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These are a few things I think every person should know how to do:

1) sew a button on (because not everything comes with Velcro);

2) write a proper letter expressing condolences, gratitude or complaint (because “I’m so sorry!,” “Thanks for the nice…,” and “you suck” are not enough;

3) how to burp a baby and change a diaper (even if you think you’ll never be left alone with a human being who might require either);

4) set a table for dinner (because not everyone knows how in this age of grabbing something on-the-go that comes equipped with a spork, condiments and a napkin wrapped in plastic);

5) how to cook one kick-ass meal with less than five ingredients;

6) how to use a phonebook, a dictionary, a library’s catalog (because not everything will always be accessible electronically in every single place you visit);

7) whether one digs the hole before or after when answering the call of nature in the wild;

8) how to change a flat tire;

9) what Rick really tells Sam in Casablanca when he wants “As Time Goes By” played;

10) how to clean a kid’s sudden outburst of “artwork” on a wall painted with matte paint, especially since they will always choose Maroon, Pine Green, Forest Green, Navy Blue and Purple from the Crayola box…(try baby wipes or a white eraser)…

 

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As we grow older we allow others to convince us about which things we should “keep” or “let go of” on our path to maturity.  Come on…admit it…there were things you said you no longer liked just because someone else said “that’s dumb!”  I admit I’ve done this.  Like every other person in this world (even the ones who think they’ve always been forward-thinkers who march to the beat of their own drummer), I let others tell me what was cool or lame.

Another thing I had to do to get here: I had to give up crayons for coloring pencils.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I once allowed girls -who were not flat-chested like myself, and hence were infinitely cooler and more mature by virtue of an A cup- inform me that crayons were OUT and coloring pencils were IN.  My beloved crayon box -with its nifty but useless crayon sharpener in the back- was banished to a shoe box in the bottom shelf of the closet.  It had to be stored in a shoe box because if it had been left exposed I would have been shamed into admitting that I felt personal affection for each and everyone of those wax-like sticks and couldn’t just dump them in the kitchen trash can like all the other refuse.

I did not have the heart to melt my crayons into candles either.  I’d seen this done by our neighbor.  She had gathered all her crayons and had melted them, pouring the colorful lava-like goo into a milk carton.  The resulting block, colorful though it was, seemed sad.  There was a hint of betrayal in the process…crayons that melted in the sun because you’d run off to play forgetting them near a window were one thing.  Melting them purposely for candles was…well…tantamount to murder.

The shoe box where the crayons went to hide was not a lonely place.  They were kept company by my baseball cards, some remaining “surprises” from Cracker Jack boxes, my pet rock Herman, several comic books and the ticket stub from when I went to see Star Wars, among other things.  I would wait until no one else was in the house to peek in and touch the things I’d stored there.  As I got older, love letters would find their way into that container.  From the beginning, the surreptitious way in which I revisited the contents of that shoe box (when no one was home) would make it seem like this was “the shoe box of infamy,” rather than the collection of treasured objects it really was.  Thirty-plus years later, I’d kill to have any of those things around.

Crayons were “kid things”…like Play-Doh, Slinky, and Etch-a-Sketch.  Crayons were as passé as Bugs Bunny and the Roadrunner.  Crayons were something many of us wouldn’t use again until we had our own children. Only then would Play-Doh, Slinky, Etch-a-Sketch, Bugs Bunny and the Roadrunner trot out of the “uncool” category and into nostalgia.

I got over the coloring pencil thing pretty quickly.  Yes, you can meld colors better.  Yes, you can add texture and shading, make a bit more of an effort to be artistic.  You can leave coloring pencils in the sun and sharpen them more easily.  The sound they make when you move them around to find the right color is a lot more musical than the ones crayon make.  They don’t smell like sweaty palm because they don’t have the paper around each of them.  Yes, yes, yes…I know all that.  I have coloring pencils…I use them once in a while…

when I’m not using my crayons.