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This column reflects the opinion of the writer. Learn about the differences between a news story and an opinion column.

Opinion >  Column

The Slice: Just how scientific is the smell test?

Who makes the call in your household?

You know, when someone withdraws a plate or bowl from the fridge, holds up the aging leftovers and asks, “Do you think this is still good?”

It’s a pretty big responsibility, when you think about it.

How to tell if someone is actually listening to you at a holiday party: If you mention that you grew up in Whoville and the person to whom you are speaking says “That’s nice,” he or she isn’t really listening.

If you inexplicably decide to do your impression of police Captain McCluskey in “The Godfather” — “I’ve frisked a thousand young punks” — and the person standing next to you just stares off into the distance, he or she isn’t really listening.

If you ask if the person knows about “R-rated Spokane Valley mistletoe” and he or she says nothing, that individual is not really listening.

If you say your children are named Donner and Blitzen and the person facing you says “Uh huh,” he or she isn’t really listening.

If you say “Oh, I wish I had a river I could skate away on” and nobody even says “What?” no one is listening.

If you say “I just retasted my eggnog” and the person replies “Sounds good,” he or she isn’t really listening.

If you say the Island of Misfit Toys is in Lake Pend Oreille, well, you know.

Reader challenge: The New York Times occasionally has a pulp fiction contest in which readers are invited to parody the form. That struck me as an idea worth stealing.

So what if Slice readers were to come up with titles for 1950s-esque pulp fiction novels set in Spokane?

Looking for a label: A band called Fruitcake would play what sort of music? How about a band called Roast Beast? Zuzu’s Petals? Fra-gi-le?

Twelfth month: I’d like to leave you today with an observation made by the great American social scientist, Merle Haggard.

If we make it through December

Everything’s gonna be all right I know

Today’s Slice question: How old do you have to be to remember an on-site office Christmas party that got out of hand?

Write The Slice at P. O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; email And there were in the same country marmots.

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