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The Slice: Somber tales about life on the road

Sun., Oct. 19, 2008

Farm kids aren’t the only children in the Inland Northwest who learn early on about life and death.

Here in Spokane, ill-fated squirrels teach that lesson.

This is a busy time of year for the rodents. And all that scurrying often leads to them winding up as roadkill.

Some parents try to soften this sight by making up a story. But they realize their kids are growing up when a somber child makes a face and says, “You know, I find it hard to believe that all these squirrels decided to, as you say, take a nap right there in the middle of the street.”

•Gloom of night doesn’t bite: It’s worth noting that the mail carrier’s creed says nothing about big dogs.

This came to mind last week after a postman rang the doorbell and explained why my household had not received any mail for several days.

It seems another carrier had observed that a neighbor occasionally allowed some canines to run free. And so he had elected to temporarily discontinue delivering mail to several houses on the block.

•Multiple choice: Let’s say you are married and you and your spouse go by different last names. Which of the following best summarizes your experience?

A) “Compared to a few years ago, fewer people in Spokane seem to have difficulty comprehending this.” B) “A fair number of older people still don’t get it.” C) “There remain plenty of people in Spokane who seem threatened by this decision and think it stabs a dagger into the heart of everything they hold dear.” D) “Aiiiieeeeee! Think of the children!” E) “Because of some of the charming men and women who have made this same choice, I occasionally run into people who assume I am a smug, performance-progressive twit who is about to lecture them on the need to reduce carbon footprints and eat nothing but free-range soy products.” F) “I’m reminded on an almost daily basis that America really hasn’t changed all that much since people were obsessed with male hair length.” G) “I miss voting in person and having the white-haired polling place volunteer regard us as some sort of outside agitators or Commie infiltrators.” H) “It’s not a big deal anymore.” I) “Though we’ve been married longer than many couples with one last name, I still occasionally pick up insinuations that the two-names thing somehow signals less of a commitment.” J) “I know it still bugs some people. But as it happens, those anal types are exactly the ones I enjoy bugging.” K) “Are you kidding? In Spokane, all it takes to brand yourself a nonconformist is to dislike golf.” L) “As long as our checks don’t bounce, most people don’t care.” M) “Some who don’t know us assume it’s a political statement. It’s not.” N) Other.

•Today’s Slice question: What is the single most common backdrop for snapshots taken in Spokane?

Write The Slice at P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; fax (509) 459-5098; e-mail There are people who work downtown but never set foot in Riverfront Park.

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