#476 Successfully biting off the last piece of the popsicle without it falling on the ground

Careful now.

You started strong but now you’re down to the drippy ice-cold clump in the middle of the stick.

You can’t reach it from the top, you can’t reach it from the bottom, and using your fingers or a fork is cheating. No, you’re going straight in and facing the big risk of a cherry chunk of icy goodness crashlanding into a neon pink stain on your shorts.

There’s no time for stalling so put on your game face and let’s get to it.

Take a deep breath and carefully twist the stick upside down really quickly while tilting your head sideways and loudly sucking your way into a tongue-twisting, teeth-tightening, gravity defying moment of pure popsicle biting

AWESOME!

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#477 When the lawnmower starts on the first pull

Time for a trim.

Yes, step into those grass-stained workboots, toss on a faded ballcap, and roll the rusty mower out of the wobbly tin shed. You’re about to spend an hour mindlessly chopping lawn so stare at those grass-covered wheels, duct-taped wires, and chippy paint patches before getting down to business.

Now, if you’re like me then before pulling that cord you sort of get it in your mind that you’re in for three or four full-body yanks before that machine starts purring. I don’t know about you, but since I’m a limp, wimpy noodle of a man I find pulling that cord about as physically draining as benchpressing a full keg of beer, building a house out of boulders, or dragging an 18-wheeler up a steep hill with a rope.

See, I put my whole body into it and just get some slow sputtering. Wheeze, wheeze, die, you feel me?

But hey, that’s what makes it great when us noodles pull those cords and they start up on the first pull. Now when the motor starts up and the gas fumes float up we suddenly get to feel like the World’s Strongest Human.

Yes, pass the black spandex shorts, tattoo a skull on our neck, and toss us some barbells, baby.

We’re going in.

AWESOME!

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#478 Hearing an old song that reminds you of someone you love

The song starts up.

Suddenly your brain flashes back to late nights lying on the faded corduroy couch with your first boyfriend. Scratchy records spin in the background, the TV flickers on mute, and you cuddle under thin blankets while everyone sleeps upstairs. The chorus builds up as you kiss in the shadows by the ping pong table …

The song starts up.

Memory jolts zoom you to late night teenage dance parties when everyone drove rustbuckets to the dark city park and met for sneaky cigarettes, sweaty swingset rides, and dirty dancing under the dim moonlight as cars cranked Top 40 tunes in the parking lot …

The song starts up.

A homemade mix tape is slipped in your hand from a star-crossed lover before a long summer vacation. You lay in bed listening to the slashy first chords and boom-dropping bass again and again as your heart twists and turns for Labor Day …

The song starts up.

And sends you way back.

AWESOME!

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#479 Actually seeing a goal when you’re watching soccer

Did you play soccer as a kid?

I did and let me tell you something, brother: it wasn’t pretty.

Nope, I was a baggy-shorts wearing, skinned-knees masterpiece of fumbly awkwardness. I would strap my glasses around my head, velcro up my sneakers, and keep the bench warm in case someone got hurt. My appearances were always marked by dark sweeping clouds, sudden hail storms, and my parents sitting on the sidelines in plastic lawn chairs with hot tears in their eyes as I brought down our family’s good name one defensive miscue at a time.

On the plus side, most of our childhood games featured a dramatic and neverending display of our team’s best offensive strategy: The Amoeba. Basically, we would get into a giant, snot-nosed clump of dirty running shoes and hairless legs and run after the ball in a Braveheartesque death charge, only with less face paint and more grass stains.

When The Amoeba slid down field we’d leave our goalie all alone and he’d become a quiet six-year-old study in zen mastery. Yes, we’d be rushing away and he’d absentmindedly play with his shoelaces, catch grasshoppers, or stare deep into the core of the sun.

When The Amoeba slid down field we were unstoppable. We’d kick ball after ball to the back of the net and then run around like maniacs. Most of our goals went in because their goalie was busy studying zen mastery as well.

And sure, our games lacked acrobatic scissor-kicks, field-length boots, and curvy corner shots, but they sure had goals and plenty of them.

Yes, it’s always electric when careful criss-crossing climaxes in booming shots to the back of the net. And it’s always a bit disappointing when it doesn’t.

It sure is great watching soccer and actually seeing a goal. So just hold your breath, cross your fingers, and pray it eventually happens.

AWESOME!

Photos from: here, here, and here

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#481 Licking the flavor powder off your fingers

Get your snack on long.

Get your snack on strong.

Yes, as your movie-watching group melts into the couch for some lazy, late night, limbs everywhere screen time, there’s nothing finer than pouring Pepsis and passing around potato chips, cheesy puffs, and crisp-cracking nacho snacks.

People, life’s too short not to snack when we feel like it so keep snacking till you’re lying around with slow smiles, big crumbs on your shirt, and bright red fingers painted with barbecue hues, MSG marks, and Dorito dyes.

When you reach Total Snack Nirvana you’re loving the moment, but you’re sadly stuck with pasty mortar on your fingers that needs cleaning before getting red skid marks on the carpet, couch, or cat.

You know what to do.

Take a deep breath and slide those dayglow orange digits into your mouth to slowly savor the sweet salty encore of the snack you just scarfed down. Sure, sure, the curtain has dropped on those bowls of salty pleasure, but you stood whistling shouting ‘Bravo!’ long enough for it to come back for one final fleeting performance.

AWESOME!

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#483 Those beautiful Do Nothing Days

It’s like a mirage.

You see that distant Do Nothing day coming up on the horizon of your kitchen calendar. You stare at its white squarey blankess beckoning you closer and closer and closer. Time moves forward, days march on, and still nothing gets planned on that beautifully perfect patch of nothingness. No homework, no dinner dates, no sports practices, no visiting mates. It’s just you and you sharing a nice peaceful moment of alone time.

When you’re lucky enough to score a Do Nothing day, do yourself a favor and do nothing. Give your brain a break and slip into easy bliss of lying in crumpled sheets, taking a long bath, and ordering out for dinner. Ditch the guilt while you swing in a hammock, cuddle with your cat, or curl up on the couch in front of the TV.

Once in a while it’s good to enjoy a completely unproductive daydreamy day with a slow smile and no worries.

You earned it.

AWESOME!

 

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#484 Getting the Emergency Exit row on the airplane and not having to pay for it

You don’t want to sit next to me on an airplane.

Chances are good I’ll start drooling on your shoulder, accidentally crank your headset volume, or chat your ear off with boring anecdotes while you attempt to stare dreamily at cloudscapes out the window. Yes, you’ll politely nod and smile while I go on for half an hour about my terrible cell phone plan or the bloating I’ve been feeling lately. Honestly, if you end up sitting beside me on a plane I’ve got just one thing to say to you: Sorry.

Nobody can Party Save you now.

Now, I’ve only seen one successful strategy for avoiding the torture that is My Company. I took a flight recently where the woman next to me cocooned herself into a sensory deprivation chamber of headphones, blankets, and earplugs as soon as we sat down. She no doubt sensed my impending chat attack and defended against it immediately, even elbow-snagging the armrest for good measure.

Since the two of us happened to be sitting in the Emergency Exit row, I therefore became solely responsible for busting the door open if our plane crash landed. Yes, the flight attendant coached me on emergency moves and I nodded with steely eyes and firm lips while Snoozy Samantha snored on beside me.

After the plane took off I sat back in my chair feeling like the hero of the flight. After all, it could all come down to me. Sure, the harsh, unforgiving Andes might crunch our plane but they would never crunch my spirit.

As modest payment for accepting this critical role I scored some extra legroom to stretch out and relax. While everyone else had their knees in their laps, I was free to leg around freely, keeping my muscles warm and ready in case the going got tough.

Now, as if all that wasn’t good enough — the hero status, the legroom, the babes – there’s also one more big perk emergency exit row folks get for sitting there. They get out first.

Yes, when the inflatable slide pops open into the river or the flashing red lights shine a smoky path into the fiery forest, we are the Emergency Exit door kicker-openers …  running out first … leading the way … and saving the day.

AWESOME!

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#485 When someone saved you a seat

It’s time to get down with the get down…

At the movies! Your arms bearhug fat tubs of popcorn and slippery jumbo drinks as you blindly stumble down the dark aisle. You scan the chattery crowd dotting the red plushy tundra before noticing your friend thirty rows up giving you the two armed wave.

At the school assembly! You’re separated from your fourth grade soulmate and only see each other while double-dutching by the portables at recess. But then come student council speeches, music recitals, or a Thanksgiving play and suddenly your hearts spark again at the back of the bleachers.

 

At the concert! Boots up, you’re bumpily crowdsurfing at the front of the mosh pit. After you crash land on your neck in a dirty puddle of warm beer, your friend yanks you up by the wrist and squeezes you beside her right in front of the stage.

At the rocket ship before blastoff! You slept in and got stuck in highway traffic so now you’re chomping on a fistful of ice cream pellets while Velcroing your aluminum-foil-and-fishbowl getup together in the car. You arrive at the launchpad and race down the thin metal bridges into the ship as the engines fire up… and there’s Cindy! With a windbreaker lying on the window seat beside her.

Yes, when you spot a friend snagging you a prime seat it’s good times, it’s good times. After all, they’re expressing your friendship to the world by deciding twenty minutes of stinkeye is worth making sure you sit together. Now you get to chat, laugh, and love those good times with a close friend.

Buddy, I don’t know what you call that if you don’t call that

AWESOME!

 

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