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Monthly Archives: April 2011

Day #11: Opposite Day

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The Story:

She woke with a start from yet another peaceful dream. Squinting through sleep-crusted eyes, Rose wrinkled her nose at the beam of sunshine streaming through the crack in her black-out curtains. “It’s too damn late,” Rose grumbled as she let her head fall back to the pillow. Of course she meant, “It’s too damn early” but then again today was opposite day. Just like it was yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that… as a matter of fact, it had been opposite day for Rose McGovern for the last 20 years.

After a few more hours of restless sleep complete with night terrors, Rose awoke around 8:00pm feeling energized and refreshed. Flipping to her “morning routine” checklist in the notepad that was always nearby, she slinked out of bed and headed to the aft of her home (which was actually a boat). There, in her makeshift ‘shower stall’ she disrobed and while gritting her teeth, she pulled the cord and was completely doused in mud. Rubbing the mud through her hair, and then over her entire body, Rose made sure every crevice was covered in the muck before releasing the cord before stepping out of the ‘shower’. “I don’t think I’ll ever get used to that part,” she moaned. But, just like every morning prior, the second Rose’s toe was outside of the stall, she appeared as if she had just bathed in the purest and clearest water, and only the finest and sweetest-smelling bath products had touched her skin. Not a drop of mud was to be found.

Walking back inside, Rose went through the rest of her morning routine, which included things like brushing her teeth with simple syrup, drinking at least one bottle of grain alcohol (to stay sober and improve decision-making skills), muss and tangle her hair so it would lay flat (on special occasions she would even throw a piece of chewed bubble gum into her tresses for extra oomph) and eat a very specific breakfast (after all, if she didn’t eat enough she would put on weight almost instantly… too much and she would become weak and malnourished). She didn’t worry much about dressing, and since she was self-employed and worked from home, Rose usually passed the day without a stitch on. Flipping to the next checklist, Rose would then continue on through her day, constantly referring back to her notepad.

A checklist had been created for every possible scenario after that fateful day, over 20 years ago. You see, as a teenager, Rose was a bit of a… well, let’s just say she was a downright brat. One of her most annoying habits was to give unsuspecting people seemingly heartfelt compliments only to scream, “Today’s opposite day!” and run away laughing. While visiting the state fair with her cousin Shirley, Rose took a misstep and knocked a gypsy woman over and into the dirt. Feigning concern, Rose outstretched her hand and offered to help the woman up. At the last second, however, Rose yanked back her hand and as the woman fell a second time giggled, “Today’s opposite day!” As Rose skipped away, the Romany woman called after her from the dirt, “and so it shall be!” which at the time made Rose laugh even harder. Rose was not laughing anymore (unless she was feeling depressed, of course).

Over the years, and despite its obvious hardships, Rose had learned to adapt to her new reality. Her series of checklists was just one component since everything from gaining an education (watching a lot of reality TV), to the time of day she slept (during the day) and woke (promptly at 8:00pm), to her taste in music (does anyone really like Yanni?), had been tossed upside down.  Even where she could live had changed as a result of her flip-flopped lifestyle. Because of her childhood tendency to get violently seasick on even the calmest seas, now Rose couldn’t even step foot on terra firma without becoming seasick. So a houseboat had been purchased, the Auckland, and Rose very rarely left it. When it was absolutely necessary to go ashore, she would wear customized footwear fashioned in such a way that her feet were cushioned inside small hammock-like inserts that mimicked the sway of a boat as she walked. As you can see, all things considered, Rose had managed quite well.

Ready to get some serious work done, Rose flipped to her “Work routine” checklist, turned off her computer, and started to doodle. Her little online business was doing quite well, the idea behind it being nothing more than a live search for antonyms. Any time anyone needed to find a word’s opposite, they would just go to Rose’s site (she also had an app they could download to their smart phone) and type in the word. Rose would then reply with the exact same word and it would appear to the customer as its perfect antonym. It was quite genius, actually. Sipping her grain alcohol, Rose tried to focus on work, which meant she daydreamt for about 2 hours before losing interest. She then worked vigorously for the rest of the night and deleted everything as the sun began to rise.

Of all the things Rose had changed to accommodate her lifestyle, she could not stop her obsessive search to track down the gypsy woman from so many years ago. Any time spent not working was dedicated to this task, which meant Rose never actually got anything done. She knew the second she stopped thinking about how to find the gypsy, she would figure it out and find her. If she could ever manage to stop searching, even for one day, Rose knew exactly what she would do. Once she found the woman who had cursed her, she would casually ask the woman to not change to curse.

“Ugh…keep thinking about it!” she whispered at herself. Immediately all thoughts of the gypsy, her 20 year search and the curse left Rose’s mind.

Rose was suddenly struck by the need to not go ashore and to not get a coffee, so she flipped to her “Go Ashore (Casual) Routine” checklist. This urge wasn’t experiencing was especially odd, as Rose only drank coffee when she needed to fall asleep within the hour. Moving through her routine, she grabbed her special shoes. Almost remembering to put on some clothes, Rose grabbed a shift dress and threw it over her head.

Swaying towards the café that was two blocks from where Rose docks the Auckland, she moved with purpose and was immediately distracted. Forgetting her mission to acquire coffee, Rose realized she was nowhere near her intended destination and as she spun to retrace her steps, she almost busted her chin on the forehead of a small woman who had been walking a few steps behind her. Surprised, Rose shrugged her shoulders. Wishing to apologize, Rose said, “Watch out, you old bag!” to which the woman smiled and said, “It’s no problem, my dear.”

Rose recognized that voice- it was the very same voice that had cursed her all those years ago. As her topsy-turvy mind processed the recognition it turned it on its head, causing Rose to forget all about the curse and the person who had cast it. “I have to stay,” Rose said and shot the woman the bird before turning around and walking away.

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The Not So Fantastic Reality:

So how many times did I lose you? ;o)

The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:

ONE:      Today I experienced a very strange phenomenon that still has me walking around like a drunk. I spent the better part of today with the overwhelming sensation that I was still on a boat, and the ground under my feet would not stop moving… very annoying. Around 1pm it stopped being relatively comical and started to become quite unsettling, I mean there were times I was stumbling around like a newborn and I couldn’t, for the life of me, stop swaying. Sitting down helped a bit, but I didn’t get a chance to do much of that today, as I was volunteering at the animal sanctuary for the majority of the day. Early in the day, when the rocking was still a bit funny, I made a comment to the effect of, “leave it to me to get sea sick once I’m back on solid ground”. And the wheels, they started to spin… what if someone responded to normal scenarios or sensations with a reaction opposite of what was normal (laugh when in pain, cry when happy… you get the gist). As I chewed this over in my noodle-basket of a brain, it reminded me of when kids would run around saying “Today’s opposite day!” whenever they wanted to get out of something they already had agreed to. And SHABAM! A story is born.

TWO:     Rose’s houseboat, the Auckland, is in reference to one of my favorite doggies at the rescue, a sweet cow-spotted pit-bull named Auckland. More on her below…

THREE:  One of my nicknames for Auckland is piggy, or Miss piggy, if she’s being sassy. The reason, you ask? See below.

Piggy!

This was the inspiration for Rose’s daily mud bath. Auckland LOVES to get dirty; loves to wallow in the muck and the look of enjoyment on her face as she rolls around in the mud is something everyone should get to experience.

Love & Squirrels.

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Day #10: Buzz Off, Turkey

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The Story:

An Ode to the Highway Traveler

As told by a Turkey Buzzard


Oh weary traveler, your head grows so heavy,

As sounds of Finding Nemo swim through your rumbling Chevy.

Artfully you steer your minivan around every bump and turn,

Saying to your dozing wife, “Let’s stop in a few miles,

I need a coke… and some fuel to burn”.

*

Pulling off at the next exit, it’s a BP station you see.

As you come to a stop, out pile the kiddies for a snack and a pee.

Refueling your chariot like a proper Caesar,

You head to the counter as your wife mumbles, “Don’t forget my Snickers bar”.

*

Back on the road, much to my glee,

But my, what’s that up ahead, you fail to see?

Picking up speed, you expel a belch with lingering notes of The Sizzler,

As you look away from the road to reach back and sneak a Twizzler.

*

With a loud screech and a jolt, you failed to dodge.

So gut churning, you slowly emerge- for now the remains you must try to dislodge.

The helpless little animal, smeared all over your hood-

I watch, as you drag what’s left to the shoulder, as reverently as you could.

*

Back you return to your crying spouse and hysterical kids,

Rubbing your neck, you shake your head as you look down at the skids.

Squinting at your grill and really needing a beer,

You scratch your crotch and say, “All this because of a dumbass deer”.

*

Oh traveler, if you only knew the feast you have just laid bare,

As I begin my slow circle way up in the air.

Turning off your hazards you continue on your way,

And soon I am joined by my brothers- we’re gonna eat well today.

*

Slowly we peck, tear and chew;

Leave it to us, traveler, this no longer concerns you.

Hopping about with our black wings outstretched,

Soon we will remove all signs of this unfortunate death.

*

Be it armadillo, deer, rabbit or possum, just ‘keep on truckin’,

Cause they’re all pretty much the same when I’m doing the munchin’.

No, it’s not just bugs on a windshield that your vehicles splatter,

 It’s animals quite larger you serve up on a platter.

*

So keep on hauling ass and driving like a blind man,

Doing 80 in your big rig, Winnebago and minivan…

You may think this stretch of road is just some highway,

But to me and my kind, it’s a 24 hour, all-you-can-eat buffet.

*

So thank you, road warrior, your service is much appreciated,

It’s to you this poem has been warmly dedicated.

Our gratitude is quite sincere, I can promise you this much…

But now, I’m afraid you must excuse me…

It’s time for lunch.

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The Not So Fantastic Reality:

Ok, so this is my attempt at poetry. It is the form of writing I struggle with the most, so please excuse my feeble scribblings as I try to improve.

The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:

ONE:      For the last week, I have been craving, nay DYING for a coke. I chalk this up to the fact that I was restricted to a ship for the last 4 days/ 5 nights where a simple carbonated beverage would have run me about $4.50. Uh, thanks, but no thanks. So upon our release this morning (sounds like I’m leaving prison, not a cruise, doesn’t it? That’s me, always the ingrate!) the first thing I wanted was a nice shiny, ice cold can of Coca Cola Classic (and yes, I do own a few shares of the soft drink conglomerate, but that is neither here nor there) never mind that it was 8:30 in the morning. Having satisfied my thirst in reality, I thought it would be fun to include here as well.

TWO:     If you’ve ever been fortunate enough to drive any rural stretch of Florida highway then chances are you’ve seen a few turkey buzzards. These things are pretty normal down here, but I think they are also one of the most underappreciated birds out there. I mean these lovely animals clean up and deodorize our roads free of charge! And they love their jobs! Can’t beat that in my book. Incidentally, I tried and tried to snap a picture of these birds on the four-hour drive home today, with no success (they fly really high!). Of course every other native species of bird made a cameo, two sand hill cranes, a wild turkey, a palliated woodpecker (think Woody), two kites, and loads of mockingbirds and cardinals. Guess buzzards are camera shy. To compensate, please enjoy my rendering of this lovely (if not a little ominous) bird.

THREE: In addition to DYING for a coke (it really was that serious) I decided I also needed some Twizzlers for the trip home. Sipping my delicious coke through a Twizzler with the ends bitten off, you have never seen a happier girl. It deserved mentioning, that’s all.

So, how did I do for my first poem? Let me know and as always, thanks for reading. :o)

Love & Squirrels.

Day #9: High Sea Hijinx

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The Story:

“I can’t take this anymore! I want off of this boat! I want off right now! These people are sick, I tell you, they’re twisted, can’t you see? Why won’t anyone listen to me?!?!” Michael looked around in a panic for someone, anyone who might believe him. All he saw were blank faces, confused by his apparent outburst that was now interrupting their dinner.

“Please, sir, can I escort you to your room? I believe you are not feeling quite well. If you please, this way.” The Grand Dining Room manager has somehow brought Michael to his feet and was now escorting him by the arm towards the back of the room, all the while smiling and calmly greeting guests as if nothing was wrong.

Michael was deposited into a small room on the 5th deck and was asked to wait, if you please.

“I do not please,” Michael grumbled to himself, but he was too exhausted to put up any more fight than that. As he sat and waited, he thought back on how this whole thing had started. Boarding the ship, he had been exhilarated. He now knew that the wheels of his mental ruin had already been set in motion the minute he stepped onboard…

“Good Evening, sir! Welcome aboard the Celebrity. Please, allow me to assist you to your room.”

“Wow, such service!” Michael had exclaimed as he followed the chipper room attendant to the elevator bank. “If this is how it’s going to be the entire week, then I have a feeling I’m really going to enjoy this cruise,” Michael remembered thinking to himself.

The irony was not lost on him, as he now sat dejected in the small room that looked as if it also served as a utility closest.

Reflecting back on the events of the past few days, Michael was sure that the entire crew was in on it. But how could that be? And why? Michael was under no false pretenses that he was important enough to warrant such a conspiracy against him. He was just a line cook at one of the larger chain restaurants in Clermont, FL. He was a nobody. Not content to simply wait, he decided to go back over the events of the last week that had led him to this moment.

First there had been the bed situation.

When he first arrived in his room, everything seemed in order. It was just like the pictures he had seen online. But upon returning to his room following dinner, his bed had somehow defied physics as was now located directly above his head, on the ceiling. Feeling more than a little ridiculous, Michael went downstairs and reported the oddity to guest relations. The young lady attending the desk looked at him in such a way he knew she didn’t believe him. Despite her obvious disbelief, she smiled and instructed an assistant room attendant to accompany Michael to his room to assess the situation. Using his key card, Michael opened the room. Imagine his shock as the door swung open revealing a completely normal stateroom, complete with the bed securely located on the floor. “I… I don’t know what to tell you. I swear, it was up there,” Michael said as he pointed to the ceiling.

“Yes, of course sir. If there is nothing else?” the attendant did not seem amused. “No. Thank you, sorry…” Michael’s embarrassment was all over his face.

Dinner that night had been uneventful, as had the late night entertainment. Following the consumption of one too many rum punches, Michael was ready to hit the sack. Unfortunately, the ‘sack’ had decided to return to the ceiling. Too tired, and too embarrassed to complain again, Michael grabbed his complimentary bathrobe and curled up on the floor, careful not to lay under the bed in case it decided to return to it’s original position during the night.

Sleeping on the floor was just the beginning.

While taking in a day of sun by the pool, Michael’s sunscreen had somehow failed to work, but only in certain spots. As a result, Michael was now sporting a bizarre sunburn in the shape of a large cartoon whale, complete with water shooting from its blowhole, across his entire stomach.

Then there was the hypnotist incident. Brought on stage as a “special guest” requested by the hypnotist himself, Michael had spent the better part of the hour beating his chest like a gorilla or crying his eyes out while “watching” the saddest movie his imagination could create. As if that wasn’t bad enough, now whenever anyone onboard said the word “buffet” Michael would begin chirping like a bird.

On the third day, total strangers had begun to approach Michael and ask him for money, and then laughing would walk away. Finally, Michael inquired why everyone kept asking him for money, and the middle-aged woman wearing a large t-shirt with a bikini-clad body painted on it, giggled and said, “surely you know! It’s been the talk of the casino! You won the raffle, of course… $5,000!” And no, Michael’s luck had not improved, seems as if this too was another cruel prank.

There had also been several smaller instances, like his decaf being switched with regular every night, the room numbers on his door seemed to rearrange themselves throughout the day, and his swim trunks seemed to grow shorter by two inches each day, so that on the fourth day he could not put them on for the sake of decency.

The final straw however, had come tonight, during dinner. Frazzled, sleep-deprived and over-heated thanks to his Moby Dick inspired sunburn, Michael was ready to sit down to a nice meal. It was not to be. The drink service, appetizer and soup courses all went without incident. And just as he was beginning to relax as his entrée was placed in front of him, Michael’s fatigued mind hit it’s breaking point. His oven-seared steak looked absolutely wonderful, Michael eagerly picked up his steak knife and attacked the steak with relish. Or tried to. Each time he tried to saw into the steak, his knife would twist and bend and bounce back, unable to penetrate the meat. After several attempts, Michael couldn’t take any more…

And now, here he sat, waiting for God knows what. Just that second, the door opposite him opened, and out walked none other than the master of the ship… the captain. A good-natured looking gentleman of Greek decent, the captain smiled and walking up to Michael, patted him on the back and asked if he would follow him to his chambers. With little other option, Michael complied.

“So I hear you’ve been having a tough time of it, young man,” the captain said once they were both seated. “I am sorry to hear this, I assure you, but I am not surprised. You see, I have a wonderful crew, a very dedicated crew and their service is beyond reproach.” Michael couldn’t help but scoff at this and the captain said, “Please, my boy, let me finish. It grows difficult to be at sea for 8 months out of the year, and while my crew would never outright complain about the conditions, I know that they sometimes grow weary of this life and the stress of their positions. To compensate, I created a way for these lovely people to, how you say… blow off steam,” the captain looked at Michael with an expression he could not read.

“So, each voyage, one passenger is randomly selected and for that trip they are, teased, and pranks, harmless of course, are played on them,” the captain said almost apologetically.

“You can’t be serious,” Michael couldn’t believe what he was hearing.

“I am sorry, my boy, but believe me it is necessary. My people work very hard, and are at the ready 24 hours a day. That amount of pressure cannot go unrelieved; surely you understand this? Of course, for being a good sport, you will not go without being compensated. Since we’ve been allowed our fun, it is your turn. As a way of thanks I would like to award you this certificate which grants you a free cruise for two each year, for the rest of your life. In addition, please accept this check for $25,000 to be spent any way you see fit,” the captain finished as he handed Michael the certificate and check.

Struck speechless by all he had learned in the last few minutes, Michael looked down at the check, and almost shed a tear. Managing a shaky “thank you,” he rose to shake the captain’s hand and turning to leave, he stopped. Turning back to the captain, he started to speak but was quickly interrupted, “no, my boy. There will be no more fun at your expense… you can relax. For the rest of the trip you will be given nothing but the best of service, this I guarantee. And if not, I will deal with it personally,” patting him once again on the back, the captain closed the door after Michael and sat back down in his chair. “Whew… that was a close one. I thought for sure he wasn’t going to bite. It might be time to give this up…” he thought to himself before a huge grin appeared on his face. “Nah,” he laughed to the empty room, “Practical jokes are my trademark, what would I do if I couldn’t sneak around the ship and play my jokes? If they crew knew, surely they would understand?” chuckling to himself, the captain looked at the manifest for the upcoming voyage and closing his eyes, he wiggled his forefinger and then plopped it down in the middle of the page. “Ah, Bernard Schuck…welcome aboard the Century… I promise to make it a trip you will not soon forget!”

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The Not So Fantastic Reality: 

Feeling better today…. Still a bit rushed writing this… I’m on a cruise for goodness sakes!

The above story is based upon the following tidbits from my day:

ONE:            The central idea of the crew playing pranks of passengers came as I was sitting in the main dining room, following yet another superb meal. Watching the wait staff buzz around, their professionalism, friendliness and level of service was quite impressive. A nice, older Columbian couple sitting at the table next to me must have observed my admiration, and soon we were sharing experiences about these lovely, I’ll be it, primarily anonymous people, who were dedicated to our every need. What did these industrious people do when they were not at our beck and call? Surely they must have some way to relax and decompress. Then a funny thought struck me. What if they started playing practical jokes on one sorry soul? What if every other passenger aboard was receiving service above and beyond, while this poor sap became the butt of the entire crews’ practical jokes? How crazy would you feel if you were that person and no one believed you?

TWO:            The reference to Clermont, FL was in referral to the Columbian couple I mentioned above, as that is where they now live.

THREE:         The hypnotist. Actually this happened yesterday, so I guess I’m cheating a little but I’m fine with it if you are (rules are created to be broken, right?). Last night we went to see the hypnotist, which I found happily ironic since I just wrote about it in a prior story.

FOUR:            The captain of the story is based on the Master of our ship, Captain Kostas Patsoulas…although I’m quite sure he has never treated a guest with anything but absolute courtesy.

Love & Squirrels.

Day #8: Search for the Swallow

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The Story:

Following the swallow was supposed to lead her to something peaceful and unaffected. Instead it had led Olive on one goose-chase after another, and now, looking up at the glaring late afternoon sun, she was very close to calling off the entire thing. The swallow in question was not in fact an actual bird, but was a series of painted symbols throughout the city that, if followed, would lead it’s pursuer to a secret beach, untouched by human hands and free from the hordes of tourists that flocked to the island. Few people new of it, and only a few locals had ever found it. Blowing the hair out of her face, Olive heaved herself off the park bench, checked her Mickey Mouse watch for the 30th time in the last half hour and decided to keep moving. Despite only being 14 years old, Olive had the resolution of someone many years her senior.

Checking her last clue, she went back over all the details of the last few hours to make sure she had not missed something. Convinced she had followed all the clues to the letter, Olive could not understand why she was having such difficulty with this final one. Knowing that success was so close and yet was still out of reach only made matters worse. If she didn’t solve the puzzle of the swallows she would never hear the end of it from all of her friends. Why, had she boasted so adamantly?

“Ugh, this is not going to end well,” Olive said to herself. Just then, she remembered something she had missed. Something that seemed so obvious, so basic it almost seemed too easy.

“You’ll find what you seek from the earth and water by rising above all the rest and casting your eyes to the sky.” “Look for my brothers.”

The clue couldn’t be that easy, could it? Olive tossed the idea around in her head, and then decided to act on it, what did she have to lose? Looking around for the highest tree, Olive spotted one that would suit her purposes. Jumping on her bike, she peddled over to the behemoth tree, and upon discarding her bike in a pile at the base of the tree she looked for a foothold. Finding one, she agilely began climbing the tree as high as she could go. Reaching a point near the top that allowed her a panoramic view of the entire island, Olive scanned the sky. In no time, so saw what she was looking for and almost let out a squeal of delight before remembering herself. She did not have far to go, once she was back on solid ground. Almost as soon as her sandaled feet hit the ground she was on her bike and speeding towards her destination.

A ten-minute bike ride, and she was there. She almost couldn’t believe it. She was basically in her family’s backyard. Could this really be it? Just as the seeds of doubt began to take root, Olive glimpsed a painted tail feather that soon revealed itself to be the final swallow, and it was pointing its beak straight ahead, which was odd since all Olive could see was a vine covered wall. Trusting that the feathery guide would not lead her astray, Olive walked up to the walk and outstretched her hand and gently pushed at a spot in the ivy. Giving a little yelp as her hand disappeared into the vegetation, Olive couldn’t suppress the grin on her face as she pulled the vine away to reveal a small entryway and then a path beyond. Slipping through the entry and letting the vine fall back into place, Olive almost ran down the path as the crash of waves upon a hidden shore grew louder and louder.

And then, there it was. Pristine. Beautiful. Waves of turquoise falling upon sands so soft Olive’s feet were instantly out of her sandals and digging deep into it’s coolness. This was heaven. This was it. She had found it. And she had done it all on her own.

Even now, 20 years later, Olive remembered how that first time felt. How proud and content and jubilant she had been. Not much had changed in the 100 or so visits she had made since discovering her own little piece of heaven.  Raising her face up to the sun, feeling its warmth Olive looked around and soon spotted her source of enlightenment from so long ago.

There they were, just as they had been all those years ago, and as they would be years from now, swooping, diving, floating on the sea breeze, 30 or more swallows played in the air.

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The Not So Fantastic Reality:

Ok, so I know this is not my best work. I’m ok with that seeing as writing anything tonight was an accomplishment in and of itself (I spent the entire day in the sun, which if you know me or have seen a picture of my loverly self then you know that my level of paleness combined with an entire 8 hours in the sun is not a good combination and secondly I have a touch of sea-sickness as our ship is moving through some rough winds at the moment). So I hope you cut me some slack and I promise to get my act together for the next one (crossing fingers).

The above story is based upon the following tidbits from my day:

 ONE:            Today I spent the day in the beautiful island town of Cozumel. I had a wonderful day and thought that a great way to wrap it up was to purchase some sort of keepsake to commemorate the experience. Now, I have an affinity for birds, that is, I like things with birds on them, jewelry, house goods, tea mugs, etc. and I thought what better souvenir than a lovely silver swallow (Cozumel was named cozam huzil by it’s Mayan settlers, which means “land of the swallows”). So guess what no one in the dozens of silver shops had available, or even heard of, for that matter? You guessed it… no swallows senorita, but you like the dolphins?… we have many dolphins. So I decided to find a swallow in my imagination.

Love & Squirrels.

Day #7: Where’s the Buffet?

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The Story:

“She’s shapes,” Margaret whispered to her husband as she peeked over her humongous sunglasses at one of the sunbathers she was passing. “Look at all these people, Steven, roasting themselves,” she tsked under her breath as she nervously fingered the pendant around her neck, “disgusting,”.

Having been married to Margaret for over 17 years, Steven had learned long ago to just nod and interject a “yes dear” here and there if he didn’t want to start something (between you and me though, Steven had stopped listening to anything his wife said within the 1st year of marriage and had absolutely no idea what his beautiful bride was griping about now).

Thinking a cruise would be a way to reconnect with Margaret, Steven shook his head as his own naiveté. He had been wrong, of course. She was just as ornery sailing through the seas of the Caribbean as she was back home. “Can’t change a leopard’s spots,” Steven mumbled to himself.

“What was that, Steven?” Margaret was now directing her 1000-watt glare at her husband and he could actually see the insult forming on the back of her tongue. Before she had a chance to spew her venom he replied, “I was just saying, sweetheart, how you are perfectly correct, as usual.”

“Quite right!” Margaret seemed satisfied as she spun back to continue on her projected path- towards the buffet… again.

Steven remembered a time when his wife had actually been a sweetheart. She had been lovely then, full of life and compassion, a girl of such a sweet disposition he thought his teeth might fall out just being near her. He had given her the onyx pendant she still had on as an engagement present; at the time the black stone reminding him of her eyes, pools of infinite mystery.

But something had changed her. His beautiful and sweet wife had metamorphosed into the she-witch he now cowed behind in the stir-fry line. “What happened to her?” He found himself wondering for the thousandth time. He could not, for the life of him, figure out what could have caused such a dramatic, and seemingly permanent change in his wife all those years ago.

“Come on, Steven,” Margaret’s shrill voice stirred him from his reflections, “we’re going to be late for the Hypnotist in Cinema 6! I really wish I had married a man who knew how to be punctual, I swear you are going to be the death of me!” and with that Margaret huffed off towards the stairwell.

Smiling sheepishly at the young couple that was now looking at him in a combination of disbelief and sympathy, Steven shrugged his shoulders and followed his wife out of the dining area. Arriving in Cinema 6, Margaret pointed to the seat she expected Steven to occupy for the next hour, then gathering her layers of flowing garments, settled into the seat next to him just as the lights lowered.

After being introduced by the cruise director, Dr. Lyons, hypnotist extraordinaire arrived on stage with a flourish and to much applause. Following several minutes of introduction and an explanation of how hypnotism has been used for centuries to help people focus their minds in order to achieve all kinds of extraordinary things- quitting smoking, picking up exercise, even gaining more confidence, he was ready to start the show.

“Now, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to request several volunteers to join me on the stage at this time. Come now, don’t be shy, this will not hurt and it could even change your life! Imagine what you could do if you were able to completely train your mind and bend it to you will. Imagine it!” Dr. Lyons scanned the crowd as a few brave souls made their way to the stage. “You, sir. I believe you would be a great volunteer for tonight’s show!” Looking around and behind him, Steven realized Dr. Lyons was pointing directly at him.

“Well, alright. Looks like fun, why not?” Steven replied as he rose from his seat. “Steven, do NOT embarrass me up there, do you understand?” Margaret hissed at him as he moved past her and into the aisle.

“Go to hell, woman.” He almost spit back, but instead he just shook his head and made his way to the front.

“Ok, great! Thank you all for volunteering! Let’s give them a hand, eh folks?” Dr. Lyons was really getting into his grove now. Once the applause died down, Dr. Lyons had each volunteer sit on a stool that had been brought on stage. Once seated, the hypnotist would whisper into each participant’s ear, wait for their reply and then would move to the next person. Upon reaching Steven, Dr. Lyons leaned in close and asked, “if you could wish for anything, what would it be, my friend?”. Somewhat surprised by the question, Steven leaned back to look the doctor in the eye to make sure he was in earnest and then, without another moment’s hesitation whispered his answer. Smiling, Dr. Lyons patted Steven’s arm and moved on to the final volunteer where the process was repeated.

“Now, ladies and gentlemen I would ask for complete silence as I attempt to hypnotize each of our lovely volunteers. Thank you,” turning back to his subjects Dr. Lyon’s began his process and within minutes most of the volunteers were seemingly asleep, including Steven. Those who resisted his charms were politely asked to exit the stage and thanked for their time. “Now, when I tap you on the shoulder you open your eyes and believe yourself to be a chicken,” Dr. Lyon’s was now speaking to the first volunteer, and then tapped her on the shoulder. To the audience’s delight the woman instantly hopped off her stool and began clucking and scratching the ground.

Dr. Lyon’s had each volunteer perform some ludicrous exercise for the next 45 minutes before having them return once again to their stools in order to be brought out of the hex. “Now, when I clap my hands three times, you will all wake, as if from the best dream you have ever had. You will feel relaxed, refreshed, and possess an energy you have never felt before. When I clap my hands for the third and final time, you will remember your answer to my question and it will be fulfilled.”

On the third clap all of the volunteers instantly awoke and appeared to believe that nothing had happened. The all took a bow when prompted and then returned to their seats, no worse for ware, if not just a little disoriented.

“Well?” Margaret’s black eyes were almost piercing into Steven’s skin as he sat back down next to her. “Well what?” he asked, rubbing his eyes with the palms of his hands.

“What did he ask you, up there? You will tell me this instant!” Margaret demanded. “I honestly don’t know, sweetheart. I can’t remember,” Steven replied, shaking his head. And it was true, he couldn’t remember. What on earth had happened up there?

“Well, that simply isn’t good enough, Steven. That will not do. I expect an answer!” The fury in Margaret’s eyes was only the first indicator that things were about to go downhill, and fast.

Suddenly, and without understanding why, Steven stood up, looked at his wife and snatched the onyx pendant from her throat before she could react. Moving with a speed he didn’t think he was capable of, Steven headed for the stairs. Upon reaching the 11th concourse he walked through the automatic doors into the night air and onto the deck of the ship. With all the strength he could muster, he wheeled back and pitched the necklace overboard and into the black waters below.

“Steven?”

He turned to see his wife behind him, looking almost like a stranger now that the permanent scowl had disappeared from her once again lovely features. “I feel… I feel a bit strange. I had the funniest dream; actually it was quite horrible come to think of it. I was trapped in this shell of anger and hatred and I couldn’t seem to stop saying and thinking these awful things. Ugh, it was terrible! No matter, I’m awake now, and you’re here, that’s all that matters”.

Coming closer, she began taking in her surrounding and exclaimed, “Oh! What a beautiful night! And what a wonderful man you are to bring me on such a magical ship!” Margaret was practically glowing and Steven was almost brought to his knees as he looked at his wife, as if for the first time.

“Come now, Steven. Don’t look at me like that! I’m blushing all the way to the roots of my hair! Why don’t we take a walk, love. I feel as if we haven’t spoken in years,” Margaret extended her hand, and grasping it firmly in his, Steven said a silent thank you to Dr. Lyons for keeping his promise.

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The Not So Fantastic Truth:

The above story is based upon the following tidbits from my day:

ONE:            On day two of my very first cruise, the entire experience has stuck me as a bit odd. Today we are at sea all day, and it being a very beautiful & sunny day outside, most of the passengers are catching a few rays by the pool and wherever else they can find a vacant lounge chair. The shapes, sizes, smells, speech, skin, and amount of body hair of these bathing ‘beauties’ is really something to behold. As I walk through the aisles of prostrate human-kabobs as they sizzle in the sun, I can’t help but be completely entertained by the best people-watching day I’ve had since I worked at Walk Disney World.

TWO:           While waiting for today’s “who-done-it” entertainment show to begin, I noticed on several separate occasions a pattern that tickled me a little. In would walk these couples, age was not a factor, and the woman would instantly take charge. “No, no, no. Sit there,” the woman two rows up said to her husband who immediately did her bidding. “We’re not sitting here. I don’t want to be this close. Move back,” another herding wife said to her comfortably seated husband to the left of me.  This happened a least another time before the show began and it made me think about the dynamic of relationships and how women can’t seem to help themselves when it comes to giving their menfolk directions (read: orders). I found the behavior fascinating and couldn’t help but add it to today’s story.

THREE:       The food. Good God, the food. It’s everywhere, and everyone is eating it, all of the time. Including me. Today I partook of some delicious stir-fry I thought worth briefly mentioning in my little story. I’m just now getting the whole buffet thing down, and boy howdy… I’m still stuffed. In case anyone’s curious, today I have ingested: scrambled eggs, more strips of bacon then I care to mention, two heaping bowls of fruit, lemon sorbet, chicken stir-fry, a spring role, a giant pretzel role, a chocolate orange mousse, some other chocolate dessert thingy, a coconut mango cupcake, and enough mango-guava-orange juice and tea to keep my own cruise liner afloat. This, and dinner is still a few hours away… which of course means I have time to eat some more before stuffing myself into my wincingly tight cocktail dress to, you guessed it, eat again!

BURP!!!

Love & Squirrels.

Day #6: Jerky

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The Story:

Peering through the rain-obscured car window, Oscar was beginning to suspect the worst… they were lost. Sighing, he averted his attention away from the window, and braced himself against the bizarrely hostile argument now in full swing between his parents in the front seat. These spats always started the same. They would pick out a seemingly meaningless topic, state their differing opinions, civilly at first, and then without fail it would grow increasingly aggressive… which his parents thought were great fun. Oscar, on the other hand, couldn’t stand when his parents argued. When he was smaller he often got caught up in their arguments but now, as a wizened 10-year-old he had learned to cope. By concentrating, Oscar had learned to block out their bickering… he would just retreat into his mind and within a few seconds he was coming up with some story or a silly songs.

Driving in the middle of nowhere, any normal couple would probably by squabbling about how hopelessly lost they were, in the middle of a raging thunderstorm, no less. Frank and Beatrice were not a normal couple. “If it were about fat people, then explain to me why they included the line, ‘stand on their shoulders to retrieve your cat out of a tree,’ huh, Stan? Tell me that!” Oscar’s mother finished with a flourish.

“Well, Beatrice, that’s well and good, but you can’t ignore all the lines about them splashing all the water out of the pool and using them as beanbag chairs? It’s obvious they are singing about people carrying a little something extra around the middle and NOT about giants,” Oscar’s father countered.

Knowing this could go on for hours, Oscar tried to change the subject, “Mom, do you know where we are? I have to go to the bathroom.” Forgetting about the Aquabats instantly, Oscar’s mother turned to him with a look of maternal concern, “I’ll see if we can find a gas station, ok honey? Think you can make it?”, looking over to her husband in the driver seat she continued, “Frank can you plug us into the GPS? Oscar needs a restroom.” “Sure thing, Bea,” looking in the rearview mirror Oscar’s father looked back at him and said, “hang in there pal” and quickly redirected his attention to the road as a bolt of lightning lit up the sky.

Following the pit stop, Frank had the family back on the road in less than 10 minutes, beating his last record. Pulling out of the rest area, Frank searched the GPS for directions back to the highway  and waited for it to calculate.

“Turn Left at 2nd Avenue,” the GPS voice said into the dark car.

“I hate that voice,” Oscar said to no one in particular, “sounds like an alien or something”.

“Go 3.2 miles to Union Park Boulevard.”

“Mom, can you turn the voice thingy off? It’s giving me the willies,” Oscar said, his own voice coming out a bit squeakier than he would have liked. “No Oscar, your father needs to hear the directions so his eyes can stay on the road. Sorry sweetie,” his mom shot him a look of sympathy that did little to quell Oscar’s increasing sense of doom.

“Please make a U-turn at the next available intersection.”

“What did that damn thing say? What has it got me turning around for? Beatrice, take a look at that thing and see what the matter is,” Frank’s notorious irritability was beginning to flare up.

“I’m not sure what I’m looking at here, Frank. You know I don’t know how to use these thingies… I’m just gonna mess it up!” Beatrice said as she jammed her finger at the device.

“Never mind, Bea- I see a roadside shop up ahead, I’ll just pull in there and ask for directions.” Frank put on his blinker and slowed to turn into a small parking lot with a derelict stand-alone structure at the back of the lot.

The adults may not have noticed the sign indicating the type of establishment they were about to enter, but Oscar sure did. About 30 feet in the air, as clear as day (even on a very stormy night) shone a bright white sign which read: Alien Jerky. Parked in front of the small building, Oscar’s alarm was further intensified as he was now eye to eye at a 4-foot sickly green egg-headed alien with only the car’s windshield between them. Suddenly, the menacing figure was illuminated by another bolt of lightning, and Oscar realized it was just a plaster figurine holding a ‘welcome’ sign.

Hopping out of the car to follow his parents inside, Oscar still couldn’t seem to shake the dread that prickled his skin. Inside the store, he shook the rain off and looked for his parents. His mom was nowhere to be found and his father was at the counter talking to a very petite dark-skinned man. Giving the scene another quick scan, Oscar chided himself for being so easily spooked and decided to look for his mother. Strolling through the dusty aisles filled with odd trinkets and jerky touting names and flavors he had never heard of, Oscar was about to give up his search and head back to the counter when movement in the back of the aisle by the wall of refrigerated beverages caught his attention.

Slowly making his way to the spot where he thought the activity had occurred, Oscar looked around again but saw nothing. Shrugging his shoulders, he decided be better grab a drink the road before heading back to the counter. As he reached for the refrigerator door handle, Oscar suddenly froze. Unable to move, unable to process what he was seeing, Oscar simply stared at the scene unfolding behind the rows of chilled Pepsi and Sunkist Orange. In a gap between the stocked rows, someone had failed to refill the row that normally housed Grape Fanta and it now served as a peephole to the back cold storage room of the store.

As Oscar began to regain his facilities, his first thought was to run. RUN. The message took a little longer than he would have liked to get to his feet, but soon he was back-peddling and then running to the front of the store, and to his father. “Dad! DAD!!! We have got to get out of this place! Oh god! Where’s mom? Dad, what are you doing, we have to leave, NOW!” Why wasn’t his dad doing anything? And where was his mother? Oscar looked around the store in a frenzy for any trace of her.

“Dad, you have to find mom and we have to get out of here. Please, dad, listen to me!” tears were now streaming down Oscar’s face.

“Ok, ok, Oscar. Calm down. Well, that’s the last time I let you eat an entire bag of candy corn… sheesh, that sugar has got you acting like a crazy person!” Frank gave his son a tilted grin and turned back to the dark-skinned man behind the counter. “Sorry about that, we’ve been on the road a long time now, and I think the storm has him a little on edge.”

“It is not a problem,” replied the dark-skinned man in a strangely familiar voice. Oscar noticed that his nametag read “Bob”.

“Little boys can sometimes let their imagination get the best of them. It is not a problem,” Bob continued.

“Oh my God,” thought Oscar. “His voice sounds just like our GPS.”

Frank turned to his wide-eyed son who was once again struck immobile and shook his head. “Come on Oscar, we’re leaving.”

“What about Mom!?!?” Oscar almost screamed.

“What about me?” Beatrice had just vacated the single-stall restroom and was now standing directly behind Oscar wiping her hands on her jeans.

Lunging at his mother and throwing his arms around her, Oscar’s relief was palpable.

“Why all the fuss? I just had to take a whizz,” Oscar’s mom always did have a way with words.

Back in the car, Oscar thought he had never been happier than he was the moment the diabolical jerky hut began to shrink in the distance as their car was pointed once again towards the highway.

“What happened in there, anyway, Oscar?” His dad was actually showing a bit of concern as he glanced from the road ahead to his son in the back.

“It’s nothing… it’s just that I saw something, but I couldn’t have. It’s impossible. Just forget it,” in the safety of the car Oscar was beginning to feel a tad ridiculous for his hysterics in the jerky hut.

“Come on son, I need a good story to keep me awake while I drive this last stretch,” Frank shared a glance with Beatrice before looking in the rearview mirror at his son.

“There were aliens back there. Real ones. I know this sounds crazy, but I saw them. They were back in the cooler storage area behind the sodas. They were very small, shorter than me even. Their heads were big though, like a toothpick holding up a tomato, and they were…”

“They were what, son?” Frank was for once appreciative of his son’s overactive imagination; at least it was keeping him alert and entertained while he drove. “They had all sorts of body parts, but they were brown and leathery. I could see an arm and what looked like the top of a leg but it was hard to tell. They were… they were people, dad. And the aliens, they were… they were cutting them into bits and putting them in resealable baggies. I couldn’t make out what the baggies said but it looked like it said “New Chipotle Flavor—“.

“Frank! Watch out!!”

Tire wheels screeched as Frank lost and then recovered control of the vehicle before finally pulling off to the shoulder. Almost strangling himself in the seatbelt he forgot to remove, Frank eventually freed himself and leapt from the car and wretched into the wet grass.

In the parked car, Oscar leaned over the driver seat to make sure his dad was alright and immediately recognized the cause of his father’s violent reaction. Scattered on the vacated drivers seat were the contents of a half-eaten bag of jerky, the wrapper stating in bright yellow letters, “New Chipotle Flavor”.

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The Not So Fantastic Reality:

Hi everyone, just a heads up that I will be writing (and hopefully posting) from sea for the next several days, I’m on my first cruise! So be patient with me as I attempt to continue uninterrupted.

The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:

ONE: On the drive to the Miami Port, where we departed for our 4

-night cruise today, I was amazed and dumbfounded by the sign of a local business off of I-95. Needing a bit of sustenance for the drive we pulled off the highway and on our way to Wendy’s saw a sign that read: “Alien Fresh Jerky”. I can’t make this stuff up people (ok, admittedly I probably could, but it’s so much more fun to incorporate the bizarre reality).

TWO: Ever dependant on technology, namely my smart phone, I punched the directions to the port into my phone’s GPS system. At one point, it directed us to get off of I-95 and onto another series of highways which inevitably returned us to I-95 15 or so miles down. For the life of me I couldn’t figure out why my “smart” phone would take us on such a seemingly purposeless detour. The detour, incidentally took us on to several toll roads, which prompted me to comment, “this GPS is evil”. Ooooo… that’s good… what if my GPS was evil? What if everybody’s GPS was evil? What if aliens had come up with this system to direct unsuspecting humans to their layer in order to probe them or force them to River dance? Just go with it… that’s what I do.

THREE: Andy and I have this ongoing argument about a particular Aquabats song. If you’ve never listened to the Aquabats, this will probably be lost on you, but look up the song ‘B.F.F.’ and you’ll get an idea of how absurd this argument is. Andy is convinced that this song is about fat people while I, on the other hand, know- yes KNOW, that it is really about giants. We continue to agree to disagree on this point, but the whole conversation (not to mention the song) is so ridiculous I thought it would make for a nice addition to the story.

Love & Squirrels.

Day #5: Stop, Park, Dance

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 The Story:

The finals were coming up, and Stewart was determined to be ready. He was sick of hearing over and over again about JP’s record, and that he was impossible to beat. “We’ll see about that,” Stewart said into his full length mirror, “it’s time someone taught JP a thing or two about dancing”. Adjusting his arm bands for probably the twelfth time, Stewart bent over for one more toe-touch and then grabbed his car keys. Jumping over his oblivious dachshund Boomer, who was at that moment completely engrossed in ripping to shreds his latest victim- a stuffed B-52 bomber, Stewart made his way to the kitchen and to the table littered with several weeks worth of mail. Leafing through the weekly fliers, lawn service pamphlets and credit card offers, Steward finally found what he was looking for. Carefully removing the contents from the large, pale blue envelope, Stewart smiled at the new bumper sticker with the kind of pride that only comes when something was earned the hard way.

SPD Bumper Sticker

 Finally, he could show everyone that he had what it took; this year Stewart Goings would take down the champion. Slamming the kitchen door on his way out, Stewart almost ran to the back of his car and skidded to his knees by the bumper. Picking off a slightly faded blue-ish bumper sticker with his fingernails, he peeled the backing off the new sticker and with reverence, applied it to the newly vacated space on his beat-up ’98 Honda Civic’s two-toned green bumper. Standing back with his hands on his hips, Stewart looked at his handiwork and decided it was another job well done. Now he was truly ready.

Ever since he could remember, Stewart had loved to dance. As a toddler he clumsily twirled down every hallway and was predisposed to moonwalking everywhere he went. After years of being teased and secretly practicing new moves in the privacy of his bedroom, Stewart had finally stumbled upon a group that shared his passion. He finally felt he had found where he belonged. The group had started somewhere in the Southwest, some say Arizona, others claim New Mexico, but everyone agreed as to who it was that started the movement (as its members were found of calling it). Butch Silver was a legend. As a traveling motor home salesman, Butch had grown tired of the solitary life and looked for a way to connect with other travelers. One sweltering afternoon, during a traffic jam of epic proportion, Butch decided to stretch his legs a bit. So he popped his car into park and got out. In a moment of serendipity, his favorite tune came on the radio and without thinking Butch began to break it down right there on the highway. Seeing the unadulterated fun Butch was having, other motorist were soon joining in, each taking his turn in trying to out-dance the last.  And thus, Stop, Park, Dance was born.

Now, 15 years later, the movement had become somewhat of an underground phenomenon and soon required a certain amount of organization to sustain it. In response, Butch created a website, online shop and forum where the basic rules could be communicated to all who joined Stop, Park, Dance.

The rules were simple:

  1. All members would display their official Stop, Park, Dance (SPD) bumper sticker on the driver’s side bumper of their vehicle.
  2. Upon seeing another member on the road, you would then get their attention by displaying the SPD hand signal.
  3. At the next traffic light both members would then stop their vehicle, (placing it in park) jump out and initiate a dance off.
  4. The last one dancing before the light turns green, wins.
  5. Wins must be logged on the official SPD website.

In 2009 having hung up his dancing shoes for good following a devastating ACL tear in his right knee, Butch decided to hand his legacy over to his only son JP. JP was widely regarded as a show-off and somewhat of a schmuck, but no one could match his moves. He had held the SPD Championship title for two years and had no intentions of giving it up.

“Until this year”, thought Stewart as he started the car…it was time to get on the road.

Every year the championship dance off took place in a city in the Southwest. Since no one could remember where SPD officially began, a random southwest city was chosen each year in an attempt to honor its origins; hazy as they might be. This year, the championship would talk place in Albuquerque, New Mexico which meant Stewart had 17 hours to drive (and practice) before arriving in time for the dance-off of his young life. Once in Albuquerque, his mission would be simple: locate the now infamous Winnebago displaying the painting of a wolf howling at the desert moon that was JP’s trademark, and transportation. Upon spotting the wolf Winnebago, it would be up to Stewart to challenge JP to a dance-off (this had become more of a formality following the 2007 championships which disrupted Albuquerque’s traffic flow so dramatically it was decided to conduct all future championships on a closed course). Upon their arrival at the pre-determined dance-off location, it, as they say, “was on”.

Stewart could barely contain his excitement, and at each stop light jumped out of his vehicle and did a jig, or a pop&lock or some other move that would surely make an appearance later in the “big show”. Having made it as a finalist out of 4,028 members nationwide now seemed small in light of the challenge he would soon face. No one in recent memory had triumphed over JP, he seemed to be some sort of dancing machine with no penetrable weakness.

It didn’t matter though, Stewart had a secret weapon. A knowing smile crept onto Stewart’s face, “I can win this thing… I can win”.

Arriving in Albuquerque, Stewart set to work immediately and found his target almost too soon. Driving up so that he was parallel to JP’s Winnebago, Stewart rolled down his window, and when he saw that he had captured JP’s attention, gave him the SPD sign. A smirk crested on JP’s large, pimply face and before he sped off in a fog of diesel exhaust, Stewart could have sworn he saw JP draw his thumb across his throat and mouth “you’re dead, dweeb”.

Fury rose in a hive-like rash up Stewart’s chest and neck until his entire torso was the color of a desert sunset. Throwing his Civic into drive, Stewart raced after the howling wolf, swearing to make JP howl with disgrace once he was through.

JP was standing outside of his Winnebago, waiting for him with that same repulsive smirk when Stewart arrived at the desert course, roped off for their needs by some of Albuquerque’s finest. It was time.

Pushing on his headband and readjusting his arm bands, Stewart leapt from his car and stood nose to chin with JP. The music started. As was tradition, the reigned champion started things off. JP began simply enough with a top rocks Apache step. Stewart had expected that and decided on an Outlaw step. JP countered with a belly swim, Stewart with a side slide.

It went on like this for hours… each meeting, then exceeding the other’s moves without pause. Finally, Stewart knew it was time to pull out his secret weapon. Reaching in through the passenger door, Stewart threw what looked like a half-chewed stuffed airplane onto the ground. Leaping out in hot pursuit of the B52 was Stewarts’ dachshund, Boomer. Without missing a beat, Stewart began a breakdance routine of his own design right over the dachshund, somehow able to balance, swerve and hop over the wiener dog in such a string of coordination, ever JP was impressed.  Culminating his routine in a Suicide and a double air chair directly over the still oblivious dog, Stewart knew he had won.

When the SPD ref declared the win official, Stewart dropped to his knees and kissed the ground. Upon seeing his master so overwrought in emotion, Boomer looked up from his stuffed plane long enough to place a wet nose under Stewart’s armpit before going back to his aircraft and its imminent destruction.

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The Not So Fantastic Reality:

Happy Easter, everyone!

The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:

ONE:      Today, on the way to Easter services, Andy (the boyfriend) and I were breaking it down to one jam or another with a zest that was quite out of character for me at such an early weekend hour (I hadn’t even had my tea yet, for the love of Saint Pete!). As we were busting a move, I chanced a look over at the car next to me and saw looks of obvious disapproval and confusion on the elderly couple in their Sunday best. Somewhat subdued by their reaction, I found myself wondering, what if, instead of giving me the stink-eye, other motorists would throw decorum to the wind and start busting a move with me. Wouldn’t that be great? What if it became a whole movement of people dancing at stop lights with strangers, much like scenes taken from a musical. And BAM! A story was born. :o)

TWO:     As many of you may know, I have a wee dachshund by the name of Joey Blue Tribbiani (yes, that’s his actual name). To entertain this pooch (and, admittedly, us) we provide him with a new stuffed animal every few weeks that he promptly destroys. Ripping stuffing out like it was the only barrier between him and the ultimate treat, Joey attacks these helpless toys with a vigor that is something to behold (if not a little disturbing). Yesterday we brought home a brand new toy for Joey, a stuffed military airplane the size of one and a half Joeys and he has been dedicated to its annihilation since it’s arrival.

The ferocious beast at work.

THREE:  On our drive to church we also go past a Winnebago dealership which inevitably inspires a conversation centered on buying one of these homes on wheels and traveling the country. In discussing the amenities we would each like to include on our ideal motor home, Andy decided his would have an enormous wolf airbrushed on the side, howling at the desert moon. He kind of has a thing about wolves (we both volunteer at a wolf-dog haven each week) and is dying to travel to the desert. JP’s Winnebago is a tribute to that conversation.

FOUR:   Stewart’s car is based on the car I own, ‘Tink’, as she’s been fondly monikered. She’s the only car I’ve ever owned, and while she may not be the prettiest thing to look at, she’s always gotten me to where I need to go.