So yesterday when I got home from work there was a collection of little people hanging out in the front yard of my next door neighbor, which is where the mailboxes are for 10-15 houses in the area. Initially I figured it was a play date that turned in to a play party, but as I walked up to my mailbox to collect the day’s mail, I was confronted by six little kids asking me if I’d like to purchase a glass of chocolate milk for a dollar. I told them I didn’t drink chocolate milk, to which they retorted, “What about . . . show him the sheet!”
Written on a piece of white printer paper was a list of four items each with a price listed next to them. I settled on an order of peanut butter crackers for 50 cents and told them I needed to go get them some cash, taking my mail with me. When I returned with my two quarters one little girl, who missing a front tooth, held up a small glass jar that was holding a few dollars in it, and smiled widely as I dropped my quarters in. The girl said that the others were inside getting my snack.
I stood by my mailbox, waiting. The girl with the cash jar ran to the front door of the house and opened it a crack and yelled something inside. I continued to stand there and after about a minute awkwardly checked my wrist to see the time . . . I wasn’t wearing a watch. Then I pulled out my keys and just as I was about to open my empty mailbox, just to make sure it was still empty, out walked three kids, each holding one part of my order in the open palm of their hand.
“We made you three,” said one little kid with a nose full of freckles. The girl with the jar of cash confirmed that I had paid and then the three kids placed my peanut butter crackers in the palm of my hand and thanked me. They were homemade, a wheat Ritz cracker was the base and on top was a hefty dollop of peanut butter. I smiled, wished them luck and walked back home. As I walked into the house from the garage, the first thing I did was head into the kitchen and let all three crackers slide off my hand and into the trash.
What? Little kids can be filthy little things, and I didn’t know any of them. No reason to risk it. Besides they had their money and I did wait until they couldn’t see me before throwing away their questionable culinary treat. The whole experience did get me back to thinking about the series I was working on last month, the things we all did as kids. So, with all Utah bagpipers at peace now that Regan has left the state, this Smirk will give use one more to add to the list of remembering your youth, and today’s focus . . . the light switch.
There were a number of things that happened when I was finally tall enough to reach the light switch, and when I refer to a light switch I am referring to the traditional up/on, down/ off light switches and not lights connected to The Clapper, or those round knobs that you press to turn on and off and turn to control the brightness of the bulbs, or those little up/down or left/right slider switches. The first thing I did when I finally realized I could reach the light switch was make sure that there were as many light on in the house as possible. This was because at that age it is a proven fact (in my mind) that monsters cannot survive in the light, therefore the more lights that were on the few monsters there would be in my house.
Eventually, I learned that the light switch was my connection to an instant strobe light! I’d turn on some Asia or Foreigner and as my friends/siblings danced, I’d flip the lights on as off as fast as I could, until it was my turn to dance and someone else’s turn to strobe for us. I killed more light bulbs with than little trick than Michael Jackson had hit singles, and yes I am including his time singing with his brothers.
Then along came the practice of centering. You know, the practice of carefully adjusting the switch so that it was perfectly centered between the on and off positions, pointing straight out from the switch. In this state the switch was incredibly unstable, and in some instances a sneeze or a knock on the door, or a heavy step could cause the switch to spring to one of its official working positions. Statistically speaking fifty percent of the time the switch would commit to the “off” position instead of the “on” position, thus making this one of the most pointless forms of booby trapping the house possible.
So why try? I’m not sure why others did this, but for me it was because of that one time! I had set the balanced the switch and while standing in my room, alone, I exclaimed, “I have an idea!” and I stomped my foot down, while lifting my hand up into the air with my index finger pointing out. The vibration motivated the switch to jump toward the “on” position the light bulb above my head lit up. It was a perfect child moment and worth repeating as many times as needed to prove to just one other living person that it really did happen and was as hysterical and I was convinced it was. And when I did finally get it to happen again, the fact that I had to jump up and down four or five times before the light switched on did lessen the overall comical effect I was expecting.
There are those random moments where I’ll still find myself handling a light switch getting it to settle perfectly balanced between on and off, and even though I know it’s pointless, it’s an accomplishment and occasionally it’s the little accomplishments that help us prepare for the bigger ones. Besides, sometimes it takes a little jumping up and down for the lights to turn on, but when they do, it’s brilliant!
Google Images, keywords: lemonade stand, peanut butter cracker, light switch, and balancing a light switch.
Copyright © 2012 Richard Timothy
I’ll admit when I first came up with the concept of canonizing mannerisms, or at the very least activities, that I believe are universal acts of little kiddedness, aka things we all did in our youth, I only had one more thing to add, but as the week has worn on my list grew from one to two . . . maybe three, I’ll need to check my list. The point is that this Smirk series will definitely last beyond Part 2 and quite possibly up to the end of the month. So without any further ado: Remembering Your Youth Part 2.
Doing shots is a very different childhood activity than getting shots, which is something that all of us have experienced, and for many of us has left us with a deep rooted fear, befuddlement, hate, despise and intense lack of appreciation for ingesting medicine by way of a syringe and hypodermic needle. These are not the types of shots I am referring to. Although to be fare if you take the needle away, we all had much love for syringes for the following two reasons:
- They are a highly entertaining way to slowly drink a glass of water/juice. It could take me up to forty-five minutes to drink eight ounces of water depending on the size of the syringe I had my hands on . . . . Okay, I’ll admit that does sound a little odd. My dad was a shop teacher so as part of his supplies for the shop he did have access to syringes, specifically used to dye leather works and plastics. I also remember sticking the syringe to my tongue too. After squeezing all the water into my mouth I’d put the tip of the syringe on my tongue and then pull the thumb pressy bit out so that it would stick to my tongue. Then I’d let go the pushy bit and snicker as it would shoot back into the syringe due to the suction build up. Sure, my tongue might have looked like it had a case of chicken pox once I finished with my glass of water, but never for too long.
- The second reason is that they were brilliant tools for starting water fights while in the house. They only held a small amount of liquid, but it was easily concealed and you could shoot water with pinpoint accuracy giving you a definite element of surprise. The other thing was, because they didn’t hold that much water in them, you didn’t get in much trouble if you got caught shooting water in the house. On the plus side there was never that much to clean up if you got caught.
That actually reminds me of when I was in grade school. It was fifth or sixth grade and my teacher would have everyone sit quietly and work from one of our workbooks. He did this every afternoon. On one particular day as I worked I started feeling small drops of water land on me. I looked up from my book and around at my other class mates, but everyone was working away heads down and focusing on their work.
I went back to work and a few moments later I felt more little drops landing on my head and ears. I had just learned what gleeking was (which is a kind of spitting where a small jet of saliva shoots out from under your tongue and out of your mouth) and I was convinced the kid behind me was doing just that. I spun around, hissed at him to quit it while giving him the foulest look I could muster. His look of surprise was a lie, I just knew it! Nothing he could have said would have convinced me otherwise. I felt a few more drops after that, which just filled me with hate and despise for my classmate. For the next week, every time I saw him I’d flash him dirty looks and would do my best to ignore him every chance I got.
I was sure I’d spend the rest of my life hating that kid, until . . . a week later when I caught a glimpse of what really happened. It was study hour again and I, on a whim, looked up from my work to try to get some inspiration from the board, hoping the math problems we had worked as a class were still on the board to see if there were any repeats so I didn’t have to do them again, and I saw something. Actually it was more than that, I saw someone . . . my teacher. He had in his hands a small syringe full of water. He was holding it close to his chest, trying to conceal it, and in that moment he arched it and pressed the end of it as a small jet of water arched across the classroom and landed on some unsuspecting student’s head. They instantly looked up and around with hate and anger in their eyes.
I learned two very important things that day. First, hating someone is exhausting, especially at that age and I felt bad for all the time I spent hating my classmate because of the shenanigans of my teacher. The second thing I learned is that teachers are people, and some people are assholes, which only means that some teachers can be assholes, and yes, my teacher was in fact an asshole. He eventually stopped, but I think it’s because word got around that he was the one doing it. I’m sure if no one suspected him, he would have kept it up all year.
As for doing shots, I mean drinking shots as kids . . . you know the initial point of this Smirk, I do think we all did this at some point. I’m referring to anyone who in their youth got their hands on a 16 ounce bottle of juice, milk, soda, etc. There were multiple times where I’d take off the screw-top lid and then with the skill and precision of a brain surgeon, hands steady and confident, I’d pour a tiny portion of my Mountain Dew into it (the lid) without spilling a drop. Then I’d open my mouth, tilt my head back and shoot down my shot of Dew. I think I started with milk, but eventually moved on to the harder stuff. I’ll tell you what though a mini-shot of Mountain Dew will jack you up when you’re ten, or at the very least encourage you to pretend you’re jacked up, unless of course you shoot the entire bottle all by yourself. Something I do not recommend to any preteens anywhere.
Everyone I’ve talked to admits to doing these shots as a kid. I guess for me, my only questions is, what was your beverage of choice to shoot at that age?
Google Images, keywords: idea, soda lid, kids drinking water from a syringe, and kid making angry face.
Copyright © 2012 Richard Timothy
I was watching my two year nephew this past Friday and there were a couple of Smirk worthy things that happened. First off, I got to build and play with a Hot Wheels double-decker car garage for about an hour making “vroom-vroom” noises while watching Muppets from Space (which, not surprisingly, I still have a great deal of it memorized). I could say that it has been years since I have vehicle noises come out of my mouth, but the truth is I make them all the time.
I’m not sure if all men are this way, I however have never really gotten rid of this practice. I have learned that there are times in social settings where making those noises are not acceptable, where, as a child you could make those noises every time you saw something that made that noise . . . even if it was a toy. That being said, I will admit that just yesterday on the drive home I may have made tires peeling out screech noises at one of the stop lights I was at when it turned green, mainly because it is something my car would ever actually be able to do.
I was once told that all boys are born with the Q chromosome, which is the chromosome that makes it possible for all boys to pick up absolutely anything, point it at something and say, “Q, q, qq, q” (translated “queue, queue, queue-queueu, queue”), the “pew pew pew” sound effect is another variant of this.
The second thing that happened was the amusing amount of personal reflection I had about some of the things we all did as children. Things that, I feel, can bring big people together because as little people it was something we all did. So apart from making “vroom-vroom” sound effects, I started making a list of things that (I think) a lot of us did as kids.
This “ahhhh” is a very particular “ahhhh”. It is not the one people make in movies where everyone has just witnessed some guy confessing so some girl of his undying love for her and to please forgive him for some big misunderstanding and spend the rest of her life with him, and she, while crying, says yes followed by a kiss and everyone goes “Ahhhh!” Nor is it the cute little thing “ahhhh” that most women (and some men) make when they see a cute little baby . . . anything really, baby cat, baby dog, baby baby, etc. they all seem to evoke an “ahhhh” noise when they are viewed. No, this “ahhhh” is the noise all little kids make when they are parched and grip a cup of any thirst quenching beverage with both hands, take a deep breath and focus all of their thoughts and actions toward the consumption of said beverage, swallow after swallow. And it is only after they have completely run out of air that they stop drinking, pull the cup from their lips that they make a loud “Ahhhh” sound, a sound that echoes of complete and total self-satisfaction.
Surprisingly, I’ve found if I pick up a glass and begin to drink with both hands still wrapped around the glass, more often than not I’ll make that same “Ahhhh” noise when I finish drinking, and you know what, it’s still a wonderfully satisfying noise to make after downing a full glass of water or juice. I highly recommend you do not try this with any hot beverages, carbonated beverages, Slupee, hard liquor, or any combination of these beverages. The “Ahhhh” noise you’ll make in any of those situations is going to be devoid of any joy and in more cases than not uncontrolled screaming and/or body spasms might occur, and in some cases the hiccups . . . or maybe that’s just me.
Regardless if you still do this or not, I’m guessing it was something you did with great fervor and joy when you were little, and I’d bet if you took the time to use both hands to hold your cup while you drink its contents down, you just might do it again.
As for my other observations, it looks like you’ll just have to wait for Part 2 in the series. Until then, cheers!
Google Images, keywords: kid drinking from cup, pew pew pew dog, and vroom vroom batman.
© 2012 Richard Timothy