April 24, 2015


I went shopping at everybody’s favorite ‘big box’ store last night.
I’m so silly sometimes.
I was stuck on which way to go with the pivot point in my new novel, and thought a short break was in order…to clear my head.
I can already hear the sniggering.  Just wait for the jokes, okay?
At any rate, I walked into the store at about 3:15 in the morning, figuring I could stroll around as long as I liked and not have to deal with other customers OR employees.
It seems there’s a whole different world that reveals itself after three AM.
 I had no idea about this.
I strolled down the cheese and packaged cold cut aisle and happened upon a young fellow engaged in a deep conversation with a slice of Muenster.  Once he noticed me, he gave the cheese some sort of secret handshake and slipped it back into its package of origin, no longer looking much like a piece of cheese…at least one that anyone would want to eat…or look at too long.
“Good evening, Madam!  May I help you find anything?” a horrifically chirpy little associate shrieked in my ear, after sneaking up behind me.
“Uh, unless you can tell me exactly how William is going to react when he hears that his child was born with no feet and two heads, then no.  The answer to that question is about the only thing I can’t find at the moment.”
She smiled a vacuous smile that had been streamlined down to two teeth.  I put down the candy bar in my hand.  “Well, have a nice day!” she bellowed over her shoulder as she walked away.
Next, an entire family came my way.  Father, mother, teenage daughter, and three little ones under the age of seven.
Keep in mind that the time is now 3:32 AM.
What in HELL are these children doing out of bed?  Or for that matter, the whole family?  And why, oh why, if they were going to leave the house, did they NOT change out of their pajamas?  I had heard of this phenomenon in Arizona, but this was the first time I’d actually seen it.
As a result, I’ve decided that people should have a set of ‘strictly at home’ pajamas and a set of ‘on the town’ pajamas, if you will.
The ‘strictly at home’ pajamas were what these amazing morons were wearing in the store.  The husband wore a floor length dirty nightshirt that, I think, was white once…probably during the Mesozoic Era.  The wife wore skimpy lingerie that didn’t leave much to the imagination—especially if your imagination moves in horror movie circles.  Anyone who loses weight is to be commended, true, but when you lose it too rapidly and your body is adorned with sagging rolls of loose skin that look as if they require a forklift to move, sheer fuchsia trimmed in black marabou with ‘What you see is what you get’ emblazoned across the ass is, perhaps, not the best fashion choice.
The teenager was dressed in what looked like a black shroud.  She was so emaciated that if she stood sideways and stuck out her tongue, she’d be mistaken for a zipper. She clutched a book of poetry by Sylvia Plath.  As she walked past me, I could smell traces of a gas stove. 
“Excuse me,” she said.  “Do you know where they keep the Nightshade?”
“Leaves or fruit?” I asked.
“Whatever’s closer.”
“Well, the tomatoes are right over there.”
“The leaves, then.”
“Check at the garden center.”
But lest I forget to mention the three tots…they were all wearing matching nightwear—Dr. Dentons—or what we used to call ‘feetie pajamas.’  The onesies are really cute on little kids, normally, but these had ‘Walking Dead’ graphics all over them.
I beat a hasty retreat before coffin girl came back for further poison advice.
I hid out over in cosmetics for a while, but when I saw them headed my way, I slipped into the frozen food section.
There was miles of it.  I never knew there were so many frozen products.  I mean, when I was a kid, the Swanson frozen dinners were a brand new thing, and a real novelty.  I picked up one that contained a Salisbury steak with corn and mashed potatoes, just for old time’s sake, but put it back after reading that it could only be consumed in a broken down trailer with a rusted out car in the front yard and a disconnected toilet on the porch.
You can now even get frozen food from the famous restaurants whose food you hated when it was fresh.  And frozen pizzas that are covered, I believe in my heart, with possum and cheese whiz. 
There’s been big changes in ice cream flavors, too, let me tell you!  Good luck finding plain old vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry.  The ice cream companies are going to what should be considered unlawful extremes, trying to top each other with the next big thing.  Now it’s Vanilla Fudge Crankcase Oil Sherbet.  Or Choco Sardine Hazelnut.  Or would Batshit Crazy Strawberry be more to your liking?  In it you will find:  500 mg of antipsychotics, strawberries, broken glass, and artificial cream—for those whack jobs who are lactose intolerant.
The frozen seafood is interesting, too—which is where I ran to escape the ice cream.  But somehow, frozen Manta ray eyes or chopped whale butt didn’t exactly whet the appetite.

But I found the answer to my pivot point problem in the story I was writing.  I decided to send William to this store a few times to shop.  That way, when his footless, two-headed child is born, it won’t be such a trauma.

April 14, 2015


 “Hi.  My name is Carson, and I’m a lousy cook.”
“Hi, Carson,” the group chorused.
“Tell us about your week, Carson,” the group leader said.
“Well, after I tried to make refreshments for last week’s meeting, my husband, Stij, donated the stove to St. Vincent de Paul’s.  He now has a hotplate that he keeps locked in the garage to make coffee on.  Needless to say, we’re eating a lot of salads.”
 “So what about the rest of your week?”
“Well, first, I tried making homemade wine—fresh grapes and everything.  I tried the traditional approach of stomping them myself.”
“And how did that work out?”
“We spent most of the week trying to get the taste of Tinactin out of our mouths.”
“Uh, oh.
“Uh, yeah.  But I decided to stick with beverages. Stij got rid of the twenty bottles of wine at a homeless shelter—God rest their souls.  You can’t step foot in there anymore—the sound of spitting is deafening.  But at least they don’t have athlete’s…anything…anymore.  Oh, and he also took out the refrigerator, the freezer, the toaster, the microwave, the convection oven, the rotisserie, and the dishwasher—just for good measure—after I told him I heard you can boil hot dogs in it.”
“So what were you left with?”
“He forgot about the juicer.  I’d heard that it’s possible to make smoothies that have every nutrient the body requires for the day, so I gave them a shot.  I did my research to keep my smoothies totally balanced, then set to.”
“What did you put in?”
“Well, the kale and the celery juiced up just fine, as did the beets and apples, but the protein was a big problem.”
“How so?”
“Did you ever try to juice a ham?”
“Not lately.”
“Yeah, well, when I tried to force a whole ham into it, the juicer made this little whimpering noise just before it fell into about a thousand pieces.  I tried to put it back together, though, and I hope the Elmer’s glue holds, or the next time he uses it, there’s going to be shrapnel everywhere.  We have the only house where it’s critical for anyone in the kitchen to be wearing a welder’s mask and hazmat gear.”
“Probably didn’t do much for your self-esteem, then.”
“Are you kidding?  Even my hot tea tastes like Bin Laden’s armpits!  I gave up on self-esteem a long time ago.  Now, I’m just hoping for survival.  And even that was a near thing on Thursday.”
“Why?  What happened on Thursday?”
Is this guy a great straight man, or what?
“Last Thursday, I decided to try making Gazpacho.”
“The pureed vegetable soup that’s served chilled?”
“Yep.  Anyhow I got all the veggies pureed, since Stij also forgot about the blender, and then added the gas…”
“Sure—Gas-pacho.  Gotta be in there somewhere, right?  Anyhow, I took the shut off gas line from where the stove used to be, turned it back on and pumped that soup full of it.   Then I turned the line back off.  I took a spoonful to taste.”
“And how was it, I’m afraid to ask?”
“I turned blue and keeled over.  Woke up and hour and a half later in ICU to discover I was growing a third arm.”
“And what did Stij have to say about it?”
“He was glad it wasn’t him.  It usually is, you know.  Oh, and by the way, I have to apologize to all of you—I didn’t make any refreshments this week, either.”
I left the stage to cheering and applause like I never got when I was a stand-up.
Well, they’ll regret it.
Next week, I’m bringing punch, and I’m adding the one bottle of wine that Stij missed!

April 2, 2015


“You’re going to what?”
“I’m going to bring refreshments to the next DGNTFS meeting.”
“I thought this group was supposed to get you off your pathetic addiction to setting the house on fire?” Stij asked.
“Oh, come on.  That only happened twice.”
“Aren’t you forgetting the taffy creation you came up with that turned out to be C-4 with sugar?”
“Ah, but that was an explosion, not a fire.”
Stij just gave me THE LOOK.  Since THE LOOK is usually followed by THE REMINGTON, I deftly changed the subject. “So how is work going?”
“Gerry and Liz invited us to a pot luck supper.”
“Oh, that’s great!  What shall I bring?”
“I told her you’d bring the pot.”
“Tee hee, it is to laugh.  But getting back to my support group…”
“Oh, yeah, I meant to ask you—what’s with the paper I have to sign?”
“It’s a permission slip for me to make the refreshments.”
“Permission slip!  It should be an injunction!”
“Now, Stij…”
“Well, let’s see what this thing says. ‘I (your name here) am aware that (lousy cook’s name here) will be attempting to prepare refreshments for the cooking support group for the next meeting.  I attest that my fire insurance is paid up and that a living will is in place.  I agree to hold the group harmless for any emergency skin grafts, amputated limbs, and any and all singed nostril hair. If you are planning on tasting the cooking effort, we encourage you to have a stomach pump at the ready and the Poison Control Center on speed dial.’”
“It does not say that!”
“Well, it should,” Stij grumbled.  “So what, if I may ask, are you planning on besmirching our happy home with this time?”
“I thought I’d make cannolis.”
“Out to bring the wrath of the Italians down on our heads, then?”
“Hey, I have nothing against Italians!  I had an Italian teacher for one of my cooking classes…before the school burned down.”
“I remember.  He’s still in hiding somewhere in Sicily…probably trying to hire a hit man.”
“All right.  Then what do you think I should make?”
“Why don’t you try a pie.  Pies are pretty easy, right?”
“Not for me.  Remember Thanksgiving eight years ago?”
“Oh, yes.  That was the first time I was ever served mince pie in a glass.  And by the way, it’s ‘mince’ pie—m-i-n-c-e—not m-i-n-t-s.”
“Oh.  It took about four dozen York Peppermint Patties to fill that pie.”
“Yes, it was the only dessert to make my breath minty fresh just before all my teeth instantly rotted and fell out of my head.”
“So what else, then?  And how are the dentures, by the way?”
Another dirty look. "How about sugar cookies?  Those are pretty basic.”
“Sugar cookies it is!”
I found a recipe that I thought would work.  Not many ingredients, and it sounded easy.  I wanted to add green food coloring, just for something different, but we didn’t have any, so I melted a crayon and added it to the flour, sugar, eggs, butter, vanilla extract, baking soda, and baking powder, all of which was carefully measured and mixed together. I then put rounded teaspoons full of dough on the cookie sheet, put it in the oven, and sat back to wait.
After about six minutes, I turned the oven light on to check progress.
The entire inner surface of the oven was covered in a green pulsating slime, which had eaten every cookie on the sheet! 
I dashed out to Stij’s shop.  “How do you get rid of green slime?”
“Call the Ghostbusters?”
“Big help.  The oven in full of what appears to be a sentient slimer!”
“I’ll bet that was what was left when you lime jello baked Alaska exploded,” Stij said.  “Add some heat and protein and God knows what genetic mutation you’ve created in there!  Lemme see.”
We entered the kitchen cautiously.  There was a huge green face smashed up against the oven window and it didn’t look happy.
“What should we do?  It ate all my cookies!”
“Just wait,” Stij said.
And sure enough, after another moment or two, there was a muffled scream, a gurgle, and it slid down the inside of the oven, ending up lying motionless across the empty cookie sheet.
“How did you know that would happen?”
“It ate your cookies, didn’t it?”
I think I’ll skip the meeting this week.