Autumn Leaves – October 25, 2020

It’s an oak leaf, you dummy.

Alert: mouth got away from me.  It’s who I am.  Sub-alert: 976 words.

Stimson passed by the yard just as I was putting the last of today’s purloined leaves into the third bag.  I intended later-on to take sample leaves down the street to compare against oaks there to see which of my inconsiderate hood buddies owns these sommiches.  When I got a match, I intended to dump all three bags back under his/her oak.  After I rang his/her doorbell and got his/her attention, so s/he could appreciate my returning what was rightfully his/hers to him/her.

I go through this every autumn.  Got neighbors so lazy they let their leaves fall and sit, waiting for the wind to deliver them down the street for someone else to worry over.  I’m at the end of the street and the foothills across the way curl prevailing winds right back on themselves.  You know what that means.  Once leaves enter the little wind-valley, they’ve pretty much found the place they want to decompose.  Fine, but natural decomposition takes a couple of years, in which time, any grass they pile themselves onto is smothered into extinction.

Including my lawn.

Oaks are nearly the worst.  Oaks are still botanically programmed to believe if they hold onto their leaves through the winter, they can shoot sap back into them come spring, turning them green.  Looking to economize on cellulose I suppose.  It’s a hopeless battle, and at some point oaks either lose interest or give up and dump their load into the winds in not one or two but several unmanageable swarms of coarse leaves not much easier to move or digest than six-inch chunks of two-by-four.

Maples aren’t so bad.  When maples start to shed, it’s fairly-well an all-at once thing.  Maple leaves as a rule are generally thinner and lighter than oak, easy to bag or shred, environmentally expedient. Or in small doses they chew-up nicely into quickly decomposing thatch for a manicured lawn.

Ornamental cherry trees are the best, model arbor denizens, starting their molt in late summer, depositing litter composed of small leaves in modestly sized batches across several weeks.  What the wind doesn’t immediately spirit away is quickly shredded and mulched by any self-respecting lawn mower.  Seems when the lovely pink or white cherry blossoms begin to fall, soon thereafter the leaf molt begins.  Within a few weeks, cherry trees are naked and ugly, their leaves blown away or safely mulched to nourish neighbors’ sod.

With a mistaken reputation as the beauty queen of the southern lawn, magnolias are the worst.  Damned things drop ugly, heavy, coarse leaves all year long. People with magnolia trees in their yards, supposing themselves plantation owners, therefore societally above physical exertion, never rake leaves.  All year long, magnolia leaves litter lawns throughout the neighborhood.  Oddly, that excludes lawns landscaped with magnolias.  I have seen and heard lawn mower blades ruined when their operators try to run over itinerant magnolia leaves.  More than one commercial lawn mowing service has called for backup equipment when their primary machine was ruined on a quarter acre lot littered with the big brown bastards.

Stimson started it. He should have known better. “Not as many leaves this year as last, huh?” I just looked at him with my trademark look of disgust (registered, U.S. Patent Office) that says to even the uninitiated: ‘Have you lost your flippin’ mind?’  Pretty sure Stimson wished he’d kept walking past my side yard as soon as he recognized the beauty of my look. “Okay,” he continued, “seem to be spread out a lot more.”

“Only thing good I got to say about it right now is at least it’s not raining to make the boogers heavier and picking them up messier.”

“Not too cold though.  Worse when it’s colder.”

“Yeah.  Temperature’s gonna drop this weekend.”

“Means more of the oaks up the street are gonna finish dropping leaves.”

“Naw. This is the third time I’ve raked.  Look to have to do it again several more times before it’s over.”

“Pain in the pookiss.  You still composting?”

“Too many anymore.  Don’t have room.”

“What you gonna do?”

“Imma deliver these bags to their proper owner up the street.”

“Naw! You ain’t?”

“I am.”

“You can’t tell where they come from.”

“Only three yards up the street with oaks.  One bag each. Reckon they’ll be happy to get their property back.”

“You call me before you go.  I wanna see this.  Be another circus!”

“Leaving now. You can carry a bag if you want.”

“Not me.  I remember what happened last year.”

“That was the dork whose magnolia died.  Filled the street with leaves. Three kids on skateboards suffered injuries when they pranged into the mess they caused.  Idiot had it coming.  He had a responsibility to tend his mess.”

“Not that one.  One I’m talking about is when you were setting to go have at with the guy blowing leaves into the street from his yard.  That woulda been a pip!”

“I apologized to him.”

“Yeah, the missus told me about that.  Why? I mean since it never came to a confrontation.”

“I was thinking bad things about the man.  When I saw him blow all the leaves from the block into a pile and his wife vacuum them up and toss them into a bin, I felt bad.”

“Why?”

“Felt myself an ass.  Was, too.  Judged the man not knowing his intentions.  I was worse than wrong. Needed to tell him I admired what he did same time I apologized for assuming the worst for no reason.”

“So now he assumes you’re an idiot?  Thinks you some kind of loony crank?”

“Am a crank.  Not loony, but a crank.  Doesn’t make any difference.”

“Why not?”

“I know I was wrong.  That matters more than it does that he knows I was fixing to be bad wrong. Owned up to it.  Learned a lesson.”

Grow up some every day.  Looking out the office window, I see leaves are again piling up on the front lawn. Time to get the rake out.

MSM Reporting – October 24, 2020

In 1L and 32oz bottles

“…and in other news we have a breaking story of national significance.  From the field, our roving reporter, Bill Pointpen, with a live report.  Take it away Bill…”

“…Thank you, Wally.  I’m driving with the film crew up Interstate Five toward the small town of Blaine in Washington state. The first ‘Murder Hornets’ nest “found in the US is about to be destroyed,” up there as reported by C|Net Yesterday.  The nest was located there in Blaine, a town about one-hundred miles north of Seattle on Interstate Five.  It’s not believed the nest itself is actually on Interstate Five, but Blaine Washington is.  C|Net reported that initial attempts to eradicate the nest were delayed ‘due to bad weather’.

“This reporter is curious and must ask: Really? Bad weather?  Who is to blame for this? I mean aren’t they accustomed to rain and generally bad weather most of the year in Washington? Isn’t that why people there are surly and prone to violence?  A little ‘weather’ put them off?  Couldn’t they just grab a handful of shopping bricks and be done with the job?  Is this a trick by the Democrats to impugn the efficacy of the Republican administration?  Again, this reporter wants to know, and believe me, we’ll find out and report back to you in the days that follow…”

“…Pardon me, Bill but we have to break away, for a word from our sponsor…”

“Troubled by sticky blue jeans zippers?  New ZipFast unclogs stuck zippers, eradicates denim lint, hair sheds, and underwear fragments for slick as a whistle zipper movement.  ZipFast not only assures trouble-free zipper operation, but insures long zipper life.  Stainless, mostly odorless, safe when carefully used as directed, ZipFast is available now at national pharmacies and grocers.  Find it here locally at Elmo’s Auto Repair, Realty, and Bait Shop. Look for the green one-liter bottle with the yellow lightning bolt. And remember, with ZipFast, your zippers last!”

“…Now, back to our scheduled news programming and Bill Pointpen…”

“…Thank you, again, Wally.  One of the camera men has pulled up a map on his cellphone, and we’ve made a significant discovery. Blaine Washington is so close to Canada we’re gonna look real hard to see exactly where it is this Murder Hornet nest is located.  Blane is actually closer to Vancouver than it is to Seattle.  This could be entirely a Canadian Problem.  If it is, you can bet Washington, the D.C. Washington, will clamor for the President to dispatch troops to the border.  Already Democrats are suggesting Republicans have contracted with the Canadians to transport the nest south from Vancouver to Blaine to discredit national Democratic candidates.

“A reputable but unnamed source, Wally, tells us these hornets are about six feet long with dual stingers and auxiliary venom pods under each wing. WSDA agents were able to pinpoint the nest because one of the hornets attacked and carried a fully-grown Great Dane back to the nest. They were able to triangulate using the suffering dog’s howls…”

“…Sorry to interrupt, Bill, but we have breaking news on this story from the Pentagon, where MHLM demonstrators seek to interfere with any military actions instituted by the current administration, carrying signs reading ‘Manage Murder Hornets after the Election!’  But first, we break again for a word from our sponsors, Bandy Creek Brickworks…”

You think I’m making this stuff up? Ah, well, maybe some if it. I aspire to be a MSM reporter if the blog work doesn’t pan-out.

Take a look at the map

Community Service – October 23, 2020

Pickup on line 5…

Consulting gigs off for the COVID restrictions and the difficulty of submitting bids, not being able to tour prospects’ current facilities, I’d fairly-well caught-up on household chores and projects.  The yard couldn’t take another mowing.  It shudders when it hears the mower start.  The garden had been cleared, sheep manure spread and tilled under, and a cover of buckwheat sown.  Lest the devil see my idle hands and recruit me to something pleasurable, I volunteered to man a community hot line.  For some unknown reason they assigned me to the COVID-19 information line.

There was a requirement to be met before the IT people set software to route incoming calls to my cell, so I could work from home.  I had to go into the community center, that hotbed of civic action, for one on-site training session.  Not much “training” to it, so I suspect it was more they wanted a wart and pimple check. I did meet Ms. Ethel Bentwhistle, Chief Wart and Pimple Checker.  She gave me the eyeball as if I were about ready to grow fangs and had just passed gas.  After Ethel showed me where I’d sit, she started our brief conversation.  

“You married?”

“Yes.”

“I guess you’ll do.” That suggested I wasn’t lethal, given proper female supervision.  I’d do?  I hope to shout.  I noticed no line of folks waiting to volunteer.  In fact, I was the only other person in the building except Ms. Bentwhistle, a computer jockey, and a fireman stealing stale doughnuts.

I smiled.  “You?”

“Me what?”  Short attention span.

“Married?”

“No.”

“Ever?”

“No.”

“No surprise.”

“What?” I sensed a tinge of indignation.  Mr. Sensitive.

I said, “No? That’s a surprise, you’d be a fine catch for some fella.”

“I’ll be back in six hours,” Ethel said, “when your shift ends. Remember all the calls are recorded.”

“Yes’m.”

My first call got me off to a rocky start.

“Bowdecker Community COVID-19 Hotline.  Please be advised this call is being recorded.  How can I help you this afternoon?”

“We still gotta wear them goddam mask things?”

“According to the governor, yes, ma’am.”

“You can tell the governor, I said he can go fu…”

“I don’t have a line to Governor Graft, ma’am.”

“You don’t?”

“No ma’am.”

“This the Coveen Hotline?”

“Covid-19, yes, it is.”

“What the hell good are ya, if you can’t do nothing?”

“I can answer your questions.”

“You ain’t doing real good so far.”

Then I heard silence.  Wow.  No wonder volunteers are as rare as ordained Episcopalian strippers. My next call was not much better but was entertaining and illuminating in a sorry way.

“Bowdecker Community COVID Hotline.  Be advised this call is being recorded.  How can I help you this afternoon?”

“My boyfriend and I are out of rubbers.  Is there something else we can use?”

“Sure.”

“Oh, goody!  What’s that?”

“Abstinence.”

“Great. How can I get some of that?”

“Abstinence means you don’t have sex.”

“Oh.  Pooh!  That won’t work.”

“Well, it does in fact, work. So why are you out of, um, prophylactics?”

“You mean rubbers?  Guess you do.  Getting out of the house in this Covid thingy is impossible what with our parents being home and all.”

“Oh.” I began to hear the youth in the voice. “So how did you get by before?”

“I used to get them at school.  There’s this super cool senior girl there. She knows all the shit. Used to get them from her.  But you know schools are like done with those computer thingys now.”

“Yeah.  Unh, sure. You could send your boyfriend to the drug store.”

“He’s a freshman too. Hard enough to sneak out to fu…  Wait. Being recorded?”

“Yes.”

“Hard enough to sneak out to screw.  Be tougher to walk to the drug store.  We stole my daddy’s rubbers.”

“Well, I guess that’s a solution.”

“Used them all up.  Used his daddy’s too.”

“Rock and a hard place.”

“What?”

“That’s just an expression. Kinda means, bummer!”

“Totally.”

“Your boyfriend have acne?”

“What?”

“You know.  Zits and pimples.  He can use going out for zit cream as an excuse to walk to the drugstore. While he’s there, not a pharmacist alive would refuse to sell him Trojans.”

“Sell him what?”

“Condoms.”

“Our folks order everything delivered.  They’d know something was up.”

“Bummer.”

“We turn used ones inside-out.  Use’m again.  Prolly okay, huh?”

“How long you been doing that?”

“About a month.”

“No harm in it now, I guess.  I am concerned though.”

“Why?”

“Not so much you might get preggers.  That’s a foregone conclusion, probably.”

“Thanks! We try.”  I could hear the stupidly proud smile on her face.

“But I’m concerned for your folks.”

“Why?”

“You and your pimple-faced squeeze used all their rubbers they might, you know, suddenly being cooped-up and all, get all frisky, and maybe…”

“E-e-e-w!”

“Well it’s possible.”

“That’s disgusting!”

“Yeah, I guess I see your point, but my concern is they could get pregnant even being old folks.”

“Yeah that would be bad. Them being ancient and all.”

“Worst of it is there’d be another you or your boyfriend to contend with.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean you should go talk with your parents.”

“I can’t do that!”

“I suspect you’re gonna have to have more serious talks with them before long anyway.  Good luck to you.”

“Okay. Thanks.  Bye.”

“C19 Hotline. Please be advised this call is being recorded. What is your question?”

“Buddy of mine says you can max bore a Chevy two sixty-five and still have more cylinder wall than the same bore on a two eighty-three. That don’t seem right?  What’s the deal?”

“Unh, sir, this is the COVID-19 Hotline.  My guess is you mixed that up with CJ-7 the old Jeep CJ’s. This here is to answer questions citizens have about the COVID-19 Virus.”

“That’s bullshit.”

“Pardon?”

“Somebody made that up.  Republicans is my guess.  Or comminists.  Maybe Martha Stewart. Kinda shit she’d pull.”

“Sir…”

“Reckon that’s not your fault. But since I got you on the line, about the two sixty-five and two eighty-three?”

“I’m not a motorhead, but I suspect that’s not true – same max bore and all.  See, they played so much with the engines back in the late fifties and early sixties you really can’t tell what you got to start with.  Add to that, the number of unpapered engine replacements over the years, well you could be sitting on a three oh seven, three twenty-seven, or even a three fifty.  Best check the serial numbers if they’re still there or run a sonic test.  Given a virgin two sixty-five, you’d still want a pro to check to see the max bore before you ruin the block.”

“So you’d say no?”

“Can’t say either way.  Can’t see the block from here.”

“That’s funny.”

“Work with that. Won’t be funny if you ruin an otherwise good classic engine.”

“Thanks man.”

“My pleasure.”

Later in the shift, I got a real goofy call.

“Bowdecker Community COVID-19 Hotline.  Please be advised this call…”

“Hey, big boy!  What can I do for you tonight?  You wanna know what I’m wearing?  You wanna know what I got in store for you?”

“Pardon?”

“Now c’mon, don’t be shy, this is the call back number you gave “Hot Lips Fantasies.” Why don’t you just settle back and let me chat with you a while?  We’ll figure out what it is you need.”

“I’m sorry ma’am, but someone has pranked you.  Or me.  This is the Bowdecker Community COVID-19 Hotline.”

After she hung up, I wondered if someone had surrendered their credit card number, I shouldn’t have played along.  It might have been more entertaining than fielding COVID-19 calls. I was wrong.

“Bowdecker C19 Hotline. Be advised this call is being recorded. What can I help you with today?”

“Can you come get my wife?”

“Sir?”

“Old biddy’s drivin me batshit.  Cooped up like this accounta the virus.”

“She’s ill, sir?”

“No.  She’s ornery as hell. Taken to pulling pranks on me.”

“Well, sir, you see…”

“This morning, you know what she did?”

“Well, no, I don’t.”

“Imma tell ya.  She put peanut butter on the rims of my wheelchair tires.  Ain’t what I thought it was when I put my hands into it. Had no idea where such coulda come from, but the options are all pretty disgustin.”

“Well, it is kinda funny, sir.  No harm, no foul.”

“You ain’t livin with the bitch.  She thought it was so funny she peed in her pants.”

“Well, I can understand that.”

“Okay for you to laugh, I’m the one has to help her change clothes.”

“Maybe you need to lighten-up.  Little humor to make the day go faster, not seem so boring.”

“How you mean?”

“Prank her back.  I dunno, glue the pages of her crossword puzzle book together.”

“She don’t do crosswords.  Watches them damned soaps.”

“Hide the remote.”

“Can’t.”

“Why not?”

“I’ll forget where I put it.  Wrestling comes on at five. Don’t wanna miss that.”

“Well, you could always even-up the peanut butter score.  A nice dab of mentholated petroleum jelly strategically placed in the cup of her bra might…”

“Don’t wear one no more.”

“How about putting a little hot sauce in her ketchup?”

“I’m the only one uses ketchup.  Oh, but say, that gives me an idea.  Mentholated petroleum jelly, huh? If I can remember where the pliers are…”

“Sir?”

“Thanks, sonny. That’ll keep me busy for a day or two.  I’ll call you back and let you know how it works out.”

Thought to find out what mischief he was planning and caution the gentleman, but he disconnected.

At the end of my shift, Ms. Bentwhistle told me I wasn’t good for the COVID 19 line, so they’d not be asking the IT people to route calls to my cell phone.  That was not entirely disappointing.  Back home, the Missus asked how it went. I offered that I just didn’t have the empathy for dealing with the public.  I believe she bought that.

Oh Say Can You See? – October 22, 2020

My mouth runs away. Remember, I write as I talk. If you’re feeling all Baptist, scoot on to the next email or WP reader entry. I’m feeling a little testy.

Survey sez –

Been completing some on-line surveys.  You know, sharing the wisdom of my years with the world.  Offering conservative balance against the liberal tsunami.  Some questions give me pause. I suspect there’s a PhD dissertation here, but to scratch the surface:

  • Is “White” a race?  Actually, I’m somewhat offended by that.  Not many folks I know are actually white.  Shades of pink, tan-orange, ruddy-cream maybe.  But not white.  Or I am unaware of my true identity and sorely confused. You could make a case.
  • If I just answered that I am “heterosexual” why does the pop-up question following ask if I’m transgender?  Does the survey assume in forcing me to admit I am a guy who likes other guys in one way and, um, ah, like ladies in another way, I may have suddenly reached the point of enlightenment that I am now rethinking my position?
  • If your survey just asked my zip code, why is it necessary the next question ask me what state I live in?
  • Why do you ask my age in one question on a dedicated page and my marital (or living arrangement) status on the following, again dedicated page? Like will the living arrangement status question change based on my age?  And another thing, I “see myself” rather handsome, virile, and debonair – yet there’s no room to explain such in the gender/sex question.
  • If your question just had me select (only one) of Republican, Democrat, Independent, Other, and Decline to answer, my answer being Independent, why does your pop-up question insist on asking me if I “lean” more toward Republican or Democrat? You offer no option for me to declare I run with panic from being considered either Republican or Democrat.  Do you ask the same of those who indicate ‘Other’ and those who cop-out ‘Decline to answer’?
  • Who put together the question that reads “Do you think the Kardashians are fashion and life-style experts or do you prefer the Richard Nixon school of thought?” Answers provided included only “yes” and “no.”  I submit, according to your wording, the answer must always be “yes” since it is clearly one or the other, save the 0.0001% who can brook neither philosophy, in which case you’re still baft since there is no “none of the above” response.
  • Why is it surveys clearly grinding an ax, skewing questions to gain the result they need never provide an open-end question at the end where you can clearly berate them and discredit their effort for their bias? On the other hand, those surveys clearly without bias of course leave you room to write Exodus in Swahili.  In capitals. Please answer “Yes” or “No”.  
  • Can I not be trusted to write the digits of my age?  Why do surveys provide a dropdown list?  Aha! There it is!  My age!  I recognize it now! For a minute there, I’d forgotten.  Thank you, survey people!
  • Why do you list five youthful (I suppose) bimbos none of whom are familiar names, and ask me who is my favorite and NOT give me a response reading, “Who the hell are these people?”. If I knew them all but detested every last Jack (Jill) of them, I still must pick one?  Please provide space to write “I hate this one least.”

Segue into the next pondering

With all the older Americans out of work, unable to find work because being old no one will hire them for fear that after a month on the job they will become pregnant and cost the company time and money, why are foreign nationals authoring most of today’s on-line surveys? (Hardly) Much against the foreign nationals, they do write poor surveys.  Most Americans speak and write passable English.  Passable. Most people in the British Isles, and the larger part of French, Spanish and Italian populations write better English than today’s survey-writers.  Better than most Americans. I would hazard a guess as to where these survey authors are from.  I suspect most are moonlighting to supplement their customer support salaries.   If I came right out with it, I’d be a racist or a highly functioning xenophobic.  While I aspire to both, I am neither.

I am a masculinist and highly prejudiced in favor of people with purple skins.  Maybe a bit of an ageist. And I reiterate, handsome, virile, and debonair.

20-20

As a lad, I had phenomenal eyesight.  Then, I worked hard, played in the fresh air, drank good beer, better whiskey, chased ladies, played with dogs, wrestled cattle, and swore a lot.  Think I got verb-noun agreements there.  Qualifying for the State Police, the examiner took too long measuring my peripheral vision.  Called over two of his uniformed buds to the contraption my head was strapped into.

Briefly, I thought (I was a young lad) I’d broken some law and was going to be arrested and sent to prison for the rest of my life.

“Lookit this!  This ain’t right.”

“He’s guessing.”

“No, he ain’t. I done all the tricks.”

“Two hunnerd and twenty. That ain’t right!”

“Maybe your pointer’s broke?”

“Nope. Checked it.”

“That Extra Sensitive Perception stuff?”

“If it is, we can still use him.”

“Be fifteen years of routine patrol before he can take the exam for DB…”

I passed, including the stupid “how far can you leap with your ankles strapped together?” test, which even the Air Force didn’t at the time use.  Which lead me to conclude the roads in the great state sucking taxes out of my wallet then were a damned sight safer than the skies over southeast Asia, Korea, Eastern Europe, or Alabama.

Never became an issue though. One thing lead to another, I ended up behind a desk in front of a computer for most of my adult life.  [I use the term “adult” loosely and with permission.]  Worked even harder, drank less beer, bought cheaper whisky, messed with not so many girls, found dogs are smart enough they don’t cotton to offices, swilled poorly recycled air, was deprived of working cattle, and developed a different, more refined style of vituperation.

Lost my good vision.  Gonna have some surgery to correct some of that.  Still imagine I “see” things a lot more clearly than most of my peers. 

For example, most of my “peers” think I’m queer (in the 1960’s sense of the word) because I consider $75 greens’ fees outrageous.  Frankly, any greens’ fee is outrageous.  I want green, I fire-up my mower and tromp green for an hour and have as much fun as the crotchety old shits out whacking-away at a golf ball.  Afterward, the beer is just as cold, and I can tell as many lies to whoever I care to.

The eye thing –

There are times good vision is a curse. My desk sits in my office with a window to the outside world. I cannot help but watch the local edition of the world parade past my window.  Now, I am not at my age in phenomenal physical shape.  But I am in pretty good rig. Most of my clothes fit and I’ve even been downsizing britches.  Can’t do anything about my feet or the gray topside.

But some of these kids who walk their doggies past are simply deplorable.  Jabba the Hut.  I’ve said it before, some of the men need wheelbarrows to keep their stomachs from scraping the concrete sidewalks.  Some of the women are what I refer to as two-seaters.   Say what you want about COVID-19, heart disease, diabetes, and jock itch; the real health issue facing this country today is glandular obesity. 

Has to be.

When I simply look at a fine* physical specimen, those with me know what I’m thinking – it’s in my facial expression.  I’m repeatedly told by more tolerant individuals that folks I see have chemical or glandular problems and they can’t help it.  I call BS. I know people, who had Issues. These people I’m thinking of took action, made changes, and by damn they’ve been successful!  They’ll be around longer to badger the snot out of me and those they love because of it.  And I’m proud of them and they deserve accolades.

But the folks I see outside my window?  Uh-uh.  These folk are not victims of physical problems save an inability to get off their asses, eat sensibly, and pay attention to the fact they do indeed look like Jabba the Hut. Hurts my eyes to look at them.  Young people!  Forget licensing firearms purchases.  Require a background check before issuing a permit to buy ice cream.  Checking most of the “backgrounds” not too difficult.

On other subjects

I’m pulling the plug on this.  Not supposed to be a rant.  I’ve committed to “fluff.”  Difficult given the upcoming election.

About that “fluff”

“Oh, look, that irascible bastard has posted again.”

“Imma read it anyway.  Once in a while I agree with the dewd and he makes me chuckle.”

“Ah, but he’s gone windy again. Must be near two thousand words.”

“Any pictures?”

“Um…Nope.”

“Okay. Who else has posted today?”

*Fine – sarcasm, of course.

Once Upon A Time No. 2 – October 21, 2020

Big Bad Got a Bum Rap

“Yo, Pete!  Izzat you Pete?  Pete Peters?”

“Guilty!”  I turned to see none other than Jacques Benstokk coming out of the High Sheriff’s Tax Assessment and Revenue Collections hut.  I’d unhappily finished my business there thirty minutes before.  Pumpkin farming stinko this year anyway, Chauncy Eldor, one of the Deputies, knew I’d not even put a crop in this year, being out of country.  I escaped with the shirt on my back.  Jacques’ face suggested he was as unhappy as I was.  “Jacques!  Dewd!  What up?”

“Aw, not so much.  Man, the Sheriff’s let this tax thing go to his head.  Gonna have to run someone against him come spring.  Say!  You’d be a first-water Tax Assessor. Foreign Service and all, you know.  Ever think of running?”

“Nah.  Still working out from under that scandal The Town Crier caused a while back. With the wife and all, the Pumpkin Incident, ya know? Afraid everyone in the hamlet is still a little distrustful.  Someone would bring it up.”

“So.  How is the wife, Petey?”

“She’s well.  After that bit of gossip, The Crier’s allegation, and me back from overseas, she takes spells where she goes into something of a shell.”

“I feel for ya.  The Crier did a number on me not long after they skewered you.”

“Yeah?  Don’t remember that.”

“Yup.  Damned MSM. Just starting to get out of hand then.  Be okay except when there ain’t no news they make stuff up. Or worse, twist facts so even Simon Simple knows it’s phony.  Just enough truth to suck folks in.  Still wouldn’t be bad, except all the hamlet’s liberal wags just eat up that drivel. 

“Yeah.  Unh, pandering to the womenfolk, championing women’s causes.  Causes didn’t bother the hamlet women much until The Crier started in, convincing them they’d been wronged.  The Crier gains readers getting the women all pouty and teary-eyed about wrongs they didn’t know existed before. Hamlet menfolk can’t handle that, so they sign on to keep marital peace.”

“Well, it’s not entirely without justification, Pete.”

“Oh yeah?  When’s the last time the women did moat duty?  Eh?  Carried scutums in front of the knights when the Scots took another shot at running us over?  The Crier causes a lot of problems, Jacques.  Panders to effete men in the hamlet and of course the ladies.  Now they’re milking, unh, sorry man…”

“It’s okay.”

“Anyways, Kowtowing… Ah, geeze…”

“’It’s okay, just keep going.”

“No, I should back-off.  The Crier and The Tattler caused me a tonne of grief. So bad I took that trip to France.  Thought to enlist in the Crusades.”

“Yeah?”

“France was laying-out, overcommitted.  Had to go to Spain.  There was a real language problem. Did one deployment. Got homesick, so I tucked tail and here I am.  Just back a fortnight or two.”

“The MSM thing is worse now.  You of course, have seen the latest, Pete?”

“Not yet.”

“Well.  For background, I’ll recap what The Crier called the ‘Beanstalk Scandal’.  See, Guy Ent and I already were pretty good buds.”

“How’s that?”

“You know my momma’s a crafty old witch, out to wheedle every farthing out of everyone who makes the mistake of stopping by the farm?”

“Yunh.”

“She sent me to trade our ancient cow for anything of value.  Ma knew old Bossy had mastitis in three quarters. Be a headache for whoever. More a liability than anything else.  Passing by Guy’s truck farm he and I got to talking.  He’s an immigrant you know, like me, from France?”

Oui. Mais certainement!

“Well done! Anyway, Guy said he’d take Bossy.  Well you know he had beef bourguignon in mind, which was okay. Probably past time anyway.  He gave me a hefty sack of pole bean seeds – his best variety – Fee Faes. Reckoned with demand and all, it’d be good to have a second farmer providing for the hamlet.”

“Yeah, so?”

“Well, back at the farm, I commenced planting.  Ma got wind of my trade and had a conniption.  Guy stopped by one afternoon accounta I told him the seeds weren’t germinating.  Ma launched off on the man like a demented spell-caster.  A flea assaulting a jousting stallion.  She was wailing on him like nobody’s business. Guy’s shins were taking a beating and I knew before long he’d have to defend himself.  She was, my Ma and all, so I had to step between them. I took a few healthy smacks in the puss.”

“So?”

“Guy said. ‘No worry.  Fee Faes are hardy but late to sprout.’  Ma said, ‘Fee Fae, you foul scum, Imma knock you on your bum!’ and started back in.  As luck would have it, that’s when The Crier scribe passed by.  She got most of the scuffle down, but with a lot of embellishment that just wasn’t factual.”

“And then?”

“That took some living-down.  Got so I had to pretty much lock momma away except at night. Pressure came off when B. B. Wolfe, you remember Benjamin Bowdin Wolfe, right?”

“Yunh.  Hamlet do-gooder?  Public service.  Worked the school crosswalk in front of the main drawbridge.  Chased off a couple of rogue ogres who’d strayed in from the river?”

“That’s the one.  Well, one morning Beatrix Pieux mentioned to BB at the crosswalk she’d lost fourteen of her sheep.  Well, BB – had an eye for the ladies anyway – was strolling near the woods that afternoon, came across a dozen untended sheep.  Assumed them to be Beatrix’s.  Delivered them to her.  While Beatrix was squealing in delight, the Sheriff arrived, as did a scribe from The Crier.  Seems the sheep weren’t Beatrix’s.  She denied any knowledge, claimed BB was using them to further his unwelcome advances on her.  Cleverly morphed her delighted squeals into moans of despair.  The Sheriff took BB away.  The Crier had a field day.  BB took the gaff and became ‘Big Bad’ and Beatrix became ‘Bo Peep’ in the sordid headlines.”

“Whoa!”

“It gets better.  Deputies did some checking.   Took three months, all the while BB taking the gaff, but they discovered Bo was a known sheep rustler; stole them from local farmers, gave them a quick shear, then dumped them in the slaughterhouses.  Started, I guess with the Baa Baa Black Sheep Caper a few years prior.  The Sheriff let BB go.  Bo of course split with the sheep the day of BB’s arrest.  The damage to BB’s rep was by then irreparable.  You know once the MSM puts a story out, right or wrong, no amount of truth will put it right.”

“And it certainly isn’t gonna come from The Crier or The Tattler!  ‘Big Bad’ huh?  Seems I saw something about that in the French edition of The Crier.  But not Bo Peep.”

“Nah.  That would have been Red Riding Hood.  Big auburn-haired Woman.  Things weren’t so good for BB when the Sheriff cut him loose.  He took a job with ‘Red’ alias Red Hood.  Ms. Hood and her attorney Larry Woodman swindled a house on the edge of the woods from the real Granny Hood, shipped granny off to a convent.  Turned the place into a sporting house.  BB was hired as part of the muscle.  But Wolfe figured out what the deal really was and got into a scuffle with Woodman over it.  Woodman picked up of all things an axe aiming to do BB in.  BB turned the tables and Woodman got nicked pretty good.

“I suppose the Sheriff and The Crier were right there?”

“Yup. Once again BB spent some time in the pokey while the Sheriff’s Deputies sorted through things.  Eventually came up it was a house of ill-repute.  BB wasn’t attacking unprovoked, only defending himself. Before the law could make real arrests, Red Hood sold the house to the Swine Brothers, got Woodman patched-up and the two of them fled to Paris with all the money.  The Crier was busy selling papers with headlines reading “Big Bad Wolf attacks Little Red Riding Hood!  Attorney near death!”  Pah! ‘Little’ Red Hood probably came in at twenty stone.”

“Swine Brothers?”

“Immigrants from Sicily. Crier and Tattler refers to them as “The Three Little Pigs.” Bernaldo Swine is into construction.  Doesn’t get built here unless Benny says so.   Leonardo handles all the drayage contracts.  You have goods to move, you are in bed with Lenny.  Vincenzo handles big-ticket item procurement for construction and manages the former Little Red House.  Vinny also handles the liquor since that kind of fits the Red House business plan.”

“Interesting.”

“Not really.  Benny, Lenny, and Vinny caught righteous flak from The Crier and The Tattler on a regular basis in the beginning.  Suspected shady dealings.  Stopped suddenly.  Benny, Lenny, and Vinny suddenly became model citizens as far as the MSM’s were concerned.”

“Why?”

“My understanding, I got this from BB you know, is that Benny now owns fifty-one percent of The Tattler and Lenny sixty percent of The Crier.  Vinny is kind of hands-off right now, since his, um, nighttime establishment is regularly in the public eye. Too exposed, so to speak.”

“How would BB know all this?”

“Odd.  BB was thinking of running for Sheriff.  Why not?  None of the charges brought against him to then stuck.  The MSM’s wouldn’t accept his campaign ads.  Quizzed as to why not, the Managing Editors referred BB to the Swine Brothers in the big house on the hill.  The Brothers made the mistake of only sending five security goons to get rid of BB.  You understand BB’s been around the castle a couple of times.  He dispatched the security team and was going after Lenny who’d made the mistake of going outside to watch security clean BB’s clock.”

“Lemme guess.  The Sheriff showed up?”

“You betcha! And both MSM’s.”  BB’s a tough character but he’s law-abiding. It only took eight Deputies to calm BB down. Swine & Company managed to get the charges to stick.”

“Anyway, BB knows about ownership because?”

Tattler cub reporter, Penny Walkwater, pretty woman.  Worked accounting before she got her first field assignment.  Saw BB and took a shine to him.  His machismo, I guess. She spilled the beans, if you’ll pardon me there. She’s secretly waiting for BB to come up for parole in a year.”

“Who’d a thought?”

“Say, I’m going to go visit BB.  Wanna go with me?”

“Sure! Why not?”

“I don’t think we’ve heard the last of BB Wolfe yet.”

“Hey!  Lookit there!  Izzat Jack Nimble?”

“Yeah steer clear of him.  No truth of it but The Crier is trying to tag him with fault for the big fire over in the Kielder Forest.

© SPWilcenski 2020

Once upon a time No. 1 Threadbare and the Three Princes

Redress – for October 19, 2020

Jerrod Winkler, head of the NBA Owners and Players Association, was understandably curious as to why, and more so how, a hodgepodge group of individuals had managed a one-hour slot in his schedule. From the disparate membership roster, he certainly assumed some charitable effort or some social cause the NBA certainly could reap good press from with an established relationship. Sorely needed right now.

This became obvious to me as soon as I sat in one of three oversized leather chairs on the other side of the ornate desk Jerrod sat behind.  His telephone was ringing madly but he graciously ignored it, as much as one can ignore an insidious device notorious for poor manners and a complete lack of shame.  While I was asking a few minutes reprieve before we launched-off on my, our committee’s purpose, we’d been interrupted at least three times by Jerrod’s assistants poking their heads into his office excitedly asking for a word with him. He shooed them away and smiled at me benignly, gratuitously.

The reasons my associates were late escaped me. I was reluctant to start the meeting without them.  Since we’d worked so hard to get the meeting on the books, difficult in that we were as cagey as Democrats in keeping our reasons for the meeting obscured, I feared I’d have to go it alone.  I dove in.

“Mr. Winkler…”

“Jerrod, please.”

“Of course, Jerrod, our group looks to negotiate a more equitable demographic on NBA teams.”

“What?  I’m afraid I don’t understand.  We have an exceptionally high proportion of minorities on NBA rosters.  I’m sure you recognize that.  I thought you were looking for NBA sponsorship for some cause.”

“In a way, we certainly are.  Demographically speaking, you do not have adequate representation of, if you’ll pardon me for the racial slur, white persons on your teams.  That is an issue we seek to have you support us in redressing.”

“What?”

“Our group wants the NBA to achieve an ethnic mix more in line with actual American demographics.  Pardon me again, but Black America is over-represented.”

“African Americans play better basketball than white people.”

“That’s irrelevant, sir, and not the whole of it”

“It is not irrelevant!”

“Indeed, it is.  Precedent dictates you adjust, make allowances.”

“For example?”

“Universities adjusted entrance exams and qualifications to achieve parity for minorities.  Not cheapened, sir, adjusted.  Qualifications were altered to accommodate ethnic variances.”

“This sport…  It’s by talent, not ethnicity.  Jumping, shooting, blocking…”

“Precisely, sir, I’m glad you understand.  You will have to adjust your qualifications and even some rules of the game.  Lower basket heights for different ethnicities.  Penalties for stuffing balls into the hoop and for jumping above a certain height from the floor’s surface.”

At this point, one of my fellow committee members entered Jerrod’s office.  “Mr. Winkler, this is Lucinda Joorgeson,” I said.  “Lucinda, this is Mr. Winker, NBA OAPA Chair.”

“Pleased to meet you,” said Lucinda, seizing and shaking a dumbstruck Jerrod’s hand. “Those who know me call me ‘Yorgy.’  You can too.  I think we’ll be working a lot together. It’ll be easier.”

Jerrod found his voice. “You aren’t serious about the NBA playing more white people on teams…”

“Indeed, we are, Mr. Winkler.  But our real concern is that there are zero women on NBA teams.  We desperately need you to address that.”

“But women are, well, women, and the existing players are, well, men.  Big men.  There is the WNBA, you know?”

“That’s that separate but equal thing that doesn’t go over very well.  Women tried that.  They’re getting the ‘separate’ part but not so much the ‘equal.’  Salary, endorsements, airtime, all that.”

“They’d get hurt and…”

“We’ll address that.  Like we’re doing with the NFL…”

“You spoke with the NFL?”

“Just came from there. That’s why we’re late.”

“I bet they set you straight.”

“They tried.  In the end, they recognize they haven’t a leg to stand on.  We’re discussing changes in rules; twenty player teams on-field, ten women, ten men.  Different yardages depending on who carries the ball or catches a pass.”

“The women will get hurt.”

“And it will cost penalties and immediate points on the scoreboard, if the men violate the man-man, woman-woman only contact rules. We’ll work it out.”

“It will debase the game,” asserted Jerrod.

“Not the issue and not really our concern,’ said Yorgy.  We’re looking for parity, recognition and equal shares of the rewards.”

Just then the two missing committee members popped through Jerrod’s door.  I announced: “Mr. Winkler, let me introduce Rabbi Feldstein and Juan Gonzales.  Gentlemen, this is Jerrod Winkler, Chair of the NBA OAPA.”

Jerrod, who to this point was standing as if to go toe-to-toe with Lucinda (a contest in which he was hopelessly outmatched) sank into his chair, “Oh, good lord!  What next?  Major League Baseball?”

“Actually,” suggested Juan,” the MLB is doing so much better than the NBA and NFL, except as far as the women are concerned.  But we still will talk.”

This is of course, all you Amelia Bedelia’s, a flight of fancy.

If you’re curious, take a gander.  The beauty of Wikipedia citations is that Wiki articles footnote primary sources.  Have fun.

NBA

NFL

MLB This one is just fun to watch

NHL Who cares?

If you want it all digested

To judge for yourself if Yorgy, Feldstein, Gonzales, et al have a case:

US Census Be careful here, persons completing the digest leave you to assume that since  50.8% of the population is female, why of course, 49.2% is male; a slur of major proportions for self-declaring individuals.

Groceries – October 16, 2020

Once again, it was time to trip to the local chain grocery to resupply. Not critical.  Just routine, so as not to “suddenly” be out of flour, sugar, coffee, or such.  And fresh veggies.  Limited shelf life, you know, necessitating trips to the grocery every week to ten days, those veggies.

A year or so ago, I liked grocery shopping.  Enjoyed the aromas of fresh produce, in-store baked goods, and yes, the coffee!  Not anymore.  With social distancing, periodic unexplained shortages, and devious sourcing and variety substitutions, grocery trips went rapidly from pleasant, to tedious, to dreadful.

To this point, the Missus, who also likes grocery shopping (or any shopping, really) had agreed I should complete the odious task alone. Why should two suffer needlessly?   Lately things have been easing-up.  The Missus felt she’d like to get back to enjoying and helping with that little detail of life.  I allowed it possible with no small degree of trepidation.  Off we went.

Pulling into the mega-grocer’s parking lot I noticed it was now enclosed in a six-foot chain-link fence.  That fencing channeled vehicles into a single line, leaving appropriately social-distanced customers to single file through a now small, guarded entrance.  Out of our automobiles, the single-file herding paradigm held.

Finally inside the building, there were no broad aisles and neatly partitioned “departments” – fresh produce, canned and boxed goods, meats and seafood, housewares, and “HBA.”  Shoppers were funneled into a serpentine pathway defined by plastic tape oddly akin to yellow “crime scene – do not enter” markers.

“Gee things have changed!” said the Missus.

Indeed.  We seemed more to be in a damned cafeteria of sorts.  A school lunchroom. We were in a line approaching a stainless-steel serving rail fronting glass-covered stainless tables loaded with buckets and trays of prepared foods.  I guessed foods.  Aside from familiarity with what it should be, there was nothing suggesting edible, no aromas of any sort.

One of two uniformed keepers of the entry accosted us.  “Dine in or carry out?” she asked.

Thinking I’d missed a sign or a news article on the grocery’s morphing into a cafeteria, I balked.  A spirited discussion ensued.  I’ll spare the details.  The Missus must have answered the question correctly as she passed forward, as did the next two “customers” while I negotiated.  Something I said was interpreted as an admission of defeat and I was admitted though now fourth in line behind the Missus.

We serpentined or whatever one does wiggle-waggling from point A past points A1, A2, A3, through An to point B.  Three hundred and fifty yards to cover twenty feet. The Missus knew the secret. I did not.  She passed through.  I was waylaid again.

A large woman challenged me. “Dine in, or take out?”

“Does it make any difference?” I asked. “I’m not here to eat.  I’m here for groceries.”

“That’s how we do it now.  What did you tell the woman at the main door?”

“Think I told her, ‘Yes.’”  I lied.

“That’s not an answer.”

“It is.  My wife does that to me all the time.”

“Dine in or take out?  I have to give you the right color napkin.  That’s how the servers know.”

I was tempted to continue this bit of edification but instead replied, “See the lady ahead in line giving me that panicked look?  I’m with her.” 

I was granted entry with a red napkin.  The bodies in front of me permitting, I shuffled forward along the tubular stainless-steel rail.  At the first serving station, I guess, a person of indeterminate gender growled at me.

“You want meat?”

“What is it?” I asked.

“I dunno,” the voice managed.

“Chicken?”

“I dunno.”  A conversationalist.

“Okay. Do me.”  Something emerged from the grey murk and moved toward a big red plastic tray. You know the kind – an exaggerated TV dinner tray, four compartments separated by pointless little ridges meant to keep dry from wet and green from brown, or in this case gray.  The something was huge. “Not that one, it’s too big,” I complained.

“Allasame size.”

“Looks bigger to me.  Not sure I can handle all that.”

“Same size. Made by machine.  Meat pressed onto a bone.”

“What kind of bone?”

“I dunno.”  Back to that again.

“Look,” I began but was interrupted.

“Sir, you take this if you want meat. You’re holding up the line. Or I’ll call security.”

I frowned.  She called security.

Security arrived by sliding one position to her right in the line behind the counter, abandoning her post working vegetables or whatever was next on the menu.  She, I think she, was tall and skinny and looked like she’d already had a bad day. 

“Is there a problem here?” she asked in a masculine voice better suited to Ollie Ogre beneath the drawbridge.

I lied.  Again.   I was beginning to feel like a Democrat.  “No.  I’m just waiting for my chicken and…”

“Meat.” Tall Skinny corrected.

“What kind of meat?” I risked asking again.

“No one knows. Just take one.”

“Okay. We’re good here. I’ll take that piece of meat.”

Tall Skinny went back to her abandoned position.  The chunk of whatever grey meat hit the tray, obviously my tray, with a decided metal clang. As the serving tools looked like solid plastic, coquettishly matching the trays, I determined the clang was from something inside the ersatz meat.

I shuffled to the right. Tall Skinny asked me, “Which vegetable?”

“What’s the green one?  Green beans?” I figured it was safe to ask since Tall Skinny and I already had a relationship.

“Dunno,” she said.

“The yellow?  Squash?” I pressed.

“Dunno.” 

I began to suspect the service staff tried to distance themselves from intimacy with the menu.  Perhaps part of their wage was dinner in-house and they really didn’t want to know.  “What’s it smell like?” I asked.

“Doesn’t smell.”  Tall Skinny growled.

“What do you mean?” I pushed.

“No smell.  Someone might be offended if it did.”

“How about allergies.  Think about that?”

“Not an issue.  Hypoallergenic.”

“Oh.  Gimme a little dab of both.”

“Can’t.”

“Little dabs.”

“Can’t.”

“Okay. You pick.”

“Sir!”

I caved.  “Okay. The green.”  If Tall Skinny had to call security on me, I wasn’t prepared to see the next step up the security ladder.

The Missus, ahead of me, kept looking at me and shrugging.  I skipped the next station by simply shaking my head.  It was stuffing or potatoes or sawdust, I wasn’t sure.  I was sure it didn’t look like something I wanted to even think of eating.  My tray shuttled down to what I assumed was the dessert station.

A slow learner, I began. “What’s that?”

“Dessert.”

“Really? Pie? Cake?  Flan?” 

“Dunno.”  Back to that.

“You taste it?”

“No way!  Not me!  You want some or not?”

Apparently Tall Skinny had been watching.  A new version of security arrived at the dessert station in the person of a short wide woman clad in an apron wielding a four-foot long spoon capable of stirring any witch’s cauldron.

“Sir,” she began in a voice directly from every six-year old’s Wizard of Oz nightmare, “is there a problem here?”

“What is that?” I asked, pointing to the curious goop.

“Why do you want to know?”

“I might decide to eat it.”

Short Wide made a scrunched-up face, snatched the dessert server’s ladle from her, scooped a blob of whatever and plopped the red-brown-orange doughy looking stuff in the largest unoccupied compartment of the tray, handed the ladle back to the server, spun, and walked away.

The Missus had managed to aside herself until I arrived at the register.  I watched as an attendant poured my goodies into a boxy cardboard thing that immediately started to leak. The empty tray was unceremoniously chunked into a trash bin.

“You wash those?” I asked the cashier, who looked to be Short Wide’s twin sister.

“No,” she replied.

“Recycle them?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“Sanitation.”

The Missus interrupted what was going to be a learning experience for me.  “I’ve already paid,” she said, “let’s get the hell out of here!”  That bit of cursing would cause the Missus no end of grief.  At some point, she’d probably eat a bar of soap as an act of contrition.

In the car, the Missus found a towel to catch the leak from her cardboard box thing as she held it in her lap.  She stuck a grotesquely fat knife/spoon thing made from as much plastic as was in any of the serving-line ladles into the box.

“How the hell does that work?” I asked.

“Not very well,” she replied, lifting a taste to her mouth.

“What’s it taste like?”

“Tastes like nothing with a weird oily feeling.  Maybe a little bitter.  No taste, really, or smell. Why would they do that?”

“So not to offend anyone.”

She took another bite and screwed up her face monstrously.  “Ugh!”  She rolled down her window, and very much unlike the proper woman I married, pitched the whole container out the window.  Grabbing my box or whatever, she tossed that out the window too, quickly rolling the window up to keep the rejected “food” from managing its way back into the car.

“We have chicken in the freezer at home,” she declared.  “And rice in the cupboard.  Stop by my sister’s farm.  We’ll beg some tomatoes from her garden, and I’ll put something together.”

As directed, I stopped.  Missus’ sister was delighted to get rid of some of her surplus.  The Missus put together a most delightful Chicken Cacciatore.  Oddly, it looked like chicken.  Smelled like chicken.  Tasted like chicken. 

We’re looking for a new place to shop groceries.

Of course, that was a flight of fancy.  I dunno. Insomnia and maybe something I ate.  Not Cacciatore; last night was grilled pork steak with steamed broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower – recognized all of them.  Everything at present is so far from normal, I suppose frustrations just stretched life into a goofy aberration.

You know, like we used to do with Silly Putty and the Sunday funnies? You remember Silly Putty?  No?  You remember the Sunday funnies in the newspaper?  No?  Newspapers, you see, printed news aggregators, were the way we used to read the news.  See, there was this kid who’d bicycle past your house daily, throwing a rolled-up newspaper onto your porch.  Or into your rosebushes, or if it was raining, into the ditch in front of your house…  Yes, printed.  On actual paper…

Nine-sixteenths – October 14, 2020

Chasing parts for a pump repair back at the farm, I found myself downtown last week.  Passed by the always open bay door of Pauli’s Auto Repair Shop. 

There’s no Pauli there anymore. 

Pauli was Dave’s dad, a widower for years.  As a matter of fact, I can’t myself remember Dave’s mom and I fancy Dave and I grew up pretty much two halves of the same walnut. I’m not sure Dave remembers her either.  When I bump into him and we chat – this, that, and the other – Dave talks about Pauli, but has never that I recall mentioned his mom.

Folks drove from the city to have Pauli’s mechanics do auto repairs – after warranties expired, you know.  Pauli and his men were, you could guess from that, the best around, and Pauli kept prices reasonable and always shot straight. 

All the bad jokes and reality of fathers set in their ways and sons smarter than their fathers bumping heads aside, Pauli did okay as a single parent.   Better than okay, Pauli did a fine job with his only son, Dave.  When not playing baseball, basketball, or football, or across the county in debate competition, Dave worked in Pauli’s shop.  And learned.  He was a natural. Got it honest.

Dave deferred college for a stint in the service, then doubled-back to the state university.  Jump-starting his studies in the service, he quickly finished his undergrad work and got himself into law school.  That ended when Pauli suffered a massive and immediately fatal heart attack.

Dave took over the shop.  No more law studies.  Reckon Dave loved his pop more than anyone knew.  Kept the shop going to have his pop somehow still there.

Anyway, passing by, late in the afternoon last week, quitting time, I popped into the shop to jaw with Dave.  His men were washing off grease and grime, done for the day.  Except one, who was working on a bicycle a kid had brought to the shop with a chain that kept slipping loose.  Pauli’s does those kinds of repairs free, fast and on-demand. 

Quitting time aside, Dave had his head inside the hood of that old Chevy – Pauli’s pride and joy, now Dave’s.  Dave junior was helping Dave.  Already learning from the master.  He spent, from what I’d seen, a lot of time in the shop, not yet old enough for high school sports. Or debate. Or law school.

Dave twisted his neck so he faced across the engine to his rollaway tool chest and spoke to his son, “Davie!”

“Yes, Pop?”

“Hand me a nine-sixteenth boxend, would ya, please?”

“Yes Pop.”  The lad tiptoed to see into the open drawer he knew would hold the requested wrench.  He grabbed one and turned to take the three steps to his daddy but dropped the wrench.  It clattered singsong on the cement the way every mechanic – Fred Flintstone, Fred Mertz, Fred McMurray, you, and I would recognize.

“No, son. I want the nine-sixteenth.  That’s a five-eights.”

I noticed Davie had not handed the wrench to Dave.  So did Davie.  Davie picked the wrench from the floor, examined it, smiled, and promptly headed back to the tool chest.  He dove into the upper drawer again.

Taking the few steps necessary to hand the wrench to his daddy, Davie asked, “Daddy, how’d you know I didn’t get the nine-sixteenth?”

“Easy, Davie, from the sound.  What you dropped was clearly a five-eighths, combination.  Sounds different.”

All Davie could reply was, “Oh.” 

Frankly, that’s exactly what I was thinking.

Dave has been working in the shop so long he’s developed mechanic’s skills beyond the comprehension of most mortals. So it seems.  Can’t help but think he’d have been one hellova lawyer.

At the Co-op – October 12, 2020

Clayton and I were sitting at the gathering table in the elevator office, chatting one thing or another waiting for our weight and moisture receipts when Jackson came through the outside door from the big silos, dripping rainwater everywhere.

“Jackson!” I commenced to pester him, seeing how’s he’s such a tight ass, so serious all the time. “Looks like it might be raining out?”

He came back as I’d expected, a little peeved over the obvious and hard put to find humor to make his young personality fit in with the old timers usually hanging out there.  Old gaffs like Clayton and me.

“Ya think, Walter?” That was all he could come up with.

“Looks like,” chirped Clayton. The old man actually giggled.  

Clayton and I left Jackson to shed rain gear and try to get himself comfortable.  At least somewhat dry for his turn to wait while the machinations of the Co-op office staff made-up numbers.

“So, as I’m understanding, Walter,” Clayton picked-up where we’d left off when the outside door opened, “you fancy yourself a breast man?”

“Do.” I acknowledged.  “Legs and thighs are okay, but gimme a shapely breast, I ‘m a happy man.”

We had, not by design, just by happenstance, Jackson’s undivided attention.

“Why’s that?” asked Clayton.

“Well, prefer’m young and tender, but you know, a mite on the generous side.  Something you feel comfortable wrapping your lips around.  Warm, a little bit of give, but solid.  Yes sir, firm, tender, and ready for a bit of a nibble.”

I thought Jackson’s jaw actually thumped when it hit his chest.

“All well and good,” countered Clayton, “but seems to me legs, thighs especially, is the way to go.  Substance. Make a man feel he’s getting into something worthwhile.”  


“You’re talking about…” stammered Jackson.  “I mean right out here in the open, ladies present and all…”

Clayton and I looked at each other.  Little-boy grins simultaneously lit our faces. 


I put Jackson out of his misery.  “Chicken breast, Jackson.  I favor the light meat while Clayton likes the dark.  Chicken legs and thighs for Clayton.  Breast meat for me.  Simple enough.”

“What the hell’d ya think we were talking about, Jackson?” asked Clayton.  The old codger smirked while choking-back a threatening guffaw.

Evelyn, the high school Co-op office intern, poked her head across the half-door ledge to signal me my paperwork was ready.  I left to get it, gave it a cursory glance, and stuffed it in my shirt front.  When I reached for my raincoat, still dripping like a sweaty kid stacking hay bales in the mow in July, Jackson had collapsed into the chair I’d just left. 

Jackson looked at once confused and amused that two old gaffs like Clayton and I would talk about what he thought we was talking about.  Maybe just a bit disappointed that it wasn’t that, like maybe we could teach him a thing or two.  I dunno.  No telling. Maybe.  Clayton’s been married nigh onto forty years.  That doesn’t mean a damned thing, but I ain’t asking him.  Me, I’m still a bachelor, one reason or another.  And again, that don’t mean much.  Comes to fried chicken and well, you know.

“Walter,” started Clayton as I turned to leave, “Loretta and I will be setting the table about seven.  Fried chicken will be hot.  You know ain’t no one fries chicken better’n Loretta.  I’ll have the potato salad ready.  Stop by Jeanine’s Café and pick up one of her fresh pies on your way to the house.”

“Cherry?  Apple?”

“Both.  Braun and Larry maybe not go to Castleberry’s for the auction this evening.  Rain and all.”

“See you, Loretta, and the boys then, Clayton.” 

I pulled my Stetson over my noggin, opened the door, and stepped out into the rain.

Righteous Flood

The rains poured down, they soaked the ground,

And turned the dust to mud.

It never quit, just let up a bit,

What next, a righteous flood?

Last spring had sprung, no cloud here hung,

To bring us farmers rains.

We killed the weeds, and drilled the seeds,

But got little for our pains.

Last summer too, the rains so few,

The crops just shriveled here.

Sure, clouds rolled in, we waited then,

We watched them disappear.

Now lakes are full, the rivers too,

The dam’s about to break.

When rains slowed some, by then dad gum,

The ground no more could take.

The rains did stop, that steady drop,

But left behind the mud.

The ground’s just juice, to no good use;

Here comes that righteous flood.

© SPWilcenski 2020

You missed it. A rant. And another one. Pay attention. Oh. As usual, NSFW.

And the Winner… – October 9, 2020

I like fluff

The results are in. No other conclusion works.  Cotton candy sells.  Don’t offer a balanced plate of good veggies, healthy protein, just enough beneficial fat, and cool, hydrating water. Don’t even try offering a grilled steak, a loaded baker, a smidge of broccoli drizzled with cheese, and a glass of red. 

What ya need is peanut butter stuffed pretzels.  Chips & dip.  Bowl of ice cream.  Biggie Bacon Burger.  Good stuff.  Makes you eschew (had to do that) healthy choices.  Everyone knows veggies and balanced portions are tasteless and unfulfilling.

Give’m pictures.  Don’t even have to fit the theme.  “What she said.”  “Love ya!”  “I heerd that!”  Lawsy, leave all the brains in neutral. No-o-o, don’t ask for engagement.

Disguise your presence.  Everyone races to “me too” sympathy for the underdog, so as to appear, appear, mind you, to understand, commiserate, and maybe have you believe they experience similar circumstances.

Guess I see it.  There’s enough disappointment out there.  Folks want to escape.  But they don’t want to work too hard at it.  Noted.  Fun, fun, fun!  Pap.  Spoon-fed.  I-V anyone?

Lacking genuine class

I was watching this lady on television.  Looked decent enough. Her attitude turned me off.  Condescending.  Self-righteous.  Smug. Would have you believe she’s part of the intellectual elite.  Don’t think so.

She did try to make me think I should relocate to California.  She said it was a lovely place.  She hopes to make the rest of this country more California-like.  Her cadre, she said, worked hard make California what it is today; says they can do the same for the rest of the country.  So I gave it some thought.

Fires. Earthquakes. A high degree of government interference in your personal life.  High cost of living.  Well, shucks, if that’s the only bad good stuff, could be okay.  I mean every locality has some difficulty.

Thought some more.  Even the disreputable “news” sources report all but movie stars, politicians, and sports figures are leaving the state in droves.  There could be a reason.  Might be many.  Buckle-up…

People quite literally pooping in the streets.  Huh?

Taxes there are out of sight.  Well, that’s everywhere. I mean, ain’t it?

Gonna outlaw carbon fuel automobiles there.  Atomic cars?  Wind power cars?  Solar? I mean I hear tell the state has what they call “rolling blackouts.”  Which for those of you who sleep most of the day, that means everyone takes turns doing without electricity.  So dependably charging your Tesla or Prius will be iffy.  Assuming, that is, three hundred or so miles describes the top-end of your travel requirements. Wanna maybe investigate a bicycle but be sure they are low-psi tires accounta air-taxes.

All well and good.  Gasoline is over $4.00 per gallon in California.  European countries may consider that reasonable.  Maybe it is. But when it’s a buck-ninety where I am, it looks that something is awry. Pay for pure, sure. But double? Unh. Wait. Nope.

Diversity.  Lots of folks there sans paperwork.  “Undocumented” they are called.  Um, I mean, the “news” agencies keep telling me about them, so that seems to make them documented.  What’s the deal?  I ain’t got no papers. I’m undocumented?  Geeze, I should move to California to be with people of my own type.

Oh, I see.  Offsetting the outflow of middle-class folks.  Suggest they hurry accounta I hear states like Texas are putting up walls to keep Californians out. 

Welfare a humongous thing out there.  Some good by virtue of a contract with the working American people instituted in 1935.  Like it or not. Save meddling by politicians and hawg-troughing, financed. Some not so good, promulgated without any means of paying for it all, with no reason save misplaced ‘save the world’ attitudes.  “Here, I won’t give you my designer shirt for your nekkid back, but see that guy over there, digging a ditch?  Go take his shirt off his back.  Tell him I said it’s alright; the way it oughta be.”

Crime.  Well, ya got crime everywhere.  Real crime and crime in the government, which is the best kind because it’s legal. If not legal, at least it seems, Americans don’t mind it for some reason. Then again, I’m thinking, so much in California is regulated, if not outlawed, you could be arrested for brushing your teeth: prohibited chemicals in the paste, excess electricity use, abuse of water resources, a violation of noise ordinances, and maybe insufficient licensing and permitting.

Vote!  Vote Democrat!  And vote often! [Sorry. I lost my head.]

Il-lee-gal. Your Funk and Wallerstein broke? [Did it again, didn’t I? I apologize.]

Down to Sarah’s Coffee Shop

So I was talking to the boys down at Sarah’s coffee shop. Kind of put it to them tongue-in-cheek.

Luke asked me, “Why the heck would you want to move to California?  I mean it’s almost fall here, and the gnats ain’t gonna be much trouble anymore until the Ogoloochie floods this spring.  Come spring, you won’t pay much attention anyway for the mosquitoes.”

“Well, Luke,” I began, “seems to be such a great place, according to the lady I saw on the television last night.”

“Oh, I seen that show,” Bobby interrupted.  “If that was supposed to be a comedy, Imma spend more time on the back porch tending the smoker.  I didn’t get half the jokes the lady was laughing at.”

“Was what you call ‘satire,’ I think,” suggested Luther.  You know, where you say outrageous things as if they were gospel to see how many unsuspecting fools you can get to believe it.”

“No,” offered Luke, “that was two folks arguing politics and both of them was dead serious.  Not that they believe what they said, but they ‘spect you to believe it.”

“Seen that same show,” Timmy Loggenthorpe said.  “Lady seemed sincere,” he protested.

Luke looked at Timmy with that ‘the boy just don’t understand look.’ “That’s there’s the real danger, son,” he cooed.  “Get your coffee warmed up.  Imma explain a thing or two for ya.  First, what you seen was a classless twit.  Lying by force of habit.” 

Notice, Luke never once mentioned gender.  Or race.  Luke’s not much of a visionary, but he does show a bit of respect, warranted or not.

You missed it

I ranted.  I posted it. Not even gonna tell you where it is. Nah.  This ain’t it.  This ain’t a rant.  This is fluff.  I hid the rant.  So’s not to offend. And not to appear anti-fluff.