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Monthly Archives: January 2012

Day #287: Watch This, Girly!

The Story:

“Watch this girly… I’m going to whack my husband, gonna get him good…” the elderly woman said after turning abruptly to face Hannah in the ‘10 items or less’ line. Before Hannah could piece the words together to understand their meaning she watched horrified as the bizarre little woman turned and did exactly as she said she would. Pulling the cart towards her to build a little momentum, the woman arched her back like an ornery cat and gave the cart a healthy shove.

All Hannah could do was watch.

OUCH!!!” the old man at the receiving end of the cart let out a howl as Hannah, the check-out girl and bag boy all stood by, rendered immobile by the strangeness of the situation.

“Did ya see that, girly! I hit ‘em good!” the old woman nudged Hannah and cackled hysterically.

“What the hell is going on?!?” Hannah thought frantically. She felt as if the normal backdrop of the grocery check-out lane had somehow been snatched away and replaced with some twisted Japanese game show.

The woman must have seen the distressed look on Hannah’s face and patting her shoulder all but cooed, “Don’t worry, girly. I’m just a nasty old woman,” and giving her a wink turned back to her sputtering husband on the other side of the cart.

“You crazy old bat! You see what she did? You see how she treats me?” the old man was wailing, pleading with the check-out girl who seemed only slightly interested. “It’s husband abuse, that’s what it is!” he continued to whine, nursing what Hannah assumed to be his injured leg.

“Husband abuse?!?” the old woman replied laughing, “Well that sounds like a wonderful concept!”

“I’ve got witnesses! Witnesses this time that saw what you did… that girl there! She saw the whole thing!” the old man shouted and pointed a crooked finger in Hannah’s direction.

Before Hannah could say a word or abandon her sad pile of almonds, yogurt and apples and run screaming out of there, the elderly couple exchanged an unreadable look before they both burst into a fit of giggles. Still laughing they walked hand in hand behind their basket of freshly bagged groceries, escorted by the bag boy who seemed to be pleased just to tag along.

“What the hell?!?” Hannah almost screamed at the check-out girl.

The girl gave Hannah a sympathetic look and in-between the beeps of her scanner said, “Don’t worry, they come in here every day with that routine. They get a kick out of messing with younger people. They don’t mean any harm. Paper or plastic?”

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The Not So Fantastic Reality:

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

ONE:      The grocery store weirds me out. I think I’ve said that before, but the fact remains. Having to ‘shop’ for food with other people never has sat right with me, and the gazillion-and-one choices… ugh. It’s all a little too much. So today, I couldn’t postpone the trip any longer and decided to just run in for a few things. All went well until I arrived in the ’10 items or less’ line. There, I met some interesting characters, namely a woman who by her own account was turning ‘seven one’ on February 8th only invert those numbers, girly! This lady was a hoot in her loud floral top, too much eye makeup and zero inhibitions. At first I thought she was accusing me of running into her husband’s ‘butt’ with my basket, that is until I watched her ram her cart into the unsuspecting chap as he fumbled with his coupons. “See that, girly (apparently my name is girly)? I got him!” she screamed to me, as if I were her accomplice. That’s when her husband started up, making a fuss about how he was injured and they’d have to make a stop at the hospital now and this was husband abuse… all in good fun, of course. The whole encounter completely stunned me since I typically expect fellow shoppers to behave like me: all business, keep to yourself, only talk when prompted. Well now I was part of a mini-melodrama/comedy and I was expected to play my part. So I mumbled a few things, laughed when they looked at me and waved goodbye as the left. People are weird.

Love & Squirrels.

 

 

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Day #286: Skip Logic

The Story:

“Maybe it means how you play a game called Skip. Like the rules or something?”

“That’s stupid. Whoever heard of a dumb game called ‘Skip’? Nope, I just scanned the databases and there was no such game as ‘Skip’. I bet it’s the secret password of some super powerful rich dude from the past and it got lost when the city burned in the Robot wars of 2079.”

“And B-33 is the stupid one? You both must have huffed dingbats for breakfast… it’s obviously the name of a computer system or gaming device or something from the ‘20’s. You know, before everyone went squirrely and launched all their computers into space to try and stop the beginning of the Take Over.”

“Shut up KK-12! You think you’re so smart with your Blue rating…” F-19 pouted and kicked a pile of imported synthetic dirt.

Noting but the finest synthetic dirt, all the way from Tanzania!

The three kids stared down; the sounds of their custom-fitted bubble suits would have been severely irritating if each of their noise-eliminator sound machines weren’t working overtime.

“I bet it was the name of a secret bomber, something scientists were working on underground to eliminate the robots before they turned on us. Yeah, some cool high tech airplane with a rad pilot with a name like Jet Johnson or Emilio Estevez,” F-19 shot his arms out from his torso and began running with them outstretched as he imagined the planes from the Wiki pages his mom read him as a little boy.

“You’re so childish,” KK-12 said in her best grown-up voice but couldn’t help giggling as F-19 swooped past B-33 and clipped his bubble suit just enough to knock the boy over.

“Hey! That’s not funny!” B-33 screeched from his back, stuck flailing his arms and legs in the air like an upturned turtle. His air-regulator, protein-pack and hydration-kit strapped to his back made it nearly impossible for him to right himself without help.

His two companions yanked the squatty boy up eventually, once they had recovered from a fit of giggles thanks to KK-12 using her new wireless projector to project an image of a cartoon turtle stuck on his back onto the sad form of B-33.

Feeling bad, K-12 and F-19 offered to buy B-33 a mineral enhancer at the corner shop. Using their hover setting, the three propelled themselves past the big man in the big chair and towards town… the origins of the strange piece of paper they had found with the funny writing all but forgotten.

 

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The Not So Fantastic Reality:

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

ONE:      Do you ever take a moment during what is typically a normal routine or uneventful task and wonder what future generations would think if they saw or found evidence of it? Kind of like how we postulate and make assumptions at what ancient civilizations might have meant when they built the Great Pyramids or the infamous “Mayan Calendar”? Maybe the guys who built the pyramids just wanted to see how big they could build something or maybe the Mayan Calendar that claims the end of the world  is this year was just a rough draft, the real calendar having been smashed to smithereens eons ago. I had one of those moments as I spent a day developing a survey in SurveyMonkey. As I tinkered around with different features, formats and settings, I found myself coming back to two little words over and over again, “Skip Logic”. For some unknown reason I just really love those two words together. They seem to me to be part of a lost bit of ancient wisdom, or a haiku or mantra or something… skip logic. If some kids in the future happened to stumble upon my survey in the rubble of a building destroyed by robots, I’d like to think they would be mystified by the meaning of these words, much like I am (and I know what they mean).

Love & Squirrels.

Day #285: Triangles or Squares?

The Story:

It felt a little awkward at first… like getting on a bike after a 20 year hiatus.

I picked up the knife; it felt heavy in my hand. The weight of it sent a little tingle up my spine.

What if my tastes had changed? What if I didn’t like it anymore?

I felt the familiar curl of hunger in my abdomen and knew I had to act, and fast. Otherwise, things could get messy.

I felt like a kid again, only this time there was no grown up to manage my actions… or my true desires.

I started small at first; to be honest my giddiness to dig my knife in was a little frightening… better to pace yourself, I thought.

My self-control only lasted a few seconds. Before I knew it the walls, countertops and my clothes were peppered with splatterings of deep crimson, like exotic blooms erupting into angry existence.

What had I done?

Not wishing to be discovered as the orchestrator of this terrible mess, I quickly covered the evidence with the first thing I could lay a hand on.

Now what?

Picking up the knife once again I tried to resist the urge to cut.

“Down the middle or at an angle?” My twisted mind would not give way and eventually… I succumbed.

Having sliced down the middle, I created two where there had been only one.

I needed to get rid of it… hide the evidence somehow.

So I ate it.

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The Not So Fantastic Reality:

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

ONE:      Ever perform a relatively rudimentary task and suddenly think, “I can’t remember the last time I did this”? I had one of those moments today as I was preparing my lunch, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I can honestly say that I cannot remember the last time I made and ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I know my mom used to make me cream cheese and jelly sandwiches all the time as a little girl (yeah, I was a strange kid) and I was a master at preparing a peanut butter and banana sandwich in my college days (toasted, of course) but a peanut butter and jelly? Nope… can’t remember consuming one of those in the last 10+ years. Well, I am happy to report I was able to successfully craft this culinary cornerstone of Americana with generally positive results. Never mind the globs of jelly left behind it its wake… necessary casualties for the ‘greater good’ of sandwich assembly, I say.

Love & Squirrels.

Day #284: Accidental Napping (On Purpose)

The Story:

It was an accident… I was only going to rest my eyes.

It was the perfect time of day, perfect seat in the sun, perfect temperature… perfect nap.

The puppy curled up and fell asleep in my lap; what was I supposed to do?!?

I just needed to rest a spell… or several hours.

The pillow and quilt were giving me the eye…

Wasn’t today National Nap Day? No? Oh well… doesn’t hurt to get some practice in, I guess.

I thought I was coming down with something… best not to take any chances and get as much sleep as possible.

I was walking around in the sun for hours; whew, boy!… that sun really takes it out of you…

I read a study that taking a mid-afternoon nap was good for your health.

Did I mention it was an accident?

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The Not So Fantastic Reality:

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

ONE:      Ever take a nap on a beautiful day and wind up feeling a tad bit guilty? I do it all the time. It’s not that I’m overly tired (usually) or that I don’t want to be outdoors, it’s just that, well… I love to sleep. And, I must say, napping may be my favorite way to catch some zzz’s, especially on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. Curled up on the couch, my great-grandma’s quilt over me, closing my eyes and feeling the sun envelope me in warmth, Joey (mini-wiener dog) jumping up and making a nest in my lap and snoring softly…ahhh… it’s one of the best things ever. Especially after spending hours walking around in the Florida heat, surrounded by hundreds of people all crowded around one small lake. I know I’ve written about napping before, but gosh dern it, I don’t care. So I make no more excuses, I took a nap today and it may have been one of the best experiences I’ve had in days.

Love & Squirrels.

Day #283: Killer Cake

The Story:

“We got another one, Harry,” Marci called over her shoulder to the hulking bus boy coming up behind her. “At least this time they had the good sense to pay first,” she grumbled as she snatched the ten dollar bill off the table and quickly pocketed it.

Grabbing the patron from under the armpits, Harry hefted him out of his seat and began to drag them to the back. “I never will understand why these people insist on eating all of it,” he thought to himself as he deposited the man’s dead weight in a heap next to the dumpster. “At least I only have to bring them this far,” Harry thought to himself. He couldn’t imagine what it was like for Dan-O, whose responsibility it was to take them the rest of the way, usually to the city dump or the river.

It had been like this for years, patrons would come in for a bite, some would leave with a doggy bag, some would leave in a body bag. Harry had a sneaking suspicion that the ones who ended up toes up were not as random as the rest of the restaurant staff would have him believe. No, Harry had been paying attention and those who unknowingly ordered their last meal followed a certain pattern. Take the woman last month at table 14. She had given Marci a hard time about her soup being too cold. Her last words had been, “I want my soup to be scalding hot, do you hear me! Scalding!” Then there had been the man two weeks ago who had only spoken Spanish and somehow still managed to argue with Marci over the onions in his salad. He should have just said “gracias” and eaten the damn things. Too late now.

Both customers had received gracious apologies from the restaurant manager and a complimentary dessert, their specialty in fact- a slice of the Killer Cake. And, just like the dozens before them, their eyes had bugled greedily as the giant slice of chocolate cake arrived, glistening with rich and ooey sweetness… and just enough poison to choke the life out of them.

Enjoy your complimentary dessert... it'll be your last you turd wad

Back inside, Harry tried not to think as he cleaned up after the restaurant’s latest victim. Bussing the table he thought back to the first sorry sucker he had the misfortune to watch die. It was a quiet night, they usually were, and Harry had only been 16 at the time. He remembered being so terrified, so paralyzed with disbelief all he could do was stare at the dead man doubled over in his booth, he hand still clutching the fork that had fed him his own demise. He had wanted to run to the police, he had wanted to tell his dad but guessing at his thoughts the manager, Derek and Marci had gotten to him first. Next thing he knew he was in cold storage, his head pounding and a simple message written in ketchup on the floor next to him- Talk and you’ll get your just desserts… and clean this up when you’re ready to get back to work.

Dumping the last of the night’s trash in the dumpster, Harry tried not to look at the distorted mass of the dead man and quickly returned inside to lock up. Pulling the locked door closed behind him, Harry began to walk to his car, turning once to look up at the florescent letters of the restaurant sign. Flashing boldly beneath the sign was smaller one that read “Home of the Killer Cake!”.

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The Not So Fantastic Reality:

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

ONE:      I always thought it was amusing, the names some establishments gave their ‘signature’ desserts. “Death by Chocolate” and “Killer Cake” are two of my favorites, for both their terrorizing names and their pure yumminess. Tonight Andy and I decided to share a slice of the Killer Cake and I’ll be honest, I felt like dying on the ride home thanks to that little overindulgence. The thing is still sitting like a chocolate brick in the bottom of my stomach, like consuming a delicious paperweight.

TWO:    While at dinner, there were several interesting patrons sitting around us, including the woman who wanted her soup ‘extremely hot’ as she mentioned over and over to the server in a not-so-nice-tone. Then there was the couple across from us who had to bail early thanks to what I assume to be morning-sickness for the woman who we all know is pregnant thanks to her over-excited boyfriend.

Then again... she might have just had some of the cake...

Love & Squirrels.

Day #282: The Cackles

The Story:

They travel mostly in flocks, twos or threes mainly…

No topic is safe, no conversation is spared… they may not know what they are talking about but they will continue to talk until they figure it out…

Known for droning on and on without allowing any outside input, should you be cornered by one you have several options:

  1. Using small movements, slowly inch away from them while nodding enthusiastically; when they break eye contact- run.
  2. Order as much alcohol as you can get your hands on and settle in- it’s going to be a long night.
  3. Catch up on your reading. While they are babbling on about what so-and-so said about so-and-so, you can easily finish up that book you never seem to find time to finish.
  4. If you are at a restaurant keep ordering small plates and appetizers. Their kind are known for putting away their fair share of food, eventually they will have to pause to swallow- make a break for the bathroom when they do.
  5. Attempt to hold a conversation with them, grow increasingly irritated at their inability to shut up and drown yourself in your bowl of black bean soup.

    Not in MY soup! Back of the line!

Known for their voracious appetite for devouring every millisecond of down time, their screeches have been known to travel miles in the right conditions.

If you are a man you will feel the irresistible urge to run if within 10 feet of their presence.

They are easily identified by their unique (and terribly annoying) squawk. It is this sound from which their name is derived. A mix between the cry of an abused crow and every evil female character in the Disney lineup- you know it when you hear it.

They are known as the “Cackles” and they can usually be found hovering over the salad bar at your local Apple Bee’s or swigging Skinny Margaritas at the nondescript bar downtown.

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The Not So Fantastic Reality:

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

ONE:      My man took me out to dinner tonight- a lovely evening at Bahama Breeze was so close I could already taste the West Indies patties. We arrived, parked and were sat without incident and then- I heard it. “Bre ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!” The woman in the booth across from out table was cackling at such a pitch and with such force the three individuals she was seated with were actually wincing. Great. I watched as she rocked back and forth, leaning over to each of her tablemates to ensure they experienced the full extent of her case of the ‘cackles’. I mean this lady was LOUD. She was talking at such a volume and her laugh was so in-your-face annoying I seriously considered asking her if she would mind keeping it down a bit (yes, I am officially an old curmudgeoned stick-in-the-mud). For the first few minutes the bustle of the restaurant and the cackling of the cackler were so distracting, I thought I might have to take a minute outside just to sort out all the auditory information my brains was being overloaded with. Better yet, “Yes, I’d like the mojito”. Ahhh, sweet, sweet booze… number one cure of a case of the ‘cackles’.

This should do nicely...

Love & Squirrels.

Day #281: You’ve Got Mail…And Trouble

The Story:

“Ok Chauncey, let’s run through this one more time, and no more lies. I want straight answers, dammit.” The detective slammed his fist on the scarred wooden table dramatically and it took every ounce of self-restraint not to burst out laughing. Poor man, I couldn’t really fault him for being upset, if I were in his poor-fitting loafers I’d be mad as hell too. And if it were me, there wouldn’t be the slightest chance I would believe one word I had just said. This last thought instantly sobered my mood, and I wondered if there was any way of loosening this web I had somehow managed to get tangled up in.

Looking around the interrogation room, I knew my chances of getting out of this unscathed were as likely as my detective friend here suddenly belting out a few bars of a Spice Girls song.

“I’ve got all night, pal,” the detective said, interrupting the amusing image of his imaginary self singing next to Posh and Scary Spice. Man, this guy was really taking a page out of “Interrogations: 101, A Detective’s Guide”. Next he’ll start putting cigarettes out on my forearm. Ok, time to stop screwing around…come on Chauncey, baby, think!

“My apologies detective, should I run it from the top, then? Right. Ok, well, like I told you and the officers before you, I was at work, in my office when I received the message.”

“The email from another ‘time’, you mean?” the detective interrupted me and made silly little quotation marks with his fingers as he said the word ‘time’.

“Yes. That was when I received the email. As I normally do each morning after grabbing a cup of coffee in the break room, I sat down at my desk and started going through my email. That’s when I saw it. It was time stamped as being sent yesterday around 6pm or so and it was from an email account I know to be inactive,” I rubbed the bridge of my nose and tried to remember the exact phrasing of the email. It wasn’t difficult. Then again, it wasn’t every day you received an email from your best friend who you knew to be dead for a year now.

“And you’re sure it wasn’t somehow sent by someone else who had access to the account? Maybe someone playing a practical joke?” the detective almost seemed like he believed me.

“No, impossible. The email account was deleted after his death; I was the one who deleted it, at his wife’s request… Judith was never very good with computers. I know it sounds crazy, but it sounded like Tom. It was an email reply to a message I sent him a year ago, the day he died actually. It had the same writing patterns, made references to things only he and I knew and the same stupid sign off he always used at the end, TTFN,” I couldn’t help but smile at the memory.

“TTFN? What in God’s name is that, some kind of weirdo code or something?” the detective had reverted back to his ‘ball-buster’ persona.

“No, nothing like that. Tom was big into Winnie the Pooh, ever since his days of working at the Magic Kingdom as a teenager. TTFN stands for Ta Ta For Now, it’s something Tigger would say, kind of like saying goodbye in cartoon land,” damn it, Tom, you’re still getting me in fixes and you’re worm food.

“And you want me to believe that this email from your dead friend told you to go to the Wildwood Cemetery and chop down that tree where the remains of little Suzy Day, missing these ten years now, just happened to be buried? Is that really the story you’re sticking to, guy?” the detective was past ‘ball-buster’ and was borderline irate. His right hand twitched and I could feel the tension as he struggled to keep from smashing my face in.

This wasn’t going well, and if I kept telling the truth it was bound to get worse. I couldn’t very well tell him that Tom had replied to an email I sent the day he died from beyond the grave. And to do what? Find a missing girl’s remains, someone I only knew from news headlines and MISSING posters? None of it made sense. Maybe I was crazy.

“I don’t know what else I can tell you, detective. That is the truth, I’m sorry to say,” I felt a growing knot in my lower intestine. Worst case scenario I was going to be charged and tried for the heinous kidnapping and murder of an innocent 10-year-old girl. Best case scenario, I was insane.

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The Not So Fantastic Reality:

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

ONE:      I received an odd email today at work. It was from our former office assistant, who’s been retired now for almost six months. As I read the email, I was completely mystified. Why had she sent it? Was she still checking her work email account (which I had assumed was disabled once she left) and if so, to what end? And what the heck was she talking about? None of it made sense. After scrolling down, I saw that her email was actually a response to an email sent from my account… one year ago. So was she just now getting to that email? Had it been sent a year late? Was she just tying up loose ends? Did she think that I had sent it yesterday, instead of year ago? Did someone else send it from her account? Or was email becoming the new snail mail? Strangeness abounds.

Love & Squirrels.