January 22, 2013 in Features

The Slice: Avoid reminding them about the tongue on the frozen flagpole

By The Spokesman-Review

There are certain advantages to having lived in different parts of the country.

For one thing, it encourages you to assess people one at a time and not rely on simple-minded regional stereotypes. This is helpful, for instance, when one starts to suspect that everyone in Idaho is nuts.

Still, those of us who did not grow up in the Spokane area definitely miss out on something. We never bump into our grade school classmates.

That might not sound like a big deal. But in a way, it is.

I have a friend, Jeri Hershberger, who occasionally sends me a note when I mention someone she knew at Wilson Elementary back in the day. She still crosses paths with some of her old milk-money pals. And I am so jealous.

How sweet it must be to see someone with whom you shared that third-grade “Band of Brothers” bond.

“Larry? Is that you? Hey, man, good to see you – you old paste-eater. Can you believe we made it? I thought we would be washing chalkboards for the rest of our days.”

Associations we form later in our school years can continue to be cherished, of course. But once the whole sexual awareness thing happens, something changes forever.

Your elementary school classmates, however, were like fellow oarsmen chained to their stations in “Ben-Hur.”

“Children, no talking!”

Just a few short years removed from being truly young and free-spirited, you shared the burden of coping with an oppressive system that sought to erase your individuality and grind away your creative edges.

OK, it wasn’t really that bad. But your grade school classmates were the ones who knew you back when you were first forging a public persona. They knew you when your mantra was “Please don’t call on me … please don’t call on me …”

How could you not have lingering affection for those with whom you shared those formative times?

So if you are lucky enough to bump into a monkey bars buddy in a grocery aisle and peruse family photos, don’t take it for granted.

Some of us can only fantasize about that.

Today’s Slice question: If you are, say, 50 or 60, have you ever felt that people who happen to be half that age tend to view your particular stage of life as indistinguishable from full-blown advanced-years decrepitude?

Write The Slice at P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; email pault@spokesman.com. Some siblings who are not biologically related (adoption, “Brady Bunch”) get told by strangers that they have a marked family resemblance.

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