Banks County Opinions...

OCTOBER 30, 2002


By: Phillip Sartain
The Banks County News
October 30, 2002

Guy stuff
They found me. Not only that but they sent me a catalogue. I really thought that I had done a better job of hiding my weakness. But I shouldn’t really be surprised. It only makes sense that the Gadget Nation would be able to identify one of their own.
Even so, I was startled when I pulled a catalogue called “The Gadget Motherload” from the mailbox. As a closet gadget geek, it took my breath away to think there was a whole publication devoted to “guy stuff.”
After standing at the mailbox in a trance for about fifteen minutes, I noticed it was raining hard, so I headed inside. Halfway there, I realized that going inside with the catalogue would be risky. My wife has suspected for many years that there was something weird about me.
In the past, I’ve tried to downplay my gadget needs. But what she doesn’t understand is that 99 percent of all males are genetically programmed gadget geeks to some degree or another. But because she seems so bothered by the possibilities, I felt it best not to tell her everything.
In the meantime, I’ve tried to suppress my gadget purchasing impulse. When confronted with the opportunity to buy some totally cool, but utterly useless gadget, I’ve just tried to disguise it. In other words, I used some of her own shopping tricks, like “Honey, it was on sale and I saved us a ton of money.” Or sometimes, “I thought it would be good for the kids to experience a gadget on occasion.” And sometimes, quite frankly, I just hid my gadgets.
That’s why the catalogue was such a challenge. It had some really serious guy stuff, and there was no way that I could just walk in and wave it around. If she spotted the catalogue, I knew she’d be making me an appointment to see a Gadget Reduction Counselor before I mentally disappeared for a month.
Standing at the door, I considered just being honest and telling her up front that it came in the mail. But even if she believed me, I’d probably only save our marriage by promising to throw it away and then I’d still have to go through the counseling.
The more I thought about it, the more angry I got with myself. Sure, I’m a gizmo freak, but I’m also an adult and I shouldn’t have to slink around like a common criminal. I should get to do whatever I want to for my allotted thirty minutes each weekend. In other words, I should be proud of what I am.
I had just about convinced myself that I was right when I heard footsteps heading toward the door. Out of instinct, I stuffed the catalogue down inside my pants just as my wife opened the door. “What are you doing out here in the rain?,” she asked.
I tried to compose myself. “Oh, nothing, just standing here enjoying a good soaking.”
“Did you get the mail?” she asked.
“Yes,” I answered, and I handed her the 34 women’s catalogues that were also in the mailbox.
“Oh, good,” she said as she started toward the den. I was frozen to my spot, afraid to move. “Come on,” she waved to me. “The Bed and Bath Channel is doing a piece on how to choose a bedspread for under five thousand dollars.”
I still didn’t move. That’s when she knew without looking. “What have you got crammed down your pants?” I was like a deer in headlights. “What is it?” she said, narrowing her eyes.
Like a trapped animal, I panicked and stammered, “It a girlie magazine. It came in the mail.” I tried to look ashamed and dirty.
“Oh,” she said, shrugging her shoulders. “I thought it was some kind of gadget magazine. Well, your 30 minutes are up, so come on up to the den. There might be some bedspreads for us to look at in these catalogues.”
Just for the record, being a closet gadget geek is far more humiliating than anyone could ever imagine.
Phillip Sartain is an attorney in Gainesville.


By: Rochelle Beckstine
he Banks County News
October 30, 2002

Christmas just 56 days away
Does that give anyone else heart palpitations? I have a list two and a half pages long of things I need to literally sit down and make between now and Christmas Eve. I need divine intervention.
Everything is planned out. I’ve spent plenty of time planning what I was going to do, making lists of things I need to buy in order to make what I’ve planned, going to the three different stores and actually buying the stuff, and organizing the stuff into my sewing center. Now I have to do it. But I have to have at least one solid hour I can devote to it in order to make pulling all of the stuff out worthwhile. That is the proverbial needle in the haystack. How do you convince a toddler to play with her toys while you turn all of your attention to something besides her? I’ve found it to be nearly impossible. She wants to be in my lap, pulling my thread or messing with the buttons on my Singer. Or there’s the way she usually suckers me in. Imperially she stands with head held so straight you could balance Dr. Seuss’ ABC Book on it. She looks at me expectantly with a book in one hand. “Down,” she says, holding her arm out toward me and pointing with her finger to a spot on the floor just in front of her. There’s no way to say no to that.
So the projects aren’t getting ticked off my list as they are completed.
But I can do it.
I will do it.
I’ll just ignore the phone message light and forego eight hours of sleep (I’ll be fine with only six). I’ll lock the front door and pretend I’m not home when strangers come knocking wanting to sell me candy bars or wrapping paper or large industrial strength toilet paper. (I didn’t even ask.) I’ll get home from work and lock Piper and me into my sewing room and we won’t come out until the last project is done.
It isn’t that they are very long projects, but it seems to me that the days are getting shorter. I know in my head there are still 24 hours in a day or 1,440 minutes, but my heart is starting to feel boxed in. I am the chicken running around in that children’s story shouting “The Sky Is Falling! The Sky Is Falling!” And while I take Tums for heartburn and Nortriptilene for migraines I bargain with Mother Nature to lengthen October indefinitely or at least until I finish sewing the five aprons that are on the top of my to-do list.
Who knows what I’ll have to promise in November in order to make 22 jars of Apple Butter and 29 jars of Dutch Apple Pie Jam and paint glasses and make 10 bowls. AHHHH! And somewhere in the rush I have to obtain a green thumb so I can grow three types of herbs from seed for my best friend’s birthday November 15.
There have been Christmases past when I arrived at the nearest discount store with a $100 bill and a list of relatives and friends too long to buy what everybody deserved to get and only able to buy what I could afford. So not too long ago my husband and I decided to take the commercialism out of Christmas and make it about what really counts-thoughtfulness, caring and compassion. For an hour every day, I spend time thinking of one relative or another and envisioning the look on their face when I can say, “I made that. I thought you would love it.”
All the fretting and the heartburn and the migraines and the work will pay off. Instead of unwrapping something made in Hong Kong or Indonesia, people will open something made specifically for them during little pieces of time when I was supposed to be the one “counting” while my daughter was “hiding.”
Rochelle Beckstine is a columnist for MainStreet Newspapers.

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