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I can't quite believe it, but my nephew is sixteen years old this week. Sixteen! How is that even possible? I swear, just yesterday he was sitting in high chair with a bowl of Cheerios, experimentally pushing one up his nose. (Also, slices of hot dog and once, half a water chestnut. His parents were on a first name basis with the admitting nurse at the local ER.)
Despite those earlier bouts of mischief, I'm happy to say he's become an amazing young man, and as far as I know, he hasn't put anything up his nose in at least a year. (LOL!)
But now it dawns on me: He's almost grown up. In another couple years, he'll be going off to college, voting in elections, drinking (hopefully in moderation), and god help me, sneaking off to strip clubs with his Uncle Hank. He's on the verge of the best -- and some of the hardest -- years of his life, and it makes me think of all the things I wish I'd known when I was his age.
Amaretto Sours are a lot stronger than you realize. They're kind of sweet, and if the bartender puts in a lot of orange juice, you can forget you're drinking an actual cocktail. Hank still makes fun of me for that DEA Holiday Brunch, but if you ask me, it was no big deal. I'm pretty sure Santa himself was half in the bag, unless he was wearing Jack Daniels aftershave.
Never, under any circumstances, pass a school bus with flashing red lights. Even in the middle of nowhere, even if you can't see any kids getting on or off the bus, even if it's just sitting there for five or ten minutes without moving and it's the end of July and school's not even in session. I'm not saying that police officers in certain rural townships sit and wait for certain inexperienced young women to come tooling along, so that certain young women have to call up their fiancé who works for the DEA and try to get the ticket canceled. (Which doesn't work because the ticket has already been filed, so for the next three years, certain women have to pay through the nose for car insurance, and certain husbands give certain wives a lot of crap about not knowing certain laws governing motor vehicles.) The point is: Don't pass a school bus with flashing red lights. It's a giant pain in the ass, plus if it's not a trap, you might accidentally hurt some little kid.
Do not put wool sweaters in the dryer. Just... don't.
There is such a thing as too much mayonnaise. That first time you walk through a Costco, it's totally normal to make a certain number of impulse purchases -- the free samples, the incredible discounts, the handy jumbo packs, it's like a money-saving wonderland. But it turns out that there's no way on earth for anyone other than maybe a school cafeteria or a soup kitchen to go through twelve gallon jars of mayonnaise before the expiration date. Which reminds me...
You can't freeze mayonnaise.
Sugar gliders don't make good pets. I think there should be a law that pet stores have to tell you that when an animal is "extremely nocturnal," that's actually code for "will run around in its habitat for eight hours a night, carrying on like a tiny Ewok full of espresso."
You never know how the future is going to turn out. When I went away to school, I had this romantic idea of how my life was going to go. I pictured myself working in a big city, with a lot of glamorous friends, dating a guy who looked like Bruce Boxleitner. (I went through a "Scarecrow and Mrs. King" phase.)
And sometimes your future turns out better than you ever dreamed.
No, I didn't get the life I expected, but that's okay. Albuquerque's not a big city, but it's full of great restaurants and shops, with a respected university, a rich history and a ridiculous number of sunny days every year. My friends aren't exactly glamorous, but as I've learned this year, they are the kindest, most supportive people I could hope to know.
And of course, the best part -- Hank. He's every bit as handsome as Bruce and the bravest man I know. Plus, he's a federal agent, just like Lee Stetson!
(See? Dreams really can come true! Have a great birthday, kiddo!)