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#390 Being waited on hand and foot

Wake me up.

Take off my pyjamas. Put a shirt on me. Pull up my pants. Do up my zipper. Tie my shoes. Make me breakfast. Wash my hands. Put me in the car seat. Buckle me up. Blow my nose. Turn on the TV. Change the video. Change the video. Change the video. Take me to the store. Buy me a toy. Buy me lunch.

Hold me.

Give me a sucker. Stick it in my mouth. Pick it up off the floor. Clean off the dirt. Play with me. Make me laugh. Cook me supper. Put me in my chair. Cut up my food. Put it on my fork. Stick it in my mouth. Wipe it off my chin. Carry me upstairs. Sing me a song.

Bathe me.


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#391 When your parents bring you back gifts from the business trip

It’s a tiny paper-wrapped bar of soap, mesh bag of gold coin chocolates, Teddy Bear dressed as a Buckingham Palace guard, little foam shoe shiner thing, clicky-pen with a conference logo printed on it, mini bottle of maple syrup, matches from a really good restaurant, bedroom door nameplate with slightly incorrect spelling, stack of shiny Niagara Falls postcards, single-serve room service Ketchup bottles, XL T-shirt with ‘Cincinnati Cares!’ printed across it,  or one of those rocks that are cut in half and all purple and sparkly in the middle.

How did you know?


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#392 Catching the ice cream truck

Candy doesn’t deliver.

Since Emperor Nero sent slaves into the mountains for ice to mix with honey and nuts two thousand years ago, we’ve all enjoyed cooling off with big bowls of the sweet and icy treat.

Yup, Arabs started adding milk to the mixture a thousand years later, the Chinese invented an ice cream maker, and our friends in France were first to write it down in a cookbook. Basically, everybody around Team Planet contributed to the unparalleled levels of creamy deliciosity we get to enjoy today.

Nowadays maybe you get your fix when the soccer team screams at mom from the back of the station wagon till she peels into the Dairy Queen parking lot. Or maybe you sneak down to the basement freezer for a few sneaky spoonfuls after bedtime.

Or maybe you actually catch a truck.

You know how it goes.

Scribbling on your stomach in your bedroom, playing Bubble Bobble with your brother in the basement, throwing baseballs around the backyard, your ears suddenly perk up to the sound of a distant and familiar jingling.

Eyeballs pop, eyebrows raise, and big smiles curl on your face because now the race is on.

Booming down the hall, bouncing down the stairs, you scramble for spare change as those jingling bells get louder and louder and louder. Forget socks, forget shoes, forget closing the front door — it’s time to blast out of the house and risk the Burning Blackfoot as you sprint as fast as you can down the street towards that slow-wheeling, rainbow-colored truck…

Can’t you just taste it?


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#393 The first time you get to ride in the front seat of the car

You waited a long time.

Cruising backwards in your baby seat, strapped into your toddler chair, sharing the bench with your little brother on those long drives downtown, you spent years putting up with child locks, bad views, and barf bags.

So when you finally get to ride in the front seat you deserve a big congratulations.

You just got promoted to adult.


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#394 When your dad checks under your bed and finds no monsters

There’s something in the dark.

Floors creak and doors squeak as furnaces click and ticking clocks tick. Fridges hum and oven burners pop as garage doors close and footsteps flip flop.

Sometimes it sounds like there’s a monster hiding deep in the darkness of your room.

Blind and alone, scared on your own, your ears crank it up and hear every little sound: Are those fingernails scratching the floor? Is that breathing from under the bed? And is that gurgling coming from the closet?

So you hold your breath and dive under the covers. You freeze and don’t make a sound. You stay still and just pray for tomorrow. You stay still and pray nothing’s around.

But if those creaks don’t stop creaking and those pops don’t stop popping you’re only left with one big option: Sit up and scream for your life.

That’s when mom or dad charges into your room, flicks on all the lights, and checks everywhere monsters could be hiding. Flashlights poke around closet corners and search missions are conducted under the bed. Eventually, empty closets and open floors all confirm that you’re gonna live through the night.

So let your eyes bug back in, let your your sweaty bangs dry, and let your heartbeats slow right down. You’re going to be just fine and now it’s time to relax into those cool and crumpled sheets, flip to the other side of the pillow, and smile and fade into a calm and dreamy night.



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#395 When your taxi driver knows all the shortcuts

Bouncing beltless in the backseat you’re zooming down dark streets, slick roads, and slippery lanes. Doesn’t matter if you’re cabbing back from cards, hitting the downtown bars hard, or flying home for a quick recharge. Nope, the only thing that matters is if your cabbie knows the secret sidestreet shortcuts that shave a couple minutes off your ride.

Yes, today we salute all the Cab Drivers of the World who swerve and curve down one-way streets, hidden on-ramps, and tight alleys like champions.

Thanks for making us feel like we’re in an action movie.

Thanks for making us feel


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#396 When the hold music is actually good

When I was in high school my friend Chad worked at a big-box electronics store down by the lake. He’d put on a shirt, tie, and giant clown-faced grin before selling bubble jet printers and floppy disks on Friday nights.

Since the rest of us were hopeless layabouts we’d aimlessly cruise around town sipping Slurpees before popping in to pick up Chad at the end of his shift. We’d show up a few minutes before closing, trade stinkeye with the manager, and then mindlessly flip through CDs and sit on the torn black leather couches watching neverending loops of Toy Story.

I still remember the terrible music that played over the sound system in that store. It was classical on a Casio keyboard peppered with in-house ads telling you to keep shopping. And they somehow wired this into their phone system too so if we called Chad and were put on hold we’d hear the same thing.

Whenever Chad punched out we’d all leave together and pass a new gang of shaggy, tired-eyed employees trudging in for the night shift. They were wearing torn jeans, carrying lunchboxes, and getting ready for a few hours of unpacking delivery trucks, stocking shelves, and buffing floors.

Now, these guys would feed an AC/DC or Metallica CD through the sound system and work all night headbanging while stocking shelves. Basically, since the systems were tied together it meant if you called the store at night looking for a friend you’d get pounding riffs of You Shook Me All Night Long or Enter Sandman while you were waiting.

Calling big box stores in the middle of the night isn’t common, but sometimes actually getting good hold music really does happen. Yes, it’s those rare moments during an annoying wait when the old fave chimes on out of nowhere. Sometimes that surprising song lifts your mood, sometimes it gives you a smile on a stressful day, and sometimes it transports you to another time or place, and sometimes it just feels


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#397 Eating the first freshly baked cookie from the oven even though it’s way too hot

It burns.

Chocolate chips drip down your fingertips as that softly-crumbling cookie melts into a hot puddle of steamy goodness in the middle of your mouth. Gasp for air, pop your eyes, and suck in some cool breaths as you try to chew without touching that red-hot cookie lava.

Part of what makes these cookies delicious is that you can’t buy them at the store. Nope, cellophane stacks of paper-wrapped packs got nothing on the hot crumbly oozing across the burning pan. Remember, you sweated up a storm in the kitchen for these — cracking eggs, melting butter, and beating the wet floury mixture into a sticky brown pulp.

Now is not the time to wait.

Now is the time to enjoy it.


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#398 Going to a movie by yourself

It happened by accident the first time.

Years ago I was staying after school but had late-night plans to meet friends at a downtown movie theater. I was going to catch a lift with my parents, watch the latest Bruce Willis blow-em-up, and then squeeze into my friend Mike’s rusty Saturn for the ride home.

Well, I got there late and the theater was already dark with hypnotic Fruitopia commercials playing as I walked in. I had no choice but to walk around whisper-yelling for a few minutes before eventually giving up and settling into a cozy seat at the back, figuring I’d find them after the show.

After the super slow-mo explosions faded into tearful hugs and scrolling credits the lights lifted up and my friends were nowhere to be seen. I felt like inventing a wireless telephone to send them electronic letters on the spot, but the network infrastructure just wasn’t ready. So I bundled up and walked home before sorting out the mixed up plans the next day.

And sure, it felt a bit strange sitting alone at the back of the movies for the first time, but you know what? It was pretty enjoyable too:

1. Dress down for Chinatown. When you’re chilling at home under the blanket you can relax in old sweats and classy bedhead, but when you’re on the town it’s time to squeeze into tight denim and well-coiffed hairdos. Now, when you’re hitting the multiplex solo you can fight the fashion police in your maroon nylon jumpsuit and tank top.

2. Bag the bucket. Enjoy the whole bucket of popcorn to yourself with worrying about getting stuck with the oily kernels and burnt bits at the bottom of the bag.

3. Kick open the escape hatch. When you’re lugging your baby brother to a Saturday afternoon cartoon or doing date night in a syrupy romcom that escape hatch is bolted on tight. But if you’re watching a movie alone and aren’t digging the flick you can just bail and see something else without guilt. Freedom is always nearby.

4. Squeeze into center seats. You know when you’re looking for seats in a crowded theater there’s never any twos or threes in the best spots? Well, there’s usually a single seat wedged in there! If you’re late just forget the front row and get into the game.

5. Invest in yourself. Because there’s something sweet about getting quality You Time. Sure, we’re social creatures who love dinner parties, basement hangouts, and constant texting… but it’s also good unplugging your brain and escaping into distant fantasy worlds on your own. No talking, no whispering, and plenty of armrests mean you can enjoy the solo trip.

Going to the movies by yourself is about growing up and growing older and growing more comfortable in your own skin. It fills you with the freedom of just being yourself and letting everything else just slip away …


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#399 Discovering a shortcut on your way home

Move over, Marco Polo.

Columbus, Clark, and Cortes, you got nothing, either.

Sure, maybe you sailed over choppy waves, fought with cannibals, and documented distant lands. Maybe you traded silk with kings, discovered precious stones, and toppled terrible empires. Maybe you even found new technologies and trade routes while helping us realize the Earth wasn’t flat.

But we just figured out cutting through the drug store parking lot saves us ten seconds.

Beat that.


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