Originally published in the May 22, 2009 edition of The Joplin Globe.


I’m having second thoughts about our 11-year-old daughter’s eyesight.

Last week, I mentioned that Emma expressed a hankering for reading glasses. And, yes, I did just type the phrase “expressed a hankering.”

This is a little-known fact, but in Bill Shakespeare’s first draft of “Romeo and Juliet” the lovely Juliet stood on her balcony and said “Romeo, Romeo, where forth art thou. I would like to express a hankering for a kiss and what not.”

I was an English major in college, so I had to read a lot of Shakespeare. I’m proud to say that in all of my reading I never once was able to figure out what the heck he was talking about. To me, reading Shakespeare is a lot like reading George Will, only without all the Ronald Reagan references. Of course, back in the day, I’m sure picking up a copy of the latest Shakespeare play was like picking up a copy of the latest John Grisham novel.

And, yes, I did just type the phrase “back in the day.” Sometimes I type something even though I have a sworn hatred for what I’ve typed.

“Back in the day” is one of those phrases I hate. I first heard someone use “back in the day” on NPR years ago. The person who used the phrase was talking about the Great Depression, which I figured qualified as being “back in the day.” But now teenagers say “back in the day” to refer to junior high school kids.

Scooter: Remember back in the day when we had to take algebra?

Biff: You mean last year?

Scooter: Yeah.

Biff: No.

As far as I’m concerned, a minimum of 50 years needs to pass before you can refer to a time as “back in the day.”

Now, where was I? Oh yeah, I was talking about Emma’s eyesight. Last week, when I talked about Emma’s eyesight, I mentioned that she had near perfect vision, but now I’m not so sure about that. On Thursday morning, Emma reported that her backpack was missing.

If you don’t know, for elementary school kids, a backpack is like Superman’s cape. They have to have it with them, although it doesn’t appear to serve any useful purpose.

When Emma reported that her backpack was missing, my wife suggested that Emma look for it in the car. Emma went outside and came back in seconds later.

“It wasn’t there,” is what Emma said.

“#@$%!” is what my wife said and then she went out to look for Emma’s backpack in her car. Seconds later she came back inside carrying the backpack.

“It was in the front seat,” my wife said to Emma.

“I didn’t see it,” Emma said.

Emma also didn’t see the two pairs of tennis shoes that were laying on the floor in our dining room. Since the tennis shoes belonged to Emma, I suggested that she pick them up.

“What shoes?” Emma said.

“There,” I said pointing to the tennis shoes that were literally at Emma’s feet.

“Oh, THOSE tennis shoes,” she said.

I don’t understand that. How can someone who can spot a clothing store from a mile away not see two pairs of her own tennis shoes parked next to the pair of tennis shoes she is currently wearing? For that matter, how can someone with (Caution: Obscure Gary Cooper reference ahead) Sgt. York-like vision not see the Rush Limbaugh-sized pile of clothes in the middle of her bedroom. Or the 389 pieces of dance-related clothes and shoes lying next to her dance bag parked next to the hall tree?

In her defense, Emma comes by her lack of awareness honestly. Emma’s mother has been known to ignore items that most folks (me) find hard to ignore.

In the past, I’ve mentioned my wife’s habit of letting her clothes pile up on a chair in our bedroom. I’m not saying my wife has let the clothes pile up on the chair in our bedroom for a long time, but somewhere at the bottom of the pile is a “Welcome Back Kotter” T-shirt.

Currently the pile of clothes on the chair in our bedroom is roughly the size of the U.S. budget deficit and, like the deficit, does not appear to be getting any smaller anytime soon. I suspect that my wife’s plan is to leave the large pile of clothes on the chair in our bedroom for future generations to deal with. But I don’t know.

The other day I gently suggested that my wife do something about the clothes deficit on the chair in our bedroom. I told her I wanted to sit down in the chair. Well, actually I expressed a hankering to sit down. You know, like I did back in the day.