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Tuesday, July 19, 2016



     To me, the month of May means the advent of real, palpable Spring. it also means hay fever, yard work, little bugs that fly up your nose and meteorological mood swings. And to escape it all, the family vacation. Ten days of fun and frolic in places we probably haven't seen before, and may never see again, if they're lucky. It's the perfect way to remove all the stress from your life, while at the same time replacing it with different stress. There are a million things to do before we leave.

     Leave yourself plenty of time to get to the airport. If there is one lesson I've learned over the years it's that one. That's why it's always so surprising that I never leave myself enough time to get to the airport.

     Packing takes some patience and skill. My suitcase seems heavy. They probably have a gym at the hotel, so I take the 20-pound barbells out of the bag. You can't bring juiceboxes with you on a plane, because Hawaiian Punch is an ingredient in explosives. You have to make sure your toenail clippers don't look like a weapon. If your toenails are too sharp, you should leave them at home, too.

     Figuring out what to do with our dog is a major consideration. The famous Gidget just turned one year old, which means that her primary goal is to cause as much destruction as she can within the shortest amount of time. Her happiness is directly proportional to the size of the claim we make to our homeowner's insurance. Her idea of fun is to bite onto your sleeve and lead you out into traffic. And if destruction of personal property and vandalism isn't on the menu, petty larceny certainly is. The worst kind of criminal, clever and diabolical, she will steal anything that isn't nailed down. And the first thing she will steal is the hammer and nails, so you can't nail anything down.

     Once in a while Gidget is so quiet, sitting off in the corner out of sight. Then the adrenaline of sudden fear shoots up my body, and I realize she is only quiet because she is quietly destroying something. Once I caught the dog chewing on a D-cell battery. I called the vet in a panic, because the last thing I needed was for this animal to be pumped up with extra voltage. The doctor didn't think there was much to worry about, except that it was not too bright to leave batteries around where the dog could get them. I told him if you think that's not too bright you should see my flashlight now.

     This year Sarah from the gym has bravely agreed to stay in our house and keep the dog company. Gidget's favorite game is to leave a pile of shredded up stuff on the floor, and you have to guess what it used to be. You can ask any "yes or no" question. "Did this used to have stuffing inside it?" (Tongue out signifies "No.") "Did it come in the mail?" (Head tilted to the side means "Yes!") "Did it look expensive?" (Gidget remembers previous appointment, exits in a hurry, means "YES!")

     Meanwhile, at the airport, our flight is delayed an hour. We start game of Scrabble,  and no one beats me at Scrabble. Is it my command of English syntax? My superior intelligence? No, it seems to be the fact that I know only two and three-letter words, which are like gold in Scrabble. And chances are, if I misspell one three letter word, it correctly spells a different one that I didn't even know about.

      My wife is telling me that they're already loading rows J,K and L. I tell her to hold her horses, it's going to be another 15 minutes before they get to us in row W, and I'm just about ready to notch another victory. 20 minutes later they're calling out for rows X,Y and Z. That reminds me: "zax" is a word! But my wife has dumped all the tiles back into the bag and left for the seat assignment counter, and that is clearly a default.

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