Haven't I Earned a Nine-Dollar Pretzel?

Dear Uptight Seattleite,My husband and I are getting our Bumbershoot plans together, and I'm already dreading our annual discussion about the beer garden. He always insists that we bring our own refreshments so as not to spend a single penny beyond the price of the tickets. When he starts making his famous trail mix, I feel like his fruit dehydrator is sucking the pleasure out of life itself. Yes, I found his bohemian frugality charming at one time, but at my age I think I've earned the right to sit in the shade of a corporate logo–emblazoned parasol and eat a nine-dollar pretzel.Mustard-Craving Annie

Dear Annie,Let me guess: Your husband also refuses to purchase airport food. You should tell him to write to me himself so I can send him my own trail-mix recipe. One Ziploc freezer bag of it will get you to the Gorge and back, or through two flight changes. Flax seeds are key. Their mental health benefits are well-documented. But how to suspend them in the mix? They always want to gather at the bottom. "Hey, come on!" I tell them, "You know I love you guys, but you're hard to chew when you segregate yourselves like that!" I finally discovered I could embed these standoffish little fellows in dried prunes. The resulting fiber-and-vitamin-laden nuggets—flunes, I call them—are now so evenly distributed in the mix that you're pretty much guaranteed to get one in every handful. Plus, the embedding process is a meditative way to pass an evening. It's a win-win-win.But I'm guessing your issue isn't food at all, Annie. Permission to probe your feelings, ma'am? I think those hot mouthfuls of overpriced carbs you crave are symbolic of a larger happiness you feel your husband is depriving you of. But wait a minute—when did you put your husband in charge of your happiness supply? In my experience, that's something you'd better secure your own source of. The picture will be complete when you and your husband learn to partake freely of each other's happiness, whether pre-fab or homemade. I suggest you grab a handful of his right now, and offer him a mouthful of yours.Dear Uptight Seattleite,When I'm waiting to cross the street, I get annoyed when someone comes up and pushes the "Push to Cross" button. Do they think I'm not smart enough to have pushed it myself already? Or do they think my button-pushing was somehow inadequate, and they therefore need to whack it repeatedly as hard as they can?Lonnie Sideburns

Dear Lonnie,The real problem is that we need to push the button at all. There's nothing so frustrating as pushing it too late in the cycle, and then not getting the signal. Sure, you can still cross with the traffic when the light turns green, but without the comforting sanction of the little glowing white man. (As a quick aside, didn't he used to have a fedora? Or am I imaging that?) It's an outrageous misplacement of priorities that pedestrian signals don't work as automatically as the ones for cars. Drivers don't have any buttons to push. I guess that would take away from the time they need to poison the planet. Sorry, that was a hostile way to put it. Please understand that I've got nothing personal against anyone who may happen to own a car. That was just my passion talking.Anyway, I'm glad you raised this topic, Lonnie, because while we wait for the city to wake up and create signal equity (vote McGinn!), I've come up with a stopgap measure: a solar-powered hammer-and-counterweight device that strikes the button continuously. Great idea, right? Only I discovered a problem after installing a prototype at the corner of 39th and Fremont and retreating to an ivy-covered hillside with a bag of trail mix to observe the results: People seemed to be confused and alarmed by the manless hammer, especially when it continued to pound the button after the signal had changed.Well, as you've already discovered, Lonnie, there is something disturbing about mindless button-whackery. So v2.0 of my device is a stiff board that fits over the button and pushes it with a slow, gentle pulsing action. I worked on the rhythm for a while, and think I've got it just right. Perhaps someday my device will be standard equipment at every intersection, but in the meantime there's no benefit to interacting with gratuitous button-pushers. Your best bet is to stare into the distance and smile faintly.

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