#536 Wearing your favorite pair of underwear and nobody knows

You know the ones.

Maybe they fit perfectly, don’t ride up, and leave nothing bulging over the edges. Yes, they flatter in all the right places and all the right spaces, baby.

Or maybe you’re a straight-laced Sally and they’re your wildly inappropriate pair that turn you into a G-String Rebel. Caution: RED HOT!

Or… maybe they’re just the perfect shade of the perfect color and you’ve had them in your dresser drawer for ages. Maybe they remind you of a special moment or a memory that’s fun to keep to yourself all day.

But whatever yours are, and whatever they look like, there’s something great about giving yourself a smile. Because hey, wearing your favorite underwear when nobody knows is a way think positive thoughts without doing anything too earth-shattering.

It’s a just a simple thing for a simple smile.

And you know what we call that around here.


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#537 Laughing so hard you start crying

It’s a beautiful moment.

Your friend suddenly squeezes her eyes shut and starts shaking her head while laughing so hard little streams of salty tears start running down her cheeks. She covers her mouth with her hands as her wide-eyed face turns red — and you can see shiny reflections sparkle in her glittery wet eyes. Big booms bounce off walls until she eventually slows down, gasps for air, and open her eyes wide while wet sniffling, smiling widely, and regaining her composure.

And then she looks you right in the eyes and smiles. And you look her right in the eyes and smile.

And it starts all over again.


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#538 When you’re being chased by zombies and suddenly find a hidden stash of guns and ammo

It’s a quiet night.

You’re driving your girlfriend home from the movies in your dusty, beat-up pickup truck. The moonlight casts strange shadows in the town square as you slow to a stop under a flickering streetlight. Something catches your eye in the rearview mirror just as your girlfriend lets out a blood-curdling scream — your truck’s suddenly surrounded! By something big, animals? No, big, bigger, they’re… people?

Bloody arms in tattered rags start smacking the truck and hollow eyes connect with yours through the window. As your girlfriend frantically pushes down locks you hit the gas and scream down side roads till you get to your aunt and uncle’s 24-hour diner.

Swerving into the gravelly parking lot you’re met with disaster. You race past blood-splattered shoes and broken glass on the walk before kicking open the screen door to a nightmare scene.

The place is full of zombies and they spot you immediately. You glance back and see your girlfriend screaming as they’ve surrounded her and started rocking the truck. As they awkwardly tipsy-teeter towards you from all directions, you scramble behind the counter, desperate for something, anything, to fight them off.

Suddenly your eyes spot an old wooden box under the counter with a big padlock on it. You bootkick it open and rip back the lid just as you hear the glass shatter outside and your girlfriend scream.

It’s a massive stash of weapons.


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#539 When you open a book to the exact page you were looking for

You cracked the case.

Seriously, when you pop open that textbook, flip open the yellow pages, or split the spine of that beach novel right to the spot you’re looking for it’s a beautiful moment.

Suddenly you transform into a gloomy trenchcoat-wearing detective who solves the case just by glancing at the crime scene. Yes, the street’s been taped off, someone’s crying under a blanket on the curb, and the city police are filling out witness statements on their notepads.

That’s when you peel up in a navy blue squad card, calmly light up a cigarette, and then stare at the surrounding buildings for a few minutes with furrowed eyebrows.

Then you calmly walk back to your cruiser, smile softly, and roll your window down at the local police before screaming away down the wet roads.

“Page 127.”


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#540 The TV Treasure Chest Moment

The TV Treasure Chest Moment occurs when you stumble upon an elusive rerun of your favorite TV show just as it’s about to start.

This champion channel-flip happens in two big ways:

1. The Missing Link. This is when  you suddenly realize you haven’t seen this episode before — ever! You love the show, you’re a huge fan, you’ve seen most episodes ten times … but now you landed on the missing link. Maybe you always knew this episode existed but didn’t get to witness it until today. You know you landed on a missing link if you find yourself saying things like “Is this the backwards episode?”, “So that’s when she got braces” or “Ahhhh, now I fully get another joke referenced later in the series. I am at peace.”

2. The Full Fave. Here’s when you find your favorite episode of the series and get giddy with anticipation. Maybe it’s the soup nazi on Seinfeld, the time Carlton gets cut from the frat, or that dark day when Jesse takes too many caffeine pills. Chances are good you’ve seen the end of this one twenty times and that’s exactly what makes the full version such a sweet release.

People, you know it and I know it: The TV Treasure Chest Moment is a great big rush of excitement in the middle of your family room. When it happens you’ve gotta dim those lights, pop that corn, and stare deeply at the glittery gold moment before you.


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#541 Junk drawers

“Honey, have you seen my measuring tape?”

“I think it’s in that drawer in the kitchen with the scissors, bobby pins, scotch tape, nail clippers, barbecue tongs, extra buttons, old birthday cards, stained take-out menus, thick rubber bands, matches, garlic press, stack of Christmas napkins, old cell phone chargers, instruction booklets for the VCR, some assorted nickels, an incomplete deck of cards, extra chain links to a watch, a half finished pack of cough drops, the Scrabble piece I found while vacuuming, dead batteries we aren’t fully sure are dead yet, a couple screws in a tiny plastic bag left over from the bookshelf, an expired pack of gum, a toaster warranty card, used birthday candles, a square of carefully folded aluminum foil, novelty bottle openers, a barbecue lighter, and that one tiny spoon.”

“Thanks honey.”


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#542 Wrong colored foods

Believe it.

There’s something great about eating foods that aren’t the color they’re supposed to be. When you chomp on those deliciously mutant creations, it’s a feast for all your senses. Since the days of cavemen eating albino monkeys, we’ve been loving the unexplainable brain-jarring jolts of happiness that come with eating foods so wrong they just feel right:

• Purple or green ketchup. Back in the good ol’ days Heinz decided to make ketchup in different colors. There was something about smearing that purple paint on your fries that head-tripped you back to being a little kid enjoying birthdays and barbecues.

• Black rice or black salt. The first time I saw black rice I thought it was white rice still in its shell. I pictured a big factory of steaming gears and smoking chimneys cracking open each grain with boxing mitts on a long, superthin assembly line.

• Cauliflower spawns. There was a time we only had one kind of strange mutant-colored cauliflower sitting in the produce stand. However, scientists have recently returned from more trips to outer space and lugged home suitcases full of these orange and purple beasts.

• All the other veggies in the rocketship. Yes, I’m talking about dark purple potatoes, bright yellow carrots, golden beets, and yellow raspberries. Thank you for these, aliens.

• Blue or red tortilla chips. Nothing cranks the party dial from mellow to wild like popping out a bag of strange colored nachos, people. Pour them out and back far, far away. It’s time to go crazy.

• Taco Bell’s Blackjack Tacos. Think outside the bun. And while you’re at it, think outside the color spectrum.

• Crystal Pepsi. If you loved drinking clear cola then I bet you loved the 90s. I also bet you can whistle The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song.

• Green beer. Hey, if you like a few drops of blue food coloring in the cheapest keg-swill we can find, then have we got a holiday for you!

• Shamrock Shakes. Now, while we’re dying your beer green for St. Patty’s Day, let’s stop and appreciate Uncle O’Grimacey bringing the love to McDonald’s. Yes, his green shakes spit in the face of the plain swirly flavors from The Man during the rest of the year. Don’t mess with Grimace’s uncle, folks.

• White bread dyed pastel colors. Okay, who else went to church bazaars when they were a little kid and ate delicately hand crafted egg-salad sandwiches made by sweet little old ladies?

• Colored cupcakes. This is truly the closest most of us will ever get to eating a rainbow.

Now, sometimes it’s fun to chat about what makes awesome things awesome. But then again, for some things it’s fun to just smile and accept that’s just the way they are. Wrong colored foods are something we just have to accept. Come on, there’s no denying they’re weirdly hilarious, strangely beautiful, and most certainly


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#543 That separate compartment in your stomach for dessert

My parents drove downtown last week.

They cruised along wet highways onto narrow streets to catch up with me over dinner. We walked a block from my apartment to a small restaurant where we squeezed into a booth and squinted at the small-font menu under the dim lighting.

Wedged between a couple holding hands and whispering on our left and a pair of chatty girlfriends fast-talking and perm-bobbing on our right, we relaxed, got comfortable, and enjoyed a nice meal.

Now, my mom’s five feet tall and my dad only a few inches higher so I always expect them to eat a small amount of their giant meals, pack a lot in doggie bags, and eat leftovers for three straight days at home.

But they generally surprise me.

Flash forward a few minutes later and we’re scraping our plates and licking our forks as the waiter comes by and asks if we’d like dessert.

There was the classic Dessert Pause where everybody sorta squints and sizes each other up around the table — nobody wanting to make that fateful first move and be the lone Cheesecake Ranger who goes out on a limb and extends the trip for everyone.

But then my mom cracked. She smiled a big slow smile and said: “Awesome thing! The separate compartment in your stomach for dessert!”

My dad’s boxy glasses glinted in the light as he laughed, my mom blinked and smiled quietly, and we looked up at the waiter and quickly ordered three big bowls of ice cream.


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#544 Elementary school science fairs

It all starts with poster board.

Getting mom to drive to the drug store to load up on the thick flimsy is a great start to a great project. Grab a sheet of white, a sheet of neon pink, and if you’re lucky one of those thick cardboard three-folds. Come on, we both know that cardboard added some scientific integrity to your research — the seventh grade equivalent of getting your work published in The New England Journal of Awesome.

Now, it doesn’t end there. Next you’re grabbing markers, spray paint, baking soda, and Styrofoam. Once you’ve got everything together you’re rushing home and getting down to science, people. The carpeted corner of the unfinished basement becomes your lab and it’s time to spend hours putting on lab coats, staring into microscopes, and pour bubbling green liquids into beakers. Also, taping.

Come on and let’s count down some classics:

6. The solar system. Jabbing those spray-painted Styrofoam balls with a straightened out coat hanger is a truly great feeling. As is painting a splotchy brown Australia on Earth and a big eye on Jupiter. If you want to go the To Scale route, remember to leave Pluto at home.

5. Volcano. There are two types of eruptions. First, there’s the Underwhelming Fizz — where you stare deep into the mouth of the fiery beast only to witness some rock-hard hunks of baking soda floating in a pool of strong-smelling vinegar. It’s disappointing, but you can always try again and hope for a Superblow — where everyone stares with wide-eyes as red ooze bubbles and slides down your carefully painted volcano onto the GI Joe townspeople below.

4. The one the kid’s parents obviously did. Also known as robbing your child of the thrill of scientific discovery in exchange for a B+.

3. Growing something. Whether it was lima beans or patches of fresh grass, it was a a classic move to study Sunlight vs. Shadows, Music vs. No Music, or Watering Plants vs. Pouring Coke On Them.

2. Coke is bad. Speaking of Coke, did you have that kid who left a tooth or some nails sitting in it for a month? The groundbreaking research typically concluded with a harsh indictment of the entire soda industry. And maybe a business card for the kid’s dad who was a dentist.

1. The one that didn’t work. Every science fair had a few of these gems. They were sad and beautiful at the same time. Because that down-faced ten year old standing in front of a dim lightbulb was learning how to deal with lost efforts and how to get back their drive after a fall. Keep that chin up, tiger. You’ll get ‘em next time.

Yes, beautiful science fair moments were always a perfect close to months of hallway passion, energetic teachers, and long lonely nights cutting construction paper letters with pinking shears. Letting kids learn, letting kids dream, letting kids try and try and try — well, there’s just so much good that comes of that.

As they bottle insects, jab battery wires into lemons, and rub magnets together, you can see the whirring gears spinning with delight. Yes, all that learning just sponges, soaks in, and sticks there forever as the next generation of curiosity seekers tease their buzzing minds forward and forward and forward…


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#545 Watching a movie in the basement with a group of friends

It’s better in the basement.

Give us the stained couches demoted from the family room. Give us those plastic walls full of pink insulation. Give us those cold floors and thin carpets.

Give us that dark cave hidden from the outside world.

Give us a group of friends hanging out.

And give us a screwball comedy.

Yes, it’s time to order that pizza, fall into the squishy couch, pile pillows against each other, and pass the fuzzball blanket. It’s time to enjoy a good movie with a group of friends — ideally featuring several of these characters:

The Waiter. Sure, the host usually covers this job — filling popcorn, pouring Pepsi — but if the gang’s super tight someone else can take it on. If you know your friend’s pantry well and they don’t mind you raccooning around, feel free to take orders and go digging for gold.

The Punchline. This is the person who adds the live DVD commentary from the corner of the couch. He generally tries to top the characters onscreen and his favorite line is “That’s gotta hurt!”

• The Revealer. The Revealer saw this movie already. You find that out the first time they say “Shhh! Good scene, good scene!”

• The Maestro. This is a high pressure role that involves owning the remote control for the entire movie. The Maestro is responsible for determining which bathroom breaks are pause-worthy and when to rewind and rewatch an important scene. Also, they must be comfortable cranking the volume if The Revealer (“Good scene!”) and The Punchline (“Gotta hurt!”) start talking too loudly.

• The CG Judge. Does that plane crash look fake? Do those dinosaurs look real? The CG Judge offers instant analysis on all special effects scenes.

• The Dimmer. This person is obsessed with movie theater atmosphere. Ten seconds into the movie they frantically start on mad dash to turn off every light in the room. This seems like a good idea until someone has to Blind Man’s Bluff their way up the rickety stairs to go to the bathroom.

Now, every group’s got their own cast of characters. It’s good to love them all and it’s good to love those moments.

After all, friends grow up and graduate, some people change and roll on, and life wheels and deals us in all directions. So love those late nights in sixth grade with root beer and double cheese pizzas. Love those 4am Fridays in high school when everyone’s friends and everything’s funny.

Just remember those long nights, strong nights, and staying up till dawn nights. Smile hard at the smiles, laugh loud at the laughs, and always enjoy those basement movie memories … with your basement movie friends.


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