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Backtrack: 2 stories I planned to tell, but didn’t at the time

August of this year my Hagerstonian friends Laura and Allison (I’m sure the official term is Hagerstowner, but I’m stuck in my ways) came to visit and vacation around Australia. They had fun, although I warned them in advance that coming here in winter was folly, and did all the usual tourist jive. Arriving on a Monday from Cairns and leaving on a Friday for Sydney, they weren’t in town for any part of a weekend —which makes it tough to party too hard— but such is life.

As is generally the case with any American visitors to our fine country, they asked in advance if there was anything they might bring for us: any American treats we might desire. Dave’s family, ever hungry for sugar, requested York Peppermint Patties, Salt Water Taffy, Peanut Butter M&Ms, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and all the great stuff you just can’t buy here but might crave if you had grown up with it. Having developed quite an affection for Big Red over the years, I would normally request a case of that… but since they sell it in supermarkets now it wasn’t an issue. I would’ve asked for a case of Root Beer, but weight is always a consideration; even though they’ve mandated I bring them a case of Schweppes Lemonade next time I’m there. Not having anything else to suggest, I thought hard about what in the world I would want from the USA that I couldn’t get myself.

One of the things that becomes invaluable to a man traveling the world with his buddies is a good cup. A big cup. The kind of cup you can drink beer from, or a good gin and tonic. The kind of cup you can eat ramen out of in front of the TV, or your breakfast cereal on a two day train ride. A good cup is every receptacle you’ll ever need when you’re living out of a suitcase. At the start of our holiday last year, at a Taco Bell in Orange County, I collected my first such cup.

Fearing the Jumbo size at first, I opted for a Large and it served me well for a month. I say fearing because the Jumbo was bigger than any cup I had ever before seen. A month later, stopping by a 7-11 in Hagerstown, I found its replacement: the Double Gulp… a cup that made the Taco Bell Jumbo look dainty, and I didn’t have to be afraid any more. That cup served me for another two months on the road, and does to this day, but in the months following our trip I became nervous that I might lose it. Or break it. It might melt in the dishwasher. Or some fiend, sick with jealousy, might steal it from me. Something had to be done to preserve my Double Gulp.

You have to appreciate that the Double Gulp is unique in my world. The biggest soda you can order here —and this is in a movie theater— is the ‘Super Mega’, which weighs in at a paltry 34 ounces. Not paltry by Australian standards, but laid side-by-side with 64 ounces of 7-11 chug-a-lug luxury it’s quite petite.

With all that in mind, I asked Laura and Allison to bring me a spare Double Gulp cup to keep safe for the day mine bit the dust. I’m a modest man, clearly. In all the world I just wanted a cup: they brought me twenty. You might say I’m set for life. I should probably throw some kind of Gulping party.

I’m a godfather now too.

It was a lazy wednesday afternoon some months back and I was driving around with Ben when my phone rang. Afterwards he made a sarcastic comment that he could tell I was talking to a woman —my voice raised three semitones and I suddenly sounded enthusiastic about everything— but he was right: Sherene had rung to ask if I would be her son Quinn’s godfather. I accepted, naturally, without quite knowing what godfatherhood entailed, and waited for the big day.

I’m told godparents are responsible for the child’s religious education, something that in this case will have to wait until Quinn is old enough to be taken to a strip club, but is also responsible for the child’s rearing should the parents be killed. A little morbid, but if the Scouts taught me anything it’s to always Be Prepared™. I found out shortly afterward that I’m not at all legally bound to take in any orphaned children, being that I’m not Quinn’s legal guardian, but I am at least morally bound. I found out even more shortly after that that they already have a legal guardian lined up; I’m just here for the religious guidance and the honor.

Whew.

The service itself was quite amusing. I’m unsure that there was a religious soul in the chapel beyond the chaplain himself, and here we all were pledging to raise this child in a manner consistent with the Catholic faith, with Jesus in our hearts and our gold in the collection plate, Amen. I got to light a candle.

So yeah, godparent. Me. I know it pales in comparison to all the breeders out there doing the deed (the Cederholms, for instance. Congratulations to Dan and Kerry), but it’s what I got and I’m sticking with it. ‘Til next time, stay tuned for more of Tales From Chris’ Life!