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Dress rehearsal for anarchy masquerading as my nephew Alex's 6th birthday celebration. Alex is holding the box. (2005)
Last fall, my sister, Shannon, started her first real job in her life. After getting her doctorate in English from Ohio University, she was hired as a professor at Otterbein College. This actually worked out really well, because Otterbein is in the Columbus, Ohio area, just about an hour north of Athens, Ohio, where Shannon, her boyfriend Ray and their son Alex had been living for the last several years.
So last summer, they moved north and ended up in Upper Arlington, Ohio.
Ray is still working as a mason, Alex is making new friends and Shannon is learning all about college life from the other side of the desk.
Remember when Grandma, Marie and I went to the Tallahassee Museum? When we were in the giftshop, I remembered that Alex's birthday was coming up soon in April. So I loaded up on a bunch of cool little stuff for him, including:
Couple days later and I was walking into the UPS store near my house with the bag of goodies. After talking with the owner about what I had and what it was for, he helped me devise the optimal packing solution. We just filled a box full of styrofoam peanuts and mixed all the stuff in with it. He said, "Your sister's going to kill you." I just smiled knowingly and went home to send Shannon an e-mail message with an appropriate warning.
Fast-forward to Saturday morning (a couple days ago) and Shannon is telling me how she's taken after our mother and cleaned the entire house from top to bottom in anticipation of the ten children (and maybe some parents) coming over that afternoon for Alex's birthday.
When I ask if she still knows where the box is that I sent, she says yes, it is accounted for, and then asks, "Do you want Alex to wait until his real birthday next week to open it?"
"No," I tell her, "but you might want to have him open it either before or after the party."
She doesn't say anything and I remind her about the styrofoam peanuts and she says, "Oh yeah. We'll open it when Ray gets home before the party."
We hang up and I go on about my day (poker for eight hours at a friend's house — I made about $100).
Later that night, I call Shannon to see how the party went and she just says, "Those styrofoam peanuts..." I immediately remind her of my warning and she says she forgot and proceeds to tell me the story:
"We had all the presents lined up and yours was last. It didn't even occur to me about the styrofoam peanuts because I was busy taking pictures and keeping track of a list of who gave Alex what so he could write Thank You cards later. When Alex got to your box, he opened it up and started going through it. The other kids were helping and when they realized there was a bunch of little stuff in there, they decided to dump it all out.
"Do you know how much static electricity is in a box full of styrofoam peanuts? They were sticking to everything... the furniture, the walls, the kids. I swear we had enough to charge built up in there to power half of Upper Arlington.
"So then the kids started running around the house, leaving trails of styrofoam peanuts everywhere. So in addition to the spilled drinks and dropped chocolate cake, the styrofoam peanuts made the house a bona fide disaster zone. When the parents came by to pick-up their kids, they were appalled at how much the house had changed in a couple of hours.
"So I ended up cleaning the entire house twice: before the party and after."
Apparently, Alex likes all the stuff I sent him. Can't wait for my Thank You note.
Couple random notes about the party:
Yeah, I missed two days in a row. Blame it on spring fever.
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