You can do a lot of things when there’s a 4-year-old in the room: You can juggle knives. You can teach the kid how to breathe fire using kerosene and a lighter. You can commit federal crimes and embezzle billions of dollars from unsuspecting companies.
But what you can’t do — what you must NEVER do! — is let a scary scene from a scary movie flash on the TV or computer while that child is watching. Eyeballs will pop out. Hair will curl. And you’ll be explaining (and lying about) that scene for the next 12 or 13 years. Or at least until her lawyers have finished working you over.
I learned this lesson the hard way the other night. We were at my brother’s house for a cookout, and my sister-in-law was explaining her Halloween costume. Only, there is no explaining her Halloween costume. It’s an obscure character from that quirky, spooky, goofy 80s flick, “Beetlejuice.” Seen it? Know who Delia Deetz is? Of course you don’t. Nobody does. My wife had never even seen “Beetlejuice,” so my sister-in-law thought she would show on the computer a scene from the flick.
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Well, I never thought radio commentator would be on my resume, but once a month I’m now going to be reading a piece on WJCT — the NPR station in Jacksonville, Florida. The first one — an abbreviated version of “The Tale of the Christmas Kahlua” — ran Dec. 14, 2009, and can be heard by clicking the play button below:
It’s part of their local news show, “First Coast Connect,” and here’s a link to the whole show — you’ll need to fast forward through about 3/4s of the show until you hear the nasally-sounding guy — http://www.wjct.org/mp3/weekly/fccm.mp3
WJCT is planning on airing one of my commentaries every third Thursday of the month. So tune in.
That Kahlua piece, by the way, was one of three columns that recently won a Florida Press Club award for commentary.
It was a cryptic little text message that took me a minute or two to figure out.
It read: “Hi, it’s Lauren. Do you remember what day it is today?”
It was from my sister in Tampa, that high schoolin’ theater nut with a penchant for dying her hair pink and thinking her brothers are running on two expired brain cells, share between us.
She had impeccable grammar for a text message, and I was impressed. But did I know what day it was? What kind of question was that?
“Of course I do,” I almost texted back, “it’s Saturday.” But as she’s the smart one in the bunch, it occurred to me there had to be something more. What she really meant, in high-school-kid-code, was: “Hey, doofus. Today is a very important day and you better shake that bag of rocks on your shoulder so you remember … quick!”
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Ok, so maybe we’re in one of the worst economic slumps most of us have ever known, we’re all realizing we’re poorer than a soggy Ritz cracker, and if we’re not careful someone is going to foreclose on the U.S. and make us all go live in Bangladesh. Times are tough, I know, but let’s remember something this time of year: There’s a lot to still be thankful for.
It’s not all gloom-and-doom. Sure, we don’t have any money to spend and our 401ks have been reduced to 328bs. But is that what it was always about? No way. Besides, sometimes it takes a financial hardship to make us take stock of our lives (not just our money) and focus on what’s important — what’s really meaningful to us.
So in the spirit of Thanksgiving, and to get you thinking along these lines, too, here are just a few things I’m grateful for this year:
Running, now that I can again — A few months back a surfboard fin on my own board decided it was really a pirate’s cutlass. And it attacked my thigh like a good pirate should causing all kinds of problems. But I’ve been back out pounding the pavement again the past couple months, and I feel great. Running is swell. I love it. It’s relaxing, exhilarating, and there’s nothing better than a runner’s high. Lots of people ask what that is exactly. Well, it’s a sign that not enough oxygen is getting to your brain. It doesn’t make you run faster, but it sure makes you run happier.
Velcro — What an invention. I couldn’t imagine trying to tie laces on tiny little shoes like my daughter wears. It would drive me insane. But thanks to Velcro, I don’t have to.
Toasted marshmallows on the top of sweet potatoes. — This only comes about once a year for me, and it’s a small pleasure. But what a good one.
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