You Mean, “Back in the Old Days?”

#1 son is only 23. He is learning about life and preparing to move out on his own (someday). As his dad, it is both rewarding and entertaining to watch him discover some of life’s lesser known lessons. One recent educational moment occurred during a rerun of a television show.

The comedic character gave a monologue about writing checks. Specifically, observational differences between the way men and women go about it. The audience laughed. The laugh track provided a little more support to the idea that we should find it funny too. My son sat there puzzled.

He finally asked, “Who writes checks at the grocery store? Why don’t they just use their debit or credit card?”

I replied, “The grocery stores did not always accept credit and debit cards. In fact, when you were born, we wrote checks all the time.”

“Wha-a-a-a-a-a-t? No plastic cards taken? How did you live?” he blurted out incredulously.

One would think we used to inscribe our debts on clay tablets to hear him tell it.

Ah! Youth!


Think about the generation immediately younger or older than you. What do you understand least about them — and what can you learn from them?

Awkward Conversation

“It is really uncomfortable. I’m using this cream to help.” Anna said as she discreetly opened her purse and held a tube where Susan could see it without taking it fully out into the open.

“Oh yes. I had that difficulty during my pregnancy too.” Susan responded. “It got worse in the later months.”

“Did it impact your delivery?” Anna asked.

“No. There was so much going on down there during labor, it didn’t make a difference.” Susan answered.

Tom walked up and interrupted them by saying, “My wife had trouble with those too. I used to apply the cream on her to help out.”

The ladies were shocked into silence by his uninvited entry into their delicate conversation. He took the silence as an invitation to continue.

“I tried to reassure her by making jokes about it. One time I told her it looked like a bloodshot eyeball with all the squiggly lines radiating out from the center. She wasn’t amused. I don’t know why. I’m a funny guy most of the time.” he babbled.

“The thing that got me was the odor.” he continued. “All that cocoa butter can really make your hands smell after a while. It’s hard to wash off.”

The two ladies continued to stare at him in silent horror.

Tom pauses for a second in puzzlement at their reluctance to engage in more conversation. He nervously looked around then down at Anna’s open purse. In her shock, she had not closed it. Tom realized his mistake as he saw the tube of hemorrhoidal cream in her hand. They were clearly having a different conversation than mitigating stretch marks on their bellies as their pregnancies advanced.


Write a post that includes dialogue between two people — other than you. (For more of a challenge, try three or more people.)

I Didn’t Understand the News

The wife invited me to a local restaurant for a dinner celebration. Just the two of us. She refused to tell me the reason. We were a young married couple with no kids and had recently bought our first house.

Money was tight with all the repairs and renovations we were doing and going out to dinner was a special event. We were working our way through the house room-by-room, fixing trim, cleaning, painting and generally making it ours after having bought it from a 94 year-old man who smoked cigars all day.

She chose an inexpensive buffet place to save money. The all-you-can-eat kind of place where the nutritional value is on the lower spectrum and the emphasis is on comfort. Lots of salt, fat, and cheesy carbohydrates to make one sleepy. Finish it off with a high sugar dessert bar and you are set for a food coma that should last you several hours. It was my favorite place.

She let me work through a couple plate’s worth before fumbling in her purse for something as we talked. She laid a white plastic square on the table. It had two cutouts on it. One was a corner tab, the other was a small circle near another corner. The cutouts provided access to some type of white fabric that was clearly sandwiched inside the item. The circle revealed a bluish blur. It was alien to me.

She said nothing but sat expectantly for my response. I stared at the item in an attempt to determine its purpose or significance. After a moment, I gave up.

“What is it?” I asked.

“I’m pregnant.” she replied angrily.

I was stunned. Not by the pregnancy, by her sudden anger.

“Why are you mad at me?” I asked her gently.

“You think you’re so smart and you can’t even understand a simple pregnancy test.” she fumed.

“I thought they were shaped like sticks or thermometers. I didn’t know they came in squares. I’ve never seen one. How was I supposed to know?” I responded.

“It has a plus sign right there.” she pointed.

“That bluish blur? Is that what that is supposed to be? I couldn’t make it out.” I lamely defended.

“Just forget it. Let’s go home. You obviously don’t care. I’m going to have to do this all myself.” she continued.

“Can we at least have dessert first?” I asked. “I was really hoping to build my own ice cream sundae.”

“Fine.” she pouted, “Do what you want.”


You receive some wonderful, improbable, hoped-for good news. How do you celebrate?

 

Avoid Thin Ice When Alone

The pond was thawing as winter retreated. Portions of the icy surface held puddles that shone in the sunlight. Overnight temperatures barely restored the frozen surface each passing day. Winter was losing its hold as the days grew warmer and longer. The ice made noise as it expanded and contracted. Loud pops and snapping sounds echoed through the empty woods at the shoreline.

The boy walked and slid across the open space. He was alone this afternoon. No brothers to tease him or sister to tag along and pester him with endless questions. He smiled to himself as he advanced towards the upper end of the pond where it moved into the trees and became swampy. He wanted to explore that area while he could. During the summer there was no way through it.

A sound like a gunshot came from the center of the pond. The sudden outburst startled the boy and made him stop in his tracks. He was nowhere near the source but felt the jolt move through the ice under his feet as the sound rebounded around him. He waited almost a full minute before convincing himself it was simply a harmless expansion event far away from him and nowhere near his intended path.

He shuffled his boots through the thin standing water on the ice and continued upstream. He looked down into the dark ice under his feet as he went. He carefully watched for signs of cracking. Portions of the ice were almost clear and held trapped bubbles that helped him estimate the thickness. Other sections were cloudy white with no way to tell how strong it might be. He moved along where he thought best, sliding his feet instead of lifting them.

Another dark patch ahead. He moved towards it slowly and wished for X-ray vision once again. That would be cool. His mind offered diversionary thoughts to consider for a moment. What he would see through. How he would use that superpower to help people. What he might learn.

“Crack! Crash! Splash!” went the ice.

“Boo-Doop!” went his boot as it plunged beneath the surface.

In an instant, he was up to his thigh with one leg under the water. His other leg surged him upwards as he lunged away from the sudden hole. It happened so fast, he never felt the water.

He backed away from the hole towards stronger ice he had recently crossed and slowed his terrified breathing. He knew he had been lucky. If the ice collapsed under his left leg, he would have gone in over his waist or even deeper. Definitely time to get off the pond.

He turned towards home and made careful but rapid progress off the ice. He scrambled up the shoreline and broke into a stiff run. His right leg grew colder as the water seeped into his pant leg and reached his skin. He had to reach home before long.


What’s the best piece of advice you’ve given someone that you failed to take yourself?

Senses: Down by 1

#1 son had a trial run with vision loss this past week. He rented a beach house with several friends to start the summer season. He played in the surf and got caught unprepared when a rogue wave knocked his glasses off. The size of the Atlantic Ocean instantly magnified and recovery became impossible.

He needs his glasses. Without them, he cannot read, drive, work, or function effectively. Objects are vague blurry shapes and shades of color.

Like any young man more than 2 hours driving distance from home, he called us (his parents) after 11 pm to report the crisis. We woke up. We answered the phone. We listened.

We asked leading questions about the steps he had already taken to get new glasses. We asked about contact lenses. We asked about backup sets of glasses that might exist. All in vain.

The lost glasses were his only pair. He had no contact lenses with him or at home with us. No backup set ever existed. The over-the-counter reading glasses at the drugstore were ineffective for his needs. The eye doctors where he was were closed. He decided to finish out the week with his friends and solve the problem upon his return.

He took on the challenge of limited vision for a few days. He played volleyball and other beach sports. His friends started calling him Daredevil after the blind superhero. His reactions are quick and he is athletic. He could see the blob of a volleyball moving at him and adjust well enough to make decent play. Perhaps if he continued practicing long enough with the vision disadvantage he may have reached the level of the legendary blind swordsman. We may never know.

Today, he had his younger brother drive him to the eye doctor and get new glasses. He handled the appointment, insurance forms, payment, and general decisions on his own. Another parenting milestone. Let him fail and succeed on his own (mostly). We are still letting him operate with our parental safety net, but allowing larger intervals between falling and catching.


If you were forced to give up one sense, but gain super-sensitivity in another, which senses would you choose?

Robin Hood I Wasn’t

The smell of freshly turned earth added a pungent aroma to the mild Spring afternoon. Mom and sister worked extra cow manure into the plowed garden furrows as my brother and I practiced archery under the apple trees.

I nocked another practice arrow against the bowstring and pulled back once again. When my hand reached my cheek, I held my breath, let a little out, then released. “Thwang!” went the bowstring. “Pop” went the arrow into the cardboard target. I smiled in satisfaction.

My brother trotted to the tire swing to pull the arrow out of the cardboard we had inserted in the middle. “Give it a little shove,” I told him. “I want a moving target.”

He pulled the arrow, pushed the tire and ran back to me. I took the arrow from him again and prepared to shoot. He had given the swing a big heave that made it move a lot from its former center position. It also had a slight twisting motion that made aiming even harder.

I pulled the bowstring back to my cheek and followed the tire swing’s movement. “Thwang!” went the bowstring, but this time there was no clean “Pop” sound from the arrow into cardboard. Instead, it went inside the circle and missed the square target. The arrow went through the open space at one edge and bounced off the inside of the tire as it passed.

The twisting tire caused a trajectory change we had not anticipated. The arrow glanced from the tire and took a sixty degree course change and hit my sister in the side of her stomach. She screamed in pain and surprise as my brother and I stared in horror at the accident. Fortunately, the arrow had a blunt tip and did not break her skin.


Humans have very strong scent memory. Tell us about a smell that transports you.

How Honest is Too Honest?

“How did you like the cake?” she asked.

“I didn’t find it particularly intriguing, but the taste and texture were within expected parameters.” the idiot man said.

 

“Who drove the work vehicle to the local drive-through fast food restaurant?” the manager asked the assembled employees.

“It was Sally.” the young man said as he pointed in her direction.

 

“Did you push your brother down the stairs?” Mom asked her son standing at the top of the stairs as she cradled her crying son in her arms.

“No, Mom. I KICKED him down the stairs.” the honest older brother emphasized for clarity.

 


Is it possible to be too honest, or is honesty always the best policy?