Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What's on Your Bucket List?

Do you have a “Bucket List?” A bucket list, as you might expect, is a list of things that you want to do before you “kick the bucket”. You probably have one if you’ve ever said, “You know, I really want to try sky diving/riding a bull/climbing to the top of Mt. Everest (or something along those lines) before I die. Don’t you think that would be cool?”

At this point, your spouse will look at you in disbelief and murmur something such as, “No. That would be insane. I certainly don’t want to jump out of a plane/get gored by a bull/freeze to death halfway up Mt. Everest. I don’t want to watch you do it, either.”

So your cool idea gets stuck on the bottom of your bucket list and as you get older, you find yourself saying things like, “Yeah, climbing Mt. Everest would have been cool. I regret not doing that.”

Now let’s face the truth for just a minute. A lot of us think climbing Mt. Everest would be cool, but we’re not going to do it. We’re busy with our daily lives: raising kids, paying bills, cooking dinner, and cleaning the bathtub. Frankly, if you really want to climb Mt. Everest so badly that you’ll always regret not doing it, you should do it. Don’t bother to put it on your bucket list if you know it’s never going to happen. It’ll just make you unhappy in the long run.

I believe that you should actually be able to do the things on your bucket list. It is really satisfying to be able to check something off. You know you’ve accomplished something that was important to you.

For example, my bucket list consists of such things as:
1.      See the Dalai Lama in person
2.      Collect Chinese porcelain dolls while in China
3.      Train my dog to compete in agility
4.       Watch the top 100 movies of all time
5.      Travel to Vietnam and Antarctica
6.      Get my PhD
7.      Publish my novel
8.      See Mary Poppins on Broadway
9.      Spoil a grandchild or two
10.  Watch the Dallas Cowboys win the Superbowl from a seat in the stadium

So far, I’ve seen the Dalai Lama, started my collection of Chinese dolls, watched about 10 of the top 100 movies, started training the puppy, written the novel (it needs serious revision), and earned about half of the credits I need for my PhD in education. Needless to say, I have a lot to do before I can die. Seeing the Dallas Cowboys win the Superbowl from a stadium seat may prove to be the one impossible item on my list. I may not have that many years left in me:-)

Your bucket list is uniquely your own, and it is a work in progress until you take your final breath. Oh, and good luck if climbing Mt. Everest is on your list. Wave to me from the top.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Really Most Sincerely Dead - Or Not?

            “Chris, will you please make sure I’m dead before you bury me?”

            “I guess I could try to do that. Are you thinking of going anytime soon?”

            “Not really, but you never can tell.”

            “That’s true. But I don’t think there’s any doubt these days about whether or not a person is dead. They check to make sure that both your heart and brain have stopped before they pronounce you dead now.”

            “Um…yeah. I would have thought so, too. But this very week there was a woman in Russia who was pronounced dead after she had a heart attack. When she woke up two days later, she was lying in an open casket, surrounded by weeping family, and having the service for the dead said for her.”

            “That must be unpleasant. I bet her family was glad she was still alive, though.”

            “Uh huh. Unfortunately, the shock of finding herself attending her own funeral brought on another heart attack. Even though she was taken right from her coffin to the hospital, she died 12 minutes after she arrived there.”

            “That’s terrible. That poor family.”

            “I know, right? You know, she was exactly my age. The whole story kind of creeps me out.”

            “Are they sure she was really dead the second time?”

            “It says they were sure she was dead. But that’s what they said the first time. Which brings me back to my original question: Will you please make sure I’m really most sincerely dead before you bury me?”

            “Of course I will,” my husband answered comfortingly. “I’ll even tie a string around your finger and attach the string to a bell up on the surface, so that if the bell rings we’ll know you’re still alive and we can dig you back up.”

            “That’s comforting. How long are you going to sit there in the cemetery listening for the bell to ring?”

            “Oh. I guess it depends on the weather. You wouldn’t want me to catch my death of cold sitting in the snow or anything, would you?”

            “I might. I mean, if I do ring the bell and there’s no one there to hear it, that means I’ll continue to be buried alive. I’ll probably be cursing you by then.”

            “OK, forget the string thing. How about if I get a second opinion on the diagnosis of death? That way I’ll be sure you’re really dead before I bury you.”

            “I guess that would be acceptable.”

            “Or we could let your corpse rot until it’s clear you aren’t going to need it again.”

            “That would be acceptable, too. Thanks.”

            “No problem, love. You do realize, though, that I’ll be going first. The man always dies first.”

            “I hadn’t thought of that. If you go first, I promise I’ll make sure you’re dead before we bury you. We really should ask the boys to take care of this for us. What if we go together?”

            “Aw Vic, you’re such a romantic.”

            “I know,” I answered. “It’s because I really love you.”

            “I love you, too. Can we stop talking about this now? It’s depressing and disturbing.”

            “It is?”

            “Yes. And strange and creepy.”

            “OK. But you will make sure I’m….”

            “Yes. Enough already.”




Friday, June 24, 2011

Happy 50th Anniversary, Mom and Dad

The date was June 24, 1961. They gazed deeply into each other’s eyes and solemnly promised to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, for as long as they both shall live. For two just-turned-19 year olds, that was quite a promise. Would the love they felt for each other now be just as strong 20 years from now, 35 years from now, 50 years from now?

Later that day, they smiled when they heard on the radio that the Chicago White Sox had beaten the Washington Senators. It was a good omen for the two White Sox fans. The radio was always on in their home, playing the Top 20 of 1961, an eclectic mix: Travelin’ Man by Ricky Nelson, Big Bad John by Jimmy Dean, and The Lion Sleeps Tonight by The Tokens. They saw West Side Story in the movie theater and wished they could scrape together enough money to see it again. They watched the debut of The Wide World of Sports on their tiny black and white TV, cringing together as that poor skier relived “the agony of defeat” week after week. They were saddened by the passing of Gary Cooper and Chico Marx.

In 1962, they welcomed their first child, a daughter. Life tumbled along faster after that. Their second daughter was born in 1968. Sesame Street debuted and if the motley Cookie Monster doll was forgotten, they went back home to get him. They tag-teamed, working together to parent the two little girls as well as they knew how. They agonized over measles and the flu, and wondered how they were going to pay for the shoes that rapidly growing little feet require. They relied on each other more than ever.

The mid-1970’s brought the dreaded “C” word into their home. Cancer. How could she have cancer at only 36? She fought it with everything she had in her. She would be there for her daughters. She would live to see her grandchildren. And she would be there for him; that was important. He needed her and loved her even more than he had in 1961. She was a survivor.

The girls graduated from high school, graduated from college, got married and moved away. They traveled as often as they could to see their grandchildren, vowing to make sure those children knew who their grandparents were and knew that they loved them. Christmases were joyful; the whole family gathered to celebrate being together.

It was hard when the last of the older generation – his mother in 1999 and her father in 2003 – passed away. They remarked to each other that they were now the oldest generation, and wasn’t that strange. How were they supposed to take on the mantle of the wise elder for the next generations when they often felt as if they were still winging it day by day?

June 24, 2011 is their 50th wedding anniversary. They had worked, fought, cried, smiled, laughed, supported and loved each other for 50 years. They looked around the table at their daughters, sons-in-law, and grandchildren and were proud of all they had accomplished. Their 50 year anniversary was as good a place as any to pause and reflect on the past.

But dwelling on the past wasn’t in their nature. Tomorrow, she wanted to go shopping with her daughters and granddaughter. They had a trip to France planned for the fall, and she needed some new clothes to take. After the photo safari in Africa last year, and dancing with the natives on Papua New Guinea the year before, she had wanted to go someplace more relaxing this year. They smiled at each other across the table. The first fifty years of marriage had been rich and fulfilling; what would the next 50 bring?

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad. I love you both.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Did I hit them all today? I think I did. Sex, Politics, and Religion

            The wrap-up of ex-Representative Anthony Weiner’s headline-making sexting scandal as well as his subsequent resignation from the U.S. Congress has finally been relegated to below the fold of the metaphorical newspaper, perhaps even shoved into a short column on page 25 between the obituaries and the ads for Viagra. It’s about time.

            Of course, Americans were titillated by the story, which is one reason it had such staying power.  Weiner-gate jokes practically wrote themselves. We do love a good political sex scandal to take our minds off of the depressing news about the economy et al, don’t we? When ABC finally stops showing All My Children, I suggest that they fill the time slot with All My Congressmen. And to think that we once thought CSPAN was boring!

            These political sex scandals make Americans look like Puritanical idiots in the eyes of the rest of the world. I remember taking a trip to Ireland during President Clinton’s “I did not have sex with that woman…” scandal and having to defend the impeachment process. As we all know, Bill Clinton had the right to share his cigar with any consenting adult. Yes, he had that right even if he was smoking it in the Oval Office. He did not have the right to commit perjury in a court of law. That was the illegal part. Try explaining that to a bunch of Irish gentlemen in a pub after a few rounds of Guinness. They thought Bill’s wife should have smacked him upside the head with a broom and been done with the thing. You can see their point, really.

            I believe that the way to stop these embarrassing sex scandals is to elect people who have integrity and intelligence. We could elect…well…how about an Amish president? Except for Willard Yoder, who got himself in a spot of trouble when he was caught sexting a minor girl yesterday, the Amish seem to have…. You’re shaking your head. OK, so maybe that’s not a good example.

            How about you? You have integrity and intelligence. Please consider running in our next elections. For any open office. Uncle Sam needs you!


Monday, June 20, 2011

Enid Blyton - A Top 10 Author in My Book

            Enid Blyton is now officially the “38th best thing that people like about Britain.” I must disagree on this point; Ms. Blyton’s children’s novels rank much higher than 38th on a list of things I like about England.

            I cannot tell you how happy I was to discover Enid Blyton’s books at Harrod’s one afternoon when I was a kid. Nothing like being on a trip and running out of stuff to read. I adored the first Malory Towers book, and made my mother go back to Harrod’s the next day to buy me everything else that had Enid Blyton’s name on it. It was 1972.
            Unfortunately, Enid Blyton never did become as famous in the U.S. as she was in England. It was difficult to locate copies of the books I was missing in the Malory Towers series, and impossible to find more than 2 of the books in the St. Clare’s series. It was easier to find the Famous Five and Secret Seven adventures. You can even find the occasional copy for sale today at wonderful children’s bookstores such as The Little Shop of Stories on the square in Decatur, GA.

            Enid Blyton died in 1968, years before I found her stories. Her legacy, however, lived on through the Enid Blyton Children’s Foundation, which has donated more than £500,000 to children’s charities over the years. The foundation is about to close, though, because the Payments Council in Britain has announced that they will stop cheque clearing in the near future. Unwilling to change to new technology, Ms. Blyton’s daughter has decided to donate the foundation’s £750,000 endowment to Seven Stories, a national centre for children's books, based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

            What a wonderful thing to be able to give hours of reading bliss to children around the world! Enid Blyton’s stories might be dated today, but those of us who grew up reading them smile when we think of the Famous Five going off on another adventure. What lies between the covers of that precious book? Read it and find out.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Clowns and Other Fashionistas

            “Gloria, do you think my hair clashes with my shirt?” She eyed me carefully from across the table in the new coffee house we were checking out.

            “Well, maybe a little. Your shirt is pastel pink and your hair is Georgia-clay orange today. That’s not usually a good color pairing.”

            I sighed. “That’s what I thought. The hot-pink lipstick has to go, too.”

            Gloria nodded. “Probably. But you know it doesn’t really matter. It’s who you are on the inside that counts, not on the outside.”

            I rolled my eyes, teenager style. “Puh-lease. That’s what people always say when they don’t want to tell you that you’re dressed like a clown.”

            “You are not dressed like a clown,” Gloria laughed. “Although you are wearing clown shoes.”

            “Are you implying that I have big feet, Cinderella?” Gloria’s dainty feet definitely would have fit into those stupid glass slippers.

            “And your nose is a red ball,” she said as I sneezed for the 15th time.

            “I have a cold,” I whined.

            “Don’t worry about it, girl. Maybe there’s a job opening at Barnum & Bailey’s for someone with your particular talents.”

            “That’s really amusing, Gloria.” I stuck my tongue out at her.

            “Or you could consider that it really is what’s on the inside that matters. You’re a good, caring person and I value your friendship. Stop worrying about your hair clashing with your shirt.”

            I started to cry, adding red eyes and tear-streaked cheeks to the overall appearance. I blew my nose loudly. “I love you, Gloria.”

            “I love you, too. No, don't hug me. That cold looks nasty and it's making you all weepy and silly.”

            I nodded in agreement. “No sharing of the cold. Got it.”  

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

It's "Be Kind to Your Barista" Day

            “It’s a great day at Starbucks in Snellville. What can I start for you today?”

            “I hate when you do that,” answered the crabby anonymous voice from the drive-thru speaker. “It takes too long and I’m in a hurry.”

            Karla sighed and looked around to see if she could pawn off this customer on a co-worker who was smiling and happy. The smiling and happy ones were busy waiting on customers who were smiling back at them. “I’m sorry, sir. What would you like?”

            “…with extra syrup and no whip.” He had started giving his order before she had finished speaking, and she had missed the beginning.

            “I’m sorry, sir. Would you please repeat your order?”

            “Damn it. You people are incompetent. No wonder you’re working at Starbucks making minimum wage instead of getting a real job.”

            Karla drove to Georgia Tech for engineering classes 5 mornings a week, and worked part-time at Starbucks so she could afford gas, textbooks and food. The Hope Scholarship didn’t pay enough of her college tuition, and she suspected that next year they were going to cover even less. It was going to take her the rest of her life to pay off her student loans. She bit her lip.

            “What would you like, sir?”

            “I’d like for you to get my order right, for a change. I have my doubts that’s ever going to happen. I want a mocha latte with extra syrup and no whip.”

            “What size, sir?”

            “I’ve already told you at least three times. Grande, little girl, grande.”

            “Thank you. Please drive around to the window.”

            He was in front of her before she had stopped speaking. His coffee wasn’t ready yet. Karla leaned out the window and tried to transform her grimace into a smile. It was hard with her teeth clenched together so tightly.  “That’s $3.98, sir.”

            He handed her a $5.00 bill. “You do know how to make change, don’t you?”

            Karla pretended she hadn’t heard him as she handed him a dollar bill and two pennies. He dropped the two pennies into the tip jar with a smirk. “That’s for you, little girl.”

            Karla shut the window with a click and turned to look at her co-worker, who was holding the rude man’s coffee. “You give it to him,” she begged.

            “Not on your life,” Leo laughed. “I’d tell him off and get fired. I don’t know how you deal with nasty customers like that.”

            Karla took the coffee and opened the drive-thru window. “Here’s your order, sir.” She handed him the cup, shut the window and walked away. It was less than 15 seconds before there was a knock on the window. She pretended not to hear it as she downed a glass of water and two Tylenol tablets.

            “Karla, your customer wants something,” Leo called to her. “Probably a good slap upside his stupid head.”

            “Yes, sir?” Karla rubbed her throbbing temple as she opened the window.

            “This doesn’t have extra syrup. I told you I wanted extra syrup.”

            “I’ll make a new one for you,” she offered. It was Starbucks’ company policy that if it wasn’t right, they would make it again.

            “I told you I’m in a hurry. I don’t have time for you to make it again. You should have made it right the first time. You just lost yourself a good customer, girly. I’m never coming to this Starbucks again.” He took off, missing the drive-thru cones by a millimeter or two.

            Karla turned around and beamed at Leo. “Do you suppose he meant it? He’s never coming back?”

            “Nah. He’ll be back. He’s the kind who likes to have something to complain about,” Leo predicted.

            “Thanks, Leo.” Karla rolled her eyes. “You could have given me a little false hope, you know.”

            Leo sang an off-key version of “That’s What Friends Are For”.

            Karla grinned as she answered the drive-through buzzer. Maybe this customer would be human.

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Really Cool Job Interview Strategy

            “What are your expectations if you are offered a position?” The man in the black pinstripe suit looked down at some paperwork in his lap. His suit was perfectly tailored for him, the cuffs of his white shirt protruded from his sleeves the exactly correct length, and he had a white handkerchief tucked into the breast pocket. His dark hair was slicked back and he sported a thick gold chain instead of a tie. He looked like a middle level Mafioso. I hoped the girl across from him was going to think twice before accepting any job he might be offering.

            “I’m looking for a partnership….” She managed not to look irritated when he took a cell call right as she began to answer. She was young enough to have ordered a grande frappuchino with whipped cream and caramel syrup at a job interview, and young enough to look fabulous in a black suit, hose and high heels. She scribbled something on the legal pad on her lap, sat back in her armchair and crossed her legs.

            He cut his call short, and focused his attention on her. On her legs, that is. She smiled. I got the feeling that she was older than she looked. “I’m interested in becoming a partner.”

            His eyes snapped up to her face. “A partner?” He checked the paperwork on his lap, and came up with nothing.

            “I’m looking for a firm in which I can invest both my time and my money. What does your firm have to offer me?”
            I hid my chuckle behind my latte cup. Her attitude screamed lawyer. She was now interviewing him. If I ever get into trouble, I want that girl to represent me.

He appeared to have been smacked on the back of the head with a two-by-four. He narrowed his eyes and looked at her – really looked at her – for the first time. He had underestimated her, and I could tell that he wouldn’t do that again. “Maybe we should finish this interview at the office,” he suggested.

“Sure,” she said, opening the calendar program on her IPhone. “Tomorrow at 10 works for me, or I can fit you in Wednesday at 4.”

 He chose Wednesday at 4, gathered his files and his bottle of Perrier (I didn’t even know that Starbucks sold Perrier), and hustled out the door.

She sat in the armchair and sipped her coffee for a while. Her hand shook just the slightest little bit as she entered the appointment into her completely empty calendar.

            I was totally impressed. It was the best job interview I’d ever seen, and since I spend a considerable amount of time writing at Starbucks, I’ve eavesdropped on a lot of them. You go, girl!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Hummers and Crazy Klingons

            I know when I hear Lieutenant Worf’s voice in my head bellowing “today is a good day to die” that I might be in trouble. Klingons like the challenge of a tough battle, and death is not a deterrent to jumping right in. They tend to be reckless. For me, though, the tiny Worf in my head is more of a warning device. “Today is a good day to die” is not a motto I live by.

            My Caravan, a.k.a. the mom-mobile, is a little piece of home that I take with me, just like a turtle carrying its shell. It was 92 degrees F outside and my air conditioner works like a dream. It was comfortable, Brad Paisley was crooning to me, and I was in no hurry to get to the Publix. I took a winding little back road instead of joining the traffic on the highway. The speed limit was 35 mph; I was going 40. The road was curvy and it was fun to drive. I was enjoying myself until Worf gleefully shouted that “today is a good day to die!” Huh?

            The black Hummer was less than 4 inches from my back bumper. Who does that? Instinctively, I increased my speed. I was going 45 and I knew there was a sharp curve up ahead. Behind me, the Hummer was still attached to my bumper. I gently put my foot on the brake. The Hummer started to pass me, right on the curve. If there was a car coming from the opposite direction, I really was going to die. I pulled off onto the grass, throwing gravel from all four tires as I skidded to a stop. The Hummer and the little Honda Civic just missed each other, and I sat there shaking in my tennis shoes.

            “Today is NOT a good day to die,” I shouted. The little Worf in my head shrugged and went away. All I have to say is that Klingons should not be given licenses to drive Hummers.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Rep. Weiner's Briefs on Display in Seattle

            “I’m sick of hearing about politicians’ sex scandals.”

            “You and me both, sister,” Gloria answered.

            I held up my laptop for her to see. “Have you seen this picture of Representative Anthony Weiner’s underwear?”

            “Yeah. Pathetic, isn’t it? He could at least have worn something other than grey cotton knit briefs. That makes the whole thing even sadder.”

            “I know. He needs to get a Speedo, right? At least then we’d have something worth looking at.”

            Gloria squinted at the picture Rep. Weiner had sexted to a girl who was considerably younger than he. “It’s possible, but it’s hard to tell from this angle.”

            We both smirked.

            “If he had sexted that picture to me, I would have laughed,” I announced. “I’ve laundered too many pairs of those grey cotton briefs in the past 28 years of marriage to find them even remotely sexy.”

            “I guess that’s why he sent the photo to a 21-year-old instead of to you,” Gloria teased.

            I chuckled. “You know that’s right. I’m not sure why men think women want to see pictures like that anyway. They really are clueless, aren’t they?”

            “Pretty much,” Gloria agreed. “You’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.”

            I lifted my grande iced chai latte in a toast. “Here’s to Representative Weiner and his grey briefs. May he wave them proudly for generations to come.”

            “That’s awful.” Gloria choked on her frappuccino. “I love it.”

           “It’s a gift,” I answered modestly, entering the line as my FB status. It is funny, if I say so myself.

Links about Rep. Weiner and his underpants:

Monday, June 6, 2011

Life, Death, and Rolling Tombstones

            Life hadn’t always been rainbows and candy hearts for Errol, but it sure beat being dead. He’d worked hard, played hard, and done pretty well for himself; anyone would say so. He’d married money, and then invested the small amount his father-in-law – the stingy old fart – had loaned him on his wedding day. His real estate decisions had been inspired. By the time he was fifty, Flynn, Inc. had made more money than the old man had ever had. He’d kept the old fart’s youngest daughter in champagne, Dolce and Gabbana dresses, and Jimmy Choo heels for thirty years. Alison had lived the good life, that’s for sure. Actually, she was still living the good life in their luxurious penthouse overlooking Central Park. He was the one stuck here in this pitifully landscaped, lower-class cemetery in, of all places, New Jersey. Life – or was it death? – just wasn’t fair.
            He perched on top of the modest black marble stone that had only his name and his birth and death dates carved on the front. There was no mention of his grand accomplishments, of his importance. This “memorial” was an outright insult. She should have built a grand monument to his name, complete with weeping angels and sorrowing saints. But no, she had consigned him to spend all of eternity in this dank hole in, of all places, New Jersey.
You’d have thought she’d be grateful for all he’d done for her. Instead, for the past few years she’d whined and griped about his “social life”. She never did understand that being successful in business was all about making contacts. If some of those contacts were female, young and sexy, well, it was all part of playing the game. His mom hadn’t named him Errol Flynn Reynolds for nothing. He’d been a swashbuckling pirate, a philanthropic Robin Hood, and a romantic Don Juan rolled into one. Women liked him and he liked them right back. It just wasn’t in him to be faithful to one woman. That was too much to ask of any man, in his opinion.

He jumped off the stone and absently ran a hand through his wavy dark hair as he stared at the car driving through the rusty iron cemetery gates. It had been at least six months since he’d died. Despite the popularity he’d enjoyed when he’d been alive, no one ever came to visit him here. He chuckled mirthlessly. No one in his crowd would be caught dead in this place. He narrowed his eyes; it was his red Porsche convertible. If he’d had doubts about it, they fled as the car drew close enough that he could read FLYNN on the license plate.

Gravel shot from the back tires as she pulled the car to the side of the narrow road and parked. “Well, well,” he remarked, “if it isn’t the grieving widow come to pay her respects.”

Alison gracefully exited the car and walked toward him, or rather, toward his so-called “memorial” stone. Errol waited, his arms crossed, for her to speak. The living felt free to talk to the dead, usually having little faith that their loved ones could actually hear them, and he couldn’t wait to hear what she wanted to say.

She said nothing. Instead, she held out her hand to the man unfolding himself from the passenger seat of the Porsche. He winked at her as he walked over and took her hand in his. He was a slightly older version of Michelangelo’s David come to life and Errol hated him on sight.

Alison stood on her tiptoes and kissed the man. “For heaven’s sake, Ali,” Errol yelled, “what are you doing?” She couldn’t hear him, of course. Damn, but it was frustrating to be dead.

The kiss grew passionate. Errol watched in disbelief as the man took off what was unmistakably an Armani jacket and spread it on the ground behind the black marble stone. Alison and the man, unbuttoning each other’s shirts, sank to their knees.

“Stop it right now,” Errol bellowed. “You’re my wife, damn it. How dare you betray me like this?”

There was no doubt about it; Alison and some pretty-boy were being intimate right on top of Errol’s mortal remains. It was the ultimate disrespect, and Errol wasn’t going to let her get away with it. He pushed against the black marble stone. His fingers went right through it at first, but then gradually, as he concentrated, he felt the smooth surface of the stone under his palms. He shoved, and the tombstone rocked back and forth the slightest bit. Alison and her friend, being otherwise engaged, didn’t notice.

He took a deep breath, a habit since he didn’t need to breathe anymore, and thrust against the stone with the full force of his anger.  The tombstone toppled over.

There was a moment of stunned silence, and then Alison began to laugh. The couple had rolled at the last second, and the stone had completely missed them. The only casualty was the Armani jacket, now lying under the chiseled marble.

“Now you know what it feels like, Errol.” She laughed again and quickly arranged her clothing. “Allow me to introduce my fiancĂ© Pierre to you.”

Errol growled deep in his throat, but the pair heard only the groan of a diesel truck on the nearby turnpike.

“Nice to meet you, sir,” Pierre said politely, tucking in his shirt. He was dubious about the whole talking-to-the-dead thing, but he loved Alison with all his heart. If she wanted him to “meet” her dead husband, he’d go along with it. It was crazy about the stone falling over like that, though. It must not have been placed on the stand properly.

“Let’s go, Pierre,” Alison suggested. She tossed the keys to the Porsche to Pierre and got in the passenger side. “Would you mind driving? I’m tired.”

Pierre started the car – Errol’s car – and took off down the road with the love of his life – Errol’s wife. Errol’s single possession was a now-flat black marble tombstone with only his name and his birth and death dates etched on the front. Dejectedly, he sat down on the stone. It wasn’t fair. He’d never done anything to deserve this tragic ending, had he? Had he?

You'll like this link:  http://www.nj.com/mercer/index.ssf/2011/06/woman_injured_by_rolling_grave.html

Friday, June 3, 2011

Lettuce and Tomatoes and Cucumbers, Oh My!

Scientists and Complicated Stuff

The World Health Organization is currently investigating a particularly nasty strain of E. coli that is making people in Europe extremely ill. Since the bacteria has been traced to cucumbers, lettuce and tomatoes, Europeans are steering clear of salads these days. A wise choice.

            Of course, the scientists studying the outbreak have all kinds of questions to answer. They want to know more about this mutated strain of e-coli. They want to know where it came from. They want to know how it got into the infected vegetables. They want to know…why the outbreak mainly hit women over 20.

            Hilde Kruse, a food safety expert at the World Health Organization, reports,Previous E. coli outbreaks have mainly hit children and the elderly, but the European outbreak is disproportionately affecting adults, especially women. There might be something particular about the bacteria strain that makes it more dangerous for adults.”

            Really? “Something particular about the bacteria strain?” It sounds to me like she’ll need a heap of grant money to test out that hypothesis.

Now consider this personal observation:

“Do you want salad for lunch? I bought the nicest tomatoes and lettuce at the farmers’ market. I love summer, don’t you?”

            “Uh huh.”

            “I’ll wash the lettuce and you cut up the veggies, OK?”

            “Uh uh.”

            “Use your words, sweetie. I don’t understand what you’re telling me.”

            “Jeez, Mom, I’m seventeen. That Sesame Street voice drives me nuts.”

            Of course it does. That’s why I still use it.

            Alex sighed heavily and rolled his eyes so far back in his head that I could only see white. I wondered for a moment if I was going to have to call 911. Then I wondered how many teenagers got their eyes stuck like that every year. Do you suppose hospitals keep statistics on how many teens are brought in with severe eye-rollback? That’s probably important information to know if you’re lucky enough to be the parent of a teen.

“Yes, I love summer. No, I don’t want salad for lunch.”

            “Really? Are you sure?”

            “Yup. I love summer.”

            He grinned at me.

            I bit my bottom lip to keep from laughing. “You don’t want salad for lunch?”

            “Nope. You want me to pick up something for you at Chik-fil-A?”

            “I’m going to have salad, but thanks anyway,” I answered.

Wait for it, wait for it….

            “Do you have a couple bucks I can borrow?”

            It was my turn to sigh. “Are you sure you don’t want a salad?”

            “Oh, I’m sure.”

            “Hand me my purse.”

            “Thanks, Mom.” He bent down and kissed the top of my head as I handed him $10.

            “Whatever,” I mumbled. “That just leaves more salad for me.”

Which leaves us with my scientific theory:

           I think that women over 20 were disproportionately affected by E. coli because women over 20 eat more salads than other groups. If they have eaten more of the infected vegetables than other groups, wouldn't you expect them to have a higher instance of illness? I would. Simple. Case closed. 

In Conclusion:

            I would like to suggest that the grant money that is currently being used to figure out why women over 20 were disproportionately affected by E. coli be used to fund a study on the effect of eye-rolling in the teenage population. Many parents suspect that long-term use of this gesture of disgust has caused brain damage in their teens. It would be nice to know for sure.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Reporter and the Flat Tire

            You know it’s a slow news day when the top news is about a flat tire. Yes, it’s true. A reporter for First Coast News in St. Augustine, FL was delayed by a flat tire while on her way to an assignment. Unable to report on the news she was supposed to supply, she reported to those watching on TV and internet that she was having transportation difficulties. Her report included video of the damaged tire and was very thorough. Kudos, my friend, for finding something to fill in what would otherwise have been 30 seconds of dead air. You really think on your feet, girl!

            I, unfortunately, do not even have anything as mundane as a flat tire to report to you today. My life is boring in comparison. Let’s see…I only had to clean up puppy pee once this morning. I suspect you don’t want to hear about that, but I will tell you that we are making great progress in the housebreaking department. Great…um…progress.

I had lunch at a Chinese restaurant with my husband. The waitress thinks that my husband and I are cute. We eat there every Tuesday at noon, and we both always order the same thing. He gets Kung Pao chicken. It’s not that I don’t like to try new foods, mind you, I just happen to like the cashew chicken. I am so not in a rut.

My friend Lily was feeling well today when I visited her at the nursing home. We had a nice visit. The highlight was learning that both of us are indeed smarter than 5th graders. It does make us wonder about the future of the country, though, that many of the contestants are not. Today, Bethany somebody from Real Housewives of New York couldn’t tell us how many stars were on the first official US flag. Yes, she said 50. She’d never heard of the thirteen original colonies and Betsy Ross? Bethany is exceedingly rich, while I squeeze out every last bit of toothpaste and take my own cup to Starbucks to save a dime. What’s wrong with this picture?

Now I’m at the office – my favorite Starbucks in Snellville – trying to think of something witty and profound to write.  You can judge for yourself how that’s working out for me. Sigh.

I guess I’ll go home and take the puppy outside, where hopefully he will do his business. If not, I’ll give you an update in my article on Friday.

            JUST KIDDING! I’m sure that between now and Friday I’ll think of something witty and profound about which to write. Have I ever let you down? I mean other than today, smarty-pants. Sigh.