Monday, October 30, 2006

"Somewhere, Over the Interstate..."

* * *
Here I stand in ruby slippers,
Three times takes me home, I'm free...
Kicking out of that prison, I am free...
Singing those words of wisdom, let it be...
Nobody gonna put the blues inside of me
("Free", Faith Hill)

Sigh.... Some days it just doesn't pay to get up out of bed, you know? Or to get into the Jeep.

Do you ever have those days when nothing goes right? When everything you touch turns to crap? I do. Frequently. Especially in my job as a Road Nurse. Sometimes things get so crazy and bizarre--- and I become so bewildered and frustrated--- that I absolutely don't know WHAT ELSE to do but stand there, scratching my head in stupidity,while crying out in agitation to the cosmos: "What In The Hell? " If anybody had ever told me when I was young that I'd end up spending years on the roads driving a Jeep while also juggling food, balancing cell phones on my shoulder, running away from mean bulls, having serious conversations with goats, meeting other Road Nurses at fast food joints, photographing the countryside---all while pondering The Meaning of Life Behind The Steering Wheel...... I never would have believed it.

Although life on The Road is never dull, it can really be a pain in the ass sometimes. I can never really let down my guard. Because just when I think I can relax and "coast", along will come a situation so unusual or ludicrous that it just completely flaps my gizzards or tries my patience. Something will go wrong and it will be necessary for me to really "think fast" in order to get out of whatever dilemma is in front of me. It's not like when I used to work in the ER and had co-workers to help out in difficult situations. On the road, there's nobody but the lone Road Nurse.

Maybe that's why I have the odd habit of collecting "ruby slippers". I "collect" several things, among them knitting yarns, small clocks, and other what-nots, but one of my stranger habits is collecting ruby slippers. Some people think I collect them simply because I like pretty shoes. Or else they think I'm strange. (Ok, I am strange-- but that's besides the point.)

But I wonder, sometimes, if it's not so much that I like ruby slippers or am strange--- but more a matter of there being a deeper reason for this behavior. Like maybe it's my subconcious crying out for a quick method for getting out of trouble spots, if you know what I mean.

What I wouldn't give sometimes for a sure-fire method of "instant escape"...

In other words, I wish I could do like what Glenda, the Good Witch of the North, instructed Dorothy to do when she wanted to get out of Oz--which would be to click one's heels together three times while saying: "There's no place like home, there's no place like home...."--- and then WHOOSH, to be suddenly transported out of trouble and back to the safety of one's home in Kansas...(or for me, my beloved home here in Podunk.)

Wouldn't it be GREAT if something like that DID exist???

I was pondering this issue today as I drove out of town, headed for my day's work of seeing various patients. I drove down Main Street, admiring the scenery while wishing I had a Glenda, the Good Witch of The North, to instruct me on how to use my many ruby slippers to get myself out of the myriad of difficult moments I encounter on The Road. And mind you, I was wishing for a pair that actually WORKS-- since none of the pairs I've collected so far have ever helped me out of a jam even one little iota. (But despite this discouraging fact, I remain ever dogged in my determination to keep looking until I find just the RIGHT pair of magical ruby slippers. )

But as I drove the Jeep today, pondering to myself about this whole issue--I realized, dejectedly, that the high-falutin' Glenda the Good Witch of The North most likely wouldn't ever come around Greater Podunk. No, she probably doesn't bother herself about small, Texan towns---especially since people around here are pretty tall and she's used to dealing with shrimpy Munchkins. And nobody around here would know what in the hell to do if they ever saw somebody like Glenda the Good Witch of The North arrive in a giant blue bubble on Main Street decked out in her glittery ballgown, fairy sprinkles in her hair, and waving her stardust-sprinkled magic wand around.

No, we've probably got our own Podunk Witch--and her name's probably something along the lines of Joleen, The Hick Witch of the South, or something like that. And she probably doesn't arrive in bubbles, wear glittery gowns, or wave a pretty magic wand around....

Nope--I'll be willing to bet that Joleen, the Hick Witch of the South, would most likely arrive in a Chevy Pick-Up Truck wearing Cruel Girl blue jeans, a NASCAR tee-shirt, and waves a Walmart pot-holder around instead of a magic wand. (Whether or not the pot-holder is magic, I wouldn't know. )

Where was I? Oh yes, I was "pondering" things as I drove out of town....

Anyway, I was pondering about these things today as I slowly drove out of town, headed towards my day's patient visits out in ranch country. I was somewhat preoccupied with food because I just started a new diet. And the whole time I was driving towards the outskirts of town, it seemed like everything I saw was a reminder of the food I can't have---and it aggravated the heck out of me.

First I passed Taco Bell where their billboard proclaimed: "It's Back! The Cheesy Gordita Crunchwrap!"

Thanks a lot, Taco Bell. I hadn't really been in the mood for Mexican food until I saw that proclamation. (Not that Taco Bell is real Mexican Food--it's not even Tex-Mex food.) (Hell, I don't know what kind of food it is, but when you're on a diet it seems like the nectar of the gods.....)

Then a block later I passed Kentucky Fried Chicken, whose billboard proclaimed: "Back by Popular Demand! Popcorn Chicken!"

I don't like their Popcorn Chicken. It's all batter and no chicken. But when I'm on a diet, I crave carbohydrates and could eat a whole damn meal on just BATTER alone.....

Then a block later I passed McDonalds, and their stupid billboard blasted: "The McRib is Back!"

But I never blinked an eye at this one. It didn't tempt me in the least. Because I know why they have to advertise that it's "back" after not having been around for awhile--and that is because nobody orders the stupid thing. I'm not trying to be ugly to McDonalds, but I'm afraid that the plain truth is that there's nothing even vaguely "ribbish" about a McDonald's McRib. It's not rib meat and it's not on rib bones. In fact, I think the only people who ever order a McRib around here are tourists fresh off the Interstate who have no earthly idea that the McDonald's McRib is a complete insult to a real rack of Texan beef ribs. Sorry, McDonalds--but as they say in hickese, "that McRib ain't right."

I thought I'd escaped all the fast-food temptation but then I passed the local church. And I noticed that the pastor of the church had changed their weekly "saying" on the church's own billboard. And it irked me no end to see that this week's saying is "Forbidden Fruits Create Many Jams".

Suddenly the gordita crunchwraps, the popcorn chicken, and the rib ideas flew right out of my head--- and I found myself craving some good, thick jam--like Smuckers Strawberry Preserves. (Have you ever had Smuckers Strawberry Preserves dolloped on top of Bluebell Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream?--now THAT is a treat--yummm.....)

But I didn't want to blow my diet and do something rash---like stop at Dairy Queen or something--so I stepped on the gas and took off down the road towards ranch country, vowing that I'd think of something other than the foods I can't have on my diet.

I thought again about my collection of ruby slippers. A useless collection, really--because the sad fact is that none of them actually work the way I want them to--transporting me instantly out of disaster--like the ones Dorothy had in the movie. But I have to admit that even if they did work, I never have the dang things with me when all hell breaks loose. (Who thinks to bring ruby slippers with them when they leave for work in the morning?)

And another thing that gripes me---is the pure plain fact that I actually DO seem to be the kind of idgity person who frequently exhibits a need for something like magical ruby slippers. And I just don't think it's fair---not fair indeed--to be such a sort. You have no idea how many times I berate myself for the fact that my life seems to go haywire on a regular basis.

Other people's lives seem so stable to me. Lots of people I know never seem to have a "disaster". They seem to live and work without ever having a reason to say "dammit!" or the F-word. How they accomplish this feat, I'll NEVER know. Sometimes I think that life just isn't FAIR.

And life definitely wasn't fair today--in fact, it turned very "unfair" in a hurry.

I had to catheterize a little old lady for a particular test---not a pleasant thing for a patient to endure. And the poor little thing has back problems and arthritis, and thus had a very difficult time holding still in a rather... er.. undignified position long enough for me to perform the whole deal. It took some persuading to convince her that the doctor had a very valid reason for ordering this test. And not only was I supposed to do the catheterization to see how much pee was in her bladder after she goes the "natural way", but I was also supposed to collect enough pee during the procedure to take to the lab for an analysis.

Believe me when I tell you that this procedure is also no fun for the nurse involved, having to perform a tricky procedure on a squirming patient-- on a regular bed in the dim lighting of a private home, where the nurse is without the benefit of an elevated hospital guerney and bright spotlights. My back KILLS me when I have to bend over these low beds, fiddling with difficult equipment in impossible-to-open packages and complaining patients with stiff joints.

But it had to be done. So I got the patient ready and assembled my equipment. I was very nervous because the patient's stupid weeny dog, Skeeter, sat nearby, glowering at me with his huge doggy teeth barred. He looked as if he was just POSITIVE that I was going to hurt his owner.

I started the procedure. Aand it took a little time. But after 45 minutes of sweating, cajoling, wrangling, fiddling, false starts, and contorting myself in bizarre positions in order to reach for supplies as I needed them---while also casting frequent, nervous glances towards a growling Skeeter--I finally got the procedure done, collecting just barely enough pee for the lab sample.

"Tah-dah!" I exclaimed triumphantly, holding the plastic container of the glittering pee aloft so the patient could see it. "I'm done--and I got enough pee!"

"Lord Jesus, I thought you'd NEVER get finished with this unpleasantness!" the irritated patient stated. "Now will you kindly let me up out of this bed? It is just flat out unladylike for me to be in this state--especially right in front of Skeeter. He was raised delicately, you know."

I turned to set the container of pee down on the night stand so that I could help the patient up. I was so excited about getting the pee that I didn't realize that Skeeter had crept up behind me. And to my everlasting mortification, as I turned.....

I tripped over that dratted dog....

and the container of pee flew out of my hands, halfway across the bedroom, striking the draperies with a huge splash, sending sprays of pee in all directions.

I stood there, shocked, staring in horror as the pee dripped down the draperies, towards the damn floor. And I knew what I had to do.....

"There's no place like home, there's no place like home...."

But dammit--it didn't work. And the day didn't get any better.

Onwards I plunged. I had to go to another ranch to draw blood from one of the toughest old farmers around. Unfortunately, this tough old farmer has a terrible fright of needles. I mean, we're talking about a rugged man who has been run over by a tractor, had both legs broken in a bull-riding accident, routinely twists barbed wire together with his bare hands to repair cattle fencing, ate bugs when he was an Army Ranger in the military, and is a regular roustabout in the local rodeo.

But he's frightened of needles.

"Now lookie here, Jesse honey," I wheedled, as he backed away from me in his dining room where I'd set up my blood-drawing equipment, "You've just got to let me get this dang blood."

We couldn't use the kitchen for the procedure because that's where Jesse's wife was bottle-feeding one of their new calves, to the complete fascination of their three dumb hound dogs. Also in the kitchen were three new baby chicks, who Jesse's wife was keeping warm by the stove in a box. I could smell some chocolate chip cookies baking. And I was supremely glad that all the animals were in there rather than in the dining room where I was trying to work-- because I wanted to hurry up and get this procedure over with so I could spend some time angling for an offer of some of those chocolate chip cookies.....

I proudly showed Jesse the tiny little device I was going to draw his blood with. "See? I brought you the most tee-ni-niest little 'butterfly' needle that we've got. It ain't even as big as a minute."

"I don't know, Nurse," he wavered, cowering in the corner. "It don't look that tee-ni-ny to me....and it's still a needle after all--and I surely do hate needles, I surely do."

"I'm tellin' you the dadgum truth, Jesse," I whined, pulling out one of the dining room table chairs for him to sit in. "Would you just sit down? Hell, it would hurt MORE to get bitten by a red ant than for me to stick you with this little pissant thing. Now sit down and let's get it over with. Geez, your skin is so darn tough from the outdoors that I doubt you'll even know what's going on till I tell you it's all over."

"Oh, alright, nurse," he said finally, sitting down with a resolute sigh. "I guess what's gotta be done has gotta be done." He gritted his teeth, squeezed his eyes shut, and bravely offered his arm for me to procede.

If I do say so myself, and after years of drawing people's blood, I am pretty good at it and am known for being a "good stick". Some of my buddy Road Nurses call me the "fastest stick in the West". And good ole Jesse's veins looked like the proverbial "garden hoses"--a blood drawer's dream---big, smooth, close to the surface--just ripe for the stickin'. I knew it would only take me about three seconds to quickly and efficiently obtain a nice blood sample.

And as I stuck him, I smugly envisioned how happy he'd be when it was all over, realizing that it had really been no big deal after all....and how I'd bask in the glory as he profusely thanked the patient nurse who got his blood without hurting him in the least....and then I'd bask in the admiration of his wife as she rewarded my skill with some of those home-baked chocolate chip cookies -- whose calories wouldn't count on my diet because everybody knows that it doesn't count on a diet when you accept a cookie-offer out of pure good manners-- because of course it's rude to refuse an offer of chocolate chip cookies baked by your patient's good wife-- (and the calories also "don't count" if you eat them standing up as you're walking towards your Jeep)....

But then, right before my very eyes, Jesse turned a beautiful shade of pale--and keeled over onto the dining room floor in a dead faint.

The loud THWUMP of Jesse's body hitting the floor alarmed everyone who was in the kitchen. And as I stared in horror at a pale Jesse lying on the floor, his three hound dogs, "Blue", "Blackie" and "Flap Jack" came charging into the dining room, barking and baying for all they were worth, knocking me flat on my ass in their stampede to get to Jesse where they began to madly lick his face.

On their heels was the baby calf who Jesse's wife had been bottle-feeding, bawling like he'd just been bee-stung, and he promptly trampled me further into the floor as he ran across the dining room---

And the bawling calf was followed by Jesse's wife, who ran into the dining room in a panic, screaming "What in the Sam Punchinelly happened?" at the top of her lungs--as she trampled me yet again....

And bringing up the rear were the three baby chicks--but I will allow here that it really didn't hurt at all when they trampled me....

And I knew what I had to do.....

"There's no place like home, there's no place like home"......

And dammit--it didn't work again. I just didn't have the right "magic".

Gloomily, I told myself that after a horrible morning like that, I would need some sort of a "break" from the action, if only to re-charge myself for the afternoon's visits.

So I called Belinda on the cell phone and we agreed to take a quick lunch break at the Sonic. I picked her up so that we could go in just the one vehicle. (We frequently like to grab a lunch break on the road ever so often in order to experience the novelty and joy of unfettered gossipping in person-- instead of racking up a zillion minutes on the cell phone like we do the rest of the time.) (And Sonic is the perfect place to gossip ourselves merrrily into oblivion, since we can sit in a private vehicle without the worry of nosy eavesdroppers. )

I drove us to the Sonic and pulled around to the back area so that nobody could spy my Jeep from the road. As I inched my way into an open slot, angling to get my window as close to the ordering loudspeaker box as possible, I heard a vague scraping noise followed by a jolt.

"You just hit the loudspeaker box," Belinda remarked as I brought the Jeep to a full stop.

"I most certainly did not," I retorted indignantly. "That was just the tires hitting the curb or something."

"You did SO hit the loudspeaker box," she argued. "See there? You knocked the whole corner off the shelf where the debit-card slot is."

With dread, I peered closely at where she was pointing. And to my extreme consternation, I saw that I had indeed knocked the corner off the shelf where the debit-card slot was. In fact, I had knocked about 7 1/2 inches off that shelf.

EEGADS, I had knocked off a piece of the Sonic!

Quickly, I searched my thoughts for a solution--and found myself wishing insanely that there was such a thing as Ruby Tires for the Jeep...

"There's no place like home, there's no place like home".....

But it didn't work, naturally, because the dang Jeep doesn't have Ruby Tires--and so I did the next best thing. I quickly backed up and left. Quietly. And drove us over to Taco Bell and hid for awhile in their back parking lot.......

(I've been rather nervous since then, wondering... um...if anybody saw that little incident.... )

(Wondering exactly how much it is that replacement shelves would cost for a debit-card slot shelf at the Sonic....and also comforting myself with the knowledge that nobody saw me knock that piece of the debit-card slot's shelf off of the Sonic....)

(At least, I HOPE nobody saw me knock a piece off of the debit card slot's shelf at the Sonic....)

(But I've also been comforting myself with the additional knowledge that I checked later and found out, to my great relief, that the Sonic doesn't have security cameras on their premises....)

(Just like I'm equally glad that the bank's ATM drive-thru also doesn't have security cameras on their premises....)

(I really think it's Sonic's own fault, anyway, for making those stupid debit-card slot shelves so dang far away from the driver side window of vehicles, which causes a person to have to pull into the area rather precariously--don't you agree?)

The rest of the day went terribly--and I should have expected it, because it just WASN'T MY DAY.

For one thing, I had to make a visit to a farm where there's this particular donkey who likes to frighten me. And I've said it before and I'll say it again--I hate donkeys. And every single damn time I go see that particular farmer, that stupid donkey sneaks up on me and terrorizes me. And it pisses me off every dang time she does it. And she did it again today. And it was all because I had to go to the bathroom.

I don't normally use patients' bathrooms but I'd had a lot of coffee and soda pop on the road, and so I just HAD TO GO. So I excused myself and headed for the bathroom. And so there I was, minding my own business, sitting as they say in hickese "on the pot" --- and then I casually glanced towards the window. And there, plastered against the window' glass with a horrible leer---was that asshole DONKEY, insolently staring me right in my eyeballs.

This unexpected and horrible sight startled me so completely that I couldn't help myself--and I popped up off that commode like a jet-propelled Kellogg's Pop Tart out of a NASA toaster, while hollering a bloodcurdling: "AAAAGGGHHH!!!!"

Later on, after I had sufficiently composed myself and then subsequently emerged from the bathroom, trying to look as if nothing unusual had happened, the poor farmer's face kept twisting into weird contortions--because I'm sure he was trying to stifle a giggle. Okay, I realize that he heard me screaming in there, and probably heard me fly off the commode and hit the ceiling---but you'd scream too if a stupid donkey surprised you in your bathroom window. Anyway, I think the look on my face discouraged the farmer from offering any excuses for his rude donkey, which I wouldn't have accepted gracefully in any case. Another problem I had today is a frequent problem on the roads of Greater Podunk---that of Runaway Livestock.

Frequently, somebody's cow, donkey, or other animal will escape their pasture. Sure enough, today, as I rounded a curve near a particularly large cattle ranch, I came upon one of the ranch's hefers--a fat little black hefer who was happily prancing down the road as if it were the Grand Marshal of the Bovine Easter Parade.

This was definitely an unwelcome interruption of my day, because local "good manners" (and also the "Pocket Manual of Greater Podunk Cattle Etiquette" ) requires that anybody finding Runaway Livestock must forthwith get out of their vehicle and somehow get the errant animal the hell back to whatever pasture from whence they came.

And so I did. And let me tell you, this can be difficult if you're talking about a gangly-legged hefer who thinks it's funny as hell to run away from an out-of-breath Road Nurse. Fortunately for me, a farmer in a pickup truck stopped by to help and instructed me to simply call the particular cattle ranch involved (he knew the number) and notify them that they'd need to come get the hefer, which they did.

Anyway, I finally finished all my patient visits and headed back to my office, where I was hoping for a relaxing end to my day's miseries. But when I arrived at the office, I was dismayed to see my desk.... and the huge stack of paperwork piled on it for me to do. And I sighed to myself as I realized that there's probably no ruby slippers in existance which could carry me away from the inescapable duty of a Road Nurse's inevitable and endless paperwork.....

Dejectedly, I mused to myself sadly about how long it would take me to do all that paperwork----but then.... suddenly.... a light-bulb of an idea went off in my head...

And I decided that maybe I should try something a little different. Because maybe.....just maybe...there might be a way out of this latest mess after all....

And with a new resolve, I decided that it certainly wouldn't hurt to try and see if maybe Joleen, The Hick Witch of the South, might prefer something a little different than ruby slippers???

Perhaps Joleen prefers something a little

So... I took a deep breathe, while conjuring up the image of Joleen,the Hick Witch of the South, wearing her Cruel Girl jeans and Nascar tee-shirt, while waving her Walmart pot-holder over my head.....

...and I clicked the heels of my Road Nurse shoes together three times---my battered Nike basketball shoes!... I recited the magical words--but a little differently--

"There's no place like Podunk, there's no place like Podunk...."


And suddenly, in the blink of an eye, I was magically transported to my home-sweet-home!!

Hot-diggity-dog, it worked!

Thank you, Joleen, The Hick Witch of the South!!!

* * * * *

What makes a king out of a slave? Courage! What makes the flag on the mast to wave? Courage! What makes the elephant charge his tusk in the misty mist, or the dusky dusk? What makes the muskrat guard his musk? Courage! What makes the sphinx the seventh wonder? Courage! What makes the dawn come up like thunder? Courage! What makes the Hottentot so hot? What puts the "ape" in apricot? What have they got that I ain't got?.....

(The Cowardly Lion, in The Wizard of Oz)

* * * * * * *

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Let The Holidays Begin......


there'll be no more sorrow,

No grief and pain,

And I'll be happy, Christmas, once again....."

("Please Come Home For Christmas", The Eagles)

* * *

The seasons have changed. It's cold and rainy--and so it is now officially Fall In Texas. And I love it. And the holidays are coming....
* * *
It started raining last night, and it got so cold that I had to turn the heater on. When I heard the rain, I was glad. I dearly love rain. And I snuggled back under the warm covers and slept even better. When I woke up this morning it was still raining--and it rained all day. * * *
I am one of the few people I know who loves bad weather. I should have been born in London or Seattle--one of those places where I heard that it rains a lot. In fact, I bet that if I had been born in a "rainy place", my whole personality would have been different --"ethereal" maybe--like that woman in the butter commercial who runs glamorously down a rainy beach in a flowing white lace gown, calling breathlessly for a gorgeous British (or Greek?) guy named "Stefan"....
* * *
Because rain makes me melancholy---but in a good way. When it rains I become more thoughtful, romantic, and sensitive--kind of moony and dreamy. In fact, on a really rainy day I like to sit at a window holding a big mug of good, rich coffee heavily sweetened with cream and sugar, watching it rain for hours on end--- and while away the hours daydreaming about all sorts of neat things. And reflecting on this and that....
* * *
It's kind of a tradition with me--that on the first "bad weather day" of the fall season I will get all excited and silly about the upcoming holidays. And I start blabbing my holiday sappiness to anybody and everybody--sappiness that is so sappy that it would make you sick. And I start this obsessive sappiness bright and early, before Halloween, even.
* * *
I will savor and enjoy all the trappings and traditions that go with the holiday season--even the little, simple things. In fact, yesterday at Walmart I chuckled merrily to myself as I bought a pound of "Pumpkin Spice" coffee beans--which I then promptly started grinding for my morning coffee this morning. I always take a huge "car cup" of coffee with me to work in the mornings--which is why I usually arrive at the office with coffee spilled down the front of my uniform. (Road Nurses are known for their habit of haphazardly spilling food and drink on them while driving.)
* * *
I took a big mug of the Pumpkin Spice coffee with me today, which was a very fun day because my co-workers and I all went over to a nearby senior apartment complex to host a "Bingo & Hot Chocolate" party. We had a complete BLAST, serving the retired folks hot chocolate and donuts while taking everybody's blood pressures before the big Halloween Bingo Game. Even one of the town cops came in, stomping the rain drops off of his uniform as he quickly cozied up to the counter holding the donuts.

* * *

"So is it really true that you Po-Leece eat a lot of donuts?" I snickered, with a wink.
* * *
"Naw," he replied. "Not donuts---but we do eat a lot of those hot link sausages up at the Cafe..."
* * *
"Hey," I continued. "Let me take your blood pressure. I want to see how this 'stressful' cop job affects you!"
* * *
"I'll tell you what is stressful to the Po-Leece," he said seriously, biting into a glazed donut. "You see, it ain't really the big crime stuff that tears up our gizzards so much as the aggravating little bitty stuff."
* * *
"What little stuff?" I asked, wondering what in the Sam Hill could be so stressful, whether "little" or big", in our puny podunk area. And then he continued.
* * *
"Big stuff like house burglars or bank robbers don't make my blood pressure go up," he stated. "It's that little crap that drives me plumb nerts-- like when people get into hen squabbles over property line disputes, or when one rancher bitches about another rancher's cattle getting onto the edge of his acreage. They'll argue about a twelve-foot piece of land till Jesus comes back! At least you can SHOOT bank robbers!"
* * *
After that sage pronouncement (in which he pronounced the word "argue" as "argee") he ambled off with his donut to tease old lady Crandle, whose son is the principal of the local high school. I knew he was going to pull her leg about having "put her boy in jail a few times"--and I was left wondering where in the hell he'd ever gotten a shot at a bank robber-- because there's never been a bank robbery in the entire history of the Podunk Area. In fact, there's usually never more than one or two cops on duty at a time around here, and they're usually sitting in the Dairy Queen having a milkshake. There's never been a need for cop-action like in "Miami Vice" or "CSI" that I know of.....although I do wonder what you'd call them if they did have such a thing....and somehow "Podunk Vice" or "Podunk: CSI" just don't seem to have the same ring....
* * *
(Well, actually, I meant that we've never had a bank robbery as long as you don't want to count that time the bank manager's wife "temporarily" borrowed $34 from one of the bank teller's drawers one Thursday because she didn't have time to make "scratch" cupcakes for her WMU meeting that evening-- and so she needed to stop by the bakery to buy some"good cupcakes" but she was short on cash...)
* * *
(But she paid it back in a hurry after her embarassed husband bawled her out by yelling: "Why couldn't you make some quick box-cupcakes instead of stealing from your own husband's bank to pay $34 for bakery cupcakes? Just THINK how that looks to people! Especially with you being a church woman and me being the Bank Manager!" and she had hollered right back at him: "I don't give a Rat's Ass what it looks like-- but I know I'm not going to have every woman at the WMU talking behind my back this Sunday about how I made stupid box-cupcakes, that's for DADBURN and DANG SURE!")
* * *
Anyway, after we Road Nurses took everybody's blood pressure and fed everybody donuts and hot chocolate, my boss Lu-Lu started the big Halloween Bingo Game. Some of the more seasoned bingo players had really spent a lot of time picking out "just the right bingo card" and they were all waiting patiently to start the game. So Lu-Lu started calling out numbers. She called number after number, with the tension building to see who was going to "Bingo" first, especially because the game's prizes were pretty neat prizes, things like $5 Walmart gift cards, neat picture frames, brightly colored fluffy fleece blanket "throws", mug & chili-bowl sets, and the ever-popular Southern Woman Romance books with titles like "Bayou Fever" and "Miss Maybelle Meets a Southern Planter" .....
* * *
And then....
* * *
all of a sudden...
* * * EVERY SINGLE PERSON in the room screamed BINGO at the same time!!
* * *
"What in the hell?" my boss, Lulu cried, having been practically blown off her chair by the huge shout.
* * *
"I bingo'd!" fourteen bingo contestants yelled-- in unisom.
* * *
We all looked at each other, mystified, our mouths gaping open in wonder at the ludicrous fact that everybody had bingo'd at once--and then Lu-Lu realized.....
* * *
It seems that our new secretary, who's not exactly the "brightest bulb in the box", had been instructed to make "enough" of our home-made bingo cards for everybody---and she had dutifully Xeroxed the same Bingo Card over and over again in order "to have enough" cards....
* * *
When we realized what had happened, we Road Nurses busted out laughing--and we laughed so hard and long that we ended up snorting hot chocolate out our noses. The other people thought we'd gone nuts-- until we explained. And then THEY started laughing-and then we all laughed together so hard that we thought we'd never stop. And then even after we'd all calmed down, we'd all break up in laughter again every few minutes or so all over again, just at the remembered thought of that whole room bingo-ing at once!
* * *
Yes, this was a good one. Definitely a holiday memory for me to cherish....along with all my other holiday thoughts and memories--the ones I reflect on during rainy days.....

* * *

Sigh....I love the holiday season so much that I even love the tacky stuff---commercialism and all. In fact, from the time I spy the very first popcorn ball wrapped in messy Saran Wrap, I'm off to the holiday races.... * * *

I don't know if anybody else is as sappy as I am about rainy days and the holiday season but here goes---here's the things a Road Nurse daydreams and reflects about on the first drizzly rainy day of the fall....

* * *

---how I had better hurry up and find all my winter jackets and coats--and how I think I look much better in winter clothing than in revealing summer clothing;

---holiday Halloween candy corn, how I like to bite the individual "colors" off the candy corn, hot buttered popcorn on a winter's night, egg nog with nutmeg in it, warm brownies while you're watching holiday movies in your socks;

---getting a secret thrill from how food items are packaged with "holiday themes", like holly and wreaths along the edge of your soft drink cups (and even the new Kellogg's Halloween cereal-- I think it's Apple Jacks or something-- where there's a big scary Halloween EYEBALL smack on the front of the cereal box to give you the creeps!....);

---running on a rainy beach wearing a flowing white gown, calling for a man named "Stefan" (you know, like in the butter commercial) (Because who says that holiday daydreaming has to only be about "holiday-ish" stuff?).... ---how Santa Clause is coming soon....and how he'll arrive on top of a big red firetruck in the town's Christmas Parade, like he does every year..... ---watching "zany" holiday movies for the umpteenth time and laughing all over again at the funniest scenes-- like in "Gremlins" where Zack finds out that the gremlins have strung his poor dog up in Christmas lights on the front porch, or in "Home Alone" where the crook slips and falls on his butt on the ice, or in "Santa Clause: The Movie" where Dudley Moore is an Elf and makes elf jokes every five minutes;

---watching "heartwarming" holiday movies for the umpteenth time and feeling glad when everybody lives happily ever after-- like in "It's a Wonderful Life" when Jimmy Stewart says: "Hello, you old Banking & Loan, you!", and in "A Charlie Brown Christmas" when the piddly little Christmas tree turns big and fabulous after Linus recites the Bible Christmas verses, and in "The Nutcracker" Ballet when the little girl wakes up and realizes it was "all just a dream"....;

---how Thanksgiving is coming soon--and we'll have a big fat turkey with my mother's cornbread dressing, giblet gravy, fried okra, yams with marshmallow sauce dripping all over them, homemade rolls with butter, and pecan pie for dessert; ---how every year one of the local Cowboy Churches puts up a big billboard sign on the Interstate that says: "Ain't God Good?";
---how fun it is to gossip with your fellow Road Nurses about "what would be fun to cook on a rainy day like today".... like a big ole pot of chili made with good stew beef with a handfull of chopped bacon thrown into it, or a slow-cooker in the oven with a big roast beef cooking in it with potatoes and carrots (and making gravy out of the drippings later), or a huge crock-pot with pinto beans bubbling in it, or a casserole of Texan "Chicken Spaghetti" cooking in the oven with foil on top; ---how I need to go on a diet....right after the holidays are over;
---continuing to daydream about running on that beach with that guy Stefan;
* * *
---how on rainy days a nearby herd of paint ponies seems to shimmer as the ponies run in the rain with hundreds of droplets of rain on their beautiful "painted" coats; ---how it's fun on rainy days to take a coffee break to go over to "Big Randy's Lunch Cafe" to buy some hot, thick, vanilla-flavored Cappucino coffee, and then putting lots of sugar in it till it tastes like mocha candy, and not minding that it gives me a Cappucino mustache;
---how the wet roads look so beautiful when they're wet and the headlights make them shine;
---how I had better drive slowly because the roads are wet and it wouldn't be any fun at all to slide off the Interstate into the ditch and then have to get towed out of that ditch by the same mechanic who advised me to get new tires on my Jeep last May so that I "wouldn't skid in wet weather", but I didn't do it and told him sassily that my old, bald tires were "just fine" (simply because I was too cheap to buy those new tires at that time);
* * *
---how I frightened myself half to death by skidding on the wet road at the gas station and then told myself shakily that it was only because "maybe there was some oil on the pavement", and how I promised myself that I'd go get the dang new tires that the mechanic told me to get in the first damn place;

* * *

---how fun it is to watch scary movies on Halloween, like the one called "Halloween" where the killer is stalking all the teenagers, and then he GETS that one girl in the laundry room, and it makes me glad that my own laundry room is actually my brightly lit safe kitchen-- and how I'd never be so dumb as to go into a dark laundry room when the scary music is playing and YOU JUST KNOW THAT THE KILLER IS GOING TO GET HER!!!

---how Christmas is coming and we'll have ANOTHER big fat turkey and some MORE of my mother's cornbread dressing;

---how fun it is to linger at the gas station while it rains, talking with the other customers about "what a rainy day it is and how it's good that it's raining so that the ponds that all went dry on the ranches will fill back up and the cows can have plenty to drink again";
---how it's nice to drive even more slowly by all the lakes in hopes of catching a glimpse of the graceful cranes that stand in the shallows on the banks, or else the sweet ducks that swim around on the water's surface, quacking to each other in duck language;

---how fun it is every year to gripe with the other Road Nurses about how "the stores all have Christmas Stuff out and it's not even Halloween yet", even though we are all secretly thrilled that the stores all have Christmas Stuff out and we're looking foward to the holiday season;

* * *

---remembering Halloweens past and what costumes I wore-- and how I remember the very first Halloween costume I ever wore was in the 2nd Grade, a Casper-the-Ghost costume, and how I wore it proudly in the Grade School Halloween Parade and thought it was the greatest Halloween Costume in the Whole Wide World;

---remembering the disaster of last year's town Christmas Parade, where I rode the company float and didn't realize that I had accidentally worn purple panties under light pink pants--and how I realized too, too late that the entire town could see through those pink pants;

---remembering Halloweens past in the university I attended and how my stupid roommate, Brooke, went to a Halloween Costume Party with her stupid boyfriend, Andrew, and their costumes were "The Sperm" and "The Egg" and I thought those were the dumbest Halloween Costumes I'd ever seen in my life;

---remembering a Halloween once when I was married in the suburbs and had diligently taught my stupid cat Tigerlilly NOT to sit on the dining room cushions because I hate when cats sit on surfaces near where people eat-- and how one day when I got home from work early I caught that dadburnTigerlilly sitting big-as-you-please on a dining room cushion-- and how I quickly snatched up a Three Musketeers Candy Bar out of the Halloween Candy Bowl and hurled it across the room, bopping Tigerlilly SMACK on the head in the greatest cat-head-smacking bullseye I've ever gotten in all my cat-raising history-- and stupid Tigerlilly didn't try to sit on any dining room cushions for a month;

---how nice it is to sit outside my office in the Jeep while it rains, watching the rain drench the windshield while the wipers swish back and forth beating time to the rain's rhythm--

---how nice it is to sit in the Jeep while it rains, while continuing to daydream about that guy Stefan, only this time he looks like Sonny of the old "Miami Vice" TV show of the 80's;

---how nice it is to sit in the Jeep while it rains, daydreaming about how nice it would be to stay at home and make a lemon meringue pie from scratch by rolling out a Crisco pie crust-- and then making the lemon filling with freshly-squeezed lemon juice and creamery butter;

--- daydreaming about how nice it would be to stay home and sit in the rocking chair while knitting on one of my gadzillion unfinished objects, like maybe one of my psychedelic "funky baby sweaters" I like to knit out of good quality cotton yarn, like this one that I mostly made up out of my head, but I did get the heart graphs from a Nicky Epstein knitting book: or this other funky one:

---daydreaming about how fun it is to be a Road Nurse during the Holiday Season because all the medical supply vendors give us free gifts for Christmas, like scented candles, Christmas candy, cheesecakes from the bakery, new stethoscopes, pens that light up, Post-Its, Christmas coffee mugs decorated with candy canes, and all kinds of other neat stuff;

---remembering Christmases past when my ex-husband, the Biker, used to annoy the hell out of me by pushing the buttons on every single one of the mechanical Dancing Santa Clauses in Walgreens stores, making all 46 of them dance and sing at the same time and embarassing me to death in front of the store sales clerks;

---remembering Christmases past with my ex-husband, the Biker, and realizing that I don't harbor any hard feelings about our divorce, and that I can remember our times together with good memories instead of bitter feelings--but that I'm still DAMN GLAD that we're divorced because being married to him was going to send me into the poor-house, heh heh!;

---thinking about how I paused in the rain outside a patient's house to make a wish and throw a penny at a garden statue of a little boy and girl holding an umbrella in the rain..
* * *

----wondering later if my garden statue wish will come true....

* * * ---remembering dumb things I've done in Christmases past, like the time I was still married to the Biker and thought I was so clever for putting a handful of expensive chocolate motorcycles into his hand-knit stocking as a surprise on Christmas Eve -- but when I woke up the next morning they were all melted because he had started a fire in the fireplace that morning to "surprise me", not realizing there was a bunch of chocolate in his stocking..

---thinking about how thankful I am that I don't have to work on each of the upcoming holidays, since I've usually had to work most Thanksgivings, Christmas Eves, Christmases, and New Years in my nursing career;

---remembering a particular Christmas in the past when I did have to work....

I was working in the Emergency Room one Christmas Eve a few years back.... And I was so tempted to be grumpy because I was feeling rather sorry for myself because I had to work that night--especially because Christmas Eve is always particularly hectic in the ER. And that night was no exception. As the hours went by, with the endless patient after patient, events became blurred as I got more and more fatigued. I literally never stopped running for that entire 12-hour shift. And then on top of how endlessly busy it was all evening, the paramedics called me on the ER radio to tell me that they were bringing this one particular patient in, Martha, a patient who always drove us all crazy by frequently calling the paramedics for no reason at all, even though she was just fine and nothing was ever wrong with her. She would habitually come into the ER on our businest nights and cause us all a lot of extra work by pretending to have an "emergency" by describing all kinds of vague "symptoms" that would have to be tested out, one by one, but always turning out to be nothing-- wasting a good four to six hours of the ER staff's time. She'd done it about 15 times so far that year, and here she was again on a busy Christmas Eve. But.... this time when I heard the paramedics' call on the radio, something inside me struck differently. For some reason a vague, uneasy stirring in me prompted me to stop in my tracks and decide right then and there that I was going to put away my impatience and grumpiness this time. Because I reminded myself that I had promised something in my heart this Christmas Eve. For when I had found out that I had to work on Christmas Eve, I had vowed that I was going to do it with a glad heart--I had vowed that I was going to make an effort to try and show a loving Christmas Spirit towards my fellow humans on our Lord's birthday-- even if I had been unlucky enough to pull a 12-hour shift on Christmas Eve--and even if people like Martha came into the ER and wasted our time. And I decided that I would turn the tables on Martha and give HER a Christmas present-- by doing something she never expected....

And so this time I waited for her at the ambulance bay doors. I waited until her ambulance came.... and when she was rolled out of the ambulance on a stretcher, carried by paramedics who were sarcastically rolling their eyes in impatience, there I stood--

I was wearing Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer Antlers on my head, holding my arms outstretched in a welcoming embrace, shouting to a startled Martha: "Merry Christmas, Martha Honey! Get in here and let me take care of you!"

And Martha's eyes popped wide open in complete surprise--and she hugged me as hard as I've ever been hugged in my life. And we all went into the warmth of the ER and I tried to make her visit as comfortable as I possibly could. And she told me how lonely she'd been all year, ever since her husband had died. And how the only place where anybody ever paid attention to her was when she came into the ER. Soon enough, we all realized that Martha was actually a pretty nice person--and that she was just another one of God's children, just like the rest of us. Before she went home, I got all the doctors and nurses to come in and sing a little verse of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" to her, and I thought her smile would never quit. She said it was the best Christmas Eve she'd ever had. And it was pretty good for me, too. And all in all, it turned out to be a pretty Merry Christmas, that busy night in the ER.

* * *

That was the last Christmas we ever saw Martha, as we heard that she had passed away soon after that.

I like to think that she's in a Place Where It's Always Christmas, now....

* * *

So, now, my holiday question to everybody is.....

......Has everybody got their Rudolph-The-Red-Nosed-Reindeer" Antlers on?

If you do, then you're ready to.....

" happy, Christmas, once again"......

* * * * * (It's gonna be GREAT, GUYS!!!!)

Monday, October 16, 2006

Just a Little Shoppin', Talkin', and Cussin'.......

I can't take much more of this,

No! No!

I'm not going to the grocery store today....

("Evil" Kevin La Bounty, 1992, "The Grocery Store Song")

There I was, minding my own business, toodling around Greater Podunk as usual. When I got back to my office I decided to leisurely check out the news on the internet....

and then I SAW IT....right there in black and white on the computer screen, in the news section......


But did you see the article in the news about the employee "revolt" at a Walmart in Florida? Apparently, on Oct. 16, workers on the morning shift at that Walmart walked out in protest against some new company policies and rallied outside the store, shouting "We want justice!" and criticizing the recent policies as "inhuman." The number of participants was about 200, or nearly all of the people on the shift.

They all walked out on the job and started picketing the Walmart!

They WALKED OUT on the job!!!!

Click here to see the whole horrifying article: I took one look at this and a cold wave of fear swept through my very soul. As I gazed at the computer screen my eyeballs popped opened real wide in shock-- and I'm sure I looked like a gigged frog. I almost hyper-ventilated. My gosh, the very HINT that anything--anything at all, I tell you-- could disturb the peace and business of Walmart is simply awful! Something like this could very well send the economy of this ENTIRE area into a standstill--and I'm sure it would cause a widescale panic. Good heavens, a revolt at Walmart. What is this country coming to? I mean, if Walmart workers go on strike we're ALL in trouble around here, I can tell you that for SURE. Walmart is the foundation of our local economy. Walmart is the bedrock of our financial network. Walmart is our HOME. Walmart is our LIFEBLOOD.

And more importantly--Walmart is our ONLY grocery/department store.

I can't imagine the horrifying consequences to Greater Podunk of a "strike" at Walmart. The sad fact is that if we didn't have Walmart, we'd all have to drive a very long distance--over an hour-- to the next decent-sized town in order to be able to buy the everyday things we need, like Swanson's Pot Pies, TV dinners, Fresca, gossip magazines, deer-hunting gear, flip-flops, ketchup, cheap sweat pants, Corelle dish sets, fake-wood furniture, and....GOD FORBID....a source of plastic bags which can be used for a zillion purposes, i.e. garbage sacks, spare "purses", laundry carriers, take-a-lunch bags, car-trash bags, and a gazillion more uses for those wonderful Walmart bags.

A small town like this would be completely derelict without a Walmart. Where would we shop? I sure as hell don't want to have to drive over an hour to the next town, no way. And I don't want to shop at the gas-station convenience stores because their prices will kill you.

We're thrifty here in Greater Podunk. Very thrifty. And we're not only thrifty with our own money, but with other people's money, too. Today I went to see Myrtle Lamar at a retirement community in a nearby farm town. She was watching "The Price is Right" when I arrived, so I settled into one of her easy-chairs to watch it with her. The Showcase Showdown had just started.

The first showcase was crap. It featured a jukebox, a big fireplace, some furniture, and some fireplace tools. The first contestant, a college girl, rejected it and passed it to the next contestant, a military guy. He bid $11,700 on it, which Myrtle and I both agreed was too low. Then the girl's Showcase came on, and it was a great one. It contained a vacation to the Bahamas, a bunch of dishes & crystal, some furniture, and a huge camper.

"$25,000!" I blurted. (I consider myself a pretty good "Price is Right" bidder.)

"$24,500," Myrtle stated evenly.

I figured Myrtle was just guessing, but she looked pretty sure of her bid. Anyway, they played out the rest of the game and sure enough, the guy had underbid. But then they announced the price of the girl's Showcase--and it was $24,334. But the girl had overbid also-- and thus she lost out to the guy.

And I was very impressed with Myrtle's calculations.

"Dang, Myrtle" I said. "You almost had that bid right on the money--you were within just a couple hundred bucks."

"$166 to be exact," she replied, sliding a little calculator back into her pocket.

And then I realized--that Myrtle had been playing the game while calculating and adding up the prices for the Showcase items by using a little calculator from her pocket.

I guess Myrtle takes her "Price is Right" pretty seriously....

Anyway, we're thrifty around here. And although I really don't think a Walmart strike would happen around here, I like to be prepared--so I started thinking about alternatives for shopping, just in case. So later on in the afternoon I took a look at this area's free publication, the local classified ads, a handy little rag called the "Greater Podunk Bargain-Buy". I got one from a group of newspaper bins outside the Dairy Queen. It's a weekly paper chock-full of classified ads selling all kinds of goods & services in the Greater Podunk area. And I began to peruse the ads to see what items are for sale around Greater Podunk: Homemade Pies! Chocolate, lemon, coconut, buttermilk, sweet potato, $12. Pecan $14. All pies 9" and filled to top! Homemade crust, real butter. No smoking or pets in home. Very clean kitchen. Call Talulah, ###-####. (Real butter? After I saw this, I called the number for a buttermilk pie.)

Pigs for sale. Ready for butcher, call ###-####.

(Okay, here's a source for bacon....)

Playhouse for sale. Would make a good deer stand. Call ###-####.

(I know it's a probably a perfectly good structure, but I just can't see a bunch of hick, redneck men, dressed in camo, sitting in the woods all day with their guns while drinking beer-- and squatting in a playhouse which has the words "Fisher-Price" written on its side.)

Delivery driver wanted, $400 per week. Character welcome, crack heads need not apply. Call ###-####.

(This guys goes straight to the point--and I'll bet he wouldn't sit in a deer-stand which has the words "'Fisher-Price" on it, either...)

ACK short-haired red male Daschund. Carries the Chocolate Gene. $100. Call ###-####.

(Er....unfortunately, I think I carry the Chocolate Gene, too.....)

Reward! Lost in East Podunk. Black male kitten. Vaccinated, no collar. Please call ###-#### if you find him. (I wondered if whoever finds this kitten is going to ask first: "Hey, are you vaccinated?") Horse riding lessons. Horse provided. Monday thru Thursday evenings. $20 per hour. Call ###-####. (Now THIS is definitely a bargain--but I'd ask about the horse. What would REALLY be special is if they'd let you ride a paint pony.) Two Mausoleum Crypts at the Cemetery for sale. Lot 30, Block C, Graves #1 and 1a. Call ###-####. (Umm...I wonder how many people shop for their crypts in the Podunk Bargain Buy? And also, it bugs me that they give the directions to the specific place--because what if there's a bunch of looky-loo's who go tromping through the cemetery looking for the right plot? That would be disturbing to the residents, don't you think?) For Sale: Fresh brown eggs. Call ###-####. (Hey, fresh eggs! And this way you can meet the chickens that actually layed them. Everybody knows brown eggs taste better--and "fresh" around here means that they're right out from under the chicken's butts. I bet if you go early enough in the morning, the eggs are still "warm".) Crappie Fishing on houseboat. Everything furnished. Kajun meal afterwards. Lake Podunk. Call ###-####. (Who's going to answer this ad? It must have been placed by an out-of-towner because any fool around here can catch crappies with their eyes closed right off the bank of any lake--without any help or a houseboat. And nobody around here who can cook decent cajun food spells "cajun" with a "K"....) Just a little "brag" note: I once caught a crappie off a boat house pier using only a piece of string, a safety pin for a hook, and a piece of Oscar Meyer balogney for bait.

Divorce $59.50 and up. Payment plan, missing spouse and one signature divorces. Member, BBB. Greater Podunk Divorce Services. Call ###-####. (Only $59.50? That's a DEAL. Where was this lawyer two years ago when I needed him? )

Ludlow's stump-grinding. Call ###-####. (Stump grinding? I thought you just chopped them up with an ax...) Three-Year Old Molly Mule, 15 hands. Brown with white stocking legs, excellent disposition, out of registered gaited mare. $1000 OBO. Call ###-####. ("Molly Mule"? I guess that is the mule equivalent of a "Jenny" donkey. Huh. I learn something new every day.....) Red Jack Donkey with blazed face, halter broke, very gentle, $150. Call for information, ###-####. (Only $150? I smell an attitude problem. I've said it before and I'll say it again--I don't like donkeys.....) (In fact, speaking of donkeys, see this grumpy character? Doesn't he have just about the most SMART-ALECK-IEST face you've ever seen? I've got to pass by him EVERY DAY on my way to one of the ranches I go to. He always stares at me rudely--and here's the proof. He thinks he's being sneaky but I KNOW--yes, I KNOW-- what dastardly things he's plotting in his beady little donkey mind....) (I can tell by the look on his face.)

Pgymy Goats: Mother, daughter (8 months) son (wether, 2 1/2 mos.) Real pets. Call ###-####. (Awwww.....I wanna little pygmy goat! I asked Belinda about them and she said: "They're tee-niny".) (Translation in hickese: "tee-niny" means tiny--but a little tinier than tiny.)

Attention Country Singers & Songwriters! You've always wanted to do it. You still want to do it. Just do it! Call Kuntree-Dreams Recording Studios ###-####. (Hey, maybe I'll call them--you should hear me sing "I Feel Like a Woman"....) 2 Paint work horses, work good to wagon, $1650 pair. Call ###-####. (Okay, what JERK would make some poor, beautiful, paints work? If I had a pasture I'd buy these paints just to set them free to roam and be beautiful. Paints were never meant to work--paints were meant to be pampered and hand-fed the best pears and apples.....) Vacation Time Share at Campgrounds. Buying, selling, renting, exchanging. Change the way you see the world. Save $$$. Call ###-####. (Forget this--because if I spend money on a vacation, it sure as hell ain't gonna be in a damn campground, buddy--it'll be in a nice, comfortable Motel 6 or something.) 500 cu. in. Cadillac motor, automatic transmission, Camaro front end, Camaro rear end. Other parts miscellaneous. $400 for all. Call ###-####. (What I want to know is this: if it has a Cadillac engine, a Camaro front, a Camaro back, and "miscellaneous" parts in the middle--then just exactly WHAT ARE those "miscellaneous" parts in the middle? If I'm going to get a "mixed" vehicle, I don't want a Camaro front and back--with a VOLKSWAGEN middle or something, if you know what I mean.) UKC Redbone Coonhounds. Seven females and three males. Good hunt, show, or family pets. Call ###-####. (I didn't know Coonhounds were a UKC breed--I thought they were just the Podunk word for "huntin' dog". Huh. And so I repeat--I learn something new every day.) * * * * Okay, that was the Podunk Bargain-Buy. Hmmm..... I don't mean to belittle the local classified rag, but I was somewhat disappointed. I didn't see any ads for gossip magazines, cheap sweat pants, Swanson Pot Pies or Fresca. Thus, I am going to make an APEAL TO THE WORKERS OF WALMART: PLEASE DON'T GO ON STRIKE!! PLEASE STAY AT YOUR JOBS. WE HERE IN PODUNK NEED YOU. WE CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT YOU. OKAY? Otherwise, I just might have to round up groups of "scabs" to break through the protest lines in front of Walmart in case of such a strike. But the problem is, would such a group of "scabs" be able to communicate with the local clientele here in Podunk?

The Texan "accent" around here is heavy on the southern, high on the "twang"-- very full-bodied "country".

(Pronounced "cuuuun-tree".....)

It's difficult to understand if you haven't grown up in a Texan family. People who come visit the state frequently have a problem. And the tourist population seems to be increasing, due to the increasing traffic on the Interstate and the fact that this town is the only bathroom stop in a very long lonely stretch between more populated areas. We only have two exits on the Interstate, but tourists love to stop and sample the country cooking and local "atmosphere". And these tourists frequently have trouble communicating with locals. The other day I had to translate for a hapless out-of-towner who simply could not understand the check-out girl at Mandy-Lee's Country Bar-B-Que & Gas. The guy was asking for directions to the nearest Mexican Restaurant and was getting extremely frustrated with the answer he got. It seemed that he somehow got the impression that there was some sort of object called a "yunder" that he was supposed to "go over" -- and he didn't know what a yunder looked like.

(Yes, I did clear up the misunderstanding and directed him to go three blocks to the left, "that way"....) So I think that in addition to the local Bargain-Buy classified ad paper, someone ought to publish some sort of Greater Podunk guide/translation manual for any tourists who may come to our lovely area. I truly believe that it might be helpful.

I think such a travel guide book should give the highlights of the local attractions, tips on the best eating places, and a translation of the local dialect. I'm sure this would be a best-seller to just the right market of travelers to this part of Texas. (Heck, I've seen entire SECTIONS in book stores devoted to travel guide books.) And this travel-guide book could have a "cute and catchy" title, like the following titles I thought up off the top of my head: "Planet Podunk" (No? I thought it had a nice ring....)

"Happy Chili-Dog Trails To You" "How to Avoid A Dry-County On Five Dollars-A-Day" "Recipes from Mama Luke's Weenie Cook-Off, 2006"

(My daddy always said about long road trips that "you know you're getting close to Texas when you start seeing weenie-sandwiches on the menus"...) "The Hillbilly's Guide to the Best Fried Egg & Biscuit Houses of the West"

"Four-Star Dining at Gas Stations & Bar-B-Que's On Interstate Exits 47A thru 53" (Alright, so I'm not the greatest tavel guide book title-maker-upper.)

Anyway, the section in the guide book which shows the translation of the "local dialect" should also include an index of useful key words and phrases for understanding everyday speech in Greater Podunk. After all, this is an isolated town--and the language here has had time to develop into its unique form over many eons and centuries, into a strange blend of Texan twang and hick-ish colloquialisms. (Whew! Typing the word "colloquialisms" wore me out--I need a Fresca after that one....) In fact, here are some of the words and phrases I think ought to be included in the guide book. I know the phraseology is weird, but that's simply how they talk around here. (If you don't believe me, just come on down here and strike up a conversation in the check-out line at Walmart): "Yunder" means "over there" or "over that way". (You have to figure out the distance for yourself based on the direction-giver's body language, tone of voice, or finger-pointing); "Over by the Dairy-Queen" means towards the eastern side of town; "Over by the hospital" means toward the northern side of town; "Over by the Donut Factory" means towards the new bank, First Podunk Federal, because it was built on the site where the old Donut Factory burned down three years ago; "Rahch-heer" means "where we are now" -- as in "Walmart is about 3 miles from rahch-heer"; "Over ta" means "at the"-- as in "over ta the fire house"; "Do you know where the chicken plant is?" means the person you're asking directions from has no earthly idea where whatever it is that you're looking for is; "fixin' to" means "I'm about to" do something. As in: "I'm fixin' to go get me a hamburger over ta the Dairy Queen"; "to sass" means to "talk back to", as when a parent tells a kid not to "sass" when they're getting lectured about something by their teacher, as in "Don't you sass that teacher"; (but it can also mean "feisty and cute" as when somebody says that a precocious 6-year old is "a sassy little thing"); "fav-or-ite", rhyming with "light", said in three distinctly separate syllables, means favorite, as in "Who stole my fav-or-ite pen?";

(I use that example because that is the sentence that my co-worker Lu-Lu says EVERY SINGLE MORNING when she can't find her durn pen, and she always suspects me because I use the same gel ink-pens that she does, but I'm telling you here and now that I have NEVER taken her dadburn fav-or-ite pen!) "Hidy" means "Howdy!" or "Hi!"; "Tow-head" means a blonde child;

"Ugly" means "bad" or "mean", as in: "Don't talk to him before he has his morning coffee or he'll act ugly all morning";

"Titty baby" means an immature adult who whines about stupid things or pouts when they don't get their way; (versus a child who is crying too much about something relatively insignificant, in which case they are liable to get called "a squawl box" or a "bawl baby");

"bawling" or "squawling" means crying;

(But "squawling" can also mean a woman "bitching loudly", as in a Texan man saying something like: "I accidentally broke her windchimes with the rake and Lord, you could've heard her squawlin' about it all the way over ta the Dairy Queen") "Wallago" means "awhile ago", as in "I went to the Dairy Queen wallago"; "Y'ont?" means "Do you want?", as in "Yon't cheese on that chili dog?"; "Y'onna?" means "Do you wanna?", as in "Y'onna go to the Dairy Queen?"; "tumped over" means "knocked over" or "fell over"; as in "Miss Edna tumped over the ridin' lawn mower when she tried to mow the hill side-ways";

(Unfortunately, the above sentence was said by our new nurse, Lu-Lu's cousin Jane-Anne, who had just come from poor Miss Edna's house where she'd gone to check her blood sugar log for the week. But don't worry, Miss Edna is fine, although she is now sporting a nice little cast on her left ankle where the ridin' lawn mower landed on her. I'm afraid that the accident is Miss Edna's own fault as her husband has told her a hundred times that "an 85-year old woman has NO DADBURN BUSINESS mowing the dang lawn" but stubborn Miss Edna always says that "she'll work till God sees fit to Take Her To Glory".)

(And her husband also said: "And after she tumped the dang thing over, you could'a heard her squawling for miles....") For the next section note that country people around here have a fondness for turning one-syllable words into two-syllables:

"kee-eds" means "kids"; "Cay-ow" means "cow"; "Quee-et" means "quit" or "stop", as in "The preacher told him he should stop drinkin' but he just couldn't quee-et"; "Ah ain't a gonna dew it" means "I'm not going to do that"; (But "ain't" also means what you call your aunt) "Walmark" means "Walmart"; "light bread" means white bread;

And finally, the travel guide book's translation section should really include a a little chapter on Texan cussing, just for cultural information's sake. Texans love to cuss and they have a wonderful way of varying their cussing according to their level of frustration. Thus, the Three Levels of Cussing.

There's Level One, the mild form, which consists of a single word:


Then there's the Second Level, where you "add" onto the single word, either another syllable or another word, to make a stronger point:

"Shit Fire!", or the one-syllable word in two-syllables variation as described above, "Shee-It!"

And then there's the Third Level of cussing, which is where you take a deep breath and really let it out--to show the entire WORLD how mad you are (which, rumor has it, is what Miss Edna said when she tumped over the ridin' lawn mower):

"Well, Shit Fire And Save Matches!"

Lastly, the travel guide book really should include a section on etiquette. But since I'm not the greatest expert on etiquette, I'm not going to say too much on this subject except one particular warning, a sin of which I had the misfortune to commit:

Podunk Town Etiquette Hint: Just make sure that you never cuss at any Level whatsoever in front of a Baptist preacher or somebody's grandmother. Because if you forget and do this, your name will likely end up on the Prayer List at the local Sunday School and embarass your family to death....)

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