Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Two Inquisitions

And here are two vignettes to verify my view:

"Who smells like old man?"

"Probably Zeke."

"No. That would be Red Man."
(As in the brand of chewing tobacco, for you city folks).

"It's Old Spice."

"More like 'Too MUCH Spice!"


"What'd you do to your arm?"

"I fell out of a tree playing dodgeball."

Sometimes, you just know it's better not to ask for details.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Careening Toward The Precipice Overlooking The Abyss Of Poor Taste

Who comes up with things like this?

If you think that's disturbing, I present for your consideration another item being sold alongside this teacher-axing tchotchke.

Is it just me? Because I find this very wrong. Were I to put the above jar of problem student ashes on my desk, and perchance be summoned to a private audience with the principal, I would not dream of pulling a George Costanza:

"Was that wrong? Should I have not done that? I tell you I gotta plead ignorance on this thing because if anyone had said anything to me at all when I first started here that that sort of thing was frowned upon..."

Nope. It's clearly wrong. Even wronger than having sex on the desk with the cleaning lady. No gray area here. No ambiguity. It is definitely poor taste to set out imaginary remains of former students whom you may or may not have had a hand in terminating. Even I, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom of the cold, cold heart, constantly complaining about the student conspiracy to drive her crazier, would not stoop to such a gag.

And to offer the little plaque about teachers making the world a better place, on the very same page as the faux cremains container, seems to insinuate that those students had it coming, and that the teacher is a hero, and the world is better off without those unruly rapscallions.

I am thoroughly offended. Fie on you, Tumbleweed Pottery. And fie on the horse you rode in on, as we teachers like to say when we are not busy bottling up the ashes of our problem students.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Consultant Is Available

I am careening toward the precipice overlooking the abyss of badgirldom. I can't help myself. But I can try to make excuses and minimize the impending damage. I don't want to badmouth my own mama. But I can't stop the flow of information pouring out my fingertips.

I love my mother. Dearly. She has been the guiding force in my life, and to this day fills the gaps in my day-to-day existence like no other selfless being could begin to dream of filling. That said, let's get right to it.

What was she thinking? After church, when she returned the #1 son to the Mansion, she also returned six plastic containers. It's not like they were valuable containers, such as Tupperware, or even the Christmas-themed plastic tubs which are used to distribute the annual holiday Chex mix. Granted, I had told her that I would take the containers back. In their heyday, they held the precious Hot & Sour Soup to which I used to be addicted, before having my thyroid gouged out. I took a sabbatical from the H & S to avoid coughing, thus jarring loose whatever stitches or packing might have been deposited in the cavity at the base of my throat which used to house my gargantuan thyroid. That H & S soup is OH SO H! And then the season slid into full summer, when even Mrs. Hillbilly Mom does not crave steaming, esophagus-searing soup, and I have not yet gotten back into the swing of the delectable H & S.

The thing with these quart-sized plastic containers is that they have a soup-tight seal. Nothing leaks out of them. Nuclear waste could be transported coast to coast by rail in these transparent, stackable tubs. I have given my mom chili, vegetable soup, spaghetti, ham and beans, cabbage and sausage, and chicken and dumplings in this poor-man's Tupperware. Jeff Foxworthy would be proud. Nary a drip betwixt the Mansion and the end of her trip. The containers are utilitarian, and free! So my issue is not with her bringing them back. It's with her manner of transport.

Most people would take those six plastic quart containers, set one on the table, and stack the other five inside. The lids could loll separately in a recycled petroleum-based sack from The Devil's Playground, alongside the horizontal tower of containers. But that's not how my mom does it. Ever.

Mom put the lid on each container. She shoved all six lidded containers into one Devil's bag, willy-nilly, lids and bottoms akimbo. And because those containers are rambunctious ne'er-do-wells intent on escaping the minute her attention should wane, Mom tied the top of the bag shut with three knots. Just to be sure.

I had no idea that Mom was once a Boy Scout. That she had sailed the seas as a bosun's mate, harvested fish from the deep, climbed the North Face of Everest, and competed in the Calgary Stampede. Her knots know no rival. The only way to open a bag closed with a Mom's knot is to rip a hole in the side of the bag.

If she had driven off the low-water bridge on the way to the Mansion, that sack of soup containers could have supported Mom and #1 on a float down the creek without a paddle, into Big River, down the Mississippi, through the Gulf of Mexico, across the wide Atlantic, and perhaps around the world. Mom might sign on as a consultant with Mayflower, or North American Van Lines. Far be it from me to broach the subject of her container-sacking habits. I hope she has many more years to annoy me with her packing pecadilloes.

I love my mother. Immensely.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Seven From The Twenty-Fifth

I am exhausted. I've spent the entire day Christmas shopping. On line. It's more tiring than you might imagine. But considerably warmer than leaving the Mansion.

You have not been enlightened of the Hillbilly family Thanksgiving feast. I will synopsize it for you with some fun facts:

1. When Mrs. Hillbilly Mom asks you not to breathe on her with your wheezy, virus-riddled exhalations--she MEANS it!

2. An ex-mayor who thinks frozen pizza that expired in April, 2009, is still acceptable for consumption, is not one whom people would prefer to direct their municipality.

3. There is the edge, the precipice, and then the ABYSS of hoarding behavior. I think we can all agree that saving the cotton topping from pill bottles qualifies as the ABYSS.

4. In a rousing game of Scribblish, the person ahead of you has done you no favors when he writes the caption as: bread becomes toast without a plug-in, yeah!

5. Telling a youngster, "Give me some of those Pringles, Pedro" does not enamor the child of sharing his newfound bounty.

6. A 20-year-old should be able to partake, or not, of a regular Thanksgiving menu, but by no means should have chicken fries, macaroni noodles, and mac & cheese prepared separately by the hostess for her culinary pleasure.

7. Stuffing or dressing, no matter what you call it, should be sort of congealed, and not comprised of a pile of individual bread cubes that tumble about like repelling magnets.

I can hardly wait for Christmas.

Friday, November 26, 2010

CSI: Special Chocolate Unit

Gas up the Mystery Machine. Hillbilly Mom has a curious incident that needs a-solving.

Around noon the boys and I piled into T-Hoe, and over the creek and through the woods, to grandmother's house we went. For some tasty leftovers. I had planned to stop by the pharmacy for a prescription that had not been ready Wednesday afternoon. I figured I could give it a couple more hours if I stopped on the way home. Which, in hindsight, turned out to be a good decision.

I stopped at Casey's General Store so the #1 son could buy a 2-liter bottle of soda for his poker game tonight. Not that we let him host such soirees. It is at his friend's house, and both parents will be home, so I figure it's safe enough for a gaggle of 15/16-year-old boys to play poker with chips only, no money exchanging hands. His grandma had given him a bottle of Diet Coke yesterday, but I can't visualize the boys hopping up and down clamoring for such an elixir. So I forked over some cash, parked in the no-parking zone next to the handicap spot, and waited. #1 was back in a jiffy, carrying TWO 2-liter bottles of Coke, and a chocolate-frosted cake donut in a bag. "I had to get two," he said. "It's a bargain, really, either one for $2.00 or two for $3.00. So I actually SAVED you money!" The donut? "I was hungry." You remember that we were going to grandma's for lunch, right? And she lives 1.5 miles from Casey's.

We found my sister and her husband the ex-mayor and their college daughter already at the trough. #1 waltzed in like an adolescent needing to be booted from Dancing With the Stars, and stowed one bottle of Coke in the fridge. Then the three of us careened around the kitchen like just-fired pinballs, filling our styrofoam trays. That's when the mystery began to unravel.

"What's that on your shirt?" My sister teaches kindergarten. No soiling escapes her eagle eye.

"I don't know. I didn't think I was going to see anyone, so I just left on my old shirt that I wear around the house. I thought it was clean."

"Well, you have chocolate on your back."

W. T. F. ????

I twisted and turned, but could not see anything. I took her word for it. The Ex-Mayor concurred. In fact, he wouldn't let it rest. "Now how could you get chocolate on your back?" I don't know. Let's form a committee and write a grant and study that topic, shall we? My mom hovered around, tsk-tsking, looking at my back out from under her glasses. #1 chimed in, "There's definitely chocolate on your back." Great Googly Moogly! Shouldn't someone have been watching TV or snoring on the couch?

"I'm certainly glad I didn't go in the pharmacy like this. Thanks, boys, for telling me I had a huge stain on my back." They looked at each other. The Pony said, "I don't think it was there before." #1 agreed. Or else they just never look at my back. My niece even pointed it out with a pointy finger. "It's right here." A place where I could not reach with my own appendages. Though I vaguely remember Farmer H laying his hand on me yesterday morning when I was deviling those eggs. Perhaps after I had seen him slurping at his finger after dipping it into the leftover sugar-free frosting in the Duncan Hines tub with the red lid. But the boys said it wasn't there before we left home today.

Then the mystery deepened. As #1 strode across the kitchen for more rolls, Niece hollered, "You have it all over you, too! On your butt!" Indeed, #1 had a swatch of chocolate on one jeaned butt cheek. When he turned around to see it, like a dog chasing his tail, I saw that it was also on the front of his jeans, under his left pocket. We blamed the demon donut. But couldn't explain how it got on my back. #1 is not given to fits of touchy-feely hugging of the maternal unit. Especially while riding shotgun and eating a donut.

And then we almost put in a call to CSI: Special Chocolate Unit. My mom lifted up her sweat-shirted arms, pirouetted near the oven, and declared, "I have chocolate all over me! Look! It's on both sleeves, and the front of my sweatshirt."

Well, call in the dogs, pee on the fire, and barricade yourselves against the roving chocolatier! Something ain't right in Hillmomba.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Simile And The World Similes Like You

I was up bright and early this Thanksgiving morn, a Hillbilly with a mission. The mission being to whip up my traditional holiday deviled eggs, put the finishing touches on the oreo cake I baked last night, and haul them plus some veggies and dip and a sugar-free yellow cake with sugar-free chocolate icing to my mom's house for dinner. A dinner which was fantastic, by the way, but not all about me. So let's get to the ME stuff.

I have so much energy in the morning. While cracking and peeling those store-bought eggs (which is much easier than peeling eggs fresh out of Farmer H's chicken's butts), my mind was firing on all cylinders. And maybe a couple of backup emergency cylinders that kicked in just because. My mind was flitting from one scathingly brilliant idea to the next. I always get my most scathingly brilliant ideas in the morning, usually in the shower or on my way to Newmentia. I'm sure I will remember them later, but that rarely happens. They are gone like Jerry Seinfeld's bedside notes. Flaming globes of Sigmund, indeed! You don't think it has something to do with my Levothyroxine, do you? Is that stuff like legal speed, or what? Not that I've ever taken illegal speed. Anyway, if you think Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is speeding, take it up with her thyroid. Oh. That's right. You CAN'T! Because her thyroid was ripped from her throat May 25, and is probably just now reaching the mouth of the Mighty Mississippi, having floated on buoyant medical waste and backstroked its way to the Gulf of Mexico.

So where was I? Peeling eggs at my kitchen table, first knocking them on a paper plate, then rolling them about to separate that clingy membranous egg skin dealybobber. Not this morning, but sometimes, I am able to peel an entire egg in one continuous strip, like some folks do with an apple. But I will tell you right now that recoiling that egg shell into a hollow egg and passing it off on an unsuspecting victim is not nearly so rewarding as folding up that foil gum wrapper after chewing the gum, and offering it to your buddies.

After all eggs were peeled, they were then sliced in half to sort out the yolk for the devil part of the egg. The eggs who were not so pretty, not smooth and eggy, but pockmarked and unsightly like the gams of a coltish 13-year-old gal after her first foray into leg-shaving with her daddy's straightedge razor, were set aside to be used for sampling the devil. It took two tries this morning to reach the proper degree of devilness.

Once the eggs were done, their olive halves safely ensconced upon the fluffy yellow devil, I turned to the cake. The cake was in fine shape, no sunken center, no burnt edges, no thick side/thin side. Thanks, Betty Crocker. I cannot extend my thanks to Duncan Hines. I made a critical error in forgetting that Duncan is a lightweight, too thin to cover my cake. Fie on you, Duncan Hines. I should have remembered to get the BLUE lid frosting, by Pillsbury. Creamy Supreme, Classic White, to be specific. I can never remember. That Duncan Hines slid off my cake faster than a formal off a virgin on prom night. It took a concerted effort to get the whole cake iced and stashed in the 36-degree rear compartment of T-Hoe before my arch nemesis Gravity had his way with Duncan Hines.

By 10:00, it was all over but the crying and the clean-up. I stepped out onto the back porch to toss some eggshells and oreo crumbs overboard, because I can. In Hillmomba, the outdoors is just like one great big compost heap. The cats swarmed my ankles, so I sprinkled a few oreo crumbs for them on the porch rail. They're a tough crowd, those cats. The tan striped one with a pie-pan head took one sniff of those oreo crumbs and gave me the cold shoulder like Obama gave Hillary at the 2008 Presidential Debates.

But now it's almost 10:00 p.m., and I am winding down like a wind-up monkey with cymbals and disturbingly human feet. Good night to you!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Contest. No. Not That One.

We have a pool at Newmentia. Not a swimming pool! Laws, NO! M-O-O-N. That spells A swimming pool would mean that somebody in the How To Control Your Body Long Enough To Stay Alive department would have to actually teach a student something that could be measurably evaluated. As in, whether they could stay alive in a swimming pool.

No, I'm talking about a pool as a form of gambling, where people predict something and win monetary rewards. It's not so much gambling, though, as a free game of skill. The skill lies in choosing which day will be the first one that we miss school due to snow.

I have chosen January 11. No reason, except that it's one week after we return from Christmas break, and one month prior to my birthday. Thems as good a reasons as any, as Farmer H might say.

Others picked days in December (those cockeyed optimists), while some dragged it out to Martin Luther King Day. Which is not a very good choice, I might add, because we are usually scheduled to be out on that day, but end up going because of a previous snow day. Go figure!

I am eagerly awaiting the awarding of my grand prize: a free notepad from the Books Are Fun distributor. Yee haw! I'm a-gonna win me some writin' paper!

However, I will not be too disappointed if somebody else wins. For instance, somebody who chose a day earlier than mine. Because the real prize is the SNOW DAY!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Another Watch Fob/Hair Comb Moment

Farmer H and I have out 21st wedding anniversary on Wednesday. I haven't looked it up, but I suspect that 21 is the goat anniversary.

Farmer H is, in rare instances, a thoughtful old coot. As an anniversary gift, he decided to give up the precious one day off that he gets each week, and take me gambling last Sunday.

Woe was me. I did not have Sunday available, what with baking an Oreo cake for the #1 son's Algebra II assignment due on Monday. The #1 son: my gift to Farmer H. The gift that keeps on giving.

We have a regular O. Henry marriage.

Monday, November 22, 2010

I Am The Champion, My Friends

I have a new addiction. Quick! Call Candy Finnegan! I must be stopped. I can't help myself.

The name of my new vice is Scrabble. InfoGames Scrabble. I pop in my CD and while away the hours on New Delly. Time flies by when I'm playing Scrabble. I choose two computer players for my competition, an intermediate and an advanced. My rating is only 1002, two points above the novice category, making me 'advanced.'

My high play is 101. Try that, Scrabblers! 101 points in a single play. I dare you. I haven't felt this cocky since the Genius-Thumping Morons beat the Geniuses at Casa de la Madre during the big ice storm of ought-seven. Of course, the Genius-Thumping Morons consisted of moi and Scrabble-Unfriendly H. And we beat the Geniuses of the #1 son, The Pony, and my mom. Hey! They chose the name Geniuses first. Far be it from me to patronize a 12-year-old, 9-year-old, and 73-year-old.

Anyhoo, I don't want to break my arm patting myself on the back. Then I couldn't play Scrabble quiet as effectively. I must go. My addiction is calling.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Is Booked For The Evening

If I knew you were coming I'd have baked a cake. Actually, I baked one anyway. A 9 x 13 Oreo cake that the #1 son needs for Mabel's class tomorrow. He has to write some mathematical gibberish on top. Sorry Mabel. That math is Greek to me.

After I slather some original vanilla frosting on that slab of sweetness, I need to do some peeling and chopping for the rump roast I've invited for dinner. Then I need to fiddle and faddle with some broccoli, cauliflower, baby carrots, vine-ripened dwarf tomatoes, and Hidden Valley Ranch powdered dip mix for the faculty turkey shindig tomorrow at Newmentia. Because we can't all engineer a magnificent Hawaiian roll treat.

If time permits, after a recreational hour to view The Amazing Race, I plan to answer that online Christmas shopping calling my name.

I would love to regale you with tales of the antics of Farmer H, his rosebush- and lilac-eating goats, his porch-pooping chickens, his deer-head gnawing dog, his new Santa suit that he was afraid might be too small, and his new BARn toilet that he purchased today. But I have more pressing matters which need tending.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Feast To Rival The Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

MathCrony has my sympathy. She's all generous and thoughtful, and bakes a mean Thanksgiving turkey. Yet every year we thumb our collective noses at her. You'd think that if MathCrony can choose and purchase a turkey, bake that bird, transport it to Newmentia without it sliding off the seat and onto the floor (most years), and see that it is warmed and ready for consumption at 10:53 a.m. on a Monday, the least we can do is cart in some tantalizing side dishes to complement her fowl. But no. Please be advised that there are upwards of 21 faculty participating in this event.

In case you haven't seen the sign-up list for side dishes posted at the door leaving the Newmentia teacher workroom, right next to the women's faculty restroom, where anybody who's anybody stands in wait a good portion of the day...it's a cryin' shame. There are categories for vegetables, desserts, baked goods, and something with no entries. The dessert list is the longest. Except that it only includes the names of the bringers. I suppose they have not yet decided what to bring, or what to pick up from The Devil's Playground on the way to work Monday morning. The way it stands right now, we will be feasting cannibalistically on four of our female faculty.

The baked good entry belongs to Mr. S. It's a tradition with him, of which later I will divulge the details.

The lone entry in the vegetable category was Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, who plans to raid The Devil and haul in a tray of cruciferous veggies and dip. In past years, she actually bought the separate veggies and washed and trimmed them and whipped up the Hidden Valley Ranch dip. The Devil's handmaidens have been subcontracted for that task this year. Except maybe for the Hidden Valley, which only requires whisking a packet of mix into a container of sour cream and letting it sit overnight. Once upon a time, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom was noted for her Oreo cake. Until a certain someone sarcastically commented that anybody can buy an Oreo cake from The Devil. Which Mrs. Hillbilly Mom did not know whether to take as a compliment or an insult, but either way, begrudged the three hours of intensive labor required to bring that Oreo cake to fruition. And decreed never to bring it again, thus prohibiting the terrifying sight of two female faculty jamming fistfuls of Oreo cake into their pieholes at 8:00 a.m. the day after the dinner, lest somebody else usurp the magnificent pastry before they could consume their share.

Not to be outdone by Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, her ArchNemesis penciled in the culinary classic Thanksgiving vegetable side dish of chips and dip. Mmmhmm. We're pulling out all the stops for this fabulous feast. One Who Sometimes Views Herself As Being In Charge took the initiative to sign up Mrs. NotACook for her fabulous hot wing dip. She listed it under 'vegetables.'

Which brings us back to the tale of Mr. S and his holiday staple. Ever since the beginning of time, or 1998 B.S., as I like to think of it, the year Mr. S and I joined the Newmentia faculty, Mr. S has been supplying us with his tasty carbohydrate treat. At first, it was a simple loaf of white bread from the day-old bread store. I could understand it during the years Mr. S was between wives. Nobody wants to think of him cooking something for us to eat. I think I'm pretty safe in speaking for everyone there, right Mabel? But it got to be a bit of a thorn in our overstuffed sides. Because Mr. S would always ask us how we enjoyed the bread, even though nobody else was eating it besides him. Why would we? Back then, we had some really fantastic side dishes (except for that creamed corn casserole made by Mabel's former bestest friend). And the bag of frozen corn that never left the freezer.

Two or three years ago, Mr. S stumbled upon some Hawaiian Rolls on sale at Save-A-Lot. That's what he brought instead of the old white bread loaf. We haven't heard the end of it yet. As I told LunchBuddy the other day:

You'd think that man discovered Hawaii, cleared a field, planted sugar cane, harvested it, refined it, forged an oven, concocted the recipe for Hawaiian rolls, baked them, packaged them, shipped them to the mainland on a Chinese junk, contracted distribution through Save-A-Lot, and bought a dozen at discount to treat his work friends.

Imagining the great lengths that Mr. S goes to in order to supply us with baked goods, I'm now too exhausted to get into the story of the coaches and the Presidential Potato Salad. According to the sign-up list as of Friday afternoon, we will be feasting on a turkey, Hawaiian rolls, veggies and dip, chips and dip, hot wing dip, and four mysterious desserts. Are you salivating yet?

A doff of my pink, jewel-encrusted Dolly Parton hat to you, MathCrony, for all that you do. Which includes entertaining us intermittently with those flowered panties peeking out your pants leg.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Besiding

I am still seething from yesterday. I am beside myself. In fact, I could drape my arm around my shoulder and lean in close for a bit of hanky panky, I'm so beside myself. And it has nothing to do with the Day After Tomorrow.

Yesterday was our Thanksgiving dinner on a school lunch tray. Turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, green beans, hot roll, and pumpkin pie. I have not eaten a school lunch for nigh on two years now. Perhaps a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner here and there, or a greasy crunchy grilled cheese with vegetable soup. But on a regular basis, I have decreed a moratorium on school lunches. I've been carrying a balance of $3.50 in my lunch account for quite some time.

I went through the line, and one of the cooks (I call them that, even though all they do is heat up prepackaged food and slop it on a tray) looked at me and said, "Do you want a tray?" Puhleeeeeze! What was she thinking? I had to choke back a myriad of smart-mouth answers:

*No, I think I'll take that turkey and gravy in my cupped hands.

*Nope. I'm just looking.

*No. I'm just standing here because this seems like a hip, happening place to be at 10:53 a.m.

*No. I brought my own trough. Let the slopping begin.

*Is that what you do in here? I thought I was buying tickets to the new Harry Potter movie.

Those wacky lunch ladies! Their hijinx never cease. One of them kind of sighed. She turned and carved out a section of dressing roughly the size of a loaf of Wonder bread, and plopped it on the corner of my tray. As an afterthought, she tossed on a hot roll. Then she asked me if I wanted green beans, so of course I says yes, because nobody's ripping me off and withholding the green beans from my $1.75 teacher's tray, by cracky! Moving on down the line, I got to choose my own pumpkin pie. It was real pie this year, not the graham cracker bottom Cool Whip concoction from years past. Real pie, with crust, and a dollop of whipped cream on top. The kind you get out of a can that the kids use to do whippets.

When Mr. S joined me at our table for eight, I noticed that he had two hot rolls. And so did LunchBuddy. And so did Stuart. And everybody else who sat down. Even the former student sub. So I asked Mr. S first, because I feel so comfortable with him, because we started teaching here the same year, and we are likethis..."Why do you have TWO rolls and I only have one?" Mr. S clued me in. "You have to ask for them. 'Hey, gimme two of those rolls, don't be skimpy.' " Then I asked LunchBuddy, and she, too, said, "You have to ask for them." Well. I'll be gosh-darned if I'm gonna beg for my lunch accouterments, after electronically forking over $1.75. I would rather stew in bitterness and my own churning stomach acid for a year or two. It's just like when they used to give everybody else TWO grilled cheeses, or TWO peanut butter and syrup sandwiches, but I only received ONE. Like they had a big powwow before the lunch bell, and decreed that I certainly didn't look like I required any extra caloric needs.

But that's not what set me in such a state of seethe. Nope. That's not what put me beside myself, flipping my earlobe, jabbing my ribs with my elbow, inserting my licked pinky finger inside my own ear. I HAVE HAD IT WITH THE SUB. Not the former student sub. He is harmless, mainly because he doesn't do much of anything. No, it's the adult sub who is actually the best sub for subbing, because she actually gives the work you leave and makes the kids behave and leaves notes on the naughty ones. Not THE best sub, who doesn't sub anymore, the one who even graded your papers if you left a key, the one who made bad boys stand with their nose in a circle on the blackboard for smarting off.

Here's the deal. If you sit down at the table and stare at everyone's tray and like an imbecile say, "Oh, are you having your turkey dinner today?" We will become annoyed. I know I will, anyway. Stuart tried to be nice. For Stuart. After he whined to Sub about how territorial we are with our seats, enabling her to snark a bit about how she had noticed that, he said, "Why don't you go get a tray?" And Sub said. "I didn't know you were having your turkey dinner. I already ate my lunch before I came." And Stuart still encouraged her to get a tray. But she didn't. It would have been almost all right if she had stopped there. But the psychics among you know that she didn't.

This is where my besiding begins. I have not taught at this school for 12 years so I can be weaseled out of my regular lunch seat by a sub. Laws, NO! M-O-O-N. That spells Mrs. Hillbilly Mom had better get her regular seat at the lunch table and not hear another word about it. It would be one thing if a new sub sat there and didn't know. But this one knows. So don't go acting like you have a right to whatever seat you want, and criticize us with Stuart. Because that implies that you have paid your dues, which you have not. But that is still not the root of my besiding.

Throughout the 23-minute lunch, Sub stared at me. I find this very annoying. It enrages me. But that's still not the precipitating incident for my besiding. It was the conversation. Or, rather, the inquisition. I knew there was limited time, and that I would not be able to finish the tray. I ate most of the turkey, a bit of mashed potato, a couple forks of chopped green beans, three forkfuls of dressing, and about half a hot roll. In between these savory bites, I deviated from the tray to score a mouthful of pumpkin pie in its little styrofoam bowl. And SUB had the nerve to inquire, as soon as the plastic fork entered my mouth, "Is the pumpkin pie good?" What could I do but nod? I wanted to tell her to go get herself a freakin' piece of pumpkin pie and leave me the freak alone for my 23-minute competitive eating challenge.

Sub was in a veritable trance, eyeing my tray throughout the lunch period. "Is that cornbread dressing?" How would I know? It's dressing. Dressing is dressing. I do not have the discerning palate of Andrew Zimmern. All I know is that it's school dressing, not Stove-Top Stuffing, not my mama's dressing, just school dressing, and I don't know WHAT it's supposed to taste like, but it's passable. Then Sub says, "They gave you enough for three people." Get the freak outta here! Who made you the USDA monitor of the National School Lunch Program? Go get a freakin' tray and stop drooling over mine. I've a good mind to sit here after the bell and eat every freakin' crumb on this three-person tray just to see what you're going to say next. Lunch Nazi.

She was there again today, gooning at me all lunch period, which did you know starts at 10:38 on Fridays? And she brought her lunch, which was disturbingly similar to mine, being some kind of sandwich on a whole-wheat bagel and some Harvest Cheddar SunChips.

I'll bet she didn't know that my SunChips expired on October 19. I wish I had queried her about each course.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I Got Troubles

I'm having trouble with the day after tomorrow. The Day After Tomorrow. The DVD movie, with which I have mysteriously parted ways. I'm showing it tomorrow to one of my classes, since it is near the Thanksgiving holidays, and we have just finished a chapter on climate and meteorology.

Only last year, I had The Day After Tomorrow in my hot little hands. Now I can find all of my other movies that I showed at school (not exactly the truckload that it sounds like), but there is no Day After Tomorrow. Farmer H swears that he has not watched a movie for 10 years. Au contraire, the random reorganization of my movie shelves, and the inordinate amount of time Farmer H spends in the BARn, beg to differ.

The #1 son swears that he has never seen that movie, because all of his friends told him that it sucked. The Pony reminded him that I showed it to my classes last year, including a class in which #1 was enrolled. #1 swears that I showed it to other classes with his suck-decrying friends, but not to his class.

The Pony searched the basement for The Day After Tomorrow and declared it to be officially missing. Not so fast. He also declared Journey to the Center of the Earth, and Dante's Peak to be officially missing. And I found them side by side on a shelf where The Pony has just finished searching. I plan on looking a third time tonight.

In the meantime, I switched to Plan B, which deployed my mother to The Devil's Playground to purchase another Day After Tomorrow. The workers told her they did not think The Devil dabbled in The Day After Tomorrow, and after a cursory search of the stacks, decreed it to be officially missing. I searched The Devil's website, and found that indeed The Devil puts no stock in The Day After Tomorrow. Though it can be ordered from his website as a combo with other movies. No thank you.

I called the local Blockbuster. The girl there had plenty of time to do my bidding, what with them in foreclosure and all. She said that yes, they had ONE copy of The Day After Tomorrow. I predicted that nobody would be rushing in there to rent it in the next two hours, and told her I would stop in after school. Which we did, at the very moment that the girl stepped out onto the porch of the mini-mall and fired up a cigarette while shivering in the 42-degree dusk. I waited a few minutes for her to finish, because it really sucks when you work in retail and no customers show up for three or four hours, and just when you try to take a little break from all that hard work of doing nothing, one rears its ugly head.

While waiting on the longest cigarette in history, a car pulled up and a little girl ran into Blockbuster. #1 said urgently, "That little girl is going to get The Day After Tomorrow!" Which made me heave myself out of T-Hoe and rush to the storefront. I really thought I could take her. Lucky for Little Girl, she was only returning a movie, and not usurping my ONE copy of The Day After Tomorrow. Smoking Gal helped me find it.

For $2.99, I am the queen of The Day After Tomorrow. For three days. Funny that Smoking Gal had told me over the phone that they did not have any Days After Tomorrow for sale. Yet on the receipt, it said that for another $9.99 I could own it. Like the #1 son said, "What are they going to need it for? They're going out of business."

I might be buying a little chip off the old Blockbuster if I can't find The Day After Tomorrow this weekend.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Mother Hubbard? Mother Hubbard?

People piss me off.

When we got home Monday evening, there was a big white dog roaming around the low water bridge by our row of mailboxes. He perked up when the #1 son got out to get the mail, but he kept his distance. Last night when reached the mailboxes around 6:00, he was still lurking. This morning he was several hundred yards up the gravel road, and stepped into the woods when he saw us. And at 5:00 this evening, he was right by the mailboxes, and circled T-Hoe when we stopped.

I told The Pony that he looked friendly enough, but not to pet him. The Pony grabbed the mail, and Doggie watched him hopefully from about five feet away. Hoping for what, I'm not sure. Likely, it was food. And companionship.

People who drop off their unwanted pets in the country need to know that their pet is going to slowly starve to death, or be run over by a vehicle, or shot by a homeowner. Pets do not understand that they need to catch, kill, and eat squirrels and rabbits to survive. They are lonely. They miss their human pack.

We can not take this big lug home to the Mansion. We don't know him. He is huge. He might be a chicken-killer. Our beagle, Tank, might go after him in a fit of Little Man Syndrome and be injured. We don't have time to slowly introduce a new fully-grown pet. Doggie is bigger than some of Farmer H's goats.

I told Farmer H to go dump some dogfood by the creek. Not to get out and socialize, just to drop some sustenance for Doggie. Of course Farmer H drove his Scout, not the truck. The Scout, which our own dogs run after. Farmer H saw no sign of Doggie. He must have gone into hiding, since it was only 15 minutes from when we saw him. I told Farmer H that now Doggie wouldn't even get the food, because our own fleabags would eat it. Farmer H swore that they followed him right back to the Mansion. The Pony's heart is hurting for poor giant Doggie. Doggie looks like a Great Pyrenees, but with short hair. I'm thinking that somebody could not afford to feed him anymore, and set him free. Free to die a slow death of starvation, or a speedy violent death.

People piss me off.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Happy Birthday To Mabel

In honor of my teaching buddy Mabel's birthday today, I am typing her a birthday song.

Happy Birthday to you,
You work in a zoo,
But it's not all that bad,
Because I work there too.

Happy Birthday to you,
Sometime you may view,
Flowered panties out a pants leg,
Across the math lab from you.

Happy Birthday to you,
Women faculty have a clean loo,
That teacher's kids moved away,
Now we don't see their poo.

Happy Birthday to you,
Parking-lot mud is like goo,
I'd never step on your stones,
In my fancy Italian shoes.

Happy Birthday to you,
You are the one who
Celebrates Pi Day,
Little Debbie loves you.

Happy Birthday to you,
Groundhog Day is Feb. 2,
Your best ever holiday,
Your son thinks so too.

Happy Birthday to you,
Sign up to bring foo....d
For Thanksgiving lunch,
Rolls by you-know-who.

Happy Birthday to you, Mabel. One of these days, I'm going to erase my mental block and get the date right. At least I was in the neighborhood, thinking it was the 17th. Tomorrow I'll bring you some swag. Promise.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sometimes, It Pays To Be A Hillbilly

On the way home from school today, we saw a dude stretched out on his roof stringing Christmas lights.

Thank the Gummi Mary, all we have to do at the Mansion is flip a switch in the garage.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

I See, Said The Blind Man, As He Picked Up His Hammer And Saw

Serial Builder H is at it again. He's building a bedroom addition onto his MiniMansion.

That man is a regular Sara Winchester. Well, except for being a man and not named Sara, and not being 4'11", and not being heir to the Winchester repeating rifle fortune, and not believing that ghosts are out to get him, and not being dead. But other than those trivial inconsistencies, he's exactly like her. He has been working continuously on building his own version of the Winchester House since shortly after I met him.

The building bug bit H The Builder back in 1988, before we were married. He started building a shed/workshop out of particle board and bits of shipping crates and wooden pallets that were cast off at his job at the time. Instead of paying to have that scrap lumber hauled away, the company let people bid on it. Many a time, H The Builder won such a bounty with a bid of $5. In the city, people don't want scrap wood, apparently. Or have a truck to haul it somewhere.

Toolshed 1 was constructed on the land of Buddy, which sits one parcel away from where the Mansion would later take shape. Back then, it was only a sawdust mote in H The Builder's eye. Toolshed 1 was a project for Apartment Dweller H to escape the hustle and bustle of outer suburbia, chug a few Milwaukee's Best, and let his hair down in a carpenter kind of way. When I bought my $17,000 house in town, H The Builder towed Toolshed 1 to the backyard on the back of a car-hauler and set up shop. Which meant that he never worked on it again, but planted some daffodils around the perimeter.

After we married, H The Builder used Toolshed 1 to store fishing tackle and small tools. The purchase of Hillmomba led to the building of the BARn, which at first was just a red-metal barn. Then came the barroom loft, with its bar and black-and-white checkered floor, and TV, and John Deere memorabilia, and Falstaff collectibles, and stools garnered from work cast-offs, along with a drafting table. Quite an eclectic mix, but suitable for boyhood sleepovers once the #1 son reached the age of 11. But the BARn was years in the making, even though it was started before #1 was born.

The barn led to construction of the original outhouse, because there were no sewers in Hillmomba, and when you gotta go, you gotta go, and driving 20 minutes back to town just doesn't cut the mustard. Toolshed 1 was hauled back to Hillmomba to keep the outhouse company. Then the Mansion was begun, which kept H The Builder busy for about 18 months. During which time The Pony was begun.

For a time, the Mansion basement held the allure for H The Builder. It received a workshop, a home office, a bathroom, and a very special treasure room with walls of concrete. But ADDH soon tired of such domestic pursuits, and started the A-Frame, a little cabin down by the creek with a sitting room and loft. He and his older boys spent many a weekend down there, which beat sleeping in the back of a pickup truck under a tarp, which is what they did while working on the barn.

The A-Frame was no sooner sprouting weeds around its wide base than H The Builder embarked upon the MiniMansion project. A homey cabin like one might find at Silver Dollar City, the MiniMansion broke ground just before The Veteran shipped off for the first of his 3 Iraq tours of duty. The MiniMansion became a three-dimensional billboard for all things flea market and countrified. Its outer walls were festooned with skillets and saws and harness and an occasional giant snakeskin.

With a MiniMansion down the creek from the A-Frame, on land newly purchased from the Land Stealer, another outhouse was necessary. One built of 4 x 4 lumber scraps from crates used to ship rolls of band steel that would be turned into butcher saw blades at the job of H The Builder. Outhouse 2 was not very satisfying for H. He was restless, building chicken coops, and an entrance ramp for his very special chicken, and a rabbit hutch, and a couple of goathouses.

This summer saw the construction of some kind of wildlife observatory cabin, next to a food plot, on the upper 20 acres, much to the chagrin of the #1 son. It destroyed part of his paintball field. No sooner was the final nail hammered into the observatory than H The Builder began plotting his next build: The MiniMansion bedroom.

The MiniMansion bedroom is necessary because H The Builder wants to buy an old iron-frame bed. And where else do you put an old iron-frame bed than in a spare bedroom built onto your MiniMansion. Never mind that it has a nice woodstove and a sleeping loft and a rocking chair and a table and all the amenities. You never know when a guest might drop in and require an iron-frame bed.

I will begrudge H The Builder his construction projects. May he enjoy a full 38 years of hammering and sawing. Just like Sara Winchester. Then he can travel amongst his projects and sleep in a different one every night. Unlike Sara Winchester.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Tech Nazi Comes To Call

The Tech Nazi paid an unannouced visit Wednesday. This week was all about technology security, you know. At least in Newmentia. Don't go looking for a special Google banner or anything. The way it works is this: all week, we get emails about security issues, and then there's a survey, or a quiz, and a prize for the most compliant campus, and ridicule for the building with the most insecure technology. As part of his stealth technology, the Tech Nazi creeps about the various schools, snooping into each teacher's classroom fortress, leaving behind a frowny face or a candy bar.

Last year, I got a frowny face, for the first time ever. I refuse to take responsibility for the frown. All along, I had been logging off when I left my fortress. After school, during plan time, and especially over the weekend, when a shut-down was called for. Otherwise, we were supposed to leave stuff running, for updating overnight. Shh...don't tell the Maintenance Nazi, who went to all that trouble to install the self-flipping-off light switches. Surely leaving on every computer in every building 24/7 for four nights a week won't use all that much electricity.

But let's get back to ME. I was astounded several Mondays in a row to find that my computer was still running. My school laptop, to be specific, which I had just gotten last year. And the more I thought about it, I recalled that it was still running after the log-offs, as well. I just hadn't noticed, because when I went to use my laptop, I was needing to use my laptop, and, well, it didn't enter my mind that I should have needed to log back on. I had more pressing items on my agenda. So I had emailed the Tech Nazi that my laptop was not logging off, and in fact needed the power button to be held down to even shut it off. As my teaching buddy, Mabel, can verify, emailing the Tech Nazi about an issue is kind of like writing a letter to Santa. You never get an answer, and occasionally you might accidentally get what you asked for, though several months or years in the future.

So I take no responsibility for that frowny face, because I DID follow procedure and log off, even though my laptop did not respond. I drew the line at completely shutting down every time I left the room, and taking five minutes to power up again. I did, however, lock my classroom door. Which I swear, we were told back then was not good enough, because anybody can borrow a key and get in to perform mayhem on our crucial files. Like the Tech Nazi.

This year, my laptop has been working. I have switched from the log-off to locking the computer, though all it takes to get around that is to shut down and power up again. But at least it won't be under my log-in. I think. One of the subs did it, but purloined another teacher's name and password. So her files were in danger, not mine. I stopped with locking the door, because if that was not good enough anyway, why go through the hassle and wear-and-tear on my door latch, which has already been repaired twice? Besides, locking leads to an unsightly student build-up after lunch, when the freshmen RUN from the lunchroom to Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's room to wait in line for her to unlock the door.

On Wednesday, I was late for lunch, which is something you don't want to be at 10:53 a.m., because it leads you to missing a portion of precious adult contact during your 23-minute lunch hour. I was late, but I still dragged myself back to the opposite corner of my classroom to lock my laptop, which had been neglected in a frenzy of last-minute algebra tutoring for my extra-help class.

Sitting at the teacher lunch table, I observed the Tech Nazi trolling the halls. Fie on you, Tech Nazi! You shall not outsmart me again with your faulty equipment this year. When I returned from lunch, I had a candy bar on my keyboard. That can't be good for a laptop, can it? Surely they exude heat when operational. Even when locked. Maybe I'll email the Tech Nazi about that.

Friday, we found out that Newmentia was the most secure sector this year. As a reward, the Tech Nazi said he would be leaving a pile of candy bars in the Teachers' Lounge. That's what he called it. How out of the loop can he be? We haven't been allowed to call it that for years. It's the Teacher Workroom! Because we work there, don't you know. We don't lounge. That's what the students do when they boldly walk in there after school and hang out by the snack and soda machines.

I'm not holding my breath waiting on the pile of candy bars. Somebody else will be sure to snag them. Some people see something free and fill their purses and pockets and wheel in a Rubbermaid storage bin on a Hannibal Lecter hand truck to scoop up the spoils faster than five-day-old BBQ pulled pork after a parent conference supper. Mabel knows what I'm talkin' about.

Oh, and the Tech Nazi bragged on some Scoffrules because even though they had left all of their files open, such as email and gradebook and powerschool, they had conscientiously locked their doors, which was enough to keep intruders away from the vital files. Ahem! That was not good enough last year, but this year it is? I cry shenanigans!

The objective to take away from the tale of the Tech Nazi is this:
Teachers must be bribed with sugar. It's the only thing that keeps their files secure.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Clubbing With Hillbilly Mom

I have an issue with a certain set of students at Newmentia. We call them the Sex Club. Unofficially, of course. Behind their backs. Though they would probably relish the title. They remind me of the kids a few years ago who had an secret club in which they kept a tally of their conquests. A contest, if you will, but different from THE CONTEST of Seinfeld fame, the difference being that the student contest was not a solo exercise, and not an exercise of abstinence. Quite the opposite, on both counts.

Anyhoo, the Sex Club is composed of girls of ninth grade age, which is just totally inappropriate and icky in the mind of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. The majority of the Club is together in one class. Mrs. HM hears things she does not want lolling about in her brain, hears them while she is at her desk minding her own darn business. That's the thing with the Sex Club. It appears to be all about letting people know they have a Sex Club.

Mrs. HM gave them a stern lecture upon overhearing one tell another that "Missionary is against the law if the girl is not over 18." And another club member said, "Well, that's fine. It's my least favorite position." EEEWWWW! These are 14-year-old girls. Yucky poo. Not only do they talk, they also flaunt. They are the ones we have to admonish to zip up your hoodie, nobody needs to see your bidness all hangin' out like that. They push the limits.

Today in the cafeteria, LunchBuddy and HerBuddy sat down at the Sex Club table. We are always kidding HerBuddy that the ringleader is her daughter, because HerBuddy has only sons, and we think she needs the full motherhood experience. The Sex Club was a bit subdued. Instead of talking about positions, or the ringleader relating her hall walk yesterday with a condom in her mouth, they sat with hands folded. "So how was your day?" Nice conversation, suitable for high tea with watercress sandwiches. It didn't last long. One by one, as they took back their trays, the Sex Clubbers plopped down at a different table. Until only LunchBuddy and HerBuddy were left. So they rejoined the rest of us at the faculty table.

There's more than one way to skin the Sex Club.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Can Hair Not Be Trained, Part Deux

Sunday morning, the Mansion hosted another performance of the Theater of the Absurd.

The Pony, having just arisen, was minding his own business on the short couch, waiting for our trip to The Devil's Playground after a quick drop-off of the #1 son at church. Hairstylist H started on The Pony's tousled coiffure.

HH: Your hair is a mess.

The Pony: Hey! I just got up.

HM: It's too long. We're getting a haircut while we're out. Is this going to be another episode of "Can Hair Not Be Trained?"

HH: Hair CAN be trained. I told you before.

HM: No, it can't. The daycare lady, once a hairstylist, even said that The Pony has a double crown. His hair grows in two directions.

HH: You can train hair to lay right. Do you think if I part my hair on the other side, it will stay?

HM: Yes. Once you part it. It may not lay right, though, because of how your hair grows.

HH: No. It's because I've trained it to lay this way. It falls in place.

HM: So you think that people wake up every day with their hair in place, because they've trained it to lay like that?

HH: Yes. They have trained it. Just ask the hairdresser when you get your hair cut.

HM: I'm so sure I'm going to ask a 20-year-old minimum-wage Great Clips girl, "Should I comb my hair every day to make it stay in place?" Duh. That's WHY people comb their hair every day. It doesn't take an expert to tell me that.

HH: You guys are goofy. You don't think about things like normal people do.

This, from the man who once insisted that men part their hair on the right, and women part their hair on the left, so don't be parting his sons' hair on the left.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Here's a tale from my students today.

Student 1:
"Skipper was absent because he got caught boosting cars."

Mrs. HM:
"You're joking."

Student 1:
"Nope. He's going to juvie. He won't be back for quite a while."

Mrs. HM:
"Did he get caught doing that today?"

Student 2:
"I don't know. He was at school for the first two hours."

Mrs. HM:
"Apparently, he got a ride."

Student 1:
"Yeah. And I found his backpack full of books. In the gym."

Mrs. HM:
"I told him yesterday to look there. And he said he did, last week."

Student 1:
"Yeah, right. The gym is a BIG place."

Mrs. HM:
"So, I guess he won't be needing those books for a while, huh?"

Student 3:
"I think that's what you call irony. I love irony."

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Life Imitates Trivia

In another strange episode of life imitating life...Food Procurer H brought home a bag of Gus's Pretzels this evening. Perhaps you've never heard of Gus's. Neither had I, until trivia night and the question about where to get the best pretzels in St. Louis. Now I've had one of Gus's. And I must say, they are real, and they're spectacular.

Santa's Helper H popped downtown today to pick up a new Santa suit. His old one was becoming rather raggedy. We can't have Santa traipsing about the preschools and Parents As Teachers events looking bedraggled. Close by the uniform shop, or wherever one goes when one needs to buy a piece of Christmas memories, maybe...oh...I don't know....Ye Olde St. Nick Shoppe, Bargain Hunter H saw Gus's Pretzels. He popped in and purchased a dozen pretzels for under $6.00. The boys and I had one before supper. It's not every day you get a fresh pretzel, by cracky!

Seems like only Saturday that I mentioned a gynecologist in reference to playing trivia with a student (and a wronger-sounding statement than that I will probably never write), then lo and behold, my gyno showed up at trivia. Now Gus's has appeared in my kitchen.

I am trying to remember some of the other questions, so I won't be shocked when such an item intrudes upon my life.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Timely Note To Self

Note To Self, Freshman Edition:

If I lose my book for a week, and then decide to turn in some work, the teacher will not give me another book just because I ask for one. Not even if I explain that my book is lost, and I have no idea where it is. She will tell me that I have to pay for the lost book before I get another one.


An Explanation From Mrs. Hillbilly Mom:

That, you see, is the reason that book numbers are recorded. To make sure that the responsible party returns the book he was issued. If it was just one big books-for-the-asking world we live in, there would be textbooks piled about the universe willy-nilly. No need to carry a book in and out of the classroom each day. Just ask for another one! Like a free-book fountain. The land of textbooks and honey. Unicorns, rainbows, and textbooks floating about in a Peter Max psychedelic landscape.

Criminy! This is a textbook we're talking about. Paid for out of the textbook fund. Not some school lunch program where you can run up $3000 in charges and not face any consequences.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Total Trivia Experience

I am pleased to report that our team took 2nd in the trivia competition last night. We were two points behind the leaders. If we hadn't screwed the pooch in the sports round, we coulda been a contender. A score of 4 out of 10 that round was our Achilles heel. Thank the Gummi Mary that we knew Lillehammer hosted the 1004 winter Olympics. And that Monica Seles got stabbed. That Nebraska was the only team to beat the Mizzou Tigers at football (at the time the question was asked). And that Peyton Manning is closing in on some quarterback record currently held by Brett Favre. Other than those golden nuggets, we were fresh out of sports smarts.

The only other category that gave us fits was Best Sellers. Who knew that Norman Vincent Peale did not write Power Thoughts: 12 Strategies to Win the Battle of the Mind? Not us. It might have something to do with him being dead for the past 16 years, d'ya think? And speaking well of the dead... we scored a perfect 10 in the Dead or Alive category. Though Ray Bradbury almost had us stumped. Luckily, our policy of declaring people alive if we could not remember the announcement of their death served us well.

Movie quotes required much teamwork, but we screwed the pooch on The Fugitive and Tommy Lee Jones, instead attributing the search every outhouse, etc. soliloquy to Strother Martin in Cool Hand Luke. Somebody needs to watch more YouTube. I knew that the dude speech came from a cult bowling movie with Jeff Bridges and John Goodman, but it took a teammate to match that info up with The Big Lebowski. And I must pat myself on the back for being the only one to know that John Wayne won his Oscar for True Grit, not Rooster Cogburn. I knew my abnormal obsession with that movie would do me good one of these days. And I must add that something must be wrong with my crew, none of them besides me ever having watched or read The Right Stuff. What kind of unAmericans are they? They did not know that Gus Grissom was the second man in space, and declared to his dying day (in a flaming space capsule, no less) that "The hatch just blew!" In fact, I believe their precise words were, "Who's Gus Grissom?" and "Never heard of him." and "Are you sure?" and "I don't think it was him. No. I don't have another answer. But I don't think it was him." Of course I knew it was Gus Grissom. Gus screwed the pooch, you know. And he was a conspiracy theorist.

Our team had 10 members, ranging in age from 15 to mid-70s. I must say that old people have an advantage in the trivia business. The #1 son did provide two answers: The Blind Side and Inglorious Basterds. His crony was noted for picking up the giant jug of dorito/cheeto/pretzel mix and digging through it to pick out the cheeto parts. It reminded me of Vicki in National Lampoon's Vacation, when she was stirring the Kool-Aid with her arm up to the elbow, and Clark Griswold said, "Vicki, can I help you with that Kool-Aid? Please?"

On a side note, off to the side of our table, right next to us, sat a team with my gynecologist and his wife. The thyroid-stealing double-team, as I think of them. They did not speak to me. I did not speak to them. That would be just creepy. How ironic that I used a gynecologist as an example in last night's post. And to think that there I was, sitting on his livelihood, not 15 feet away. Perhaps he didn't recognize me from that angle.

Next on our agenda is the Newmentia band trivia fundraiser on the weekend before Thanksgiving. We will be an adults-only team that night. Please.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Reluctant Participant

The #1 son and I are playing trivia tonight. I can't work up much enthusiasm for the event. I agreed to play several weeks ago. On Thursday, #1 informed me that one of his cronies would also be on the team. Hear that screeching phonograph needle?

I do not wish to spend my Saturday night with students. Not now. Not ever. If it's not my own kid or a faculty kid, I'm fresh out of congeniality. Do surgeons want to carve the meat when invited to dinner? Do pit crew members rush out to the driveway to change your tires when you come over for poker? Do actors round up a rousing game of charades at a cocktail party? Do gynecologists... never mind. The point is, I do not wish to mix business with pleasure.

My son is rarely on our team. If so, it is at the urging of the person who rounds up the team. He usually has his own team of students at our Newmentia trivia contests. This one is a different trivia. The ringleader asked me to play, and also #1. Now the ringleader has gone and invited the crony. Unfortunately, he has engaged in this behavior in the past--inviting people with whom I have no desire to socialize after he's snared me for the team. Then I'm the bad guy when I tell him I'll take a rain check on that invite. Life is too short to begrudge four hours of your life to a miserable evening.

I will need to make it clear that in the future, I am not available for student socializing. Off with my head! I do not play well with others that are my work. It's too constraining. I have to censor myself from being myself.

It's a full-time job.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Submitted For Your Approval

I am missing my little Pony tonight. He is spending the night with his grandma. No clip-clop of his little big feet. Unless I hear them in his room around 2:00 a.m. That happens frequently, but I tell myself that he got up for the bathroom, and it's his actual footsteps. That reasoning doesn't fly when The Pony is 10 miles away from the Mansion.

#1 spent the night with Grandma a couple of weeks ago. Same thing. I heard him walking in the kitchen after midnight. Except he wasn't home. You don't consciously acknowledge these routine steppings and clompings until the stepper and the clomper are not in the house!

There has to be a reasonable explanation. I just haven't found it yet.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

International Flavor

I received a rude awakening this morning when Cologne-Soaked H hurled himself out of the bedroom at 6:00. There I was, reclined, wrapped in an afghan, snatching a few clandestine ZZZs in the La-Z-Boy, oblivious to the fate that would imminently befall me. And then it was upon me, the cloud of stench that would cling throughout the day. Some kind of Stetson or Old Spice or Chaps or any other cloyingly annoying fragrance with which men slosh themselves. And for the record, such products, unlike fine wine, do not become better with age.

Cologne-Soaked H declared that he was going to a meeting today. What? He just went to Indiana on a wing and a credit card Monday! Now this. Since when do factory-toiling men soak themselves with smelly-good (that's Arrested Development H's term for cologne) to sit next to each other in a safety meeting all day? I cry shenanigans!

The nicest thought to enter my head concerning the aroma of Cologne-Soaked H was: he smells like a French wh*re. My apologies to the French. And wh*res. Where did that expression come from, anyway? What's the story behind the myth of the French wh*re? We've heard that the French are stinky. Are French wh*res ripe because they're French? Or because they're wh*res? Wouldn't you think that wh*res would try to smell good, to attract more business? Or do the men who partake of the wh*res not really consider their smell to be a boon or a liability? And while we're on the subject of wh*res, remember that time Politically Incorrect H informed us that all wh*res look alike, with straight black hair parted in the middle? That man has some issues.

In any case, I certainly hope the dudes who sat next to Cologne-Soaked H all day were olfactorily challenged. And that they had a case of tomato juice waiting at home for the detox bath to remove all traces of C-S H from their skin.

I will now conclude tonight's post, and await the phone call from credit card fraud about the use of my card in Jefferson City today, courtesy of Traveling Oldster H.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

At Least It Didn't Happen In Missouri

Having some extra time on my hands last week, while waiting for all six parents to show up each night at Parent Conferences, I reconnected with my old friend Google. I've certainly missed his stories.

A woman in Costa Mesa drove around with a mummified body.

Not just a single trip to the 7-11 for a Slurpee. No. She drove that mummy around for ten months. I wonder if that's a Guinness world record? Probably not too many people competing for that one. But then again, I never would have thought a dude would stuff 21 scorpions in his mouth for such a record, either.

It's not like Mummy was eating up the gas mileage on that 1997 Mercury Marquis. She only weighed 30 pounds when the police broke a window to extract her. Funny how death will do that to you, melt off the pounds like you're just wasting away.

Driver must be a hoarder. You know they can't throw anything away. It appears that Driver had fallen on hard times herself, so maybe she was so poor that she didn't have a house to hoard in. So she used her car. Or her dad's car, as some links noted. Driver was 57 years old, so who knows WHERE she parked her father.

This was no ordinary mummy. Mummy was not preserved with spices or wrapped in fine linen. She was more the natural type of mummy, like that cat Garage Attic Cleaner H found several years ago in my grandma's garage. And she didn't even have a cat. Ever. This one was all stiff and dried out, like beef jerky. Only not so tasty. I'm guessing.

What kind of crazy do you have to be to drive around with a stinky corpse in your passenger seat? It's not like Mummy was family. She was just a casual acquaintance, allowed to sleep in the car in December. I'm guessing she didn't run the heater. Then again, this was in Costa Mesa. Perhaps the winters are kinder there than the midwest deep freeze of Hillmomba.

Did Mummy wear a seatbelt? Or did Driver have to fling her arm out when stopping short? If you were driving a mummy around for ten months, wouldn't you have been sure not to park where you were partially blocking a driveway? Won't you be a bit hesitant--if you visit Costa Mesa, and a friend offers you a ride in a 1997 Mercury Marquis that was a steal, he tells you, an absolute bargain--hesitant to shout, "SHOTGUN!"

Crazy. But not Missouri crazy.

That concludes tonight's presentation of Driving Miss Mummy.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Voting. Hillmomba Style.

I abandoned The Pony this afternoon to selfishly take myself to the voting booth. Don't you worry about The Pony. He was happily ensconced at Academic Team practice, and his grandma picked him up. The #1 son only had to stay after school until 4:00, working on his robot, so I waited on him.

It is truly a pain in the behind for me to vote. My polling place is even further in the middle of nowhere than the Mansion. I had to leave Newmentia, drive out past the road to my Mansion, and vote in a church with a parking lot that holds 12 cars on a good day, with subcompacts who like to get cozy. Did I mention that it is a 30 minute drive from Newmentia to Mansion? Then we had to drive back to town and load up The Pony after voting. I don't like my mom driving on that two-lane blacktop county road after dark or after work. That's when the crazy tailgaters come out. So she only had to bring The Pony from Basementia to Sonic.

Those ladies who run the polling church always piss me off. Two years in a row, they did not have me on their rolls, even though I have lived in the Mansion for 12 years. Today, the hag at my sign-in book was busy know-it-alling to a poor unlisted voter who was being assisted elsewhere by another. "You have to vote in Basementialand. That's where you're registered. I don't care if you've been living with your sister for the past year. That's where you're registered." Oh, the irony. I think. I'm not really sure what irony is, though earlier in the week I thought it was when a dude whose wife allegedly manslaughtered someone made a comment that "Murderers live among us" in reference to the recent release of an old woman who served 50 years for killing her husband. But what do I know about irony? I don't even understand it with dictionary.com. But I DID wish that I could have voted in that unregistered gal's place in Basementialand, and she could have voted in my place at the far-out polling church.

Old Hag finally turned her attention to me, reached out her greedy hand for my checkbook with ID, then proceeded to answer a text on her cell phone. She absentmindedly turned the book around for me to sign, then had a conniption when I started writing my name. "NO! NO! Only RED ink!!!" Well then. Perhaps she should have forked over that red pen when she turned the book around. She then informed me that her son was texting her to say that they had over 300 voters so far in Basementialand (would the connections never cease), and that churchpoll had already voted more than 600. Like I cared. I just wanted to get out of there and retrieve my Pony. And a Sonic Diet Coke with Lime.

I was passed on down the line like an unpopular independent at a frat party, and had a paper ballot and a capless marker foisted upon me by another old crone who was hoarding the I VOTED stickers. So much for modern conveniences, the six electronic voting booths only 50% full. Just as well. I wouldn't want a malfunction to befall me. I sat at a big round table with an unknown fella, marked both sides of my ballot, and fed it to the hungry, hungry ballot-sucker.

Whatever happened to the separation of church and state?

Monday, November 1, 2010

On The Road With Flim Flam Artist H

I got a call from the credit card fraud department tonight. Seems that somebody tried to make a fraudulent charge of $1 for gas at a Shell station. Hm...wonder who that could be?

World Traveler H was on a business trip today. Not an exciting business trip, like that time he went to Brazil and got a questionable work permit for two weeks, during which time he was told that if anybody official walked in, to put down the tools and act like a salesman. Or the time he flew to Wales, and was not allowed to rent a car, because, well, he doesn't drive that well over here. Or the time he was sent to close down a plant in New Jersey, and came home with a new used riding lawnmower. Or even the time he went to visit the big boss on Long Island, and stayed two houses down from Betty, the famous author who just died, who turned out to be Katharine Hepburn, in the grave two years already. Nope. This was just a trip to Indiana.

His boss must have forgotten the Wales itinerary, because Interstate Road Trucker H was sent to pick up a truck that the company bought over the internet. A Ford 7000 flatbed truck that drives like a car, but is as long as a bus. Or so says Auto Appraiser H.

On this young girl's strange, erotic journey from Milan to Minsk--oops! That was Rochelle, Rochelle, of Seinfeld fame. On Truck-Fetchin' H's journey from Missouri to Indiana, he used our personal credit card for business pleasure. They always make him do that. It's a bone of contention with Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. Surely a company with outposts around the world can afford a business credit card for their travelers. But NO! Anybody who has good enough credit must use his own card, and write up reimbursement documents upon return. And anybody who doesn't have good enough credit gets his plane ticket and trip accoutrements paid for by the dude with good credit. I don't know which is worse, being the dude with good credit, or the bankrupt slacker. At least this time, Santa Airline H didn't have to buy an extra round trip ticket to a foreign country for his travel companion.

The credit card fraud department called to report an attempted charge of $1 for gas at a Shell station in New Baden, Illinois. What a Nellie Oleson! Hows about waiting until until something really expensive is declined? Botherin' me with a triflin' single bill, by cracky! I pay more than that for my Sonic soda every day. But far be it from me to perpetuate fraud, or gladly suffer those who do. So I called the fraud department back, from the number on the rear of the credit card, because you can't be too careful these days in bandying about your card numbers and SS#.

I didn't have enough information to confirm or deny that $1 charge, so I called Distracted Driver H, taking his attention away from driving the truck bus through downtown St. Louis, making him miss his lane to or from some bridge and rerouting him somewhere I can't even fathom. I'm directionally challenged, you know. My aunt and I once got lost seeking the Casino Queen, and you can see that all the way across the river. We made the mistake of pulling over to ask a cab driver down by the old courthouse. My aunt was actually surprised that he spoke with a heavy foreign accent. But that was my pleasure, not Working Man H's business.

Spendthrift H confirmed that he had tried to charge $50 of gas at the pump, but was declined. So he went inside, where the clerk asked if he had used his credit card in multiple states today, and told him their pumps are very good fraud alerters. Furthermore, Sugar Daddy H informed me that he had charged gas twice in Illinois, and once in Indiana, and that the truck held 100 gallons, and that he had also charged vast repasts at Cracker Barrel and Bob Evans. That, my friends, is why Reverse Midas H is not allowed to carry the checkbook.

The second call to the fraud department cleared up all these card usages, so I would not get a call as each one was posted. Oh, and Michael the service rep, the one with no discernible accent, unlike my first rep, Andre, who sounded Indian, dot-not-feather, told me that he was releasing the hold on the card so that Money Tree Growing H could use it again tonight. And I even thanked him for it!

I do not mind getting fraud alert calls. I welcome them.