Take a sip of straw stories

John Kelly
Columnist July 29, 2013

I promise, this will be the last straw.

My recent columns on straws — in a nutshell: They’ve gotten bigger; it’s kind of wasteful to use them — prompted more readers to share their straw stories.

John Kelly writes "John Kelly's Washington," a daily look at Washington's less-famous side. Born in Washington, John started at The Post in 1989 as deputy editor in the Weekend section. View Archive

There were, for example, tales of turning straws into pea shooters, an activity that sounds positively historical, as obsolete as the soda shop.

Speaking of which, Jim Ashley of Falls Church shared what he calls the most important use of the paper straw: playing the “get a kiss” game at the soda shop. Wrote Jim: “The couple starts at the bottom and makes alternating pinches of the straw (at right angles ... very technical) and if the boy gets the last pinch at the top of the straw, he gets a kiss. If the girl gets the last pinch, she obviously doesn’t know how the game is supposed to go.”

There’s probably an app for that now.

Non-recyclable plastic straws do seem like a luxury. Should we ditch them completely? Not so fast, wrote an online commenter to my column. “I hope the various concessionaires who have stopped providing drinking straws have also provided stronger cups than the paper ones long used,” this person wrote.

“The paper ones I have been given recently cannot be sipped from because, without the plastic lid, they are not strong enough to avoid collapsing when picked up. If you grab the cup too hard it may very well fold up and dump its contents on whatever is around. Coffee cups are somewhat better, so I guess the solution is to ask for a coffee cup for your water or soda. Or two paper cups nested together. Use and discard twice the cup to save one straw. I’m sure that’s saving landfill space.”

I’ve noticed that, too. It’s similar to how 2-liter soda bottles have become so flimsy. Unscrew the top and squeeze the bottle and the thing practically explodes.

But I shouldn’t be drinking soda anyway. And as for cups, maybe we should follow the lead of the Greek cynic Diogenes. He vowed to lead a simple life, with only a few possessions. One of them was a cup, at least until he saw a boy drinking from his hands.

“A child has beaten me in plainness of living,” said Diogenes as he threw his cup away.

Don’t burn your fingers on that coffee, Diogenes!

Letters from camp

“We are enjoying an empty house since all three of our kids are off at camps,” wrote the Cohens when they sent in their generous donation to Camp Moss Hollow. “We hope someone else gets to experience that!”

Emma Haley donated, too. She wrote: “I remember my experience sixty years ago when an organization like yours sent me to camp. . . . All children deserve this experience.”

Carolin B. Headwrote: “As a grandmother of three lively kids, I am happy to contribute to this project.”

Mary Jane Saylor wrote: “I can’t think of anything that makes me happier than this. I hope many people feel the same way.”

If you feel the same way — that it is better to give than receive, or at least it’s as good — then I hope you will donate to Camp Moss Hollow, too. That’s the summer camp in Fauquier County run by Family Matters of Greater Washington, one of our area’s oldest charities.

At Moss Hollow, kids who might otherwise spend the summer on hot city streets get a chance to cool down in the country. For some, it can be a life-changing experience.

This year’s fundraising campaign ends Friday. To donate, simply go to washingtonpost.com/camp and click where it says “Give Now.” Or send a check, made payable to “Send a Kid to Camp,” to Send a Kid to Camp, Family Matters of Greater Washington, P.O. Box 200045, Pittsburgh, PA 15251-0045.

Your donation will be supersized, doubled by a generous donor who is matching gifts, up to a total of $100,000.

And Clyde’s, the homegrown restaurant group that is celebrating its 50th anniversary Aug. 12, is offering an additional incentive. If you donate $150 to $249 before the end of the campaign Friday, you will receive a $25 gift certificate for Clyde’s. Donate $250 or more for a $50 one. (Certificates will be sent in September.)

Thank you.

john.kelly@washpost.com

For previous columns, go to washingtonpost.com/johnkelly.

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