Banks County Opinions...

JUNE 16, 2004


Column

By:Phillip Sartain
The Banks County News
June 16, 2004

The dating shirt game
My daughters are getting older. And they’re just starting to recognize boys as something less than creatures from outer space. That’s why I decided to have a preliminary father-daughter talk with them. And for some reason, I decided to tell them about my “Date Shirt.”
Sharing the lessons of my “Date Shirt” wasn’t easy. To begin with, my past dating history was always a little unpredictable. I was never exactly sure of how to engage in the dating process without being either decapitated or kidnapped.
To make matters worse, my teen dating years required some degree of fashion savvy to set the proper tone. It was only after I got married that I learned that I was fashion handicapped and that I had no tone whatsoever. My wife will tell you that I am a fashion project that is draining her of her life forces.
But as a teenager, I was pretty much oblivious to my lack of fashion technique. And that probably explains why I have no idea how my “Date Shirt” became the mainstay of my dating wardrobe. All I know is that it became the shirt that I wore on all three of my dates in high school.
One of my best friends, Winchester, was the only person I ever confided in regarding the magical karma of my “Date Shirt.” Very much impressed, he suggested that it was sort of like wearing the same socks through an entire basketball season without washing them. In other words, the “Date Shirt” could not be denied.
Although the “Date Shirt” theory was sound as a rock, there were one or two flaws with the intended results. Mainly, I rarely ever managed to get a second date through the power of the shirt. Actually, I hardly ever got so much as an acknowledgment that I was an earthling with full rights to breath and walk on the planet.
Drawing upon an unfailingly convoluted parental logic, I felt compelled to share the “Date Shirt” phenomenon with my daughters as sort of a “moral to the dating story” story. As it turns out, and consistent with my proven inability to grasp the female perspective, I learned that dating is not the point at all.
Somehow, my “Date Shirt” survived from the seventies to the present date. In my mind, that makes it an archeological find on the order of King Tut’s Tomb. Even better, I was able to appear in the family room wearing the “Date Shirt” for the girls to see. “Ladies, do you see this?”
“Yes,” they all shouted, annoyed by my interruption of some cerebral cartoon they were watching on TV.
“It’s my ‘Date Shirt,’” I announced. Just then my wife passed through the room. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her give a fatalistic sigh and seize her head before hurrying out of the room toward the medicine cabinet.
My oldest daughter picked up on the importance of the “Date Shirt” almost immediately. “Did you use to wear that on dates?” she asked incredulously.
“Yes,” I winked at her secretly, the way any “Date Shirt” wearing “Macho Man” would. “Is this thing hot or what?”
“Ewwwww,” they all screamed in unison. Then my 6-year-old, who has already decapitated or kidnapped every little boy in her kindergarten class, added, “That’s the ugliest shirt I’ve ever seen. You look like an alien from a strange planet.”
On reflection, I now realize that there are certain benefits to being an alien. Since I don’t speak the language, I’m not required to host any further father-daughter discussions. Henceforth, all daughter questions pertaining to dating and/or fashion will be referred to their mother.
I do, however, reserve the right to discuss body piercing, slouching, and Spring Break with any young boys who may seek a dating opportunity with one of my daughters. Whether they’re wearing a “Date Shirt” or not.
Phillip Sartain is an attorney in Gainesville.

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Column

By: Jana Adams
The Banks County News
June 16, 2004

Whooshed’ in the garden...
...and other territorial skirmishes
I’m growing my first vegetable garden this year. It’s a small one, and I talk about it far more than anyone who isn’t growing their own garden wants to hear, but I’ve been pleased and proud that my work has paid off and something other than weeds has sprouted.
In fact, so much squash is sprouting, sprouting and sprouting that I’ve been going online looking up different ways to cook zucchini and yellow squash, and I’ve been sending along bags of squash to friends and family. Now I’m hopeful and eagerly awaiting the ripening of all those little green tomatoes and the ears of corn.
As for the cucumbers, which I love chilled, peeled, sliced and salted in the summer, I’m crossing my fingers that the hot pepper spray and the rustling of white plastic grocery bags blowing in the wind will keep the deer away long enough for me to have at least one. Just one? Please? After the first onslaught, which left me gaping in disbelief — thin, naked stalks surrounded by tell-tale hoofprints and nothing else — the plants have begun a tentative regrowth. I’ve heard that deer don’t really like cucumbers, and I didn’t think they would eat the leaves off new sunflowers, either, but....
I’ve written before about my ongoing battle for territory with the skunks — they want to live under the house or, who knows, probably even in the house, and I don’t want them in either place.
The most recent barricade of mesh, rocks and small logs has thus far been effective in stopping their tunneling under the house, but I’m sure they are simply biding their time and making plans for the fall. In the meantime, I see one wandering around the yard from time to time, all nonchalant, but scoping out the barricade, I know. On occasion, one strolls across the front porch steps as if he is thinking of joining me for a spell and maybe an iced tea. A clear statement from a rogue skunk — I am not afraid of you. You cannot win.
I think they are in cahoots with the deer. I think while the deer are ambushing the garden and distracting me with their “whooshing,” the skunks are planning an attack on the barricade. Tag team tactics.
I went to check on the cows the other evening and took along some zucchini I had overlooked and which had gotten too large to eat. I wanted to see the new fawn-like calf and I’ve been trying to lure some of the young, skittish cows closer for a scratch on the head. I broke apart the zucchini and was trying to maintain their interest when I heard a “whoosh!” behind me. I turned and there was a deer. Another “whoosh!” and I turned the other way – another deer on the other side of me.
We all looked at one another, the deer, the cows and I, then the deer suddenly turned and sprang away, white tails flashing. Apparently I stood between them and their evening garden foray. The cucumbers were safe for the day.
I was telling a friend, who has a garden of which she is proud, about the deer. She hasn’t had deer troubles, but we exchanged new gardener talk about how far along the tomatoes are and generally how pleased and surprised we are that things are growing. I told her about the “whooshing,” thinking it was kind of funny that I unwittingly deterred the deer for at least one go at the garden. She in turn told me about how a deer “whooshed” or “blew” at her mom one time, stamped on the ground and then charged, chasing her into the house.
Hmm. Not so funny, after all. A territorial thing, apparently. My garden! No, my garden! Okay, okay....maybe I’ll stick to the plastic bags and pepper spray.
But despite the naked cucumber plant frustration or the need for a barricade, I wouldn’t trade the skunks and deer as my neighbors for a homeowners’ association any day.
Tomatoes, anyone? Squash?
Jana Adams Mitcham is features editor for The Jackson Herald and a reporter for MainStreet Newspapers, Inc.


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