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Paul Turner: Who made you the arbiter of shorts?

Paul Turner (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Paul Turner (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

I suppose those of us in Spokane have the same basic urges as people anywhere.

But we also have one extra impulse. At least some of us do.

It seems a significant number of Lilac City residents long to be the person who gets to decide who is allowed to wear shorts. Or so I have come to believe over the years.

Spokane does not actually have an official Shorts Czar. But all sorts of people apparently think they would be qualified to fill that role.

The recurring theme among these would-be arbiters of fashion is that some in our midst apparently are not svelte enough to be allowed to wear shorts.

It appears the principal requirement for wearing shorts, in the minds of the self-appointed pants-length mavens, is that one be slim, super-fit, about 22 years old and have great legs.

Funny thing, though. I’ve noticed many of those who would be the Shorts Czar would have to rule themselves out from this apparel option because they are none of those things.

Never mind that most shorts wearers are simply trying to be comfortable and Spokane has long embraced casual attire. If your appearance doesn’t meet the strict aesthetic standards of the would-be judges, I guess you’re supposed to go around in sackcloth and ashes. Even when it’s hot.

OK, some people are more attractive than others. But this is Spokane. Don’t we all have a right to tackle summer the best way we know how?

Things you find under rocks

After watching an HGTV show set in Palm Springs, I asked what was the closest to Spokane anyone had encountered a scorpion.

That prompted several calls and emails, including one from Dave Jackson, longtime teacher at Lewis and Clark High School.

In the spring of 1968, Dave and his friend Doug Beernink were sixth-graders at Jefferson Elementary. They were fascinated with the sort of creepy crawlies that unnerve some people.

“On one of our daily adventures through the many (now drained) swamps and fields of the South Hill, with nets and jars in hand, we ventured down the sand hill bluffs toward Hangman Creek, overturning rocks and logs looking for anything that moved.”

They found something.

It was a formidable looking little customer, about an inch-and-a-half long.

They got it into a jar and took it to Mr. Anderson at Jefferson, a science geek admired by Dave and Doug, kindred spirits. “He verified it was a real scorpion.”

No, it was not nearly as big as the shoe-sized scorpion that made a guest appearance on the home-remodeling TV show shot in the California desert. But to a couple of intrepid boys in search of all the wildness Spokane had to offer, it was quite a find.

Use the force

Vinyl records having been reduced to pretty much a niche item, I don’t suppose kids spend any time in 2018 posing with their friends for make-believe album covers. (Yes, that once was a thing.)

But I have an idea about how local youths can fill that fantasy gap.

You might have noticed during our period of smoke-filled atmosphere that you could look directly at the sun. Well, at least early in the morning when it was still low on the horizon and filtered by the tons of particulate matter in our air.

Friday morning, the smoke made the sun look like a big red ball. It seemed like something in a distant galaxy.

That gave me an idea.

Next time Spokane’s air quality lingers in the “unhealthy” zone, kids can take pictures of themselves and their friends pretending to be Luke Skywalker.

Remember that scene in the original “Star Wars” where Luke is standing outside, looking all brooding and sensitive with a couple of moons or planets in the sky behind him?

Well, next time Spokane’s air quality goes to blazes, kids can take pictures of themselves brooding with our seemingly red sun in the background. Of course, that might require getting up early. But they should try it. Builds character.

While we’re on the subject, didn’t Superman’s doomed home planet have a red sun? That reminds me of a story about newspaper reporter Clark Kent. Oh, but I see I am out of space.


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