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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

Back to the Cave-Rat Race

Today was my first day back in the office after a week’s vacation. I think if I had one recommendation for someone coming back from vacation, it’s this: don’t.

Come back, that is. Stay in your blissful world where the sun always shines, the margaritas flow like mountain streams and you while your carefree days away gorging on delicacies, basking in the sun and forgetting all those nasty hard two-syllable words like ‘meetings’ or ‘yesboss’ or ‘career’.

(Or stay in Maine, if that’s as fas as you got. It’s better than slaving your life away in a cubicle.

That’s your new state motto, Maine. You’re welcome.)

I was hoping for a little pick-me-up this morning, to get me back into ‘work’ mode. So I wandered into the kitchen on the way out the door and saw that my wife had bought something in a little plastic container labeled “BRAIN FOOD”.

Great, I thought. That’ll be fish, probably, or some ‘smart’ lab-made concoction of custom-made amino acids and neurotransmitter precursors, probably mixed with wheatgrass or flax-something and passed off as ‘good for you’ because it tastes like chewing on AstroTurf. Or it’ll be the brains of dead scientists, which we can eat to discover their hidden secrets. Their delicious hidden secrets.

But it was none of those things. I looked in the container, and it was full of nuts and raisins and sunflower seeds. That’s not brain food. That’s caveman food — old-old-old-school hunter and gatherer stuff. And from what I understand, those mouth-breathing club-toters weren’t especially smart at all, schlepping around with no power tools or pocket calculators, falling into tar pits and pedaling with their feet.

“Will some far-distant descendant of mine be the one to rekindle the use of fire or find a land bridge to gentler terrain, saving the human race after a brutal global freeze, nuclear winter, gigantic flood or worldwide rioting and chaos following the next set of Star Wars sequels?”

I gave the label of this supposed ‘brain food’ a suspicious eyeballing. Nothing fancy on it; just the nuts and berries and such that I could see clearly inside. No modern medicinal magic. And no brains.

I decided either it didn’t work at all, or it was some kind of time-release deal. And if it wasn’t going to raise my intelligence for another seven hundred thousand years, then it wasn’t a helluva lot of good to me. If I ate the stuff, it was to come up with a way to slip out for a nap after lunch — not to survive the next ice age. I’m a little more ‘instant gratification’ than that.

Still, I didn’t have a lot of choices for pre-work breakfast. We hadn’t been to the grocery store since our trip, so I could have ‘brain food’, mayonnaise, or milk six days past its date. Or beer. Lots and lots of beer — but that seemed unwise at nine o’clock on a Monday morning.

(You see? See what coming off vacation does to you? It warps your mind into thinking ridiculous things like that.

On vacation time, the only good reason not to have a beer is that you’re already having one. Oh vacation time, why hast thou forsaken me?)

So I gave this ‘brain food’ a shot. I opened the lid and peered inside. Looked like rabbit food.

I sniffed it. Smelled like termite food.

I scooped up a handful and ate it. Tasted like hippie food. Not bad, per se. But lacking in what your more omnivorous gourmands would call the three Ts: Taste, Texture and T-bone steakiness. I scarfed a couple more handfuls and scurried off to work.

Did it make me feel smarter? No. Did I find an excuse for that midday nap? No. Will some far-distant descendant of mine be the one to rekindle the use of fire or find a land bridge to gentler terrain, saving the human race after a brutal global freeze, nuclear winter, gigantic flood or worldwide rioting and chaos following the next set of Star Wars sequels? Unlikely. Even if he’s smarter, he’ll still be lazy. You can’t fight genetics.

(Also, I don’t have a kid, so I don’t know where the guy would come from in the first place. Unless someone’s out there working on cloning me from my toenail clippings or something.

Which could totally work, until the clones go crazy and rip out of their pens, zinging everyone in their path. They can call it ‘Jurassic Snark’. I’d enjoy that.)

So things went pretty much the way I expected. The first day back to work after vacation is like volunteering at a proctologists’ medical school.

There’s a lot of paperwork, you don’t get to sit down much and everyone seems glad to see you.

Wait. What did you think I was going to say?

Oooh. You nasty.

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