Group-wise, my siblings and I predictably share numerous characteristics, resulting from nature/nurture influences, I would suspect. As citizens, we contribute appropriately to society. We have families we love and support, were longtime employees valued by our bosses and co-workers, pursue hobbies we find fulfilling – including the reading bug we inherited from Mother, the family bookworm.
As homogeneous as we seem, the Scott Kids – as we were known in the neighborhood back in the day – are most definitely individuals. The six of us live in four different states, with offspring strewn all over the country. Our political views differ, as do our tastes in food and entertainment. Perhaps the most clear-cut distinctions among our motley crew are certain quirks we have somehow independently developed during the course of our lives.
One such trait involves one of my sisters, a regular online shopper. During a typical transaction somewhere out there in cyberspace, she makes her selections in a timely fashion – a special book for a granddaughter, decorative buttons for a sewing project, the perfect frame for the latest addition to the family’s photo gallery. At this point, however, the routine checkout process morphs into anything but routine – if **FREE SHIPPING** is offered.
My immediate response to most shipping charges is to simply yell “Ridiculous!” at the computer while emptying my virtual shopping cart. Not my sister! It becomes her personal mission for the better part of an hour to search out the best possible product – a pair of socks for her hubby, scrubby brushes with no choice of color, or a length of lace that just might match the wall hanging she is trying to finish – for the $1.95 that will take her to the hallowed land of **FREE SHIPPING**. Wow, her exhausting shopping excursions can drain a girl’s last ounce of retail energy…even if her feet don’t ache in the process.
Tempting as it is to characterize my sister’s self-inflicted shipping charge marathons as just another inconvenience of modern life, she freely admits her quirk is simply an updated version of certain former mall shopping habits. When searching for a specific item, she comparison-shopped the entire length of the once-thriving Upper Valley Mall, only to return to the first store she visited to purchase the first article she saw. An applicable coupon tucked into her purse made it all better!
I, too, must confess to more than a few vintage shopping oddities. Adding more and more office supplies to the uber-surplus stashed into every nook and cranny in my house was an obvious compulsion, but what teacher doesn’t need another notebook or grading pen?
And then there was the one and only time I ever bought wallpaper: I simply had to replace the NFL wall covering I endured in the bedroom for way too long. I, completely devoid of anything approaching home-decorating acumen, found myself at some Springfield paint store, surrounded by stacks of hefty wallpaper books from which I was to choose. The clock ticked on and on as I thumbed hopelessly through a staggering array of samples. Eventually, I did what any TV viewer would do if she had watched every Miss America Pageant televised since 1955. I jotted down my top ten sample choices, continuing to eliminate candidates for cause until the winner emerged: a lovely black-cream-rose-floral pattern under which I slept in stylish comfort. Because of the laborious selection process and foolish confusion about double rolls and such, however, I remain traumatized – too scarred for further interior design adventures.
Let’s apply this underlying thought process to the online creation of customized calendars, of which I have made several over the years. Fortunately, I have a talent for this type of artistic expression and have spent hours of computer time arranging and rearranging elements for the perfect combination.
It is always astonishing to me that I can up rack up so many hours choosing page layouts, backgrounds, and clip art to combine with the family photos I copy from Facebook. I mean, the year has only twelve months. But something inside my brain forces me to try every possible arrangement of every possible element in every possible color. It’s a curse, to be sure – but so much fun!
I should finally bare what keeps me dependent and enslaved whenever I make computer-generated cards, stationery – and during my teaching years – classroom materials for my students: I am obsessed with FONTS! I thought, I had reached the mountain top of word processing years ago when my sophomores showed me how to type in colors. Shortly thereafter, I learned to copy-and-paste: a timesaving maneuver that revolutionized my lesson planning sessions.
However, discovering the huge assortment of fonts available right there in Microsoft Word sent my typing heart soaring! For a Boomer with only two choices that weren’t really choices – Pica and Elite – ever since my personal typing class in 1965 on manual typewriters with no letters painted on the keys, I had arrived! The only downside became predictable: it takes me eons to choose just the right font, what with my innermost need to audition each one. Among my favorites: Bookman
Old Style, Poor Richard, Segoe Script, and most especially Lucinda Handwriting. Yes, I am a confirmed Fontie!
We should all embrace our quirks. Our oddities make us human, give our lives variety and texture. They make us, well, us. Let’s celebrate them! It is, after all, what we do!
Shirley Scott, a 1966 graduate of Graham High School, is a native of Champaign County. After receiving degrees in English and German from Otterbein College, she returned to GHS in 1970 where she taught until retiring in 2010. From 1976-2001 she coordinated the German Exchange Program with the Otto-Hahn-Gymnasium in Springe.