Autoblography Part 5: Flower Child

By Shamus Posted Wednesday Aug 31, 2011

Filed under: Personal 90 comments

It’s 1979, and I’m in second grade. School is much the same as last year, so let’s talk about home life instead.

My family: Patrick, Mom, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, and me. We still talk about her haircut to this day.  Oh, seventies, you dismal crime against aesthetics.
My family: Patrick, Mom, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, and me. We still talk about her haircut to this day. Oh, seventies, you dismal crime against aesthetics.

Mom has to get up early, take us to the babysitter, then drive an hour to work. After work she drives an hour to get home, picks us up, and cooks dinner while we watch Mr. Rogers, Sesame Street, or The Electric Company on our 14″ Black-and-White television. She might save time if we had a microwave, but who can afford exotic cutting-edge things like that? Microwaves are for rich people. Besides, some people say they might accidentally bombard your face with radiation and melt your skin or give you cancer or something.

Never heard of The Electric Company? I’m talking about this show:

Link (YouTube)

It was educational skit comedy that starred Rita Moreno, Bill Cosby, Morgan Freeman, and The Amazing Spider-Man. Just imagine if they launched a PBS program today that starred Natalie Portman, Dave Chappelle, and Will Smith, with guest appearances by Deadpool. Man, you’d have to point a gun at me to get me to stop watching it.

I loved the show. Haven’t seen it since the seventies. I will observe that the humor might not resonate with the current generation as readily as it did with mine. I mean, milkmen. A guy who brings you bottles of fresh, un-homogenized milk to your front door every morning? Those guys were nearly extinct forty years ago. This skit was a bit of an anachronism even then.

Once dinner is over, there are perhaps two hours before it’s time to begin the long, complicated process of getting Patrick and I to bed. (Which itself is simply the preamble to the even more challenging task of “getting Pat and I to go to sleep“.)

She cherishes the hours after we go to sleep, and usually spends them reading in the living room. (She’s a big Tolkien fan.) She sits on one side of the living room, near the window. The houses here are so close that an adult could probably lean out the window and touch the side of the neighbor’s house. If Patrick and I sneak out of bed and turn on the light, it will shine on the neighbor’s house and she will see it right away. It will take us YEARS to figure out how she knows when we turn the light on.

Bedtime was such a complex ritual that it sometimes required several teams of childhood sleep technicians working round-the-clock to get Pat and I into a state of mind where we might agree to lay down and close our eyes.  Here is grandma working a shift.
Bedtime was such a complex ritual that it sometimes required several teams of childhood sleep technicians working round-the-clock to get Pat and I into a state of mind where we might agree to lay down and close our eyes. Here is grandma working a shift.

She’s a lab technician for Pittsburgh Paint & Glass. She spends her day testing paint in various ways. The job often looks something like this: Paint some bits of aluminum with ten different paint mixtures, stick it in an oven for a couple of hours, then take it out and quantify the behavior of the paint. Or maybe test the paint for viscosity. Or drying speed.

It turns out there are a lot of properties to paint. How smooth it is, how thick it is, how strong the odor is, how long it takes to dry, how it behaves when drying at different levels of humidity, how glossy it is, how long it lasts, how strong it is, how watertight it is, how well it holds color, how evenly it holds color, how it bonds with various surfaces (including other paint!) and how expensive the components are. The chemists can fiddle with their slide rulers and 1-pound $500 calculators to come up with new formulations, but when it comes to fine-tuning the mix and deciding if consumers would benefit from more X or more Y, there really is no substitute for handing the stuff to an army of testers and seeing how the paints perform.

This is technical work, and so most of the other staff are men. Mom is nicknamed “wheels” because she wears dresses. See, the guys ask what she has under the dress, and then conclude she has wheels under there. (Looking back, I strongly suspect they were hoping for evidence to the contrary.) They decorate their shared lab space with cheesecake. (Given the date, it’s extremely probable that one of the pictures was that one shot of Farrah Fawcett.) Mom decides to hang up a picture of a handsome man, to even things out. By the end of the day somebody has taped a piece of paper over part of her man. It covers up his arm, and a crude replacement has been drawn, with the guy dangling a limp wrist. There’s also a word bubble now, proclaiming, “I’m Gay!”.

Mom maintains a very positive attitude through all of this. She complains a bit now and again, but she’s not angry or bitter. These guys annoy her, but she does her job and pays the bills.

I don’t know what I hate most about that shirt: The fact that the people who made it were not executed for their crimes, or the fact that if Patrick could find it in his size <strong>today</strong>, he’d wear it every time he left the house. <em>Especially</em> if he was visiting me.
I don’t know what I hate most about that shirt: The fact that the people who made it were not executed for their crimes, or the fact that if Patrick could find it in his size today, he’d wear it every time he left the house. Especially if he was visiting me.

We live next door to Mr. Love and his wife, a gentle gray-haired couple of retirees. We don’t see Mrs. Love very often, but Mr. Love is constantly working on his yard. The thing is an amazing accomplishment. It’s a perfect blanket of brilliant, meticulously trimmed green, framed with rows of colorful flowers. This is even more impressive given the fact that the yards on either side of his house are made entirely of weeds, dirt, and toys pounded into the weeds and dirt. Every spring we raise a mighty crop of dandelions, and then kick and puff their seeds into a great cloud.

I have never seen a single dandelion grow in his yard.

In the back yard Mr. Love has an entire bank of tulips, and the top of this bank is the edge of our yard. Pat went and ripped the heads off of a bunch of these tulips. He brought the resulting floral carnage to Mom as a “bouquet”, leaving a row of headless tulips on Mr. Love’s hill. She explained to him that:

1) It was a very kind, touching gesture of love.
2) He should not vandalize the neighbor’s yard again.

This exchange makes me curious about the plants. Why do they grow in his yard and not ours? Could we grow tulips of our own? How does this work?

I’m digging around in the dirt one day when I decide to investigate this mystery. I yank up one of his tulips and notice the bulb on the bottom of the plant. How interesting! I’ve seen something like this before, haven’t I? Yes! I toss the uprooted flower on the ground and run inside. I open the fridge and take out another one of these bulbs (an onion) and run back outside to plant it.

There are steps on the back porch, but those face the driveway and nobody ever goes that way. So we just jump off the two-foot drop into the back yard. There is a large patch of dirt where even the weeds don’t dare grow, due to the never-ending onslaught of children disembarking from the porch. This is a nice, open spot, so I decide to bury my tulip-onion there. Then I run off and forget all about it.

Surprisingly enough, planting an onion into endlessly pounded soil did not cause a tulip to spring up. Much later I confessed to Mom that I had planted some of our food in the yard. She was a good sport about it.


From The Archives:

90 thoughts on “Autoblography Part 5: Flower Child

  1. DGM says:

    >> “She's a big Tolkien fan.”

    Ahah. So THAT’S where it got started – your mother corrupted you while you were young. :)

    Seriously, she sounds like a cool mother. Mine was a single parent as well, so I can appreciate the good job she seems to have pulled off in raising you guys.

    Also: A gray mustache with black hair? For shame, Cosby. Get a wig.

    1. Another_Scott says:

      Cosby’s white-stash is clearly a MILK-moustache!

      Knee-slapping ensues…

      1. DGM says:

        More like FACE-slapping. I’m sorry, but for a joke like that such pun-ishment is clearly warranted. Now lean over here where I can reach you. :P


        The ‘stache issue aside, though, his deadpan “I’m WAY too old for this crap” delivery is amusing. More so than “what the hell is wrong with you” would have been, which is about the only other way I could imagine reacting to his new pupil’s idiocy.

  2. Amstrad says:

    Shamus, if I’ve learned anything from your autobiographical posts it is the fact that the shouted phrase: “Hey, you guys!” did not originate with Sloth of The Goonies. I’m finding it difficult to express just how much of a revelation this is to me.

    1. Halfling says:

      I am glad I am not the only one who felt like one of his fundamental beliefs has been completely altered.

  3. Veloxyll says:

    Sometimes I wish I had craft skills and the dedication to make a shirt. This is one of those times.

    Planting your onion sounds a bit more reasonable than asking for a kiss in exchange for crayons. If only you’d used a potato instead, you could’ve been a pro-gardener. Plants are fairly logical, at least compared to 7 year olds. Though not as much as the glowy respondo-boxes!

    1. Ambitious Sloth says:

      I half expected the onion plant to grow, given my experience where an onion has actually started to grow into a plant while wrapped in saran wrap and hiding in my fridge. You see it was sitting in the back and bit to the left and I noticed it when I saw a green stalk poking out above the rest of the food in there. Needless to say I opted out of eating or planting it and simply threw it out thinking it was past it’s time as a source of food for me. Though since then I’ve never kept an onion longer than a week without eating it.

      Luckily I did take away the moral of the story, eat your vegetables kids, or next thing you know they’ll develop sentience and take over your fridge. And then how will you ever get to those hotpockets?

      1. tengokujin says:

        Just want to point out: you *can* still eat those. I eat scallions all the time, onions shoots are barely different :p

  4. Lanthanide says:

    We had a milkman up until about 1996-97. It wasn’t un-homogenized, though.

    1. Alexander The 1st says:

      Huh – we’ve never had a milkman that I remember – I think that’s partially because I’m lactose-intolerant – not that you could tell by my eating habits (Do I want cheese? YES! You can never go wrong with more cheese!).

      The only reason I even know milkmen existed is because of jokes about the milkman being the father of deranged children using voodoo magic to kill their family members. The punchline basically went “The father panicked, sweating throughout the night – but the next day, he was still alive. Relieved, he thought that all the other family deaths must have been a coincidence, as he opened the front door to get the newspaper to find the milkman dead on the doorstep.”

      There’s more to the joke obviously – I’ve forgotten some of the details, but basically the kid saying “Goodbye [relative]” was meant to imply that they die the next day, because they do die the next day. The part before this goes “Goodbye papa.” – so I don’t want to transcribe it in the fear of getting it wrong. And besides, that’s the part that matters to the milkman statement.

      And I should be working. Or something like that.

      1. burningdragoon says:

        I too am aware of the exisitence of Milkman through jokes like that, but not actually like that at all. The ones I know are more along the lines of a child looking nothing the father so obviously the wife had an affair.

        “Your kid’s hair is blonde? What color hair does the milkman have”

        I have also heard jokes in reference to those kind of jokes about there not being milkmen anymore.

      2. tengokujin says:

        Something along the lines of the child having premonitory dreams that keep proving right, when one of the dreams says that the child’s father is going to die. The father goes to work, worried sick that he would die that day. He arrives home safely and complains to his wife that his day has been horrible.

        “You think your day was bad? The milkman dropped dead on the doorstep this morning!”

    2. theLameBrain says:

      I still have a milkman. Check the internet, the Milkmen live!

  5. Zaxares says:

    I’m enjoying these little insights into the simple moments of another person’s life. Thank you for sharing them, Shamus. :)

    … Is it bad that I would ALSO wear that shirt? XD

    1. Funny Money Guy says:

      Yes, unforgivable.

      1. Halfling says:

        Indeed. Those with a taste for aesthetics already had to round up and execute all the people who would wear that at the end of the ’80s.

        Of course it is looking like the ’60s is coming back in fashion right now. *Barf*

        Hopefully we get the ’50s to come back at some point. My wife in pencil skirts all the time would make me a happy happy man.

        Wow did that stream of consciousness get off topic.

  6. Falcon_47 says:

    Strangely enough when i was younger i did the same thing with a piece of a potato… And it worked XD, i was so happy i didn’t want to eat my precious potato (I even named her, looking back now it all seams a bit silly, LOL!!!)

    1. Cerapa says:

      I find that exactly as odd as naming a cat or dog.

      A pet is a pet.

  7. uberfail says:

    We had a milkman until at least 2000 or so. He put the milk in w/ the mail so it was all wet from the condensation. Then again we do live in a ‘rural’ area.
    Also I have often tried to plant onions and potatoes and wild Chinese Gooseberry seeds, which has all failed. I was beaten by the compost bin, it was blown over in a storm and a tomato fell out leading to a feral tomato plant.

    1. albval says:

      A feral tomato sounds dangerous. How much xp does it yield? I’m guessing it can’t do ranged attacks…

      1. Jarenth says:

        Where do you think the custom of tossing tomatoes came from?

        1. albval says:

          Ah. Does this also mean that the loot is sweet(ish)?

      2. Funny Money Guy says:

        24.3 xp

      3. Alexander The 1st says:

        It does have one ranged magical attack, “root entanglement”, but it takes a few months and is extremely unlikely to hit that it’s nothing to worry about.

      4. Rick C says:

        Feral Tomatoes are dangerous to the unprepared.

    2. Entropy says:

      I still have a milkman, as far as I am aware. Certainly if it’s stopped, it’s a recent development.

    3. Destrustor says:

      I once took the seeds from store-bought strawberries and planted them in a pot in my room. the next summer I moved them outside in the backyard. They spread like crazy and were delicious, even if often pecked by birds.

  8. Sternie says:

    There’s actually a new Electric Company on PBS that’s been around for a couple years or so. It sounds similar to the original, but unfortunately Spider Man’s not there.

  9. Dwip says:

    That shirt is amazing. I can think of nothing from my 80s childhood that remotely compares.

    Relatedly, several discussions I have had over the years with my parents as to what, precisely, and if, in fact, they were thinking while dressing me in my early years. Or, for that matter, themselves.

    I would, however, like to thank my parents at this time for purchasing the BLUE 70s couch. Clearly, as I believe we can see by the alternative, the pro choice of the day.

    Re: omniscient moms, it took me a lot longer than it probably should have for me to realize that I wasn’t really fooling anyone when I would sneak out of bed to play with legos after my bedtime. Spreading pieces makes a lot of noise, my door was open, and my parents were right next door. But hey, at least I thought I was getting away with something, and that’s what counts, right?

    1. Rosseloh says:

      Reminds me of when my aunt inadvertently taught me how to pretend to be asleep when the parents DO come up and check on you — control your breathing. She flat out told me that the reason she knew we were awake was because we were breathing too fast.

      I’d say that was a mistake for her, except I’ve never really had a chance to use it for my own purposes. The cousins didn’t pick up on the fact like I did, and then I grew up.

  10. ClearWater says:

    Your mom sounds awesome!

  11. Mediocre Man says:

    Thank you for sharing these touching stories Shamus. I think everyone’s childhood involves basic human conflicts and resolutions to those conflicts (given enough time), but you do such a wonderful job of creating a tone which adds to the meaning of the story: the past is not the sanctuary of our perfect selves, it can be both beautiful and cruel, but at the end of the day it makes us who we are today.

  12. Kevin says:

    3 Points

    1) I -loved- the ‘lectric Company! The new one on PBS is a mere shadow of one of the staples of my(our?) childhood.

    2) I was 2 when you were in second grade…don’t know exactly what bearing this has

    3) Thanks for sharing your story, I enjoy a good, well written, biography. The right ones help me examine my own life experiences.

    1. krellen says:

      I ditto all three points. (Yes, even the age one.)

  13. Jarenth says:

    Apparently, the practice of defaming things one doesn’t like by claiming they are ‘gay’ has a long and storied history that preceeds the Internet.

    What’s so wrong with that shirt? It might be a little busy, visually, but it doesn’t really warrant rampant takedowns. Maybe a little noogie here and there.

    1. Jeff says:

      Actually, I think it’s more the “he’s really buff and sharp looking, therefore he’s gay” derisive response from men who are generally out of shape and not dressed well.

  14. Joshua says:

    The amazing thing about all of these stories is that you remember these details like you do. My own childhood is mainly a blur of vague isolated memories.

  15. Vect says:

    When I first saw that shirt, I thought it was a Bert and Ernie shirt, as in, I thought I saw Ernie’s head on there.

    I always thought that “Love” was a last name you used as a sleazy pseudonym like in porno or something (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Guess I was wrong.

    1. Atarlost says:

      There’s a famous court case in America where the claimants were surnamed Loving that resulted in the supreme court striking down state bans on interracial marriage.

  16. MadTinkerer says:

    Yay! We finally get to the year I was born! I completely missed out on The Electric Company growing up. By the time I was old enough to recite the alphabet it was already off the air. I think I managed to see a few reruns, though I don’t remember specifics.

    I did have 321 Contact (science) and Square One (math), later on, though.

    EDIT: I remember having milk delivered to our house until around 1989.

    1. asterismW says:

      321 Contact! Square One! Oh man, that brings back memories…

      1. Meredith says:

        I used to love the Bloodhound Gang! It was always a good day in school if we got to watch 321 Contact.

      2. Kacky Snorgle says:

        Memories indeed. I had quite the crush on Trini when I was a kid (though I didn’t realize that fact until later). See, now, there was the *good* side of seventies hair…. ;-)

  17. lazlo says:

    I would always have a tendency to read until the wee hours. Of course, if what I was reading was humor I was completely busted because I don’t laugh in my sleep. But after they got to the point of forbidding a night light because I’d just read by it until 5:00 AM I found that after just a bit of dark adapting I could read by the light of the red LED in my alarm clock. I don’t *know* if they caught on to that.

    This of course led to a child who had a very hard time waking up in the morning. My mother was very patient with me and would sit and gently wake me up for however many hours that took (well, probably minutes, but quite a few minutes I’m sure). I remember once my dad tried to experiment with ways of shortening my wake-up times. His first try was to wake me up by putting ice cubes in my armpits. *seems* like a viable plan, but I slept right through it.

    1. Alexander The 1st says:

      Ahahaha, nice.

      I’ve grown up after 8 directly above a garage door and right next to a window facing dawn, so for me, I have 5 alarms, and one of them hooked up to portable speakers right next to myself. And sometimes, I have to rotate the alarm noise for those I can customize so that I don’t get so used to them that I sleep through them.

      Also, relevant.

      1. Aldowyn says:

        I read at night too. I actually get CONSIDERABLY more reading done after 10 at night (my nominal “bedtime”. I have to get up at 6-6:30 for school) then I do all the rest of the time. But, I do have a lamp I can reach from my bed so I can turn it off if I’m fast enough.

        Tiredness does definitely ensue.

  18. asterismW says:

    I just have to say, these are some of the best posts you’ve ever written. I look forward to reading them every day. They’re touching, insightful, funny, and just excellent prose overall. Thanks again for sharing.

  19. Shinjin says:

    Spider Man. Spider Man. Does whatever a spider can.

  20. HeadHunter says:

    Thanks for the continued look at life in the ’70s, Shamus. I’m just a few years older than you and grew up with the same shows, the same (awful) clothes, and a lot of the same experiences.

    I remember that Farrah Fawcett poster well – I used to have it on my wall. :)

    1. Shamus says:

      True story: One of my Special Ed teachers (my best teacher ever) had a diagram of various vowel sounds over the chalkboard. Like, for “oo” it had a picture of a moon. For “au” it had a faucet. Beside that was, as a joke, that picture of Fara Fawcet. (Tastefully cropped to just a head shot.)

      I didn’t really get the joke until much later, and I didn’t see the full version of the poster until much, MUCH later.

      1. Patrick the Dangerously Caffienated says:

        You know he’s the pricipal @ EB these days….

        1. Shamus says:

          He was. Retired in 2008. :(

  21. Meredith says:

    That last bit about the plants made me laugh so much. I love kid logic.

    I don’t remember giving my parents a hard time about bedtime, but I do remember a certain babysitter I could always scam into letting me stay up late. Or so I thought. I found out later that she always told my parents about it, but it didn’t matter because they could see my bedroom light on when they drove up the street. I have a feeling this is true of most of the stuff we thought we got away with as kids.

  22. Airsoft says:

    Still have a milkman, just finished the bottle that he delivered today on some cereal, now i’ve realised i have no milk for a cup of tea later, now im sad :(

  23. Kdansky says:

    You planted onions? That actually makes sense! We planted toys and hoped for toy trees. Now that is proper silly!

    1. kmc says:

      My niece and I (same age) tried to hatch an egg that we got out of the refrigerator! By microwaving it. For 10 minutes. Fortunately, our parents were having a dinner party right next to the microwave, and as soon as they heard it start going, they were clever enough to ask what we were doing and immediately take the egg out.

  24. Hitch says:

    Could you do me a favor and tell me how to sign up for Patrick’s mailing list? I want to be informed if he ever finds a source for Twenty Sided Nostalgia Men’s Fashions. Because like him, I would also wear “that shirt.” Perhaps even “those pants,” but NEVER (I must emphatically add) “that shirt” WITH “those pants.”

    1. Patrick the Stylistic Magnate says:

      The best places I’ve found for righteously retro clothes are Goodwill, Plato’s closet and robbing the elderly that pass out on the benches at the mall.

      1. tengokujin says:

        But then you have to gaze upon their nekkid flesh! How do you stand it?

        1. Patrick the Stylistic Magnate says:

          Years of practice.

  25. I was born in 1967, so my childhood was solidly in the 70’s.

    I remember very clearly that in rural Michigan we had fresh milk delivered to our door every week. So the “Electric Company” skit wasn’t that anachronistic. It depended upon where you lived.

    And I was a big fan of Captain Kangaroo.

  26. Dev Null says:

    Man, those guys making childrens TV in the 70s were consuming some _prodigious_ quantities of drugs…

    1. Timelady says:

      Still are. Really, it’s the only possible explanation for the Teletubbies.

      1. Eärlindor says:

        Those little creeps are STILL around??

  27. Sleeping Dragon says:

    I have to say as much as I love Spoiler Warning only with these posts I realise how much I’ve missed you in a longer, written form.

  28. Wes1180 says:

    These posts are proving to be rather interesting, keep up the good work :)

  29. Delve says:

    Rephrasing numerous other comments, I’m enjoying the autobiography. And your mom was apparently an excellent example of motherhood. Single parent household notwithstanding you had a blessed family life.

  30. Michael says:

    My PBS did a blast from the past thing recently and Electric Company was one of the things it decided to show.

    It started off exactly as I’d expected – basically Sesame Street. And then Tom Lehrer started singing about adverbs.

    “You enter a very dark room, and sitting there in the gloom is… DRACULA! Now how do you say ‘Goodbye’?”

    I have nothing to add to this conversation. I just thought the show was cool.

  31. Brandon says:

    In these modern, enlightened times, we now know that onions (along with other produce like tomatoes) should not be stored in the fridge unless cut.

    That’s it. That’s all we’ve learned since then.

    Oh, and don’t eat a stick of butter. I guess we learned that, too.

    1. Jeff says:

      What? I thought we were supposed to put onions in the fridge so that when we cut them it won’t irritate our eyes?

      1. tengokujin says:

        It’ll still sting, as the action of cutting through the onion releases sulfur compounds that turn into sulfuric acid upon contact with water (read: your tears) and cause stinging. If you don’t mind the gas use, turning the stove can alleviate some of this, as well as cutting the onion under water. The most expedient way seems to be: practise until it only takes you a few seconds to get through an onion.

        Remember: cut sides down!

  32. Eärlindor says:

    (She's a big Tolkien fan.)

    Best. Mom. Ever.

    Loved the tulip/onion bit. Makes me wonder how that guys yard survived your onslaught.

    Also, never seen the Electric Company before, but I do know about it. Tom Leher is the best. :)

    1. Aldowyn says:

      What? Is this unusual? My mom actually did a book report on the two towers in 6th grade, and she doesn’t like the movies cause they changed too much stuff (especially Gimli, and Sam leaving Frodo on the stair to the pass of cirith ungol) We have debates on all kinds of books to this day. Oh, and she plays Mass Effect and Dragon Age, too :)

      Of course… she also is/was a programmer. And my dad was a big D&D player and comic book reader.

      Have I mentioned that I love that my family is full of nerds. I came by it naturally :)

      1. Mom says:

        Your mom and I agree on those movies. I did not read the books, though, until I was in my twenties. That was the late sixties. Also, to Shamus’ readers, Shamus has been very gracious (so far) toward his “single mom”. I cringe to read someone call me “awesome” But I will let Shamus tell the story.

      2. Joe Cool says:

        My parents, I think, had three or four copies of the Lord of the Rings. They had a lot of duplicate books when they married, and kept them all. That’s why we had two copies of the Star Trek technical manual.

        My mom read all three books in a week in high school (this was the sixties). She had a job as a cashier at the community pool, and it involved a lot of sitting around. She said she also tried to figure out a way to read while driving, but could never quite work that one out.

        My senior year of college, my mom rode with me while I drove my car from California to Ohio. We listened to the Silmarillion on audio book on the way.

        Both my parents, though, eagerly defend the movies as legitimate interpretations of Tolkien’s classic, changes and all.

        1. Aldowyn says:

          Oh, she’s not arguing that they’re legitimate. She just doesn’t like the few changes they DID make. Like making Gimli the de facto comedic sidekick (when Pippin/merry weren’t around, anyway)

          Also: I hate the silmarillion as a book. I’m not sure my mom even read it. It reads like a history book. A dull history book, even. As a history, it’s incredible. Otherwise…

          1. Eärlindor says:

            I’ll have to disagree with you there. :)
            I love The Silmarillion. Maybe not as much as I do The Lord of the Rings, but I am very much in love with it. There’s so much that can be gleamed from it than merely the quantity of the content.

          2. X2-Eliah says:

            Got to agree on the Silmarillion.. It’s really not written interestingly.. Yeah yeah, meant to be like a history book, but, well – it just plain isn’t. It’s a fantasy book, and utter chore to read through – such a diversion from the 6 LotR books that it’s almost weird.

            1. Joe Cool says:

              +5 internets for saying “6 LotR books”.

      3. Eärlindor says:

        Yes, that is very unusual (though I suspect [hope] that will change, at least somewhat, in the next generation or so). :p Lucky.

        Concerning the the films, I can understand (even forgive) some of the changes they made. But the one thing I cannot–CANNOT–ever forgive is the “wussification” of Frodo and Aragorn’s characters. It gets under my skin EVERY time and almost prevents me from enjoying the films. Other than that, I think they are masterpieces of film.

      4. Sem says:

        I’m really jealous right now. As much as I love my family, I’m the only nerd/geek so my parents/brother don’t really ‘get’ my hobbies. That sometimes made for rather wrong birthday presents. I was into magic the gathering for a couple of years so my mother bought me some sets of cards … of some other card game based on Star Trek.

        OTOH, it could have been a lot worse. My parents never made me feel inferior for my introvert/geek traits and always encouraged me to accept myself as I am. I’ve read some horror stories on the internet of geeks born in a family who wanted them to be ‘normal’ and compared to them I had it great.

        I’m looking forward to when the posts reach high school. I’m curious to know if the geek/non-geek divide and the hierarchy with the popular kids on top is really that strong in the USA as I always read (Paul Graham has an essay about it here that I read some time ago).

  33. The Rocketeer says:

    I used to work for PPG- or Pittsburgh Glass Works, as it’s called now. I was part of a call center that got paid to take the glass claims of several insurance companies because… insurance companies don’t want to take insurance claims? I don’t know. Apparently, it’s only glass claims that get done this way, and we attempted to coerce every caller into using PPG-brand glass for their replacements.

    It seems illegal to me, and that’s part of the reason I quit.

  34. ccesarano says:

    She might save time if we had a microwave, but who can afford exotic cutting-edge things like that? Microwaves are for rich people.

    We have a Christmas video recorded from 1988 of my mom and dad’s friends. I’ll just call them Mr and Mrs Burke. In one moment my mom and Mrs. Burke leave the kitchen, and she taunts to her husband (who is holding the camera) “Esther got a microwave”. I forget what he says, but it is very husband-like about money or pay-rates. There was even a comment about my Dad getting cable television, sort of like “we finally made it!”

    Now College kids are buying their own microwaves instead of a toaster (or toaster oven) and satellite television is becoming the norm.

    Mom is nicknamed “wheels” because she wears dresses. See, the guys ask what she has under the dress, and then conclude she has wheels under there. (Looking back, I strongly suspect they were hoping for evidence to the contrary.)

    As an adult, I still don’t understand where “wheels” would come from (though I completely understand the “evidence to the contrary” part)

    1. Shamus says:

      I don’t really get the “wheels” thing either.

  35. Mthecheddar knight says:

    Actually shamus, i have a half gallon of unhomogenized fresh milk delivered in glass bottles every month. Seriously.

  36. squishydish says:

    Awww, the stuffed Spider-Man with shiny reflective eyes and velcro on his palms so he’ll stick to things! I still have mine, but he’s living at my sister’s place as a promise that I’ll try to visit her more often.
    Of course I’m interested in the substance of your posts, but I’m late to the party and don’t have much else to add to the previous comments.

  37. Gnome says:

    I remember doing this to, but with watermelon seeds. I dug a hole to the side of the house in the backyard, and we actually got a watermelon. Mom and dad helped my take care of it, and even wrapped it in blankets when this big blizzard hit. Unfortunately, when we went to eat it, it was entirely white inside.

  38. We think it’s okay to have a tulip in your front yard.
    We like doing chores for Mom so she isn’t alone doing her chores.

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