Sunday, May 14, 2006

Stealing from Paul

As I inhaled a bag of salt and vinegar potato chips earlier today, I noticed with some wonderment that there was a small “ARTIFICIALLY FLAVORED” disclaimer camouflaged on the front of the bag. Of all the flavors that would seem easy to reproduce without the wonders of modern science, you’d think salt and vinegar would be right up there with “your own saliva.”

It reminded me of the tiny print that says “cheese food” on packets of processed cheese slices. Surely, there is a distinction between regular cheese and cheese food that I am just not catching. The industry definition of cheese food is probably something like this: “Cheese was tangentially related to the manufacturing of this food-like treat,” which then translates to: “The guy in the factory was eating real cheese when he pushed the button to make this stuff.”

These are the kinds of thoughts that can occupy your mind when you don’t have children. After you have a baby, I imagine, it’s all you can do just to keep their little fingers out of your eyes. There’s no time to think about stuff like why Corn Pops and Apple Jacks are the only cereals that come in foil bags instead of plastic ones.

I bring this up because we just found out that another one of our friends is pregnant. I know they don’t mean to do it, but all these pregnant people are really applying some serious peer pressure to their not-currently-reproductively-inclined friends. Peer pressure was much easier to handle when your buddies were just trying to get you to smoke.

For now, though, until we have kids of our own, we’ll devote our energy to looking after our little Paul. He’s growing up so big and strong. I remember the day we brought him home from the nursery, all wrapped up in his little burlap sack. Come to think of it, that sack may have been a wee bit scratchy, but it worked out fine because Paul’s roots were safely buried in a big ball of dirt. We still had to be very gentle with him, though, because he turned into a little fussbudget when we accidentally snapped off a few of his branches.

My wife Kara and I spent over an hour choosing the best Japanese maple tree from a huge garden center. As soon as we saw Paul, we knew he was the one we wanted to take home. We carted him over to the cash register, then carefully loaded him into our car and strapped him in.

According to the white plastic card that came with Paul, you should always dig a five-dollar hole for a fifty-cent plant. A hipper person would probably be able to make a comment about 50 Cent here, and maybe mention his gardening proclivities, but I don’t know anything about 50 Cent except that he raps and people shoot him a lot. Regardless, Paul was much bigger than a fifty-cent plant, and he required a herniated-disk hole.

When we finally rolled Paul across the driveway and plunked him into the hole, I reached into his branches to remove the tags. One of them said, “Japanese maple: Acer palmatum.” Another one contained a small ad for the garden center. Then I noticed a pink tag hidden away inside the tree that I hadn’t noticed before. I ripped the tag off, held it in my hand and winced as I read these words: “SOLD: Hold for Paul Wishner.”

The last Google search I did took .06 seconds to execute, which was much longer than my moral dilemma lasted as I surveyed Paul’s enormous root ball and pictured trying to pull him out of the ground to bring him back to the store. You could tell he’d kind of gotten attached to us, anyway. I bet Paul Wishner would be happy to know that we dedicated a memorial tree to him in our front yard, though he probably wishners that he had the tree instead.

You can comment on this column-like paper product online at mikectodd@gmail.com.

8 comments:

  1. I was wondering why you called the tree Paul. What a fun story to have to tell people. lol

    Love it!!

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  2. Having babies, just like smoking and getting married, are usually the result of peer pressure. But they're worth it. Mine started walking this week.

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  3. I meant to say also that I think you and Kara need to cave to the peer pressure and have a little Todd running around. How cute would that be? And think of all the new stories you could share with us!

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  4. i too have friends who are planting seeds, in the womb, not the ground.

    i have found that my newest hobby, gardening (which mostly entails airing out ye-old-butt-crack) has kept my mind off of doing such family planting.

    cheers.

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  5. Anna -- I definitely can't think of another Paul word to hit you back with. I guess that's Anna-uff with the name puns.

    Sheri -- Not you, too! Haha. I think the world can wait a couple more years. I kind of enjoy not touching poop for now.

    MoN -- That is awesome, man. Congratulations. I guess you don't have to worry about forgetting where you set the baby down anymore. It'll just find you. I wish my keys could do that.

    Bags -- Keep on airin' it out, man. Thanks for dropping by.

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  6. Paul Wishner5/17/2006 11:15 PM

    What do you expect me to do about this? Branch out and find a new tree? Ba dum bum bum.

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  7. Sheri, how dare you suggest that our noble Todd go off and have (gasp) BABIES! He'd be so busy, we'd never get to enjoy his wit and wisdom!

    I say, enjoy the freedom while you can, Todd! Being without rug rats has its advantages!

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