Safety Zone

Let’s pause for a moment and discuss the New Mexico (Mexican?) highway “Safety Zone” concept.  What do YOU think a Safety Zone is?  Quick!  I’ll give you three seconds to come up with an answer…

One one thousand

Two one thousand

Three one thousand

Ok.  Time’s up!  And were you really reading the ‘one one thousand’ part?!  If so, then you’re worse than I am when it comes to numbers – if you had to READ the seconds.  Geesh.  You should really learn them by heart.  It makes life so much easier when you know the seconds by heart.  Trust me. 

Anyway, what do you think a “Safety Zone” on the New Mexican highway system is?  (Hmmm, “Mexican” seems almost racist.  Maybe it should be New Mexico-an?) 

If you thought it was a place where your car would be completely safe from UFO sightings or extraterrestrial probings…then we must be TWINS!!!  Because that’s what I thought.  But we’re both wrong.  And you’re the evil twin.  I’m the nice twin.  Everyone always says so.

A “Safety Zone” on the New Mexicoan (yeah, much better) highway is where your car is LEAST safe.  In fact, any section of highway designated a “Safety Zone” is extremely treacherous and is one of the highest traffic-fatality-producing stretches of road in the land.

Uh….bass ackwards much?  My suggestion for more specific and descriptive signage would go something like this: WARNING – YOU ARE NOW ENTERING A DEATH SECTOR.  EXTREME CAUTION REQUIRED!!!

Because Safety Zone implies that you are SAFE in this ZONE.  Right, Twin-y twin twin?  But you’re not.  Not by the hair of my Twin-y twin twin!  You’re the LEAST safe in that ZONE as you have ever been. 

So do not LOOK at your MP3 player while you’re in a Safety Zone!  YOU’RE NOT SAFE!  DON’T EVEN FRICKIN’ GLANCE AT IT!!  THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT I’VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT!!!   EYES ON THE ROAAAAADDDDD!!! (Hi, Hubby.  Remember how much fun we had with that?  When that gust of wind came along??  Awwww…fun times.  Fun, fun New Mexicoan roadtrip times.  When we learned about Safety Zones.  So fun.)

That’s it.  That’s all I wanted to say about the New Mexicoan highway Safety Zone concept.  Other than this:  Does anyone else have that song* stuck in their head now?? 

S-s-s-s A-a-a-a F-f-f-f E-e-e-e T-t-t-t Y-y-y-y! 
Safe, ZONE! 
Safety zone 
Is it safe to zone 
Is it safe to zone [Refrain 6x]

*Why yes, that is a riff on “Safety Dance.”  By Men Without Hats.  Released in the U.S. in March of 1983.  And I continue to give you a complete FACIAL when it comes to the “80’s song for every moment in life” game we play.  Beware!  You are now entering an 80’s song SAFETY ZONE!  Is it safe to zone?!?

Job Search

Ok.  We’ve already clarified that I don’t have a job.  [Thanks for bringing it up! stink eye, stink eye]  But I continue to look.  Because that’s what I am.  I’m a looker.  Hee-hee-hee.  And I found this gem-of-a-job recently, and I wanted to share it with you:

Marketing Communications Manager/Writer

Hmmm…that sounds interesting.  And hey, I write!  Like right now.  Writing…still writing….still…ok, you get the idea.  Lemme check it out.

Location: Denver, CO

Good.  That’s near me.

Employee Type:  Full-Time

I like full-time employee types.  I’ll keep reading.

Industry: Other

Wow.  That sounds like a big industry.  Maybe something in outerspace with aliens?  Could be fun.

Job Type: Marketing

I could TOTALLY market stuff to aliens in outerspace.  Unless this is more of a marketing FOR aliens; as in “going to the outerspace Piggly-Wiggly on behalf of aliens.”  If it’s THAT sort of marketing, then no.  I’m not up for that.  But it’s probably not that Piggly-Wiggly version.  So I’ll keep reading.

Manages Others:  Unknown

Uh.  Shouldn’t you know that by now?  Especially if you’re to that part where you’re POSTING the job??  Maybe they should have put “Depends” instead of “Unknown.”  Because maybe it all depends on whether or not you can see dead people?!  Mwaaa haaa haaaa!  Creep Factor 100.  Moving on…

Status: Freelance

Oh crap.  In my experience “Freelance” usually translates to “Squirrely as all get-out.”  But let me see how long it lasts…

Estimated Duration: Ongoing

Ongoing’s good.  That means it goes on.  For a while.  And if I could start immediately, then this job could go on.  For a while.  Speaking of which, when DOES this job start?

Starts: Within a Couple Weeks

Huh.  Weird.  Within a couple of weeks from WHEN?  Right now?  Can they tell that I’m looking at the job NOW?  How ’bout now?  Now?!?  Ok, stop with the silliness.  What’s it paying?

Rate: DOE

DOE is better than DOA any day of the week, I guess.  Unless you can SEE dead people on arrival.  Stop it with that, already!

So let me get this straight: This may or may not be a job that includes marketing to aliens in outerspace and it may or may not go on for some period of time.  If this position manages anyone, it would most likely be ghosts, but that’s unknown right now.  The job is starting soon (or at least in a couple of weeks from…now?  NOW?!?) and I will get paid in DOE dollars (which are probably similar to Minecraft Diamonds) for work I may or may not be doing.

Sounds good.  My resume is on its way!  And no, I’m not telling you the name of the company.  Because you might want to apply too!! 

Arsenic and Old Lace*

Quick question…can you tell what this is?


I’ll give you a hint.  It’s a science project my daughter had to do over Spring Break. 

Isn’t that super fun?!  And by super fun I mean the worst plan the science teacher ever had: to make the science project due the day the children return from Spring Break.  Which means you have to spend your Spring Break DOING the science project.  Geesh.

I’ll give you another hint.  Sissy is studying the Periodic Table of Elements in Sixth Grade Science.  This just gets better and better, doesn’t it?  And she thought it would be a fun idea (and by fun idea I mean she now understands it was a terrible idea) to choose something from the Periodic Table with an atomic number of 33 as the subject of her project.

Ding, ding, ding!  That’s right!!  This is indeed a model of ARSENIC!  Ten points to the science-y nerds on my right.  And you know what Arsenic has?  THIRTY THREE PROTONS.  THIRTY THREE ELECTRONS.  AND FORTY TWO NEUTRONS!!!  YAY, ARSENIC! 

You see what I mean now about this being so much fun, right?  So much FRICKIN’ fun!  Woo-hoo for science teachers and spring break.  WOOO HOOOO!!!  And pay no attention to that smudge on the screen right there –>    <– That’s from my tears.  Or it could be some brainfluid that dribbled off my chin when the whole top of my head sheared off.  Because you know what you have to do with all these protons and neutrons and so forth??  You have to create a true-to-life MODEL of your chosen atom, complete with fifty gatrillon pompoms-in-different-colors representing all of those BLEEPIN’ protonselectronsneutrons.  All suspended somehow in mid-air using nothing but the power of your mind and a really BIG sense of disbelief.  And it helps if you squint one eye completely shut.  And have silver floral wire.

Now, I’m not one to propose or condone violence.  But as a special “thank you” to the teacher for completely botching our Spring Break (and for making me cry and lose some much-needed brain fluid…and the entire top of my head), do you think she’d notice if I slipped a little of this arsenic into her coffee next Monday morning?  Or do you think the red mini pompoms hot glued to the floral wire sticking completely OUT of her coffee cup might clue her in to the fact that someone’s tryin’ to do her wrong??

But thank God for small favors, because we did NOT have to include the Valence Electrons in the model.  And how many Valence Electrons does Arsenic have anyway?  Glad you asked.  It has five.  Wah-wah-waaaaah.  So that’s why I would have LOVED to have included those.  Extra Credit much?  Besides, really, what’s five more pompoms when you’ve already lost the entire part-of-your-head-that-has-hair-on-it in this effort. 

Either way, I hope I…er…SISSY gets an “A.”  “A” as in ARSENIC!!!!

*Today’s blog actually has NOTHING to do with that old Cary Grant movie “Arsenic and Old Lace.”  Which is actually a funny movie.  Even though it is in black and white.  And has that actor with those googly eyes.  But it was a catchy title, so I used it.  If you have better ideas for titles for MY blog, you can just keep them to yourself.  Because this is MY blog.  Thanks for stoppin’ by.

Sling Blade

Ok…despite all the completely off-my-rocker talk about the dog’s three distinct voices  yep, still sounds pretty wackadoodle with a capital WACK if I do saysomyself  I am mentally stable.  To prove it, here’s what I REALLY wanted to say about my dog: He’s actually an intelligent, brown-eyed ape.  Wrapped in dog fur.  With the heart of a lily-livered chicken.  Totally sane-sounding, right? 

But enough about me.  Back to the lily-livered chicken.  If I’m getting a jar of pickles out of the fridge?  That’s the dog’s cue to creep under the kitchen table.

Making some toast??  He slowly creeps backwards into the family room like a dog in an afterschool special who’s trying to avoid the kidnappers as they plot in the kitchen.

If I’m heading for the pantry?!? (Where we keep all the machines that go “whir” and are therefore the most fearsome things on the planet.)  RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!!

And because I’m the Meanest Mom Dog in the world?  Sometimes I come shooting out of the pantry making whirring noises.  Mwa-ha-ha!!!  But the joke’s on me.  Because that nonsense causes the dog to pee his pants.  Hardy har har indeed.    

The dog remains absolutely silent during these tribulations.  Not a ruff or woof to be had.  Because the dog only barks for exactly one reason: if there’s a fox in the backyard. Or so I thought.  Until the other morning.  Duhn-duhn-duhnnnnn! 

The other morning, the dog was barking like a full-blown freakshow at something off-screen.  Initially I assumed it was a fox…but then the dog continued to bark long after a fox would have jumped the fence and run off.  This ongoing barking naturally meant that Billy Bob Thornton, under the guise of Karl Childers, had crept into our backyard and was lurking around the side of the garage, nattering on about how some folks call it a Kaiser blade…some folks call it a sling blade…I call it a Kaiser blade.  Uh-HUH! 

So I – wearing the saggy, snow-flake-patterned longjohns I call pajamas – went out to see if I could offer him some biscuits and mustard.  The rest of the family, playing the oddly incongruent role of “those meddling kids” from the Mystery Machine, trailed out behind me.

What I want to mention here is that the whole gang was fully clothed.  But were stacked up behind ME who was wearing my unmentionables.  So I was confused about why I was leading the charge into the face of death.  Now admittedly, Karl Childers isn’t necessarily the face-of-death.  Some might consider him more of a hero, really.  Unless that someone has dun somthin’ wrawng, thayt is.  And I dun plenty wrawng – see Meanest Mom Dog above.  But more importantly, why wasn’t anyone who was wearing REAL clothes leading this charge?! 

Hero.  Murderer.  No matter WHAT was around that corner, if he was wielding ANY PART of a lawn mower, my plan was to outrun Rooby, Rooby Roo’s sorry a$$.  But the way everyone was underfoot had me concerned that I’d trip over someone despite my best “run faster than the slowest person there” plan.  In which case, I hoped that Fred or Velma  (I’M Daphne, ya dope!) would have enough sense to change me into a cute outfit; something way less…droopy…before they called the paramedics to tend the cut in my body parts.  And fix my hair a lil’ bit.

So with this in mind, I round the corner of the garage and…




It’s just one of those yellow, smiley-faced helium balloons caught on the fence by the garage.  Billy-Bobbing up and down and lookin’ purty happy with hisself while scaring the PEE out of me.

No cause for alarm, folks-who-call-it-slingblades.  Whoopsie.  Tee-hee-hee. [insert embarrassed laughter here]  Don’t I feel foolish?!?  And was that ME barking??  Weird.  But now I know how the dog feels.  Geesh, that was HORRIBLE.  AND I gotta go change my jammi pants.  Into something less…wet.  Yep, hardy har har indeed.

Skiing: Hatred UnVAILed

I don’t usually look over the edge because it scares THE JUICE outta me! – My Son, this past week-end in Vail, Colorado.

Yeah.  What HE said.  And as I ponder his statement, I realize two things: 1) I don’t windburn “cute” and 2) I HATE SKIING!  Thanks fer nothin’, Vail*.

Now – I realize them’s fightin werds – especially here in the Rocky Mountain State.  But I can no longer live a lie.  Not after this week-end’s ski trip to Vail.  Because Vail, with its clusterbomb of Green Circle ski runs, made up my mind about something I’d been on-the-border of detesting anyway. 

This loathing goes beyond the usual annoyances of frozen fingers, cramped calf muscles and hobbled dashes to the bathroom wearing skiboots and snowpants.  It even goes beyond the twenty HOURS of prep work for every ten MINUTES of time spent on the mountain actually skiing.  Although that IS the worst ratio on the planet, no?

My total abhorrence results from the whole process of just trying to GET to the skiing.  Because Vail has conveniently placed its slow boat Green Circle ski runs in a “bowl” at the TOP of the mountain.  Brilliant!

I mean, other than having a sick sense of humor, why would Vail Mountain Authorities make the least proficient skiers in the world (me!) take SEVERAL chair lifts just to get TO the skiing??  All while making these same poor saps (me!) cross death-defying Blue Square ski trails in the process?!  (WARNING:  You are now crossing a really steep, bowel-loosening, mogul ski trail.  Look UP before crossing!  Or the REAL skiers on this trail will totally TAKE YOU OUT!  Ski faster, Varmint!  I wanna see yew ski!!! ping, ping). 

After all that drama?  You’re still not there yet.  You still have to go down, down, down something called the “Game Trail” to get into the mythical bowl for Dumb-Dumb Skiers.  THAT IS TOTAL B.S.!!!  I will frickin’ CUT YOU if I ever get ahold of you, Vail Mountain Authorities.

This Game Trail is a true gauntlet in every sense of the word.  Iroquois are on one side, beating you bloody with war clubs.  But that’s not the worst part.  On the OTHER side of the Game Trail is a total plummet-to-your-death-just-waiting-to-happen.  There is absolutely NOTHING between you and the Other Side of the Mountain.  Not even that measly Police Line Do Not Cross tape.  They may as well post a huge sign written-in-blood at the beginning of the Game Trail: ABANDON HOPE, ALL YE WHO ENTER HERE!  ‘Cause you just KNOW that come Spring Thaw, down at the bottom of that death-drop, they find all the Green Circle skiers who went missing.  They’ve been turned into a bunch of skeletons, clackin’ their teeth and clutching gold doubloons in their bony hands.

And while I’m contemplating what my teeth would look like devoid of…MY FACE!…the panic that’s been lurking ROARS! into life.  And that “juice” referenced in the quote at the beginning of the blog?  It gets scared right out of me.  Juice Squirters activated and fully engaged, Captain!  I’m squirting juice EVERYWHERE and trailing huge PLUMES of it behind me as I head into the gauntlet.  Hey!  Does anyone else have those black dots dancing in front of their eyes?  No??  How about breathing?!?  Is anyone else finding it hard to breathe???  ‘Cause my heart is in my throat, beating double-time against my balaclava and I think it’s cutting off my air-supply!! 

Oh!  And by the way…where’s the fresh pow-pow everyone’s raving about??  Because it sure as SH** ain’t here!  Because HERE?  On the Game Trail??  There’s nothing but crusty ICE, ya mo-fos!  This SUCKS!  This SUCKS the most SUCKINESS from SUCK TOWN that has ever SUCKED!!!!!  SUCK times SUCK equals SUCK SQUARED!  Screw SUCK SQUARED!!  It’s SUCK TIMES INFINITY…PLUS ONE!

When I finally shoot out the end of the Game Trail and enter the bowl, I’m greeted by a zero-visibility blizzard.  Awww…mystery solved.  HERE’S the fresh pow-pow!  IN YO’ FACE!!

In this fun little play called SKIING SUCKS AND I HATE IT! the lead actress knows that – unless she’s willing to live the rest of her life there in that bowl (she considered it, she really, really considered it; but then discarded the notion) – she needs to catch one more lift to the top.  And SKI out.  Ha ha ha!  That is sooo flippin’ funny I almost forgot to laugh.  And that part about FINALLY getting to ski…but not wanting to anymore?!?  What a GAS!  If that’s not a cosmic kick in the snowpants, I don’t know what is.

So, in what I’ve come to think of as my LEAST proud motherhood moment, I adopt an “every man for himself” attitude and completely ignore the fallen bodies of my children, as first one, then the other, bite dust behind me.  I leave them there good luck and God bless, you’re my greatest triumph! as I head for that final lift, barely hanging on to my sanity.

I am a terrible mother.  Just awful.  But I did wait for them to join me (in all their bawling, snot-nosed glory) before boarding the final chopper out of Saigon.  So there is that.

When we finally disembark, we’re at the top of the Eagle’s Nest Green Circle ski run.  It seems like it’s taken our entire lives to get there.  We’re all exhausted.  And in about one more second, we will become separated again because Terrible Mother has caused the earth to turn on its axis, thereby triggering Marine OPPOSITE Day where EVERY man will be left behind.  So I instruct the kids to remember: no matter what happens, follow EAGLE’S NEST GREEN CIRCLE!  

And in some bizarre rallying cry, I then shout my long-ago birthing mantra at them.  “There’s no way out but THROUGH!”  I hope it’s helping them.  ‘Cause it’s not really helping ME, that’s for d^^m sure!  But again, for good measure, “THERE’S NO WAY OUT BUT THROUGH!”  hee-hee, hoo-hoo, hee-hee, hoo-hoo  [Yes.  That was Lamaze breathing.  Why?  Did you think that was insane laughter??  ‘Cause it wasn’t.  Don’t be a hater just because YOU’RE not into that new age crap intended to stave off panic and pain.]

Then I switch my Juice Phasers from “Stun” to “OVERLOAD!”

And take off down the mountain. 

Yep.  Hate skiing.  Thanks, Vail*.

*Now don’t get me wrong: Vail is an incredibly beautiful place.  It’s loaded with gorgeous Alpine architecture.  The locals are incredibly friendly AND they love dogs, specifically our dog (ding, ding, ding, bonus points!).  Admittedly, the town is a bit top-heavy with fur stores.  And artisan jewelry shops.  But they just got theirselves an UGG store.  So that breaks up the monotony a bit.  In summation, Vail is a really lovely town peopled with lovely people and stored with lovely stores.  But some A$$HOLE designed their Green Circle ski runs.  So peace out!  Thank you and goodnight!!

Lá Fhéile Pádraig

Remember that “thing” from a few weeks ago?  That “thing” my mother asked me not to tell anyone about??  Well, since you’re such a bunch of Nosy Parkers (say it the way my mother would say it with her New Hampshire accent.  It’s funnier that way.  Nosy Paah-kuhs.  See?  Funny.)  It’s time for me to tell you about it.

Be gosh and Begorah!  My mother’s birthday is today.  Top O’ The Mornin’ to ya, Mum!  And Happy St. Patrick’s Day.  (The title of this blog is “St. Patrick’s Day” in GAELIC!   I know, it’s a total wonder to me TOO why no one has hired me yet.)

And for her birthday, my husband has suggested that we get my mother a chart.  Of time zones.   So she will STOP calling us at 5:30 in the morning say maw-nin’ as in: red sky in the maw-nin’, sailors take wah-nin’ with some cockamamie excuse that she got OUR timezone confused with Aunt Betty’s timezone and thought we were only ONE hour behind Eastcoast time.  Yeah, ‘cause a call at 6:30 a.m. woulda been waaaay better. 

This birthday timezone chart would indicate to my mother that we are actually TWO hours behind her timezone in Virginia.  And that we have ALWAYS been TWO hours behind her timezone in Virginia.  Well, not always, but for the last FOURTEEN YEARS since we moved to Colorado. 

That’s it.  That’s all I have to say.  Other than this:  When my mother calls at 5:30 in the morning, and we don’t answer, uhhhh, because the phone is all the way downstairs and…it’s 5:30 IN THE MORNING!!!  she automatically assumes we’re on the computer. 

She will even leave that in her message, “Well, it’s 7:30 my time and I can’t get ahold of you.  You must be on the computer.” (Compew-dah.  Still funny.)

Ok.  At the dawn of computers, yes, that was a problem.  You couldn’t be on the computer AND on the phone.  If you called someone who was on the computer, you’d get a busy signal or go straight to voicemail. 

Now that we’re in the future, however – and computers are connected through a complex network of tinfoil hats and airwaves (this explanation is skirting much too close to math for my comfort so I’ll stop) – computers no longer have anything to do with the phone.  Or the phone line.  And if “people” aren’t answering the phone; it’s not because they’re on the compewdah.  It’s because you’re calling at FIVE THIRTY IN THE MAWNIN’!   

Glad we could clear that up.  And all blogging aside, my mother is actually a super (soo-pah!) lady.  Truly lovely.  Kind and gentle and an example to all of a faith-filled life.  Wife of 50+ years, mother of five, grandmother of six.  

But she has this habit!  This habit of saying everything five times.  We think it’s because she has five kids.  So if she says something five times, she’s done her duty.  It doesn’t matter if she tells all five kids one time; or one kid five times.  As long as it comes out of her mouth five times, the deed is done.  So, following in that great tradition…Mom, for the fifth time – Colorado is TWO HOURS BEHIND VIRGINIA.  Are we done now? 

P.S.  Your timezone chart is in the mail.  Happy Birthday!  And thanks for being such a good spawt about all this.  I love you.

What does the dog say?

Let’s review: An elephant goes toot and fish go blub.  And the fox?  The fox says, Ring-ding-ding-ding-dingeringerdinge. 

Mwa-ha-ha!  [evil laugh]  I did that just to get that annoying song back in your head.  Did it work?

Wa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-paw!  How ‘bout now?!  Isn’t it fun the way we joke around with each other?! 

Anyway.  Where I was really going with all of this is that my dog doesn’t simply say, “woof!” as stated in that song.

In fact, he has a voice.  Or rather, I have a voice I use for my dog.  I have – in my head – a voice that sounds the way I think my dog would sound.  If he could talk.  Because really, who DOESN’T think their dog can talk?  At least secretly.  In their head.

Naw!  That didn’t sound too Son-of-Sam insane.  In which case, I’ll further admit that I actually have two voices for the dog.

When I’m feeling charitable towards the dog, his voice sounds something like a Leprechaun on speed, “Gosh and begorah!  I gotta rid the entire backyard of rabbits, Mum!  Lemmeout, lemmeout!!  I’m playing the role of St. Paddy with the rabbits, dontchyaknow?!  Drivin’ ‘em out o’ the land!  Lemmeout, lemmeout!!”

But on most days the dog’s voice is startlingly close to Lenny’s voice.  When he’s asking George about the rabbits.  For the umpteenth time, “Tell me about the rabbits, George.

My daughter on the other hand just makes the dog sound like a lispy four-year-old.  Cute, but not fully capable.  Of anything.

And my son?  My son doesn’t necessarily have a “voice” for the dog.  He just refers to him as: The Dog Who Will One Day Forge the Bacon Sword.  Which is a whole thing I can’t get into now.  Let’s just suffice to say that bacon is the dog’s destiny.  He LOVES bacon.  Case in point?  For the time it’s taken me to write this blog, the dog has been out in the kitchen whining at the last piece of breakfast bacon.  I’ve included a picture for your viewing pleasure.  See the bacon?  On that plate shoved waaaaaaaaay in the back?!?  Yeah.  He wants it.  That’s the one he loves.  That’s the one he gots ta have.  He loves bacon!  Tell me about the bacon, George.  Baconbaconbacon!!!

And, three.  Now we’re up to three voices.  The third one is the voice of the dog in that bacon commercial; Where all it says is, “Baconbaconbacon!!!”    

Yeah.  Three voices are way better than two any day, right?  Go big or go home.  And once you’re home…get some bacon.  Baconbaconbacon!      

And now that we’re home getting some bacon, that reminds me: Hatee-hatee-hatee-ho!  Hatee-hatee-hatee-ho! 

How ‘bout now?!?  So much fun.


Ya wanna know the ONE joke guaranteed to make my husband laugh every time?  I just got a goose – and it’s not even Christmas!! 

Hmmm.  Falls a little flat on paper, doesn’t it?  So maybe it’s more of an “in person” sort of thing; Because in person, it’s a regular laugh riot.  Especially if I say it in a southern accent.  Immediately after my husband gooses me. 

But enough about me.  What about that goose?  Do you ever see that goose?!  That one Canada goose in the sky.  Flappin’ off to somewhere and honkin’ like a madman.  What goose did YOU think I was talking about, ya dirty bird? 

Yeah!  What’s UP with that goose?!  Did HE just get a Christmas goose?  Or is the flock playing some sort of practical joke on him??

For some reason, whenever I see that lone goose tearing across the sky – I’m reminded of the joke we used to play on the boys during quiet reading time in grade school.  We’d wait.  And wait.  Until the chosen boy was deep into his reading material.  Then we’d tap him on the shoulder and say, “Sister Germaine* just called you!  Didn’t you hear her?”  At which point he’d get all panicked and JUMP UP! out of his seat and go racing to the front of the room, honkin’ and flappin’. 

Now that’s funny enough, but my most triumphant work in this area came when the boy whose shoulder I tapped actually had a leg that had fallen asleep.  But I/he didn’t realize it until he had JUMPED UP! out of his seat.  Only to SLAM! into the desk across from him as his leg crumpled underneath.  But not to be deterred – Sister Germaine had “called” him afterall – he proceeded to careen up the aisle.  Lurching right and overcorrecting left.  A final heave-ho brought him to Sister’s desk.  Whereupon he gasped, “I’m here!” 

She calmly looked up from grading papers and said, “What are you doing?  Go sit down.”  So he turned around and gamely staggered back.

Mystery solved!  That, my friends, is where that looney-tune goose is headed.  To Sister Germaine’s desk.   

*Yes, her name was really Sister Germaine.  She was my 8th grade teacher.  There was also a Sister Cletus.  She taught science.  And yes, THAT was really HER name.  And?  She looked like Uncle Fester from the Addams Family.  How fun is that?!?  Now I’m going to hell.  And now I swore.  Thanks a lot.  Is it Christmas yet? 

Field Trippin’

Field trips are a unique piece of performance art.  Or as I fondly call them: Freak Shows.  Seriously, kids-on-field-trips give the exact appearance of people who have completely lost their everlovin’ marbles.   

The whole thing starts with an email to me from my son’s fourth grade teacher, “We’d love to have you join us for our upcoming fieldtrip blah blah blah.”  [In general, she makes it sound like being chosen to chaperone a field trip is my reward for a lifetime of good works.  But I know different.  WAY different.  I don’t do good works.  So this ain’t no reward.]

I in turn respond with a complete and total lie, “I’d love to join you for the field trip.”  And then set my mental-health boundaries with, “I will be assigned a group of mild-mannered girls, correct?  Ha, ha.  Kidding.  (Kind of.)”

When I arrive at school the day of the field trip, I note that my group does actually consist of four, fairly calm girls.  And two complete wackadoodles, also known as boys – one of which is my son.  And here I’d been secretly hoping he’d be in the teacher’s group and I could just wave to him from afar. 

Speaking of the teacher’s group…you know what else I noted?  That she only had FOUR kids in her group!  What the WHAT?!  Rude. 

Anyway, since I had a bunch of squirmy bodies to keep track of before, during and after our bus trip to the State Capitol, I suggested to same that we come up with a group name.  I envisioned that I would have to quickly get their attention when the building security guards started wrasslin’ outliers to the ground for body cavity searches.  At which point I could call their group name and they’d all stand at attention, counting off like good recruits.  I was thinking of something snappy and quick.  I was thinking school mascot.  I was thinking “Lions.”

Instead, they came up with Neon Pegasus Tortoise Fairy Rainbows.

Oy.  [rolling eyes Heavenwards]

We went on to spend a fun day learning about Cyber Bullying (a bill being discussed in the House, complete with “sexual orientation non-conformity” descriptions.  Cool.) and taxi cab service in Greeley, CO (a bill under consideration in the Senate) as the kids tried to see how many of their arms and legs they could force through the Plexiglas partitions in the Visitors’ Gallery; All while making as much noise as they could possibly make without really making any noise.  (Cough, cough, shuffle, whisper, whisper, rustle, rustle.  Shhhh!  Pinch.  Poke.  Sigh.  Giggle.  SHHHHHHHHHHHH!)  The highlight of the Visitors’ Gallery experience for me was explaining to the kids what all those shiny metal compartments were in the armrest of EVERY seat.  “They’re ashtrays.  People used to be able to smoke everywhere, including public buildings.  And those trays held the cigarette ashes.”  Judging by the shocked (yet intrigued) reaction I got, you would have thought I said, “That’s where they used to stuff the dead bodies back when mayhem ruled and you could kill people in public buildings.  Yep, those trays held the bodies.”

I’m happy to mention that I did come away from the day with body and mind (mostly) intact.  Although there was that one dicey moment as we were boarding the bus when someone was twirling around and ran into someone else’s nose, thereby starting a bloody gusher of massive proportions.  This then necessitated that ALL the teachers RUN, with full-blown BOXES of Kleenex, to the scene of the crime.  At which point I surreptitiously looked left.  Then right.  Uh-huh, I was completely alone on the bus with forty inmates and no working taser.  But it was fine because – having been informed earlier in the day by one of the Neon Pegasus Tortoise Fairy Rainbows that the toilet on the bus actually dumped its contents into the STREET – the entire cast of Nut Jobs Go To The City was clustered around the bathroom trying to prove the point through incessant flushing.

The bright spot in all this? The teacher and I are homey’s now.  She gave me her personal cell phone number.  After she told me not to give it to any of the kids (?!) and to only use it in an emergency.

QUICK, Home Girl!  It’s an emergency!!  The freak show is over and we gotta go drinkin’!  STAT!!!

Party People

Partying with Catholic Gradeschool Boys – during Lent – is a waaaay different proposition.  They’re the same barrel full o’monkeys they always are, just with fewer activity and food options.

Me:  Ok.  Time for cake! 

Boy #1:  Uhhh….I gave up sweets for Lent. 

Boys 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6: You were just eating candy in the basement! 

Boy #1:  Was I?  I don’t remember.

Me: (in my head) Thank you, narcing monkeys, for so gently reminding Gave-up-Sweets that he lapsed.  But now he’s back on track, so no cake for him.  And, it’s my unsolicited opinion that “someone” should focus a bit more on “remembering” and less on sweets for next year’s Lent.

Me: (out loud) Ok.  Well…no cake for you, I guess.  At least come and sing Happy Birthday and you can have an apple.

–after cake & presents–

Me:  Ok.  Time to put in the movie!

Boy #2:  Uhhh…I gave up movies for Lent.

Me:  Wow.  Hmmmm.  Ok.  How about everyone goes up to Sonny’s room to play Legos?! 

Boy #3:  Uhhh…I gave up Legos for Lent.

Me:  Wow.  Hmmmm.  Ok.  First off, you guys are great and you’re all going to Heaven.  Now…howz about you all sit in a circle in the basement and discuss your feelings?  Slam!  [that was the basement door slamming – because at that point I just wanted more cake and some privacy while I did it.]

The Feelings Circle quickly devolved into Sonny’s School of Wrestling.  The big tip-off was when Sissy – who was supposed to be my “eyes and ears” in the basement – came running upstairs to cut her nails. 

Cut your nails?  Wait?!  WHAT?!?     

Me:  Ok!  Everyone upstairs and outside.  It’s time to pick up the dog poop!  I’m sure no one gave THAT up for Lent, did they?!?

Nothing says “party” like a little poop pick-up session in the afternoon.  Am I right? 

Scratch that.  Nothing says “GREAT party” during Lent.  With Catholic Gradeschool Boys. like a little poop pick-up session in the afternoon.