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Cica 1975

While taking roll on the first day of kindergarten, my teacher asked each of us students, in turn, if we’d prefer to use a name other than the one she’d just read. As expected, most Roberts said they’d like to go by Bob, some Rebeccas opted for either Becca or Becky, and all Richards sensibly stuck with Richard.

I chose Jerry.

My name is clearly not Jerry. Nor is it Jerome or Jerimiah or Jerred or Jerald or any other sensible derivation of the word. I really don’t remember why I picked it. To be fair, though, I really don’t remember much of anything from that era. …

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It’s Saturday morning, 10am. The sun is shining and it’s 70°F outside. Of the million awesome things I could be doing on this beautiful fall day in the Pacific Northwest, I’ve chosen to push a shopping cart around the inside of a grocery store with my wife.

Normally, we’d be out riding bikes on some remote farm road. Or jogging through a local park. Or hiking up a scenic mountain trail. I’d be advising her to drink more fluids and she’d be looking for a good place to stop and take pictures. We’d be talking about our amazing kids and laughing about life and possibly singing some excellent songs from the 80s. …

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I surprised my family with coupons for flu shots last weekend. They were not delighted. I guess I don’t really blame them, especially with all the controversies surrounding vaccinations these days. Are the shots even necessary? Or effective? Or safe?

Everything is debatable now, it seems.

Back when I was young, things were much simpler: Parents who really loved their children took them to the doctor for shots; all of the other parents, like mine, made their kids go swimming at Green Canyon Hot Springs.

Anyone who has ever lived in Southeastern Idaho can stop reading now, because they already understand. For everyone else, imagine a petri dish festering with influenza, hepatitis, malaria, tuberculosis, cholera, smallpox, and a host of other communicable diseases. That’s what the changing area was like, except with less privacy. The actual pool wasn’t nearly as bad, thankfully, since that same concentration of contaminants was being continually diluted by the natural seepage of urine and other bodily fluids from patrons like me. …


tracy k. ard

Find my words on The Haven, P.S. I Love You, Student Voices, and at I also accidently wrote a book. Sorry about that.

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