The Gray Badge of Honor

newspaperBack in Ye Oldie Days, our post-breakfast routine included a thorough hand-washing. On Sundays, when Dr. Science made pancakes,* it was sticky maple syrup that had us turning on faucets with our elbows. But every other day of the week it was fingers smudged with newspaper ink that needed soap and water. Back then, we hated newspaper ink. Back then, we held newspapers by the ink-free edges. Back then, we shook our fists against scientists who could send a man to the moon but not invent ink that blah blah blah.

These days, though, our ink-smudged fingers are a gray badge of honor. We are proud to be among the dwindling (and perhaps only) print subscribers in Our Fair City. Dr. Science likes the Sports section. Never mind that he watched the game the night before, that he can look up the box score on the web. He likes reading the sports section with breakfast. He Who Shall Not Be Named likes the comics. And I like the headlines. Plus? There’s something cozy about sharing a newspaper between the three of us. Sometimes we talk and laugh about what we’re reading. Other times we read silently. But we always leave for work and school the same way: with smudged fingers, each of us carrying a reminder of how we started the day, as a family, sharing the paper.

* Scientific pancakes are in the shape of letters, sometimes spelling out short words. Go ahead. Try to make a pancake that spells C-A-T.

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