Morton Meadows’ Musings

I haven’t posted a blog in a while and this is actually a short story I wrote for a contest.

The assignment: take a writing prompt and make a story out of it.

The prompt:  There’s a house that gives out candy. There’s a lighted path leading to the front door, but everyone is scared to go to the door. Why? What are the rumors?

The story:

Morton Meadows’ Musings
By
Rhonda M. Hall
Bob and I thought we were living the American dream when we bought out my parent’s old home. They moved to condo living in Arizona.

We renovated the place and turned their little house into our own three bedroom-ranch. Things seemed to be going well and then we had kids. The kids were fine. Healthy, smart, vibrant children with lots of friends. The disagreement may seem minor to most people but not to me. I grew up in this neighborhood, and I did not want our kids trick-or-treating at the Bruning’s white-two bedroom-stucco.

They were our next-door neighbors. Mrs. Bruning wreaked havoc on our lives for years. If the dogs were out, they’d take after us. One of them bit my sister. My mom, the quiet-unassuming one, exchanged words with her. She told Mrs. Bruning if her dogs couldn’t behave she needed to keep them locked up. The missus said, “Why don’t you keep your kids locked up.”

I don’t mean to be cold hearted but why haven’t the Bruning’s croaked by now? They were old when I was a kid.

I write the neighborhood newsletter, Morton Meadows’ Musings. I am always on the lookout for a good news article. I studied Journalism in college, so I had experience, but even if I didn’t, it wouldn’t have mattered. I was infinitely qualified to write the newsletter because I volunteered.

Maybe, it was time I put all these stories to rest or bring them out into the open. If anything, it will satisfy my curiosity and ease my mind about my kids’ trick-or-treating at the neighborhood nut-job’s house.

We had heard the rumors that they had a boatload of children that didn’t come around anymore. They’d had a son who died. A tragic accident. I never heard anyone say the Brunings were responsible. According to the rumors, the son didn’t leave. He stayed around to help his mom.

Mrs. Marilyn Johnson, yellow siding, purple and yellow rhododendrons in the front. She said, Mrs. Bruning always had money problems. After their son’s death, she’d used the tragedy as a scheme to make some dough.

“The one boy, Terry, he was number two in the pecking order. The oldest, James, he was the one who died. She made Terry stand at the door. He had to collect two-dollars from everyone as they entered. Everybody wanted to see the boy ghost.”

“Did you ever go?”

“Heaven sakes, no, that Eleanor is crazy. Some neighbors said they were just a bunch of low-life’s ripping people off. Others would come out of there running. Their faces as white as a sheet of parchment paper.”

“Around Halloween, it created neighborhood congestion. People lined up to drive by their house. It was a pain. I don’t know what happened, but one day, it just stopped. I heard after all her kids grew up, the dead-boy stopped coming around.”

Over the years, a couple of neighborhood kids claimed they had trick-or-treated there. Liars. When I was a kid, no one bothered the Brunings, and they were even rumored to have Butterfingers.

Bob wanted to be inclusive. Mr. Neighborhood association President. He was curious and wanted to know more about them. That’s how we landed in this predicament.

My brother and sister loved to watch the local station’s version of a scary movie matinee, Creature Feature Monster Hour. Not me. I watched with a blanket over my head. I didn’t go in for all that spooky stuff. I guess, if we were going to get this resolved I needed to go up there and talk to them. Besides, I had to think about the article.

I decided to visit on Tuesday, October Sixteenth. That way, I’d still have time to get out the Morton Meadows’ Musings before Halloween. I wasn’t expecting a Pulitzer by any means, but visions of journalism greatness crossed my mind. I was terrified. I tell my kids to face their fears, and frankly, this was my life-long fear. The Brunings. God help us all.

I didn’t tell Bob my plan. He’d want to go with me. Normally, I would like that, but I can almost guarantee he wouldn’t see the same things I did. If a child ghost walked up and shook my hand, he’d be looking at the television and tell me to stop screaming so he could watch the game.

I dropped the kids off at school. Built-in 1925. Red and black brick-with a concrete entryway. Then, I drove home. My stomach turned in knots. Maybe, after a cup of coffee? The coffee was luke-warm. Of course, I had to make a fresh pot.

Afterward, I thought maybe I should have lunch and some hot cocoa. It was kind of chilly out. What if our chat lasted so long it extended past lunchtime? What if she got hungry and decided to make a meal out of me? Ala Hansel and Gretel. I fixed myself something to eat. I also wrote a note to Bob telling him my plan. In case, I never made it home.
I grabbed my notebook, cell-phone, pen, pencil and can of pepper spray. I stuffed it all in my back pocket. As I stepped out the door, I picked a bouquet of yellow and maroon mums.

I can’t remember the last time I saw the Brunings. They never went anywhere. For all I know, they’ve been dead for fifteen years, and no one has ever bothered to find out.
Except, I have seen they have their groceries delivered, and a lawn service mows every week.

When I was a kid, you’d see Mr. Bruning sitting in his truck reading the paper. The old truck still sat out front. Bob would love to get his hands on it and fix it up.
As I walked up their front steps, I saw the sidewalk had crumbled, and the stairs had given way. Plastic white skulls that alternated with mini pumpkins filled with little lights lined the path. The yard was a patchwork job of grass and weeds. The stucco needed to be reapplied and painted. I started to think about what kind of a life they must have led. Losing a child and then having to hawk out his ghostly appearances so they could scratch out a living.

My stomach did an extra flip. I looked for a doorbell and saw none. The yellow door’s paint peeled from age.

In my mind, we’d get along like old pals. The whole angry neighbor thing will turn out to be a giant misunderstanding. They will be great people. Mr. Bruning and Bob will work together to restore his old pickup. Bob and the mister can go driving together. I could organize a paint party for their house. We’d invite them over to a barbeque, and at the end of the evening we’ll all join hands and sing Kumbaya.

My fingers reached forward to knock. The moment my knuckles touched the door, it swung open so fast, you’d have thought a windstorm blew through.

Mrs. Bruning. I’d bet a million dollars; she was a hundred-and-five year’s old. She had waist length gray hair that ran down her back. She was the spitting image of an elderly Morticia Addams.

Mr. Bruning sat in a recliner with his feet up. A purple and black flannel blanket covered him. The house was big but stuffed with newspapers and knick-knacks. I couldn’t even begin to guess which door led to a bedroom.

“Who the hell is it?” Prince Charming bellowed from his chair. We weren’t but five feet from him, and he shouted as if an earthquake shook the place. She stood in front of him and blocked my vision. Then he hacked up something and spit somewhere. I didn’t know where and didn’t want to find out.

“It’s the girly from next door.” She squinted and pushed her glasses up her face by wrinkling her nose. Her eyes spotted the mums. “What’s that? Flowers for me?”
“She brought me flowers?” Mr. Bruning said.

“She brought them for me.” She yanked them away and tossed them to the floor. They landed next to a cauldron of candy. Candy from 1975. Probably, the last time they had a trick-or-treater.

“I’m allergic,” she sneezed.

“I’m sorry.” How was I going to delicately ask about her dead child after giving her flowers she hated?

“We’ve never really met before. I thought I would introduce myself. I’m Sara Norton from next door-”

She cut me off. “I know who you are. What’s the matter with you? You couldn’t afford to find a home of your own? So, you had to move into your parent’s house?”
“It didn’t happen like that, which doesn’t matter. The reason I came here…” I found myself stumbling for words. “I write the monthly newsletter, Morton Meadows’ Musings.”

“I’ve seen it.”

“I wondered if I could write an article about you and your husband.” The rest caught in my throat and it came out like a little boy going through puberty. “And your house.”
The squeak that came from my throat sounded a bit like the rubber ducky I used to give to the kids during bath time.

She squinted her glasses up her nose again and paused for a moment. “I’d like nothing better.”

She stepped out of the way. “There’s a lot of rumors about us, and we’d like to put an end to them.”

“Have a seat.” She motioned toward the floor. “Sorry, we only have two chairs, and we’re using them.”

Mr. Bruning looked to be in his early nineties. Good for the missus robbing the cradle like that. He wore a stocking cap and appeared to have on Mr. Potato head flannel pajamas. He pulled his blanket up to his neck. Maybe the jammies embarrassed him.

I pushed some discarded papers off my spot on the floor and sat on the carpet. Folding my legs in front of me, I had the sensation of something wet seeping through my pants. Maybe, the mister’s loogie? Maybe ghost blood? Doesn’t matter. I am a professional, and this is just another interview. I set my phone in front of me, so I could watch the time. Also, I may need to dial 911. “First, let me say I am sorry for the loss of your son. That had to be unbearable.”

Mr. Bruning snorted. Mrs. Bruning did nothing.

They weren’t making this easy for me. I pulled out my notebook, clicked my pen in earnest and took notes. “Mrs. Johnson says that…”

The mister sat in a funk while the missus interrupted. “Marilyn Johnson?”

“Yes, that’s her.”

“Don’t know her.”

“She said that…”

“Yellow siding with big what-a-call-it flowers?”

“Rhododendrons. She said after the tragic loss of our son, you got by, by selling tickets to your son’s appearances.”

“We still had mouths to feed.”

Mister cleared his throat again. It didn’t seem to work so he coughed a couple of times, hacked a couple more times and spit into a handkerchief. Seventy years of acid reflux will do that to a person. “It wasn’t about the money.”

I was relieved to know that he spit into his handkerchief which left the burning question, what was I sitting on? I pressed onward. “What was it about?”

“Let me ask you something.” The missus said, “If you were in my shoes, God forbid, and you lost your son. What would you do? Wouldn’t you do anything to see him again? Who cares what other people think or do? You now have one sole existence, to see your son one more time. No matter, in what capacity. Time doesn’t matter. You want to see your son. That’s it. Oh, you can’t hold him. You can’t even talk to him, but I guarantee you, you’d do it.”

It wasn’t my place to debate them or tell them my beliefs, but they asked. “If something that terrible happened to me, I’d want to see them again in the afterlife. But that’s just me.”

The missus sat back in her recliner and rocked forward. “There’s no guarantee we are going to go there. So, we had to keep him around as long as possible.”

“Your other children? How are they doing?”

“They all moved away. They feel cheated out of their childhood. Our daughter, Sally, was even on the Jerry Springer show.”

She held her fingers in the air to make air quotes. “My Parents Love My Dead Brother more than me.” She slapped her knee in a combination guffaw and how double damn dare her.

“That had to be painful.”

“We don’t even have a television anymore. We heard about it from our other son, Murphy. He’s a tattle-tale.”

The missus looked at a clock on the wall. “It’s almost time.”

He sat back and released the footstool on his recliner. It made a loud clang as he pitched forward. He looked at his watch.

“Wait until you see this.” Mrs. Bruning slapped her hands together.

They both stared into space. I felt my heart drop. Footsteps from another room made their way towards a closed door next to the kitchen. All their kids had grown up and moved away before my parents ever moved in. I doubt they had another guest.
The door slowly squeaked open. The creak rivaled anything I’d ever seen or heard on Creature Feature Monster Hour.

No one stood on the other side. The footsteps continued. Step by agonizing step someone or something entered the room. Large corduroy carpet slippers with worn heels made their way into the living room. No person or body came with them as they seemed to slop off someone’s feet. It was almost as if a child wore the larger shoes of his father.

I didn’t see anyone but had the sensation, that the boy ghost looked right at me. The hairs on my arms were standing straight up. Arm hair doesn’t lie. The boy ghost didn’t know what to make of me, so the slippers turned and walked toward the kitchen.

From my vantage point, I could see everything taking place.

A cupboard door opened and a small bowl from inside the cabinet floated its way on to a table. A box of cereal flew down where a healthy serving of Rice Chex made its way into the bowl. The refrigerator door opened, and a carton of milk floated toward the cereal. After they put the milk and cereal back, a spoon went into the bowl, and I could hear someone eating.

I jumped to my feet. “Thank you, for your time. I think I have enough for the article.”
I raced out their front door and promptly dropped my notebook. Without stopping, I picked it up and pretty much flew to the door and out. A cold draft hit my backside. Of course, I knew I sat on something wet, but the Bruning’s must have noticed and thought I urinated on myself.

I was down their yard and inside my house, when I realized, I had forgotten my cell phone. They’d never bring it to me.

I had to go back. God help us all. I know I already said that, but it bears repeating.
Remorse and anxiety filled my body and nearly took me to the floor. But my floor wouldn’t be wet with ghost droppings.

Maybe, I could get Bob to go. That wouldn’t work either. He’d want an explanation, and the Brunings could have telephoned Tunisia by then.

First, I needed to change my pants. Of course, I hadn’t done the laundry and had nothing clean, so I spent five minutes with a blower dryer up my rear end.

I went back up the dilapidated walk, the cracked steps, past the skull and pumpkin lights and knocked on the door with the peeling paint. As I approached, the unmistakable sound of uproarious laughter came from inside.

The missus flung open the door in the same manner as before. She put her hands on her hips.

I wanted my cell phone back, but found myself saying., “I didn’t wet myself. The floor…”
She stared at me like I was a bug.

“I forgot my cell phone.” I stepped inside. As I reached down, I tripped on her cauldron of candy and splayed forward. My face was practically even with the inside contents of the carpet slippers. I reached inside and pulled out some sort of mechanism. The soles of the shoes had little rollers on the bottom.

Mrs. Bruning snorted. “The mister was a magician in a past life.”

I grabbed my cell phone and stood. “Newsletter comes out next Saturday.”

She folded her arms across her chest. “Don’t go ruin it for everyone else. Our son does visit us, but he’s so unreliable. We have to give people their money’s worth.”

“Uh, huh.” That was all I could manage to say. I have a college degree. Countless classes, social gatherings and normally a razor-sharp wit and all I could say was, uh, huh.

I turned to leave when I felt someone tap me on the shoulder. I’m not given to exaggeration, but when I twisted back, an eleven-year-old child stood next to me. Half there. Half not. He floated around me and whispered with a smile, “Boo.”

I ran out again. Their laughter filled the white stucco house. They could paint the damn thing themselves.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Click Bait Follies

I’ve been a victim of click-bait. If you don’t know what that is: (on the Internet) content whose main purpose is to attract attention and encourage visitors to click on a link to a particular web page.

I’m sure we all have fallen victim, and yet we keep on doing it. Usually, it starts with an innocuous headliner.

• What so and so looks like now is unbelievable.
• Try not to smile when you see what so and so looks like.
• 50 of the cutest animal pictures.
• Get rid of these 50 things in your home immediately.
• The best cookies/steak/pie/Italian dish/restaurant/beer in all 50 states.

On that one, I always want to say, do I have to scroll through 34 states just to get to one or two states I care about?

If you fall victim to click-bait, you go down a rabbit hole, and you will never recover. It takes forever to load because of all the stinking advisements. Sometimes, I have given up. The thing I wanted to read never appeared. Many times, I have forgotten what was so bloody fascinating in the first place. Sometimes, there are so many arrows and “Next’s” that I can’t make out what I am supposed to click. If you click on the wrong thing, suddenly you are looking at people suffering from sinus infections in 19th century Russia.

Other times, the “thing” I am trying to read doesn’t come up until you have advanced through 47 pictures. Then, it is almost a stinking dare.

I
Must
Get
To
The
End
Just
To
Prove
I
SURVIVED.

I read one click bait article on Elizabeth Montgomery. One of the “little-known facts” about her was: Did you know when they filmed a scene in Bewitched, she would wiggle her nose and the cast would stop where they were? The crew then moved items out of camera view, to make it appear the item disappeared. Say what? What a shocking revelation.

They did tell me something I didn’t know which was that Dean Martin had a thing for her, but it took so long to get through the stinking text and pictures that I started to wither away. I’m sure I am now older than Agnes Moorehead.

Other times, I have gotten up and went to on to do the dishes, laundry, or read War and Peace. When I get back to my computer, the whole thing has slipped my brain. “Oh, yeah, I was reading about that.” Then I see where we are, only on page 52. It doesn’t tell you how many pictures you have to scroll through to get to the end.

I’ve fallen asleep at the computer waiting. My head is down and resting on the keyboard. When I finally wake up, I find the dent of the space bar on my eyebrow.

How about those repeats? I read one about Country Music superstars, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. I don’t know why. I’m not even a country music fan. Their click bait advertisement did something to lure me in. I would venture to say of the entire 60 some posts; they mentioned their money 98% percent of the time. Yeah, okay. We get it. THEY HAVE MONEY.

One of the shocking revelations they came up with on them was: When it comes to beauty products, Tim and Faith save a lot of money because they are actually known for sharing the products they own. There are times that Tim would actually use Faith’s lotion while there are moments when Faith would (use) Tim’s shower gel.

Wow! A husband and wife share products! Go on!

Another stunning discovery I learned on Faith is: Her father’s lack of education is the reason why he grew up not knowing how to read.

Think about that for a minute. Her father didn’t know how to read because he didn’t have an education. They need a poster of this in schools. I can see the PSA now.

Don’t be like Faith Hill’s dad!
Get an education.
Or, you won’t know how to read.

I started to document some click bait statistics. I went down one click-bait/rabbit hole/hell. Of the 53 pictures/pages on one click-bait article, there were 6-13 advertisements on each page. I counted them. (Of course, I have better things to do with my time, but I wanted to document it for this blog.) I counted a total of 527 advertisements. There might have been more, but I didn’t wait for them all to load.

On one page, I counted twelve advertisements, and seven of them were for Fitbit. Another page had ten ads. Three were for the same blouse I had already bought months before. How many times am I supposed to buy the same stinking blouse?

One of the click-bait posts I read had 53 pages, with a total of over 4200 words. Most pages have on average of 50 words per page. Apparently, that is our collective attention span.

It seems they forget words. For instance, in the Faith Hill & Tim McGraw revelation, they forgot the word “use.”

If you divide 527 advertisements into 4200 words, that’s an ad for every eight words.

Imagine your daily life. You call the bank.

“Yes, I need to talk about my account.”
“We’d be happy to assist you. Can I.-”
The new Ford Echo Sport combines economy with classy style.

The words per advertisement ratio might explain why sometimes they “pad” their stories. They add extra words like, “actually.” Microsoft Word tells me that “actually” is not concise.

Word, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. Click-bait articles are not concise. Remember that the next time you are lured into the black hole of click-bait articles. Beware what ”actually” lurks within.

 

 

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Tales From The Lawn

I mowed my lawn the other day, just an ordinary activity that most of us do. While pushing my mower up a side hill, the neighbor’s lawn service pulled up in front of my house. They proceeded to unload their equipment, and one guy kept giving me the eye.

I suppose it was the pained look on my face as I awkwardly, clumsily pushed it up that side hill. He sat on his riding mower. It was more like a throne. He leaned back like that black plastic or leather upholstery had the makings of fine velvet. He had this smug look on his face. He backed it down like I should understand he was the Nordic God of lawns. I felt positive he’d say, “Now, see, you could be inside watching reruns of Dallas.”

While they mowed and edged, I spent a majority of my time picking up sticks. Then, I’d mow a section. My lawn mower is electric, so I have to be careful not to run over the cord. That would have been embarrassing, upsetting and annoying.

I have several trees. My side and front yard are at a slant. Sometimes, it takes a bit of work to mow this section or that section. Sure enough, while the Nordic God of grass mowed the neighbor’s lawn, I managed to wrap a cord around a tree. That’s not uncommon with my yard and my trees, but again I felt certain the Nordic’s were laughing at me.

It almost felt like I was back in the seventh grade. My first year in junior high, I stumbled with a stack of books. Two ninth graders, tall as timbers peered over at me and took pity. Plebe, they should have said. That’s what the lawn guy wanted to say.

I had to stop and pick up more sticks. I broke one in two and thought of my nephew. He had just turned five, and we’d had a bad storm. I had a lot of downed branches. I told him I’d pay him ten cents for every stick he picked up and placed in my trash can. My back had been bothering me, so I figured it would be worth it. He picked up one stick and broke it in two. “That’s twenty cents, Aunt Rhonda.”

I kept mowing and thought about the smug look on that guy’s face. I had to wonder; my dad was a bus driver. He used to tell my mom, “I drive all day and then when I get home you want to go someplace.”

I wondered if that guy tells his wife, “I mow all day and then when I get home; you want me to mow. Nag, nag, nag.”

I’m curious if his yard is a vast wasteland of grass growing way past the kitchen window. In the movie, The World’s Fastest Indian starring Sir Anthony Hopkins, the main character mowed his lawn by throwing a fireball into his yard.

Two of my neighbor’s own lawn services. I see them mowing their yards. It’s probably like a business card. Who’d want to hire someone who didn’t keep his grass like the cover of some lawn and garden magazine?

I dumped my lawn clippings into my yard waste. Afterwards, I used that time to unwind the cord from the tree. The Nordics were still watching.

A couple of years ago, I injured my knee, and the doctor told me to stay off of it. I HAD to hire a lawn guy. He wanted thirty dollars. He whined about my fence gate. It was too narrow. The gate swung the wrong way. He didn’t like the embankment. Nag, nag, nag. All those things are true. The gate is narrow. The gate did swing the wrong way, and I don’t like the embankment either, but I like thirty dollars in my pocket.

I don’t begrudge my neighbors spending money on lawn service. I wish I could afford it. My other neighbor’s lawn boys carefully place sticks and downed branches on the edge of my property. Or they throw them into my yard. I would gladly take the sticks and deposit them if my neighbor needed the help. But those guys, lazy. Whatever, they’ve got to keep moving, blah, blah, blah.

One time, the lawn guys threw a stick up into my yard, and it hit my leg. “Ow!” I yelled. It didn’t really hurt, but I wanted to make a big show of it. Idiots. You could tell they didn’t know I was there. Their eyes about popped out of their heads. They looked like little boys caught with their finger in the pie.

Other lawn services/boys/Nordics blow leaves into the street or onto my property. I have ten trees. I don’t need any more leaves, thank you very much. I don’t care if they are from my trees. I even looked this up one time. The law says if my trees drop leaves in your yard, it’s your problem.

If everybody had a lawn service, would we ever get rid our leaves or would we just keep blowing the same leaves back and forth from property to property?

I’ve thought about taking all the leaves they blow into my yard and dump them back on my neighbor’s lawn. If the neighbor asks if the lawn boys had been there, I’d shrug.

I was still mowing my front lawn when the Nordics wrapped up the neighbor’s entire yard. They even edged it. I still had the backyard to do when the Nordics drove away grinning, still smug. On to the next yard, I think they even did a fist pump to the chest and a forward ho motion like most Roman Generals urging the troops onward into battle. I certainly felt a little humbled by their efficiency.

But, I can do without their services. I’ll take my thirty dollars and stick it into a special, I’m a cheap skate retirement fund, right after I get it out of the bank.

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Flip Flop Haters

I had a co-worker who hated feet. He said when all his kids and grandkids reached five-years-old he gave them a pair of shoes and told them, “Cover up. It’s not cute anymore.”

I thought that was so hilarious I included it in my current Work in Progress.

I sat on an aisle seat at my job. Whenever anyone with Flip-Flops walked by, they created such a ruckus, it was difficult to concentrate.
We had one lady, that moved like a freight train, fast and chugging along. Now, imagine that constant slapping of her thongs against her feet at a high rate of speed. Fine china would have dropped off the cupboards.

We had a supervisor who wore some sort of air-thongs. When she went slapping by my desk, not only was there the pleasure of that constant flap-slap to the tune of some heavy metal band, but they made that extra squish in and out. With every single step, flop-squish, flop-squish. I sat just outside the copy room, so every time she needed to make copies, she’d have to flop-squish by my desk a couple of hundred times.

It became so annoying; I put up a paper with pull tabs on the end. The paper said, “The sound of Flip-Flops is:”
On the pull tabs, people had their choice of, Annoying, Aggravating, and the sound of a symphony to my ears…

Co-workers then pulled tabs and taped the tab they wanted to their desks. Some of those tabs stayed on their computers for years. I thought I was alone in my aggravation.

The amazing thing to me was the people who wore the flip-flops didn’t understand.

The freight train turned her head with the same quizzical look you might find on a cocker spaniel puppy looking at a new pair of carpet slippers.

Look, I’ve got nothing against flip-flops, except the noise. Although there was the time, I met some friends for lunch at a restaurant. A woman in her thirties sat reading a book. She had kicked off her flip-flops and had her feet extended to the empty booth before her. She kept wiggling her digits and rubbing them all over the seat. It must have been a real toe-curling book, but my thoughts turned to the next person who sat at the booth. They have good table manners. They don’t have their hands-on the table. They keep them on their lap or the seat. Between bites of their sandwich…well you get the picture. Ew…

I have many relatives and friends in LOVE with their sandals and frequently post pictures of their toes and their latest pedicure.

I get it. It is a sign of enjoyment and pleasure. A signal that I’ve made it. I’m living the life. My tootsies are out in the open. People post pictures of their feet relaxing, crossed at the ankle. In the distance, lay a body of water with a palm tree or two. Sometimes their kiddos are playing in a paddling pool.

Why doesn’t the construction worker post pictures of his steel toed work boots with his latest building in the background? That’s success. He’s happy to be working.

The factory worker doesn’t post pictures of his blood-stained boots after a shift of packing liver.

I admit I have posted a picture of my bicycling shoes with my bike in the background. In the foreground, a copy of one of my favorite writing books, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.
It all says the same thing. I’m, relaxing.

In our social media conscious world, posting a picture of our piglets is a status symbol. We all have phones at the ready. The latest megapixel digital image of whatever we are proud of ends up on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. In the sharpest detail, we get images of what we’re eating, doing, playing and of course we get to look at people’s feet. I’m sure my former co-worker blocks those people.
“Why’d you unfriend me, Bob? That’s so rude.”
“It was your feet, John. You keep posting pictures of your gnarly toes. It’s gross, man.”

And that’s another thing. You don’t see men posting pictures of their feet. Maybe, most men realize that people don’t want to look at those dogs.

Did our ancestors rush to the photographer and pay hard earned money to stick their tootsies up? They couldn’t afford to have pictures taken. One hundred years from now, our descendants will look at pictures of their parents and grandparents latest pedicure. “Wow, Grandma has an amazing big toe.” Or, “My feet look just like Grandpa’s.” Mom will pat the kid on the head and wipe away a tear, “Grandpa would be so proud.”

I guess I should confess that I have webbed toes. My parents said when I was born; they looked at my feet and laughed and laughed. Unfortunately, anybody else who gets a gander of them does the same thing. Doctors, nurses and even a massage therapist or two let out a shriek. Then, I get questions about surgery. Really? You want me to spend thousands of dollars for something so ridiculous? I think they look fine. But I’m not about to post a picture of them for your viewing pleasure/displeasure.

I just prefer to wear something with more substance. I do like to wear clogs or slides. Maybe, I’ll start posting pictures of my ankles. Now, that’s sexy.

P.S. I started a Facebook page devoted to Flip Flop Haters. Called appropriately enough, Flip Flop Haters. I’ve never launched the site until now. Feel free to like the Flip Flop Hater’s page. Even if you love Flip-Flops, I hope you like the page.

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Effed up

In one of my writer’s groups, we had a discussion about the “F” word. Actually, the discussion was about the overuse of the “F” word.

Years ago, I watched the movie Midnight Run with Robert DeNiro and Charles Grodin. I loved the movie. It was incredibly entertaining. It wasn’t just about a bounty hunter but a man still in love with his ex-wife. It was also filled with the F-word, and I do mean filled.

Before I returned the movie to the video store, back when people went to the video store, I thought I would watch it again, but this time keep an accurate count of just how many F-words there were.

The problem with so much colorful language was the incredible task of trying to keep score.

There’s not only the dialogue of the major players, there’s also the dialogue of the person in the background. What if someone leans their head out the window of a passing car and screams an obscenity? Then I had to decide if I should keep track of all the other foul words.

I did. This experiment wouldn’t work without it.

I had this enormous sheet with tic marks everywhere.

Then I had to try to figure out the many variations of the words to keep track of. There’s effing, effed, just plain straight up eff. There are plural effs, and singular eff’s, which brings up another point. Were there possessive eff’s? I don’t remember.

Sometimes the eff’s, and “B’s” and “P’s” were flying so fast I couldn’t keep up. I had to pause the VCR, back when people had VCR’s. I had to rewind, run it back and play it forward. Then, there’s the issue of did I already count that effing eff?

Phew, what a workout.

I don’t remember the count for sure, but I think it was in the neighborhood of 240. So, I took the figure & divided it into the total minutes of the movie. If it was a 100-minute film, that makes 2.4 foul words per minute.

Imagine a trip to the grocery store. “Where’s your effing cottage cheese?”

Clerk: Behind the effing sour cream, you ungrateful stupid b*+ch.

In everyday life, that means I’d come into work, and my co-worker would greet me.

“Good morning, Rhonda, how the eff are you?”

“I’m effing fine. How the eff are you? You effing rag, why can’t you leave me the eff alone?”

In an eleven-minute phone call, that means I have to fill the conversation with 26.4 curse words. I’d probably have to just let out a string of curse words. I wouldn’t even be able to use them all in a complete sentence. So: Eff, eff, eff, eff, eff, eff, effing b*+ch, pr*+k, eff, eff, eff.”
Customer: What was that for?
Me: Just filling my quota sir.

Of course, the point four would mean an interrupted or unfinished curse word.

“F…f…f…f…f…f….f….f ..a…aa…”

Oops, can’t finish it. Only a .4 curse word.

Yes, I see the need for 240 curse words in a two-hour movie.

I had found this little experiment so interesting, that I tried to do it with another flick. A real two thumbs up film, back when we had two thumbs up reviews, Spike Lee’s, Do the Right thing.

I couldn’t keep up. There were eff’s flying so fast it boggled my mind and my tick calculator. I had to turn it off. I don’t know if the movie made me sick or the idea I had to be a math wizard.

Rhonda H.

I said I was going to write this as a blog post, and I effing did.

Posted in Foul Language, Foul words, Humor, Movies, Writing | 4 Comments

The Annual Family Reunion/Trek

We held our annual family reunion in Gordon Nebraska this year, just like we did three years ago. We have one every year, and we always have a great time. Three years ago, one of my cousin’s took us on a trek/tour of all the places our grandparents lived near Rushville Nebraska.

  • DSCN1266 This was one of their residences.

We had lunch in the Rushville’s park and some of us played on the slides.

DSCN1290 Here’s a less than graceful picture of me…

We were looking for one particular house. We saw a few places they lived, then we went down a sandy side road. I’m generous when I call it a road.DSCN1296

We pulled up, 8-10 cars at least 20 or more of us. I was the last car, everybody said they liked that. My bright green car meant they could tell at a distance if we were all there. Other cars all saw us coming and would pull over. Apparently, we looked like a funeral procession, which was ironic because of all the fun we were having.

DSCN1270 Some of our cars.

We took pictures. We went to one home and chatted with the owner. She said no, it wasn’t their house, but thought the place we were looking for was down the road.

Off we went. At one point, my uncle, who is celebrating his 60th wedding anniversary this year, got out of the procession. He sped up way too fast, keeping on the opposite side of the road to pass me and get back to his place in line. Don’t disturb the order.

We went down another side road. This little boulevard had grass growing up past the undercarriage of most of the SUV’s. My little Mazda was not built for country driving. It took a beating. I could only hope and pray nothing fell off.

Green Mazda My cousin took this picture of my car.

We bumped and glided along. I had three of my female cousins with me. We pulled up to another farm-house. They had a sign that said they welcomed tours. Once again, this crazy group of relatives all piled out. My aunt, the other half of the 60th wedding anniversary party, came running over to us and begged for a ride. She said her husband was driving crazy. Or maybe she said he was crazy. No matter. No one offered her a ride. Sorry, you made your bed 60 years ago.

One of my male cousins got out wearing his mother’s wide brim, red hat. The people from the house all came out. He, my male cousin, spent the next several minutes explaining to them that he was a normal red-blooded American male and pulled his recent bride close to him. He didn’t take off the hat.

The owners were very generous, but they too said it was not the right house. We had some great laughs, and then the matriarch of the place told me that they sometimes get people out looking around because she happened to be Mari Sandoz’s granddaughter.

She said many people want to see the places that her grandmother wrote about. It was incredibly fascinating to me as a writer that people would travel long distances to seek out the places an author wrote about.

She was very sweet. I took her name & took her picture. While looking around, her handsome grandson walked over. My family teased me for speaking with the good-looking guy, but as I pointed out, he talked to me.

We left on a worse road, all sand ruts and grass. My cousin, in the red hat, made a wide swing around, and I made a lesser swing and cut him off, so he had to follow me. (Snicker)

Going uphill, my little car dug in and wouldn’t move. I backed down and tried again, we just spun. Unbeknownst to me, some of my cousins saw we were no longer with them and started honking and flagging down the rest of the family.

My three female cousins piled out, and I tried to make it up the hill without them in it.  Still, I spun. This time, I told them to push. Another cousin came running back to help. The pushing got my car up and over the hill. My cousins piled back in and were spent. I looked at my passengers, and they were all fast asleep. That sand took its toll.

After the Bike Ride Across Nebraska, I raised my bike over my head. (A lot of bicyclists do.) My relatives wanted to lift my car over their heads and get their pictures taken.

On the final day of the reunion, I gave my 81-year-old aunt a ride home to Omaha, and everyone told her she’d better watch out cause I might make her get out and push.

DSCN1281This was an old gas station my grandparents also lived in.

 

Posted in Family, Humor, Reunions, Writing | Leave a comment

The Newspaper Thief

When I lived in an apartment, I had the Sunday morning newspaper delivered. One morning, as I headed out the door, I discovered my paper was missing. I called the Omaha World-Herald and they brought me another one.

The main entrance to our building stood four feet away from my front door. As the delivery man/boy entered the building, the door would swing open with a squeak. Then, I’d hear the heavy bundle of papers dropped outside my door. They’d scurry down the aisle dropping Sunday morning papers as they went. I still recall that plop, plop noise echoing throughout the building. For some reason, my paper seemed to be missing a lot. I finally realized, my building had a newspaper thief. Cue the ominous music.

I went through the five stages of loss and grief.

Denial! Someone couldn’t possibly have stolen MY paper. Maybe, the newspaper gods forgot to deliver it? Perhaps, the person across the hall thought it was their paper. Did I pay the bill?

Anger/Outrage. Okay, maybe I wasn’t outraged. How about annoyed? Yes, I was annoyed.

Bargaining: Maybe, if I had gotten up earlier, the paper wouldn’t have been so tempting. Perhaps, they were anxiously awaiting that new potato soup recipe.

Depression: Now, I have to trample off to the store to buy another paper. It’s not the World Herald’s fault criminals abound. I did pay the bill. I did, I did.

Acceptance: I guess I can live without my paper.

I really enjoyed the Women’s section. Ann Landers, Dear Abby (this was 20 years ago) and Hints from Heloise. Ask Andy and cartoons! I loved reading Snoopy.  Sometimes, when I couldn’t stand my job, I’d pour over the want ads. I read the Midlands news and the world news. World peace has always been a priority.

I really didn’t want to accept this, this blatant theft, this manipulation of my time and money. Besides, it was wrong, wrong, wrong! Stealing is wrong!

It became a struggle to get up earlier than the thief. I had to set my alarm at six a.m. ON SUNDAY MORNING! It was the only way to get the item I paid for. I really wanted to catch the thief in the act, but I never could.

I got tired of this cat and mouse game. So, I decided to set a trap.

This must be the sixth stage of Grief. Revenge. I’m not a vengeful person and I don’t like vigilantes. When someone takes the law into their own hands, all our lives are lessened. But mind you, I was pretty teed off.

I took some old newspapers and sorted them the way they normally are arranged. I placed the World news first, then the Midlands and then the Sports. Except I included two Sports sections. I figure they might have found this amusing. They might comment to their roommate/spouse, “Why look, the World-Herald added two sports sections! Ha, those crazy journalists.”

I then included carrot scrapings and old potato peels. I did this a few days in advance so I imagine the carrot scrapings and potato peels were pretty brown and smelly. I did hope for smelly.

Then I took a black magic marker and wrote, “Thy Shalt Not Steal.”

The night before, I slept in my living room by the door. That way, when I heard the paper flop down, I could grab it with lightening speed. It was right out of Mission Impossible. I carefully eased open the door, still in my jammies, mind you. I didn’t want to be seen. Not only because I was in my pajamas, but because this was a stealth operation. With one arm, I grabbed my Sunday morning paper and slipped out the fake one.

Until this posting, I never thought about what it must have been like for them. Maybe, they were the kind of person who stood to read the paper. They would fan it open and potato peelings would land on the floor and the dog or cat would get into it. Or maybe, it would land on her open toe shoe. (Who says newspaper thieves are men?) Envision a brown, possibly moldy potato peel lodged between her painted toes.

What if the wife insisted the husband bring the paper home and since he was a lazy, cheap clod, he grabbed mine instead. Imagine if will, the wife was the kind of reader who opened her favorite section while sitting down. Blackened carrot scrapings would land in her lap. In the end, they didn’t save any money. I’ve heard couples therapy can be expensive.

Needless to say, no one ever stole my paper again.

 

Posted in Humor, Newspapers, Stealing, Uncategorized | Leave a comment