Getting the newspaper can be hazardous

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Just when you thought you were safe in your own front yard along comes a story about the dangers of picking up your newspaper.

A 71-year-old man in Huntington, N.Y., went outside in the rain to pick up his Sunday newspaper. He fell into a cesspool and his son and neighbor were sucked in when they tried to help.

"I walked across the lawn and all of a sudden I disappeared," Andrew Palladino told the Associated Press.

Firefighters secured the ground, lassoed Palladino and his son and dragged them out.

Maybe we would all be better advised to send out robots to fetch our newspapers. Or maybe we should just let our pets do the job.

Our pooch, Cassie, regularly brings our newspaper to the front door. Thankfully, we have no cesspool in our front yard. If we did, our small dog probably wouldn't make it out alive.

First it was attacking TV sets. Now it's cesspools. It's getting harder and harder to survive in suburbia. It's just part of the chaotic life of an American family.

Home life can be crazy in our house.

At any one time, our house can be home to our daughters' playing computer games, watching television, rewatching a favorite DVD, practicing on the piano, camping out in the living room, searching for their shoes and asking when they're going to eat.

About the only time it gets quiet is when the power goes off. No lights, no stereo, no computer, no air conditioning, no television.

No life, youths would say.

Our older daughter, Becca, has found the well-lit dining room to be the perfect place to practice her cheerleading routine.

Becca recently made the high school freshman cheerleading squad along with a bunch of her friends.

All the practice paid off with a letter telling her that she had made the team.

She doesn't start high school until this fall, but she's already hard at work -- along with the other cheerleaders -- in fund-raising efforts.

It takes money to costume an entire cheerleading squad. My wife, Joni, figures one way or another we'll be writing a check to the school.

Our younger daughter, Bailey, loves the outdoors. But even she has to spend some time indoors sleeping, eating, finding her soccer socks, washing her hair and feeding her pet crab, Speedy.

It's enough to make me want to hire a scheduling secretary and all-around butler, maybe two.

If dads were in charge, that's what we would do. But since we're not, we let moms keep track of children's busy schedules.

Being a devoted father, however, I can't let Joni have all the parenting responsibility.

My duty clearly is to make sure our children don't fall into a cesspool and that getting the morning newspaper won't cause a calamity.

So far, I've succeeded at that job. I send Cassie out to do the dangerous job of fetching the newspaper.

Of course, I failed to protect Bailey from the attacking television. Who knew that a TV set could be so dangerous?

Now that I know, I'm more wary of television sets. Apparently I also have to be wary of disappearing front yards and newspapers.

Rest assured, I'm up to the task just as long as the ground holds up.

Mark Bliss is a staff writer for the Southeast Missourian.

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