Opinion

Empty nesting? First, locate remote control | Guest Column | The Latte Guy

There’s a display case at Seatac Airport between the United and Alaska ticket counters containing examples of items that passengers are prohibited from carrying onboard an airplane.

These include most of the petroleum by-product family of exploding liquids such as gasoline, lighter fluid, Tiki torch fuel and WD-40.

The display case includes many other items that could make a long flight dangerously unbearable, such as firecrackers, knives, guns, live ammunition or Jonas Brothers CDs.

Along with these smaller items is a chainsaw. I can only assume the airport felt obligated to include a chainsaw in their banned carry-on case because at some point some wingnut attempted to board an airplane carrying his chainsaw.

When told that he’d have to check it into the baggage compartment, he raised a stink about the fact that if they intended to ban people from carrying chainsaws onto airplanes, they should be more clear about it by including one in the banned devices case next to the box cutters and pen knives.

I was thinking about the airport and baggage this week because my daughter, Lauren, left for college and Wendy and I officially became empty nesters.

Before she left, I gave Lauren my basic college lecture series in which I urged her to be careful and avoid dangerous situations such as dark alleys, wild parties and early-morning classes.

I also suggested she develop a network of new friends by joining exciting college organizations such as the All Girls Ukelele Ensemble, the Future Grumpy Senior Citizens of America Club (“FGSCAC”), and the Campus Crusade for Cookies.

I’m handling our new status as empty nesters pretty well, but then again, I had to be reminded that son Adam had left for college a couple of years ago and was no longer living in his old bedroom, although you wouldn’t know it by looking at the amount of his stuff still being “stored” on his floor.

Wendy is taking it a little harder.

In an effort to help her cope with “empty-nester syndrome,” which I believe is found in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders right between Compulsive Shopping and Excessive Internet Usage, I researched the Internet and came up with many good ideas.

For example, I read several articles that suggested that the empty nest syndrome can be combated by having spouses establish regular date nights, spend more time with their friends, or become more involved with their church or other community organizations.

One article suggested we consider hosting an exchange student, which strikes me as a good idea only if we can locate a country where young men and women have been raised on the bedrock principles of keeping their rooms clean and have cultivated a deep and abiding love of active lawn mowing.

On the other hand, if there’s a Brazilian women’s beach volleyball team out there that needs a place to stay and practice, the lawn mowing and room-cleaning thing may be negotiable.

In an article called, “Refeathering the Empty Nest,” which I read in spite of the nauseatingly cute title, an empty-nest “expert” pointed out that there are many upsides to being an empty nester.

They include the opportunity to trade off raucous family meals for intimate suppers with your spouse, and the chance to embark on spontaneous weekend hiking trips without the fear of missing an important soccer game.

This article also noted that empty-nest sex can regain some of its old pre-children abandon, which is great news to me since it means I can go back to my practice of calling out my own name at climactic moments.

The truth, of course, is that these days, with cell phones, e-mail, Skype and Technology Tom’s Personal Hologram Communication Center (patent pending, investors welcome), many of us talk to our kids more often once they go off to college than we talked to them when they lived at home.

My only real regret is that I forgot to have the kids show me how to work the television remote control before they went off to college, which is probably OK since I also forgot to have them tell me where they left it when they left.

Tom Tyner is an attorney for the Trust for Public Land. He is author of “Skeletons From Our Closet,” a collection of writings on the island’s latte scene.

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