The number and variety of 2011 Top 10 lists is epic. Everything from Top 10 Stupid Celebrity Quotes (hundreds to choose from) to the Top 10 Terrible Parents (just 10?) to the Top 10 Tragic Elevator Accidents (seriously). I figure the Top 10 Reader Responses to these Homefront Columns belongs on the list.
A January column pledging to be less tolerant of bad public behavior brought a host of approving comments from you. The best one came from a savvy reader who shared that the perfect response to profane language in a public setting is to smile, reach out my hand, and say, "Hello, my name is Louise. What's yours?" I tried it. It works. That guy in the restaurant couldn't apologize enough.
A "Child Therapy" column claiming that the best therapists are the young, little ones who like to finger paint and take naps prompted enough of your stories to make me wonder who's raising whom.
To a column about the frustrations and amusements of standing in check-out lines, one of you responded with a surprisingly blunt way of dealing with folks who shove into the 10-items-or-less line with a cart load. I'd share it, but this is a family paper. Thanks anyway for the um, idea.
Several of you requested the recipe for the old-fashioned potato salad mentioned in a column about family reunions. One of you said you look for testimonial-backed recipes so you have someone to blame if it doesn't taste good. I sent it anyway.
The column about watching childhood playgrounds, i.e. pasture lands replanted with subdivisions struck some emotional nerves. Thanks for sharing your memories. And the poem. Almost made me want to move to the country.
I was surprised at the volume of letters sharing your keen interest in the saga of Frank, (short for Frankenplant), the little house plant that grew up to take over an entire bedroom. I wrote a universal plea for help to find him a home, and you responded. Granted, most of your responses were not that helpful, but they were entertaining -- especially the fellow from Australia who filled me in on Frank's pedigree. A special thanks to the reader who actually did adopt Frank, and for the periodic photos and updates. And just for the record, he never starred in "The Little Shop of Horrors."
I've written a couple of experiences this year about people's natural tendency to be kind to strangers in random situations. You seem to agree with that. Thanks for your own stories about being either the giver or the receiver in similar circumstances.
You agreed that infant "transportation systems," i.e. gigantic strollers, don't necessarily hold an advantage over the old but serviceable umbrella stroller, which apparently can double as a carrier for oxygen tanks, groceries, or coolers. Who knew?
And you love your dogs. A column about some generous people who built a play yard at the local animal shelter for the animals there prompted a host of pet-lover stories. Apparently a lot of you wisely picked up your furry companion at the shelter.
The column about how marriage improves once you learn to give up prompted the most comments. More than half were cryptic one- and two-liners that basically said the concept was right, and the delivery was "timely." Not sure what that meant, but if it helped, I'm glad. And congrats to you two who just celebrated your 46th anniversary, acknowledging that, yeah, you have to work at marriage every single day to keep it going.
I sometimes get asked how I come up with ideas for this column. This 2011 Top 10 List's topics include bad public manners, child therapy, check-out lines, potato salad, pasture lands, a giant house plant, thoughtful strangers, umbrella strollers, an animal playground, and giving up on marriage. All I can say is you're a fun group to write to. And to hear from. Thanks for writing.
You may contact Louise Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling her editor at 801-629-5231.