Archive for February, 2012

The Staring Contest

You know, it’s really hard for a hyperactive kid to win a staring contest. It just can’t happen. Through the years, I have been asked if I wanted to have a staring contest, and my answer has never changed.

“Oh, hell no.”

Of course, I don’t really think I said that when I was ten or eleven the first time I was asked to participate in a staring contest. I am sure I obliged, ready to stare down my opponent. But, it never happened. It couldn’t happen. I did try.

The object of a staring contest is an easy one. Stare at someone without taking your eyes off of them. The first one who breaks the stare is a loser. A big time loser. So, of course, everyone wanted to play Hyper Girl. I didn’t know I was hyper at the time. My mom never told me. She just gave me a little green tranquilizer every day and called it my “car sick pill.”  You’d think that with a tranquilizer digesting and spreading calm and coolness throughout my tiny body that I would be able to sit still long enough to win a staring contest.

“Vickie…you already lost…..Yes, you did. You just looked away!!……….Yes, you did………………..Yes, you did…….Wanna play again?………………..You did it again…………..Yes, you did. I win…….Vickie, you looked in my eyes for like ten seconds and then looked away………..Yes you did.”

So, this hyperactive child learned to hate staring contests.  As I grew older, I was a side-line watcher….for a few minutes. They just bored me to death. I remember one time watching a neighborhood staring contest with some older kids outside at dusk,  until I saw a spider spinning a web. I was mesmerized. What staring contest? And really, in the end, what is the big deal? It’s not like it’s an arm wrestling contest. At least that’s a physical challenge. A staring contest is just an eye control contest. Unless you had a lazy eye, drifting toward the middle, or you were hyperactive or you had pink eye and your eye was leaking, anyone could be in a staring contest. Most people can look straight ahead without moving their eyes. Big whoop. Picture the Hulk Hogan winning a staring contest, and then ripping off his shirt after the kill.

“I am so tough. I just beat someone in a freakin staring contest. YES! ….. Take that, Grandma!”

Staring contests have been around for a very long time. I think boxers have the best stares. They march up to their opponent in the middle of the ring, getting right in their face, and just stare. Pretty intimidating. Did you know Rocky Balboa was in a staring contest?

 So, to me, staring contests were stupid. I stayed away from being in one or even watching one. Until many years later, when the chance arose once again. I was a mother, probably about forty-four. My daughter was a spectator that day, and I believe she may have been fourteen or so. I am probably wrong, but that doesn’t really matter. What matters is that I almost died that day……because of a staring contest.

 The day started like any ordinary day. It was a beautiful summer evening. My daughter and I were outside, standing on the brick patio right beside our house. I loved that property. We had wildlife visiting our place every day. I kept binoculars on my kitchen counter so I could quickly check out a new bird, or the fighting neighbors. Never a dull moment.

 This one particular summer evening was one for the memory book. I spotted a deer, standing down in front of our house, taking more than his share of the fallen apples. He had his back to us. Hmmmm.

“I bet I can sneak down real close to that deer.” I said to my daughter. She stayed at the top of the hill by the house. I realize the picture was taken in winter, but just humor me for a minute. The deer was beside the tree that I have noted with the red circle. I began my trek down the hill, moving slowly and quietly. The deer did not hear me. I looked back at my daughter, smirking at my agile stalking.

I got pretty close to the deer. He turned and was shocked to see this strange creature so close to him. I froze. He stared. I stayed frozen. He stared.

 He then snorted and stomped his foot on the ground. I knew what he was doing. He had no plans to leave the plentiful bounty that was lying on the ground in front of him. Them apples were for him. I stared back, and then snorted and stomped my foot. I was wearing tennis shoes, so my stomp sounded intimidating. He snorted again, raised his hoof and kept it in the air, lingering for a few seconds, and then stomped again. I snorted and stomped again. I was winning this freaking starting contest. Ha! I finally will win one. Sure, it may have been against an animal, but a staring contest is a staring contest.

Shit. I took my eyes off the deer to look back up the hill at my daughter. When my eyes went back to the deer, he snorted and charged at me. Holy shit! I let out a scream and then ran like the wind. Luckily, I had just changed from flip flops to tennis shoes, or I would have been deer stomped.

I never ran so fast in my whole life. I mean, there was a snorting, stomping deer with unchewed apple in his mouth coming after me. I had no idea when, but I felt that he was going to tackle me from behind and kick me to death. So, I did the Forrest Gump thing and I ra-an. I made it to the top of the hill to greet my laughing daughter. She couldn’t quit laughing at me.

“Mom, I never knew you could run. Haahahahahhahahahha.”

Well, when you have a crazy deer charging at you, you really should move. The deer chased me halfway up the hill, but must have known by my pathetic “Monster is chasing girl” scream, that the apples were pretty much his. He went back down the the apple tree, knowing that he wasn’t going to be bothered anymore.

And for me, well, that was my last staring contest. Deer will win every time.

 Killer deer

Whistling in Walmart

It’s bad enough that I have to go to Walmart once or twice a week, but throw in some smelly people, a guy talking on an obviously pretend cell phone, and children who need slapped, and I am beat. But, yesterday was a day like no other. Because, yesterday in Walmart, among the mystery smells and nose pickers, there was also…….a whistler.

I really don’t know how the general population views whistling. I have never asked anyone. Some whistling is great. For example, the opening song to the Andy Griffith show is a whistle. I used to like that. Didn’t bother me a bit. I used to sit down on the floor, in front of the tv, whistling along to the opening and closing credits.  But, nowadays, many many years later,  it grates on me to the point where I lose my mind. I mean, I lose my mind.

Years ago, when my children were quite small, we would go to Hills Department Store. I could  always hear “The Bird Lady,” even if she was on the other side of the store. It was that loud. She was like a damn mockingbird. I am not kidding. One bird call after another after another. There was no break. The first time I heard it, I had to search the person out. I thought it might be a guy. I was surprised to see an older lady with short hair and dirt under her fingernails. She was a farmer. I was sure of it. The second time I heard her, I smiled, and went on my way. She seemed to be there whenever I was. By the 6th time or so, I was ready to say, “Enough already.”

I think the whistling that sends me over the edge is what I call, “Jesus whistling.” I was in an antique shop several months ago, and the owner was whistling while I was walking through the rooms. The shop was on the first floor of an older home, so her whistling was right on top of me. She was at first attempting (notice I said “attempting”) to whistle, Bringing in the Sheaves, and then followed that successful tune with What a Friend We Have in Jesus. But, she was multi-talented, as she could switch from whistling to humming  and back again. It was easier to know what the hell song she was trying to butcher. By the time I found my way out of her maze, I wanted to slap her and say,

“Jesus is not your friend.” I actually thought that shoplifting may have been justified that day just to get me the hell out of there.

“Hey, look what I stole out of an antique shop today because the owner was whistling.”

So, when I heard the whistling, I had to find out who was doing it. I thought it was a woman since the music was in  the makeup aisle. Maybe the elderly bird lady was still alive, whistling her bird calls. Like Odysseus rowing toward the Sirens, I had to search this person out.  But, no, it was an older man, clad in jeans, a jean jacket, sporting a beard and some stupid ass hat I can’t even describe. He wasn’t whistling a song or even bird chirps. He was whistling….nothing. Why would you waste your time inhaling and exhaling to exert sounds that sound like a monkey on crack was making them?  Or a owl on crack. Something on crack. It pissed me off. It wasn’t even a song. So, I decided to get the hell away from him.

He followed me.

I went in the cat food aisle. I could hear him coming. I grabbed the wrong bag of cat food and left the area.

I then went over to pick up some wide ruled notebook paper for my classroom. Dammit, I could hear his off-key whistling. I felt like I was playing Marco Polo with a whistler.

“Shwee wee.”

“Polo.”

Nah, would never have worked.

No, I must note that I was in a SUPER Walmart. That means it is bigger than a BIG Walmart or in some towns, a SMALL Walmart. This is super big. Tall ceilings. I should be able to get away from Willie. Yeah, I already named him. Willie the freak of a Whistler.

Well, I did have a moment or two of peace while picking up my strawberry whipped yogurt in the dairy aisle. But, then I heard him. He somehow was in front of me in the aisle. Shit. He was hesitating by the juice. Hesitation means a break in whistling. This guy could not multi-task. That was good. I needed my mango juice. I had to open the door right in front of him.  I reached for the juice, and was almost out of there, when he started again. Right in my ear. Freakin Dr. Seuss nonsense. If Dr. Seuss whistled, that is what it would sound like. What a goober. I put my mango juice in my buggy and looked right at him.

“Sure like whistling, don’t you?” I smiled.

“Can you whistle?” He sounded normal. He should just maybe talk more often.

I shook my head and immediately thought of Lauren Bacall.

He continued. “It’s real easy. I think I learned how to whistle before I learned to talk.”

I wanted to say, “And that’s all ya got?” But, I was nice. I smiled and just strolled away, until I was in the next aisle and then took off. I had to get the hell out of Walmart. I could not take it any longer.

I went to the furthest check-out aisle, fearing if he would be behind me in a long line and I would be stuck. That would be like a claustrophobic moment for me. And then I would surely lose my my mind. I even leave my classroom door open because I’m just not fond of closed in places. I do well on a plane…and in a public restroom. I just must be retarded. But, to be STUCK behind Willie the freak of a whistler would not bode well for me. I could hear the person over the loudspeaker now.

“Code DeltaDawn in checkout aisle 22.” That means, “older lady by herself just lost her mind.” Yeah, I’m well aware of Walmart’s codes. The main one is Code Adam.

I wish I would have had some backup with me. I wish Don Rickles, Jerry Seinfeld, Lewis Black, or Richard Lewis would have been with me. Or all of them. Add in Chandler Bing. They would have said something to him. They would have understood the absurdity that whistling is. But, it was just me and I could see the guy coming. But, wait. He didn’t have anything in his arms, and a lady with a buggy just pulled in behind me. I was in the clear. Everyone stared at him as he passed each check-out aisle. I  looked at him and wondered if he whistled while he worked. Shit. He was coming my way. Shit.

Wait. Willie the Whistler has a wife. She was behind me with her buggy full of toilet paper. That’s why he didn’t have a buggy and he was just wandering around, whistling. Figures. Willie came and stood by her.

“Jack, stop whistling. You sound like a broken drill.”

And with that, he quit whistling. I glanced back at them and he looked beaten down, almost depressed. Poor Willie. I felt sorry for him.

Until he started humming.

I’ve Been Tagged

I have been tagged. I didn’t know what that meant at first, so I headed over to Marina Sleeps  to see what was up.

It isn’t an award. But, it’s almost like one. It’s a diversion! I don’t think people realize how these things are a great way to build readership and in the process discover some other really great blogs. I mean, not saying my blog is great, but you know what I mean. (My blog is great.)I really enjoy these things. I can get into this. So, here are the rules:

*You must post the rules.

*Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post and then create eleven new questions to ask the people you tagged.

*Tag eleven people and link them to your post.

*Let them know you tagged them.

Eleven? Ok, I can ask questions all day.

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Here are the questions that Marina Sleeps has asked eleven bloggers and here are my answers.

1.What does the saying “Kicking ass and taking names” even mean???

    When you see someone kicking a donkey, you need to find out who they are so you can turn them in to the animal cruelty people.

2. You are driving. Someone flips you off. What is the best reaction?

     Ah, Olympic gymnast Mary Lou Retton’s mom flipped me off one time. She was in front of me in her stupid little convertible, looking at herself in the mirror when the light turned green. I had to honk my horn, and she flipped me off. I laughed and did the little motion with my index finger circling the side of my temple that means one is crazy, and she flipped me off again. The best reaction, however, is to hit them with your car.

3. If you could be someone else for a day who would you be?

     Oh, that is so easy.  Wait. Would I also be able to time travel? If so, I would be my grandfather, circa 1965. I would change my will to leave everyone out but my favorite grandaughter, Vickie.

4. What is the craziest thing you have done?

  I  have done so many crazy things. When I was in college, I was on the costumes crew for a play and we were not allowed to miss dress rehearsal AT ALL. If we did, we would get a cut in our final grade. Well, I was invited by a really nice looking guy to attend the Billy Joel concert that same night. So, over the course of two weeks, I became progressively sicker each practice (the director kept telling me to go home, but I told her I would be ok) The night before the concert and dress rehearsal, I told the director I just had a blood test to see if I had mono. She felt my forehead and told me to go home and that she didn’t want to see me for three nights. I went to the concert, and on the way home stopped at a club and Billy Joel was there. We had drinks with him and he sat at our table for about 45 minutes, and I couldn’t tell anyone. Karma bites me in the ass.

5. How will you survive the Zombie apocalypse?

 Zombies have poor motor skills, so I would have to be faster than them. And that means, I will need GatorAde. Yes, electrolytes will save me. I would also hide out at a carnival’s House of Mirrors. The poor undead would be so confused. I would be able to get out and be on my way to my next hiding place. He would then forget what he went in there for.

apocalypse 930x620 How to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse

6. Can you explain what is wrong with the Olsen Twins and Lindsey Lohan?

It’s a twin thing. Ashley Kate or Mary….Ashley Mary and Kate…..Kate Mary and Ashley…shit…wait…I can get this….Mary Kate and Ashley. Ok, Anywho, they have an identity problem. Remember, only one of them were able to be on Full House. Lindsey Lohan had to play two kids on The Parent Trap. Lindsey thinks there really are two of them. The Olsens think there should only be one. That’s why they are photographed standing so close to each other. They are trying to morph into one. Lindsey is a lost soul because she can’t find herself.

 

7. What deadly sin are you guilty of committing?

 Oh, how easy is this one. Writers are vain. My deadly sin is Pride, the “excessive belief in one’s own abilities, that interferes with the individual’s recognition of the grace of God. It has been called the sin from which all others arise. Pride is also known as Vanity.” I think I am awesome. I’m so vain, I probably think this blog is about me…. Don’t I? Don’t I? Don’t I?

8. What is one song you are embarrassed to like?

I’m going to go with the first song that popped into my head…”I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.” I can really sing this one.

9. What is a day in your life like?

Well, it is excitement with a capital E.  Let’s take a weekday….a Tuesday. I get up at 5:30 and play on the computer until 6:10. I take my shower, get ready for work, talk to my cat, back out of the garage, drive through Hardees and order a butter biscuit and a medium Coke, drive 40 minutes on back roads, dodging stupid drivers who drive left of center, get to school, put the schedule on the board, after the rugrats come in, teach all day, only taking 30 minutes to have lunch with “The Lunch Bunch,” (best group of ladies ever), where we curse and bitch about the kids, drive to the gym on the way home, curse at the elliptical, stop at Subway for a 6 inch turkey breast on Italian with provolone, lettuce, just a few onions and one line of mayonaisse, and a medium Coke, go home, eat, get on the internet, do some house crap, and then watch New Girl at 9:00, talk to the cat, and then go to bed after talking to friends on Facebook. Fun times on a Tuesday.

10. Can you dance like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever?

Uh, yeah. I was there.

11. What kind of child are you? 60′s child? 70′s child? etc etc?

Well, I was born in the mid-fifties. I was ten years old in 1966, and sixteen in 1972. I touched base with all of them. I am old. But, you could never tell because I look so damn young. Plus, I am vain. See deadly sin question.

Ok, that was fun. Now my turn to ask questions to the people I shall tag……

1. What one movie could you watch every day?

2. If you had to change your first name, what name would you fancy?

3. You just got kicked out of your country. You aren’t allowed back. What country would move to?   Why?

4. You are only allowed to eat one vegetable for the rest of your life. Discuss.

5. You get to bring home a celebrity. Do with them what you want. Who would you bring home?

6. Name three adjectives that describe you best.

7. You have to pick one…cat or dog? Why?

8. You have just been chosen to be in the Olympics. And you get to pick any sport you want. What sporting event will you be participating in? For what country?

9. Pick an idiom that you would like my fourth graders to draw this Friday for Idiom Friday.

10.  My favorite cartoon character was Foghorn Leghorn? And yours?

11. A two-part question: What is your favorite smell? Your favorite sound?

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TAG, YOU’RE IT!!!!!  Answer the questions, and follow the rules. And if you don’t, I totally don’t care. People will click and come visit your blogs and find out what great writers you are, and will then follow you and write wonderful replies to your posts. And then they will find more blogs to click on and so it goes.

1.  Working Tech Mom

2. Paltry Meanderings of a Taller Than Average Woman

3. My Naked Bokkie

4. Mr. Tinney

5. Back on My Own

6. Gemini Girl in a Random World

7. Fifty-four and a Half

8. Lemony Snippet

9. Kitchen Slattern

10. Today in Heritage History

11. Brown Road Chronicles

If your blog is not one of those up above, and you read this post and want to play along, just copy the questions and answer them in the reply. Don’t forget to put your link on the reply so we can visit your blog. :)

Ok, so I have done my part. Well, except for letting the eleven know that I tagged them. They will want to hug me, I am sure. Or throw rocks. But, in any event, I have done my part.

So, “Tag, you’re it!”  And I am now sterilized forever.

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My Crazy Google Seach Engine Terms

When I was little, I had to look up words to see what they meant in a gigantic red dictionary my mom kept alongside our World Book Encyclopedias. I was never able to look up phrases like we can today on the internet. I was so curious about everything. But, you know, I used to have to be nibby and ask people about things I was curious about. I would have never met most of our neighbors if I had the internet and all the answers to my childish questions. “Mrs. Jones, why does that man drive into your garage in the middle of the night almost every night and then leave right before I get on the bus? Is that your brother?” Ok, just kidding, but I could have just looked up “What is an affair” into the google search engine that would have answered all of my questions. But, how lonely that would have been for me. I would have salivated over the opportunity to travel all over the freaking world without leaving my chair………. Um, like I am doing now at age 55…….. Shit. I am a loser.

I have to admit that I really enjoy reading all of the search terms that pop up every day on my Word Press dashboard. For those of you who don’t blog here, we bloggers are able to see what search engine terms brought people to our site. For example,  I wrote a blog about a monkey, and tagged the post with words such as, “monkey,” “fun,”  laugh,” and  “pet store.”  Meanwhile, some stranger in Internet Land typed in the Google search bar, “monkey poop,” and it showed up as a search engine term.  That internet person would be able to read my blog post if he wanted to, or just say to himself, “Well, hell, this is about a monkey on someone’s head.  Monkeyshines  Where’s the monkey poop?

Of course, I didn’t know the monkey poop question poser was from. But, since I have started blogging, I have seen bizarre search engine terms pop up. I’d like to share some of them with you. And my blog posts that brought them here.

1. Was Helen Keller black slave- This poor person has no idea what is going on in life.  I wrote One Tough Cookie  about several strong personalities. Helen Keller was one of them. I’m pretty sure she wasn’t a black slave. I also wrote Play Time, where I discussed how my bff, Ramaine, and I used to play Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan. I always got to be Helen. Bad Karma. My hearing is shot nowadays.

2. How old is a 1 year old pig- I got this one yesterday. I just don’t know where to start with this one. I guess a one year old pig is different ages. Maybe the searcher wants to know how old a one year old pig is in human years. I have no idea, but here, pig googler, read one of my pig blog posts. And This Little Piggy…., Guinea Pig Children and an early post, Feeling Like an Oinker-Pig

3. Billy Joel fat ugly- Aw, that is just so not nice. Where you looking for a picture of Billy Joel? Because what you got was this. Lies That Bite Back

4. Fish guts stains your teeth- Um, okay…I wonder what this guy has been eating. Evidently his teeth are now black. Or some color. I just shuddered…again. My story is about fish guts, but someone was wearing them, not eating them. The Fish Head Story. It is also the second hardest I have ever laughed in my life. That’s right. I have them numbered.

5. Can nuns carry guns- Uh, oh, someone is in trouble or planning to make a hit on Bingo night at the church. I have a lot of posts about nuns. I am afraid of nuns. I do think they carry guns. They keep it in a thigh holster. I’m pretty sure. But, while you are contemplating robbing Sister Betrille, sit awhile and read about my nun stories. Snakes, Gasoline, and a Nun, Vickie With an E, Edgewood, and one of my favorites, Bring Back the Nuns  Arrrgh!

6. I have mosquito bite boobs 15- Oh, honey, I can relate. This blog post will not help whatsoever. But, I once was a mosquito bite boober. Sigh. Mosquito Bites

7. dirty potato- What was this person thinking when he searched for this? Maybe he forgot to wash potatoes before cooking and now thinks maybe bugs were all over them? I’m sure he is going to die. If you take your lap top to the Emergency room, you can read these posts while they take an x-ray of those dirty veggies in your stomach. Rats! is about how we fed a rat in our apartment to keep him from coming upstairs and eating our faces while we slept.  Or try, Old Wive’s Tales, where you need to know the importance of washing behind your ears.

8. boogey man just called me- Ok, let me get this right. The boogey man just called you, and you get off the phone and google, “Boogey man just called me.” Wow, you are a brave soul. I would have run upstairs and hid under my bed. Which would probably not be a good idea, because that’s where the boogey man is. Dear God, I’m not going to be able to sleep tonight. I Killed the Boogey Man

9. Wont be fooled April 1- I used to be the Queen of April Fool’s jokes. But, someone finally got me. Got me good. So, April Fool’s Day google searcher, read this post and feel for me. D-I-V-O-R-C-E

10. catsup is catsnip- Ew, and my God you are stupid. The whole Ketchup/catsup scenario is mind boggling I know. I wrote a post on ketchp sandwiches, which is not the same as catsup sandwiches, which is somehow cat related, I was told. I should google it. Ketchup Sandwiches

So, those are just a random sampling of some of the search terms I receive each day. I really like the idea of how tagging can bring more traffic to my blog. It’s a great idea. But, the next time you want to search for something and you don’t want anyone to know about it, just know that we know.

Here are some more search terms that are just weird as hell:

*What is it when I have white stuff on my gums near my molars.

*pee in my snowsuit

*video girls in mud

*vomiting hid in nightstand

*the longest poop in the world

*ant bit lips

*detergent poison how to poison

*green snot infection

*stuck his tongue down my throat

*is eating paint chips still bad

*Hitler had son Jimmy Hitler

*armpit smells like garlic

*pet dead dog infreezer til ground thaws out bury

Yes, search terms are interesting, that’s for sure.

I remember the very first thing I did a search on when I got the internet……Wooly worms. Do you remember what you searched for?

A Letter to French People on President’s Day

Monday, February 20, 2012

Dear French people everywhere,

Hi. I teach fourth grade in a small, country school in West Virginia. As some people know, that is in the western part of Virginia. But, we sort of are our own state. As a fourth grade teacher, part of my job is to teach Social Studies. Now, I realize that the textbook people only put in the books what they want to put in there, so my facts may be a bit off. But, my intentions are swell.

Today is President’s Day. Banks and post offices are closed today. Some schools are closed. I do think my garbage is going to be picked up this morning, but it’s nothing you have to worry about. But, today is the day when we honor George Washington. His birthday is February 22. Well, it is now called Presidents’ Day, originally known as Washington’s Birthday. Someone complained that since Abe Lincoln’s birthday is February 12,  that they should be combined for one big hybrid of a birthday party. So, President’s Day falls on the third Monday of February. This year Presidents’ Day falls on February 20, 2012.

Ok, but that is not why I’m writing. I am writing today  to the French people of France, Canada, and to the pockets of French people hanging out in New Orleans and any place called Louisville, to thank you for letting us have the opportunity to celebrate Georgie’s birthday. Your ancestors were nice people. Really nice people.

Now, you have to understand that I have to teach the textbook. Sort of. Sure, I let my kids know what a nut case Christopher Columbus was, and how Amerigo Vespucci may have told little white lies about his adventures, but I teach what I know. And I make up the rest.

The French basically came to the Americas for beaver fur. I guess. Maybe. Oh, my goodness, though, how they loved trapping!  From what my textbook tells me, their route was mainly down the St. Lawrence River. The British, on the other hand, were swatting mosquitoes further south in Jamestown, years after a whole colony disappeared from Roanoke. The only thing left behind was a carving on a post or tree that simply read, CROA. I personally think they were trying to write, “Croak,” as in they all died. The last colonist, God love him, just didn’t have enough strength to write that final letter. Well, ok, I guess there was a Croatoan tribe nearby, so historians seem to think that is what someone was trying to write. But, you know, if one group disappears from the area, why would you try to go there again?  Gluttons for punishment, those British were.

But, the first French explorers made friends with the Native Americans and learned all about hunting, fishing, and this will be important in a little bit, fighting. So, they hung out. Made hats made out of beavers. Meanwhile, the colonists are pushing westward. The Native Americans are pissed because their hunting ground is disappearing and they just really were tired of the colonists sneaking at night, stealing their crops because they didn’t realize that, duh, maybe they should have planted stuff when they arrived. The first colonists to arrive in the new land were not so bright.

To the French, the Ohio Valley was an important link between France’s holdings in Canada and Louisiana. The British saw it as an area for trade and growth.  By about 1750, the French had moved to make their claim to the Ohio Valley stronger. They sent soldiers into the region to drive out the British traders. They also began building a line of forts near the eastern end of the valley.

But, both sides decided they wanted the Ohio Valley. The French began building a series of forts in the disputed land. In 1753, Lieutenant Governor Robert Dinwiddie of Virginia (the name always makes my students giggle), was pissed. He said this was like an act of war.  So, he sent a young Georgie Washington with a letter to the French that they had to leave the area. How dare they build forts in the land that they wanted to eventully steal from the Indians. Washington headed over the Appalachian Mountains, all by his lonesome, and delivered the message.

He knocked on the fort’s door. (I’m making this part up because my textbook doesn’t tell me where he went when he delivered the message. So, you know, I am improvising.)

“Hey, um, yeah, hello…..My name is George Washington. I’m 21 and new to this. I have a message from Lt. Governor Robert Dinwiddie (the French giggled) Hey, um, you guys are going to have to leave. You can’t build forts in this area.”

“Go home, Georgie,” said the French guy who answered the fort door. “We are not leaving. Go away,  you silly boy.”

Well, they could have captured him or killed him, but they let him go. They could have even laughed at him for coming such a long distance with no real back up, only to leave without even as much as a cup of coffee. So, Washington had to sleep somewhere, right? You see all those places that used to say, “Washington slept here.” Well, uh, yeah, because Dinwiddie made him travel so damn much.

Dinwiddie was not happy with the response from the fort building French. He sent a small force of soldiers from Virginia. Their orders were to build a fort at the Forks of the Ohio River, where the city of Pittsburgh now stands. Two can play this game, dammit.

Forts at Forks of Ohio.png

 Where the hell is the fort?

The Virginians had barely finished the fort when the French attacked it. The French drove off the Virginians and built a larger fort on that site. They called it Fort Duquesne, after some French guy named Duquesne. The French didn’t care for the Colonial look, evidently, and wanted a more Woodsy look to their fort. Unaware of the French attack, Dinwiddie sent young George once again to the Forks of the Ohio River to reinforce the Virginian’s fort. So, Washington didn’t know this, because his internet was getting spotty reception. He was all set to get to the fort with supplies, ready to make the fort pretty and maybe hang some curtains. Can you imagine if he actually got to the fort, and wondered why the key didn’t open the door? Or something like that.

So, Washington left Williamsburg with an army of 150 Virginians. On their way to the fort, the Virginians surprised a small group of French soldiers on patrol. Thinking “we might be attacked by considerable forces,” Washington later wrote, they built a makeshift fort that they called Fort Necessity. Because, well, it was necessary.  Within days a large force of more than 600 French soldiers and 100 indian allies attacked Fort Necessity. Washington and his men surrendered in what turned out to be the opening battle of the French and Indian War. And guess what? The French let Washington and his soldiers return to Virginia.

“Go home, Georgie.” they said in a thick, French accent. (Ok, I’m taking liberties with the facts once again.) “Haven’t you learned your lesson, little boy? We are the French, and you are……not.”

Now, that makes two times that the French let George Washington go. They could have killed him. But, they didn’t. The next thing you know, Washington is fighting alongside Braddock. The French and Indian War. I don’t know why they called it this, because the French did not fight the Indians.

In April of 1755, General Edward Braddock was ordered to capture Fort Duquense. Oh, God, here we go again. He and more than 1,800 british and colonial soldiers began the long trip to the fort. He invited George along as an advisor. I mean, why wouldn’t he? George knew the route blind folded by now.  Well, they made it as far as nearby Fort Necessity, when they met up with a force of about 900 French and Indian soldiers. Those damn French and Indians fired upon them from trees and boulders. What the hell? The British were used to open field fighting, so this threw them for a loop. They had never fought an enemy this way before. They “broke and ran,” Washington later wrote, “as sheep before the hounds.”  We call that AWOL nowadays. When the battle ended, two thirds of the British were dead or wonded. Braddock was killed.

I should mention that the British should have caught on fairly quickly that bright red uniforms and a drummer making a racket would maybe give the French the heads-up that they were coming. Just sayin. Quit the damn rat-a-tat-tat, for God’s sake. You need to be quiet, stupid Red-coats.

It doesn’t say what happened to Washington after this battle, but he somehow managed to limp home. Was this guy lucky, or what? Some historians mention that Washington was standing close to Braddock when he was killed. It was just wasn’t a good day for Eddie Braddock.

So, French people, your ancestors could have easily killed Washington at least three times. But, they didn’t. If they had, we wouldn’t have the cool quote about Washington choppping down the cherry tree. Denzil would not have a last name. We wouldn’t have Mount Vernon. Washington DC may very well be called DC or Columbia District. Thousands of streets would go nameless. Washington, Pennsylvania, would be called Braddock or Necessity, or something totally different. There would never have been a crossing of the Delaware. Hell, maybe we would never be a nation because his army would not have been there. This is like It’s A Wonderful Life, starring George Washington as George Bailey.

So, yeah, thank you, French people, for letting me teach about Georgie Washington, father of our country.

This period of history is my favorite time period to teach. And I have my fourth graders write pretend thank you cards to the French every year after we study this.

If you give me an address maybe we will mail them for real.

                                                                                                           Sincerely,

V. Mendenhall, fourth grade Social Studies teacher and occasional smart ass

Bologna Fishing

I don’t know if I am much of a camper. We just didn’t camp out much when I was little. I can’t even imagine the Mendenhall family, aka the Griwsolds, sitting around the campfire, singing Kumbaya. I imagine it would go something like this:

Mom: “Elwood! Elwood!…….Where did that man go? ……I need you to put up this tent…..Elwood!…….I’m telling you, when they were passing out brains, your father thought they said, “train” and left…….Elwood!!………………Well, we are just going to have to go home.”

Elwood- (2 miles away, press camera in hand). “Ahhh, just look at this beautiful tree!” (Takes pictures of the probable pine tree from different angles. Can’t hear Mom because he has wandered purposely away from the camp.)

Vickie- “Mom, look what I found! (Holding a skunk.) Can it sleep with us in the tent? I think he is lonely.”

Cheryl- Cheryl is still in the car, having another one of her famous temper tantrums. We can hear her muted screams through the rolled up car windows. “I HATE YOU…….STUPID MOM…..I HATE YOU…….” .BLAH BLAH BLAH SCREAM SCREAM SCREAM KICK THE BACK SEAT REPEATEDLY…….SILENCE…………POUTING……….

David- (Holding a stick, trying to wittle with a butter knife) Smiling…”This is fun.”

No, I can’t even imagine camping back then. My dad was a scoutmaster, so he used to go camping all of the time. It’s just when Mom was thrown into the mix that Dad just wanted no part of it. My dad was always “damned if he did and damned if he didn’t.” That was his motto. My mom was one of those rolling pin wives. Bitch bitch bitch. Dad was Wally Cox. Wally Cox was a mild-mannered, soft spoken actor, aka the voice of Underdog. “There’s no need to fear, Underdog is here!” Well, except my sweet dad sounded just like Ronald Reagan.

So, needless to say, the Mendenhall family rarely went camping. To compensate for our outdoor challenged lifestyle, my dad built a playhouse in the backyard. I know you are probably picturing a little playhouse nestled in a tree line on the edge of the property. Oh, no. This playhouse was as soon as you opened the back door.  Down three steps, turn left and Voila! A cabin…..for camping. Swell.

I went camping when I was in the Campfire girls. Campfire girls were like the Girl Scouts, but we had campfires. They had Samoa cookies to sell while we put marshmallows on the end of whittled sticks. Well, most of the girls put their marshmallows over the fire. Not me. That was gross…and black. Who the hell wants to eat charbroiled marshmallows. And then some older girl came up with a bright idea.

image via whatscookingamerica.net

“Hey, Susie, I see you are eating grahamn crackers. Can I have one?  And you, Cindy Lou, I see that chocolate bar you are eating. Can I have a small section?  Next thing you know, the older camper put a melted marshmallow and a piece of chocolate between a graham cracker sandwich and ate the damn thing.

“Hmmmmm, I wish I had “some more.” And the rest is history.

image via wikipedia

You believe me, right?

Well, I wasn’t much of a Campfire camper. While walking to the pool one day in my bathing suit, clothing wrapped in my towel, my underpants fell out of my towel and onto the ground. Everyone laughed at me, and I wanted to cry. I sent a postcard home to my mom that I wanted to come home. How funny, because I lived like ten minutes from the camp and we were probably only there for two nights at the most, maybe. I was home before the postcard even arrived.

The next time I went camping was when I was in love. My boyfriend, (future husband, future ex-husband) nicknamed Magoo in my posts, was a list maker, so we had everything you could possibly think of. He even had cut wood on the top of his car. We were, afterall, going to a National forest, so they would probably frown on cutting down trees for fire wood. The first time we went camping, Magoo had everything packed in so tightly you couldn’t add even a spoon (just a slight exaggeration). He had a hatch back, and when he slammed it down to shut, the window burst. He didn’t check to make sure the damn hatch back would close without hitting something. No problem. Magoo took out several black garbage bags, duct tape, and after a few minutes we were on our way. Well, after I swept the glass off to the side of the curb.

We usually went with another couple. The first time we went camping, we took Brent and Jeannie with us. Brent was Magoo’s best friend. We drove to the Monongahela State Forest in our wild wonderful West Virginia mountains. I know West Virginia gets a bad rap, but it is so beautiful in the mountains. Breathtaking, really. The first time out we were hunting for a place called The Sinks of Gandy, a cave that we wanted to explore. I was all about seeing some bats.

image via cavingintro.net

The Sinks of Gandy are a tunnel that the Gandy Creek flows into and disappears into the mountain.  It is on private property, and is actually hard to find. We weren’t all the way stupid. Just partially stupid. Years later, my son was a guide for a summer adventure camp, and made numerous trips to the Sinks.

But, anywho, the next thing you know, we are on a gravel road, stopped because a bunch of sheep were standing in the road, looking at us. Um, Magoo, where the hell are we?

So, we never found the Sinks of Gandy, and drove around forever. Where the hell are we going to camp? We finally found a sign for the Monongahela National Forest, dropped down the mountain, and a beautiful sight unfolded right in front of our eyes. It was beautiful.

 The Monongahela National Forest at Laurel Fork Campground

I immediately fell in love with the place. And there was no one else in the whole area for the first part of the long weekend. There was a large stream that ran by us, and a trail head in case we wanted to take a hike. It was perfect. It was Fourth of July weekend, so we had a cooler full of picnic food and bags and bags of snacks. The boys, who had been at fishing cabins throughout their lives, remembered the time they were stuck eating nothing but hot dogs for 2 days, so they packed a lot of food.

 Since I was not a camper, and the damn campground did not have any bathroom facilities whatsoever (that we knew of at that time), I made the guys build a bathroom area. I don’t even want to try to explain it, but it consisted of finding three small trees close to each other, a large piece of cloth (told you the man could pack), a hammer, and a couple of nails. Dig a hole, and a “dry creek bed” and we had ourselves a bathroom. Magoo even brought toilet paper and little garbage bags. Also, it looked like rain, so the guys put up a makeshift canopy, since we thought we would find a place that had a shelter or something. So, we improvised and it was fun.  Sort of. I couldn’t go past 10:00 in the morning without taking a shower. My skin starts to crawl, like I have cooties or something. I HAVE to take my shower. So, I walked over to the creek, walked in with my tennis shoes, and took a creek bath. Washed my hair and everything. It was so freaking cold. I thought I would turn to ice in the middle of the stream. Next thing you know, Magoo and Brent come running in, holding soap, laughing, and sat right down in the creek. They, too, I thought, must feel cooties after 10:00. Jeannie didn’t care. She put a scarf on her head and claimed that she liked being a dirtball. So be it.

So, yeah, it was a fun weekend.

Well, until the guys disappeared.

We were supposed to go fishing, and I hadn’t been fishing since I was little and went with my dad. I used to go all of the time, and either fished, or chased dragonflies around the lake. To this day, dragonflies are my favorite insects. I knew you would want to know that. The guys wanted to go outside the Monongahela Forest to find more firewood somewhere. And yes, Magoo had a saw with him. So, they hopped into the car without a back window and off they went.

And they never came back. Well, that’s what it felt like. It was at least four hours. We were pissed. So, we decided that we were going to fish all by ourselves. We didn’t need a man to put a worm on our hook. We could be hookers. (she cracks herself up) Well, hell, they were all gone. We were wormless. We had no dough balls. We had nothing.

Well, we did have bologna.

Jeannie and I cracked up, as we took a slice of bologna and tore it to look like a worm. A bologna worm. If colorful little bobbers or lures attracted fish, wouldn’t a worm dangling off of the hook?  It was a brilliant, hooker idea.

No it wasn’t.

The bologna hung on the hook for just a few seconds, and would then slide through the hook and fall into the creek.  We tried it a “couple” of times. Defeated, we went back under the canopy (that leaked later when it stormed), and just started drinking. We did get scared when two guys walked very close by our campsite. We saw them coming and we were very frightened. We ran to the tent and zipped ourselves up and looked out the little screened area. We were going to get raped. No doubt about it. All we had to defend ourselves was some bologna and a flashlight. But, wait. Magoo brought a handgun. (What did I tell you?) And it was in the tent. I could kill them.

Well, at the time, we had no idea that the start of a long hiking trail started right beside our tent. We knew it was nearby, but the trail went right by the tent. They were simply two hikers who were following the trail.

Our mountain men finally came back. They got lost. And they had no firewood. Worthless.

Jeannie and I were already drunk. Well, I had two beers, so I was sloshed.

The guys were so fixing us dinner that night. Magoo opened the cooler.

“Hey, what happened to those two packs of bologna?”

I guess I didn’t mention that we made two packs of bologna worms. We really thought we would get one to work.

We were hookers working our corner of the creekbed.

Valentine’s Day Haikus

Student’s Valentine Haiku’s Made My Day

You are a good friend

I’m really just saying that.

I do not like you.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Looks like some of them decided to gang up on me. A few of these are my favorites from last year.

Hey Ms. Mendenhall

You don’t look like you are old

You need a boyfriend.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ms. Mendenhall needs

some roses for her new house

maybe a husband

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ms. Mendenhall is

lonely. She says she is not.

She is a liar.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Teacher after school

go home, take a bubble bath

You don’t need no man.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You are so happy

You are the best teacher here

You are real funny

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Where’s your valentine?

My grandpa needs a girlfriend

But he is so bald.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We found out today

that you are 54. Wow

that is very old.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And then there is always one…

Is that Cupid’s bow?

Yes and he farted on it.

That is very weird.

Three rubber ducks in foam bath

Image via Wikipedia

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And one that doesn’t follow the 5-7-5 form and is also out there:

                      Happy Valentines, Slug

                      You are very greasy and slimy

                      You are a naked snail.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Nickel

Back in the seventies, the  campus of Fairmont State had a student union building where everyone congregated  between classes. It was called the Nickel, because we had nickel a beer night about every night. Ok, that’s a lie. But, you could buy a glass of draft beer for a nickel, and maybe once a week had “Nickel Night.” Or it may have been once a semester. I know it was more than once a year. Let’s just go with once a night. So, yeah, we were a bunch of drunks.

The Nickel had a little game room on one side people rarely used, and a snack bar on the other side. I ate a hamburger and french fries almost every day. My freshman year I ate in the cafeteria because I lived on campus, but the rest of the time I ate food clogged with cholesterol about every day.

 There was a room in the back of the Nickel  called, The Greek Room. Sounds a little politically incorrect, I guess, but this huge room was just for frat boys and the girls who needed fifty bff’s. I was one of those needy, goofy girls. You could not go into the back room unless you were a Greek. There were a group of football players who did not join a fraternity, and they called themselves, Group Five. I don’t know why. Maybe there were only five of them in the group, but they sat out in the front with the rest of the non-Greekers and made fun of those who walked through. Well, if they didn’t know you or like you. I thought it was sort of fun walking through them to get to the back. We strutted through between classes. Little did I know how much we were hated until I started hating us, too. I will save that for a later post.

I joined Sigma Sigma Sigma during the second semester of my freshman year. Or maybe it was during my sophomore year.  I know that I sat out at least a semester because my friends and I were bombarded during rush week, or whatever the hell it was called, and we just needed to step back and take a look at each of the five sororities and to see if we even wanted to join. We heard terrible things about each sorority. But, the worst was reserved for the Tri-Pigmas.

“You don’t want to join them. Sure they are all beautiful, but they KNOW they are…… They are just a bunch of rich bitches…..They will love you to your face and then tear you apart behind your back…….Their daddy takes care of them and they all drive expensive cars…

Yikes. They sounded harsh. The present-day Mean Girls, College Edition. But, they seemed sooo nice and they really wanted us to join.

Cover of "Mean Girls (Special Collector's...

Cover via Amazon

So, yeah, I was stupid and joined. It was fun, really. I had a blast the first three years. We weren’t mean or bitches. I even wore a t-shirt that read, “I’m not conceited, I’m perfect” to make fun of myself. All it did was make me look like a bitch. Some things always backfire. And my grades suffered too, because I wasn’t good at multi-tasking.  I was partying and not studying. Something had to give. Goodbye 4.0, hello 2.6. Pathetic. I blame it on sorority life and the fact that I had no spine and would never say no.

“Sure, I’ll go with you.”……”Hell, yeah, let’s drive over to Ocean City on Wednesday,”…………………”I can’t believe I forgot to go to that class all semester”…..

I could also be a doormat. “You need an abortion and need someone with a car to take you to Pittsburgh? Sure, I’ll take you.”……”Yeah, I’m going home this weekend. Sure, I can drive 40 minutes out of my way to take you home. Afterall we are sisters.” I was a no gas money given doormat.

So, back to the Nickel. Between classes, we headed for the back room. I had to get past the basketball players, though. I don’t know why, but several of the black basketball players liked to torment me. They at first, would say things to me when I would walk past. “Hey, Blondie, how are you doing today?” Well, I don’t know why, but the three of them scared the crap out of me. I don’t know if it is because they were so tall and I was so short and only weighed 98 pounds, or that they were black and there was only one black person in our whole high school and I was scared. Stupid, really, but ignorance leads to all kinds of fears. I feared the black basketball players. One day, I heard them laugh at me. “Look how fast she walked past us.” So, the torment began. They would block my path for a few seconds and just smile down at me. They were all tall freaking trees and I was walking through their scary forest each day. I was little red riding in the hood.

Once back in the safety of my frat boy and sorority bitch home, I would talk to my “sisters” and watch the TKE fraternity boys play Spades. Back in the mid-seventies, if you didn’t play Spades, you might as well just drop out of college.

Aceofspades.svg

I really don’t know how I learned how to play. I have horrible listening skills. Maybe someone taught me and showed me how to play while actually in the middle of a game. That’s the best way to learn. Just reading the directions would not cut it with me. The wikipedia rules that I just read made my head spin. How to Play Spades in 25 Easy Steps  After I learned how to play Spades, I was pretty damn good. If you want to play with the boys, you have to know how to play. So, yeah, Spades was a definite game that was played in the Greek Room.

 One game that three of the TKE brothers played on semester was called, “How Fast Does Vickie Eat?” Evidently, without me knowing, they must have watched how quickly I devoured my cheeseburger and fries. I was lucky if I weighed 96 pounds in college. I looked anorexic, but everyone knew that wasn’t true, because I could inhale food and never excused myself afterwards to put my finger down my throat. I could eat and not gain an ounce. But, I never realized that I was a fast eater. I guess someone noticed it one day, and so then they set out to watch me every day. I had no idea they were watching me. Until they brought me a homemade trophy.

I guess I was in the running for “Fastest Food Guzzler,” a made up contest that no one knew they entered. There were three people that they were placing bets on who could eat the fastest. They timed each person, me included. They had to wait until we all had ordered the same food. Dear God, did they not have anything better to do than to watch people eat?

I guess I won. Um, thanks? They told me that they timed me over and over again and that no one came close to how fast I ate. They made me feel like I should be proud. I felt like a pig. Thank God I didn’t look like one. I was a skinny piglet.

The next year I was handed another homemade trophey. Oh, come on now! I was so humiliated by the eating time trial that I learned to slow down and not eat like I had two minutes to live. But, this wasn’t another eating contest. This was a different kind of contest.

Looks like five of the TKE boys took it upon themselves to watch girls on campus. They gathered information and got back with each other and came up with a list. And I was on their list. Just great. What the hell did I do now? And these weren’t even the same goobers who gave me the first one.

The words on the homemade trophy simply read:  BBOC    Vickie Mendenhall

They handed it to me with big smiles.

“Ok, guys. What is this? What does BBOC mean?”  I was semi-pissed.

“You have the Best Butt On Campus.” And with that said, they smiled and walked away.

I guess the TKE brothers found the best lips, the best bust, the best hair, the best legs, the best smile, the best eyes, and the best butt on campus. And of all of the butts, they thought my butt was best.

I haven’t won much after that. I won a jar of jelly once while playing some grocery store bingo. I won a $2 scratch off lottery ticket. I won a lottery for jury duty, but was told that wasn’t a good thing. Damn.

So, yeah, I have fond memories of the Nickel, that wonderful student union on the campus of Fairmont State College. I learned how to play Spades, how to eat quickly, and I learned that I had the best butt on campus.

Too bad that honor wouldn’t make a difference at the end of the semester when grades came out.

 I guess I could have said, “But, Mom, I won a contest. See the trophy?”

Yes, I loved the Nickel.  College would have been so much more fun, however, if there weren’t any classes.

Abbreviations, Contractions, Acronyms, and Short People

We have become a society of abbreviators. Our words are abbreviated. Our actions are abbreviated. I’m sure everyone has heard the phrase,”as a crow flies.” That means a shortcut or diagnonally in some crow talking circles. And that’s what we have all become. We are crows. Well, that’s not all that bad. Sure,  maybe  crows enjoy pecking dead things on the side of the road. I know some people who are peckers. (She laughed writing that) But, all in all, crows are intelligent birds, and if they  have found a shortcut home, more power to the them. God bless us, for being stupid. Crows don’t follow a road, Goofball Head. They don’t think in those terms. We do.

“Well, if I was a crow, I guess I would live diagonally about, um, 6 blocks over. Yeah, so I live 6 blocks from here……..as a crow flies.”

I was a smart ass when I was in college and replied to someone who said that with a “How close for a blue jay?”  He just looked at me like I was stupid. I’m not stupid….. I’m a crow.

But, we have become a nation of shortcutters. But, it didn’t start with our generation. People abbreviated long before we knew what the hell “LOL” meant.

It all started with contractions. They are similar to an abbreviation, but not really. “Hey, Bob, You know, I’m getting tired of talking and writing. I think I am going to shorten my words. Do ya see how I already did it?  I shortened ” I am” to “I’m.”   It’s amazing how he took a very long word and shortened it.  And that’s how it started. A very lazy man came up with a way for all of us to be lazy. We have a whole list of ass-long words that we have shortened into contractions:

it’s - it is

don’t - do not

you’re – you are

isn’t - is not

we’ve-we have

Who would not want to shorten their words?  Who wouldn’t want to shorten their words?  See how easy that was? I will get done with this post so much faster now.

Since I am a school teacher, I have noticed that buses are now shorter. Well, some of them are. There are short buses because, well, they are special. I will leave it at that.

Yes ,we have become oh so lazy.  We can blame our great grandparents…………..and poets. Poets used “Tis” a lot.  Like that wild party girl, Emily Jane Bronte:

Tis moonlight, summer moonlight, All soft and still and fair; The solemn hour of midnight Breathes sweet thoughts everywhere…”

And Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven (Which is like a crow, but maybe even smarter.)

 ‘Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door; Only this, and nothing more.”

Tis means “it is”. Wait…. So does it’s. No wonder foreign people who want to learn English hate us. We have a screwed up language.

And we all know the famous, “Twas the Night Before Christmas.”  Abbreviated.

Let’s take a look at some abbreviations that people used long ago and then some that we use now. Back then, people didn’t have the luxury to burst into laughter on paper like we can now. LOL

P.S.-  This means post script, which I didn’t know for longest time. The term comes from the Latin post scriptum,  meaning “written after.” When I was in elementary  school and we first used P.S., I thought it meant like “Pssssssst, hey listen to this, there’s more.” My teacher never told us what it meant. It’s her fault that I got laughed at when I was in high school when I raised my hand to answer, “What does P.S. mean?” with a “Pssssssst.” I think I was called a space cadet….. No, I was a crow.

 RSVP- Hey, we need to hear back from you. Respond soon very please. Or something like that. That’s what I said it was. Again, not my fault. Sucky teacher. RSVP comes from the French phrase, répondez s’il vous plaît.  I know French very well and translated, it really means,” respond with your plate.”

TNT- Pulled this one out of my hat, didn’t I?  Well, I thought of TNT only because I grew up with it. Wile E. Coyote lived at my house and was always trying to kill the Road Runner. He had a bunch of Acme products to use on the little speedy bird. “TNT” was written on the box.

I had no idea what TNT really meant. It was dynamite, but not really.  You light the string and things blow up. TNT actually stands for trinitroluene. Nobody cares about that.

lb- pounds. This abbreviation just pissed me off. It makes no sense whatsoever. It should be pd. Everyone knows that. I remember getting this marked wrong when we had a measurement test in fourth grade.  I remember it because stupid Miss Emler  wrote on the board, “John weighs 200 lbs.” She wanted to show how pounds is abbreviated in a sentence. Well, I missed that part because I was thinking about this imaginary John fellow, and was hoping he was not in fourth grade somewhere. Totally missed the point and missed it on the test. Fat John kept me from having a perfect paper, dammit.

Boo- Right now I am teaching my fourth graders about the events leading up to the Revolutionary War. We read about how people gathered in the streets of Boston, yelling, “No taxation without representation.” The British to tend to make a few words into pages of long words, and it spilled over to their descendants. So, I had my class chant that phrase three times.  You could not tell what the hell they were saying. It sounded like mumbled gibberish and they knew it. That’s when my lies kicked in and I told them how that phrase evolved over years to be. “Boooo” when we aren’t happy with something. Makes sense. We Americans shortened, “We are mad as hell, and we don’t like this one iota” to “Boooo!” Means the same damn thing, only shortened. Boo  is an expression of disgust, dissatisfaction, or disapproval.

XL- Sigh. Extra Large. You know, this sucks. Why doesn’t it just say on the label, “Bigger than Large.” It would make us previous size 0′s feel better about gaining 5 pounds every freaking year to the point where you have to wear an XL and draw pictures of pigs to put on your refrigerator in an effort to keep you from eating. One last sigh.

tv- Easy one. Short for television. I don’t think anyone ever says television anymore. “I think I will watch television right now.” Nope. Doesn’t work anymore. “We are heading to Walmart to buy a new television set.” (Thought I would try it one more time. Still doesn’t work.)

IQ-  “He has the IQ of a worm.” “He has an intelligence quotient of a worm.” Well, I did feel smarter writing the second one. The only time I use the word quotient  is when I am teaching division and I don’t use it that much becauss they have a hard enough time dividing.

St.- I don’t know about this one. Why would anyone abbreviate a saint? It’s like taking away their sainthood. Right, Saint Christopher? Saint Christopher was the patron saint of many many things, such as athletes, mariners, and travelers. He was against lightning, pestilence, bookbinders, epilepsy, floods, and um, fruit dealers. I’m really not making this stuff up. I wonder if a fruit dealer didn’t give him the correct change or his watermelon had too many seeds. You just can’t trust fruit dealers.

I.O.U.- No brainer. I owe you some money.

Yes, we are a society of abbreviators. And we are also shorter than usual. Our height is indeed, abbreviated. Studies show that we are getting shorter than our hunter-gatherer ancestors. So, everything is shorter. Except for maybe skirts. They were at their shortest in 1974. I know, because I wore one of them. You could not bend over.

So, go ahead and head home as a crow flies. RSVP to a friend’s wedding. Wear high heels to make you taller. Sit in front of the tv and watch your favorite show. Write a poem that starts with Tis.  Call a married woman, Ms. or an unmarried woman Mrs. and see if they correct you. You can get short changed at the fruit dealer like our friend, St. Christopher. Abbreviations are all around us.

Etc. etc.

L is for Quitters

I have been playing Words with Friends and have become quite addicted to the little game. I can understand how Alec Baldwin just couldn’t put it away. I play it from Facebook. I’ve always been a Scrabble player, and I didn’t think this would match what Scrabble offers. When I first started playing, I thought you had to sit there and play it. I mean, that’s what you do with Scrabble. But, no. I found out that you can play a word, go out to eat, watch a movie, and then play your next word. It would suck if your opponent had no such plans, and was waiting for you. But, after playing a couple of times, you finally figure out that you can lead a life, be a mother, wash clothes, AND play Word with Friends. But, I’m not writing about how wonderful the game is. Oh, it is wonderful. I’m writing about particular opponents who are just pissing me off.

They are pissing me off because it reminds me of games I played when I was little. My mom taught me how to play everything from 500 Rummy , Gin, chess, to Yahtzee and chinese checkers. As I have written numerous times, I was a hyperactive child, but games and strategy kept me in focus. I was all about the game. But now, my opponents, well, they weren’t in the same league as me. At eight years of age, I was a gaming professional, dammit, and I expected those who played with me to follow the rules. Just follow the rules.

It all started with Candy Land. If my sister was losing, she would quit. I would have my little gingerbread man close to the end, ready for a little gingerbread victory dance.  It would be exciting. Everyone likes to win. But then, she would simply stand up and make an exit.

“I quit. This is a stupid game.”  What the hell, stupid sister? You always finish what you start. I was hyperactive as that little cartoon dog that follows the huge Bulldog,  Spike, and I even knew that.  I was three  years older than she was, and she was an easy mark, but that is no excuse for a five year old. Get off the short bus and finish the damn game. But no. If was ahead by much, she would just stand up and quit.

Get back up and fight, soldier.

When we played Go to the Head of The Class, and if I was winning, she would quit. If we were playing Button, Button, Who’s Got the Button, and she was on a lower step, she would just get up and walk away. If we played Chutes and Ladders, she would pout for a while, and then get up and walk away. I mean, come on. It was Chutes and Ladders. That is one game that should be played to the very end.  Well, like all freaking games. What the hell is wrong with you? Games are meant to be played until the end. End of discussion. Like my mom always said:

Quitters never prosper.

Dear God, I think she said that several times a week. I didn’t know what the hell “prosper” meant for the longest time, but that didn’t matter. I learned about context clues all on my own. Quitters never something…..Quitters never won…..Quitters were always losers. Yeah, that’s it.  Quitters were losers. My sister was a loser. God, I wish someone would have thought to put their finger in an L shape over their forehead years ago. I would never have had to talk. There were a lot of losers in my household.

So, why do people quit? Did the ClemsonTigers  leave the football field during the Orange Bowl when the West Virginia Mountaineers were pummeling them 70-33?  No. They stayed until the very end. Thank goodness, or we wouldn’t be able to put these billboards up on the interstate near Morgantown. I love my WVU.

Yeah, it's a real sign.

It reminds me of the kid who brings the ball and if doesn’t get his way, snatches the ball and walks home. Cry baby.  But, for the most part, sports teams stay until the very end.  My son had a ten-run rule when he played baseball when he was younger. But, no one was quitting. They were just sent home early, dignity intact abeit tail behind their legs.

I did get confused about the whole quitting scenario because my mom used to always tell me when I got in trouble:

             Quit while you’re ahead

Understand my confusion? First she was telling me all Kung Fu Caine-like that “Quitters never prosper” and then she turns around and tells me to “Quit while I’m ahead.”  I’m thinking my mom may have been wise, but not all the way. She was a Sybil quoter, split personality and all. I should add that she used to also say, “Cheaters never prosper.” No one prospered with that woman.

 I guess my rant should make a sharp point. Well, let me back up. Now that I have been playing Words with Friends for a few weeks now, I have gotten used to the people I play. I can tell which ones use other sources because, I mean, what the hell does “distome” mean? Well, I will tell you what it means. It is a parasitic flatworm. Ok, sure maybe Player #1 had an opponent play it and they remembered to play it with me. I guess I shouldn’t complain. I am using new words that I have learned.  I’m not talking about the vocabulary geniuses/Scrabble dictionary users.  Right now, I’m talking about the quitters.

I am currently playing twenty people. Well, sixteen people, since my son and I are in the middle of four games. But, I have two opponents that I play a lot who just quit if there are only about seven tiles left and I am way out in front. Then they immediately start another game. What? Oh my God, is my sister on the other end?  Why do you do this? I don’t do it when someone is beating the hell out me, 419-302. I know I’m going to lose. But, I don’t quit. I play to the very end. Sure, I may send a friend a note that reads: “Is there any stopping you?” like I did today to a friend I just can not beat. She is good. And she probably appreciates the fact that I don’t quit.

I never quit anythi

                                                                         

Bubble Butt and Other Terms of Endearment

Valentine’s Sucky Day is approaching, and you know, I am just not a fan. I don’t think it is because I am Valentineless. I was married 25 years and dated Magoo for five years before that. So, I had a valentine. But, not really.  He never called me a term of endearment. Well, he had one. And I will get to that later.

When you are young and you are falling in love for the very first time, the little things that your partner calls you are endearing. Well, actually,  you can be any age, really, since love is love no matter how you look at it. The only things that are different are the names that you call each other. Well, and the gifts that you receive. Sigh.  See  And That’s Why I Hate Valentine’s Day

Who doesn’t want to be called, “Sweetie?”  It’s one of my favorite terms of endearment. I use it when I talk to my son and daughter. “Hey, Sweetie, how ya doing today?  When my daughter, Alex, was little, I would call her Boobah. I call my cat, Whiskers, Bubby. I don’t know why. She doesn’t look like a Bubby. What the hell is a Bubby anywho?  It just sounds loveable for some reason. I was never called Bubby. But, terms of endearments for children and pets are different. It’s cute. When you are in love, that little “Hi Cutie Pie” or “Good morning, Angel” touches your heart. Nothing touched mine.  Well, he called me “baboon” once in a while. Baboon. Like I was an ape. A hairy ugly ape. I didn’t understand. He said it with love, I guess. But, what kind of baboon?  I never asked him. He was throwing me a bone, after all.  I mean, why did you call me, “Baboon,” Magoo?

I mean, was it because you thought I was pretty? Baboons are pretty, right?

photo via msnbc.com

Was it because I was vocal and spoke my mind?

Or was it because I was friendly and never knew a stranger?

Or maybe you thought I  looked good, lounging by the pool

 

I must admit, I did have a nice butt.

 

I just couldn’t figure it out.  It just came out of the blue one day when he came home from work.

“Hey, Baboon.”  Um, hey……..Chimp?  What the hell?

But, he never called me “Sweetie.”  Not even once. He would call me Vickster or Vickie Rooney, and that’s about as sweet as it got. I don’t know, maybe deep down, maybe that’s why I hate Valentine’s Day. Call me something sweet, dammit.

My favorite all time television show was The Dick Van Dyke Show. I just really thought Rob and Laura Petrie really  loved each other. The first episode aired in 1961. I was young when I watched the show, but remember being confused when my mom told me they weren’t really married. What???  Um, they slept under the same roof, and there were double beds in the bedroom to prove it. I don’t know. They just really looked into each other’s eyes. I wanted that. I remember Laura used to call Rob, “Darling” all of the time.  The word just rolled off the tip of her tongue. Almost every episode ended with her sobbing, “Oh Robbbbb!” And , you know, they had that kid, Richie, but I don’t think they really loved him. He was just there.

The Dick Van Dyke Show Poster

I was at Walmart one time and I heard an older man call his wife, “Buttercup.”  And she just smiled the biggest smile. They had to be in their seventies. I wanted to hang out in the aisle to see if she called him anything.  I had a few I thought she would probably use, like “Dear” or “sweetheart.” Those were older terms of endearment. Actor Matthew McConaughey seems to call women, “Darlin” in some of his movies. Just like the character, Andie, in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. She used great words of endearment, such as “Benny Boo Boo,” “Sparky,” and when she tells Ben, “I love you, Binky…..but I don’t have to like you right now.”  Great quote.

As I googled “terms of endearment,” I found a forum from 2003 where people were posting their terms of endearments. Some of them were quite personal. And some of them were quite funny.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“I used to be her Chipmunk and she used to be my Angel. Now she’s that Bitch that ruined my life and I’m the Asshole who didn’t understand her or her needs.”

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“Sir….but then I have issues.”

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“He calls me “love” or “baby”–I call him “honey” or “baby.” Sometimes I’ll call him “darling” in a joking sort of way. For example: “darling, love of my life, fire of my loins… why are your dirty socks on the kitchen table?”

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“Treacle……….Treacle.”

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“I call him:
Pookie. Babe. Sweetie. Jerkwad.
He calls me:
Babe. Sweetie. Wingnut. Bitch.”

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“I call her “sweet fart”
She calls me “duckling” (phonetically, “duck ling” means “monkey’s ass” in Thai.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“I call her “my little pumpkin”…or kumquat…or other fruit. Or “My love” or “honey” or “Blender”
She calls me “dearest” or “Stud.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“After calling him a doodle bug once, he called me a rhinoceros beetle.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In a pinch? Don’t know what to call your true love? It should just really roll off the tip of your tongue. You can try:

Angel,  Daddy, Angel Face,  Boo, Apricot, Babe, Peaches, Baby Cakes, Baby Doll, Baby, Beautiful, Bella, Honeybun, Cutie Patootie, Dumpling, Doll, Sweet Cheeks, Snuggle Bunny, Hon, Sugar, Princess, Snookums, Cupcake, SweetHeart, Pumpkin, Sunshine, Muffin, Precious, and if you have no brain, Cuddly Wuddly.

So, yeah, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner.  Buy your love a gift. Oh, it doesn’t have to be much, because in the end, it is all about love. Just love. Hand the little token of love to her/him and add a little term of endearment.

Just don’t call her “Bubble Butt.”

It doesn’t work too well.

***********************************

So, what do you call your love?

The Grading Scale: E For Effort

I don’t know about this grading scale crap. I think we need to all get together and decide on one scale that is uniform. I mean, in elementary school,  if a kid gets a 64%, he gets a loser D. But,  if he later enrolls at a particular college and gets a 64% because he is still a loser, but now a loser frat boy, then he will get an F. That is really going to confuse him. More than figuring out what is a vowel and what is a consonant.

Our grading scale at most elementary schools is as follows:

90-100=A

80-90=B

70-80=C

60-70=D

0-60=F

I often wondered why there is no E on the grading scale. My mom used to say that I should get an “E for effort.” That sure made me feel good. It’s about as good as my husband telling my daughter that, “College isn’t for everyone.” But, why skip a letter? There is no E, yet we have a sixty point range for F-ers. (F-ers…That made me laugh.) I’m wondering if F really does stand for “failure,”  like I grew up thinking.  They can’t use the E because kids would maybe get confused and think they were doing something “Excellent.” But, one could say the same for an “F.” It could mean “fantastic.”

When I was in high school, we had numbers for our grading scale. Brooke High was a pretty progressive school.  The following is our numbers with the letter  equivalents:

 5=A

4=B

                                                                       3=C

                                                                       2=D

                                                                      1=F

I bet some of you were confused. A lot of people think that a “1″ should mean “You are number 1!” You would think that it would be on top. People wear a huge number 1 on their hand at football games. That’s a good thing. But, when you get a “1″ on a report card, that is bad. Life sucks.

Afterall, one is the loneliest number. It can be a loser number.  Like when you go to a restaurant by yourself and they call your name. “Loser, party of one.” Ok, so I heard that at Dirty Dicks restaurant when I was at Myrtle Beach. Still makes me laugh.

I don’t think many high schools used this numeral formula. It was weird thinking in any terms but numbers. So, when I went off to college, and had to deal with letters and a different grading scale, I was confused, and pissed.

“Excuse me, Dr. StupidHead, but I should have received an A for  British Lit. My average was a 92%.”

“Ms. Mendenhall, did you not read my syllables and general information at the beginning of the term? An “A” is 93%-100%.”

The hell you say? Well, hell no, I didn’t read your first day bullshit, Dr. Worm. I had sorority parties to attend.  Don’t  you professors know that we students have a lot on our plates?  You should have just told us the first day of school. We don’t read what we absolutely do not have to read. You should know that, dammit.

Another thing that I just don’t know how I feel about is the whole A+ stuff. If a student gets a 100%, they would most likely get a big ole A+ on their paper. But, isn’t that for above and beyond. If you get a perfect paper, isn’t an A sufficient?  I don’t give many pluses. Oh, I might if they have a 79%. I may give the student a C+, since it is oh so close to a B. But, I rarely give A+’s.

Some parents are quite concerned with grades. Maybe just a little too much. You have no idea how upset they get  if their child gets a “B.”

“I don’t understand, because my Johnny has always received straight A’s. We just don’t understand why all of a sudden he is getting a B.”

My make believe Johnny is just an amalgam of all the students I have each year. Oh, most of the parents are wonderful. Their children are wonderful. But, I get a knot in my stomach when it is time for parent teacher conference, so I think I am going to change my grading scale just to mess with them. They will not be able to figure out if their child is doing well or not. They won’t be able to blame me for anything, because they will have no idea what the hell is going on.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ms. Mendenhall’s Grading Scale

2011-2012

 Dear parents,

     I have reconfigured the grading scale to use with my fourth graders. I  believe that hard work is the only way to truly judge how a child is doing in my classroom. So, he will be graded on effort.

                                                                                                           E = Effort

If the child receives an E on his report card, it means that he is showing enough effort to receive an effort.

                                                                                                             EE=enough effort

If the child receives an EE on his report card, it means that he is showing enough effort.

EM=Embryo effort

If the child receives an EM on his report card, it means that he is just learning a skill, and is still at this stage, while others may be at another level, depending on their birth date. If your child is younger than 50% of the class, his effort may be younger.

                                                                                                                EL=Elastic effort

If the child receives an EL on his report card, it means that the effort is elastic. He moves ahead and he moves behind. He is showing an effort, even though it may be  embryonically elastic.

EF=Effusive effort

 If a child receives an EF on his report card, it means that his effort is effusing.

EMB=Embolism

If a child receives an EMB on his report card, it means that some obstacles stand in his way, yet through effort he may be able to work through the obstruction. The effort is effusing, through elasticized endeavors.

                                                                                                          EA=Eager effort

If a child receives an EA on his report card, it means that he is very eager about his effort. His effort is effusingly eager.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

After I give them a copy of the new rules, I think I will start off  with a quote that they will be able to digest later when they get home. It is from one of the brightest men of our time, Mr. Dan Quayle:

“If we don’t succeed, we run the risk of failure”

Yeah, that should screw with them for a few hours. Another thing I could do is talk about their child’s poor poor grades, and then say, “Oh, wait a minute. I’ve got another student’s records. Ok, here are your son’s.” And so a couple of “B’s” won’t sound so bad, compared to the previous 2 “D’s” and the rest “C’s”  loserville.

Yeah, I could totally mess with them.

Vickie with an E

I had a huge argument years ago with a girl over our first names. It was while I was attending college, circa 1976.  We were in a bar, so you know how drunken conversations can take an ugly turn. Especially when there is name calling.

I was standing in a crowded pub, creatively called, The Pub, minding my own business, when I heard someone yell, “Vickie!!” Well, since that is my name, I obviously looked to see who was calling for me. I had no idea who the person was, but I was on my second beer, so maybe it was my best friend. You first need to understand that I was what they call a “cheap date.” I would start giggling after only 1/2 of a beer, so it didn’t take much for me to become the self-proclaimed life of the party.  If I had more than three beers, and a microphone was nearby, I would become a comedian. I hang my head in embarrassment now. But, on that night, I became a drunken trial attorney. I am sure that is the best kind of trial lawyer. I argued my drunken case to the point where I was ready to take the LSAT the very next day.

Well, another “Vickie” went over and hugged the person who was yelling my name.  How cool! Another person with my name. I wonder if we are related. Ok, now you should understand by that comment that I may have had more than 1/2 beer. I guess the next day it would have made more sense if our LAST names were the same, duh. But, when she walked by me, I decided to say something.

“I heard him yell for you. My name is Vickie, too.”

Well, hell, I never personally knew anyone with my first name. I went to a high school with over 2,000 students, and not one of them was named Vickie. Oh wait. That’s a lie.  I can now think of two right off the top of my head. Well, that night, I thought I was the only one in the universe who had that first name. I was so excited.  She seemed excited, too. She answered me with a sweet smile.

“Cool. How do you spell your name?  I spell mine V-I-C-K-I.”

“I spell mine V-I-C-K-I-E.”

“Why? That sounds stupid.”  Obviously, she had more than 1/2 beer also. I was shocked that she could say that with a smile. And, also, how can the same name “sound” stupid? What an idiot. And to think she called me “stupid.” Well, she was stupider.

I had some hard ass sorority sisters nearby. I wasn’t afraid of  this stranger who shared my name. I’d have backup. Let the name calling begin, Vicki bitch.

“Stupid? Your name looks like you forgot how to spell the rest of it, because you have no brain, and you just quit writing it. V-I-C-K-I is incomplete.”

“Vicki Lawrence spells it with just an “i”.  Is that the best you got? It was my turn.

“Well, then, she is stupid. She is just a sidekick to Carol Burnett. She only got the job because she looked a little like Carol Burnett. If she spelled her name with an “e”, she would have her own show.”  I thought that was a brilliant retort.

Well, once drunks get in a confrontation, it’s hard to tell where the conversation ends up. We bantered back and forth for a short while, but realized that there really isn’t too much of an argument, unless you get off topic. I could have easily commented on her poor choice of earth shoes and painter pants. She could have commented on how beautiful I was. Or something like that. But, luckily, we ran out of steam and started making fun of how the “other” Vickie’s/Vicki’s would spell their name.  I started.

I asked her if she was ever called, “Picky Vicky.”  I hated that name, mainly because, well, I was picky. It would make sense in an argument that since “picky” is spelled with a “y”, then the name should end that way. We both thought that was an ugly adaptation of our name.

Then there was M-I-C-K-E-Y, as in the mouse. Why wasn’t our name spelled like that? V-I-C-K-e-Y. Later on, my husband used to call me “Vickey Rooney,” after the actor, Mickey Rooney. We both thought that was wrong also.

After we hugged and laughed off our three minute round, she went off to dance on the table and I went home to pass out  study, I woke up remembering why I hate for people to write anything but, V-I-C-K-I-E.  The stupid nuns at the Sacred Heart of Mary Mary Quite Contrary Academy were to blame. As I mentioned in several previous posts, I attended that private school for the first three grades, and hated every minute of it.

First of all, the crazy head nun, Sister Maria, insisted on calling me Victoria, despite my objections. I got in trouble for trying to correct her.

“Little girl, your correct name is Victoria. “Vickie”  is a nickname……….I don’t care what your mom says. “Vickie” is short for Victoria.”

Well, ok, then, witch.  I hated Sister Maria and I knew it is wrong to wish bad things on her, but I hoped bad things would happen to her. Not death, mind you. I was only in third grade. I was thinking more like her walking and simply falling down. Yep. I wanted to see the nun fall down.  Besides being a teacher, Sister Maria also drove the van/bus to pick up some of the students in the morning.  One morning, a driver hit the side of our van. It’s weird, but I looked to see if Sister Maria was hurt before I noticed I had a big gash through my leotards. Dammit, she was ok. The police came and they asked for all of the names of the passengers in the van. The next morning, there was a write-up in the newspaper. My name was listed as one of the injured.

“…….and Victoria  Mendenhall, 9,  of Weirton……”

Whaaat? It honestly pissed me off. My name was in the newspaper, and it wasn’t really my name. Sister Maria told them my name was Victoria. I never hated her more than when I read my misprint in the newspaper. She was never going to call me anything but Victoria. So, I decided to be a smart ass from then on. I started the very next day when I got on the bus.”

“Good morning, Victoria.” she said when I got on the stupid bus/van.

“Good morning, Sister Mary.”  She didn’t say anything, but gave me a very dirty look. I was dead.

I called her Sister Mary for a few weeks, when suddenly, out of the blue, a miracle occurred. A miracle, I tell ya.

“Vickie, did you have a nice weekend?”  I just nodded and went on my way. Wow. I did it! I got her to start calling me Vickie instead of Victoria. I felt so powerful.

It wasn’t until a year later, far far away from the Sacred Heart of Mary Juana Academy, safely enrolled in public school, that I heard my mom talking to a neighbor lady during their daily coffee/cigarette marathon. I had settled in my eavesdropping hiding place, ready to listen to some mom gossip.

“No, don’t send him there. My kids went there for a few years until last year. I had enough of the head nun, Sister Maria. Vickie was coming home in tears almost daily because Sister Maria kept calling her Victoria. I finally called the school and told her that I should know what I named my daughter, and if Vickie comes home one more time and tells me you have called her Victoria, I will pull my children from your school and I will make some phone calls about how you have treated my daughter. Do I make myself clear?”

Wow. My mom went on blabbing, but I had heard enough. I could feel the air leaking out of my balloon swelled head as I walked into my room.

Years later,  before my freshman year in high school, my mom, brother, sister, bff Ramaine and I were in a terrible car accident. I had hit my head on the back seat after a Mack truck hit us from behind and we flew head-on into a car coming in the opposite direction. I had blood flowing from my head and from my ankle, but still managed to talk to the ambulance driver person. I’m sure it was the concussion talking.

“My name is Vickie. It is spelled V-I-C-K-I-E…… Do you think my name will be in the newspaper?”

glass Vickie balls

Fast forward many years. I have divorced and have just purchased a new townhome. I am feeling liberated. I took back my maiden name and the sound of it makes me feel independent and free. I am happy. But, as I look around at new purchases, I had to smile. I must like my name.

55 years old and I'm collecting blocks...um, ok.

In the end, one needs to feel comfortable in their own skin. They need to be proud of who they are and defend their name.

Literally.

Set your drink on these lovely monogrammed coasters

The Versatile Blogger Award

I received this award from Mr. Tinney, one of my new blogging neighbors. The great thing about awards is how you get to visit the other nominee’s blogs, etc. etc., and the next thing ya know, you aren’t washing the dishes or vacuuming anymore, because you can’t step away from their recent blog posts. I love this place. :)

Ok, I have to complete the following:

  • 1. In a post on your blog, nominate 10 fellow bloggers for The Versatile Blogger Award.
  • 2. In the same post, add the Versatile Blogger Award.
  • 3. In the same post, thank the blogger who nominated you in a post with a link back to their blog.

4. In the same post, share 7 completely random pieces of information about yourself.

5.  In the same post, include this set of rules.

6. Inform each nominated blogger of their nomination by posting a comment on each of their blogs.

ok, #2, check. #3, check.

#4.  7 random pieces of information.

1. I went to Disney World by myself to see if I can travel by myself. I figured if I could go to the one place where a solo traveler rarely goes and not feel lonely, I could go anywhere

2. I have never had cheesecake. Ever.

3. I once watched a snapping turtle try to dig a hole for hours to deposit her eggs. Seeing that she wasn’t getting too far, I went out and dug a hole right by her and she moved over and used that hole. (I can feel a new blog post coming on..lol)

4. I once owned a guinea pig named Quincy Bozo and a skunk named Thumper.

5. I cut my own hair. Because I am stupid.

6. I once purposely put gum in my hair to see if peanut butter really took it out.

7. I really think there is a Bigfoot.

Ok, 10 bloggers. Ok, I will be right back.

1. The Idioth Speaketh

2. Kitchen Slattern

3. Some Species Eat Their Young

4. Marina Sleeps

5. Lemony Snippet

6. FiftyfourandAHalf

7. Culturally Discombobulated

8. ksnapped

9. papermudandme

10.eileeneldred

Ok, now I am off to let them know. Chain letter ala blog. Thanks again, Mr. Tinny!

More Fun Than a Barrel of Monkeys

So, I just got back from stupid Walmart, and I made a few purchases for myself that may seem strange. Even the check-out lady asked me, “Aw, I remember these. Are they for your grandchildren?”

“No. I don’t have grandchildren yet.” That sort of pissed me off. Fifty-five year old people are too young to have grandchildren. And besides, I don’t look a day over thirty. My class tells me that all of the time, so I know it to be true.

“Oh, you’re a teacher?”  Nib shit wanted an answer. I was in the mood to mess with her.

“No. They are for me……I never was allowed to play with toys when I was little……. I can afford them now.”  I tried to deliver the line like Bob Newhart, my idol, with a hint of Ellen DeGeneres, my other idol.  The man behind me in line cracked up. Ahhh, someone in this town understands snark.

Anyway, I brought home a fun game of my youth:  Barrel of Monkeys. I guess you knew that was coming by my title. Can’t fool you guys. I wanted to write a blog post on games we baby boomers played, but thought, “Why, hell, Vickie, buy the damn thing, and take pictures of how stupid you look playing with it.”

Inspiration for my next blog post

For those of you who don’t know what the hell I am talking about, Barrel of Monkeys is a game that was brought to store shelves by Lakeside Toys in 1965. I guarantee you that I had this as soon as it came out. I was nine years old and my mom bought anything in sight in order to find something that would keep me occupied for more than 20 seconds. It’s hard to entertain hyperactive Mexican jumping beans.

Apparently, the idiom, “more fun than a barrel of monkeys,” was the inspiration for the game.  I just really don’t understand how people start idioms, because why would monkeys shoved in a barrel be fun? I mean, wouldn’t the damn monkeys be so claustrophopic and pissed to high hell, that when released from the barrel, would start attacking and perhaps chew someone’s face off or something?  So, to me, “more fun than a barrel of monkeys” should be a sarcastic remark, to be used, for example, at say, Grandpa’s funeral.

“Well, this is more fun than a barrel of monkeys.” See, makes sense.

Years ago, sometime during the 1950′s, Dave Garroway, host of The Today Show, asked, “What’s more fun than a barrel of monkeys?”  A huge barrel was rolled out onto the stage. Garroway released them and they climbed the curtains, ran out into the audience, climbed on top of the cameras,  and just generally wrecked havoc on the set.  See, once again, sarcastic idiom. Monkeys in a barrel are not flippin fun.

File:Muggs garroway today 1954.JPG

So, fast forward to 2012. I opened up the barrel, all excited, because I have not played with the little plastic simians since my children played with it for ten minutes when they were young. And it was for that long, only because I just brought it home, and made them play.

“It is not boring. Look, hook the monkeys and see how many you can get………Well, they have to be in a pile or it is hard to hook their arms……It is not boring……….I played with this a LOT when I was little……………….What do you mean?  I had more things to play with.”

Ok, didn’t last long. I’m sorry, but I just can’t see this being a top seller in 2012. But, I was still excited to play with it once again.I opened up the barrel to find 14 red plastic monkeys in a plastic bag. The plastic bag had warnings in 19 different languages:

“To avoid danger of suffocation, keep this bag away from babies, and children. DO NOT use in cribs, beds, carriages, or playpens.”

Found a loophole. You can put the bag on their high chair.

According to the instructions that did NOT come with the game,  each game contains a “barrel” which is filled with brightly-coloured plastic monkeys with “S” shaped arms.  Players must dump the monkeys on the table or other even surface and the objective of the game is to hook all the monkey’s arms together to form a chain.  A player’s turn ends when the chain is broken. (I got this from their web site, as they neglected to put instructions in the barrel.)

So, what if a person from a foreign country or like, Zanesville, Ohio, opened the barrel only to find just what I did: monkeys in a plastic bag and that is all. Are they to assume that they know what the hell they are supposed to do with them?

Once out of the little barrel, what would you do with the monkeys since there were no instructions?

And the directions are where?

The monkeys would run amok, just like they did in my townhouse.

Messing with my tv, demanding to watch Planet of the Apes.

Messing with my cat, Whiskers, who roared like a lion to scare them. (No, she is not yawning. She is roaring).

They totally messed with a couple of my Words With Friends games, clicking on the “resign” button when I was clearly beating the hell out of my opponents.

Then I caught them trying to escape, out into the Wild Wonderful West Virginia woods.

Quit flushing the toilet, you stupid monkeys.

I don’t know what the hell they were doing here, but I did find jello with bananas in the refrigerator. One of the monkeys must have decided to swim in the cherry liquid, because it is now hardened up to his neck. I promptly closed the door. (Pictures are too graphic.)

Helping themselves to some mango juice.

Attacking the cat from another angle

They got into my pill compartment thingy that I received as a gag gift for my 5oth birthday, but I use anywho. Two of the monkeys overdosed. You have no idea how hard it is to give CPR to plastic.

They got entangled in my floss and I don’t even want to know what the hell they did with my toothbrush.

Oh, that is just wrong! Get the hell out of the kitty litter box!

Ok, monkeys! That’s the last straw! No really. That’s the last straw.

I found all 14 monkeys and put them back in the barrel.

It was more fun taking pictures of them than actually playing the game. What’s fun with hooking monkey arms?

In the end, this game was great in 1965. I learned to be more patient, since I was a hyper little urchin.

But, in 2012……

it was great. Well, only if you had a camera and followed them around because there were no freaking instructions in the barrel.

 Where the hell did this blue one come from?

I really did have more fun than a barrel of monkeys.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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Two Bee or Not Two Bee

I’m allergic to bee stings. Like anaphylatic shock allergic. So, imagine how mad I was this week when two of my co-workers started using bee pollen to help them lose weight. Bee pollen? The hell you say!

Apparently, bee pollen is the brand new weight loss magic. And I can’t take it because I’m allergic to stupid bee stings.Wrong bees

Back in the early sixties, summertime fun included running through the grass barefoot. I couldn’t. Of course, I didn’t want to, because there was all kinds of shit in the grass, just waiting for your feet to apply pressure on it. You are probably thinking that I stepped on a bee, and that’s why I am barefoot-in-the-grass challenged. But, the answer is no. It was much more complicated than that.

To understand how I got stung, you have to understand the kind of kid I was back then, in 1962 or so. I loved animals. All animals. When my dad found a copperhead nest in our backyard and my brother, David, almost stepped on one, it left my dad no choice but to set the whole yard on fire. Ok, I’m teasing. He killed the snakes. And I cried. I just loved animals that much.

No, I got stung in a way that made my siblings make fun of me for years afterwards.

I was sitting on the wooden seat of our sandbox. A bee with long skinny, bent legs flew right by me. It scared me, because it came right out of the blue, and I didn’t know what the hell it was. So, I swatted at it, and it fell to the ground, which was the sand in the sandbox. I felt horrible! I may have killed the poor unknown creature. Upon further inspection, I saw that it was a bee. It was injured. Or so I thought. I somehow was able to scoop it up into the palm of my hand, and what I did next was best deemed  as “ridiculous.”  I put the bee up to my cheek and said, “Awwwww. I’m sorry!”

Bzzzzzzttttt!! The son of a bitch stung me on the cheek!

I think that I was more pissed than hurt. I mean, really? I try to hug you and you reciprocate by stinging the hell out of my little child face. Well, it didn’t take me long to realize that I was in pain. I ran inside. My younger sister followed me into the kitchen.

Mommy!!……… Vickie got stung by a bee!……………. She tried to kiss it!” Hahahahahahahaha. What a little snot.

I didn’t try to kiss it, stupid sister. I tried to hug it. Big difference.

Well, I guess some bees like to leave their calling card behind. The stinger sometimes stays with the injection of bee poison. My mom tried to take a look, tweezers nearby. But, she didn’t have time to dig the shit out of my cheek. I was having trouble breathing. Uh oh. My mom grabbed her suitcase of a purse, and me, and we flew down the steps to the garage, where her Cadillac sat waiting for a day just like today.

My mom rushed me to the hospital. Rushed was an understatement. She drove like Mario Andretti. We didn’t wear seat belts back then, so I was in quite a pickle. I was going into anaphylactic shock. I’m sure when the doctors found out that I put a bee to my cheek,  they probably decided to run some other tests. I’m surprised that didn’t take me up to the fifth floor. My mom looked at me like I was retarded for a few weeks afterwards. I heard her on the telephone, talking to the neighbor ladies.

“Did you know that I had to take Vickie to the hospital? Get this. She tried to hug a wasp……..She swatted at it and it fell to the ground and she picked it up and told it she was sorry and put it up to her cheek and…..” I eavesdropped enough. I got out of my eavesdropping hiding place and went to my room.

After I got stung, I was always on the lookout for wasps. After doing some research on wasps, yellowjackets, and hornets, I read where, “Wasp stings are more painful than the sting of any yellowjacket, hornet or bee.” No shit, Sherlock.  I cried. Well, I was a kid. Kid’s cry if someone looks at them wrong. But, I remember how much it hurt. But, then I forgot, because, well, my throat was closing in.

After years of searching, I found the son of a bitch that stung me.

I went to a police sketch artist and this is what he came up with after I gave detailed information on what the wasp looked like. He did a wonderful job, don’t you think? It’s an uncanny resemblance to the real culprit.

I never got stung by a wasp again.  I’ve been stung by other kinds of bees over the years, and have promptly taken Benadryl and waited for my throat to close in. I did well. I think it was the wasp sting that sends me off to the hospital.

So, it brings me back to bee pollen and the want to lose some weight. My co-workers aren’t hungry and swear by the 60 capsules @ $60. Bummer. Should I take the chance and see if my body can handle the bee pollen? I went searching for answers.

“Some side effects are allergic reactions like itchy throat, wheezing, coughing, hives, and skin flushing.”  Ok, I should maybe just actually try to diet and exercise, perhaps. Hives suck. I read on…

Severe allergic responses are also possible, including anaphylactic shock.”  Shit.

Well,  I guess I will have to skip the bee pollen way of losing weight. I’ll have to visit the elliptical, instead, and drink a boat load of water every day.

Thinking back, I guess it wasn’t such a smart idea to try to hug a wasp.

I should have thought BEEfore I did something so unBEElievable…… Like write that previous line.

Jumping in Mud Puddles:

Here’s a post I wrote last year for Groundhog Day

Originally posted on Jumping in Mud Puddles:

     Remember the tongue twister, How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?  Well, no one bothered to tell me when I was little that a woodchuck was actually a groundhog. And a ground hog was also a whistle pig. I think that the tongue twister guy had a hard time with How much wood could a ground hog chuck….. so he gave the critter a new name.

      But, then again, although it does live in the ground, it is not a hog. And I don’t even know what the hell a woodchuck would be. They don’t eat wood and they don’t chuck…which is the same as “upchuck”, right.  And that was just a phrase given to the first kid who ever threw up many years ago…”It’s ok, Chuck, just get it up..Chuck…”  Upchuck. (I made that up.)

  In some parts of the…

View original 861 more words

Groundhog Day And a Haiku or Two

Groundhog Day 2005 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania

Image via Wikipedia

So, February 2, 2012 will be Punxsutawney Phil’s 126th prognostication.

According to legend, if Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter weather. If he does not see his shadow, there will be an early spring.  I wish I had the internet when I was younger, because I always wanted to know about Groundhog Day and why a groundhog got to predict the weather?  I was a curious child, and I had a lot of questions. My mom was worthless. Worth. less.

“Vickie, what are you doing? …………..It is 6:00 in the morning…………….I don’t know why they don’t use a dog to predict the weather……….Vickie, why are you putting on your coat? Where are you going?…………….Susie can not predict the weather………….No, she can’t…………..No, she can’t …………….Vickie, it is snowing outside, and you are not taking Susie outside…………….She does not have to pee….No she doesn’t…………..VICKIE!!!  Get back in here!……..(Pause, muttering, pause)…….Of course she didn’t see her shadow. It is dark out there…………..She almost disappeared in the snow!………..Groundhogs can’t predict the weather……..No, they can’t!…… It’s just a joke.”

Joke? A joke? Punxsutawney Phil, that Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages,  Prognosticator of Prognosticators and Weather Prophet Extraordinary. He wasn’t a joke. The weather guy on tv said he was real. People went to see him.  My mom just pissed me off. I wondered how far that place was away from us. I thought I would ask my dad. It was too late to do it that year, of course, since it was February 2. And Susie didn’t see her shadow. I wonder if he would take me there next year.

“Vickie, Gobbler’s Knob is on the other side of Pennsylvania and it would take 2 days by car to get there. It is just too far away.”

Well, that just sucked. What really sucked was the fact that my dad lied to me.  I found that out a couple of years later in school. Our teacher told us about the time she went to Punxutawney to see the famous groundhog.  It only took 2 hours to get there by car?  What?  I was crushed.

So, I grew up, still curious about the little rodent. I would read bits and pieces about Phil in the newspaper and watch the goofy guys pull him out of a hole, where he would speak to the president of the Groundhog Club in “Groundhogese.” This was a language only understood by the current president, who wore a top hat and a long black coat. I wondered why the groundhog rat never bit him in the face. I mean, if someone woke me up out of a deep sleep and dragged my ass out into the cold, I would probably bite his face.

After the groundhog whispers, “I saw my shadow, dip shit,”  a proclamation is announced to the world.

A proclamation that is made every year. And every year I have my fourth graders write a haiku for the famous little rodent. Some of my students wrote normal haikus:

I like Groundhog Day

Are you afraid of Groundhogs?

Don’t eat me, Groundhog

~~~~~~~~~

Groundhog hit by car

Why are you stupid, Groundhog?

standing in the road.

~~~~~~~~

The famous groundhog

lives in a warm heated hole

Why come out, Groundhog?

~~~~~~~

Groundhog, please come out

But will you see your shadow?

Can I have some spring?

~~~~~~

And then there’s my favorite:

Ms. Mendenhall, why

do you like groundhogs so much?

They don’t like you. Ha!

 In the end, you know people know that groundhogs don’t speak their own language. You know that they really can’t predict the weather. And what I have learned more than anything is best said in my very own haiku. You see, I performed another experiment the very next year after Susie the dog didn’t see her shadow.  Not good.

A pet guinea pig

is not a groundhog you know

Leave it indoors, please.

 

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