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"...Choose only entertainment and media that uplift you. Good entertainment will help you to have good thoughts and make righteous choices...Do not participate in entertainment that in any way presents immorality or violent behavior as acceptable."
For The Strength of Youth

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Submitted by Steven ODell on 8 July 2007 - 12:48am.

Full Circuit (Home and Gone Again)

My kids have lived a great portion of their lives on the dry desert side of Washington State and each time we went to Seattle they expected to see rain and each time they felt cheated when it failed to appear. It just seemed downright weird to me, having been raised in Indiana, to have them scream out, “Yay! Rain!” when it finally materialized for them on one trip. The locals must have thought them a bit tetched in the head, I imagine. But then, it wouldn’t be the first time. Not that they don’t come by it honest.

On a family trip to California at year’s very end, we stayed in a hotel across the street from Disneyland and sat in the hot tub until the fireworks display began across the street. At this point everyone draped a towel over their shoulders and ran to the front of the hotel to watch the festivities. Little did we know we would be part of the show. While we stared at all the people in their winter coats and hats, they stared at us in our towels, barefoot and in swimsuits, bodies dripping water, all the while giving us that unmistakable ‘Where you from, Alaska?’ look. I got the same stare in Arizona when I stood on a street corner in short sleeves and was surrounded by all these folks going by in coats and hats and even gloves. You never know when you are going to be the odd one out, so be prepared—have a towel ready.


What one person thinks is funny may not be at all humorous to another. Take for example the time that my wife was working at the airport before our marriage—she had a lot of stories from there that I wish she had written down before she forgot them. (Hmm, regressive hypnosis maybe?) She was once at the counter when a plane landed and shortly thereafter a man came in swearing a blue streak at her and vowing to never again fly such a blankety-blank airline. The reason became clear a few moments later when it was explained to her that the hatch under the jump seat he was sitting on had popped open upon touchdown and the poor man had likely wet himself with worry that he would fall out at high speed and either be run over or be grated to death on the tarmac. Rug burn x 1,000. Who can blame him? I wonder if he sees the humor in it now.

From what my wife tells me, this was one ‘winner’ of an airline. Their post card showed a picture of their plane sailing upside down, if I recall correctly. When the mechanic once teasingly informed the flight attendant that there was to be a slight delay in takeoff (because he had to ‘go back for more bailing wire’), the attendant promptly and nonchalantly made the very same announcement to the passengers. She was obviously a city girl. Luckily for her the passengers were mostly Idaho ranchers and farmers. They just laughed. Doubtless, she wondered why they were laughing and someone had to explain. Please note: That part is funny, too.

It reminds me of another story from the travel agency Linda worked at shortly after this time. This one deals with another city gal, born and raised. This young lady came back to work complaining of how she and her boyfriend, fiancée or whatever, had gone out to dinner, ordered a whole chicken and had been cheated. She explained how it had been served to them with only three legs instead of four. Everyone laughed and soon after dispersed. Not my wife—the kind and caring soul. She asked if the girl had really meant it and was told that, yes, the story was true. When asked to explain, she told Linda how everyone knew that chickens have four legs. “You see them on those cooking shows, holding them up by two legs, while the other two dangle beneath.” Oo-o-o-ka-a-a-a-y…. See! There is a need for Poultry 101 at Berkeley. We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto.

‘Waiter, reality check, please. And a doggie bag.’


Every now and then I get these weird urges to shake things up. So I do. During a game of hide and seek with the wife and kids in our backyard, I once got this crazy notion to do something different that would make my wife laugh when she was done counting and ready to search. The kids all went and dutifully hid. Not Dad. He had something else in mind.

When my wife completed the countdown and turned around, she found me in a huddled ball on the lawn, only about ten feet from the porch on which she stood, face down and covered, confident that I could never be found. She did laugh, as I expected, and remembers it all these years later, as do the children that were old enough to play at the time.

The weird urges don’t stop there, though. I have a mischievous streak in me. I think of what I would do if I were in the shoes of other people. A toy designer, for instance. Personally, I think they are missing a niche market for the Tattoo Biker Barbie doll. (Don’t be too quick to condemn it. They have a Trailer Trash Barbie, I’m told). It would be a hoot to see one, at least. I would even buy it —maybe.

It reminds me of a guy I heard about who was a man after my own heart, to be sure. He had evidently gone into a toy store and had managed to change the voice mechanisms between a girl’s doll and a G.I. Joe. I don’t know if this is even possible or ever happened, but I can certainly imagine the surprise one would get when the manly male toy would ask for a cup of tea and say, “Let’s play house!” Or the sweet little chatty-patty bellows out “Move in, boys! We’re gonna take that hill!” Ah-h-h-h, how sweet the sound. I love a woman who knows what she wants.


My wife tells me of a time she was in a room full of her college friends and roommates and was planning a trip back home. She happened to be on the phone with her male friend, Charlie, and was expressing to him her concern that she preferred not to drive alone over the mountain pass at that time of year. The range was called the Blue Mountains. Her friends all stopped in dead silence for a moment when she suddenly expressed that she needed ‘a man to get her over the Blues.’ Then they erupted into laughter.

She managed to get them all settled down and explained, “You guys, the Blues are mountains!” Then, turning back to the phone, she said, “Sorry, Charlie.” The second eruption of laughter ensued immediately. (If you have no idea what this means, ask someone twice your age. Chances are they will know).

Things weren’t always easy for Linda, especially during pregnancy. She told me of one instance that I was sorry to have missed. (I think she was sorry to have told me). She was in the last stages of her pregnancy with our first child and was walking home the block or so from work that she had to go. She said she could feel her pantyhose creeping down, down, down and she was wondering if she would ever get into the building in time. Just as she stepped into the door, they fell straight to the floor. Luckily for her, the hallway was empty at the time and she managed to recover her dignity before anyone saw her. Ah-h-h-h-h, I love that story. (Heh, heh.)

Linda has been the source of a lot of good entertainment for us as a family, actually. (I hope she knows how much we love and appreciate her for that). Once she happened to be driving with the kids to somewhere and she was flipping through the radio stations and the announcer was saying, ‘What do you tell your kids about drugs?’ and she again flipped the station impatiently and muttered, ‘Yeah, yeah —whatever.” Naturally the kids thought this was hilarious and never forgot how Mom felt about their education. Poor Linda.

I recall a campout when we were all safely tucked into bed and had been having a last little chat before going to sleep. She was in the middle of a sentence when she suddenly remembered that there was still food sitting out that needed to be put away. So, instead of finishing her thought, it came out something like this: “Hey, you guys! Always remember…oh, crap!” And needless to say, we always have remembered, much to her chagrin. Knowing we love her makes it bearable, I am sure. I wonder what she was really going to tell us that night. And why she wants us to remember that in particular.

Our second child, Trevor, was the source (victim?) of a few good laughs, too. Although, again Linda was often the major character involved in the plot. It wasn’t funny at the time, I am sure, but it was later.

Linda took the kids on a trip once when I was unable to go because of work. They went to Nevada to see some friends and, as you may know, there are miles and miles of nothing but miles and miles in some parts of that state. Trevor was just a young guy and he had been telling his Mom that he needed to pee for quite some time. She kept looking for a place to pull over and let him out. Not like there was huge amounts of traffic and witnesses in the Nevada desert, to be sure, but she kept on until she had found a building to take him into. Maybe it had something to do with the time we pulled over to let him out to pee and there was a rattlesnake right at the door, but I digress. (Personally, I think he would have been all right. This little guy tried to walk across the swimming pool as a baby. When I fished him out by the suspenders, he spit out the water and was going to have another go at it. But again I digress.)

Anyway, she took the little guy into the building, through the first outer door and when she reached the second door and read the notice, she immediately turned back and dragged the poor protesting child out in a hurry. Seems she had chosen a brothel to stop at with her child (he never lets her forget this for very long) and he had to wait until they could go behind a big pile of gravel a bit further down the road. I think it was pee gravel. Is that how you spell that?

Just as bad was when she was driving through our own hometown and one of the kids, pointing to a tavern, proclaims, “Grandma took us there!” Yeah, it later came to light, to get some empty boxes to move. Whew! I thought we were gonna have to turn the ol’ gal in.

Trevor had a tough time growing up. I recall one campout when we were roasting marshmallows and his caught fire. He began to shake the stick to put out the fire. It wasn’t long before the sticky and flaming morsel was detached and deposited directly on the end of his tender little nose. He got a burn bad enough to peel, but we were all thankful that he never got it in the eye. We can laugh about it now and besides, his subsequent studies of ballistics have really paid off in water balloon launching wars.

Trevor seemed to be the target of several bullies in grade school, because he was bookish and easy to push around. I hated the idea that others would push him into lockers and so forth, but I knew that if he fought back, even in self-defense, the system would victimize the victim. Schools are often just petty bureaucracies run by insensitive tyrants. I have a theory that the kid who was victimized in school gets his revenge by becoming the principal and taking it out on everyone he can.

Anyway, what I recommended to Trevor was that they might be less likely to mess with him if they thought he were a bit unstable mentally. He became so adept at this that he had me wondering, too. In one incident the intimidating bully faced him and asked, ‘Do you want me to beat you up?’ Trevor calmly answered, ‘Might as well. I have nothing better to do.’ And he stood his ground and waited. The bully was so perplexed that he shook his head and left. The next year Trevor had grown about a foot and they pretty much left him alone anyway. Bullies are usually cowards at heart.


Sometimes the humor is unexpected and from the most innocent of sources. One night when the kids were watching Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day on TV, Linda and I began to laugh out loud together when we heard these words: “Pooh! Was that you?” Some things just can’t be helped. They are universally funny. I just know that the producers of the show decided to slip in a fast one on us. Good one! ‘Gusting, but good.


Kids can be a real joy to you. I love the unique ways they find to wish me Happy Father’s Day, for example. I got the normal greeting as well as Happy Pappy’s Day and Happy St. Papa’s Day. And I got a birthday card that read, 'I miss you. Being weird just isn't as much fun without you being here to see it.'

Our son Quinn has a girlfriend that won my heart at a very early stage. He was on the phone with her and I had told him to “Tell her Dad says ‘hi’” and he did. She responded unhesitatingly with “Hi, Dad!” I loved her immediately. In fact, I wish she were my daughter-in-law (hint, hint!)

She has a great sense of humor, too. Sometimes she victimizes herself with it, though. Recently I had to laugh when I called Quinn and the two of them were together. They are in Washington State right now and I am in Arizona (yeah, tell me about it). Anyway, I commented on how long it had been since I had seen her and that I missed her. She responded with, “Yeah; I miss you, too. I hope things are okay down south.” Quinn never missed a beat, noting aloud that this was rather a 'personal' thing to say. We all had a good laugh at that one.

Quinn is usually the quiet one in most circumstances. People thought we must’ve beat him because he is so shy and quiet around those outside the family. He was always that way. If he was hurt and you had your back turned to him, he could bleed to death before you ever turned around to notice it. No, I’m not kidding. He cried silently. Around the house, though, he would have the family just dieing in laughter. Turnabout is fair play, I guess. Anyway, on a trip to Calgary, Canada once, to see one of our favorite bands, The Tea Party, he was the source of a lot of fun. We told a lot of jokes on that trip, but we all remember only one. He told of a couple guys that were marveling over how big the ducks were at the sewage pond, until one of them announced that they were corn-fed ducks. Yes, it was disgusting, but in a hilarious sort of way and we all laughed really hard —even my daughter-in-law, Krystal.

And then as the laughter would die down, Quinn would just add a quiet, “Hyuh!” in a hayseed voice and it would start all over again. It got so bad that my oldest, who was driving, would laugh so hard he could barely see and he would keep slowing down and slowing down until we thought sure he would have to pull over, he was wiping his eyes so much. Krystal was beating Quinn in a good-natured way to get him to stop and it almost worked —until we got back up to speed and he started all over again. And so did we. Took us three weeks to get home. Okay...five.

He has this amazing way of delivering the goods when he is being funny. Once he had some chunks of candy corn in his mouth, blunt ends down so they looked like teeth. Then he slapped his leg and did the same “Hyuh!” and we all just died laughing. His humor is so simple and understated, but nonetheless effective for it all.

One of the boys once mentioned that it had seemed that all day the older ladies were ‘hitting on’ him. Another never missed a beat with, “Again?!” We knew it wasn’t happening all the time, but that was funny.


You know, I find it strange that women can so easily call men shallow, but never examine themselves. (Wait…I didn’t mean it that way. I meant that they should examine their behavior, okay?) Anyway, one comedian made a point when he said that women wear padded bras, girdles, shoulder pads, high heels, makeup, false eyelashes, false nails, get tummy tucks, liposuction, lipo injections, Botox treatments and more—and then have the gall to say there are no real men left.

Men just aren’t as worried about their looks as women are about men’s looks. I mean, why settle for having a ‘six pack’ stomach when you can have the whole keg, right? Men are just more practical in some respects. The hair goes at some age, too. Worry? I used to, but that was because I was anxious to see which would happen first—would it all turn gray or would it all fall out? Do I worry now? No! Since it all fell out, it is easier to carry a dust rag than a comb, anyway. And I never worry about my hair getting wet, because I don’t have any. And if the glare bothers you, then you will just have to move, because I can’t see it.

As to this ‘no real men’ thing, I think women bring on a lot of their own problems with men. They say they want a nice guy who will treat them right and then they get one and the nicer he is, the less they want him. Will they tell him why? Of course not. They play the old game of, “Well, if you don’t know, then I’m not going to tell you.” Then they go find a guy that treats them like dirt and complain to their friends that there aren’t any nice guys anymore. Meanwhile, the poor guy that would have done anything for them is either broken-hearted or thinking “Goodbye and good riddance, foul witch!” Seems she wanted a man who was ‘in charge’ and this was the way to test him—by destroying his faith in womanhood. ‘Hi, neighbor—can you say Karma? I know you can.’ Hope you like your new boyfriend, babe. What’s his name again —Spike? When does he get out for good behavior and will you still want him on those terms? Bah, humbug!

Now, lest you think I hate women, let me clarify. I think women are great—when properly tranquilized. No, not really. Just kidding, maybe.

Having said that, I admit that I have the best wife in the entire world and I am not certain why she didn’t kill me in my sleep long ago. I will say this, that I am a better man because of her. She is a stabilizing force for me, because she herself is stable. Would that all women were that way. I know that’s not funny, but it’s the truth, so there!


Okay, this is the part where the author tries to come up with an absolutely amazing way to end the book. So, in order to fulfill that lofty obligation, I have decided to solve an age-old problem for you, once and for all. The battle of the sexes. So, here we go:

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