Saturday, July 27, 2019

How I spent my summer vacation


My wife and I are pretty much homebodies. We come home from work, eat a home-cooked dinner, binge watch old episodes of “The Big Bang Theory,” sometimes I’ll mow the yard on Saturday while she goes to an estate sale or two, and basically that’s it.

Boy, was she surprised the other day when I suggested we head to San Antonio, and have a “Used Bookstore Excursion” along the way.

The following are the Top 10 phrases I thought would never ever come out of my mouth.

One of many used book stores.
1. “Hey, dear. You wanna go on a Used Bookstore Excursion?” – My wife has an affinity for used books and bookstores. I usually shop for books online. She likes that singular odor a used book gives off when you open it. Most of the time, it just makes me sneeze. Modern bookstores are a dime a dozen. Used bookstores are quirky and sometimes have coffee for sale. My wife likes coffee. I like trying to make her happy.   

2. “If you’ll be the navigator on this trip, I promise not to question your directions.” – You don’t know how hard it is for me, as the driver, to give up directional control to a person whose cellphone defaults to Apple Maps.

3. “Why are we stopping at a bookstore in Gladewater?” – I thought our foray into used bookstores would truly begin once we got to San Antonio, but I forgot – I was not the navigator.

4. “Why are we stopping at a bookstore in Kilgore?” – Her response was: “Yours is not to question why; yours is just to hush and drive.”

5. “I’m so confused.” – My wife likes to use the digital voice on her map app. It helps her get to wherever she wants to go. “In one quarter of a mile, turn right on How-ston Street and your destination will be on the left.” She likes to tell me, “Trust the voice, Luke,” but how can I when it can’t even pronounce Houston Street? And who’s Luke?

Imagine my surprise when the voice blared out, “In one half mile, turn slightly right and continue on,” and SHE told me to ignore it.

“So, don’t turn slightly right?” I asked.

“No, don’t.”

“In one quarter of mile, turn slightly right and…”

“Don’t listen to it,” she repeated.

“Are you sure?”

“Turn slightly right and…”

“Do. Not. Turn.”

That’s when I said, “I’m so confused.”

6. “Of course I know how to get out of the big city.” – I had no idea. So, I turned on my cellphone’s Google Maps (which is far superior to Apple’s, in my humble opinion), memorized what roads to take, assured the navigator that I knew exactly what I was doing, and got us thoroughly lost.

7. “Are you serious? Another bookstore?” – I didn’t actually say this out loud. I knew better.

8. “Buc-ee’s!” – I pretty much can’t stand them. They’re too big, too crowded, too noisy, and they have too many knickknacks for sale; things that people never knew they needed until they walked into the place. But, they have really great bathrooms, and I needed to pee.   

9. “Of course I missed the cats.” – I lied. I didn’t miss the constant let the cat out, let the cat in, clean up the cat barf routine of having two cats one iota. I’m pretty sure my wife didn’t believe me.

10. “I need a vacation from this vacation.” – And with that, I have nothing left to say.



Thursday, July 25, 2019

One small step for man


I was seven years old when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first people to walk on the moon. A lot of people remember that day as if it were yesterday. I wish I could. Sometimes I have problems remembering what I was doing yesterday as if it were yesterday.

Like kids these days who can’t recall a time without the Internet or cell phones without unlimited data, I grew up during the golden age of space exploration and don’t recall a time when man wasn’t trying to throw himself off this little planet just to have fun doing backflips in zero gravity.

Armstrong and Aldrin, Michael Collins, John Glenn, Jim Lovell, and Alan Shepard – these were our heroes. Men who blasted off in rockets and floated back in capsules; who walked, drove and even played golf on the moon; and who paved the way for future astronauts to “slip the surly bonds of Earth.”

Yes, I know that former President John F. Kennedy really didn’t care all that much about space – that beating the Soviet Union to the moon was his sole reason for inspiring us to go – but we did it. We made it there and even came back. And there should be no doubt those initial forays into outer space inspired a whole generation of young students to make a career out of science, technology and math.

All of that was on my mind the other day when I opened the cabinet doors below my kitchen sink and spied a tiny mouse peeking through a tiny hole in the wall.

I motioned to my wife to come and take a look. She was reticent at first, but after the little rodent poked its little pink nose through the hole again – probably testing the waters to see if they were safe – she declared, “Ah, he’s so cute.”

“No, he’s not cute,” I declared right back at her. “It’s a mouse. And where are the cats?”

We looked over to the dining room area and both cats were lying near each other on the floor. Under the table. Sound asleep.

“You just can’t get good cats these days, can you?” I said.

Of course, none of this – the intruding mouse or “we’re on vacation” cats – would have ever been an issue if we’d all been living on the moon, in little Moon Base Alpha subdivisions, like we were supposed to.

C’mon, NASA. We made it to the Moon. We dug up some rocks (obviously a ground-breaking ceremony) and rode around in a vehicle with the top down (the beginnings of a moon interstate?). The next obvious step was to build condos, a Buc-ee’s and an amusement park just around the next crater (Hey! I’m going to Disney-Moon).

There would be no need for cats up there because any rat that made it to the moon would obviously be running around in a cage for scientific purposes. There’d be no need for cats, dogs, pot-bellied pigs, cockatoos or pet pythons. And if we felt lonely for pet companionship, we could just step outside, pick up a moon rock, and paint a smiley face on it. Pet rocks don’t shed in the summer.

But no. Fifty years after humans took their “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” we are no closer to living the life of Riley up there on the Moon today than we were back then.

Which is the sole reason many of us are stuck down here trying to figure out how to get rid of little mice running around under our sinks.

What a lazy cat!