Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category

Homemade Halloween

One of my favorite things about being a mom was making Halloween costumes for my children. It is not a requirement for motherhood, of course, but I took Halloween very seriously. I didn’t have a sewing machine, so I sewed everything by hand. I was Little Susie Homemaker.

2 bee or not 2 bee…..

I dressed my son, Adam, for Halloween when he was 1 month old. I did. Of course, he just sat in his little seat as I passed out Halloween candy, but he looked adorable. I made him a little jesters outfit out of his onesie.

The picture on the right was my first real test at Halloween costume design. It’s a bit rough, but remember, I didn’t have a sewing machine. I had letters on each of their chest to read, 2 Bee or not 2 Bee, mainly because I am a sick individual, but I took them off right before we took off in the neighborhood.

I think I know how pageant moms feel. Well, not really, but I was loving the compliments my kids were getting. It validated me as a good mom. Halloween was fun. I would sit at the table and jot down ideas for crazy Halloween costume ideas. Some of my best costumes came from watching The Benny Hill Show.

Some of you young grasshoppers don’t remember Benny Hill, but he was an ornery British comedian who had wacky skits. He was hysterical. I used to watch his shows and then try to sketch some of the costumes people wore on his show. And then I put them on my kids for Halloween. One year, my son, Adam, won for best costume at McDonald’s. I dressed him like the scarecrow riding Piggy Back on the tinman. I don’t know why. Benny Hill had some man riding piggy back on an old woman. It looked so real. I even dressed my husband like that for one of our adult parties. It looked pretty good.

After the little parade walk at McDonald’s, we bought him his first hamburger and when they announced that he won, he started crying because we took the hamburger away from him so he could go get his picture taken. There was a picture of him in the newspaper and I was just beaming. I knew he was going to win because there were only a handful of homemade costumes. And homemade costumes always trumped an expensive store costume every time.

Another Benny Hill costume I took was the GunSlinger. Adam was dressed like a gunslinger, with his arms crossed, but actually his real arms were behind his back.  Benny Hill had a skit where he was dueling with another gunslinger and all of a sudden, his real arms took the guns in each holster and shot his opponent. I liked that. Now, Adam looks a bit possessed in this picture. He was mad about something.

possessed gunslinger

It was a little obvious that his arms were fake, but hey, a mom can do only so much. I thought he looked like a bad guy. Maybe the manic expression was a bad boy image.

He looks a bit scary.

Now, at first, my daughter, Alexandra, loved letting me sew costumes for her.  One year I dressed her like a baby chick coming out of an egg. I hand sewed each of those damn yellow feathers on her costume. She won the McDonald contest the next year.

I have to admit that I did get a bit goofy as the years wore on. Alex looked adorable the next year as a doggie. But, what you don’t see in the picture is the homemade window I made for her to carry.

How Much is that Doggie in the Window..

Yeah, that’s right. She went as How Much is That Doggie in the Window. She got mad because I made her carry it. I’m sure she didn’t understand my purpose. I didn’t even know the damn words to the song as I tried to get her to understand. she did look cute. I even found a little plastic bone to put on top of her head.

I took the scarecrow/riding on the tinman apart and Adam was just a scarecrow one year. That was the year he decided he was done with homemade costumes. I guess some kid at school called him Farmer Jones at school all day and perhaps for the rest of the year.

Well, that was the end of the homemade costumes for Adam. The next year he designed his own. He wanted to buy the Ninja turtle costume in the store, but I talked him into creating his own. He did pretty good. Alex was a cat that year.

He made the goggles out of a paper bag and brown crayon. I was proud of him.

As they grew up I had to let them do what they wanted. That’s the part of being a mom that is hard. Letting go.  That year Adam was a Pittsburgh Penguin killer?? and Alex was a witch. I made the design on my sweatshirt, so that’s what was homemade that year.

The kids grew up and wore what they wanted.  Alex turned into her mom and created great costumes for herself in college. I was so proud. She sent me a picture of herself in Japan when she had a hard time finding things for a costume. She ended up going as Cupid.                   Have a great Halloween!

Stick a Fork in Me Cuz I am Done

I was a stay-at-home mom until my youngest was a junior in high school. I wouldn’t have traded the time I was able to spend with them for the world, but it was just too much “staying at home”.  It was at its worse when my son, Adam, was in third grade.

We had just had a terrible winter and the kids never had school. I was so tired of the Snow Bird  report on tv early in the morning. “Hey kids, there’s no school today in Marion County.”  I wanted to kill that damn penguin.

One day I told the kids I was driving them to Wetzel County because they had school that day. Gonna drop them off at the door. I think they believed me. I had a bad case of cabin fever. Cabin fever like Jack Nicholson in the Shining cabin fever.

My niece and sister-in-law used to call me early, before the announcement was  on tv. They had connections. Or a scanner.  Anywho, they would call and just say,”No school”, or “2 hour delay.”  I always had some smart-ass remark for them, especially as the cabin fever became more pronounced. “Stick a fork in me, cuz I am done” became my phrase, I guess.

One day, when the snow had finally melted and it looked like I would be able to send their butts to school,  Adam became sick again. Poor Adam was sick so much when he was little. He had pneumonia several times. There is nothing worse than a child with a 105 degree fever. He had drainage all the time. It was so bad that his teacher sent me a note that his clearing his throat was driving her crazy. Well, she didn’t write that, but that is what she meant. So, after trips to his pediatrician, who I swear put him Augmentin 300 times, I took him straight to an ENT, who announced that his adenoids were so huge, he could see them. I guess you aren’t supposed to be able to see adenoids. His tonsils had to come out. The scheduled surgery was right when it looked like school was going to be back in session after the perpetual snow event of that winter. Figures..

Adam;s surgery went well and when he came home I made him a bed on the couch in our Hearth Room so he wouldn’t have to go up and down the steps for awhile.  I made the HUGE mistake of giving him a bell to ring for me. I walked in after only 2 hours, and snatched the bell away from him. So, the mute improvised, and started tapping his pencil against his glass of water. I created a monster.

I really don’t remember how long he stayed home from school after he had his tonsils taken out, but I think it may have been 6 months. Ok, not 6 months, but it felt like that. His tonsils were healing nicely and he was ready to go to school. Well, that would have been nice, but that’s not what happened. He woke up one morning, and said he didn’t feel well. I felt his forehead and he felt a bit warm. I noticed that there was something on the tip his nose. At first I thought it was a booger. Kids wear boogers sometimes. I hurried and raised his pajama top. Shit. “OH MY GOD!” I said out loud. I never cursed in front of the kids, but if I did, I would have said something like this-” Are you shitting me?…… Damnit!”  Yeah, Adam was breaking out with chicken pox.

Chicken pox. A stupid disease. I mean, what the hell? I was just in the house all winter, then he had his tonsils removed, and now chickenpox. Real funny. Poor kid…… Poor Poor Mom.

So, in the house we stayed. We played with PlayDoh and colored and played with Lego’s. I loved my time with him, but I really needed to get out of the house. After another six months (ok, I exaggerate), he woke up one day, and was ready to go to school. Yay.

Not so fast. I have two kids.

Yeah, that’s right. Alex broke out with chicken pox.

What a rough winter. Don’t get me wrong. I loved being home with my kids. But, when you are stuck in the house because the snow has piled up and you are stranded, it just gets to you.  I wish I had a maze like they did in the Shining, so I could have chased my husband with an axe.

He got to leave every day. He got to see people.  “You got to see people at the hospital,” was his explanation.  Big Whoop. Like I wanted to enter Room 122 and talk to someone with The Elephant Man disease….I had to get the hell out of the house. I NEEDED  to get in the car and drive around. But, you can’t. It is snowing non-stop and Snowbird is singing his stupid song. Adam had a penguin collection when he was little. I swear it is because he anticipated the SnowBird Report every morning that winter and liked seeing that penguin.

I was pissed when a chickenpox vaccine came out for children.  That’s what’s wrong with the young parents of today. You  don’t have to walk two miles to school every day with a piece of cardboard placed in their shoe like I did. Ok, not me, but I heard that from one of my damn relatives. You young grasshopppers have it too easy. Your child should get chickenpox like everyone did before…… In fact, I think you guys should line up for a shot of polio to the shoulder like I had to…. And put butter on your burns…And breathe in some asbestos while you are at it…..

Sorry for ranting, but you get my drift. Or you will this winter.

My Lazy Boy Couch Tried to Kill Me

My cat, Whiskers, has led a charmed life. We rescued her from the animal shelter and put her under the Christmas tree as a present for my daughter 16 years ago. She was a 100% house cat. She did have a love of eating grass, which she promptly yakked back up, but for the most part, she never left the house.

After we built our house in the country, we had some field mice find a way into our home.  We knew they came from underneath the stove, but couldn’t find a hole anywhere. Whiskers would jump up on the island and sit and watch the parade of mice in and out of the house while we slept. I saw her one night when I came down for some Advil. We found a nest up on our mantle, behind the antique gingerbread clock. We found another nest in our older couch in the Hearth Room. That damn cat would just sit and watch the mice, with her paws crossed. Hell, she was fed, she didn’t need to eat scurrying little varmints.

Well, one day, Whiskers  somehow put her head through a Walmart plastic bag. The bag was dragging underneath her and she must have been scared, because she freaked out. She started running. She ran and she was stepping on the bag and it must have felt like it was strangling her. She was meowing everytime she came running by us. You can go from kitchen to Hearth Room to foyer to family room to the kitchen again. It was all open. One big circle. Well, she was running faster, and one time came by us and knocked over my floor lamp.

Alex was laughing but Whiskers sounded like she was in pain and was very frightened. We tried to catch her but then she ran behind the couch and stayed against the wall, crying. I tried to reach her, but couldn’t. We had a LazyBoy wall hugger that went right up against the wall. The couch was too heavy to move even an inch, so I decided to try to reach for her from the edge of the couch. I was able to get the bag off of her head. Shit. She peed in the bag. And probably all over the place while she was running. Cat urine house. Just great.

Well, my Lazy Boy has 2 sections that recline. It’s a wall hugger, so you can recline without it bumping into the wall. While I was sitting by the edge of the couch, reaching with my right hand as far as I could to the cat, the button somehow was pushed, and the recliner reclined….on my head. My head was thrown against the wall. I was in a couch vise.

Death by Lazy Boy.

My head was quickly and painfully pinned against the wall. I screamed, “Alex, help me!” Get the couch off of me!”

Well, I couldn’t see her, because my head was facing Whiskers, behind the couch, but I could hear the little shit. She was laughing at me.

“Alex….Get… the… couch….off…of….me. My head is stuck!”  Alex started cackling. I know how my daughter laughs. She moves around, holding her stomach and it turns into a belly shaking, silent laugh. I don’t think she understood how badly my head was hurting.

“Alex, my head is in a vise. It is squeezing my head.”  No help from Alex. She was too busy laughing at me.

But, Whiskers decided to walk along behind the couch and came right up by me. Urine head. Her stomach was all wet with pee. Great, now she wants to be my friend.

I started crying. It felt like the couch was squeezing my head. “Alex…..please help me!!” I tried to reach for the reclining button, but couldn’t find it. It looked like my one arm was flailing, I am sure. “Alex, Please help me!!”  Well, I was going to die. It  was like in one of those movies where the hero is in a trash compactor room that slowly crushes everything and the room is getting smaller and smaller.

Finally, after she composed herself, Alex figured out how to get the couch off of my head. She couldn’t quit laughing, and then ran to the bathroom. I don’t know how long the whole thing lasted, but I was so mad at her afterwards. The more I yelled at her, the more she laughed at me. Damn her. She is so much like her mom.

In the end, I didn’t suffer much brain damage. My floor lamp never worked right after that. Whiskers did the same damn thing several weeks later, but this time she managed to slip under the handle of a bucket full of sidewalk chalk. That was a fun one to watch as the chalk flew out of the bucket and she ran from kitchen to Hearth Room to foyer to family room to kitchen. She looked like a bronking bull with the bucket underneath her. Poor stupid cat.

I guess it isn’t every day that your couch tries to kill you.

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.

Wisdom Teeth Removal Removes Wisdom

My son had to have his wisdom teeth removed when he was 17 and I had no idea when I took him that I would be laughing so hard on the way out. I really would like to have an injection or ingestion of whatever he had that day.

My husband had his wisdom teeth taken out when we were dating. My God what a terrible patient he was. Mean as a pissed off snake. He called me up several hours after I had taken him home and wanted to know where I “hid” his pain pills. Seems that the goof-ball head fell asleep with the gauze in his mouth and dreamed he was eating and started biting down or chewing in his sleep. I mean, who does that?

I was a good patient when I got my wisdom teeth taken out. I asked Dr. Wrobleski if I could watch the whole thing, so he swung over the big mirror and I watched everything they did. I am sure my Adam would be just like his mom. Inquisitive.

I was sitting in the waiting room at the oral surgeon’s office, reading a magazine when I heard someone laughing from behind the front desk. I looked up and could barely make out what they were saying, but the dentist’s assistant was laughing so hard that her mascara was running and making her look like a raccoon. I was intrigued because I knew my son was back there, and since I was the only one in the waiting room, I was even more intrigued upon that realization. Oh, Dear God, what is Adam saying to them back there?

He hadn’t been back there very long, when another assistant came out in the waiting, laughing hysterically, and  told  me that Adam wanted to see me before they started to remove his wisdom teeth. Well, ok…..I mean, seriously, what the hell is going on? At least her laughing meant he didn’t keel over and die or anything.

When I went back to the room, the Dr. was sitting beside Adam, laughing hard and the two assistant raccoons must have been wearing the same mascara. When Adam saw me, he yelled out, “MOM! Come over here and give me a big, wet, kiss.”  Oh Dear God, are you kidding me? You did not just say that??  The kid was as high as a kite.

“Hey, there’s my mom”…and he hugged me and continued..”My mom makes the best chicken…..She makes chicken….every night.”  Seems that he also proposed to one of his assistants while I was in the waiting room. “I asked her to marry me, but she said I was too young for her.”  He acted like he was pouting and then cracked up again.

The Dr. explained that they were ready to take out his teeth, but that Adam had something he wanted to tell me.

“Dr. Wrobleski is so cool, Mom.”  He looked at the Dr. and then asked him  to give him a high 5.  He gave Adam a high 5.  “Low five.” Gave Adam a low five. “No five.”  And with that Adam took his hand and lightly slapped Dr. Wrobleski across the face. And just burst out laughing.  Please tell me that you did not just slap the dentist across the face?

“I like you. Hey Dr. Wrobleski….I think you and I should go drink some beer together sometime. I think that would be fun. Maybe after you take out my teeth.”  He paused and then said. “I bet it would be fun to get high with you. I have never done it, but I will with you, Dr. Wrobleski.”  And then he cracked up laughing again. He then looked over at the assistant he proposed to and said, “Are you sure you don’t want to marry me?  I’m going to be rich….. Can you make chicken?”

Adam started talking about everything under the sun. Told the assistants they were too old for him. “Mom, she keeps asking me to marry her. Tell her I’m too young to get married.”  He burst out laughing again. Dr. Wrobleski finally patted him on his arm and told him that they needed to start working now. Adam replied. “People in the waiting room can wait. There’s a party going on.”  And made a little move with his arms like someone sitting in a wheelchair, making the wheels move…or a locomotive…I sure hope he didn’t dance that way.

Adam had brought his headphones and some music to listen to, and wanted to know if Dr. Wrobleski wanted to wear them. Dear God.  I couldn’t quit laughing, so I know that I wouldn’t be able to get him to quit. So I left to go back out in the waiting room.

When it was done, Adam couldn’t do much talking, so that was good. He wasn’t very good playing sherades, because we didn’t know what the hell he was trying to say. It took us about 20 minutes to get him out the door. Oh, but Adam wasn’t done, yet.

We got to the van, and I opened the door for Adam and I noticed that he had pulled one of those metal security system signs out of the yard that was right by the door and was getting into the van with it. “Adam, what are you doing? You can NOT take that sign home with you.” I started laughing again. Oh My God, this was going to be a long day. I tried to take it from him, but he got out of the car and put it in the yard right by the car. And made a gesture with his arms like “Ta Da!”…Shit..I got out of the van, and took it away from him and we walked back and put it back in the ground where it belonged. We then took off and drove home. I needed to go to Walmart for his prescription, but I didn’t want him to get arrested for shoplifting or proposing to Walmart shoppers.

Well, he was quiet in the car because he had a bunch of gauze in this mouth, thank goodness. I did have to go back to Dr. Wrobleski’s the next morning though.

Adam somehow pulled the security sign back out of the ground again and walked behind me to the van.

It was on the floor in the back seat.

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.

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

Shameless plug:

Enjoy this story? Jumping in Mud Puddles is now an ebook  that you can download on your Kindle. Don’t have a Kindle? No problem. Amazon will let you download their Kindle app FREE…Yes, free.  Have a look see.  :)  My literary debut….. Amazon.com for $3.99. It’s sort of funny.

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

Alice (and Ducks) in Wonderland

When I was in college I majored in Speech Communication and Drama (the first time around) and had to participate in one-act plays and stage productions. One of the big productions put on was Alice in Wonderland. So, my good friend and roommate, Jeri, and I went to try out.  When the parts came out, we looked down the list to see what parts we got. We knew we would get a part, because it was a pretty big cast.  We were hoping for a big part. Jeri won the role of the Red Queen. I was very happy for her. I secretly wanted to be Alice. I looked for my name. Yeah, there it was………….Vickie Mendenhall…………..Duck/card

I was a duck. Yeah, a duck. And a card. Like in a deck of cards. Wow. This was….such great news. (I am being extremely sarcastic, in case you can’t tell.) I mean, what the hell?  A duck?  And then, I had to change out of my duck costume, and don a card costume, and then back into the duck costume.  Oh, and it gets better.

Our director wanted to use a real baby pig for the part where the baby turns into a pig. She said that she had made arrangements for a farmer to lend us a baby pig, but needed someone to be in charge of doing the switch behind the curtain when it was time. She called out people who were free during that time, and my name was called. Well, I loved baby pigs. I had a pig collection in high school. Some people collect Pez and baseball cards. I collected pigs..Go figure..

Anywho, I raised my hand and said that I would be willing to do the pig switch, despite the fact that I had to be a duck, then a card, and then a duck. I would try to find the time. But, oh my God, there were problems.

After my initial disappointment, of you know, being a duck in a play…in college, I decided to  embrace it and be the best damn duck anyone had ever seen…because, I was a professional, damnit…sigh

I had to have a costume made for me. A duck costume. At least my face would show and I wouldn’t be hidden behind a duck head. I did look  like a duck, with yellow chicken legs and big feet. The feet would pose a problem in every performance. Meanwhile, the director couldn’t find anyone to take the little piggie home each evening. She didn’t think about that. So, she decided to keep it in her office. Yeah, real smart. Her office smelled like hay and piggie poop.

So, the night of dress rehearsal went smoothly. I decided to ad lib something while on stage both times I was on as the duck and I thought the director would stop everything and yell at me, but I heard her laughing in the seats. Someone who was sitting by her told me she was crying she was laughing so hard. I had to be in a scene with a jury of animals, like a mouse, and I don’t know what other animals were jury members. Some one used pepper somehow and we all had to sneeze, just a little sneeze. But, I made mine last forever, like I was trying to sneeze, over and over, and sounding like a munchkin from munchkinland at the same time. (I really could have been a voice-over for cartoons.)

Another time Alice was passing out candy to animals for some stupid reason and we were just supposed to take the candy and go stand back in the line. Well, I decided to stand there, fidgeting, holding out my hand each time , even though we were in a line, and then I looked at Alice with my eyes crossed and said thank you in my munchkin voice, and the girl playing Alice burst out laughing. Uh, Oh, I was going to get yelled at. But, the director told me to leave it in there for the performances. I was going to be a duck hit.

Well, the performance the next night was filled with some problems. Everything ran smoothly, but only because I am a professional, damnit. After I was onstage as a duck, I had to run downstairs and get the pig, in my duck outfit. And carry the thing upstairs. The farmer had showed me to hold the pig by its back feet with one hand and to put my other hand on its chest. He said hanging it upside down like that would pull on its vocal cords and it couldn’t squeal. Well, that part was true, and the pig did great. We made the exchange each time without a squealing pig behind stage before it was time. But, each time the pig had to run off stage and Vickie the duck had to run after it each time, catch it and take it back downstairs. Then I had to run back upstairs, and change into my card outfit.

Well, I tripped going up the stairs in my duck outfit and landed on my knee. The pain was unbelievable. It hurt so badly and I still had to be a card and a duck again. I was crying some real duck tears. Well, some older guy who was a community member who was some animal (I can’t remember), told me he had a pain pill and that I should take it. So, I did. Yeah, I am a stupid duck. I only weighed 100 pounds and I was loopy for the rest of the performance. I mean, very loopy. I didn’t really know what was going on. He probably gave me some LSD or something….Pyschedelic Duck….perhaps a Disco Duck…

The audience cracked up at my scene-stealing, but I was soo messed up. Then, Mr. Wallman, the old man that our theater building was named after, Wallman Hall, came looking for me. “Where’s that little girl duck?” he asked frantically. “I opened the door to Ms. Lough’s office, and the pig ran out.”  Yeah, the pig was on the loose.  We didn’t need the piglet anymore that night, and I had to change into a card, so poor Mr. Wallman had to hunt for the piggie on his own.

Well, they didn’t find the piglet for hours afterwards. They thought maybe someone stole it, but they found it sleeping in the costume room, all curled up in a hat. Weird, but not as weird as how I was feeling. I had no pain in my knee until I woke up the next morning. I woke up wearing a robe. I don’t even remember how I got home or how I got undressed. But, when I woke up, my leg was swollen and I was in pain. So, yeah, I took another pill that next performance, but cut it in half. I mean, no one else could fit in the outfit. I had the duck voice going on and people asking me afterwards what I had in my mouth to make me sound the way I did. I was like a Peter Frampton “How do you Feel?” voice changer duck..I had to perform. The show had to go on!

Some one filmed Alice in Wonderland and I wish I would have purchased a copy of it. My kids would see a high duck with ripped yellow hose (which the director loved) parading around on stage looking like….a duck.

I realized after that last performance that I could be an actress if I really wanted to.  But, no, I decided to stay in Fairmont, West Virginia, and become a dental assistant for the next four years. Yeah, that sounds much better.

What a lucky duck!

Old Lady Driver

When my kids were little, I ran them all over the place. It seemed like we were always in the car heading somewhere. And most of the time we were in a hurry. I was a stay-at-home-mom until my youngest was a junior in high school, so I chauffeured quite a bit. So, it wasn’t unusual for one of them to ask to stop to grab something to eat right after school, on their way to their sporting practice.

I picked up my son, Adam, after school, one day to drive him straight to football practice. We were running late, but he was hungry and wanted to stop at McDonald’s. I was driving my husband’s work car, a silverish Monte Carlo. It was a piece of junk, and I really don’t know why I had it that day.  Since we were in a hurry, he wanted me to just pull into a spot and he was going to run in and grab some food to go. I pulled into a parking spot and he jumped out.

It was pretty crowded, so I knew that this was going to make my son nervous. They would get in trouble if they were late for football practice. While we were waiting, another car pulled up beside me. My door was beside her driver’s door, so I got a good look at the driver. It was a silver car and I was amused to see a very old woman with purplish hair and she was wearing sun glasses that seemed to wrap around her face. They were black and huge and she barely could see over her steering wheel.

Well, she put her car in park, and was getting ready to get out of the car, when all of a sudden, her passenger door was flung opened, and my son hopped into her car and shut the door. He had his bag of McDonald food and a drink. The lady looked over at him, and didn’t say a word. She just looked at him. This all happened in less than 30 seconds, but I could see my son mouth ,”Let’s go!”  And then he looked over at her.

They just stared at each other.  They were both confused. I am sure he was thinking, “Who the hell are you and why are you in my mom’s car?” And she was probably thinking, “Let’s go? Are you kidnapping me?”  And I cracked up. He saw me through the window so I waved at him. He didn’t say a word to her, and hurriedly got out of the car.

When Adam got in the right car and shut the door, my daughter and I were already laughing so hard, we were crying. He was embarrassed. Then I happened to look at the old lady, thinking she already got out of the car to enter McDonald’s, but..and this is the best part..she was still looking at her passenger seat. She was staring with her purplish hair and her wrap-around sunglasses like he was still there.

I don’t know what it was, but I could not quit laughing. I had to pull over because the tears in my eyes were obscurring my vision while driving. Adam was not amused and was getting aggitated because we were running late. So, I tried to compose myself, and finally made it to the stadium without hitting anyone head on.

I guess I rank my best laughs.

And this was definitely in the Top Ten.

Groundhog Day

My fourth graders love it when I get off-topic. And believe me, I do it often.  I told them a story last week that probably took me ten minutes to tell. I really should have stayed with our Reading topic, but I just had to tell them what happened to me. I thought I would share it with my blog readers.

Two weeks ago I was driving home on Boothes Creek Road. It was a nice Sunday morning and I was shopping at Walmart because I don’t know any better. Boothes Creek Road runs along a creek..duh…and there is one straight stretch that has a open field on one side and the creek on the other. Well, I was on the straight stretch, when I saw something in the middle of the road. As I slowed down, I saw that it was a groundhog. He looked like he was licking the pavement, perhaps his search for some salt. I came to a halt and gave a little honk with my horn, and the groundhog did not move.

Come on, you Groundhog you, I thought to myself. I honked again, and the darn critter was bent on licking up the road, especially the yellow line that ran through the middle. There weren’t any other cars on the road, so I got out of my car and told the little fellow to get a move on. I had my door open and I got so close to the groundhog that I thought maybe he was deaf.  When he finally saw me, he didn’t run off to the side of the road,but under my car. Oh great, now I am going to run over him for sure. So, I went around to the right side of my car and leaned over, and told the groundhog to get the hell out of the road. (I didn’t talk like this in front of my fourth graders, just in case you were wondering.)

I could see that the groundhog was on the driver side of my car now, so I ran around back of the car to shoosh him off the road, and the damn thing went INTO my Sante Fe!!!  What the hell? I have seen groundhogs in my peach tree, so I know they can climb, but this thing hopped like a rabbit right into my  seat. Oh dear God! He was all over the inside of the car, acting like a crazy person, or I guess, crazy groundhog. He wouldn’t come out because I was blocking his exit, so I thought I should open the other door. Right about now I saw a car approaching.  The car stopped, because I had my door opened and was in front of the car looking like a guy with a gun was sitting in my back seat or something.

He got out of the car and the guy looked like he was on his way to church. Or Walmart, because you know everyone dresses up to go there. As he approached me, he shut my car door. I still don’t know why he did that. “Are you ok? he asked. As soon as he shut the door and before I could say anything, the damn groundhog started pawing at the drivers’ side door window. The guy looked at me like, “Lady, you can’t have a groundhog as a pet.” I started explaining what happened, and right about then, we heard a click.

Yeah, that’s right. The damn groundhog locked himself in my car, with the motor running. Church guy said he was running late, but that he would call 911 for me, since my phone was now with “Little Piggie”. Yeah, I named him.  Poor Piggie was going crazy in my car and the windows had muddy stuff on the window and I just knew he was probably scared and peeing all over the place. Nice…

So, here comes a cop. There were a few cars that had stopped and I had 2 people just standing around, laughing at my predicament. The cop was cracking up. I used a ladies phone and called my daughter to bring me the other set of keys to me. When she got there, I unlocked the car, and opened all four doors, hoping Little Piggie would finally hop out. She did.

About that time, a stupid idiot in a truck came by and you would think he would slow down with a cop car, and 3 other cars in the road. He didn’t. And little piggie, jumped out of my car and ran right into the path of the oncoming truck.

So, I guess you want to know what happened to Little Piggie? Well, I don’t know, because I made the whole thing up…to give my class an example of “Realistic fiction”, what we were studying when I broke off and started this story.

Are you ready to kill me?  My students were. 🙂

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.

Creative Play Sends Mom to Funny Farm

I love being a mother. I truly do. It is the best job in the world.  Sure, there are some days when you wonder if your children are idiots.  Or “Special.”  (Which means, retarded, but we can’t say that anymore)  Case in point, years ago, we  had just built our new house and we had just moved in. I had just scrubbed my kitchen floor earlier in the day and it was looking pretty. My husband and I had walked my brother-in-law out into the garage as he was getting ready to leave, when all of a sudden, Alex, who was only about 4,  came running out crying and pointing back into the house. “Mommy….unrecognizable blather….Adam”   I replied, “Ok, Alex, Mommy will be right in.”  I had no idea what the hell she just said, but if Adam was involved, it was going to be good.

We had a large kitchen with a dining nook and an eating bar on the island and on another eating bar by the family room. One big room. I walked into the family room, and Adam was standing still in the kitchen, like a marble statue. Like they were playing Freeze Tag and Alex quit and had walked away from him a while before. “What? I asked Adam. Then I saw it.  Shards of glass EVERYWHERE. Thousands upon thousands of mini pieces of glass, or shards, like I just said, all over the counter, all over the floor, all over Adam. Well, and in a path to the garage, because little Alex was covered in glass also.

“Oh my God!!!” Don’t move.  Adam, what happened?”  Now, you have to understand that Adam didn’t  really let anything bother him. I am sure he was thinking that it was an experiment that didn’t go too well. Like the time he and Alex covered their legs with toothpaste (Never found out what that was about). Or the time they poured the whole container of baby powder all over their bedroom in the old house because they didn’t want people to want to buy it. He wanted the  house to look “Yucky.” Well, son, it did look yucky, since the day before that, when you poured all of the cereal out of the boxes and stomped on it. Gave new meaning to “Snap, Crackle and Pop.” I had no idea he was trying to sabotage us selling the house. I just thought he was quite mental. Smooshing jelly beans into the carpet was a highlight.

I didn’t curse in front of my children. I really didn’t say a curse word in front of  them until Alex was in high school. Then, I realized I enjoyed it.  I curse all of the time now. Enjoy getting my friends to join in.   So, anywho, I didn’t curse that day, and I think even the most prim and proper person you can picture would have given their permission for me to spew out some expletives that day. “Adam, what did you dooooo?” (You idiot)

“We were sword fighting.”  Adam replied like it really wasn’t a bad idea.  “With what???” I couldn’t get to him, as he was surrounded by lovely pieces of glass shrapnel, intent on piercing and  living under the skin forever. This was just pissing me off.

“Light bulbs.”

Yes, my mad scientist son and his assistant, Igor, were sword fighting…with light bulbs. No, not the long ones that are flourescent bulbs, but the regular light bulbs. I believe they were  60 watt  bulbs. (Why am I mentioning that?)  Why would anyone in their right mind even think to sword fight with light bulbs. Pretzel sticks, perhaps, even soft, friendly Q-Tips. But not light bulbs. Right then I realized I was probably going to be put into a “home” before I was 60. (Only have 7 years to go.) And right then I realized that Adam’s elevator didn’t go to the top floor.  It went beyond.

I worked on that kitchen for hours. I first had to take their clothes off , examined their bodies, and I looked through their hair. Surprisingly, they had no glass there. I then handed each child to Jay, and he took them upstairs for bathtime. Even though they just had freakin bath time while my brother-in-law was downstairs talking to Jay. I then wiped off all of the counters. I swept the floor with a broom. I swept the floor with the vacuum cleaner. I then got masking tape and got on my hands and knees and put my face down close to the floor to look for pieces I missed and would dab them with the masking tape. Then I did the whole process all over again.  Each time I widened my circle. Hell, glass could have been in the cat dish for all I know. .All the while, I was trying to figure out why they would sword fight with light bulbs. I guess they went through a couple of the 4 packs.

The next week I stepped on an errant piece of glass that was out of my of cleaning  region.

“F&^%!  Son of a Bitch!!!”  No, didn’t make me feel any better. There was glass now living under my skin. I would be aware of it everytime I took a step. I talked to my mom, aka Joan Crawford later that day and told her what happened.

“Oh, those poor kids. Vickie, you should never leave kids alone, even for a second. You should know better than that.   They are so lucky that glass didn’t fly in their eyes and blind them. Why, I had THREE  kids and I never…………………………….(oops, hung up on her by mistake)

NOW I felt better.

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.

Riding With My Hand Out the Window

I get car sick.  Pukey Vickie.  I’m surprised that nickname didn’t stick.  When I was little I got sick on the school bus almost every day. When I did throw up, my best friend, Ramaine, would yell out loud for everyone to raise their feet (especially if we were ready to travel up a hill).  Sometimes I would run up to the front and throw up on the stairs. I guess I thought it would be confined and easier for the bus driver to clean up. Except for the fact that each child would be taking home a piece of me each day.  That’s why people should take their shoes off in their homes. Anywho,  I know the bus driver hated me.  A couple years later he ran over my Chihuahua, Smokey. I am sure he did it for revenge.  Poor Smokey.

My parents kept a bucket and a towel in the back seat for me. And kept the air conditioning running, even in the winter.  On top of that, I rode with my hand out the window.  That really helped.  Anyone who says this doesn’t work  is wrong.  And no longer my friend.   Needless to say, weekend jaunts down the Blue Ridge Parkway were quite fun.  That road had many hairpin turns. I  know that  I would think twice about going on back roads if I had a child that was pukey.  I guess if you live in West Virginia, you aren’t going to have straight roads.  My brother and sister pleaded with my parents to turn off the air conditioner.  Next trip they had a blanket.  Now that I think about it, they were always sick.  I didn’t care. What was important was my well-being.

When I was in fourth grade, my mom handed me a little green car sick pill. I took it every day for a long time. Didn’t really seem to work. I did quit vomiting when I started sitting in the front of the bus and started watching the road. The bus driver (new guy) would have the window opened up a tiny bit, so I sat there, looking straight ahead, with my little bony arm stretched up so my hand could greet the air. I was in business.  I didn’t find out until I was in my 30’s that the little green pill was a mild tranquilizer. The hell you say!   Mom said it was given to me because I couldn’t concentrate on anything and I was diagnosed with hyperactivity.  I’m thinking she diagnosed me.  Then she added, “That’s why I taught you how to play chess when you were in second grade.  You needed to learn to concentrate.”  Meanwhile, I’m concentrating how to murder her and get away with it.  I mean, seriously, a mild tranquilizer?  Ok, yeah, I was nicknamed Cricket when I was little because I hopped all over the place. I was like a little Mexican jumping bean.  But, I am sure I was endearing. To stifle that energetic creativity with a tranquilizer is just so wrong.

Nowadays, as a teacher, I can’t go on field trips unless I take Dramamine, sit in the front and stare ahead. People think that if you get car sick, once you are stopped and out of the car, you are ok. That’s not true. I’m sick for hours. So, I try to take the day off on field trip days. Yeah, my kids want me to go, because I am incredibly fun. But, seeing me with my hand out the window diminishes great teacher status.

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