IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE

Films reflect life. Domesticity has plenty of plots that include action, adventure, comedy, and drama, where every situation is motivation for good movie making. I mean what if I drop the coffee maker on my foot, jump up and down in despair, back into the counter pushing a glass to the edge where it’s teetering, I sneeze sending the glass to the floor with fond sounds of it breaking it into smithereens, I step on broken pieces, major blood flows from my soles, and I die. Then my entire family has to gather together and come up with niceties to say about me at my funeral, wipe up the mess, and clean out my refrigerator. I can hear it now. “I can’t come Friday, Tuesday there’s a Twilight marathon, Thursday is all-you-can-eat at the Home Town Buffet, weekends never, Wednesday I’m going to have a cold, maybe Monday if I’m done Facebooking.” And if they did come they’d probably say, “Did she think that the one who dies with the most crap wins?” I don’t want to boast, but I can still fit into all my hair bands and jewelry from the sixties. Though I’m not about to become a household name by appearing on Hoarder’s.

After the near death drama in my kitchen, I went door to door begging for a tourniquet, or at least an ace bandage. Because some necessities never get purchased, and at sixty years old I still don’t have any of those dang things around the house. No one was available to help cease my bleeding or call the county coroner if I bled to death. But at least it was a happy ending and I didn’t croak. I should get a lifetime achievement award for the most consecutive days lived. And my many movements could be more captivating to watch than most motion pictures.

I see now why no one answers their door, or phone. What happened next was like a scene from Scream. My phone rang. Only it wasn’t a sadistic slasher calling. It was a sweeper salesman. I had neither the time nor the patience to debate whether his vacuums sucking abilities were any better than mine. I have to worry when they find out my address and fling themselves through my threshold to hold me hostage till I buy their product. Once in the same week I moved, gave birth, was intensely engaged in producing milk while scouring the new place clean, unpacked, and had to participate in online traffic school. Do you think the sales person came calling armed with a housewarming or baby gift, Enfamil, Molly Maids, offered to help, or brought me a get out of traffic school certificate showing a clean record? As we grow up, it’s less important to gain new friends and more important to have ones who are gift givers. He wouldn’t leave. I mumbled some expletives and he stood there saying, “Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me.” I threw my copy of Death of a Salesman at him and he still didn’t get it. He showed up a month later. Now I’m more prepared when A Stranger Calls.

Since I’m on the subject of strangers, it was about midnight one summers eve on the homefront. I had a Saturday Night Fever-ish feeling as I heard rumbling on my terrace. It was a sound I imagined thieves make when they are ready to make off with your TV or T.J. Maxx jewels. I turned on the outside light and saw a skunk staring me in the eyes. He had knocked over my sweet azalea planter. I wanted to tell him he was a stinker, but it may have initiated something terrible. I wanted to fling a book at him too. But that got me no where for the first fifty years of my life. He was still peering as if to say “I didn’t do it” reminding me of the time one of my kids ravaged through a whole box of Sugar Smacks and no one owned up to it. That was a miserable moment as well, considering my fructose levels devastatingly dropped and threw off my entire biochemistry that day. In any case, I refused to believe it was anyone else but the white striped menace prowling around the patio and told the skunk to scoot. He scooted alright, straight into the house. He cocked himself fully loaded and shot me with a lethal dose of despicable spray. Now my home held a stench similar to a potato factory in ninety degrees during a strike, and I smelled like Patty Le Pew. I wanted to erect an electrifying fence after that. But knowing me, I would back myself into it a few hundred times and burn my britches, or several more brain cells. I turned into unabated Uma when she was raring to Kill Bill. My skunk slaughter would have been a good sequel.

This tiny glimpse of events merited a red carpet walk. Why couldn’t I have banked two million dollars for my starring role as the stupefied mother after being in The Parent Trap? The minute I saw my babies at birth, I knew an action packed adventure was about to begin and disrupt everything I planned, plus put me in the poor zone. Power and pressure were substantially associated with a significant electric and water bills when lights and faucets were continuously left on. And dramas played out more frequently than all the Harry Potter movies combined. A good title would have been Mummy Goes Mad since I went completely and utterly insane. I’ll sum things up in a few films. True Lies. Torn Curtain. Ice Age. Downward Angel. Mission Impossible. Shaft. Les Miserables. Monsters, Inc. Tangled. Courage under Fire. The Perfect Storm. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

I could go on but there are movies that date back to 1880, and my life stories stem from 1953.

(Posts are published every weekend in The Parson’s Sun newspaper in Kansas)

MY TWO DADS

So often I look to my fathers. There was a period when I only acknowledged one of them. It was the man who conceived me, fed me, clothed me, and swore under his breath at me throughout my teens. When I took off that one time (who said I ran away?) my poor paternal provider hunted me down like a bloodhound. I’m sure my Godly Father had his eyes on me the whole time. And for the couple hours I skipped school, I hoped I would get kicked out so I could enjoy the rest of that day. I’m not sure why my absenteeism was such a sin. It was just one less person to reprimand.

Both dads created me. But only one tried to mold me, scold me, then crucify me for not obeying curfews or for putting marshmallows on random car antennas. My moral compass kept misdirecting me. I am positive the day will come when we are all united together addressing all the dastardly deeds I did during my upbringing as I held the hand grenade to disasters. I didn’t mean to offend, repeatedly. Just as dogs messes are an ongoing embarrassment to their owners, I too was forbidden to defecate on neighboring lawns or eat slobberingly at dinner. I suppose I should be grateful I was never leashed to a tree. It was always annoying being scolded. Especially by peers so versed in repetitive lessons that I failed to grasp any masterful advice. And with a gut made of guilt, I worried that the heavenly hierarchy would strike me with bolts of lightning to wake me up. I stopped wearing wild colored clothing so it wouldn’t be that easy to pick me out of a crowd.

I had it tough. I was too young to drive or drink. Too young to vote, or slip out of the house every so often without adult supervision. I stood strong in these faces of opposition and rebelled towards both dads. I realize now that it’s a risky position for a parent when a kid shows repugnance. Earth dad kept raising the bar, by using tumblers for his martinis instead of regular glasses. Diety Dad just punished me by not giving me things I prayed for, like a tree house. In Yosemite.

I thought it was God who said, “Go forth and conquer.” So I did. I tried to take control of every situation and get the better of the mighty poobah who shared my house with me. Then I found out it was King Arthur who made that statement. Our heavenly Father really said, “Go forth and sin no more.” It’s taken me awhile to perfect that one. I would probably have fewer regrets on my deathbed had I not been so troublesome. I thought that wearing a fig leaf to the block party would symbolize my alliance towards both fathers. Not according to mom though. She sent me home to change because dad was hiding behind a tree not wanting to go through any blood tests that would confirm I was his daughter.

It was during my growing spiritual awareness that I finally discovered Sam’s Club isn’t the only saving place. I started pivoting between my two makers and am obligingly thankful now for much of their interrogation and intervention. Strangely, I can still see them both shaking their fingers at me from afar. Since my slight transformation into an earth angel, I am trying to reshape my head to fit into a halo. With my higher Father hovering over me, there’s no telling what may happen. He could grab that halo at any moment and give it to someone else. I just hope He doesn’t hang it over that woman who stole my parking space at Walgreen’s.

I’ve had a great many conversations with the Man unseen, and the man I see on occasion in Florida. I’ve never asked my bigger Daddy if He likes to golf or fly fish up there. I’ll bet a cloud would be a more cushy place to sit while waiting for bass to bite. But it would take a real miracle to get a hole-in-one from the sky. There are so many unanswered questions. It’s nice having men in my life who can answer some or snap their fingers to make things right. Except, I’m curious. What if God is a woman? And what if her answers are completely different than a man’s? There are other questions besides. I want to ask my predecessor, “So when was the moment you determined that having ten children was a fabulous idea?” I’m sure his reasoning meshed ideally with my desire to wash a dozen dishes instead of just two or three. And here is a question for the bigger Guy. “What was Noah thinking when he allowed those two bees on board?”

I was taught to be a Good Samaritan and spread the Word. Good deeds never go unpunished. Or so I’ve heard. One day I was returning home from the market and stopped at a street light. A homeless guy approached holding a can. I looked in my wallet. All I had was a twenty. I scoured my purse for change. I couldn’t give him my free car wash card. Or my shoes, since I was a size eight and he was undoubtedly a ten. Cars started whizzing by me. I reached into my grocery bag for the pound of peanuts to hand him. By then, he had walked four car lengths behind me grabbing someone else’s money, probably accepting a twenty dollar bill. A policeman came and gave me a citation for holding up traffic. I gave him the peanuts and began to spread these words… “Here, now go forth and give those out to all the people on the streets instead.”

I lied about the fig leaf. But I figured if I wasn’t hurting anyone, my dads would be okay with it. My wingspan is still growing.

(Look for my posts in the weekend editions of The Parson’s Sun newspaper in Kansas)

LABOR DAZE

My wanderlust led me to a getaway over Labor Day weekend at a friend’s fairy tale oceanfront condo in Imperial Beach where being wave watchers from sunrise through sunset is the norm. Our enthusiasm was plentiful, our energy abundant. I was glad to forego the sand to provide my pals a couple of extra helping hands in redecorating and personalizing their newly purchased place. In the debates of dyeing walls, colors would be rethought, sampled, and steadily denied. Eventually the mutually adoring Cinderella and Prince Charming mutually agreed on a palette. Which in reality was Cinderella mutually agreeing with herself.

It was a productive weekend just like any other. Saturday morning, coffee on a coastal wind wisped balcony. While inside the living room, termites glided from window ledges to couch cushions. Because the insects’ arrival wasn’t consensual, Batman and Batwoman did everything in their powers to have them evicted. That was an hour taken away from our three day euphoria. My friends needed to restock and refurbish. So we Three Musketeers ventured on to another euphoria, God’s great big garden of goodies called Costco where they sell everything but mutual funds. Yet according to the memberships frequent guest agreement, I don’t comply with the frequent guest agreement because I’ve never needed jarred pickles the size of a silo. I’m sure all the gyms were empty that day because every Beauty and Beast on the planet were getting their running, bends, and lifts done there. The earth is populated with approximately 7.1 billion people and most of them roam around Costco. And just because they look like people and dress like people doesn’t mean they are people.

Hostility within the Costco climate soared when Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing grabbed onto the one sweater left in burgundy. It was enough to jolt my level of consciousness. You know, those unnerving moments between wake time and bed time. And there was quite the gender confusion as people rushed past me vying for free finger snacks and soy drinks. Only at Costco would people be drinking soy. They would drink anything that’s free. I was waiting for the soon-to-be Mother Goose to yell “It’s a girl” with all the stimulation surrounding her that could bring on delivery. We did have our cart set up for such an emergency since Sleeping Beauty and Rip Van Winkle were buying a memory foam mattress topper. All we needed was hot water, clean towels, and a pair of scissors. But they may not have been easily accessible if we had to pass Three Billie Goats Gruff to get to them. By then and two cartfuls later, we left as if the burden of money had just been lifted from my friend’s wallet. We could have added one more cart and roped them together, but we would have needed Bluebeard with a key to a greyhound bus to lug everything home.

Princess and the Pea set out for another expedition to Home Depot. Our energy was now half abundant. That was one more whirlwind of fun standing in a long line with our color swatches and other do-it-yourselfers ready to paint the town. Even though it’s a big market for materials, the human race should not pursue involvement with each other on holiday weekends. It creates a clawing effect. I’m still in possession of fifty conduit straps from the last slashed price sale that I played tug-of-war for.

We revived enough to travel to the talk of the western world, Hotel Del Coronado. And I thought Rumpelstiltskin was the talk of the town. We crossed over rich marine life to the island mecca where once again we were bombarded by another population explosion. People were partying at the Del, honeymooning at the Del, children running through the Del, and some drunk at the Del. My equally entertaining and adventurous friend Davy Crockett came to join us for the night’s festivities. We hoped we wouldn’t see history repeating itself with another fire. We do things together but didn’t want to die together.

We viewed the hotel menus. Even silverware was extra. We were able to ante up enough to buy dinner and found front row seats inside the bar area for King Midas with his Golden musical Touch who helped us rock the night away. By then there were a lot of other luminaries than just the electricity brightening up the bulging building. But it wasn’t before we searched for such seating and looked around for the hostess whose job was to greet guests. Although Alice in Wonderland couldn’t be found. Maybe she had to be treated for peoplytic shock.

Sunday we turned a room into a colored showcase. By the end of the day we needed a respirator, four martinis, and Aladdin with his Wonderful Lamp to transform us, or give full body massages. We felt like we were tossed out of a moving car going two hundred miles an hour. Winkin Blinkin & Nod sat outside gazing like zombies into the azure wide waterway wishing for something stronger than Advil. Like a holding tank sitting next to the structure with a rest of your life time supply and steady infusion of boilermakers. Founded on sixty years of pain relief experience, some hurts just can’t be fixed with a band-aid or eleven ibuprofen.

Monday we never spoke to each other. We just used sign language. Even then it was hard lifting an arm to communicate. This wanderers luster was reduced to a fluster. Our shoes had drag marks and Goldilocks barely made it to her car to go home. Sometimes I think I’m fine till I’m driving along and someone is staring Through the Looking Glass car Window at the Turquoise in the Hare. Not to mention my rear door, which was wide open. Thankfully nothing flew out, since I left my luggage back at the condo. It just proved how much I need a vacation…. without any Grimm de-tales.

(Posts can be found in the weekend edition of The Parson’s Sun newspaper in Kansas)

PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE PERSONALITIES

Romeo and Juliet is a love story. This one isn’t.

Going on six decades of dwelling experience, living with other entities can sometimes be a love hate relationship. But since hate is such a strong word, I’ll go for no love lost. I am passive, until someone yells at me or obstructs my normal path of walking around the house. Then I can take things to thermonuclear dimensions when I see repeat offenders going through my stuff. I am referring to spiders. Their territorial monopolization is annoying. So I took a shot at some science research and can say that I’ve become a spider specialist. I found out most of them are hairy, and can bite. And since it’s my home, I feel free to stalk them, smash them, and relinquish their squatter’s rights.

After having too many of them scurrying across floorboards, scaling the ceiling and the top of my head, my passive turned aggressive personality joined forces with their passive aggressiveness. So now I show an angry smile when I see them. There was a time you could have called me Little Miss Muffet until I acquired bravery and certain pugnaciousness. I’m always waiting for a prince of darkness to descend upon me. And when he does, I want to scream, “Hey buddy, go bug somebody else!” Before, I wanted to kill the master manipulators until they moved one centimeter in my direction and threw off all my plans. One time I did run for a fly turned spider swatter. But by the time I came back, he was gone. I was a lioness that ended up being a scaredy cat. I eventually learned that they didn’t create clamps just for holding down wood, or paper towels precisely for spills.

The standoffs began.

My most memorable incident was the time I exited the bathtub almost stepping on a terrorist that I so appropriately named Osama Bin Laden. Because the minute I turned my back, he went into hiding. I’d rather have splinters than these hounds of bathersville. I ventured to the garage wrapped in a towel to find an old newspaper because I got tired of using my most treasured household objects to heave at them. I still have spider remains on my cast iron candelabras. I know. Yuk. But where is a newspaper when you need one? Anyway, I wandered through the garage totally forgetting what I was looking for when it dawned on me after seeing gossimer animal fiber uniquely toiled and meshed into perfection. It was a sensation likened to being on the brink of a cold war. I hated to interrupt another spider’s social activities such as web and baby making. That’s when I began to recite the serenity prayer. “God, grant me the serenity to capture these things I cannot catch, courage to castrate them, and wisdom to hire a proper fumigator.” One has to wonder, what would Jesus do if a spider crawled up his pant leg? At that point I just wanted to take a moment to thank the Lord for not letting spiders reside in my ice cube trays.

It was about that time when my towel caught on my bike handle, pulling it completely away from my bare body. I leaned back against the wall trying to catch it hitting the garage door opener button by mistake. It was a fair indicator of what the draftiness of cold air does to a girl’s upper half. After being nipped in the buds, I turned fifty shades of paleness, a portrait similar to Pattinson. To my dismay, I began to think there was a trace of tourism about to occur. Neighbor Nathan was walking his dog, crossing my driveway at the precise moment my towel dropped. And since timing was my mailman’s best quality, he approached trying to eradicate my total embarrassment by saying, “Do you know you have corn flakes in your teeth?” Right! Like he was really looking at my corn flakes. I think he realized my being in the garage wasn’t a social visit. And although mailmen are predominantly pleasing people, I’d hate to denigrate the dude that brings me bills. He handed me three of them which made me that much happier. The charm wore off in the two minutes he was there, and in the time it took to dislodge the huge lump in my throat while grabbing something to shield me. Golf club covers weren’t a great fit, and a patio umbrella cover could only be useful if I was an eel.

Back to Bin Laden. I was caught somewhere between my heart racing to cardio level and annihilation which followed my humiliation. I’m still reeling from the last slaughter I performed because their family members know where I live. Apart from not having a sniper rifle to take out Osama, I traipsed through the oiled trail of tire marks and a couple of dropped bolts searching for my hide-n-seek playmate. They should have taught us in school how to eradicate buggers. Eleven months have passed and I haven’t needed to know geometry for any reason whatsoever.

I just wanted to punch my pal in the cephalothorax and then go get a Fudgsicle, or at least resume my otherwise happy existence. The only thing worse than having a spider in my bathroom AND garage is not knowing where spiders are hidden in both places. So I stood there vocalizing, “Remember when I threw a book at your brother and he fell behind the dresser and walked away? Well, it won’t be a book this time. Let’s be brave little buggers and I will kill you softly with a song.”

I never did catch them. And just so you know, I don’t normally have conversations with eight legged anythings. I take my role as a bug free environmentalist very seriously. But it’s like anything else. When you’ve been in a relationship for awhile, lots of things seem to come crawling out of the woodwork.

(Posts found every weekend in The Parson’s Sun newspaper – Kansas)