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Don’t Leave Home Without It ... by Cindy Beck

© Cindy Beck, 2008
(Keywords: Cindy Beck, airport security, homeland security, contraband humor, Latter-day Saints, LDS, YourLDSNeighborhood.com)

“Sir, please unsnap your pants,” the security guard said. My husband, Russ, looked at me, shrugged his shoulders as if to say, “Well, he’s got a gun, so I can’t refuse,” and did as ordered. I raised my eyebrows, and tried to look repentant. After all, it was my fault he was being asked to disrobe in the middle of the airport. I know it’s not supposed to be funny when a grouchy guard is frisking your husband, but it almost gave me the giggles. Almost.

It all started at home, and the manicure set was to blame. It contained a small folded knife, which, along with dangerous chemicals like toothpaste and hand cream, are considered contraband when an innocent person boards an airplane. If my husband had taken my advice and walked in wearing a towel wrapped around his head and the living room curtains draped about his person, he could have smuggled in hair gel, after shave, and a stick of dynamite. No one would have asked why there was a fuse sticking out of his waistband.

Okay, I’ll admit it. I didn’t actually give him that advice … but only because I knew he wouldn’t take it.

“Look at this! It’s a folding knife,” I’d said earlier, as I removed fingernail clippers, nose-hair tweezers and something resembling a jar of snuff from my husband’s shaving kit. “This little penknife is great! Since you can’t carry that machete of yours, you could take this on the plane.”

Russ looked at me, his green eyes full of disbelief. “First of all, my Leatherman tool does not resemble a machete. It’s just a nifty, all-in-one-gizmo that gives you a small tool for every need, and is conveniently carried on a belt.”

I shook my head in mock amazement. “Yup. Unlike this inconspicuous one-blade knife, your Leatherman has different implements to cut, saw, stab or hammer all man-made materials. In addition, it has a blade that allows you to skin any wildlife that wanders into the airport. Oh, and let’s not forget the screwdriver, toothpick, and corkscrew. Why would a man who is LDS need a corkscrew?”

“And second of all,” Russ interrupted, “I thought you were trying to keep me from getting rousted at the airport, not help me get rousted. If I carry that little knife you found, Homeland Security will land on me like a boll weevil on a cotton boll.”

He paused and looked longingly out the window. “But I do feel naked without at least a small pocket knife.”

I handed it to him. “Carry this, and when you get to the airport, take it out of your pocket and leave it in the car.”

Russ hesitated, and then shook his head. “No, that’s a bad idea. I’m sure to forget and walk through the metal detector with it on me.”

That’s when I uttered the thought that later required repentance, “No problem. I’ll remind you about it.”

Those words floated back through my mind as the security guard ran his hands around Russ’s waist. “Sir, you can refasten your pants and then please pull out your pockets,” the guard instructed. Russ meekly obliged. A piece of pocket lint and a half-wrapped butterscotch fell to the floor. I wondered what else the guard thought could possibly constitute a threat, as Russ stood there shoeless, beltless, and walletless.

The security guy picked up the butterscotch, unwrapped it, and popped it into his mouth. “Sir, are you a member of, or affiliated with, any terrorist organization?” He eyed Russ suspiciously, and scrutinized the lint as if it were the makings of a pipe bomb.

Russ shifted his weight from one stockinged foot to the other. “No. I wouldn’t know a terrorist organization if I ran over one with the car.”

The guard picked up my husband’s wallet from the bin on the conveyor belt and opened it. “Ah-ha! What have we here?” the guy said, pulling out a card that gave instructions for tying the ten knots most used in Scouting. He waved it in the air. “Were you planning on tying up the captain and crew?"

Russ’s face turned pale as a second guard approached. By now a large group of bystanders were chanting, “Free Willy, free Willy.” Apparently, they weren’t a very savvy group of protestors, since Russ’s name wasn’t “Willy.”

The new guard scrutinized the knot-tying card as if looking for a clue. Taking Russ’s wallet, he rifled through the credit card section. I had visions of smuggling Russ a metal file concealed in a homegrown zucchini so he could break out of prison.

The guard raised aloft a piece of white and gold paper from Russ’s wallet, waved it in the air … and a whiff of homemade wheat bread floated off the man. “This evidence proves he’s not a terrorist. You can all go on your way.” Then he leaned over to Russ and said in a whisper that I could hear, “Brother, we’re sorry for the inconvenience. You’re cleared to move to your boarding gate as soon as you gather your belongings.”

He handed the paper back to Russ. As we gathered up our shoes and socks, I said, “What was it that he pulled from your wallet? Your voter registration?”

Russ grinned. “The guy was LDS. And to put a new slant on the American Express commercial that you hear on TV: Your temple recommend—don’t leave home without it."


What's playing in my head: Leaving on a Jet Plane (by Peter, Paul and Mary).

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Summer’s End ... by Cindy Beck

© Cindy Beck, 2008
(Keywords: Cindy Beck, summer, zucchini, bugs, insects, spider, humor, Latter-day Saints, LDS, YourLDSNeighborhood.com)

Summer’s end … that time of year when baseball-bat-sized zucchini show up on your doorstep and pesky insects invade your house in preparation for cold weather.

It almost makes you feel nostalgic.

For many years, I lived in an older home. Wait, maybe “older” is a misnomer for a house built in the era when Native Americans lived in teepees. “Ancient” might be a better term for it. There was also an old, detached garage that sat on the property—one perpetually full of spider webs.

Okay, so it wasn’t really a garage, because pioneers still cooked over open fires when the place was built and they didn’t need somewhere to park their cars. We just called the thing a garage because it made us feel more uptown.

But, I digress. Yesterday, I was at the old house, cleaning, painting, and boxing up the last of our belongings to take to our new house. I reached over next to the range and saw something on the underside of the oven’s handle.

“What the …?” I jumped back. Being alone in an empty house is spooky enough without strange things showing up in odd places. “Okay, who left a weird black feather here?” That shows you how spooked I was, asking questions aloud with no one there to answer.

Just as I reached over to pull the feather loose, something stopped me. Maybe the warning came from the Ancient Ones whose teepees used to clutter the property. Or from the pioneers, whose handcarts used to park in my garage. Then again, I think it’s more likely it was the Holy Ghost.

At any rate, I stood for a moment, then put on my glasses and inspected the feather. It had thin, segmented legs. Now, that’s something … a feather with kinky black legs.

I’ve perfected many useful talents in my life. I can roll my bottom lip and cross my eyes, looking like a sea bass. I’m adept at spilling something at the dinner table at least once a week. However, my best talent lies in being a chicken. There was no way I was touching that black, whatever-it-was, without a long stick.

Walking to the empty pantry, I searched for a weapon. Ah-ha, just the thing! Picking up the half-broken yardstick that leaned in the corner, I held it like a sword and advanced on the feather. With a parry and thrust, I jabbed … and the feather ran up the yardstick.

Giving a shriek that echoed through the empty house, I whipped the yardstick through the air, hoping the feather-turned-spider would fly off and splat against the wall. No such luck. Instead, it dangled from a sticky thread that it managed to spin, and hung on like a kid on a Tilt-A-Whirl. With a mad dash, I ran out the back door, flung the spider to the concrete, and raised a foot to squash it.

That’s where the story should end. Really, I knew it should end there, and told myself so, but it didn’t do any good. The entomologist in me just had to see exactly what kind of arachnid was so shiny-black, fat, and long-legged.

Using the now-dangling-precariously yardstick, I flipped the creature over. It flipped itself upright and ran toward me. “Aaack, you stupid spider!” I yelled, flipping it again.

That’s when I glimpsed it—the telltale sign of the red hourglass. I only paused for a heartbeat before taking action. I might be an entomologist, but I’m an even better chicken.

And that’s why the feather-turned-spider is now in the Happy Hunting Grounds.


What's playing in my head: The Theme from Spiderman.

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Miss Knows-Nothing ... by Cindy Beck

© Cindy Beck, 2008
(Keywords: Cindy Beck, moving truck, Miss Knows-Nothing, cat, dog, Disneyland, Klingon, Latter-day Saints, LDS, YourLDSNeighborhood.com)

Welcome to the first (and possibly last) episode of “Miss Knows-Nothing.” She's an LDS woman wearing high hair and white gloves, who recently won a medal of Pope John for correctly answering why round pizzas come in square boxes.

Our first set of questions comes from a harried woman who asks:

Q: I have six children and would like to move to a child-friendly area. Can you give me any suggestions?

A: Try Disneyland. Or possibly Wal-Mart. If none of those appeals, try a Klingon battleship.

Q: Also, I own three cats and two dogs. We’re renting a do-it-yourself moving truck. What’s the best way to move the animals?

A: Let’s address the issue of the cats. Unless you want your couches to resemble confetti, and your rugs used as a litter box, it’s best not to put them into the moving truck. In fact, I wouldn’t consider putting them in when the truck isn’t moving, either. Try a sturdy carrier of some kind. Under no circumstances should you consider a cardboard box even remotely sturdy. I know this as personal experience from my numerous moves. Some of which were done in the dead of night with the landlord close behind. In one particular instance—not only done in the dead of night but also in the middle of a Wyoming blizzard—I hastily threw the cat in a box and roared off down the road. In a matter of minutes, the cat shredded the box with its fangs and claws, climbed out, and perched on my shoulders for the remainder of the thirteen-hour drive. Every time I turned a corner, it hung on by unsheathing its claws and attaching them to my skin … thus giving me multiple body piercings.

It’s my suggestion you use a steel vault to move your cats. Or an empty freezer.

As for your dogs … perhaps you could tie them to the mirror and they could run along side?

Q: I want to attend my new ward on the first Sunday after we move in—

A: That’s not a question; it’s a statement.

Q: What’s the best way to make new friends on the first day in church?

A: It’s a good learning experience for your kids to help pack, so have them put their church clothes and shoes in a box that they’ll recognize. Maybe they could draw a picture of a church on it with crayons. No, not on the clothes, on the box. Have your husband do the same, although if he knows how to write he could actually pen the words, “Stuff I need right away.” On that first Sunday, everyone should pull out the contents and get dressed. Don’t feel discouraged if your kids packed their Halloween costumes instead of dresses and good slacks. Or if your husband packed his parka and hunting boots. Wearing them to church will just increase the number of people who smile at you.


What's playing in my head: Movin' On Up, written by Ja'net Du Bois and Jeff Barry.

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Nice Kitty ... by Cindy Beck

© Cindy Beck, 2008
(Keywords: Cindy Beck, cat, kitty, nature, tomcat, humor, Latter-day Saints, LDS, YourLDSNeighborhood.com)

Ahhh, nature! Flowers blooming, birds chirping, and tomcats yowling under the windows at midnight. What more could one ask from life?

In the past, a neighbor’s feline used to visit. During the day he was a fine specimen of a cat, with blue eyes, dark ears and a fluffy tail. After dark, he turned into a demon. Despite the fact that all our female kitties were spayed, he seemed to feel they were still a part of his harem. Every night, just as we’d fall asleep, that cat would show up, yowling, hissing, and spitting. Then he’d get in a tussle with whoever responded to his calls.

One evening, just before heading off to bed, I looked out the front window. The moon slid beneath a cloud, and everything lay in deep shadows. I could just make out the outline of that cat, pussyfooting across the front lawn.

“Russ, come quick,” I hissed to my husband, trying not to warn the cat of my presence.

Russ gave me a look that said, “I’m not getting up off this couch for another one of your hair-brained ideas.”

I moved the curtain ever so slightly and peeked out again. The animal stood motionless, no more than a dark shape on the grass. “It’s that cat! If you come over here and are really quiet, you can surprise it, jump out and scare it off. I bet it will never come back again after that.”

“How do you know it’s the neighbor’s cat?” An attitude of reluctance oozed from Russ. I don’t know why; it’s not like any of my schemes have ever backfired.

“Because I can see his fat, bushy tail. There’s only one cat with a tail that big!”

The animal moved a step closer—a delicate step for such a big tomcat. He sniffed the breeze, as if searching for something.

“If you don’t hurry, he’s going to leave,” I said in a stage whisper.

As Russ got up from the couch, I quietly, ever so quietly, turned the lock open in the door’s handle. This was our one chance to scare that caterwauling beast off and I didn’t want to ruin it by being a Noisy Nancy.

Russ walked over and peered out through the lace curtains. His reluctance turned into interest as he saw the animal. “You’re right, that’s him. You pull open the door and I’ll jump out and scare the beejeebers out of him.”

I flung open the door, and with enough noise to wake the whole town, Russ leaped out and clapped his hands. The sound echoed through the neighborhood with a crack. The cat turned his back on Russ, and then gave no response, just stood there as if he owned half the county, and the other half belonged to his in-laws.

What an arrogant tomcat, I thought. It’s like he thinks he’s invincible!

Russ slapped his palms together again and stepped toward the animal. “Shoo!" The moon peeked around the edge of the clouds and the night fell silent. Even the crickets stopped singing.

The only sound was a “whoosh” as we both sucked air, in surprise, at what we saw.

Running down the animal’s back was a white stripe. The “cat” stamped its foot and raised his bushy tail straight in the air.

“Russ, it’s a skunk!” I yelled, slamming the door at the same time. Not that I was trying to shut Russ out, but someone had to keep the furniture safe from skunk perfume. Peeking through the window, I shouted encouragement. “Just back up slowly and he probably won’t spray.”

No man has ever backpedaled so fast. Fear must have paralyzed his brain, because he kept saying “Nice kitty, nice kitty,” until he made it back inside.

It’s been several years since the incident. Surely, Russ has forgotten it by now. And there’s a tomcat yowling outside my window, making it hard to sleep. Maybe I’ll wake Russ and ask him if he’d go outside and chase it off. After all, it looks like it’s just a nice, friendly cat … with a fine, fluffy tail.

What's playing in my head: What's New Pussycat by Tom Jones.

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Home Away from Home-Part 2 ... by Cindy Beck

© Cindy Beck, 2008
(Keywords: Cindy Beck, home, hotel, Salt Lake City, elevator, shower curtain, YourLDSNeighborhood.com)

Not long ago, I related the problems my husband, Russ, and I had in a hotel. It ran the gamut from the closet-sized room the staff put us in, to the shaking and rumbling of the elevator right next to us. While Russ was at meetings, I’d changed rooms, thinking that would help.

Ah, yes, the best laid plans of mice and men … or woman and a dog, as the case may be.

Just as I’d gotten the luggage into the room and laid on the bed to catch my breath, the lock on the door clicked and Russ walked in, done with his workshops for the day. That’s also when I noticed the room cooling.

“Brrr, I feel like a fat strawberry in an ice cream churn,” I said.

Russ raised his eyebrows, but to his credit, didn’t comment on the “fat strawberry” concept. Instead he walked over to the wall heater and held his hand in front of it.

“There’s nothing but cold air blowing out of this.”

The last thing we wanted was to spend the night sleeping in a room the temperature of a meat locker. However, Corky and I wanted even less to spend the night in the company of the serial killer/maintenance man who’d worked on our TV the night before. I had visions of the guy banging away on the heater with a giant tuba. I don’t know why a tuba, it must have been my writer’s imagination. I could just see the headlines: “Woman knocked unconscious by tuba-wielding ax-murderer/maintenance man.

I turned to Russ. “Do not call the front desk. You can wear your jacket, and I’ll wear my sweatshirt and bunny slippers to bed to stay warm.”

All night long, I got up and down, first turning the thermostat on high until something akin to the fires of Hades radiated from the wall furnace. Then, half an hour later, turning it off—before the heating unit quit and the fan kicked on, freezing us into Sno-Cones.

After two days of this, we were ready to go home. I thought a nice, hot shower before we left would be the ticket. Moisture condensed in a fine mist on the cold, tile floor. Stepping out of the tub, I put on my flip-flops. Ooo, a little slippery, I thought as my feet slid a tiny bit.

“Watch that floor in there. It’s pretty slick,” I said as I walked out. After getting dressed, I started packing.

Fifteen minutes later, wearing shoes with treads the size of a steel-belted tractor tire, I walked into the bathroom again. As soon as I hit the still-damp floor, my feet shot out from under me. One knee smashed into the commode six inches away, while the other leg buckled at an odd angle. With arms flailing, I grabbed the only thing nearby … the shower curtain.

If my knee wasn’t throbbing, a goose egg wasn’t rising, and a contusion wasn’t spreading beneath my skin, I would have found it funny—as I lay in a heap on the floor. I’d have laughed that in a hotel where the elevator, TV and heater didn’t work, someone had anchored a shower curtain rod firmly enough to the wall to slow the descent of a hundred and . . . um . . . let’s just say a hundred-and-something pound woman.

Russ came in. “I think we’re jinxed,” he said, hoisting me to my feet.

We vacated the hotel like the Looney Tunes’ Tasmanian Devil on amphetamines. Well, okay, Russ and Corky did that—I just limped away, hoping to get out while all my bones were still intact.

And despite the pain, I congratulated myself the whole way home . . . it’s not every day a story like that falls into a writer’s lap.


What's playing in my head: Home on the Range (Disney version).

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Home Away from Home ... by Cindy Beck

© Cindy Beck, 2008
(Keywords: Cindy Beck, home, hotel, Salt Lake City, elevator, YourLDSNeighborhood.com)


“I don’t know whether it was the irritating noise or the cramped space, but I swear I’m never spending another night in a hotel room!” I said to my husband, Russ.

He shook his head. “Forget the noise and the tiny room. It was probably your slip-and-fall in the bathroom that convinced you.”

Russ had a conference in Salt Lake City for a few days, and I’d thought it the perfect opportunity to go along, hole up in a room, and write. It’s impossible to say why that thought even flew over the cuckoo’s nest, because I seldom get a lot of work done in a hotel. The reasons for that are varied. Mostly, they center on time spent taking our dog, Corky Porky Pie, out for a walk fifteen times a day to insure an empty bladder (the dog’s bladder, not mine) … and changing rooms.

Yup, I said, “Changing rooms.” It seems no matter how many years in advance we reserve our little home away from home, we end up with less-than-stellar accommodations. One time, we had a hotel room that I swear had a disease living under the bed. Another time, the lighting was so poor the cockroaches were mugging each other.

“Hey look,” I said to Russ, when we walked into the hotel room in Salt Lake City. “No diseases and no cockroaches. Instead, the staff has put us in a coat closet next to the elevator.”

Russ leaned over, picked up the TV remote and pushed a button. Then he pushed it again. “The television doesn’t work, either,” he said, slightly annoyed.

“We can live without TV. Don’t call the front desk because they’ll send up a maintenance guy.” On our way up to the room, I’d seen the maintenance man standing in the lobby. I have a finely-tuned brain that picks up on vibes … the pleasure of someone eating rich, milk chocolate; the happiness of couples in love; the thoughts and plans of serial killers.

The maintenance man definitely did not bring chocolate to mind.

“If that creepy guy shows up to fix the TV, Corky Porky Pie and I are outta here.” I snapped the dog’s leash onto his collar in preparation, as Russ dialed the front desk.

Two men showed up. The first one started working on the problem, and the second one walked in through the open door a few minutes later. It was the man from the lobby. Neither the dog nor I could fit under the bed, so we hightailed it to the bathroom.

It got tiring, sitting on the commode for half an hour. And who in their right mind wants to lie down on the floor with all the germs? Corky Porky Pie and I finally reached a compromise.

“You settle your short, fat body on the floor, and I’ll settle mine in the bathtub,” I whispered to him. Then I stretched out in the tub, fully clothed, and waited until the two men left.

Sleep eluded all three of us that night. Every time someone got in the elevator, the contraption would give a, “whiiiiine, cheeeese, cheeeese” sort of squeak, followed by banging that seemed to come from the bowels of the earth. It did this every few minutes, as people moved up and down the twelve-story hotel. All night long.

After an entire night of whine and cheese by the elevator, I convinced Russ we needed to change rooms. So it was, while Russ attended the conference workshops, that I repacked our belongings and loaded everything onto a luggage cart and headed down to the seventh floor.

Except when I got there, the room was only half-ready and the maid spoke little English.

“Will you be done soon?” I asked.

She shrugged her shoulders and gave a smile that said, “I don’t have a clue what you’re saying.”

We exchanged a lot of hand signals. I hoped they meant she’d finish the room shortly, but she could have been telling me to take a long walk off a short pier.

Corky and I paced the halls, trying not to pressure the woman so much that she forgot to do something really important … like cleaning the room. When she finally finished, I pushmi-pullyued the baggage cart through the door. It felt a bit cool in there, but at least the noise of last night’s elevator was absent. I looked at the dog and he looked at me. “Ahhh, finally a decent place,” I said, flopping back onto the bed …


(To be continued in Cindy’s next blog.)

What's playing in my head: Home on the Range (by Brewster Higley and Daniel Kelley)

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Metafores and Asimilies ... by Cindy Beck

© Cindy Beck, 2008
(Keywords: Cindy Beck, metafore, simile, grammar, English grammar, biscuits, Connect Four, YourLDSNeighborhood.com)

I’m sure I’ve never met a fore or a simile that I didn’t like. That is, if I could remember what a metaphor or a simile is. There’s a composition and grammar book sitting on my desk that I refer to constantly, but when I went to look those terms up, my glasses had gone into hiding and the words looked like little ants. However, my less than 20-20 vision did tell me I could learn about meta-sores and similax in the book. (This might also explain why my biscuits are as heavy as bricks and just as tasty when I follow a recipe without wearing my glasses,)

Eventually the glasses turned up in the laundry basket and after putting them on, I immediately started on matters of high priority. I opened my email and found the joke of the day from the "Good, Clean Funnies List." That's when I discovered I'm not the only one who can't tell a metaphor from a semaphore from Connect Four.

Thinking you would enjoy these, I've pasted a portion of the email below for your reading pleasure. It’s a safe bet the analogies listed are metaphors … or maybe similes. It’s not a safe bet that they’re good ones.

------------ --------- -------
These are actual analogies found in high school essays.

- John and Mary had never met. They were like two
hummingbirds who had also never met.

- Even in his last years, grandpappy had a mind like a steel
trap, only one that had been left out so long, it had rusted
shut.

- The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But
unlike Phil, this plan just might work.

- The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from
not eating for a while.

- He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck,
either, but a real duck that was actually lame. Maybe from
stepping on a landmine or something.

- The Ballerina rose gracefully en pointe and extended one
slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.

- It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids
with power tools.

- He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard
bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.

- Her eyes were like limpid pools, only they had forgotten
to put in any pH cleanser.

- She walked into my office like a centipede with 98 missing
legs.

- It hurt the way your tongue hurts after you accidentally
staple it to the wall.

(Brought to you by GCFL.net: The Good, Clean Funnies List
A cheerful heart is good medicine... (Prov 17:22a)
Mail address: GCFL, Box 100 , Harvest , AL 35749 , USA
The latest GCFL funny can always be found on the web at
http://www.gcfl. net/latest. php)


What's playing in my head: The sound of crickets as they sing their last summer songs.

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Child of the Corn ... by Cindy Beck

© Cindy Beck, 2008
(Keywords: Cindy Beck, corn maze, Utah Lake, corn cops, maize, lost, Stephen King, Children of the Corn, YourLDSNeighborhood.com)


I was lost and running blindly, wanting to scream for help. Instead, I turned to my husband, Russ, and said, “This corn maze we’re in—is it supposed to be fun?”

“Yup,” he said with a grin while jumping a mud puddle wide enough to be Utah Lake.

“Which way should we turn?” I don’t know why I asked him. This is the man who gets lost on his way to the post office. But to be fair, he is good at finding the potato chip aisle in the grocery store. And since both potatoes and corn are vegetables, I hoped he’d know how to get out of the maze.

“I’m not sure,” Russ replied. He looked at the young man next to him and asked, “What do you think?” That young man was the world’s cutest, smartest, fastest soccer player. Coincidentally, he’s also our five-year-old grandson.

“This way,” my grandson said, pointing to the left.

I looked at the turn and wondered if he’d inherited Russ’s sense of direction. “Isn’t this the same circle we’ve been traveling since we stepped into this place?” The path held another puddle with footprints around it—no doubt made by lost souls who were doomed to wander the corn maze until next spring, when the farmer finally tilled the fields.

I looked at my husband’s and grandson’s shoes. Mud coated them. We were the doomed wanderers.

Then I heard voices. People! Maybe they knew something. “Is this the way out?” I asked the two women as I pointed in the opposite direction.

“No, that goes in a loop.” They giggled. I’m sure they were just pretending to have fun. As they trotted off one of them called over her shoulder, “Does the path you were on go anywhere?”

Russ said, “Sure. Maybe. Eventually. Or it might go in a circle.”

By now dark clouds were forming. A breeze rustled the leaves. My mind filled with visions from Stephen King’s book, “Children of the Corn.” And I’d never even read that novel.

Pollen drifted through the air, along with the scent of something yucky—mildew. I could feel my lungs tightening. No doubt the sadistic farmer who created this labyrinth would find me here next spring, lying at the base of the moldy, tattered stalks, gasping my last breath.

Suddenly, I heard voices again. For a moment, I wondered if angels were coming to take me to my rest.Two teenagers in dark shirts and jeans walked past. A sadistic laugh escaped from my lips and I called out, “You’re lost too, aren’t you?”

Their voices floated back on the wind as they disappeared around the turn. “No, we work here.”

I turned to Russ. “They work here?”

“Yes, didn’t you see that their shirts said, ‘Corn Cops’?”

I grabbed Russ by the collar—not an easy task since he’s taller than I. “They know how to get out of this forsaken place. And they’ve just vanished through the corn! Quick, run after them and get directions.”

I should have known better. No man will ever ask for directions. Not even one who’s lost in a muddy cornfield with a category five hurricane ready to break overhead.

Fortunately, another couple wandered toward us. I managed to croak through my mildew-tightened voice, “Do you know how to get out?”

“Take the next two turns to the left,” they said, hurrying past. I’m sure my glazed eyes and panic-stricken expression had nothing to do with their haste.

Thunderclouds blocked the sun and the wind blew harder. Running the final distance, I leapt out of the maze. My husband and grandson followed close behind, exultant at finishing without personally asking for directions.

“How long were we in there?” I said, gasping for breath.

Russ looked at his watch. “Ooo, a long time! All of 15 minutes.” Then he grinned, “If you’d thought to ask those two Corn Cops for directions, we’d have been out a lot sooner.”

If there’d been a corn cob in my hand, I’d have chucked it at him. But I didn’t have one—and there was no way I was going back into that maize-of-doom to get one.

What's playing in my head: Jimmy Crack Corn (Recorded by Burl Ives)

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