So, a couple months back I took my mother a computer. I figured all those miles she was from her 15-month-old granddaughter could be bridged by the Internet. I could post photos and videos online, and she could view them at home in Tampa. That would at least cut down on the times she tells me to put the phone in the bath with Amelie so she can splash around with her. (Explaining to her how this could electrocute the kid, or at least ruin the phone, doesn’t seem to work.)
It took her a month to even acknowledge the computer, and another month of poking it with a stick like a baboon trying to figure out something that had fallen from the sky.
Eventually she convinced herself that radiation wouldn’t surge from the machine if she plugged it in, and still later, she took another big step when she called to ask how to turn it on. “Hit the ‘on’ button,” I told her. “That works best for me. You could also pray for divine intervention each time, but it takes longer.”
I considered that enough success for a single year, and put on my calendar to try and talk her into typing on the keyboard come next January.
And then the unthinkable happened: The woman with almost zero computer skills jumped dozens of steps on the way to computer enlightenment — or at least learning how to change the clock — and signed herself up for Internet service.
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Word-for-word, this was the phone message left on my answering machine. It was a gruff sounding voice, like a cross between a grizzly bear and someone who had lived in the South so long that their accent had fermented and taken on complex subtle hints of apple, walnuts, motor oil and dirt. This is what I heard:
“Hello, my name is Calvin Johnson and I’ve been trying to reach Scott Thompson [my brother] for so damn long. He never answers the phone and I’m trying to reach him because I’ve got this vintage motorcycle. It’s still in its box. I think it’s a 1955 British some-kind-of-a-G*****n motorcycle. And I understand he’s interested and I want to get rid of it. I’m willing to give it away, but he never checks his phone, he never gets his messages. So I understand you’re his brother, so will you please tell him if he wants this motorcycle, it’s still in the box, it’s all shiny looking and it’s all new and it looks goooo-ddd. He can have it if he wants it, he just needs to come and get it! Tell him to give me a call. My number is [repeats my phone number] … No, that’s not it. That’s the number I just called. I’m a silly boy! The number is [gives a new number]. Get on that boy! Tell him to call me up. See ya, bye.”
So I hear this — remember, think grizzly bear with a Southern accent, but also add in unstable and partly angry — and I start flipping out. I’m boarding up the windows and the doors. I’m thinking this guy is going to come for me … all because my brother — a vintage bike nut — and his inferior genes have been blowing him off. He blows everybody off. He never answers his phone, and often people come searching me out to get in touch with him. They must think we’re some kind of mafia: “I’ll see about getting that message to Don Scott, but I can’t promise anything as he’s gone underground. I’ll leave a note in a tin of espresso on the corner of his street and on the first full moon …”
Why my brother and his wife even have an answering machine is beyond me. About the only time they ever check it is if they accidentally hit the play button while chasing one of their three dogs who is eating one of their shoes.
On even rarer occasions, they hear a message and actually return the call. Only thing is, they don’t realize it’s like 17 weeks too late.
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It happened as I was cutting a tantalizing piece of pecan pie, its aroma so rich and strong that it just called me to swan dive off the butcher block and swim around in its gooey gobs of pecan heaven. What is it about pecan pie that is so entrancing? So powerful and wonderful? Most of the world’s problems could probably be solved over a piece of pecan pie. Who’s going to argue when you have something that delicious in front of you?
Anyway, I was into the pecan pie, which had absorbed all of my attention. It was later in the evening, and my wife was in my 15-month-old’s room trying to put the little girl to sleep. All was quiet. All was very quiet.
Then … BAM! The bedroom door slammed open and out charged a little critter, her finger pointing up in the air at me, giggling with a devilish grin on her face. I jumped. I almost threw the pecan pie at her. I almost leapt into the dishwasher to hide.
“Ahhhh!” I screamed. “A monster!”
I was scared, seriously scared. No, it’s not that my toddler is easy to mistake for a rabid midget troll. But the lights were dimmed and it had been such a quiet, peaceful night. Who would have thought I would get attacked by my toddler while cutting a piece of pie?
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Oh, sweet, tooth-rotting pleasure. I can feel the tingle of decay from years past just thinking about Easter. And apparently for good reason. It’s all about the sweets, baby.
According to the National Confectioners Association, Easter ranks second only to Halloween when it comes to sales of confections — also known as candy.
This is the organization that runs a survey polling whether people would prefer a real or chocolate bunny on this holiday. (It found that 82 percent of those polled would rather have a chocolate or candy bunny instead of the fuzzy kind. But it begs the question: Did they explain that people wouldn’t have to eat the live bunny?)
Anyway, can’t say that I’m stunned by Easter’s candy fix. It’s a sweet-tooth holiday. But a few other statistics I found from the group were astounding: 90 million chocolate bunnies are made for the holiday each year; 5 million marshmallow chicks and bunnies are produced each day while gearing up for Easter; and 16 billion jelly beans are brought into the world.
Sixteen billion! That’s a lot of sugar.
Why is Easter all about the sugar?
I remember once as a kid getting a sugar egg — it was almost as large as a football and hollowed out inside. In there, if I recall correctly, there was a sugar bunny in what looked like swimsuit model pose. Not sure exactly where my grandparents got the questionable egg, but I do know it had only two ingredients: sugar and Super Glue. I assume the glue was to hold it all together because it was rock hard and wouldn’t chip if you threw it against the floor or dropped a safe on it. Continue Reading »