Wednesday, June 22, 2011

An Unfortunate Error in Judgement

In retrospect, the Gunderson’s corn field was probably not the best place to hide that ear of corn, Tim thought to himself as he trudged down the dirt road which divided the field in two. He could always go back to the farm, put a leash around Becky’s neck and drag her into the search. Becky was the Gunderson’s three legged goat, known throughout the community for her ability to sniff out missing objects.

If Tim went back to the farm and got caught throwing the collar around Becky, the Gunderson’s would become suspicious as to why he needed their goat so late in the day. While Becky’s tracking talent was well known, she was notorious for her drinking problem, and the Gunderson’s had already accumulated fines of over $325 in the last year alone, due to damages committed by Becky while under the influence.
Bored townies would occasionally knock on the Gunderson’s door, offering to take Becky for a “walk,” and would then claim ignorance the following day when presented with evidence of Becky’s drunken shenanigans.

There was also the task of providing Becky with a scent to follow. How on Earth was he going to recreate that scent? The corn wasn’t a problem – it was what was hidden inside the ear that was going to be tricky. The Sun was starting to go down, and the day seemed endless, there was no telling how long it would take Tim to find what he was looking for.

Tim looked at the rows of corn lining the dirt road, and knew that without Becky, the search would be fruitless. He turned and headed back to the farm. Mr. Gunderson’s truck was parked outside of the barn, and Tim could see Mrs. Gunderson standing at the kitchen sink washing the dinner dishes. He walked as quietly as he could into the barn. Becky was lying down in her pen eating a mixture of straw and the day’s leftovers. Tim slipped the collar around her neck and led her from the barn.

He could hear the sound of cars out on the main road, as he and Becky trod carefully toward town. Once on the main street, cars honked as they saw Becky walking along side of the road, her three legged gait recognizable to all.

When they reached the 7-eleven, Tim flicked the leash around a bicycle rack, went inside the store and made his purchase. The cashier, an older man named Andy, watched as Tim held the paper a few inches in front of Becky’s nose. Becky took a step toward the paper and followed Tim as he proceeded to lead her back the way they’d come.

Once they’d returned to the corn field, Tim came to a stop where he was certain that he’d hid the ear of corn. He took the lottery ticket away from Becky’s nose, slid it into his pocket and watched the goat go to work.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I Don't Even Know You Anymore

Jack was certain the image was a sign. He was so sure in fact, that upon discovering it, he understood it's meaning at once and so, picked up the phone and called his fiancee imploring her to come to meet him on Rock Creek Parkway between the Kennedy Center and the Potomac River.

“What time is it?” she had asked, sounding as though she were still asleep.

“It’s 6:15. It doesn’t matter, I just need for you to come down here and see this. I know you’ll understand once you get here.”

“Are you alone?” she asked, a note of concern showing in her voice.

“Yes, just hurry up and get down here.”

“Jack honey, what are you doing down in front of the Kennedy Center at 6:15 on a Sunday morning?”

“Do you love me?” he asked.

“Of course I love you. Oh fine,I have to get dressed and put my contacts in and brush my teeth and my hair, and then I’ll be there. Can I even get a cab this early? Honestly Jack, this better be good."

Jack had been feeling more and more constrained since the engagement had been announced. Now with just 6 weeks until the wedding, he felt the need to get out of his apartment and loosen up. He had gone out the night before by himself and headed down to the Mall to clear his head.

He had walked from Capitol Hill to Foggy Bottom and had at taken off his flip flops. As he watched the sun rise on the river, he had crossed his legs in an attempt to get into a yoga position, when he noticed the image. It began at the base of his heel and traced its way to the ball of his foot.

“Okay Jack, I’m here. Where’s the sign?” and looking down at his feet said “Honey, where are your shoes?”, her expression somewhere between concern and disgust.

"It’s here," he said turning his back to her. He took a step forward and appeared to be walking away, but instead of taking a second step, he stood, the ball of his foot firmly planted on the street, while his heel was raised. The bottom of his foot was nearly black with dirt and filth.

“Here, this is the sign.”

“Your dirty foot is the sign? Jack honey you got me up at 6:00 on a Sunday morning to show me your foot?”

“Not just my foot, look closely. See him there?”

“Who’s there Jack, who?”

Jack dropped his arms in frustration. He shook his head and said “I can’t marry you. If you cant’ see him, then I just can’t marry you."

“Jack what are you talking about? See who?”

“Oh for Gods, sake Dina! He’s right there, plain as day.”

“Jack honey I’m going to ask one more time, and then I’m going home. Who do you see?"

Jack shook his head in disappointment. “It’s E.T.”

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Saturday Night Reflection

I'm 48 years old, the married mother of a 19 year old and 16 year old, and the owner of a 10 year old West Highland White Terrier. I was going to say the master of a 10 year old West Highland blah blah, but as I'm a female, I guess technically, I'm his mistress - but, I don't know . . . that just doesn't sound right. If I'm going to be a mistress, can't it at least be for someone like Daniel Craig, at least a human . . . never mind.

So having grown to the ripe old age of 48, I find myself with a serious addiction to Facebook. I had a grip on it until a few weeks ago, when a group was formed by people who had grown up in my hometown of Manhasset, NY. After college, I remained in Virginia and haven't been back to Manhasset in about 25 years, so I find the posts fascinating. They're written by people that I grew up with, some I know, some I know of and others that I don't know at all. The posts are mainly recollections of the town we grew up in, our teachers, the places where we hung out, etc.

Now that summer has arrived, my 19 year old is home from college. This evening, after he came home from work and had eaten his dinner, he looked at my husband who was watching television and at me, completely engrossed in facebook and asked "Is this what you all do on Saturday nights?" To which I responded "Yes, I told you we don't do anything." He shook his head in disgust and said "God, that's so depressing!" Fortunately for him, his cell phone soon rang, and he was given a reprieve from one of his friends, who suggested that they do nothing at his house. Fine, whatever.

19 is a tough age. You're too young to go to bars (hopefully), you're not making enough money to support a consistent weekend movie habit. You're too old to hang out at the mall (shouldn't be doing that anyway, but oh well). And you certainly don't want to stay home on a Saturday night watching your mother get excited as she reminisces about her youth with people she may or may not know.

When I was 19, the drinking age in New York was 18 for everything. We started going to bars when we were 16. I had a fake ID that said I was 25. I didn't look 25 until I was 35. But before achieving the age of being two years younger than the legal drinking age, my friends and I would go to the neighboring town of Roslyn where we could buy Pink Champale at the 7-eleven. We would chase it down with a few bags of peanut m&ms. Honestly it makes my teeth itch just thinking about it. We'd pile into my friends VW Rabbit, listen to Billy Joel and drink pink champale while driving around Long lsland. It was a wonder that more of us weren't killed. Today, I shudder at the thought of it, but back then . . . just another weekend.

When I went off to college, things were very different. The drinking age in Virginia was 18 for beer and wine, and 21 for hard liquor (pshaw, as if!). If we wanted hard liquor, we'd have to take a cab over the Key bridge into Georgetown to Dixie Liquor which was situated at the foot of the bridge, right next to the Exorcist stairs - nice! On the weekends (which officially began on Thursday nights) we'd spend what seemed like hours getting ready. Hair would need to be curled, makeup applied, and outfits changed numerous times before we were ready to go anywhere. When we were finally ready, we'd all pile into a cab and head into Georgetown. Thursday nights would find us at E.J. O'Reilly's Pub located in an alley behind 18th & L Streets, NW. Friday night was the Chinese Disco on Pennsylvania Avenue - during the week, a simple Chinese restaurant called the Day Lilly, but on Friday nights at 10 pm, it became known as the Chinese Disco, a drunken, preppy dance hall - Lacoste and Lilly Pulitzer were well represented. There was always a line for the ladies room that snaked all the way up the steps, where it usually ended on the dance floor. Saturday night was the 3rd Edition in Georgetown. If by Sunday, you had any money left, you might go to Chadwicks, also in Georgetown, and the very brave would head up to Pendletons on Monday night for the older Capitol Hill crowd.

Having earned my rest, I'm now content to spend my weekend evenings either hanging out on facebook, or lying flat on the couch reading a good book. As for my 19 year old - he's got another 18 months before he's old enough to hit the bars. In the meantime, he'll have to be content hanging out at his friends house, probably on facebook, talking with people he grew up with, and waiting for 11:30 to roll around when Saturday Night Live comes on.

The Chinese Disco

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Tale of Addiction

Chumley Chilla was staring intently at his Chinchilla facebook page, when his mother called him downstairs for dinner. Chumley was not feeling all that hungry as he had been to Taco Bell for lunch that day and had consumed a Burrito Bowl Supreme, which he washed down with a large Dr. Pepper.
“Chumley! Dinner is on the table and we are ready to eat. All that we are lacking is your presence,” called out Chumley’s father, Chico Chilla.
Chumley, not wanting to leave his beloved facebook, sighed and answered, “I’ll be down in a minute.” He was about to get up from his desk, when he was distracted by a post on his facebook from Nilla Chilla. It said “Yo Chilla’s, I’m about to go H.A.M. on this Banana Nutella Slurpachino yo!”
Chumley looked longingly at the picture that had been downloaded from Nilla Chilla’s cell phone and felt his stomach growl.
“Chumley, we’re waiting,” shouted his mother, who was clearly becoming more and more agitated as the seconds ticked by. She stood on the landing, biting a flea which had found a home on her shoulder.
“Okay, okay, I’m coming, calm down.” Chumley struggled to tear his gaze from the large, frothy concoction that Nilla must have by now ingested, and was no doubt at this very moment, licking his whiskers and patting his extended belly.
Chumley left his room, and made his way downstairs to the dinner table. When he sat down and saw the food on his plate, the growling in his stomach ceased.
“Eat up Chum,” said his father.
Chumley stared at the pot roast, mashed potatoes and string beans lying on his plate. He bared his little yellow chinchilla teeth, and pushed his plate away, scratching his ear with his hind leg. “God! Don’t we have anything else to eat?”
His parents stared at him dumbfounded. “What’s wrong with the food on your plate?” asked his father, scowling. “Your mother has floured, salted, peppered and cooked the roast perfectly. She has boiled, drained and beaten the potatoes to a light and fluffy consistency and she has cooked those fresh string beans to perfection. What objections could you possibly have to this dinner?”

Chumley’s mother Tilla Chilla chirped in, “Chumley, you love pot roast! I prepared this roast especially for you in celebration of your recent score of a B- on your algebra quiz! What’s the matter with you? Are you unwell, are you on drugs, or are you perhaps in love? ”
Chumley’s older brother Chauncey looked up from his plate, cleaned his paws, leaned over and patted his brother’s growing tummy, smiled and said, “Chumley only eats junk food.”
“What in the name of Our Heavenly Chinchilla are you talking about Chauncey?” shouted his parents simultaneously.
“How can he only eat junk food? We send him off to school every day with a sandwich, a piece of fruit and a snack. Where is he getting junk food?” Mrs. Chilla raised her paws to her mouth, and began pulling on her whiskers in distress.
Chauncey looked up from his pot roast. “Killa”
“What?“ asked his father.
“What?” asked his parents, together this time.
“Killa Chilla” replied Chauncey.
“Who’s Killa Chilla?” asked his father
“Killa is the Chilla who sells Chumley his junk food.”
Mr. Chilla was becoming impatient with his son - so much so that he accidentally ejected a small chilla poop onto the surface of his chair. “Again, I will ask you, who is this Killa Chilla?, he asked as he flicked the small dark object onto the floor”
“Eugene Chinchilla, he’s a senior. Ever since he failed composition, he goes by the name Killa Chilla and he runs a junk food stand out of his locker. He can get you anything - even nachos, and . . . they stay hot.”
Mrs. Chilla scowled at her older son and huffed at her younger one.

The next day, the Chilla’s put Chumley on junk food lockdown. They revoked his allowance and hid all of the family’s loose change. And being the conscientious parents they were, they called the parents of his friends informing them of the illicit lunchtime activities going on in their children’s school. Assured that the parents of Chumley’s friends would join them in their allowance embargo, the Chilla’s were confident that their efforts had not been in vain.
Chumley however, was far from happy and knew his friends would share in his disappointment. Chumley was not going to be satisfied with a tuna fish sandwich and an apple for lunch. He was going to have to find a way to get his junk food on.
He enlisted the help of his friends Terrence and Bowbray.
“Now the way I see it” said Bowbray, “we’ve got to come up with a plan to make Killa give us the junk.”
“It’s got to be really clever,” agreed Chumley
“Right,” said Terrence, “So clever that Killa’ll never figure it out.”
“Who’s Kalil?“ asked Chumley and Bowbray together.
“Kalil, you just said Kalil would never figure it out,” explained Bowbray.
Chumley shook his head. “Never mind about Kalil.”
The chinchilla boys agreed that a clever plan was needed. So, they set about coming up with a really clever plan to scam Killa Chilla out of his junk food.
“I have a great idea,” said Bowbray. “We go to Killa and tell him that we left our money at home, but that if he lets us have the food today, we’ll bring him the money tomorrow.”
“You mean establish a line of credit?” Said Terrence
Bowbray looked at Terrence and then at Chumley. “Uh . . . yeah,” he answered.
The next day, the three boys met in the hallway and prepared to execute their plan to score some junk food from Killa Chilla.
They put on their parents sunglasses which they had also obtained through a clever plan, and proceeded down the hallway toward Killa Chilla’s locker.
They stood in line with other students waiting their turn. When they got to the head of the line and faced Killa, Chumley said, his voice chirping from anxiety. “Um Killa, we want to get some food, but we forgot our money at home. Would it be okay if we got the food today but then paid you for it tomorrow?”
Killa’s whiskers twitched as he looked the three chinchilla’s up and down. His purple bandana was tied in a doo rag style, and a cross hung from his right ear. His forepaws had been plucked clean of fur, and a tattoo of June Carter Cash adorned the bare spot. He looked down from his stool at the three young chillas and said “You mean like credit?”
Chumley and Bowbray looked at Terrence who nodded and answered “Yes.”
Killa shrugged and said “Okay.”
“The greedy chinchillas placed their orders of Burrito Bowls, Taco Grandes, Gorditas and sodas.” They took their junk food and made their way outside to the bleachers to eat their ill-gotten gain.
Feeling very pleased with themselves, and rather full of stomach, they went along to their afternoon classes.
The next day, the chinchilla boys all brought their lunches and were on their way to the cafeteria when out of nowhere appeared Nilla, Pilla, and Zilla Chillas. The three older chillas surrounded the boys and prevented them from entering the cafeteria.
“Well, well, well” said Pilla Chilla. “What’chu chilla boys doin’ headin’ for the cafĂ©? I b’lieve y’all were supposed to head over to the locker of Mista Killa Chilla. Think y’all have some lolly to exchange yo.”
The three chinchillas looked at one another and stammered and chirped until Terrence Chilla finally found his voice and spoke up. “Actually, we were going to bring Killa the money we owe him today, but ran afoul of our parents this morning and were unable to procure the necessary funds to pay Mr. Chilla.”
Nilla wrinkled his nose and said “Yo Chilla, I don’t care if you messed your trou, Killa just wants to be paid yo.”
Chumley was getting panicky, when he remembered a gift card he had at home in his underwear drawer, hidden underneath his Power Ranger briefs (the blue ones with red trim). “Nilla, tell Killa, to meet us after school tomorrow and we’ll settle our debt with him.”
“Okay, but ya’ll best not be messin’ wit me or Killa” responded Nilla.
The three chinchillas were shaking when Nilla and his posse left them.
“Now what are we . . . “ Bowbray began to say, but as chinchilla’s have very short attention spans, he instead looked down at the brown paper bag in his paws and said, “Oh, it’s lunch time.”
The other two chinchillas nodded in agreement and so, Nilla,Pilla,Zilla and Killa along with their threats, were forgotten.
Fortunately for the chilla boys, Chumley had not forgotten entirely about the dire straits they were in, and came up with a plan of his own.
The next day, when school had ended, Killa found a note taped to his locker. It said “Killa, if you want your payment for our food, you have to meet us at Johnny Rockets – now, respectfully yours, the chilla boys.” Being the simple-minded chinchilla that he was (after all, he had failed remedial composition), Killa grabbed his backpack and his agenda (in a valiant attempt to pass composition this semester) and walked across the street to Johnny Rockets.
When he arrived, the hostess seated him at a table with the three chinchilla boys who were patiently waiting for him.
Across the table from where the boys were sitting, was a large platter. Upon the platter sat a cheeseburger, French fries, and cole slaw, and standing alone in front of it all, was a tall chocolate milkshake with one straw.
“What’s this?” asked Killa.
Chumley looked very sad as he said “This was paid for with my Johnny Rockets gift card that my grandmother gave me for Christmas and told me to use only for a special occasion. I hope you like your meal. Please don’t beat us up. Our parents won’t let us eat junk food anymore, and they cut off our allowances and now we have to eat tuna fish and ham sandwiches and peanut butter and jelly.”
Killa looked at the three chilla boys and said “You know junk food is really bad for you. You shouldn’t eat it more than once a month.” Killa put a French fry in his mouth and unwrapped the straw, popping it into his shake.
“Well if it’s so bad, why are you . . . “ Bowbray started to ask, but was cut off by Chumley.
“Thank you Killa, we’ll remember that in the future. I really hope that you like your meal. Are we square now?” Asked Chumley.
Killa sat back and stared at the three chilla boys. He scratched his tattoo of June Carter Cash, and thought for a moment. Then he nodded and said “Yeah, we’re good now.”
The three chilla boys who were visibly relieved, began to get up from the table, when Killa stopped them.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa. Where you boys think you goin? You not opposed to leave the table til everybody’s finished they meal. You all jes sit right back down where you were. We’re going to have scintillating dinner conversation now.”
And so the three chilla boys learned some very important lessons that day. Junk food is very bad for you and there is sound reasoning for why chinchilla parents don’t want their adolescent chinchillas eating it, never spend money that you don’t have, never use your grandmother’s Johnny Rockets gift card to pay a debt (it’s bad enough that Dan Snyder owns the chain), and lastly that scintillating dinner conversation is very important or the development of strong minds and tight families!