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Prompted By Pandemic Holidays

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When I returned from my out-of-state college to my Indiana home

Now it’s my turn. I have a son who comes home from college.

Dad would guide me to the pantry to show me he had put away some Mason’s Root Beer for me.

I wondered why the big deal.

Now it’s my turn, I have a son who comes home from college.

It’s a puzzle to understand what makes him happy, what annoys him, how best to communicate.

I show him where I have stored the chocolate mint protein bars he likes.

Next time I get a chance, if it still exists, I could really enjoy a Mason’s root beer.

(Retroflash, <100 words)

Profile photo of Dale Borman Fink Dale Borman Fink
Dale Borman Fink retired in 2020 from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams, MA, where he taught courses related to research methods, early childhood education, special education, and children’s literature. Prior to that he was involved in childcare, after-school care, and support for the families of children with disabilities. Among his books are Making a Place for Kids with Disabilities (2000) Control the Climate, Not the Children: Discipline in School Age Care (1995), and a children’s book, Mr. Silver and Mrs. Gold (1980). In 2018, he edited a volume of his father's recollections, called SHOPKEEPER'S SON.

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Characterizations: funny, well written


  1. Sweet Dale, this softie mom gets it!

  2. Suzy says:

    Great RetroFlash, Dale, glad you decided to give it a whirl. Nice symmetry in your relationships with your father and with your son. Mason’s Root Beer apparently does still exist, but is not widely available. I had never heard of it, but it’s been “a midwestern favorite since 1947” according to one website I saw.

  3. Perfect RetroFlash, Dale…I’m so glad you gave it a shot! Isn’t it wonderful to see how you can squeeze so much more into 100 words than just words? Bravo!

  4. Laurie Levy says:

    Dale, this line sums up how parents struggle to understand their college-age kids: “It’s a puzzle to understand what makes him happy, what annoys him, how best to communicate.” It does get better when they become adults with kids of their own, but still I sometimes struggle with how best to communicate without being annoying. Guess that’s the parent’s plight. Nice RetroFlash.

  5. Enjoyed your sweet and ever-so-slightly forlorn koan re: father v son mysteries… and a great root beer. Perhaps you have introduced the retroflash haiku!

    • Charles, I had to look up “koan.” One of those literary terms I have encountered but not explored or remembered. I am happy if you thought my writing embodied even a little of this (the definition I found): a paradoxical anecdote or riddle, used in Zen Buddhism to demonstrate the inadequacy of logical reasoning and to provoke enlightenment.

  6. Betsy Pfau says:

    Making kids coming home from college is every parent’s challenge, right Dale? You’ve captured it perfectly. In Detroit we had Vernor’s Ginger Ale. Every region has it speciality. Nice of you to stock what your son enjoys. Hope he enjoys it.

  7. Marian says:

    Love the circularity of this RetroFlash, Dale, and I can taste the root beer!

  8. Dale, I felt the juxtaposition of the simple love of a root beer against the complexities of father/son relationship, probed deeper with the simplicity of your efforts to please via choco/mint protein bars was rounded out in a koan-ish way by returning to the root beer. A perfect circle of solvable and insolvable dilemmas. Hope that makes sense!

  9. Joe Lowry says:

    As we get older, it becomes easier to understand our parents. Also, I am in awe of all my parents did for me.

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