The Safety Patrol

Respect My Authority!

Back in my elementary school days, being on the Safety Patrol was one of the coolest things you could do. It gave you a feeling of power over the constant flow of humanity, as it made its way to school, then back home again. As an added bonus, you got to wear that cool safety patrol belt that identified you as a Child with Authority. Don’t mess with me, kid. I’m saving lives here!

We would stroll into class late, protected by the little badges on our safety patrol belts. Plus, the reward for our public service would usually be a field trip at the end of the school year. Most of the time, these were boring museum excursions, but sometimes we went to a ballgame, or maybe even a park. I remember once at Camp Dearborn, a friend and I moored canoes with a couple of girls and chit-chatted for about an hour before going our separate ways. Ah, youth.

The safety patrol belts have certainly come a long way. Back in my day, they were white, or a fluorescent hunter’s orange. The strap went over your shoulder and around your waist. This identified you to oncoming traffic, so you wouldn’t get flattened like a pancake while performing your duty. Nowadays, the safety patrol kids wear fluorescent yellow vests. I’m pretty sure those things can be spotted from space. Which is the point I suppose. 

Back in my day, there weren’t nearly as many cars on the street when school let out. These days, it seems like every little snowflake is driven to school. The job these safety patrol boys and girls perform isn’t for the faint of heart. They do a tough job, in a sea of SUVs, just waiting to turn wayward children into roadkill. So, in the immortal words of Sgt. Phil Esterhaus, “Let’s be careful out there.” Stay safe, kids! 

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The Red Snowflake

Childhood Art

Around this time last year, I was taking my morning walk and I noticed a red cut-out snowflake on someone’s front door. Since Valentine’s Day was only a few days away, I thought this snowflake was an appropriate combination of holiday decoration and a tribute to winter. It was the sort of artwork my sons Jeff and Kevin used to make at school with their tiny little safety scissors. Wow! Talk about an immediate flashback. I’ll have to admit, the sight of that snowflake choked me up a little.

Memories of backpacks filled with various creations came flooding back. This included every type of kid-based art imaginable. Your standard drawings and paintings, but also some misshapen ceramic pieces, whose function was always uncertain. Mixed in with these treasures, were paper cut-outs. Sometimes it was a daisy-chain that was strung together in a specific pattern. Other times, a hidden snowflake was revealed once the paper was unfolded. As a kid, I always found this sort of magical.  

Some parents have saved every piece of art that made their way home. My wife and I didn’t go that route. The sheer volume of stuff generated by our little Picassos would have filled a storage unit, or two. However, the other day I found a framed watercolor of a flower, painted by our son Jeff. I believe it was from a school art competition because it had a tag listed with his name, grade, and teacher. Once I find the right spot for it, it will be going up on the wall. There was also a framed caricature of Kevin from a trip to San Francisco, that was done many years ago. That will be going up as well. 

So, Happy Valentine’s Day to all you Moms out there. May your little Picassos bring you home a piece of art you will treasure for years to come. Or, at least until St. Patrick’s Day!

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Superbowl Sunday

How Did These Guys Get So Old?

Did you catch that game last Sunday? Holy Cow! What a finish! I was pulling for the Chiefs, even though I must admit, I threw in the towel about halfway through the third quarter. I caught a lot of crap for it. However, I will gladly proclaim, “I stand corrected!” I will never doubt Magic Mahomes and his Tribe again! I had to pry that $1 bet from my brother Steve’s gnarled hand. 

After the game, I said goodbye to our friend Dave, thanking him once again for hosting Superbowl Sunday. It suddenly occurred to me that this was the 40th year in a row! Holy Crap! Are we getting old or what?! It all started back in 1980, when Dave invited me and my two brothers, John and Steve, over to his house to watch the Big Game. Back then, Dave was still living at home with his Mom. Mrs. Heath always fed us well during those early years. 

Time passed, and Dave eventually convinced a lovely young lady named Pam to become his bride. I can’t say for sure, but I suspect that part of their marriage vows included hosting the annual pigskin tradition, forever. As the years went by, we continued to gather at Dave and Pam’s for our annual Superbowl Celebration. The Superbowls have gotten much more competitive in recent years. Back in the ’80s and ’90s, a blowout would result in a euchre game breaking out before halftime.

Last year, my wife and I were in Maui during the Superbowl. As we watched the game from a hotel tiki bar, I tried to video-chat with the guys. However, a smear of suntan lotion on my phone made it difficult for me to see them. Or, maybe it was one too many Mai Tais, who knows? However, this year I was back at Dave and Pam’s for our annual extravaganza. As my brothers and I headed home, I wondered if we would still be watching the game together 40 years from now. Since I’m the oldest of our group, I’ll be 100 years old when our 80th Superbowl Anniversary rolls around. Wow!

Who knows? Maybe the Lions will finally make it to the Superbowl by then. Nah! Congrats, Kansas City! What a win! And as always, thank you, Dave and Pam, for being such gracious hosts over the years!

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The Wizerbeeki

Say What?

Back when my kids were little, they were addicted to The Lion King. One day, we took them to the local mall, where some of the characters from the movie were going to be appearing. I will never forget when our son Kevin spotted one of them and shouted, “It’s the Wizerbeeki!!” Huh? My wife and I looked at each other with puzzled expressions. Since Kevin was still a little guy, we had to run that statement through our Lil’ Keevin Translator, and what came out was, “It’s the wise Rafiki!” Oh! Never would have guessed that one.

For some reason, thinking about that day reminds me of song lyrics we have a tendency to get wrong. There certainly are a lot of gems out there, but from personal experience, I have found Elton John came up with some of the best ones. In Funeral For A Friend / Love Lies Bleeding, I’ve always heard, “Thoreau is in the window box do un-cide”. Nope, the lyric is, “The roses in the window box are tilted to one side.” Really? Don’t get me started on Tiny Dancer. “Hold me close now, Tony Danza.” What?

Recently, I found a website dedicated to misheard song lyrics. Kiss This Guy is a reference to the famous Jimi Hendrix line from Purple Haze, “Excuse me, while I kiss the sky”. It has some real classics. A couple of my favorites are ABBA’s Dancing Queen, “See that girl, watch her scream, kicking the dancing queen”. And, who can forget the Madonna classic, “Like a virgin, touched for the thirty-first time”.

So, check out the website and have some laughs. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who thinks Bennie had “Electric Boobs, a Mole Hair Suit”. Happy Thursday! 

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Ghost Dog

Do They See Her?

I had been missing my crazy hound dog all day. There were signs of her everywhere. First of all, I saw that stupid Facebook commercial again. The one with the gaggle of galloping basset hounds, with ears and jowls flapping in the breeze. Next, there was some guy walking his beagle-basset hound past our house. Then, the final stab in my heart, the popcorn strewn all over the ground at our nearby school. Skittles used to snarf that stuff up like there was no tomorrow. Now it just sits there, waiting for the birds or squirrels to carry it away.

I’m constantly jotting down new ideas for articles, and the other day I came across one called The Dog Tour. The premise of the story was about all the dogs Skittles and I would see on our daily walks. Some of the dogs we knew by name, like Ozzie, Ziggy, and Woo Woo (his real name is Rigby, but Woo Woo is the sound he makes when he barks). Then there were her buddies, Mindy, Jessie, and Lucy. Plus, all of the other dogs who would bark at us like we were trying to raid their milkbones stash.

Now that it’s just me on our morning walks, I would have thought these dogs would have calmed down by now. Nope. They still bark like crazy. It’s almost as if Skittles is still by my side, happily trotting along sniffing out cats and rabbits. Rumor has it animals are able to detect ghosts, and other things supernatural, so who knows? Maybe my hound dog is still with me on my neighborhood walks.  Maybe the dog tour is just saying, “Hi”. Stranger things have happened. Well, it’s time for my walk. Let’s go, pup.

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