Monday, August 26, 2019

Middle Child's Day Post Mortem

An anecdotal analysis. 

     I’m back from my mandatory après Middle Child’s Day break, freshly cynical, brimming with uncertainty, and ready to resume my irregularly scheduled posts. I must admit I was a little disappointed when on August 10 -- two full days before Middle Child’s Day -- I began seeing “Happy Middle Child’s Day” tweets popping up.


     I'd like to think these people were so excited to celebrate, they just couldn’t wait. But I know better. After all my hard work, they still had no idea when Middle Child’s Day was! I suppose I could blame it on a Russian disinformation campaign designed to confuse the public about the actual date of Middle Child’s Day. Sure, it’s disheartening. But at least they were close. That’s progress, I guess. And as I detailed in my previous post, we kinda almost sorta had a parade. That was a misstep in the right direction, right?
     Still, I wasn’t sure what to expect when the big day arrived. So I was pleasantly surprised to discover #MiddleChildDay being tagged on tweets all day long.


     Even Hallmark tweeted!


     And while it’s not a Middle Child’s Day greeting card -- yet -- at least I know we’re on their calendar. Word of my crusade has even reached all the way to Alaska, as reported by KTVA in Anchorage.


     I don’t have any hard numbers, but I can tell you after years of meticulously monitoring Middle Child’s Day mentions on social media, there has been a significant increase since I started my crusade to raise awareness back in 2012. I don’t want to take all the credit, but what else could explain it? And since nobody else is going to take responsibility, I might as well.
     Of course, there were the mandatory tweets the day after from people professing to have forgotten Middle Child’s Day...

LISTEN HERE


    ...but I'm not falling for it. I’m pretty sure they actually knew it was Middle Child’s Day and were just waiting all day for it to be over so they could say they forgot it the next day. Hardee har har. That’s pretty twisted. And not exactly original. My friend Terri Stacy at WIBC in Indianapolis likes to do that every year.
   
     Then there are those who genuinely forgot. Like my sister. Yes, the younger sibling of the founder of the International Middle Child Union. The person who is almost singlehandedly (with a big assist from my parents) responsible for me being a Middle Child in the first place. Yes, her.


     It’s the algorithm's fault? Is that the social media equivalent of the dog eating your homework!? Pretty weak. Still, it’s better than my older brother, who did not acknowledge the day at all.
     A more troubling issue is all the Middle Children who were unaware it was Middle Child’s Day, like my nephew.


          At least he found out in time. But still, if we’re not going to remember our own holiday, well, then -- I give up!! But no.
     NO!
     I will never give up.
     I’m like the Don Quixote of birth order. This is my quest. My impossible dream.
     Am I just tilting at windmills? For sure. But these challenges only strengthen my resolve. The struggle continues. I’m dogged, determined, and eager to embrace another year of being overlooked and underappreciated.

Stay up to date on all things Middle Child.
Follow on Twitter: @MidKidMusings and “Like” on Facebook.

Monday, August 12, 2019

The Middle Child's Day Parade That Almost Was

     Pittsburgh was a pipe dream... I should’ve known nothing would come of it when a writer from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette contacted me about my effort to find a host city for a Middle Child’s Day parade. “I figure we could have the parade on Centre Avenue, which goes through the Middle Hill,” wrote columnist Brian O’Neill. Middle Hill? Centre Avenue? It sounded too good to be true -- which of course it was. So I moved on. Like water under one of the 446 bridges over the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio rivers. I refuse to dwell on it. I’ll keep my expectations in check.
     And then the phone rings...
     “Hey, it’s Jen & Frank from WXLO Worcester/Boston,” says the made for morning radio baritone on the other end of the line. “We want to talk to you about a possible host city for your parade.” Surrrre you do. I’m no sucker! Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice -- I should probably call them back. So I do.

     Wow, they really sound like they mean it. This is huge! I mean, this station is in a Nielsen Top 10 rated radio market. They’ve got musical intros and a logo and everything. Alright, just calm down. This is probably all some kind of Morning Show prank. They didn’t really call the Mayor of the second biggest city in New England, right?
     Holy crap, they did!
 
     And, what what -- the Mayor is a Middle Child? Are you friggin’ kidding me!? I don’t want to get my hopes up, but it’s getting real hard not to. And then I get this text:


      Wait, are they checking my availability? Is this really happening? Should I be Googling directions to Worcester? And do they actually think I have someplace better to be on Middle Child’s Day?? Okay, okay -- I gotta play it cool. Make them think there might be other contenders. Ya know, like they’re not the only game in town. Play a little hard to get. So I text them back:


     And then... crickets. Radio silence. The Worcester Middle Child’s Day Parade is over before it even started.
     I don’t blame Jen & Frank. They gave it their best shot, but what more could I expect from two non-Middles? (Actually, Frank is a Middle Child, and didn’t even know it. He told me he was a first born, but I later found out he has an older sister and younger siblings! “I’m the first born male,” he explained. Just another classic case of M.C.D.D. -- Middle Child Denial Disorder.) I also don’t blame the Mayor, although it remains to be seen how his Middle Child base will react to this news.
     It was probably Russian meddling. Putin loves messing with Mid Kids. Or maybe it was all the fake news on social media.
     Whatever.
     We got close.
     Real close.
     Still, like too many Middle Children have experienced too many times before -- there was no cigar.
     But it was definitely progress. A step in the right direction. And after all, isn’t that all a parade really is -- a series of steps in the right direction? With a few balloons thrown in. And a crowd.
     So I prefer to think our parade has been -- postponed. Yeah, postponed. Sure, probably indefinitely. But it’s definitely not over.

IN CELEBRATION OF MIDDLE CHILD'S DAY,
CHECK OUT THESE NEW POSTS:

NEW Middle Child's Day Greeting Cards

     I've said it before, and I'll say it again: if you're not the first born or the last born, you're in the middle. Still, I am constantly amazed at the number of people who have no idea that they're a Middle Child. I wrote about this in a previous post, “outed” Sarah Jessica Parker as a Mid Kid, and have even given this condition a name: Middle Child Denial Disorder. Since M.C.D.D. has apparently reached epidemic proportions, this year I've created a special Middle Child's Day greeting card, for those poor souls who don't even know they're a Middle Child.


Also NEW for 2019:













to see the entire collection of Middle Child's Day Greeting cards.

IN CELEBRATION OF MIDDLE CHILD'S DAY,
CHECK OUT THESE NEW POSTS:

Being a Middle Child is No Game

     But if it was, it might be one of these:


Three players or more required.


This is not your brother's board game. Oh wait, it probably is!


Where the cards are always stacked against you.


When it comes to being overlooked, we're not playing around!

IN CELEBRATION OF MIDDLE CHILD'S DAY,
CHECK OUT THESE NEW POSTS:

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

The Middle Child's Day Playlist

Celebrate the big day with the very best of “Middle” music.

       August 12 is Middle Child's Day -- less than a week away! It's the one day of the year when millions of Middle Children get to be center stage and soak up the spotlight. All that attention -- it's music to a Mid Kid's ears.
     If only it were so.
     Sadly, that sorely needed attention won't happen for most Middle Children. Our namesake day will, quite ironically, go by unnoticed. But they can't take away our music!
     Get your Middle Child's Day playlist started with these memorable Middle melodies:

1. “Stuck in the Middle With You” (Stealers Wheel)


2. “The Middle” (Zed, Marren Morris, Grey)



3. “Smack Dab in the Middle” (Janice McClain)



4. “The Middle Child Anthem” (Parody & Son)



5. “Middle Child” (Jack Maynard)



6. “Middle Child” (J.Cole)



7. “Middle Child Parody” (Parody & Son)



8. “The Middle” (Jimmy Eat World)



9. “Smack Dab in the Middle” (Ray Charles)



10. “Happy Birthday Middle Child” (Palmyra Delran)



11. “Boss of Me/Malcolm in the Middle Theme” (They Might Be Giants)



NEXT WEEK: “THE MIDDLE CHILD’S DAY PARADE THAT ALMOST WAS”




Sunday, July 21, 2019

A Middle Child's Day Parade in Pittsburgh?


 
     In today’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, fellow MidKid/Columnist Brian O’Neill offers an interesting reason for why Pittsburgh would be an ideal spot for the Middle Child’s Day parade. Interesting, but not terribly convincing!

Check it out HERE.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Middle Child's Day Parade Seeks Grand Marshal

     The Holiday Season is here -- Middle Child’s Day is August 12! Like I’ve always said, Middle Child’s Day is like Christmas in August. Just without any of the presents. Or celebrating. And certainly none of the attention. In any case, preparations for our special day are in full swing.
     As founder of the International Middle Child Union, I am proud to announce we are now accepting applications for a chance to be Grand Marshal of the 2019 Middle Child’s Day Parade. Imagine how great it would feel to have huge crowds of adoring onlookers giving you their undivided attention. It’s every forgotten Middle Child’s dream come true!
     Unfortunately, applicants will definitely have to imagine the feeling because -- big surprise -- there is no Middle Child’s Day parade. But look on the bright side. Unlike the Thanksgiving Day or the Rose Bowl Parade, being the Grand Marshal of the Middle Child’s Day Parade will take very little of your time. Still, we need to be prepared for the day Middle Child’s Day finally gets the recognition we’ve long been seeking.
     When we do get our parade, we’ll have to move fast -- before someone changes their mind. We’ll need a Grand Marshal already in place to take their place atop our brand new I.M.C.U. float. (FULL DISCLOSURE: said float also doesn’t exist yet. But when it does, it will be brand new. Unless, of course, it’s a hand-me-down. Which there’s a very good chance it will be.)
     Interested applicants are encouraged to e-mail the I.M.C.U. with a brief explanation of why they should be Grand Marshal. Or if you know a qualified Middle Child, tell us why they deserve consideration. Reach us at:


     Maybe nothing else we do in our lives will get us the attention we feel we’re lacking, but being the Grand Marshal of a parade? Surely that would change everything. But probably not.

COMING SOON: THE 2019 MIDDLE CHILD’S DAY PLAYLIST

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Middle Child Music Notes

  I like to consider myself somewhat of a music savant. I can accurately whistle a scary amount of songs, many of which I’m not even sure how I know. I can usually “Name That Tune” in four notes or less. But when my brother-in-law, a fellow Smack Dab Middle Child (2nd of three boys), recently asked if I remember Janice McClain’s 1979 Disco hit, “Smack Dab in the Middle,” I came up empty.



     Was I losing my Middle Child music mojo? And of all songs not to remember, how could it be that one? How could I not remember? I mean, I spent  a lot of time at discos in the 70’s. Ohhh, maybe that explains my memory loss. But where was I... oh, yeah... after searching for the song online, it all came back to me. I was struck with a severe case of Saturday Night Fever  and found myself lost in a Disco Inferno wanting More, More More. And while I was disappointed to learn my Latin Hustle is not what it used to be, my journey of disco discovery did yield a pleasant surprise: a second song called “Smack Dab in the Middle” -- and not some disco one hit wonder, either. This second Smack Dab song was actually the first, written by R&B musician/songwriter Jesse Stone, recorded and released in 1955 under his performing alias, Charlie Calhoun and his Orchestra and Chorus.
     While Stone's best known composition was “Shake, Rattle, and Roll,” the rock and roll classic made famous by Bill Haley & His Comets, his “Smack Dab in the Middle” is no slouch. 68 different cover versions of the song are listed at secondhandsongs.com -- Count Basie with Joe Williams, Connie Francis, Nancy Wilson, George Jones and Johnny Paycheck, The Chambers Brothers, Buster Poindexter and many others all took a shot at it. Oooh, make that 69. I found another one by a group called Almost Blue. Ray Charles probably had the most success with his 1964 cover. It remained on Billboard's Hot 100 for seven weeks.



     I realize it’s hardly the most covered song of all time. According to many lists, that honor belongs to The Beatles’Yesterday,” with more than 2,000 recorded cover versions. But The Independent  ranked the Rolling Stones(I can’t get no) Satisfaction” at number five with 98 recorded covers, so “Smack Dab” isn’t that far behind. If a few more covers are uncovered, who knows -- it might be in the Top 20! And I never even knew it existed until a few weeks ago? Sounds to me like a classic case of musical Middle Child Syndrome.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

The World's Worst Middle Children

Profiles in Middledom: #6 in a series, featuring Middle Children (real-life or otherwise) who have earned their place in the pantheon of birth order oblivion.

          From the “Tell Me Something I Didn’t Already Know” Department, more bad news for Middle Children -- like we needed more bad news. According to a recent report, “Research Shows That Middle Children Are Most Likely To Be Troublemakers.” Okay, I suppose that’s not the most horrible thing in the world. You can be called a lot worse things than a troublemaker. But a second report on the findings provides a decidedly more gloomy outlook: “Study Finds That Second-Born Children Are More Likely To Be Criminals.” Yikes! That’s quite a leap. From troublemaker all the way to criminal? Isn’t there some kind of middle ground? How about menace? Or rabble-rouser? Scalawag even. Heck, I’d even settle for pain in the ass!
          Granted, not all second-borns are Middle Children, and vice versa, so many of us are spared this fate. But here are some that definitely weren’t.

THE SUPREME MIDDLE CHILD: Kim Jong Un has established himself as a fearsome killing machine. His “Greatest Hits” include having one of his vice premiers shot by anti-aircraft guns for
dozing off in a meeting. Another vice-minister was forced to stand on a spot targeted for a mortar round during military exercises and blown up. And when an apartment building in Pyongyang collapsed killing hundreds, the Supreme Leader had the engineers and architects who designed the building executed by firing squad. An ex-girlfriend met the same fate. And according to reports, a special envoy to the United States and four foreign ministry officials were also “terminated” after the recent Hanoi summit with the U.S. didn't go exactly according to plan.
Even relatives are not spared. His Uncle was executed for “dreaming different dreams.” Now that's what I call a bad dream. To remove any trace of his existence, he also had his Uncle’s entire family eliminated. Oh, and a deputy security minister who was an ally of his Uncle was also executed. By flamethrower. But even more criminal -- Dennis Rodman is one of his best friends.

THE ULTIMATE INSTIGATOR: It’s not uncommon for Middle Children to stir the pot in search of attention. “Stop starting up with your brother!” “Leave your sister alone!” I heard it all the time when I was growing up. Sure, maybe Middle Children know a thing or two about pushing buttons, but Gavrilo Princip has earned his rightful place as a world class agitator. When he assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife, the Duchess of Hohenberg in 1914, it sparked World War I.

THE WRATH OF THE MIDDLE KHAN: Genghis Khan was one of the most brutal and murderous leaders the world has ever known, responsible for the deaths of as many as 40 million people. After one particularly gruesome massacre, the piles of his victims bones were mistaken for mountains. He once disposed of an enemy leader by having molten silver poured into his eyes and ears. That’s one pissed off Mid Kid.
          Of course, you don’t become such a deeply feared and twisted figure overnight. His murderous ways can be traced back to his youth, when Genghis killed his half-brother for not sharing his food with him. Even from the grave, the Great Khan remained a deadly force. To keep his burial place a secret, he left instructions that everyone involved in burying him was also to be killed.

COULD THERE BE A WORSE NURSE? When 48 people died over the course of five years in the early 1900’s at the Archer Home for Aged People, an investigation revealed the deceased were actually murder victims, killed with arsenic or strychnine. The trail led to Middle Child serial killer Amy Archer-Gilligan, and not just because her second husband was one of the deceased. It seems many residents began dying only after being convinced to name her in their life insurance policies. And it couldn’t have helped her case when residents of the town reported she purchased unusually large amounts of arsenic to control rats she said were at the nursing home. Oh, there was a rat at the nursing home alright.

SOME MID KIDS REALLY NEED TO BE WANTED: Middle Children have lots of reasons to act out, but Middle Child Jesse James took it to a whole other level. Along with big brother Frank and their infamous gang, he robbed banks, stagecoaches, trains, and did pretty much whatever he felt like doing -- killing almost 200 innocent people along the way. So brazen were these badass bros, they are credited with being the likely culprits in the first daylight armed bank robbery in the United States during peacetime.
          Ironically, Jesse was killed by a member of his own gang who hoped to collect a reward on James' head. Instead, he was charged with first degree murder, indicted, pled guilty, sentenced to death by hanging, and then granted a full pardon -- all in one day. Oh, that’s fair.

THE ESCAPE ARTIST: The U.S. Department of Treasury called Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera (a.k.a. El Chapo) “the most powerful drug trafficker in the world.” Forbes magazine said he was “the biggest drug lord of all time” -- even bigger than Pablo Escobar. But only in his reach and influence. El Chapo, Spanish for “Shorty,” was just 5’6” tall. Still, he was a big time killer, claiming the lives of 2,000-3,000 people.
          As difficult as it was for authorities to capture El Chapo, it was equally difficult keeping him that way. Over the years, he staged escapes that would make fellow Middle Child Harry Houdini proud. After his first arrest, Chapo broke out of prison by hiding in a laundry cart. After his second arrest, he escaped again, this time through an elaborate tunnel system he had built under his maximum security prison. He was arrested for a third time in 2016, and has not escaped. Yet.

NOW ACCEPTING SUBMISSIONS FOR THE MIDDLE CHILD HALL OF SHAME.
Send qualified candidates to midkidmusings@gmail.com, and I’ll add them to the list.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

The Joke's On Us

     When I was forwarded a couple of articles recently about a YouGov study that found the youngest sibling is the funniest in the family, I have to admit, I thought it was some kind of joke. A bad joke. I mean, I know that wasn’t the case in my family. I was definitely the stand-up sibling. The family fool. I once put raisins up my nose to make my sister laugh. Now that's funny. (It wasn’t so funny when I started laughing along with her and inhaled the raisins, but that’s another story for another post.) Granted, this study was conducted in the UK, so maybe things are different over there. And the study actually found that the youngest sibling is more likely to think they’re the funniest. There’s a big difference between thinking you’re funny and actually being funny, so that’s some consolation. But that’s not what was really disturbing about these reports.
     One of the articles was titled “The Youngest Sibling Is the Funniest, Study Finds, But Older Siblings Aren’t Forgotten.” Uhmm, I’ll tell you who is forgotten. How about the Middle Child!? The article mentions oldest children, younger children, even only children. But there’s NOT ONE WORD about Middle Children. Nada. Zilch. In fact, the entire YouGov study is focused solely on oldest and youngest sibs, as if the Middle Child doesn’t even exist. Now that is truly funny.
     The second article, “Your younger sibling is funnier than you (at least that’s what they say),” suggests there might be evidence to back up the claim. It cites Dr. Kevin Leman, New York Times best-selling author of “The Birth Order Book” and countless other titles dealing with birth order and parenting. In “My Youngest, There’s No One Like You,” Dr. Leman asserts that most comedians are the youngest children in their families. He lists Drew Carey, Jim Carrey, Charlie Chaplin, Billy Crystal, Ellen De Generes, Whoopi Goldberg, Goldie Hawn, Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy, and Jon Stewart to prove his point.
     Now, I’ve got no bones to pick with Dr. Leman. In fact, he reached out and offered encouragement for my #MidKidStrike back in 2013. So it is with all due respect that I take issue with the good Doctor’s claim. Granted, he put together an impressive team. I’ll give him that. I’m sure he spent more time than me researching the topic, but in the short amount of time I did spend, I was able to put together a pretty powerful lineup as well. 

    
     My Middle Child roster includes Judd Apatow (WATCH), Johnny Carson, Dana Carvey (WATCH), Dave Chappelle (WATCH), James Corden, Kevin James (WATCH), Martin Lawrence (WATCH), David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Ray Romano, and Amy Schumer. Take that! And I’m putting Jon Stewart (WATCH) on my team, too. Even though he was the youngest child from his father’s first marriage, his father had two more sons from a second marriage, so he’s technically a Middle Child. I’m sure I could find even more, but I’ve got better things to do with my time. Okay, maybe I don’t, but that’s beside the point.
     I don’t know why any of this should even bother me anyway. What if Dr. Leman in right -- so what? Who cares if most comedians really are youngest siblings? That hardly means most younger siblings are the funniest in the family, no matter what they think. Besides, there are way more youngest siblings that aren't comedians. So there. The whole thing is ridiculous. I’m laughing so hard, I’m crying.
     Or maybe I’m just crying.

Enjoy a few more laughs with these Middle Child comedians:
 

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Spam Callers: the Middle Child Dilemma

     I am a prime target for spam callers. I see a number I don’t recognize pop up on my phone, and I start to get anxious. “Don’t pick it up,” I tell myself. “It’s spam. You know it’s spam,” I remind me. And I totally know I’m right. It’s probably that cheery lady who scares the shit out of me every time she calls when she says she’s from my credit card company, but then assures me everything is okay however “time is running out to take advantage of these great rates.” Or it’s likely that guy from some mysterious tech company who creepily claims to know “there’s something seriously wrong with your computer.” I hope it’s not the guy who greets me with a “Hi!” so lifelike and with just the right amount of pause built in before he says anything else that I actually say hello back and then feel totally demoralized when I realize I’m conversing with a machine. They’re the worst. Or it could be that woman who keeps calling me from Belarus. I know it’s one of them, or someone else I have absolutely no need to speak with. So I’m not going to take the call. Not gonna do it.
     But then my Middle Child insecurity kicks in. What if it’s not credit card lady, computer dude, that really friendly robot, or my Slavic sweetheart? What if this number I’ve never seen before is someone I actually do know? Maybe they got a new number and the very reason they’re calling me is to let me know that if I see this number, I should know it’s them, and not some spammer. Or maybe it’s someone I used to know. Maybe it’s an old childhood friend who has spent hours upon hours and tracked me down after all these years and desperately wants to reconnect. I’m just going to ignore their call after all the hard work they went through to find me? That’s messed up! How would I feel if someone did that to me? As you might have guessed, pretty terrible. With each ring, the doubt builds and temptation grows until it’s too much for me to resist. And that’s how they get me. Every. Single. Time.
     It’s quite pathetic, but totally understandable. It’s also nothing new. This goes all the way back to when I was a child -- before cell phones were even a thing and were just some crazy idea on “The Jetsons” or “Get Smart.” Back then, I was obsessed about getting mail. I wrote in a previous post about how I was always writing letters to politicians, tourism departments, television networks -- even NASA -- just so I could be assured of receiving a daily dose of postal attention in return. I couldn’t wait to get home from school so I could check the mail. There were even days when I pretended to be sick just so I could be home when the mail arrived. So is it really any wonder that I have a hard time not answering when my phone rings, even though I know there’s no reason to?
     If I’m being totally honest, I actually look forward to those calls. I like engaging my new spam-calling buddies. “Where are you calling from?” I’ll inquire. “What time is it there? How’s the weather? Can you hold on a sec while I finish eating dinner?” If they offer to call back at a more convenient time, I’ll insist it’s no bother while chewing loudly into the phone. One time, my imaginary meal got caught in my throat and I had a raging faux choking attack. That was fun.
     I particularly enjoy flipping the script on my newfound phone friends. After answering questions about everything from how many cars I own to how many TVs are in my house, I asked one curious caller if he would now answer a few questions, then I proceeded to inquire about his TV viewing habits, home ownership, airline preference, and more. He actually was answering my questions, until he got so frustrated he told me -- wait for it -- “I don’t have time for this!” And he hung up on me. I thought that was particularly ironic.
     While most people happily sign up for the “DO NOT CALL” list, I'll pass. Instead, telemarketers will probably place me on their own “DON'T BOTHER CALLING THIS GUY ” registry. But I hope not.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

There Is No Hope, Man

     Middle Children are always looking for recognition. It’s like our birthright. Our raison d'être. Of course, simple name recognition would be a great starting point. But all too often, you hear the all too familiar Mid Kid mantra: “They don’t even remember my name.” Sure, this can happen to anyone, but to a Middle Child it’s particularly debilitating. Just more proof that we don’t matter. More evidence of our invisibility. I cannot count the times when my mother, meaning to call out to me, would first call each of my siblings’ names before arriving at mine. Or what about the teachers at school that repeatedly confuse you with a sibling. It’s not just limited to family. There’s always that deflating feeling when you’re speaking with someone you’ve met before, whose name you remember, but you just know they have no idea what your name is. Even worse, I had a secretary (back when they were called secretaries), that always answered my phone, “Bob Hopman’s office.”
     I have always said Middle Child Syndrome is the gift that keeps on giving. You can be happily going about your day, minding your own business, when suddenly -- and without warning -- it will rear its ugly head. You might innocently stumble upon something from your past that you never before realized adds yet another page, or in this case another post, to your Middle Child story. Like the other day when I was flipping through my college yearbook. It’s been quite a few decades since I
graduated, and in all that time I never noticed this poke in the eye -- but there it was, literally staring
me in the face, right next to my Senior portrait. Bruce S. Hopeman.
     Nope, not me.
     I suppose it could’ve been worse. I mean, they could’ve called me Bob S. Hopeman. I guess I should be grateful? It's just a typo, right? But, still. I know I shouldn't take it personally. Bad proofreading is nothing more than an oversight. But that's the last thing a Middle Child needs more of.
     Like I said, this certainly wasn’t the first time I lost out in the name game. I wrote in a previous post  about not even getting top billing on my own birth announcement. Sure, I was given short shrift, but at least they spelled my name right! One could argue that aside from being born, what had I really done to deserve more than a mere mention anyway. But this is a whole other story. I mean, I worked my ass off in college and graduated summa cum laude, for what --so this Hopeman guy can steal the show? I do all the work and he gets all the glory? What a load of BS. And now I have to wonder -- did they make this same error on my diploma? Did I even legitimately graduate, or did my misnomer get my degree? It’s a hopeless feeling. Or should I say hopless.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Tourism Gets a Case of Middle Child Syndrome

Introducing “The Middle Child Travel Guide.”

The Spring/Summer travel season is here, and millions of eager explorers are ready to schlep their Samsonites to every corner of the globe. (Can globes even have corners?) If Conde Naste Traveler’s list of “The 10 Most Popular Cities of 2018” is any indication, most of these spirited sightseers will hardly be taking the road less traveled. Perennial favorites London, Paris, and New York City are once again among the top tourist targets. Slightly more valiant voyagers will lug luggage to Bangkok, Dubai or maybe Singapore. Oh, sure -- the favorites get all the attention. Every year it’s, “London, London, London!” “Oooh, Paris is so pretty in the spring!!” Meanwhile, dozens of deserving destinations go unnoticed. Cast aside, like Fodor’s forgotten Middle Child.
     Thanks to “The Middle Child Travel Guide,” now these overlooked options will get the attention they desperately deserve. Imagine Smack Dab travel experts all around the world bringing you the scoop on the best of the next best places to visit. Of course, you’ll have to imagine, because no way do I have that kind of budget! Instead, I will travel the internet and compile reports from people who have actually been there. And since even those destinations everyone knows and loves have sights that go unnoticed, I’ll make sure they get a chance to bask in the limelight, too.
     Of course, your input will help make “The Middle Child Travel Guide” even better. If you know of any destinations that are sorely in need of more tourist love, or if you know of sights that don’t get seen enough, let me know and I’ll make sure to include them in a future post. (E-mail me at midkidmusings@gmail.com, or comment below.) For now, we’ll start with a destination in France that’s not Paris. Incroyable!
Lyon: France's Enfant du Milieu
     Middle Children know what it’s like always being compared to a more beloved sibling. So how can France’s third largest city compete with the home to three of the top ten most popular tourist attractions in the world according to TripAdvisor? Well, while the Eiffel Tower casts a looooong shadow, Lyon is no slouch when it comes to memorable monuments. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with more than 160 buildings classified as Historic Monuments, including its very own (and less crowded) Notre Dame -- which according to Anthony Bourdain “is simply a more beautiful church.”
It's All a Facade: those buildings aren't real. It's a mural!
     Paris may have some of the greatest museums in the world, but in Lyon you don’t have to even enter a building to see amazing artwork -- it’s actually on the building. CitéCréation has more than 150 trompe-l’oeil murals on buildings all around town. Paris has none. The Seine is a lovely river, but Lyon has two -- the Rhône and the Saône. That also means Lyon has twice as many Left Banks and Right Banks. But who’s counting?
     Lyon also has their own unique version of a bistro. They’re called bouchons. In all of France there are only about 20 officially certified bouchons -- all in Lyon. And speaking of food, Lyon is the home of the late Paul Bocuse, a.k.a. “The Pope of French Cuisine.” In fact, many call Lyon “The Culinary Capital of France.” It’s certainly worth finding out if they’re right.
     Paris does kick Lyon’s ass when it comes to crowds. It’s one of the most crowded cities in the world. Lyon, on the other hand, is five times smaller than Paris and much less crowded. Oh, and it’s less expensive. Of course, you don’t have to choose between the two. Lyon is under 5 hours from Paris by car, around 2 hours by train, or you can catch a non-stop flight and be there in less than an hour.
     For even more reasons why Lyon deserves your attention, check out these links:

And here’s a link to the Lyon tourism site.

DISCLAIMER: “The Middle Child Travel Guide” isn’t a REAL book. I created that cover,
but the background image is a planner available from Chronicle Books.