Monthly Archives: March 2013

Generic Mistake…Lucky Dogs

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Tonight I went to the grocery store on my way home because we were out of dog food and I was pretty sure our dogs would be hungry because no one else in my household seems to be able to remember to feed them.  I also don’t know why I’m the only one who can notice that the dog food is running low and thus replenish, but I am.  As I rolled my cart down the dog food aisle perusing my options I stopped in front of the generic section where everything is packaged in bright yellow containers with plain black lettering.  I decided that the price was right so I hoisted one bright yellow bag into my cart and rolled on to the toilet paper aisle, another important item I restock often which goes largely unnoticed.  People at my house (I’m not mentioning names) think toilet paper just magically appears on a roll in the bathroom…like the fairies come at night and make it grow back or something.  I have considered writing a manual to explain it step by step and also things like “how to pick up a wet towel and hang it on the rack” or “how to operate a clothes hamper,” but I’m sure it would be a waste of time.  Actually, I sold our hamper at a garage sale because no one ever used it and it was just taking up space.  Now, we just throw our clothes on the floor in the extra room and I pick it up from there to do laundry.  Anyway, after waiting in the checkout line for what seemed like an eternity with that one clerk who works at the pace of a snail, casually examining each item as it passes before her, meditating peacefully on the beauty of unions, a new line opened up.   I got a the young kid who still had some zip left in him and was checked out in no time and was hauling my loot to the car to head home.

When I arrived back at the ranch no one was home so I had to lug the heavy bag of food and gargantuan package of toilet paper inside by myself….ugh.  The dogs were excited to see me though and I told them I had their dinner in the bag.  They thought that was just great and started jumping all around and howling (they are kind of dramatic).  Once in the kitchen with scissors in hand to cut open the top I noticed a picture of a bird on the bag “Why was there a picture of a bird on a bag of dog food?”  I wondered.  Well, that’s because it was a 20lb bag of birdseed that’s why.    Apparently I had accidentally grabbed the wrong bag.  Except for the picture of the bird vs. dog they looked exactly alike….yellow.  I stood there staring at the huge bag of birdseed that I was now stuck with because I was not going back to the store…I was really tired and I have to admit for a second or two I considered pouring it out to see if they would eat it, but I decided that it was probably not a good idea.  They probably would eat it (they’ll eat anything) and get sick or die and then I would feel really bad.  Instead I looked through the cabinets and the refrigerator to see what I could find.  Tonight for dinner my dogs thought they were in heaven while dining on cheddar and sour cream Ruffles potato chips, Pub pretzels and whole wheat tortillas.  For dessert they lapped up some expired blueberry yogurt.  Hey, if they can eat poop and chew on dead birds and not get sick, some week old yogurt won’t kill them.

Dead cat in a Dillard’s bag

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I’ve heard this story before, but this is the best re-telling I’ve ever seen.  I don’t know who wrote it originally.  I only know it wasn’t me, but it’s too hilarious not to share.

Clutching their Dillard’s shopping bags, Ellen and Kay woefully gazed down at a dead cat in the mall parking lot. Obviously a recent hit—no flies, no smell.

“What business could that poor kitty have had here?” murmured Ellen. “Come on, Ellen, let’s just go…” But Ellen had already grabbed her shopping bag and was explaining,”I’ll just put my things in your bag, and then I’ll take the tissue.” She dumped her purchases into Kay’s bag and then used the tissue paper to cradle and lower the former feline into her own Dillard’s bag and cover it.

They continued the short trek to the car in silence, stashing their goods in the trunk. But it occurred to both of them that if they left Ellen’s burial bag in the trunk, warmed by the Texas sunshine while they ate, Kay’s Lumina would soon lose that new-car smell. They decided to leave the bag on top of the trunk, and they headed over to Luby’s Cafeteria.

After they cleared the serving line and sat down at a window table, they had a view of Kay’s Chevy with the Dillard’s bag still on the trunk. BUT not for long. As they ate, they noticed a black-haired woman in a red gingham shirt stroll by their car, look quickly this way and that, and then hook the Dillard’s bag without breaking stride. She quickly walked out of their line of vision. Kay and Ellen shot each other a wide-eyed look of amazement. It all happened so fast that neither of them could think how to respond. “Can you imagine?” finally sputtered Ellen. “The nerve of that woman!” Kay sympathized with Ellen, but inwardly a laugh was building as she thought about the grand surprise awaiting the red-gingham thief. Just when she thought she’d have to giggle into her napkin, she noticed Ellen’s eyes freeze in the direction of the serving line. Following her gaze, Kay recognized with a shock the black-haired woman with the Dillard’s bag, THE Dillard’s bag, hanging from her arm, brazenly pushing her tray toward the cashier.

Helplessly they watched the scene unfold: After clearing the register, the woman settled at a table across from theirs, put the bag on an empty chair and began to eat. After a few bites of baked whitefish and green beans, she casually lifted the bag into her lap to survey her treasure. Looking from side to side, but not far enough to notice her rapt audience three tables over, she pulled out the tissue paper and peered into the bag. Her eyes widened, and she began to make a sort of gasping noise. The noise grew. The bag slid from her lap as she sank to the floor, wheezing and clutching her upper chest.

The beverage cart attendant quickly recognized a customer in trouble and sent the busboy to call 911, while she administered the Heimlich maneuver. A crowd quickly gathered that did not include Ellen and Kay, who remained riveted to their chairs for seven whole minutes until the ambulance arrived.

In a matter of minutes the curly-haired woman emerged from the crowd, still gasping, strapped securely on a gurney. Two well-trained EMS volunteers steered her to the waiting ambulance, while a third scooped up her belongings.

The last they saw of the distressed cat-burglar, she disappeared behind the ambulance doors, the Dillard’s bag perched on her stomach.

Thanks for Sharing

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Today my mom called to see if I had shoveled my sidewalk so that she could come by.  After all she didn’t want to fall and break a bone.  She fell once on my ice covered sidewalk and broke her wrist.  The wrist healed years ago, but I get reminded of it any time she can work it into a conversation.  She is the kind of person I call a “one-upper.”  Any story you can tell about a misfortune or injury, she has one that’s better.   She is the epitome of someone with a martyr complex…we call her Saint Virginia.  She wears her injuries like a badge of honor and is surprisingly upbeat about the dilemmas she finds herself in.  Like last spring for instance when she and my step dad Bill met us at a local restaurant for dinner.  When we departed, Ben and I gave hugs all around, said goodnight and went to get in the car.  As we looked over at our dinner companions to wave goodbye we saw something kind of fascinating but mostly horrific.  Bill’s navy blue Lincoln Continental was backing up through the lot, not really that horrifying on it’s own, except for the fact that my 82 year old mother was hanging upside down out of the passenger side door with her head bumping up and down across the restaurant parking lot.  Apparently her cup of butter pecan ice cream had spilled just as Bill shifted into reverse.  She said to Bill, “Wait a minute.  I spilled my ice cream.”  Unfortunately, Bill had turned his hearing aid off (something he does a lot around Mom) and he didn’t hear her.  She opened the car door just as it lurched backward and out she went.  Later, she was the star of the emergency room and she loved it.  I don’t think I’d seen her that animated in a long time.

And now she was on the phone saying, “I bet you have been wondering where I’ve been lately and I thought I had better call and tell you.”   I hadn’t really noticed, but didn’t want to hurt her feelings so I played along.  “Yes, where have you been?” I asked.  Well, it seems that she had been suffering from a bout of the flu.  The really bad kind she said that makes you throw up and have diarrhea.  For the next 30 minutes she described to me in exquisite detail every episode of explosive diarrhea and projectile vomiting that she had experienced in the last 48 hours.  This is not unusual, my mom is the queen of “too much information,” so you see I come by it naturally.  It’s coded into my DNA.

She reported that the nausea had hit her out of the blue while she was riding in the car.  Lucky for her she just happened to have an airsick bag in the glove compartment.  Virginia is always prepared for any situation that may arise much like a soldier on the battlefield or a boy scout, very unlike me who would have just opened the door and puked on the side of the road.  I mean really – why waste a perfectly good airsick bag if you don’t have to.  Not that I would even think to buy an airsick bag and put it in my glove compartment, but I don’t have to because Virginia, the thoughtful caretaker that she is, put one in all our Christmas stockings this year.  She’s very practical my mother, hence her incarnation of Santa Claus each year provides loads of yuletide entertainment for the whole family.  My brother Greg moved to Florida four years ago and since he isn’t here to look in his stocking, Mom mails him his share of the treasures.  He called on Christmas excited to share what he got this year which included some band-aids, a mini pack of Kleenex, cherry flavored Chapstick (used), one of those pens that writes in three colors with the garage sale sticker still on it, an emery board, Post-It notes and a home-made recording of Disabled American Veterans singing Christmas Favorites.

Virginia does not limit the sharing of too much personal information to herself – oh no, she is an equal opportunity sharer.  She will share your personal information too, so you must be aware that when you tell her something, it is very likely that this same information will come back to haunt you in the future and for the rest of your life.  Like the time she and my step dad came to Omaha for my wedding.  I was pregnant with Ben – yes I was pregnant when I got married – and as sometimes happens when you are pregnant, I was constipated, a piece of information that I mistakenly shared with my mother.  I had taken a gentle laxative that my doctor recommended and I was waiting for it to take effect.  It was the night before my wedding and we had all gathered at Piccolo Pete’s to feast and celebrate.  There were 18 of us – friends and family – dining on fine Italian food and having a grand time.  I excused myself to go to the bathroom and upon my return to the table there was total silence…eighteen people all focused on me with a look of wonder on their faces and finally somebody said, “Well?”  Then another one asked, “Did you go?”  Apparently, while I was in the bathroom my dear mother had shared my predicament with the entire table, so now everyone in my wedding party and my entire family including the new in-laws knew that I was constipated – how lovely.

My mom never forgets anything and as times passes she tends to embellish with details of her own that are totally fabricated and if you call her on it – it turns ugly so you just nod your head and say, “Thanks Mom, thanks for sharing.

It wasn’t me.

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It happened again today.  It’s like one of those recurring dreams except that it happens when I am awake and I have to suffer grave embarrassment.  You know the story, you enter a public restroom and it is immediately obvious that someone has been there before you and left a smelly deposit only to disappear into the ether unidentified.  It was after lunch at school when I decided to hit the bathroom so I could start the afternoon with an empty bladder.  I could have gone to one of the two teacher bathrooms, but that would require me to walk down to the office or all the way across the gym.  Since I am basically lazy and only had to pee, I decided the little girl’s restroom right by my room would suffice.  The minute I stepped over the threshold I could smell it, the stench left behind by someone else’s contribution to the porcelain depository.  Yes, another had been there before me producing a thick cloud of odor that kind of made your eyes water.  The smell was similar to that of the raccoon that got stuck in my chimney and died…poor little fella.  Yes, they dumped a load and then flitted away several pounds lighter than before I’m sure.  As soon as the aroma wafted up my nostrils I thought, “Damn I know what’s going to happen now.  If I go in here someone else will arrive before I can escape and think I did it.”  This situation could potentially be even more embarrassing than the FiberOne fart (a whole other story) I thought.  At least that incident did not produce the smell of death.  Also, I didn’t want to breathe it in.  It was nauseating…seriously it was enough to send a person into an altered state of consciousness and not in a good way.  However, I really did not want to go in search of another bathroom, so I decided to take my chances and just be quick about it.  I figured I would hold my breath as long as I could and then pull my turtle neck up over my nose and breathe through that until I could get out of there.  Well, of course you know what happened.  Not only one, but a pack of third grade girls came in the bathroom just as I was flushing.  Instinctively I sat back down thinking I would just wait them out.  The giggling started almost immediately along with shrieks of, “Eeeew, what is that smell?”  There was nowhere to hide.  The first thing little girls do upon  entering the school bathroom is look at the bottom of all the stall doors and check out the shoes to see who’s in there.  Sticking out like a sore thumb under the last stall door were the shoes that no one else in third grade wore – size 9 comfort orthopedic loafer dork shoes with the non-slip treads covered with tempera paint and Elmer’s School Glue.  They knew it was me.  I didn’t have a chance.  I don’t know what made me think that I could go unnoticed.  I knew it was hopeless when I heard, “Eeeew Miss Murphy, what did you do in there?  There was no sense denying it as they wouldn’t believe me anyway, so I flung open the stall door, looked at them and said, “Sorry, must have been those squirrel guts I ate for breakfast.”  They all laughed so hard I thought they would pee their pants.