Tag Archives: travel

The Golden Fleece Redemption©

To strangers he looks like a tall goofy rich guy from the Midwest. To the people of Letongaloosa, Blair Trimert is a smart, good-hearted man who does lots of things to help the community.
Blair Trimert was tall. His big ears, long face and loopy smile were acts of nature. Nature, perhaps to compensate, also provided Blair with superior intelligence and quick wits. Blair inherited a pile of money because of maternal nature. Blair’s mom yearned for a child, but never had one, so she and her husband adopted Blair as a baby.
His parents were third generation Basque-Americans. Blair’s adoptive grandparents had come to the U.S. early in the 20th century to herd sheep, but like a number of Basque immigrants, their children ended up owning banks.
When they adopted Blair, Balasi and Adere Intuxuast wanted their son to benefit from their rich language and heritage, but they didn’t want to burden him with a first and last name that his American playmates would find unpronounceable, so they retained Blair’s birth name.
Years ago while he was in Chicago on business, a couple hoodlums from the Pyrenees kidnapped Blair as he walked out of a bank carrying a bundle of expired and worthless financial bonds that he was going to destroy. The two Basque hoods, Mitch and Moe, grabbed Blair and pushed him into a waiting car. The hoods owed their bookie money and he had ordered them to pay up or he would rub them out. As they drove away, a quick-thinking Blair yelled at them in Basque. He convinced the two hoods that they were all part of a bond robbery directed by the mob. They believed him and agreed to follow his orders.
Blair gave them the satchel full of worthless bonds and then told them to drop him off at a restaurant. The two hoodlums took the worthless bonds to the mob to pay their debts. Somehow the two smart Basques were able to escape after the mob realized the bonds were worthless. Moe and Mitch ended up in Letongaloosa because Moe’s cousin Billy Adkins (nee Bidari Azarola) was a bank teller there.
So then the three of them cooked up a plot to rob the bank. They made their plans over the telephone speaking Basque, assuming no one could understand them. A Letongaloosa police detective got a court order to tap the hoodlums’ phone and asked Blair to translate the conversations for the authorities.
Blair was surprised and delighted when he heard Moe’s voice and realized that it was his old nemesis. The police were waiting for the three when they ran from the bank with a satchel full of money. The Basque hoodlums were sent to prison.
In the joint, Moe changed his life. He quit his bad habits, joined Alcoholics Anonymous and was released early. As part of his AA pledge Moe came to Letongaloosa and contacted Blair to apologize for his behavior.
Blair was walking downtown on a fine warm day when he saw Moe standing on the sidewalk. He spoke:
“Kaixo (hello) Blair,” said Moe
“Hori zu zara, (is that you) Moe?” asked Blair
“Yes sir. I’ve come to apologize for my behavior years ago.”
“Where have you been?” asked Blair
“I’ve been in prison. While I was there I changed my life. I joined AA. They let me out early.”
“Congratulations, Moe, That’s excellent.”
“So what are your plans?” asked Blair.
“I want to get a job but there’s not much work for someone with few skills and a prison record.”
“What kind of work are you looking for?”
“I’m pretty good at math.”
“I’d like to help.” Blair introduced Moe to Dean Ima Farseer, at Letongaloosa Community Junior College.
Moe worked hard and graduated with honors. Blair got him a job at a local bank where Blair had large checking and savings deposits.
So in an ironic twist, Moe ended up as a teller at the same bank he and Mitch and cousin Bidar Azarola had tried to rob years earlier.

 

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-Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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Against all Odds©

` Two events within 24 hours of each other changed Oswald Parker’s life. If the events had happened in reverse sequence, Oswald would have remained a dirt-poor loser. Instead he became a millionaire and the Great Hope of everyday Joes in the country.
Oswald, a 30-year-old nerdy-looking bachelor, went to a local department store to buy himself a pair of socks for his birthday. Walking through the Women’s Department Oswald saw a life-size poster of a beautiful auburn-haired model.
He gazed at the poster for five minutes during which two sales ladies asked if they could help him find something.. He just stared at the woman in the poster. The floor manager was approaching Oswald when Oswald snapped a photo on his cell phone and bolted for the front door.
He drove straight to a grocery store and stood at the counter where lottery tickets were sold. As everyone knows, a lottery ticket is the poor man’s Magic Lamp.
Oswald held out two one-dollar bills.
“What numbers are you going to play?” asked the clerk.
Oswald didn’t answer. He just stood there in a daze.
Page 2 “Against All Odds”
“Sir, what numbers do you want?” Nothing.
Miffed, the clerk pushed a button and the machine spit out a lottery ticket.
“That’ll be $2, sir,” she said.
Oswald gazed.
The clerk reached across the counter, took the $2 from Oswald and put the lottery ticket in his hand. “Next,” said the clerk.
Oswald drove home, put the lottery ticket on top of his dresser and crawled in bed. He didn’t wake up until morning. He lay with his eyes closed thinking of the woman in the department store poster. It took great effort to get up, get dressed, and leave for his shift at the tire store where he worked.
A few days later television newscasts announced that someone had purchased the only winning ticket for a five-million-dollar lottery pay out. The winner had not come forward to claim the money. That was normal–many lottery winners don’t claim their prize until they get their legal team and their “Instant Millionaire” strategy worked out.
Meantime Oswald went obliviously on with his life until a local newscast prompted him to reflect. He remembered the lottery ticket on his dresser. He checked the number and realized he had the winning ticket.
His first thought was: “Now I can meet her.” Now he could meet the love of his life—the woman in the department store poster. His second thought was: “I want her to like me for myself, and not because I just won a million dollars in the lottery.”
The next day Oswald quit his job, cashed in his savings account and flew to New York City. He had no luck at the model agencies.
Page 3 “Against All Odds”
Nerdy in appearance and speech, Oswald often didn’t even get past the front desk at most agencies. Then a receptionist–who was kind of nerdy-looking herself–took pity on him. She asked him some questions and looked at the photo on his cell phone.
“I’ll help you find her,” she said.
It was a difficult job. There are almost as many model agencies in New York as there are pizza joints. After a couple of days of fruitless searching Fran—the receptionist—asked Oswald if he had seen much of New York.
“Nothing,” he replied.
“Why don’t we take the afternoon off? I’d be happy to show you around. We can start fresh tomorrow morning.”
Oswald agreed reluctantly, but by midafternoon he was having such a good time he almost forgot he had come to New York to find the poster model. The next morning he showed up at Fran’s desk with a box of chocolates and a bouquet of flowers.
“Let’s see some more sights,” he said.
“I can’t,” said Fran. “I don’t have any vacation days.”
“Then quit your job. I won a million dollars in the lottery. I love you and I want to marry you.” He showed her the winning ticket.
“What about the model, the one in the poster?”
“She can be a bridesmaid,” said Oswald.
And she was.

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-Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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Ghosts Of Legends Past ©

Last Thursday, I found myself sitting in my office putting the finishing touches on this month’s column. Every “I” had been dotted, every “t” had been crossed. A problem made this column difficult to write. It’s not that I didn’t have anything to write about, it’s that, with Halloween around the corner, I couldn’t stop thinking about the peculiar conversation I had with Barkley Michaels, WZBZ’s Mega-Radio’s disc jockey.
I had been away from my desk for almost two weeks. I had been in La Mancha at the Cineplex for a week helping finalize the plans for the upcoming Fall Film Festival. Immediately after that I grabbed Emmaline and we headed off to Tahiti to attend the Marlon Brando Film Festival. I went every year, especially after Letongaloosa County Community Junior College, where I teach, acquired a research grant to study the topography of the island where Brando once lived.
I also began writing the weekly movie review for the Letongaloosa Register-Journal-Challenger-Sun Chronicle after Dexter Dolby, winner of the Fall Film Festival, went out to Hollywood. The Marlon Brando Film Festival in Tahiti was always a reader favorite.
I know what you’re thinking–how many reviews can a person read (or write) about an iconic movie legend, especially since the body of work hasn’t changed in decades?
But you would be surprised. Marlon Brando films are just an element of the festivities. There is food, there is fun, and there is just an overall celebration of life in Tahiti. And that brings me back to a vexing problem and to a conversation I had with Barkley.
“I don’t understand how my listeners can be so fascinated about the fact that the station is haunted. It’s the same year after year. The former station owner Reginald Wicker watches over the station. I get tired of hearing the same old stories, along with the corny “running refrigerator” jokes that listeners like to tell, Barkley said.
The legend is that since Reginald dropped dead in the control booth, there have been strange manifestations. Control room lights grow brighter then dimmer, then go out altogether. Announcers’ throats suddenly tighten up and they sounded like Minnie Mouse for a few seconds. Then their voices would go back to normal. It was pretty non-scary haunting. It was not threatening or scary, but something new had occurred, and while still not frightening, was definitely peculiar.
While reading promotions for the Fall Film Festival, trick-or-treating schedules, and other Halloween activities occurring around town, Barkley said, everything seemed normal. Then he read the announcement about my upcoming piece showcasing my time at the Marlon Brando Film Festival. Then the haunting activity picks up.
“It’s weird–every time I play the sound bite that Isabella sent over from the newspaper office, the lights in the studio flash on the back wall like you’d see at a movie premiere”, Barkley looked perplexed.
Isabella Frost, the Letongaloosa Register-Journal-Challenger-Sun Chronicle’s managing editor had the college interns put together sound bites that used lines from well-known Brando films to showcase my review. She thought it would be a good way to get people in Letongaloosa excited about the upcoming fall film festival.
“Hmm, well, Reginald was a huge Brando film buff. I guess he still is…,” I said.
If you think about it, Halloween is more than snack-sized candy bars, haunted radio stations and toilet paper tossed into the trees in front yards. It’s about the legacy and memories that those before us have left behind—whether it is an iconic movie legend or a ghostly station manager watching over things.
“It’s not so bad, you know. And neither are the corny appliance jokes,” I said.
You may roll your eyes, but you could also embrace what’s happening and realize that the people of Letongaloosa remember the past.”
With those thoughts in mind and Barkley’s problem solved, I went home to finish my column. Barkley headed home, too. He put on his favorite Tahitian shirt, popped a large bowl of popcorn, and turned on a Marlon Brando movie. Then he sat back on his couch, and smiled.
Maybe Barkley couldn’t tell the stories of his old pal, Reginald Wicker, but I can wish everybody a Happy Halloween!
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-Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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One if by Land II©

Eleven years ago the Kaw Valley Senior Monthly published my humor column titled “One if by Land.” That story centered on Ribby Von Simeon. Ribby is the son of internationally renowned movie star Sippa Margarita and Balderdash Von Simeon, the news and entertainment magnate.
Ruthless Von Simeon, Ribby’s grandfather, was a Western mining tycoon. Between them they acquired a heap of money.
Miss Margarita’s media profile says that she was born in Valencia. Her public relations packets contain photos of her in and around Valencia, Spain. Reality insists that Josipa Margarita Ruiz was born and raised in Valencia, Kansas. The couple had one son, Ruthless Ignacio Balderdash San Bernardino Cortez Ruiz Von Simeon, known all his life a as Ribby.
Ribby Von Simeon was raised by his Latino grandparents in Kansas. It was all his mother could do to handle her fast-paced movie career. Ribby’s one enduring childhood memory of his mother was of a voyage they took. He flew to Europe and together he and Sippa sailed back on an ocean liner.
The voyage was bittersweet for Ribby. He had his mother all to himself. But he was seasick from the moment he stepped on board until the ship docked. He spent the whole voyage in bed being tenderly cared for—this is to her credit—by his mother. She brought him hard rolls and broth. She read to him, and told him tales of adventure and derring-do. For the rest of his life Ribby loved ocean liners but hated the ocean.
Ribby didn’t come into his inheritance until he was in his forties. By that time he was living simply but comfortably as an adjunct professor at Letongaloosa Community Junior College. The news that he had inherited a pile of money came at the same time news reports said that the luxury liner Santa Maria de la Valencia on which he and his mother had sailed the Atlantic had been decommissioned and would be sold for scrap.
The thought of that dearly remembered vessel ending up as scrap iron infuriated Ribby. That fury transformed him from a diffident and taciturn academic into a man as rapacious as his grandpa Ruthless Von Simeon and as vociferous and belligerent as his father Balderdash Von Simeon.
Ribby used all his available resources to attack the astonished lawyers, financial conservators, bureaucrats, politicians and shipping company executives. When it was over, Ribby owned the ship and had permission to do anything he wanted with it. He had the ship carefully dismantled and transported piece by piece to Kansas. Then Ribby had the ship reconstructed, refurbished and moored at the top of a hill on a large tract of land he owned outside of Letongaloosa.
After the re-commissioning of the Santa Maria, Ribby dropped back into academic anonymity until 10 years later when another crisis arose.
Newly elected county officials were young, and eager to raise tax revenue. They changed zoning regulations. Ribby’s property became part of an urban renewal project. The officials knew little about Ribby except that despite being a lowly professor at LCJC, he owned the land and the ship. They ordered him to dismantle and remove the vessel at his own expense.
That order transformed mild mannered Sippy Von Simeon into an amalgam of his forebears Ruthless and Balderdash. Within hours highly placed officials were threatening to strip the county of federal funding; bankers had cancelled favorable interest rates. Bureaucrats, politicians, and diplomats denounced the county officials and demanded that they cancel the project or leave Ribby’s land out of it. The county capitulated.
When the chairman of the county commission, a young commodities trader, went to see Ribby, all traces of Ruthless and Balderdash Von Simeon were gone. The county commissioner encountered a diffident, taciturn adjunct professor in a rundown university cubicle typing e-mails on an outdated computer.
Suddenly the brash young county commissioner doubted the need for treating Ribby with kid gloves. Fortunately for him, his eye fell on an autographed photo of Ribby standing with three former U.S. presidents. He caught his breath.
“Professor Von Simeon,” said commissioner, “the county will support you anyway it can.”
“Thank you,” said Ribby, diffidently.

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-Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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Climbing Higher In La Mancha ©

There are few moments in life where the time span between the current and younger versions of yourself collide. Étienne Haute-Montange had such a moment three weeks ago and despite his aversion to leaving Provence, the newly retired French cyclist was excited for his next adventure. But, he never thought it would bring him all the way back to Letongaloosa.
In the early 1980’s, Étienne was working on his grandfather’s lilac farm when news came that he had been accepted into a business program in the United States at La Mancha University. He didn’t want to leave. He wanted to stay at home and compete and after only a month in La Mancha, he rushed back to do what he loved—cycling high into the mountains.
Étienne had had a two-decade long career as a competitive cyclist.
Fast forward to just a few weeks ago. After completing his final time trial, Étienne packed up and set out to retrace all of his favorite bike routes, He wanted to think. He needed to figure out where the next stage of his life would lead.
Two days later he rode onto his favorite old roman bridge, Pont Julien. He wanted to take in its height and its spectacular views. As he gazed, his cell phone buzzed. The message was from his bug-loving best friend, Zimmy Tarbox. The call solved Etienne’s “what’s next” problem, and put him on a plane bound for Letongaloosa Community Junior College.
The LCJC was offering a summer cycling course for La Mancha and Letongaloosa residents. The course needed an instructor, and Zimmy knew Étienne would be perfect for the job.
Étienne arrived in the small Midwestern college town and got together with Zimmy. Then he went to meet with the chair of the Department of et. al, et al, Dr. Ima Farseer to get her help with the academic paperwork.
Then he headed over to the entomology department to see Zimmy.
“Be careful. The legs of a Cuban rainbow beetle can be rather delicate, or so I’ve read in a paper a good friend of mine wrote.”
Zimmy looked up from the cage of rainbow beetles and smiled.
“Is that so? Well, you know, the Cuban rainbow beetle is tougher than most people would think. This particular species lives high in the mountains and the best way to see one is to climb high into the mountains. You should know all about climbing.”
Étienne grinned, “Yes, I know a quite a bit.”
Then they headed over to The Enchantment—a bar on the outskirts of town. The kind every college town needs to keep its accreditation. They ordered root beers. Étienne filled Zimmy in on the details of his final professional time trial. Then they talked about life in Provence.
Etienne mentioned how he would miss competing in races like the Tour de Fleur, but he was delighted to come back to Letongaloosa to teach others to climb the mountains as he had done in Provence,
Zimmy laughed,” Slow down, old friend. Most of the residents taking part in the summer cycling program are looking to go bike-packing on the surrounding trails or enjoy a leisurely ride around town.”
Then Zimmy remembered the Fourth of July celebration sponsored by La Mancha U, LCJC and some of the other businesses around La Mancha and Letongaloosa. Of course, there would be fireworks, games, and a big cycling race to be held at the Letongaloosa Lake Loop Trail,
“There’s a cycling race on July 4th if you’re interested. It’s no Tour de Fleur, but it is fun and the climb might even challenge you. Plus, Bastille Day is just around the corner. I think you’ll enjoy the festivities,”
Étienne was delighted. He sipped his root beer and thought about this new stage of his life. Coming back to the small Midwestern town was the right decision. He had good friends. Étienne was able to continue doing what he loved.He was on the right path,
Zimmy and he finished their root beer, paid the bill and headed for the door. It was going to be a great summer. Étienne was ready to climb higher and have the time of his life!

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Dr. Larry Day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co 

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10 Ways to be A Really Annoying Travel Companion

I was inspired to add my own travel experiences to a wonderful piece I found on Smarter Travel.   I can attest that what they say definitely is true and have shared my own stories to prove it!! Please enjoy my thoughts on these all too true tips and advice.
Through my travels as a foreign correspondent or a wide-eyed explorer on a family vacation, I’ve been to almost every state in the U.S. By sea or by air, I’ve every country in Latin America and the Caribbean—including Cuba. I’ve been to Botswana and Khartoum (where the Blue Nile and the White Nile converge). I’ve been to Tokyo, Topeka and Tonganoxie. I’ve been to Manchester, England and Manhattan …Kansas. So you can imagine that I have had countless travel companions.
1. To annoy, when you do go somewhere without your travel companion, come back acting glum and say, “Oh it was okay,” and don’t say any more.
Decades ago a usually talkative friend and I were on a U.S. government sponsored assignment to the Caribbean. At one point the schedule called for us to go or separate ways and then link back up. When we got back together I briefed him fully on my assignments. He reported: “Oh it worked out all right.” Not another word from him on the topic.

Advice: Adjust to your companion’s traveling style.

 

2. To annoy, your traveling companion likes to sightsee, you say, “I’d rather hang out here in the room.”
On a flight from the U.S. to Santiago, Chile, our flight was diverted to Antofagasta, Peru (in the middle of the Atacama Desert). The pilot told the passengers that buses would be available to take us into town for a couple of hours while until the flight got an all-clear from Santiago. I said, “I’ve never been to Antofagasta. Let’s go take a look. The person I was traveling with said, “I’d rather stay here in the airplane.”
Advice: Have a good time when you’re apart and share when you return.

3. To annoy, stick to your travel companion like an adhesive bandage.
Decades ago I was doing proselyting work in South America for our church. The service was done working in pairs—I had a series of companions. Protocol dictated that I never go out on the street without my companion. Our small congregation was planning a party and we needed dishes and utensils. My companion at the time refused to go along. I went alone. Less than ten steps from our door I met a neighbor who asked me where I was going. I told the neighbor that I needed to find some where to buy or rent the needed supplies. The neighbor said, “Why we have all you need. The neighbor brought the supplies a little later and the party was a success. My companion was annoyed at my having disregarded protocol and I was dinged by our supervisors. But then we developed a friendship with the neighbor and the neighbor’s family that was most helpful to our work, and my failure to follow protocol was forgiven.

Advice: “Disappear now and then.”

4. To annoy, take your time packing the re-pack your suitcase saying, “Oh I got my socks on top instead of at the bottom.” And take 30-45 minutes looking around the room for anything you might have left. In the lobby say, “Don’t turn in the key, We’d better check the room to see if we left anything.”
This is, actually an incident that is the REVERSE of the “annoy” advice: My wife and I were in a hurry to check out of our hotel and catch a flight home As she tidied up the hotel room my wife threw away a pile of scrap paper that had accumulated. When we got to the airport we didn’t have our tickets (back in the day when airlines issued paper tickets). I grabbed a cab back to the hotel and dashed up to the room The maid was just cleaning up. She had a plastic bag full of trash in her cart. I looked through the trash, found our ticket envelope and hurried back to the airport. We made the flight.
Advice: When It’s time to move, move.

5. To annoy say things like, “whatever you say is Okay with me,” and “Gee, what do you think?,” and “Well, maybe…Oh, I don’t know.”
Here’s another “reverse” incident. Back in the day the U.S. government wanted other nations to like America and Americans. The U.S. Information Agency sent people abroad to give seminars and workshops to help with that image-building policy. I was in Central America giving workshops with the eminent author Erskine Caldwell. Mr. Caldwell’s wife wanted to take an afternoon sightseeing. Mr. Caldwell declined to accompany her. Mr. Caldwell knew exactly what he wanted to do. He wanted stay at the hotel. Mrs. Caldwell was reluctant to leave him alone. I volunteered to spend the afternoon with Mr. Caldwell at the hotel. That afternoon as we conversed, Mr. Caldwell told me of some of his adventures including his World War II trip with a famous news photographer across Siberia to Moscow.
Advice: Have an Opinion.
6. To annoy Choose to do things that you’ve always failed at, and say, “I’m going to get this if it kills me.”
“Guilty as Charged, your honor.” My father was the handiest man I’ve ever known. He could fix anything. Oftentimes he had to improvise because he didn’t have the right tool or equipment. But he got the thing fixed. I was absent when the Lord handed out “fix-it” talent. But very much present when He handed out stubbornness. BAD combination. I drive my wife nuts trying to fix things around the house. She’s learned to… wait as long as it take for me to say: “Honey, I guess we’d better call a repair man.”
Advice: Do what you’re best at.
7. To annoy say repeatedly, “Oh I borrowed your…(socks hand lotion, nail clippers, etc.) the other day. It seems to have disappeared.”
The advice, “Neither a borrower nor a lender be,” was lost on another of my proselytizing companions year ago . He was generous to a fault. Or he would have been. The problem was he couldn’t keep track of his stuff and was always borrowing stuff—or nicking it unbeknownst to the owner. If we were missing something, we didn’t even bother to look for it. We just went and rummaged through his stuff. Inevitably he’d say, “Oh. I borrowed that the other day. Meant to give it back.”

Advice: Don’t nick the other person’s stuff without asking.

8. To annoy you have two choices: a.) don’t ever pay for anything. b.) Insist on paying for EVERYTHING and don’t let anyone forget it.
Duh.
Sylvester, another guy I knew in college grew up in a small place His daddy had piles of money.
Sylvester would insist on buying everybody’s burger. Then, while we ate them, he’d tell us how much money his daddy had made in the stock market that day.
Advice: Pay your fair share but don’t over react.

9. To annoy, “I will NOT drink that brand of soda. Let’s go to another restaurant.” And, I want to eat NOW. I have my routine, and I’m sticking to it not matter what.”
Ginger, our 12-year-old dachshund is the most “set in her ways” person I know. She wakes us up at 5:30 a.m. sharp. There’s no “let’s sleep a little longer, Ginger.” Oh no. “Up and attem, Dad. Put my pellets in my dish. Eat…Eat…Eat. Then “Okay, outside.” Off the back porch. Sniff, sniff, sniff. Back up on the porch. Okay let’s go back to bed.”
Advice: Roll with it. (be flexible)
10. To annoy say things like, “Yuck! Don t tell me that you put catsup on your scrambled eggs!,” and “You look as big as a moose in that outfit,” and “You’ve been dragging that piece of toilet paper on your shoe for half a block. Why don’t you ever look behind you?”
Back when we lived in Florida, Glinda (not the good) was or next door neighbor. Glinda was a gossip-scold-“I-told-you-so,” kind of person. Glinda never saw a situation on which she didn’t have an opinion. She’s judge a piece of lint on your lapel before picking it off. “That’s just cotton, not wool,” she’d say. But my wife was often glad to have Glinda around. When it came to foretelling the weather or making other routine daily choices, we could ask Glinda get her unequivocal judgment and then do the opposite. Ninety percent of the time we were right.

Advice: Don’t judge.

 

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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Pop Fly Redemption

La Mancha is the posh section of Letongaloosa  where the streets are winding and the house numbers are hand painted on Spanish tile.  The La Mancha girls softball team—the Amazons—and the team’s star, catcher, Madison “Madie” Sommerset,  suffered an ignominious defeat in the final game of the 2014 regional tournament.  After trailing the whole game, the Amazons allowed the Fairfield Fusions to  tie the game in the bottom of the final inning.
With the score tied, and two out, a  scrawny Fusion  batter hit a high fly that Madie called for.  Madie was wearing extra thick make-up in anticipation of  posing for victory photos.   Madie tried to tear off her catcher’s mask but her thick make-up had bonded with the lining of her catcher’s mask . She couldn’t get it off.  Madie muffed the play and the fusion runner crossed the plate for the winning run.  There was no joy in La Manchaville , Mighty Madie had flubbed up.
Things were tough for Madie during the off season. Students called her “Muffles” behind her back, and a few called her Muffles to her face. She developed an allergy to cosmetics and had to go to school barefaced. Worse, Madie developed a pimple on her nose. Students called her Bruja  which is “witch” in Spanish. Someone left a big red apple on her desk to remind her that she wasn’t a big shot “Snow White,” any more.
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 her assignments.  She just never even tried to get good grades, much less make the dean’s list.
That was acceptable, even to her parents, when she was a star athlete.  But when Mr. and Mrs. Sommerset found that people at the country club treated them with pity rather than the usual deference, they confronted Madie and found out that she was, academically, a nonperson. They demanded that she make the honor roll and that she 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, Madie signed up for forensics and focused on poetry recitation.  She memorized and practiced reciting “Casey at the Bat.” Partly because she looked the part, and partly because she loved the poem, the judges liked Madie’s recitations.

She won the local and district forensics poetry competitions and went on to regionals. Competition was very tough at the regional tournament but Madie managed to win or place second in poetry recitation and found herself in the final round facing an opponent from Fusion High School.  Madie’s  opponent was listed on the forensics tote board in the hall as Sally Teasley.  The tournament was held on a Saturday in a neutral high school building. The tournament judges were from out of town  They didn’t know the competitors other than by their names, and didn’t know what high school the contestants represented.
That afternoon Madie walked into the large classroom designated for the poetry competition. She wrote her name on the board under the sign “Poetry Recitation Finalists,” and sat down.  A moment later her opponent entered the room and signed in. Madie drew a sudden breath. Her recitation opponent was her old softball nemesis, Sally Teasley, A.K.A. “Scrawny Arms” from Fusion High School.
The judges were sitting in student desks eight rows back. They conferred, then one of them announced:  “We’ll begin this session with Sally Teasley reciting  “ The Highwayman,” by Alfred Noyes.  Sally went to the lectern and began this session with Sally Teasley reciting  “ The Highwayman,” by Alfred Noyes.  Sally went to the lectern and began reciting:

“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 galleon tossed among…” Sally brightened, picked up the refrain, and finished her recitation beautifully.  After Madie had recited “Casey at the Bat,” the two girls walked out of the room arm in arm.

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Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

 

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