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The Observer, May 27 

The Observer went to the movies this weekend. Along with our movie ticket, we also asked for a medium coke and a medium popcorn. The refreshment counter girl tells us, “But it's cheaper if you get the super-mega-size-unlimited-refill-combo!” We say we really don't want that much. So she just shrugs and says “OK.” Curious why they were trying to give us more for less, we had to ask why the super-mega-size-unlimited-refill-combo is cheaper than getting medium sizes with no refills. After all, it's the same thing, just less of it. Refreshment counter girl says, “Because it's a combo!” The Observer isn't the sharpest bulb in the lamp, so someone is going to have to explain that one to us. We're also now wondering about our brightness for paying more to get less.


There was a lesson in democracy to be had last week, the first time that The Observer's 18-year-old voted.

It was that there is public uncertainty about whether one needs ID or not to cast a vote. One volunteer outside, holding a sign for her candidate, said she thought yes, it was a requirement. Another shrugged. Definitely not, said another. They were all campaigning for the same person, so their vagueness was not of an ideological nature.

So in the 18-year-old went. She told the lady at the desk that she didn't have her driver's license with her and asked if she could vote anyway. The lady said, sure, “I'll just ask you some questions.” After the 18-year-old provided birth date and address, she got to sign the book and proceed to the voting booth, where she got some good advice on whom to vote for from her sage parent.

Later, someone whom we won't identify, except to say he is one of the biggest wigs in government medical care, was sent away when he tried to vote without an ID. He went back to his car and got it, another volunteer reports. More theories emerged: You can only get away with voting without your ID when you're 18. Poll workers may not volunteer the information that you can vote without your ID, so if you don't know you can, you'll end up having to fetch it. And so forth.

Sadly, these days you don't get to sign your name in an old book under all your past signatures, a record of your every trip to the polls. We miss that. The 18-year-old will never know it.


The Observer squinted through
high school, too hip for the scourge of nerdified glasses, but when we got to college we knew something had to be done. Contacts out of the question due to our whomperjawed eyeball shape, we've been relying on specs for going on 20 years now. Other than the occasional screw falling out or nose-pad popping off, we've had minimal trouble being a four-eyes.

This winter, tired of squinting into Arkansas's Biblical-grade sun, we decided to get a pair of prescription sunglasses. We had them go Ronnie Milsap dark with 'em, and they've literally changed the way we do business. Barring nightfall, storm clouds and evil plots to block out the sun with a giant disk, we can't imagine going outside without them anymore, and wonder just how we ever got along without.

The other day, The Observer got back to the Fortress of Employment and realized that our glasses — our plain ole glasses — were missing. We usually drop them in a pocket or hang them from our shirt collar when we put on the shades, so it was something of a mystery where they went. Suddenly, the Mobile Observatory blocks away, we were marooned with only our sunglasses to limp us along.

We spent the next two hours looking like a juvie delinquent, biggerizing the text on our computer monitor until it was nearly an inch high just so we could see it, and telling everyone who stopped by the desk our tale of squinty woe.

At lunch, The Observer walked back to the car, and there we found our precious auxiliary peepers, lying lens-down on the hard pavement by the door, mercifully not flattened into a halo of shards by a passing car. We've never been so happy to see our glasses — a crutch, sure, but the good kind of crutch.

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