Tag Archives: romance

The Pop Fly Redemption Redux©

Redux, adjective: to restore, to revive

 

 

La Mancha is the posh section of Letongaloosa where the streets are winding and the house numbers are hand painted on Spanish tile. Among the leading  residents of La Mancha are Archibald and Olivia Sommerset.  The Summersets’ daughter, Madison “Madie”  Sommerset, was the suburb’s leading high school athlete.
Madie had been respected by all and revered by many for leading the La Mancha Amazons to victory in all sports, particularly in softball.
But then Madie’s athletic career suffered a serious setback.  The Amazons had let their dinky rivals, the Fairfield Fusions, tie the score in the last inning.  The fusions had a runner on third and a scrawny end-of-the-lineup batter at the plate. The Amazon pitcher’s finger slipped off the ball and the pitch came over the plate looking like a watermelon.
Scrawny Arms closed her eyes, swung and hit a blooper that looked like it was going foul. But  then  the ball came back fair–between home and the pitcher’s mound.  Madie called for the ball.  But Madie muffed the catch when she couldn’t get her catcher’s mask off.  The mask was stuck on her face by an excess of makeup. Madie applied the makeup in anticipation of being photographed for the local newspaper.  When she did manage to  rip the mask off,  the makeup made her look like a raccoon.
When it came to academics Madie had been an indifferent student. She worked hard enough in school to stay eligible for athletics and extracurricular activities, but she often failed to turn in assignments.  She never tried to get good grades, much less make the dean’s list.

After the Fusion  High debacle, people at the country club treated Mr. and Mrs. Sommerset with pity rather than deference. When her parents found that Madie was, academically, a nonperson, they demanded she make the honor roll and excel at some other extracurricular activity than sports.
At  Letongaloosa High School, forensics was to the brainy kids what athletics was to the athletic kids:  a ticket to popularity and recognition.  Madie had always distained non sport activities.          But now, she signed up for forensics, and focused on poetry recitation.  She memorized and practiced reciting “Casey at the Bat.” She loved the poem, and maybe because she looked the part, the judges liked Madie’s recitation.  She won the local and district forensics poetry competitions and went on to regionals.
Madie managed to win or place second in poetry recitation at regionals and found herself in the final round facing an opponent from Fusion High School.  Madie’s opponent was listed on the forensics tote board as Sally Teasley– her old softball nemesis, A.K.A. “Scrawny Arms”.
One of the judges said:  “We’ll begin this session with Sally Teasley reciting “The Highwayman,” by Alfred Noyes.  Sally went to the lectern:
“The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees…” Then she paused and turned pale.  The room was silent. Sally stood frozen at the lectern. Then Madie’s quiet voice came from behind her: “The moon was a ghostly…”  Sally finished reciting the poem beautifully, and  after Madie had recited “Casey at the Bat,” the two girls left the room arm in arm.
Madie did well in forensics, and found she liked academics as well.
About that time Madie met Tyler Kirby.  Tyler was a brainy kid with a 4.0 grade point average. He hungered to play football.  The problem was, he weighed 187 pounds. On the first day of practice the coach took one look and told Tyler to turn in his uniform.
A phone call from the school principal changed all that. The principal lowered the boom on the team because most of the football players’ low grades.
The coach got back in touch with Tyler Kirby.
“Son, do you get good grades?” asked the coach.
“I have a 4.0 grade point average.”
“Come on back to the gym and suit up, son, you’ve made the team.”
From then on, Tyler tutored male athletes and Madie tutored female athletes. That was the year Letongaloosa High School won state finals in athletics and forensics.
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Larry Day is a retired KU J-School professor turned humor writer.

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Love Talk

 

About a year ago I wrote a column titled, “I Speak Alien.” In that column I told how my friend from outer space, the alien KB-11.2, had saved my engagement and my marriage by teaching me Mujerspeak, the native language of my bride-to-be Emmaline.

Recently my alien friend surged to the rescue again. This time Kaybe helped a colleague ofmine. Dr. Morris Amaraduckski is a professor at Letongaloosa Community Junior College where I teach. Morrie’s teaching and research field is polychromatic einsprechen. Scores of LCJC students have become linguistically nimble after taking Dr. Amaraduckski’s course, “Theory and Practice of Tergiversation, Circumlocution and Equivocation.”

All his life Morrie had been too busy for romantic distractions. He was a focused individual.

He sailed through high school, college and graduate school with topnotch grades by keeping his eyes on a computer screen, and the seat of his pants on a chair at the library. After hereceived his Ph.D., and came to teach at LCJC, Morrie focused on getting tenure. He taught his classes vigorously, and he published prodigiously. For a number of years after he gained tenure,

Morrie just focused on being focused.

Then one day, WHAM, Morrie fell in love. The object of his affection was Sally Beeglesdorf-Hannraty, wife of the late George Henry Hannraty, DDS. Sally moved to Letongaloosa to run aflower and gift shop after the untimely demise of her husband. Sally and her spouse had lived foryears on the East Coast where people talk loud and straight, and have funny accents.

When Sally moved to Letongaloosa she talked loud and straight and had a funny accent.

She caused culture shock among the locals who, as a general rule, speak quietly and bea around the bush a good deal. Sally’s social life was straitened and her flower and gift shop’sbusiness suffered as a result. But Sally was intelligent. She soon realized that Letongaloosa was not the East Coast, and that Letongaloosans weren’t going to adapt to her. She decided to adapt to Letongaloosa.

Sally enrolled in an elocution class at LCJC, and well before the semester ended she hadlost her East Coast accent, toned down her loud voice, and learned to put “at” on the end ofher sentences—as in “That’s a nice dress, where did you buy it at?”

There remained one serious problem. Sally still talked straight. She always called a spade a spade. Sally felt that speaking honestly was a matter of moral integrity, not a matter of accent orvoice level. She refused to compromise when it came to expressing her honest opinion. As aresult, the newly accent-free, soft spoken Sally remained in straitened social circumstances,running a business that attracted all too few customers.

It was the first day of classes for Spring semester. As usual, Morrie had a full roster of students enrolled in his popular course, “Theory and Practice of Tergiversation, Circumlocution and Equivocation.” One of those enrolled was Sally Beeglesdorf-Hannraty. Morrie had his back to the class and was writing on the chalkboard when Sally walked in and took a seat at the front of the room. Morrie turned around, and their eyes met. A jolt passed through them both. It was love atfirst sight.

A flustered Morrie jibbered and jabbered for the first few minutes of the class. Then he pulled himself together and called the roll. Then he fixed his gaze on a spot on the wall at the back of the room, and began to deliver the lecture. Sally found that she could keep from fidgeting and sighing loudly by tuning out Morrie’s voice, and staring fixedly at the blue lines on a page of a spiral notebook that lay open on her desk. She didn’t take a single note. The students, understandably, were bored. It was a painful fifty minutes for everyone.

Finally, to everyone’s relief, the electronic sheep bell that signals the change of classes at LCJC, clanged . The students streamed out. Behind the lecturn, Morrie was uncharacteristicallytongue tied. Sally sat demurely and uncharacteristically silent.

 

“Ms. Beeglesdorf-Hannraty…” Morrie began.

“ Sally,” said Sally, interrupting him.

“And I would be gratified, indeed, warmly appreciative, if you would address me simply as Morrie. That is the sobriquet by which I am known to my nearest and dearest friends,” said Morrie.

“Right,” said Sally.

“If you have no other pressing engagement, my dear Sally, may I induce you toaccompany me to the cafeteria for some light refreshment and a bit of conversation?”

“Sure,” said Sally.

Though they spent two hours sitting across from each other at a small table, neither of them could remember, later, what they had talked about. But somehow they knew that they were going to be part of each other’s lives from then on.

The next time they saw each other was at the second meeting of the class. Morrie wasfeeling ebullient and articulate. He was braced by the thought of seeing Sally again. Sally had spent all morning having her hair done. When she walked into the classroom she was breathlessly excited to see Morrie again.

The class had barely begun when the scales fell from their eyes.

Morrie began his lecture with a brilliant, if somewhat circuitous, explication of euphemisms as a conversational deflection technique. On the chalkboard he diagramed Wallburner’s Euphemistic Deflection Model, and recommended it to the class as a powerful linguistic tool for conversationally disarming friend and foe alike.

“With Wallburner’s Model,” said Morrie, “you can express your opinion articulately andpowerfully, and at the same time prevent your conversational opponent from taking offense.

When you use Wallburner’s Model, you never have to say you’re sorry.”

“What a bunch of crap!”

The words sliced through the air like a laser. There was a collective intake of breath. Morrie’s face froze, his mouth ajar. Dozing students’ eyes popped open. People sat up straight and looked around the classroom, trying to identify the speaker. The voice had been as quiet and well modulated as the words had been crude and combative.

“I beg your pardon,” said Morrie, gazing at Sally.

“I said that’s a bunch of crap,” said Sally. “Euphemistic deflection my hind leg. Where at did you get such baloney at?” she asked in the same quiet, well modulated tone she’d used in the first outburst.

All of a sudden Morrie and Sally were going at each other in what can best be described asa dogfight between a feisty rat terrier and an aloof, purebred afghan hound. Morrie’s eloquentcompound-complex multi-syllabic sentences in defense of euphemisms and decorouscircumlocutions soared with erudition. Sally flamed back with rapid fire four-word zingers andgraphic, monosyllabic epithets. It was a highly stimulating exchange for the students, but it was a very, very grim business for the two combatants.

That night my alien friend KB-11.2 entered the picture. Kaybe, as you’ll recall, looks like agiant tuna fish can. Erector Set™ arms sprout from the curving sides of his body, and three spindly metal legs drop down from the underside of his flat, stainless steel torso.

Decades ago Kaybe taught me Mujerspeak. Today my fluency in that language is a key to my happy home life. Apparently Kaybe is still assigned to do good works in this quadrant of the galaxy, because he beamed himself down to the den where Morrie sat brooding darkly over the romantic train wreck he’d just been through.

Kaybe’s assignment was a tough one, and he carried it out beautifully. He taught Morrie to speak a direct, straight to the point language called Ritefrumdashoulder, and he taught Sally to speak an easygoing, loose-limbed language called Goinroundabarn.

I was invited to their wedding a few weeks later. Toward the end of the ceremony, the minister asked the bride and bridegroom the “do you” question.

Sally replied, “My response is absolutely, indubitably, unquestioningly, totally, andecstatically in the affirmative.”

Morrie said, “Yep.”

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Bound For Buenos Aires

Hello!!
This is a true story. It chronicles one of my many adventures as a foreign correspondent. I was a young 27-year old writer back then and throughout the years, life has taken us on quite the journey!!  My wife and I just celebrated 55 years of wedded bliss. Enjoy!!
Chris and I got married in mid December (1960) and in early February were scheduled to take a freighter from New Orleans, bound for Buenos Aires.  We were supposed to sail at noon. Chris gets really seasick so she took two Dramamine tablets.  Then, when we got to the dock, the ship was still being loaded. The Purser said it would be a three hours before we could board.  he suggested we go to a movie at a theater near the dock. We went. Chris fell asleep before the movie started, and was still asleep when it ended.  I had to practically lug her back to the ship.  We boarded and got to our cabin.  There were six other passengers. We ate with the captain and the crew.  Chris was encouraged by my father, who had sailed to fight in WWI by way of the Caribbean.  He said, “The Caribbean is a smooth as glass.”  (To be continued).
Dr. Larry Day is the author of Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia, a book of humor columns that have NOTHING to do with old age!!
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A Day Late, A Dollar Short

Hello, All!!

I’ve pulled a story from my archives called, “A Day Late & A Dollar Short” & it written in  2011. It one of my favorites. I hope you like it, too!!

They were married in the Manti, Utah in December 1960.

Today, and for the last fifty years, it’s been the same—he’s been a day late and a dollar short.   But she loves him anyway.  She loved him back then, and she loves him now. She loves him with a knowing sufferance that is sometimes masked by sharp tones. She loves him with a tenderness that reveals itself through a quick squeeze of his hand as they sit side by side on the worn couch in the loft, watching a rerun of some syndicated TV program.

One morning a month ago, they were in the bedroom. She was sitting on the bed, two pillows propped behind her back. Ginger, the dachshund snuggled under the coverlet beside her.  He was on all fours on the floor on the far side of the bed.  She was reading the sports page. He was reading the main section of the local daily.

The bedroom TV, a relic of the analog age, flickered in silence.  Then, as Regis and Kelly walked onto the set, she reached for the remote, and there was sound.    Minutes passed.

“Regis and Kelly are sponsoring a love story contest,” she said.

“Uh,” he said.  He was reading the funnies.

“You’re a writer.  Why don’t you send our love story to Regis and Kelly?  The deadline is January 21st.” she said.

“Huh?” he said, absorbed in the intricacies of “Pickles.”

“You should write our love story, and win us a trip.”

“Oh.  Okay.”

As the days went by she reminded him a couple of times.

“Did you write our love story for Regis and Kelly?”

“Not yet, but I will.”

“No you won’t.”

“Yes I will.”

January 21, 2011, 10 p.m.

“Did you write our love story?”

“I’ll write it tomorrow.”

And he did, but he was a day late and a dollar short.

Dr. Larry Day is a retired KU J-School professor, & humor columnist and author of Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia, a collection of short stories that have NOTHING to do with old age!!

 

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Unblocked Writers

Here is a story from my book, Day Dreaming: Tales from the Fourth Dementia. Call it  a sneak-peek into the book, if you will. This is from the chapter, Media Marvels. Enjoy!!!

Unblocked Writers

It’s fortunate that Gwendolyn McCafferty and Porter Collins didn’t meet at that writers workshop in Cincinnati years go. Something kept them apart—the stars, or fate, or maybe a slight case of indigestion. Whatever it was, not meeting at that time blessed their later lives.

They were both intense young writers back then, and their love would have gone “kabloowy” in less than six months. Gwen and Porter didn’t meet until they attended a gathering for successful writers in New York City. And now they’re married and living happily ever after.

Gwendolyn McCafferty and Porter Collins won prizes in the “Genre Be Damned,” category of the annual award ceremony in what used to be the National Writers Union Guild of The United States of America and Its Environs (NAWUGUSAE).

Gwen won for her mystery novel and household hints book: The Tell Tale Toilet. Porter took second place with his best selling kid’s self help guide and pet training manual: Ten Ways You and Fido Can Drive Your Mom Bonkers. The book was a sequel to his popular, Ten Places to Stash Your Stuff Where Moms Never Look.

On the night they met Gwen preceded Porter on the purple carpet. After that everyone gathered in the ballroom. The tablecloths on the round tables were divided down the middle—one side was striped and the other side was checkered. Gwen and Porter were seated side by side at the awardees table, Gwen on the striped side, Porter on the checkered.

“The seating was fateful and fortuitous,” Gwen later told friends.

“And felicitous,” added Porter.

Their fateful, fortuitous, felicitous meeting came after a long discouraging career slog for both of them.

After the Cincinnati writer’s workshop which both attended years ago but at which they didn’t meet, Gwendolyn spent 16 fruitless years trying to crack the literary fiction market. She tried to place her first novel Dullness at Dawn over the transom (the phrase was in vogue back then). Three publishers sent the manuscript back in the SASE package with rote rejection slips. Fifteen publishers didn’t respond at all. Gwen suspected that the publishers’ office staff members had never shown the manuscripts to editors; she thinks they recycled the back of her manuscripts for their own writing and helped themselves to her stamps.

Next Gwendolyn engaged a literary agent, who had a New York City post office box, to place Seeking a Way and Dark Plateau. The agent charged Gwen $1,400 over two years for “placement lunches and other business expenses,” then cut her loose with a letter that ended, “it’s no one’s fault. It’s just the nature of the market right now.”

Porter’s experience was almost identical. His novels, A Rationed Youth, Flawed Encounter, and Secret Endeavors were never considered by serious publishers despite Porter’s tireless efforts and his scrupulous adherence to suggestions in the self help book: Publish Your Novel or Bust.

Both Gwen and Porter rejected writer-subsidized publishing. It was known in those days as the vanity press. Their marriages, and Gwen’s second marriage, failed. After that they went from scut job to scut job, honoring their art and subsisting on occasional literary fellowships and ramen noodles.

In desperation they began to write nonfiction. Fortunately, both began to publish—slowly at first, then with increasing frequency. For the first time they made some real money.

Twenty-first century culture created a market for cross-genre writing. Technology and the economy had blown a hole in the word business. Book publishing, newspapers, magazines, and even the movie industry and television networks became economically fragile. But like 19th century sailing vessels they trimmed their sails and tacked into the wind.

In 2003 The National Writers Union Guild of the United States of America and Its Environs floundered. Its members jettisoned the organization’s leaders and NAWUGUSAE moved ahead with a slimmer silhouette and a new name: Writers Work, Inc.

The new environment encouraged writers to mix fiction and nonfiction. That created a lot of genre-crossing multimedia products.

Gwen McCafferty and Porter Collins prospered in the newgenre-busting publishing/communication environment.

Now they own a ranch near Letongaloosa, and they’re busy breeding blended livestock—elkalo, jackalopes, and sheeparoos. Next year they plan to market a line of exotic vegetables including such innovations as fudge-flavored carrots.

 

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