Tag Archives: Kinder

Part II: My Sheep Farmer Story Dethroned

Reader- if you haven’t read Part I, then Part II will be nonsense, and if you have read Part I, Part II may still be nonsense, but it may help to scan Part I to refresh your memory. To recap only slightly, Mrs. F is telling me about her obsession with Neil Diamond, her ability to knit things and to raise sheep, as well as a contest that Neil is holding for the best Christmas sweater design. Mr. F looks like the mascot Uga but sounds like Christopher Walken (listen to Walken tell the tale of the Three Little Pigs so that you’re on the same page as me.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vNk4K3YaIc  “Knocks on the door-ah”), so I have taken to not looking at him and simply imagine that he IS Christopher.

Cont.d

“Don’t mind him,” Mrs. F dismisses Christopher with a glare, “Let me tell you what happened. You’re not even going to believe it all.”

“I already don’t,” I eagerly utter as I lean forward, “So your boyfriend, Neil?  You were saying that you were wearing only Christmas sweaters, I think…?”

Mrs. F chuckles and Christopher shakes his head while giving a jerky thrust of those pointy shoulders I’m imagining while not looking at him.

“Don’t I wish!” the elderly gal giggles and shoots a glance at her husband, “Neil Diamond, I was saying, my BOYfriend, was having a contest for who could make the best Christmas sweater, so,” she pauses dramatically, “I entered!” She crosses her arms tightly across her housecoat-clad bosoms, rocks back in her kitchen chair with a smug grin, leaning against a bedroom pillow because she’s recently had back surgery, which I’ve already heard all about.

Who wouldn't have a crush?

“I had two weeks. TWO weeks to design and knit a sweater. Not to mention sheering the sheep and cleaning the wool.”

“You… you needed to make your own wool for the sweater for this contest?” I ask, incredulous at Neil’s high expectations.

“Didn’t have to but, honey, I wanted to!” she says in all seriousness and then looks over at Christopher, “Did you get the picture out?”

“No-ah,” Christopher replies, “Have I move’t? Did you see me get the pictshuh out-ah?” same jerky, pointy shrug as he moves away from the table to get the “pictshuh.”

Mrs. F is unruffled by her husband’s snark and instead waits patiently for my curiosity to build.

“Did you win?” I’m guessing yes.

“Yes!” They simultaneously shout, and Mr.F/Christopher Walken whips out a picture frame from the heap of random items piled to the ceiling beside us, and I panic for a moment and flinch when the entire jumbled wall of goods wobbles. Mr. F is beaming (imagining him as Christopher Walken temporarily suspended, since I am once again looking into the face of Uga), and he sets the frame (which holds two photos) in front of me with aplomb.

I take in the shot of the F’s standing with Neil Diamond in front of the largest, gaudiest Christmas tree ever decorated. Mrs. F is clutching Neil’s arm with both hands, Neil is a strange orangey grey color with super-white teeth and glassy eyes that pierce, and Mr. F’s under bite is protruding exuberantly.

“You all look so happy,” I say.

“Oh, you have just NO idea,” Mrs. F sighs and fans herself whilst reclining against that bedroom pillow, “His house in Malibu was just, oh, there are no words. He brought in SNOW!”

“I had no-ah idea-uh what a decent man he is,” starts Mr. F, eyes wide and serious, “But, OH!” he declares, throwing hands up and his head back to emphasize his sincerity, “WHAT a gentleman. Top-notch.” He does that universal A-okay sign with his fingers, “And the FOOD! Oh, my. The Best. You have nevuh had food this good.”

“No lamb, I hope,” I say with concern and am assured that no lamb was served, and then given a complete rundown of what was.

I’m engrossed by now, so I smile and return to the picture frame. To the other picture. It is of a sheep. There’s a blue backdrop, just like my second-grade school pic, and likewise just the head and shoulders of the animal. Just above the headshot, spelled out in ABC glitter stickers is the name, “Sweet Caroline.”

“No,” I say.

“Yes!” they chorus.

“This is the sheep the sweater came from?” I ask rhetorically as they nod, “And her name is Sweet Caroline?”

Mrs. F bursts, “I told you, I love Neil Diamond! I had to use Sweet Caroline’s wool.”

Sweet Caroline herself as posted to Neil's contest facebook page. I kid you not.

“And thuh sweatuh,” inserts Christopher (imagination back on, since I’m staring at the picture of Sweet Caroline, and not his underbite), “Has a skyline-uh of New Yoke City-ah.”

“And when I won,” Mrs. F continues excitedly, “They told me Neil specifically wanted to meet me. We talked for ages with him! I was the ONLY one who made my own wool…”

“Oh, I believe that,” I affirm.

“…and the sheep’s name, and, well, the sweater design is really something.” Mrs. F manages to say this with a humble blush, “AND I added cherries, you know, because his Christmas album is called, A Cherry Cherry Christmas. And the contest was to promote the album, so…”

“Is that code for something? What in the world do have cherries to do with Christmas?”

Mrs. F looks at me as though I’m speaking an undiscovered language whilst sprouting geraniums on my forehead and Mr. F, lost in reverie, catches us both off guard when he bursts out,

“WHAT a gentleman!” and pats his chest proudly with both bands, as though he has had something to do with rearing of Neil.

Mrs. F, offended on Neil’s behalf by my scoff of what is truly a confusing Christmas album title folds her hands in her lap and doesn’t look at me when she says, “I’ll show you the sweater, but then I should probably go lie down.”

My comment, clearly a sin, has warranted my dismissal from story time with the F’s.

Mrs. F cools considerably when she returns to the room with her masterpiece shrouding her housecoat. And let me tell you, the sweater pays special homage to that expected tawdriness of themed clothing the world over. Lace, cherries, the NYC skyline, and then more lace…all woven with the passion of a Neil Diamond lover and the coat of a sheep named for one of his songs. It’s a lot to take in, but there’s something special about being included in such a significant memory for the F’s and I say exactly that.

I thank them profusely for the story and congratulate them on their win and as I go, my hobby-free self experiences a niggling desire to care that much about something or someone, but no sooner is that inkling there then it is gone…true to form.

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Part I: My Sheep Farmer Story Dethroned

Crush story winner about to be revealed. If you have a story you were planning to submit (you know who you are…) then get it in quickly to be considered! And I’m not going to acknowledge the several months lapse in posting, because in that time, my life has been rattled, broken, and rearranged…all of which are not www fodder, sooo. Pushing forward…

I've done this shearing thang.

Well. I realize that most of you out there haven’t heard the story of me being proposed to by an Irish sheep farmer when I was but 17 years old. (He was 65, if he was a day, had few teeth and had recently won the Irish lotto. Am I writing about that now? No. If you would like to know that story, pick up a copy of my book once published, or take me out for drinks.) But you should know that it’s a story I’ve been asked to tell and retell for so many years, that it’s sort of knit into the fabric of me.  Ha. “Knit.” Sometimes I catch myself spewing humor referentially. And I like it.

I bring this up now because, for the first time in over a decade, I’ve met my match when it comes to lamb tales, which is saying something, and it is my competitor’s story that I’m telling… in two parts, so let’s begin:

I’m sitting at the kitchen table with Mr. and Mrs. F, who are two elderly country folk I have just made the acquaintance of. The air is filled with the heavy scent of not-so-recent bacon grease. There’s the cabinets, the table, the chairs with our three posteriors in them, and then floor to ceiling clutter ranging from infomercial buys to grandbaby toys.

Mrs. F is in her housecoat apologizing for the smell and Mr. F is grinning at me, but it’s hard to tell because he has a pronounced under bite and features that would rival Uga, but there’s a twinkle in his eyes, and I can’t think of any reason he would be grimacing at me, so I’m calling it a grin.

It has just been said that Mrs. F knits. She has sticks and a pair of half-finished socks in her lap to validate her assertion and she promises to show me her pièce de résistance before I go (she uses those exact words). Her mention of self-cleaning the wool she uses to knit after shearing the sheep, which they own 9 of,  in their backyard is what sparks my recesses to tell the story of the Irish sheep farmer, but Mr. F interrupts.

“You should tell huh,” he sounds alarmingly like Christopher Walken, so I don’t look at him for the rest of the night so I can imagine he is.

“I was gonna tell her,” says Mrs. F. She is barely southern and sounds like no one we all know, but she has nice skin. Mrs. F looks at me, and says,

“Neil Diamond is my boyfriend,” she pauses dramatically and I scramble mentally to separate him from Dick Clark and/or Rod Steward because I have a terrible memory, “Mr. F is my husband,” she continues, “Neil Diamond is my boyfriend.”

“Okaaaay…” I insert awkwardly. Mrs. F goes on,

“And Christmas of ’09, Neil had a contest for the best Christmas sweater. The winner would get to come to his house for dinner and…” She’s cut off by Christopher,

“You nevuh set it. Up. Right. You don’t. You nevuh doah,” I picture Mr. F/ Christopher shrugging sharply in a blazer I know he isn’t wearing.

“I was saying…” Mrs. F tries.

“Every time. Each and every time.” Walken mutters whilst shaking his head and looking in another direction.

“You two sure know how to build anticipation,” I say. Eyes shining with possibility.

“Don’t mind him,” Mrs. F dismisses Christopher with a glare, “Let me tell you what happened. You’re not even going to believe it all.”

Best Christmas sweaters EVER, Mrs. Weasley. EVER!!!

“I already don’t,” I eagerly utter as I lean forward, “So your boyfriend, Neil?  You were saying that you were wearing only Christmas sweaters, I think…?”

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An Open Letter to a Jager Bomb (you know who you are)

Dear Jager Bomb,

You may or may not remember me as the 30 year-old gal who, on an uncharacteristically warm February day, went to a late lunch/early happy hour with her parents at the oceanfront. I remember you, unfortunately.

After 5 hours of seafood tapas, wine, cucumber mojitos, a walk on the beach at sunset, stargazing, wine from a thermos (don’t judge. 5 hours is a long time), you and I finally met. It was about 9 p.m. when I, in a moment of poor judgment and peer pressure (if you can call parents pleading to go to a seedy karaoke bar “peer” pressure), caved and agreed to enter an establishment called, “Grumpy’s.” Grumpy’s, as you very well know, is a converted Pizza Hut, circa 1989, frequented by the very same patrons as Wal-marts in Arkansas, Bone’s biker bar, and Super Cuts, so you can, I’m sure, imagine the attention we received when my father plunked his polo shirt-wearing self down in our red-vinyl-padded booth, followed by mom and I, what with our groomed eyebrows. Awkward.

I’m not writing you, however, to recount those early moments of embarrassment, but rather to thank you for helping me to quickly overcome my self-consciousness. It had been awhile since last we met, see, so I had forgotten the special powers you possess. Powers I don’t intend to tap into again anytime soon. Once my fear of perception was gotten over (read: once I had chugged you), not only could I relax and enjoy those participating in karaoke, but I could also:

  1. Approach a man and tell him how much I admired the embroidery on his jeans. Such patchwork creativity! “Harley Davidson” stitched right across the rump. I was told the jeans had been made in the 70’s, so I then applauded his ability to fit into said jeans.
  2. Assist as back-up singer to, not one, but ALL karaoke contributors, resulting in loss of voice. When you don’t have a mic, you sing reeeeeally loudly. Who knew I could remember every word to Bobby McGee and Tupelo Honey?
  3. Rub the DJ’s bald head for luck. (5 times)
  4. Style that tall guy with the long hair; meaning I commanded him never to wear jorts, a Hawaiian shirt, or white socks with white tennis shoes for as long as he lived. Then, I fluffed his locks. You know who I’m talking about.
  5. Begin conga/dance trains (3 times) around the entire bar, taking care to weave graceful figure eights around the pool tables and their players.
  6. Dance to Margaritaville with jorts-man. Of this, I am not proud.

We were encouraged to hear our new friends’ cry of disappointment when we got up to leave. Apparently, we had introduced some new behavior to the regulars. Hurrah.

Anyway, all this to say, it was, from what I recall, a pleasure to see you again, but please don’t expect to see me again anytime soon.

Cheers,

Abigail

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Beat Poets and Wee Wee

I began reading Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five last week, and read a section about a character who is under a lot of familial and fiscal pressure who has just been a bit short with her father. Vonnegut lists her substantial tasks (which I currently identify with and stand behind her verbal affront to her crazy father) and defends her (albeit sarcastically) when he writes, “All this responsibility at such an early age made her a bitchy flibbertigibbet.” And I thought: someone’s got my number. That is what I’ve been for the past 3 weeks. Nearly had to turn in my “kindness” badge on more than one occasion.

I had reached the zenith of my stress-o-meter this past Friday, so last weekend had to hold a few cartwheel/bubble bath-type events, or it was possible this girl would self-destruct, like Inspector Gadget’s messages. My relationships were beginning to feel the impact of my anxiety. I may have overreacted, for example, when decorating the Christmas tree, I found that an ornament (with no sentimental value) was broken.

“ How could this HAPPEN!?! Who DID this???” is how the futile grilling began. I was clutching the ornament to my chest like it was a wounded bird, and glaring suspiciously at my co-tree-deckers.

So, Sunday night, I linked arms with a friend to go to a charity event at a local bar for the homeless in our area. I was a bit conflicted. For one thing, the last time I served the housing-challenged, I was criticized, followed, then made fun-of (DC homeless-folk are often smoking whatever they can get their hands on, was what I kept telling my wounded ego. That, and I don’t look my best first thing in the morning), and for another, it felt wrong to go spend money drinking booze on behalf of people who can’t afford it, but legitimately need to be lit in order to keep warm.

The local talent, when it comes to music, was quite pleasant. The local talent, when it comes to art, was “meh”. I mean, thank you for donating your work to a good cause, but please don’t quit your day job.

Now, the highlight of the night, nay, of my month, was when I went to the Ladies’ to relieve myself of a few spirits. I don’t have to paint you a picture, but I was there, in the Ladies’, and there were 2 other water closets, besides mine, that were occupied.  Enough said. So- I’m doing that thing you do, and can hear one of the evening’s vocalists crooning away back at the bar, when another voice interrupts business to yell,

“Ladies! Ladies! Ladiiiiiies! We. Are. All. Beautifulllll.”

Have you watched So I Married and Axe Murderer? Then you know what a form of slam poetry sounds like. Usually, there’s a similar voice pattern throughout, using inflection/intonation, and in this woman’s case, hiccups and lurches, ‘cuz she was very many sheets to the wind. So, this inebriated woman in the loo, while the rest of us “saw a man about a dog ” (as some Irish drinking buddies of mine once called it), was providing us with inspiration, Greek-chorus-style.

“We all have. The Voice. Of. That. Singer. Out therrrre. Deep inside of us.”

“Not me,” I called back, “My voice does NOT sound like that, unfortunately.”

“YESSSSS!,” she cried, “You. Do. We ALL do.”

Then, from the stall to my right,

“I WISH I had it deep inside of me.”

And, predictably, from the stall to my left,

“Oo. OO! That’s what she said!”

We all began to laugh, and I chortled,

“I don’t think I’ve ever had such fun while, you know, going wee wee!”

“Ladiiiiies,” interrupted our bard, “You do. You all have the voice. We are aaaaall. Lovely. SO. Beautiful. We have that voice. You. Have. A VOICE.”

“Not me.”

“Uh uh.”

“Nope.”

This frustrated the poet deeply, and we all made our way to the sinks to wash our hands. The sight of this act inspired a new line of poetry: how different ladies are from men. Her face was flushed with renewed passion, or booze, and she waved tight fists around maniacally as she began anew,

“We. WASH. Our hands! We have…..” then began the anatomical discrepancies between the sexes, and I am nothing if not a verbally immature 30 year old, who still refuses to call anything on the body by its proper name, so I took that as my cue to head back to my table, but I did so with a grin on my face. The first in weeks.

Thank you, artists of Norfolk, and crazy/hazy beat poet lady who resembled Dame Tilda Swinton a la The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. “…for I dearly love to laugh.”

Exactly like this, but with candy cane clips in her hair, as opposed to a gold-plated warrior helmet.

 

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I Wouldn’t be Single, if America was Mexico

I worked in southern California for a couple of weeks, with plenty of downtime, and can I just say,  what a bunch of terrible drivers?  There isn’t enough time in my life to qualify this statement, but if you’ve been there, you know what I’m saying. It also rained for the first week I was there, and since that only occurs for the natives once a year, you can imagine the additional challenges to operating their vehicles.

After a day of driving from San Diego to LA, I bellied up to the hotel bar for dinner and a much-needed tranquilizer. I tucked in to my Thai calamari and edamame, but my chewing slowed when I noticed that 3 cooks of Hispanic persuasion were peering around the doorjamb that led into the kitchen.

This bothered me greatly.

Frank, the attentive barkeep with an excellent mustache that had just the right amount of grey in it,  strolled over to check on me, “Eez everee-ting ok, meez?”

I smiled, a little embarrassed that he’d caught my pause, and replied in a conspirational tone, “Frank…don’t look, but there are 3 guys staring at me from the kitchen. They sort of appeared right after I got my food, and, err….well, I am wondering if they put something bad in my dinner, and want to see my reaction.” I glanced back at the doorway, and seriously, all 3 were stacked like a totem pole, straining to keep an eye on me, but look inconspicuous…conspicuously.

“No. No, meez. Dey want to see you. Dey tink you are berry, berry pretty.”

“Oh,” I blushed, “That’s nice.” A little weird, and more than a bit awkward, but nice. So, I continued dinner, and Frank plied my with gin, and the kitchen staff started bringing me things I hadn’t ordered, like chocolate lava cake. “Wow, Frank. This is great- thank you! I didn’t even see this on the menu.” So bizarre.

“Eez not on dee menju. We make it juz for jew,” he beamed, and I glanced up at the cooks, in the doorway again, watching to see if I liked it. I smiled and winked, and they all fell out of their stacked stance against the doorframe, and smacked each other with dish towels.

“Meez,” began Frank, as I settled the check, and began to gather my things, “Jew said jur room wus a leetle noi-see, so I hab dee front desk move jew. Here’s jor new kees.” He smiled hugely at me, and puffed his chest out.

“Thank you, Frank!” I reached for his hand across the bar pulling myself over to smooch his cheek, and grinned as I heard  the collective groans back at the kitchen door. I felt like both the fatted calf, ready to be sacrificed to the volcano and the village princess simultaneously. It was nice, flattering, and educational. Perhaps my relationship status is indicative of my citizenship.

Frank handed me a huge bottled water as I hopped off of my stool, and I grinned at him. The free bottle of water was the coup de grace of a lovely evening of unabashed worship, but also reminded me of something I’m grateful for in my own country, which is fearless water-drinking, so perhaps I’ll stay right here, even if it banishes me to being just another face in a crowd of women.

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Baffles of the Week: Take 3

These were, like, totally my fav outfits in the movie. No duh!

I spent the majority of this week languishing in mild temperatures and breathing deeply of the subtle notes of fall that are beginning to populate the air. Working and writing from home, often mean that I am home too much, but this week, there was no place I wanted to be more than our screened in back porch. There were 2 days, I’ll admit, that I was in my lounge clothes (read: pj’s) until 4pm. I’m much more productive when not hampered by silly rituals, like getting dressed. I was able to write a significant chunk of my book this week, so I have not an ounce of regret regarding my circulation for the week.

When I was out, however, I was reminded of two things that baffle and annoy me. I realize I may alienate the lot of you, but I must be true to my knee jerk reactions.

1.       Married People with Children

There are many, many bullets I could throw under here, but today I will stick with the one that relates directly to me. Most folks in my peer group are married and have 2+ babies at this point. Those folks are both the first to ask when I’m going to settle down (which to me sounds like I’m bouncing of the walls, screeching at inappropriate times, and peeing on furniture), and they are the first to lament their married status and say things like, “I wish I was still single!”, when I report on a recent trip, or night out. This is confusing me. You’re sending mixed signals.

2.       Girls who Alooongate and Place EmphAAAsis on the Wrong SylAAAbles and Still Want to be Taken Seriously

I was dining at an old local haunt, the New Belmont. Our server was intent on giving a convincing impression that she was clueless/uninformed/unable to think for herself. This amused me greatly when two iconic figures pulled it off– thank you, Cher and Dion- -but it didn’t have the same affect when this sweet young thing waffled on what beers were and were not still available, and such. Granted, it was her first night, but instead of saying simple things like, “Not sure- let me run and check,” we heard instead, “Weeeeellllll, don’t hAte meee, buuUt, I am NOT suuure-ah.” Her intonation made me sad, for a few reasons. 

One- I planned on being there for at least an hour, and knowing my limit for annoying sounds, I was worried that my ears may begin to bleed, or I might break my kindness pact (which is biting my tongue) and say, “Sister, you can’t be without-a-clue AND talk like you’re freshly plucked from the Valley. It’s overkill. Especially since you live in Norfolk (Naw-fuhk), where we expect ding bats to say things like ‘ya’ll’ and ‘gosh’.  This is not working for me.”

Two- My dining partner did not notice, which tells me that men don’t necessarily pick up on affected deer-in-headlights nubile diction.

Three- I don’t think she’s alone in her wonky dialect, and I’m afeared that they’ll start printing dictionaries and such. The words in it will be the same as a normal dictionary, but the vowels will all be long.

Upside? I’m working to remove “like” from my vocabulary, totally.

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Baffles of the week: Friday Round-up

Happy Friday, ya’ll.  Let’s see how consistent I can be with a round-up of the things that baffled me during the week most:

 

1. Poor Customer Service Come-uppance AND Geriatric Limitations

I drove up to my local McD’s recently for one of their enormous iced coffees. It was going to be a long day. I pulled into the lot and was headed to the drive thru. Well. I was halted in my tracks because a very ancient man was lying in the road. Some paramedics that had been lunching at this fine establishment were attending the toppled man who hadn’t been able to walk to his car without falling on his ass, poor guy. My perplexion centered on why the paramedics were helping him up and then WALKING HIM TO HIS CAR. Seriously? He can’t’ walk 20 feet, but let’s put him behind the wheel.

There was no one in front of me in line, once I got inside but it still took about 11 minutes for me to leave with my coffee, which turned out to have all of the sugary crap that I had asked be omitted in it . Since there weren’t many things competing for the staff’s attention to explain the wait and confusion, I offered my feedback over the phone, which is encouraged on the receipt. I’m all for improving life for the next person. I was thanked for the info, and then offered a free coffee upon my return. I said that my return was unlikely, unless I had a ton of time to kill, and was then told that all I would need to do on my next never-going-to-happen visit was to tell them that McD’s quality control sent me for a free drink, cuz I had given feedback. Huh. Yeah. I wonder what THAT coffee would taste like? A mix of loogies and boogies, no doubt. Pass.

2. Wardrobe selection when exercising your right to bear arms.

I was perusing the wares at Best Buy in the super suburban Greenbrier area, when I noticed a fellow shopper and, with a piece holstered at his hip. I am a general believer in this right, but I do have some personal stipulations, that I wish the regulators who regulate this sort of thing shared with me. Certain stipulations for common sensical practices, if you will.

This very young-looking, fire arm –toting  fellow was wearing some plaid elastic  waist shorts. I won’t comment on this blight in his wardrobe with regards to fashion, but instead as a foundation for a holster. For heaven’s sake. Elastic is stretchy, and pistols are heavy. I just don’t see how this was a wise decision on his part, and the precarious/wobbly nature of his gun’s settlement made me so uncomfortable that I left the store. It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye because the lad bent over to check out the price on a Walker Texas Ranger box set.

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