There’s been a meme floating around for a month or two that shows a row of five numbered chicken wings, each one a little more stripped of meat than the last. Number one has a single small bite taken out of it; number five looks like it’s been dug up by a paleontologist. The punchline is that you can tell a lot about someone’s upbringing based on the amount of meat left on the bone.
My 11-year-old son and I both love wings, but we are on opposite ends of this chart. On the cleaned chicken bone scale, I’m…
Around 1998, I nearly got myself killed in a skydiving accident. Years before, I’d completed Army Airborne school. At Fort Campbell, I did some off-duty jumps from Blackhawk helicopters. But these were “static line” jumps. The parachute is connected to a cable in the plane so the jumper doesn’t pull his own chute. Years later I decided to do a “real” skydive. I refused a tandem jump because I thought it beneath me.
I jumped out and couldn’t get stable in freefall. By the time I did, I was far from the landing zone. I then assumed my altimeter was malfunctioning because surely it had only taken me a few seconds to stabilize myself…
It had taken much more.
When I finally pulled my chute, I was headed towards a highway. I landed on the shoulder, nearly crashing into a barbed-wire fence.
And never jumped again.
I learned how to walk down the street from a book. I was always big for my age. But I grew up in a rough neighborhood where I was also nerdy and awkward. I couldn’t walk to the store or to school without attracting some kind of harassment. In fifth or sixth grade, I read a book on self-defense at the library. And it said that the best way to avoid trouble was to not look like a target. It suggested walking “with a sense of purpose.” I decided to try it.
And the bullying stopped so suddenly that it seemed like magic.
To this day, I love books. And libraries.
And people still get the hell out of my way.
I hate parades. Always have. I think it started when I was about 9 years old. A fairly notorious politician campaigned in my neighborhood by tossing candy from a parade float that we kids were supposed to pick up from the ground. I was insulted.
Also, they are boring.
Why do you like them?
I took off my mask for the first time.
Yesterday, after studiously following CDC guidelines and local laws, I went to the grocery store without a mask for the first time in well over a year. I was fully vaccinated in April, my wife was fully vaccinated in May, and my son was fully vaccinated this month.
And I have to admit that not wearing a mask felt almost illicit. If felt reckless. Irresponsible. But mostly, it felt free.
Here’s to getting back to normal.
When You’re a Decent Writer, But an Amazing Backseat Driver
Went on a road trip with a friend last week. He manned the wheel as I finished up a piece that was coming due. Every time he changed lanes, I would look up from my work, body tensed, prepared to save us from certain death.
His driving was a great distraction from the thorny structural problems of my essay.
I can’t remember how many times I shouted, “You change lanes more often than I change perspectives in this article!” or “If only my writing was as exciting as your driving!”
He somehow found it annoying. But each time I saved us, I found myself ready to tackle my problem anew, my competence in the area of backseat drivery fueling my writing.
I can’t wait to go on another road trip with him. As soon as he starts returning my calls.
Father’s Day is almost here, and you know what that means: Prepare to unwrap another pair of socks!
Sure, you might get lucky and get something good — some cigars, that broadsword you’ve wanted since you were a kid — but I wouldn’t count on it. These are, after all, gifts usually given to you by your children filtered through your significant other.
I was trolling TikTok for laughs one day when I stumbled upon a video of a guy doing a “review” of his newborn baby boy. This dude was visibly delighted with his two-month-old offspring — he said the boy only cost him a few “grown-up transactions” — and encouraged others to get one, too.
Now, I got a good chuckle from the breakdown, which played like an unboxing video. That’s a shiny new baby, fresh out of the box. What’s not to like?
Of course, he’s cute. A baby alligator is cute. And like a baby alligator, a baby…