By Tim Baffoe-

(CBS) I’m on summer break as of 11am today. The start of my vacation from one of my three jobs is always a little bittersweet because while I look forward to being away from angry parent emails and the constant smell of farts and kids drawing genitalia on each other’s books and not being able to say words like “bequeathed” without an uproar of laughter, I also know I’m not really going to accomplish anything more than adding to my beer belly and maybe, just maybe, once and for all, actually watching the series The Wire that the kids are so fond of these days.

Every summer I plan on voraciously reading all the books I’ve been meaning to, and I’m lucky to actually read two. I plan every summer on writing some glorious book that will change literature forever, and I put off starting it until tomorrow until tomorrow is September all of a sudden.

What helps appease that feeling of lack of accomplishment, though, is the knowledge that you’re likely stuck at work on a hot day, and I’m not. You’re shuffling through TPS reports thinking about the beach, and I can go to the beach whenever I want now. (I won’t, but I can.)

Day baseball game? I don’t have to fake sick for anybody.

Drunk at noon on a Tuesday? If I want to be, damn right.

I can wake up any time I want to for the next 85 days, not shower, and wear nothing but a loincloth until I run out of food and have to go to the grocery store. You do not have such freedom (unless you have the greatest job in human history that I am not aware of).

So while I’m doing nothing constructive, my nothing will be way more awesome than your something. Sucks to be you… until 4pm every day when I have to deliver pizzas.

On to your questions. All emails and tweets are unedited.

[re: This column] I respectfully disagree!  This argument is as tired an old as the old should grown men wear jerseys?  I have no problem with anyone wearing a jersey supporting their team as long as they cheer and support respectfully. As far as a glove well I always bring mine you never know when a screamer could come at you depending on where your sitting.—pj

Then you, sir (I think), are a massive dork. No grown-ass fan needs a glove at a baseball game. If a “screamer” frightens you, duck. The presence of a glove has already established a lack of valor. And if you get hit from not paying attention, a) you deserve it, and b) the glove wouldn’t have helped anyway.

As far as jerseys on adults go, I’m fine with it overall. But do not wear the jersey of a team not playing in the sporting event you’re attending. Ever. There is no reason for that whatsoever. And don’t wear a jersey that you got autographed by a star player. What’s the point of increasing its value if you’re just going to risk spilling nachos on it? Also, jersey T-shirts on men are awful and trashy. Pony up for the real thing or nothing, hillbilly. Kids can wear whatever they want, and so can women, especially if it makes the ladies look hotter.

As a smoker, what is your stance on smoking in front of children?  It was a long day at the zoo w/ my 3yr old cousin  #TFMB—@DerekSelf1

Can people even smoke at the zoo?

To throw an oxymoron at you, I’m a conscientious smoker. I do not smoke indoors among nonsmokers. Actually, I don’t even smoke in my own house, and while I was opposed to it at first, the smoking ban in Illinois bars is something I actually like now.

I’ve never really thought about not smoking in front of a little kid, though. They’re kids, they don’t know any better, right? To them smoking would just be “something big people do,” I would assume, like drinking that nasty beer stuff or mommy and daddy wrestling in bed once a week.

Seeing adults smoke isn’t really the big factor in kids beginning to smoke. It’s peer pressure. Maybe a kid will steal a butt from his parents just to try what this thing they do is, and then they cough until near asphyxiation, turn green, and say “Screw this, I’m never smoking again.” That is until their buddy is smoking. Then the kid hacks his way through a few cigarettes until his or her lungs get comfortable with the poison entering them, and there’s your newest cigarette customer for years. Kids do stupid things to themselves because of their friends, not their parents.

If a parent I know asked me to not smoke in the presence of his or her child, I’d be totally fine with that. If it’s a stranger, though, he or she can go kick rocks.

I hope I’ve quit by the time my newborn nephew is percosius enough to ask about my cigarettes. And if he does, I’ll be honest with him—(NSFW language).

What three novels should any educated adult have read? #TFMB—@David_Spellman

“All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn […] There was nothing before. There has been nothing as good since.” — Ernest Hemingway

No novel has ever defined America so well as that. The sheer brilliance of it is that it largely still applies today. Twain’s magnificent satire is enduring—the commentaries on racial issues, organized religion, gullibility of the masses, etc. The fact that it has been so often banned in schools and libraries and continues to be so should be a tell-tale sign of how great a novel it is.

Any one of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, George Orwell’s 1984, and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 is a must. I group them together because all three dystopian novels speak the same message and have predicted much of the same current media, social, and political climates of today. Each time I read them I am amazed at how accurate those three authors were more than fifty years ago as to the fustercluck we humans would create in the 21st century. If you like one of the three, you’ll probably like the other two. Huxley’s has lots of sex and drugs, if that’s what goads you into cracking open one of them.

And then there’s John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. I’ve read this probably a dozen times and cried each time I finish it. It is the quintessential American novel to keep Americans grounded, letting us know without apology that often times life just really sucks, and no matter how hard you work, the world at large does not care about you and will crush you in a heartbeat. The novel gives the reader all of society’s various “losers” and makes the reader ask why they are considered so—racism, ageism, sexism, classism, and the treatment of the mentally and physically handicapped. We are all George Milton, and, sadly (or maybe fortunately?), we all have our various Lennie Smalls.

Thanks for emailing, tweeting, and reading. If your question did not get answered this time, that does not necessarily mean I am ignoring it. It may be saved for the next mailbag. Hopefully you’re a slightly better person now than you were ten minutes ago. If not, your loss.

Want your questions answered in a future Mailbag? Email them to or tweet them with the hashtag #TFMB. No question, sports or otherwise, is off limits (with certain logistical exceptions, e.g. lots of naughty words or you type in Portuguese or you solicit my death). If you email, please include a signature.

tim baffoe small Ten Foot Mailbag: I’m On Summer Break, And You’re Not

Tim Baffoe

Tim Baffoe attended the University of Iowa and Governors State University and began blogging at The Score after winning the 2011 Pepsi Max Score Search. He enjoys writing things about stuff, but not so much stuff about things. When not writing for, Tim corrupts America’s youth as a high school English teacher and provides a great service to his South Side community delivering pizzas (please tip him and his colleagues well). You can follow Tim’s inappropriate brain droppings on Twitter @Ten_Foot_Midget, but please don’t follow him in real life. E-mail him at To read more of Tim’s blogs click here.

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