Category Archives: Glo Magazine

Glo Magazine May 2017: The Real Winner

When I was a little girl, my mother and I engaged in a bizarre ritual each evening that can only be described as a cross between a friendly competition and an all-out war.

It went something like this: Each night when my father pulled into the driveway, my mother would announce his arrival and declare that she would be the first to greet him when he walked through the door. Never one to back down from a challenge, I would race into the kitchen and wriggle my three-year-old self through the Julie-sized space between her legs in order to plant myself in front of her when my father appeared.

I got the first hug every time.

As proud I am of my undefeated record in this particular sport, you had to give credit to my mother for the way she handled every loss. While I gleefully recounted my victory to anyone who would listen, my poor mother had to contend herself with the consolation prize of putting my father’s Thermos in the sink and hanging up his coat. She didn’t seem to mind getting beat by a toddler and if I didn’t know any better, I would say she actually wanted me to win.

As if losing to me every night was not enough, mom also had a tendency of taking a backseat to my grandmother, especially after my grandfather died and grandma wasn’t as active as she used to be. Not long after I moved out, mom and dad got into the habit of taking my grandmother out to dinner with them every Friday night and every Friday night, my mother insisted on waiting in the car while Dad collected his mother at the door and saw her safely inside at the end of the evening. She sat across the table from the dynamic duo as the two of them chatted happily throughout the meal and more often than not, she was left to put on her own coat while my dad helped his mother with hers.

Yet, Mom harbored no resentment at her second place position in my father’s life. In fact, she told me many times she was proud that my dad and I had a close and loving relationship until the day he died. She delighted in the fact that although he was no longer a little boy, Dad was still the apple of his mother’s eye. By encouraging a strong bond between Dad and the “other women” in his life, mom believed it made her relationship with him even stronger and believe me, my father knew who the real winner was in his life and how without her, he would be nothing.

“I have always loved you…marrying you made my life complete. You are the best thing that ever happened to me and I have received everything from life than anyone should…because of you,” he wrote to her in 1987.

This month, as we honor the women who brought us into the world, let us not only recall the ways in which they “lost” so that we could win, but the selfless ways they put someone else’s needs ahead of their own and how so often they dimmed their own light in order to let someone else shine. Happy Mother’s Day!

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March Column for Glo Magazine: Parting with the past

emotionalspringcleaning       At the beginning of the year, I made a big decision to reorganize my life. Now, I’m not talking about a simple spring clean or installing in a new storage system to contain my sprawling stash of “stuff.” I mean a comprehensive, conscientious overhaul of the way I live and the things I surround myself with. In short, I am parting with the past, prioritizing the present and focusing on the future.

I’m not going to lie; it is a time consuming and emotionally draining process. In the past few months, I have purged my closet of the items I no longer wear and those I never wore. I have eliminated a number of books from my library that I simply had to buy in hard back (and at full-price) the day they were published and I have tossed out the toys I was hanging onto “just in case” one of the kids wanted to play with them again. Yes, I realize my sons are 27 and 20 and it’s safe to assume they no longer have need of them, but if you saw Toy Story 3 well then, you feel my pain.

If this isn’t enough, I also pledged to cook dinner nearly every night, keep a clothing journal in order to get the most out of my wardrobe and to unplug from my iPad/electronic device at least one night a week. The first two have been relatively easy but the last one is a bit like detoxing from an addiction. If you try this yourself, you can expect to experience a few withdrawal symptoms and plenty of setbacks.

So why am I doing any of this? I’m in a new season of life and I’m making broad sweeping changes. It’s refreshing, but it’s also a double-edged sword. My mother warned me about this several years ago, but I didn’t believe her. She said there would come a point in which I would be able to have a simpler and more orderly lifestyle, but I thought she was crazy. I could not imagine a time in which I was not ensconced in a whirling vortex of entropy. Chaos and I went together like peanut butter and jelly. I suspected we would be together forever. I was wrong.

While it is nice to have a home that stays relatively clean most of the time, I miss the little fingerprints that used to smudge up every surface. Although there is serenity in a home-cooked meal for two, it pales in comparison to those frozen family feasts we used to consume on the fly. And while it is nice not to have to buy new clothes and to unplug from the virtual world from time to time, it comes with the realization that everyone has finished growing and you are no longer required to be a phone call or a text away.

“Julie, when you come home and realize everything is exactly as you left it… it will be the saddest day of your life,” Mom told me.

As with most things, she was right and it happened sooner than I ever thought possible. Yes parting with the past opens up on a fresh new beginning, but it also closes the chapter on the previous story…the one you didn’t know was over until you found yourself bookmarking the last page.

 

 

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February 2017 column Glo Magazine: Here’s the Story…

florence-henderson-smileEvery once in a while, my writing career allows me to do something that I think is really cool. So cool in fact, that if I were to go back in time and tell my younger self it was going to happen…I probably wouldn’t believe me. Over the years, I have interviewed my musical idol (twice), called my childhood celebrity crush, met legendary journalists and best-selling authors, hung out with athletic icons and conversed with the man who, this month, will become the Vice-President of the United States. However, one of the stories I am proudest of is my interview with America’s Favorite TV Mom and Dale, Indiana native, Florence Henderson.

I cannot recall a time in my life when I was not crazy about The Brady Bunch. Although I cannot remember watching it when it originally aired, I rarely missed an episode in syndication. Coming from a small, nuclear household, I loved everything about the hustle and bustle of having a big, blended family like the Brady’s. I wanted problems that could be solved in 30 minutes or by building a house of cards. I wanted enough talented siblings to start a singing group. I wanted to square dance in the living room. And most of all, I wanted a mother who had nothing better to do with her day than to help me track down my lost diary, perform “Wherever We Go” at my high school talent show or help me stalk Davy Jones and convince him to take me to the spring prom.

Don’t misunderstand me, my real-life mother was a lovely lady, but she was no Florence Henderson. She couldn’t sing, didn’t needlepoint and (thankfully) did not wear her hair in a horrible mullet. In fact, the only things she had in common with Carol Brady was her Hoosier heritage and that she occasionally made pork cops and applesauce for supper.

Through my interview, I would learn that even though Florence Henderson was Carol Brady, she was more multifaceted than her television counterpart. Born on Valentine’s Day into a large, but poor Catholic family, Henderson grew up near the Ohio River, was taught by the Sisters of St. Benedict in Ferdinand, Indiana and moved to New York at the age of 17 thanks to the financial support of some personal friends.

She was the “Today Girl” on NBC’s Today Show, was the first woman to sit behind Johnny Carson’s desk on The Tonight Show, appeared on Broadway in a number of productions, did a stint on Dancing With The Stars and was a spokesperson for everything from Wesson Oil to Polident and most recently, the LG ProBake Convection oven. She was a regular fixture at the Indianapolis 500, a benefactress to the nuns who educated her, and a consummate professional who was devoted to her family, her television children and fans.

“I have been very blessed in my career,” she said in the interview. “I love what I do and I am always thinking the best role is just around the corner. I’ve always said I’d think about retiring when I’m 95! I love the challenge of performing in front of a live audience.”

She was certainly blessed and for all of us “Brady kids” around the world, we were blessed to have been impacted by her through those 117 zany episodes. The loss of Henderson on Thanksgiving at the age of 82 is a difficult one to accept. She was our surrogate parent who was there to greet us after school. She kept us company until dinner time and showed us that even though life isn’t perfect, we can achieve a happy ending provided that we find out what we do best and then do our best with it and no matter what, “don’t play ball in the house.”

RIP Florence, we’ll miss you.

Follow Julie Young on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authorJulie Young

On Twitter: @JulieYoung14

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March Column Glo Magazine: Let’s annoy Dad!

bro5        Once upon a time, before weeklong day camps were established by every local organization, centered around every possible interest and available en masse throughout every school holiday, two paycheck families scrambled to find short-term care for their offspring wherever they could without expecting an enriching experience in return. Because Spring Break was a shorter recess than our Christmas or Summer Vacations, it was the one time of the year that my father used some of his paid-time-off so that he could spend some “quality time” with his kids.

Translation: Our regular sitter was unavailable and Mom couldn’t get the time off so Dad was stuck with us.

This arrangement was fine with my brother and me. In fact, it was perfect. If Spring Break happened to be warm and sunny, the two of us would hop on our bikes and head over to our friends’ houses for the day; something we couldn’t do when we had a babysitter. We’d give dad a vague notion of where we were going, he would pretend to hear us and we would make it home before 5 p.m. There was an unspoken understanding among us that if Mom got home before we did, we’d all be busted (Dad included) and no one wanted that to happen. However, if Spring Break proved to be cold, rainy or subject to a late-season snow, my brother and I resorted to Plan B; fallback diversion known as “Let’s Annoy Dad.”

Now don’t misunderstand me. My father was a wonderful and caring man who loved us very much, but he was Old School and took a hands-off approach to raising children. He prided himself on the fact that he only changed one dirty diaper per child. He was physically incapable of being around anyone who was sick because it triggered his gag reflex and he answered every question with a standard, “What did your mom say?”

A few days prior to Spring Break, my father would lay down some official ground rules about our time together. Number One: He was not going to entertain us all week. Number Two: He couldn’t cook so we were expected to make our own lunches and clean up after ourselves. Number Three: We were not to bother him if he was in his workshop, the bathroom, garage or Ham radio. (Note: he was always in one of these places.) Number Four: We knew the house rules better than he did, so we were not to get him in any trouble with Mom. And of course Rule Number Five: Don’t forget Rules 1-4.

With the rules in place, the object of “Let’s Annoy Dad” was to get him to do some fun things during Spring Break without breaching any of his commandments. It wasn’t easy. You had to catch him at the right time and balance the wheedling, coaxing and cajoling in order to convince him without pressing your advantage. The winner was the child or children that could talk dad into at least one trip to the bowling alley, park or video arcade and bonus points were awarded for scoring all three in a single week.

Despite my father’s supposed aversion to parent/child bonding, deep down I think he enjoyed “Let’s Annoy Dad” as much as we did. He got to be a kid again and I learned how to get to the fourth level of Ms. Pac-Man, bowl a strike and do a back flip off of the monkey bars. Sure I may have missed out on the educational aspect of a structured program, but I ended up with memories…and if you ask me, that’s priceless.

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December Column Glo Magazine: Aren’t You a Little Old To Be a Disney Princess?

She is the 59-year-old wife of a former Corellian smuggler, the mother of three, a politician, revolutionary and trained warrior. Although she is a far cry from the doe-eyed ingénue I first saw in the summer of 1977, when she returns to the big screen this month after a 32-year hiatus, she will become my favorite “Disney” princess for all time. She is Leia Organa of Alderaan.

Now, before you purists out there start sending in the hate mail disputing whether or not Leia qualifies as a true Disney princess, let me ask you this: Has she ever gotten lost in the woods? Is she missing at least one parent and have strained relations with the other? Does she have an assortment of cute, comical sidekicks? Does she have a rogue boyfriend? Does she sport a trademark hairstyle? I rest my case. Let’s move on…

Leia           I was five-years-old when I “met” the adopted daughter of Bail and Breha Organa and believe me, it was love at first sight. I was among that first wave of kids who stood in line to see Star Wars at the local single-screen movie theater back when there was only one movie and before George Lucas redefinied numerical order as we knew it. Like a lot of little girls I had been raised on a steady diet of traditional fairy-tale princesses who sang to woodland creatures and cleaned house until their prince came to carry them away but Leia was a princess for a new generation. She had the bravery of Merida, the moxie of Mulan, the beauty of Belle and understood difficult hairstyles better than Rapunzel herself!

Leia may have been a damsel and she may have been in distress, but her reactions to peril are anything but conventional. She had no trouble talking back to authority. She could take charge of any situation. She knew how to wield a weapon when necessary and Lord help the scruffy-looking nerfherder who got in her way. She was an iconic character who was everything I wanted to be when I grew up: strong, courageous, independent and vital to the storyline. She was the epitome of a feminist role model long before I knew what the term even meant.

Leia2          I find it interesting that my mother introduced me to classic “house of mouse” royalty such as Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, but it was my father who first took me to see Star Wars. My dad gave me a princess who didn’t need a ball gown or a great pair of shoes to make an impression on those around her, but possessed a spirit and spunk big enough to outshine any fashion statement including buns, braids and even a metal bikini. She may have been a princess in need of rescuing, but throughout the course of the original trilogy, she does a fair amount of rescuing herself. Not only does she blast her way into a garbage chute in order to escape certain death, she co-pilots the Millennium Falcon twice, rescues Han from carbon freeze, kills the creep who objectifies her, and still manages to take down her enemy after getting shot in the shoulder. What more could a little girl want?

Leia 3            How about a princess who knows how to age gracefully? That’s right folks, according to the latest trailer for Episode VII, it appears that the good people in charge of the Star Wars universe have decided not to give Leia a Disney makeover. Based on the footage I have seen it’s obvious that after 40 years, the clock is well past midnight, the glass slipper no longer fits and it’s OK to be a little older, a little wiser and yes, even a little grayer. While all of the other princesses have been restored, remastered or digitally enhanced so that they look as good as they did when they first arrived, Leia proves you don’t have to look as you did a “long time ago” even if you do live in a galaxy far, far away.

Although I initially struggled with the idea of Disney owning the rights to the Star Wars franchise and making new movies, I’ve made my peace with it. I am even OK with Leia taking her rightful place as a Disney princess. She is one of the most well-written female characters of all time and no doubt she paved the way for people like Hermonie Granger, Katniss Eberdeen and even Mia Thermopolis (The Princess Diaries.) She is a personality who stands the test of time and proves over and over that she is still a “force” to be reckoned with.

Welcome back, your highness. It’s good to see you again.

Follow Julie Young on Twitter: @JulieYoung14

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Glo Column November: I’m Thankful for Kelly Jones

boy-in-love     When I was in the second grade my teacher came up with an end-of-the-week ritual in which the class gathered at the front of the room, held hands and shared aloud those things for which we were especially thankful. It was an exercise designed to fill our hearts with gratitude, but filled the teacher with regret the day that Davy Williams* confessed his feelings for fellow seven-year-old Kelly Jones*.

Davy was a transfer student who joined our class at the end of October. He was a tall boy with a sandy mop top and before he could turn in his lunch money or sharpen a No. 2 pencil, he fell head over heels for Kelly, who was my best friend at the time.

It was easy to see why he was smitten. With her long blonde hair and clear blue eyes Kelly was not only the most popular girl in the second grade, but she was by far the prettiest. Unfortunately Kelly didn’t know Davy was alive, that is until the Wednesday before Thanksgiving when we assembled for a special holiday version of our Sharing Circle.

Although there were no hard-and-fast rules about what we could and could not say during this event, our teacher expected us to take it seriously, offer up a heartfelt intention, and be respectful of one another. While little kids are not known for their deep philosophical thoughts, we managed to come up with a motley assortment of responses ranging from the superficial to the significant.

There were always one or two students who could be counted on to rattle off something eloquent and profound while making the rest of us look bad. (Usually the same kids who ruined the grade curve for everyone.) There were also a few wise guys who incorporated a lot of crude humor in their thoughts (seriously, who is grateful for the ability to belch?) and naturally, there were those blatant suck-ups who waxed poetically about the school, teacher and principal in hopes that their abject appreciation would win them a few extra brownie points. (It never worked.)

And then there was Davy, who after weeks of pining over the girl of his dreams, decided to do something about it. I have no idea if he actually planned this caper or if he acted on impulse but when his turn came, he didn’t say he was thankful for anything normal like frozen pizza or his favorite sports team. To everyone’s surprise he blurted out, “I am thankful for Kelly Jones.”

Kelly turned a brilliant shade of scarlet and her hand clenched around mine like a vice. The room erupted in whoops and catcalls you expect from such public declaration of affection and it took the teacher several minutes to settle the class so that we could continue. As we worked our way around the room, everyone waited with bated breath to find out how Kelly would respond. Would she reciprocate Davy’s feelings or would she break his heart?

“Kelly?” The teacher prompted. “What are you thankful for?

Kelly squared her shoulders, put her hands on her hips and glared daggers at the lovesick boy across the circle from her. “I’m thankful for my cat,” she snapped.

Davy and Kelly never got together and we never had another Sharing Circle after that incident. Officially, the teacher said we lacked time in our schedule but personally, I think she hated to see her simple gratitude session segue into a second grade soap opera. Nonetheless, it remains one of my favorite holiday memories and the reason I continue to be very thankful for a precious thing called puppy love.

*Names changed to protect the innocent.

 

 

 

 

 

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Glo Column: The Things that Start with “V”

Viagra     Let’s face it; if you live in a house full of males the way I do, there are certain conversations that, no matter how delicately you approach them, are going to be…difficult. Over the years I have had to explain how babies are made, why the bed sheets are moist (even though no one wet the bed) and why it’s important to lock the bathroom door when you need a little “private time.” However, nothing compares to the day you have to tell your better half he may want to talk to his doctor about a certain little blue pill.

Without going into the highly personal events that led up to this discussion, let’s just say the time had come to have “The Talk.” Believe me, I didn’t want to. After all, we are still in the newlywed phase of this marriage. I only got my wedding dress back from the cleaners a month ago and it seemed awfully early to be having these kinds of problems but let’s face it: the man isn’t getting any younger. His over-the-road schedule is taxing and it’s only natural that it affects every other aspect of his life.

I tried to be subtle at first. I quoted a statistic I heard on a commercial which suggested 40 percent of males over the age of 40 have this kind of issue and it’s not as rare as one might think.

“Did you know it was that common?” I asked.

“Nope,” Mr. Oblivious replied, fixing himself a bologna and cheese sandwich.

After dropping a few more hints he refused to pick up on, I was deflated and in a moment of desperation, I made a spur-of-the-moment, ill-conceived decision that caused my cycle to go out of whack and left me in a state of panic for a week and a half. Once the scare passed, I informed him that I would never be so reckless again, not even to boost his fledgling “ego.”

“Look, I understand this is uncomfortable for you and I sympathize with that, but these changes are a natural part of life. Luckily, the whole thing can be solved medically and it’s really not a big deal, but you have to book the appointment and find out what a doctor can do for you,” I insisted.

“Fine,” he sighed limply, resigned to his fate. “I’ll schedule an appointment tomorrow.”

He did…and scheduled a vasectomy.

Folks, I could not make this up if I tried. The man scheduled a vasectomy! While I admit my solution also began with the letter “V” I assure you a vasectomy was not what I had in mind. When he told me the news, I blinked the way Boy Wonder does whenever I’ve thrown too much information at him. “Um…exactly why are you getting a vasectomy?” I inquired.

“You told me to,” he said.

Oh no I didn’t. I assure you that at no point in this discussion did I ever lobby for a vasectomy. First of all, why would I do that when I am in perimenopause? And secondly, how sick would I have to be to suggest the secret to extending his endurance begins with a sharp object?

For the life of me, I could not figure out how he had arrived at this conclusion. I mean, was he not present for the false starts and stops over the past few months? What did he think the problem was and more importantly, why did he think a vasectomy would solve it?

I replayed my words in my head and realized that although I never campaigned for the procedure, I never really said what I wanted. I danced around the subject with innuendo, but I was never blunt. I remedied that situation with a few choice statements that I won’t repeat them here. Trust me; I got my point across.

I doubt it will be the last time we have a communication breakdown, but hopefully the next misunderstanding does not come down to two words whose only similarity is a starting letter and are the difference between taking gold in the freestyle or merely being dead in the water.

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Glo Column July: The Greatest Investment

book     A few years ago, I was on tour with my first book when I was asked to speak at a small parochial grade school just south of Indianapolis. The audience was a group of junior high students who were thrilled to learn that I was not some 80-year-old, gray-haired nun waxing poetic about some long dead saint from Terre Haute, but I could also speak fluent Classic Rock as well.

After a half-hour chat about the book and answering questions about what it was like to be a “real” author, a boy near the back raised his hand. I expected him to ask one of the typical questions I usually receive at this type of thing such as: “Have you written anything else?” “Who were your favorite authors as a kid?” “Are you famous?” or maybe, “What is your favorite Zeppelin song?” but instead he surprised me by asking, “What was the most important lesson you learned in college?”

It was an inquiry that put me back on my heels for a minute. My first instinct was to talk about my craft and how my education helped me improve my writing style or balance my life with the demands of academia (keep in mind I was 30 before I pursued a college degree,) but something in the back of my mind told me he needed something more…profound. In that moment, I decided to shoot from the hip and give it to him straight and this month, instead of my usual humor, I’ve decided to share that answer with you, dedicating it to every reader who is going back to school this semester, or contemplating an education in the near future:

The most important lesson I learned in college is that a college education is a venture in the only sure thing there really is in life…you. Let’s face it; there really are no guarantees. None of the major milestones we achieve are a one-sided proposition. We may grow up, learn to drive and buy that first car, but it will break down, may be involved in an accident and will ultimately need to be replaced. You will get jobs and you will lose jobs. You will buy a house only to have to replace the roof, furnace or call in a plumber on a Sunday morning for an outrageous fee. Some of you will get married but unfortunately, statistics say approximately 50 percent of you will end up divorced and I promise you your children will not do everything you expect them to so the only thing you can control in life is you and that begins with your college education.

You see a college education isn’t just more of the same old grind. It’s the time in which you see how everything fits together. Until now, you have been immersed in theory, but college is all about practical application and gaining experience in those areas that you are passionate about. If you are like me, you may have asked, “When am I ever going to use…?” but I assure you, there was not one class I took in college that I did not use in the real world. (Aside from Algebra, of course.) College helped open my eyes to the world in a whole new way, made me a well-rounded, confident lifelong learner and gave me a transferrable skill set that will help me land on my feet no matter how rough the road gets.

But it only works if you devote yourself to it, remain committed and have the right attitude, because you are the only sure thing you have. Your success or failure rides on you. Not your major. Not your professors. Not your advisor. You. I make very few guarantees in life, but I promise you this: your college education will be the greatest investment you will ever make and the one thing you can truly bank on, or your biggest financial mistake. The choice is yours. Which will it be?

Good luck to everyone going back-to-school this year. My thoughts and best wishes go with you. Stick with it, never give up and know that I am rooting for you!

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March Glo Column: Perusing the Protection

Protection    As a general rule, I am not one to lurk about the family planning section of my local drug store and certainly not with my 18-year-old son in tow. However, when the pharmacy’s printer suddenly went on strike during a routine pick-up, we were directed to a small enclave of standby customers clustered around a wall of products all promising Ft. Knox level protection with a cornucopia of kinky bonuses.

I’m telling you; it was an eye opener.

“What do you suppose they mean by ‘Fire and Ice’ sensations?” I muttered as Boy Wonder groaned quietly beside me. “I’m serious. Is that like putting Icy Hot down there? Lord, I don’t like that feeling on my shoulder, let alone a private part.”

“Hey, did you see that nice blood pressure machine over there,” the prude interjected, trying to divert my attention. “Why don’t you go get your blood pressure checked?”

I ignored him and continued to peruse the merchandise. Once upon a time, before intimacy was a matter of life and death and safety became the industry byword, product options were limited to a red box and a blue box. Now, thanks in part to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, a handful of other conditions and the cleverness of the good people at the Church & Dwight Corporation, there was a wealth of choices complete with a wide range of special effects. I’m not kidding. No matter what your deficiency, there is a product to compensate for it. Quite frankly, I don’t think that George Lucas had this many bells and whistles when he filmed the original Star Wars movie.

I discovered that depending on my mood, I could be pulsed, twisted, tickled, ribbed or, so help me God, “charged.” Electro shock therapy aside, there were boxes that boasted “extended action” (though exactly what is being extended remains a mystery to me), a “triple threat,” an assortment of fruity flavors, fun colors, two different sizes, several quantities and an ominous line of goods designed “For Her Pleasure.” I’m not exactly sure what is going on there, but I would love to tell the bozo behind that misnomer that there is not a woman alive who places the success or failure of her entire experience in a sliver of latex and unless that box also contains a bottle of champagne, a dozen roses and a massage, you clearly aren’t thinking about her at all.

The more I contemplated this area of retail, the more I realized that the industry leader remains a brand of products synonymous with a group of legendary losers. I am not sure who came up with that namesake or why millions of people seem to trust it but wasn’t a failed defense system the plot line of that tale? If I remember my mythology correctly, a group of warriors feeling rather cocky about their prowess went to sleep safe in the notion that their fortress was guarded against all unwanted invaders. However, when the opposing army penetrated their city walls sheathed in disguise, those goobers couldn’t protect themselves, let alone anyone else!

I pointed all of this out to my son and said that despite the distinctive helmets and a profile that looked great on the logo, perhaps naming something after those connected to one of the biggest security breeches in history may not have been the smartest marketing move in the world.

“Maybe not, but it’s obviously working for them,” he said. “Still, I see your point. It sure does seem like they backed the wrong horse.”

 

 

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February column for Glo Magazine: You Can Talk To Me

I’m not sure why, and maybe it is the retro hipster in me, but every once in a while, I like to go a little crazy and have a conversation with another human being.

Not text. Not an exchange of e-mails. Not a “thumbs up” or a quick comment below a status, but a real, live, honest to goodness chat. I’m telling you, it is the biggest rush to walk up to someone in a store, exchange a few pleasantries, conduct a bit of business and move on with my day. Unfortunately, not everyone shares my affection for interaction and I suspect that before long, the lost art of conversation will become as obsolete as Beta videotapes, mood rings and pet rocks.

I realized this the other day when I popped into my local tanning salon for a 10-minute warm-up when the woman behind the counter asked, “Did you check-in online?”

I handed over my key fob feeling like a little kid who should have known better. “No,” I admitted.

“Well, did you know that you could do that?” she pressed through a tight smile.

Actually, I did. I had received a notification about it, but I kind of liked the idea of walking into the place and having a brief exchange…something ever so rare in our all-too-automated world. However, I was too embarrassed to admit that so I said no. What’s a little white lie among friends?

Big mistake. By feigning ignorance, I was treated to a five-minute tutorial about the company’s convenient, online check-in process. I pretended to be interested, but I couldn’t help wondering if it would have been easier to simply scan my card, take my fingerprint and assign me to a bed.

A few days later, I ran into a similar situation at the post office. Boy Wonder had assembled several care packages for the troops overseas and although we managed to print off a mountain of customs forms at home, I didn’t want to press my luck trying to purchase the postage online. This faux pas was the first thing I heard about when we arrived at the local branch.

“You know, you could have done this online and saved us a lot of time,” the man behind the counter noted.

I suppose I could have but maybe I wanted the thrill of watching my federal employee perform the job that my tax dollars are paying him to do. There is no discount or benefit to my buying postage at home, so why not help the guy earn an honest buck? I felt like replying, “Maybe I simply wanted to have a live conversation with someone outside of my own family today, but instead of welcoming me into your place of business, you’re pffended that I expect you to kick it old school and interface with me!”

Look, I appreciate technology and automation as much as the next person, but are we really saving everyone a few steps by eliminating the chatter or are we innovating humanity right out of business? I’m not sure, and while I may be old fashioned, I have no intention of giving in completely. I’ve been a talker all my life and I’m not going to stop now. So, you can spend a half hour explaining a process that would make Gone with the Wind into a short subject in hopes that it will effectively end our real time relationship and enable you to avoid me completely, but I won’t sign up for it. I will be back and when I return, I will still expect you to take five seconds out of your day and talk to me.

After all, I’m just kind of crazy that way.

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