The Best of Me (2018)

this year’s Best of the Mike Paulus Poll was a doozie

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Janae Breunig

The votes are in, the polls are slammed shut, and the tallies have been tilly-tallied. So it’s with great pleasure and excitement that I present to you the results of my 2018 Best of the Mike Paulus Poll wherein I polled only myself. Strenuously. What follows are some of the best and worst experiences I had throughout 2017. As with previous years, this year’s voting was 100% subjective and 200% self-obsessed. Let’s begin.

Most Famous Recording Artist Snubbed

Winner: Paul Simon

In rained a lot at the 2017 Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival. That was unenjoyable, but what can one do? One can complain and shake one’s fists at the clouds. That’s what I like to do.

After we got soaked on the first day, my wife and I picked up some totally-not-dorky-at-all rain ponchos for day two. As the drops began to fall, we busted ’em out (all cool like), and they did a great job ... of keeping one half of each of us dry. That was unenjoyable, but what can one do? One can shake off one’s lower half and leave.

The problem was that folk hero and musical legend Paul Simon was about to go on. We weren’t really in the mood for some Paul Simon tunes, but come on. How many more chances do we, the human race, have left to see Mr. Simon on stage, right here in the Chippewa Valley no less? It seemed important to stay.

But did I mention our wet pants? In the end, a desire for dry warmth won out, so we left the festival to change our clothes and go to a bar. I’m pretty sure Paul saw us leaving from across the big field, and I hope we didn’t hurt his feelings. He’s a sensitive guy.

Most Forgivable Verbal Interruption

Winner: The Drawing Prompt Suggestion

Sometimes, I get very excited and I can’t stop myself from interrupting people in mid-conversation. It’s a bad habit, and I’m always trying to be a better listener (I swear). This whole concept is something my (very patient) wife and I are trying to pass on to our kids. But sometimes interruptions are totally forgivable. And even warranted. Such as the following exchange, recorded by my wife, which happened at our kitchen table.

Daughter: Mama? Can you give me a drawing prompt?
Wife: Sure! Please draw ... a rhinoceros –
Son: WITH LASERS SHOOTING OUT OF ITS HORNS STEALING THE MONA LISA!!

Interruption forgiven and challenge accepted.

Largest Population Growth Our Household Animals

Winner: Cats

After our cat passed away in October 2016, we knew we’d eventually refill our cat supply. It’s kind of like being out of Cheetos – you know you want more, so the next chance you get, you buy some. Except cats are more expensive, they require a lot more paperwork, and before you go get them, you have a long talk with your kids about how much work they’ll need to do while eating them caring for them.

So last summer, after a few visits to the fabulous Dunn County Humane Society, we brought home two new cats. An orange one and a grey one. For cats, they’re not too bad.

Most Awesome Game I Invented Totally By Myself Probably

Winner: Snowball Smash 6000

One sunny day last March I was playing with my son in the front yard. It had snowed some very wet-n-heavy snow the night before – perfect for packing snowballs. Too lazy to walk down to the sledding hill, I quickly invented a “game” which produced well over an hour of fun and laughter.

I grabbed our big, fat, red plastic baseball bat from the garage (you know the one) and tossed it to my son. I then started pitching him oversized, misshapen snowballs which he promptly smashed into a million sparkly bits of wet crystal, sending showers of snow across the yard. It was amazing.

Least Best Hair Style

Winner: Post-Stocking Hat

I let my hair grow relative long in 2017, and now I can’t wear winter hats if I’m going out because, if I remove the hat, my hair sticks straight out from the left side of my head. Always the left side. Always straight out.

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