Ten Thousand Free Punches To The Face!

Some posts are dead at the same moment I write them.  I do everything I can to revive them: inject a little humor, rewrite them a hundred times, and tell myself that no one will actually read it.  And yet, some ideas just never see the light of cyberspace.

Here are fragments of a few posts that, well, never made it into the omelet.  This is the second installment of what I call Dodo Eggshells.  (The first is buried somewhere in the Dodo Eggs category.)

Eggshell #1-  Here’s what happens when I get carried away with an introduction.  Please take note of the nauseating amount of imagery and try to figure out where in the world I was going with this.  (Answer below)

 Step inside the cavernous volume of my skull and you discover yourself standing on the high mountains of my ego.  Jealousy grows a lush green beside the bright blooms of love and the shade of established patience.  The air is filled with brightly feathered exotic ideas and the plain plumage of pragmatism.  A wide ocean of memories surrounds everything below.

Answer:  I was going to describe why I don’t really go for activities with large crowds.

Eggshell #2-  How would you describe the feeling you get after eating a gargantuan pile of greasy fries and a hamburger with more calories than bears need for hibernation?  And what’s that sick feeling that overcomes your insides when you top it off with a bladder busting soda and tub of soft serve ice cream?

A short phrase I’ve been using for years is, “Gut Rot.”  It’s the perfect way to describe the guilt and nausea that comes only seconds after your last bite.

Eggshell #3- The cheapest brand of pet food you can buy is a delightfully titled, “Lucky Kitty.”  This seems strange to me considering that the feline in question has owners taking the absolute lowest road possible in meeting their pet’s needs. 

Perhaps we should have a cheaper brand available such as “Stray” brand pet products.

Eggshell #4- That special, potent humor you feel when something hits your funny bone just right is difficult to translate.  You may want to communicate why your laughing uncontrollably to others but it often isn’t possible.  Most of the time, they just stare at you and smile. 

I hit my answering machine and heard my brother’s voice boom from the quarter-sized speaker. 

“Congratulations Matthew Teeplee!  You have been selected by our committee to receive a FREE TEN THOUSAND PUNCHES TO THE FACE!  To receive your FREE TEN THOUSAND PUNCHES TO THE FACE, you must arrive at my offices no later than five o’clock this afternoon.  You will be serviced by one of our highly paid professionals who specialize in giving people just like you TEN THOUSAND PUNCHES TO THE FACE!  This is a limited time offer so contact me quickly to receive your FREE TEN THOUSAND PUNCHES TO THE FACE!  You want it and you know you need it… TEN THOUSAND PUNCHES TO THE FACE! 

Not once did he identify himself or tell me why he was calling.  I don’t know why it was funny but I laugh about it to this day.

The Gift of Giving

During the early part of December 1999, my wallet was facing a literal avalanche of gift giving occasions.  Mrs. Teply was graduating from college, her birthday is shortly into the New Year, our first anniversary was just after Christmas, and then there was Christmas.  For each and everyone a substantial financial layout was needed.  (This is a problem for someone whose wallet is stamped MADE IN ETHIOPIA.)

I ended up approaching Melissa and striking a deal.  I would get her one very impressive gift to cover the entire gamut.  Of course, small tokens would be expected on each specific day but the major gifts would be satisfied.

Her selection was an antique fold out secretary with bookshelves and a glass-faced door.

When the year 2000 began coming to a close, I found myself in a nearly identical situation.  She wasn’t graduating from college but our anniversary, her birthday, and Christmas still cast shadows over my checkbook.  ( This isn’t good news for a checkbook that has WARNING: DISPLAY PURPOSES ONLY – ENLARGED TO SHOW TEXTURE.)

The deal was renewed and each year I blow our budget on one special gift.  With one shot, I need to get it right each time.  To help insure success, I’ve created a few rules for gift giving… 


Point #1- There’s nothing wrong with asking someone what they want.
 

Why not?  Don’t you want to get them something they really desire? How many times have we seen children tear through 20 toys at Christmas, and wind up playing all day with just 2?  You know, the ones they asked for.

People (at least in my family) are starting to catch on to this.  Do you what to get them what they really what?  Is it a mystery?  Then ask! 

Point #2- Be careful about clothing or decorative items.

Most people are somewhat peculiar about their appearance and some are strict about what goes in their homes.  You’re taking a risk if you buy that vase that the other person may or may not like.  If they have to hide it in the guest bedroom closet when you’re not around only to drag it out when you show up, it wasn’t a gift it was an extra chore!
 
The expensive shirt you bought will sit in a closet until it goes out of style then sold at a garage sale for a fraction of what you paid for it.  (I’ll bet this has happened 349,956,458,939 times.)

Point #3- As far as gifts go, Quality beats Quantity.

If you’re sure they want it, don’t be afraid to spend the extra money to buy someone a gift that has genuine value.  This principal is of the greatest relevance to those most precious people in your lives…typically moms and spouses.

Did she ask for earrings?  Make sure their real gemstones with gold backings.  Those plastic pink hoops you’re looking at won’t go over very well.  Trust me.

Point #4- When all else fails, make sure the gift is practical.

If you cannot think of anything you know they want, then get them something you know they will use.  Most people think along these lines when shopping for their guy and no doubt he will appreciate something useful.  But it is something he’ll really enjoy or is excited about?

(Grandmas have been doing something like this for years.  Twelve grandsons means filling the shopping cart with twenty-four packages of new underwear.  I think of both of them each and every time I put on a pair.  Thanks grandma!)

Bonus Point #5- For crying out loud!  Wrap the stupid thing! 

I don’t know where these silly “gift bags” came from, but one thing is for certain.  Unwrapping a gift is a heck of a lot more fun than pulling it from a tissue stuffed bag!

The Gate (12)

Synopsis:  Roge Kiser has escaped his adoptive family by bus and found himself stranded in frostbitten Buffalo Rind, North Dakota.  His dirty sweatshirt and jeans are the only protection he has from the bitter cold.  He needs a place to stay.

The day’s sunlight was beginning to wane and the temperature began to plummet further.  He attempted to stay comfortable by briskly walking in and out of nearby businesses.  Each time he would walk into a business Roger would walk over to the batteries and other items near the doors.  After a few minutes of soaking in as much heat as possible, he would shrug or act like he forgot his wallet.

The act was getting old.  “Most of these places are closing.  Once the sun goes down, I won’t be able to bend over without breaking in half.“ 

With teeth chattering uncontrollably, Roger decided to address his lack of residency.  He dug the classifieds from a dented garbage receptacle, and shook the snow off.  He knew this was most likely a waste of time.  He had no money. 

Every listing required a substantial deposit and several references.  The only resources he had in his duffle bag were Nole’s phone, a kazoo he bought with his only cash, several completely useless Tour Exciting North Dakota! brochures, a quarter recently found under a bus seat, an assortment of  items from the carry-on case, and a jar of freezing urine. 

Then Roger found a listing that began,  “No hope?  Have you lost your way?  Does the world seem foreign?  Find help for life’s problems at Saint Vanilla’s Cathedral.”

Another frozen sigh escaped Kiser’s chapped lips.  “I suppose I have indeed reached charitable proportions.”  

He compared the address with the map of Buffalo Rind on the back of an Alien Days bulletin.  The church wasn’t far from where he was now. 

Roger began walking and invested little attention to the sidewalk before him.  After four careless steps, his dragging feet tripped on something jammed into the sidewalk and he almost fell. 

Roger glanced down to find a penny resting on its side.  The edge of the coin was remarkably stuck in the narrow crevice between sections of the concrete sidewalk.  About six inches away, another two pennies were stuck in a similar posture.

“Well, isn’t that remarkable.”  Kiser reached down and pried the coins loose from the bits of snow that clung to them.  “What are the chances of this lost coin landing on its side?  And then finding two more just the same!”

He spun one of the copper discs between his index and naughty finger and continued on his way.

********************

Roger saw the church well before arriving there.  In fact, he spied it as soon as he had left the business district.  The tall brick spire was easily the most important landmark visible other than the grain elevator that rose behind him. 

At first, Kiser’s journey took him past a series of drab homes surrounded by moats of ice and snow.  The only impressions of life came from a few stunted evergreen trees.  Then the land began to slowly rise and the parade of homes became more dignified and stately.  More were made of brick and the cleared driveways became longer. 

The last block before arriving at the cathedral was almost completely given to a home fantastically more noble than its peers.  The regal structure was three stories high with a steeply sloped roof.  Maroon shaded brick, rare for this region, held the mansion together with black trim lining each window and gable.  A high cast iron fence secured the abode and it’s even, snow laced yard.

The land rose subtly giving this home a pedestal or throne upon which to silently observe its domain.  The rest of the homes, many nice enough on their own, appeared before this home and the cathedral across the street as pennant worshipers quiet and reverent in the presence of betters.  Only the occasional pickup disturbed the neighborhood’s demeanor. 

“Wow.”  Despite his rush, Roger stopped to admire the home.  “I wonder what kind of money you have to have to live here?”

An extra gust of bitter cold pushed Kiser to continue toward the church. 

It was a massive, brick and stone structure with a single spire facing the same street as the front of the mansion.  Tall evenly spaced stained glass windows dominated the side facing Roger.  A thin layer of undisturbed snow covered the high pitched roof.  Behind the church were several associated buildings made with the shade of brick. Kiser guessed these to be the vicarage and church school.

Thankfully, Roger noted, it was still celebrating the Christmas holiday.  Holly laced the outside of the church, and all the evergreens were beautifully decorated with tinsel and lights.  From where Roger stood he could see the side of a simple, rustic nativity scene, which put to shame the ridiculous scene downtown. 

Roger crossed the street and marched up the steps toward the front doors.  The ten foot, heavy wooden doors were closed tight with a notice attached to a brass clip.  The posted paper read, “The sanctuary and offices are closed for year end cleaning.  If you are in need of assistance, please see Minot across the street.

Kiser turned back toward the beautiful home.  It was hard to hide his excitement.  “I guess I will get to find out who lives there after all.”

He now had a perfectly good excuse for disturbing the owner of this estate but his dirty jeans, sweatshirt, and unkempt hair couldn’t make the best impression.  But with no other options and a rapidly darkening sky, Roger marched back to the front of the home’s iron gate. 

He unlatched the gate and gave it a gentle push.  The hinges squealed in alarm as it drifted open.  Roger hesitated cocking one eyebrow and looking to either side before stepping up the couple steps to the yard.  Before him was a beaten and icy path to the front porch with an undisturbed layer of snow on either side.

Kiser heard the movement and sensed the danger at once.  There was a rustle in the thick row of hedges near the foundation of the home.  Then a trio of large Dobermans exploded from the greenery with a rush that disturbed the powder around and on top of it.  They raced toward the gate like darts.  There was no barking but to Roger’s sense of self-preservation the intent was no doubt his dismemberment.  With little time to spare, he leaped back, grabbed the gate, and swung it back into its original position. 

The dogs came to a halt inches from the black bars and began staring at Roger.  All three dogs appeared identical and dangerous.  The dogs were both thin and well muscled a perfect ratio of speed and strength contained in a sleek brown and tan body.  Each feature of these animals seemed stretched from their legs to their muzzle, torso, and ears.  Each kept a posture that was tense and still.  Their unhurried breath was the only thing that made any noise.  For a minute, Roger wondered what his next action should be. 

“Well, are you going to bark at me or what?” 

The middle dog answered with a series of sharp barks.  They did not sound angry just to the point with a very consistent cadence.

The alert must have reached the mansion.  A porch light came on and the front door opened.  An elderly man appeared from the house.  He stepped outside, but stayed on the porch.  He was wearing a flannel and overalls.  Roger could see that he was attempting to determine his visitor’s identity.

Eventually, the old man took a guess, “Oswego?  Oswego is that you?  Well c’mon then!  Offer the dogs a penny, and they will leave you alone!  Then hurry on up here!  You should know that by now you brainless prop!  I’ll be back in a minute.”  He opened the door and rushed inside.

Roger was confused but the old man seemed authoritative enough.  He dug in his pockets and found the pennies.  He then tossed the three coins through the barricade.  The dogs each licked one up, and scampered off toward the back of the home. 

This time, the gate opened silently.

DumbKnuckle – Lesson 5

Welcome to your fifth lesson in our detailed study of the amazingly profound yet confusingly quirky, wild Dumbknuckle.  Our study thus far, has taught us that Dumbknuckles can come from any quarter.  They show a remarkable ability to confound any environment.  Dumbknuckle logic can seem a bit counter intuitive to the unaware and truth be known, even experts have no idea how to explain it. 

Today, you will get the chance to taste and experience the tangy sensations of rancid logic.

Scenario Five

At the high school where Mrs. Teply first taught, the students were asked the following question for the school newspaper. 

“Should marijuana be legalized?”

Please keep in mind three of these responses are actual answers.  Two are made up.  Your assignment is to determine which are which.

*Nick Wollwart a freshman replied, “Yes, because it helps cancer patients.  But they should make it expensive so only cancer patients can afford it.” (Only rich people get cancer!  Wait, it gets better.)

*ChiefDodo at DodoEggs.com stated, “Filling your body with smoke and your mind with chemicals is what all the cool kids are doing, so let’s not.”  (This kid was defiantly not cool.)

*Jenna Jennason a senior said, “Yes, everybody will get along.  Less problems occur from marijuana than from alcohol.  It would be good for business.”  (Only one of those thoughts were valid.  Guess which one.)

*Eugene a writer at DodoEggs.com remarked, “Can you come back later?  I’m busy filling out my application to ChickenPoop.com ”

*Lauren Leelan a senior quipped, “Yes, it’ll bring the violence down, and it helps people when they don’t feel good.  God made pot; man made beer.  Who do you trust?”  (Yes, in the original Old Testament manuscripts Moses wrote about fresh doobies falling from the sky along with manna.)

Dear Olivia,

I know we haven’t met yet but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a good father to daughter conversation.  We’ve got a long road ahead of us and having a strong dialogue with each other can only help. Of course, right now we can’t keep your mother from eavesdropping.

Kids learn better when things rhyme so I’ve composed a few verbal keepsakes for you.  

PLAYING PARENTS AGAINST EACH OTHER, CAUSES THE WRAITH OF BOTH FATHER AND MOTHER.  Please don’t expect me to side with you over your mother.  There is a ninety percent chance I will agree with her anyway and a ten percent chance I won’t care enough one way or another.  (Besides, bucking your mother carries risks.  I’m not a gambling man.) 

Kick your mother in the kidneys twice if you understand.

DAD HAS NO USE FOR A PRIMA DONNA, SO SAVE THE DRAMA FOR YOUR MAMA.  I live my life in as much of a drama vacuum as I possibly can and like your mother’s yellow squash casserole, I can only handle it in small doses.  If you approach me regarding the possibility your best friend is moving in on your boy, I will respond in one of three ways.  You get to choose.

A. You know what?  I think your brother Saul may have an interesting take on this thorny issue.  I think he’s upstairs playing video games with your out of work uncle.

B. Darling, let me tell you something.  When something becomes so infected it threatens the entire body, you have to amputate.  That’s what I would do here.  Amputate both the friend and the useless boy. 

C. I’ll give you ten dollars right now if you take this issue to your mother.

Sit on you mother’s bladder if you understand.

MY RULES OF SPEECH ARE VERY FIRM, YOU ARE TO CHANGE THE SUBJECT IF YOU SEE ME SQUIRM.  I want to know as much as I can about what’s going on in your heart and mind except for the things that I find uncomfortable.  The rules used to determine these subjects are a little ambiguous so I’m having a straight list prepared.  My highly paid team of research consultants is eyeing a release date of around late May 2034.   We’re having a hard time deciding whether to to go with three smaller volumes or the podium bending master tome.  Until then, if you broach a topic I don’t want to discuss just look for the pained expression on my face.

Head butt you mother’s liver if you got the message.

BOYS LIKE LOTTERY TICKETS ARE CHEAP AND ABUNDANT.  THEY SCRATCH AND ARE WORTHLESS, DISAPPOINTING, REDUNDANT.  Just so that you know…I will not look kindly on any of your boyfriends.  In fact, each one will start with a negative balance and I will be on a faultfinding mission the entire time.  I may seem polite on the outside and smile but that’s only a front. 

Each of your boyfriends has a very narrow chance of being the one who becomes a member of our family.  The rest have a small potential to do good and an almost unlimited ability to do harm.  I promise there will be no guns but your dreaming if you think I am really going to like any of them. 

Punch your mother’s pancreas if you understand.

Love, your father.

The Fast & The Frivolous

“C’mon Mr. T!  I promise you’ll like it.” 

It was a slow night at the pool.  Robert had brought his laptop despite rules prohibiting their presence.  Guards had been using them for probing the Internet and watching movies and now they were banned completely.  Nevertheless, there was Robert unzipping his sleek computer and resting it on a chair.  

I tried to put off his enthusiasm.  “Look Ben, I normally don’t care for action movies.  In fact, I’m not a fan of horror, romantic comedy, drama, asinine comedy, sci-fi, documentaries, bad animation, or paying sixteen dollars for two tickets.  I’m trying to tell you that I will not like this movie.”

“Ah, that’s where you’re wrong Mr. T.  This is a movie unlike anything you’ve seen before.  And even if you have seen something like it, they totally nail it!   

Despite the deadpan look on my face, Robert slipped in the colorful DVD.  In fantastic lettering it said, “The Fast and the Frivolous – Tokyo Spiff”

“Hey, what are you guys watching?”  Josh had come off the stand once the last patron left the pool.

Robert replied, “Mr. T and I are going to watch the second Fast and the Frivolous.”

“Really?  I love that movie.  It’s $#%@@ awesome.  Isn’t that the movie where they duel by buring their tires as they slide around streets?”

I groaned and tried to get comfortable on the edge of the desk.  The screen came up and like a pharmacist who forgot to reorder ED drugs, I knew I was in trouble. The plot I’ll mention later but here’s a quick peek at the characters…

The hero “went hard” the entire time.  That’s code for brooding, constipated angst being the appropriate expression for almost every scene.  Every now and then he would mix it up with skeptically, constipated amusement.  Look out Oscars!

The father was flawed but concerned.  He came through at the right time, which is too bad because the movie would have ended a lot sooner if he hadn’t come to the rescue.

A mentor finds the hero and teaches him to peeling out tires at the same rate as the antagonist.  By the way, girls really like it when you can peel out.  The cool guys have been on to this for years.  (That, and cartoon boys urinating on car emblems.)  Anyway, the mentor has plenty of time to show the hero the best way to peel out, which is a shame because the movie would have ended a lot sooner without him.

The villain’s main job was to look like he had the flu: lightly sweaty, look of absolute disgust, a mocking laugh when there’s nothing really that amusing.  (Attn Hollywood:  Stop making bad guys laugh!  Institute a moratorium now or I will destroy you.  Mmmuuuahahahahaaha!) 

The women were all Barbie dolls with non-speaking parts except for the hero’s love interest.  This woman was also the villain’s love interest!  They must have cast one thousand beautiful women as extras (they fill every scene) and yet the two main characters are fighting over the same one.  I guess I would too considering she was the only one who could talk.  (Wait a second…)

The movie was just over half over and we came to the big chase scene though downtown Tokyo.  One of the villain’s henchmen was chasing the hero, who was pursuing the villain, who was driving after the mentor.  There was a lot of tire peeling out.

I leaned over to Robert and Josh.  “Ok, I’m going to say the henchmen dies first and then the mentor dies heroically.  That sets up the final showdown between the hero and the villain.  Am I right?”

“Gee, I don’t know Mr.T.  You’ll just have to watch the movie to find out.”

I did and I was right on the money.  “Alright guys, I think I’m going go stick my head in the chlorinator.  The idea that people out there are making millions of dollars pandering something so remarkably unoriginal makes me want to end it all now.”

“See ya Mr. T!”      

A Stinging Discovery

Every now and then, the mystic forces that determine winning lottery numbers and who gets struck by lightning make a decision that actually affects me.  Listen to this (or don’t and avoid the letdown)… 

A couple years ago, I was working on a new coat of paint for the Château’s upstairs hallway.  Melissa had picked out an expensive, textured paint that required 3 coats, special techniques, and several pagan rituals to successfully apply. 

(It was a Ralph Lauren paint.  Does anyone else find it surprising that someone named Ralph is a crafter of upper crust style?  And does this pave the way for the Larrys and Franks of this world to become fashion mavens?  And what the #^$% does Ralph actually know about paint?  I’d put $600 dollars Ralph has never even played polo.) 

I noticed a large black wasp hanging out on the wall.  I certainly would have brought about its quick demise but it was positioned in the vaulted area above the stairs.  It was late and the bug was far out of reach so I decided to try and find it the next day.  With any luck, it would still be in the same spot at which point I would use a broom or something of equally lethal length.

However, the next morning my winged visitor had disappeared.  I checked all the walls in all directions but the wasp was not to be found.  I guessed he would turn up somewhere so I let my mind work on other things, such as putting on my boots.

The tale takes a twist as I made my way to my automobile.  Something was in my boot.  (You can see where this is going.)  I really didn’t give it a lot of thought until I arrived at school.  Even then I simply arched my foot and moved whatever “it” was to a move comfortable position. 

After teaching first period I wandered into Ms. Hemmerly’s room to address something educational and most likely inconsequential.  “Whatever” was in my boot shifted again.  I unlaced my boot, flipped it upside down, and shook. 

To my surprise, (but not yours since you’ve already guessed) a wasp leg followed by the rest of the body landed in my palm.  It was still alive and squirming.  With a yelp much like a four-year-old girl, I dropped the wasp into a garbage can. 

Five Powerful Gods

Near the dawn of time, five separate gods were born to aid of people.  These mighty deities were Wood, Fire, Earth, Water, and Plastic.  The foundations of the sky warped at their presence and thunder paled to their footsteps.   These gods were powerful but also extremely jealous and fought continually for the affection of the planet’s human population.

Each god provided his most useful aids to men, and each village choose to worship the deity whose contribution they saw as the most useful. Wood was an early favorite because of its versatility.  Water’s properties wooed many followers as well.

Not long after the four other gods had staked their claims, Plastic decided to make his presence known.  A fisherman returned to his wooden canoe, and found it replaced by a beautiful, pink, plastic kiak.

It was not long before Plastic was the most highly favored amongst men.  His wares did not give themselves to rot like those of Wood.  Plastic’s gifts held Water’s in check, and were not as cumbersome as Earth’s.  Fire’s contributions were far too dangerous to be used lightly.  Thus, Plastic was worshiped through out the land.  Many children were named Plasta in honor of man’s benefactor.

The other gods found this trend alarming, and they plotted his undoing.  “We must rid ourselves of Plastic’s absorbing influence!” warned Earth.

Plastic soon learned of his peers’ dissatisfaction.  In order to make peace, he offered to have his humans sacrifice twelve beautiful virgins.  The gesture was panned by the other dieties and the issue became bound for confrontation.

On a cool spring morning, the forces of mankind assembled to assist their patron god. They were clad in flexible breastplates, safety goggles, and fitted mouthpieces.  Plastic took his place above the throng.

Wood, Fire, Earth, and Water swooped in from each of the four directions, and threatened to crush the forces of Plastic. The thought of life without plastic’s versatility rallied the humans to withstand the onrush of gods. Plastic also utilized his powers to pile conveniences, accessories, and shatter-proof containers in the path of the attacking gods.

It seemed that Plastic would remain king to the gods, when disaster struck.  Fire threw his hottest bolts into the bosom of Plastic.  This action created such a terrible stench that many of the human warriors were forced to scatter.

Without his human support Plastic was forced to admit defeat.  He fled, and it was thought that his presence would never be known again.  While he was in hiding, Plastic was actually gathering strength, and allies.  Recently, he has burst upon an unsuspecting world with the assistance of his sons Vinyl, Latex, and Styrofoam. Plastic has brought lower his former rivals, and has reclaimed his rightful place of preeminence.

This is Skechenko (11)

Synopsis:  Driven by a bland temperament and a thirst for normality, Roger Kiser has arrived at one of western civilization’s most isolated outposts, a small town in western North Dakota.  A shuttle service has dropped him off in the middle of this small town and he is again left to fend for himself.  Despite the frigid weather, all he has to wear is a thick sweatshirt.  Everything he owns he carries in a large duffle bag.

The small commercial district was constructed for the simple sophistication of a previous time.  There were brick sidewalks beside fairly narrow streets and the intersections didn’t have stoplights.  Each brick building was a flat fronted two-story shop marked by large windows in the front.  Cars were parallel parked or rolling by at a snail’s pace.  A layer of snow and ice sat on every sill and awning.

Everyone seemed to be minding his or her own business.  No one spoke to one another.  Strangers felt no obligation to say hello or even look at each other.  The cold weather was to blame for part of this the rest must have been innate.    

Roger spun, and caught sight of his reflection in a storefront window.  His clothes, face and hair appeared completely disheveled, but his expression conveyed someone satisfied with the pair of deuces he had been dealt.

It was then that close to a dozen children in alien outfits went started down the street.  All wore long coats imbedded with billions of green sequins.  Together the children’s matching outfits almost forced Kiser’s eyes to blur.  Some were cute with large luminescent eyes and blinking antennas, others were gruesome with claws and fangs keeping their fingers warm.  Four adults (who looked about as if they were seeing snow for the first time) flanked them.

Their quick chatter sounded as confusing as their appearance.  They parted only slightly as they wandered by Roger.  “Hey, let’s go hunt down some rangores… do you think Skechenko will use his lightning rays this time… I heard you like Suzy…hey, you got a frozen booger…that’s no booger, that’s a loose sparkly…hey, you know what?  Skechenko is blasting you with an eye beam!” 

Roger turned away, and took a closer, more critical look at his surroundings.  There were portrayals of bearded men everywhere, but few were Santa.  Green, especially the sequined variety, appeared dominant over its red counterpart.  Sleighs and reindeer competed with saucers and antenna for every storefront window.

Kiser finally took notice of the brochure the van driver had given him.  On the front was a bearded man in a green robe that possibly representative of God.  He was standing with a group of frighteningly happy children and adolescents.  Behind them was a starry expanse filled with exploding flying saucers.  Above this, near the top of the pamphlet, it read,

 “Welcome to Alien Days!  Your post Christmas, pre New Year’s Eve Boredom relief!”

He opened the brochure, and his confusion multiplied geometrically.

It read, “ *Are you sick of the wasted days between December Twenty- Fifth and January First? 

*Do you want to squeeze every last bit of enjoyment out of the year’s leftover week?

*Did you know that most astronomers in 15th century Europe predicted that America would experience a massive extraterrestrial invasion?

*Be sure to Meet Skechenko, Direct Descendant of 9 out of 10 European Astrologers, and Defender of Mankind!

The elation of normalcy disappeared behind questions piling upon each other.  Roger needed a rational explanation. 

Directly behind him, the whining of a small child and a perturbed adult caught Kiser’s attention.  A normal looking middle-aged man was dragging his reluctant daughter after the previous group trying to catch up.  The gentleman wore a black scarf, a brown overcoat, and an undiluted expression of discontent.  It was plain to see that this gentleman was not at all enamored with his surroundings.  The child at his feet wore a neon green parka and fake antennae.  The little one was jumping with excitement, her nose bright red from the cold. 

When the man noticed Roger’s approach, his countenance shifted from unhappy to upset.  For a moment, Kiser considered engaging someone else.  Before he could turn, the gentleman’s dower expression turned into a sarcastic smirk.

“What’s the matter?  Isn’t it what you expected?”

Roger realized he was holding the brochure somewhat protectively between him and the man.  “Um, uh, I was hoping this was a, uh, you know, a quiet, remote place to call home.”

“Not during this time of year.”  The man replied.  “The town council decided we don’t have enough morons in the Rind the way it is so they try to import them this time of year.  ‘We’ll be the next Wall Drug, South Dakota they say!  We wish!  It’s too cold to be out wondering around!”

“Wall what?  Why would a place like this want to import morons?”

The man took a breath and adjusted his scarf.  “Well before this area was settled, the indigenous Indians would take this time of year to have a wild celebration.  When they did this, no one was charged five dollars for stuffed toys and they sure didn’t charge their own people twenty dollars for a freaking T-shirt!  Can you believe that?”

He paused to lower his voice.  The girl at his feet was becoming impatient.  “Anyway, the point was to scare away the evil ‘spirits’.  Whatever the heck that means. The event generated little enthusiasm since people today are far too intelligent to believe in ‘spirits’.”

The child pulled a plastic laser gun out from her coat, and proceeded to vaporize several others who were strolling along the sidewalk. 

“Sally, stop that!”  The man waited to make sure he was heard. “Anyway, the ridiculous town council changed the theme to aliens, and now we get visitors from as exotic locations like Wyoming.”

Roger pointed to his brochure.  “And what about this bearded guy?”

“You mean Skechenko the Magnificent?”  The man’s voice took the subtle step from sarcasm to mocking.  “Skechenko is actually a failed theater major from Local College.  How you fail theater classes is anybody’s guess.  Anyway, the planning committee uses him to play Santa during Christmas and shaman during the festival.  Every year they slap a robe and a beard on him, and send him to work.  He’s a nut case, a weirdo.  Him and his partner too.”

The young girl beside Roger’s informant became impatient, and began yanking his arm.  “C’mon Daddy!  I want to eat some alien brains! C’mon, c’mon!”

House Rules

If you walk into the bathroom at the Château de Teply, you will see two black wires protruding from a hole in the wall.  The wires converge to form a screw in socket for a primitive, incandescent bulb.  It has been this way for the better part of six months and there are no plans to replace it.

We went to a chain hardware store to buy a replacement fixture but we ran into difficulties.  I didn’t care for any of the styles they had in stock.  After all, why would I want my house to look exactly like two million others?  And the one fixture Melissa did like, I wouldn’t look at twice. 

As I like to say, “The two ladies of the house couldn’t agree.”

When it comes to my personal environment, I am at least six times more concerned than the average male.  All wall hangings must be Matt approved before hanging.  All arrangements on any flat surface must meet my ambiguous requirements before they are allowed to stay that way.  And all books must that reside on a bookshelf must be properly organized!

Here are a few of the rules…

1. The Fifty Year Rule- Before any piece of furniture is allowed in my home, one must ask, “Will this piece still have value fifty years from now?”  If it’s made of sawdust, glue, and a plastic laminate then the answer is no. 

2. Genuine Wall Hangings –Absolutely no prints, posters, or anything else that was produced en mass.  Everything that hangs at the Chateau is an actual oil painting.  Some were bought at starving artist shows.  We enjoy one of a kind black and white photographs and antiques (two old mirrors).   

3. Décor Shops are for Old Ladies – Before you place something out for display, ask yourself if it has any possibility of gaining value.  The goofy poly-resin accent pieces you can by at “pretties” shops are just junk waiting to happen.  Find items that had a genuine purpose (old books, wind up clocks, architectural accents from old homes). 

4. Wild Hair Rule – You can enjoy a wide range of beautiful colors for your home without resorting to a “wild hair.”  These are colors that don’t force your attention.  Dark purple will make visitors to your home notice the paint and probably nothing else.

5. The Long Story –Homes not only reflect their owners style but also a family’s history.  Pieces of real worth perfectly blend a pleasant look, genuineness, and a story.  Each piece should be like a page in your life’s story.

Everyone wants to express themselves somehow.  I choose not to flush money into clothes or my car.  I mold the image of who I am through my home.  With these rules and a pinch of good taste (in short supply), your home can be a perfect expression of who you are (just like mine).