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The Slice: You try counting forward, backward

Some back-to-school stories deserve to be regarded as classics.

More than 40 years ago, Eleanor Laubach’s 6-year-old nephew, Tanner, came home after his first day in the first grade. His father later asked him what he had learned.

Said Tanner, “Nothing you’d understand, Dad.”

•This date at Expo ‘74: Famed mentalist Kreskin.

Actually, the correct date was last week. But it slipped my mind.

•Mellow yellow: “Back when I drove an old, restored VW, others driving them would wave to me and vice versa,” wrote Maria Washington. “I don’t drive an older car now, so I was thinking that people with yellow cars need to be waving to each other. Don’t you think so?”

Well, there are worse gestures.

•Re-gifting classics: Here, according to a recent survey, are America’s most hated birthday presents: 1. Scented candles. 2. Cheap cologne. 3. Bath salts. 4. Decorative plates. 5. Tight-fitting clothing. 6. Cuddly soft toys. 7. Artificial flowers. 8. Socks. 9. Boxed handkerchiefs. 10. Novelty mugs.

Hmmm. Maybe that should be taken with a grain of bath salt.

A couple of those don’t sound so bad. And when I saw “handkerchiefs” I checked the press release to make sure the survey wasn’t conducted in 1959.

But here’s a tip. One way to deal with people obviously disappointed with their gifts is to give them nothing next time.

•Philosophy of the day (Lilacianism): “Everybody has to believe in something, right?” wrote Dennis Held. “I believe in Spokane.”

•Slice answer (summertime transitions): “I was always one of the glasses-wearing (thicker every year), good grade-getting bookish types in my schools,” wrote Christy Himmelright. “The popular crowd acknowledged me, but I was not invited to join.

“The summer between my sophomore and junior years in high school, I shed the glasses for contacts and had my hair cut into one of the first ‘blow dry’ styles seen in our area.

“When I returned for that first day as a junior, many of my longtime acquaintances and classmates thought I was the new girl in school. It was a heady moment.”

•Eat it: North Idaho’s Doug Burr noted a story about fast-food chains exploring how a person’s car can be the basis for predicting what meal he or she will order. He thought it made for a natural Slice question: What does YOUR car say about what you will want to eat?

I’d answer first, but I suspect my family’s cars send conflicting signals.

•Warm-up questions: How well would you survive without ever hearing another word about long-suffering Cubs and Red Sox fans? What’s the surest sign that breasts have been augmented? What year was the zenith of Hillyard’s heyday?

•Today’s Slice questions: What are this area’s most clever vanity license plates? (Assuming you are willing to allow that there can be such a thing.) How about the most annoying?

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