#811 Getting off an airplane after a really long flight

Relief comes when this ends

BO clouds dissipate and float away, wailing babies quit wailing at the luggage bay, your cell phone works so you call friends up, say hey, and all your scrunched up, bunched up, hunched up muscles just relax as you stretch them out now, feeling A-okay. You’re out of the window seat, out of the aisle, you’re back on two feet, so just walk away and smile.


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#813 Really elaborate museum gift shops

Portable cultureBecause let’s face it: the best stuff in the joint is generally silkscreened on an XXL T-shirt, printed on a novelty oversized pencil, or reduced to a tiny plastic key chain. Monet coasters and Van Gogh posters stuff shelves by the front door so you can pop in and out real quick and say you saw the good stuff.


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#814 All those cheesy theme songs from 80’s sitcoms

TV theme songs are a dying breed.

Networks flash zooming logos or three-second jingles in place of the overextended 60-second song explaining how Gilligan and crew ended up on the island or what Will Smith is doing in Bel Air. And sure, maybe they get a few more commercials in or maybe we’d fast-forward through them anyway, but there was something special about curling up on the couch under a ratty, old blanket and listening to these classics, week after week. Let’s count down five of the greatest:

5. Growing Pains. With old scrolling photos of all the main characters and beautifully cheesy crooning about how, as long as we got each other, we’ve got the world spinning right in our hands, the Growing Pains theme song was the sitcom equivalent of taking a stroll up Grandma’s Staircase.

4. The Golden Girls. My brother-in-law Dee summarizes this theme song in three words: old ladies hugging. Including side-hugs, shoulder squeezes, and group huddles, how many do you count?

3. The Facts of Life. This Diff’rent Strokes spinoff stars housekeeper Edna Garrett making a lateral career move into a housemother of an all-girls school. The Facts of Life told us bluntly that you take the good, you take the bad, you take ’em both, and there you have, the facts of life … the facts of life.

2. Perfect Strangers. Watch as Balki Bartokomous shirks his sheep shepherding shtick in Mypos and sails over to the US with an ‘America or Burst’ crate to live with his distant cousin Larry in Chicago. Gotta love his mom’s tearful hankie-wave and the classic Dance of Joy. These two really are standing tall on the wings of their dreams. Nothing’s gonna stop them now.

1. Who’s the Boss? St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Tony Micelli busts up his shoulder in one heart-wrenching slide into home plate. So he’s forced to leave Brooklyn in his big, blue van and ends up taking the road that’s hidden to score a brand new life around the bend. At the end of the trail is Angela, Mona, Jonathan, and a lucrative man-maiding gig.

Cornball theme songs from the 80’s were chock full of soaring crescendos and hokey lyrics about family values laid neat and tidy over fairytale plotlines and streaming images of group hugs and wacky hijinx. There was something so warm, comforting, and dependable about plopping down on the couch each week for that half-hour of good times with good pals.

So, to cheesy TV theme songs from the 80s we say: Thank you for being a friend.


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#815 When you shove the person snoring next to you and it makes them stop

It's either you or them. Nudge and move on.

Just tap that elbow in the rib cage a bit, maybe pat the belly, or if you’re feeling particularly brave, give a big kick to the back of the knees while loudly whispering Shhhhhh in their ears. If that still doesn’t work, it’s time to roll them on over, and don’t worry: if they wake up, it’ll just be for a second and they’ll never remember it tomorrow.


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#816 When the late-night food order arrives really, really early

Hot and earlyGrumbling tums make the pizza come every time. Scope this scene:

It’s late at night, clock clicking past three in the morning, you and your friends are laying on a torn, potato chip crumb covered couch, sporting big grins, slack jaws, droopy eyes, and sweaty T-shirts. You’re half-awake but fully-hungry, half-cooked but not fully done, half-exhausted but fully up for ordering a giant, hot and steamy, late night pizza pie.

Someone suggests it and everybody wants it. And then it’s all over.

First you start picturing burning hot mozzarella sliding around on slippery tomato sauce. You dream of wet and glistening pepperoni, the corners black and crispy, little grease puddles laying in the folds. And you know, you just know, that pizza will taste delicious. Because how can it not?

Long gone by 2amSee, we all know this ain’t your 6pm Dinner Order, where toppings are debated, phone numbers are looked up, and the table is set for dinner, complete with triangle-folded paper towels and a giant 2L bottle of Coke centerpiece.

No, this is the Late Night Scarf-It-And-Sleep Order. This is the one your doctor warned you about. This is the one that took out Grandpa. Yeah, this is the big ball of dough that sponges up everything else in your belly. It’s the only cure for rapid outbreaks of the Midnight Munchies, that empty, raw, growling feeling your gut gives you when it’s tired and confused and suddenly wants breakfast.

The Scarf-It-And-Sleep generally consists of somebody dialing whatever number is in their cell phone, ordering a plain cheese or pepperoni pizza without asking anybody else, and then just throwing it on their credit card because they can’t be bothered to collect five bucks from everybody sitting around playing Nintendo.

The only issue with the Scarf-It-And-Sleep is that even in the middle of the night you get told what you always get told. “That’ll be 45 minutes to an hour,” they say. And brother, you know and I know that you don’t want to be waiting an hour for pizza at three in the morning. Somebody might just crack and drink a bottle of salad dressing or eat a chunk of butter the size of a deck of cards, man. It’s a tense scene.

And that’s why it’s great when, once in a while, you get that surprise really, really early pizza delivery. When twelve minutes after you place your order, the doorbell rings and wham-bam, thank you gram, it’s here and it’s hot and it’s time to toss that greasy square of hot cardboard on the floor and just rip right into it like a pack of hungry lions around a dead zebra.

So this one goes out to the pizza chains that surprise us with an early delivery once in a while. Thanks for filling our bellies with your greasy goodness just in time for bed.


Get in while there's still meat

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#818 When the dentist says “No cavities!”

Sit back and relax

Cavities hurt.

Yesterday I got two of them filled real tight with the hard, white cake.

First they sat me down in the loungy, blue leather dentist chair and then tipped me back so the blood poured into my brain and filled up my eyeballs. Then they dressed me up with a plastic bib and goggles before stuffing my mouth full of cotton balls. After that it was time to get my teeth tapped and clanged with mirrors and picks while the hygienist struck up a fascinating conversation about her mother-in-law’s unwillingness to acknowledge the length of her commute.

And that was just an introduction to the ninety minute main attraction.

Me in a dream I once had

Soon it was time for a couple injections of freezing goop to the gums, some deep-sea drilling, and a lot of Tooth-Sawdust Water splashing in every direction, misting up my goggles, spraying on my arms, dripping down my numb lips. Cheek and jaw muscles I barely used soon started to fail on me after trying to keep my metal-stuffed mouth open for so long. And of course, every once in a while they’d ask if I wanted to spit but before I’d have a chance to squeeze out a “Enn unnay, angs” I was generally interrupted by twenty more minutes of sharp and forceful drilling.

It was long.

And it was terrible.

And it cost $300.

But it helped me dream of better days, when the dentist would clink around in there for a few minutes, put his tools on the side table, flash a thumbs up and say “No cavities!” At least that’s how I imagine it would happen. Then instead of putting up with a long and painful ordeal, I’d just sail off into the sunset, congratulating myself on some mighty fine brushing, some thorough flossing, and a job well done.



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#819 The old Take a Penny, Leave a Penny bowl

take-that-pennyNobody likes pennies.

Sure, maybe in the 1800s they scored you a handful of gumballs or the evening edition of your local Times-Express, but these days they’re barely worth 1% of a Snickers bar. Go on, lick the edge of a Snickers next time and scrape off a few molecules of chocolate with your tongue. That, that right there. That’s a penny.

Of course, having said that, there is one moment where the value of a penny shoots sky-high, and that’s when the beef jerky and Red Bull at the gas station rings up to $5.01. Yeah, if you’re cringing right now, it’s because you know that’s a terrible price leading to a few Checkout Possibilities:

1. By The Rules. One option is just to roll with it. Break that ten and get ready for a mittful of change back, including the dreaded 4-Penny Punchout. Now your pocket is bursting and your hand smells like dirty copper, but what are you going to do? You played by the rules and you lost.

2. The Cashier Cheat. You can never predict when this will happen. Sometimes you’re expecting to play by the rules but the cashier will just round around for you. When Bill-Counting Betty don’t care about the till balance, she just drops you a nickel and a wink.

3. The Bowl. Finally, we come to the main attraction. Since you don’t want ninety-nine cents jingle-jangling around your pocket, you eye the Take a Penny, Leave a Penny bowl and see what it’s offering. You know you’ve made your deposits over the years, so you don’t feel guilty about a little withdrawal now.

Yes, the Take a Penny, Leave a Penny bowl brings out the best in us. Just remember: take a penny, leave a penny?

Take a favor. Leave a legacy.



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