Editor's column

"Every time we pack for vacation we forget the most important item. Such was the case last week when we headed to the Washington coast.It didn't take long to realize what we'd forgotten. It came to us at the Clinton ferry toll booth. The ticket taker told us our coupons weren't any good any more. The poor man looked shell-shocked and had obviously taken much abuse from other coupon users that morning.Our coupons had not expired. They were still good til mid-August. At least that's what it said on the back of the coupon book. But it seems that the Washington State Legislature or some such fool body had ruled them invalid after July 15. How could they do that, we wondered? We'd purchased a booklet of 20 coupons with the expiration date of Aug. 15, and now the state was reneging on the deal?It was then that we realized what we had forgotten to bring along on vacation. I frantically searched the back of the vehicle, but with no success. Our inflatable lawyer was missing. I knew it was going to be a long vacation.An inflatable lawyer is a modern necessity and ours was back home in the garage. As a result, I meekly agreed to pay an inflated rate for a new coupon book and boarded the ferry. Without my lawyer I was helpless.Here's how an inflatable vacation lawyer works: Just blow him up with hot air and yank on his necktie, which forces his to speak the only two words he knows: We'll sue! We'll sue! It scares the bejabbers out of any adversary and doubles as a handy flotation device and camping mattress. The ferry ticket taker was spared because we'd forgotten our inflatable lawyer at home.The long drive to the coast was an anxious one because the comforting presence of our inflatable lawyer in the back seat was missing. Any cop could stop us and we'd be defenseless. Fortunately, we made it without incident.At dinner that night, I ordered razor clams. In the past, I've always dug and fried my own razor clams, but these days you never know when clam season is and they keep raising the price of a license. These razor clams tasted like fried rubber gloves, but without my inflatable lawyer in the booth I could only meekly pay the bill and leave. Had my lawyer been present I could have demanded a refund.The next day I ventured out into the ocean to play in the waves, as I have done for decades. As far as I could see I was the only one in the water all the way from Neah Bay to Fort Canby. There are signs posted everywhere warning people not to enter the water, because you could drown. Apparently the authorities only recently discovered this danger. I ignored the signs. Pretty soon a red rescue van rolled down the beach and stopped right in front of me. Two EMT's in wetsuits got out and dragged their plastic sea kayaks into the breakers. They stared at me, I stared at them, and nobody said a word. But I felt my rights as an American were threatened. Had I been playing with my inflatable lawyer, the EMT's would have left me alone. As it was, they ruined my day.The rest of our vacation I spent looking in shops and spending money, which are still considered safe activities by our Big Mother government, which makes Big Brother look like a piker. Anything else requires safety equipment and warning signs.I couldn't wait to get home, run into the garage and give my inflatable lawyer a big hug. Never again will I leave home without him. "

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