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Cornelius News

Our little systems have their day. Pancakes, for instance

MODERN DAD | By Jon Show

In the opening scene of My Blue Heaven, when Rick Moranis comes home from work …

Wait, do I need to provide context about the movie I’m referencing? My Blue Heaven. Steve Martin as Vinnie Antonelli, a former NYC mobster turned informant. Moranis as FBI agent Barney Coopersmith.

Best grocery store scene ever. Best interrogation scene ever. Best dance scene ever. All delivered by Steve Martin in an over-the-top, comically stereotypical New York accent. Best Christmas memory, ever.

“When I was seven years old, no eight, all I wanted for Christmas was a new red bicycle. My favorite uncle, Uncle Alfresco, swore to me that would buy me that bicycle. I counted the days until Christmas.”

“Five o’clock Christmas morning, I run downstairs and look under the tree and what do I find? Uncle Alfresco, dead on the floor, shot through the back of the head. Plus no bicycle. It was a disappointing Christmas on many levels.”

Obsessive behavior has benefits

My Blue Heaven is one of the finest pieces of cinema ever created. We can disagree on politics. We can disagree on pretty much anything. If you don’t love My Blue Heaven then I just don’t think we can be friends.

Anyhoo, in the opening scene Barney comes home to find out his wife is leaving him for a relief pitcher on the San Diego Padres. When he asks why she’s leaving, she responds:

“You’re no fun. You get the oil changed on the second Tuesday. You get the car washed on the fourth Thursday. You get your haircut on the 11th of the month. You never, ever get a different haircut. Look at the way you eat pancakes.”

“How does he eat pancakes,” inquires the relief pitcher.

“He has a system for eating pancakes,” she says. And then Barney very confidently fires back, “So that the bottom pancake gets as much syrup as the top pancake.”

“He has a system for everything,” says the wife, and then she walks out of Barney’s life. Forever.

That movie came out in 1990 when I was 15 years old and I remember, in that exact moment, thinking, “What is wrong with that lady? A system for pancakes where the top one gets as much syrup as the bottom one? That’s to be celebrated. Not divorced!”

I’m a system guy. I like routines. I’m not married to them in the sense that I refuse to do anything sporadic – which I believe was the main complaint of Barney’s wife – but the fact remains that a system just makes things easier. Better. More efficient.

Perhaps I’m mentally ill, as my sister in law recently told me in a very complimentary tone. Or at least as complimentary as a person can tell another person that they’re mentally ill.

Or – and I mean this in the least egomaniacal way – perhaps people like me and Barney are out here improving things to a degree never thought possible. Maybe, just maybe, we’re revolutionary and should be recognized as such.

What I do

Need examples? I thought you’d never ask.

• When I make powdered drinks like Gatorade, I put an ice cube in the bottom of the cup and then swirl it as I add water so the ice serves as a mixer and you don’ t get the powder residue sip at the end.

• I save bread bag twist ties in my desk so when I travel I use them to wrap up and organize cords so they don’t get tangled.

• When I do my weekly grocery shopping I write my list in the order of where items are located in the store from right to left. I can shop for an entire week’s worth of food in about eight minutes.

• When I finish washing the car I spritz the entire car with water and then towel dry it so you don’t get those giant dried water marks on your car.

• Two summers ago when I got tired of sweating to death at lacrosse games I built a portable air conditioner out of a Home Depot bucket, a portable fan, dry ice and PVC.

Pancakes stacked against me

Is it exhausting living with someone who views everything as having a potential for being improved upon? Probably. I don’t care. I’m just out here trying my best on a daily basis. You can’t stifle that.

I called Future Man into my office to ask him what he thought about Barney’s pancake system. Instead of offering his opinion he immediately fired back with a solution.

“Take a straw and poke holes in the side of it. Jam it into the pancake stack and then pour syrup into the straw and it’ll come out of the side holes and give each pancake the same amount of syrup.”

We both pondered what he said and then I slowly nodded in approval.

“I just made that up in my brain,” he said. Then he shrugged and walked out of the room.

What can I say? The kid has promise.

Jon Show lives in Robbins Park with his wife, who he calls “The Mother of Dragons.” Their 10-year-old son is “Future Man” and their 7-year-old daughter is “The Blonde Bomber.” Their dog is actually named Lightning.