A stranger in his midst…


If you have had or will have or dread having a teenage boy, then you are required by parental law to visit the daily comic pages to pay homage to “Zits.”  Every single panel of this incredible strip chronicles young Jeremy’s insatiable appetite, his lame-brain efforts to endear himself to the opposite sex, his sordid depths of slobbery, his perpetual  impatience with his doofus parents, and his oh-so-typical instances of selective hearing. This must-read comic is unbelievably identifiable for anyone who tries, with limited degrees of success, to raise pre or post pubescent male upstarts.

As a devotee, it was with some surprise when I read the three panel  mother-son exchange in the Saturday, April 10 episode.  In panel one, his mother says “Jeremy, you got a letter.”  “Really?” he responds as she hands him the envelope.  In panel two, he stares blankly at this stranger in his midst.  The coup de gras is in panel three: “What do I do with it?”

The caricatures spoke a thousand words.  This is the uphill climb letter writers will forever face at precisely the time when the Jeremys of the world turn on (to all things digital) and tune out (words on paper).  We will never know the ultimate result of  his momentary fascination with the alien envelope.  Such are the twists and turns of this wonderful comic strip which lampoons his parent’s efforts to nurture structure and common sense in his teenage world.

By the way, Jeremy, my advice is to open the envelope.

Here is last Monday’s letter to Ellen and Reid.

April 5, 2010

Ellen/Reid: This letter will be old news by the time you receive it but hopefully Butler will make a good showing of itself in this evening’s title match against the meanies from Duke.  Duke has a cakewalk to the Final Four but your Dawgs did it the old fashioned way; they earned it against some incredibly tough teams.  Even if they don’t win, at least they got there and they got there in their home town.  Those kids will never forget it.  10, 25 and 50 years from now they will convene at some Butler event to be honored as the one team that nearly had it all.  Those kids will never forget it the rest of their lives.  I have my Butler tee shirt on today at the office in recognition of the occasion.  Not too many people will see it; it’s spring break in these parts so most everybody and their brother is somewhere besides the office.

Last week was pretty hum-drum as far as week’s go.  The one real downer was a flat tire on the way home from the gym after work.  But the culprit was the last thing you would suspect: a big splinter of wood.  How the hell a chunk of wood penetrates a steel belted tire is beyond me but it did.  Mercifully I still had workout clothes on so getting dirty was of no consequence.  It got changed in a jiffy so no big deal.  It continues to amaze me that car manufacturers scrimp by plunking in some puny little tire as the spare.  What is up with that?  You buy full sized tires by the gazillion and you can’t cut a deal to give customers the real thing?  Nuts, if you ask me.

The green thumb got a little deeper shade late Friday.  Went to Lowe’s to retrieve some herbs and full fledged Better Boy tomato plant for what passes as a garden on the front porch.  Replanted some oregano, broad leafed parsley and sweet basil in little pots.  The tomato gets center stage in a huge pot just off the front stoop to get as much sun as my shaded place can afford it.  As of this writing all of the above is still growing several days later.  The recent heat (in the 80s all through the weekend) makes for much better growing conditions than the cool and wet we’ve had.  The lettuce I carped on so many times a few weeks ago is finally ready to be harvested.  I’ll snip some Romaine for this evening’s salad.  The lettuce even managed to spring back after it got crushed when the newspaper person flattened it with the morning paper.  Such is the peril that occurs when your plants and his paper share the same path to the porch.  An unavoidable collision course.  It he whacks the tomato, it will be a different story.

A guy at the office told me to take the online BMI – Body Mass Index – test on line and now I wish I’d never heard of it.  It is some algorithm whereby you multiply weight times height and then divide by some other number.  Whatever, it was a total that showed me a tad overweight at precisely the time I thought I was doing pretty good.  Peanut butter is the real culprit.  I can’t seem to stay away from it and when it sticks to you, it sticks pretty damned good.  Tough to get the weight off at this age.  My discipline is just awful.

Had 36 golfers at one of our outings that I helped stage this weekend.  Honestly, it is like herding cats.  People sometimes go crazy about pairings and the like.  There’s no appeasing some folks.  But it was still a lot of fun.  One day I will devote a page to my stinky golf swing (Reid, perhaps you can see it for yourself if you come down here) but it was still fun.  People gathered at the 18th hole to drink beer and watch groups straggle in.  From there we went to a wing place called Leo’s in Lancaster, SC and it was just as you would suspect in outlying South Carolina; NASCAR posters and good old boys.  But that’s what made it great.  Cheap wings and cold beer ruled the day.  When you both get down here just think of the spots I can take you to.  Wow.

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