While I officially hate clover, I always look forward to taking our Sunday evening family walk through the neighborhood. We spend so much of Sunday cooped up in the house that it's a good way for us to be active without doing anything too inappropriate on the Sabbath. (On a side note - Can somebody please give me advice on how active is too active on Sunday? For example, my 7-year-old son loves to play tackle football with me in the backyard. On Sundays he will ask, "Dad, can we play tackle football?" and I will say, "No, that's not the best thing to do on a Sunday." He will then ask, "Well, can we just play catch?" and I say, "Sure, that sounds about right." Then he will ask one of those gray area Sunday questions, such as, "Well, can we play one-hand touch football and not keep score?" and I respond with, "Uhhhh...go get me an Old Testament and open up to Deuteronomy somewhere..." Please answer my poll question on the right to give me some advice on this vexing Sabbath observance question.)
Observation #1 - Electricity: The Meanest Utility on the BlockNearly every house we walk past has a large electricity box (unit? housing? doo-dad? I'm useless) the size of a small dog house planted in the front yard. There is an ominous warning label on the outside that looks like this:
I love how aggressive and angry they make electricity look in this picture. It gives you the impression that electricity has the same disposition as a rabid, ill-tempered, hungry wolverine that will sucker punch you from behind without warning or provocation. These electrical boxes are double reinforced and locked with one of those huge locks that can withstand a bullet from a .45 Magnum. You would seriously have to be MacGyver or a bored raccoon to get the thing opened and expose yourself to possible electrical harm. Instead of making electricity look like the bad guy, I think the label should show an apologetic blob of electricity saying, "Dude! I tried to warn you! This is all on you, homie." The person smoldering on the ground would be wearning a dunce cap.
Observation #2: The Squirrel-ing
I have not seen M. Night Shyamalan's last movie, The Happening, but I have heard that people go insane and look for random, grotesque ways of killing themselves. Their thoughts were probably eerily similar to some of mine while taking Chem 101 at BYU. I am positive that the suicide-inducing epidemic from The Happening has infected every squirrel in North Carolina. Seriously. I honestly believe that every single one of them has a death wish. When I drive to church at 7:15 on Sunday mornings, the following disturbing event happens about ten times between my home and the meetinghouse:
1. I see a squirrel standing on his hing legs on the side of the road, frozen in fear.
2. I say, "Don't do it, squirrel, don't do it!"
3. The squirrel suddenly darts straight in front of my car and stops in the middle of the road.
4. I swerve within my lane to try to make the squirrel pass safely between wheels.
5. I feel a barely noticeable "thump...thump."
6. I close one eye and try not to look in the rear view mirror.
7. I look in the rear view mirror.
I think I have killed 14,836 squirrels since I moved here in 2003 despite my best efforts to avoid the little buggers. During our walk we probably saw at least twenty of these sad little reminders of just how stupid squirrels can be. (I was going to post a road kill photo, but it was just a tad too gruesome even though I tried to keep the picture somewhat tasteful. I learned that some things, no matter how hard you may try, can never be tasteful. Road kill falls into this category.)
Observation #3: The Complexity of the 7-year-old Boy
One minute my son is completely transfixed by a smushed squirrel on the side of the road and we are having to prevent him from poking at it with a stick. The next moment he is pickig wildflowers and giving them to us in a bouquet. I'll never figure this kid out.
Observation #4: Sister Missionaries and a Life-and-Death Decision
We happened to bump into the Sister Missionaries during our walk, which is very rare with the large ward boundaries we have. Being the responsible parents that we are, we stopped in the middle of the road to chat with the Sisters. (If you are not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and have never spoken with the missionaries, you can chat live or call them at 1-800-537-6600. They are some of the best young people in the world and have a wonderful message to share.) As we were talking a car came around the corner and began heading right at us. For a moment I was terrified that it was being driven by 38 angry squirrels who were finally seeking their revenge on the person who has singlehandedly decimated their population.
As I processed the situation, I realized something terrible - my son's bike had fallen in the middle of the street and he was trying to pick it up, but couldn't. I was standing behind the stroller and instinctively ran into the road get my son and his bike out of the way. The only problem was that we were on a hill and the brakes on the stroller weren't on, so my daughter in the stroller started to zoom downhill the moment I sprang into action to get my son out of danger. Now both of my kids' lives were in jeopardy and I was left in that horrible parental predicament of, "I can only save one kid. Which one do I choose?" Well, I made my choice. Fortunately both kids survived. I will never, ever tell my kids which one of them got my help and which one got the shaft. I'm a horrible father.
Observation #5: I Will Get Blown Up One Day
We probably walked past as many discarded cigarette butts as we did dead rodents. North Carolina is home to cities like Winston, Salem, Tobaccoville, Cancerboro and Emphazymaville. I'm pretty sure Joe Camel was born in Charlotte and the Marlboro Man was Governor for 16 years. Needless to say, a lot of people smoke out here. One of my all-time pet peeves is when the driver in the car in front of me flips a cigarette butt out the window and it passes directly beneath my car. I am always afraid that I have a gas leak and the small spark from the butt will ignite the gas line, causing my car to burst into a mushroom cloud of smoke, fire and old Depeche Mode CD's. Maybe I played too much Spy Hunter as a kid. I'm pretty sure the cause of my untimely death will look like this:
Observation #6: Kids Are Gullible
One of our neighbors has an Invisible Fence to prevent their dog from leaving the yard. I'm pretty sure they also have an invisible dog, but that's beside the point. Our son saw the Invisible Fence sign beneath the mailbox and asked what it was. Being the dad that I am, I told my son that there was an invisible force field-type fence protecting their yard, kind of like on Star Wars. My son looked at me unconvinced, so I walked onto the lawn and put my hands up like a mime and pretended to push against the invisible fence. My son believed me and then came forward slowly reaching for the fence. When he realized I was pulling his leg, he immediately tried to trick his little sister into falling for the same prank. This is what it looks like to push against an invisible fence:
Ah, kids. The never ending comedic prop.
Well, my calves are burning, my hammies are aching, and I need a drink of water. Thanks for coming on a walk with me today. Now I just need to cross the street one final time to get home. Uh, oh, there's a squirrel right there! Don't do it, squirrel! Don't dart in front of me. I can't stop the stroller......!!!!!
*MY COMMENTS ABOUT YOUR COMMENTS***
-Andymann: You said that your rule for physical activity is that you should not do anything that cannot be done while wearing you Sunday best, therefore football is out. I can see the logic in this guideline. However, does this mean that you can coach football in the backyard? Mike Nolan of the 49ers coaches in his Sunday best. I also played a ton of soccer with little Chilean kids in the street during my mission, so soccer technically meets your definition of an appropriate Sunday activity. Does this mean that you wold endorse two-hand touch football?