Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Collector

I realized something today while I was at 7-11. I collect receipts.

I buy something and, no matter how small the cost, if the harried cashier offers me a receipt, I take it. If the harried cashier doesn’t offer me a receipt, I stand there (adding to her, er, harriness) until she does offer me a crisp white receipt.

I’m not sure why I do this. At the store, it makes complete sense to me. I’m going to take this receipt home and put it in some sort of filing system so that I can access it at the end of year and use it for tax purposes.

I feel really grown up when I think thoughts like this.

And then I take that slip home, put it on top of this black armoire that we have and never, ever look at it or touch it again. At some point in time, someone (possibly my wife) does something (possibly involving the garbage can) and the area on the armoire is magically ready to accept new receipts.

I make it a point to never ask myself questions about the filing system that doesn’t exist and the tax purposes that I don’t personally understand. Most importantly, I never ask where those receipts go. That would be like asking why Harry Potter uses owls instead of e-mail. It lacks imagination.

Gas receipts, food receipts, magazine receipts. I’m gonna keep on collecting them – and not just for myself. I keep putting them on the black armoire and someone keeps picking them up. What if that person looks forward to them? What if that person has an actual filing system and actual tax purposes? Who am I to deprive them of the receipts?

I feel really grown up when I think thoughts like this.

Friday, June 16, 2006

They Called Him Whitebeard

Every Thursday, I pick up a box of donuts for my kids’ breakfast. As a family, we prefer the box o’ donuts to the bag o’ donuts.

This is not because the box of donuts tastes better than the bag of donuts. In fact, I’m not sure if the donuts taste good at all. I’ve noticed, for instance, as we chomp down on the white powdered donuts, that the box (and the bag, for that matter) refer to the donuts as “powdered donuts” – and not “powdered sugar donuts.”

I find it curious that the manufacturers don’t mention sugar, but my curiosity stops there. If that’s not sugar, I’m not sure I want to know what it is. I also eat Cheez Whiz although I don’t know what “cheez” is and am reasonably sure that I won’t like hearing what “whiz” contains.

We buy the box of donuts (as opposed to the bag of donuts) for one reason only: my kids think the box looks like a pirate treasure chest.

As an American parent, I’m naturally proud that my kids have already learned to consume products on the basis of packaging rather than actual quality. It’s nice to see that the Hummer truck commercials are having an effect.

But I think there’s more to this. When I bring in the box of donuts on Thursday morning, my kids’ faces spark up and glow. The kids sometimes actually clap. It’s like the Publisher’s Clearinghouse van has pulled up to their house and instead of bringing a lame million dollar check, the announcer has brought something really cool – a chest full of doubloon-shaped donuts.

While I watch my kids feast, I like to think about the fierce pirates of yore who must have plundered the seven seas and then converted their booty into donuts. I think about the bloodiest buccaneer of them all, who stalked the decks of his ship with the entire front of his body covered with something that looked like powdered sugar but tasted nothing like it.

They called him Whitebeard.

Friday, June 02, 2006

The Penultimate Command of English

Longtime readers know that my family famously mangles the English language. That’s not meant to be self-deprecating in any way. We know some stunningly big damn words. We can sling polysyllabics (see?) with the best of them.

We just don’t find it necessary to use them in the correct context.

I, for instance, famously used the word “penultimate” instead “paramount” many, many times until a woman I wanted to date stopped me in the middle of a crowded room and said, “You do realize that the word “penultimate” means “next to last”, don’t you? It doesn’t mean “ultimate” or “paramount”.”

“Wow,” I said. “So, if I described this as my paramount moment of embarrassment…”

“Exactly,” she said.

Ultimately, she and I did not go out.

My aphasia seems to be genetic. My son Gabriel spent a week pointing towards our roof and mentioning the “plants on the alchemy” before I realized that he was talking about the plants on our balcony.

Gabriel is also fond of announcing to everyone that he’s bored. Apparently, my younger son Julian felt that this would be an excellent arrow to add to his relatively new language quiver. Julian came downstairs this morning, put an apathetic look on his face and announced, “Dad, I’m boring.”

“You’re what?” I asked, even though I had heard him clearly.

“I’m boring.”

“You’re what?’

“I’m boring.”

“You’re what?”

There’s nothing boring about that kid. He’s the exact opposite of boring – whatever that word is.