Suzanne Olsen's Humor Blog - I don't offend some of the people most of the time

Month: October 2020

Vacation 1

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I’m on vacation. These are some excerpts from emails I’m sending to friends about the trip.

Already, a few minutes after we left at 7:30 am, we got in an argument. About politics. By the time we got to the Gorge, however, we’d forgotten about it – literally, the plus side of being old. The low fog made the Gorge look mystical, prehistoric – a setting for a Swamp Creature movie – I could picture the Loche Ness monster rising out of the deep. 

We pulled over at almost every historical marker on the way to Lewiston Idaho, including this one of the Valley of the Jolly Ho Ho Ho Green Giant in Dayton, WA. If you zoom in you can see the giant is also up on the side of the hill, too.

Jolly Green Giant stature, Dayton, Washington

A couple miles out of Dayton is a historical sight where Lewis and Clark camped on the Touchet River .-  the lifelike structures depict the horses, 30+ men in the Discovery Party, and three dogs – the artist wasn’t sure how many dogs there were, but when they left camp they only had one, they ate the others. Dog gone them!

Lewis and Clark camp near Dayton, Washington

One of the roadside kiosks told of the Nez Perce Indian’s skill at breeding horses – they used natural selection to develop the American Appaloosa horse, probably originally called the Palouse horse after the Palouse River. I like those Nez Perce. Chief Joseph was the one who said, “I will fight no more forever.” 

On I-90 in Montana we pulled into a rest area for another potty break. I opened the back of the Tahoe to get a snack – road trips (like everything else) make me hungry. We drove up the ramp and I heard this noise that sounded exactly like a cooler sliding out the back of an SUV, followed by another cooler and a suitcase. “The back’s open,” I screeched. Sure enough, in the rear-view mirror, two coolers, a suitcase, and odds and ends were scattered on the ramp like a tornado had dropped them there. Scott always closes the back hatch but – ooops – not this time. Cars drove around the debris, their occupants shook their heads at us. Dumb Oregonians. We backed up and gathered everything – it was good for a laugh. 

Scattered luggage on freeway ramp

Then I looked for a place to hike on the Map of my iPhone – never tried that before. The map took us down a dirt road that dead-ended on some rancher’s property. It was a little creepy out in the middle of nowhere. Barking dogs lunged out from all directions, viscous and snapping. The rancher appeared and said there wasn’t a hiking trail there, but directed us to Ringing Rocks. We drove 5 miles up a rutted, pot-holed, narrow dirt road (thank goodness for 4-wheel drive) to the parking area, then hiked the rest of the way. They have hammers hanging there to beat on the rocks – I think the rocks have iron in them because they’re red, and some sounded just like a blacksmith beating on a horseshoe. I made a one-minute video of Scott so you can hear them – see below.

We hiked around up there a little – lots of cool boulders (see the last picture) and saw elk and deer scat (turds) – so exciting – but no actual animals. 

Got to Bozeman late. They’re predicting snow tomorrow, high of 41. Glad I packed all those sweaters!

Driving in the snow out of Bozeman, Montana

Talk about cold! We headed out of Bozeman at 8am with those little ice crystals falling out of the sky, and by the time we got up to Bozeman Pass it was 28 degrees and a blizzard. I white-knuckled it while Scott tried to keep up with some maniac Washington driver whose license plate said PNW BOY (Pacific NW I guess). We stalked him for several miles going way too fast especially for the conditions – we were going about 65 – Montana’s speed limit on the freeway is 80, but nobody goes that slow. Even in the snow they don’t slow down much. I started listening to a book on tape to distract me from worrying about shimmying off the road and going over a cliff. Then a lunatic in a semi-truck pulled up beside us and splashed a fire hose blast of slush on the windshield – it rocked the car. I liked to died. Scott squirted water on the windshield to get the slush off, which immediately froze – he couldn’t see a thing. Luckily there was an exit ramp rich there. When we stopped at the bottom of that ramp was the first time I breathed all morning. Once we took the exit for Cody it was a little better. Not much else happened today except that we went through Belfry, Montana and turned down a side street that led to their school. The town is Belfry, and the school’s marquis read, “Home of the bats.” Seriously. I took a picture – there’s a big  bat over the sign and bats on either side of the entry door.

"Home of the Bats" school in Belfry, WA

Driving out we saw a flock of wild turkeys passing through someone’s front yard. This was the excitement of the day. We checked into our room in Cody, then walked along the Shoshone River for about 2 1/2 miles – snow blowing on us, colder than a well-digger’s ass in the Klondike. I went to St. Anthony’s Catholic Church at 5. The priest had a sense of humor. He said, “It takes a village to raise children, and a vineyard to home school them.” Amen to that! It is 25 degrees outside. We about froze during the five minute drive back from dinner.  Debating tromping down the hall in my bathing suit to do a few laps. Nah. I’m hittin’ the hay and snuggling under every blanket I can find.

Corey

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On Thursday I had lunch with Corey, a 43-year-old Black man I visit as part of a volunteer thing through an organization that builds community with low-income, disabled people. I enjoy our visits because he makes me laugh. We meet on the phone now, because of Covid, but every so often I go downtown and take him lunch in the park. This is the first time we’ve gone to a restaurant.

We met at Chipotle. As we waited our turn, I explained that he’d go down the line and tell them what he wanted. While I paid, I asked for some hot sauce – mild for me and regular Tabasco for him. Corey’s told me many times, “I like a lot of hot sauce on my food.” The server handed us two little clear plastic cups filled with about an eighth of an inch of sauce. Poor Corey, what he calls “hot sauce” apparently isn’t Tabasco.

Even though it was chilly, we sat outside because of Covid, He took a bite of his steak bowl and said, “This is good.” He told me about his pending lawsuit against the guy who ran into him and broke his femur. “The lawyer said the son-bitch’s insurance will pay for me to have a maid if I want one.” Corey seasons his speech with a lot of cussing, no matter if he’s talking to an old Catholic woman like me or the down-and-out people on the streets.

“You only have a one-bedroom apartment with no furniture except a bed,” I said. “Why do you need a maid?”

“Hell, if the son-bitch’s payin’ for it, damn right I’m havin’ a maid. A mother-f-ing butler too. I needs me a butler.”

He took a couple more bites, then remembered the little cup of hot sauce and picked it up, still talking. I watched him pour the whole thing on his food. When I shake Tabasco from the bottle, I count the drops – about 7 is my limit – each drop carefully spread out so I have the flavor without getting excessive heat in one bite. Corey put about 250 drops on his steak bowl – he poured it all out and even thumped the cup with his finger to get the last few drops.

I stopped eating and watched him take a bite. He put the fork into his mouth, pulled it out, did a little shake of his head and said, “Man, that’s some hot sauce.” I started laughing. Anybody who’s ever used Tabasco knows that feeling, the heat, the burning that won’t stop, and he had just dumped enough on his food to belch fire.

 “I thought you liked hot sauce.”  

“I do, I do…I do.” He looked at the bowl like it was a rattlesnake, or something worse, but I could tell he wanted another bite because he had his fork raised, ready for action. Finally he got up his nerve. He aimed the fork, then slowly, cautiously, put the bite in his mouth and deposited the food. He looked straight ahead, his eyes bugged out. “That’s some hot sauce,” he said. He shook his head a little and let out a “Shwooo,” sound. He grabbed his water glass and took a sip. “Wooo,” he said.

I started laughing and couldn’t stop. Not only was it funny the way he said it, but I understood the dilemma he was in – between a culinary rock and a hard place. He wanted to eat, but he was scared to because his mouth was on fire. He also probably didn’t want to seem like a wimp. He’s six feet tall, meaty, with a bushy grey beard and shaved-bald head. A nice guy in a hardened shell. The times we’ve eaten together in the park, he’ll only eat a couple of bites then say, “I’m going to take the rest home. I wanna put some hot sauce on it.” He had an image to uphold.

So I just watched. He looked at the bowl as if it was now the enemy. He stirred it. Stared at it. Stirred it again. Pushed the food from one side to the other. Then he took another bite. As he pulled the empty fork away he paused midair. “That’s some hot sauce,” he said, and shook his head. I laughed again, actually I guess I hadn’t quit laughing from his previous bite. 

He put the fork down and picked the empty sauce cup up and looked at it like it had turned on him. He put it down and said, “I called Merry Maid and told them I wanted a maid. I can’t just get somebody off the street. They might rob me. You can’t trust people. Not around here. They said they’d call my lawyer and get it all set up.” 

I continued to eat and just let him talk. A couple of times he looked down at his food, like he was getting up his nerve. Finally he loaded the fork half-full and hesitated a split second before putting the bite in his mouth. He chewed a couple of times, shook his head and said, “That’s some hot sauce.” I started laughing again.

I was enjoying this lunch. A lot. It was cold sitting out there under the October overcast sky with wind trying to steal our napkins, and I was eating quickly so I could be done and climb back into my warm car, plus all the laughing was wearing me out. I often tell Corey how funny he is, though I’m not sure if he means to be. It’s a combination of all the cussing plus the way he tells the stories. His eyes twinkle and he grins when he sees me laughing, so I know he does some of it on purpose, but not this time. He molded the aluminum to-go lid on his bowl and put it in the bag.

“Too hot for you?” I ask.

“No girl, you know I can’t eat much at one time. I’m gonna take this home and munch on it later.”

“Yeah, right,” I think. He asked me to drop him off at his dentist’s office a few blocks away. He made fun of the way I drive, and I thanked him for all the laughs. On the way home, every time I hear him in my mind saying, “That’s some hot sauce,” I start laughing, and it’s a hearty, deep, lasting laugh.

They say it’s better to give than to receive. For the small price of a Chipotle lunch, I enjoyed a lot of entertainment. I also got a blessing that filled my heart, and my soul. Thank you, Corey!

Dreams

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What do you want to be when you grow up? We ask children this a lot. One time my daughter answered someone with about twelve things, all in a row. “I want to be an artist, a teacher, a doctor, (eight more that I can’t remember but I think astronaut might have been in there) and a waitress.” Lofty goals for a five year old!

I used to reply with only one response: a singer. I loved to sing, but I also had the ability to make up songs on the fly because of all the practice I got with my older brother. We were very competitive, and when he wasn’t beating me in foot races, high-jumping, basketball shots, ping pong, or, as big brothers often do, just plain beating me, we’d have rhyming contests. They went like this:

Me: You’re fat.

Him: You’re a rat.

Me: At least I’m not a splat.

Him: Well you’re a brat.

Me: I can’t agree with that.

Him: You’re as ornery as shit under a couch from a cat.

Me: You stink like liquid toe jam in a vat.

Him: Not bad – I’d call that tit for tat.

As you can see, we didn’t make Shakespeare jealous. The object of the contest was to not be the one who couldn’t come up with a sensible rhyme (not just jibberish) right away. If you paused too long to think of something, you lost that round. This could start at any time – walking to Dairy Queen, sledding in winter, riding bikes. With all that practice, I gained the ability to knock out songs that were, admittedly, awful. But they rhymed. I’d sing them to a slow, syrupy melody to give me time to compose them while I sang – picture a soulful love song sung by Barbara Streisand or Adele. They went something like this:

My dog has fleas,

He’s weak in the knees,

So I feed him peas,

Because he loves…….me.

My dog is kind

He’s here all the time,

Licking his behind,

But I don’t mind

Because he loves……me

My friend Carole and I used to get in verbal skirmishes a lot, probably from being together all day long in the summer heat. Most were those “are too!” “am not!” fights like: “You’re cheating.” “Am not!” “Are too!”  “Am not!!!!” 

With Carole, it escalated to one of us getting so mad we’d shove the other one. We were about eight years old, bored, in the hot, muggy, Tennessee haze, plus both our birthdays were in December, on either side of Christmas, so people were always giving us just one “combined birthday and Christmas present,” which caused a smoldering current of aggravation to pulse through our veins year round, and is probably what made us so cranky.

We were like a pressure cooker about to blow, and one of us took off running, knowing the other was about to strike. We both had long, skinny legs and she was exactly as fast at running as I was. We’d chase each other all through my backyard, and finally the person in front would falter – out of breath, legs tired – and the one chasing would catch up and swat her in the middle of the back, then pivot 180 degrees and start running. It was a little like two-person tag, except on the anger chart we had reached 11 on a scale of 1 to 10, so instead of tagging, we’d swat. Seriously, we chased each other like this until we were exhausted, red-faced, sweaty, and laughing.

One time my brother came out with two pairs of boxing gloves and said, “All this running around is stupid. Put these gloves on and just duke it out.” We tried but it wasn’t the same just standing there looking at each other, she in her long brown braids and me in my sun-streaked pigtails. After all, she was one of my best friends! I don’t think either of us even threw a punch.

In peaceful times we’d have singing contests. She sat on the grass and I stood up in front of her and sang as I made up a song – a really excellent one like the one above. Then she’d stand up when it was her turn and fumble around. “No, you have to make it rhyme. A song has to rhyme.” “Does not!” “Does too!” “Does not!!!!” She’d start chasing me and I knew if I ran out in the open area of the backyard, I might step in a gopher hole or trip on a croquet wicket or get clothes-lined by the cIothesline, and she’d catch up and deliver a soft whack between my shoulder blades, so I kept circling the two trees in the middle of the yard that had a thick bed of iris’s between them. Round and round we went until I got dizzy and darted into the open area, slowed down from exhaustion, and got swatted.

I never performed my little concerts for anyone but Carole, and she told me I was too good at singing and it wasn’t any fun. She probably meant rhyming, not vocal ability, but I took it as a huge compliment and pictured myself as a star.

Now I’m old (Am too!), and that dream has been in the fog of my memory all my life. In case you haven’t noticed, I not a star yet, haven’t ever tried to be one (what a yellow-bellied coward I am, plus I’ve rarely had any encouragement from any sane person that I should pursue singing, or even do it in public), and rarely ever sing around others except in the pews at church or when a group is bellowing happy birthday.

My dream has been with me all these years, and even though I’m old, I’m still working at it. If you pass my house early on summer mornings, when the windows are open, you’ll hear me practicing, “Corina Corina,” or “At Last,” or “Speeding Cars,” or even “Like a Rolling Stone,” although Dylan stuck a lot of words in there and it’s hard to remember them all.

Everyone has dreams. Kids don’t have the monopoly on them.

What do you want to be when you grow up? It’s not too late, you know.

Is not.

Is not!!!!

Copyright © 2020 by Suzanne Olsen