JIM DODSON: Quiet Summer Never Arrived
The house is finally quiet. The kids are back at school. Summer 2008 is all over but the Labor Day picnic. Time to tally up the numbers
-- Number of times before Memorial Day I remarked, "You know, honey, I sure am looking forward to a slow and relaxing summer this year": At least 50.
-- Actual days that were slow and relaxing following Memorial Day: None that I can recall.
-- Cost to fill up my car when gas reached $4 per gallon in early July: $52.
-- Number of days I rode to work on the second-hand bike I purchased to send a message to oil companies: Exactly 1.
-- No. 1 reason why I rode it only once: The header I took when I tried to wave to a neighbor, caught my pants cuff in the chain and did an embarrassing somersault over the handlebars.
-- Number of days I limped to work after nasty bike accident: 20 or so before I gave up and just drove.
-- Amazing number of cable channels available on our new High Definition cable unit: 610.
-- Number I'm able to access without teenager assistance to operate remote: 0.
-- Times I promised my wife I would finally address the impossibly cluttered garage problem: At least 20.
-- Actual time spent addressing the impossibly cluttered garage problem: 45 seconds.
-- Number of times I promised the gang we'd go to the beach for a "whole week of fun in the sun": A dozen, give or take.
-- Number of days we actually went to the beach: 1 and 1/2.
-- "Hey, everybody, what do you say we go to the beach for a whole week of fun in the sun -- next year!" Translation: When gas is cheaper and I'm less so.
-- Amount of weight I vowed to drop at the start of summer: 20 pounds.
-- Amount of weight shed from carrying a player standard during 100-degree heat at the U.S Amateur: 10 pounds.
-- Amount of weight put back on after consuming a cold six-pack of Bud Light Lime after nearly dying of heat exhaustion while carrying a standard at the U.S. Amateur in 100-degree heat: 10 pounds.
-- Amount of weight I still vow to drop here at the end of summer: 20 pounds.
-- Average longevity of a new jumbo box of Yogurt Burst Cheerios with teenage children in the residence: 17 minutes.
-- Average longevity of a new jumbo box of Yogurt Burst Cheerios with parents only in residence: 6-8 months.
-- Number of fully paid theater admissions to "Batman: The Dark Knight" by teenage residents of home: 12. Family teenage consensus: "Greatest film ever made. Heath Ledger for Best Actor!"
-- Number of fully paid theater admissions to "Batman: The Dark Knight" by parental residents of home: Once was plenty. Family parent consensus: "Isn't that the same joker my daughter's been going out with?"
-- Average summer bedtime of household teenagers: Unknown data.
-- Average summer bedtime of household parents: 9:15 p.m.
-- Time spent by household teenagers laughing at miniature Chinese gymnasts and watching the live telecast of historic Beijing Olympics by teenage residents: 192 hours. Like the Internet, they never really never sleep.
-- Approximate number of hours spent watching live telecast of historic Beijing Olympics by household adults: 0. (The gymnasts were on past our bedtime.)
-- Number of expensive sirloin steaks cooked on fancy new outdoor gas grill: 20-25.
-- Number of expensive sirloin steaks inadvertently turned into inedible chunks of carbon because of owner's refusal to read instruction booklet: 20-25.
-- Number of eyebrows burned off because of improper lighting technique: 2.
-- Typical weekly grocery bill without household teenagers in residence: $120.
-- Typical weekly grocery bill with teenagers in residence: $975.
-- Number of basic personal-care products (soap, shampoo, deodorant, etc.) used by younger household teenagers on daily basis: Little or no usage determined.
-- Most commonly used parental expression to younger household teenagers regarding apparent lack of basic personal care products: "You guys smell like a walking locker room. When did you last take an actual shower?": 128 times.
-- Most commonly used response by younger household teenage residents: "Uh, yesterday I think. But I can't be sure. Besides, mom, we're on summer vacation.": 128 times.
-- Number of successful foul balls caught by fleet-footed youngest family member during Fayetteville Swampdogs game: 1.
-- Number of irate fans threatening bodily harm to the oldest family member who inadvertently spilled the entire contents of a jumbo grape drink on a row of patrons while attempting to lunge for same foul ball: 10 or 12, counting the drink vendor who dropped his tray.
-- Number of times household males (all ages) forgot to flush or thoughtlessly left toilet seat up: Lost count.
-- Times female household members threatened to retaliate by feeding the TV remote to the dogs: Apparently not enough to make an impression.
-- School tuition, textbooks, new clothes, mad money: You don't want to know.
-- Cost of summer-ending family farewell supper before everyone went back to school or college: $150.
-- Number of times since then I've complained, "Gosh, honey, this house is way too quiet. I sure miss the kids.": Already lost count.
Best-selling author Jim Dodson, The Pilot's writer-in-residence, can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.
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