What Is Love? Hmmm …

True love is an amazing thing. 

My wife is an amazing woman. I can go on for hours and days about how amazing she is. I, honestly, do not deserve a woman like her. We’ve been together 25 years and she constantly shows me what true love is. 

I can’t say that I have always shown her the same. However, I can go back to one time in particular where I showed my wife how much I loved her … and then some.

We were still young newlyweds with no kids at the time. It was a Sunday morning and we were getting ready for church. She came out of the bedroom with a frustrated look on her face. If you don’t know what that is, don’t clean up after yourself for a day or two and you will see it from your significant other. 

“Can you do me a favor?” she asked.

“What kind of favor?” I’ve learned when someone ask you to do them a favor, you should always find out what it is before committing. Some favors are loaded dynamite waiting to explode.

“I’m out of tampons,” she said without smiling. “Can you run to the store and get them for me?”

I’m sure I stared at her for a few seconds in disbelief. She wanted me to go to a store by myself to purchase feminine hygiene products. “Ummm …”

“Please?”

First of all, she should not have had to say please. I had already failed. 

I nodded and said, “Okay, but what am I getting?”

Even though we had only been married a short time, she already knew the most important thing she could do was write exactly what she wanted down. A minute later she handed me a piece of paper with the names of the products she needed. I took the paper, read it and looked back at her. 

She smiled big and gave me a cute, “I love you.” It was one of those ‘I’ll love you forever if you do this for me’ I love yous.

“I love you, too,” I said and left the house. 


Back then, when the dinosaurs were merely dead and not quite fossils, there was still a drugstore chain named Eckard’s, and there just happen to be one five minutes from the house.

I drove to Eckard’s, got out of the car and went inside. I strolled around, not really searching for the aisle I needed, putting off the inevitable for as long as possible. Eventually, I found the feminine hygiene aisle and stared blankly at all of the products. I stood there wondering ‘what have I gotten myself into?’ There were so many different packages with their pinks and purples and blues and greens, and most of them had similar names. 

I pulled out the piece of paper, which had been crumpled and shoved into my front pocket. I read the first of the two items and began The Search For That Which Terrifies Me. This was an easy find. It wasn’t quite eye level but close enough to where i didn’t have to bend over or squat to find it. The second one took a little longer to find. I looked at the paper, then at the shelves, then back to the paper. I did this several times. I even picked up what I thought was the right pack, but it didn’t feel right. I looked at her list again. There was one word that was different, so I put it back and the search continued. 

“A-ha,” I all but yelled when I found the right package with the exact wording as her note. I cringed—physically, to the point of my shoulders scrunching up and me ducking slightly, then looking around as if I had committed a crime and someone had seen it. I picked the package up and looked at it as if it was a newborn child. Maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I did have somewhat of a triumphant, ‘ha, I found you,’ feeling going on. It’s almost like I killed the wabbit, and in the next scene I would be wondering what have I done?

I thought that would be the difficult part. I was wrong.

This was a drug store and it was Sunday morning. There shouldn’t have been as many people in it as there were. More importantly, there shouldn’t have been as many attractive women in there as there were. Yeah, yeah, I know, why did I notice the attractive women and blah, blah, blah … It’s definitely not what you think, unless you think, ‘hey, he only noticed they were women because, well, they were women and not men, and if they would have been men, then he would have noticed that, too.’ Bottom line: I’m a writer. I notice things. Stick with the story, people!

I left the famine hygiene aisle, head held high, listening to my internal soundtrack playing We Are the Champions. Of course, the lyrics were slightly different:

I am the champion, my friends.

I found the tampons in the end.

I am a champion

Found the pads and tampons

‘Cause I am the champion … for my girl.

Along with the Weird Al-esque singing in my head, I probably had my Bee Gees Staying Alive strut working. My short hair was probably not blowing in a nonexistent breeze, and I didn’t have a beard but a goatee, and I certainly didn’t wear bell bottoms. But I still thought I was The Fonz when I walked into a room. If you don’t know the reference, Google is your friend. I was young and dumb and didn’t think people noticed. I’m probably right. 

As I approached the checkout counter I noticed the pretty young lady behind the counter, and the two pretty young ladies waiting to be checked out. I get in line holding a box of tampons in one hand and a pack of pads in the other. Two more young ladies get in line behind me. See what I mean about too many people in a small drug store on a Sunday morning?

So, here are these five attractive women … and me. The one lady directly behind me glanced at the feminine gifts for my wife and smiled. I don’t know if that was a ‘that is awesome of you,’ smile or a ‘you won’t be getting any anytime soon,’ smile. It was probably a little bit of both. I will be honest and say I was a little uncomfortable. 

The first lady in line checked out, and we all moved up a couple of steps. The young lady behind the counter glanced at me and gave me the same smile the one behind me did, but I could see the smile was in her eyes, too. It was as if everyone was in on the joke, except for me. 

The second lady paid for her items and walked off. I stepped up, placed my two products on the counter. By then I felt naked and alone and as if I were being laughed at behind my back. The lady behind the counter picked up the tampons and looked at them, then at me. She didn’t smile when she asked, “Are these for you?”

I venture to say a lot of folks would have frozen with that question. Is she serious? is she sarcastic? Not me. I’m usually pretty quick witted.

Without smiling and in my best stoner’s shakiest voice I said, “I have a really bad bleeding problem.”

Her mouth dropped open and her cheeks flushed red, and that is how I showed my wife what true love is. 

Y’all, have a good day, stay safe and until we meet again my friends, be kind to one another.

A.J.

Musings And Such

Musings from the week of 1/13/19-1/19/19 that may interest only me.

On Tuesday I discovered you can hear yourself brushing your teeth. It’s not quite disturbing, but this type of epiphany startled me. I’ve been brushing my teeth my entire life and I never noticed the sound of brush on teeth. What makes it even more interesting is the difference in the sound depending on what part of your teeth you are brushing. For me, when I’m brushing my upper back teeth, the sound is so much louder than when I am brushing the lower back teeth. It’s also a little more hollow than when I brush the front teeth. I know, right?

My dislike for Amazon keeps growing and growing. 

On Thursday, I turned on the turntable and listened to the soundtrack for Grease on vinyl. It was a glorious sound. The next day I could not stop singing, You’re the One That I Want, getting particularly animated at the Oo oo oo parts. 

screen shot 2019-01-20 at 5.51.43 pmHere is a picture I took on one of the photo filter thingies. 

My son has a weird dance he does that makes me laugh every time. Sometimes, though, I’m not sure if his dance is funny or lewd. Either way, it is entertaining

I’ve been complaining about customer service a lot lately. I just don’t feel that most people in customer service understand that the easiest way to diffuse the temper of an angry customer is to actually act like you care about their problem. 

Speaking of customer service, there is so much more of it now than ever before. What? Am I serious? After complaining about bad customer service, how can I possibly say there is more customer service out there than ever before? It’s simple: self checkout. Customers are servicing themselves more and more these days. I guess bad human interaction will do that for yah.

Every time I shave, I look in the mirror for several seconds. That’s not too unusual, until you consider I do it as if I am Steve Perry from Journey in the video Faithfully just before he shaves off his mustache. Sadly, I can’t sing like him and the closest I can come to actually growing facial hair is akin to mimicking a porcupine’s bristles. 

1 DUM COVERAs much as I loathe Amazon, another author made a very good point in a discussion on social media. She said having your books on Amazon gives you credibility with the reading populace. I thought about this and I believe she is right. How many times have I been asked if my books were on Amazon or available for Kindle? A ton. So, I may not care much for Amazon, but it has become a necessary evil for the authors on the lower to middle of the totem pole. With that in mind, I shamelessly plug my Amazon Author Page. Check it out, purchase a couple of books, read them, leave a review. Please.

I think there needs to be a new law passed concerning elevator etiquette. I believe if you are a violator of certain unwritten rules (which I will write here for you) of elevator etiquette, you should get crotch punched by everyone on or waiting for the elevator. 

(DISCLAIMER: this is all in good fun. Please, don’t take any of it seriously. It’s a joke. Laugh a little.)

Here we go:

If you are a man and you step in front of a woman to get on the elevator instead of holding the door open for her, you should get crotch punched. Don’t tell me your defense to that bit of douche baggery is because of women’s rights. It’s called respect. If you can’t show it for a woman, then you deserve to get your junk punched.

To go with that, if someone is already in the lobby when you walk up and the elevator door opens and you step in front of the person (or people) who were there first, you get a swift jab to the boys and then you get dragged off the elevator so you can wait your turn. 

If you get on the elevator and then hold the door open for fifteen other people who aren’t even close to the elevator, you should get your crotch punched. Speaking for myself, I don’t do well in small, cramped places with a lot of people. I’m not claustrophobic at all. I just don’t like people that much to stand arm to arm, butt to crotch close to people. It’s one thing if there is someone right behind you. It would be rude if you closed the door on them, but for those people who are off in the distance, let the door close.

On the same token, but the other side, if you are the person who hits the CLOSE DOOR button several times once you get in the elevator, you should get your crotch punched. No, I don’t want you holding the door for every Tom, Dick and Harry off in the distance, but dang, how about just letting the door close on its own, Mr. Impatient.

If you fart on the elevator, you need your junk punched several times. Period. 

If you fart and then get off the elevator, everyone on there with you should be allowed to go back to the floor you got off on, hunt you down, pin you to the floor and punch you in the crotch. We don’t want your dust cropping, thank you very much.

If you get on the elevator and do not move to the back of the car so others can get on, yeah, you get your junk punched. On the same hand, if you stand by the buttons that people need to press and don’t move or, at the very least, offer to push the button for the floor they need, you get punched in the family jewels. 

If you can’t say excuse me when you bump someone with your hand cart, briefcase, shopping bags, box or whatever, yup, you guessed it, a good old crotch punch is in your future. 

If someone holds the door for you and you don’t have the courtesy to say, “Thank you,” get ready to double over. 

If someone says ‘hello’ to you on the elevator, please don’t be rude and say nothing or grunt or roll your eyes. It’s a ‘hello.’ There is nothing committal in responding in kind. Yeah, I know some folks might say they don’t have to talk to anyone if they don’t want to. You are correct, but I reserve the right to junk punch you if you are rude when someone greets you. 

If you try to get on the elevator before everyone has had a chance to get off, you need your crotch smacked. It’s simple: Don’t get on until everyone else is off.

There are others, but these are the ones I experienced in the past week. I’m sure I will amend this by the end of next week. 

My favorite Metallica song is I Disappear. 

map_img_1013283_1487183286One last thing: if you are receiving snow, make me a snowman. I live in South Carolina and in the half of the state that never gets snow, so I live vicariously through you.

As always, until we meet again my friends, be kind to one another.

A.J.

(Now, go and brush your teeth. You know you want to.)

You So Sexy …

I was recently scrolling through posts on that great time waste known as Facebook. These days social media is more about rants, political sparring, kitties and memes meant to guilt people into clicking ‘like’ and sharing or you aren’t a good christian, satanists, republicrat, dog lover, kid lover, spouse lover, friend, parent, child and over all human being. So, imagine my surprise when I came across one of the many posts that is meant to be funny but usually isn’t. This one, however, caught my eye.

It’s probably because of the title: HOW SEXY IS YOUR NAME?

Ohhhhhh … intrigue had me at sexy. 

First, I am going to put this out there: you are only as sexy as you allow yourself to believe you are. No one can change that for you. I’m the sexiest thing since sliced bread. Yeah, that’s all sorts of sexy right there. Just don’t get me wet—I get all soggy when that happens.

According to the post you add up the numbers associated with the letters in your first name using the chart provided. There were four levels of sexiness, which I will recap here for you:

Under 60 points = Not Too Sexy

61-300 points = Pretty Sexy

301-600 = Very Sexy

Above 601 = The Ultimate Sexiest

Seriously? The ultimate sexiness is a score of 601 points or better? I don’t think so. Your name needs to rock it if you are going to be that sexy. I’m going to create my own categories here:

Under 60 points = Sorry, Charlie. You Didn’t Make The Cut, But The Cat Still Likes You.

61-300 points = Okay, So You’re Sexy

301-600 = Better Than Average Sexy

601-1000 = Oh Yeah, That’s Mm Mm Sexy 

1001-1500 = So Sexy Hot That If I Touch You I Will Burn My Fingers

1501 + = Goddess 

Screen Shot 2018-11-20 at 1.43.51 PM

First off, the name Jeff is short. Still, I can get 15 points a letter, right? Well, when I looked at the chart and saw that the F is worth only 12 points, I wasn’t so sure. The last two letters of my name accounted for a total of 24 points. I was starting to think it was just going to be me and the cat. The J was worth 100 points and the E was worth a whopping 145, for a grand total of 269. 

Sheesh. Okay, so I’m sexy, but I’m not better than average sexy, but I already knew that. 

So, I took the short version of my wife’s name since that is what she likes to go by. Just the T alone in the name CATE was worth 405 points. The C was worth only 19 points, but the A was worth 100 and the E was 145. My wife more than doubled my score at a robust 659. For those keeping score at home, that means my wife, using the name I call her is Oh Yeah, That’s Mm Mm Sexy. I’m good with that. I’ve always known she was the sexier or the two of us. I’m good with that. I said I’m good with that. Really. I am.

For toots and giggles I decided to figure out the score for her full first name: Catherine. I’m not doing the breakdown here, but just know that her total came out to a colossal 1874 points. Yes, my wife is a GODDESS. Let me do the math for you here. My wife is almost 7 times sexier than I am. I’m a lucky man. I’m a man who’s lucky. 

I knew this already, but clearly I needed social media to confirm it for me, because, you know, if it’s on Facebook it has to be true. I will say this: my wife is a goddess and I am a lucky man. Now, back to goofing off, scrolling through posts and doing nothing productive. Until we meet again, my friends, be kind to one another.

A.J.

(PS: If you want to figure out how sexy you are, just use the image above and post your totals below. Come on. Someone has to join me in the next to last category …)

 

Update 4/24/2012

Good morning, afternoon, evening wherever you may be.

April has been a rough month. I won’t deny that I haven’t posted near as much as I had planned, but I have been busy and, clearly, there has been a significant change in the way I view things in my life. I could talk about a bunch of things today, but I think I’m going to narrow them down to just a couple: Promoting and funny stuff.

First the funny stuff:

With all the rain we had Sunday, we stayed inside for the most part. There is this show called World’s Dumbest. Some of you may have seen this before. Bored and just kind of lazing around, we flipped on the television, scrolled through the list of shows and found World’s Dumbest was on.

And we watched it. I feel a tad less intelligent after watching it.

My son came in and sat down. It was about the time that this video was playing:

My son looked over at my wife and I and said, “They can make snow cones now.”

Yes, that’s my boy. Always looking on the bright side of things.

***

On to a little bit of promoting.

If you haven’t picked up a copy of my short story collection, Along the Splintered Path, I encourage you to do so.

The Blurbage:

Along the Splintered Path is a collection of stories written by up-and-coming horror author AJ Brown.

The Woodshed: A young man wrestles with the ghost of his past, an abusive father and a mentally unstable brother. As a last resort, he returns home to confront the evil he left behind. What he finds just may be the end of him.

‘Round These Bones: After a failed attempt at saving his marriage, James leaves the cottage get away in a huff. After skidding off the road, he is forced to find shelter from the coming snowstorm. When he falls down the edge of the mountain and breaks his ankle, the need for shelter becomes more important. James comes upon a small man made hut in the middle of the woods. Inside, he finds not only shelter, but something else…

Phillip’s Story: Down on his luck, Phillip comes into a bag of money that falls from the sky. Intertwined with the money is the story of the Williams brothers and how the money in the bag ends up falling from the sky. What Phillip does with the money could be his saving grace… or his greatest downfall.

You can find Along the Splintered Path on Amazon here

If you do pick up a copy, I hope you also would consider leaving a review. It doesn’t have to be fully detailed, just what you thought of the book, the stories.

As always, I thank you for taking the time to read Along the Splintered Path and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Do you like zombies? If so, then head on over to Tales of the Zombie Wars where my series, Dredging Up Memories currently resides. It follows the story of Hank Walker during the zombie apocalypse. You can find Dredging Up Memories here

Midnight Echo #7 is coming soon. My story Just Some Good Old Boys Sitting Around The Fire Talking *$#&# appears within it’s pages. This edition of Midnight Echo was put together by Daniel Russell and I’m looking forward to reading all of the stories in there. This is also the Taboo issue, so you can expect some subject matter that’s not your standard ho-hum stuff. You can follow this link to view the cover art and to pre-order a copy of Midnight Echo 7. Again, I appreciate any support you can lend to the small market authors and publishers out there.

Finally, but not least in my mind, is my new blog. It’s not for everyone. As a matter of fact, I believe it’s probably not for most people who have followed Type AJ Negative or my writing.

This is the blog I created about a month ago to write about The Bible and how I see it. I am a visual person and when I read I visualize things in great detail–a lot of this detail I try to leave out in my own stories, but in my mind where the stories develop, they are always there.

If you have followed me for any length of time, then you will know about what happened on March 21st of this year. You will know that I have had a change–a significant one–in my life. The thing is I can’t keep that change out of my writing and away from my blogs. So I created As I Sow It, for those who want to read less about my writing and personal life and more about things of The Bible. No, not religion–The Bible. It is as I see it and today I posted the first real blog post. It is called In Difficult Times.

For those who don’t care much for God and The Bible, this is not something you probably want to read (however, I encourage you to consider reading anyway). Out of respect for my readers, I will try not to have too many preachy type things on Type AJ Negative. I can’t guarantee there won’t be some, but not as many as could be.

Thank you for reading. As a writer, without all of you, my stories would have no meaning.

Until we meet again, my friends…

Elevator Craziness

If you have followed Type AJ Negative for any length of time, then you will know I have a fondness of elevators. No, it’s not quite a fetish… Okay, all six of you stop snickering…

I ride elevators quite frequently at work and quite often funny things happen. Or disturbing things. Or just things that make me want to punch folks. I personally think that what happened yesterday was funny.

Let me set the scene for you:

I stood at the elevator bay waiting for one of the five elevators to arrive. I work in a tall building with no thirteenth floor (that is for another post), so it’s rare that you get an elevator ride all by your lonesome. When one set of doors opened, two women just happened to walk up. There went my solo ride. Now, I’ve never been accused of not being courteous when it comes to females (though I have been called rude a few times), however I knew these two women and I can’t say I am particularly fond of either of them. For the sake of this, I will call them She Who Gossips One and She Who Gossips Two.

I held the elevator (despite my dislike for both of these women) and then get on after them. I will not lie and say I did not think about taking another elevator. But then the whole, he was being rude thing would come up and it would get around the job that I was rude and there would be whispers and dirty looks and… hmm… maybe I should have gotten on another elevator after all.

The problem with our elevators is they have mirrored doors so no matter where you stand, unless you are facing away from those doors, you can see everyone on the car with you. Not what I wanted at this particular time.

As you know (unless you’ve been living under a rock or never ridden in an elevator) those boxes with doors on cables aren’t all that big, so even if you try not to listen in on someone else’s conversation, you still hear it.

She Who Gossips One and She Who Gossips Two discussed One’s baby. Kind of hard to miss the conversation that went something like this:

SWGT: How’s the baby?
SWGO: Oh she’s not a baby any more. She’s seventeen months old and getting into everything. She never slows down and is one big handful.
SWGT: Are y’all (that would be ‘you all’ for folks outside the south) going to have any more kids?
SWGO: We want one more.
SWGT: Oh just have them close together. It gets better as they grow older.

This is where things got interesting. She Who Gossips Two made that statement and then added (and since most of you know me as A.J. I will change my given name to my initials for the sake of this post): “Isn’t that right, A.J.?”

Wait a minute here. First off, I don’t believe that folks have ‘concrete thoughts’ in situations like this. Yeah, there are usually fleeting words that run across the mind like one of those annoying weather warnings at the bottom of a television screen when you’re trying to watch your favorite show, but as far as actual concrete thoughts, I just don’t think many people have them. They usually react without so much thinking about it.

My only real thought was ‘why?’ And to that I say, “Why drag me into a conversation I don’t want to be in?”

So, the question was out there and I was pulled into a conversation with folks I don’t really like. It’s not like I interjected myself into the conversation. Oh no. I was pulled into it against my own free will, kicking, screaming, begging for mercy. Okay, maybe not begging for mercy, but definitely kicking and screaming.

So, what did I do?

Well, I looked at She Who Gossips Two and said, “That just depends.”

She responded, “Depends? On what?”

Understand, I did not actually think this response out before stating it, straight faced: “There is a history of psychotics in my family. I don’t think it would be wise for my wife and I to have another kid.”

Listen. What’s that sound? Oh yes. Silence. You could have heard someone breathing in the next building over it was so quiet in that elevator car.

She Who Gossips One lowered the Kindle she held and looked at me with somewhat wide eyes. She Who Gossips Two, well her jaw went slack and her eyes grew into saucer plates.

We all got off on our respective floors, them before me and I believe they moved just a little faster than they normally do. On my floor I stepped off the elevator and burst into laughter.

Did you pay attention to the two people’s names? There is one very important word in both of them: Gossip. We all know how gossip is and how it gets around. I wonder if or when I’ll find out about just how crazy my family really is. I’m waiting for the cautious glances, the quick turn arounds or detours from other folks. I can just hear it now, “A.J. really is crazy. He told so and so on the elevator one day.”

It could be quite entertaining.

Now, this is mostly where the story ends. However, lying in bed at three o’clock in the morning, I realized something vital to the words that rolled out my mouth on the elevator. I had not actually thought the words out, which I believe I stated. But the very notion that there were crazies in my family had to come from somewhere, right? It did. You see, I told the truth without even realizing it. I’m from a family of rednecks. Anyone who knows anybody that falls anywhere close to the category of redneck (and yes, Hill billies and White Trash fall there about), knows that there are some crazies in their blood line. It’s like a rite of passage: Beer, big trucks, doing stupid (and I mean stupid) stuff because you thought it would be funny, and crazy family members. It is what it is.

So, if you see me on the street, just give a wave, maybe even say hello. No need to cross to the other side because you may have heard ‘he’s a little crazy.’ If you do, I’ll cross, too…

Celebrating TEN

First things first. Today is my daughter’s tenth birthday. Wow. I can’t believe it. My Chloe is ten (officially at 7:07 pm) and I am just blown away. Where has the past decade gone?

So, in honor of my daughter’s birthday I am going to repost some of the blogs I’ve written over the last couple of years that involve Chloe and some of the things she has said and/or done. I hope you enjoy these little tales of mostly humor.

Before I do the reposts I would like to talk about this past weekend and Chloe’s birthday party. Chloe likes to skate and for the second time in three years she wanted her party to be at the skating rink. Hey, no problem. The kids get worn out and it’s not that expensive. It’s a win/win deal.

There was the peace cake sign, made by my wife. There were also several of her friends–all girls with the exception of Logan (known affectionately as, The Boy) and Chip (the boy who Chloe has been in love with since she was five or six years old). There were family members there as well, but let’s be honest, my kids don’t care about which family members show up as long as their friends are there and presents are aplenty.

Like any party, there were moments… you know, moments…

Logan bowled for bodies and wiped out Catherine, Chloe and Hailey (the cousin, who is parented by the couple I refer to as the Douches of Columbia). It was a perfect strike. You have to understand that the boy has learned how to skate and pick up speed, but he still has yet to learn how to stop. He is my unintentional Kick Buttowski–or is it intentional?? Hmm…

I’ve often said if you are going to show off, make certain what you are doing. Or at least, make sure not everyone is watching you.

During skate nights they have races for different age groups. The age group for 11 to 13 year olds was the next to last race. Only two people participated–a guy and a girl. Now, you may think this would be a boring race, and you would be right. Except, in the middle of it something happened.

Most of you know I don’t like show-offs and I don’t like to bring attention to myself, so when the girl (color and ethnicity left out on purpose so no one can get a clear image in their heads and claim racism) wearing the tiara and tight pants and brightly colored shirt strutted out onto the floor like she was the Queen of England, you couldn’t help but wonder how in the world could this chick win a speed race against a guy. Well, she didn’t.

The guy gave the girl a sizable cushion at the start so when the man on the P.A. system said ‘Go,’ the girl could have taken off and been halfway around the track before the guy even started. But, no. She had to stand there, posing and looking at everyone like they were slightly nuts, as if she were supposed to be gawked at and ogled by her masses of adoring fans. The guy tried to be a gentleman, so when he passed her, he stopped and motioned for her to race, even putting his arms out before him in a ‘ladies first’ gesture.

You would think she would begin racing, right? Wrong. It took the group of folks she came with yelling for her to go to get her to take off. Even then, she went slow, showing off her elegance and grace. She then did this spin type of motion and… her skate shot out from under her. It was a Batman kind of moment with a solid WHAM as she struck the floor. Her face took the brunt of the blow. The tiara skittered across the floor. This was clearly a skating FAIL.

This is NOT funny in the least. This could have been tragic. She could have been hurt. Her group ran to her, as did her opponent. There was concern on everyone’s faces. But, what did the girl do? She refused the help offered to her, both by the people in her group and then the guy who she was supposed to race against. She eventually skated off the floor in defiance, the tiara back on her head and her friends shaking their heads. There were chuckles.

Some will not like what I am about to say, but: It’s nice to see arrogance rewarded properly.

***

Now, onto a tale of Chloe, originally posted in February of 2008, when Chloe was six:

True story, and maybe I’m telling on myself here. Anyway, read on. Most of you may find this humorous.

Today I went to the store with my daughter, Chloe. We were going for milk, a little bit of candy and a Hotwheels movie for my son. Logan—my aforementioned son—was not feeling very well and he wanted me to sit in his room with him while he lay down.

“You take care of me, Daddy,” he kept saying.

He looked so pitiful holding his little tummy. A few minutes later he got up and went and sat with his mommy. My daughter and I left for Walgreen’s, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite places to spend money.

We find the milk and the candy with no problems. The movie was a different story. We looked everywhere and came up empty. We went through every movie we could find and it just wasn’t there.

That brings me to the gist of my story. Chloe and I walked up to the cash register. But, wait, I had no cash on me. My wife had the checkbook.

~GULP~

I fished out my wallet. I plucked out the debit card and stared at it for a moment. This is a foreign object for me, by the way. Up to that moment, I had only used it once in the four years I have had it. I flipped it over in my fingers as the pretty young cashier rang up the milk, gummy life savors and the ring pop. She told me the total and I looked at her dumbfounded.

She pointed to the card scanner with the keypad and pen attached to it.

“Do I scan this side?” I asked.

“Yes.”

My daughter rolled her eyes. Mind you, she’s six.

I swiped my card and watched the green screen as it said, PROCESSING.

A moment later the cashier frowned and leaned over her counter to look at the screen. She handed me the little pen and I glanced up at her, a confused look upon my face.

“Oh,” I said as it dawned on me. “My PIN number. I’ve got to put my PIN number in.”

She giggled and my daughter shook her head.

I punched in the four numbers. Again, I drew a blank. That is when my daughter finally chimed in.

“Do you want cash back, Daddy? No.”

I read the screen and pressed NO.

“Is the amount right, Daddy? Yes.”

I read the screen again and pressed YES.

“Let’s go, Daddy.”

I picked up the bag with the milk in it and looked up at the cashier. She was trying not to laugh.

“It’s okay,” I said. “She does this to me all the time.”

My daughter just shook her head.

“Such a woman,” I said.

When I got home, I told my wife what happened and she did what you are probably doing right now: She laughed.

I like dealing in cash. I am that guy you see on the commercials who forks over the cash right in the middle of some smoothly running machine-like atmosphere where all is harmonious until he gets to the register to pay. Then everything crashes and he gets thousands of annoyed stares.

I think those days are officially over for me. Especially if my daughter can do a debit card transaction at six and I look stupid trying to figure it out. I think it is time for me to catch up with the times. I hate the Debit Card Era.

Leave it to a woman—albeit a little one—to make a grown, somewhat not stupid guy feel stupid.

Thank you, Chloe.

There’s No Such Thing As Fretting Well

Picture this, if you can:

Two kids, aged nine and eleven. The older of the two has blond hair, green eyes, a handful more than a few freckles, fair skin for the most part. He’s not a little guy, but he’s not fat either. The younger of the two is thin with a mop of black hair that always hangs down into his eyes.

Do you have that image? They’re waving at you. Yeah. Look at them. Two kids, brothers, growing up in the seventies and eighties, so you can imagine that the clothes are somewhat ugly with lots of browns and greens and oranges for the seventies and slightly brighter for the eighties.

The year was 1980, the end of the disco era and earth tone outfits and the beginning of… what? What exactly was it the beginning of? I think it was the decade of a lot of tasteless outfits and gadgets and the ten year bad hair day—for everyone.

These two boys, we’ll call them Jimmy (the oldest of the two) and Dwight. It’s not really to protect the innocent, but because I want to. I tend to tell better stories when I don’t use real names.

It’s a little after seven in the morning on a school day. We’ll call it Wednesday. Why? Honestly, I can’t remember what day these events occurred on and Wednesday is as good a day as any. Being a week day that meant Jimmy and Dwight had to get up, get dressed and go to school. Since they went to separate schools, normally Dwight would reach the top of the hill—not really a hill, but a slight incline that leveled out at the stop sign at the top of the block—and make a left. From there he would walk the four blocks down what used to be called Pear Street and for the sake of this story, it will remain Pear Street. Jimmy wouldn’t turn left, but instead would walk two more blocks straight before turning right and hoofing it five blocks to the main road. Off to his left at the main road—a two lane street that began at the rock quarry and ended when it merged into 321 (all useless facts, I know)—was a Red and White Grocery store (which was once an A&P and before that a Piggly Wiggly). Directly across the road was a railroad track (it may seem unimportant now… but…) and just beyond that was about a half block walk to the middle school.

This is what happened on normal days, when Jimmy and Dwight weren’t in the mischievous stages of childhood, which was a rarity. Some say these two boys caused their mother to have gray hair prematurely—ten years before either of them were born in fact, while she was a pre-teen herself. Seeing that it should have been a normal day, they should have gone to school and came home as usual.

Instead…

“I’m not going to school today,” Jimmy said, trying to sound defiant of the rules.

At the time, young and impressionable Dwight idolized his older brother. “You’re not?” he asked, wide eyed and in awe of the rebel before him.

“Nope. I’m going to play hookie.”

Let’s stop there for a second. For those three or four of you out there who do not know what hookie is, it is NOT a woman for hire for sexual pleasures—that is a hooker. It is skipping school, staying home without your parents permission. It’s also not a game that you can play. You can’t kick it or roll the dice and get double sixes and a free turn. You can’t spin the arrow or earn play money to spend on play property so you can eventually pretend to be a slumlord over your trashy apartments.

Hookie is a bad thing.

Got it? Good.

Dwight nodded, “Can I play hookie, too?”

“I don’t care. Just don’t tell Mom and Dad.”

And this is where Dwight should have gathered his wits about him and went to school. If you can’t tell Mom and Dad, you probably shouldn’t be doing it. It’s a simple lesson that very few kids learn until… well… they become parents themselves.

“I won’t,” Dwight said. The thought of breaking the rules had not really entered his mind. But, the truth is, he liked the idea of not going to school without his parents knowing. This was exhilarating. This was daring. This was fun. Go ahead and give the kid a shovel. A hole was about to be dug.

The morning passed by and they piddled on the Atari 2600 (Yeah, baby. The Playstation and X-Box have nothing on that game console with its stick figure characters and white dot bullets). Pacman chomped away at the white dashes on the gray screen until finally, they bored of it. Reaching a thousand points every three or four boards so they could get that extra man lost its challenge, especially when one of them could play for hours and not get eaten by one of the ghosts.

“I’m hungry,” Dwight said.

“Get something to eat,” Jimmy responded.

Dwight searched the refrigerator, looked in the cupboards by pulling out a chair and pushing it to the counter.

“There’s nothing to eat,” he said and plopped on the floor in their bedroom.

Jimmy flipped the game and television off. He sat up, yawned and stretched. “Did Mom give you lunch money?”

Dwight pulled the dollar from his pocket. Lunch didn’t cost a buck back then. With that dollar he could get two lunches and have change left over. Jimmy nodded, the wheels turning in his head.

“You want to go to the store?”

It’s about ten thirty in the morning; school had been in for at least two hours at that point. And Dwight had only walked to the store a couple of times in his young life, usually with Mom beside him. I don’t really recall if Dwight’s stomach growled, but I’m going to say it did.

“Sure,” he said, digging himself deeper into a hole that seconds earlier had only been about ankle deep.

They walked out of the house, leaving the front door unlocked. Yes, unlocked. They were barely out of their yard when Jimmy piped up, “If you see a car, you gotta hide. No one can know we’re not at school.”

There’s all sorts of logic issues with that statement. First off, if no one can know they weren’t in school, then why go to the store? Wouldn’t the girl at the cash register know they weren’t in school? Did Jimmy have a plan or know what to say when asked why they weren’t in school? There were older folks that lived in the neighborhood. What if Mrs. Berry or Mrs. Hutchins saw them? What if Buddy’s mom was home and happened to be outside when they passed in front of her yard. Buddy, being the same age as Jimmy, would almost certainly be in school, so how could Jimmy be off that day if Buddy wasn’t?

None of these questions occurred to our hero, Dwight. Trusting his older brother, he tagged along, his head on a swivel scanning the roads with his hands out in that ‘I’m trying to be stealthy’ mode. He looked like a poor man’s ninja, a southern boy without a clue as to what not being seen really meant.

“Duck,” Jimmy yelled and they darted behind a gray car. A second later, the vehicle that had turned onto their street passed and they resumed their trek—really it was somewhat of an epic event that volumes could be written about on the same lines of Frodo and Samwise—to the Red and White.

A block passed behind them, then another one. Our heroes turned onto Hemlock Street, four blocks from home and a little over halfway to the grocery store where candy and gum and–yeah, they were hungry alright, but what better way to satiate that hunger than with sugary sweetness?–awaited them.

Our story takes a drastic turn for the worse halfway up Hemlock Street. I guess this is where the plot thickens a little.

The flash of blue lights greets them as the police cruiser rounds the corner. The whoop whoop of the siren was loud and startled them both. Dwight and Jimmy dove into a ditch, which was probably not the best move. It hindered their ability to run if they had decided to. Also, the ditch was about three feet deep and full of briars and thorns. It made for a prickly situation.

The cop pulled along the side of the road, his blue lights still flashing for anyone to see that the juvenile delinquents had been busted. He was a tall man, his dark blue uniform holding a badge on one breast (heehee, I said breast), his hat on his head. He wore dark sunglasses and sported a thick brown moustache that covered his upper lip. Both of his thumbs were tucked into his belt, giving him that stereotypical hillbilly cop look.

“Y’all come on out of there,” he said. It came out as “Y’all come on out of there.”

Jimmy shrugged, and sank one hand into the edge of the ditch and crawled out. He stood behind the officer as Dwight remained in the ditch staring up, wide-eyed with not a bit of awe on his face.

“Come on, son,” the cop said. “Get on up here?”

Dwight shook his head quickly—a refusal that was not in his best interest.

“Son, you need to get on up here. Now.” He stressed the now.

Again Dwight shook his head.

“Let’s go. Don’t make me come down there after you.”

It’s at this point in the conversation that any kid should realize that when an adult says to not make them do something, they should strongly consider not making them do it. It’s just not a good move to test the hands of justice.

For a third time, Dwight shook his head.

“What’s the problem, kid?” the cop asked, clearly a little agitated by the unwillingness to cooperate from the mop headed kid in the ditch.

“My momma told me not to talk to strangers, and you’re strange.”

~sigh~

The hole just got deeper. It was then about knee high.

It’s good that Dwight listened to his mother’s counsel, even if it were a rare event in his life. It’s just maybe the timing was a little off.

Mr. Policeman jumped down in the ditch, lifted Dwight over his shoulder and hauled him up to the cruiser. Within minutes, they were in the backseat of the police car and the cop was no longer in a somewhat okay mood.

A few minute later, the cruiser pulled up in front of the elementary school that Dwight attended. He got out, escorted the lad into the school. As he did so, children from several classrooms stared from the windows until their teachers ushered them back to their seats.

The cop disappeared from the office when Principal Fretwell arrived. I take strong issue with the principal’s name, simply because there is no such thing as fretting well. If you are fretting, then you are fretting nervously or anxiously or fearfully, but never fretting well. Like most adults to nine year old Dwight, Fretwell was tall, but not all that lanky. He wore dark suits and shoes and his hair was always cut short. His face was gaunt and wrinkled and thick black plastic framed glasses sat on the bridge of his nose. He was as fearful a sight as any man could be. And he walked funny. No, he wasn’t bow-legged and he didn’t walk with a limp. The only way I can describe this accurately is to say that he walked like the Nazi soldiers did—a kind of goose step. I don’t know if that is where he got his nickname from, but many of the boys called him Goose Legs Fretwell. It was fitting.

Mr. Fretwell sat Dwight down in the chair across from his desk, blah blah blahed about skipping school and how bad it was and how kids who skipped school amounted to nothing those days and blah blah blah.

Young Dwight, our hero, finally showed his defiance in the face of authority. “I don’t care,” he said, his arms cross over his puny chest, his head down, that mop of black hair covering his eyes.

Remember that hole? Yup. It got deeper.

“I’m going to call your mother,” Fretwell threatened.

“I don’t care. Go ahead.”

A little deeper still.

There was no calling the bluff of a principal, especially one who walked like a German soldier. It only took a minute to get Dwight’s mother on the phone. A few words were exchanged and then Fretwell stood, extended his arm, the black phone receiver in it.

“Your mother would like to speak to you.”

When I was a kid, if someone referred to either of your parents as Mother or Father, preceding it with ‘your,’ that meant trouble.

Dwight took the phone, listened to his mother fuss for a few seconds, before she said, and I quote: “After school, you go straight home. Do not go to the park, do not go to a friend’s house, go straight home.”

That afternoon when the school bell rang, Dwight strayed a little, passing through the park and taking a swing. He then headed on over to Bobby’s house, a friend who lived two blocks away. They sat in a tall tree with lots of thick branches that stood over a small stream that ran through his yard and talked about superheroes—Wonder Woman in particular (thinking about it now, Lynda Carter playing Wonder Woman was probably the best thing that happened to many males in the mid to late seventies, including young boys. I wonder if that is where the Wonder Bra concept came from).

Now the hole was about neck high and for young Dwight, who once dreamed of marrying Wonder Woman, there was no way out of it for him, except…

For some reason, still not known to folks to this day, Dwight decided it was time to head home, something he should have done three hours earlier, but neglected to do so. On his way home our hero worried (no he did not fret well) about his mothers words: After school, you go straight home. Do not go to the park, do not go to a friend’s house, go straight home. Certainly, she would have forgotten what he had done and what she had said by now, right?

At the front door, he paused, placed his ear to the door. There was not a sound to be heard. He eased the door open—still unlocked—and peeked in. Two recliners sat to his right, one flower printed, the other one a light brown. A Louis L’Amour book sat in the seat of the brown recliner. The television sat directly in front of those two chairs. It was off. The couch was just to his left along the entry wall. The hallway sat straight ahead, fifteen feet through the living room and another six or seven to his room and he would be home free.

Ninja Dwight stepped through the door, half crouched, his arms out to his sides. He took two steps and –WHAM—hell had no fury like Momma angered.

This is the part of the story where those who do not agree with spanking a child should skip ahead a few paragraphs for the aftermath of the EF5 Tornado that was Mother.

It all happened so quickly.

Dwight didn’t catch the cackling of the Wicked Witches of the North, East, South and West until after his arm was in the air and a stick—okay, maybe a switch from the tree out by the back fence, but still, it was wood—was striking his backside. Dwight, trying to escape the clutches of the demon woman who held him in her grip, tried to run, but succeeded only in going in circles. As he ran, she swatted, the magic wand of death striking his jean clad rear end and legs. An occasional whack landed on his back, but when you’re doing the helicopter escape routine what do you expect?

Dwight screamed, maybe more from being startled than the switching itself. Evil Witch of the South cackled, swatted, cackled, swatted, until she began to run out of steam, her arms growing weary, her voice becoming scratchy. She released him and he ran.

In a matter of seconds the tornado had blown through the household. A book bag was dropped, its contents spilled along the floor. A body was pelted mercilessly by a flying branch, devoid of its leaves. Screams were screamed. Cackles were cackled. Tears were shed. When it was all said and done, Dwight scampered beneath his bed, pushed himself as far back into the corner as he could, never minding the darkness or junk beneath it.

Dwight cried. After all, he was a kid—nine years old, in fact—and his mother had been replaced by a crazy hag-like witch who laughed as she beat him with a stick. And just where was Jimmy through all of this? Jimmy would have stepped in, would have been Superman and swooped in to save the day. That’s what big brothers were supposed to do against the evil doers.

Two feet appeared in the doorway—The Wicked Witch of the South was back.

“Dwight, come out from under your bed?” she said, her voice raspy, yet somehow soothing, as if the witch knew that using Mom’s voice would get him to face her once again.

“No.”

Defiance, though more of a self defense type of thing.

“Come on, Dwight, you need to come out from under there.”

“No.”

At this point you may be thinking that Dwight is digging another hole for himself. Not so fast.

“Dwight, I only spanked you because I love you.”

This struck Dwight as absurd. Even if he didn’t know what the word meant, this is how he felt. What mother would laugh maniacally while whipping her child?

“I wish you didn’t love me so much,” Dwight snapped off.

And now the story is over, Dwight having got the last word in, though probably not in the wisest of manners and—what’s that you say? What about Jimmy? Oh, yes, him.

~Ahem~

Jimmy, as you recall, was last seen in the police cruiser as Mr. Police officer escorted Dwight to see Mr. Fretwell. It turns out that Jimmy spent time in lock up. The can. The not so big house. The hoosegow. You get the picture.

Dad received the call from the principal at Jimmy’s school that the police had picked him up.

“Let him sit in jail for the rest of the day.”

With that said, Jimmy was hauled off to the police station and put in one of the cells until Dad arrived. Dad eventually showed up and picked his oldest son up, but it was not without a swatting to the back of the head and a good butt whooping as well.

But did they learn their lesson? Hmm… I think we all know the answer to the sixty-four thousand dollar question, but if you want to know more, I guess you’ll have to return for the next episode of The Misadventures of Dwight Jeffery Lewis…