Tuesday, October 29, 2013

I Brake for Idiots

            I realize I am in danger of writing Jalopy-opolis, instead of Joniopolis, but you will not believe what just happened.
            I’m in the car with St. Bob and we pull out of the driveway to run errands.  On the way, we decide to pick up our mail, which arrives down the block, in one of those multiple-family mailboxes they’re using these days.  I thumb through the bills and magazines as we head to the freeway.
            I’m still opening mail as we get on the freeway, and I see one envelope with a red stamp on it that says, SAFETY RECALL NOTICE.

            Well, it must be for a small appliance, I decide.  Something wrong with a blow dryer or a blender, no doubt.  Probably a cord overheats, or a button falls off.  I tear it open.  But it’s not from Conair or Cuisinart—it’s from Chevrolet!  Hey, we just bought a—uh oh.

            Sure enough, it’s about the car we renamed Baby Bugatti, to keep me from riding around in a misspelled car (which you can read about here).  Chevrolet says they apologize and they’re concerned for our safety.  Not concerned enough, however, to get it right the first time.
            This is like those recordings that say, “Your call is important to us,” but not quite important enough to hire sufficient staff to answer it.

            I keep reading.  “Brake assist may be intermittently reduced or lost,” it says.  One of the sentences ends with, “increasing the risk of a crash.”  Oh, only a crash. 
            And then they choose to capitalize this line: PARTS ARE NOT CURRENTLY AVAILABLE.  But when they are, Chevy will provide them, and the phrase they decide to put in bold lettering is at no charge. 

            Wow, is this our lucky day or what?  No charge!  Why, I would fully have expected to pay for Chevy’s death-defying blunder out of my own pocket, but they have stepped up in wild generosity and agreed to cover it themselves!  Almost brings tears of joy to your eyes, doesn’t it?
            “So let me get this straight,” I say to Bob.  “We are hurtling down the freeway, and our brakes don’t work.”
            “Well, they work a bit,” he says.  A bit!  Well, that’s all you really need, I believe.  No wonder Chevy chose snail mail instead of a phone call or email.  It’s only the piddling, little, unimportant brakes.  And when will parts be available?  No mention of that.  Hey, maybe Chevy will send us a Christmas present—the essential brake parts! 
            I sigh.  Really, I shouldn’t be surprised.  I mean, how much attention to detail can you honestly expect from the maker of a misspelled car?  Chevrolet, at least you’re consistent.
Hey, have you ordered any of my books, yet?  I promise you will not receive a letter recalling various defective pages, and promising to send the correct ones later. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Family Feud: Rooster vs. Fox

                Well, it was only a matter of time until St. Bob and I discovered rival ancestors.  For years Bob has known that he is a descendant of General Thomas Sumter (yes , the Fort Sumter one) while I languished in the genealogy bush with a madame as my most illustrious forebear.
                Until now.  I have just learned I have Francis Marion in my line, and am graduating from a shrub to a tree.  But wouldn’t you know that these two men were bitter competitors?  I finally find a real hero in the branches and he has to be old Tom’s worst enemy.  Okay, not his very worst enemy, but a man whose “cavalier independence” rankled him, while Marion resented Tom’s “dictatorial” attitude.

                Because Fort Sumter was named for him, people think Thomas was a Civil War hero.  But he was actually a Brigadier General under George Washington, in the American Revolutionary War.  So was Francis Marion. Both of them were known for their guerilla fighting tactics, and both of them were the basis of the Benjamin Morgan character, played by Mel Gibson in the movie, The Patriot.


Sumter was nicknamed the "Carolina Gamecock" for his attack on British soldiers after they burned down his house, and for his fierce fighting style, regardless of his size (I had a Chihuahua like that once).   A British general commented that Sumter "fought like a gamecock,”  and Cornwallis described him as his greatest plague.
Marion was equally ruthless and sneaky, and was given the nickname “Swamp Fox,” because he’d  hide his men in the swamps and ambush the enemy.  
Is it my imagination, or do these guys look as if they could be brothers?  They certainly quarreled like many a brother. 

 Here they were, on the same side, wearing the same uniform, yet not cooperating, butting heads and clashing egos.   At one point Marion refused to fight under Sumter ever again.  I know it was the painting style of the era, but do either of these fancy-boys look like vicious combatants? 
Bob’s grandfather actually bears a striking resemblance to Thomas.  Here's a photo of Ed, and a Rembrandt Peale painting of Tom:

So I had an artist duplicate the painting of Thomas that hangs in the Sumter, South Carolina courthouse. This one hangs in my living room: 

And, of course, now I have to get a painting of ol’ Francis to hang next to it, ideally pointing a sword at Tom.  And there we’ll be, Bob and I, the Romeo and Juliet of the story, something I like to think would have infuriated them most of all.
Hey, if I can be related to Francis Marion, anything is possible.  YOU AND I could be related!  So, as my dear distant cousin, don’t you think you should subscribe to a family member’s blog? 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Hiney Ho!

What person, in their right mind, blogs about a colonoscopy? Aha—did you see the clue in that sentence?  It’s “in their right mind.”  And that lets me off the hook, so blog I shall.
            I really wasn’t going to write about this TMI sort of procedure, but then something happened that forced my hand.  I got a card from the staff at the hospital.  I know you will think I’m kidding, so I took a picture of the card. 
            Note that the cover says, “Each day provides its own gifts.”  Yes, but one of them is not a colonoscopy, can we not agree?  Seriously, of all sentiments, would you choose this one to console/congratulate someone on having been, shall we say, hosed?
            It sort of looks like a sympathy card.  But there’s that “look on the bright side” kind of sentiment.  And then, inside, it says, “Wishing you health” (which kind?) and then thanks you for choosing their hospital.  Aha—I get it now.  Each day provides its own gifts, and in this case, the gift is ours because you paid us to… well, you know.

            But it goes on.  The handwritten part says they hope I feel better (how could I not?) and then it’s signed “Your Spa Staff.”  I actually like that little bit of irony, as this is the polar opposite of a spa experience.  I choose to ignore “hope your feeling better” which should really say “hope you’re feeling better.”  Hey, they’re not writers and I’m not a nurse, so I’ll give them that one.

            And then it’s signed by waaay more people than I met, and I don’t even want to know how many of them were involved in my unforgettable moments there.  I’ll tell you who should send me a card.  Two people: The first one is the pharmacist, for giving me this hideous, humongous plastic jug that I had to lug all the way through the supermarket, since the pharmacy is always in the back.

You will note, from my putting my phone there for scale, that this thing is the size of a gasoline can.  And, not surprisingly, the contents taste exactly the same.  You add water to the Mystery Powder inside, drink it, and then there is no mystery about you for the next day and a half.
The second person who should send me a card is my doctor himself, who had me get this treatment at a hospital IN ANOTHER TOWN, TWENTY-THREE MILES AWAY!  Yes, 23 miles on surface streets.  Are there other clinics closer?  Just down the street.  But no.  I had to drive for 38 minutes and STOP AT DENNY’S on the way, because there is no way you can wait 30 minutes between bathroom visits once you have consumed this Elixer of the gods.

  Advice: Never have an out-of-town colonoscopy. Were this not my first one, I would have known better.
I’m not telling you to skip this cancer screening.  Like death, everyone has to have one eventually.  I’m just saying, choose a hospital within ten minutes of home, and then hope you get some lovely fan mail.
You won’t find these tips anywhere else, folks.  Joniopolis is your source for vital, life-saving information, so subscribe at once!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Open Mouth, Insert Foot

            Last time I promised you that I’d share a time when I said the wrong thing at the wrong time.  I lied.  I’m going to share two such incidents.  Since they happened back-to-back, you get a double dose of Joni-isms today, and you will immediately feel better about your most recent embarrassing moment.

            The first involves an elderly acquaintance of mine whose son died last year.  It’s always devastating when a child precedes their parents, and many of us rallied with support. Months and months go by.  My friend has always been very active in politics and community events, even at her advanced age.  So an election rolls around, which does not go as she had hoped. A couple of weeks later I call to see how she is doing.
            “I’m still grieving,” she says.  
And I STUPIDLY SAY, “About the election?”
“No—about my son!” 

And now it looks like I AM AN IDIOT WHO FORGOT ALL ABOUT IT!  Even though I had spoken to her about this and sent a card at the time.  Total fail.  I spent the next half hour back-pedaling and trying to assure her that I remembered her son’s death, and wasn’t the insensitive boob I appeared to be.

Then, the very next day I am in charge of the big luncheon for 100 family members following a funeral at church, and they decide to let people come to the mike and share a memory about Thurzel.  Remember, she's the elderly lady I named our calico cat after.  So I decide to tell a story about the cat and how it went missing and how Thurzel wanted me to spread the rumor that she had gone missing and how cute and funny she was, right?  And then I say, "I just loved her to death!"  AT A FUNERAL!  Wrong, wrong, wrong!  Total fail!  I need to have my lips sewn shut.  It would also help me to eat less.  Aaugh!

On the other hand, if I can maintain this level of embarrassment, with its attendant blushing, I could save a fortune on cosmetics.
I share my faux pas with Bob, who says, “Now everyone probably thinks you’re the reason she died.”  And then he adds, “Well, they come in threes so there’ll be another one.”  So comforting.
I say, “I hate you,” and he says, “To death? Uh-oh.”  And I tell him that saying the wrong thing might not upset some people, but that I hate it more than average and that saying the wrong thing just kills me.  And Bob says, “Here you go, again.”
So I guess that’s Number Three.
The best way to avoid these awkward social encounters is, of course, so stay home and read books.  Hey-- I just happen to have several you an choose from, right on the left side of this page.  Choose any one of them and you won't have to say a thing.