My friends, family, and readers often send me humorous e-mails and videos. I am so appreciative when they do because, first of all, they usually make me laugh. Secondly, they give me "fun stuff" to share out here on the blog.
My friend, Cathy Witbeck, recently sent an email that contained this note:
The following is from the Washington Post Style Invitational Contest, a weekly contest that the Post runs. In March 2003, they asked readers to submit “instructions” for something (anything), but to win this particular time it had to be written in the style of a famous person. The winning entry was the Hokey-Pokey as written by William Shakespeare. Hokey-Pokey by William Shakespeare By Jeff Brechlin
O proud left foot, that ventures quick within Then soon upon a backward journey lithe. Anon, once more the gesture, then begin: Command sinistral pedestal to writhe. Commence thou then the fervid Hokey-Poke, A mad gyration, hips in wanton swirl. To spin! A wilde release from Heaven’s yoke. Blessed dervish! Surely canst go, girl. The Hoke, the poke—banish now thy doubt Verily, I say, ‘tis what it’s all about. ----
Fun Stuff and Humorous Stories by C.L. (Cindy) Beck
(Also, announcing the Kroger-Chex giveaway winner, below!)
Hurray, a Christmas present in the mail, addressed to us from our friend, Frank! I opened it and on the Christmas tag inside it read: “To Vance and Beth.”
I narrowed my eyes and looked over at my hubby, Russ, to see if he'd noticed the gift. He seemed happily engaged in watching football, his sport of choice for December. Now was my chance! Since Vance and Beth were friends of ours, I felt certain they wouldn’t mind if I shook the package and listened for money a clue as to whether it was really meant for us or them.
And that’s when Russ slowly turned his head, resembling some robot thingy on Star Trek, and looked at me. He cocked his head to the side and raised one eyebrow like that well known vulture, Spock. Oops. I mean that well known Vulcan, Spock.
“Why are you shaking that?” he said, while taking it from my hands and reading the tag.
“I’m trying to figure out if it’s really meant for us or for Vance and Beth.” I snatched it back from him. Not that I cared if he knew who it was addressed to, but hey, if there was money in there it was mine!
I tucked the gift under my arm and moved out of grabbing range. “I think we need to open it so we know who it’s supposed to be for.”
A slight frown creased Russ’s forehead. “We don’t have to do that. Just email them and ask if they were expecting a gift from Frank. If they were, then it’s theirs. If they weren’t, then it’s probably meant for us and Frank just put the wrong tag on.”
It was a good suggestion, but I wasn’t about to tell Russ that because then he would think he knew enough to run the universe, and we certainly couldn’t have that.
The next day, I sent a note to Vance:
Hey Vance, good buddy! We got a package mailed to us from Frank with your name on the gift inside. Do you usually exchange gifts, or can I assume this is meant for us? If it’s meant for you, do you want us to open it and tell you what it is so you can thank him, or just mail it on to you, unopened?
PS: Even if there’s money in it, I’m certain there’s no money in it.
A day later, we received a reply:
Hi Cindy and Russ: How are my good friends? No, we don’t exchange gifts with Frank. Heck, I have a hard enough time just getting out my Christmas cards, much less exchanging gifts. How about screening my gifts for me and opening it so I can send a thank you to Frank right away. Then you can mail it to me. We won’t tell Frank about the mix up.
I grabbed the scissors and with bated breath prepared to cut the ribbon on the package … when Russ walked into the room.
“What are you doing to Vance’s gift?”
“He said I could open it,” I replied, hiding the package behind my back. Russ scurried around behind me, put me in a headlock, patted my arm and said, “No, you don’t need to open it. Just send it on to him.”
Muttering to myself about what I thought of a Grinch who wouldn’t let people open gifts that belonged to other people, I mailed the package off. Unopened and unharmed, even.
A few days later, another email came from Vance:
Hi Cindy and Russ: Two boxes arrived in the mail from Frank today. One came from Utah and had your handwriting on it, with Frank’s return address. Which do I open? Oh, I know, I’ll open both and send you the one I don’t want! :)
Ha! That Vance was funny. Sooooo funny. I emailed him back:
Hi Vance, who used to be my friend: Open my gift and you die!
Two days later, the original package #1 from Frank came back to us from Vance, and another email arrived from Vance. Since Russ stood next to me as the email came in, I read it out loud to him:
Hi Cindy and Russ! Get ready to smack your forehead again. Or better yet, smack mine. We mailed back to you the package #1 from Frank … you know, the one that came to you originally, that you shook, checked for money and then sent on to us.
In the meantime, I opened package #2 from Frank and realized that the gift inside had your names on it! I should have opened and looked at it before I sent you back the other one. I’m betting they contain the same gifts—or at least similar—but if you want, I’ll send the one with your name on it to you. I’m sure it won’t arrive before Christmas, though.
It feels like some sort of canned food …
Russ leaned closer to the email. “Canned food? Like green beans and Spam? What kind of present is that for Frank to send? Well, tell Vance he can keep the Spam and we’ll keep the Hickory Farms goodies that are probably in package #1.”
I gave package #1 another shake. It looked a little worse … okay, a lot worse for the wear, having been shipped around the country three times. And nope, still no money. Probably just green beans and Spam. But hey, a present’s a present, right?
I sat down and sent a note back to Vance:
Hi Vance! I’m pretty certain both packages are the same, so we’ll keep the one we have here and you keep the one you have there, even though the names on the gift tags are wrong. I’m going to send a note to Frank tonight telling him the package he sent to Russ and me came and we’re waiting until Christmas to open it. I’m not going to tell him the reason I’m waiting is just in case another package shows up from him!
Have a great Christmas.
(Note: This story is based on a real Christmas event. However, names have been changed so that no one thinks Frank lost his marbles. As for what was in the packages … both of them contained identical gifts from Hickory Farms. No Spam, but there was a small canned ham. And definitely no money!)
Wishing all of my readers a wonderful holiday season and a healthy, happy, prosperous new year!
---- Winner of the Kroger-Chex Giveaway:MARI! I'll be sending you an email, Mari, so that you can claim your prize. Thanks so much to all who entered the contest.
Yes, it's time for the Kroger-Chex Giveaway! But first, a few funnies and then the rules ...
Wahoo! It's that time of year when we bake delicious goodies and celebrate Christmas. In honor of the season, I'm holding a Kroger®-Chex® Giveaway for a chance to win one $25 Kroger Family of Stores gift card (includes Smiths, Food 4 Less, Fred Meyers, and others) and samples of Chex cereal.
Seriously, at my house it just does not feel like Christmas if we don't have Chex Party Mix. I've made many batches over the years, including Chex Traditional Party Mix and Chex Muddy Buddies. And yes, I'm telling you the truth when I say I buy my Chex cereal at Krogers! (Smith's Food and Drug.)
In 1986, my mom started making a party mix with Corn Chex that she calls Mexican Munchies and to the best of our knowledge, she's the original creator of the recipe. Sometimes I make a big batch for Christmas and freeze a portion for our New Year's celebration. That way we have double the Chex fun! I'll share that recipe with you ... it's posted below the giveaway rules.
What Chex Says: Cheers to a season filled with delicious, homemade holiday treats! Kroger and Chex Cereal have joined forces to help you whip up recipes for your holiday entertaining that are easy on your time as well as your budget!
Looking for an easy gift idea for friends, family or co-workers? Try wrapping your favorite Chex Party Mix in a colorful tin or bag and personalize it with your own recipe card. (Note from Cindy: I've given Chex Mix many times and it's a wonderful gift!)
To make things even sweeter, Kroger Family of Stores will have Chex cereal on sale so you can impress your guests without stressing your wallet. For 3 weeks, from December 2nd - December 25th, Kroger will offer Chex cereal at their lowest prices of the year!
Kroger-Chex Giveaway Rules (Dec 13-Dec 19, 2010): To enter, leave a comment on this blog article before midnight MST, Dec 19, 2010. Please leave your email address so I don't have to track you down if you win. The winner will be announced on Monday, Dec 20.
Can't think of anything to say in a comment? Tell us which Chex products you enjoy the most, or share your favorite Chex recipe! Or, tell us which Kroger Family of Stores you enjoy shopping at.
(Thanks for entering! This giveaway sponsored by Chex, Kroger,and MyBlogSpark®. All information plus the compensation I received in the form of a $25 gift card and samples of Chex, came from from Chex and Kroger, and through MyBlogSpark. However, my opinions of the event, of the companies involved, and the quality of the products mentioned are my own. If for some reason there is no winner, or I can not get in contact with the winner, I will redraw or give the prize to charity, at MyBlogSpark's and my discretion.)
Mexican Munchies Recipe By Roberta K.
1 can French-fried onions (3 ounce can) 1 can potato sticks (4 ounce can) 2 c. Corn Chex 3/4 cup Spanish peanuts 1/4 c. butter or margarine 2 Tbsp Mexican Munchies homemade seasoning mix, OR 2 Tbsp commercially prepared taco seasoning mix
In a large bowl, melt butter on high for 45 seconds. Stir in 2 TBSP of seasoning mixture. Add remaining ingredients and stir gently until all pieces are coated. Microwave on high for 6-7 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes. Place Mexican Munchies on paper towels to cool and then store in airtight container. May be frozen.
(Tags: nutmeg high, high on nutmeg, smoking nutmeg)
Today we're discussing the pressing topic of whether Congress will give us back our tax cuts or if instead they plan to put us all in the poor house. But first, let's talk about something of even greater importance: nutmeg!
The latest scuttlebutt making the rounds is—
Wait ... for those who don't know what "scuttlebutt" is, we'll break it down. "Scuttle" means to run around like cockroaches when the lights are turned out. (Not that any of us would know about cockroaches from experience.) The other half of the word, "butt," is the part of the anatomy a person sits on when doing nothing. Hence, "scuttlebutt" would be the cockroaches in Congress who sit on their butts doing nothing.
Oh, dang, I'm not sure how the words "in Congress" got in that last line. Gremlins, I suppose ... but ... I digress.
So, over the past few days, Yahoo News carried articles on kids smoking nutmeg. No, I am not nutty as a nutmeg, although the kids smoking the stuff must be. The info on nutmeg is entirely true ... well, as true as things from the Internet can be. And for your further edification, I've provided a real transcript—well, as real as things from my mind can be—from a conversation between two drug users.
Newbie Druggie: Ooo, far out man. What are we smoking today?
Professional Junkie: We're smoking nutmeg.
Newbie Druggie: Cool! I'll just stuff this piece of pumpkin pie in a pipe and smoke it.
Professional Junkie (as Newbie Druggie turns blue from inhaling pie) : I don't think that's how you do it. Let me go out to YouTube and watch the videos that show—
We interrupt this fictitious true conversation to warn you that there really are instructional videos on YouTube explaining how to smoke nutmeg. However, for your safety, we have not included links since there is a likelihood that the ATF is monitoring the place. Or maybe it's the FDA. Then again, it could be the YMCA.
And now, back to our highly educational discussion ...
Professional Junkie (staring at computer screen): Whoa, there's an awesome video out here on some book called Mormon Mishaps and Mischief by C.L. Beck and D.N Giles. But, bummer, it doesn't say how to smoke nutmeg. Let me try another clip.
Okay, this one says sprinkle the nutmeg on paper, roll it up, and light it.
Newbie Druggie (looking around): But dude, there's no paper in this room!
Professional Junkie: Yeah, I already tried smoking the newspaper to see if the ink would get me high, but all it did was flare up and burn off my eyebrows.
Newbie Druggie: No way, man! I always thought you were born that way.
Professional Junkie: Listen, go in the bathroom and get a bunch of toilet paper. We'll roll the nutmeg in that.
Newbie Druggie (returning with a long string of toilet paper that extends down the hall and into the bathroom): I kept it attached to the roll so if we need more, all we have to do is give a pull.
Professional Junkie: Most excellent idea, dude!
Newbie Druggie (lights the nutmeg joint and inhales deeply, never noticing as the toilet paper flares and fire runs down the line of TP like a fuse on dynamite): Oooo, far out. Cool colors on the ceiling and ... aaack, my nose hairs are on fire! Call the fire department!
Professional Junkie: Bummer, dude. Gotta split, but here's the phone.
And so ends our educational tête-à-tête for today. Tune in to future blogs where, on that night when the planets align and I win a Pulitzer prize, we'll discuss the pros and cons of smoking banana peels.
CONTEST COMING NEXT WEEK: Enter to win a Kroger “Chex Holiday Recipes” gift pack that includes two samples of Chex cereal and a $25 gift card valid at the Kroger Family of Stores (includes Smiths, Food 4 Less, Fred Meyers and a slew of others!) Check back next Monday!
This Christmas story was written by a "friend" of mine named Cindy Lynn. Quite coincidentally, she's about 5' 4" tall, with blue eyes and facial features that are strikingly similar to mine. She even owns a dog named Corky Porky Pie! Now that's freaky and seems to go beyond coincidence, doesn't it?
At any rate, Cindy Lynn likes to dabble in stories online, and writes articles for Associated Content under a pen name. Why a pen name? Because writing Internet articles requires a certain amount of repetition of key words, so the articles read differently than other work she might do. But ... enough about me her ... let's get to the Christmas story.
Up on the Rooftop
"I believe in Santy Claus, and any one who doesn't is a danged fool!" Shorty made the statement and then stared at the man named Jake, sitting next to him in the half-empty, Royal Flush Saloon. Shorty squared his shoulders, waiting for the inevitable jeering and the fist fight that would follow his words. "I might be short, but I ain't puny and I can whip any man twice my size ... so don't try convincing me with a bunch of fancy talk about how there ain't no Santy."
As Jake looked at him, Shorty could've sworn he saw something intangible flit across the guy's face. Not a smile, exactly, but more like an invisible nod. Shorty laid his Stetson on the bar in hopes it wouldn't get mashed in the soon-to-be fight and steeled himself, waiting for the first punch.
Jake's arm snaked out, Shorty jerked to the side while bringing up his gnarled fists ... and Jake patted Shorty on the shoulder. "I'm not trying to convince you of anything; we're just having a conversation. Why don't we take this outside?" Jake stood up and nudged the cowpuncher away from the oak bar.
Shorty's brow creased and he clenched his jaw. "Quit shoving. If you want a fight, it don't matter to me where, but I don't take kindly to bein' pushed around like some ornery longhorn about to be branded."
As they stepped through the door, the cold, Christmas Eve air took Shorty's breath away. I got about two minutes to handle this tin horn before I'll be too stiff in the joints to even move—dad-blamed ol' bones.
He took a swing at Jake's nose, but the guy sidestepped, slipped behind him, wrapped his arms around Shorty's chest and squeezed. "Listen to me, you old galoot! We aren't out here to fight. I want you to help me with something."
Shorty gasped for breath. "Well, you shore got a funny way of askin' for help—squeezin' me until my eyeballs pop."
Jake loosened his grip and Shorty turned to face him. "Give me one good reason why I should help you."
"Well, let's just say that it's because you still believe."
Shorty eyebrows raised a notch, and he brought his fists up again. "You makin' fun of me?"
"No. I need you to help me get it down." Jake pointed up the road.
"Get what down from where?" said the ol' cowboy, cocking his head and feeling confused.
The moon sparkled on the new fallen snow as Jake scuffed at it and said, "My vehicle. It's stuck on the roof of some old building."
Shorty laughed, then doubled over and laughed some more. "I think you had yourself a mite too much to drink there, fella, but it's all right. Ol' Shorty will help you out. I've pulled trucks out of ditches and cars out of creeks, but this'll be the first time I ever pulled a pickup off a rooftop!"
They climbed into Shorty's truck and Jake give directions for Shorty to drive to a field a mile away. Sure enough, at the end of the field sat an old wooden building with a dented, Ford F-150 sitting on the roof.
Shorty stood below, shaking his head in disbelief. "You musta been nippin' at the bottle waaayyy too long. And I can't even begin to figure how you did this."
As they climbed up to the vehicle, Jake said, "Let me get in and start the engine, then you give it a push and that should do it."
Shorty stopped in mid-climb. "Well, I'll be corn-swaggled if that won't just end up droppin' that pickup off the roof and then rollin' it. Are you sure that's what you want to do?"
Jake's eyes twinkled in the moonlight and he laughed. "Yes, you'll see."
It was no easy climb, going up an old, rickety building but Shorty finally made it and hunkered down behind the truck. As the motor roared, Shorty gave the biggest push of his life and muttered, "I don't know why I'm doin' this. Some days I don't even have as much sense as a hop toad havin' a picnic on the highway."
The vehicle slid down and to the right, causing Shorty to pitch forward. Catching himself with his hands, he looked up just in time to see the pickup transform into a mahogany sleigh pulled by eight reindeer and driven by Jake—whose jeans and plaid shirt had turned into a red and white suit topped off by a stocking cap.
Shorty scratched his head in amazement. "Well, I'll be ... that truck was just a disguise, and Jake is Santy Claus!"
The sleigh moved into the air, and Santa waved. "Thanks for your help getting it unstuck, Shorty!"
The ol' cowboy looked down to see a brightly wrapped present at his feet, with a tag that said, "To Shorty, who has always believed." He picked it up and with a jump, slid off the roof and waved at the sleigh. "Thanks, Santy. And ya better stop along the way to get yourself a new pair of glasses ... otherwise you'll land on another outhouse fer sure!"
Every year at about this time, I make up a Christmas wish list and give it to my husband, Russ. It usually includes practical items like blouses and sweaters, or maybe soul-soothing gifts like jewelry, perfume, and chocolates; all in the hopes that something—anything—on the list might actually end up under the tree.
Some women might think the men in their lives should come up with gift ideas all on their own, but gals, don’t be tempted with that thought. Men typically do not inherit a gift-giving gene from their mothers and the guys who do have nicknames like, “Pookie” and are decorating houses for a living.
But, if that’s not reason enough to give your sweetheart a wish list, here are a few more:
The Judge Give the guy in your life a list so that you won’t end up with a weapon as your principal Christmas gift. When I say “weapon” I’m not talking a girly weapon like pepper spray—which in theory disables an attacker but in actuality fans out in a hairspray-like mist that blows back into your eyes, causing them to tear up and mascara to run down your face. But hey, at least it holds your hair in place.
Nor do I mean a paring knife, which all gals know are much more effective than mace because any man who sees a paring knife is afraid he’ll be asked to peel potatoes and takes off for the next county.
No, I'm talking a weapon that has a firing pin, trigger, and that needs to be carried in a holster that wraps around your chest—which would make any woman look like she’d grown an extra mammary gland. Not a bad thing, if one intends to be painted by Pablo Picasso, but it’s not what most women would request for Christmas.
But, let’s say that for one insane moment you considered doing that—no, not growing an extra mammary gland, but letting your guy give you a weapon for Christmas. For minimum requirements it would have to look pretty, with maybe a rainbow handle; have your name imprinted on the end where the bullet comes out, and carry a model name like, Sleep With Angels.
Nope, forget it. Gun manufacturers wouldn't even think of making a gun with that name, and your man would end up buying something with a nickname like, Blow the Guy’s Head Off or Blood in the Streets. Or even, The Judge. And yes, I made up those first two but The Judge is a real gun. Not that I would know from experience or anything.
.44 Caliber Naturally, if your man buys you a gun, the next thing he’s going to purchase and put under the tree is bullets. No, not so you can string them and wear them around your neck, thus creating the latest fashion craze. Very few men would be caught dead (no pun intended) with a woman wearing bullets around her neck, although I hear there are a few living in compounds in Idaho who prefer women that wear their bullets bandoleer-style, across their chest. Obviously, they’re also the kind of men who don't mind if their gals resemble a Picasso painting.
Your guy will want to take you to an outdoor range and teach you how to shoot. The concept that men and women can stand side by side and shoot things is a myth perpetrated in the old west. Or maybe Montana; I'm not sure which. Your man will want to shoot at chipmunks, and you will stand there crying because he might have killed Chip and Dale (the cartoon chipmunks, not the dudes with muscles and skimpy underwear). He’ll want to use things like Necco Wafers as targets, which totally ruins them for eating. Or possibly shoot at cans of spray paint, which coincidentally are under pressure and will blow up, the shock wave making your hair frizz out all over your head while conveniently giving you non-removable paint streaks in your hair. Not that I would know this by experience, either.
American Handgunner It’s safe to say that as a group, women are an uncomplaining lot. However, even the most laid-back among you would prefer that your Christmas gifts come wrapped in gaily-colored paper displaying scenes of snowmen and sleigh rides—not gun battles and automatic weapons. Nor will most of you approve of gift wrap depicting women in Miracle Bras and thongs, showing off the newest line of Thunderwear holsters.
By the time your sweetheart has bought you the gun, bullets, and Necco Wafers for targets, he’ll think nothing of wrapping those same gifts in pages torn out of the American Handgunner magazine.
In conclusion, take my advice—get that list written and handed to your man, lest you end up packin’ for the rest of your life. In the meantime, I’d love to give you more advice because I have a plethora of thoughts on this subject … but alas, it’s time for me to strap on The Judge and go grocery shopping.
(Dedicated to my friend, PackenMama, who knows her way around a shooting range almost as well as going shopping on e-Bay.)
Ahhh, Thanksgiving—that time of year to eat roast turkey, smashed taters and stuffing. There’s only one way to make the stuffing and that's with sour dough bread and giblets. Okay, I hear some of you gagging at the mention of giblets, but mine is an old family recipe that tastes great. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be caught dead touching a giblet.
We have time honored traditions in our home and we follow them to the letter. One year, however, it didn’t go quite as expected. We watched the Macy’s parade in the morning while the giblets simmered on the stove. Then I turned them off (the giblets, not Macys), and made the stuffing using ... well ... I won’t tell you which parts, because you'll start gagging again.
I will say I’m picky about which innards go into my stuffing and there’s no way that gristly, ghastly gizzard was included. I left it in the pan of water and turned it back on so it would cook more, with the intention of feeding it later to the cats. Then I stuffed the gobbler and got that baby roasting.
While it cooked, we jumped into our truck and headed up the canyon to go skiing. I could almost catch a whiff of roast turkey floating among the pines, as the clouds threw dancing shadows that resembled pumpkin pies, and the snow looked like mounds of whipped cream.
After a couple of hours, it was time to go. On the drive down my tumbly was rumbly, thinking of the turkey that would be ready at home. My favorite Thanksgiving moment always happened when I walked in the door and the warmth of the kitchen washed over me, while the pungent odor of sage, onions and roast turkey wrapped me in a culinary hug.
I was the first to bail out of the truck, and raced to the door anticipating the aroma. I stopped short with my hand on the knob. “What’s that weird noise?”
My husband, Russ—being deaf in one ear and not able to hear out of the other—said, “What noise?”
“It sounds like a high-pitched whine.” Puzzled but not concerned, I turned the key in the lock and opened the door, inhaling to my fullest in preparation for the wonderful smells to come.
Acrid smoke poured out and rushed up my nose, while the smoke detector screamed like a wild banshee. “What’s going on?” I yelled to Russ over the din, waving my hands to clear a path through the smoke.
“Something’s burning!” he hollered.
“But what?” Had the turkey exploded and plastered itself all over the oven?
Just then our son, Dave, walked in and said, “Hey, something’s burning!”
Our family has a talent for stating the obvious.
By now, we were almost deaf. Apparently, it never occurred to fire alert manufacturers that some people might not dash out the door, but instead would stand around discussing what’s on fire.
What happened next should have qualified me as a firefighter of the tenth degree. I didn't waste my time looking for unnecessary equipment, like a fire extinguisher. Instead, I took decisive action, grabbed a dishtowel and flapped it frantically under the detector to clear the sensors and shut it up, while Russ dashed to the oven to pull out the turkey. Dave stood in the doorway, waving the door to clear the air, and cheered us on in between coughs.
Russ yelled at the top of his lungs, “It’s not the turkey. It’s something on the stove ..." He paused, inspecting the blackened pan. "It looks like a cremated gizzard!” Naturally, the smoke detector quite screaming just then, so that even strangers on the streets of Provo knew we had giblets roasting on an open fire.
Despite the fiasco of a holiday where our house smelled of burned gizzard—and we ate bundled in coats because the doors were opened to air out the smoke—it was a Thanksgiving to remember. Our son, now thirty-something, loves to tell the story to anyone who will listen.
Some might think it foolish to tempt fate, but I’ve cooked giblets every Thanksgiving since. A tradition such as that can’t be tossed out the window just because of a tiny mistake like an incinerated innard. Besides, I’ve learned from the error of my ways and now take precautions.
The night before Thanksgiving, I pull the battery out of the smoke detector.
Really, I’m not stealing that phrase, even though it came from famed novelist, Bulwer-Lytton who was known for his purple prose, which, according to the venerable Wikipedia is “prose so overly extravagant, ornate, or flowery as to break the flow and draw attention to itself,” but despite its fancy definition—a definition which reminds me of molasses running downhill on a hot day—I believe it’s a form of writing that’s so terrible it might not even be purple but more like red because that’s what people see when they read writing like that … red like the color of my true love’s hair—except Russ has no hair on top and what’s left on the sides is silvery—or love that’s like a red, red, rose, which, by the way, was written by the Scotsman, Robert Burns, and I’m pretty certain that he never wrote purple prose, but it could be that he wore a purple kilt.
But, I digress … it really was a dark and stormy night. Despite having almost killed myself by inhaling my gum in a previous 5K, in Mona, Utah, I’d stupidly bravely decided to try again this year. No, not to kill myself—to run another race. So it was, on a dark and stormy Saturday night, that Russ and I ran in the American Fork 2010 Halloween Fun Run.
The good thing about it was that unlike last summer in Mona, no dust lingered in the air to clog the sinuses. Instead, rain fell from the sky in torrents, lightening flashed overhead, and voices screeched in the night. Well, maybe that was just the little ol’ lady in front of me trying to clear her throat, but all the same ….
When we finished the first leg of the course, I noticed odd street markers that said things like, “Here lies Betty Joe, who lost her foot in last year’s snow. She ran a Halloween 5K and regrets it, under ground, this day.”
I looked at Russ to see if he’d noticed. He seemed oblivious to the oddness as he ran along in triple layers consisting of long underwear, a bright orange tee shirt that read, “Psych Ward, 666” and a sweatshirt that didn’t have any slogan … unless you include that spot of chicken soup left over from lunch. Perspiration dripped off his bald head and into his eyes. I said, “Don’t you think you’re a little overdressed for running?”
He wiped the sweat from his brow. “I’m keeping my muscles warm.”
I resisted the temptation to ask what muscles, and instead said, “Did you see that weird street sign back there?”
Russ slowed to a walk, which kept him even with me as I ran my hardest. “It wasn’t a street sign, Cindy, it was a headstone. This course runs through the town’s cemetery.”
I shuddered at the thought, which caused me to stumble over my own two feet. “I’m not sure I remembered that when we registered," I muttered, and then wondered if those were the voices of other runners on the wind, or ghosties in the graveyard.
The full moon came out from behind the clouds just enough for me to see the glow sticks fastened around various parts of the anatomies of the other 3,250 runners—the glow sticks being a tribal symbol to signify acceptance of the runner’s spiritual code.
Okay, so maybe I exaggerate slightly. There were only about 250 runners. The other 3,000 were smart enough to come in out of the rain and they’d all stayed home. The glow sticks were so we could see each other, and for the most part, runners fastened them around their necks. That is, all except for Russ, who hung them off his ears.
What can I say? I brought Russ along for comic relief, so that I wouldn’t notice the torturous leg cramps that would inevitably happen because I hadn’t trained for the race.
Knowing how easy it would be to trip in a pothole, I whipped out my trusty flashlight—the one that normally sat in my well-stocked, emergency preparedness kit. (All right, I'll tell the truth, I'd actually bought it at the hardware store just an hour before.) Russ looked over, and if it hadn’t been so dark, I swear I would have seen that gleam in his eye. “Here, let me carry that flashlight for you,” he said, ever so sweetly. I handed it over, thinking what a kind and noble man my bald-headed knight was.
By now we’d struggled up Snob Hill, which actually may have been Knob Hill, but I couldn’t clearly hear the name as the staff shouted it from the side of the road. Why didn’t they use a megaphone? How could I possibly hear correctly over the sound of my lungs screaming for air?
Down the hill we went. Thank goodness the American Fork police had parked a cruiser, with its bright lights flashing, to mark the last leg of the course. Yes, very bright lights. Blinding lights! Spots covered the interior of my eyeballs; I sideswiped the cop standing in the road, and almost turfed it when I ran into the curb.
Righting myself, I zeroed in on Russ’s voice. “We’re near the end, Cin. You can do it. Keep going. We’re going to beat our previous time!”
And that’s when I remembered my resolve to finish ahead of him. I’d almost done it at last year’s 5K and if it hadn’t been for that pesky piece of gum lodging itself in my throat and cutting off my wind, I would have made it.
A toasty glow enveloped me at the thought that I had outsmarted Russ. Either that or I was in the last stage of hypothermia, where you feel warm and then drop dead from the cold, damp air. At any rate, it didn’t matter which. I was bound to beat him because I’d tossed my gum before we even got to American Fork.
The blue, electronic finish light lay only yards ahead. I psyched my mind and strengthened my loins. This was it. My course was clear. I would put on a burst of speed, pass Russ and beat him at the last moment. I would be the fastest runner in the family, I would be ….
Russ whirled toward me, the flashlight in his hands instantaneously blinding me. “Ha ha, I win!” he said, sprinting toward the finish line. Well, I think he sprinted. He could have crawled and still beaten me, because I staggered in circles like a drunken sailor, trying to clear my vision.
Oh, he’s a speedy runner all right, but cunning and stealth beat speed every time.
As I caught up to him after crossing the finish line, we lurched into the recreation center where an official-looking woman said, “Did you win?”
We shrugged our shoulders, and I said, “How would we know?”
The woman stared at us like this was only our second race and we didn’t know what we were doing, and then said, “It’s on your time card.” She took them from us, looked them over and then handed them back to us. “You’ve won second place in your age group,” she said to Russ over the noise of the crowd.
Russ, the bald-headed, hard-of-hearing knight, looked at me and said, “What did she say?”
Before I had a chance to answer, she gave my card back to me. “You’ve won third place in your age group.” Then she handed Russ’s second place ribbon to me and handed my third place ribbon to Russ.
Russ looked at white ribbon in his hand and said, “So, I guess I took third place in my age group?”
I grinned—a sardonic, "gotcha" grin. “Guess so. And I got a second place ribbon!”
Technically, it wasn’t a lie, because after all, the official did hand me that ribbon. And maybe I’ll eventually tell Russ he won second place. Someday. Before the next race. But in the meantime, I’ll just keep reminding him that cunning and stealth beat speed every time.
With Halloween so close, it's only fitting that today's post consist of something with a bit of suspense, and so I give you ...
The Bodies in the Basement (Complete with scary organ music and screams in the distance.)
Kat Nilsson wrote the words, "I was watching CSI Miami," in big loopy letters on the legal pad in her lap. Then, since she had writer's block, she doodled in the loops.
After a few minutes of wasted time, Kat scratched her head with the point of her yellow pencil and sighed. "No. That's not right. I can't start a novel out that way. I hate CSI. Can't stand those women with whitened teeth, brightened faces, and over-tightened blouses." Kat erased the words with a vengeance, as if erasing the facial features of the botoxed movie stars.
She started again. "Stacy heard a knock at the door, and just as she went to answer—"
As Kat wrote those words, a deep thump, thump, thump reverberated through the house. With a sigh big enough to sink a battleship, Kat threw the pencil into a mug of assorted pens and walked to the front room to see who was knocking.
The wind whistled as she opened the heavy, wooden door, and a chill ran between her shoulder blades. No one stood there. Not a living soul. Attached to the door by a feathered dart was an off-white sheet of paper, with dark, thick handwriting.
If you find the dog, call me.
PS: The bodies are in the basement.
"The basement?" she whispered. Kat shuddered and tugged her bedraggled University of Wyoming sweatshirt tight around her body. There was a basement in her house. An old basement with a cold, concrete floor—a room she never, ever, ever went into because ... well ... anyone who writes murder mysteries knows that something horrifying always happens in the basement.
Scanning the bottom of the note and then turning the paper over, Kat looked for a clue as to who wrote it. No signature, not even a grimy thumbprint to give a hint.
That's when she heard it—a thin, high-pitched, forlorn howl from under the house. For one illogical second her heart rocketed with fear and she thought about screaming and running to the neighbors. But then, her writer's curiosity kicked in. Who left the note and why did they put a dog in the basement? How did they know about the basement? Who, what, when, where, how and why?
She counted friends on her fingers. Josi? No, she didn't own a dog. Nichole? Yes, Nichole was a jokester all right, but also allergic to anything with fur, including....
Like a good Catholic girl, Kat crossed herself for luck. She might be allergic to aspen and eucalyptus, but at least she wasn't allergic to mink, like Nichole.
Bulldog, Rex, or Nipsey? Goodness knows their names were doggy enough, but no, they were all too tenderhearted to shove a dog in a basement in order to scare a writer wordless.
It had to be a practical joke, pulled by the neighbor-kid-from-hell, who was always throwing tomatoes at her car when he thought she wasn't looking. Yup, that had to be it. When she got the dog out of there, she was going to have a long talk with that boy's parents.
Hitching up her sweatpants, she closed the door behind her and walked around the redwood-sided house to the back yard. Autumn leaves crunched under her Big Bird slippers and she realized that they might be a lucky charm when writing, but they wouldn't do much to protect her against earwigs, black widow spiders, and uggg ... stink bugs ... that might be in the basement. But it was too late now; her feet took her down the concrete steps as if they had a mind of their own.
Ssshhh. What was that?
A rustling noise, like a lady's crisp, crinoline underskirt, drifted to Kat's ears. And then, silence. Certain that she'd psyched herself out, Kat took a deep breath and with one hand on the rust-encrusted doorknob, listened again.
Not a sound.
No dog howling, no skirts rustling.
Feeling weak in the knees, and even weaker in the head, she turned the knob and pushed the door. Its hinges squeaked. Dang. She hadn't done it hard enough, and now she'd have to step inside, in that dark, damp, hole-in-the-ground and push the door all the way open with her shoulder. Why hadn't she thought to bring a flashlight?
Kat stepped over the doorjamb and shoved. The door slowly inched back, but it was almost as if light feared entering the room. Darkness reigned, and the tiny shaft of brightness that had the courage to shine against the door slowly dimmed as clouds obscured the sun.
That's when she heard it—an otherworldly moan. And she could make out two bodies, lying on the floor, legs bent at sharp angles, tongues hanging out. A shriek caught in her throat. She wanted to whirl and run but her legs refused to obey.
The shapes unkinked their legs, rose up in front of her, and Kat screamed—a wordless, soundless scream.
"Surprise!" shouted the two bodies as they flicked on flashlights. Hoots of laughter and a chorus of happy birthdays erupted from around the room. They were all there, Josi, Nichole, Bulldog, Rex and Nipsey. And Kat wanted to kill every one of them.
If it wasn't for Bulldog handing her a puppy that kissed her cheek and snuggled against her shoulder, she would have done it. But then, how mad could she really be, when they'd braved the basement in order to throw a surprise party?
"The puppy's your present from all of us," Bulldog said. "Any author who writes about murder needs a dog to curl up with and to protect her from the gaboogities at night."
The puppy nuzzled Kat's neck, and her heart rate slowly returned to normal. Josi leaned over and stroked the dog's soft fur. "What are you going to call her?"
Kat's eyes twinkled, "After the scare you've all given me, I'm going to name her Heart Attack."
And with that, the puppy pointed her nose in the air and gave a howl of agreement.
(Disclaimer: This story is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to real persons—living or dead—is purely coincidental. The dog represented in this fictional story is not based on Lassie, Benji, or any other dog of public fame. (And sshhh, don't tell anyone, but you can view a striking likeness of the author's main character by clicking here and the dog in the story does bear an uncanny resemblance to Corky Porky Pie, the author's Welsh Corgi.)
Although I've come up with a few state slogans of my own, I've never managed to come up with enough for all fifty states. However, the other day as I was browsing the networking, I ran across this list. And I knew my readers would love it. So, here it is, with a few minor modifications by me (in order to keep this site family friendly) and a big thank you to JokesAndHumor.com for allowing me to post this list. State Slogans
Alabama: Yes, We Have Electricity Alaska: 11,623 Eskimos Can't Be Wrong! Arizona: But It's A Dry Heat Arkansas: Literacy Ain't Everything California: By 30, Our Women Have More Plastic Than Your Honda Colorado: If You Don't Ski, Don't Bother Connecticut: Like Massachusetts, Only The Kennedys Don't Own It Yet Delaware: We Really Do Like The Chemicals In Our Water Florida: Ask Us About Our Grandkids Georgia: We Put The Fun In Fundamentalist Extremism Hawaii: Haka Tiki Mou Sha'ami Leeki Toru (Death To Mainland Scum, But Leave Your Money) Idaho: More Than Just Potatoes. Well Okay, We're Not, But The Potatoes Sure Are Real Good Illinois: Please Don't Pronounce the S Indiana: 2 Billion Years Tidal Wave Free Iowa: We Do Amazing Things With Corn Kansas: First Of The Rectangle States Kentucky: Five Million People; Fifteen Last Names Louisiana: We're Not ALL Drunk Cajun Wackos, But That's Our Tourism Campaign Maine: We're Really Cold, But We Have Cheap Lobster Maryland: If You Can Dream It, We Can Tax It Massachusetts: Our Taxes Are Lower Than Sweden's (For Most Tax Brackets) Michigan: First Line Of Defense From The Canadians Minnesota: 10,000 Lakes. And 10,000,000,000,000 Mosquitoes Mississippi: Come And Feel Better About Your Own State Missouri: Your Federal Flood Relief Tax Dollars At Work Montana: Land Of The Big Sky, The Unabomber, Right-Wing Crazies, And Very Little Else Nebraska: Ask About Our State Motto Contest Nevada: Hookers and Poker! New Hampshire: Go Away And Leave Us Alone New Jersey: You Want A ##$%##! Motto? I Got Yer ##$%##! Motto Right Here! New Mexico: Lizards Make Excellent Pets New York: You Have The Right To Remain Silent, You Have The Right To An Attorney North Carolina: Tobacco Is A Vegetable North Dakota: We Really Are One Of The 50 States! Ohio: At Least We're Not Michigan Oklahoma: Like The Play, Only With No Singing Oregon: Spotted Owl. It's What's For Dinner Pennsylvania: Cook With Coal Rhode Island: We're Not REALLY An Island South Carolina: Remember The Civil War? We Didn't Actually Surrender South Dakota: Closer Than North Dakota Tennessee: The Educashun State Texas: Si, Hablo Ingles (Yes, I Speak English) Utah: Home of The Stinky Great Salt Lake Vermont: Yep Virginia: Who Says Government Stiffs And Slackjaw Yokels Don't Mix? Washington: Help! We're Overrun By Nerds And Slackers! Washington, D.C.: Wanna Be Mayor? West Virginia: One Big Happy Family. Really! Wisconsin: Come Cut The Cheese Wyoming: Only Snows Once All Winter (And Then Just Keeps Blowing It Back And Forth Across The Roads)
And now that I've thoroughly annoyed at least one person in every state in the Union, I'll ask those who enjoyed this list to drop off a comment and let me know your favorite. I got a big laugh out of Hawaii's slogan!
“What’s the writing assignment that’s due in our writer’s group tomorrow?” I asked Russ for the fourth time that week. The assignment was usually a unique topic designed to stretch our imaginations.
“Bored with dark glasses,” he answered between tightly drawn lips, and over the noise of his electric razor. Russ never liked shaving and talking at the same time because he usually cut himself, so his answers were always succinct. I, personally, don’t understand that. I can shave my legs and talk at the same time. Sometimes, on a good day, I could even shave my legs and walk at the same time.
No matter. Meandering into the kitchen, I pulled on my copper-tinted Maui Jim shades. They didn’t seem that boring, so for a little hands-on experiment, I decided to walk out into the bright sunshine without them and gaze at the sun.
The minute I looked up at El Sol, dark spots the size of a Boeing 747 zinged through my eyeballs, and boring or not, I needed those sunglasses. Turning in a circle, I tried to remember which direction I should walk to reach the house. The dark spots turned with me and I staggered toward something tall. Surely, that was the door.
“Aaackkk—the clothesline pole,” my brain screamed as I bounced off the post. A knot the size of a tractor tire grew out of my forehead, while the wasps that lived in the hollow pole flew toward me, sharpening their little harpoon butts on the way.
You don’t need good vision to know when a swarm of angry buggers are after you. I ran pell-mell toward what should have been the gate, the dark spots in my eyes fleeing with me.
Who, with any brains, leaves tools in front of the gate? For that matter, who moved the gate over to the garden? Tripping over the Mantis tiller, I tumbled through the vegetable patch, tomatoes splatting against my face while the wasps buzzed merrily behind me. I slid to a stop at the end of the row and lay there, swatting at the bees and planning revenge on the man who forgot to put away the tiller.
Then the screen door creaked open.
Laughter. Someone was laughing. I looked up and saw Russ with a halo around his head. A halo was a definite impossibility for the man who’d left a mechanized garden tool for me to trip over.
Certain that he had it coming to him, I grabbed the nearest tomato. Just as I let it fly in his general direction, I heard Russ’s voice floating past on the breeze, “Cindy, we have company.”
My vision cleared in time to see Corky Porky Pie, the dog, licking drips off our visitors’ shoes as Russ wiped splattered tomato from their faces. He apologized profusely as he walked our guests out of the yard and to their car.
I hollered at their retreating backs, “Wait! Come back! I’m not usually like this. It’s just that I’m a writer.”
As they jumped in their car and peeled out of the driveway, I lay in the dirt and pondered life’s golden questions. Who am I? Where have I come from? Where am I going? And most importantly of all … why can’t I call back a Beefmaster tomato after chucking it at a pair of new home teachers?
Okay, so I know that last thought has never been included in the golden questions, but I’m here to tell you folks … it should be!
Maybe it's because I studied medical terminology in college—back before I realized that I didn't really like needles and being in a hospital gave me the whim-whams—that these definitions seem so funny. Or, possibly it's because they are funny that they seem so ... well ... rib-tickling! Regardless of the reasons for my own enjoyment, I know you'll get a kick out of them.
I'll bet a number of you remember playing the game, Red Light-Green Light, as kids. It's the game where you only move forward when the person who's "it" turns his back on you. I'm guessing most of you won more often than I did, too!
I've seen it played with cub scouts and other youngsters, but this is the first time I've ever seen it played with a cat. Hope you enjoy this ... it had me shaking my head and laughing.
And now that you've watched the video, drop off a comment and tell me your favorite childhood game. Mine was Hide and Seek.
C.L. Beck:Although it is not my normal inclination to enter arenas of sensitive, public opinion, today I have a guest who has no problems speaking her mind on any subject and rarely often utters great words of wisdom. With that being said, I’d like to welcome readers to another episode of “Miss Knows-Nothing.” As you may remember from a past blog, Miss Knows-Nothing is that wonderful, church-going woman who wears high hair and white gloves. She’s currently finishing out her second term as a U.S. senator. Not long ago, she wrestled an alligator that fell in her cesspool and is reported to have said, “It was much like having dinner with certain members of Congress.”
Our first question for the esteemed Senator comes from a professor of horticulture who teaches at Brigham Young University—otherwise known by single LDS adults as B.Y.Woo–who asks:
Illustrious BYU Prof: Autumn is on its way and I’d like for my tomatoes to ripen faster. What can I do?
Miss Knows-Nothing: Go out to the garden and stare at them. This will embarrass the tomatoes and they’ll turn red. Illustrious BYU Prof: But what should I do if I see a bug on one of them? Miss Knows-Nothing: According to my extensive knowledge gained from watching James Bond, you shouldn’t talk. Then the bug won’t pick up your voice. C.L. Beck:Thank you for those great questions, sir. Now, let’s try someone new. How about that lady waving her hand in the back? Waving Lady: So pleased to meet you, Miss Knows-Nothing. I’m a harried housewife—
Miss Knows-Nothing: You’re a hairy housewife? Oh, you poor dear. Try electrolysis.
Waving Hairy Lady: No, no, not hairy. Harried. I’m a harried housewife and am considering buying a robot vacuum cleaner to help with the cleaning. Do you think this is a good idea? Miss Knows-Nothing: In theory, a robot vacuum cleaner vacuums the floors. In actuality, they head for the nearest couch and jam themselves under it. This happens approximately every thirty seconds, thereby dispelling the notion that robot vacuum cleaners actually give you time to do something other than unstick stuck vacuum cleaners. I have one named Myrtle, so I should know. Waving Hairy Lady: Besides cleaning the house, I have another problem. I feel like a failure as a mother because every time I give my toddler a vitamin he spits it out, hitting his brother in the head with it. What should I do? Miss Knows-Nothing: Tell the brother to stand else elsewhere.
C.L. Beck:Yes. Okay then. Enough questions from the hooey-palooey wonderful people in the back. Let’s hear from the dictator of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, over there in the corner.
El Dictator: Not long ago, I got a piece of bread wedged in the toaster and when I stuck a fork in to retrieve it, I was almost electrocuted. What can I do about that?
Miss Knows-Nothing: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Maybe a wet fork would do it.
Oh, you mean about the bread? Don’t worry about that. Burning toast is a great way to test the kitchen smoke detector.
All of which reminds me of a related thought I had today. If you take your dog for a walk on a mountain trail, you’re expected to clean up his doggy-doody.
If you take your horse for a walk on that same trail, you are not expected to clean up his horse-hockey. Go figure. C.L. Beck:Umm … very profound. Next question, please. The little man in the uniform, on the front row.
Little Uniformed Dude: Speaking of doggy-doody, I’m the caretaker for the city cemetery and we leave the gates open for the public during the day, but loose dogs run through. What action should the city council take to correct this problem?
Miss Knows-Nothing: They could follow the example of my esteemed colleagues in Congress and present a bill, then discuss it, then filibuster it, then table it until after the holidays. Or you could just close the gates and the public can open them when they want to enter the grounds. When my hubby and I were at the cemetery the other day, we noticed a “No Dogs Allowed” sign. Apparently our city council thinks the loose dogs can read.
C.L. Beck:Well, ladies and gentlemen, I hate to bring this exciting bloginar to an end but I’m afraid that’s all the time there is for today. If any of you have a question for Miss Knows-Nothing, you can mail it to her at:
Miss Knows-Nothing C/O Congress That Does Nothing Washington, D.C. 20510
As an alternative, you may speak your question directly into your computer screen, which is being monitored for political correctness by the CIA, FBI, and the USDA.
Or better yet, leave a comment below.
[Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by Miss Knows-Nothing are entirely her own and do not represent the opinions of any organization, person, place, animal, vegetable, or mineral.]
Penguins are funny little animals—birds with wings and yet they can't fly, which puts them at a distinct disadvantage when being chased by killer whales. And if having wings and not being able to fly isn't unique enough, wait until you see what the one in this video does. By the time you finish watching it, you'll be shaking your head in amazement at the way he outsmarts a group of killer whales. Enjoy!
If you get a minute, drop off a comment and let me know what you think of this penguin's ingenuity.
AND NOW ... for the winner of the $25 Sam's Club gift card: (Small trumpets herald in the distance)NATALIE A! Congratulations to Natalie, and a thank you to all who entered the contest during the past two weeks.
As you remember from a few weeks ago, (click here for Part 1 of the story) my hubby and I had a disastrous trip to the car wash. We’d tried using the car wash vacuum cleaner, which failed to suck up the dirt in our SUV and instead spit out trash from the vacuum’s other end. And then I thought I noticed some movement at the optometrist’s window next door ….
[Flashback: We stood in the hot sun, staring at the machine for five minutes more, debating whether it really sucked or not, and then I noticed a slight movement at Dr. Brian’s window. I peered through my sunglasses—which unfortunately do not fit over the new glasses Dr. Brian sold me—and wondered if we were being watched. But since my new glasses were not sitting on my nose and instead were hooked into the top button of my blouse so I wouldn’t lose them, everything looked blurry. I chalked up the feeling to paranoia.
Still … just because you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean someone isn’t watching you.]
I gave up trying to figure it out, climbed back into the car, and we drove to the car wash tunnel’s entrance. After three failed attempts on a Visa card—one with enough credit to buy a car dealership—we put in cash and the tunnel gave the green light. We moved forward, hitting the little thingy at the end that's designed to stop a person from driving through the car wash and into the wall on the other side. Not that I would know from experience about driving into cement walls.
With a whir and a clang, the machine started chunk-a-chunking its way toward its first cleaning location, our rear bumper. Suddenly, the car started rocking like a boat in a poorly directed, B movie.
“Earthquake!” I yelled, wondering how you flee a car wash when it's falling on your head.
Clunk! The machine stopped. Mysteriously enough, so did the rocking. I looked through the back window to see colorful strips of whirly-washer cloth still clinging to the rear glass, and the machine now seemed a little too intimate with the SUV’s rear bumper.
Panic set in. The whirly-washer had us by the bumper in back and the metal thingy held us in its grasp in front. How were we going to get out?
Before I had a chance to hyperventilate, Russ said, “The car wash seems broken.”
Duh. Do ya think? Those weren’t the most helpful words he’d ever spoken, and I decided I was glad we’d never taken a trip on the Titanic. He’d have been the kind to say, “Oh look, an iceberg. Is it possible we’ll hit it?”
Russ paused, and rather than wait for more words of wisdom to come pouring forth from his lips, I searched under the seat, hoping to find a paper bag to breathe into. Instead I found a stale chocolate chip cookie and a rubber band. Starvation seemed a real possibility so I ate the cookie for sustenance, and then put the rubber band around my head and snapped it a few times.
Russ started laughing. “What are you doing? You have red marks all over your forehead.”
“It's a distraction technique. I'm doing it so I won’t hyperventilate, because in case you haven't noticed ...." I paused for emphasis. "We’re trapped in a car wash!”
At that moment, a sign on the wall caught my attention: If car wash breaks down, push this button to release your vehicle’s tires.
I couldn’t believe it—an escape button! I jumped out of the car; water drizzled onto me but I managed to make it over to the button without slipping on the wet concrete and breaking my cumber-bum.
Once … twice … three times I jabbed at the button, but nothing happened. As I was about to scream for help, I noticed another button, just below it. “Don’t worry,” I yelled to Russ, as soapsuds from the machine plopped onto my head. “I was pushing the wrong button. This one will do it!”
Knowing our dilemma was solved, I hit the second button. A hydraulic burst of air—strong enough to blow the hair off my head—blasted through the tunnel, along with a loud whoosh, as the Plexiglas door at the end slid down, closing the exit.
Russ rolled down his window and looked at me. “I’m glad you and I were never on the Titanic together.” He opened the passenger’s side for me. “The whirly-washer moved out of the way when the door came down. Climb in and I’ll back the car out.”
As we did, I looked over toward Dr. Brian’s office, and there on the concrete retaining wall—not more than 5 feet away—stood Dr. Brian and his assistant, Mr. Kevin. I ripped the rubber band off, hoping they hadn't noticed.
“Hi there,” I said, doing my best to look nonchalant despite the fact that I had red streaks all over my forehead, and we were backing the car out of the car wash.
“Do you need any help?” Dr. Brian offered. Then he looked over at Mr. Kevin, and I swear I saw a trace of a grin as he continued, “We’ve been sitting in the office watching you, and now we’re wondering why your car is wet, but still dirty, and why you’re backing it out.”
I didn’t know quite how to explain, so finally said, “The vacuum cleaner didn’t suck, then the car wash tried to eat our SUV, then I pushed the wrong button and it closed the door, then—”
Dr. Brian said, “You know what? Never mind; don’t try to explain.”
And as they walked away, I'm pretty certain I heard Dr. Brian whisper to Mr. Kevin, “Remind me never to go on a cruise with them. I’m afraid it would end up like the Titanic.”
The air is cooling, the hay's been cut, the grain has been threshed, and it's time for the kiddos to get back to reading, writin' and 'rithmetic. In honor of the occasion, Sam's Club, General Mills, and MyBlogSpark are holding a back-to-school event.
And I'm holding a fun giveaway!
The Giveaway (August 23-Sep 3, 2010): A $25 Sam's Club Gift Card. Ooo-ha, you can't lose with that!
Sam's Club, General Mills and MyBlogSpark's Thoughts: As your family starts to think about the new school year, you may be wondering how you can collect the most Box Tops to help support participating schools in your area.
For an easy solution, head over to your local Sam´s Club from Aug. 11 through Aug. 31 and earn more cash for your school. At the Sam´s Club Back-to-School Event, you can get a head start on your collection and find 6 Box Tops on participating General Mills products. With your favorite Box Tops for Education brands at a great value, Sam´s Club is your one-stop destination for all the back-to-school supplies you need to send your kids off to school with confidence!
In addition, Sam´s Club is giving you the opportunity to earn even more Box Tops when you upgrade to a "Plus Membership." From Aug. 6 - Aug. 13, or while supplies last, visit the Member Services Desk of your local Sam´s Club and upon payment for your Plus Membership, you will receive a certificate for 150 Bonus Box Tops! For more information on how you can take advantage of the Back-to-School Event at Sam´s Club, visit www.samsclub.com today!
[Note from Cindy: I was at Sam's Club on Aug 16 and they still had the 150 Bonus Box Tops Gift Certificates available, so it's worth looking into when you're there.]
My Opinion: This is a great opportunity to earn money for your favorite school. Sam's Club has a multitude of products from General Mills that carry box top points. I bought a two-pack of Romano's Macaroni Grill Fettuccine Alfredo for a great price and got 6 box tops on each package. If you enjoy New England clam chowder, Progresso offered 14 box tops. And if you're looking for fruit snacks to send in school lunches, Scooby Doo Fruit Snacks offered 6 box tops.
HOW TO ENTER: Leave a comment on this article before midnight, MDT, Sep 3, 2010. Subscribe to my newsletter (on the right sidebar) and tell me you did it, OR mention that you're a newsletter follower to receive an extra entry. If you're not a regular follower, be sure to leave your email address so you can be contacted should you win.
Can't think of anything to say in a comment? Tell me which General Mills products you enjoy the most, or to which school you plan to donate box tops.
(Thanks for entering! This $25 gift card giveaway sponsored by Sam's Club, General Mills, and MyBlogSparkTM . All information, plus the compensation I received in the form of a Sam's Club Plus Membership and a $25 gift card, came from Sam's Club/General Mills through MyBlogSpark. However, my opinions of the event, of the companies involved, and the quality of the products mentioned are my own. If for some reason there is no winner, or I can not get in contact with the winner, I will redraw or give the prize to charity, at MyBlogSpark's and my discretion.)
Today we're discussing the vastly important topic of dwindling planetary food supplies and the need to have a year's food storage in order to survive the upcoming famine. But first, let's talk about something of even greater impact ... washing cars!
Most days my SUV looks like it was born in a mud hole and raised by the three little pigs. However, a week ago I decided to bite the bullet and take on the onerous task of washing the Nighthawk.
No, I wasn't planning on hosing down those little birds that fly overhead in the evening. "Nighthawk" is the nickname for our black SUV. Black being a relative term, since the car was so covered in dust it looked more like a large lump of burned out charcoal.
At any rate, I pondered the logistics of the event. Get out a bucket of soapy water; drag out the hose; battle Corky Porky Pie, the dog, who thinks a jet of water is a demon; chase off the resident bees by spraying a stream of water at them; take Corky Porky to the vet to have the hose disentangled from his teeth; take myself to the emergency room for multiple bee stings ... or ... (tiny trumpets herald in the distance) ....
Ta-da! Take the car to the car wash!
Now I know that one does not have to be a Harvard graduate nor a genius the caliber of Nancy Pelosi to drive a car through the car wash. However, I've always found it's better to have a second person in attendance in case the car bucks and throws its transmission out of whack on that metal thingy. You know—the one that's designed to stop a person from driving totally through the car wash and into the wall on the other side. Not that I would know from experience about driving into a cement wall.
For that reason, I invited along my husband, Russ, who is neither a Harvard graduate nor resembles Nancy Pelosi. Well, except maybe for that wild-eyed, "I'm almost ready for the state mental institution" look that they both have in common. But ... that's a topic for another time.
We drove to the car wash. It’s conveniently located just outside my optometrist's office, should one ever need a car wash and an eye exam at the same time. After nearly sideswiping the metal vacuum cleaners—yes, those ones that resemble something from the old TV show, Lost in Space—Russ stopped the SUV. I thought about asking him if he wanted to step over for a visit with Dr. Brian but when I opened my mouth to speak, Russ gave me that wild-eyed Nancy Pelosi look.
Russ stepped out of the Nighthawk and plunked 75¢ into the vacuum canister to start it. I opened the door, clapped my hands on my ears, and over a roar rivaling that of a C-130 military transport yelled, "How much time do you get for 75¢?"
“At least five or ten …”
The rest of Russ’s words were drowned out as the vacuum cleaner’s pitch and volume rose. Dust swirled around us and the machine started blowing bits of bubble gum and cigarette butts out its other end. I ran over to see if I could help—just in time for the vacuum cleaner to end its cycle.
“That’s it?” I looked at Russ in disbelief. “We got thirty seconds for 75¢? That sucks!”
“You don’t need to yell anymore,” Russ said, holding his head as if I’d broken his eardrums. “And, no, it didn’t really suck. All it did was spit out someone else’s previously vacuumed dirt.”
We stood in the hot sun, staring at the machine for five minutes more, debating whether it really sucked or not, and then I noticed a slight movement at Dr. Brian’s window. I peered through my sunglasses—which unfortunately did not fit over the new glasses Dr. Brian sold me—and considered whether we were being watched. But since my new glasses were hooked into the top button of my shirt so I wouldn’t lose them, rather than sitting on my nose so I could see, everything looked blurry.
Calling over my shoulder to Russ, I said, "Do you think Dr. Brian can see us over here?"
"Naw. And even if he could, why would he want to spend time watching people at the car wash? You're just being paranoid."
I stared at the blurry windows and wondered—just because a person is paranoid, does it mean that someone isn't watching? I wasn't so sure ....
[Stay tuned for the rest of the story in two weeks. In the meantime, drop off a comment and tell me if you’ve ever encountered a vacuum that sucked—or didn’t as the case may be—and whether or not you’ve had that prickly-feeling-on-the-back-of-the-neck that tells you someone is watching.]
Ever wanted to kill your spouse because he/she keeps interrupting something you're trying to do? If so, you'll get a charge out of Cindy's latest published story, "Texting on Ice" in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Hooked on Hockey.