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

Category: Friends Page 1 of 2

Cory

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On Thursday I had lunch with Cory, a 43-year-old Black man I visit as part of a volunteer thing through an organization that builds community with low-income 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. Cory’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 Cory, what he calls “hot sauce” apparently isn’t Tabasco.

Even though it was chilly, we sat outside. 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.”

“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. Cory poured that whole little cup on his bowl, and even thumped the cup with his finger to get the last few drops. I figured there were about 250 drops coating his food.

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.” He paused as if trying to convince himself. “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 sweet 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 betrayed 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 ate quickly so I could be done and climb back into my warm car, plus all the laughing was wearing me out. I often tell Cory 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 picked up the aluminum to-go lid and molded it over 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 said to myself. 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, Cory!

Quotes I’ll remember

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It’s funny what sticks with you – the famous quotes of days gone by. When I first came to Oregon my brother took me to a Portland Beavers baseball game. They were a minor league team, part of the Pacific Coast League. We’re sitting in the bleachers at Multnomah Stadium, eating hot dogs and popcorn, watching the game, when a big man with a bushy black beard stood up behind us and bellowed, as loud as he could, “Nobody…..Licks….Our….Beavers!”

For a few moments the earth stood still. The wind ceased to blow, there was no crack of the baseball bat, no “batter, batter, batter” chatter on the field, no crunch of the wad of popcorn I’d just put in my mouth. Silence. Shock. Did he really yell that? Did he know what he was saying? Did he understand the double meaning?

Then the earth started rotating again. Laughter rolled over the crowd like ocean waves. We elbowed each other, “Did you hear that?” “Did he really say?” All through the game we could hear chortles of laughter from pockets of spectators. Here. Over there. Through the remaining 4 or 5 innings. Spontaneous laughter. It’s something I’ll never forget – a quote I’ve shared with just about everyone I know.

I’ll always remember the time my friend Clark and I picked up our friend Mary one Friday night in 11th grade. Pretty soon we found out that she was drunk. “Pull over,” she said, “quick.” We did, and Clark and I hoisted her out of the back seat and stood on either side of her, supporting her as she threw up. Her shoe came off and got filled with barf. Clark and I kept going, “B-lah, b-lah,” about to throw up ourselves. “What the heck have you been drinking?” I asked as we returned her to the car and tucked her into the back seat. She looked at me with big round innocent eyes and slurred, “I only had a little bit of Daddy’s cough medicine.” Yeah right. Turns out she’d gotten in a fight with her parents and snuck into her dad’s liquor cabinet to drown her sorrows. Every time I drink too much I say, “I only had a little cough medicine.” People don’t believe me either. 

Another quote I remember came from a boyfriend I had when I was 19. We’d  encountered some spooky characters in the remote hills of Virginia (think of the movie Deliverance). A few of them had some teeth, but nobody had a full set. We were able to talk our way out of trouble, but it was scary and I was relieved when we got back safely to the car. I said, “Hey Steve, what would you have done if they’d had designs on me way out here in the middle of nowhere?” He laughed and said, “I would have told them, ‘Have fun with her boys, I did.’” It took me a lot of laughing before I could start pretending to be mad at him.

He had a friend named Adrienne who was quite smart. One day Adrienne said, “Can I porif some of those potato chips?” “Can you what?” I said. “Porif,” he said. “It’s short for porifera, which is a sponge.” It became the verb that replaced the words borrow, bum, hit up, purloin, mooch, glom, and sponge. We never used those words again when the group was together. It was always, “Quit trying to porif my candy. Get your own.”

Growing up, there was a guy in our neighborhood named David Roach, a tall, skinny kid with a quick sense of humor who hung out with a bunch of us on my street – he lived a few blocks away but in those days all of us were free-range kids and would walk to wherever there was a softball game or four-square in the street or croquet or ping pong in somebody’s backyard. I was probably in 6thgrade. He was a couple of years older. One summer day a bunch of us we were standing around in the street, riding bikes, trying to decide what to do next. Someone saw a dog walking toward us and said, “Here comes a shit-eating dog.” David got a scared look on his face and took off running. We laughed and laughed, repeating, “Hey David, look out, here comes a…” To this day I can’t remember names or dates or what I went in the bedroom to get, but I will always remember David Roach running away from that shit-eating dog.

My friend Clark, whose first name is Pryor, named after his dad as many of us were in the South – first name for a family member but everybody called us by our middle name – Clark got a nickname somehow, I don’t know who gave it to him or why, but whenever my cellphone buzzes and I see it’s him on the caller ID, I answer like this: “Pryor T Coon Type Dog Liar Makes His Rules Up As He Goes Along.” To me, that’s his name. That’s what we called him when we were kids. In the middle of a conversation, when I want to make a point for emphasis, I don’t say the whole name, I just say, “Now look, Pryor T, you need to take better care of yourself.” I haven’t called him Clark in decades.

On a serious note, the world has lost a wonderful human being with the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. We’ve respected her strength and her bravery as she stood up for America’s constitution, equal rights and justice for all people. I wanted to close with one of her memorable quotes. There are many wise and profound ones, such as: Every now and then it helps to be a little deaf….That advice has stood me in good stead. Not simply in dealing with my marriage, but in dealing with my colleagues.”

The one I think that fits best here, however, is the one she said after someone mentioned that she’d dozed off during the State of the Union address: “I wasn’t 100 percent sober.” This is the one I’ll remember, and surely use, even after dementia has warped and gnawed my brain until it resembles porifera. In the nursing home I will shout out, “Nobody licks our Beavers!” followed by, “I wasn’t 100 percent sober.” 

Thanks for everything, dear Notorious R.G.B. May you rest peacefully with the other angels.

Ruth Bader Ginsberg dozing during the State of the Union

Wardrobe mishaps

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We’ve all had wardrobe malfunctions. A couple of days ago I was visiting my 90+ year old friend when her daughter walked in the room, saw I had on one of my house dresses, and said, “Are you wearing underwear today?”

“Some,” I said.

I’d told them that during the summer I wear cotton dresses around the house to keep cool and comfortable. To enhance the experience, I sometimes go without one or both of the typical undergarments worn by women. I don’t usually wear the dresses in public, but will fetch the mail, do yard work, or visit female friends, so I like my house dresses to be all cotton, have pockets (for my cell phone), and either have a busy design, thick fabric (like denim), or chest pockets because I don’t want my neighbors to see that I’m not wearing one (or both) pieces of underwear.

“On Tuesday, that really hot, windy day,” I said, “I wore one of my dresses over to my garden to water and was praying that the wind didn’t whip up the skirt. It would have given people nightmares. You can’t un-see something like that.”

My friend’s daughter, who’s my age, leaned against the kitchen counter and said, “Did I ever tell you about my first date with my husband?  I had on one of those dresses with the stretchy stitching on the top.” 

“Strapless?” I asked, picturing the dress.

“Yes, strapless.”

(This type of dress probably has a name but I’m too lazy to look it up. Oh, all right, hold on a second. I’ll be right back..Okay, Google calls them a tube top stretchy dress. Back to the story.)

“I had this dress on, with tall high heels. I was gorgeous. We were going out for a fancy dinner at that restaurant up on the hill in Sellwood – it looked like a castle.”

“Was it in Sellwood or Milwaukie?” I said.

“Yeah, could have been Milwaukie – near Sellwood.”

“I remember that place, I don’t think it’s there anymore.”

“I don’t know. Anyway, the maitre d’ seated me, but off-center for the view. I just wanted to scoot over a little, so I raised up in my chair. The hem of the dress got caught in the heel of those high heel shoes.” She paused for a beat, so we could picture it.

“When I raised up to scoot over, the dress stayed put. It came down and both my boobs popped out the top.”

“Were you wearing a bra?”

“Of course not.”

We all laughed. “No wonder your husband fell in love with you,” I said.

It reminded me of swimming at a motel pool with about eight or ten friends the summer before 9thgrade. I think one of the boys knew the owner and that’s why we got to swim  there. Typical of those motel parking lot pools, it had a shallow side and a deep end with a small diving board. For some reason it also had a foot wide ledge to stand on at the deep end, maybe so little kids could go down there and still hang onto the side and stand up. 

We were playing tag. My best friend, Christine, was it. All us boys and girls were focused on her to see who she’d come after next. She’d chased us for a while, swimming underwater, sneaky, trying to tap somebody’s leg. I think she was probably ready for a rest. She sprang up from the deep end, pushing off from the bottom fast so her long red hair back would be back off her face when she surfaced. She swam to the ledge, stood up and faced us. The water, as she’d swooshed through it, had pulled down one side of her bikini top. Her left boob, big for her age – big for any age – hung completely out.

As soon as we saw it, after a couple seconds of shock, all us girls shouted at once: “Duck down! Your swimsuit! Go under! Get down!” We didn’t want to say whatever word we were using at the time – I think the word boob came later – maybe we were using breast then, but we didn’t want to say it out loud. Up until then we’d only swam with our girlfriends. We’d just started hanging out with these boys, probably because one of us discovered they had access to the pool. Those were prudish times.

Christine thought we were hollering because she was it. She thought we were taunting her. She didn’t realize we were hysteric. She just stood there – that boob big and white, framed with swimsuit lines and her tan, freckled skin. The more we shouted the longer she stood there like some half-naked Grecian statue with a puzzled, cranky look on her face – an eternity in the lives of fourteen-year-old girls.

The boys, of course, never said a word.

Finally the closest girl swam to her and pushed her under. “You’re it!” Christine said she sprang back up. There was that boob again. Law have mercy! The girl pointed, Christine looked down, threw her arms over her chest and ducked under water. She stayed down there until her breath ran out,  embarrassed to death. The incident earned her the nickname, “Lefty” with the boys. By the end of summer we’d abandoned them and gone back to the public pool, they got so annoying. 

Ahh, well, there’s nothing like wardrobe mishaps to get your mind off of everyday worries. Today in Portland the fires are raging 30 miles away in the national forests south of Estacada. The air is smoky thick, the sky yellow-grey. I can barely see the fuzzy outlines of houses across the street. Even though our windows and doors have been closed for three days, the smoke smell has seeped in. The air quality at 8:00 this morning is the highest it’s been – 516 – Hazardous. It’s listed as Beyond Index on the Air Now website, which only goes up to 400. www.airnow.gov

Portland Oregon Air Index - Sept. 13, 2020 - Hazardous

Remembering Christine and picturing that stretchy tube top dress have brought me a chuckle this morning – a good thing in worrisome times.

Mer – the sister in my heart

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I had never met her, but I knew her. Loud, annoying, obnoxious – the last person in the world I wanted to be around. I’d seen her at Robinson Junior High, and I social distanced from her in the halls whenever I heard her coming.

Mary Morelock. Round-eyed, high-cheeked, brown bob bouncing as she tromped down the halls jabbering .Me quiet, invisible, squint-eyed, mousy straight blond hair that refused to hold a curl even after sleeping in brush rollers. I loathed her. She never noticed me.

Then, the summer after eighth grade at the Legion Pool where free-range kids lived from one in the afternoon until we had to leave for supper, Mary and I started hanging out because we still wanted to swim after our friends left early. I figured she wouldn’t make noise if she was under water half the time.

The outdoors improved the acoustics of her voice, and she liked to play in the water, not just lie in the sun. She and I became friends, and in high school, when we were in the same gang of girls with the same lunch period, we became best friends.

By then I was Suz to her and she was Mer to me. I spent at least one night at her house every weekend. When we were sixteen, and I had my brother’s Chevy convertible one Friday night, we decided to buy our first beer. We waited until some country boys pulled up in front of the 7-11. The driver took my money and came out with a string of Pabst Blue Ribbon’s.

“Want us to help you drink these?” he said, grinning a piano-keyboard grin with the black keys missing. “No, but thank you so much!”

Mary popped the top of my first personal can of beer. Remember this is 1968 and we were stupid, and the law didn’t do much to drinkers in East Tennessee, possibly the moonshine capital of the world.

We drove on a dirt back road swigging Pabst and feeling quite mature – the late 60’s version of Thelma and Louise – until I dozed off and ran up on a gravel pile. The crunching jolted me awake. My headlights shone out into black nothingness. We were on the edge of a little cliff. I tried to back up but the wheels spun, throwing up gravel and dust.

I looked over – Mary’s chin was on her chest. “Wake up! We’re stuck.”

She slowly turned her head in my direction, her eyes staring past me in a half-open gaze. She opened her door and leaned out, her whole body hanging down like a limp doll. Thank goodness I’d made us put on seat belts or she would have rolled out like a barrel of beer.

“Where are we?” she said when she got a grip on her door and hoisted herself back up. “It’s dark down there.”

Not for long. Two bright headlights beamed into the windshield, blue lights flashing. “Oh no, it’s the law,” I said. That sobered us both up in a hurry.

It was no use lying to him. Empty beer cans told the story. “You girls out joy-riding, drinking Blue Ribbon?”

“We’ve never done it before,” I said.

“Well, you better not do it again. That gravel pile most likely saved your lives.”

A man from a nearby house had come out, and the two of them pushed the car backwards so it was no longer high-centered. “You got a busted radiator. Doesn’t look like there’s much more damage other than a scratch here and there. You girls get on home and don’t let me catch you out here again.”

Slowly driving home, hands at 10 and 2 on the steering wheel, as awake and alert as I’ve ever been, I said, “Can you believe it, Mer? We could have died.”

“I know,” she said. “We could have gotten a ticket too.” Which was even scarier.

We lived to have many more adventures. A couple years later I totaled that car one night after a bunch of us had gone skinny dipping at the Moose pool where she was a lifeguard. At a T-intersection out in the country, someone had stolen the stop sign and I didn’t realize it until too late. I turned too sharp, the right wheel went into the ditch and left the road, rolling several times. Because we weren’t wearing seat belts, all three of us got thrown from the car. Convertibles back then had no roll bars. It landed belly-up in a field, squashed flat, and we would have been too.

Mary was my wild and crazy soul sister. My real, sweet little sister died when I was eight and she was five. I have missed her all these years. I envy those women who have sisters, even those with irritating ones who cause them a lot of grief. They don’t know how lucky they are.

But I realize how lucky I am to have Mary, a sister in my heart. We’ve lived together in Florida and Georgia, and had viscous fights – especially the time in Atlanta when I ate the hamburger she’d saved for after work. Oo-weeee. Talk about red-faced screaming mad!

Decades later, even though we stand on the other side of an awfully tall political fence (what is she thinking????), we are still close. A couple thousand miles separate us, and we only see each other in person every other year or so but it’s like we’ve never been apart. We relive memories, marveling that the good Lord brought us through so many dangerous adventures, happy to spend time with each other, talk about our kids and wonder at how well things turned out.

Joan Carol was my only sister, and I love and miss her, but Mary helped me journey through my insecure teens and rudderless twenties and all the ups and downs of my life, with understanding, sympathy and laughter. Just like little Joanie, Mer will always be my sister.  

My Advocate

My advocate, Laurie, helping me celebrate
My advocate, Laurie, helping me celebrate my first published humor article.

At the end of this morning’s Mass our priest gave us a homework assignment. He told us to think about a person who has been an advocate for us. In his sermon, Deacon Bill defined the Advocate, or the Holy Spirit, as a comforter, counselor, friend and companion. 

Lots of people have been one or more of those to me, but if I have to choose just one, it’s my friend Laurie. I’ve dumped my troubles on her in the most boring and repetitious ways and she’s given me support when she’d probably just as soon slap some duct tape over my mouth.

The best thing is she’ll listen and do it quick. You don’t get much phone time with Laurie, she’s always busy, so you’ve got to launch right into your whining – get right to the point about what a jerk someone has been so she can (a) agree with you and (b) pile more on, even if she’s never met the person, and (c) give her tidbit of either advice, “the person is a jerk, you gotta just walk away,” or sympathy, “the person has always been a jerk, I don’t know how you stand it.”

Wandy and Brendy and the Bees

When I was ten or eleven, I had a couple of summer friends, sisters named Wanda and Brenda. Their mother, a stocky woman who wasn’t old enough to wear dentures but did anyway, would holler, “Wan-deeeee, Bren-deeee” so I called them that too. Wandy and Brendy’s house was full of ceramic figurines they called what-nots – I called them”what-not” to have. Ceramic cats, dogs, clowns, toadstools with frogs and pixies perched on the coffee and end tables, mantle, top of the TV. No horizontal surface was left uncovered.

A Pig Stye that Seldom Meets the Eye

Closet stuffed to overflowing

When we have people over, I like my house to be cosmetically clean. Even though my house may look spotless, never open a cabinet or a closet door – cardboard boxes and volleyballs and unopened junk mail will waterfall out and bury you.

I went to Tennessee a couple of weeks ago to get some fried okra and brush up on being Southern. Or as Atley, my son Chris’s friend, would say, “Su-then.” He’d make jokes about my accent, saying, “Chris, your mom’s Su-then,” putting an emphasis on the “Su-” part to bring out the accent. It got laughs from everyone, so I went along. When I’d say something like, “Atley, can you pick up your glass and take it to the kitchen?” he’d say, “Suzanne, you Su-then.” Maybe you had to be there to truly appreciate it, but now in my head the word is no longer “Southern” but “Su-then.”

Anyway, on one of the layovers in the airport (no one flies to Tennessee from anywhere in the US without laying over in Chicago or Dallas or both), I decided to write out my top most fun times, and was kindof surprised at the things I wrote down.

They weren’t the times when I went to expensive dinners or to fancy plays or even tropical vacations. They were just regular times with one thing in common. I was with someone and we got the giggles until everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, became funny and we burst out laughing over and over again at absolutely nothing.

I’ll give you a for instance. After high school I dated this guy who was pretty funny – I called him Bangum, a Su-then pronunciation of his name. He had a great bunch of friends who fortunately became my friends, and once when Bangum was out of town, his friend, Adrian Ferguson, asked if I wanted to go see a horror movie at the drive in. This was about the extent of our entertainment options back in the day in Kingsport, Tennessee – going to some B-movie at the drive-in.

The movie was so bad that we could predict every plot point coming way before it happened. It was the kind of movie anyone with any taste would have left after the first few minutes, but Adrian kept making sarcastic remarks about everything and I got the giggles. This prompted his humor to seek loftier heights, and he kept firing funny comments, each one more ludicrous than the last, until I was begging him to stop so I could catch my breath.

He wouldn’t stop. He had a captive audience, and there was plenty of material  on that giant outdoor screen. I can’t remember the plot, seems like it was about an illusionist who was so good that he could actually saw a woman in half – blood squirting out in all directions – and the audience only saw the box with the lady’s smiling head on one end and her wiggling feet on the other. Of course we, the moviegoers, could see the poor sawed lady screaming and guts and blood everywhere.

There was something in the movie about hitting a woman with a rubber hose. It was supposed to be horrible, but the whole concept of someone attacking a woman with a rubber hose sent us both into hysterics. Here’s the scene in our car.

Adrian: “You’d better behave, woman, or I’ll beat you with a rubber hose!”

Me: “Ha ha ha, oh please stop, don’t say rubber hose again, ha, ha, ha, no, no, no don’t I can’t take it anymore, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. Where’s the bathroom – stop or I won’t make it, ha, ha, ha, please, you have GOT to stop.”

Adrian: “I’m going to beat you with a rubber hose.”

Me: “HA, HA, HA, oh please, please, please stop, HA HA HA HA HA oh my gosh I can’t breathe, stop, don’t say anything for a couple of seconds, let me catch my breath, ha ha ha.”

Adrian: “I’ll beat you with a rubber hose.”

I don’t’ know if I made it to the bathroom in time. I don’t know if we even stayed to the end of that dreadful movie. All I know is that I laughed longer and harder and with such complete abandon that I didn’t even feel like I was part of the world anymore.

That’s the great thing about going back to your hometown – I got to see Adrian and Bangum during my visit, along with a myriad of other friends and family – and we relived lots of fun times with fresh laughter.

I don’t care what Atley says, I’m darned happy to be Su-then.

Demp

Sometimes life deals us a good hand and we are in the right place at the right time. Meeting Mary Morelock at the Legion Pool in 8th grade was one of those times. I knew who she was but didn’t like her because in 8th grade all I wanted was to fit in. She, on the other hand, didn’t seem to care what anyone thought about her, and she said and did anything that crossed her mind.

On that day at the Legion, there were several girls our age there, and we were hanging out together. Some of them went to lie in the sun, which left just me and Mary in the pool to hang out together. “Want to touch the bottom?” she said. “Sure,” I answered. Then we started doing flips off the low diving board, and I discovered I liked her because she was willing to try anything, and she laughed a lot and made jokes out of everything around her.

We spent a lot of time hanging out after that, and when I met her family, I felt like I’d found my second home. They were outspoken, or as we’d say today, not politically correct, but in an honest, and humorous, sort of way.

Mary’s dad, Demp, hung in the background, completely aware of everything going on but preferring to be an observer. Mostly his interactions were a few polite questions, and frequent offers of Little Debbie cakes, which must have been his idea of hospitality. “You want a Little Debbie cake? There’s a whole bunch of them out there in the freezer.” And then five minutes later: “You sure you don’t want a Little Debbie cake?”

When I first heard him say Mary’s name, he pronounced it,  “Murry,” and that’s what I called her from then on, which I later shortened to “Mur.” When we were in high school, Mary had the only car, a Jeep – one of those utterly cool, real Jeeps with a removable tan nylon top like you see in African safari movies. Since she was the only one who drove, we all called her first whenever we wanted to do anything, either alone or as a group. She had tons of friends, so she’d get a lot of phone calls. Demp saw what was going on and started answering the phone, “Morelock Cabs.”

I hung out at Mary’s house so much he nicknamed me, “The Boarder.” He’d say it, even with me in the room, when he talked to Mary about me, as in: “Murry, do you and The Boarder want some stew?”

Once a car full of hoodlums chased Mary’s little sister, Kathy (called Bunny), home because they thought she’d cut them off. When she pulled up to her house, they got out of the car and started cussing and trash talking to her. Demp came out with a shotgun and said, “Bunny, git in the house.” He calmly told the boys to leave, and when they defiantly stood their ground, he raised the gun and peppered their Mustang, shooting the hood ornament off. Word got around and nobody messed with Demp’s kids after that.

I loved going to her house because she had big speakers in the living room and they were always playing the best music nice and loud. Not ear-splitting, but way louder than anyone else’s parents allowed. At my house, we never got to have our own music in the main part of the house – we had to listen to it in our rooms. My dad always had some Charlie “Yardbird” Parker or Miles Davis music playing that embarrassed the crap out of me. At Mary’s, they had the Allman Brothers, and Demp would sit right in the middle of the speakers, reading his paper and apparently enjoying himself.

My favorite story of Demp was the time we visited Mary’s parents when my kids were about two and six years old. Every time I go to Tennessee I visit Mary’s mom and dad. They moved to a place in the country after their kids all finished college, and my kids have always loved going there. On this day, me and Mary and my kids arrived just after suppertime. Us girls sat on the back porch watching my kids chasing lightening bugs while Demp puttered around in the house. It was about 10 or 11 o’clock by the time we got ready to go. We found Demp in the garage, and we were saying our goodbyes when he offered my kids a pop. I told him no, they didn’t need a pop, but thank you. A couple of minutes later he offered them one again, just like he used to offer me Little Debbie cakes.

“No, Demp, thanks but they don’t need a pop.”

“Suzanne, why won’t you let them kids have a pop?” he persisted.

“It’s late, and if they drink a pop right now they’ll wet the bed.”

“Aw, hell, I wet the bed every night. That don’t stop me.”

That was hilarious on so many levels that it makes me laugh even still.

Demp just went to the Big Cab Company in the sky, and I know for a fact that he’s up there, cracking up Jesus, all the saints, and the apostles with his wit and shenanigans. And he’s probably standing next to St. Peter, offering the newcomers whatever Heaven’s version of hospitality is, over and over again.

The Dog Ate My Blog Post

I didn’t do my blog yesterday because my dog ate it.

Actually, it fell out of my notebook and got wet and the ink all ran and the paper fell apart and I didn’t have time to redo it.

What really happened is that my daughter stuffed it into her backpack because she thought it was her homework.

Actually, my husband wadded it up and used it with a bunch of newspaper as a pad under a hot casserole dish that he put in a cardboard box to take to a potluck because he didn’t want to burn the seat of his car.

Really what happened is I got a massage yesterday by Helga the Swiss dominatrix, a friend of a friend who came highly recommended and was giving a good deal – I’m too cheap to get a massage unless it’s nearly free or a gift.

Normal women should not have this much strength, especially if they have spears for elbows. She planted the point of her elbow at the beginning of each of my muscle groups and bore down with all she had until she was on the verge of skewering me, then very v..e..r..y slowly dragged the elbow across the entire muscle. Ligaments and tendons ducked for cover as she smashed them down like a steamroller until the elbow eventually reached the other side.

I took it like a man because I thought it was supposed to be “good” for me. But she was enthusiastically sadistic. I’d made the mistake of telling her that I had a knot in my neck – probably from blogging – and she gave that area extra special attention. She “stretched out” my neck by standing behind me why I lay on the torture rack and pushing my head forward until my chin was pressing down into my sternum. I thought at any second my head would snap off in her hands and she’d turn the severed head around and hold it at her eye level and say, “oops!” with a wicked grin.

When I left, I was at least 3 inches taller and throbbing so much from head to toe that, seriously, there was no way I could sit and write.

Besides, friends came over and we had appetizers and wine to tide us over for the fifteen-minute drive downtown to get dinner. I was pretty full by the time I left the house because eating distracted me from the pain, and the wine was the perfect medicinal vintage to dull the shooting pains spiking every few minutes.

The restaurant we wanted to try was Toro Bravo. If you’re ever in Portland, you HAVE to go there. But expect to wait an hour and a half to get a table if you go at the same time as everyone else because they don’t take reservations. We killed the time by going to Afrique Bistro – pronounced af– freek by us but who knows what it’s actually called. There we had more wine and appetizers which were really, really tasty (cucumber salad and cheese spinach). I was starting to wish for elastic-waist pants.

When we were done there, we decided to check out Russell Street Bar-B-Que (all of these are on NE Russell Street). There we had pints of IPA beer and two orders of hush puppies. These were the real deal – the hush puppy was about the size of a chopped-off finger and cooked through. They were delicious with butter, and each order had 12 hush puppies, so doing that math, that gave us a total of 24, which meant that, since there were 4 of us, I got 12 and everyone else got 4. We also nibbled two pralines there.

They called us from Toro Bravo to say our table was ready, and we waddled back there and ordered no fewer than 10 appetizers (or tapas) because we wanted to sample all the flavors. And another bottle of wine, which unfortunately had the unpleasant side effect of causing a pain in my forehead, although the rest of my body had long since ceased complaining. Except for my stomach. It was yelling and screaming, “Stop, you freaking idiot. DO NOT put that fork in your mouth again. DO NOT!!!!! You are the stupidest human being in the world. No one has ever continued eating like this when they are COMPLETELY FULL and not regretted it. You will have to run 10 miles tomorrow to burn all of this off. Please stop. I’m begging you. P..l..e..a..s..e.” My stomach’s voice continued like this as I stabbed another potato, pickled beet, and cheese bread slice. It had pretty much given up by the time Julie and I shared a lava cake with ice cream for dessert.

By the time we got home, it was very late, I was very miserable, and I had a headache. And that’s when the dog ate my blog.

ADDENDUM (for extra credit): Speaking of dogs, let me explain about hush puppies. I’m originally from the South so I know that, when people here in Portland make hush puppies big and round, it’s not right. True hush puppies are corn bread batter dropped into hot fat. They fry until they’re browned on the outside and cooked through – and each one of them is like a snowflake – no two are alike. The big round ones can have wet dough in the middle because the heat can’t get in there quick enough to cook the center without burning the outside. If you want a good batch of fried okra, go to Miss Delta (on NE Mississippi), but don’t order the hush puppies there. They are okay, but they’re round and they don’t taste like a real hush puppy and you dip them in gravy, which isn’t bad, but it’s not the real thing.

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Copyright © 2020 by Suzanne Olsen