Tuesday, September 28, 2004

A spider on the cemetery gate... Posted by Hello

Waiting for Janet

Its a little like waiting for Godot.

Well, that's a lie. Its not at all like waiting for Godot. Except, maybe, for the weirdness. Janet is weird. I am weird. And I am waiting for Janet.

Since the start of this blog, I have expected her to find me. Eventually she will. Its all a game.

I left a clue for you yesterday, out on the web. It won't be long now.

When Jackson and I spent the weekend with you in Athens we spoke about how we have a shared addiction, for no good reason, to The Main Point. I started to tell you then. But that would have ruined the game. I know you will find this on your own. So when you do - Howdy! Been waitin' for ya!

An aside - please don't misunderstand me. There are thousands of good reasons to be addicted to Michael Main. Its just that we aren't addicted for any of those good reasons. Go read him yourself and you'll find plenty of good reason to read more.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Am I getting old? Already?

Lord Almighty. I am in pain.

This is the third day of wallpapering. I didn't think it would be such a big deal. I was wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Every muscle in my body hurts. The insides of my elbows hurt. My toes hurt from gripping the edge of the rickety step ladder rung. Typing sends dull throbbing pain up my forearms> (So why am I doing it?)

It better look reeaaallly good when its all finished. Even if it looks horrible, we are going to have to live with it for the next five years while I try to recover.


Wednesday, September 15, 2004

The Fair Queen - Part 3

Sadly, the story doesn’t end there. The next night after surviving the parade, we donned boots and jeans - no doubt in an effort to look like we might have a horse and it was just taken ill, leaving us unable to ride and participate in the real pageant – and assembled at the back of the rodeo grounds. There we were pinned with the sashes bearing the names of our various sponsors – Miss Co-op, Miss Silver Star CafĂ©, etc. One of my good friends, Maria, had also been suckered into participating. Maria was in a wheelchair. This became significant.

After a few minutes of milling around, not unlike cattle in a pen, a truck arrived, pulling a large stock trailer with the sides removed. “Oh no!” you say.

Oh yes. We were herded onto the trailer. The rodeo queen contestants all ride around the arena and are presented to an adoring crowd. We, the poor unfortunates, were not to be denied the same opportunity. The rodeo queen contestants rode horses. We vied for the honor of being Fair Queen. That rates a ride around the arena in a stock trailer.

You wouldn’t think it possible, but the irony of this seemed lost on everyone at the time. Everyone, perhaps, except Maria and I. Have you ever tried to wheel a chair into a stock trailer? There is no ADA requirement there. Someone provided a couple of 2 x 4’s and I managed to help wheel her aboard. She locked her wheels and I clung to the chair’s handles in an attempt to remain upright for the ride. Rodeo arenas are meant to be traversed by four-hooved animals, not pickups.

It turned out, much to our expectance, that neither Maria nor I were destined for Fair Queendom. I don’t know about Maria, but I couldn’t hope but feel that was a good thing.

The next year brought big changes to town. I left to go to college and Lizzy Johnson even moved on herself, down the road a few miles to the brighter economic prospects of prison guard employment in a neighboring town. I don’t know what happened to the Fair Queen. I don’t even really remember who became Fair Queen. But Lizzy’s well meaning lapse into social equality has served me well over the years. It seems each time I begin to feel too “big for my britches” I’ll come across a box in the back closet. I can’t help but open it. And there, on the top, every time, is that sash – Miss City Grocery and Deli.

Its good to remember where you came from. Especially if you are headed in the opposite direction.

Monday, September 13, 2004

The Fair Queen - Part 2

A few weeks later there was a meeting of the “contestants”, i.e. the poor, unfortunate, horseless girls, at which time they explained the intricacies of the pageant. Since we were in fact cursed with no horse, we would be cursed with a fashion show. So, on a hot, sticky Sunday afternoon our parents all crowded into the school auditorium – little more than an oversized classroom with a stage – while we paraded forth in casual wear and “dressy wear”. Luckily, being a conservative west Texas town, we stayed away from the evils of swimwear.

I have never been graceful and the mechanics of the step-turn were lost on me. There was no interview (which would have been small comfort at best, but I could talk better than I could walk) so needless to say I muddled through in a truly unremarkable fashion.

Later in the week the festivities began to reach a fever pitch. Wednesday was the day of the Rodeo Parade. Normally I enjoyed the parade from the middle of the 19 member
marching band. We could all march, each of us to our own private drummer. It was more of a collection of individual performance artists than any sort of a cohesive band. Somewhere, I’m sure, we could have been a hit in a small, off-off-off little avant-garde theatre, but mostly we were just out of step.

This time, I was fated to enjoy the parade in a whole new way. The sponsor was saddled with the responsibility of making a float for the lovelies to ride on, in lieu of riding a horse. Aubrey Nell had not spent a lot of time in life learning the finer points of float design, what with running a business, a farm and a household. Such a waste. My job was to find a suitable prom gown in which to be ogled upon our float. I ended up in a fluffy mass of what would probably be labeled “sea-foam green” tule and taffeta. My chariot arrived.

Turned out they had decided I could ride on – on, not in – their big chunk of a cherry-red
1987 Chevy Suburban. And not on the hood – the roof. To this day I have not idea how I hauled myself and that huge dress to the roof of the vehicle or how I got down. It was evidently traumatic enough to block it from my memory, but somehow I survived to ride through town – green dress, red suburban and a poster board sign proclaiming I was the proud bearer of the title “Miss City Grocery and Deli”.

Part 3 - coming soon!

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

The Fair Queen Pageant, Part 1

Meanwhile, back in Roby, Lizzy Johnson gained a social conscience, to the detriment of all.

Lizzy had a cute little cowgirl daughter who was a regular entrant into the annual Rodeo Queen Pageant. Big doin’s for a little town. This particular year, she was just about a shoe-in to win. Well, it occurred to Lizzy in a blinding flash of social awareness and well meaning benevolent effusion that not all the lovely young ladies of the town had horses and were thus precluded from entering the oh-so-prestigious Rodeo Queen Pageant.

This would not do, Lizzy decided and took it upon herself to correct this injustice. The result of her endeavor was the Fisher County Fair Queen Pageant. Yee-ha, so to speak. At the time I was a senior in high school and continuing my career as all-around-general-flunkie at City Grocery and Deli.

City Grocery, all four aisles of it, was owned by Kiefer and Aubrey Nell Mauldin. Aubrey Nell was the day-to-day manager. She possessed a really quality soft southern drawl and the biggest, brownest, puppy-dog eyes you ever saw.

One day, not long after her conversion to social activism, Lizzy stormed through the double doors of the store with her frizzy red hair in a big cloud trailing out behind her. She managed to convince Aubrey Nell that it was her civic duty to sponsor a contestant in the pageant, so as to give some poor, unfortunate horse-less girl a chance at Small Town Stardom.

So, when I went in to work that afternoon and punched the time clock outside Aubrey Nell’s office door, I heard her plaintive “Raay-chel?” from inside. (In actuality, she always streched my name into three syllables, but I don't know how to spell it that way.) I stuck my head in to inquire. She explained that she had to come up with someone to be in this contest so she could fulfill her duty as a sponsor and would I please, pleh-eease consider it?

What could I do? There is just no way to say no to Aubrey Nell once those puppy-dog eyes connect with yours and turn your willpower into mashed potatoes. I became the first ever Miss City Grocery and Deli. Yee-ha and amen.

Part 2 to follow...
We have an abundance of sky. Posted by Hello

Thursday, September 02, 2004

In Which I Demonstrate Mangerial Prowess

Marty: "He thinks this guy is some kind of a victim!"
Me: "Um-hum."
Marty: "He even has him listed in the computer as a widower!"
Me: "Hmmm."
Marty: "You can't divorce your wife, then kill her and call yourself a widower!"
Me: "Well, that's a good point."
Marty: "I'm just going to change it!" She stomps off, bristling with corrective righteousness.
Me: "Ok."

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Boxing Bill

After a long morning in meetings and interviews several of my friends were ready to let off some steam and we went out for lunch. One of the guys told mother-in-law stories about how she wants to have her cats cremated. That reminded another friend, Elyse, of a story.
Elyse married at age 20, for the first time. She married Bill. They had a son together - Eric.

The good times didn't last and he eventually became very physically abusive. After a long time, Elyse got it together and left Bill. Time passed and Eric grew up. He finally reconciled with his father, following his own marriage. Not long afterwards, Bill was diagnosed with cancer. He soon died, was cremated and Eric came to be in possession of the ashes.

Eric and his wife began having problems of their own, so Eric moved back home for a few weeks. He brought Bill with him. Bill owned property on a lake near Dallas, and Eric had planned to scatter Bill's ashes there. Before long, Eric made up with his wife and packed his bags to head back home. He came to the box. The Box O' Bill.

"Mom... can you please keep Dad for me until I can get back?"

"Oh no! Not me! No way!"

Before long, Eric left and Elyse was official caretaker of the box. She agreed to hold it until Eric could return and take it to the lake. Elyse's mother is a staunch catholic of the old school variety. She was most shaken by Bills earthly remains and would not sit in the room with him. She crossed her self furiously each time she had to walk past the box and begged Elyse to get rid of the candles and palm fronds surrounding the box. Elyse said she'd never had a dead guy in the living room before and thought the candles were a nice touch. She muttered something about expecting he would feel at home, surrounded by flames.

We all thought there was more to the story and waited expectantly. There was not. That was it. Bill's earthly remains were incorporated into the living room decor, patiently awaiting a final trip to the lake.

After a moment's silence, everyone at the table burst out laughing.

Are you trying to get Bill to Dallas without buying a plane ticket? Dad's a carry-on! Or is it carrion? Box o' Dad! Goin' round and round the conveyor belt. What if they lost your luggage? Think outside the box - that's what Bill's doing? Dad, squared! And finally, when the laughter lulled just a little, the quietest voice at the table chimed in. "This brings whole new meaning to the bumper sticker "Ex-Husband in Trunk"!