Dear Uptight Seattleite,Damn that Chubby and Tubby for making me miss them so much, especially this time of year. The little brats (I mean my dear nieces and nephews) used to drag me to the one on Aurora for our annual tree hunt. Usually you had to buy two of the "Any green tree, $4.63" specials because they came in so flat you'd have to strap a couple together to get three dimensions. They always had an excellent selection of Levi's, Carhartts, and assorted camping supplies, and I liked how they precariously stacked merchandise all the way to the ceiling. Can we demand their return, like Classic Coke or Hydrox?Nostalgic Uncle
Dear Uncle,I respect your need to look back, though I myself try not to indulge in regret of any kind. As someone with the highest regard for our hardworking librarians, I do regret putting a CD in a return slot at my local library that was clearly marked "Books Only." Generally, though, I try to look forward. It's especially important not to be distracted by the past now that we could very well be on the brink of a new age of shamanism. An age when old categories break down and we relate to each other as fields of pure energy. To prepare for these changes, we must experience the world with 360 degrees of awareness rather than our usual tubes of habit and routine.For example, "Neen knee-a pa!" What does that mean? I don't know, but I heard a toddler in the library saying it when I was sticking my John Prine in the wrong slot. Not being a reproducer myself, I generally give the little ones a wide berth, but I was struck by how intently the little girl was repeating this phrase. Everyone else ignored her while I stood behind a pillar and carefully transcribed her words into my Moleskine. I'm not saying she was some kind of herald of the new age or something, only that you have to keep an open mind or you might miss something.But I've been questioning the width of my own open mind lately, for the same reason you've been thinking about Chubby and Tubby: The holidays are upon us. I usually go on a winter retreat to escape all the hype, but this year is somehow different. For once I can't help noticing that the sensations December brings—a delicate wistfulness, with visions of a candlelit world of fellowship and good cheer—are not totally unpleasant. In fact, I've concluded that the whole "holiday magic" phenomenon may not be incompatible with the goals of an awakened consciousness, though I would still prefer not to participate in any Secret Santa schemes. And therefore (in conclusion) I withdraw what I said just now about "respecting" your needs. I hereby flat-out validate them, along with your views, feelings, and odors. Consider it my little holiday gift to you.(You might also be interested to know that former employees of Chubby & Tubby's are apparently selling Christmas trees at 172nd and Aurora, though I can't vouch for their two dimensionality.)As long as I'm issuing revisions, I should also mention that it's not strictly true that I always avoid young people. I recently picked up Deb's teenage son from soccer practice. While we didn't exactly get a smooth line of banter going—he wasn't as interested as I'd hoped in my recent discoveries about shamanism—he seemed like a nice young man. That's why I wanted to give him a little boost by mentioning him here. Hi, Chad! It was nice "hanging" with you!Dear Uptight Seattleite,This job I'm applying for requires a personality test. One of the questions was (and I swear I'm not making this up), "I have no difficulty starting my bowel movements, true or false."Jobless Jill
Dear Jill,Wait a minute! Is constipation considered a medical condition? If it is, then legally they probably can't hold it against me. But what if it isn't? Who doesn't occasionally get irregular, especially when unemployment brings changes in schedule? Is that a sin?If you find yourself thinking along these lines, you're definitely pushing too hard. Just let it come to you. See this test for what it is—a game. A really easy game, like Clue Jr. or Sorry! Once you relax, it's clear what answers will produce the most reassuring psychological profile. No, you aren't "occasionally overcome with feelings of hostility." No, you don't "sometimes think everyone is out to get you." And no, you have absolutely no issues with your bowels. You can also think of this as an audition for the game that is having a job. I predict success and regularity on all counts. Good luck!Questions? Write firstname.lastname@example.org.