Friday, April 13, 2012

Horizontal Stripes and Plastic Indians

Right now in America there are great quests happening. Important, life changing quests. That's right, it's time to shop for a swimsuit. There will be thousands of pages of magazine articles dedicated to tips and tricks for finding "your perfect suit". Talk shows will model this season's hottest styles for hiding your problem areas. You gentlemen might compare this to hunting down your perfect lawn mower. The biggest and baddest model that will give your yard that Wrigley Field look.

The strategy is to walk a fine line between shopping early when selection is best and waiting for the first sale of the season, so you don't pay full price. Then you must deal with the sea of options available, halter top, boy shorts, zero turn, fifty inch deck, horizontal stripes...not on your life! All 4,783 magazine articles will tell you horizontal stripes are going to make you look wider. Who on earth wants that? If you're not careful you could end up looking like your grandmother only thirty pounds heavier or mowing your back forty with a push mower.

What happens when you can't find what you're looking for? Despite mighty shopping marathons and Internet searches into the wee hours of the night you've come up empty handed. Do you settle for second best? You could just wait it out another year. Or, do you come up with a new solution.

The perspective changes a little bit when children are involved. My son, bless him, follows in my husband's genetic footsteps. I had rather hoped my kids would get a height boost from my side of the family, but so far it is not to be. Caden just fits into a size eight dress pant, and when I say just I mean it won't button past May. For his Easter outfit we tried eight styles and four purchases. The best fitting pair came only four inches past his toes. He wore his regular Sunday suit with a new shirt and tie for Easter. I'm contemplating dusting off my Mom's old sewing machine and my equally dusty Home Ec sewing skills.

That was a search that met in compromise, but sometimes in the world of childhood that won't do. Take for instance in second grade when students were to build their own Native American housing model. My son made a beautifully painted teepee with weeds from our yard as prairie grass. It was A+ quality work, but little Jim Bob's Dad had gathered real sticks from the woods to make a fire ring and Jim Bob's Mom got plastic cowboys and Indians to set all around his tent. What did Jim Bob actually do on this project?

The gauntlet had been thrown. There was no way we were turning in a teepee without plastic indians. The quite obvious point we were missing is that this type of play is no longer consider politically correct. After searching through every gift shop, gas station and toy aisle in a three county radius I was hysterically beginning to wonder if I could pass off ninjas and firefighters with out my son noticing. When there in a dusty corner of a dollar store was the last known pack of cowboys and indians. I grasped them to my chest and dashed for the register like I had found the only nourishment left on the planet after Armageddon. My son would not know disappointment this day! Plenty of other days, but not today!

Interesting how the drive to succeed in a quest changes per individual. Generally I will bide my time or find a creative new solution if I can't find what I'm looking for. We have an ancient dresser that is falling apart, but a new one is not in the cards right now. Enter built-in shelves for the closet and some storage bins, and we have a cheaper answer. If something is important to my husband he will keep searching until he finds exactly what he's looking for. That's how he got such a great wife. If it's not a big deal he'll take the first thing that comes along. That's how we got his last truck. Or do I have those two things backwards?

Maybe that's how we should take on life too. This is the path we're creating for ourselves. Why just settle when you could be out finding what you want. Whether it's more time with your kids, a spiritual make-over, or a new career path, go on that quest.Create a solution or hunt it down.

After all, you don't want a ninja outside your teepee do you?


  1. I. Love. This... Really brilliant, Chas. This is what fresh, relevant writing looks like.

  2. This is great! I love how you weave all sorts of seemingly irrelevant concepts and tie them up pretty in a package with a great bow! And humorous to boot! Way to go!