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The Girl Scout motto “be prepared” was tailor-made for a gal like me. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had a backup plan.

Some memorable backup plans (and others I’d rather not publish) date back to my teens. The following was hatched during my “Ceil acting badly” phase.

I was asked to the junior prom by a nice guy — the kind that Dad liked: Clean cut, crew cut and of the boring cut, if you get my drift. I accepted “Clean Cut’s” invitation; however unbeknownst to anyone, not even my BFF Bev, he was my backup plan. I know, I know, pretty shady.

I was waiting for an invitation from this hunk of a guy that would be sure to freak out Dad, but I didn’t care. He had a big Harley (funny I never outgrew the motorcycle thing!) He wore a black leather jacket and had a lock of hair that dipped ever so strategically on his forehead. He resembled Elvis. I mean, really, do you blame me?

A few weeks before the prom, the motorcycle guy called.

“Ceil you wanna go?”

My heart lurched, but I managed to squeak, “Go where?”

“Whatsamatta? The prom, we’ll go on my bike.”

Heaven — I was floating in an alternative universe. I managed a coy reply: “I’ll let you know.”

I was fully prepared to ditch “Clean Cut” for “Rough Cut” till Mom and Dad stepped in. I was summoned to the “serious room” where Dad remained silent. Not Mom! She dished out a scolding—as only Mom could!

“Celia! You are being deceitful, I am shocked by your duplicity.” And, furthermore, riding to a prom on a motorcycle is “unthinkable.” I didn’t see it her way.

After Mom’s tirade, Dad merely pointed to the phone; however, Dad’s silence spoke louder than Mom’s furious outburst. I called “Rough Cut” and declined his invitation.

Perhaps, if I told Mom that “Clean Cut” was part of a backup plan she may have understood.

Mom was the “mother” of all backup plans. She never traveled without her “backup bag”. Said bag was eclectic and consisted of, but was not limited to, water, flashlight, umbrella, crackers, antacids, extra panties (I never figured that one out) and a host of other weird stuff.

But get this: Mom duplicated her backup bag and stashed it in the truck of her car. Geez! She had a backup for her backup bag! When I scoffed at her, she raised her eyebrows and said: “Celia, your smugness is not becoming. You never know what can happen.”

My purse holds two of everything: Lipstick, eyeliner, tweezers, keys, garage door remotes. Unlike Noah (of the ark fame) who was ordered by “you know who” to board the animals two by two, I received no such command.

Packing for a trip becomes a tad dicey. You never know if a wine-spilling accident will happen when I am wearing my cream silk shirt. For that reason, I bring two cream silk shirts. (I duplicated my favorite shirt!) I bring extras of everything, unmentionables included
Nowadays I work from home where backing up to the cloud is imperative. Recently my IT guru was installing a new program and asked, “Ceil what’s all this junk on the desktop?

“They are just copies of my programs. You never know what can happen.” Good Lord! I shocked myself. Mom’s words came out of my mouth!

He looked at me with utter dismay and said. “Where do you think they’re gonna go?”

Feeling equally dismayed, I replied: “Cyberspace or somewhere equally inaccessible, like that cloud stuff.”

He opened his mouth, closed it; then shook his head and muttered something unintelligible.

My kids were used to my duplications. When packing their lunch, I always gave them two sandwiches, two apples, but the snack money was for one item. They actually endorsed it. They used the extra food as a bargaining chip for video games. (I found this out recently!)

My gift from heaven, Baby Luca, cannot be duplicated; however, I tend to purchase duplicate gifts for him from Amazon. You never know if they will get broken or lost, right?

I am a little over-the-top with his photos and videos. I back them up on three different devices and within each device I file them into three different folders!

Have I taken the Girl Scout motto “be prepared” too far? Or perhaps I inherited the backup gene from Mom. Then again, I may be a tad neurotic or downright crazy. Who knows?

But in any case, it’s a good thing; you never know what can happen.

Whoa! I can’t believe I wrote that!

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Celia Marszal-Iannelli
Celia Iannelli is a native New Yorker enjoying a second career — in 'retirement' — as a freelance writer. She lives in Jamesport.