Travel often aggravates the phobias we accumulate along life’s journeys.
Football commentator John Madden and many others fear flying, which is known as aerophobia. Others avoid travel in automobiles (ochophobia) or trains (siderodromophobia). Some even fear long words (hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia).
However, I’ve never encountered a term for my own neurosis, the “pack attack.”
My husband does not understand why the sight of a suitcase gives me the shakes.
What could you expect of a man who not only survives, but thrives on taking brown pants, two brown shirts and brown shoes? For fashion excitement, he adds a beige cardigan.
I like brown, too. But which brown will suit my mood tomorrow? Sepia, sienna or russet sweater? Raw or burnt umber toothbrush? So, I bring all my browns.
No wonder my dearly beloved struggles to understand. The man’s wardrobe controls the weather. If he forgets an umbrella, The Weather Channel calls a halt to all thunderstorms within 500 miles of our destination.
My packing paranoia asks, “What if?” I can’t leave city limits unless my suitcase contents cover every climate emergency ranging from a Tallahassee Ice Age to an Indianapolis volcanic eruption.
When we visit grandchildren, my entire wardrobe must be available. As long as Grandpa packs a separate bag, his clothes rarely suffer from baby body fluids. Let him share a suitcase with me, though, and a pee-a-thon — and worse — ensues. Although his preference for brown covers a multitude of sins ….
I marvel how his clothes mysteriously collapse into packets that could fit into a billfold. Once, when I foisted snow boots and my lumpy body armor bathing suit onto his bag, they promptly folded themselves into hankies.
Inspections present the ultimate torture for travelers who suffer pack attacks. Not only do strangers unwrap our Christmas gifts and wave our oversized undies like flags, they risk the entire terminal’s safety. One flip of a suitcase latch, one zzzzzip! — and my bag explodes. Shoes fly like missiles, and hundreds in line suddenly wear my wardrobe. On the positive side, they can expect lots of fashion variety.
When inspected, I miss my plane. My husband, who dashes for the gate before anyone knows we’re together, always makes it.
Airline carriers should offer therapy — and marriage counseling — for travelers in airports. They’d never go bankrupt.
Sessions for luggage also might be in order. My suitcase flips and flops like an angry two-year-old as I drag it through the terminal. It attempts to steal other bags’ identity. It tries to get lost when I travel.
I should send it to luggage obedience school.
If that doesn’t work, I’ll send it packing.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Do you suffer from pack attacks? Does your spouse?
Oh my God, thank You for 44 years of marriage! — though wasn’t it only yesterday when I thought 40 was old? Still, it’s nice to know that while Hubby got excited about standing next to an Indiana U. basketball star, OMG, he still likes standing next to me.
Ah, resolutions. As in shaping up. Getting a grip.
You gotta love ’em.
No, you don’t. I don’t, either.
I used to procrastinate, thinking long and deep about resolutions, researching, editing, and reediting. My well-honed list didn’t emerge until February. I ate junk food, remained a couch potato, and avoided being nice a whole extra month.
Recently, though, I discovered a new, improved resolution-making method that reduces procrastination, yet prevents the root-canal effect of good behavior. My secret? I make only resolutions I can keep.
Simple. Profound. Why didn’t Einstein or some other genius with funny hair discover this?
I’m already hard at work, keeping my 2019 list.
In household matters:
- I resolve not to embrace the latest décor: skinny sofas with all the cushy comfort of park benches and chairs designed by those who hate vertebrates. My outdated sofa will continue to encourage naps instead of body casts.
- I also resolve not to rearrange my current furniture. My heart couldn’t take moving it. Or, seeing what’s under it.
- I will resist the temptation to make our bread from scratch. Admittedly, I used to do this. But we must shed past follies, right?
In transportation matters:
- No white car of mine shall remain white.
- I will never take a flight to see my dad in Louisiana that doesn’t include a stop in Fargo, North Dakota.
In sports matters:
- I promise to cheer against the New England Patriots forever, even if they move to the Midwest.
- I promise to cheer the Kentucky Wildcats only if they move away from the Midwest.
In marriage and family matters:
- Even in January, I will crack my bedroom window for fresh air. An added plus: I like sleeping with a giant burrito.
- I resolve to freak out as my only granddaughter blossoms. Two freaked-out parents aren’t enough to supply the embarrassment levels every teen needs.
In miscellaneous matters:
- I promise not to pay perfectly good money to die on Six Flags Great Adventure’s Kingda Ka, the tallest roller coaster in the world.
- I will waste time viewing sunrises and sunsets.
- I promise to sing along with raindrop music, and
- I will click the TV remote when Victoria’s Secret ads appear.
Finally, in post-holiday matters:
I won’t take down my Christmas tree until I’m good and ready. Between Advent celebrations and a January 1 book deadline, I’ve taken little time to enjoy it. Besides, snow deserted Indiana this year. True Christmas tree appreciation requires snowflakes dancing outside my window. So, I’ll cradle my steaming holly mug, with carols playing and tree glowing, until my snow-goal is met.
Not that I’m procrastinating, or anything.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What keepable New Year’s resolutions will you make for 2019?
Oh, my God, facing a new year, this 1950s model feels a little dated and more than a little creaky. But OMG, with You at the wheel, high adventure awaits!
Hubby says, “Would you like to go out to eat?”
Do I like to breathe?
He complains the car is cold. However, I’m chilly, too — which never happens.
Hubby spots the problem: “Who flipped on air conditioning?”
Who can I blame? Where’s a grandchild when you need one?
Rats. They went home yesterday.
As a child, I never lacked blamees. While I longed to beam little brothers to the planet Gorlojxx, they served as excellent reasons for everything wrong with my life. I couldn’t complete kitchen assignments because they never stopped eating. I couldn’t finish piano practice because they shot me with dart guns. Later, I blamed them for my nonexistent dating life. What guy would brave those little commandos, armed with Crazy Foam™, cherry bombs and Peeping Tom mirrors?
I didn’t blame them for everything, though.
I blamed our parents, too. They should have stopped with me.
My left-handedness also came in handy. I first discovered this instant alibi while learning to tie shoes. No wonder, while doing The Hokey Pokey, I knocked down classmates like dominoes. No wonder I blew story problems, my socks slid down, and skirt zippers always wandered to the front. I was left-handed!
Later, I discovered right-handed people invented algebra. They also designed SAT tests and college applications.
The bank did not buy it, though, when I wrote my first overdrawn check.
And I thought story problems were a problem.
My generation and I blamed the Establishment, then eventually graduated to blaming the government: Democrats for deficits and potholes; Republicans for job losses and crabgrass.
McDonald’s, because they make us spill hot coffee.
If all else fails, we can blame the stars. Perhaps left-handed, too, heavenly bodies stumble in a cosmic Hokey Pokey that affects paychecks, love lives and bowling scores.
Some take the blame straight to God’s Complaint Department. “My life’s a mess. Your fault!”
He eyes the patched-up, parts-missing, jumble of perpetual motion. “Did you read the Directions?”
Funny. We rarely blame Him or other people for good things. Just sayin’.
- Instead of pronouncing traffic “god-awful,” we could describe sunsets, babies and cardinals as “God-beautiful.”
- We might compliment a busy McDonald’s employee for hot coffee.
- Or even praise a hardworking public servant.
- We could thank parents who let us live. Ditto for teachers.
- I might learn to appreciate my brothers, even if they didn’t move to Gorlojxx.
Thankfully, Hubby has not moved, either, despite living with Quirkzilla for 44 years.
Approaching the restaurant, I admit, “I forgot to turn off the air conditioning. Seriously, that hot flash would have melted Alaska.”
“Thanks for dinner out,” I add. “If I’m spoiled, I blame you.”
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Whom can you blame for something good?
O. M. G. !
Once upon a time, colleges didn’t evict students from dormitories three minutes after final exams. Back in the Dark Ages, Hubby and I stayed until the following Monday.
Eventually, some grinch discovered that supplying extra days’ heat for 30,000 students spoiled the university’s merry Christmas. College officials also realized that multitudes of sleep-deprived, de-brained students + 24-hour blocks of free time equaled … excitement.
In the early ’70s, though, they assumed we couldn’t wait to go home.
Sure, we’d missed our dogs.
If we’d hacked with colds, cough syrup and aspirin were blocks away instead of steps. We anticipated parents smearing us with love and Vicks® VapoRub®.
We’d languished without Mom’s cooking. Meals with fewer than 500 people might be nice. Plus, a refrigerator of free food would be at our disposal.
Free laundry, too! Mom might reintroduce us to clean clothes, as opposed to those sanctified by optimum time at the bottom of the hamper.
Add Christmas magic, and most students wanted to share the holidays with family.
Just not quite yet.
Having been chained to books, typewriters and labs, we needed to celebrate. Even our nondrinking Bible study required a two-day party.
We snarfed Christmas cookies by the bucket and played Monopoly all night. Only one guy owned a car, but 13 of us jammed into it, rolled down windows, and sang Christmas carols at the top of our flattened lungs. At stoplights, we emptied the car with Chinese fire drills.
Who needed sleep?
Besides, we comrades in the trenches of academia soon would part. For couples, December and January stretched like a forever, empty tundra.
During that long-hair era, guys dreaded welcome-home haircuts. We girls combed bangs out of our eyes to please our moms.
We loved our parents. But they would expect us to talk to them. To hundreds of relatives. We’d repeat our majors and future plans a gazillion times. If we didn’t have any, we’d have to make them up, quick.
Worse, our families went to bed early. At the crack of dawn, they took showers and slammed doors so a normal person couldn’t get proper rest.
Parents would expect help with the dishes. Why not summon the fairies who had done that all semester?
Ditto for putting gas in the car. Whatever happened to “free”?
Sigh. How had we lived at home so long?
After a 48-hour party, though, a 10 o’clock bedtime didn’t sound so bad. Eating a nutrient or two might be nice.
With the arrival of a station wagon loaded with delighted smiles and hugs found nowhere else on earth — well, Christmas break might be worth the sacrifice, after all.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: How did (do) you celebrate Christmas break?
Oh, my God, thank You for these poinsettias, sent weeks ago by friends whose wrapped gifts already grace their trees. The blooms have thrived at our house — though, OMG, I think they find us a little confusing.
Beware! Christmas aliens lurk in malls, mega-stores and parking lots.
Unlike gargantuan monsters on big and small screens who spit purple slime, these unearthly creatures can enter a Walmart without so much as a raised eyebrow.
Like the rest of the local gift-seeking population, they are tall, short, and various shapes, colors and sizes. They may wear jeans and hoodies or polyester pantsuits with Christmas teddy bears pinned to lapels.
Their appearance does not betray their presence. Instead, be on the lookout for suspicious shopping behaviors.
These extraterrestrials don’t aim laser cannons at shopping districts or vaporize Santa and his elves at tree lightings. Still, they could destroy holiday traditions cherished by our culture for decades.
- Christmas aliens are betrayed by their driving behavior. They stop at stoplights. Yes, really. Some even halt at stop signs. A few actually allow drivers trapped in wrong lanes to go first.
- Their parking lot behavior reveals even more sinister intentions. Instead of charging across the lot in a diagonal path, they drive in designated lanes.
- Despite plentiful targets at crosswalks, they do not accelerate. What kind of Christmas spirit is that?
- Some aliens skip convenient parking spaces, keeping them available for the elderly and expectant mothers.
- Having corralled not one, but two truant shopping carts, they may even look The Salvation Army bell ringer in the eye as they enter.
What would happen if the entire population exhibited similar dangerous behavior?
- They break the First Commandment of Christmas Shopping: Instead of inflicting shopping trips on spouses and children as a punishment, they try to make them fun.
- They also refrain from mugging store clerks when a size large or Baby Know-It-All can’t be found.
- They retrieve items from top shelves for the vertically challenged.
- They sing along with background Christmas Muzak. On key.
- They procure private places for cell phone discussions about purchasing the jingle-bell boxer shorts.
- They may even toss used paper towels into the restroom trash can instead of onto the floor.
- At checkout, they say please and thank you. And find they purchased more for others than themselves.
All these are strong indications that aliens have mounted a major assault on Christmas shopping traditions we hold so dear.
Worse yet, they enact these with a smile.
Everyone knows Christmas shopping and giving have nothing to do with smiling. After all, we are celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. God knows, He never smiled while lying in the manger. When He healed a dying little girl. Or, watched a lame grandpa dance without his crutch.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have you encountered a Christmas alien lately?