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

Category: Friends

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.


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.

Powder Puff Power Play

I promised I’d tell about the powder puff football game. Last fall the junior girls were pitted against the senior girls, and it was pre-determined that the seniors would win.  That’s only fair, my daughter explained, because next year when she was a senior she’d get to win.

“How do they manage to guarantee the seniors will win?” I asked.

“Oh, the refs give the juniors a bunch of extra penalties and stuff,” she said.

At first my husband tried to get out of going to the game. “I don’t want to watch a bunch of little girls playing flag football,” he said with disgust. But my friend Gina had a bunch of us over for dinner and we went straight to the game, so he came along.

While we were scrunched in the stands trying to keep warm, waiting forever for the game to begin, one of the dads called out, “Did anyone bring a boda bag?” We all laughed (and secretly wished someone had yelled, “Over here!”)

My daughter’s prom date, Johnny, was the junior’s head coach – chosen by the school’s football coach. It looked like he had gotten eight or nine of his friends as assistants.  They were all wearing the forest green t-shirts with “Juniors Rule” scrawled in sloppy white paint on the front that the girls had made for them.

When I compared the size of the junior girls lined up next to the seniors, and saw all the talent on the junior team, I thought, those poor seniors don’t stand a chance.

The juniors got the ball first. My daughter’s job was to call everyone into the huddle. They plotted for a few seconds, then the two teams faced each other on the line and squatted down just like real football players except they weren’t wearing shoulder pads. The junior’s center picked up the football and stood up, saying, “Hey, they gave us the wrong ball.  Look at this, it’s the wrong ball.”  She turned and handed it to the quarterback.

The quarterback hollered, “Yeah, hey this is the wrong ball.” She looked at Johnny on the sideline and bellowed, “Hey, coach, you gave us the wrong ball.” She started walking toward him, calling out, “We can’t play with this ball, this isn’t the right one, there’s something wrong with this ball.”  Everyone else just stood there, waiting for someone to fix the screw up. I thought, this is going to be one long game.

The quarterback was almost to the sideline, still ranting about the ball, when Johnny yelled, “RUN!” She took off flying down the field, chased by a befuddled pack of seniors, and scored a touchdown on the very first play of the game.

You’ve never seen such carrying on.  Girls were bouncing up and down like they were on a trampoline, ponytails flying in the air, hugging and flailing their arms and squealing with delight.

“Was that legal?” I shouted above the cheering parents.

“Johnny found it online,” Gina shouted back.  “He ran it by the athletic director first to make sure it was legal, and he said it was.”

The seniors sulked and accused the juniors of cheating, and even though the athletic director/referee squelched their grumbling, it’s probably the reason the game got a little rough.  It was supposed to be flag football, but juniors were getting tackled, especially Gina’s daughter, Julia, who was like a cheetah on the field.  She has broken school records in track. The quarterback kept handing the ball to her, and she’d run toward the sideline, gaining several yards before literally getting knocked out of bounds.

Once my daughter ran off the field crying and holding the splinted finger she’d broken in gymnastics. Another time Julia limped off, crying, after being tackled. And several girls stayed down on the field after plays. When it happened, both teams got down on one knee, but since it would take awhile for the injured girl to get up, some of the juniors started whispering. If it went on for a few seconds my daughter belted out, “SHUT UP!” loud enough for all of us in the stands to hear. She later told me that Johnny thanked her and finally told her he’d call the game if the girls did it again.

The seniors scored, then the juniors scored, then the seniors scored again and it was a tie game with a couple of minutes left on the clock. My daughter rushed two times in a row and snatched the senior quarterback’s flag, which led to them turning the ball over when they missed getting a first down.

A couple of quick plays got the juniors in field goal position with two seconds left on the clock.  To make sure the juniors didn’t score and win the game, the referee put the ball way off to the side of the field so it couldn’t possibly go through the goal posts. Nobody could make such a kick.

Aleeta, the six foot tall soccer queen, got in position to kick. We were screaming in the stands, blowing frosty steam and jumping up and down. Aleeta ran up to the ball and gave it a good solid soccer kick at an impossible angle, and it flew like a homing pigeon right through the middle of the goal posts to win the game.

The whole junior class raced out on the field like kids on the last day of school – jumping, screaming, and waving their arms. Parents went down on the field too, though we were totally ignored for the longest time until our daughters came tearing out of the massive hive of kids and nearly knocked us down with excited hugs,  “WE WON!  WE WON!  CAN YOU BELIEVE IT, WE WON!!!!”

“Did you like the game, daddy?” my daughter asked when she caught her breath.

“Best game I’ve seen in a long time.  Beats most college games I’ve seen,” he said.

The next day my daughter was still pumped up.  She was so hoarse from screaming that some words didn’t come out. She showed me all her bruises, and there were plenty because she had played both offense and defense.  “This one senior hit me right in the face,” she said, “and she hit Hannah, too.  And they were pulling girls’ hair from behind when we were running with the ball.  I’ve got this giant bruise on my thigh, and feel this one here on my arm, it’s sticking up.  And one of them grabbed my splinted finger and twisted it. They were really mean, mom.”

After school on Monday my daughter reported that the seniors mumbled the word, “Cheaters,” a lot.  “They need to just let it go,” she said.  “It wasn’t our fault we won.  We just did our best.”

The juniors had a secret weapon. It was Johnny who won the game for them – with that incredible first play. That’s the kind of guy he is. Smart and clever and sweet.

Whiners Are Us

My husband is out of town and I was so looking forward to sprawling in that big bed without having a locomotive’s worth of snoring to listen to tonight, but I got a late night request to do some changes on a project and now it’s 1:20 am and all I can think about is whining.

Whining isn’t usually all that funny. I know some people can make it funny – wasn’t there a skit on Saturday Night Live with Doug and Wendy Whiner who had these nasal whines and dragged out their miseries in extended words that sounded like this? “Do-ug, whyyyy are you DO-ING tha-at? You KNOW it ma-akes me cra-a-a-a-a-azy.”

When I whine, people leave the room. I usually whine that I get no freaking help around the house. “Why do you people throw your coat in the floor day after day after day when you know good and well that I’m going to yell at you about it and that makes you mad so why do you do it?”

My kids whine constantly about the food for dinner. My husband is a gourmet cook, which to a kid is worse than feeding them dog food straight from the can. “What’s this? It’s gross? Are we supposed to eat that? I’m not eating it. I can’t even look at it.” They were describing yellow squash which they both loathe like a cow hates flies.

My friends whine to me. They call it venting, but when the vent’s always open and it’s always blowing hot air, it can get pretty annoying. In fact, I get sick and tired, just plain sick and tired of them spouting off about their spouses. The guys are idiots, I’ll concede that, but telling me what their newest outrage is, especially when it sounds pretty much like all the other outrages, gets old. I don’t need to know every single day that Bill was late for supper the night before and didn’t call so the food got cold and the kids were starving. Night after night this happens, and day after day I listen to it. Give it a freaking rest.

Did someone say rest? That sounds like a great idea – if I could only manage to GET some which I won’t be able to since it’s so late and I have to get up at the crack of da-awn.

Responses to Your Responses

Today I went into one of my blogs and discovered I had a whole bunch of comments from a form response. I’m not sure where they came from – I have a response page but I thought those forms went to my email. It’s all so confusing.

Anyway, with eager delight I started plowing through all the forms. The first one was from someone speaking English with a foreign tongue. How can I tell this? Here’s an exact copy of some of her comments – see for yourself.

“Humor is feel good! feeling great and helps you live longer gives energy to people around you, see your skin happy and glowing ,your blood flow in harmony lots of energy. luck of humor ages so quickly.I meet many people and mostly women’s they commented on me especially during on the coversation. oh! they said you’re only spring young chicken? . my answer to that is of course, Iam only fifty five?”

She goes on to say “send an email share to your friends and everyone i could organized to have a workshops .here is my website and look theres a lot to share and learn from. just remember age is only a number its what it feels that count cheers me! Violeta”

Violeta, you sound wonderful and entertaining. I hope you aren’t a scammer kind of person, because I got a whole mess of messages from people who wanted me to have a page 1 listing on Google, and “All of our processes use the most ethical “white hat” Search Engine Optimization techniques that will not get your website banned or penalized.”

As reassuring as that sounds, I’m not interested in having top billing. I’m writing a daily blog for one year to get into the practice of writing, and no one even knows about it except a few people in my writer’s group. I’m happy Violeta and others find it entertaining, but I’m certainly not ready for prime time – after all, I’m only on day 165. I have a whole nother half a year of practice.

I got a message from Matt Champlin. He’s got a handyman page and wanted my opinion whether women would like handy tips written by a man. In response to one of my articles about having to fix things around the house because my husband won’t, he says: “My mother was a go getter and would shame my father into finishing her projects by having my twins brothers and I painting the garage with her supervising. All the neighborhood would watch as my Dad pulled up in the driveway to see his family doing his work.”

Matt, I think I would like your mom. Matt’s website is

The other messages were from people who like my site, although one guy argued with me about a story I told of a woman my boyfriend and I visited three days after she had a baby. My boyfriend at the time was essentially lacking in couth, and when we saw her he blurted out, “I thought you had a baby.” The writer felt my boyfriend was giving her a compliment, as if to say, “You look great, not like someone who just had a baby.”

I should have made this more clear. Delivering a child had done nothing for her figure. Her belly looked like she’d just eaten a whole goat. My boyfriend was definitely being a jerk.

Thanks to all of you who like my blog and website, and for responding – some of you have joined my site. Does that mean you get special privileges? Oh, I hope so. You deserve it!

Tightrope Inspiration Falls Short

If you read yesterday’s post, and I’m sure you did, you’ll know that I was all excited about watching “Man on Wire,” a story about a guy who crosses between the World Trade Center towers on a tightrope in 1974.

I was inspired by his leadership – how his friends supported and helped him propel this crazy dream to completion. I turned the TV off and wrote the blog right after he’d completed the walk and been arrested as a trespasser but at the same time hailed by the media as a wonder.

I thought of my life and how I had, at one time, led my friends on adventures – road trips to Myrtle Beach and Fort Lauderdale and Key West with very little money and sometimes no transportation – camping and hiking trips through the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone, and several road trips across country, one from Florida to Oregon and others starting in Tennessee and leading to both coasts. I don’t think about them much, but I really should write some books because many of these adventures were pretty entertaining. However, I’ll have to wait until my children are adults, if you catch my drift…

So I left the blog and turned the documentary back on, and lo and behold, Philippe Petit fell from grace in my eyes. (How do you like that “fell” pun? Actually, they say when you have to explain or point out your jokes, they weren’t that funny in the first place…)

How did he fall from grace? As he was walking out of the police station to the hoards of media, a pretty little thing came up and put her arms around him and said she wanted to be the first to help him celebrate. A tightrope groupie, I guess you’d call her. I wonder if she had dreams of being a groupie and went down the list: rock band groupie? No; political groupie? No; tightrope groupie, YES!  All of the above, hmmm, maybe I should check this one…

So Philippe’s accomplices – one of which was also arrested, and the others on his team, and his girlfriend who had pretty much abandoned her own life to be his love interest and athletic supporter – were all waiting for him totally jubilant about his (and their) success and wanting to jump up and down and high five each other, they were left to anxiously look down an empty hall or await a knock on the door while he goes off with this groupie and bounces on her waterbed for awhile (which is shown in the film – I’m not sure if they used a body double, but this Philippe liked being in his birthday suit, I think). He calls his friends and girlfriend on the phone to tell them he’s being “interviewed” and will catch up with them as soon as he can tear himself away. There are many jokes I could make right here, things like, “Cheah, more like enterview!” but they’d all be puns of some sort, but I’m not sure you’re up (get it) for that.

Nothing happened to him legally with the trespassing charge. He was even asked by New York’s attorney general to entertain some kids with juggling for publicity. His other arrested friend, however, was kicked out of the US, for good, I presume.

On the flight home, he tells the friend who appears to be his closest one, “Well, for our next trick…” and his friend says, “Nope, don’t count me in, enough is enough.” These aren’t exact quotes, but the gist of it, and who can blame him? He and the crew did so much work and had so much at stake – what if Philippe had fallen? – and didn’t really get anything from it except the joy of giving themselves over completely to Philippe’s whimsy and have him abandon them at the time of their mutual success. The movie doesn’t say, but it appears Philippe and this friend had a falling out because the friend appears to have regrets during his last interview.

I think it could be said without a robust argument that men seem to let the little head do the thinking for them at the worst possible times. It happens constantly – it’s in the news daily – just think Tiger Woods. He’s the example handiest right now but there is a list that could circle the globe a million times. So Philippe’s fall is not shocking (that I continue using the “fall” pun is, however).

He even admits in the movie that he “betrayed” his friends and girlfriend. I liked her a lot. She never once says a negative thing. Even at the end she describes how she could see Philippe’s life changing as he became famous, and that it was time for their love affair to end, and surprisingly she was ready for it to end, too. I want to be like her, having tact and grace, but I’m negative and a b-word. I would not have been so kind.

I said yesterday I wanted to be like him. That’s no longer true. I was like him, on a much smaller scale. I had friends who went along with my adventures, and I don’t think they were disappointed. I’m still in contact with my old friends, though distance separates us and the contact may only be through Christmas cards. When we get together we talk about the present, but mostly we remember the things we did and wonder how we survived them.

The movie ended with Philippe alone in his yard walking on a tightrope. All the scenes prior had his friends splayed around in the grass. What has his life been like since 1974? Did he find taller buildings to conquer? Wider distances? I’d never heard of him when it happened, and haven’t heard about him since, but I live in a vacuum. It gets pretty dusty in there. Get it? Vacuum.

It was an amazing feat, and I still recommend the movie, but his story is just like life. It has its ups and downs, highs and lows. When we’re on top of the world, it’s exhilarating, but sure as the sun rises, we’re going to fall (pun) sometime in the future, and it’s nice to have a safety net of friends to cushion us.

Copyright © 2020 by Suzanne Olsen