the little things.

I had a very odd rite of passage last week, which I wasn't expecting. You see, I bought a hard plastic cooler. The Igloo[tm] Playmate[tm]. A blue one. I've been putting up with a crappy soft-shell cooler for years, which doesn't work well and is difficult to carry, and finally it occurred to me I could have a happier camping experience for at reasonable expense ($14.99, in this case).

I grew up in an active family of 3 boys and two parents. It's possible any family that size has to be active by definition--my friend Ann's latest thought about growing a family is "never let the kids outnumber you"--but we did sports and traveling and going places and doing stuff, so we had to bring sandwiches and lemonade and crackers and cookies, and we did it in two or three of these Igloo coolers, red ones, latched closed by a tightly-sprung recessed button on the hinge that kept the cooler closed but was incredibly difficult to open, even for adults. I have half a lifetime of memories that include those coolers; buying one felt, in a genuinely bizarre and true way, like growing further into an adult, because I now own this practical piece of equipment that my parents own, and I associate it somehow with food and responsibility and taking care of kids. It's difficult to explain, but no less real for that.

It's not just me, either: one of my friends (now a father) reports the same effect. They've improved the design a little bit, with a large bar switch on the top, but mostly it's the same. The lotus never stops opening.