Wednesday, June 1, 2016


My son-in-law, Phillip, has an irrational fear of becoming a hoarder. The scientific name for the irrational fear of becoming a collector of hoards is junkmuckerphobia. The biggest problem with his weird worry is that he likes to bring his junk to our house for disposal, often in a secret and clandestine manner. 

I have an irrational fear of his irrational fear.

His latest junk dump? The old wooden blades from his office ceiling fan. He brought the stupid things over to “burn in our fire pit.” That’s what he always says when we catch him. I’m going to burn those _____________ (fill in the blank) in the fire pit. Of course, he also sneaks old or annoying toys into the grandchildren’s “toy room” at our house.

“Hey!” I have been known to exclaim. “Where did this giant bucking bull toy come from? It looks like it could cause boo-boos or paralysis.” 

No answer.

So the fan blades appeared, and the next thing I know I have about twenty-seven children bringing the dusty, grimey things to me, wanting to know if they can duct tape them to their arms, so they could have “fan-arms.”

“Of course,” I said. “I’ll get the duct tape.”

I realized we had crossed some very weird parenting line when I heard Heather say, “No! No kid can have two fan-arms. One fan-arm per child.”

Ahhh . . . the rules you’ll have to make that no one ever tells you about when you bring that first darling baby home from the hospital.

One fan-arm per child, that’s the rule.

I taped old ceiling fan blades to various children’s arms and off they flapped. 

At one point, there was a fan-arm competition that consisted of two children squaring off so they could push their fan-arms against each other. A lot of spinning was involved. I don’t pretend to understand the fan-arm game.

The fan-arms were a big hit: cost minimal, danger threat-low, imagination factor-high, and fresh air exposure-maximum.

And when the fan-arm game got old and boring we burned the fan-arms in the fire pit, which made Phillip the junkmuckerphobic breath easier.

Coincidently, Sherwood the Poppy canceled our cable the day the children invented fan-arms—a win-win all the way around.

Linda (Duct Tape Forever) Zern

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