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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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The Slice: Young and old alike dress like slobs

One of Spokane’s long-embraced myths holds that our attitudes about casual attire are sharply divided along generational lines.

You know, older people here are mature and appropriate, while younger people dress like slobs.

OK, maybe there was some truth to that once. But not anymore.

I’ve spent a lot of time in busy medical waiting rooms in recent weeks – my wife has been experiencing some troubling eye issues. And I’m here to tell you that senior citizens, a lot of them anyway, do not dress up when going out in public. Which is fine.

If you want to wear camo shorts and a tank top to go see the doctor, that’s what you ought to do. I suppose.

But perhaps it’s time to abandon any idea that, in Spokane, older people still dress like Ward and June Cleaver while young people have no standards.

Let’s move on.

It’s not all bad: Sometimes the news is so consistently sad or exasperating, getting out of bed can seem almost pointless.

But then you might miss the little girl who says, “Hi!”

Parents know many preschool children go through a phase where they acknowledge virtually every stranger with a cherubic, one-syllable greeting. There’s nothing particularly personal about it. The kids, innocent as baby birds, tend to say that to anyone who comes into view.

But sometimes that happy “Hi!” is just what you need to hear. Sometimes it is the antidote to the news or your personal funk.

No, it doesn’t make everything better. It doesn’t magically solve all our problems.

It’s more of a reminder, really. A reminder of life’s sweetness and hope.

And when you smile and return that greeting, it’s OK if the little girl doesn’t really understand it is coming from your heart.

How to note Canada Day in Spokane: I’m sure that I seem obsessed with this quirk of latitude. I must have mentioned it a dozen times over the years. But I think it’s fitting and proper for Spokane residents to note on Canada Day (Monday) that the Lilac City is farther north than Montreal, Toronto and a whole host of other Canadian cities.

And maybe, in the gone but not forgotten spirit of SCTV’s “Great White North,” you should refer to a Spokane mayoral candidate as a hoser or tell a co-worker to take off.

Let this be a warning to you: Certain Spokane area supermarkets have astonishingly little employee turnover. Or at least not enough to suit me.

So if you happened to mention following a certain baseball team to a grocery cashier during an era when that team was consistently excellent, there’s a good chance that same cashier will track you down in the store and want to talk baseball at length when your once-proud team turns into a hapless laughingstock.

Multiple choice: Which would you rather be called at this time of year?

The Nightcrawler King, Mr. Softballhead, Driver’s Ed, Ms. Swimmer’s Itch, Marmot Man, Hoopface, the Human Fudgsicle or Spokane’s Missing Link.

Seasonal tip: You know those signs at Silverwood advising you to secure personal articles before going on certain rides? Pay attention to those warnings. Unless you want to be on a roller coaster and realize everything in your shirt pocket is experiencing weightlessness and about to launch into space.

Of course, you can always clasp a hand over said pocket. But unless you are one of those arms-in-the-air people, you might find you need both hands for your personal survival strategy.

Three peripheral takeaways when you are devoting your summer to reading all of the fat volumes making up Robert Caro’s mammoth LBJ biography: Before electricity came to the Texas Hill Country, farm wives there lived lives of such unrelenting, back-breaking drudgery that it makes you embarrassed for ever having complained about some chores you had to do.

It’s impossible to be adequately cynical about politics.

Once someone mentions the narcotic wonder of homemade peach ice cream, you never really get it out of your head.

Slice answers: In the spirit of welcoming summer, readers were asked last month what went through their minds as they fell from a treehouse.

Bruce Au said he feared that if he got hurt when he landed, his mother would kill him.

John Mraz recalled a moment from his 1950s childhood on an Eastern Washington farm. “We had a treehouse (more of a platform) in an old box elder that grew alongside a creek that ran through our barnyard. One day I was horsin’ around on our timber condo and a board gave way. As I had visions of Wile E. Coyote momentarily suspended in space, I had the foresight to lunge for a branch. I grabbed it and swung out in a trapeze-like move that could have gotten me on Barnum and Bailey’s payroll. As I proudly grinned at my athleticism, the limb broke.

“I landed flat on my back in the middle of the creek. Once again, I had cheated death.”

Readers also were asked if Joni Mitchell could name an album after the sound of sprinklers – “The Hissing of Summer Lawns” – what would a Spokane song collection inspired by the ubiquitous drone of mowers be called?

Bill Baxley had an answer. “The Sounds of Silence, Not.”

Things that can happen in Spokane: If you have wild strawberries growing at your place and tell a visiting 4-year-old that bears would enjoy them, later on you just might find that wide-eyed child staring out a window in hopeful expectation of seeing a family of fruit-loving bruins stop by for a snack.

Warm-up question: Is the member of your household who is always first to detect the aroma of a skunk, and thus facilitates the early closing of windows, known at this time of year as “Oracle” – after the Donald Pleasence seer character in the 1965 western “The Hallelujah Trail”?

This month’s Slice question: If you consider Monday to be the start of the second half of the year, how do you plan to make it better, on a personal level, than the first half?

Columnist Paul Turner can be reached at Number of Slice contributors who have orbited the Earth: 1. Though it’s two if you also count an astronaut with local ties I spoke with by phone and subsequently referred to more than once in print.

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