One joyous byproduct of marriage is the inevitable influx of mail. All kinds of mail. Double the bills. Double the fun! And junk mail, too. Thankfully Jon likes the daily trip the mailbox. He takes the little jaunt down our street, fishes the mail out of our teensy little mailbox, rolls his eyes when he sees that everything has been folded exactly in half, and then he gets down to sorting.

Sorting entails mumbling and tossing. He sits, leafs, mumbles (either, "Cool." or, "Yours."). It's his thing. The cool stuff (i.e. Wired, Rock & Ice, Quizno's coupons) is his. Junk mail makes a nice pile on the floor near his feet... with my stuff (Redbook, The Independent, anything from UC Davis) just to the right of that pile, also on the floor.

I just sit there and smile at him, and when he looks up and catches me... that's okay. He understands. I am amused.

Anyway, a few months ago we noticed that we are receiving two issues of FamilyFun magazine simultaneously. Yes, we couldn't get two copies of Time or the Reader's Digest. Instead we are treated monthly to the exciting contributions of happy Christian families everywhere.

On the upside I can now assemble a playdough ladybug in just eight easy steps!

Not that every article in the magazine is mind-numbing. Also included are kids' birthday party ideas (throw a shindig set is space!), snack recipes (four-leaf clover cookies for St. Patty's Day) and time management tips for stressed-out moms.

But the real treasure was right there on the back page.

"Make a Magic Loop"! proclaimed the festive purple text. "Turn a strip of ordinary paper into a marvel with just some tape - and a twist"!

Let the games begin:

With a sigh of frusteration, I began, "Can you believe it? They've finally run out of fun craft ideas for the kids."



"Who ran out of fun craft ideas..."

"Oh, the FamilyFun people." I really ought to know when to stop, but I never learn. "Honey, isn't this the dumbest thing you've ever seen?"

Jon flipped to the back page of his FamilyFun magazine (as long as we have two, we might as well use 'em). "What? The Mobius Strip?"

"The what?"

"Mobius." Then he gave me the look ; that we-really-should-have-discussed-these-kinds-of-things-more-before-we-got-married look. It's the identical look that I send his way when he attempts to tell me a Family Guy joke. "M-O-B-I-U-S."

"How is that even remotely cool?"

"What?" His incredulity overflowed. "It says right here, the 'Mobius band's amazing properties come from the fact that it has only one side!'"

"Honey, paper has two sides."

"No." And then he decided to dumb it down for me. "You see, my darling little wife, the inferior half of this relationship, one so lacking in relevent knowledge that I am ashamed to have to explain this to you... a strip of paper has two sides, of course, and so would a loop made simply by taping the strip end to end. Add a twist, though, and the strip becomes one sided."

There was simply no convincing me.

"Jonathan, paper is two dimensional. Each side is a dimension." I announced victoriously, "Two dimensions means TWO SIDES!"

"Sweetie," he countered. He had taken a blow, but wasn't going down without a fight. "If you can put your finger on something and run it all around and come back to where you started without your finger ever going over an edge, but still touch all the surface, then the object only has one side."

I looked confused.

"That's the definition of a side!" he insisted.

But that was his fatal mistake. You see, I am an English major and, whether Jon likes it or not, I dabble in words and their definitions.

"That is so, so, so, so NOT the definition of the word side."

Sensing he'd gone too far, Jon began to retreat, nonchalantly flipping through the magazine and avoiding eye contact. From the corner of his mouth he gave a stubborn, "Yes, it is."

"So, you're telling me that's the dictionary definition ?"

He cringed. I sat up higher on the couch, tucking my legs beneath me to attain a height advantage.

"You're actually telling me that if I went and got the dictionary and flipped to the S section and found the word side, that it would say exactly what you just said?"


"Are you sure it's not... from the Big Book of Silly and Slightly Ridiculous Definitions by Jonathan Camp?"

Ah, the victory.

"No, ladies and gentleman." I gave my best Atticus Finch impression. "Again, I say no. Everything has at least two sides."

Like Neo at the end of the first Matrix movie, riddled with bullets and lying in a pile of smashed concrete, Jon stood up from the couch, inexplicably defying ultimate defeat, and surveyed me with a sneer. He might as well have called me Mr. Anderson.

"Oh yeah?" It was my turn to cringe. "Everything has two sides?"

I grabbed the magazine and held it up in front of me in desperate self-defense. But Jon was quick. He tossed it aside and grabbed me.

"Have you ever had the other side of ham?"

Okay, that wasn't the chilling blow I thought it would be. Again, I was confused.

"No," he continued. "You've only ever had a side of ham ! There is only ONE side of ham! And what about sausage? When you're out at breakfast, do you ever ask for sides of sausage? NO! You say, 'May I have A SIDE of sausage, please?!'"

The fact that this degenerated into a tickle fight should hardly surprise anyone. Not the most intelligent conversation we've ever had, but it's the kind of thing that comes from receiving two issues of FamilyFun.

(Now if only we knew why we get the magazine in the first place... even one issue would be a mystery to us. Which of our parents decided to send us the gentle start-a-family hint after only 18 months of marriage? Something fishy there.)

Möbius strip on Wikipedia