APR 27-MAY 3 2020
First off, we need to get our terminology together. Some people skip school. Others cut class. Still others play hooky, turn truant, bunk off, go AWOL, no show, ditch, steer, tail, skive, miss, desert, or escape. Any way we say it, we’re talking about an unauthorized absence from school. Here in rural Idaho, we say sluff. It’s the kind of word that automatically gets underlined in red by errant word processors until someone right-clicks and adds it to the dictionary. ?
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Perhaps these well-meaning spell checks would be happier with the word slough, as in slough it off. The problem with that word is this: o-u-g-h is hard to pronounce. Does it say “oo,” as in through? Does it say “off,” as in cough? Maybe it says “oh,” as in dough. Or perhaps it says “ow,” as in drought. Or “up,” as in hiccough. Or “aw,” as in fought. I thought it ought to say “ah,” as in, bought. But “uff,” as in slough? Even that word can be pronounced at least three different ways. It can rhyme with rough, goo, or cow. So somewhere down the line, some smart cookie reduced the word from o-u-g-h to u-f-f. Smart cookie, indeed. Sluff clearly doesn’t rhyme with poo or pow. I’m sure that particular simplification has saved more than one poor, misinformed truant from inviting his friends to sloo school with him and being laughed to scorn. Speaking of laugh, how do we get “aff” out of a-u-g-h? Ought that naught to be aw? But, I digress. Besides, I’m not sure I could handle the ridicule of being lawed at.?
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My illustrious sluffing career began in the usual way. At a young age, I quickly learned that if I feigned sickness, not only could I stay home from school, but also my mother would take special care of me. She would give me a big bowl to catch the puke that I was so good at faking. Or lozenges to stifle the uncontrollable fits of convulsive coughing that I was so good at pretending to convulsively uncontrol. ?
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(To be continued…)?
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Today’s cufflink is: SICK DAY.
Mom would tuck me in on the comfy couch with a heating pad to keep me warm. She would serve my favorite sluffing treat: chicken-noodle soup and 7-Up. On the rocks.?
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Back then, I used the term “on the rocks” because cool people on TV said it. They would saddle up to the bar, give the server a knowing glance, and say, “Get me a Scotch on the rocks, Lough.” To clarify, the bartender’s name was pronounced “Lou,” not “Luff.”?
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One of those days, huh?” Lough would say.?
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“Yeah, the kind of day that makes a fella want to sluff school.”?
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Mom told me the carbonated sugar in the 7-Up would help keep the nausea down. I’m not sure it ever worked, but it tasted pretty good. On the way down, at least.?
As time went on, my sluffing skills increased. I learned I didn’t actually have to feel sick to feign sickness. Also, I learned what the word feign means. And it’s pronounced “fane,” not “feegan.” ?
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(To be continued…)?
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Today’s cufflink is: HARD TO PRONOUNCE NAMES.
In High School, I went pro. I was so good at sluffing, it’s a wonder I graduated. I arranged my school schedule so the classes that were easy to sluff came at the end of the day or next to lunch. If I showed up at all, I could easily cut out early or take an extended meal off campus. In another city. ?
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My grades may have slipped a bit, but my dating life was enhanced. I began asking girls along to my special luncheons. Since I was poor, I couldn’t always treat them to a fancy restaurant, like Taco Bell. So I started taking my dates home. Unfortunately, that meant facing my dad. He worked out of a home office. The first girl I took home was met by a stern fatherly stare. “Shouldn’t you two be in school?” he asked. “Just where do you think you’re going?”?
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The girl, who was clearly a novice, just about peed her britches as she fumbled for an explanation. Taking her hand in mine, I casually disclosed our purpose. “We’re sluffing,” I explained nonchalantly. ?
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Perhaps taken aback by this rare display of honesty, Dad was speechless. I saw about a dozen emotions flash across his face, from astonishment to indignation. When he finally settled on bemusement, he chuckled, shook his head, and replied, “Don’t get caught.”?
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“No worries,” I said. “I’m a professional.” My dumbfounded date stared at me with obvious appreciation for my ingenuity. Or my nitwittedness. I couldn’t tell for sure. “What’s there to eat?” I asked.?
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(To be continued…)?
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Tell us about a memorable lunch.?
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Today’s cufflink is: LUNCH.
One day, we had a rare taste of warm sunshine in Idaho. It must’ve been at least over 60. As was my custom, I asked a girl on a sluff date. It just seemed a real shame to spend such a beautiful day sleeping in Mr. Nelson’s History class. So, we hopped on my little motorcycle, ready for an afternoon of adventure. “Where do you want to go?” I asked as I revved the engine. ?
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“Let’s find some sprinklers to run through,” she replied. “It just seems a real shame to spend such a beautiful day sleeping in Mr. Nelson’s History class.”?
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“Where do you find sprinklers running this time of day?” I asked.?
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“The cemetery.” She replied.?
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Now, I thought this was a bit of a strange idea. Wouldn’t that be just a little disrespectful? Not to mention slightly morbid? But alas, I wanted to impress my date, and I couldn’t afford anything better than the cemetery sprinklers. So off we went. We weren’t far down the road, when a nice police officer pulled us over for speeding. “Shouldn’t you two be in school?” he asked. “Just where do you think you’re going?” ?
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My date and I glanced at each other, then replied in unison, “The cemetery.”?
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Perhaps the cop didn’t want to enhance whatever grief would compel two teenagers to sluff school to attend a funeral. At any rate, he let us off with a warning.?
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When we returned, Mr. Nelson’s class was still in session. He appraised our sopping wet clothes and hair, then glanced down at the puddle of cemetery irrigation water at our feet. “And what happened to you two? he asked. ?
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I gave him a stupid grin and shrugged my shoulders. ?
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“Never mind, Mr. Nelson said. “I don’t think I want to know.” And that was that. We found our seats and fell asleep with the rest of the class.?
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Today’s cufflink is: NAP TIME.
Not every sluffing adventure went so splendidly, however. And that brings me to my Yellowstone adventure with my brother Dustin. I was in fifth grade. Dustin was in 7th. I grew tired of the daily grind of elementary school. Dustin had taken his fill of middle school politics. So, we hatched a master plan to take a day off. ?
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Let’s just say, we were big Ferris Beuller fans. ?
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The plan was simple: ?
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1. We fill our backpacks with stuff to keep us entertained.?
2. We ask to ride our bikes to school.?
3. We sneak fifty cents to the empty fairgrounds a couple blocks down the road.?
4. We use the state fair payphone to call in to our respective schools.?
5. My older brother does the talking. He has a deep voice. Because 12-year-olds sound like adults. Right??
6. “Dad” (Dustin) tells the school secretaries to please excuse his sons.?
7. Because the family is going on vacation to Yellowstone Park.?
8. We rendezvous at the hideout.?
9. We play games and have fun.?
10. We stick it to the man.?
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The “hideout” was a vacant house a few blocks from our home. My parents owned it. When it wasn’t sitting empty, Dad rented it out to unsuspecting tenants who didn’t realize the little house was the most boring place on Earth. Dustin and I found that out the hard way. We had hidden some board games and snacks in the root cellar of the house previous to our day off. We were prepared for a day of amusement, recreation, and relaxation. ?
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We should be so lucky. ?
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Instead, what we got was a day of fear, boredom, and torture. Our preparations were lacking just a bit. We burned through the snacks in the first ten minutes. We had nothing to wash them down with. By the end of the first hour, we were fed up with the games, tired of sitting on the floor of an unfurnished house, dehydrated, hungry, and scared to death of being caught. What if Dad came by to show the house to a potential tenant? We had a plan for that. We could both barely fit into the narrow hiding space down in the root cellar. We practiced stuffing games into the backpacks and running down to the cellar if Dad’s car pulled up. ?
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(To be continued…)?
Today’s cufflink is: BIG PLANS.
We practiced stuffing games into the backpacks and running down to the cellar if Dad’s car pulled up. ?
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And any car that passed the house could be Dad’s car. So we ducked and peaked out the bottom of the front window every time we heard a car heading up the street. ?
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Every. Time. ?
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Several games of Monopoly were terminated early by false alarms or drills. We spent a healthy portion of our day crammed into our hiding place in the root cellar. By noon, the thirst was too much. We just couldn’t take it any longer. So, we spent the next hour planning our conquest to get soda. Across the street was a new county courthouse. Inside the courthouse was a soda machine. Inside the soda machine was sweet relief. We’re talking 7-Up, Baby! It would taste pretty good. And keep the nausea down.?
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But, how to get past the guards? And by guards, I mean the county clerks that would wonder why two little boys weren’t in school. It only took us an hour, but we came up with an idea. If anyone challenged us, we’d tell them we’re across the street helping our dad paint his rental property. By one o-clock, we were on our way to the courthouse. Luckily, nobody challenged us. Probably because no one noticed us. Even when we went up to the treasurer’s desk and asked for change for a dollar. We must’ve looked like we knew what we were doing. I was a professional in training, after all. ?
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The rest of the day went much like the first. We probably checked our calculator watches several hundred times as we counted the long hours down to 3:00 pm when school would let out. We were ready for another drink. The second of the day. ?
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So we rushed our little bikes home, proud of our initiation into the criminal world. We had been successful in blowing off school, impersonating an adult, breaking and entering a house, and deceiving government employees. We’d had a wonderful, miserable time. And we’d gotten away with it, too. Go us! ?
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Today’s cufflink is: GOT AWAY WITH IT.
When we got home, we headed straight for the kitchen. We stuffed ourselves with food and drowned ourselves with water. On the rocks. Then, being the good, obedient kids we were, we went right to work on our chores. ?
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I was just finishing the dishes when Dad walked in. “Hi boys!” he said with a big, welcoming smile. “How was school?” ?
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“Great,” we replied. ?
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“Good, good,” Dad said as he laid a reassuring hand on my shoulder. “Maybe I should ask, ‘How was Yellowstone Park?’?
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On second thought, maybe 12-year-olds don’t sound like adults.?
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Ever tried to pull one off on your folks? How’d that turn out??
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Today’s cufflink is: BUSTED!
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