#61. Customizing Your New Jansport Backpack


My family always went to Costco, because back then, when it was Price Club, you actually got a great bargain by buying bulk. But this meant I had waayy more school supplies than I ever needed. Need Scotch Tape? How about 20 dispensers? Need a Sharpie to label your hoodie? Now you have 49 too many. Want to start writing a journal in a composition book? Now you have enough paper to write an autobiography. Go!

Like me, you probably spent the rest of your time within the warehouse improving your physical and mental agility. In between making mad dashes from the snack sections to the shopping cart, juking and spinning around the other customers with a gallon of ice cream and beef jerky tucked under your arm like a pro running back, you honed your Jedi negotiation skills by convincing the old ladies who were handing out samples of freshly microwaved hamburgers, that

  1. You absolutely did not need parental supervision to eat the sample
  2. That it was in their best interest financially to let you try it, since at that point you were “very interested” in purchasing a box just based on the smell alone
  3. And that no, that other kid who swiped three servings and ran away a minute ago was NOT you.

Finally came the highlight of every Back-to-School shopping run: getting to pick out a crisp new Jansport backpack!

Whoa whoa whoa, hold on there spaz, you found the color you wanted, but you can’t just wear it out of the box! People will think you’re a freak. You gotta go through the Jansport customization check list: Continue reading

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#60. Reaching into the fountain for a quarter

It was always slightly out of reach, but the moment you spotted one, you rolled up your sleeves, had your brother hold your ankles and went for it.

Your dignity?… Gone. Instantly.

You had to do it. Free money.

And back then, 25¢ got you either…

5 Bazooka Joes (rock hard? Absolutely.);

    Continue reading

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#59. How to be a Baller – by Uncle Scrooge

Let’s be real, even though Launch Pad was probably your favorite character (or maybe Huey, Duey, or Louie: whoever was the one with that really scratchy voice… “But…Uncle Scrooooge!”) you still had to respect Scrooge McDuck.

Starting everyday with a dip into a shimmering pool of gold coins?

The dude flat out knew how to live it up.

And he also made you dream…

About one day being so rich that you could buy your own Hover Board and flying Delorean.

About being able to buy all the toys at Toys ‘R Us and owning all the Nintendo games in the world (always was my wish while holding my breath through tunnels).

Continue reading

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#58. A semi-educational moment: Everyday French with Pierre Escargot

French or Spanish?

It’s a month before your first day of junior high and you’re staring at your elective class request form, which is due tomorrow. With a simple check of a box you’re about to commit yourself to learning one language for the next six years.

It seems like a fairly easy choice, since there doesn’t appear to be any real world application in being able to speak French as an American. Still, the fantasy of being semi-fluent in French has its appeal.

For one, the thought of learning the language makes you fantasize of one day navigating through the country on your own to finally try a croissant that didn’t come in a Costco-sized 12-pack (you always started off strong, but by croissant #3, you were already fuckin’ sick of them), and also to find answers to those burning questions you had about French culture…

Such as:

1) Do students there really dress like Madeline? (Awesome?)

2) What is the official French stance on french fries? Is it similar to how Canadians call Canadian Bacon, ham? And what’s with dipping it in mayo?

3) If there really is no age limit for alcohol, are the streets in Paris filled with extra-wobbly toddlers? And if so, would this scene be funnier than having the kids replaced with drunk, belligerent dwarfs in leprechaun outfits?

That’s a Tuborg bottle on the left, which means these are some Danish babies. Skål!

Yes, these are questions that need to be answered, but what is more important are the skills you will hopefully learn from the classes.

Such as: Continue reading

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#57. The Great Wakkorotti presents: Jingle Bells

A classic guaranteed to make you laugh!

See if you can get up to 1:09 without smiling. It’s a challenge that I still lose every time.

Spielberg’s such a genius… and Christmas is only six months away!

Photo source: 1

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#56. So you were a Cheez Ball addict too…

If you’re like me, Mr. Peanut actually doesn’t remind you of nuts at all, but instead his image still triggers a Pavlovian Response to the greatest snack in the history of snacks… Planter’s CHEEZ BALLS!

Don’t get me wrong. Cheetos were also excellent, but you ate Cheetos like you ate chips, a couple at a time. Eating Cheez Balls was like eating popcorn… nonstop fistfulls rammed into your face until it was all gone.

Five orange fingers after a bag of Cheetos? Pure gluttony. After a tin of Cheez Balls? Socially expected behavior, as long as your palm was also covered in the magical cheese dust. Seriously, only freaks would ever eat popcorn or Cheez Balls one at a time. Continue reading

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#55. Dissection Day!

For some reason, probably due to pressure from aggressive P.T.A. moms, the school district approved giving your class of 28 second graders fresh scalpels with minimal supervision in the name of science.

Here’s how it went down: Continue reading

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#54. Magic Grow Dinosaurs Capsules

Once upon a time, you were given brightly colored pills as toys and were expected not to swallow them.

Do Not Eat! Tastes like burning.

Instead, like a Little House on the Prairie midwife, you were instructed to fetch a bowl of warm water to participate in the miraculous birth from pill to dinosaur.

It was the most exciting use of water since Crocodile Mile.

You toss in the pills, then eagerly watch eye level with the bowl, as INSTANTLY… nothing happens.

and so you wait…

Continue reading

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#53. Recycle, Reduce, Reuse… and Close the Loop!

Along the same lines as how Al Gore created the internet, the Green Movement actually began with a troop of dancing dinosaurs, led by a hip young Recycle Rex.

His lyrics crept its way in and permanently lodged itself in the coolness segment of your brain. He had you screaming the chorus with the rest of your friends while sprinting to secure the best handball court for recess.

Rex’s tune was definitely catchier than Woodsy Owl’s “Give a Hoot, Don’t Pollute” song from the ’70s and ’80s:

and was also a better call to action than a minute’s worth of stereotypes and a single teardrop.

Sadly, with all of his success from having a number one hit single, 20 years later we find Recycle Rex suffering the same fate as other childhood stars from his era: Continue reading

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#52. Silencing the crowd with a peace sign

The Yo-Yo presentation is about to begin in the multi-purpose room.

Everyone is sitting Indian style, chatting with their neighbors, but not you.

You flash a firm peace sign as high as your right arm will take it while angrily locking eyes with your teacher on stage.

It meant you were ready, and was a silent but expressive SHUT THE HELL UP to everyone else around you.

Just as you begin to discover new shoulder muscles, your classmates take notice and buckle under your sign’s power.

Peace. The original gang sign.

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