Yes, That Dress Does Make You Look Fat

There are certain questions that guys can answer honestly at only great peril. The most famous example of this is when your girlfriend or wife asks, “Honey, does this dress make me look fat?” That is not a question, it is a trap and you had better lie and lie convincingly if you prefer your ankle intact.

A former colleague told me he’d found a way to spring the trap. He called it the “like a whale” exception. He explained, his wife — who I think was with child at the time — had put on a sun dress and asked him the dread question and I guess he was feeling suicidal that day. “Like a whale,” he said. There was a pregnant pause and then she burst out laughing — and never asked him that question again.

If only Abe Lincoln had thought of that:

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Sean Higgins’s Grandfather, RIP

The logo for Jeremy Lott’s Diary is modeled on the logo for a stand-alone blog that I once owned and sort of operated. I say “sort of” because, at my request, a friend named Sean Higgins took it over. He did all of the posting there for years. This created problems for Sean. People were constantly asking him, “Wait, why are you blogging on JeremyLott.net? Is that a pen name or something?” We eventually had to include a picture of both of us so that he could say “No, look, there’s Jeremy and there I am standing next to him.”

I say this by way of introduction to Patheos readers. I will undoubtedly post links to Sean’s pieces here from time to time. Maybe he’ll even take this blog over at some point. Today, Sean gives us an obituary of his grandfather, Robert “Bob” Higgins, a World War II vet from the European theater who “came within an inch of death at least five times in the Big One, all but one of those times during the siege” of Bastogne.

Sean explains the importance of that siege: “Control of Bastogne was key to the Battle of Bulge: Literally all the usable roads ran through it.” So of course the Germans “surrounded the town and demanded surrender.” But Bob Higgins’s unit wasn’t budging: “[The Germans] received a one-word response from the 101st: ‘Nuts.’ An American medic helpfully translated this into German as ‘Du kannst zum Teufel gehen,’ which, roughly speaking, means, ‘You can go to Hell.’”

As Bob Higgins explained it to his grandson, “We were paratroopers. Landing behind enemy lines was what we were trained for, so when the Germans said, ‘We have you surrounded,’ we thought, ‘So?’ We were always surrounded.”

From Sean’s description, his grandfather sounds like one hell of a guy. Always sorry to see one of those old soldiers go.

Officer, I’d Like to Report a… Bookjacking

Let me preface this story by saying it has a happy but puzzling ending.

I got bookjacked last night. It was about 9 o’clock in the parking lot of Bellis Fair Mall. The book was Paul Fussell’s The Great War and Modern Memory. I had just bought it at the local Barnes & Noble along with another Fussell book, then stopped into the mall to get the food court Indian restaurant’s spinach dish.

The Great War

The book was with me because I usually bring a book when I dine alone. After, when I got out to the mall parking lot, it seemed a good idea to walk around a bit before going home. A corner of the parking lot was hosting one of those movable mini fairs. This particular mini fair had a booth featuring the quarter/token game, where you aim the coin down a long chute and try to place it expertly enough to push the mass of coins and prizes toward you and over the edge when the sweeper comes forward.

One pair of fuzzy handcuffs was precariously perched, so I got $5 in tokens and circled the games to see if that was the best bet. I was half-way around the booth when someone snatched the book out of my hand and took off running.

Now, take a moment to savor my utter confusion here. Some guy had just stolen a book, from my hand, and taken off with it.

My first thought was, roughly, “Did that just happen?” Then: “I can’t believe that just happened!” Then: “Is this part of some elaborate scheme to steal something other than my book, because… who does that?” Then: “How would I feel about a society in which people cared enough about books that they went around snatching them out of people’s hands?” Then: “I just bought that book! He’s not making off with $20.”

All of these notions flashed before my mind in less than a second. I yelled “Give it back!” and started to make chase. He doubled back toward me and it was at the point, when the normal fight-or-flight reaction was about to kick in, that I recognized the thief — and his wife.

It was my friend, the very mischievous local radio station manager and talk show host Dillon Honcoop and his wife Tiffany. She had been standing next to me the whole time but my attention was diverted. Dillon told me he had seen some guy walking around a fair with a book on World War I in his hand, saw that it was me, and just couldn’t resist. Tiffany told me I should have seen the shocked/puzzled/angry look on my own face when he made off with it. I’ll bet.

Oh, and I did win that pair of fuzzy handcuffs.

Fuzzy handcuffs


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