Twenty-five years ago, I did three important things.
The second-most-important of these was the launching of the Monday Morning Memo, even though no one can remember what it’s called. “I’ve been reading your Monday thing for more than 10 years,” is the opening line to my favorite song. I never get tired of hearing it.
The third-most-important thing I did in 1994 was fall asleep on a motorcycle and then get run over by a car as I lay unconscious in the middle of the road. “Induced hypothermia” is the medical name for involuntarily falling asleep due to your body temperature plummeting quickly.
It was the first Wednesday after Thanksgiving – November 30 – and every retailer on my client list needed reassurance that Santa had not been kidnapped and Christmas had not been cancelled. My day started with ad writing at 2AM and ended with me climbing onto my 1000cc BMW at 10PM to ride home from the office.
The sun had fallen far below the horizon and a cold front had swept the warm air away. Jacketless, I shivered as I climbed onto my bike, “Four miles, no stoplights, no traffic. I’ll make it home in record time.”
An hour and a half later, I woke up in the emergency room with lots of broken bones, none of which could be set. They kept me overnight – about 12 hours – to make sure I had no internal injuries, then I was back at work at 10:30AM. Christmas and retailers cannot be delayed.
I typed with one hand – my uncoordinated left – for more than a year. When my right arm ached, I would reach over with my left hand to pick it up and lay it on the table. But that motorcycle wreck was the least consequential of the 3 things to happen that year and the creation of the Monday Morning Memo was number two, even though the first 100 of those memos would soon become the first book in the Wizard of Ads trilogy.
The most important event of 1994 – by far – was that Pennie and I told our sons that each of them could choose any city in the world and I would take them there for a week while the other brother stayed at home with their mom.
Rex was 13 that summer. Jake was 11.
A week alone in a strange city with your Dad is a fascinating rite-of-passage. It is probably the smartest and best thing I’ve ever done.
Allow your son or daughter, grandson or granddaughter, friend or neighbor, to choose their city with no guidance, no hints, no suggestions of any kind. They must make the decision all on their own and then announce it.
I am amazed at the cities people choose and for the reasons behind their choices.
Rex decided he wanted to spend 3 days in Las Vegas, then fly on a tiny airplane to the Grand Canyon where we would spend another 3 days in a series of misadventures.
Jacob chose Juneau, Alaska where we went deep-sea fishing, ocean kayaking, panned for gold, landed in a helicopter on the Mendenhall glacier and then wandered dangerously around on the slippery ice as melting water gathered and gushed into infinitely-deep holes big enough for a human to fall into. We spent a week wandering around in that beautiful Alaskan town accessible only by air, water, and rail. Juneau has just 27 miles of pavement and a big part of those miles are the road to the airport. But more than 150 miles of gold mining tunnels hide in the mountains.
Rex’s son, Hollister, turned 13 this summer. He chose Long Beach, California. If you’re reading this on Monday, August 19, 2019, Hollister and I are still here. Indy Beagle promised he would post photos of us in the rabbit hole.
Hollister’s brother, Gideon, will choose a city two summers from now. Their little sister, Edie, will choose her city in 2029 and Jacob’s son, Vance, will choose his in 2030.
Jewish boys look forward to a bar mitzvah when they turn 13, and their sisters look forward to a bat mitzvah at 12 or 13, depending on the tradition of their family.
Our family tradition didn’t have a name when Rex and Jake chose their cities 25 years ago, but Princess Pennie and the older grandkids refer to this event as the Poobah Mitzvah.
Some men are known by Grandad or Grandpa or some other term of endearment. I am Poobah.
A Poobah Mitzvah is like the Monday Morning Memo; it doesn’t matter what you call it. The only thing that matters is whether you do it.
No, it isn’t too late. The people in your life are never too old to have an adventure with you and the city you visit together doesn’t have to be far away.
But there can only be two of you. This is one of those rare experiences where three is a crowd.
If you decide to do this with someone you love, send a paragraph or two with photos to your favorite beagle, indy@WizardOfAds.com
I suspect he’ll put them in the rabbit hole.
I almost forgot; Indy says Aroo.
Roy H. Williams
Liz O’Donnell was already juggling her job and two children when both her parents were diagnosed with terminal illnesses on the same day. Owning a business while raising a family is challenging enough. Add to this the responsibility of caring for one or both aging parents, and the complexities of life expand exponentially. This is especially true for women, who comprise a majority of the 44 million unpaid eldercare providers in the United States. Listen and learn as Liz shares with roving reporter Rotbart how aging Baby Boomers can lessen the burden on their kids when they cross the Rubicon into old age. Where does Rotbart find these amazing guests! It’s always interesting at MondayMorningRadio.com