of humorous now: the driver of the Passat was an idiot, and I got all angry and wrote a story about it. But, it wouldn't have been so funny if that irresponsible jerk had actually hit another vehicle because she was more focused on texting than she was on driving!

So, don't be stoopid! Put the damn phone away and drive!

(*Yes, I realize I've been spelling "stoopid" incorrectly. I'm not that stewpid!)

Friday, August 10, 2018

7 Hacks for a Better Life

I remember when hacks were bad. Now they're all the rage.

The word "hack" has a lot of definitions, and most of them aren't very favorable. It could be a foul in basketball. ("He hacked the shooter across the arms, forcing the ref to call a two-shot foul.") It could be a writer or artist who does inferior work with the sole intent of getting paid. ("He was a hack whose best work was a poor imitation of Stephen King.) It could be something you do to a slab of meat. ("She grabbed the cleaver and took a hack at the steak.")

But lately, hacks have been getting a better reputation. Now a hack can be a shortcut; a better, quicker way of doing something productive. Life-hacks, especially, are very popular today. Life-hacks are ways to make life in general easier, more convenient, and better.

And really, I wouldn't be much of a hack writer if I didn't take a hack at writing up some life-hacks to ease your burdens and make your life more plush. So, here are my 7 Life-Hacks to Help You Be Happy!

1. Be nice to people who are nice to you.
It sounds pretty simple, doesn't it? If people are nice to you, you should be nice back to them. A long time ago a great* man once said, "It's nice to be nice to the nice." It's wonderful advice by which we should all live.

(*Okay, so this is a quote from Frank Burns, a character on the television show M*A*S*H. And no, Frank Burns wasn't a great man, but he was a great television character.)

2. Be nice to people who are mean to you.
One day, when my oldest girl and my oldest boy weren't getting along very well, I lectured them and used the "It's nice to be nice to the nice" quote. A few minutes later The Girl turned to me and said, "Dad, you know what? It's mean to be mean to the mean." I laughed, and because I laughed she plugged a few more words into the formula. Such as, "It's silly to be silly to the silly," "It's wrong to be wrong to the wrong," and "It's stupid to be stupid to the stupid."

I learned a few things from this, including that The Girl is smart and silly. But, it was the first thing she said, "It's mean to be mean to the mean," that really got me thinking. It doesn't do any good to be mean to people who are mean to you; if anything this will just keep the cycle of meanness chugging along until somebody gets hurt. But, if you change things up and be nice to the people who are mean to you, they might actually stop being mean.

3. Wear clean underwear.
Mom used to always say, "Wear clean underwear. What if you were to get in an accident?" I never really understood this because 1) if you get in an accident, you might end up dirtying your underwear anyway; and B) I'm sure the doctors and nurses have more important things to do than check out the cleanliness level of your boxer shorts.

That being said, "wear clean underwear" is still good advice. You will feel better with clean underwear next to your skin. And, you'll be less likely to be stinky.

4. Don't grow a mustache and a mullet.
And if you do, don't take a photo of it. And if you did take a photo of it, don't post it on the internets. (The internets are forever.)

Should you take advice from this man?
(It's okay, I don't have the mustache anymore.)

5. Stay calm when driving.
There are a lot of idiots our on the roads. A lot of idiots. But, if we spend all of our time getting mad at the idiot drivers, we'll be angry drivers ourselves. And angry drivers are usually idiots, too.

I don't think anyone has ever flipped somebody off and then had that person track them down and say, "Thank you so much for showing me your middle finger! It helped me realize the mistakes I had been making while driving, and as a result I am a much better driver and a much better person!"

6. Don't watch reality television.
We can use our time in many different ways. We can work. We can play. We can read. We can help others. We can enjoy hobbies. We can better ourselves. Or, we can watch reality television.

Has anyone ever stepped away from the television after spending a few hours keeping up with the Kardashians and thought, "I'm a better person now than I was when I started watching this show?" I ask this because I don't know. I've never actually kept up with any Kardashians. (I usually keep away from the Kardashians.)

Now, I will say that I do differentiate between "reality" shows and "talent" shows. I think "talent" shows (like The Voice, and America's Got Talent) are acceptable to watch, because sometimes it's enjoyable and uplifting to see people display their actual talents. What I'm saying to avoid are the "reality" shows featuring untalented people blab on about themselves, like the Kardashians and the Real Housewives of Some City You Don't Care About. (By the way, those are not real housewives.)

7. Spend time with your family and friends.
Think back to the best memories you have. Your friends are there with you, aren't they? Or your family. Or both. The best, most fun, and most wonderful times of our lives are spent with the people we care about.

You'll never remember that night you stayed up until two in the morning watching Shootfighter II starring Billy Zabka. Unless you watched it with some of your friends and you spent the whole time laughing and having fun with it.

Family and friends can turn good times into great times. I could have fun at Disneyland by myself, but the lasting memories I have are of the sheer joy on my daughter's face as she met her first princess and the sense of awe on my son's face as he looked down from the top of the ferris wheel.

It's always better to share than be selfish.

So, there you have it! Go ahead and take a hack at trying my life-hacks. I think you'll find that they'll help you be happier. (Especially that one about the mullet. You do not want to be that guy!)

Edited from a post originally published on 10/20/2015.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

The Perfect Family?

We have a perfect family. We have four cute kids. They are very well-behaved. They get good grades on their report cards. They are quiet and polite in church. They are always smiling and happy. They get along with others. They get along with each other. They do what they're told and say "please" and "thank you" at the appropriate times. People we hardly know tell us all the time how great our kids are. We have a perfect family.

We do NOT have a perfect family. We have four kids. They are loud and unruly. They forget to do their homework. When they actually do their homework, they forget to turn it in. Their hair often looks like a bird has made a nest on the top of their heads. They occasionally leave strange puddles on the carpet floor. They scream because there is not enough milk in their cereal. They scream because there is too much milk in their cereal. They pick at each other. They pick on each other. They pick their noses. (And sometimes they eat what they have picked!) They are ungrateful and entitled. We do NOT have a perfect family.

There is no such thing as a perfect family. But, everything I said in that first paragraph is true. Our kids can be good and fantastic and wonderful. And, everything I said in that second paragraph is also true. Our kids can be terrible and horrible and annoying. That's what it's like trying to raise a family in real life.

We may not have a perfect family, but we do have perfect moments.

Sometimes, they actually get along with each other!

There are moments when the kids share with each other without being told to do so. There are moments when they do their chores without being asked. There are moments when they are playing together and they are all getting along and laughing. There are moments when they are polite and grateful. There are moments when they eat all of their vegetables. There are moments when they tell you that they love you, and you can tell they really mean it.

Those are the moments that make up for having to endure all of the fighting, the screaming, the whining, the pouting, the attitude, and the occasional strange puddles.

There's no such thing as a perfect family, but there are some perfect moments. And those moments make it all worthwhile. 

Friday, August 3, 2018

Back to School Shopping? Already???

Summer! Summer is great! Everyone loves summer!

Summer is the best time of the year to do so many fun things. Things like: Hiking! Camping! Parades! Fireworks! Family reunions! Swimming! Going to the beach! Running through the sprinklers! Picnics! Eating popsicles! Back to school shopping! (Wait…what?)

Back to school shopping? Seriously? We’re barely into August. There’s a lot of summer left. We can’t be thinking of “back to school” stuff yet. School doesn’t start until…wait, what’s that? You say school starts on August 21st? Oh my, that’s just a couple of weeks away! Dang, I guess I do have to start getting ready.

Nobody likes “back to school” shopping in August. Well, almost nobody. My wife is a school teacher, and she actually likes to go “back to school” shopping IN JULY!!! You see, she loves school supplies, so she gets excited to go to the stores in early July because, she says, “as soon as they take down the stuff for the 4th of July, they put out the school supplies!”

The Wife is addicted to school supplies. (Hey, at least it's cheaper and healthier than cocaine!)

She loves the pencils and pens and notebooks and staplers and glue and erasers and binders and folders and all of that stuff. She’ll fill her shopping cart full of things “for my students,” not admitting that most of what she is buying is for herself.

Of course, there is more to “back to school” shopping than just school supplies. Kids need new clothes for school, too. Because, apparently, if a kid shows up during the first week of school wearing clothes that they wore at any time during the previous school year, they might get sent back a grade.

Yes, I understand that the beginning of the school year is a good time to get the kids new clothes because they often outgrow the clothes they wore the year before. That’s why I advocate buying kid clothes that are two or three sizes too big so they can last for two or three years. It’s a great idea! As an adult, I’ve been wearing some of the same shirts for twenty years, and no one has made fun of me because of it! (At least, not that I know of.) Look at Charlie Brown. He's been wearing the same oversized shirt for decades and no one ever teases him or calls him names. (Well, except for "Blockhead," but I think that's more due to the size of his head than his choice in big, baggy, zig-zaggy shirts.)

So, The Wife loves the school supplies and the shopping for kid clothes. She even really likes teaching. But, she’s still torn when it comes to “back to school,” because she wishes it didn’t have to mean the end of the fun of the parades, picnics, fireworks, and the beach.

Edited from an article originally published in the August 2015 edition of the ServeDaily newspaper.