Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Joni's Rules of the Road

            My daughter says I drive like Cruella DeVil.
            My best friends refuse to get into my car.  And I hung onto the family mini-van long after the kids were grown so it could be my stealth vehicle, a car virtually immune to the attention of cops.  So I would never write a blog criticizing other drivers.
            Okay, just this once.  Can someone please tell me why they let people drive 40 mph on the speedway?  I mean the freeway?  How is forcing other drivers to swerve around you not a hazard worth a $200 ticket at the very least?   I seriously doubt that these people are paying one fraction of the attention to their task that I am.  In fact, in Joniopolis, you would have to qualify to get on there, the same as you qualify to be in a race.

            And why aren’t we testing people’s reflexes when they renew their licenses?  If you lack the skill to avoid accidents, aren’t you now in the category of causing them?  Driving is not something everyone should do, despite the outcry that even the sleepiest among us should be able to steer tons of metal at high speed so they can get themselves to work.  Let’s face it: Not everyone is qualified to perform surgery, not everyone is licensed to practice law, and not everyone should be hurtling down the highways without a brain in their head.

            I admit I go a wee bit faster than I should.  I once raced the family mini-van at the local speedway, and sold an article about it to Woman’s Day magazine.  It was the Fourth of July (hence free admission—I am nothing if not a tightwad), and we had just come from the annual church pancake breakfast in the park.  I had heavy wrought iron griddles in the back, a carload of family members, and a Jack-in-the-Box ball on my antennae.
            When I got in line for a white number to be painted on my windshield, I discovered that 9009 looks great from outside, but spells “Poop”  for those of us sitting inside.    I noticed the other drivers (all the ages of my children) had their hoods popped up with ice packs on their engines to cool them.  They were wandering around looking at each other’s engines.   I popped my hood open as well.  Nobody came by to look at mine, so I busied myself by reading a Bon Appetit magazine as I waited for my turn.

            And finally it was time to screech my silver van through the bleach troughs and out onto the quarter-mile straightaway.   It was glorious!  I think I beat a Mustang next to me.  Then I was told the idea is to duplicate your speed a second time, so I hurried around to do it again.  Only this time the meanest woman in the known universe came up and demanded that I empty my car of passengers.  Apparently this is an un-posted rule (where was she earlier?) and unless I complied, I couldn’t race.
            It was all about safety, she said.  Aha.  Forcing my husband and two of my kids out into the middle of the race track, to run for their lives towards the bleachers, was obviously safer than letting them stay in the car.  Incredibly, they made it to their seats before getting run down.
            But now the weight of my car was thrown off; how could I possibly duplicate my score?  Well, I’d simply have to try my best.  Once again I watched for the green light and went zooming out ahead of the car next to me.   And again I was given a slip of paper with my time on it.  At this point my 19-year-old son, who raced there all the time, came jogging up to see how I had done.  I, of course, had no idea what any of the numbers meant, but I knew victory was mine when his eyes narrowed with jealousy and he said, “Let’s see you do that again.”
            But no further demonstration was needed.  I had raced once, then twice, and had a nearly perfect performance.  No need to dilute the waters of success; my score was as good as a trophy.  Even the teenagers were giving this mini-van mom a thumbs up.

            So I’m just saying it might be a good idea to include a similar exercise before licensing people to get on the freeway.  Those who fail can take surface streets, enjoy public transportation, or ride their bicycles to work.  The world—and the freeways-- would be a safer place.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Taking Over the World, Sort Of

I have to confess another obsession.  It’s my Clustr Map, which shows every country where someone has read my blog.  Every time I go to the home page I see red and yellow dots all over the U.S., and a few others sprinkled around the globe.  Just like when I played RISK as a little girl, I simply must get a wooden bead on every country. 

You have no idea how this goal has consumed me.  I call my husband at work and shout, “We have Pakistan!” as if I’m Genghis Khan reporting his latest acquisition.
            But seriously, Pakistan!  And Hungary!  And Italy!  I don’t even know a living soul in these countries, but someone there is reading my humor columns.  In English!  Okay, that’s humbling because I don’t speak Urdu, Hungarian, or Italian.  And that’s not all.  I have readers in China, Canada, the U.K., Spain, Finland, Norway, Sweden, the Philippines, Bermuda (where I have always wanted to go), Brazil, Argentina, France, Australia, Guatemala, Mexico, the Russian Federation, and India.  All joined by a twisted sense of humor. 
            And, of course, I cannot look at this map without seeing the vast array of countries where I have not one reader.  Whole continents are missing, here!  Africa, hellooo?  Not a single dot, seriously?  What does a girl have to do?  And not one Middle Eastern country has hopped on board this laugh wagon, either.  Ditto the whole of Greenland.  Okay, I don’t expect too much from Greenland, but it still bugs me.  
I started this blog three months ago, and nearly 4,000 readers have visited.  For that I am uber grateful.  But surely these folks have friends in other countries who could use some entertainment; why aren’t they telling them to subscribe?  Don’t even get me started on the nations that could certainly use some levity in their lives; it’s pretty much everyone.  So I have a proposal.  If you know people in other countries, could you please email them the link to my blog?  In return, I will--okay there is no return.  But are you telling me there isn’t some satisfaction in sharing joy around the globe?  Must we always have a tangible reward instead of the intrinsic contentment that comes with doing a good deed?

Look at it this way.  You are keeping me from hurling RISK beads at my monitor, or worse, gluing them onto the screen and becoming another blonde joke.  That’s a community service, right there.  Don’t say I didn’t offer you the chance. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Man Cake

           Okay, we all know the upcoming holiday is a Manly Man one:  Father’s Day.  And we all know it’s a pain to shop for men because they have a particular electronic or power tool or sporting good item that only they can pick out, unlike women who are simple.  Not simple-minded, mind you-- simple to shop for. First of all, we love everything— home decorations, clothing, jewelry, handbags, cosmetics, flowers, gourmet stuff—the list is endless.  Incidentally, guys, this is why you’ve been getting nothing but neckties for the last few years.
            But I have solved the dilemma this year and created the perfect Father’s Day gift!  It’s a MAN CAKE made from all kinds of handy tools and gadgets men love.  It looks festive, it’s clever to the tenth power, it’s inexpensive, and your guy will receive items he actually wants and will undoubtedly use.  Here’s what it looks like:

            And here’s how to make one.  Let’s start with the shopping list of just 5 “ingredients” (all available at the Dollar Store, by the way):

            4-6 micro fiber towels, depending on thickness.  Mine were 16” by 24” and fairly fluffy.  Guys love these for their cars, sporting goods, you-name-it. Any color works.
            3 bungee cords-- again, any color you choose
            8 batteries
            One package of zip ties, 6 inches or longer
            6-8 small tubes of Super Glue with red caps

            Here’s how you assemble the cake.  Fold each towel into halves or thirds, whatever it takes to make them about 5 or 6 inches wide.  Roll the first one up, like this:

Now roll the rest around it to create the body of the cake, like this:

Hold them in shape with bungee cords.

Nestle batteries into the top, to resemble frosting roses—ha!  But you get the idea.  (Little kids will love making this, by the way)

Tuck zip ties in the outer-most space between towels, looping them over in a scallop design to dress up the cake.

Now tuck tubes of Super Glue in as well, to resemble lit candles.  The red caps are the “flames.”

Place your cake on a tray or platter and it’s ready to present to Dad.  This is also lightweight enough to ship to Grandpa. It comes together in just minutes, but will provide a lifetime of memories!  
Pin this on Pinterest and you can win a fantastic prize:  A one-year FREE subscription (worth $25) to Cooking Contest Central, the premier one-line website for information about cooking contests!  This site has been around for 15 years and I’ve won dozens of cook-offs and recipe contests I’ve learned about through CCC.  Let me know that you’ve pinned the MAN CAKE, and I’ll put you in my drawing!  Post it on your Facebook page and I’ll put your name in a second time, doubling your chances of winning.

Monday, May 20, 2013

And They're Off!

There are three things in life that I consciously—and wisely—avoid: Cookie dough, jigsaw puzzles, and horse racing.  Cookie dough is self-explanatory.  If it’s in my house it’s soon in my stomach, and then finds its sneaky way to my fat cells.  Jigsaw puzzles turn my focus knob to “fanatical” and once caused me to miss an entire Thanksgiving.  And horse racing, well, that’s what this post is about.  (“Post,”I might add, is also a horse racing term.)

Last Friday my husband took me to the races.  Literally.  Okay, first we went to a business meeting, but enough about that.  He THEN surprised me with an afternoon at Golden Gate Fields.  Now here is something almost no one knows about me: I secretly follow the Derby and cry and go crazy whenever I see a horse race. If I were a gambling woman, which I am not, I’d be staggering around like a floozy at the tracks, betting on every race and talking about horses with all the other addicts who play the odds and have their bookies on speed dial.

For 26 years Bob has had no idea.  Oh, sure, the kids know my big parenting regret is not teaching them how to ride, they’ve seen me cry at War Horse and Secretariat, and they know I had horses as a kid. But they have no idea that I’ve deliberately avoided the tracks because I am totally obsessed with these majestic creatures.  Even without gambling, I could become a race horse junkie.  So I limit it to the Derby and I swoon watching them head into the stretch.  And then I put it away for another whole year.

Until now.  This year I was already in bed when Bob came into the bedroom reading the news on his smart phone and said, “Guess who won the Kentucky Derby?”  He caught me with my guard down and I said, “Orb!  And he came from behind and won by two and half lengths—you should have seen it; everyone was covered in mud!” Oops.  Now Bob was staring at me.  “Do you know who the jockey was?”  I did.  “Do you know who came in second?” I did.  Bob was thunderstruck.  My cover was blown. 

“You like horse racing?” He was stunned.

I nodded, and happy tears fell down my cheeks as I described how Orb was on the outside, yet took the lead in the last few seconds.  What I didn’t know was that Bob (St. Bob, remember) began immediate plans to take me to a race in person.  And that’s how we found ourselves dining in the Golden Gate Fields restaurant and watching race after exhilarating race, mostly on dirt, two on turf.

At one point Bob went to the restroom and came back almost shouting, “Best View From a Men’s Room!”  I figured this couldn’t possibly be the name of a horse, and, thankfully, I was right.  Instead it was a fact, as Bob had captured on his cell phone:  A sweeping vista of San Francisco, the Bay, and the Golden Gate Bridge.

After our meal we headed to the elevators to get a closer look at the horses.  Along the way we encountered lots of women in dresses and hats, and several young men who fancied themselves fancy in fedoras and sunglasses.  We found the paddock where the horses parade by, almost close enough to touch. One horse, in particular, caught my eye.  “Look at Number Nine,” I said.  “He’s going to win.” 

Bob scoffed.  “You can’t tell that.”

“Look at his gait,” I said.  “Look at the energy, how he keeps jerking his head towards the track.  He can’t wait to get out there.”  His name was Frank and Go, and he was an exquisite thoroughbred, the color of dark caramel, his muscles gleaming, his proportions perfect.  I asked Bob to snap some photos.

We watched from the railing as the race began and my heart started pounding.  The cluster of horses rounded the curves in perfect unison, as if on wheels.  And then as they neared the finish line the crowd was screaming and it was clear: Frank and Go was leading out.  Frank and Go won!

That night I spoke to one of our sons and told him Dad had taken me to a race track that day.  “Wow,” he said, “That’s random.”  Yep.  They still have no idea.

Here's a race anyone can win-- race your mouse over to the box on the right, where you can subscribe and keep these posts winging their way into your inbox several times a week.  Odds are you'll laugh yourself silly.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Numb and Number

            My eldest son is wildly in love with… numbers.  From the time he learned of their existence, he ascended (descended?  side-scended?)  into a happy little world of ratios and logarithms, even sharing an elaborate equation with me one time, including lovely arcs, to prove the uselessness of cleaning his room.

            I, on the other hand, recoil mentally whenever a digit appears.  I think it started with story problems in elementary school.  Well-meaning teachers would hand out preposterous questions, I assumed, to see who could go the longest without screaming.
            “You have one apple and you want to share it equally with seven friends,” such questions would begin.  And that’s when I would stop and imagine such a ludicrous situation.  Who planned so poorly as to have only one apple when seven friends arrive?  My solution was ultimately to make a small Waldorf Salad, though I didn’t know its name at the time, and wasn’t convinced this would be anywhere near enough food for a total of eight people.  And why can’t “applesauce” be considered a correct answer?

            “You found one grape and want to share it with nine friends,” one question said.
Immediately I would try to picture this—and what are these people—street urchins from the Dickens era, covered with soot, who find one grape in the gutter, that even the dogs won’t eat, and decide to share it with nine friends?  Sounds like they ought to spend less time socializing and more time working, so they can buy everyone a grape.  I wrote, “I would not do this” for my answer.  What was next—dividing a pea into twenty pieces with a scalpel?  Were we going to be given microscopes for the next batch of story problems?

            And then along came fractions, criss-crossing operations, long division, and ultimately algebra.  Which, if you haven’t pictured a bra made of algae yet, means you haven’t given enough thought to that word.  Worst of all, they were now mixing letters with numbers, a sacrilege if ever there was one. (See my “Open Letter to You Math Types” blog of April 17th.)
            My daughter inherited my distaste for things mathematical.  But in her case, it’s because she’s an artist.  When given a long equation with a little two elevated above the other numbers, to indicate “to the second power,” all she could think of was how stranded that awkward two looked, like a lone painting hung too high on a giant wall.  When she finally solved the equation, that’s all that was left—that little two floating up like a lost balloon.

            Numbers people have other amazing abilities as well.  They’re like savants of a sort, for whom musical training is a snap.  I have yet to meet a math wiz who is not also a gifted pianist.  And juggling!  Who would have thought juggling went along with this, but it does.  I know of an AP Calculus teacher who tells his students that whoever masters juggling will get an A in the class, and he’s invariably right.  Evidently the same gymnastics your brain goes through in order to juggle, are the same processes it needs to understand calculus.

            And all I can think about are the bruised oranges that will result as folks try this at home, dropping the fruit time and again until it cannot be shared with one friend, let alone forty-nine.

Portions of this blog post appear in “Funeral Potatoes—the Novel,” published by Covenant Communications.  There’s Jewish humor, Catholic humor, and definitely Mormon humor. Round out your collection with a bunch of my LDS books; click on their titles right here on my blog’s home page!  They’re usually much cheaper than my mainstream books (not that the content is cheaper) and you gotta like that.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Simon Says

            My cat is an assassin.  I know what you’re thinking—all cats are born hunters, blah, blah, blah.  No; this cat is different from other cats the same way Jason Bourne is different from you and me.
            We got Simon from a box of free kittens not realizing that solid charcoal cats with amazingly soft coats and gold eyes are not your basic cat.  They are trained killers in cat suits.  Here’s how I know. Now, not every husband will watch CATS 101 with his wife, which is one more reason why I call mine St. Bob, but we were watching it recently when the show began to describe an unusual cat which was bred by French monks to rid the world of mice.  Evidently these clever monks devised a gene pool that resulted in a cat with superhuman (supercat?) abilities, which—and I am a witness—include defying gravity.  It’s called a Chartreux.  Great Scott—we adopted a serial killer!

            I was in the back yard gardening when I saw a dark flash zip by, heard a thud, and then saw Bob dash into the bushes. Soon Bob came out, sputtering, “How does a cat run faster than a bird can fly?”  Simon had kept pace with a flying bird, leapt into the air to smack it sideways into our fence, and then pounced on the stunned creature once it hit the ground.  Bob rescued the bird and released it as soon as it regained consciousness.  I’ve had cats all my life and I have never seen one that zig zags through the air to follow his prey as if tethered to the actual bird.

            And mice have no chance whatsoever.  Even though Simon’s front paws are declawed, it's as if we have merely installed a silencer on his gun.  It has not impeded his hunting ability one iota. He climbs trees and jumps over 8-foot fences as if they’re toys he ordered on the internet.  The other night we decided to dine with dinner guests on our patio.  No sooner had we started our meal than Simon came jogging around from the side yard with a huge mouse in his mouth, the rodent’s tail swinging from his jaws.   Just what you want to delight visitors.  So, amid squeals of disgust from our company, he proceeded to place the mouse on the lawn and lay on it, holding it beneath him.  Then, eager for a literal game of cat and mouse, released it, at which moment it dashed up our 9-foot arbor, which is covered with a lush grape vine this time of year.  Simon kept pace and climbed right up the arbor after it. 

            Oh my gosh; this is like Hickory Dickory Dock.  Only worse. I tried to distract our guests from the unintentional entertainment, but their jaws had dropped as they watched Simon scale the iron arbor in one second flat, then perch on top, wild-eyed and bloodthirsty.
            And heaven help any birds who build nests in our trees and then try to boot out their youngsters.  Those poor things will fall right into the waiting jaws of Simon, who has learned to bide his time under vines frequented by hummingbirds, and branches frequented by everyone else. 
            Disgustingly, like all cats, he brings in his catch as if it’s a gift.  But how is it a gift if all that’s left are the beak and some feathers?   If we lived in an agricultural area, he’d probably be dragging in the remains of goats and pigs. 

            Years ago Bob said to me, “If I hadn’t married you,” and paused.  I was sure he would then say, “my life would have had no meaning.”  Or “I’d have missed out on the best woman in the world.”  Or some other romantic ending.  But no.  Here is what he said in total: “If I hadn’t married you (pause), you’d be one of those women with forty cats.”  Nice.
            And maybe it wouldn’t have been forty.  Maybe four or five, I’ll admit to that.  But not if they were Chartreux’s.  One is definitely plenty.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Jury Duty Goes Awry

            I want to be a professional juror.  I am convinced my opinions can save America and I want desperately to inject them into the deliberations of people whose wide open minds are a playground for fast-dancing attorneys.  And, also, I think I’m right.  So I want to get in there and try to reason with these so-called “peers” who watch waaay too much TV.
            Let me give you an example.  I was recently summoned to join a throng of hopefuls at my nearby court house.  Most of them, I realize, were hoping to get sent home.  In fact, I sat next to a guy who proceeded to tell me exactly how to do it.  I was torn between lecturing him about his civic duty and clamming up so he’d get the heck out of there and let some solid thinkers in.
            Eventually we were ushered into a courtroom where the attorneys quizzed prospective jurors about which TV cop shows they liked, and no fewer than three women (three!) admitted they watched NCIS because of Michael Weatherly!  Really?  You are old enough to be this guy’s mother, yet you are ogling him like some teenager, and you admit this in a public setting?
            Well, it’s simply appalling.  How can the fate of the accused rest in the hands of such ninnies?  They’re likely to acquit him just because he’s cute!
            You can’t blame the attorneys; they’re just trying to stack the deck in favor of their side, and likely want these very dopes in the jury box.  They want to know which folks watch which shows, and could be overly sympathetic to the arresting officer.  I’m telling you, they need me, to remind them to look at the evidence. Or at the very least, I could inject some humor into these proceedings. 
            Finally my name was called to join the lineup of “maybe” jurors.  I was asked what I do.  Easy.  “I’m a writer.”  What do you write?  Uh-oh.  This could be a problem.  I want to keep my answer short and thus harder to denounce.  I took a breath.  “Comedy.”
            The lawyer stared at me.  I stared back and shrugged.  Hey, it is what it is.  At least it isn’t detective novels, right?  They should let me in there.  Comedy means nothing in the world of law, right?  Seriously, what is less funny than the judicial system?  Should be a non-issue. 
            Yes!  I was assigned to take Seat Number Five in the jury box.  I am the very juror you want.  Okay, maybe not the one you want, but definitely the one you need.  And then, the minute I sat down, the other attorney said, “We dismiss Mrs. Hilton.”  What?  You can do that?  You can get a person’s hopes up and then just fire them on the spot?  How rude.
            I sighed, picked up my purse, and stepped down into the center of the courtroom.  “Well, I guess this means I won’t get my two dollars and twenty-five cents,” I snapped.  The whole courtroom, including the judge, burst out laughing and I realized: My work here is actually done.
Oh, you can learn a whole lot more than proper courtroom decorum in this brilliant blog.  Be sure to subscribe by typing your email address into the little box on the right.  MUCH easier than serving on a jury, my friends.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

What I Want for Mother's Day

            As a mother of four, I have received, shall we say, interesting gifts over the years.   From the chubby fists of dandelions, which I loved, to the flimsy pledges of peace and quiet on IOUs (with expiration dates!), I’ve seen just about everything.  But in case you are among the few (ha ha) who still haven’t purchased a gift for your mother this year, allow me to give you some ideas.  Here are a dozen things I’ve really wanted over the years:

1.      An app app.  It would deliver a mild, non-lethal shock to any child standing in my proximity, who zones out while I’m talking, because he or she has opened an app.

2.      While we’re talking apps, how about one that finds your kids’ belongings?  It would be like a homing device that could locate their shoes, their homework, or any other item they think you should keep track of.  Come to think of it, a homing device on the kids themselves is not a bad idea.

3.      Some mystery.  In this case, I would like the car radio to mysteriously break one day, without explanation.

4.      A chef to do nothing but make school lunches.  I figure I’ve made roughly eleven thousand, five hundred and eighty lunches over the years, and just maybe it’s time for a break.  And if the same chef would like to whip up an occasional dinner, I could live with that.
5.      I’d love one of my kids to say, “Mom, I’m going to do a load of wash—is there anything you’d like me to throw in?”  But this would have to be said while I’m standing near a soft chair, as fainting is a definite possibility.
6.      A call from all my kids’ teachers, raving about how wonderful my children are in class (“A joy,” one will say), and how they don’t know how they can go on, once the school year ends and my kids move up to the next grade.

7.      Bad Influence Detector Spray.  I could spray all their friends to see which kids are headed for trouble.  The ones who cough and choke would be scratched off the list, while we’d keep the ones who laugh and say, “Oh, Mrs. Hilton, you’re so funny!”

8.      Peanut butter, syrup, jam and ketchup containers that have no screw-on lids, and thus no grooves to catch drips and get all gummy and sticky.  Also, these same products manufactured to adhere to bread, but not to fingers.

9.      A surprise statement.  For example, I’d love for my daughter to say, ‘You know, I’ve thought about it, and I don’t think I’ll date until I’m 25.”

10.  Videogames that teach housekeeping skills.  “Kill those germs!” “Blast that dust!” For older kids, a money management game that could teach them how to stay out of debt.  Credit cards and flirty girlfriends would be the bad guys. 

11.  Clothes  hangers that hang onto the garments, so that only their owner can remove them. If you have the wrong fingerprint, say the print of a teen trying to borrow her mom’s clothes, they won’t come off and an alarm will sound.

12.  I’d like arranged marriages to come back in style.  Every date could be a chaperoned affair, and when it’s time for your offspring to marry, you select half a dozen prospective suitors for your kids to choose from.  Oh, come on-- every parent in the world has contemplated this with a smile on his or her face, and you know it.  If you can pull this one off, you will likely get your own holiday.  And mothers everywhere will buy you a gift. 

And now, a baker’s dozen—yet one more great idea: Give your mom a subscription to this very blog.  She’ll think of you every time one of my posts pops into her inbox.  Just type her email address into the box at the right, and you will gain instant hero status! (My books also make wonderful gifts… just saying.)

Monday, May 6, 2013

You Don't Have to Major in Drama

            What is it about college life?  You can’t go two days without High Drama in the Dorms, Drama on the Campus, Drama in the Parking Lots.  If you want to be an actor, you don’t even need to major in theatre: It’s a built-in prerequisite for every other experience offered there.

            I have to confess, it’s mostly us girls.  We trade playground swings for mood swings, and our childhood pals for people we live with who then steal everything from our groceries to our boyfriends.
            My three boys never called home with wild tales to report of elaborate schemes to hide their belongings, get even with a roommate, or to soothe a crying classmate in 4C.  But girls can multi-task and do all three of those things before 10 a.m. 
            Our daughter described a soap opera starring two of her roommates who were hiding a third from the management who had kicked Third out, that lasted until two in the morning.  There was thrashing, there was crying, followed by a sunny day of everyone getting along again.
            “What they really need to do,” I told Bob, “is get a crop duster to fly low over all our universities, and release a cloud of Valium over the dorms.”  Hey, they do this sort of thing to control mosquitoes, and I think coeds pose a far greater threat to human happiness.  With ideas like this, I am amazed that I am not on ten different advisory boards.
            Bob was working at the computer in the family room as I was in the kitchen, about  40 feet away, but still in view.  I was cooking as the phone rang.  It was our daughter.  She needed help with more drama.  This time it was a creepy student who wanted to date her, wouldn’t take an obvious brush-off, and kept showing up and standing too close.  He made snippy comments to the boy she did want to date, he came by to visit and wouldn’t leave, and turned into a stalker who didn’t understand that stalking is supposed to be secretive.  She told me about his angry outbursts, his childish whining, and some other behavior that was garnering him one enemy after another.
            I listened quietly for a while, then said, “Honey, he’s just a tormented misfit.”
            Bob swiveled around on the computer chair and said, “Hellooo?  I’m right here; I can hear you.”        
            Well, of course now Nicole and I crack up and I’m laughing too hard to be of use to anyone.  Maybe I should ask the crop dusters to swing over my house instead.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Passing Up Hawaii

            As luck would have it, and luck always does, I know a lot of crazy people.  I don’t mean crazy as in, “Oh, you should meet Jen—she’s so fun and crazy.”  I mean crazy as in diagnosed with things like “borderline psychosis” and “schizophrenia.”

            I seem to attract them.  (NO COMMENTS FROM YOU MONKEY CHILDREN OF MINE).  I find them in all kinds of places, and sometimes I’m asked to visit them as a church assignment.  And once you have a crazy person in your life, they stay.  It’s one of nature’s laws, I think.  But I’m not complaining; I rather enjoy them.  Mentally ill people are often smarter than average and they lack the annoying pretenses you have to wade through with regular people. They tell you bluntly how they feel, they’re often quite insightful, and they’re almost always entertaining.  They don’t always understand social conventions which, I believe, is why Caller ID was invented.  And, okay, yes, they are scary from time to time, but so is eating at Taco Bell, and yet we do it.
            I have a senior citizen friend I’ll call Ruby, simply because I know no other Ruby’s.  (Rubies?)  Whatever.  She is married to an equally disturbed man I’ll call Rocky, again because I know no Rocky’s. (Rockies?)  Thankfully these people come in singular, rather than plural form.
            Rocky’s story is much worse than the paranoid, multiple-personality disordered Ruby.  He’s a registered sex offender, an alcoholic, a drunk driver, and a parolee who keeps going back to prison.  He speaks LOUDLY about these things when you take the two of them to the DMV for an I.D., since Rocky is not allowed to drive.  He then causes crowds to back away, and hives to appear on your neck.
            At any rate, Rocky recently came into a large inheritance and did what any crazy man would do, thus confirming a diagnosis none of us were questioning in the first place.  Did he pay off his bills?  Nope.  Did he invest it wisely?  Nope.  He gambled away a huge hunk of it and then spent the rest on a lavish trip to Hawaii.  And, of course, he wanted Ruby to come along.
            Ruby said no.  You can usually count on crazy people to do the opposite of what you expect.  Now, Ruby has had a hard life and deserves some R & R in my opinion, so I asked her why on earth she wasn’t taking advantage of the only chance she has ever had, to go to Hawaii.
            “Well,” she explained, “every time I’ve ever gone anywhere with Rocky, he leaves me and goes off on his own.”  Excuse me?  A crazy man takes you to Hawaii and then vanishes?  Is this not the very definition of a win-win situation?  You couldn’t get the world’s best travel agent to book you a deal like that.  In fact, it’s reason enough to do the hula whether you’re in Hawaii or not.
            I tried to get her to see the bonanza right within her grasp, but she shook her head.  “You think this is a blessing in disguise,” she said. 
“No,” I told her.  “There is no disguise here whatsoever.  The entire thing is a blessing inside and out.  You go to Hawaii and then whammo—you can snorkel, enjoy a luau, you-name-it, all without Rocky tagging along.  How could it possibly get better than that?”  I didn’t say it, but I was imagining him gloriously lost for days.
But Ruby would not budge.  She told Rocky to go by himself and so he did.  When I took Ruby to her next psychiatrist appointment, the receptionist asked her how she was feeling and Ruby explained that she felt fine, now that she had decided not to go to Hawaii.
And that, my friends, is precisely how you know that someone needs their head examined. 
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