Saturday, February 22, 2014

Beware the Maguffins

My daughter blew her car up. I suppose it happens when you don't put fluids in the car. Everyone's allowed one car blow-up when they're learning, I guess. But, it's the second car she blew up. She's a serial car blower-upper. Her hobby. Girl seriously needs a cheaper hobby.

It happened on December the 13th of last year. Friday the thirteenth. I had to go bail her out on a snow-blowing night and drive her sisters home. Okay, Dad diligence done.

We were looking at about eight grand to fix it. Then, like a blessing from above, a miracle happened. A friend of my ex-wife's said he could do it for a thousand bucks. I threatened to name my next-born after him.


This "friend," I think, is laughing all the way to the bank.

We'll call this kid "Maguffin." Just in case he might come through one of these years.

Two months later, the car is still engine-free with the hood off. Collecting dust in my ex-wife's garage.

He keeps saying he'll be over the next day to finish the job. I haven't heard these many excuses since Bill Clinton talked his way out of an impeachment. One day the kid hocked his tools much to my frustration. Another time he claimed the ol' "sick grandma" excuse. Of course who could overlook the awesome "out of gas" routine. Then there's the weather.

For God's sake, I feel like a fool.

My brother says he hopes the Maguffin enjoyed his thousand dollars worth of drugs. I'm beginning to think that might be the truth.

Meanwhile, I'm carting my daughter around like it's grade school days again.

Beware "gifts" that look too good. They just might be a "Maguffin."

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Gah! Check out what Kansas has done now!

Prepare to cringe.

Kansas just passed a bill that allows business and government employees to refuse service to gay couples if it offends their religious beliefs. Our tax-paying money at work.

You believe that crap?

I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I live in Kansas. And Kansas is apparently hot damned and determined to throttle the distance between Church and State. For silly reasons, even.

These guys...

You know, I thought we were making strides toward a more tolerant country with several states passing gay marriage bills. Why it should even be open to government interference is beside me. It's a matter of individuals and love. Ludicrous. But still, I saw progress.

Then Kansas puts in a word.

Honestly, doesn't this seem unconstitutional? If I were to take a cue from Kansas government, it'd be a wicked world. I could legally refuse to talk to someone because their haircut offends me (Kansas, Home of the Mullet). Someone's breath is bad? Hey, see you in court, cleanliness is next to Godliness! What about the people who find Adam Sandler movies funny? I'm sorry, it offends my religious sensibilities. Take a full-on shot-gun blast for that (rampant gun hi-jinx are okay in Kansas as long as a gay person isn't behind the trigger). Dang ol' Kansas government will defend my sensitive religious sensibilities, they got my back.

It's more than two steps back, folks, it's a leap through time. What happened?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Jailbreak! The Shocking Conclusion of Post-Op Adventures With Mom

The day was here. Time to spring my mom out of the rehab center (and by now, we all know not to call it a "nursing home," right?). It felt like a jailbreak. And, really, the residents treated it as a prison. Gangs were formed with much animosity between them. My mom was smart. She aligned herself with the toughest broad in the joint. Practically held onto her belt-loop. I don't know what she paid for protection. Her servings of applesauce or something, I imagine.

I can envision the gang of little old ladies rolling down the hallway, snapping their fingers like "the Sharks" and splaying their jazz hands.

Anyway, we made a fast getaway. My mom didn't care about anything other than freedom, her eyes on the prize. As we left, I heard one cranky woman from the opposing gang exclaim, "he looks like he should be riding one of those Harleys." She meant me. Her, I won't miss so much.

As we passed the eaterie, the resident bird-caller left us with a farewell turkey gobble, a new bird she recently added to her menagerie. Her, I'll kinda miss.

But before Mom got the "all clear," we had one last hurdle to jump. She would be released only if a scan on her leg showed her recently developed blood clot had gone away. So on a particularly cold, blustery and snowy day, I carted Mom off to the hospital.

The technician, Kathy (we'll call her "Chatty Kathy") took an hour on the scan. In the meantime, we discovered she was a football fan, a grandmother of twins, had no use for horror films, and thinks all books should have uplifting religious messages. Then it came time for the results.

The blood clot was still there. My mom's hopes sunk. She caved, giving into depression. I'd never seen her so full of despair. So I moved Heaven and Earth to make sure she got home. Calls were made. Appointments scheduled. Pleas, half-truths, and the selling of my first-born's soul ensued. The doctor finally relented if she would go to the hospital every day to have her blood drawn and receive more anti-coagulant shots. It didn't matter to Mom that I'd have to travel an hour-and-a-half every day to take her to these appointments. And honestly? It didn't matter to me, either. She had her goal in sight: home. It was worth it to see her perk up again. Hope springs eternal.

Back to "jail" for the final outcome! Navigating the snowstorm, we reentered the Big House. The warden said that Mom wouldn't have to continue the shots, that her doctor was crazy. And they arranged for in-home nurse care to draw blood. Suddenly, after two weeks of griping about the nursing home (er, sorry, "supervised nursing facility"), Mom had a revelation. The rehab center knew what they were doing all along.

Well...that's my mom for you. Picking and choosing who's right to suit her needs.

Home! We were both so exhausted by our five hour ordeal, we both fell asleep. All was right with the world once again.

Mom's doing better now. She can't wait to drive. The surgeon gave his approval. Of course I objected because she can't see. She has Macular Degeneration. But my mom shot me down. I just need to make sure I'm nowhere near her while she's out "Magooing" all over the roads.

It's just a matter of time now before Mom's dancing up a storm again in Florida. Fly away, snow bunny, and dance the night away!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Tuckening Part #2: A New Mooning Rising

Contest time, gang! Okay, my friend, Meradeth Houston, and I were chatting. Came up with a fun new game.

I've created the absolutely worst title I could think of. "The Tuckening Part #2: A New Mooning Arising." I know, right? Gets the creative juices swirling.

Dust off your closet screenwriting talents. Give me a promo with actors. The lucky winner will receive a huge ol' "attaboy" or "attagirl." And a free copy of my newest book (but it's only .99 now, so geeze, don't be a cheap-skate) if you want it.

Here's my example (ahem):

The Tuckening Part #2: A New Mooning Rising:"

The Tucker is back. Just when the students at FreeBall High think they're safe, he returns. When they're not looking, shirts are tucked in from behind. Pants are pulled up. No one is safe. Pray you're not next. Could it be the cafeteria lady, always with a googly eye upon proper etiquette? Perhaps it's the janitor, one arm on a mop, the other wielding an axe. Tools of the trade. What about poor Brad, who years ago was humiliated by having his shirt tucked in by a complete stranger? A stranger who left him with the words, "take care of your appearance." Everyone's at risk. Nothing is as it seems. "The Tuckening Part #2: A New Mooning Rising" will take you places you've never been tucked before. A new direct-to-video starring Judd Nelson as Principal Risk. Featuring Roseanne Barr as the lunch lady and George Kennedy as Principal Vice.  Oprah as the President. Introducing Justin Bieber as the androgynous student. And Andy Dick as Detective Stone Hardrock.

See how simple that was? Go, gang, go! Let your freak flag fly! Now, tuck off!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

It's A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

Living in suburban Kansas is dangerous. We have bears. Couple of burly gay guys down the street. Well, they're not threatening, but still, we have bears.

Two houses down the street there's a little yappy dog, no bigger than a bowling ball. Squeaks all the time, won't shut up, you'd think his tail was on fire. To make matters worse, the dog's owners named it "Sassy." That's  reinforcing the worst behavior possible. Shall we call Charles Manson "spunky?" Same thing.

Neighbors are funny. You can't escape 'em. And you sure don't sign up for 'em. The beeyotch caddy-corner to me despises our dog because he barks on occasion. Doesn't stop her from squeaking her damn dog-toy constantly and cooing at her dog in baby-speak at the top of her lungs ("Who's a good girl? You are, that's who! Come here, sweetums! Mommy has a present for you!" On and on and on.).  "Captain America" behind the fence constantly barbeques in his T-shirt. When he really cuts loose, he brings out his speakers and cranks out some "Journey." His eight-track tape collection probably should be retired. On the other hand, "Party Animal's" awesome. 'Cause I never see her. I hear her once a month, shrieking like a banshee on her deck at three in the morning. That's okay, though. I'm forgiving. Part of being a member of suburbia.

Who I can't forgive are the neighbors across the street. For unknown reasons, the wife totally shuns us. Turns her back on us, ignores our greetings, pretends like we don't exist. Her husband (scary, hulking, shaved headed guy) "seems" nice enough, yet...something's weird.

Got me thinking. And that's always dangerous. What if the heinous woman across the street has a secret? A secret life. Something that's worth killing for.

My first adult thriller, Neighborhood Watch, is based on this premise. Yeah, it's me as the main character. That's why I didn't run it by my wife first. Don't know if she'll like it. But tales have to be told. I'm Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window watching the neighbors. Toss in a little Stepford Wives and Rosemary's Baby and we're set. Suburbia's creepy.

Bottom cross me, you're gonna' end up in a book.

I'm putting the teenage characters to bed. Turn off the lights, put the kids outside, and tuck in the cat. Thing's are gonna' get spooky.

Neighborhood Watch:

Now at an incredibly low price! Some chills to take off the winter's edge! Be there!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Breakfast With The Girls: Part #3 of Post-Op Adventures With Mom

Mom doesn't like going down to the eating arena at the rehabilitation joint (again, do NOT call it a "nursing home"). I suspect part of it is she doesn't want to admit she's like "the other ones." No one wants to face their advancing years. One of the reasons why she likes me to come to breakfast every day--she can eat and hide in her room with someone accompanying her. Avoiding the inevitable.

Imagine my surprise when, yesterday, I found her sitting at a table-full of other residents.

I have to admit I was out of my comfort zone. There aren't a lot of things in common I have with rehabilitating elderly folk. But I bit the bullet and sat down.

Immediately the table order fell into place. Just like prison, I imagine. Joan was the ring-leader. I liked Joan right away. Small, yet an intimidating presence, she brayed out for coffee. Her demands were instantly met.

My mom asked Joan how she got such fast service. She replied, "I'm Royalty, here." Again...a prison reply. But it was enough for me. I bowed down to her, believing in her Queenly status. Hell, I'd vote for her if Queen's were popularly elected. This woman kept her tiny chin up, encouraging others.

Then, I was introduced to Carol. Carol said nothing but offered me a nice smile. I assumed she couldn't hear, but I make stupid assumptions from time to time.

No one knew the last woman's name at the table. Fresh meat at the Big House. I stupidly introduced myself only to discover she was asleep. Couldn't tell at first, really. She sat rigid, just thought she had a stony demeanor. We'll call her "The Sleeping Gal."

Breakfast was delivered. Huzzah. Joan dug in, pronounced the "farmer's mix" as good. Mom did her best at a poached egg, cottage cheese and toast. Carol smiled. I think she liked her meal. The Sleeping Gal slept.

At a table behind us, a voice arose. "Why can't anyone bring me a Goddamn glass of water? Something? Anything? Where is everyone? It's a helluva' place no-one can bother to bring coffee..." It went on. Already uncomfortable, I was ready to rush to her rescue, but...

I didn't.

Joan intervened and said, "She's as mean as a junk-yard dog."

Carol finally piped up. "Therapy's good here."

But, aside from "Greek Chorus Carol's" comment,  I was still hung up on the "Junk-Yard Dog." Neglected or not, "Dog" has a right to be heard. To have her needs met. Part of me wanted to help her, part of me was terrified of her. Thought she might bite me. Had no idea what to do. My wheel-house broke down.

Finally, the flamboyant male aid (who my mom has a very conservatively wary eye on) came to her rescue. Thank God.

That's when I heard some of the staff chatting about "Dog." A mere ten feet away. One of the nurses flagrantly called her a "pain-in-the-ass." Derisive laughter was bandied about. They made fun of her. My new breakfast pals appeared uncomfortable, obviously having heard the insults. They said nothing, even Queen Joan. But I know they heard it. Grace under fire, they  sat in silence.

They handled it better than I did.

I couldn't believe it. I know negative shop-talk is natural within any business. It's part of life. But for a professional nurse to toss insults within hearing range--I'm supposing, under the presumption all old people can't hear--disgusted me. Saddened me.

These people are supposed to be professional caregivers.  Instead, they showed a complete lack of disrespect, treating these people like infants. Contempt,almost.

The elderly can't help it. And this nurse is going to be old some day. Who'll be laughing then, Nurse Eat-It?

We, as a collective whole, could take a cue from certain Asian cultures who respect the elderly. "Nursing homes" are considered an affront . These countries embrace the elderly, appreciate their wisdom and years of life, take care of them. With respect.


When my mom rolled off to rehab, I bid my adieus to my new breakfast buddies. Goodbye, Queen Joan, may you reign long and kick ass. So long, Greek Chorus Carol, I hope you continue to love therapy and chime in when absolutely necessary, you woman of few words. Good night, Sleeping Gal, I hope you sleep well and wake healed. And, most of all, I hope you receive that cup of coffee, Junk-Yard Dog.

I tossed off a "nice to meet you ladies, I'm sure I'll see you around."

Queen Joan regally responded, "We'll be here."

And I'll see them tomorrow. Oddly enough, I think I'm looking forward to it.