If you have ever enjoyed a box of Cracker Jacks you may recall that each box includes some kind of semi-excellent prize. I quickly learned that those trinkets, along with the peanuts, usually settled to the bottom of the box during shipping. Thus, by opening it from the bottom rather than the top, I was saved from having to eat my way down to the prize and, of course, the peanuts.

As you might expect, the anticipation of discovering the nature of the surprise in there, which might include anything from a pretty neat decoder ring to not-all-that-neat stickers or something, soon became our overriding interest in getting a box of CJs.

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Rite of passage

Seaman Apprentice Birong

The U.S. ended military conscription in 1973. Prior to that, every young man, upon reaching the age of eighteen, was required to register for the draft (as they are to this day, by the way). And then, before the ink was dry on the registration form, each would be on his way to a boot camp somewhere. Of course, there would always be those who would manage to avoid this responsibility one way or another, temporarily if not completely, but most would eventually board a bus bound somewhere for a very short haircut.

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Romancing the bus

As I pointed out in an earlier essay of mine, I have never been a bus driver. Nevertheless, I have extensive busage experience. I rode a bus back and forth to school, I am estimating, a minimum of two hours per day, five days a week, over a period of about nine years of my young life, thus accounting for who knows how many total hours (feel free to do the math).

Those long rides, day in and day out, were pretty boring, so, along with most everyone else on board, I was always on the lookout for some activity to occupy my time. In retrospect, homework or reading would have been an obvious option. But my peers and I were far more likely to be socializing on these protracted trips. At some point, though, as a young teen whose frontal lobes were still largely vacuous, it occurred to me: Why not pursue a little romance? I mean, really, what better way to get to know an attractive co-ed than to sit down next to her at dark-thirty in the morning for some idle conversation?

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School busage

Dave and his Cool Bus-with Fuji the artosauraus up there.

My dear friend, Dave, drives a bus for a school district in the great state of Washington. His kids, who ride with him every day, have come to refer to his vehicle as the “cool bus,” which comes as no surprise to those who know him. But Dave has rules for his kids, one of which is:

No explosives allowed!



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Against the grain

Have you ever tried to stroke a cat’s fur in the wrong direction? If so, you probably only did it once.

But such contrary action does not always result in undesirable consequences. For example, this past Saturday afternoon, while looking for BOGOs in the ice cream section of Publix, I noticed on my list that I had forgotten something located completely across the store in the bakery section. So, I wheeled my cart around and headed back, as it turned out, against the grain.

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