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Date archive for: July 2014

Let It Go? We're Trying

It’s the parental fear that no generation before ours has yet grappled with: the terror that our children will grow up to be on a reality show. My particular dread? I’m raising a prime-time “hoarder.”

Never one to pass a rock without dropping it in his pocket, my youngest child weeps and wails if I throw out a year-old, splay-bristled, paste-encrusted toothbrush. He has Valentine’s candy from 2011 crammed into keepsake boxes in his tchotchke-stocked bedroom.

And last weekend, the boy refused to relinquish a pair of skate shoes whose canvas had torn away from the rubber soles up front, exposing his toes as he walked and flapping open like a chatty cartoon mouth. Even my grandmother, raised on scraps in the Oklahoma dust bowl, would call them “hobo shoes.” Though he left the shoe store with two new pairs, he wouldn’t — couldn’t — throw the old ones in the trash. So I did.

“It’s just …” he started, “I have a lot of good memories with those shoes.” Perfect, I reasoned. Then you don’t need the actual shoes. And memories don’t take up room in the closet.

It’s a constant battle: His sentimentality versus my efficiency. He has collections and mementos; I have goals and checklists. He loves to reminisce and savor the past while I strive to produce and stay ahead of the clock.

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Wife-Carrying: An Actual Thing

Her thighs are clamped around his neck and her arms clutch urgently at his waist but it’s not what you think. In fact, it’s nothing you’ve ever thought about before.

It’s the preposterous sport of wife-carrying, in which overconfident men race through a short obstacle course while toting their dead-weight spouses on their backs or shoulders. Lady-laden, the athletes wobble over logs or hay bales, slog through shallow pools, and stagger across the finish line as hundreds of strangers hoot from the sidelines.

The grand prize: The missus’s weight in beer. Plus $5 for each pound she weighs. Plus the head-shaking befuddlement of most other humans.

Wife-carrying originated in Finland a mere 19 years ago, which means we can’t pass it off as the quaint hobby of eccentric ancients; my marriage is older than this sport, people. Fans mumble something about it harking back to the bad habits of Finnish bandits who abducted women from their villages and claimed them as wives — but Finland also hosts the world championships for Air Guitar and Mobile Phone Throwing, so I think it’s safe to assume the Finns just like silly stuff.

Annual wife-carrying competitions are now held in Australia and Hong Kong, and even here in the U.S. a police officer and his wife stumbled to victory just this month in Wisconsin with a race time of 60 seconds — which, he said, was the longest minute of his life, and his cargo weighed only 103 pounds.

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Ms. Roshell Goes to Washington

Growing up in Tinsel Town, a gal gets jaded. Look, it can’t be helped. From before I could say “actors’ equity,” we lived directly beneath the glowing Hollywood sign. My folks were in “the industry” and hobnobbed with rock stars, deejays, and TV personalities. And by hobnobbed, of course, I mean got high and listened to album-oriented rock.

When you’ve watched soap-opera dreamboats flubbing their lines take after take, seen pop divas climbing into the makeup chair naked-faced and scowling, and heard Billboard chart-busters stinking up a sound check that should have ended hours ago — well, there’s little room left in your life for magic. (I once saw Dick Clark in his underwear, and it wasn’t even New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.)

All this to say that I grew up nearly incapable of reverence. Numb-ish to wonderment. And altogether apathetic toward the things that, as Americans, we’re supposed to venerate. Things like Thanksgiving, Walt Disney, the game of baseball, apple pie, railroad museums, and “our nation’s capital.”

Feh. Like Michigan, Alabama, and South Dakota, the District of Columbia isn’t somewhere I’d ever considered visiting. In fact, until this very month, I sort of believed “our nation’s capital” wasn’t a geographic reality so much as a vague mythical ideal like “nirvana” or “kingdom come” — you know, a literary conceit that helps establish tone and timbre when you’re waxin’ flashy in a tale about politics. Or House of Cards.

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