As a child, with a 3-month vacation stretched out in front of me, I felt the need to do something every summer. As an only child of working parents, I was left to my own devices and let bossy librarians rule my life. Every summer, I vowed to read more books than I could fit in my bike basket and acquire a new skill. I strove for quirky skills that could, if not make me more likable; help me achieve recognition with Guinness.
Impressionable as I was, after reading Joni, I had to learn to make more use out of my mouth. I practiced day in and out holding a pencil between my teeth and writing my name. Just in case I became paralyzed, you know, as you do, prepare for things in a Girl Scout sort of way. Another year, after I read The Story of my life by Helen Keller, I taught myself how to get around the house and make a sandwich with my eyes closed. Counting the steps from one room to another, trying not to trip over the cat, I became quite adept at navigating the obstacles. The summer after, I had seen a documentary about a girl who lost her arms and learned to do everything with her feet. That was fun, well, when you had the fallback option of actually using your arms. I can still open a car door with my foot, if my hands are too full. Handy, eh?
Long summer vacations came and went. When I was sufficiently satisfied I was capable of surviving a devastating accident, I moved on to other useful skills. I became the master of Pong, memorized the words to every song on the Sound of Music LP and years later the Grease soundtrack (actually not so different, those two). Over several years, I read all the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Mysteries, which I credit for helping me always see a sinister hidden motive in everyone’s actions and developing a detailed, worst case scenario in my head for all situations.
I practiced doing the tango with a book on my head, which I did in a very superior way. I learned to balance a spoon on my nose while walking around and solving a Rubic’s cube. Now the Rubic’s cube did not take the whole summer but solving it in under an hour, did. Shortly after, I found out that the record was well under a minute, the cube was mysteriously crushed under the wheel of the family car. Learning to skateboard and at the very least flip the board and my favorite summer project was doing research with a girlfriend on how to catch the man of our dreams. I will let you in on a little secret – the trick is to breath at the same tempo they do. Works like a charm!
Thinking back, I wonder if I should have spent my time more wisely, like trying really hard to understand Algebra. If I had, I could have been an architect now. So, that is what I am debating during the last week before summer makes its appearance, what is the best way to spend my summer vacation this year? Should I finally learn to read Tarot cards or play Mahjong? I am pretty sure the Algebra boat has sailed.