By PollyAnna
Reader Staff

It’s cold. And snowy. Wow, Anna, I hear you saying, your powers of observation are downright stunning. You know… I just felt like it needed saying.

In between trying to ride my commuter bike on the icy roads (surprisingly successfully), and trying to improve my skate skiing skills (largely unsuccessfully), I’m indoors a lot. I’m guessing you folks are too.

Being indoors all the time makes me start asking big questions. Especially when I’m absentmindedly chopping vegetables for a boiling pot of soup, while the wind blows white stuff about like a tempestuous kitten released in a giant litter box.

I’ve got some particular puzzles on my mind right now. For instance, how do I weed through the huge list of applicants for that one position that’s opened up at work? How do I choose between visiting my ailing grandfather versus my new nieces? And why the heck doesn’t salt come with instructions?

Huh. That one stops me. It seems like everything unimportant has instructions on it these days. Come to think of it, look, the pepper container has both instructions and mini-recipes for meat rubs. How did the salt miss out?

It’s probably because salt just feels so darn intuitive, I tell myself. I mean, what could we even write on those cardboard cylinders that might enlighten us at this point? “Instructions: Put this stuff on everything until flavor stops improving.”

I love salt. Love love love love love salt. Okay, so, not the most of anyone ever. There was this one kid named Mason that I knew in grade school, a friend of my younger brother—no joke, Mason used to wear a small pouch on his hip filled with salt, and he would take dips of it regularly throughout the day. This being at a time and age when most first graders didn’t even wear belts, let alone cart around pouches of white granulated substances.

And Mason grew up to be a normal, everyday person, with a beautiful wife and three kids.


That’s scary.

Life in general is a little scary. The more I age, the truer this gets. We go from being proud of being potty-trained through this onslaught of grown-up stuff like politics, spirituality, and relationships, until, at the end of our lives, all we can do is be proud if we’re still potty-trained.

That’s why things like underpants are important. They’re kinda silly, let’s be honest. There’s few things more guaranteed to get a good laugh in slapstick than a timely reveal of some classy whitie-tighties.

And, yes, sometimes underpants have this gross element to them. But, as gross as they get sometimes, they belong on humans. Whenever you encounter another creature wearing underpants, chances are that creature is probably human. Or, possibly a circus ape that killed its cagemaster and ran away in a murderous and thieving rampage… but, let’s go with the odds on this one.

I guess on a certain level, our fetish for small clothes and long johns is something of an acronym for humanity in general, which is what Christians and Jews have been proclaiming for centuries with their sermons on fig leaves in the Garden of Eden.

We’re a funny bunch, us humans, and messy too. Some of us have really weird taste in fashion and wear things that I wouldn’t even recognize as underpants. Some of us have racing stripes in places I don’t want to know about. Some of us love salt just a little too much. Does that make us any more or less human? Nah.

So, when it comes to big questions, it’s true — there’s been days in the last few months that I’ve just wanted to flee to Canada, because bailing on all our teetering systems seems way the heck easier than trying to be a voice of reason. And because, look at it, Canada’s right there. We can see it from our backyard. Heck, I could chuck this handful of vegetable peels at it and hit it square in the eye.

But then, I think of underpants. All those people turning in resumés for that new position at work are wearing underwear, I hope. My PawPaw wears underpants, as do my nieces. Obama wears underpants; Trump wears underpants. (I know, I’m assuming things here – Secret Service didn’t let me close enough to either one to test my theory. It turns out just saying you’re from Idaho closes plenty of doors these days. Still, I feel pretty safe on this assumption.)

So many people, and all of them, so human. I’ve decided not to move to Canada (yet). Instead, one day at a time, I am trying to look at the persons I meet — really look at them — and remember who they are, and why they are, and how my purpose in today’s Sandpoint might simply be to ensure that someone treats all these folks right. A smile, a hug, a laugh… We all need to give away as much love as we can on these long days without sunshine, however long this season lasts.

And when someone’s acting a little too rude for the weather, I let it slide as long as I can, and then I politely ask if they’re wearing underwear today. Watching their response is the best way to distinguish who’s human, and who’s an escaped deranged circus ape.

PollyAnna lives, loves and writes from Sandpoint, where she bikes to work on icy days because she’s so darn incapable of walking on the dratted stuff.

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