Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Stunted Development

When I was 11 years old, my parents moved to Utah for 3 years, which really did a number on my friend quotient.

This is one example of what happens when a tween has too much time on his hands. For more stories, go here, here, here or here.

It was Valentine's Day. In elementary school, this was the day to find out just how popular you were. It laid bare the truth of what people thought of you, based on the quantity of Valentine cards and the quality of candy attached.

As a brand new Utahn, I felt a driving need to make a real splash my first year. I knew I was lost in the obscurity of the cliques and carefully arranged social hierarchy.

I also had pretty much every afternoon free from annoying distractions like friends or a social life.

The result?

I decided to make the biggest possible Valentine box. The inspiration came from one of the wardrobe boxes my parents used to move to Utah. Have you ever seen those things? For an 11-year-old kid, it looked like you could fit a whole car inside.

I decided to make one to look like the Tower of Big Ben. I used poster board to make the roof, and after drawing on the clock, I knew it needed a little something extra.

That's when inspiration struck. I decided to make a face and have the mouth be the slot for the cards. I also decided it would "Super Fun" if I used light bulbs for the eyes and nose. Then I could have them flash on and off whenever a card went through the slot. (I used one of those long skinny bulbs for the nose.)

Because I still hadn't brushed up on my electrician skills, the only way I could make the flashing face work is if I was hiding inside the box and flipping the switch each time.

So ...

I got permission from my teacher to come in early from recess to deliver my own Valentines and slip into the box unnoticed. Once all the kids started delivering their own, I had to flip that switch like crazy. It was thrilling to see how many times something came through the slot. I began to daydream about all the popularity I'd achieved with my Big Ben wardrobe box and how I'd be showered with praise once I finally revealed how it worked.

What I didn't know was how the kids kept testing the light bulbs. They were so amazed that they shoved anything they could into the slot: pencils, pens, paperclips, candy wrappers, garbage.

I had an amazing pile of stuff that year, but half of it belonged to the school or had to go right into the trash can.

And for the record, despite their interest in my box, I still wasn't carried around on their shoulders or invited to any after-school parties.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

"You too"

I have this nasty habit of saying stupid things.

I know.

It's a shocker, isn't it?

One of the most common is when I reply with "you too" to someone helping me in a store or some other customer service situation. It just comes flying out of my mouth, even if it is completely inappropriate. It's as if I have a very specific form of Tourette's.

You can guarantee that if someone says any of the following, I will inevitably follow with an enthusiastic "you too!"

"Enjoy your movie."
"Good luck with your interview."
"Enjoy your purchase."

I also have the uncanny ability to say "you're welcome" before anyone has a chance to say "thank you."

It's a gift.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sinking to a new low

Those who were around in 2009 may remember my nearly constant problem of getting mistaken for a woman on the phone.

I call it getting "Ma'am-ed."

Well, last week, I hit an all-time low. By now I'm used to hearing "ma'am" all the time, but this time, I called the LDS distribution center.

This is a store where Mormons can pick up Mormony things, like scriptures, hymnbooks, pictures of temples, etc.

I wanted to know if they had a particular book in stock.

You know when people are really happy and peppy on the phones?

Whenever I'm confronted with someone like this, who probably has a massive sugar high from eating a dozen jelly-filled donuts, I unconsciously try to match their energy level.

My voice inflection becomes like a roller coaster at Disneyland, and my volume rises to the point that I sound like I'm stuck in a wind tunnel.

Well, this lady was EXTREMELY friendly, and I didn't even realize how enthusiastic I had gotten on the phone. I'm surprised the world didn't implode from the joy of our little conversation.

This may or may not have had something to do with what happened next.
(End Tangent)

When she got back on the phone, she said:

"Okay, Sister. It looks like we have several in stock."


To fully understand the crippling embarrassment of this word, you have to understand Mormon culture. In the Mormon church, Brother and Sister are used as prefixes, just like Mr. or Mrs.

In the many years I've been getting Ma'am-ed, I've never been Sister-ed.

Now I'm going to go console myself with a dozen jelly-filled donuts.