#68 Effective use of The Honor System

I grew up riding shotgun a lot.

My dad was a teacher so summers were spent fiddling with the radio dial as we dropped my mom off to work, took my sister to swimming lessons, and waited in bank lineups.

Since bank machines weren’t invented yet those lineups were long and slow ordeals — filling out wispy-thin slips of paper, winding through velvet ropes, inch by inch, minute by minute. That might be why I could probably give a police sketch artist a vivid description of what a bank inside looks like – down to the sharp straight-cornered counters, giant unhinged vault door behind the tellers with deadbolts the side of shaving cream cans, and paper box of foil-wrapped mint chocolates on the counter with a change box for a veteran’s donation.

I don’t remember wondering how the veterans got into the mint chocolate business but I was curious why their little chocolates sat out in the open where anybody could grab them. I mean, you just took some chocolate and dropped a quarter in the paper box and that was that.

Little did I realize then that The Honor System really is great for at least three big reasons:

1. Pennies from heaven. Bars on windows, vending machine glass, and locked store shelves cost cash. Just imagine a world where we didn’t need systems in place to check for trust – no jail bars on pharmacy windows, security cameras outside corner stores, or endless steams of receipt tape. The Honor System skips the locks in favor of trust … and we all save, including our pal The Environment.

2. Hit the fast lane. Since The Honor System relies on trust on both sides it moves us a lot faster than our clogged-up cattle pen security checks, body scans, and baggage inspections.

3. Embracing our humanity. Sure, there are some bad eggs out there, but most people won’t snag a big bag of cashews from the bulk bin without paying. So The Honor System lets us display our honor and lets our moral compasses guide us without all the red and green lights.

So let’s hear it today for The Honor System. Let’s hear it for “Pay what you can” night at the Comedy Club, $2 Friday Jeans Day buckets at the office, wooden shelves of peaches on the side of the country road…. and little boxes of mint chocolates everywhere.

Hey, no offense Buddy, Metric, or Solar.

But The Honor System’s got you beat.


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#69 Those games you made up when you were a kid

Let’s turn off the TV, put away the board games, and toss the deck of cards in the trash.

Yes, it’s time to play all the made up games you played as a kid. Let’s chat about some of the greatest:

• Erupting volcano (also known as Snake Pit or Shark Tank). Here’s where you pretend the floor is covered in molten lava and you have to jump across the furniture without falling in. Sweatsocks on slippery coffee tables, ottomans with wheels, and top-heavy bookcases can be dangerous. House rules dictate whether riding the Golden Retriever across the room is allowed. Either way, I’m pretty sure you can use a blanket as a life raft to get to dinner.

Kitchen Rock Band. Grab all the pots and pans you can find, steal a handful of wooden spoons, and set up your kit on the cold linoleum floor. Now most makeshift kids bands are all drums – or percussive ensembles, if you will – so bonus points are awarded for anybody bringing in new instruments. Tip: Rubber bands over empty tissue boxes add a banjo section.

Indoor baseball. Never popular with the parents this is where you simply swing a mini baseball bat at a tennis ball in the front hallway. Feel free to set up a GI Joe and Cabbage Patch Kid stadium seating area, create bases around the house, and keep playing until something shatters.

Cardboard roll swordfights. Remember those long and thin cardboard rolls left over when mom finished wrapping the Christmas presents? Those were perfect for trumpeting announcements around the house, practicing robot voices, or using as pirate telescopes. After that they made for great lightsaber duels, Robin Hood swordfights, or gentle beating sticks. Finally, after a giant whack to your brother’s forehead caused them to spiral apart it was time for some nun chucks battles. Everybody wins.

Any game involving leftover cardboard. Yeah, speaking of leftover cardboard, the holy grail of made up childhood games was when your parents got something delivered in a giant cardboard box. A new fridge or oven could meant months of fun inside a new basement stronghold.

Store. Here’s where you empty out your kitchen pantry, put everything on the floor, and sell it back to your parents.

Yes, made up games you played as a kid let creativity roam wild to the outer edges of our brains. Rules are invented and changed, action takes over the living room, and big-eyed fun, screaming smiles, and sweaty foreheads crash together in a great big bang on Saturday afternoon.


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#71 Closing your eyes and making a wish

Blowing out candles is pressure.

Lights are off, song is over, and a standing circle of everyone you know crowds around as you sit facing a giant cake covered in a flaming forest of candles. Someone screams for you to make a wish and you’ve suddenly got two seconds to think of something good before blowing spit all over dessert …

Whether it’s seconds before a birthday blowout, the moment you see a shooting star, or that quick wish before whisking an eyelash away, it doesn’t really matter if your dream comes true.

All that matters is that you’re suddenly forced to stop, slow down, and take a step back to think about where you are, how you’re doing, and what you need. For a brief moment you stand still in this spinning world and let your thoughts wash right over you.

So wish for a kiss, wish for a wedding, wish for a bike, or just wish for more


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#73 Those foods that nobody can eat gracefully

Welcome to Taco Night.

Personally I’m going to go ahead and say potluck tacos are my favorite meal these days. I convinced my family to have Christmas Tacos a few years back — complete with festive red shells, green guac, and white sour cream — and this year on my birthday we did it again. There’s just something I love about everyone hunched over their messy plates on the couch, rogue lettuce scraps in their hair, salsa streaks on their pants, and meat juice sliding down their forearms that makes me smile.

I guess I love all foods that no one can eat gracefully:

1. Powdered donuts. Does your local town fair sells greasy bags of these deep-fried deliciouses like mine does? After you pop a tiny powdered donut into your mouth make sure you don’t exhale or you’ll get a nice white streak down your fancy shirt.

2. Samosas. Deep-fried triangles stuffed with spicy handfuls of potatoes and peas don’t lend themselves to fine dining. You’re in there with your hands, there’s no starting point, and chances are the greasy innards are going to tumble all over your sari. That’s the way we like it.

3. Corn on the cob. There are two ways to eat your corn on the cob. First, there’s the Typewriter Method, where you cut back and forth along the entire cob, and then there’s The Big Twist, where you do not move down the cob until you’ve done the complete chomping twirl. Either way, if you did it right you should end up with little bits of corn in your teeth and butter-drenched fingers.

4. Sticky Ribs and Chicken Wings. By the end of a plate full of wings you should look like a lion who just dug into a zebra face-first. For bonus points make sure you’re dining with your Perfect Chicken Wing Partner.

5. Melting ice cream sandwiches. Squeeze those foamy black cookies together so the ice cream drips all over the place. Just try eating one without getting a smear of vanilla on your nose and big chunks of cookie sticking to your fingers.

Yes, it’s time to get over yourself.

We’re saying big words, fancy suits, toss ’em out the window, brother. We both know behind those collared shirts, business cards, and trendy haircuts is a straight-up ugly hairy animal. Yes, I’m talking about you, Caveman Carl and Jungle Jane — because the fact is plain: past your scraggly mane we’re all basically the same.

Messy foods bring us closer together. They remind us we started out as messy eaters and we’ll probably end up that way, too. When we fill the middle years with relaxed expectations, big laughs, and fun nights, it means we skip the show, pass the pretenses, and jump all the way into the deep end of


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#74 Noticing your boyfriend or girlfriend smiling while kissing you

Smooch, smooch, smooch.

Yes, nothing says love like locking lips. And whether it’s between snoozes on the futon, in the back row at the movies, or swinging from the top of the Ferris wheel, it’s always a beautiful moment when you close your eyes and connect in a soft and tender embrace.

When you feel the person you’re kissing smiling while kissing you too,  it’s another little sign they’re enjoying it just as much as you.


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#75 Finally pulling that giant clump of hair out of the drain

Admit you like it.

We all know slippery soap suds, rogue belly button lint, and assorted leg hair goes down smooth. But our long hippie head hair sure gets the bathtub traffic jamming and our tubs slowly filling up till we’re suddenly walking around a wading pool.

Oh sure, we may try to ignore it — splashing around up to our soap-suds-filmy ankles — but the truth is that clogged drains aren’t going away and we need to face the truth.

It’s time to get down to business.

Yes, it’s time to pathetically bend your soaking wet naked body a full ninety degrees until you’re face to face with the Hairy Eye of Sauron that is your bathtub hole. Don’t just stand there! Squeeze two fingers together and get digging. Slide past the slippery rusted-metal sides, grab onto a few rogue hairs at the top, twist a couple knot tangles around your finger, and then slowly twirl your hand while pulling and pulling and pulling and pulling…

In a way you’re like a clown pulling colorful silk hankies out of a top hat in a magic show. How deep does it go? Does anyone know? You just keep pulling and pulling and pulling and pulling … and more keeps coming out. The only difference is that at the end of the show there isn’t a stage full of colorful hankies.

There’s just a disgusting wet handful of hair that looks like a small boneless rodent.


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#76 When everything you own is fully charged at the same time

No low bars, no dark screens.

No redlines, no flatlines, no waiting in between.

Locked and loaded in full-bar paradise makes you feel a little bit invincible. “I could last forever,” you think, strapping a charged laptop in your bag, stuffing a juiced up cell phone in your pocket, picturing yourself braving for a cold night in a dense forest, camping in some rocky tundra, or getting lost in dark twisting alleys in foreign slums.

“Worst case, I’ll text my mom in the morning.”


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