© Cindy Beck, 2008
(Keywords: Cindy Beck, food storage, emergency preparedness, pantry, Chicago fire, San Francisco earthquake, 1969, humor, Latter-day Saints, LDS, YourLDSNeighborhood.com)
“What is that?” asked my husband, Russ, as the faded news clipping fluttered to the floor of our walk-in pantry.
“Umm, a piece of paper?” One of my talents in life is stating the obvious. I’m so good at it that someone should give me an award.
He picked the article up by a tattered corner. “You must have read this a lot.”
I looked over his shoulder at the paper in his hand. It was about emergency preparedness. I’d certainly read the article at least once … upon a time … but its ragged edges were more likely the result of it falling to the pantry floor and me shoving it back onto the shelf.
I wondered if my poker face still worked. “Oh, I’ve read that article dozens of times,” I said, taking it from him. Then the giggles hit and I realized I’d never, ever managed to hold a poker face for more than two seconds in my entire plenty-nine years. That’s why I never played poker. That, and the fact I don’t know a royal flush from a toilet’s flush.
Russ’s dark eyebrows curved in a questioning arch. “Dozens of times? I’ll bet. Then tell me what edition this article was in, and what year it was printed.”
I scratched behind my ear, hoping my brains remembered something … anything … I’d read recently. “Um, it ran in the Chronicle’s edition about how Mrs. O’Leary’s cow started the San Francisco earthquake.”
Shaking his head in amazement, Russ said, “Wrong. Mrs. O’Leary’s cow started a fire in Chicago, not an earthquake in San Francisco. Who ever heard of a cow starting an earthquake?”
“Well, if you’ve ever seen cows stampede, you’d know it sounds like an earthquake—”
Russ gave a stern gaze that only made me giggle more, and then he continued. “What year did the newspaper print the article?”
Taking a deep breath and rolling my eyes in hopes that it would help, I took a wild guess. “1969?”
“Nope, 1984. You lose.” Russ handed the clipping back to me. “By the way, you do know what happened in 1969, don’t you?”
I turned the news clipping over and stared at it, stalling for time. Then, it came to me. “Colonel Gaddafi became the leader of Libya, Neal Armstrong walked on the moon, Charles de Gaulle resigned as the president of France—”
A loud “clunk” echoed through the pantry. For a moment I thought a minor earthquake had hit, but it was only Russ’s jaw, smacking the linoleum. “How’d you know all that?” he asked.
I pointed to my forehead, and said, “Kidneys … er … I mean … brains!”
A long silence followed in which birds chirped, the sun shone, and Russ scratched the back of his head with a puzzled looked on his face. Finally, comprehension flickered in his eyes. “For a woman without a clue about the Chicago fire, or the 1906 San Francisco earthquake—or for that matter, one who has a hard time remembering any historical dates—you suddenly know a lot about 1969.”
“Well, it certainly wouldn’t be that I lived through the ‘60’s. I’m too young for that,” I protested. Then I glanced at him from the corners of my eyes and fluttered my eyelashes. “It’s because I’m brilliant.”
Russ reached over, grabbed the news clipping from my hand, looked it over again and waved it at me. “It’s because you cheated. There’s a list of 1969 trivia on the back of this article.”
“Cheated … brilliant …same difference. And I’m so smart I can tell you one other thing that happened in 1969.” Knowing that I was winning, I put my hands on my hips and strutted around the pantry.
“Oh? Without reading it from the back of the clipping?” Russ said, holding it high in the air above my head.
I didn’t even bother to reach for it. “I don’t need that yellowed piece of paper. A woman’s memory is far superior to—”
“To what? A peanut?” Russ grinned, thinking he’d topped me in the verbal joust.
“Nope, to yours. In 1969, some ol’ geezer—who’s standing in this purple-painted pantry with me—graduated from high school. And that, sweetheart, is all the news that’s fit to print.”
What's playing in my head: A Day in the Life ( I Read the News Today) by the Beatles.
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