Gentle Humor

I don't offend some of the people most of the time

Month: October 2009 (Page 1 of 2)

Happy Halloween

This has got to be my fourth favorite holiday! The other three are Christmas, Mother’s Day, and my Birthday since people are expected to give me presents and don’t scoff at the idea.

I have such good memories, one of which, if you haven’t guessed already, I’m going to share.  Me and Christine, my best friend all through childhood, were about ten years old and were dressed up like hobos. It was our costume of choice every year, because back then it was all about the candy. The only thing  standing between us and free goodies was a plate full of fish sticks and twenty minutes worth of painted-on freckles, baggy clothes, and a sock-stuffed bandana tied on the end of a stick that we carried over one shoulder. Virtual rivers of hobos flowed between houses.

We always walked a few blocks to the rich part of town because that’s where the candy motherload was. At one mansion-like house, the creaking door was opened by a tall, thin, uniformed butler who invited us into a candlelit entry hall for “witch’s brew.” At the end of the dark hallway, long enough to swallow my whole house, was a maid bending over a steaming cauldron. Scary music played in the background, and I got the eevy-jeevies big time. Curiosity trumped fear; however, and we started down the long hallway. We could hear the cauldron bubbling as we got closer. The gray-haired maid, decked out in a black dress with white apron and cap that was not a costume, dipped a ladle into the pot and filled paper cups with witch’s brew without saying a word. She smiled and slowly handed us the cups. We weren’t sure whether to drink it or toss it in her face and run, but again curiosity won. The brew was cold and sweet and red and steaming and wonderful. We handed the empty cups back to her, too shy to be like Tiny Tim and say, “More?” She smiled and nodded, our signal to move along, the show was over. That was our treat – no candy, no apple, no stupid pencil, just the experience of surviving that long, frightening walk in a strange rich guy’s house, with a cup of steaming punch at the end.

I can’t recall the countless candy bars and other treats I got over the years, but this memory is as fresh as cotton candy. I don’t think you could get away with it anymore, though. Some pedophile would be lurking in the hallway, or the punch would be laced with something. Most kids don’t roam the streets parentless like we did back in the day, either.

Now here’s my treat to you – a poem we learned in my daughter’s preschool – it should be read with enthusiasm for best results, and clap at OUT:

Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate,

The first one said, “Oh my, it’s getting late.”

The second one said, “There’s witches in the air,”

The third one said, “But we don’t care,”

The fourth one said, “Let’s run and run and run,”

The fifth one said, “It’s Halloween fun,”

Then WHOOSH went the wind and OUT went the lights and five little pumpkins rolled out of sight.

Happy Halloween!

Spare Tire Blues

I’m going to a costume party tonight and my costume makes me look fat, which isn’t surprising since everything else does too.

I’m not so fat that I have to sit on two stools at a café counter (one for each cheek), or my breasts would slap me in the face if I run, or that I can’t get through a turnstile. I’m just muffin top, mushroom belly, spare tire fat.

In other words, I have a lot of lumps and ridges where there should be slopes and curves.

I’m going to be a Spider Woman or Black Widow – whichever sounds best at the time. I’ve got a lacy, spider web looking dress that slips over top another black, spaghetti strap dress that looked okay until I put on the spider web tights. The elastic at the top cuts into me like a rubber band around a wad of pizza dough. Stuff is squishing out the top and bottom, and I tried everything to flatten it out.

I have this Wonder Woman strapless bra thing that I hoped would work, but the fat oozed out the bottom. So I put on a girdle, and that took care of the fat around my torso, but it all came out the base of the girdle like someone had stepped on half a balloon. I looked like I had massive goiters growing on the tops of my thighs.

So I tried pulling the tights all the way up under my bra. That worked pretty well, but they wouldn’t stay there. They migrated back toward my waistline, pushing fat in front of them like a steamroller. I thought about sewing them to the bottom of my bra, which would have worked perfectly but could I use the restroom? I’d have to take off the dress, take off the under dress, unhook the bra, and let the whole apparatus fall down around my ankles. This wouldn’t be out of the question except I go to the bathroom a lot, and I worried I wouldn’t have the stamina to keep it up through a long evening.  I’d have to crawl into the host’s bathtub and taking a nap after the 13th trip.

By a sheer stroke of genius and after hours of trying everything else, I figured out that I could l cut little notches in the elastic to make it not so tight. I’m happy to report that it works just great, except that the elastic has lost a lot of its holding power and I’ll probably have to fidget with it all night and pull the tights back up as they creep down my legs.  I wonder what spider webs look like when they bag around your ankles? I have a feeling I’ll find out tonight.

Body Language Gets Lost in Translation

I find it fascinating that not one of us has a clue what is going on in anybody else’s head.  We can sit there with a new boyfriend in a quiet lull and say, “What are you thinking right now?” and he’ll either tell you what he’s thinking or flat out lie – and there’s no way on earth to know the difference.

One way people try to get in someone’s head is to use body language. People profess that they can “read” what you’re thinking by observing your posture or position of your head to see if you’re lying, flirting, daydreaming, and so on.  Up to now I’ve only been able to know three body language cues for certain: If a person burps loudly while you’re talking, they aren’t very interested in what you have to say.  If a person passes gas while you’re talking, they disagree with what you’re saying. If they stick their middle finger in your face, you can bite it if you react quick enough, and they won’t try that again.

But what about more subtle cues? I went to Google for answers and found a site, wikihow.com, that had all sorts of very scientific ways to read what people are thinking, followed by disclaimers that pretty much told you you’d wasted your time reading it. Like this one: “Dilated pupils mean that the person is interested. Keep in mind, however, that many drugs cause pupils to dilate, including alcohol, cocaine, amphetamines, MDMA, LSD and others…Also, some people have permanently dilated pupils (a condition known as mydriasis).”

So either the person is interested, inebriated, or incapacitated.  Thanks for clearing that up, wiki.  What is a wiki anyway?

I got excited when I saw the one that pertained to me, since I often cross my arms when I’m standing. “People with crossed arms are closing themselves to social influence. The worst thing that you can do to people with crossed arms is to challenge them in one way or another, no matter how they react. This annoys them. Though some people just cross their arms as a habit, it may indicate that the person is (slightly) reserved, uncomfortable with their weight (therefore trying to hide it), or just trying to hide something on their shirt.”

What’s annoying is reading an endless list of things that could be causing a person to cross their arms, and when you finally reach the end, not knowing anything more than when you started.

Personally, I don’t want to know what people are thinking. I have enough trouble keeping track of my own thoughts. If you don’t like me, or you’re lying to me, or aren’t interested in what I have to say, I don’t really give a rat’s ass.

How My Friends Helped Me Prepare for the ACT Test

My daughter is going to take the SAT test next month, and it reminds me of the day I took my ACT test and how my friends helped me prepare.

My best friend in high school, I’ll call her Mary because she’s a pillar of the community and might choke me if I use her real name, had called and asked me to come get her after her folks went to bed. She was grounded but could sneak out because her parents went to bed early.

It was a cold, clear Friday night in November and my friend, Clark, and I were cruising around in his gigantic Oldsmobile that makes today’s SUV’s look like matchbox cars. Clark’s first name was Pryor, and a few years back someone had made up a nickname for him because in those days, when whole battalions of kids gathered in the street to pass the time, making up fool-hardy names was entertaining. Clark’s nickname, say it fast, was: Pryor T Coon Type Dog Liar Makes His Rules Up As He Goes Along. This isn’t important to the story, but I thought you might find it interesting.

When we picked up Mary, she was drunk. “I just took a little bit of my daddy’s cough medicine,” she said. Mary lolled from side to side in the back seat, even when we weren’t turning corners, and I twisted around from the front and tried to keep her upright as best I could but it was a losing battle.

We drove out in the country, and Mary, who kept mumbling about the cough medicine and other things you couldn’t understand because her chin was resting on her chest, finally said something we heard very clearly: “I’m gonna throw up.”

We pulled over and dragged her, rubber legged, away from the car to avoid splattering. She lunged sideways, lost a shoe, and fell down backwards laughing like a drunken psycho. We tugged her to her feet like we were lifting a sofa, and she commenced to throw up an ocean of southern cooking into the shoe like it was a target. Meantime, at her very first heave, I got a gag reflex, and when the smell hit, I emptied the contents of my stomach like I was throwing out buckets of dirty water. Pryor T, bless his heart, braced us both up until the chorus of Ralphing subsided.

We got Mary in the car, minus the shoe, and took her vomit wreaking carcass back home, all windows down and the heat turned up full blast to melt the icicles forming on our faces. We knocked on her door until a light came on, then shoved her into the arms of her mom without much more than a “sleep tight” before we bolted. Pryor T dropped me off at home where I showered, slept, got up the next morning at the crack of dawn and took my ACT test. Thanks to Mary, Pryor T, the night air, and wretching, which must have cleared my head, I scored higher than all my friends. I don’t think I’ll recommend it to my daughter, though.

Texting Is Making Me Testy

I was randomly placed on a team today for a golf tournament with a couple of women who I vaguely knew but who seemed to be pretty nice. I figured we’d have hits and giggles, and talk about important current events like who got kicked off of Dancing with the Stars last night. For the first couple of holes, we exchanged pleasantries and learned we had a few things in common: mainly that we weren’t the best golfers in the world and the men in our lives were buffoons.

Then I noticed one of the ladies, I’ll call her Pecker to protect her identity, was pecking away at her iPhone, pushing her golf cart along with her stomach and working those fingers like a concert pianist. That left 50% of the women for me to talk to, which was okay except I turned around to let her catch up, and she was doing the same friggin’ thing.

It started raining about that time, which is par for the course because as they say, when it rains it pours, and (here comes another cliché), this was certainly icing on the cake. It’s hardly fair to be ignored AND drenched at the same time.  Pecker and Texttrix single-handedly put their umbrellas on their push carts to protect their electronic idols without missing a beat, and moseyed along mute, while I mumbled to myself as I hit balls into mud puddles, gulleys, sand traps, and bird’s nests, because it’s hard to hit straight when you’re cranky.

Sixteen more holes of this I endured, and I was already pre-disposed to frustration because I’ve had a belly full of texters at movie theaters, in the car with teenagers, in church, in the library, in restaurants.  It’s pervasive, it’s annoying, and it’s down right rude.

But it is pretty fun, all things considered. My kids will not answer a ringing phone, but they’ll respond immediately to a text. Plus you don’t have all that down time like on a phone where you have to make polite conversation while wanting just to ask a simple question and hang up.

But on the golf course? For four hours? Come on! I ask you, is no place sacred? What is this world coming to? Goodness gracious! If I ever get my hands on one of those iPhones, I tell you what’s the honest truth, I’d be a pretty happy gal. You’d have to call me Cranktrix, because I’d be cranking out the emails. Whoo-whee!

Quit Hitting on Me

I’m so tired of being hit on. I’m not talking about guys, though that can get overwhelming too. I went to the beach for a couple of days to catch up on writing, and this semi-toothless drunk tried to pick me up with an offer of a quick beer while I was waiting for Chinese take out. Granted, at 8:00 pm on a Sunday night, he probably figured he had nothing to lose. Still, I seem to attract more than my share of ill-suited suitors. Like the short, bald, pudgy checkout clerk at the grocery store, who, I have to give credit, did have a complete set of teeth. It’s insulting that these people think they have a chance with me.

No, I’m talking about being hit on to bake snacks, volunteer for committees, buy Sally Foster gift wrap—in other words, donate my time, talent, and treasure at work, church, my children’s schools, for my family and friends, the neighborhood dogs, my boss, and a couple of invisible spiders who breed incessantly and oblige me to rescue their offspring from the guest bathtub.

Before you start thinking that I’m just a whiner, let me assure you that I am. I complain to everyone about this stuff, but it does no good.

I know the reason why there are so many volunteer opportunities these days.  It’s committees. Every time you get a bunch of people together, at a luncheon, a PTA meeting, waiting for a red light, they’ll come up with something new and wonderful and fun, and they’ll need volunteers to pull it off. These people have no shame – unless it’s the shame they make you feel when you attempt to say no.

They form subcommittees and coerce volunteers to chair them, and the people in charge of their little piece of the action get very excited and want to do a really bang up job.  That’s when the emails start flying from all directions – guilt tripping pleas for donations for auction baskets, or to set up and tear down, or watch everyone’s kids during planning meetings that last three hours.

I especially love the emails saying that every family is expected to do their part to help pull this gargantuan extravaganza off for the sake of the children.  Oh, please. For all the expense they’ll plan into it, it’s going to barely break even, much less raise any money for the cause.

If I could find that toothless drunk right now, I’d go for a beer just to calm me down. Instead, I’ll be whipping up brownies to satisfy the latest email sent to poor, mistreated, so-called “volunteers.”  Makes me want to spit – and you might be wise to avoid my brownies. Just kidding, maybe.

Fear of Flying

I’m terrified of flying. I’ve taken some pretty awful road trips to avoid planes, so I’m in awe of those who fly without fear.

Like those two pilots who were preoccupied for 88 minutes and overshot Minneapolis. They were so utterly fearless, so amazingly relaxed in that cockpit that they managed to take a little snooze or have a heated conversation and completely lost track of time. Investigators are supposed to listen to the black box, and I can just imagine what they’re going to hear.

“Woo, did I have a late night – got involved in a mystery novel and couldn’t put it down. I think I’ll get a few minutes shut eye. Okay with you?”…“You know, that sounds like a good idea. Let’s put this thing on auto pilot and have a little quiet time.”  Then there’s a long silence on the black box.

If I’d been on that plane, I’d be white knuckled in the back of coach sandwiched between a baby trying desperately to expel its very lungs, and an overweight man with B.O., and the only thing keeping me going is the knowledge that the plane will be landing soon. And the guys in the cockpit are curled up like happy  kittens sound asleep. What I wouldn’t give to have that attitude about flying.

Or say they got in a heated discussion. “I don’t like how they barely pay us.”…”Yeah, and we have all this experience”… “And we have a plane full of people depending on us”…”That’s right, and this plane can’t fly all by itself.”

A third scenario has crossed my mind, and it involves the mile high club. The investigators will get an earful if that’s the case: “Oh captain, it looks like the co-pilot is sleeping like a kitten and…”

Here I am, out there in coach fearing for my very life with visions of this giant hunk of metal racing toward earth like a meteor, oxygen masks dangling, overhead baggage raining down like…rain, and the pilot is so distracted that he turns the plane loose like a galloping stallion thundering across the sky.

Unfortunately, I don’t know how I’ll ever step on a plane again because I’d not only have to worry about whether they’ll get the beverage cart out of the way in time for me to make it to the bathroom, I’d also have to fantasize about what the pilots are up to, and if the plane is steering itself, and whether it knows how to land itself, too.

Inspiration on Eight Legs

I’ve done this blog for seven straight days (hold your applause until the end, please) and I find that, on this eighth day, I’ve run out of subject matter. I’m looking around my desk desperately for inspiration, but all I see is a mess. Then I remember my ideas notebook, surely I’ll find something in there.  And I do.

It’s a big, black, hairy spider on the page where the book falls open. He starts sprinting toward my hand. I run from the room, heart pounding, and fling open the patio door. Then I dash back, grab the notebook and run with it outside, keeping an eye on the spider who is hiding between the pages but with one knucklely leg sticking out like some Alfred Hitchcock movie where you know the guy’s on the other side of the door and he’s about to jump out and start stabbing and stabbing and stabbing with blood washing down the shower drain and, yeah, that spider’s leg gave me the same creepy feeling. I put the notebook outside just in the nick of time. He didn’t come out but he certainly could have and he will eventually, you can count on that, but there goes my inspiration.

Everybody thinks it’s nuts that I don’t kill bugs. I practice a strict catch and release program in this house, and heaven help my kids if I catch them squishing one. Whenever they see an insect, they come screaming, “Mom, there’s a giant spider in my bathroom.” I drop everything because if you don’t act quickly, the spider will hide somewhere and show up in your bed that night. It never fails.

I take a spatula and glass, put the glass over the spider, whose size has been exaggerated, and ease the spatula up under him. Then I carry the whole thing outside and turn it loose. Most bugs shake their little fists at me when this happens, because they’d much rather stay in the warm cozy house than have to fend for themselves in the cold cruel world. I can sometimes hear them calling me a B-otch. You’d think they be grateful.

I don’t kill insects outside, either. Our flower beds are crawling with slugs and snails. Late at night I go out with the flashlight and look for their shiny reflections, then pluck them off with a rubber glove and put them in a Mason jar and take them down the street to the vacant lot. By the end of summer there is a virtual carpet of slugs down there. I saw a cat get swallowed up in slugs like quicksand. Not really, but it would make a good horror movie. M. Night Shyamalan would have to do it since Hitchcock has gone to that great suspense flick in the sky. The slugs would get into some mysterious half buried jar of glowing chemical from Mars and grow super big and start prowling the streets for victims, catching dogs and cats and raccoons in their giant slimy tracks like flypaper. But finally their unquenchable hunger drives them to lay in wait outside a party where a voluptuous drunk blond with a really low cut red mini dress staggers out and catches one of her 4 inch heels in a slug track and starts trying to pull it out and just when she’s about to break free, a giant slug the size of a porpoise slides out of the shadows and knocks her down, muffling her screams as it covers her in slime and starts to chew off her ear with an eerie crunching noise you can hear above the party sounds in the background. A blockbuster! Now you can applaud.

Riddle This

My brother and I went to the same college, and on trips home we’d entertain ourselves by making up stupid riddles. We thought they were exceptionally clever, but whenever someone else was with us in the car, they’d say, “That was really stupid.”  My brother would respond by passing gas, which both of us were genetically able to do on demand when the occasion called for it.

Here’s an example of one of our riddles. John: “Where does a bat get energized?”  Me: “In a bat tree.” Get it – bat tree…battery?  Really funny stuff.

The trip was 500 miles, so when we’d exhausted every riddle we could come up with, which was usually about three, we’d start making up poems.  One of us would say a line, and the other had to respond with a rhyme and so on and so on.  So I’d say, “The sky is blue,” and he’s say, “And so are you,” and I’d say, “I need to go to the loo,” and he’d say, “I won’t stop, boo-hoo,” and I’d say, “I’m going to smack you,” and he’d say, “I’ll fart if you do.”

Except that he didn’t say fart, which is such a crude word especially since we’d have to be saying it all the time. We invented the word “farnix” because, for one thing, it sounds funnier. To see what I mean substitute farnix in the above poem.  Plus it was something we could say in public. “Who farnixed in here? I’m suffocating!”

We were teenagers and bodily functions were hilarious. They still are, but when you cross over into being a grown up, it’s considered crude, not funny. Can you imagine a Board Room full of suits and someone cuts loose like a Whoopee Cushion?  People would have to sit there stoically and pretend that nothing happened, even when their eyes began to water.

So to end this missive I think it’s fitting to have another riddle, but I didn’t make this up, my daughter showed it to me. Try this on your friends or do it in a mirror – it’s a physical joke. You say, “Knock knock,” and they say, “Who’s there?” and you say, “Interrupting starfish,” and they say, “Interrupting….” And you immediately put your outstretched hand in their face. Try it, right now, you don’t even need a mirror just do it to your own face, really, it’s funny. It’s not stupid, trust me!

Why Don’t Movies Move Me?

It’s hard to come up with a clever title. I always admire those newspaper headlines that seem to hit the nail squarely on the head. Like this one: “Body Cavity Search Reveals $4,000 in Crack.”

With my title, you probably think I’m going to talk about movies, and I am. But not about the way they move me. I rely on a magazine or newspaper or puzzle for most of my movements.  Okay, that’s tacky and I apologize.  Now let’s move on.

No wonder foreigners have a hard time learning our language. Words have so many meanings, or they sound the same but mean different things.  Like there, their, and they’re. If you’ve read an English paper for one of your kids, you’ll never see these spelled right.  For example, “There dogs are over their licking they’re private parts,” is pretty typical subject matter for an English paper around my house. If you didn’t notice anything misspelled, then you probably didn’t have Mrs. Massengill for an English teacher.

She would not tolerate anything short of perfection. That’s why she thought we were perfect idiots. The girls all wore very short skirts to class, and I remember one day she was sitting at her desk droning on about something while we pretended to take notes, and out of the blue she said, “You can’t even image what I have to look at from up here with those skirts.”

Well, first thing every one of us girls did was snap our legs shut, then we immediately started imagining the view, and she was wrong, we could imagine it very clearly, especially the guys. They started squirming in their seats and dropping pencils on the floor to verify they’re imaginations.

Did you catch that misspelled they’re? This story reminds me of the guys in my 8th grade art class. The teacher wasn’t all their (another one), so we had total freedom to amuse ourselves. Boys in that class used to drop pencils non-stop. They’d drop a pencil, lean way over to pick it up, sneak a long look down the aisle, then sit back up and do it again. Pieces of broken pencil tips littered the floor like confetti. It looked like those video games where you bop the rodent on the head as he’s coming out of the hole, except with about 12 of them moving at  the same time.

So why don’t movies move me? I’ll get back with you when their’s more time.

Page 1 of 2

Copyright © 2017 by Suzanne Olsen