The Fire Of Youth

The following post was inspired by the thirty-seventh suggestion in No One Cares What You Had for Lunch: 100 Ideas for Your Blog, which was randomly selected by Virginia Culler of I Absolutely Hate The Word “Blog”.

Once, as a child, a grown-up asked me what I would save if my house were burning down. I answered without hesitation: “My bike.”

The adult seemed a little flustered by the speed of my response. “Your bike?” she asked, incredulous. “You could always buy a bike, you know. Isn’t there something personal you’d want to save?”

She, like most adults, didn’t understand. It wasn’t important to have “a bike” after the fire; it was important to have my bike. Back then, certain possessions were practically an extension of my identity.

For a while there, around the time I was seven, my prized possession was a stick. It was a length of birch, maybe a yard in length and an inch in diameter, that I’d stripped of bark, and employed as a lightsaber in my backyard reenactment of pivotal Star Wars scenes. Plastic lightsabers were selling for a dime a dozen at the time, but I was happy with my stick — after all, we’d shared so many adventures together.

One day we both broke — it in half, I into tears — and I knew it could never be replaced. Sticks like that don’t grow on trees, you know.

So what would I save now, if my house were burning down and my family were already safe? Man, I don’t know. Nothing leaps to mind.

In a way I’m proud of this — attachment to stuff is such a drag, you know? But, still, I can’t help but romanticize the days when my Dapper Dan or my Mickey Mouse wristwatch meant the world to me.

Maybe, if my house were burned down tomorrow, I’d use it as an opportunity to reclaim some of that lost innocence. I’d break into my garage, save my bike, and then ride up and down the block to share the news with my neighbors. “Come look,” I’ll cry excitedly, “A house is burning down! Oh boy: I bet the fire engines will be here any minute!”

Plugapalooza: The Offbeat Bride

I first met Ariel Meadow Stallings virtually via Metafilter, and later in person when she moved (back) to Seattle. She writes the weblog Electrolicious, hosts the Salon of Shame, and is one of the founders of — MB

My first book hit bookstores this month, and somehow it’s about weddings. How does a woman who’s wedding was a massive freakfest with hula hoops, a vegan buffet, and guests pooping in buckets become a wedding writer?

The theory is that even freaks get married sometimes, and in a world of 300-page glossy bridal magazines catering to people with princess fantasies, freaks need all the wedding advice they can get. That’s where Offbeat Bride: Tafetta-Free Alternatives for Independent Brides comes in.

While the title suggests that the book is only for women, there are more than a few offbeat grooms quoted in the book, including Mr. Defective Yeti himself:

Blogger Matthew Baldwin, from Seattle, Washington, was married at the Seattle Aquarium. He explained that “During the planning process we discovered that a lot of places that seem ‘exotic,’ like the aquarium, are actually a bargain, because they are considered city or state parks and therefore rent for cheaper than you would get a corresponding hall. We loved getting married there — the best part was that whenever we had a ‘transition’ (such as from wedding to reception or whatever), there were otters to look at for the guests.” Matthew went so far as to say, “We went to a traditional church wedding about a month after our aquarium wedding, and all we could think was, Booooooooring.” He has a point: When was the last time you saw otters at a church wedding?

So yes: while I somehow wrote a book about weddings, it uses otters to mock church nuptials — and I pride myself on having written the only wedding guide offering advice for dealing with stoners at receptions:

While traditional brides may worry about Uncle Joey getting drunk and lecherous, many offbeat brides have, well, other concerns. Debra Hanson from Iowa City, Iowa recounted, “Most of our friends are stoners, and we had different groups of smoker-friends coming together and knew that would be a big part of their bonding together. I requested ahead of time for people to please keep it discreet, and they did, for the most part. That was probably my biggest stress surrounding the wedding. I didn’t want my conservative relatives to see my friends smoking and have there be drama. Most brides worry about flowers and food, but I was consumed with worry about this! I wish I hadn’t fretted so much though, as everyone was very discreet and respectful of my wishes.”

We had similar concerns with our fun-loving friends, and I sent out a big email to this subsect of guests before the wedding, advising them to be careful. The email began: “The wedding’s coming right up, and I wanted to check in with all of you about one very important wedding topic: Gettin’ fucked up!” and continued to advise friends to “… be aware of who’s around you when you’re preparing to smoke — step into a tent or wander into the woods a bit, and perhaps avoid shouting things like ‘Oh my god I feel so great holy shit it’s like a roller coaster here I go whoosh!’ in places where you could be overheard.” Like Debra, we found that our friends who chose to partake were exceptionally discreet — way more discreet than your average lecherous old drunk.

For more information, head to

— Ariel Meadow Stallings


Plugapalooza Pregame Festivities

If you have a blog you’d like to promote, send me an email with:

  • Your name
  • The name of your weblog
  • The URL of the your weblog
  • A number from to 1 and 100, inclusive

I’m only taking the first five non-duplicate numbers, so ACT NOW!

Update: I got all I need. Thanks for playing!