There Is No “Rest” in the “Restroom”

Public relief facilities or private relief facilities that are available to the public are of gargantuan importance in my life. There, I said it. I would be tethered, nay imprisoned in my home if it were not for these public service areas.  I would never bash these places that allow me to travel the world without wearing adult diapers. However, why do we refer to them as “restrooms”? I have visited some of the best and worst of these facilities throughout the world, and while I have found relief and sometimes comfort in them, I have never found rest.

When I was young, I took issue with what I called “peak-a-brats”. These are the small children who run around looking through all of the gaps around or under stall doors at you while you are engaged in activities of desperation. They can often interrupt the stream of concentration and be very annoying. I became much more tolerant when I had my own children and could not leave them or send them on their own. Furthermore, I have very fond memories of taking Morgan to the small lounge area in Dillard’s where we would take a few minutes to have a little tea party. Who would not want to use the Tampax machine for the pretend Coke machine?

I know that through the years women have needed a place to freshen their makeup and powder their noses. It is not polite to do that in public. However, nothing irritates me quite as much as those who completely camp out in the restroom even going so far as to plug in curling irons or straighteners and block sinks that are needed for hand washing. We are supposed to hold back on all things unladylike until we reach the sanctuary of the restroom when possible. Many facets of waste and phlegm elimination are terribly undignified and, while they are crowd pleasers in a movie with “beer” or “fraternity” in the title, they are not as well-received by the general public, especially if your name is not Schumer or Galifianakis. When you rush into a facility burdened with the pressures of time and intestinal distress hanging on to the last vestiges of dignity by a quickly failing sphincter muscle, the last thing you want is an audience of teen or pre-teen girls brushing their hair while watching Youtube makeup tutorials and tweeting to their crushes. And when you cannot curb the indelicate sounds that escape the body that betrays you so regularly (or irregularly without Metamucil), you must endure the humiliation that goes with knowing the comments and giggles are about you and not the cute cat video in play on an iPhone 7 as you ran into the stall.

I have seen the writing on the wall, and admittedly, I have read a great deal of it. I do not know if Hemingway, Faulkner, Yeats or Shakespeare began legendary writing careers on outhouse walls. I want to go out on a limb and say that they did not, but I cannot be certain. I suppose that before Facebook and Twitter, stall walls were the only places that one felt free to exercise the second amendment with such an unbridled lack of couth. I have often wondered why people write what they do while they doo, but they do and in what I call a crappy lack of good moral code, they bring into question other peoples’ lineage, mothers, ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation. I can somewhat understand advertising: how else would we know who to call for a good time and what all services might be offered by this apparent jack of all trades, including the oldest profession? I have to admit, though, that I am still confounded by those who wish to prove they exist or leave a notification trail of places they have visited. Once they post their Disneyworld photos on Instagram the world will know, and a picture with Mickey has to be better than your name inked above a broken toilet, doesn’t it? Perhaps they have been kidnapped and this is to help the FBI return them to their families.  That could be a plausible explanation. Then again, animals do mark their territory by urinating or defecating, and a signature just adds a bit of panache to it.

Do you remember in Titanic or The Way We Were or Gone with the Wind when the most famous couples of all time declared their undying love and devotion to one another by scribbling it above a soiled commode ripe with odiferous skid marks? Neither do I. That is all.

Finally, we should not have to process a person’s poor choices with his or her poor literacy. People, please! In order to describe anatomical features, sexual acts, and/or proclivity for any combination thereof, one should have to spell correctly and use proper grammar. My revulsion to behavior is only surpassed by my indignation at the lack relationship between education and real world application. Such a travesty!

As I lament that there is no “rest” in restrooms, I confess that I thought about increasing my readership tenfold by hanging excerpts of my blog on the back of stall doors like they do with ads in truck stops and health and study tips in college. By the way, I have had some hilariously awkward conversations with strangers in public stalls. A person enters a stall near me and begins talking to me, and although I am somewhat perplexed by the vein of the conversation, I answer as best I can only to find out later that the person is speaking with someone else on a cell phone. Remaining germane to the topic, I cannot decide if I am em-BARE-ASSED or relieved.

Monty Python and I Don’t Like Spam!

 

Do old, white Christian women get recruited for ISIS? I think I might have just received an invitation via comments on this blog to join them, but I am not sure. I know I was offered a Russian mail order bride and a lifetime supply of Viagra without a prescription.

I had not visited this blog site for quite some time. My excuse is that I have been busy (no, I have been busy, really). Anyway, I got the e-mail saying that I would soon have to pony up to keep this website, and so I thought I would look again to see if it was worth it. Hopefully, I dreamed that someone out there had read it and wanted to put an advertisement on it so I could pay for the domain and user name. Excitement was difficult to contain when I opened it to see that I had around 720 comments or pieces of feedback. I had received a few before that were spam, but they seemed fairly pertinent: you know someone had seen my site and was offering to spruce it up and get more traffic to it, for a fee, of course.

Those first couple were kind of exciting until I noticed that they said something like, “Your sight is very helpful to me. But it could use more viewers.” Hhhhhmmm…not that I don’t think I am “helpful”, but I started to see that those offering services had not actually read anything. They were just sending out advertisements, lots of them. The excitement vanished, and I had to accept that the three people reading what I wrote did not wish to purchase anything.

In spite of that, I was still optimistic as I opened my messages. No, there was nothing there that offered me anything of monetary value. But I have to say I learned so many interesting things about myself today:

  • I cannot read Cyrillic script (and I fear the translation)
  • I do not wish to meet a 19 year old virgin, even if she is described as “very nice”. Moreover, if one came into my office, and I told her not to have sex until she is married and not to get pregnant, then I can almost guarantee with my track record that she would go right out and do all of that. (That is how incredibly effective I am as a counselor!) So I would say she should definitely stay where she is!
  • As stated earlier, I do not need a bride, no matter the nationality. I would like a housekeeper, but I do not wish to bring her from another country and get through all that awkwardness of teaching her English.
  • I do not actually know what a “Shemale from social media” is, nor do I want to find one or more, but by all indications, they must be very popular.
  • I do not want to check out a website that has Russian Lean Cuisine recipes for every day, and what in the world is that code for? It was offered several times in several different ways.
  • Sadly in a testimonial to the current human condition of depravity, hundreds of messages offer porn or gay porn, and quite frankly, just the word “porn” makes me nauseous. I don’t even want someone typing that near my domain.
  • After a few months of this, I might be able to translate chatter for Homeland Security. This is an actual message I received, “Whenever I visit the Mug up is quickly be Cells can be trigger Now where Yosmite get help from top.” I have occasionally had to use Google Translate for something in Spanish, but even that was close enough to be decipherable. I am channeling my inner Bletchley Circle to break this bizarre code, but it is not happening yet. I will keep you posted.
  • The best message I got was “I enjoyed your website. Buy Cialis today. Confidential.” Someone enjoyed my website!

Do you remember when Spam was the gelatinous ham product that stunk up the kitchen when you fried it? #spam #funny #blog #learnsomethingnew

Go Fund Yourself!

Who was it? Who was the person that first looked at the thymus gland of an animal and said, “Hey, let’s eat that soft spongy organ. I’ll bet it will be delicious. We can call it ‘sweetbreads’ because dead animal thymus or offal doesn’t sound quite as appetizing.” Then after that, did that same person declare various animal testicles and livers to be edible as well? And fairly recently, who had the hootzpah to sit in a meeting in Hollywood and suggest that they make a movie with a tornado full of sharks? Perhaps I am asking the wrong question. The real question should not be “Who?” but “Why did anyone go along with it?” and “How in the world was it ever considered a good idea?” Oh, sure, now that it has been done with arguable success, we no longer question these things.

IDEAS. In my experience there have been two types of idea people: those who always throw out big ideas and expect the rest of us to work to make them happen only to have the idea people change to something else just as your work comes to fruition (sounds as though I have worked in education a while, doesn’t it? But, I’m not jaded, really) and the second type of idea generators: those people who have brilliant ideas and either have the work ethic or the financial backing to make them happen.  The second group is the one that I most admire. People like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerburg, whoever invented salted caramel, and the person behind Skechers Go Walk3 shoes are my heroes. I am not sure that I have ever had an original idea, let alone a great one. My friend Bad Ideas coupled with her sister Poor Choices have been steady influences in my life; thus the outcome of my ideas has never manifested as I had envisioned in my get-rich schemes. Even if I did come up with the ultimate idea, I would not have the financial backing or the sales pitch skills to procure said financial backing, and my idea would evaporate like a snowflake in July.

Continuing with the idea fan club, I would like to focus now on the developers and the clients of such cash cows as “Go Fund Me”. This is one of several similar programs out there, but I am most familiar with this one. The idea behind this was and still is genius. It can be extremely helpful and humanitarian. The program is basically an electronic way to collect donations. If you are not familiar, let me explain. Let’s say long-time town residents Beth and Tom Little (the names are changed to protect pretty much anyone who fits this description) wake up to a burning house in the middle of the night. They escape with their lives, but tragically lose all of their household possessions in the blaze. Alas, Beth and Tom had no insurance because while I was sacrificing pairs of shoes, great lattes and an occasional meal at Olive Garden each month to pay for my homeowner’s insurance, they were buying a boat and a camper to go to the lake every weekend and could not afford insurance. Oh, did I write that out loud?  There is a time and place for the “Go Fund Me” account, for which I will give acknowledgement and apologies later. But for the sake of explanation now, I will continue with this example. Anyway, as Tom and Beth’s friend, I will set up a “Go Fund Me” account online and post it out there on social media, or perhaps I will even text the link or have it published in print as well so that acquaintances and random folks alike can all read Tom and Beth’s story. They can then help them out by using their credit cards or PayPal accounts to electronically give to this account, and at the end of whatever giving period is determined, the money can be withdrawn via check or electronically transferred to the bank. “Go Fund Me” promises to be safe and electronically secure (see Wikileaks, identity theft, and snake oil).

If I had a clue or even cared a whole lot who the genius behind this endeavor is or was, I would share it with you for complete admiration. Alas, I do not know, but I do know that it is run by a team of people in San Diego, which could mean it is a millennial and his dog who got the idea while trying to figure out how to amass enough money to move out of his mother’s basement. Said person now most likely lives in a high rise condo and watches all Chargers’ games from a skybox. You see, for every donation collected on “Go Fund Me’, 5% is kept by the program administrator. There is no charge to set up an account. There is no upfront money involved. All fees are deducted from the amount donated. Oh, and did I fail to mention that “a small processing fee of about 3% will also be deducted from each donation”? (Go Fund Me page) I will be the first to admit that math is not my strong suit, but the expenses for this endeavor to be up and running seem relatively minimal. Step 1: have the idea. Step 2: write or have someone write and develop the program on a web page. Steps 1 and 2 are often my downfall for getting rich, but for someone with investment capital, it is a breeze. Step 3: use a good internet security program. Step 4: sit back and collect and distribute vast amounts of money. Step 5: Blow the minds of people like me! This program has helped causes, some of them very legitimate, raise over a billion dollars. Look at this bottom line: 8% of that is $80,000,000, less expenses, of course. Just ruminate over the fact that the program has done this in its 10 years of existence! Let’s just say that I have about $800 that I have saved up in 10 years.

Now I truly believe that there are deserving causes out there. I was a bit harsh on “Tom and Beth”, but I do understand that there are people that cannot afford renters’ insurance or health insurance.  I totally get it when people raise money to help pay medical expenses for people who have cancer or other life-threatening illnesses. Some places won’t even consider doing an organ transplant until you have so much money up front. Other times a person would like to have a life-saving treatment that insurance refuses to cover. Just let me say that I am completely on board with that.  I sometimes donate to the Wildheart Ranch wildlife rescue, which I find to be a very worthy cause.

Not that a person is ever obligated to participate in any campaign, but some things just make me question humanity, scratch my head and want to slap an idiot. There are some real pages out there where people have asked for such things as boob jobs for self or girlfriend, extra cash for concert tickets, and money for recreational drugs (Is there such a thing as being too honest? At least there is no intent to commit fraud, just to break a host of other laws). Perhaps I am becoming an old curmudgeon, but let’s look at a few things that I personally have been invited to fund, and not by relatives, mind you:  school trips, weddings, college, burial expenses, vacations and cell phones. None of those are bad things. These are causes that I think are unnecessary for others to pick up the tab. School trips:  I will pay much more than what it is worth for a box of chocolates to help your organization raise money for your trip. I will also help by paying for a poorly executed car wash in order to help your team buy jerseys or go to summer tournaments. But I will not just give you money when you are not willing to work for it. Weddings and vacations: last time I checked the Justice of the Peace was affordable for about anyone. If you don’t have the money for a bigger wedding, wait and get married after you have earned your own money for it. College money: take out loans up to your eyeballs like the rest of the world. It is not my job to put you through college.

As a bandwagoner and a person who can never figure out how to increase my own personal wealth without actually working at it, I have decided that I might create my own funding page to bank roll my casino trips, my need to try out new restaurants, a maid (I really need one of these, and it would help the person I employ as well: win/win), and an $8000 massage chair that I am convinced will change my life. Oh, and I might need some of those age reversing formulas sold on the infomercials, like the one to do away with crepey skin. They tell me I can look like Cindy Crawford (although at 5’4”, I am not sure how that serum can make me 5’10’, not to mention skinny and beautiful). I could use that, but it is pretty cost prohibitive. Maybe I should call that account the “As Seen on TV” account, and it would give me the money to buy so many of those great infomercial products!  I know what you are thinking: “I, too, could use a Shark vacuum”, or most likely, “Good mother of a goat, woman, go fund yourself!”

I AM a Delicate Flower

Flowers

I am a delicate flower. I know; I never saw that one coming either! I have always had a relatively high pain threshold, and I was a tomboy from the time I emerged from the womb. My best friend was my great uncle, who took me fishing, hunting, and horseback riding. We fixed fence and worked cattle, and frequently took apart carburetors. He taught me to weld and to drive trucks and combines. When I was a little girl, I decided activities for boys were a great deal more fun than the dainty girl games such as putting on makeup and playing with dolls. I wanted to play baseball, shoot BB guns, play with toy trucks, and catch tadpoles (even if they sometimes scared me just a little when they got big). When I was in first grade, I wasn’t very good on the monkey bars, but many of the other children were very athletic and much more proficient at all things monkey. One day I was so determined to be good at it, that I kept going across time and time again until my hands had blisters upon blisters, which of course, all popped, and by the time I got home from school that afternoon, my hands were like hamburger. I had not said a thing to the teacher or anyone after recess. When I got home and my mom saw them, she took me to the doctor to get medicine and get them wrapped.

Around the same time in life, I remember reading the story of “The Princess and the Pea” by Hans Christian Anderson. If you are not familiar, in this story a prince wishes to marry, but it is said that he may only marry a true princess. Many times he finds potential mates, only to discover that they are not actual princesses. One night a girl shows up looking for shelter from a storm. This young woman claims to be a princess, lost in the torrential rain with the storm. Naturally, the princess’s royal birth is in question, and in order to prove that she is the real deal, a tiny pea is placed underneath twenty mattresses and twenty down beds on top of the mattresses without her knowledge. If she is indeed her royal highness, her delicate sensitivities in her genteel DNA will make it too uncomfortable to sleep on a bed, which by blue blood standards practically has a boulder underneath it. If she is common, she will never even know that there was anything under the mattresses. In the story, she not only cannot relax, but also declares that whatever was under the bedding has made her bruised as well, proving that she is aristocracy, and the prince is then free to marry her.

I know that I said I was a tomboy, but deep down, it is always hard to be common. As life went on, more and more it was proven that I was not a princess. During my second year of teaching, a fellow teacher and I booked a cruise over spring break. As we were flying to Florida, I asked her for a pen so that I could work the crossword in the magazine. Back then that was all the in-flight entertainment there was, well, besides dodging pterodactyls and other dinosaurs in route to our destination. She took out her very fine Cross pen from her purse and lent it to me. Later, I had to break one of my own flight rules by using the lavatory. I try to dehydrate myself before any flight so I will not have to get up at any point, but the nonstop to Florida from Oklahoma was a bit long, even in my days before giving birth to two very large children. Finally, we landed, and before disembarking, she asked about her pen. I looked everywhere, but I could not find the pen. I apologized profusely, and she was very gracious, but it had been a gift (an out-of-my-price-range gift at that). I was thinking that I would not be able to do anything fun on the rest of the trip because I was going to have to replace that pen. After standing in line at the airport, then again at the cruise ship terminal, and again at ship’s check-in, we finally made it to our tiny stateroom around five hours after the plane ride. By this time, I needed a bathroom break again. Ah, buttery bliss befalls when one can finally get to her own water closet. As I readied myself for the porcelain throne, I realized this was the only kind of throne acceptable for me when the missing pen fell to the floor from inside my underpinnings! For the love of Bob and all of his friends, I swear I never knew that thing was there. There had been at least seven hours without an ounce of awareness or discomfort from any part of my being; thus, the oblivion was a feat to behold. I can imagine most of what a person reading this must be thinking, and although I will not foray into the depths of comments that could be made, I will tell you this: yes, I can feel very well below the waist (thank you very much), no, the pen was not in anything other than my clothing, I think, and yes, I did sanitize the pen before returning it. I even thought of keeping that pen and getting her a new one, but the cost made me an instant conservationist: reduce, reuse, recycle, I say.

A couple of years later, Kevin and I were playing a mean game of tennis. He did not take it easy on me; I would not have played tennis with him if he did. We both tried to ace one another with serves as much as possible. Sometimes those serves whipped by so fast I could not get a racket on them, not because I wasn’t that good, of course, but because that is how hard he could hit it (that is my story, and I am sticking to it). I probably returned about as many as I missed, but it was not unheard of for me to “whiff” a great serve. He hit a fantastic one at me. I didn’t call it out, but I don’t think I really swung for it either. There were a few times when one of those got by me, and the ball would actually stick in the chain link fence surrounding the courts. After this serve, I turned my head to see if the ball had bounced off the fence and come back toward the court, and it had not. I could not see it anywhere. I turned my head to see if it was stuck in the fence. It was not. I turned my body to get a good look at the area behind me, and as I did, the ball dropped out from between my legs. I was the wall that had captured the ball! I hadn’t felt a blasted thing! Nope, didn’t have a clue that the ball was hiding there. Kevin and I were not yet married, and I am pretty sure that situation was an all or nothing moment in our relationship. A lesser man might have shied away from someone of my unique “abilities” (I am practically an X Man, just sayin’), but in my own mind, I think that the uber competitive nature of my husband took it as a life challenge.

Flash forward about a thousand years to when my 20/20 eyesight is no more and my farm girl skills are all long gone, and you will find an old lady who every now and then has some issues with the neck and back as a result of whiplash from being rear-ended twice at stop signs here in town. It usually flares up a bit when I have been working on the computer for too many days in a row or when I have slept wrong. I don’t like to go to the doctor or chiropractor, and so I usually just live with it about a week until it gradually gets better on its own. This last time has been a humdinger, though, and I began my own treatment regimine by deciding to get a massage, but not a nice soothing spa massage. I went for the cheapo mall massage. This is when I was forced to re-evaluate my ability to cope with pain, and I wasn’t even at the doctor’s office.

Watching adventure and crime movies, I have often thought about how I would take it if I were captured by the enemy and tortured. I could see myself in that situation. Starvation and noise inundation: “I’ll never talk, you pig, no matter what you do to me!” Beatings: “I will never tell my country’s secrets, you heaping pile of bat guano!” Electric shocks: “I will not give you the names of my friends, you empty-headed food trough water! (Thanks for sharing that insult Monty Python). I was the family champion of ‘see how long you can hold onto the electric fence’!” Waterboarding: “I love to swim, and I take the codes to the bombs to my grave, you ignorant ninny muffins!” Ah, yes, I am sure that I could survive it all in Kimmy Schmidt fashion, or at least I thought that until the fateful day of the mall massage.

I swear I am not sexist, but what was even worse was that it was a woman that made me into a sissy. I thought a woman, even one who does not share my language, would be the more gentle sex, especially when I explained, most likely in terms she did not understand, that my back and neck were very sore at the moment. On the outside I still looked like myself sitting on a massage chair, but on the inside I was the scrawny, geeky, nerd thrown unwittingly aboard the back of the biggest, baddest bull in the PBR. I was holding on with all my might, and my biggest dilemma was how to keep from falling off the chair in public and/or screaming aloud in a crowded venue. I tried moving my knotted muscles away from the hands of steel, but short of jumping up and running away, there was no way to keep from being “touched” by the hands of Karma, which were surely getting me back for all of the bad things I have done in life. I have only gone through the express checkout with too many items a few times in my life, but shitake mushrooms, I paid for it that day! Golly, Gertrude! That hurt like a fifteen minute brain freeze in my back! Holy spasms, Batman! There was some serious undignified teeth grinding going on in that chair! Speaking of teeth, just to give a frame of reference here: when I was younger, I also had a problem when they numbed my mouth at the dentist. Often the medicine would make me physically sick, and I would feel horrible for several hours after having dental work done. So, I managed to get the dentist to fill two cavities once without numbing my mouth. I had to agree to not move no matter how much it hurt. I made it through that without any tears, but I felt my eyes try to water once or twice during what was supposed to be a relaxing and pain-relieving massage.

I finally got through that experience, and as I left the mall feeling as though I had lain down in the path of a Mack truck, I had to smile to myself. See, I may not be a princess after all, but I am not a wimp; I am a delicate flower. Who knew?

 

Never Let Them See You…Laugh?

Bones

If it weren’t for students, I wouldn’t teach!

School is fun. I love being an educator. I have often said that if you don’t find something fun or funny in each day of school, then it is time to hang it up. So far, I have always managed to find something to smile or laugh about each day. I wish that I had written down many of the funny things said or done over the years, but I did not, and sadly, I have forgotten a plethora of phenomenally amusing stories.

Here are a few things that I have remembered. I hope that they make you smile as you read them, even though you probably had to be there to get that true guffaw from them:

I used to teach English, and I always had freshmen work on vocabulary. I would give them a word list, and they would have to look up the definition of the word and use it in a sentence. Then they would have to tell me what part of speech they used it as in that sentence.
One day the kids were working independently, and a girl raised her hand and said, “I can’t figure out how to use ‘coerce’ in a sentence.”
I asked, “What is the definition?”
She said, “To force.”
I said, “Okay, how would you use ‘to force’ in a sentence?”
She thought for a moment and then brightened. I just love those light-bulb moments! She wrote feverishly, and I was very proud of my facilitating skills. I nearly broke my arm patting myself on the back. Later I was grading the papers when I came across hers. There it was: “Coerce: verb, to force. I am joining the air coerce.” Okay, now you understand why I was never “Teacher of the Year.”

I also had seniors, and one day early in the year, we were riding the school bus on a field trip. A senior girl and I were chatting, and she said in all seriousness, “You know, I am just tired of school. I don’t know if I can do this anymore.”
I asked her, “What would you do without an education?”
“Well,” she said, “I am thinking about just going to take that test and be done with it so I don’t have to be here anymore. I want to go take, you know, that IUD test.”
“Do you mean the ‘GED’ test?” I queried.
“Yeah,” she said. “Whatever.”
“That is exactly why you need to stay in school, so you will know the difference between birth control and a general ed test!” I said. (I am thinking IUD’s for high school kids would not be such a bad thing, though, so she may have been onto something revolutionary. I still think you need an education for critical thinking and at least some cultural literacy!)

In teaching you have that part of your contract that says, “And other duties as assigned.” That means that you can be asked to cover many things needed for school. One time at the beginning of a school year, a young man was walking on the golf course with the coach. The coach told him, “I won’t be here with you tomorrow. It will be Coach Jones. I have ISS.” (In School Suspension)
The young man looked at him incredulously and asked in all seriousness, “Gosh, Coach, what did YOU do to get in trouble?”

One time on bus duty, a 7th grader was standing beside my good friend Mrs. Shafer. A bus came by and stopped to pick up children, and an older student leaned out of the window and yelled at the 7th grader, “Hey, kid! Suck this!” as he motioned to his nether region.
Mrs. Shafer looked down in shock at the 7th grader and asked, “Did he just say what I think he said?”
The 7th grader looked up and said, “Yeah, Mrs. Shafer, but it’s okay. I’m not gonna do it!”
Thank goodness that 7th grader had more sense than that older boy on the bus!

Another time I was counseling in a K-12 school. This beautiful little girl was in kindergarten. She had blond hair, blue eyes, and dainty features. Honestly, she looked like a little porcelain doll. She was hearing impaired and had speech and special education services. She was also prone to aggressive and sometimes violent outbursts. It was ironic enough for that behavior to come out of such an angelic-looking creature, but the language that accompanied the fits made it even more unbelievable. On one occasion when she was throwing a fit, Mrs. McGowen the speech pathologist and I happened to be the ones trying to calm her down in the principal’s office. She had already swept the desk with her hands and feet and cleared it of everything, and we were restraining her in the way that we were authorized to do. She was still kicking and fighting, and her hearing loss caused her speech to be hard to understand. However, when she yelled that she was going to “F*#@” us up, it was pretty plain what she was saying.
Since that didn’t seem to convey her meaning well enough, she moved from that phrase to “You budwicker, I’m gonna ‘f*#@’ you up!”
My friend Mrs. McGowen was never one to miss a teachable moment. Dia pointed her face so that the child could see her lips and said, “No, Amber. Use your tongue to make your ‘L’ sound. It is ‘l…llll…butt with a t sound and l, LICKER, butt licker.’
Ever the consummate professional, that Dia!

Another time in that same school, Mrs. Scott, a delightful fourth grade teacher who happened to be African American, stopped the principal Mr. Wilkey, a super supportive administrator who happened to be as Caucasian as they come.
Mrs. Scott was frustrated, and she vehemently implored him, “Mr. Wilkey, you have got to do something! Those kids be trippin’ today. They just trippin’! It has got to stop!”
Mr. Wilkey marched into the room to take care of business. He surveyed the classroom, and began pointing to the floor, “You and you and you over there! Put your backpacks under your desk. Get those books out of the aisle. Keep your feet under your desk! You are NOT to trip any people, let alone your teacher anymore! Do you hear me?”
Mrs. Scott wasn’t angry any longer. She couldn’t quit laughing.

When Kevin was teaching junior high history many years ago, he was teaching his class about “Trial by Ordeal.” In ancient history many times a person who was being tried for a crime would be given a dangerous or painful task, and if God intervened or if the person was not hurt, then it signified innocence. They might make you walk across red hot ploughshares, and if you suffered no burns, then you were found innocent. Kevin had used the example from the Bible of the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They refused to bow to the image of King Nebuchadnezzar, and the king had them thrown into a fiery furnace, from which they all emerged unharmed. Well, the class had some good discussion and went on about their lives.
A few days later a young man came up to Kevin and wanted to talk about trial by ordeal again. He said, “Coach, you never finished that story about that fire.”
Kevin said, “I am pretty sure we covered it.”
The kid said, “No, Coach, you never told us what happened to them all. You said the guys were okay, but I want to know what happened to the billy goat. Did the billy goat get out okay, too?”
Ah, Shadrach, Meshach, and a billy goat. I wonder what crimes were committed by that goat? Is that where they came up with “scapegoat”?

Come to think of it, teaching is very similar to a trial by ordeal. I am not sure if anyone is completely guilty or innocent, and no ever comes out completely unscathed, but we are all better for having laughingly endured it!

A Hairy Situation

big foot pt 2 volcano _bionic-blonde

 

 

 

 

 

Hair, huh, good God ya’ll, what is it good for?  Absolutely nothing! Say it again! Oh, I may have taken too much liberty with that song. It is supposed to be “war”.  Well, in my world “hair” fits there pretty well; I mean, what is its purpose anyway?

Yes, I guess for some hair covers up what is most likely an unsightly or awkwardly shaped head, present company included. I know that early humans were necessarily hairy in order to survive the harsh elements.  But as both man and dwellings have evolved to a much more luxurious and sheltered existence, it seems that hair is just a good bug biome or a tall tale of Texas on a woman’s head. I watch Naked and Afraid (and I ask myself why people do that, even though I watch it like a train wreck) on the Discovery Channel, and I have to say, the hair on those people just doesn’t seem to help them a lick! It doesn’t protect them from bugs or thorns or cold or dirt or anything. In fact, the hair just gives the ticks and chiggers more places to hide. They are just as vulnerable in nature as hairless cats.

Although I do like having hair on my head because I don’t think my head would be very attractive without it (when I was a baby, my head was really large and lop-sided with what I could call my very large brain protruding on one side: with my personality we will go with the right side), I have had a war with hair my whole life. To the chagrin of my daughter, who embraces the many facets of up-dos, down-dos, messy buns, and the never-ending promise of cut and color combinations, I have never liked nor been good at fixing hair. She has never forgiven me for keeping her hair short from about the ages of two to six because I was not good at combing and styling. She learned to do her own hair at a very young age. Now I could make a point for my side of this argument by pointing out the necessity for short hair in the recounting of the “Great Gooze Disaster of 2000”, but that is a whole blog entry by itself. Thus, as is my nature, I have found what I consider to be the easiest and best way to have my own hair cut short and kept simply, and I have chosen to keep it this way for years, and will continue to do so until there is a good reason to no longer keep it that way, which is how I arrange furniture.

Now, let me address hair elsewhere. I come from unusually hairy stock. It is another of those wonderful traits that stagnated in a gene pool that could use a little fresher water flow. Luckily, I have not been cursed with a heavy beard, and I am sorry for women who are, but I can still find room to complain. I mean, people, I am pretty sure that Wookies are my tribe! I think I might have been eight or nine years old the first time someone made fun of the hair on my legs (people began commenting on my “fat” legs the day after I was born, but hairy took slightly longer). So I clandestinely tried to shave them only to give myself the worst razor rash in the known world. I never told anyone; I just wore pants and suffered in silence because I wasn’t supposed to be shaving anything.

I was outdoors most of the time as a kid, which might lead you to believe that all of this “hairedity” might have provided some protection from the sun. Alas, it did not. My extraordinarily pale complexion left me plagued with sunburns, which begat blisters and freckles, which begat age spots, which begat other unfortunate blemishes of varying colors, sizes and shapes, even on my scalp. Even now, the struggle is real. Those blemishes sprouted their own hairs, but unfortunately, not the ones on my head. It seems as though the one place I would love to have thicker hair has less, and everywhere else, the weeds have overtaken the manicured landscape.

When we are young, we see pictures of witches in fairy tales and Halloween decorations with moles on their faces that have ugly hairs protruding from said blemishes. One would think that we are subtly being prepared for what is to come, but we can scarcely be prepared for the sheer volume and scope of the problem facing us in later life. Oh, sure, as young adults we begin the attempt to make nature bow to our wishes by tweezing, plucking, waxing, or even shaving completely (eyebrows are often shaved then drawn in) all offending parts of our bodies. I even watched an episode of The Today Show where Tamron Hall and some of her colleagues were talking about the trend for women to shave their faces in entirety. Tamron said that she did. I have never been able to get past the myth that if you shave the hair, it will come back thicker, darker and coarser like whiskers.  So I am completely freaked out by this concept, and I have no desire to shave my face like I have to shave my legs and armpits. (Instant poll: do you shave toe hair? Don’t tell me that you don’t have toe hair!)

The young wealthy people even have laser hair removal, which is costly and time consuming. At one point in my youth, I went so far as to  purchase the torture device known as the “Epilady” which is a coil that grabs a patch of hair and yanks it out painfully and unceremoniously. But it was not reliable in catching all of the hair in a given area, which made its worth disproportionate to the debilitating pain.

Then there is waxing. I enjoy waxing philosophical and waxing poetic, but I will never enjoy waxing Brazilian or bikini, not that you ever wanted to know that about me. Perhaps if I were a Brazilian beauty or a tall, gorgeous anorexic, I would be willing to use molten wax to strip hair from super sensitive areas, but honestly, that hair is kind of like the dirt on top of my refrigerator: if I can’t see it, then it pretty much doesn’t exist for me until someone who shouldn’t even be looking there points it out. (Please do not comment on these things to my husband or children. I get in enough trouble for emotionally scarring them on a regular basis).

My eventual point is that as young people we work to win the battle, but in the end, the hair will win the war. It is hair terrorism: “hairrorism”.  It is Vietnam. We are fighting under the Geneva Convention and the hair begins winning with guerrilla warfare (or in this case, perhaps it is actually gorilla warfare). As we age, hairs just seem to sprout with no rhyme or reason. Yes, we expect a stray hair to appear in a scar or mole, but the stealth with which that whisker appears is nothing short of miraculous. You will pluck it out one day and then carefully examine that spot each day searching for the returning culprit, and there will be nothing, nothing at all. Then with no warning, you will be half way through your work day and look obliviously into the mirror to find that evil follicle sporting a hair two inches long. It seemed to grow instantaneously and cruelly!

Then there are the hairs that appear in unlikely spots that have never given you a reason to think a hair would grow. It is like a nail salon opening inside a music store. It can, but why? It is like this weed that used to grow from the wall in my mom’s kitchen. You never expected it, and yet one day it was there, 18 inches tall and growing supernaturally. So it is with these hairs that just pop out without scars, blemishes or any logical reason. Those subversive little devils are the bane of my existence, and once the spot is identified (after you were embarrassed the first time), that hair will pull the same hide and seek game that its friends play just to keep you in a constant state of flux. The minute you let down your guard, wham! I swear I have PTWD (Post traumatic whisker disorder)! This often happens on your face, but it can also happen in random other places such as your ear. Sometimes the hairs are white, sometimes black. I have a great deal of hair on my arms, but it is generally soft and relatively short. Once in a blood moon, there will be a bizarre coarse hair that will just come up suddenly on my hand or elsewhere without provocation. I am telling you; as an old person, you lose the war.

Eyesight seems to be in alliance with the hair as well. I can shave my legs for hours and be so careful, feeling for that smooth, silky skin and looking at my legs in the brightest light available. Then, as I said before with me, it is out of sight out of mind, so I could miss a patch of hair on the back of my leg and really not care about it. However, after a long and close shaving event, I will find a shocking discovery a day or two later: right in the front where the leg is easy to see and reach, there will be a strip of fur that is bigger and thicker than the Black Forest! What the what? I am sure that wasn’t there before, but I cannot convince myself that my eyesight was not in cahoots with the hair army (or leggy). How does this happen? How does one not catch a patch of lion’s mane on one’s shin or knee? It just doesn’t make sense.

Alas, I have never been one to embrace the code of “au natural”, but I have to admit that I know now why the menopausal soldiers give up the fight. At a point, one becomes too “hairried” by the struggle and waves the whiskered flag.

English Is My Ex

pedants

Unrequited Love Language

One day, Kevin asked me, “Is it difficult?” I did not know what he meant, so I looked at him quizzically.  He repeated, “Is it difficult, you know, being right all of the time?”

What can I say?  It is a curse or a gift or both. You know what they say about marriage: one person is right all of the time and the other is the husband.  Actually, I just THINK I am right all of the time, and that can be very difficult indeed.  If I know I am wrong, though, I will take ownership of it, unlike some who never meet their inner locus of control.

Back before I was a school counselor, I was a high school English teacher, and I think I had a pretty good grasp on the subject I taught. I majored in English and minored in journalism in college and never had below an A, and I passed the five certification tests in Oklahoma on the first try. Before you quit reading this because you are fed up with what appears to be my bragging, let me assure you that it is the foreshadowing for my getting knocked down several pegs.

This is how that happened.  When Kevin got his doctorate, I took pride in being his proofreader for his papers and even his dissertation. I was glad to be able to help him, and he did well in his classes and published several articles, so I felt pretty good about our combined abilities. Then my kids got old enough to need my proofreading help. Again, I could not help with subjects like pre-cal, but I could teach them how to proof and improve their writing, most of the time. There were a few times that I did not completely agree with everything their teachers did along the way, but I made sure I let the kids do their own writing and keep their own ideas and voice in the work. A couple of times the papers were figuratively torn apart, and most of it was a difference of opinion on stylization, so I could let it go and just agree to disagree. However, when Kevin’s book was accepted for publication by OU Press (Yay…side note: shameless plug for the publication of Prelude to the Dust Bowl which will be on shelves in July), I experienced something completely different.  Kevin and I had both proofed the book several times.  Then Kevin’s mother, who is an ABD in English with several master’s degrees, including a Master of Letters from the prestigious Breadloaf School of English at Middlebury College in Vermont, proofed the book at least three times.  Kevin’s step-father has an English degree from the University of Chicago, a law degree from Yale, and a Master of Letters from Breadloaf as well. He proofed the book at least three times. Then the book was sent out to five different experts for reading, and they all made their edits and suggestions. However, when the book finally went to the assigned editor for final edits before production, she hacked and butchered, and Kevin had to fight for things he thought germane enough to the topic to keep. I came to the conclusion through all of this that if you put twenty experts in English in a room with a book, there would be twenty different opinions on what is correct and not correct and what is good or not good. Sure, they would all find the egregious errors such as fragments and run-on sentences, but when it comes to stylization and nuance, there would be debates more heated than anything in a presidential campaign. I hate to be wrong, so it prompted me to vent in the following paragraph.  For my English teacher friends:  I am aware that my tight rope dance between voices and romantic love and platonic love are not perfect, but a rant does tend to veer from proper writing, which just goes to enhance my point even more. The main thing here is that, although it is not funny, I did enjoy using figurative language.

On another note, if either of my adult children had posted something publicly with profanity in it, I would have scolded them for cursing in a public forum. Thus, I have used a vulgar term, and I will accept the public admonishments from my offspring and any others whom I have offended.

When you fall into the web of love, there is a feeling of euphoric safety as you initially think you cannot fall from where you are.  Then the reality of the spider creeps in as it dawns on you that there is betrayal in this web.  Safety has been delusion; it is a web of lies and deceit, and a piece of you will be gone forever as the spider devours you, imposing its wants and needs on you. That happened to me, not with a high school crush or a potential spouse, but with my vocation. Just as Athena sprang forth from the head of Zeus fully armored, I sprang forth from diapers as a loquacious toddler, and the talking never slowed! I have always been attracted to language. English is a sexy beast and this girl was enamored with her just as a young girl idolizes Wonder Woman. The golden lasso of language revealed the truths of life to me in the written word. The bracelets fired with the super power of the laser-sharp tongue. I longed to be “THE” shit, and English gave me the coveted article. For a while, I skirted the heavens in her metaphorical jet.  There were puns and word play.  Adjectives made me giddy.  Wit was the constant fix I craved.  Figurative language had me in the write shape, and my participles were no longer dangling; I was a crazed disciple of hyperbole. I readily admit that onomatopoeia gave me a buzz. Then irony came into my story.  After devoting my creative energies into this unilingual obsession, I saw the writing on the wall.  English is fickle, and I discovered that she woos the world and convinces all of those hanging on in her inner sanctum, as well as the groupies slinking in the shadows of her periphery, that each of them has the omniscient point of view.  I studied the rules, I knew some exceptions, and my first conjugation was in her verbage. But other disciples believed that they knew more than I did: that their points of view were each the standard by which we all should communicate. I discovered that others had risen to the top of her command only to be edited by underlings, who argued that personal style did not meet the call of the Queen’s English. The fan club were all promised the presidency, and although we believed that there could be only one, we were subjected to criticisms without objectivity.  I happened upon a writing with voice, a story told by a master.  I watched as the Queen’s army imprisoned the work for more than grammar and punctuation and a rule here or there.  I watched as each officer slaughtered and decapitated anything that made the writing unique until they had all forced their will upon the story, killing creativity, destroying any evidence of the life in word pictures that had made the rhetoric appealing to the third-word countries, and only accessible to elitists and language snobs. The world was now in black and white. Where was the local color? I was traumatized by this experience.  I knew that there was a war of words out there, but I did not realize that enemy is not defined. I had to accept it. English refuses to truly love me back.  It was a sad day when I gave up the fight. I had to realize that everyone’s a critic, and whomever has last word is the self-professed, yet recognized “author-ity”.

Prelude

 

Maniacal Mascots

Western-Kentucky-Big-Red“Who’s Your Daddy?”

When Kevin and I drive anywhere, we often have little games that we play to amuse ourselves. One of our favorite games is “guess the mascot”, where we try to guess the town’s high school mascot before we see it on the water tower or signage. First, just let me say that I give mad props to the Paducah Dragons, Kress Kangaroos, the Hutto Hippos and the Lewisville Fighting Farmers. I love it when an entire village agrees to take the road less traveled!

Normally, the way we play is to first pick from a list of mascots that have the same first letter as the town. For example, as we go through a town such as Wall, we would probably pick something like the wildcats. If one of us has picked that and the other still needs one, or if we cannot seem to picture any mascot that begins with the same letter as the town, then we hedge our bets with the usual common mascots. By the way, you cannot imagine how many schools have bulldogs, tigers, eagles, mustangs and wildcats, just to name a few of the ones we run across over and over again. In fact, sometimes towns with the same mascot will only be a few miles apart from one another. It reminds me of the town names given to settlements along the railroads. It seems as though the guys on the railroads just picked the same town names over and over again from state to state, which is why you see so many repeat towns like Miami, Jackson or Jacksonville, Chester, and Madison. Did you know that there are 41 Springfield’s in the U.S.? Anyway, this lack of originality sadly bleeds over into the mascot world. There are so many lions and cougars in captivity!

We celebrate jubilantly when we guess correctly, but we also have a full-on high-five frenzy when we run across a name that is out of the ordinary, even though we are not quite certain why someone would choose that nickname. Kevin’s school in Oklahoma was the Paoli Pugs. Technically, that pug isn’t so far from a bulldog, but by golly, it is not one used by every other little town, so I have to credit them with some originality. Henryetta, Oklahoma, where Troy Aikman led the football team when he was in high school, used to be the Hens. I would think that this mascot could cause some problems if you are a macho dude, and using the male version of chicken could potentially cause the high school kids to make inappropriate jokes. Come on, we all snickered when we played the Trojans (we knew brand names much better than we knew our world history). I can also imagine that every opponent would have big posters daring the Hens to “lay an egg”. They have since changed to be the Knights, and I can see why. We have known a few schools that were the steers. As a farm girl, I cannot imagine that a boy or girl would want to be cheered on as a steer.

Sometimes the choices are just a bit strange: Amarillo High School is the Sandies. They are officially the Golden Sand Storms, and if you have ever been through a sand storm in West Texas, then you can see why it was chosen. Sand storms are frequent and ferocious. Then down the road from there, you have the Hereford Whitefaces. I know cattle pretty well, and I still find that to be a bit bizarre. But the whiteface is by far better than the Brazosport Exporters. Yes, the exporters. I am not sure how you purchase the costume for that one. What do they export and why is it scary? Perhaps it is a euphemism for drug trafficking, which would be very scary indeed! Even though I might not choose exporters, I do think that schools should start thinking outside the box more. Let’s go with some truly frightening mascots. If New Braunfels can be the unicorns, then mythical creatures could be fun. I vote for Pilot Point Poltergeists and Victoria Vampires. They have wolves already, so why not go with werewolves? (Honestly, vampires and werewolves were much more frightening before the Twilight craze).

I can also go with diseases. I know I would think twice when going up against the Elgin Ebola or the Snyder Shigalosis. I would be defeated before I even got to the game! Again, the costumes might be a little tough. I once thought of using schizophrenics as a mascot because high school kids are often being yelled at by coaches, teammates, parents and fans, so they naturally have a hard time deciding which of the voices to heed, plus with kids, you never know on a given day which form of your team will show up to play. I decided, though, that those suffering from mental illness would not appreciate my choice, so I dropped it from my repertoire in order to be more politically correct. I had also considered sexually transmitted diseases because if there is anything we want high school students to fear, it is STD’s, and using them should by all intents and purposes raise awareness. Who would not fear the Grand Prairie Gonorrhea? How about the St. Joe fighting Syphilli? Again, I did decide to show a bit more common sense and avoid those as well (take that however you wish).

Colleges and universities are at a whole new level in bizarre mascots. Talk about the elephant in the room, the Alabama Crimson Tide is a strange mascot, and perhaps not so intimidating unless you take that from a female perspective, then it can be a fierce and terrifying mascot when associated with lady only happenings. I am pretty sure that wasn’t the intent behind that mascot, but it is the only way it makes sense to me. Suffice it to say, no one will be asking me to choose their mascot anytime soon. PMS…hhhmmm, how about the Perryton PMS? You are right, it probably would not once again be politically correct or well, appropriate. I believe that my coupe de gras for names would have to be Electra. As a counselor, how could I not pick the Electra Complexes? Can you see their slogan? “Complexes want to know, who’s your daddy?”

Road Rage

 

Road Rage KittyRoute Rageous

Nothing reveals a person’s true character more than driving. It does not matter how decent a human is face to face, behind the wheel of a car sits someone with a different demeanor. Think of it in terms of watching a show like Supernatural or Grimm where the seemingly handsome or beautiful person turns, and suddenly the demon under the outer layer is shown for everyone around to see it. In Freud’s terms, that superego disappears faster than candy on an unattended teacher’s desk. Sans superego, there are many different types of drivers out there.

You have the retired drivers; we used to call them the blue hairs, but that seems sexist, and I think men are just as poor at driving and hair dying as women. These folks don’t have to hurry at all because they have nothing else to do, save for visiting doctors and lawyers. That is not a poor character trait, but it does seem to bring out the worst in the rest of us. It is probably to their advantage that they don’t go anywhere quickly in case they forget to stop or stay on their side of the road. I used to think that for population control, the powers that be would open the nursing home doors and say, “Go forth and maim!” Now as I close in on nursing home age, I think it is a terrible way to look at things, and I am sure that I never actually thought that (See benefits of dementia). Most of us reveal our own lack of character as we scream at them, “Good grief, Gramps, get out of the road, for the love of Bob!”

Then you have the big-haired Texas SUV driver (indigenous to Texas, but has counterparts in every state, with the exceptions of Hawaii and Alaska), whose male equivalent is the gold-chained luxury car driver. They are the ones that believe the entire world should cow-tow to them. They cut you off in traffic quite often, and they always win the parking wars. No matter how long you have been sitting with your blinker on waiting for that parking space, they swoop in and dare you to hit them, all the while giving you the “You-have-some-nerve” and “it-is-always-your-fault” look and gesture (we have all experienced the one-fingered wave, which is a different finger on dirt roads than on the highway).

Next, you have the people who either do not understand taking turns or refuse to take turns. This is very apparent at a four way stop. There is a saying for that: “If you don’t know what to do at a four way stop, give up. Life only gets harder from here.”-Unknown. I honestly believe that people know what to do, they just refuse to do it. These people make you angrier than a cat dressed in a Halloween costume, and in case you are not familiar, that is as angry as a woman falling into a toilet with the seat up at 2 in the morning. If you still cannot relate, then you have indeed led a charmed life.

You have the people that have stickers all over their vehicles proclaiming themselves Christian, frequent urinators, political savantes or most likely to sexually harass someone. Most of those are pretty selfish drivers, and I find it ironic that a person who advertises himself or herself all over the vehicle still thinks that the cloak of anonymity keeps them from having to behave on the road ways.

Let me take a moment to address the outlandishly expensive sports cars and monster trucks who drive as though they compensate for small anatomical parts, brains and beyond. These people are often stereotyped as drug dealers, pimps or just big-ego-small-IQ people. Their narcissistic attitudes can cause them to be a nuisance on the road as well as in bars. While I am going down this slippery slope, I must make mention of the pickups with the “decorative” (I use this term in the loosest sense) testicles hanging off the back bumper. I would call that redneck, but my family is full of rednecks, and I have never seen those at any family reunion of mine. I think that those are a whole other level of uncouth, and more than compensating for lack of size, they must be prostheses for those who actually have none. You know, even if we ignore the classless side of this accessory, I would think that it would bother someone to have something so unattractive adorning the vehicle, and even though I have long thought that we need to quit revering youth and honor age (only because I got old, of course), the saggy and droopy-looking genitalia looks like it belongs in a Speedo thong on Miami Beach with the wrinkled and retired. That is something I could not unsee from my vacation day on that beach one year, so my mind made that comparison.

The drivers that confound me the most are the texting drivers. Time and time again it has been proven that texting while driving is worse than playing Russian roulette, yet on a daily basis I see people texting while driving and in many cases, speeding as well. Just like drunk drivers, if you want to kill yourself, it is up to you, but in the names of my future grandchildren, don’t take someone else out with you! If we all put “Go Pro” cameras on our cars and snapped pictures of them texting along with their license plates every time we saw someone do this, and then we assigned a task force to show up at their homes to give them a $5000 fine, perhaps we could eventually stop this practice. But realistically this task force is not going to happen.           Perhaps someone could invent a car that disables all phones the driver touches while the car is in gear. I know it’s another long shot, but if a car can drive itself for Google, then that technology might be possible.

Finally, I address the school zone drivers who commit egregious fouls, the least of which is driving too fast. Let’s focus on parents. Their children learn from them very quickly that rules do not apply to their family. Am I the only one out there that has always thought all rules applied to me? Even rules that are not applicable to me, I think are made for me! Just today I nearly ran into a vehicle that did not wish to wait in the drop off line, so she went ‘in” the “exit” lane and passed vehicles in line to double park and let her child out. Clearly she is far too busy and important to wait with everyone else.

Delving further into the drop off issues, I see four types of parents dropping off children. First there is the teacher pleaser, and as a teacher, they please me. They do it by the book, but this is a very small percentage of the population. Next you have the helicopter parents who will not have their children ready themselves in any way before the ultimate drop off point, nor will they do anything to help expedite the process. These folks do this whether the weather is 30 or 70 degrees, rain or shine. They are going to make certain that their babies do not take one unnecessary step. To further exacerbate that situation, the child usually has to stand at the window and have the talk that they should have had the night before about when they want to go shopping for prom dresses and whether the guy in the blue cap totally glanced their way. This practice actually causes other people in the drop-off line to embrace the practice of breaking the rules. Then there are the parents at the opposite end of the spectrum; they are the ones who drop their child off in four lanes of moving traffic to play real life “Frogger” and dodge all of those other rule-breaking drivers. And last but not least, we have parents who have no time or patience for the entire child rearing process. They just get within 200 feet of the school to slow, and as they pull away you can hear them yelling, “Tuck and roll, find a way home, now tuck and roll.” Pretty sure that there are a lot of “tuck and roll’ drivers out there teaching us about life on the roadways.

Mind over Bladder

POE
Let’s make a deal. I really wanted to do one of those deals with God, but I know I shouldn’t. He is already so busy making deals to let football teams win a certain game,  for a girl to get a date with a guy, for a cheater to not get caught or for someone to pass a biology test that I cannot justify monopolizing his time or his miracles with my issues. However, if I had one deal to make, I think it would be this: I will go ahead and get old and accept responsibility for the wear, tear and abuse of the equipment, if he will just suspend all bodily functions from age 45 until we die. Now, that sounds like a poor deal because you are thinking that with no bodily functions, we automatically die, but that is where the miracle comes in. I mean after all, it is my fantasy and God is omnipotent, so if I want to still live with no bodily functions, then he could make that happen. The way I see it, we can no longer control any of them anyway, so why have us oldies be burdened. It’s not an unreasonable request. We would still suffer from gravity pulling everything on our body toward the ground, we would still have constant aches and pains, and we would still have wrinkles and cankles and all that other fun stuff that goes with getting old. Plus, we would still have one foot in the grave. We would just be spared the embarrassment of leaking like a sieve from every orifice of our worn out old bodies.

After giving birth to two fine, but rather large, children, and reaching a certain age, I am often, but not always, saved from horrific bodily function embarrassment by my memorization of every public restroom located within a 700 mile radius of where I live. When my memory goes, I am literally SOL.

One time when my kids were young, we were on one of our many road trips, and one of us had to go to the bathroom. As was our custom, we began the encouragement phase of “Hold it until we find a place to stop.” There were a lot of “You-can-make-it” cheers. It was at that time that our son Duncan coined the term “Mind over bladder”, and it has been with us ever since. It can only take an older person so far, though, and then the mind and bladder are both too weak to do any good at all.

As a person who rarely has time to get into a public stall before calamity becomes reality, I have the whole pantsing move down to a poetic all-in-one “pull, turn, sit” (or squat depending on how desperate I am or how filthy the bathroom is). This ballet move should really be incorporated into Swan Lake, and it has surreptitiously saved me from more than one unplanned swim. However, there was one time that it did not save me from being between a rock and a hard place. On this occasion, I had to use what my husband calls my “sexy walk” which, by the way is anything but. The sexy walk signifies great distress and is characterized by a walk attempted while nearly crossing one’s legs, and clamping the thighs and everything else together so tightly that an atom of oxygen could find nary a spot to get through the barrier. Unfortunately, holding the airtight, watertight seal is a goal too lofty for a long walk. As usual, I was in a public place and although embarrassing, the sexy walk was holding out, but barely. I got into the stall and began the famous “pull, turn, sit” motion. It was going to be a close call. Now, I had never experienced this before and did not realize that it was even a possibility, but the seat was one of those that is split in front like a horseshoe as opposed to the full ring version. I am not the daintiest person in the world, and these thunder thighs do their job in the sexy walk, but they have their disadvantages elsewhere. Have I ever told you how much I loathe being pinched? I used to hate it in junior high when someone would grab the inside of your thigh and yell, “Horse bite!” and squeeze like your thigh was in a vice, so just imagine for a moment how it felt when my full body weight went down on the inch squared piece of skin and cellulite filled with nerve endings that was somehow caught between the top seat of the toilet and the bowl. Holy mother of pearl that hurt, and I couldn’t get up because the full force of Niagra Falls had hit simultaneously. Cripes! What does one do but suffer in silence? Can’t swear or scream because it is a public place. My eyes may have watered or not; I may have passed out, but I don’t think I did because I did not fall off the throne. I will never forget that; furthermore, I have instituted more caution which does unfortunately add the greater chance of splash peril into my routine.

Another time I was in a public restroom with one other person. Now let me be clear that I do not to this day have any idea who that person may have been, nor am I even certain it is an establishment that I frequented. But this other nameless patron washed her hands (Kudos for that!) and then out of habit proceeded to turn out the lights on her way out the door. Pitch black is what I saw. This in my experience is truly a “no win” situation. If I chose to stay seated, there is no guarantee that the next person will enter in a timely manner, and what would said person think turning on the light and finding another being sitting there in the dark? Or in a possibly worse scenario, I could make a decision to head towards the light (no pun there), and get partway there before another person comes into the bathroom, turns on the light, and has a cardiac episode or perhaps a loss of bodily function event when I am standing in the middle of the room. I could not have run to the light switch because it was darker than the devil’s promises, and I might have run into something causing injury or even a concussion, which also cannot be explained. It’s a lose/lose people! Think about what you would do. Okay, so it turned out all right. I went cautiously to turn on the light, and no one came in until after I was finished washing my hands. In case you are wondering, I took some toilet paper in my hand to turn on the switch without contaminating anything.

Thus, those are just a few of the reasons that I think bodily functions should go away with age. We don’t really need them any longer, and it doesn’t matter what the offending element (water, wind, or fire), we can no longer control Mother Nature in any of her forms. I recently went with friends on a little trip, and we had such a good time. We laughed and laughed, which caused as many problems with bodily functions as sneezing and/or coughing, and I am pretty sure that every fit of raucous laughter was interrupted with someone yelling, “Stop, stop, I’m gonna pee!”