How the cookie crumbles

I look at you. You look at me. We’re dancing sort of, but I’m not much of a dancer and neither are you. There is no practical reason why you would want or need to buy cookie dough from my six-year-old daughter, just as there was no practical reason why, just a few years ago, I bought six boxes of Girl Scout cookies from your daughter. If either of us needed or wanted the cookies, we would simply get in our cars, drive to the supermarket, and purchase them. Think of a world in which we would have the things we needed only when six-year-old girls came knocking on our doors to provide them to us. I do not believe that this is a world either of us wants to live in.

Some memories just spell T-R-A-U-M-A

I am pretty sure I am going to get lashed for saying this, especially as an English teacher, but I do not really believe there is much that can be done to improve one’s ability to spell words. I haven’t done the research, but it has always seemed to me that good spellers are born, not made, that the ability to spell is as genetic as freckles or male pattern baldness.

Days like these can go on forever

I miss all those Sundays at my grandma’s house, so many Sundays, so many years. Once upon a time, it seemed we would never run out of them. It seemed as if there would always be cars lined up like dominos in the driveway, a couple of the trucks pulled up into the yard. It seemed as if the smell of frying chicken would always waft into the living room from the kitchen, drawing the men’s attention momentarily away from the Redskins-Cowboys football game and their talk of work and weather. It seemed as if the women would always be opening doors with their elbows, their arms full of casseroles or pies or three-bean salads.

Drive-thru decision-making is maddening

Let me say this first. This is not really a column about restaurants. The last time I wrote a column about restaurants, I suggested that Pizza Hut bring those poor young ladies holding signs on the curb out of the blazing afternoon sun and let them work inside in air conditioning. Two days after that column appeared, we saw one of those same young ladies holding a sign that read, “Chris Cox, We Love Our Job!”

What I don’t know about parenting

The central paradox of parenting is that by the time you have it figured out, it’s over. Now that I have written that sentence, I immediately see two flaws in it, regardless of how wise it sounds. First, parenting is never over. Well into my late 30s, my father was still giving me an “allowance” and buying my meals whenever we ate out at restaurants, and my mother still fretted over my lack of sleep. You don’t stop being a parent the day your child turns 18. Second, you never figure it out. Never. You’ll figure out Rubik’s Cube before you have the first clue about parenting. You’ll learn two languages and write a novel first. Learn to play the violin. Run the Boston Marathon. Dance with the stars.

For gays, desperation too often a way of life

A few years ago, I received a letter from a reader that I have never forgotten. Upset over the suicide of a former student — who I knew had long agonized over dealing with his homosexuality due to various painful journal entries he had written on his struggles — I had written a fairly angry column denouncing homophobia and challenging the widely held belief that one’s sexual orientation is a “choice.” About a week later, a letter arrived from a gentleman in his 60s, who basically laid out the long, sad story of his own lifelong struggle with being gay.

Roll the credits, please – ASU 34, Mich. 32

For the last 24 hours, I have felt like a character in a movie. You have seen the movie, probably dozens of times. A small-town team nobody has ever heard of gets its big chance against a nationally ranked powerhouse. The fans there look up things about the team just out of curiosity, where the town is on the map, the enrollment numbers, maybe. They cannot pronounce the name of the school.

Vick a poster child for depraved stars

Has any professional athlete ever made more a mess of his life than Atlanta Falcon quarterback Michael Vick?

At the ripe old age of 27, Vick had it made. After a stellar senior season at Virginia Tech, Vick was drafted in the first round of the 2001 NFL draft by the Falcons and immediately anointed as the savior of a struggling franchise, an electrifying quarterback unlike any the league had ever seen. Although one could name several quarterbacks throughout the history of the NFL who were mobile enough to scramble and occasionally break loose for decent runs, Vick was the first quarterback whose running ability actually terrified defensive coordinators around the league.

Is summer over already?

When I went back to teaching full time about three years ago, one of the things I looked forward to most was having seven full weeks off in the summer. I have never had more than a week off here or a long weekend there, just long enough to squeeze in a trip to the beach or to see the parents, then hustle back barely in time to get home, unpack, eat cereal for dinner, collapse, then get up and go back to work the very next day. Aren’t vacations supposed to be refreshing, or invigorating, or at least relaxing? Then why did I always have the feeling after a vacation that I needed ANOTHER vacation to recover from my vacation before going back to work?

Recommended diversions

“Picket Fences,” and “Northern Exposure”

Is it possible to be nostalgic for the 1990s already? Or maybe it is the relative lack of excellent, quirky, hour-long “dramadies,” especially on network television. Before HBO blew the networks away with “The Sopranos,” “Six Feet Under,” “Deadwood,” and the like, these shows were two of the best television had to offer. “Picket Fences” was created by David Kelley, who also created “LA Law,” “Ally McBeal,” and “Boston Legal,” among other shows, but I thought “Picket Fences” might be the best of the bunch, and after a long delay, the first season is finally available on DVD. Since Kelley’s shows are often topical, some of the episodes seem a bit dated now, and the edginess of the show is not nearly as edgy now in the wake of “The Sopranos,” et al. Still, it is well worth seeking out. “Northern Exposure,” on the other hand, has not dated at all, remaining as fresh and inventive as the day it aired. Instead of watching another stupid reality show, give these a try, or if you know and love them already, go ahead and wallow in some ‘90s nostalgia.

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