I’m Learning Neat Stuff From Skippy


Peer pressure has never worked on me. It’s because I have always preferred hanging around with those outside my peer group, either older people or younger people. I’ve been like this all my life.

It’s probably because the strain of getting along with people my own age is too much for me. Or, it might be because I value the opinions of oldsters or youngsters more — after all, I know what my own age group thinks, and why. My peers and I have grown up together and shared the same experiences.

But older people experienced World War II, trolley cars and the invention of television. There’s a lot to be learned from them.

Younger people haven’t experienced diddly. So there’s a lot to be learned from them, too.

I’ve learned a lot of interesting things from older people in Florida, and, since I’ve been helping to raise my grandson, I’ve learned a lot of interesting things from him, too. The primary thing I’ve learned from Skippy is fearlessness. Or maybe I’m just remembering it. What a joy — to have no concept of danger, nothing in your mind to worry about and sheer curiosity propelling you ever upward until you inevitably fall off the couch, the bed, the coffee table — whatever it is you successfully scaled when your handlers’ backs were turned.

Of course, there’s a lot to be learned from Skippy’s parents, too. My daughter Jen, well, I know her and understand her. But my son-in-law is the X factor in this little equation. What’s important about Greg is that he has a master’s degree in engineering, has chosen to be a farmer of microgreens, designs “high tunnel” movable greenhouses and attended Duke University. But what I find far more fascinating is that he was Duke’s “Blue Devil” mascot, attended clown college, knows how to juggle and ride a unicycle and can balance a sheet of plywood on his chin for the amusement of the children in the Home Depot parking lot. That is one cool son-in-law.

And he continues to amaze, even when he’s not around.

While helping Jen get the pool ready for a party, I came across four foam swim noodles that appeared to be linked together by half-inch plastic tubing.

“Does this come apart?” I asked.

“Yes,” was her brief reply.

“Is it something you guys have rigged up to clean the pool?”

“No,” she answered, rather dismally. When I get single-syllable answers like that, I know I’m on to something interesting.

“Well, what is it?”

She sighed deeply. “That is a floating device Greg and his buddies devised so they don’t have to leave the pool to drink from the keg. It is an extended tap system.”

Ingenious, really.

“I see,” I continued. “How long has it been lying unused out here in the weather?”

“I’d say eight months.”

“Think I should throw it out?”


It’s interesting, but it’s not very safe. So I guess, 20 years from now, the ever-curious Skippy will have to figure out his own pool-tap system.

I hope I’m there to see it.