The Rear End

Twenty-Eighteen Things

a quick look back at some stuff that happened in the last 365 days

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Taylor McCumber |

Well, what do you know, it’s 2019. To celebrate, let’s look back at a small selection of 2018’s more notable happenings. And by “notable happenings” I mean “the stuff only I care about” because I’m the one writing this.

A Massive Change: Just Look Down

The Chippewa Valley saw a lot of changes over the past year, big and small, good and bad, but perhaps most notable is that I got a new pair of shoes. When I find a pair of shoes I like, I wear them until I get holes in the soles, and then I keep wearing them until it’s winter and my socks get wet. I hadn’t found a good pair in quite some time. But lo – one day I entered the shoe store and the very first pair I tried on fit great. And like all true divine blessings, they were reasonably priced. So I bought them, feeling filled with gratitude as I know a good pair of shoes is a luxury. And all the Chippewa Valley rejoiced.

A Table That Turned: The Luminescent Laughter of Children

At some point last year, my kids gained the ability to make me laugh harder than I can make them laugh. I suppose it was inevitable, and I’ll chalk it up to a combination of fantastic parenting and the biological necessity that kids stop finding their parents amusing. It’s in their genetic code. I’m sure my sense of humor is still absolutely relevant.

A Thing I’m Still Processing: My First Year Without a Dad

Last year was the first full year in which I didn’t have a father. My dad passed away in late 2017. I don’t believe this has totally sunk in, and the realization pops up at weird times – usually when I’m feeling stressed or really tired and the door to the room holding all those emotions just pops open all by itself. This is new and strange and awful and a normal part of life and I do not recommend it. Zero stars.

A Mind-Blowing Thing That Is Now Mundane: Talking Cars

Last summer my wife and I purchased a used car. Though older, it’s the newest car we’ve ever owned, and it talks to you. And you can talk back to it, and it does things you ask it to do. Yes, this is a standard feature built into most cars – a science fiction-level novelty that got boring within minutes.

But stop and think about how cool this is: I can pull out of my driveway and yell, “CAR. PLAY. YAKETY. SAX.” at my dashboard and the car will yell, “OKAY. PLAYING. YAHKATYSEX.” back at me and then it actually plays the damn song as my wife yells, “CAN YOU NOT?”

In buying our amazing speaking vehicle, I also realized that my general state of indecision and, shall we say, leisurely thought process when it comes to buying expensive things can be read by car salesmen as a bargaining technique. Or at least that seemed to be the case when we bought our talking car because at the dealership, after a few minutes of awkward silence in which I was thinking about an episode of Star Trek I’d watched back in high school, the salesguy looked at me skeptically and said, “Is it the price? How about we knock off $900?”

Maybe he was always going to knock off $900. Either way, I shall declare this a victory for apathy.

A Big Rediscovery: Pickles

Pickles, man. They’re so good. Late last year, my wife and I sat down at the kitchen table, and together we decided to eat more pickles. Most people’s pickle opinions seem to range from indifference to mild appreciation. But damn: Look closer. Yes, I know it’s been very trendy lately to pickle all sorts of vegetables. But I’m talking about pickle-pickles. Not pickled asparagus or pickled eggplant or that abomination people call “pickled cauliflower.” I’m talking about pickled pickles grown on the pickle plant or from wherever they come. Sweet, spicy, garlicky, all of the above. I loved them as a kid, but then we grew apart. Well, no longer. Pickles, man. They’re so good.