Archive for the ‘Friends’ Category

Feeling Mousey (Part Three)

    When I got back to my room (after walking past creepy jester statue guy) after my time at Epcot, I thought I’d better figure out a type of itinerary for Hollywood Studios. It is funny, but when we took the kids when they were little, I had an itinerary down to the minute. I was a Disney nazi. But, it did save time standing in what my daughter, Alex, called the “Ride of Misery.”

 So, as soon as I got to the park, I went straight to the Tower of Terror. This was the one thing I wanted to experience at Disney World.

I decided not to take a Dramamine today. I took a 1/2 pill yesterday and although it said, “non-drowsy formula,” they lie.  The Tower of Terror was so much fun. When I got off the ride, I noticed that there was already a 30 minute wait listed on the board. I got there just in time. I headed over to the Aerosmith roller coaster and got a Fast Pass  because it was already a 30 minute wait. I had to come back at an assigned time period to ride it. I then went to stand in line at Toy Story, the most popular ride at Hollywood Studios. Oh Dear God, it was a 100 minute wait. So, I decided to get a Fast Pass. I got this instead.

Damn. I messed up. I didn’t even really want to ride the Aerosmith Roller Coaster. I had my head torn off by a maniacal roller coaster at Kennywood Park called the Steel Phantom. I didn’t want to die again. So, what to do? I decided to stand in line. For 100 minutes. Which is like almost two hours…This was going to be more fun…than a barrel of monkeys.

I do have to admit that it was a great queue. And the ride didn’t disappoint. It snaked through Candy Land, and dominoes, Chutes and Ladders, toy soldiers, Mr. Potato Head and other games that were enlarged, like this picture of Candy Land with the red queue bars in front of the wall. It really wasn’t a bad wait.

I then went back to ride on the Aerosmith ride. As soon as it started I knew I was in trouble. I put my head to the left and closed my eyes. I breathed through my mouth because I knew that one more loop would do me in. I hate roller coasters with loops. I was feeling pretty brave by this point, ready to experience what I couldn’t before. Well, motion sickness is not in your head. It’s real and I’ve lived with it all my life. I can’t even swing on a swing. I HATED the Aerosmith ride. Hated.

Disney boasts of the ride on its Web site, “Zoom from 0 to 60 mph with the force of a supersonic F-14, take in high-speed loops and turns synchronized to a specially recorded Aerosmith soundtrack and zip through Tinseltown in the biggest, loudest limo you’ve ever seen….The 3,400-foot-long track is more than a half mile of sudden accelerations, dips, loops and twists and turns.”

Well, you go from 0 to 60mph in 2.8seconds. That’s when I knew to shut my eyes and hold my head to the left. The picture that they take of each car, you know the one that you can buy at the end of the ride? Well, mine was hysterical. I should have bought it.

 I loved Hollywood Studios. I took my time and enjoyed all of the shows and street entertainment throughout the day. Muppet 3D was fun. I’m a muppet/Swedish Chef fan, so I was in my element.  The whole park was wonderful. It was a lot of fun. I got back at dark, walking past Jester and Jester junior. I quickly turned around, half expecting them to be right behind me. I scared myself..lol

 Well, hopped back on the plane to Pittsburgh yesterday evening and headed home.  I learned a lot about myself on my first trip. First of all, what was I thinking? I teach small children. Why in the world would I want to use my spring break to go where there were children running amok? 

 I think, though,  that I did great and now know that I can  travel by myself…if I HAVE  to.   Would I go to Disney again by myself?  Oh hell no. 

In the end, I think traveling solo is fine. But, I like to talk. I enjoy companionship, camaraderie. So, in the future, I will first see if anyone wants to join me. Then, maybe join a travel group. And if I still want to go bad enough, I can go by myself. Because, again, in the end, I won’t be lonely. Afterall, I will be with me. And I think I’m pretty good company. That’s  my new Puerto Rican attitude talking. I learned a thing or two while standing in lines.

Feeling Mousey (Part One)

  When I decided that I wanted to take a solo trip somewhere, I thought hard about the places I wanted to go. My ultimate adventure is to take a train across Canada. To get ready for such a solo venture, I needed to pull up my big girl pants and journey on, alone. At first I thought I would go to the beach.  The relaxation would be nice, but it wasn’t how I wanted to test myself.

 Yes, I guess I felt the need to test myself. You have to understand that I was married for 25 years and really didn’t have to do anything by myself. I was a stay-at-home mom. I didn’t have to take out the garbage, although I was the weekly “house gatherer.”  I didn’t have to fiddle when my car started making noises like a mechanic was traveling under the hood of the car, banging on something that would soon smoke.  I didn’t do anything that inconvenienced me. I guess I pretended to be a princess. I made my husband check the air pressure in my tires about once a week because I have issues with my tires looking low. Everyone has issues. Mine are pronounced, however.

 Well, fairy tales don’t always come true, and next thing you know, you’re divorced after 25 years of marriage, you no longer can get by acting like a princess. I mean, there are limits to how long one can get away with that. (imagine Bette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane). One day, you wake up and actually have to work for a living, and make your own appointment to get your car fixed. And I think I’ve done well. Well, I still whine about garbage night, but really, I honestly don’t think I should do that one. But, someone has to, right?

 Ok, so I felt the need to scratch the beach trip off of my list. I needed to go somewhere that was filled with families, with couples ogling each other, and friends laughing and pointing. If I could get by a few days of being inundated by this test, I could go anywhere by myself.  Remember in Sex and the City, when Carrie went off to Paris to be with the Russian? She saw four girls walking by and immediately called home, lonely. And she was only there for like a day.  I didn’t want to be Carrie Bradshaw. I didn’t want to phone home and cry..in the middle of a train trip across Canada. No, I had to make sure this solo travel is for me. And so that is why I chose a harsh environment for a single traveler. I chose…Disney World.

 Say what? Yes, the one place where people don’t go by themselves. Disney World. I thought that if I had many “boo-hoo” moments, then solo travel would not be for me. So, I made my reservation, and decided to embark on a quest to celebrate my independence, to acknowledge that I had fortitude and perserverance to sit by myself at an eatery, and to leave and return still inflated. That was my goal.

 So, I made my flight and hotel reservation through Orbitz. Now mind you, I haven’t flown in 30 years. I have inner ear problems. But, I was ready. I had my gum to chomp on, my ear plugs and yawning techniques so the descent wouldn’t make me grimace in pain. After all, there would be no one there to listen to me whine.  I had to…..(worst phrase EVER)…..”Buck up.” 

Well, I did fine. I’ve been to Pittsburgh Airport plenty of times. I just never had to park all the way in section 19E in the extended lot. I could have hopped on the shuttle, but I was trying to toughen up, right? So, I strolled with my two bags and my lead laden purse all the way in my “clompy” shoes to the terminal…only to find that the People Mover was not moving..More walking. No problem, I can walk.

 Checking in was a breeze. Disney had sent me a voucher book called Disney’s Magical Express. And magical it was. They also sent me a yellow tag to put on my checked suitcase. Once in Orlando, I could bypass baggage claim and just hop on the Magical Express bus to my resort. How easy does that sound?  I was feeling pretty princess-like once again. Once at the resort, my bag would be in my room, waiting on me, or there shortly after my arrival.  Well, up to 3 hours perhaps. So, I packed things I needed in my carry-0n.

 My flight to Orlando left on time. I liked Air Tran. They are ranked the safest airline in the United States. I was feeling pretty safe.I sat wedge in between a man who was with his family, who were seated across the aisle, and a dermotologist from Ohio. We talked most of the way. The descent was pretty bad on my ears, and although this is funny now, I couldn’t hear a damn thing for a few hours after the flight. It was like the ear plugs were still in my ear. I am sure I was shouting to people. Poor Helen Keller.

 The Orlando airport was easy to manuever and great that I got to bypass the baggage claim. I could walk straight to my waiting Disney Magical Express. What efficiency. People from three resorts were jammed into a very comfortable thirty minute bus ride to the resort. For those of you who do not know this, Disney World is actually located in Kissimmee, Florida, not Orlando. Which is nice, because Orlando is the 3rd. most dangerous city in the United States. Really. I’m glad I was staying on Disney property.

 By the time I go to the resort, it was about 9:45pm. That was probably a stupid move on my part. I should have arrived early early to take advantage of the day. But, hey, you live and learn. But, it was a cheap flight with a safe airline, so I booked it. The check-in was quick and easy. The one thing that I couldn’t believe is that there was no wi-fi in the resort. AND there was a $9.99 fee for 24 “contiguous” hours. I thought that was a loop hole, because I had no idea what contiguous meant.  But, yeah, I want internet. Put it on my charge. Sure, two days at the Disney parks. Just put it on my charge.

 The Port Orleans French Quarter resort is inspired by New Orleans. The man holding the door open reminded me of the Mayor of Munchkinland, only a tad bit taller.  After check-in, they gave put beads around my neck, Mardi Gras fashion.   I got to my room and my suitcase was not there, smiling at me. Not to worry. They said it may take up to three hours to get my luggage.  I was surprised to see a fully refurbished ugrade. I was supposed to have a room with 2 double beds overlooking the parking lot. When I got to my room, it had a king sized bed and was beside the Sassagoula River, which was quite pretty. Upgrade. Yay!  There was also a greeting on my bed, created by the lady who had my room spotless each day. I’m talking spotless. Immaculate. Never in my life have I seen a room so clean. Of course, I didn’t know at the time that the room was totally re-done in March. I loved my comfy room.

I was starving. So, I changed out of my “It’s damn cold in West Virginia” clothing, and threw on some shorts and flip flops. I went to hunt for something to eat. The Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory is a warehouse where old Mardi Gras float props are hung. It was 10:30pm and luckily the place stays open until midnight. I decided to go with a meatball hoagie. Well, the meatballs were huge and one actually fell out of my bun and onto the floor. I sat and stared at it, looking back at me. Well, the whole thing was a mess and so I ate as much as I could with my 25 napkins, and gave up on the mess.  Time to get back to the room and plan my next day. I was heading to Epcot Center.

Oh, did I forgot to mention that someone knocked on my door with my suitcase at 2:29a.m.? Yeah, that’s what I thought. What’s worse, is that I was half-asleep and opened the door without looking  in the peephole. Just glad I had on my long buttoned down sleep shirt, because I obviously didn’t reach for a robe that I didn’t bring with me. I was half asleep. Glad the 3rd dangerous city in the United States robbers didn’t pretend to bring people their luggage at 2:29 in the morning.

 (See Feeling Mousey (Part Two)

Guinea Pig Children

With Christmas just around the corner, it reminds me of  the toys and games I received for Christmas when I was young.  The 1960’s and early 197o’s were the decades of  “The Misfit Toys.”

I don’t think they had testers back then. If someone invented a toy or game, perhaps the toy manufacturers just packaged it and put it on the shelves. I really think that  if there were toy testers back then, some of them surely would have died. I’m thinking specifically of  my first chemistry set. I can’t find any research on “toy tester deaths.”  I did look. If they would not have perished,  toy testers  would have received brain damage,  an amputated finger, or if not injuries, than stains on their clothing. And on the carpet. And on the couch.  Which piss mothers off to no end. Probably worse than the brain damage. This mother hates glitter. Just thought I would add that because if glitter gets in your eye, you WILL  go blind. For that reason, it is banned in my house.  I know I read that somewhere. You can’t dispute facts. Especially if you make them up.

Anywho,  children got to be “guinea pigs” when the product actually game out.  And of course you know that a “guinea pig”

is a person  is a person who is subjected to experimental or other observational procedures.  Like children of the 1960’s and early 1970’s. That would include me. I very well may have been one of the “Guinea PigChildren.”   I was, after all, hit in the temple by flying clackers.

I loved my Clackers…. until  THE incident. Clackers were popular in the early seventies, when I was about 13-16 years old, perhaps.  Clackers  were  two hard plastic  marbles, (if marbles can be plastic), each about two inches in diameter. They are attached to a ring with a sturdy string. A person  puts their index finger in the ring, allowing the marbles (or balls) to hang below. Through an up-and-down  motion, the two balls swing apart and together, making the clacking noise that give the crazy toy its name. With practice, it is possible to get the marbles swinging so that they “clack” together above and  below the hand.

Clackers were discontinued because children were being injured. I continuously hurt my fingers while honing my clacker craft. Not all children follow rules. They also made an excellent weapon. If you swing them over your head, and let them go, they could fly across the room and either hit or strangle a kid…. Or a poodle. I read that cave men used Clackers. Or bola’s, as the South American gaucho called them. (See, I do research). I heard that if struck too hard, the acrylic balls could shatter, with flying consequences. I became really good at clackers. I could hit them above and below. I was the Crystal Lane Clacker Queen.  Self-imposed title, perhaps, but queen, nontheless.

One day, several of us were “clacking”, and mine flew across the room and knocked over a glass of water that was on the coffee table, which in turn, spilled the water, which then flowed  into my mom’s pack of Salem cigarettes. I guess water-logged cigarettes aren’t easy to light. I tried to get one out of the pack and it just wilted in half. So, I put it back in there. We were done clacking for the day. My sister told on me and off to my room I went. When I came out, my Clackers were gone.  Damn….

 

I really don’t know what the fascination was with Clackers. You didn’t win anything. You didn’t have a high score. But, you could be timed to see how long you could “clack.”  Time clackers, so to speak.  Maybe it was a lesson in eye-hand coordination.

I really think that I could have been a ninja assassin with my clacking skills. But, I preferred to grow up and become a teacher.

Same thing.

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Scarf on Head

     I recently found a picture of my roommate and great friend, Jeri, and myself  that was taken in 1976. Or maybe 1977.  We were either at the beach or we had just come home. Our faces were  peeling and we looked quite ugly. So, what do you do when you are looking ugly?  Of course, you put “scarf on head” and head to the mall. We headed right to the photo booth to capture our beauty for all to see. We looked like lepers. I bet neither of us knew that 30+ years later, one of us would be posting our mugs on facebook.

The “scarf on head” look was very popular on our college campus during the 1970’s. I’m pretty sure that it was like that everywhere. We didn’t wear silky scarves. That would have been silly. And we didn’t tie them in front like a babushka. That was saved for Russian women and Queen Elizabeth.

Well Intentioned Untruths

It’s just part of life that you remember who peed their pants and cried in second grade. You remember the kid who ate his scabs and the girl who got gum caught in her hair and had to have it cut out, making her look really bad. You remember their names. And use them when you get older.

As a teacher, I am faced with weird predicaments on a daily basis.  I always worry about the kid who puts an eraser in his mouth,

the girl who continually rocks on her chair, the boy who plays with pencils.  So, I bring up names from the past.  “Do you want to end up like Kenny Myers?” I asked today.  A kid put an eraser in his mouth. They know a story is coming.

“Well, in fifth grade, I watched Kenny swallow a bic pen cap. They had to take him to the hospital and have his stomach pumped. His parents had to pay a huge bill just because Kenny put something in his mouth that wasn’t food. So, if you want to end up like Kenny Myers, put a pen cap in your mouth.”

I have no idea what happened to Kenny. He may have swallowed the little blue part on the other end. I didn’t see it. I heard about it. And remembered it, I guess, so I could pull a story out of the “Useless Information” file I have stored in my brain. Now, you have to understand that my kids know I am pulling their leg, so they just sit there, smiling. They are in fourth grade and understand what’s going on.  But, they also know that I have drifted off topic once again. They keep tally marks.

I have another student who rocks on her chair. They know that that is the number one no-no in my classroom. I hate rocking on chairs. My son was a notorious rocker. He still rocks on his chair. He is 25 years old, and I had to tell him to quit rocking  just last week. I don’t know why it bugs me so much. Probably because of what happened to Joey Minco.  Years ago, I was sitting next to Joey and he was rocking on his chair. He then tipped back too far and went back, hitting his head on the corner of a desk and then landing smack on his head.

“He cracked his head open and had to go to the hospital. Joey had a lot of problems remembering his name after that. So, please quit rocking, unless you want to end up like Joey Minco..or whatever his name is…” Lie. Joe Minco was an old man who lived across the street from me.

On breaking pencils on purpose- “Do you want to end up like George Dragovich? (Another old neighbor. I have no idea why I use neighbors from my youth.)  George broke the tips off of the pencils so he would be able to get up in front of everyone to sharpen his pencil. He slipped on a piece of paper on the floor and landed on the pencil. It just missed his eye and the lead is still under his skin right here…(as I point near the corner of my eye.) So, if you don’t want to end up like George Dragovich, quit breaking your pencils on purpose.”

Chewing 23 pieces of gum at the same time- “Are you chewing gum? Do you want to know why I don’t allow chewing gum in my classroom? When I was little, there was a girl name Ethel Mertz  (sometimes tv character names come out of my mouth). Ethel was very poor. Her dad worked very hard to save up so Ethel could have a brand new dress. He bought it for her for her 10th birthday. She couldn’t wait to wear it to school and show off her beautiful dress. But when she sat down in her desk chair, someone had put a wad of gum on her seat, and she sat in it. Back then, you couldn’t get gum out of anything. It stained and turned dirty looking over time. Her dress was ruined and school hadn’t even started yet….

And you know who put the gum on her seat?….No, not me…..Joey Minco. He thought it was the wastepaper basket.”

Walking down the hall at the end of the day with a sucker in their mouth- “Hey! You’re not allowed to have suckers in school…..Why, when I was little, I had a sucker in my mouth and fell down the steps and you know what happened to me?……..A piece of the  sucker stick is still stuck in my throat. I can’t eat anything solid…So, quit walking with a sucker in your mouth unless you want to eat pudding for the rest of your life.”

On taking your shoes off in class every single day- “Please put your shoes back on. Do you want to end up like Gladys Kravitz?……Poor Gladys. She was my cousin…..WAS my cousin………..Gladys was in fourth grade, and always took her shoes off. One day there was a fire drill. They thought it was just a fire drill. Gladys took her time putting her shoes on…..when the class got outside, the teacher noticed that little Gladys was nowhere to be found….I’m not even going to tell you what happened to her. But, if you want to end up like Gladys Kravitz, go ahead and take your shoes off.”

I really can’t stop. I continually make up scenarios for kids because if you just explain why it is unsafe to rock on a chair, they won’t

remember it. But, if you give them a vivid description, something they can put a face to,or in my many cases, a name,  they will remember it. I mean, I don’t use blood or guts, because that is just wrong for a great teacher like myself to do. And I guess I should mention that the kids know I am lying, right from the beginning…but they seem to love my “Unless you want to end up like….” stories.

When I was little, my mom told me that  there was a special  place in hell for liars. I know, because Lars Peters is in hell.  My mom told me that Lars always lied and he is now in hell. “So, Vickie…if you want to go to hell like Lars Peters, keep on lying.”

Sigh……I really have become my mother.

Candy Cigarettes

When I was growing up in the 60’s, everyone in my neighborhood in Woodland Estates seemed to smoke. Our moms didn’t work, so they hung out in their housecoats, drank coffee, and smoked cigarettes. My dad smoked. The mailman smoked. I think the dog probably smoked.   His name was Smokey, after all. Smoke filled the house. The brand of choice was Salem cigarettes. My mom loved her Salems.  I  could see the swirling smoke entering my nose and traveling to my naive lungs.

So, since it was such a part of our upbringing, it was nothing to walk up the path to Leach’s store and buy atomic fireballs, wax juice bottles, candy necklaces, gold mine gum, wax lips, and last but not least, a box of candy cigarettes. We loved walking up that path during the summer. It meant candy.  Lots and lots of candy. Our mothers gladly threw money at us, for that meant they had more time to smoke, drink their Maxwell House coffee and gossip with the other ladies on our block. Well, I can only speak for my own mom, but she would give us money to walk to Leach’s every day during the summer. My sister, Cheryl, wore wax lips home about every day. I remember buying pretzel sticks.  We all would wait until we got home to open our cigarettes. We wanted to be just like our moms. Well, minus the housecoats.

Our candy cigarettes had a pinkish tip, which I guess meant fire. You would get laughed at if you had the wrong end in your mouth. When we puffed on our white candied cigarette, there would be a chalky powder that would emit from the cigarette. It was probably cocaine. I mean, you just never know. It was the 60’s, afterall. Did tobacco companies secretly own these candy cigarette companies?

There are studies out that show that a large percentage of candy cigarette eaters became full-time smokers. I disagree. None of us cigarette eaters became smokers. I think our mothers’ smoking habits turned us off. I just never had the desire to smoke. I would put one in my mouth only to make fun of how my roommate smoked. Other than that, I hated them. Still do.

But, if that is the case, I also bought those bubblegum cigars all of the time. Does that mean I am going to smoke cigars? I bought the big wax lips. Does that mean that I would get BOTOX later? I also ate the gold mine gum. Did that mean I was going to eat money when I grew up?  I mean, seriously.

Kids like to play grown-ups. We put makeup on, high heels, painted our fingernails, and smoked  pretend cigarettes.

You know we are all going to end up with pretend lung cancer.

Mono…The Kissing Disease

When I was in high school, I was lucky if I weighed 90 pounds. I used to fry up two hamburgers most mornings before the bus came in order to gain weight. That is probably where the high cholesterol came from. Nothing worked. I was still skinny.  So, imagine my horror when I was diagnosed with….mono.

In 1973, mononucleosis, or mono, for those with mono who are too fatigued to say the longer term, was called “The Kissing Disease.”  I was pissed because I didn’t kiss anyone. I think it should have been called the “Water Fountain Licking Disease.” I don’t think I got it from there either. I really don’t know where I got it, but I remember there was a football player who had it a week or two before I was diagnosed with it. I bet he licked the water fountain and the bugs jumped up while I was getting water one day. I really didn’t mind people teasing me about kissing this guy, but alas, I was just a blurp on his radar screen.

I specifically remember my symptoms. The sore throat was intense. Mom mom got out a small flashlight and kept checking my throat. “My goodness, Vickie……There are patches of white all over your throat.” Thanks, Mom. Now it hurt even more. Later, it was found that they were pus patches, which is disgusting. “Hey, I have pus patches on my throat..Wanna see with the flashlight?  Hey, I know, let’s go lick some water fountains.” I really wanted others to experience this wonderful thing called mono.

I had a very high fever.  Before I was diagnosed with mono, I called what I had, “The Shuffle Flu.” I remember wearing those scruffy slippers and shuffling around the house because with each step, my head pounded like you wouldn’t believe. So, I couldn’t walk like a normal person. I was a shuffler.

The worse thing for me were the swollen glands. I had them wrapped around my neck. I had no idea there were glands behind your

neck. My neck hurt so badly. I wanted to wear one of those whiplash collars to keep my neck from moving. I felt awful. I might as well look stupid. I even had hurtful swollen glands in my armpits. I was a mess.

One symptom of mononucleosis that I couldn’t handle was the extreme fatigue. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that a trip from the  couch to the kitchen sink was like running a mile as fast as I could. By the time I would shuffle over to the sink, I would be sweating, my pulse would be racing, and I was spent, drained of all energy. I would shuffle slowly back to bed and sleep for hours. It was horrible. I would not wish this on anyone.

I had an enlarged spleen. I wasn’t allowed to pick up anything heavy. So, my mom wouldn’t let me even pick up my dog, Cricket. I just remember my mom saying that there was another boy who had mono in our city at the same time and he had an enlarged heart with his mono.  Oh great. I didn’t want an enlarged heart. I’d take some enlarged breasts though.  Too bad that wasn’t a symptom. So, now there were two guys and me with mono. I sure got around.

I can’t remember how long I was out of school, but I had been preparing for a Voice of Democracy Speech in Speech Class for weeks before mono attacked me, and I was determined to be in that damn contest.  Oh, what a mistake that was. I went to school for a half day and went to the contest at the local VFW that night. All I can remember was standing at the podium, breaking out in a sweat, dying for a glass of water, which someone gave me in the middle of my speech. I downed like I had been out in the desert for a month. Who the hell was I kidding.? I wasn’t going to win. I may have won for “Best Attempt to Utter a Sentence Without Passing Out” award.  I had to hold onto the podium with both hands because I was so fatigued. Stupid, Vickie, stupid. But, teenagers are stupid, so you know, you learn.

So, there are some ways for you to keep the mono bug out of your mouth. Don’t share anyone’s drink or straw. Don’t borrow anyone’s lipstick. Don’t use anyone’s used Kleenex. Ok, that would be gross, but I do want to mention that mononucleosis is spread by saliva and mucus, so don’t flick boogers at people. Ok, still being gross.

Mononucleosis is not fun. Diseases usually aren’t. Just take it easy if you are diagnosed with mono, and don’t rush back to your every day activities. I have found from watching others with it over the years that it can delay the return of your energy if you don’t take time to let your body rest. You could have relapses of fatigue for a while.

And just don’t spit on anyone, Luggie-style.

I Believe in Mary Worth…I Believe in Mary Worth

When I was young, we held seances whenever we had the chance. It didn’t have to be on or near Halloween. We usually went to Lori’s house, our friend who lived right across the street. She had a small fruit cellar in her basement that was jus the perfect place to light a candle, shut the door, and burn to death. But, we never dropped the candle and we never stopped chanting.

We really had no idea who the hell Mary Worth was, but we believed in her.

Tweens have no brains, they really don’t.  There were usually four of us who held these seances. We would stand in a circle, shut the fruit cellar door, and slowly begin to chant into a mirror,  I can’t remember for sure, but I think Lori put a mirror on one of the shelves, leaning it against the wall.  You had to have a mirror, because Mary Worth was supposed to appear in it.

We would start the chant, always serious, because we knew this would work.

We would start with a whisper. “I believe in Mary Worth……I believe in Mary Worth….” I think that’s  all we said. But, we said it over and over and over again, because that’s what you had to do if you wanted to bring her back.  Those were the rules.  I think that anywhere between the third and thirteenth chant, Mary Worth was supposed to appear in the mirror, looking all vengeful and malicious.

So, who was Mary Worth, you ask?  Well, hell, I don’t know. So, I looked her up for your reading enjoyment. There  are many different stories about Mary Worth. Some call her Bloody Mary.  One account is that Mary was wrongly accused of killing her children. She went mad and commited suicide.

I honestly can not remember if we even knew the circumstances of  “our” Mary. We just enjoyed scaring each other and occasionally  getting locked in the fruit cellar. Lori’s mom would also at times don a  mask and slowly open the door to scare us.

So, this Halloween, whatever you do, don’t repeat that phrase while standing in front of a mirror.

Unless of course, you want Mary Worth to appear, wondering who the hell  you are.

Let’s Bring Back Houdini

I have always been fascinated with seances. I think it had to do with my brand new Ouji board I received as a present one year for Christmas. Everyone had Ouji boards. In case you have been living in a box, an Ouji board is a board marked with letters and numbers, and other symbols so you can communicate directly with the dead. It has a moveable piece that players put the tips of their fingers on, letting the spirits guide them to the answers they have questions to.    I always wanted to bring back Houdini. Harry Houdini was the famous magician who died doing one of his magic tricks.

According to Wikipedia, Houdini spent years trying to debunk mediums and psychics. He didn’t believe that anyone could have powers of that nature.  He would often go to seances incognito and then jump up to show the people attending  how things were faked.

Before Houdini died, he and his wife, Bess, agreed that if Houdini’s spirit came back after death, he would say “Rosabelle believe” as a secret codeword to prove that it was actually him. This was a phrase from a play that his wife  performed in when the couple first met. His wife held yearly séances  for ten years after Houdini’s death, but “Houdini”‘s spirit never appeared. Bummer.

So, of course, in 1977, I thought I could bring him back. In college, I lived in a house with 4 sorority sisters. We had a lot of ceremonial candles lying about. I can’t tell you how many seances I had in that house. We would light candles, drink, and then conjure up Houdini’s spirit. I remember one specific time when my boyfriend (later husband) kept telling me to be careful. I was wearing a sweater with a cowl collar and was leaning into my candle as I was laughing while chanting, “Harry Houdini, we are calling on you to come visit us this Halloween eve……”  We would drink a little more and conjure up people and I would always have someone hiding in the kitchen to creep into the room at exactly the right moment. It was just another excuse to have a party.

The best seance I had included a little trick I learned from living in a house with uneven floorboards under the carpeting. If I stepped directly on one place in the living room, the nearby lamp would flicker on and off. I guess the lamp cord was sitting on the long board. Or the light wasn’t screwed in all the way. Regardless, it was something I could use, perhaps. Hmmmmm. That gave me an idea.

I gathered my friends and their friends in a little circle after a few rounds of drinks and had them stand, holding hands with the person next to them so there would be no shenanigans. I lit my ceremonial candles and shut off all of the lights, except for that lamp. I changed the bulb earlier to a 20 watt bulb, so it wasn’t too bright. I opened up the living room window a bit to increase the creep factor. I loved it when it was a bit windy.  I started conjuring up Harry Houdini. I called to him several times before I said, “If you are here with us, please give us a sign…and I would slowly shift my weight to one side on that uneven board under the carpet. The light flickered. A couple people nervously laughed. “Is that you, Harry Houdini?” Slowly shift my weight to make the light flicker on, then off. I was starting to freak people out after a few minutes of my questioning.

“Harry Houdini, are you standing in this room right now? If you are, turn the light on and then off. Wow, this  is just too perfect. Someone was getting scared, but was still suspect. “Vickie, are you doing this?”  Haha. The people on both my sides answered in unison, “She’s not. She is holding my hand.”  I decided to get to business.

“Harry Houdini, are you holding hands with someone in this circle? If you are, give us a sign.” The light went off.  Someone screamed. It was a guy! A guy who screamed like a girl. I wanted to crack up laughing, but I was just beginning. “Harry Houdini, if you are holding hands with someone, gently squeeze their hand. I KNEW one of the 9 would squeeze someone’s hand. Everyone started screaming, which meant, more than one person decided to be a funny guy. I then started shifting my weight back and forth and the light was going crazy and people were screaming. It was a fantastic evening. It also helped that people were intoxicated.

I then announced. “Someone has broken the chain. He has left the room.”  I never told anyone what I did. I had three more “drinking seances” after that.

I’d like to think that the famous escape artist paid a visit to us during one of those seances. Even if he didn’t, I hope  he was having a good laugh watching from above.

Did I mention that he died on Halloween?

Queen of Halloween Costume Ideas…’Tis True

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For Halloween, I want my fellow teachers to dress like medical professionals and put a sign on our backs reading, “Staff” Infection.  I don’t know why they just look at me like I have a third eye. I think it is funny.

Every since I was in college in the 70’s, I have been the Halloween costume “Go to”  person.  Sure, people are posting ideas on the internet, but yeah, most of them have come from me….’Tis true.

In college, a friend of mine wanted to go to a Halloween party at a bar, but you had to dress to go. He wanted to look good and wasn’t into wearing a mask. You know you make the face behind the mask, right? You know you do. Anywho, I told him to wear a suit, and put a tape measure around his neck and one of those tomato pincushions on his wrist  and go as Elizabeth’s Tailor. I know, creative, right?  He got in not really wearing a costume.

Ok, how about if you want to wear a costume, but your spouse/significant other does not. Well, dress as an old man and put a big C on the other one’s chest and go as Old Man and the C.

One year at school I just wore a tiara and a B on my chest and went as The Queen B

Two years ago I wore a white sweatshirt, put on some bunny ears and tail and put one of those plastic dusters  around my neck and went as a dust bunny.  Last Halloween, I just wasn’t feeling it, so I just got a huge cardboard quarter and put in on my back and went as a  Quarterback

If you don’t have much time to make an outfit, cut out pieces of a map and hot glue it to a cap and go as a Head Trip

If you want to look pretty, wear a gown and a tiara, get a box and a rope and go as a Drag Queen

I wanted my daughter to wear a tacky gold outfit, everything gold, and spray paint a kid’s plastic shovel and go as a Gold Digger

 Get a witch hat, a lab coat and stethescope and go as a Witch Doctor  or  a couple could dress like doctors and have a sign on their backs Which Doctor

I dressed my kids as bees and put the letters on their backs 2 Bee or Not 2 Bee

Black Eyed Peas- Blacken your eyes and wear the letter P all over your shirt.

Don’t really want to dress up?  Cut out little clock faces and tape them on your hands..Too Much Time on Your Hands

Illegal Alien-My daughter dressed like this when she was younger and was pissed because only the teachers understood what she was.  Jailers outfit, green face with alien antennae.

For a guy, Make a cardboard window, with saran wrap as the window pane (or nothing at all), write Tom on the window and he can go as a Peeping Tom

This is too old for many, but I had a friend name Judy in college and I gave her the idea to wear a Christmas garland wrapped around her neck like a boa and she went as Judy Garland.  I guess your name wouldn’t have to be Judy. Just put the name Judy, on our chest and the garland.

For a guy who doesn’t want to dress up, just carry an umbrella and go as Rain Man, you know, like the movie, (I just made that one up..’Tis true…)

A group could carry plastic hatchets and knives and put B’s on their chests and go as Killer B’s

Dress like any kind of animal and wear a party hat with it and go as a Party Animal

Couple-Guy could be a Knight, girl could go as the sun-  Knight and Day

 I guess I could keep writing for a while.  Coming up with a Halloween costume is fun and a little creativity goes a long way.

If you need a costume, drop me a line. I am the Self-Proclaimed Queen of Halloween Costume Ideas after all.

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Enjoy this story? Jumping in Mud Puddles is now an ebook. Have a look see.  :)  My literary debut. Amazon.com for $3.99.

Jumping in Mud Puddles: A Memoir of a Picky, Hyper, Big Fat Liar

Trick or Treat, College Style

I love fall. It is the best season of the year. I think it is because I love to wear socks. Well, I mean, I love the leaves changing, and football, and wearing sweathshirts with shorts. Above all, I love Halloween. I have so many Halloween stories, I thought I’d better start now to get them all in.

Halloween was fun in college. The year was 1976 or 1977. Can’t be specific. I already wrote a blog about dressing like the Three Blind Mice. We had parties to attend and costumes to throw together. We went to grape and grain parties. We went to swamp water parties. All I know is that we scooped our cups in a metal washtub thingy and sucked on the fruit, because that’s where all the booze was concentrated. Or so I’ve heard.

Yes, we worked hard to celebrate Halloween. But, there was something we forgot one Halloween. We forgot about the true meaning of Halloween. Yes, that’s right. We forgot to buy candy.

My roommate, Pat, and I were home alone. We had no idea it was October 31. The parties were all held the Friday and Saturday before. It was Monday, October 31. Just another day. But, we were oh so wrong. It was Halloween, after all, for the CHILDREN.

Pat and I were sitting on the couch, minding our own business, when the doorbell rang. I answered the door. There was a little girl standing there, very witch-like. “Trick or Treat”, she said, and held out her bag. Her mom was standing at the bottom of the steps. I was shocked. I mean, like seriously shocked that there would be a little witch with a green face and long black hair at our door.

“Just a minute sweetie, ok?” I sort of shut the door and looked over to Pat, who didn’t hear the sweet little witch cherub say those popular words this time of year. “Trick or Treat.”

“Oh Shittttt.” I paced around like I had to go to the bathroom. “Shit, Pat, It’s Halloween. We have a trick or treater.” Pat ran to the door like I was a liar and the little girl thought we would be back already with mounds of candy. She held out her bag again.Except we had nothing. Pat had cigarettes. Couldn’t give the kid cigarettes. That would be promoting an unhealthy lifestyle. Giving bags of candy is oh so much better. We were running into each other trying to get to the kitchen.

I yelled. “Look in your purse. Do you have anything like a pack of gum?” I was frantic. “How about money?”

I yelled back into the other room that you can’t give kids money. It was HALL O WEEN. It had to be candy. What the hell were we going to do. Telling her to get the hell off  of our porch you devil worshiper was not an option. We had to prevail.

Maybe we should just perform a trick for her and send her on her way. I mean, it is Trick OR Treat.  We should get the cards.

I found something. Pat laughed and said, “You can’t do that.”  Oh, yes I can. Times a wasting. I told Pat to distract her and talk to her while I shoved the item down into her bag so she wouldn’t know what we gave her. Yeah, sure.

I took my find back to the front door and apologized to the child. While Pat asked her a question about her outfit and waved to her mom, I shoved the popular Halloween item into her bag and quickly shut the door.  Oh, Dear God, maybe she wouldn’t notice. Her bag was pretty full.

Pat and I quickly shut off the porch lights. We could not have this happening again. We both moved the drape over our door window back a bit and saw the little witch take the item out of the bag and show it to her mother.

And that was the year I gave a sleeve of crackers for Halloween.

The Dancer

We went out a lot in college. It seems like we went to the Pub on Wednesdays, and then the Cabaret on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. We loved to dance. Disco was where it was at. Sometimes we drove a pretty far distance to go to another club, just to change it up every once in a while. But,sometimes it is good to stay with what you know. My roommate, Pat, found that out one night, in a bar, in another town …..in the Twilight Zone.

There were about 10 of us who went to a disco about an hour away from us. I believe it was mostly girls in my sorority, Sigma Sigma Sigma. I do remember we were dressed up. We were dressed to impress. I can not remember the name of the club at all, but I can still picture the table where we were sitting.

I thought I looked pretty good. I had my blonde hair flipped back on the sides, ala Farrah Fawcett, skinny jeans with high heels and I was ready to dance. My roommate, Pat, sat beside me. Pat couldn’t care less if a guy asked her to dance or not. She just went with the flow. She had these gorgeous blue eyes and short dark hair. She was tall and thin and smoked like a fiend. She had this way of inhaling a cigarette that made me want to mock her. The more she quietly drank, the more her hair fell into her eyes. She was a lot of fun to be with. Years later she was a bridesmaid in my wedding.

So, here we are at this new disco, and we were listening to the band, having a few drinks and laughing, and looking around for some nice looking guys to dance with. I spotted this guy standing across the room and smiled at him. I guess I wasn’t the only one at the table who threw him a smile. So, we started talking about this guy. “I hope he comes over and asks me to dance.”  a sorority sister said. So, we started teasing each other about who was going to get to dance with him first, basically fighting over someone who seemed content standing against the wall, across the room. Meanwhile, Pat was sitting, oblivious and not caring about the tug of war going on around her.

We were there for only about 15 minutes, when the guy made his move. He spotted most of us swooning over his good looks, so he made his way over to us. I was secretly hoping that he would ask me to dance. I really thought our children would be beautiful. We started whispering, “Oh, my God, he is going to ask one of us to dance, I can tell,” and “He’s looking right at me..sorry guys..” Well he was coming our way. He was walking right towards me. Yay! It was me.

But it wasn’t. He stopped right in front of me, his butt almost in my face, and he leaned over and asked Pat if she wanted to dance. Shit. She didn’t care to dance with anyone, and he asked her to dance. Just my luck. So, Pat accepted, smooshed her cigarette out in the ashtray, stood up, and walked to the dance floor with him. The rest of us sighed. I was really hoping he would have asked me.

So, we all turned our attention to Pat and the  gorgeous guy, walking to the dance floor. All of a sudden, three other guys appeared at our table. Well, all hope is not lost. We may get to dance, afterall. And these guys weren’t so bad either. The tall, tanned one spoke for his little group.

“We are soooo sorry we weren’t able to get to you girls in time…… to warn you.”        Whaaaaat ? Warn us about what?

Well, they didn’t need to explain anymore. They just looked out at the dance floor.  All I saw when I turned my head back to look at Pat,  was Dancing Guy in the middle of a Toe-Touch…..Oh, look, now he is doing the Robot…Oh and another ToeTouch down into a split….Our mouths dropped open…..Silence…..and then we cracked up. I was laughing so hard I was crying in record time.

The thing that made this so funny, is that my sarcastic, “I could care less about a guy”  roommate turned away from the dancing fool to face the band and was just moving slowly to the left and to the right, clicking her fingers. She was so close to the band, that we could hear the lead singer look down and say to her, softly over the microphone, ” What’s wrong, honey?” and the whole place died laughing.  She couldn’t look at Gymnastic Boy. She turned away from him and he didn’t even notice it. He was totally involved in his routine. And boy was a routine…Whoa..there goes a spin…

They might as well have had a spotlight on these made-in-dance-heaven- lovebirds.  The other dancers, who paled in comparison to the height this guy was getting with his jumps and toe-touches, cleared the dance floor, as to not obscure our view. Now they were the only hoofers on the floor. And he was using the whole floor now. Saturday Night Fever had just come out in the movies, I believe, and so dancing like John Travolta was a must for some guys. Come to think of it, I think this guy had on a vest.

The guys who came over to warn us, too late for Pat, of course, told us that they go to that club all of the time and he was one of their friends. They didn’t have the heart to tell him that he danced like a fruitcake (That’s what we called him all the way home.) After the song was over, Pat rushed back over to our table, which made the place laugh even harder. Ok, rushed was probably not the right word to use. I believe she was like Chuck Yeager, breakin the sound barrier fast. I am not exaggerating when I say that all eyes were on Pat. The clapping was insane.

Pat usually never let anything bother her. She was pretty quiet the rest of the night. She smoked a bit more, and drank a bit more. I think I would be chugging a pitcher of beer if it had been me. Of course, we took every opportunity to re-play the evening. It was a spectacular night.

Fruitcake Gymnast only got one time to do his routine most nights, ya know.  No one would dance with him I am sure. But, I never saw him ask anyone else that particular night.

I think that is because he only had the one routine.

Sun Lamps and Lying to a Priest

There is no doubt in my mind that if I have to contract some sort of disease or illness, it is going to be skin cancer. It’s just a fact. I totally abused the sun worshipping and then I had to go and do something so idiotic in college, that I imagine  a diagnosis is right around the corner.

When I was a freshman in college, circa 1974,we weren’t too bright, I must admit. We were on the loose, away from home and are parents for the first time in our lives. We were little banshees. I think that was especially true for the kids who had very strict parents. I could point them out during the first month. They were really making bad decisions. But, alas, I had no right to talk about anyone after what I let happen.

I lived in a dorm room my freshman year with my roommate, Paula, who went to high school with me. Upstairs, Debbie and Jeri shared a room. They too, went to high school with us. The four of us did a lot together that first year and ended up renting an apartment the next year together. Debbie brought something back to school with her one weekend, and that next Wednesday evening, brought it down to our room. It was a sun lamp.

Ok, I never sat under a sun lamp before. It looked like a make-up mirror, with no mirror. I know that makes no sense, but that’s what it reminded me of. Debbie had us wear sunglasses or goggles and we all took turns sitting under the sun lamp. Except there was a big problem. We let Debbie position us in front of the sun lamp. And we really didn’t know how long was too long. I just remember that it was pretty hot.

The next morning, Paula woke up to use the bathroom about 20 minutes before we were supposed to get up. She had this biological clock going on and always woke up about 20 minutes early before her alarm was set to go off.  That always woke me up. Well, especially today when I heard her sort of scream in front of her mirror, on her side of the dorm room.

“Oh my God, Vickie!. My face!!!!” I sat up, still pretty groggy and asked her what was wrong. “My face is so burnt! Come look!”  But, I guess I took too long getting up, so she bounced over to my bed, turned my night stand light on, and said, “Oh MY GOD!!!!”  I didn’t think she looked that bad. I mean, she was pretty red, and had  lines where the sunglasses were, but she didn’t need so many exclamation marks in her voice.

Found out pretty quickly that she wasn’t talking about herself anymore. “Um…Vickie, you better go look in the mirror.”  The look on her face was hard to describe. Pity, sympathy, wonderment…something was going on. I got up and walked over to the mirror. What I saw was not me. I am not exaggerating with this description.

My eyes were ok. So far, so good. But, for some reason, they were swollen a bit. Maybe that is because the rest of my face was swollen. Never mind the redness, let’s talk about my lips. My lips were swollen to the point that my upper lip was under my nose, blocking my nostrils a bit. My lower lip was just as swollen and covered most of my chin area.  The only thing I could say, and it was in a whisper, was “I look like a Ubangi.” I was shocked. I looked over at Paula, and she looked sick, like I was going to stay that way for the rest of my life.

“Call Debbie and tell her to get down here, NOW.”  Debbie didn’t particularly enjoy being awakened so early, but Paula told her it was an emergency and to come downstairs. I just sat on my bed, cross-legged, cradling one of my pillows. Paula still had that,  “You are the ugliest thing I have ever seen in my life” look on her face.  I looked at her and said, “And so, what were you wanting to tell me about your face this morning?”  I felt like the Elephant Man. “I am not an animal. I am a human being.” Except that that movie didn’t come out until 1980. But, that’s how I felt. Like children were going to scream and run away from me. My peers were going to laugh at me. Ok, like in “Carrie.”  “They’re all going to laugh at you.” (Damn, 1976…) Ok, you get the picture..

I realized that it was hard to talk when your lips are swollen.I found that I had to take a finger and raise my upper lip up a bit so I could talk. But, that made breathing harder. I was screwed. When Debbie came into the room, I knew what her reaction was going to be. She laughed at me. Like really hard. Paula felt so badly for me. She was burned a little, as was Jeri. Why did Paula and I get so burned?  “We all sat under the lamp for the same time”, she stated.  I moved my lip up so I could speak, which made Debbie crack up. “Ok, Einstein, how close were we to the lamp? You put the glasses on us and had us sit down in front of the damn thing.”

I wanted to punch her in the face when I heard her answer. “I think you guys were like right up to it.”  I don’t know why the idiot didn’t think to move us back from the lamp. First of all, we found out that we sat under it way too long. Well, that was obvious. and secondly, we were right up to the lamp. So, that explains why I looked like a plastic surgery nightmare. Remember the Twilight Zone episode where everyone had to wear masks until midnight and then they couldn’t take off the masks, because the masks became their face? Well, that I did feel like.

Well, I couldn’t go to class, that’s for sure.  Paula brought me back breakfast, which I had such a hard time eating.  She brought me back a piece of chocolate cake after lunch, which took me a very long while to eat. I told them to not tell a soul what I look like. Yeah, like that was going to happen. Some of the guys on the football team that we were friends with and I was sort of seeing one, were standing below my window for a glimpse of the Elephant man. Great.

I took Friday off and drove home Thursday evening. I had to pull over numerous times because my eyes were burning and watering like I had allergies. My mom asked me “If Debbie jumped off a bridge, I guess you would too, right?”  She felt sorry for me because after all, I would have to live looking like this for the rest of my life. Thank God my dad sort of laughed at me. I was beginning to like getting laughed at than the pity, omg, you poor pathetic ugly girl scenario I was getting from everyone.

For some reason my mom didn’t take me to the doctor. I am pretty sure I had second degree burns on my face. My mom and dad had company Friday night, and the people brought their son, who was about 3 years older than me and was studying to be a priest or he was already there, or almost there, because he was a brother? I don’t know what the hell he was, but I do know that I lied to him.

“Oh my goodness what happened to you?”  I told him that I was driving in my car and had the window down and someone in front of me had hit a utility pole and the pole fell over and I was burned from the live wires that surrounded my car.

“Why wasn’t the rest of you burned?” he wondered.  “Because I had my bee suit on.”  I went on to tell him that I had a bee-keeping class as part of biology class and that I wore my suit home because I was running late, but took my head part off, but still had my gloves on, etc. Said it while holding my lip up with my index finger. I am so glad this was a priest/potential priest I was talking to, because I am sure I was pretty darn appealing.

Speaking of a-peeling, my skin started looking like layers of skin on top of skin. I later peeled so much it made for a bed bug feast. There was skin everywhere.

Anywho, I didn’t see the future priest for about a month. I had come home for the weekend and we went to visit them. When we pulled up, priest boy met me at the car….with a wheelchair. I guess he was ready for my next lie. I forgot to tell him I was lying, and his parents told him in the car about the sun lamp episode..I guess he laughed, but thought of a way to get me back. Wheeling me around in a wheelchair,to me, seemed like the joke was on him again…I enjoyed the scenery and stayed in the damn thing the whole time we were out on their patio.

So, if you are going to use a sunlamp, don’t let someone who is a ditz place you in front of the lamp. Just sayin.

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Jumping in Mud Puddles: A Memoir of a Picky, Hyper, Big Fat Liar

Swallowing Goldfish

Ok, I have done a lot of stupid things in my lifetime, but nothing as stupid as swallowing goldfish. Yeah, I did. Three of them.  Why?   Who the hell knows why I do things.

Goldfish swallowing was a fad that first started in 1939 when a Harvard freshman did it on a bet. It received some local coverage, and in the next few weeks, students from all across the country were trying to top the previous feat. It was nothing for a student (mostly males) to swallow ten, twenty, and even 30 in one sitting. Many towns then passed ordinances making it illegal. The fad only lasted about two years. So, how the hell did it appear on the campus of Fairmont State in West Virginia in 1976?

I had a sorority sister who worked part time for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and some one (maybe the Greek association) sponsored a dance marathon titled, “Dance for Those Who Can’t.”  Proceeds were given to the Jerry Lewis people.  The dance was going to last through the night, with games and activities going on alongside the marathon. Plus, beer was sold in the Nickel, which was our student union, so that was also a plus.  So, we danced, we drank, and I apparently swallowed some goldfish.

There was a guy who swallowed one and the crowd went nuts. He was the first one to do it.  And it was pretty early, so I don’t think this guy was drunk. Just really stupid. And I think he had people placing bets and the proceeds were handed over to the MD.  So, we went back and danced alongside the marathoners and drank some more.  You could buy plastic glasses of beer for a nickel, so we had cafeteria trays full of beer for our group of friends. I usually started laughing after 1/2 a glass of beer, so I was laughing at anything that night. I had a sorority sister walk out of the bathroom with a long line of toilet paper walking behind her from one of her shoes. I don’t know why that made me laugh so hard, but she walked like she was all that, and here was that toilet paper following her around. Everyone knew she just peed, so I guess I found that amusing.

We came back after we heard that some guy in our brother fraternity (TKE) was going to swallow two goldfish to beat a rival fraternity’s goldfish record of 1. Everyone gathered around.  The person with the microphone stopped the music during a mandatory break for the dancer marathoners, and announced that they had a person that would swallow two goldfish if they could make $200 in the next 15 minutes. Well,  college kids usualy don’t have much money, but there were people from the community also there, so  the drunk donors  opened their wallet a lot that night, I can tell you that. They had $200 pretty quick. And the guy swallowed 2 goldfish. Wow..I was drunk impressed. So much better than watching a toilet paper walker.

Well, a little later, I saw a little boy being pushed into the dance room in a wheelchair. I thought it was pretty late for the kid to be up. It had to be 1:00a.m. He was about 12 and appeared bummed out that he just missed a college student swallow 2 goldfish. It was a Fairmont State college record. Well, maybe because it had never ever been done there before.  He sat quietly while his parents talked to the people in charge of the dance and in a few minutes another announcement came over the loud speaker. “Does anyone want to volunteer to swallow a  goldfish for our important guest here?” Come on up and lets’ see if we can make another quick $200.”

Well, I saw like 3 guys raise their hands and were coming up from three different directions at a pretty fast clip. I was right beside the little guy in the wheelchair ( I was drunk staring at him) and it was my sorority sister, who was employed by MD  who had the microphone this time.  Out of the blue, I raised my hand and said, “I will swallow 3 goldfish!”  Whaatttt did I just do?  No…didn’t even think that I must be demented. I saw the wheelchair kid and wanted to show him that anyone could do anything if they put their mind to it.  I was determined to show this kid that a drunk college girl could swallow some fish.

I don’t have any idea how much money was raised for Muscular Dystrophy for my swallowing 3 goldfish, but I had a crowd. I beat the record of 2 goldfish and no one else tried to swallow anymore. Why? Well, there were only 2 goldfish left in the bowl. No one else was going to swallow a goldfish unless a record could be beat. So, as far as I know, I hold the record for goldfish swallowing in Fairmont, West Virginia. If only the story ended right there. It didn’t.

When we got back from the dance, the phone rang. It was a sorority sister, Diane, who lived upstairs from me in our apartment complex, Garden Lane. She had some disturbing news for this drunk goldfish killer.

“Vickie, I don’t want to get you upset, but I think you need to hear this.” I can’t remember her exact words, but she informed me that she knew someone who had swallowed goldfish at Penn State (I’m not sure what college she used), and  got very sick when the goldfish didn’t die in the guys stomach. She went on to tell me that somehow the fish lived in the mucous membranes in the stomach lining and then mated. The guy had to get his stomach pumped because his stomach had expanded because the goldfish hatched and there were hundreds of tiny goldfish swimming around in this guys stomach and they kept getting bigger and it was just awful. And I drunkingly (if that is indeed a word) believed her.

I went into the bathroom and shoved my finger down my throat I have no idea how many times, to no avail. No goldfish babies. I was sick with worry. Drunk people obsess about things, and I was no different. But, of course, no one else had fornicating goldfish in their stomach.  I cried myself to sleep. I felt horrible for killing poor innocent goldfish. They didn’t do anything to anybody to deserve such a horrible death.  I was a crying drunk…I am sure I had raccoon eyes, because I really liked mascara.

When I woke up, we all put “scarves on head” (girls wore those big blue hankerchiefs on their head when they didn’t feel like washing their hair in the 70’s), hopped in my car and headed to McDonald’s. McDonald’s was our cure for a hangover. The greasy food did wonders. When we got back to the apartment complex, Diane and her roommates were coming out. She was smiling. “Almost had you last night, didn’t I?” She laughed.   Oh my God, she was messing with me!!  I was soo relieved. Now, I wouldn’t have to go to the hospital and ask them to stomach pump baby goldfish…”Oh, you sure did. I almost believed you. That was a good one.”  I was one gullible guppy.

I felt so much better.We walked into the apartment and I plopped myself down on the couch. I felt great….. Until on of my roommates spoke.

“I once swallowed a penny and it came out a day or two later……you know……(she pointed to her butt like I was too dumb to understand  the digestive system),so….

I wonder if all three goldfish skeletons will come out at the same time?”  That could really, really hurt.”

Skeletons?  Oh, that is just great….

Well, it will make for a good story when I get older, I thought.

And….I did it for Jerry’s kids…..

Red Rover, Red Rover, Let’s Mow Vickie Over

Ever wake up and see a clown sitting on the edge of your bed?  Pretty scary, right?  Well, that’s how I felt when someone mentioned playing  Red Rover.  I hated when we played that game when I was little. I mean, who invented this horrible little game? I’m thinking some German woman weightlifter named Olga.  It was bad enough that I had to sing about the plague with “Ring a round the Rosie”,  now I had to get a knot in my stomach every time Red Rover was mentioned.

“Oh, Dear God, Bozo, they want to play Red Rover today. What would you do?”

First of all, no one wanted me on their team.  Remember, I was anorexic skinny.  The other team loved not having me on their team, because they knew I was the weakest link. They didn’t even need to whisper, “Run through Vickie”…..or… “See that girl, the one with the shaking knees and…wait, ok, she was standing sideways,..anyway, see that girl with just a little bit of skin on her bones?… Yeah, the one who is crying…. She will let go of  Lee Ann’s  hand every time. Run at her!”

Now,you have to understand, I wasn’t bad at outdoor games. I was awesome at kickball. I didn’t have much power in the kick, mind you, but I could run.  I ran like a deer. A graceful anorexic deer. We played kickball in my neighborhood all of the time. In the street beside my house. I played Duck Duck Goose. (I’m laughing out loud at that one right now)… Mother May-I?…Freeze Tag….Red Light, Green Light….Hopscotch…Colored Eggs…..Do I need to go on?  Ok, I will.  Drop the Hankerchief….Hot Potato…Button, Button, Who’s Got the Button?….Chinese Jump Rope (made mine with a bunch of rubber bands)…Ok, done..Wait..I really liked singing The Farmer in the Dell, but damnit, never got to be the cheese, standing alone….I remember one time when it was getting late, we started playing  Hide and Go Seek, and had Monica be it. We told her to count to 100 so we could find a great place to hide, and then we all went home..Yeah, that was my idea.

We would play outside all day long. We had to. Our moms kicked us out of the house. If we stayed in the house, we had to fold towels and do chores. We had freedom outside. The only times we ran in the house was to pee and to get money for the ice cream man. When we were very little, the whole neighborhood was pissed off at my mom because she called the ice cream trucks company and told them that the truck came when “her children” were taking a nap. How dare that ice cream truck. So, they came after dinner until we got older and didn’t take naps. What kind of pull did that woman have to get them to adjust their arrival times..Wow, what a witch…Anyway, the ice cream man came later…sigh…not when you were playing and it was hot, but after dinner, which  was not as gratifying. Thank goodness I was fairly liked by my friends, or they would be doing much worse things to me than trying to break my arm with Red Rover.

For any of you who have been living  in a bubble and have never experienced the painful game of Red Rover, let me tell you the rules. You get two lines of kids that don’t have anything else to do but inflict pain on each other, make them hold hands  and then you take turns calling someone over. “Red Rover, Red Rover, send Vickie over”  That person runs like hell and tries to break all the bones in your arm as the person you are holding hands with has a death grip on your hand and won’t let go.  And you know damn well they will try to run off-center and concentrate on Brittle Girl.  Every time.

In the end, all games foster cooperation and teamwork, teach social skills and help develop coordination for those who walk funny.

But, call me crazy, but I think Red Rover was a game for losers…..Yeah, that’s right….. Future loser bullies. Because it was those loser bullies who were the first to also want to play Dodge Ball.

Don’t even get me started on that brain-damage-inducing game.

MonkeyShines

Most, if not all of my adventures when I was growing up in Weirton, West Virginia, were with my best friend, Ramaine. She lived down the street from me, and we were attached at the hip.  We were in Camp Fire Girls together.  We rode the school bus together. We had a cabin in the woods together.  It seemed like we were laughing all day long.  My childhood was great because I had a best friend who was just like me. We lived outside the box, and had some very creative days.  And, boy, were we stylish… We even  bought white pants with pictures of the Monkees faces all over the pants.  We were weird, but knew how to laugh at ourselves.  We did that quite well. Sang the definition of “lima bean” into a tape recorder.  The word, “bored”, was not in our vocabulary. The only difference we had was that she was a gerbil person, and I was a hamster person.  Which lead us to the pet shop.

We used to visit the pet shop often.It was at the Weirton plaza, a little strip of stores near our homes. The guy had a lot of different animals at the pet shop.  One particular visit to the pet shop concluded in uncontrollable laughter, one that I can say  was the hardest I ever laughed in my whole life. Ramaine reminded me that we were in 8th grade when this happened. Dear God, she even remembers what she was wearing that day. Well, it was a day for the record books, that’s for sure.

The pet store was small, with a long counter with rows of animals in their little cages beneath it. The place was jammed with critters. I couldn’t bring myself to look at the snakes, though. There was even a mynah bird that cussed like you wouldn’t believe. It always amused me. But, on this particular day,  I was on my knees, looking at a mother hamster and newborns on the bottom row. Ramaine was standing, bent over a little, looking at something else, when all of a sudden she asked, “What’s on my head?”  I stood up, and my mouth dropped open.  I didn’t or couldn’t say a word. A spider monkey  had stepped off the top of the counter right onto her head. I really think I could have put my fist in my mouth.  “What’s on my head?” she repeated. Well, hell, I couldn’t answer. I mean, there was a monkey on her head. Just sitting there. Ramaine reached up to feel what was on her head, and the monkey swatted her hand away. “What’s on my head?”  She was expecting her bestest friend to give her an answer. She was panicking a little, starting to pace, and I  was not answering, but standing there with a big smile on my face. Ramaine tried to bend over, and that’s when the little fellow grabbed her hair with both little hands to hang on. That’s when I first started laughing.

“What’s on my head????”  Everytime her hand went up to feel what kind of creature was sitting there, he would release one hand from grasping onto her hair and slap it away. I couldn’t speak. I was laughing so hard. It was one of those silent, belly laughs, where you shake, but no sound comes out of your mouth. Now, Ramaine was pacing faster and moving her head, and bringing up her one leg for some reason, and that monkey was hanging on for dear life and I just couldn’t tell her that there was a monkey on her head.  It reminded me of  a little monkey jockey, riding something. I was in awe.  I had never seen a live monkey.  I did look around to see if a little old man with an organ grinder was standing nearby.

“VICKiE,  GET IT OFF!!  WHAT IS IT?  GET IT OFF!”  That monkey must have liked the view, because he had no intention of leaving Ramaine’s head.  She looked like she was having a seizure. Her arms and legs were flailing all about,  and the monkey was leaning to the left and then to the right, and would only take his hand off of the death grip on the her hair to swat at Ramaine.

I had to sit down on the floor. I started laughing so hard, I peed my pants. This is a recurring theme for me. Laugh. Pee. Repeat. “It’s a monkey….”  I finally was able to speak. “I peed my pants.”  Ramaine didn’t care. She had a monkey on her head.   The owner finally came over and had to pry the little monkeys fingers from her hair. It wasn’t working too well..  Finally, a banana (I think I am making this part up) was waved in front of  the monkey’s face and he left her head and went to sit on the owner’s shoulder. I found out later that the monkey’s name was Ginger. Ginger, I wish I had my camera that day.

I’m glad Ramaine was able to laugh about the whole thing on the way home. But, it was a nervous laugh, I could tell. I was sitting on a towel my mom brought for me and had to explain why, once again, I peed my pants. “I’m going to have to make an appointment for you to see Dr. Harper. There must be something wrong with your kidneys.”  No, did you not hear me?  There was a MONKEY on her head. I mean, come on.  Urination justification.

The Fish Head Story

My dad used to go fishing all of the time and would bring back live fish.  My mom would let them swim around in the large kitchen sink, and then she would chop their heads off and I would cry.  I can’t even tell you how many times I asked her not to chop off their heads, and just let them be my pets. You have to understand that I have an Ellie May Clampett love for animals.  I once went into anaphylaxic  shock from picking up a hornet that I accidentally brushed off my shoulder and that landed wounded on the pavement. It stung me on my cheek. (Yeah, I put it close to my face as I apologized to it.)  But, I love animals. My stuffed animals had a place to sleep each evening. Later in life (4 years ago, I had a physically challenged cricket that lived in my kitchen window. Don’t ask.)

When I was a freshman at Brooke High School, I thought I would recycle the next fish head, take it to school, and give it to my biology teacher. So, after my mom cut its head off, I wrapped it up and put it in the freezer. The next morning I took it out as soon as I woke up, because I didn’t want to forget it. Fish Head made the trip on the bus and I was all ready to give it to my biology teacher before school started. Major brownie points for the freshman.

Well, Fish Head didn’t make it to his classroom.  A bunch of us were standing around, talking, and I decided to take Fish Head out of its wrapping and show my friends before he went into the biology room. What I did next was unexpected and random.  I yelled across my little circle to a friend,  “Heather, think fast” and tossed the fish head to her. Why? Who knows how my brain thinks.

Well, old Fish Head went flying and Heather didn’t catch it. Instead, one of his teeth hooked onto a buttonhole on Heather’s blouse.  She had no idea what came flying at her, but she looked down, close to her neck, and saw a fish looking at her.  Heather started screaming, and old Fish Head started swinging back and forth. He must have started thawing out, because he had guts or something coming out of its head, and they were swinging too.  Was that a great throw, or what?

Heather was screaming a little too loud, and by this time I was laughing so hard, I peed my pants. I remember what I had on…brand new pair of red coulottes and I thought I looked hot. (or “tuff” as we said in 1971.) Well, until I peed my pants. I guess that is a turn-off.  I had to sit down on the floor because I was laughing so hard. I couldn’t stop.  Fish Head was still swinging and Heather was going into shock. Someone finally got the tooth unhooked and everyone involved (Heather, Fish Head, and me) went to the office.

While I was waiting for my mom to bring me clean clothes…and socks, I had to confess to the principal what I had done. But, I couldn’t even get the words out, because I was still laughing.  Well, laughter does tend to be contagious, and by the  end of my explanation, I had the principal, the secretary, and even Heather, laughing. The only one not laughing, was Fish Head, who was put in a garbage bag and taken away somewhere. Well, my mom wasn’t too happy either.  It wasn’t the first time I had peed my pants from laughing.  Not even close.

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