Category Archives: Humorous Column

The 12th Speaker

I have been in the drama business for quite a few years. I coach it for students in my school, I have seen my own daughters involved in it and I write drama pieces as well. I know how hard it is to break in.

I’ve seen my daughters through a lot of action, so far. I remember well the time Stefanie piled her then-blond hair up in a bouncy pony-tail and played the wide-eyed, original ditzy girl in a community play. It was one of my favorite performances and it was hysterical because that was so not her, so it meant she could act. I remember Tracie’s first part which required her to simply drop a pail and look astonished. I remember thinking, “Well, was it just me, or was she pretty good at that?” It wasn’t just me…the next thing I knew my little bucket-dropper had the lead in the Christmas pageant.

I’ve been through many enjoyable performances since then. I wasn’t aware, however, that the family performance tradition might take in another generation. My two grandsons had begun the rite of passage of singing in school programs before I knew it and I was missing them, one after another. Of, of course I got to see video of it, but neither boy looked like they had a future on the stage. The older one looked unenthused and the younger one appeared to be fairly hostile.

That was, until this summer. By some miracle of scheduling, I was able to see my grandsons for the first time in their program…an end-of-vacation-Bible school extravaganza, complete with wild, tie-dyed shirts and orange and yellow headbands. I was elated. The younger one was going to be doing some singing and actions and the older one was going to speak!

Some of the older students had the main parts in the Biblical story of Daniel and the three faithful who were tossed in the furnace. The part of King Nebuchadnezzar was played by a feisty young lady with a real feel for the dramatic flair (take it from an old drama coach). But I was excited for my grandson, Royce’s part.

He came out and danced and went through the actions and words of the songs, which went very well. I got loads of pictures, fighting all the other parents and grandparents to get just the right shot. I even got some shots of my younger grandson, less hostile than normal, as he, too, joined in the singing.

“Here comes his part,” I whispered to my husband, excitedly.

“What part is he playing?” asked the proud Mama snapping pictures of her little ones beside me.

“He is Speaker Number 12,” I announced proudly and just then, he stepped up and in ringing, clear tones pronounced his one line and then moved aside to allow Speaker Number 13 to speak.

“Did you hear that?” I asked my husband. “He spoke loudly and clearly and right on time.”

“He didn’t even use the microphone,” his grandfather said, bursting with pride. “He’s a natural.”

So now, I add to the memory of his mother as the ditzy blond and his aunt as the astonished bucket dropper, the memory of my little orange and yellow flame-covered thespian in the memorable role of “Speaker Number 12.” You don’t think it’s too soon to book my tickets for his Broadway debut, do you?

 

 

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Directions Dilemma 

My grandmother used to joke that it was a good thing that there is only one way to go when we are born, or there are those of us who would get lost on the way out. This joke was never particularly funny to me because I am one of those who would most definitely get lost.

On my honeymoon, I tried to read a map and guide Roy through Kansas City. The result of that trip was the first fight of our married lives. Fights over travel and directions have continued apace with every travel adventure we have taken. Most people fight about the charges on the credit card or the money spent on shoes or guns. Not Roy and I. Our fights frequently come from the fact that I told him to turn left when he should have turned right and now we are in a neighborhood which looks like a dangerous place to stop, roll down a window and admit we’re lost!

Maps were the original field of my inabilities. In final checks before we set off, Roy would say: Gas? Check. Suitcases? Check. Cash? Check. Map right side up? Check. I would have been much more insulted by this last instruction except that he was justified. I once guided him halfway through Denver before I discovered I was holding the map backwards and we were traveling pretty much in circles through heavy Denver traffic!

The introduction of GPS to our lives has improved things, but I find I can still mess up in giving directions even then. GPS and Google maps both speak directions, but Roy always asks me questions, anyway. “What direction is the next turn?” he will ask, wishing to be in the proper lane to react quickly. “Right,” I reply, pointing for good measure. “Okay,” comes his response, “you said right and you’re pointing left. Which is it?”

“Sorry,” I answer, “it’s my directions dyslexia kicking in. We turn left.”

“Now you’re saying left and pointing right,” he says, through gritted teeth. “Oh wait, there’s our street and we missed it.”

“Recalculating,” intones the GPS.

This year, we went to Germany and Roy wanted to go to places where his family had originated. That meant taking a car and going off some of the main tourist paths through the country. We took the car from the central train station in Brussels, Belgium, which didn’t look too bad until we contemplated driving through it.

“There’s a GPS on the car,” the young man told us with heavily accented English.

“Oh good,” Roy replied, “because our little Garmin won’t connect over here.”

“Yes, but don’t follow its instructions until you get out of the Ring,” he continued. “You want to drive out onto the Ring and then follow the GPS after you leave the inner city.”

We had no idea what he was talking about and judging from the expression on his face, the minute we left, he turned to his co-worker and made a bet as to whether we would have our accident while still in “the Ring” or if we would crash the minute we drove out of the train station.

Well, we made it to “the Ring”. The trick we couldn’t figure out was how to get out of the Ring. We just kept running in circles in heavy traffic, while the car’s GPS intoned in perfect British accents, “Take a slight right and then turn right.” It gave no distances, no road names and no clue as to which of myriad “rights” that were all along the street was the correct “slight right and right turn.”

In desperation, Roy pulled into a small side street and got out the Google Maps on his phone and plugged in the directions to southern Germany. The map loaded up and instructed, “Continue on this street for 1 kilometer.”

Feeling more confident, Roy put the car in gear and asked, “Which direction does it want me to turn up here?”

“Turn left,” I said, pointing to be certain and of course, I was pointing right.

“Take a slight right and then turn right,” intoned the car’s GPS.

It was a long drive through Germany.

 

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The “yearly” physical 

I know that they are important. After all, all the television doctors got together in a commercial to tell us that regular medical checkups are important. And when Alan Alda puts on his Hawkeye doctor face, I try to listen.

The problem, of course, is that for the last five years I have found one reason after another not to have a “yearly” physical. You’ve heard the reasons: I’m too busy; I’m not sick; I can’t afford it; It’s just too creepy. And then there’s my reason: If I go, they might find something wrong with me and want to treat it. It doesn’t matter that even if they didn’t find it, it would still be there and getting worse…I have spent five years believing I can’t be sick if I don’t go in for a checkup.

Finally, it was time. I am getting old, my knees are aching, I haven’t gotten the required vaccinations and worst of all, all the doctors I knew before have all retired and when I fill out forms I have no family doctor’s name to put down. Reluctantly, I called for an appointment. Unfortunately, they were able to schedule one.

Of course, for the month that I waited, I obsessed about it every day. I was sure they would find something direly wrong with me and I would then be confined to my bed, so I had to get everything done before I went. I nearly killed myself with household projects.

Finally, the day arrived. Adding to my anxiety level, I sat down in a waiting room where the news was on. Everyone knows that the news is no way to reduce your anxiety. I was alone in the room, so I turned it off. Five minutes later, it switched back on…by itself. Another thing that does not reduce your anxiety is ghosts.

I was called in before I could get out my ghost-o-meter. First thing they wanted me to do? Step on the scale. Great. The darn thing actually groaned when I stepped on it. I’ve been comforting myself that my scale was just not accurate..weighing too heavy. According to the doctor’s scale, my scale is being generous.

They handed me a gown that didn’t quite cover and a questionnaire to determine if I’m depressed. Well, of course I’m depressed! I’m at the doctor’s office for a physical! Duh!

Blood pressure and blood work were next. It is hard to maintain a really good blood pressure when you have that cuff strangling your arm…the arm that was just jabbed for blood, mind you. Then I was treated to a dizzying set of numbers and for each one, my response was the same: Is that good?

The actual exam was just as fun and invasive as I had anticipated and they ask the most ridiculous question in the world: Okay, now we’re just going to (you fill in the blank with any procedure). Are you ready? My answer? “Of course not! Just get it over with.”

The worst part, of course, is the additionally scheduled tests they want. Mammograms have always been a particular favorite of mine. “When do you want us to schedule your mammogram?” the nurse, inquires, holding pen over paper.

Let’s see: they’re going to smash one of the most delicate parts of my body between two paddles (for want of a better name), twist it closed until my eyes are leaving their sockets and then instruct, “Don’t move.” When do I want to do that? How about the twelfth of never?

Thankfully, my physical is done (except for the mammogram) and all that’s left is to wait for the results of the tests. The doctor assured me that so far it looks like I am in excellent condition: blood pressure, cholesterol and other blood work were excellent; the exam found nothing unusual, so I’m hoping for good results overall. I’m at that point now where I am feeling relieved that I went for the physical and good about myself for not throwing a fit over all the vaccinations.

However, for the next year, when Alan Alda puts on his Hawkeye doctor face, I’m going to tell him exactly where he can stick his advice…and it’s somewhere on his person!

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Signs that I am not in the United States…

It has been an eventful couple of weeks for me. For only the second time in my life, I was what you would technically refer to as “abroad.” All that means is that I spent two weeks in Germany and I can tell you it is a different world from my life in the United States. Some things better and some things worse were the result of my observations during this vacation, but I’d like to share with you some signs which told me I was  definitely not in the United States.

First, there is the bathroom. I know I’m not in the United States because I walk into a bathroom only after I agree to pay and then pass through a turn style. In addition, I have only paid and used this bathroom after a search of several blocks to find one. When I am in the bathroom, I have to worry about having two levels of flushing and I go through the stress of wondering  if I pressed the right one! When it’s easier to hold it, than to go through the stress of the “WC”, then I know I’m somewhere other than the United States.

I know I’m not in the United States when I feel compelled to begin every conversation with “Do you speak English?” To the credit of the German people, they are remarkably conversant in English, but inevitably, my question was answered with “Ya, a little bit.” A little bit was anywhere from those few words to a fluency in English that put mine to shame. Just once, however, I did run into a woman who could speak no English. Since she was the clerk in the train station and I was lost…not in the United States… this was a problem.19429656_1534105623294529_3039647992177886607_n

And this brings me to another thing that tells me I’m not in the United States. I traveled a lot by train. In Europe, the train is a popular method of getting around and the people there are very easy with it. I find it unsettling that I must find the proper train and I will be allowed to board without anyone checking my ticket. Tickets are not collected until after the train leaves the station. I spent most of my train trips in a panic that I was on the wrong train and on at least one occasion, that was the case. Then, there were the others in even worse shape than me. “Pardon me, do you speak English?” I was approached by one worried passenger, ticket in hand. Then, before I answered, she continued, “Do you know if this is train the 1501?” Not wishing to appear as ignorant as I really was, I smiled apologetically, pointed at myself and said, “Sprechen da Deutsch.” That’s something I definitely wouldn’t do in the United States.

I know I’m not in the United States because of the “Nos.” By this, I mean things that I am used to that they don’t have…no water, no ice, no hurry, no air conditioning, no fans, no window screens, no chocolate and sugar sweets. The last one was the worst. I would have given a great deal to go into a store anywhere and see a KitKat on the shelves. As it was, I couldn’t find anything that was recognizable and the ingredients were all in German. Add to that the fact that soda came in 8-ounce bottles and was referred to as “German coke,” and you’ll see the dilemma for a sugar freak like me. However, on reflection, the Europeans may have this one right.

No water and no ice go together. Water also came in small, 8 ounce glass bottles (or the European equivalent).And  if you were not careful to ask for “still” water, you would end up with a mineral water that was as pleasant for this spoiled American to drink as Alka-seltzer! They use ice in nothing. For me, I’ll forego the liquid if I can still have the ice. For two weeks, I looked for water everywhere, suffered with no ice, and sweated out what little liquid I had in the heat, since there were no air conditioners. Now, I have long said the United States keeps air conditioners ridiculously low,  but NO air conditioning was not pleasant either! Windows in hotels opened and contained no screens. This bothered me, but I’d rather battle bugs than have no air moving.

My final clue that I was not in the United States had to do with restaurant dining. Food was abundant and very filling. So much so that I could seldom finish a plate. When the waiters would retrieve it they would shake their heads solemnly at me and intone, “Not guut?” They also didn’t believe in a speedy conclusion. They would clear the food and leave you sitting there…and sitting there…and sitting there. Apparently, we in the United States finish our food and leave the restaurant too quickly. There, people linger over coffee or drinks or cigarettes (the summer means all dining is out of doors).  Anytime I grew impatient and asked for the bill, they all looked so sorry for the boorish American with no appreciation for what a quiet time over the table could offer…they were right.

And of course, no conversation about being in Europe is complete without talking about paying that restaurant bill. Cash only…they didn’t like credit cards—in fact, they trouble swiping them when they would use them. Not only cash, but in the smallest common denominator. Each waiter carried their own cash pouch for paying the bill and they encouraged you to pay in as close to correct change as possible. In fact, one young lady went so far as to look in Roy’s wallet as he opened it to get money out and request specific bills.

There were many ways in which I was charmed by the German people I met, but there is a definite difference between their methods and those in the United States. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to use the bathroom for free and then sit with my tall glass of still water on ice and have the air conditioning blow directly on me. Because I am now in the United States!

 

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Painting myself into the corner

It’s been at least 8 years since I have painted in my living room and kitchen. It’s been even longer since I painted the ceilings in the upstairs. You forget a lot during that time period…like how hard it was to do the painting myself and how much the aging process can affect you..strength and ability-wise.

Nevertheless, it had to be done. I went to the store and purchased the paint and I didn’t let it bother me that those cans were a lot heavier than I remembered. I bought paint brushes and some roller pads and determined to do the job.

Painting the ceiling was definitely the worst. I don’t reach up over my head well; I don’t climb ladders either, anymore, so I had to rely on a roller attached to my broom handle. This allowed me to paint from the floor, but it did make control of the flow difficult. I would roll and roll and roll to make sure I had completely covered an area and then, because of white on white in questionable lighting, I would discover that I had missed spots. When I got done or at least I was finished, I took the paint pan out onto the fancy front steps my husband had built, tripped and slopped paint all over and you know what? That paint covered the new steps perfectly…and it wasn’t inclined to come off.

The living room and hallway were next. I took down all pictures and filled all nail holes. Then I did the edges. I hate edging more than anything…but I do  know of at least one person who loves to edge because, they “love the challenge of it.” I say, if that is what challenges you, perhaps you should go out and trim the grass with a tweezers!

Once I got going with the roller, the painting went really fast. There was that unfortunate moment when I was bending over to get the bottom of one side of the hallway and got the bottom of my posterior with the wet paint on the other side! I also bent over too far and lost control of the roller as I stood up. My living room floor looked like it had the yellow measles! After crawling around for ten minutes frantically wiping up the spots, I proceeded to the last spot, taking the last bit of paint in the can. Celebration!

When I went to clean the tools, I tried to remove the paint cover from the roller and it would not come off. I tried to pull it off with a plastic bag over it. It wouldn’t budge. I gave a mighty pull, the bag slipped, and I ran my hand all down the paint cover, squeezing out a lot more paint, which poured over my hand, up my arm and into my sleeve. I looked like I had yellow fever on my right side for a week!

I gave up on the kitchen for now, so it’s just sitting there, prepared for painting but not done. My grandsons were visiting at my house and looked at the white, putty spots and the edging tape everywhere.

“Grandma was doing some painting,” I said, as they examined the kitchen solemnly.

“I think you should try again,” said the six-year-old seriously. “You missed a few spots.”

“Yeah, Grandma, try again,” echoed the four-year-old.

Darn kids. What do they know? I like the spotty look in the kitchen. I may keep it that way!

 

 

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Diary of a Wimpy Movie-Goer

I always go to a movie on Saturday night. It’s an unwritten rule that if we are at home for the weekend, we go to a movie on Saturday night. I’m explaining this very carefully to you so that you will understand why I went to Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

I am well aware that it is based on the books of the same name and I am also well aware that it is intended for a middle school audience. But it was Saturday night…and we always go to a movie on Saturday night…and we had already seen the other movies at the theater.

I tried to ignore the fact that we were the oldest people there by 50 years. I also tried to ignore the fact that the previews for coming attractions had all the appeal of a kiss on the lips from my behind-licking dog.

The movie featured people who walked out of their black and white drawings and became a submissive father who can’t even tell his wife that he doesn’t have a week off; a mother who appeared to be high on life and whose main ambition was to remove the pacifier of technology from her family for a week; an elder son who could only be the antagonist of the piece with his goth hair and fixation on his band, the Loded Diper (it took me a while, but I got it); and a spoiled youngest child with a real pacifier fixation.

The star, of course, was the middle child, Greg, who kept landing in impossible situations like helping his younger brother win a pig at a random county fair, and also finding himself hiding in a shower while the man on the toilet outside the curtain was voiding his bowels, one suggestive splash at a time.

The older brother chowed down something that looked like batter-fried sticks of butter (four of them) and then proceeded to puke up something green that floated in the air on the high speed gravity ride before landing full in the face of the man next to him. It was at this point that I quit eating my popcorn…it’s still sitting in the theater, next to my unfinished drink.

The movie did have its clever moments…probably all lost on the hysterically giggling little girl somewhere behind me and many others in the theater who are not familiar with the work of Alfred Hitchcock. The extremely muddy Greg is showering (with his clothes on) in a strange motel room, when the actual owner of the room comes in and rips the shower curtain down with the accompanying “eek, eek, eek” music which made “Psycho” famous. There was even a camera shot of mud flooding down the drain in lieu of the blood from the Hitchcock classic. Then, later, Greg is attacked by a flood of birds he has tantalized with a bag of cheese curls as a nod to the Hitchcock thriller, “The Birds.”

The movie eventually ground its way to a close and the middle-schoolers were quite delighted, judging by the laughter. It was as I was sitting there, wondering about leaving that I recalled my father’s assessment of a movie he went to once that was much more indecent than he anticipated. “I didn’t need a bag over my head going in, but I sure wish I could have had one to keep people from seeing me leave.” If I had thought for one minute the popcorn bag would have fit over my head, I’d have walked out wearing a salt and butter hat. As it was, I had to leave with my face ducked down behind my upturned collar.

So, that is the story of my trip to the movies. I realize that, like the boy in the story, I am a little wimpy because I went to a middle-school movie rather than staying home and reading a book or something. Judge me if you wish. As for the movie…I think it’s pretty good. That is, if you like deep fried sticks of butter eaten by weak-stomached cell-phone addicts. If not, proceed at your own risk!

 

© Jackie Wells-Fauth and Drops In the Well, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Wells-Fauth and Drops In The Well with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Have some teriyaki sauce with that apple braid

Last week, I went to the grocery store, as usual. I bought a dozen eggs, three cans of tomato sauce, some cinnamon and some teriyaki sauce for stir fry. I came home and opened my food cupboard doors and tried to put these items in (except the eggs) and they came flying back out, along with a number of other items already in the cupboard, including tomato sauce, cinnamon and teriyaki sauce. The eggs, I put in the refrigerator…on top of two other cartons of eggs.

Roy picked up the two bottles of cinnamon spice from the floor and asked, “Why did you buy more of things you already have? They won’t fit in the cupboard as it is.”

“That’s the problem,” I began defensively, “I don’t have enough cupboard space and that means I don’t know what I have, so I buy more of it. I should really have a pantry.”

“If we had a pantry, you’d have enough stuff in it to survive a nuclear holocaust and the zombie apocalypse,” he predicted. “Clean out these cupboards and use some of what we have.”

I threw a package of butterscotch pudding at his retreating back. It’s okay, I could spare it since I have four others and that one was expired anyway.

I’ve always had a reputation as a bit of a hoarder, but it’s really only because I’m disorganized. Without telling Roy that he was right, I decided to go ahead and clean those cupboards and get an inventory. That way, I could plan meals around what I have. Makes sense, doesn’t it? Cupboards were cleaned and the first meal from the contents of it was on the table that evening.

“What’s this?” Roy said, approaching the table with caution. “I smell…well, I can’t really decide what I smell.”

“I made a little sauce for the chicken,” I told him proudly. “I made it with the ingredients of the cupboard and a few eggs…I seem to have a lot of eggs.”

We sat down to the meal and Roy took several manful bites before he put down his knife and fork in some haste.

“Okay, I’m not sure what’s in your sauce, but the flavors don’t seem to be working together,” he began, feeling his way cautiously through this food mine field.

“I used powdered sugar, dry brown rice, brown sugar, teriyaki sauce and pumpkin pie spice,” I said. “It’s a daring combination.”

Before I was done giving him the list, he was up and scraping his plate in the garbage. “Why in the world would you use a combination like that?” his face was screwed up in distaste.

“I had three bags of brown rice, five bottles of teriyaki sauce, a container and three more bags of brown sugar and eight of those containers of pumpkin pie spice,” I answered unhappily, adding, “You said use what I have.”

“And the powdered sugar?” he asked testily, patently ignoring my attempt to shift the blame onto him. “Why did you put that in?”

“I have three bags in the cupboard and about eight more in the freezer,” I said, counting on my fingers, “I could coat the entire driveway with a layer of powdered sugar.”

“Maybe you should,” he said through gritted teeth as he made himself a peanut butter sandwich…using the only jar of peanut butter I had.

“Oh, no! I need some to frost the apple braids we are having for dessert,” I answered brightly.

“Apple braids! One of those things will feed eight people. Oh, let me guess, you have a lot of them.”

I opened the freezer and two packages of the apple braid fell out, “I counted seven of them up here and I haven’t looked in the basement freezer.”

“Well, at least we’ll get a powdered sugar frosting, that’s normal anyway,” he sighed, looking them over as they sat on the counter. “What are those lumps in the frosting?”

“Frozen corn,” I answered. “The freezer’s pretty full too and I have six bags of the corn.”

Now, I don’t need your criticism, dear readers…I need you to take some basil leaves and sage off my hand…I’ve got a little extra!

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