November 29, 2013


           It’s here.
If you’re smart, you’ll lock all your doors and windows, draw your shades and spend the day watching the scariest horror movies you can find—and compared to Black Friday, they will ALL be comedies, believe me.
I made the mistake of venturing forth this morning.
First stop, Rockler.  For the uninitiated, this is a store filled with woodworking tools.  There were a few things Stij had on his list that I knew I could get there, since he had folded the pages at the corners and subtlely circled each item he wanted in day-glo orange marker.  I’d found the catalog under my pillow.
Once I located a parking spot one town away, I trekked to the door.  There was, I kid you not, a maroon velvet rope of the type one sees at movie theaters and exclusive clubs, strung across the entrance.  There was also a rather burly fellow standing next to it with his massive arms crossed.  To see what he looks like, just go to the AMERICA’S MOST WANTED website—he’s the third one from the left.
“Hello, my good sir,” I said.
He turned a gimlet eye toward me. One was all he had.  The other was covered by a black patch with the catchy slogan, ‘Die, You Bastard!’ embroidered across it. “Whaddya want?”
“Merely to enter this esteemed establishment,” I replied.  I go all ‘finishing school’ like that when I’m in total fear for my life.  I figure if they can’t understand me, they won’t kill me…at least not right away.  Plus, while they’re busy mulling over what I’ve said, I have time to get away.
I could hear the gears in his head, the lubricant of actual thought absent, moving like a tricycle left out in the rain for a month or two. After a long moment, he looked down at me again.
“I’d like to go into this store.”
“What’s your number?”
“I’m flattered, but I’m married.”
“No, lady.  You gotta have a number to get in.”
“And where do I get this number?”
He pointed inside the store to one of those deli gadgets that spits out pieces of paper with numbers on it.
“How can I get a number if you won’t let me in the store?”
He had to think about that one for a while, too.  The smell of burning wood drew the fire department.
Finally, in a remarkable stroke of logical reasoning that would have Aristotle shrieking in his grave for weeks to come, he said, “You gotta have a number.”
“Fine.”  I yanked my cell phone and the catalog from my handbag and keyed in the store number.
I sighed.  “Hello.  Is this Duffy’s Mortuary?   Where the elite meet to spend huge wads of cash?”
“Uh, no.  This is Rockler.”
“Oh, what a relief.  I’d like to do a little shopping there, if it hasn’t been outlawed.”
“Sure, come on down.”
“I am down.  Look out your front window.”  He turned and I waved.
“Oh, hi.” He waved back.
The relationship did not seem be to progressing.
“May I come in?”
“Sure.  You got your number?”
“How am I supposed to have a number if you won’t let me in the door to get one?”
“Oh, you were supposed to stop by and do that last week.  Dincha see the flyer?”
“So what you’re telling me is, because I actually have a life and do not spend my dwindling moments on this planet poring through the bale of ads I receive each week, that I can’t shop at your store today?”
“That’s right, ma’am.”
“How about if I call the police?  This can’t be legal!”
“If they don’t have a number, they’re not getting in, either.”
“This is outrageous!  I will never shop at your store again.”
“And we’ll do our best to explain the drop in the stock prices to our shareholders, ma’am.”
If I ever wanted to slam down a receiver, it was then, but cell phones rob us of that olde-tyme pleasure.  The only option I had was to crush it underfoot, but then I’d have to buy a new one, and God only knew what I’d have to go through to get into the phone store.
From Rockler, I drove to straight to Barnes & Noble and had no problem whatsoever getting in.  I was welcomed at the door and given a sandwich and a latte.  It was peaceful, since I was the only shopper in the place. While I browsed, unhurried, the sounds of crickets and peepers accompanied me.  Others can go to WalMart and fight over Elmo or televisions the size of Montana.  Others can go to Rockler and have an aneurysm in front of the store.  I was among friends now. When my pile of books was totted up and paid for, the cashier rushed to the door to open it for me and said, “God bless you and keep you for coming in today.”
Stij is getting a pile of books for Christmas.  Though they won’t help him in the shop, they will save him big on bail money.

November 22, 2013


Well, it’s just about that time again.  That yearly get-together with the fam.
Yeah.  Thanksgiving.
Hoo boy.
Here’s how, with a few variations each year, it usually goes:
Once at the house and divested of mukluks and a down-filled coat that made me look like the Sta-Puft Marshmallow Man, I hand my mother the pumpkin pie she’d asked me to make.  This one is made of freshly-processed pumpkin, not that tinned crap. This results in a lighter color and the flavor is remarkable.
So my mother feels compelled to remark.
“Looks sort of anemic, doesn’t it?”
“Top it with a unit of O Negative, then.  Where is everybody?”  The driveway was a sea of cars.
“You’re the first.”
“Opening a used car lot?”
“Overflow from the neighbors’ big do.”
“So . . . what?  The family’s going to park on the street, like I did?”  The house is on a hill with a 50-foot driveway.
“Looks that way.  We just wanted to help out. You might try loving your fellow man a little more, Carson.  Your snarky attitude is unbecoming.”
All this from a woman whose dirty look can open clams at twenty paces.
But okay, I’ll go along.  She’s getting older.  She’s forgotten that where she spits, grass never grows.
“What can I do to help?” I’m hoping quite a lot.  My mother is not the best of cooks.
“Nothing really.  It’s all done. We can go sit and talk until everyone else gets here.”
“Well, before we do that, how about if I go and scatter some salt and sand on the driveway—it’s pretty slick out there.”
“In a minute.  I have something I want to discuss with you.”
Oh, God.
When we are seated, Mom drops the big one.  “I think your father is having an affair.”
Holding in explosive laughter, which, having nowhere to go, travels downward, instantly inflating my ankles, I said, “Mom, Dad is 83 years old.”
“Yes, that’s right.”
“He’s legally blind.”
“He only has one leg.”
“And a colostomy bag.”
“What’s your point?”
“I can’t believe you just asked me that.”
So, after Mom dries her eyes, I posed the big question.
“How do you know, anyway?”
“He’s started wearing thong underwear.”
Most people, mainly women, wear thongs to avoid underwear lines in their pants.  I’d really like to know who my father thinks is looking at his ass.  “That’s it?  Thong underwear?”
“And he’s using that Axe cologne.”
“Ah, I take it he’s losing his sense of smell, as well, then?”
“This is not the time for jokes, Carson.  Oh, and he’s letting his hair grow longer.”
My father has had a crew cut for as long as I’ve known him.  “Perhaps he’s finally decided to leave the 1950s behind?”
“I don’t think so.
“Okay, so who with?  Any idea?”
“Oh, I know exactly who with.”
Evidently, according to my mother, Pop has become enamored of the local Postmistress . . . who is 92, uses a walker, and is nearly deaf.  Getting the mail is never a peaceful pursuit if there is anyone requiring front desk service.  At Christmastime it's bedlam in there.
“So what are you going to do about it?  Have you talked to him?”
“Why not?  Talking to me isn’t going to get it resolved.”
“I don’t want to discuss it.”
“You don’t have to.  I’m going to go talk to him.”
“No.  It has nothing to do with you.  Leave it alone.  Let’s just have a pleasant Thanksgiving, all right?”
Yes, kindly readers, this is Thanksgiving in my house.
The aged relatives begin arriving, with only minor sprains and bruising from slipping on the ice in the driveway on the way up from the street.
Once everyone is comfortable, Mom hustles us into the dining room to eat “before everything dries out.”
Food is passed, plates are loaded, wine glasses filled and it begins.
My Uncle Dan starts things off.  “So, how’s life with the Buckinghams?”
My mother bursts into tears and dashes from the room.
“About the same, I see,” he mutters.
By the time my mother composes herself enough to return, Aunt Shirley is already on her fifth glass of wine and her seventh filthy joke.  This doesn’t play well to Aunt Mary, who is a nun.  My brother has decided to use his considerable talents as a career waiter in a diner to instruct the group on French serving and is launching food all over the room.  Dad is still looking for his fork.  My cousin Lois hasn’t taken her face out of her pocket mirror since she arrived, and has answered at least six calls on her Bluetooth, since she knew we’d all want to hear her side of each conversation.  Aunt Anne has removed her wig and is beating my cousin Donald with it—I have no idea why.
The only reason that there is no gunplay this year is that, when Mom wasn’t looking, I sneaked Prozac into the stuffing . . . a lot of Prozac.  By the time the football game started, the family members who weren’t unconscious were actually getting along, and even I was a little less snarky.
Happy Thanksgiving, one and all!

November 14, 2013


Due to circumstances beyond my control, in the form of my car's deciding that suicide is, indeed, painless, I have been "bussing it" lately to and from my office.
       I must say that it's been an interesting experience--especially before dawn. I'm a night person, so to me, six o'clock had always come around once a day, and it wasn't in the morning.
       What a cruel awakening I had in store.
       At any rate, with my eyes propped open with a pair of extremely feminine 2 x 4s, I totter to the bus terminal to begin a new day. If there is a puddle along the way, I will fall into it. If there is a crack in the sidewalk, I will trip on it. And if you say, "Good morning" to me, I will gun you down. The sheer absurdity of such a remark before the sun has even made an appearance merits a .357 in the vitals, as far as I am concerned. It's rising at ungodly hours such as these that makes me realize that I wasn't born with nearly enough middle fingers.
       Immediately upon arriving at the bus stop, I gaze upon my surroundings, wondering how I got there. In the time it takes to cut through my mental fogginess enough to remember, the bus arrives.
       I usually trip on the first step and gracefully fall flat on my face. Luckily, my bus driver, Walter, is used to this by now, and throws a mattress on the floor just before my stop. Evidently, people had been slipping in the blood, and the bus company was not interested in any more lawsuits than the bus drivers themselves could generate.
       The worst part of bus travel, for me, is sitting down; and it is here that I must make a confession.
       I am a weirdo magnet.
I don’t know why. I wish I did. But if there is anyone strange or disturbed, they will unerringly end up sitting next to me. And if they aren't actually sitting with me, they will cause me some kind of embarrassment before the ride is over.
       Take yesterday, for instance. There was a little old man at the back of the bus who decided, out of everyone aboard, that I was the spawn of Satan, and was rather loud in proclaiming this conclusion. I disliked being singled out in this manner, since all one had to do was scan the motley collection of passengers to know that I couldn't possibly have been the only spawn of Satan on that bus! How he could have missed the two guys in black with the swastikas carved into their foreheads sacrificing a white rooster three rows back is beyond me.
       But for some reason, I'm the one who gets noticed.
       Want a 20-minute ride to feel like a 20-year prison sentence? Try occupying the seat between a lady with Tourette's Syndrome, whose invective rivals anything even the most creative sailor could come up with, and a nearly deaf guy who, after each outburst, screeches, "WHAT?" at the top of his lungs.
       Or how about when it's "check day"? There are so many physical wrecks aboard that the bus feels it has no choice but to break down as an act of solidarity.
       Sometimes, Walter isn't driving my bus. Sometimes the bus driver is "Mr. Methane" who, I am convinced, lives solely on baked beans and broccoli. If you can survive a 20-minute trip in a closed bus with this guy, you get a Purple Heart from the bus company, as well as a complementary gas mask…blue for the men, pink for the ladies. I was on his bus one day when all the windows melted. Of course, that didn't happen until after every passenger's hair fell out. By the time we reached our destination, we all looked like we were on a day pass from the cancer ward.
       But of all the befuddled and bewildered passengers, the guy who thinks he's Mark Twain is my favorite. He boards the bus in the signature white linen suit, even in the dead of winter, and sports a white wig, bushy eyebrows, and a glued-on mustache. However, I suspect he's never opened a book by that esteemed author, who is undoubtedly spinning in his grave like a lathe at the idea that someone who conspires to look like him would ride in a public conveyance quoting loudly from a Mighty Mouse comic book.
       One thing that commuting by bus has going for it, though, is that no matter how bad my day turns out to be, it seems pretty tame compared to the bus ride in.


November 8, 2013



Is anybody else out there getting really tired of local television news?  I don’t care what channel it’s on, or from which state it is broadcast; it really needs some help.
Gone are the days of ladies and gentlemen who are actually dressed like ladies and gentlemen.  Gone are the days of the newspeople sitting behind a desk, delivering the news of the day with quiet dignity.
Now we have either wannabe comedians or wannabe Kardashians—and I’m not sure which is worse.
“Just look at what that bimbo’s wearing!” my husband, Stij,  is often heard to cry.  Stij has never been interested in women’s fashion.  Most of the time, not even in men’s.  He is interested in Levis and tee shirts with pockets.  He is a master woodworker—he has no need to be interested in haute couture.
But now, at seven a.m., he is outraged.
The “bimbo” in question is one of the two news anchors on our local channel 10.  Oh, and that’s another thing—news anchors travel in pairs now.  One bimbo (already mentioned) and one hopeless male buffoon who thinks he’s S.J. Perelman, but who sounds much more like a post-lobotomy Pauly Shore.
But back to the bimbo.
I squinted through slitted eyes (it was seven in the morning, after all) and saw what he meant. 
I knew about ladies of the evening, but now we seem to have ladies of the morning.  Why on earth this anorexic female with Double-D boobs thought that a skin-tight black leather miniskirt, a red blouse so frilly that it looked as if her chest had exploded, and leopard pumps with six-inch stiletto heels was appropriate for delivering anything but a list of prices for her various services, was completely beyond me.
All I’ll say about the buffoon is that he ought to be wearing a red nose that lights up.  A gag would be nice, too.
And now—at least where I live—the latest thing is to deliver the news standing—and not behind a desk, but out in the middle of the newsroom.  Evidently, they think that people will find the news more exciting if it’s broadcast from a newsroom “in action.”  However, what we normally end up viewing is some bored to death intern picking his nose at a computer screen.
Then they move along to the hard news!  I kid you not, I am not making this up, but they actually hold the front page of a newspaper up to the camera, pointing to the stories and discussing them.  And they will do this with a number of different papers from across the country.  Then, just as you’re throwing a noose over the nearest rafter, they move the camera to one of their computer monitors with headlines on it—I suppose for those who are more “technically inclined.”
After my husband stopped vibrating about the lack of decorum, he happened to notice something at the bottom left of the television screen.
“#*^%^&&**&%#@!$@#!!!!!  Do you BELIEVE this shit?” he roared.
There was a little notice that proclaimed that this was the news from eleven o’clock the previous night!
So this year, dear friends, we’re taking our vacation in Kansas City, Missouri so my husband can cry over Walter Cronkite’s grave.
And that’s the way it is, Friday, November 8, 2013. 


November 1, 2013


Vultureville, ARK – Bubba Joville, a colorful local resident, has come up with an unorthodox way of making a little extra cash in these trying economic times.

He is selling his spit.

When questioned about the success of his new venture, Joville replied, “I thought I might be able to make a little sellin’ to folks who are too old to spit, but the thing really took off.  Never expected nothin’ like this!”

Joville said he ever realized the many uses for saliva until he started his company, called, simply, “Hwwark.”  And what do people need all this extra spit for?
“The young’uns buy it fer makin’ spitballs, or just t’straight out spit it at each other.  Mothers buy it to have a supply to wash their young’un’s faces with.  Middle age folks buy it fer sealin’ envelopes, fer usin’ on their fingers to get those goddamn cheap plastic bags open at the grocery store to bag up that leakin’ chicken, fer shinin’ their shoes, or fer sendin’ in the direction of the politician of their choice.  Been gettin’ huge orders fer that last.

Joville is also doing his best to improve the lives of others by hiring on twenty-two employees.  “I just cain’t keep up with the orders m’self.  I’m only good for about a quart a day, but the younger help I got can go a gallon or more.”  He achieves maximum production with his version of aromatherapy.

“I jes’ keep a grill going out back and pump the cookin’ smells inside.  Nothin’ like the smell of slow roasted squirrel to get those ol’ boys to spitting for all they’re worth.”

Wal-Mart has expressed an interest in Joville’s product for use on their employees.  At this time, negotiations appear promising, and would provide the cash infusion Joville requires to move to his business out of his parents’ garage and into a larger facility in downtown Vultureville, next to the Post Office.

Joville’s long range plan is to go public within the next year, and unlike the rest of the stock market, his stock really will be worth spit.