Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

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.

Vertigo and Meniere’s Disease

In 1999, our family went to Kennywood Park in Pittsburgh and rode on a stupid roller coaster called the Steel Phantom.  I was so damn mad at that ride when we got off. I was crying because my neck hurt so badly. I swear we all had whiplash. I found out that the Kennywood people re-vamped it after many complaints. It wasn’t too long after that “Ride of Misery”, that I started having problems with my ear.

One day out of the blue, my right ear started feeling like swimmer’s ear. It felt full. Well, I had been swimming in our pool that afternoon. That night when I rolled over, it felt as if water was leaking out of my ear. I was sure my pillow was soaked. Nothing. It was such a weird feeling. This went on for a few days. It felt like someone jammed cotton in my ear.

I woke up one day and everything was spinning. I mean, around and around and around. It ended up being for 36 hours straight. I had to crawl to the bathroom. I had to crawl down the stairs when everyone was in school or at work. I threw up non-stop. I crawled back to bed. I crawled. The one thing I did realize is that my vaccum cleaner wasn’t doing a very good job. I was up close and personal with my carpet. And the toilet. I think vomiting is just so….sickening. I was about to name my toilet, we became such good friends. It was there for me. Tammy Toilet,

I really never thought I was going to get better. I was just going to be a spinning, vomiting, crawling cry-baby for the rest of my life. The carnival ride of death. I took Dramamine and threw it up. I was a mess. Finally, after 36 long, tortuous hours, I felt a bit better and called  and made an appointment with an ENT in Morgantown. I explained the tortuous event, which he named Vertigo.  Vickie Vertigo. I remembered the Jimmy Stewart movie, Vertigo.  He suffered from acrophobia, a fear of heights. Vertigo can be triggered by looking up or down. My vertigo was triggered because I looked.

Actually, according to earsurgery.com, Vertigo is described “as a sudden loss of normal balance or equilibrium. The room may suddenly begin to spin and rotate at high speed. Focusing is difficult, and if the vertigo continues, nausea and vomiting may occur. Vertigo is commonnly caused by acute labyrinthitis (a viral inflammation of the inner ear), benign positional vertigo (a condition due to abnormally floating crystals in the inner ear that stimulate the nerve endings of the inner ear), delayed symptom of head injury, or result of cervical spine problems.”  In a nutshell, I am screwed.

So, back to my visit to the ENT. They put me through some weird tests. They put a balloon in my ears and put water in them, and then blew them up or something. Seriously? Can you imagine the first person they did this to. “Sir, what we are going to do is put this balloon in your ear, and blow it up and then put some water in it.”  They tried to make me dizzy. Thanks alot. I had hearing tests and another where they shut the light and watched my eyes. I don’t know. I guess I should do a google and write the procedures here for you guys to understand, but I’m not feeling it this morning. Anywho, they said my eyes move too much (nystagmus) and that I had Meniere’s Disease.

I had a disease? Hell, a disease sounds contagious. He told me to come back the next time I was having an episode. Sure, I will just have my husband peel me away from the toilet and let him drive me to Morgantown right in the middle of  spinning like a top. This was rotational spinning that would not stop. The ENT told me that Meniere’s Disease is marked by four main symptoms: progressive hearing loss, tinnitus, ear fullness and vertigo. All wrapped up  with a bow on top and given to me. Nice….Oh, and he added, “Stay away from caffeine, salt, and stress. And don’t climb any ladders.”  Funny guy.

So, I went home and did some research. It said that Meniere’s Disease was rare. I joined a forum and found out that it wasn’t rare at all. I made some good friends from Nova Scotia and Saskatoon, Canada and Upper Michigan. People all over the damn place suffered from symptoms of Meniere’s Disease. I started an online group on Yahoo, The Meniere’s Disease Club, which now has over 2,000 members world-wide since 2000. So, no, it isn’t rare. Dizzy is dizzy.

Each person with Meniere’s Disease may have different symptoms. Some lose their hearing over the course of a few months. Some lose it gradually. Some don’t lose much at all. Some people have vertigo attacks daily and can no longer work. It can be a debilitating disorder. I have only had 2 full blown vertigo attacks. I do, however, also have BPPV,  which is short for Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. It sometimes starts at night, when I lie down to go to bed. If I roll over, I get dizzy. Basically, BPPV is vertigo induced by head movements. Well, hell, just put me in a whiplash collar and send me on my merry way. Great. It was bearable when I was a stay-at-home mom, but when I have bouts now, I can’t really look down at the kid’s desks, or turn my head. And I veer while walking down the hall.

I noticed that in the grocery stores, my buggy veered to the left. When I drove my car into the garage, I veered to the left. Don’t know why. I veer. I can’t walk a straight line if my life depended on it. I hope I never get pulled over and asked to walk a straight line, because they would be hauling my butt off to jail for DUI. It would have to be DWM, for Driving With Menieres. It is such a stupid disorder.

Another symptom of Meniere’s Disease is tinnitus. William Shatner has tinnitus. “No! JIM!”  Tinnitus is noise in your ear. Mine sounds like a high pitched whine. According to Wikipedia, Tinnitus is usually described “as a ringing noise, but can take the form of a high pitched whining, electric, buzzing, hissing, screaming, humming, tinging or whistling sound, or as ticking, clicking, roaring, “crickets” or “tree frogs” or “locusts “, tunes, songs, beeping, or even a pure steady tone like heard in a hearing test. It has also been described as a “wooshing” sound, as of wind or waves.” I guess mine would be described as the “pure steady tone like heard in a hearing test.” Fun stuff I have.

The only good thing about having Meniere’s is that I can sleep on my right side and not hear a dog barking. Or someone breaking into my apartment.  I also am affected by the change in barometric pressure. My right ear begins to  hurt before it rains. Sometimes my ear hurts so badly, like a pencil is being shoved in my ear slowly. I also feel the sensation of a bug crawling deep  in my ear. I just want to jam a Q-tip in there, and kill it. And you know how your ears pop when you travel into a higher altitude? Well, my right ear won’t pop. It just starts hurting. I think my head will explode when I travel by plane to visit my daughter in France next spring. Again, fun stuff.

So, this is my life. Thank goodness my Meniere’s symptoms are very mild. I make fun of myself, so that helps when I have flare-ups. I haven’t crawled to visit my friend, Tammy the toilet in years.

If you have any of these symptoms, hold on. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.  Damn roller coaster. At least when someone calls me a “dizzy blonde,” it really will be the truth.

Update: March 2014….just wanted you to know that I haven’t had a full blown vertigo attack in years, but have a lot of postitional vertigo. I have found that my salt intake is a big part of whether it gets worse or not…also, I have come to the conclusion that diet plays a big part of mine…I can’t eat a turkey breast sandwich from Subway anymore….I think it may be the salt…Weather and change of seasons or a quick change of barometric pressure seems to give me ear pain…everyone with menieres has different little triggers, you have to experiment to find yours….but I believe diet is the culprit….for me.

Hello, Circadian Dysrhythmia

Benjamin Franklin was a very wise man, but I still curse him twice a year, nontheless. He was credited for coming up with the idea of Daylight Saving Time.  Ben thought that we should go to bed early and rise early so we could be healthy, wealthy and intelligent. I don’t think it works that way.  He thought that more daylight meant saving wax for all the candles. Maybe he was tired of reading his almanac by candlelight.

All I know is that I physically change all the clocks in my house, but my  biological, circadian clock won’t budge. We SPRING forward and FALL behind.  Sure, I gain an hour in the fall, but the time change messes with me for a good week. I am not looking forward to this at all. Sunday marks the end of Daylight Saving Time and the beginning of my moaning and complaining.

If you have ever suffered from jet lag, then perhaps you can understand what a shift in time can do to a person. I am tired. Circadian dyshrythmia. I have lost my rhythm. I become awkward in oh, so many ways.

So, who else can I blame for this? Surely not Arizona, the only state that will not buckle to the pressure to lose and gain time. Arizona has more sunshine than Florida, the Sunny Sunshine state. They don’t need a time shift.

In 1918, the United States adopted  Daylight Saving Time for the duration of  World War I. This allowed  people to spend more time hanging out in daylight, thus saving costs on fuel for lighting. It was abolished, brought back, abolished and then in 2005, Congress enacted the Energy Policy Act, which changed Daylight Saving Time dates again. As of March 2007, Daylight Saving Time begins on the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday of November. It just sucks. Daylight Saving Time stays around now  past Halloween, where some little trick-or-treaters were getting hit by cars at night. Well, that is what reflective tape is for, my little munchkins. Trick or treating during daylight is just wrong. But, no one listens to me.
I would really like to know what the hell is saved? I know that it is a reminder to change the batteries in your smoked detector and Arm &Hammer let’s us know that it is time to change the box of baking soda in your refrigerator, but hey, that is just to strum up some business. The energizer bunny doesn’t suffer from the time shift. I bet more batteries are purchased around this time than at Christmas. Well, maybe not, but it’s a gimmick to change your smoke detector. But, as most of you know, the smoke detector will let you know when it is time. It will freakin beep at 3 minute intervals until you change the damn thing.
  The only thing that was fun about the time change was accidentally sleeping through church when we were small. Oops, Mom and Dad, you forgot to spring forward. Aw, shucks, we missed church. Looks like we can think about God from our warm beds.  I did convince a college roommate that it was against the law to change the clocks before 2a.m. I told her that it was a law enforcement thing. If the police were called to a residence for anything after 11pm and they wrote down the wrong time, it might be a critical mistake, so a law was enacted in West Virginia that stated that all clocks could not be turned back before 2a.m. or a $500 fine would be imposed on anyone who turned their clocks back earlier. She believed me and set her alarm for 2am to set her clock back. She was so easy.
  In the end, I still haven’t found anything that is saved.  All the deer in the United States live in West Virginia and cross the road on my way to work.  Do they suffer from circadian dysrhythmia? I bet they do.  Daylight Deer Time. Will they now operate an hour earlier or hour later?   School children will be standing at the bus stop in the dark, wrapped in reflective tape. Or wait. Won’t it be daylight if we turn back our clocks? That means they are wrapped in reflective tape just because. See, now I am confused about when it will be dark and when it will be light. This just sucks. I don’t need to be anymore confused than I already am.
I guess there is some good to Daylight Saving Time. Raccoons will have more time to pillage through garbage cans.  Robbers can eat breakfast at the home they are robbing.
I really can’t stress how much I hate the time change.
Damn you, Ben Franklin.

Making Mountains out of Molehills

I really should have a full head of gray hairs. I probably do, but thanks to Clairol #whatever, I am keeping the gray away.  But, one of these days, I am going to wake up to white hair that no dye or shoe polish will be able to cover. It’s either that or a stroke.

I think it goes back to when I really wouldn’t let my kids climb to the top of the really high sliding board.  I would stand there and picture them waving at me from the top, “Watch, mommy!” and as they wave their little wave, lose their grasp and fall backwards to the ground and explode. I could create scenarios in my head one after the other. My cause and effect machine was working overtime. I had one hell of an imagination.

Fast forward to their college years. They were both at WVU, about 30 minutes up the road from our home. That was just far enough away, but close in case we had to get their fast. We took homemade soup when they were sick and drove them home when they needed extra pampering. But, nothing prepares parents for the news that they both want to study abroad.

“You mean, like Canada, right?”  I could only hope. Canada was a great country. They could learn all about their culture, such as hockey, curling, Canadian bacon, and could come home, saying, “Eh, dontcha knowl.” That sounded great. They just looked at me.

So, off they went. The first summer, Adam went to Strasburg, France for a month. He flew by himself. Why the hell he didn’t travel with the rest of the WVU students and teacher is beyond me.  He was also the only one who rented a bicycle and toured the countryside while he was there. I didn’t want him to ride a bike, because I would probably get a phone call, in French, “Madam, do you have zee son named Adam, with zee red hair, smashed under car..we send him home in a box, oui.”

After he came back, Alex went to Santander, Spain with a WVU Spanish group. Nothing is worse than two weeks of crying on the other end of the phone. She hated it. She said there is nothing worse than “forced admiration.”  She said that being part of a tour group is horrible. She wanted to go off by herself and see the sights that she wanted to. I pictured getting that phone call. “Senora, Alexandra was at the end of the tour group line, when someone must have abducted  her.. All that was left was her camera. We will send that home to you…in a box..Ole”

This is awful but I was sitting home, saying to myself,  “2 down, 2 to go.” I still had 2 more study abroad experiences to live through, and I wasn’t even leaving my home. I was exhasusted. Adam went to Morocco for 4 months. Luckily for me, WVU had asked him to blog every day and his blogs were entertaining and scary. I think that is when I started going gray. He traveled in an old, small plane from Casablanca and could see the runway as they landed, bouncing down the runway. He climbed the second highest mountain in Africa and I had him frozen like Jack Nicholson in the Shining. He wrote about how he and a friend from Italy rode horses bareback through the woods. Whaat? On tv, people who race horses through the woods always catch their neck on a low tree branch. That always happens.

When he came home, Alex went to Guanajuato, Mexico. She loves Mexico. I didn’t. She said that they don’t have screens in their windows and she would wake up with bug bites all over her body. Her roommate was stung by a scorpion that was on the dresser handle. Gray hair….She joined a Mexican ultimate frisbee team and traveled 6 hours on a bus by herself to Mexico City,then traveled in a van with frisbee players she never met before. She didn’t tell me until much later that their van was hit  broadside by a truck. We sent Adam down during his spring break because she was so sick, we thought he was going to have to bring her home. After several trips to a hospital, she recovered and they were able to ride horses up to a volcano. Horses? Volcano? Deathly ill? Scorpions? Open windows for rapists and questionable flying bugs?  I was a mess for those 5 months. She, meanwhile, took private salsa lessons and had a blast. I never left my home and thought about drinking heavily.

I thought I would be done worrying while they traipsed around the world, having fun.

Adam in the Alps

But no, they weren’t done driving me crazy. Adam climbed part of the Matterhorn and drove a compact car around the Alps one summer. Alex worked for the Japanese embassy and the JET program for a year and was placed in Kobe, you know, the place that had the devastating earthquake. And yes, there was an earthquake while she was there. Seems that Japan has earthquakes somewhere almost every day.

She flew to Korea for a long weekend, so I had her accidentally stepping into North Korea. “Hello, Alex mom?  She in North Korea. Not good. Must be spy. Never coming home. Goodbye.”

And today, I have spent the whole day in tears. Alex went to teach in France. So, of course she was up in the Eiffel Tower several weeks ago when they evacuated it because of terror plots. She flew to Japan last week to see her boyfriend and she was supposed to be back last night. No word from Alex. No word all day today. I saw on CNN where South Korea was cracking down on airport security because of a supposed bomb on planes. She had a 2 hour lay over in Seoul. So, that had to mean her plane had a bomb on it. I was ready to call the airlines, because I was sure her plane disappeared over the Meditteranean Triangle, or a taxi driver abducted her. When we finally talked on skype, she told me that she was sitting at the train station in Paris, when security people came and asked her row of 6 people to please leave the area. Next thing you know 300 people were evacuated and they taped off the area where Alex had been sitting. She went to a cafe after seeing a friend from Moscow (probably the bomber) and they heard a loud boom and they ran outside. She said she never heard what had happened, but that her train had left on time.

I’m ready for the looney bin.

When Grandpa Falls Asleep

Every parent has a “puke and poop” story about their kids.  You just think that yours tops them all. Well, I don’t think this is the puke story of the century, but it rates.

When my two children were very young, they would head to Grandma’s and Grandpa’s for the evening every once in a while. My husband and I had to go to one of his work parties, so my in-laws told us to bring them on over. We picked them up around ten and back to the house we went. I got the kids ready to go to bed, and all was right with the world. Or so I thought.

I was awakened by Alex crying out for me, “Mommy!”  I ran into her room, turned on the light. “My tummy hurts real bad.”  I sat on her bed, and she sat up and promptly puked all over herself , the comforter, and me. It was black. I was scared because I had never seen black vomit before. I got her up out of bed, and she threw up again. She did the vomit walk all the way to the bathroom. No sooner than I got Alex to the bathroom, I heard Adam yell for me. “Mommy, I threw up!”

I yelled for my husband to help. Why should he get to sleep? He balked at changing dirty diapers and turned green when he saw blood or vomit. He was generally useless, but I needed help. Adam had at least tried to aim for  his wastepaper basket by his bed, but threw up all over the his nice light grey berber carpet. It was black vomit.

Oh, Dear God, they have some terrible virus, I thought. A black virus. Her carpeting was a very light pink and white berber and I knew I had to scrub fast before it really stained. Alex wanted to try to go back to bed, but as soon as she got in the hall, vomited again. She was a vomit walker. I ran and got the wastebasket in her room for her to hold while I took her bedding off and put new sheets on her bed. I should have just picked them both up and put them in the bathtub so they could just puke in an enclosed area.

I told my husband that their forehead didn’t feel warm. I was ready to rush them to the hospital. I’m telling you that the vomit was jet black. I was stunned. Jet propulsion vomit. Vomit splatter. CSI style. My babies probably had a rare, contagious disease I couldn’t pronounce.

Jay just looked at me and said, “They smell like oreo cookies.”

What?  Oreo cookies? That couldn’t be. How could kids vomit so much blackness from just an oreo cookie or two. “Well, that is probably the last thing they ate.” I replied. Then I thought that Grandpa probably gave them a couple cookies late, but that shouldn’t make them vomit, for goodness sake. I was pretty strict with the junk food. I never gave them pop and I limited their cookie eating every day. No, they must have that rare, 5-syllable disease I was thinking of before.

So, my husband started the  questioning. “Adam, did you and Alex eat oreo cookies at Grandpa’s?”

He nodded. “We had oreo cookies and root beer.”

“How many cookies do you think you ate?” my husband asked.

“Like 2 bags.” Adam said and then threw up again. I can’t stress the blackness enough.

I looked at Adam like he had three eyes. “You mean 2 cookies, right?”  And that’s when Alex chirped in. “Grandpa put the bag of Oreo’s on the table and gave us a Root Beer.”

“He let you eat more than 1 or 2?” I asked, my blood pressure slowly rising.

“Grandpa fell asleep in his chair. We ate the first bag. It didn’t have many cookies in it, and we threw it away.  He woke up and Adam told him we were out of Oreo cookies. So, he got us another bag. And poured us some more root beer.” Alex noted in detail.

Adam added, ” So, when he fell asleep again, we ate  the second bag.”  He looked at me like it was no big deal.

“YOU ATE A WHOLE BAG OF OREO COOKIES?…. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?”  I was ready to call my in-laws. I didnt’ care that it was 1:00a.m. My kids shared  more than a bag of Oreo cookies and had several cans of Root beer each. I was beyond furious.

“Mommy, it wasn’t Grandpa’s fault. He was sleeping.”   Yeah, that makes it better.

I scrubbed the vomit walk in both bedrooms and the hallway. I changed the sheets on their beds and put blankets on top of their sheets since their comforters were caressed with Oreo upchuck.

Yes, Oreo upchuck. That’s what I called it. Like it was an episode on tv- Oreo Upchuck, brought to you by Tide, when your whites can’t get white enough. When your children spew black Oreos on their pajamas. Let Tide bring the color back to life.

Needless to say, Oreo cookies could not be brought into my home. You couldn’t even say “Oreo cookies”, unless you wanted to see my death stare.

I still hate Oreo cookies. Not too fond of Root Beer either.

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?

Vincent Price…..Priceless

Halloween is approaching and it reminds me of the things that really scare me about this fun holiday. A lot of people would vote for the shower scene in “Pyscho” or Michael Myers in the backyard in “Halloween.” But for me, Vincent Price would be at the top of the list. I was afraid of him, but at the same time, I just had to watch his movies. His voice was menacing, but yet peaceful, soothing. I thought he could probably put people in trances. He had this look that would send shivers down my spine.

He was Hannibal Lecter of the 1950’s.  He could be the Pied Piper with that voice, making the children follow him out of town, hypnotized and ready to be eaten. Well, except I don’t think he was like Jeffrey Dahmer or anything in his films.  He was too sauve and cool to eat flesh. He smoked cigarettes, wore a suit most of the time in his movies, and was just crazy, again,in a suave and cool way.

I used to think “House on Haunted Hill” was the scariest thing ever. We would watch scary movies every Saturday night on Chiller Theater, before Saturday Night Live took over Saturday late night. Vincent Price starred in this movie, and gave me nightmares for days.

I remember staying overnight with Cindy, a friend who lived down the street, one night when “House on Haunted Hill” was on tv. We watched it. I was creeped out as usual, and went to her bedroom to go to sleep. Her closet door was open and Cindy asked me to close it. I guess she was scared also. But, of course, that wasn’t the case. Her mom was standing in the closet with a panty hose over her head.  Surprised I didn’t pee myself. I sure showed the neighbors I had healthy lungs, though. When I rented the movie when my children were tweens, I professed that this movie will scare them to death, they laughed at me. It was sort of 1950’s goofy-scary to them. I thought that a skeleton making a woman back into a vat of acid was pretty darn scary. I believe they used the word, “lame.”  The disappointed me so.

 

Vincent Price could have been in Heidi and I still would have been creeped out. It was his voice. There are many actors who are known for their voice, such as say, James Earl Jones, or Pee Wee Herman.. But, this guy left an impression. I loved it when Michael Jackson used him in “Thriller.”  It really added to the creep-factor. There was another movie that he was in called, “The House of Wax,”  which I thought was pretty scary too. I think Tim Burton used the scene of the burning dolls in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” as a tribute to House of Wax. Don’t even get me started on his Oompah Loompah’s in that movie. I can get side-tracked talking about that creepy movie.

I don’t think there will be another scary movie that will affect me the way “House on Haunted Hill” did as a child. As I grew older, I found When a Stranger Calls and Invasion of the Body Snatchers to be the next best thing.  But, in the end, no one can touch Vincent Price, the king of horror.

 

Playing Dead

When I was young, our family lived in a neighborhood. People and houses were all around us. We didn’t really have deer in our yard too often. The only thing we really had come into our yard were crazy hummingbirds.Hummingbirds need to go to anger management classes. I’m serious. Even if they aren’t hungry, they will buzz right back over to mess with the hungry hummingbirds. My mom had several feeders out on the back porch and we had all the hummingbirds in North America visiting the nectar in our yard.

But, that was the extent of the wildlife. When I got married and we moved to my husband’s  hometown, I remember hearing owls when it was almost dark. I loved it.  For weeks I heard the owls. Until my husband informed me that they were just mourning doves. “Just” mourning doves. I had no idea what a mourning dove was.  And why the hell was it coming in the evening.  Nobody told me it was spelled like a really sad dove. So, what I  thought was an owl was really a depressed pigeon. Welcome to wildlife.

Who knew that when we built our house out on 13 acres that I would become a wildlife whisperer. See https://dyingbraincells.wordpress.com/2010/08/12/elly-may-clampett/  I was a stay-at-home mom and took daily walks through the woods and was amazed at all the wildlife. I loved it. I could tame anything. I am surprised I never got bit, especially during, “the Episode.”

We went to the animal shelter and brought home an outside cat. We didn’t know that people dropped off cats in the countryside, so I guess we could have just waited for a stray to show up, as they regularly did. But, we rescued Tiger and he lived outside. One evening I went outside to sit on the front porch. It was almost dark and my babies were in bed for the night. We hadn’t purchased porch furniture yet, but had 2 folding lawn chairs out there on the corner of our long porch. In the darkness I could see that Tiger was sitting under one of them, so I plopped myself down and then tried to get Tiger to come out from under the chair.

I sat in the chair, saying his name like I was a nutcase. “Ti-ger…come here, baby…Ti-iiii-ger…”, all the while trying to put my hand under the chair to try to pet him. I couldn’t reach him. My hand was moving under the chair some more, calling to him. Cat’s sometimes don’t do what they are asked to do. So, I just sat there, quietly waving my right arm sort of under the chair.

All of a sudden, I saw Tiger jump up onto the porch. Uh-Oh….My dangling hand froze. If that was Tiger……what was under my chair? My eyes grew huge…like cartoon, out of the head eyes.  I slowly got out of my chair and ran out into the yard.

I turned around to see a oppossum. It must have been playing dead under my chair. I was ready to be dead for real out in the yard. My heart was racing.Dear God, the thing could have taken off my arm.

Well, after a while, I got very used to wildlife at my door. The oppossum came back almost every night to eat out of Tiger’s food bowl. I named him Poopy Butt. I think that is a fitting name for an oppossum.

I will never forget that evening. My eyes have never been right since.

Did I Unplug My Curlers?

Have you ever left your home, only to turn your car around and head back because you weren’t sure you unplugged your curlers?  Well, I mean, bald guys wouldn’t have this to worry about.  But, some women do.  Like  me. I worry that I don’t have things unplugged or turned off.  I am a “turner-arounder”.  That is a person who turns around and comes back home to double check. I guess you could call it a “Double checker”.  Or a “Go back homer”.  There are many things to call people like that.  But, do we have OCD?  Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?   I don’t think I am OCD by any means. If I was OCD, I would first have to re-arrange the letters to CDO so they would be in alphabetical order.

I am going to share a few of the things that make me a “Go back homer” or a “Turner-arounder”, or a “Double checker.” I really like all of these phrases. I just don’t know which one to use. I will have to think about this for a few hours, OCD-like…But, read on and see if you can relate.  Maybe we have one or two in common.

1. “Did I close the garage door?”-This is really important, because if you left the garage door open, thieves could just walk in and take your…paint cans or wheelbarrow or tool (I am sure we had more than one). Better yet, raccoons could walk in and then fall asleep and then when you come home at night and drive your car into the garage, and shut the door, they would become trapped in your garage and poop all over your car and scratch, “LET ME OUT, YOU JERK” on the side of the car. Or, someone like Ted Bundy would be waiting in the dark, and when I would step out of my car,  kill me, well,  just because. Then he would leave a note like, “She really should have shut her garage door….Love, Ted.”

2. “Is my toilet running?”- Yeah, that gets me all the time. I always use the bathroom before I leave the house. Isn’t it great how I can share my “pee time stories” with strangers? Well, I have to drive 30 minutes to work and I drink a lot of water. Anywho, I usually wait by the front door until the toilet stops making that “I’m filling back up with water now” noise and then I shut and lock the door.And drive off. “But, wait. Did I wait this time? I can’t remember. Did I go to the bathroom before I left? What if my toilet ran all day? I wonder what the hell my water bill would be?… Shit…I better turn around.”

3. “Are my curlers unplugged?” This is the worst one, because I never can remember. I know in my mind that I unplug after I put the last curler in my hair. But, did I really unplug this time? My poor family would all pile in the car to go somewhere and we would get halfway down the driveway and I would say, “I am not sure I unplugged my curlers.” It got to be to the point where as soon as we would get in the car, my husband or kids would ask me. And I would ALWAYS go back. Now that I am divorced, and live by myself, I stare at the plug outlet and say to myself or sometimes out loud if I was really feeling like a loser, “Unplugged.” And I would wrap up my curlers and put them under my bathroom sink. But, my mind is not free. While driving, I would then think, “hmmmmmm, I wonder if I put those curlers away too warm? Could they start a fire?”

4. “Did I leave food for the cat?”- Well, this is important, because if I have a car accident and my head is wrapped in gauze, they won’t be able to hear me saying, “My poor cat has no food.” Therefore, it is imperative to leave her dish full of food and…just in case, the bag nearby. That way, she can knock the bag over when her dish is depleted of food and she can just eat out of the bag until I am released from the hospital. I do have one of those self-feeders, but my cat won’t eat out of it. I guess the food gets stale tasting if it is out too long and she sticks her nose up at it. Well, think about it. Would you eat a piece of toast with butter and jelly after 6 hours of being on the counter? I didn’t think so.

5. “Off, off, off…off..off..off..”-In OCD talk, that means, “Go make sure the oven knobs are all turned off.”  I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have turned around to make sure my oven was turned off.  And as I touch each knob, I would say those words..”off, off, off, off, off, off.” And then I would stare at the oven, just one last time. Yes, they are off ….for sure. I would even ask the kids to check. I could hear them say, “off, off, off, off, off, off” in that mocking manner. They were probably thinking, “What the hell? We’ve eaten out for the past 2 nights.”

I guess we all have our idiosyncrasies. That word looks weird….I guess we are all weird in some way or another. I forgot to mention that I make sure that the match I use to light a candle stays in a little jar of water for at least an hour before I throw it away. I heard about a match being in a garbage bag and then smouldering and then burning down a house about a year ago..I like to burn my hazelnut cream candle about every day and don’t want to burn my apartment down. So, the match gets to drown to make sure it is not a fire hazard.

So, do I have OCD? Should a “turner-arounder” be labeled as having an obsessive behavior? I really don’t know the answer to that.

I do know that I have to stop writing this blog now because it is bed time. I have to go make sure my alarm clock is set. You never know when the electric will go off and you would then sleep in for work.

I am pretty sure I have it set… Maybe…..shit….maybe not….I will have to check after I make sure the tires on my car are not flat for the drive to work tomorrow.

Puntastic Halloween….Part 2

Well, I am on a roll now.  I really am the Queen of Halloween Costume Ideas.  It was wonderful to see the great comments from my first hit, “Queen of Halloween Costume Ideas….’Tis True”, and to prove I am not just any one hit wonder, I will offer up my next Halloween blog for your approval. I think I have better ideas on this one.  Enjoy!  These are easy, quick ideas that are cheap or will not cost you a penny.

Uh Oh....

Dog

“On a short leash”-For a guy, dress like a dog and wear a collar and a very short leash.

Dog with the words of the week written all over him. “Every dog has its day”

Dress like a dog, carrying a book with the title “New Tricks” X’d out (Can’t teach an old dog new tricks”

Cat

Couple- One dresses like a cat with a little brown bag, bloodied…the other is himself, but with fake blood all around his mouth “Cat’s got your tongue”

Dress like a cat, carry a bag – “Cat’s out of the bag”

Couple- one is a cat, the other looks disheveled, unkept “Look what the cat’s dragged in”

Heaven, Hell, Devils, Angels

Dress like the devil, carry bells -”Hell’s Bells”

Dress like the devil, tie a plastic ice cube tray on top of your head “Hell freezing over”

Dress like the devil, carry a mirror. When someone asks what you are, make them look in the mirror..”See you in Hell”

Dress like an angel and put a 7 on your chest “seventh heaven”

Dress like an angel and carry a stuffed animal pig “Hog Heaven”

Queen of Hearts- tiara and red hearts all over your body. King of clubs-crown and a golf club.

Queen Bee- tiara and a big B on your chest.

Pat on the back-  sign “Pat” on your back.

Brain freeze- ice cube tray tied on top of your head.

Ice Princess- gown, ice cube tray tied on top of your head.

3 children- Indians with the numbers 1,2, 3 on their backs-One Little, Two Little, Three Little Indians

Stuffed bunny tied on the top of your head-”Hare-Brained”

Husband, Wife and Child- Child-baby bee (lowercase “b” on its chest)  Wife-Queen B, Husband-Bee Keeper (3 or 4 necklaces with B’s)

Get a sweatshirt and velcro a deck of cards (minus one) all over and go as ” 1 card short of a full deck.” (That’s what I am going to school as I think)

Draw a picture of a shark on poster board and cut it out and just carry it..”Card shark”

Draw a square with the number 1 inside of it and put it on your back “Back to square 1”

Roll some guaze around your neck a couple of times and put a sign on your chest that says Charley- “Charley hoarse”

Buy one of those fake birds and just throw it at people when they ask what you are and you can say, “Flippin you the bird.”

Wear one of those yellow slickers and put a big check mark on the back and go as a “raincheck”

Make a red heart and put it on your sleeve “Wearing your heart on your sleeve”

So, if you decide at the last minute to dress up for Halloween or if you really don’t want to, but your significant other is pressuring you to dress, I hope you will be able to use one of  these quick and easy costume ideas.

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*My Puntastic Title was suggested by http://abeautifulrind.wordpress.com/  Check out her blog!

Queen of Halloween Costume Ideas…’Tis True

Update:  Need a Halloween costume? I have put all of my ideas collected over the years into an ebook on Amazon.com

2 Bee or not 2 Bee: 430 PUN-tastic Halloween Costume Ideas   at Amazon $2.99

Don’t have a Kindle? No problem. You can download a Kindle app FREE.

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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

Old Wive’s Tales

I have a sore throat.  It made me think of homemade remedies. Which made me think of old wive’s tales,

which made me think…I wonder how many were made up out of spite? I mean, if I didn’t like someone, couldn’t I easily make up something that would be funny, and not work?

For example, let’s say a friend who really isn’t my friend tells me  that they were going to the beach. I could say, “Don’t forget to pack some glue…..in case you get stung by a jellyfish. Pour glue on it and then rub it in with sand.”   And then add, “I read about it on the internet.”  And if you don’t lie, write it on your blog, read it, and then it isn’t a lie.You did read it on the internet.  There are all ways to cover yourself from going to hell.

Years ago, people didn’t have the communication options that we now have. They lived far apart from each other and had to travel a long way to get to town. You had to make due with what you had on your homestead. So, if  you got injured or sick, let’s say, burned, you  just went and stood in the backyard, and thought, “hmmmmm, what to do, what to do…” and then  you would grabbed some butter from your cold storage place and rubbed it on a burn. Actually, placing butter or similar greasy ointments directly on a burn is counterproductive since it can seal in the heat. People used plants like purple cone flower and herbs to help. Trial and error. Someone had to be the first to try it. I always wondered about the first person who drank milk..”See that cow over yonder…I think what I am going to do……”  Yuck.

My mom used to tell me things all of the time. I am sure they were passed down from her mother, and so on and so on. Momisms..I have used a few myself. But, not the ones my mom used.  Here are some of the Old Wives Tales  my mom used to tell me…

1. “Quit cracking your knuckles. You will get arthritis like Grandma.”- Well, hell, Grandma’s fingers went every which way but they way there were supposed to. I could stare at her fingers forever. Well, not forever, because that would be stupid, but I couldn’t take my eyes off of those fingers. There were like bird claws. She was in pain alot. That’s why she took her “medicine.” Yeah, Grandma was a regular Granny Clampett. For real. I did ask her one time, “Grandma, did you crack your knuckles when you were little?” She replied, “Why do you ask me that, Vickie?”  Well, hell, Grandma, take a look at your knuckles… I really wanted to know if her toes looked like that. She did walk weird…

2. “Don’t sit on the cold cement. You’ll get hemorrhoids.”- We didnt even ask what those were when we were little. I thought they were butt boils, but kept that to myself.

3. “Wash behind your ears or you’ll grow potatoes back there.”- I mean, seriously?  Like I was going to fall for that one. Who the hell made that one up?

4. “Quit wrinkling up your nose. It will stick like that for the rest of your life.”- Ok, that only happened once…on an episode of the Twilight Zone. I always wrinkled up my nose. I was a picky eater, so that went hand in hand with, “Vickie, eat your carrots…..Quit wrinkling up your nose, it will stick like that for the rest of your life…..What do you mean, name one person?……Vickie, eat your carrots…..I can think of plenty of  people whose faces have stuck……..Well, Reverend Harold for one.”  Ok, I almost believed her then, but what I didn’t know is that Reverend Harold had a stroke, so every thing on one side of his face drooped. Harsh.

5. “Don’t swallow your gum. It will stick in your stomach.” -Well, I think it would be wrong if you shoved 5 pieces of bubble gum in your mouth and then swallowed it. You are just asking to choke and die. But, my mom said that gum stays in your stomach for 7 years, so if you keep swallowing it, your stomach will stick out. And then she added..like a Biafran baby. Well, I knew what a biafran baby looked like..we had the National Geographic in our house. That would be sooo politically incorrect nowadays. But, that’s mom for ya!

 

6. “Don’t so close to the tv. You will go blind.” Sometimes she would change this to “Don’t sit so close, you will go cross-eyed.” -Uh, wrong Mom…I could see going to school on a Monday with glasses and a cane. “Awww, poor Vickie, she must have been sitting close to the tv.” But, we liked sitting close to the tv while watching Casper and Romper Room. We didn’t have color..Just static from the rabbit ear antennae.

7. “Put that toad outside! It will give your warts!”- I was always bringing critters into the house. It was nothing to bring home salamanders, lizards, or baby bunnies on any given summer afternoon.  She always told me I was going to get warts. I never did. Well, I had planters warts on the bottom of my foot. I guess she would say that is from walking barefoot where toads hopped..

8.” You have to wait a 1/2 hour to get back in the pool or you will die!”  We heard that one all of the time. Like we were going to jump right back into the pool and do 50 laps. Come on!   We splash and yell, “Hey, Mommy, look.” We are not going to get cramps. Other kids were able to go swimming. Not the Mendenhall kids. We sat out, with our towels wrapped around us, watching the big clock on the pool house wall. I didn’t understand. “Mom, why can’t we go back into the pool?”  “Vickie, do you want to die? Do you?”

I enjoy reading Old Wive’s Tales. They are amusing and possibly painful.  So, the next time your kid swallows 7 pieces of bubble gum,…..

Get ready to do the Heimlich Manuever..

The Pistachio Nut

When I was little, I was allergic to Mohair and bee stings. I was a tiny, fragile thing, probably no bigger than a chihuahua. I had an intense love of animals and had my first experience going into anaphylatic shock after putting a wasp to my cheek after I accidentally stepped on it with my shoe. The poor thing was half-dead, so I picked it up to console it.  It promptly  perked up and stung me. Yeah, I wasn’t too smart. I was rushed to the hospital.

Fast forward many years. My family is hanging out in the kitchen, chowing down on some food. I know it was around Christmas, but I can’t remember how old my son was when this happened. I am pretty sure he was 8 or nine. He looked at me and held his hand to his throat. He was able to talk, so we knew he wasn’t choking. He said something was stuck in his throat. My father-in-law had a sliver of a fish bone stuck in his throat one time, so I was thinking whatever it was needed to be dislodged. Drinking water didn’t help.

Einstein here decided that he should try to swallow a small piece of bread to see if he could dislodge the item stuck in his throat. That didn’t work either. I decided not to mess around and got my shoes on and told my husband I was going to take him to the emergency room.  “Why you taking him to the hospital?”  He asked. Mother’s intuition. Something was not right.

On the way to the emergency room, I asked him to tell me everything he had eaten. The last thing he said before he mentioned that he was having a hard time breathing were the words, pistachio nuts. Uh Oh!   My heart raced. Oh shit….I felt my foot press harder on the accelerator. My son was having an allergic reaction to pistachio nuts.

Yeah, took me a while to figure that one out. And here I was, trying to get him to eat bread. Sheesh. So, after sitting at 2 hospitals (the first one didn’t see us as quickly as I wanted) and a shot of epenephrine or something, we came home with a diagnosis. Adam was deathly allergic to pistachio nuts.

Hundreds of people have died from a severe reaction to peanuts. It made me a very nervous mother.

We did pretty well watching what Adam ate when he was growing up and it wasn’t until he was 18 that he had his second attack. We were all sitting at a wedding reception near the table with the mounds of dessert. Adam remarked that he must have eaten something with pistachio in it, because his throat was closing in. Thank goodness we were about 2 minutes from the hospital. My husband decided to drive him. After all, he drove like Mr. Magoo and could get there quicker. The only thing I said as they left was, “Make sure they give him a shot of epinephrine.”

They weren’t gone very long and we hopped back into the car for the ride home. I was mad because they didn’t give Adam a shot or anything. The only thing they gave him was a pepcid for an upset stomach. We were pulling into the driveway when Adam said he didn’t feel well and his voice sounded gurgly. “Oh my God, he is going into anaphylatic shock, damnit.”  We jumped out of the car and my husband raced Adam back to the hospital. They had to put him in ICU under oxygen and shots to settle it down. I was so mad at the hospital for giving him a pepcid and sending him home. What a crazy place. He could have died. Can you believe the hospital charged me twice? After threatening a law suit, they took off the second bill.

Adam didn’t have anymore episodes. I was nervous when he told us he was going to study abroad in Morocco for 6 months. I had him go to the doctor to get a prescription for an epi-pen. When he landed in Morocco, the custom people didn’t understand what this strange thing was. Adam performed sharades for the people, and I guess they understood what it was for.

Adam had to spend Thanksgiving Day away from home. It was nice, though, because the university people in Ifrain cooked up a great turkey dinner for the Americans who were studying there. Adam was excited, because he was hungry for some American grub. When they brought out the turkey, it was smothered with a pistachio paste of some sort. Adam couldn’t eat any of it.

Adam is 25 now and has stayed away from all things pistachio.

And I stay away from that stupid hospital… Giving a person a pepcid and sending them on their merry way….

That’s just nuts….

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!

Winding Roads, Feeble Drivers

So, I packed a bag this morning and had grand plans to drive to the gym right after school this afternoon. I was ready. I haven’t been on the elliptical for a month now, and was excited to get back into my exercise regiment. But, alas, it was not to happen.

After school, I changed in the teacher’s bathroom, put my hair back in a ponytail, and I was off to Healthplex. Just the thought of going put a spring in my step. Or I just liked the feel of my ponytail swishing back and forth with each perky step. I know myself, and if I drive home right after school, the chances of me going to the gym are slim. Once I sit down, I’m done. I haven’t even been walking on the Rails to Trails. And it is seriously right outside my apartment. So, I was ready.

I hopped in the car, pulled out onto the main road and looked at my watch. It was 3:45. I should be at Healthplex in 30-35 minutes. I got behind a school bus and about 5 other cars, which is normal every day. No biggie. The bus driver is great and pulls over after about 2 stops and lets the traffic go by. I wave to thank him every day and then I am off. But, wait. Why is this goldish Buick not speeding up? The bus just pulled over for us.

Dear God, I couldn’t see anyone driving. That only meant one thing- Old Lady Driver. And it was. And she had an even older, shorter woman as her passenger. She was driving about 10-20 miles per hour and almost came to a stop every time a car came toward her. Are you kidding me? It was a winding road and too narrow for her liking.

The old lady had her foot on the brake all the way down the hills. I guess she thought there were some icy patches on the road…in October. I am a patient person, but the speed limit is 40, and I think people are obliged to drive the speed limit. I don’t think she saw the 25 cars behind her. Every time there was a place to pass, there was someone coming in the opposite direction.

I started talking  to her. Yes, I realize that she could not hear me, but I needed to start ranting. Some of the things that were coming out of my mouth were-

“I bet you’re going to Walmart to get cat food, right?”

“Oh, Dear God, lady, pull over and adjust your pace maker.”

“Figures….Are you freaking kidding me?…….Do not turn right…Do NOT turn right…..Shit…Figures….Of course you’re turning right.”

“Don’t you see me? I can see right up your nose , I am so close to you. Speed, up, damn you, old lady.”

“Freakin turtle………………..”

“Don’t even turn left!!!!  Shit…….I am going to hit you!….I should hit you….and bump you out of the freakin road and into that cow pasture….How would you like that?”

“Come on!!! It’s 4:00..Why the hell are you out this late anywho?  It’s going to be dark by the time you get to Walmart and drive back home……Shit, it will be midnight…Come onnnnnn!”

I am sure the person who was behind me was highly amused. I didn’t even look in my rear view mirror to see if it was a fellow teacher or anyone I knew. It was probably one of my student’s parents, laughing at my venting. Vickie venting. I had one hand on the wheel and was talking with the other like I was Italian. I thought the old lady would get the hint and pull over. Then it dawned on me. She wouldn’t be able to look in the rear view mirror, because that would make her drive off the road. She never used her mirrors once. Her eyes were above the steering wheel looking straight ahead. She wasn’t even talking to her passenger. Maybe her passenger was dead.

My rant continued for 30 minutes. ” Freaking Blue-Haired Turtle, pull over!!! She went my entire route. I just knew she was going to Walmart. She never went over 20 miles per hour the entire drive. I was thinking that it would be amusing if she flipped me the bird as I passed her, but she didn’t.  I would have flipped me off. I was right on her butt the entire drive. She had to know I was behind her.

Well, I was quite mad  by the time I pulled into the Healthplex parking lot. And the parking lot was about full. So, I just parked and sat there for a second, and then said, “Shit.”  I was spent. I was done. I had no desire to punish myself on the elliptical. I could have taken my frustrations out on the machine, but I just wasn’t feeling it. I didn’t even turn off the car. I was pissed.

When you are that mad, there is only one thing you can do….

I went through McDonald’s, ordered a Quarter Pounder with Cheese meal and drove home.

And I am too mad to write a blog this evening.

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.

Lightning Strikes Cows..and a Big Toe

I think most people enjoy watching a thunderstorm. I know a few who are afraid of the lightning.  I love watching them. Especially at the beach. I mean, I hate it when it rains when you are on vacation, but watching heat lightning over the ocean illuminates the night sky and it is just beautiful.

We built our house on a hill on a spot where an old dairy farm stood. The guy we bought the property from told my husband that the old dead tree on the property had been struck by lightning, and a couple of cows were killed by a lightning bolt, right where the house stood. Well, isn’t that lovely? I loved being out in the country, but when storms came through, it became ugly and menacing, yet beautiful at the same time. Well, not for the cows, I imagine. I think my kitchen is right over the spot where they were struck. Or maybe not.

One storm in particular scared me to death. We had a front porch that went along the front and then turned to join our side patio. We had a pavillion/gazebo on the back side. When we built the pavillion, we had it equipped with tv cable, electric and stereo speakers. Right beside it we had a water fountain, which I loved when the kids were young. We were wired for sure.

One  evening, a storm was brewing and I was watching the Weather Channel, as usual, because I am a weather dork. I love the weather and love watching a storm approach. I know all the names of the weather channel people. I’m sure that impresses so many people. It’s not like I say “Hey, guys, guess what? I know the names of all the meteorologists on the Weather Channel.”  Not a good way to win friends… or keep them for that matter.

My husband was watching tv in the family room, sitting reclined in a wing back chair. I decided to go outside on the front porch and watch the storm coming. The front came through with powerful wind, and then the rain began. I wasn’t getting wet because our porch was a tad bit wide, but I stood by the front door because I was a little scared, to be honest. The lightning bolts splintered off in many directions and the thunder was right above us. My outside cats jumped into the box I made into a cat house for them under a bench by the door. I was watching the water on the pond down in front of our house, and the cars coming around the corner, heading home before a tree came crashing down on their car. Well, we have a lot of trees on our road.

The storm was getting worse, and I was just thinking I better get indoors, when all of a sudden I heard a huge, unbelievably loud crack, and this rush of light seemed to wrap around from the back of the porch right to me. Oh my God, was I just struck by lightning? My hair stood up on my arms and my head felt weird. I ran in the house, intent on telling my husband that I think I was sort of struck by lightning, when I ran into him coming out to tell me the same thing.

My husband was struck by lightning. Well, his big toe was anyways. His big toe, you ask? Yep. It appears that lightning had struck the ground right by our gazebo and the lightning traveled with the wires under the ground and into the house, through the stereo speakers in our family room and out of the speaker and the first thing near that was his big toe, with the rest of him reclined.

He met me as I flung opened the front door. We both said at the same time, “I think I was just struck by lightning.”  As we were standing in the foyer, I happened to glance into our library and noticed that the desktop computer was looking pretty green. Oh Uh…The lightning had taken out our computer.

Well, lightning took out a lot of things that evening, besides zapping my husband’s big toe and enveloping me on the front porch like  the smoke monster on LOST, except in white light. The storm destroyed our stereo and speakers, our phones, our tv in the family room and the speakers out under the gazebo. The green screen computer survived, but didn’t didn’t last too long afterwards. Our doorbell sounded like something you would hear on the Adams Family show or maybe that dong sound on Law and Order.

I had been through storms before out on that property. There was another time when I was standing by the kitchen window looking out and lightning exploded in our backyard, and I swore that flash of lightning got me. I bet that’s where the cows were electrocuted.

I remember the first time I watched a movie where someone was struck by lightning. The Bad Seed was one of my all time favorite movies. The lead character, Rhoda, was a child who killed people who got in her way, and she was struck by lightning at the end of the movie. She had on a yellow slicker, and plastic boots, so I now associate yellow slickers with lightning…and death…. I don’t wear yellow slickers.

I think people should really heed the “if you hear thunder, get the hell inside.”

Because lightning is truly right around the corner. Trust me.

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

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!

Circus Trauma

Years ago, people used to run away to join the circus.  I wonder how that worked. “Hey, where’s Ralph? I haven’t seen him in a while?”…..”Oh, haven’t you heard? He ran off and joined the circus.”  Seriously?  You could do that?   I would think that if you want to work with a bunch of clowns, many people wouldn’t have to go very far.

Since my dad was in the Clown Patrol with the Shriners, or whatever Osiris Temple is, we went to the circus a lot. I guess my dad felt a connection with the “real” clowns. They scared the hell out of me. They thought it was funny to sneak up behind you and honk that stupid giant-sized horn behind your head. What the hell is wrong with you, Bozo?  That is not funny. Probably why I have hearing loss in both my ears. Clown disorder. I also thought that they were a bit creepy, like sexually creepy. A couple of them would just stare at me. I was only around 12 at the time. They probably thought they could get away with creepy looks because they were basically hidden behind a mask. When I was little, we didnt’ know about “Stranger danger” and we didn’t have Amber Alerts,  but I am betting that  some of the clowns in the circus had some issues. So, they ran away and joined the circus so they could be with children. Yikes…

There seemed to be a lot of midget clowns. (We called them midgets back then because that’s what they were.)  Sort of made me mad that they got the really dirty jobs of walking behind the elepants with a pooper scooper, and smiling all the while like it was fun to clean up elephant poop. The elephants could have easily stepped on one. I worried about this.

I remember thinking that the circus was a dirty world. I felt so sorry for the animals and secretly wanted to see the lion bite off someone’s head. And I thought this when I was little.  They were kept in tiny cages and looked so unhappy. There were even little dogs that did tricks in one of the rings. Maybe they ran away and joined the circus too. Stray dogs put to work to earn their keep. Poor pooches. I decided very early on that if I was rich when I grew up that I would buy a huge piece of land and put all of the circus animals on it so they could just hang out and not have to do tricks every day. I was a wise child.

I noticed everything about the circus. Like how the girls wore fishnet hose with tears in them. First of all, why would they wear fishnet hose under their little costume?  They always had tears in them. Maybe swinging on the flying trapeze bars tore them up a lot. Which goes back to why they would wear them in the first place. I don’t know, I just thought everything was dirty. I knew then I had no desire to run away and join the circus.

My biggest concern with the circus was the tightrope walkers. The Flying Wallenda’s were a daredevil circus act famous for performing death-defying stunts without a safety net. They were also famous for being stupid. They had a 7 person pyramid with a chair and those long sticks to keep their balance, so they decided they didn’t need a safety net. Someone should have given them an IQ test. I knew that people came to the circus to see if they would fall. They did in 1962 at the Shrine Circus at the Detroit State Fair and two people died. They still didn’t feel the need for a safety net.  No one must have asked, “Hey, uh, Uncle Rufeo fell to his death last night. We gonna put up a net?”   More relatives fell and died. These people do not learn their lesson. I really had enough of the circus.

I remember my dad telling me about the Hartford Circus Fire. I think it happened in 1944. A fire broke out under the big top and 168 people died, along with many animals. I specifically remember him telling me about the fire while we were at the circus….sitting far away from the entrance…under a tent. Nice, Dad, scare the child even more. Most of the time we went to Wheeling Island Stadium, along the banks of the Ohio River. I bet the Flying Wallenda’s didn’t like the breeze from the river. But, back to the fire…I sat there listening to my dad tell me about the fire and I decided, once again, that we really shouldn’t go to another circus performance.

I don’t know how old I was when I went to my first circus. I do remember when I went to my last.

It was a flea circus. Yeah, a flea circus. A circus so small you have to look at it with a magnfying glass. I thought it was a joke. I was in college when I first heard about it. What is this world coming to? What are we going to have next, a cockroach rodeo?

Who the hell decided it would be a good idea to have a circus with fleas?

I’m thinking it must have been one of the Wallenda’s.

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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