Category Archives: Really True Really

Her Eyes—How They Twinkled!

woman in a yellow dress

You want me to come where?

In the bleak midwinter of polar snow, where only elves and white bears go, Santa sat at his kitchen table, drinking hot tea with just a touch of Irish whiskey. He shivered and wrapped a blanket around himself and took another drink.

“I’be feeling better,” he said.

“You’re not going out,” his wife said. “You’re sick. Someone other than me might talk about how smart it was yesterday afternoon to have a two-hour snowball fight with the elves with your coat off. All I’m going to say is that you have a terrible cold, you need to get well, and you won’t get better flying all over the world with that cold wind in your face.”

“Bud the toys,” he said and felt tired even as he spoke, pulling the blanket tighter.

“I’ve taken care of it,” she said. “I called your cousin.”

“What?”

“Santa Clara agreed to deliver the toys, and she’s really good with reindeer. Those veterinarian classes she took are paying off. Now you get on to bed and get some rest.”

Santa Clara arrived in late afternoon, wearing a long coat with a floral pattern in red and orange. “Hey!” she said loudly, coming in the door. “That’s quite a white Christmas out there! Pretty different from Miami. When are you two coming to visit, by the way?” She hung the coat on a hook by the door and was wearing a bright yellow sleeveless dress underneath.

“Oh,” said Mrs. Claus, waving her hand in the air. “Trying to drag His Jollity away from here is a task for a moose. When he’s not working he just wants to sit on the couch and chill.”

“You can sure do that in here alright!” said Santa Clara, shivering. “I thought you’d have the heat on.”

“We keep the place kind of cool and wear sweaters,” Mrs. Claus said. “You should see the gas bill. Anyway, I had the IT elves put together an app to download tonight’s route on your phone. And I emailed you the naughty and nice list as an attachment.”

“I got it,” Santa Clara said. “Some of the things on that naughty list are, you know, not all that naughty where I live.” She stopped and smiled. “I was thinking I could at least give them a little Christmas piñata. You smack something, and you get something sweet.” She winked.

“Well, you decide that,” Mrs. Claus said. “You’re the one delivering the toys.”

Santa Clara laughed and said, “Or I could play it by ear. See if they left a mojito for mama.”

“And how about something to eat before you start packing the sleigh?” said Mrs. Claus. “I could make some grilled cheese sandwiches. The elves like those. Or I have leftover bratwurst.”

“Oh, thanks. Before I left I had some arroz con pollo and papas rellenas. I’m still stuffed like a Christmas goose, ha ha! I’m ready to get started, and I’ll be warmer if I get to moving.”

With the help of the elves, the toys were all loaded into the sleigh, and as the sun went down, with a thick blanket over her lap, Santa Clara shouted, “Rubiroso, guide my sleigh tonight!” Then down the runway the reindeer trotted, as they slowly, magically lifted off the ground.

“Now Chulo! Now Paco!” she shouted at the reindeer. “Now Cabrón and Cariño! On Pollito, on Primo and Jefe!”

Mrs. Claus watched as they rose higher in the air, and she heard the voice of Santa Clara coming back through the cold air. “Merry Christmas to all, and Feliz Navidad a todos!”

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Pumpkin Pie Like Heaven’s Velvet

slice of pumpkin pie

Like that

In honor of the Holiday of Feasts and Family Felicity (I mean Thanksgiving, in case you didn’t recognize it), I want to tell you a true story from my youth-hood long, long ago. When I say I want to tell you a “true” story, of course, I mean whatever pretense pops into my head in a random sequence.

I was thirteen at the time. My Uncle Wallow had come down to Georgia from Chattanooga to spend a few days for Thanksgiving. Uncle Wallow grew up with Mama, and they were both from here in Whatapig, Georgia, but he was invariably telling people he was from Tennessee. My uncle was a pillar of steadfast fabrication, resisting the winds of truth, however strong they blew.

“Wallow, damn it,” Mama said one Thanksgiving morning. “You’re from Tennessee as much as that dog is from the moon.” Mama was looking at Hotdog Happy Bonaparte, our cockapoo.

“Hildy,” Uncle Wallow said, “I wish you would leave the dog out of it. He hasn’t done you any harm except for that one bite two years ago. And you can look at him and see how tired he is. The heavy gravity is hard on him here, after growing up on the moon.”

“He might be from the moon,” I said. “He’s always howling at it like he wants to go back.”

“Yeah,” my sister said. “And he likes cheese.”

Mama looked at Uncle Wallow, then at the rest of us, and said, “Right about this minute as I’m standing here, you all are giving me the creeping jeepers. If you want Thanksgiving dinner, there’s a store down the road and black-eyed peas and cheddar cheese in the fridge. I’m going to Millie’s. Don’t follow me.” And off she went.

My sister looked astonished, staring around the room, but she always kind of looks that way, how she keeps her mouth half open, and her eyes have that odd look. “Who’s gonna cook?” she said. “I don’t know how. And that cheese is old, by the way.”

“We’re better off,” said Uncle Wallow. “That woman is like a police dog at a cat show, can’t anybody just relax when she starts barking.” He walked over and looked in the refrigerator, then said to me and my sister, “You’re in for a treat, because I’m gonna make Thanksgiving dinner. I took classes at a cooking school in Chattanooga.”

I can only speak for my own perception of events there, but I was thinking, Now wait a minute.

By chance, Uncle Wallow did wait a minute, thinking about something, probably. Then he said, “We’re gonna need to go to the store, though.” We hauled off down the road, and an hour later we were home with bags of food that demonstrated considerable hope and optimism, as the food in the bags was raw.

Uncle Wallow started pulling things out, and said, “We need to get this turkey going first thing. It’s kind of small, but there’s only three of us. One of those petite gobblers.”

“Hey,” my sister said, “that’s a duck, not a turkey.”

“A duck?” said Uncle Wallow. “Somebody must have switched it on me, the wretched snakes of deceit. Well, ducks are only used in Chinese cooking, so we won’t need that. I guess we’ll just have to do without the turkey. Most people prefer side dishes anyhow.”

Here’s what we made for Thanksgiving dinner: potatoes boiled over on the stove; canned green beans that were sort of mashed up from being pulled out with a fork, because the can opener broke with the can only partly open; a squash casserole that was kind of watery, after we added too much mushroom soup; brown and serve rolls that were hard and black from being forgotten in the oven.

Here’s what we ate for Thanksgiving dinner: microwaved bowls of black-eyed peas, and we gave the cheese to Hotdog Happy Bonaparte.

When Mama came home, she opened more windows to get the smoke out and gave us all a piece of pumpkin pie she brought from Millie’s house. Nobody in Whatapig, Georgia, makes better pumpkin pie than Millie.

Happy Thanksgiving, yall.

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Drinking Cocktails Called “Furryboy”

Man making a cocktailLast Friday, if I had been at a very hip, ultra chic bar named Moonster (with a werewolf as the symbol of the bar), instead of being home studying my Sunday School lesson, I might have ended up sitting next to two young men in their late 20s, one with short red hair and a bushy auburn beard, the other with a completely shaved head and an earring that was literally a dangling gold ring.

It’s a shame I wasn’t there. I can imagine how their conversation might have gone. Perhaps Mr. Beard would have made a little political commentary, such as, “Donald Trump is a full-on groadster.” We understand the slang term “full-on” to mean something like “complete” or “total”. But a groadster?

Mr. Ring addressed that. “No,” he said, “a groadster is somebody who’s dirty or disgusting.”

“Like I said?”

“It’s not for politicians. It’s for people who don’t shower or brush their teeth.”

“Well,” said Mr. Beard, wagging a finger at the bartender, then pointing at his empty drink, in his intentionally cool, sophisticated way. “I think you just don’t know how to use that word. Or maybe you think Trump is a charmpimp.”

Mr. Ring snorted with disgust. “Right, amigo mio. The only women he could charmpimp are overweight groadsters working at Walmart. Or women from Slovenia.”

“You’re leaving out his major demographic,” said Mr. Beard. “White men who barely got out of high school and who are in touch with their gay shadow.”

“A gay shadow?” said Mr. Ring. “I never heard that.”

“I guess you’re not cool enough to keep up,” said Mr. Beard. “If you don’t know the lingo, Bingo, just let the big boys talk.”

“I think you made it up.”

“Everybody knows gay shadow. Except you. It’s that dark part of you that follows you around and wants what you can’t admit. Or if you admit it, then you don’t have a gay shadow.”

“I still think you made it up.” Mr. Ring finished his drink and opened up the menu that was still lying on the counter.

“I don’t have to make stuff up,” Mr. Beard said. “I know how to stay in touch with what’s going on. I keep up with the cool ways to talk. You can’t be zack if you don’t do that.”

“You’re the least zack person I know,” Mr. Ring said. “You wear a bowtie, for God’s sake!”

“Bowties are the new zack. See, I keep up. I’m not an agno like you.”

“If bowties are zack, I’d rather be an agno.”

“Don’t worry. You are.”

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A Midsummer Reunion

Christmas_CardThe weather was hot, with a slight breeze blowing in from the ocean, carrying a spice of salt and red wine across the city. Santa Claus was taking a few days of August vacation, walking along La Canebière in the city of Marseilles toward the old port. He had always liked southern France, but at the moment he was wondering why he was out walking in this August weather. To escape the heat, he stepped into a cool blue hotel bar.

As the hostess was leading him to a table, he stopped suddenly near a man with a long but neatly trimmed white beard, sitting at the bar. “Nick?” Santa said.

Saint Nicholas turned and said, “Well, look who the reindeer dragged in! Santa, how long has it been? Have a seat.” Instead of going to his table, Santa sat down at the bar with Saint Nicholas.

“I almost didn’t recognize you,” Saint Nicholas said. “Hair back in a ponytail—”

“It’s hot out there,” Santa said.

“And sunglasses. You’re looking good, Mr. Claus, looking good. Tan pants, white shirt, you look like one of the natives here.”

“It’s good to see you, Nick. It has been a while.”

“What are you drinking?” Saint Nicolas said. “I’ll buy the first round. I’m having straight Scotch.”

“White wine spritzer for me,” said Santa. “I just bought your last book, by the way. It’s on my list to read.”

Saint Nicolas rolled his eyes. “Don’t tell me that. I know you don’t want to read a book of theology.” He slapped Santa on the back. “I just remembered the last time I saw you, you were with your son. How’s he doing?”

“Oh…” Santa paused, raised his eyebrows. “He’s at the University of Edinburgh studying folklore. He’s writing his thesis on why people believe in mythical beings.”

“Like elves,” said Saint Nicolas.

“Yeah, elves, leprechauns, or… what are those Japanese… kami, I think they’re called. Anyway, all over the world, there’s something. Hard to believe my own kid is doing this. Where in the world did he get an interest in a topic like that?”

“Maybe his guardian angel nudged him into it.”

“Another mythical being,” said Santa.

“Now I’m disagreeing with you there,” said Saint Nicolas. “Angels are real. But here are our drinks.” He raised his glass. “L’chaim.”

Santa took a drink as well. “Nick,” he said, “how can you sit there and tell me you don’t believe in elves but you believe in angels?”

“Well, because angels are real. Pretty simple answer.”

“Have you ever seen an angel?”

Saint Nicolas squinted and smiled. “Have you ever seen oxygen? I don’t need to see something to know it’s real.”

“Yeah,” Santa said. “There’s logic there, but I still don’t find that persuasive. This drink is almost gone. Next round on me.”

“You know,” Saint Nicolas said with a sardonic smile, “it’s your guardian angel making you buy the next round.”

“Hey, I know better than to get into a rhetorical argument with you,” Santa said. “I was a hospitality major in college. While you were studying the ancient Greeks, I was taking classes in how to be jolly.”

“Like a bowl full of jelly,” Saint Nicolas said.

“Amen,” said Santa Claus, and they raised their drinks to toast one another.

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

Here where I’m sitting, way down yonder in the land of cotton, in Atlanta, Georgia, it’s Christmas day, and wherever you are on the earth, or if you are reading this in the future somewhere off the earth, I wish you a glorious holiday.

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Notes From the Pole

two bottlesFrom the diary of Hildegard Claus, wife of Santa Claus

November 25

We had a good Thanksgiving, as always we ate too much, especially Ludwig, but who’s surprised by that? I think he could show a little more self restraint, but that’s not “Santa’s way” he tells me. I ask him “Is it Santa’s way to lie moaning on the couch for three hours after dinner?” but then he doesn’t say anything. Still, it was a good day, and Ludwig’s friend Karl came for a visit. He surprised us, though, said he had been in Thailand back in the summer, and he’s practicing Buddhism now. “You should try it,” he said to Ludwig and was trying to get him to meditate. Buddhism? Ludwig? I mean seriously, maybe I shouldn’t have opened that second bottle of brandy after Thanksgiving dinner. Anyway, I think Ludwig was just falling asleep.

December 2

This morning I was in the kitchen talking to the cook. Since she only stands three feet tall, I always sit down in a chair when I’m talking to her. I try to be polite, but she wanted to complain, and I was thinking, “This isn’t my issue.” This time of year when the workshops are going nonstop, the elves need a lot of snacks, and they can’t seem to get enough cheese toast. I don’t especially like cheese toast myself, as it makes me feet bloated, but it sure seems to be elf food. Anyway, Tixiria, the cook, was saying, “Any dwarf could make cheese toast! I didn’t attend the Cordon Blue school just to melt cheese on toast. I want to cook real food, but these country elves wouldn’t know the difference!” There’s always some kind of issue, especially this time of year.

December 11

Do you know how long it’s been that Ludwig has been wearing that red outfit with the white trim? I know everyone thinks that’s what Santa Claus looks like, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they think he looks good that way. He started wearing that outfit before he ever met me, that’s for sure. Last night we got cuddly on the couch and I said, “Ludwig, you like blue, don’t you?” Isn’t that an innocent question? But right away he was defensive and said, “What are getting at, Hildegard?” “Nothing,” I said, “but I was thinking what if we had a designer, from New York or Italy, draw up a few possible costumes? We could see if we like them.” “I already don’t like them,” he said. Ludwig can be such a child sometimes. And he looks like a child in that red thing.

December 13

Just like every year, the music issue comes up, what to play in the workshop. The elves want music, and I understand that. I like to have music playing all day myself, although I really lean toward Dean Martin or Tony Bennett. But what music should they play in there? For the record, there are 437 elves employed in the workshop, which, as far as I can see, makes about 4,370 different ideas on the right music. At least everyone here at the Pole is agreed on one thing. We will have absolutely no Christmas songs, ever.

December 21

Today is the winter solstice, and I always insist that Ludwig and I have a quiet dinner alone on the solstice, that this close to the Big Night we have a quiet break. I took the chance to suggest to Ludwig that when he’s in France this year, he doesn’t have to eat all the cheese that’s been put out as snacks. “Bring some home,” I said. “The elves would like it.” But I know he’s going to just eat it.

December 24

Well, they’re off. It’s always kind of exciting, as many years as we’ve done this. When I see that sleigh rise up and hear those bells jingling as they go off into the distance, it still gives me goose bumps. Roman holidaySo I’ll putter around a bit, then take a nap so that I can be awake when Ludwig gets home. Whenever he gets back he always likes to have a few dark beers and watch the movie Roman Holiday. It relaxes him after working so hard, and I like to sit with him then. I love that time, the two of us together when it’s all over. Merry Christmas.

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Reasons to Live

weird hairdoOne afternoon I fell asleep on the couch, and when I woke up I was using a Doritos bag for a pillow. I kept it there because I always like a snack when I wake up. You probably do, too, so I’m sure you’ll understand. But all the chips were crushed. I had to look under the sofa cushions for a spoon to eat them.

So I sat there, like I said, having a snack and wondering why I didn’t feel rested. I had slept for two hours. Or three. Or longer. In my contemplation of life, I’ve found that many people are much too obsessed with time and with who’s “at work” and with who’s “lazy”.

But I didn’t feel rested. I still felt tired, a bit of drowsiness, a touch of ennui. I realized it wasn’t because I had a Doritos bag for a pillow. And it wasn’t because I had slept badly from forgetting to put pants on that morning and I was a little chilly.

No, people, I didn’t sleep well because I was worried. I was worried about Justin Bieber. The poor little guy is trying so hard to enrich our lives with stories of madness, derangement, and inexplicable tattoo behavior. And people just pick on him for it. I felt upset thinking about it, and I went to the kitchen for another bag of Doritos, but the dog had already found them.

I was standing there in the kitchen thinking about whether to go to the store, which would mean trying to find a pair of pants, when my friend Cecil called.

“Did you hear the big news?” he asked.

“No,” I said. “I was wondering if I should wear pants.”

“Yeah,” Cecil said. “I’m gonna say yes to that one.”

“And I was worried about Justin.”

“That poor guy,” Cecil said. “Why don’t people leave him alone? Who else would be willing to go to jail for the sake of entertaining his fans?”

“I know,” I said. “He’s so selfless. I go to jail because of stuff I did.”

“Like most of us,” Cecil said. “So let me tell you the big news.”

I had a shiver of excitement, a frisson de joie, at the idea of big news. I sat down at the kitchen table, but I realized too late the dog had been licking the chair. “What’s the news?” I asked.

“Lady Gaga isn’t pregnant.”

“Oh, I’m so disappointed!” I said. Then I paused. “But I didn’t know she might get pregnant.”

“Every pop star might get pregnant,” Cecil said. “Except the males.”

“Maybe some of them, too,” I said. “I was just reading something.”

“Anyway,” Cecil said, “can you give me a ride to the meeting tonight?”

“Yeah,” I said, “but I had to take the dog to the vet yesterday, so the car is kind of—”

“We can roll the windows down.”

About that meeting we were going to, a year ago, just after the incident with a lawyer and a snowblower, Cecil invited me to join Fans or Die. The purpose of the club is to make sure we don’t miss any important details of the lives of people who are so essential to what happens in our own lives. Like Kim Kardashian.

I’m sure you’re wondering now how you can join Fans or Die. I’m sure you’re thinking “What if I miss hearing about a vacation that Katy Perry went on, and a new bikini she revealed?”

I know. I know. Except all my emotional energy is going into Justin. There’s only so much I can do. I just hope you can find a group like Fans or Die near you. Google “reasons to live”.

We have ten people in our club. With a waiting list. The topic of the meeting that night was “What has Jennifer Aniston been wearing lately?” Cecil always brings his laptop and we know which sites to go to for the latest information. A couple of people are old fashioned and bring magazines. Yeah, really. Magazines. I gave those up myself after certain kinds of websites that I needed in the evenings started to appear.

“Oh, my God, look at that sweater!” Keena said when we saw the first picture. “That is so tacky. I feel sorry for her family.”

“I like it,” I said. “I saw Rihanna wearing one like it.”

“You did not!” Keena said. “They would never wear the same sweater! Anyway, it would look good on Rihanna, but not on Jennifer.”

Cecil scrolled down the page, and there was Jennifer in a gown she wore to a party that the Duchess of Cambridge had been at. “That is not her color,” said Rory. “Fuscia! No, no, no.”

“Oh, I think it is,” said Bette. “But her hair is wrong. That is such a fashion tragedy, we really ought to write her.”

“That’s a great idea,” said Keena. “Has anybody here ever written a letter?”

We got silent for a minute and looked at each other. Cecil was tapping his way down the screen. “Email is really better,” Rory said. “We don’t want her to think we don’t own a computer.”

“Sure, email,” Keena said. “How should we start it? Dear Jennifer, we love you so much, especially in that movie We’re the Millers, but about your hair…”

Maybe Keena was waiting for somebody else to add a line to the email. Or maybe her tongue just got itchy and she stopped to scratch it on her teeth. While she wasn’t talking, Rory said, “That sounds like a lot already. We don’t want to sound too wordy. Maybe we should send a text instead.”

“I like that idea,” I said, “I have my phone here.” I started looking in my pockets, wondering where my phone was.

“If we don’t want to sound too wordy,” Cecil said, “shouldn’t we just do a Twitter message?”

We started thinking of tweets to use, but all of those seemed too wordy. In the end, we just went with “Oh, Jen, your hair,” and we posted it on Cecil’s Twitter account.

Now I’m kind of worried about our tweet to Jen. It’s keeping me from sleeping. Instead of “Oh, Jen” should we have said, “Hey, Jen”? And should we have been more specific about her hair? Maybe used an adjective? My tossing and turning was bothering the dog, so he made a rude noise and went to another room. Dogs don’t appreciate the important things that give life meaning, the way us humans do.

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Past My Bedtime

Woman blowing a horn for New Year's EveIn some ways a New Year’s party is like Mardis Gras, but I mean from a theological point of view. Mardi Gras precedes (theoretically, that is) the sober restraint and denial of Lent. A drunken butter blowout before you go dragging off to church to repent on Wednesday. Similarly, following the frantic bacchanalia woohoo of New Year’s Eve, do we not (theoretically) slump toward a virtuous future of resolutions and improvements?

The new year, I’ve heard, is a chance to start all over, as if that would help. Nice myth, though if I myself had a chance to do things again, I’m pretty sure I’d come up with completely new ways to screw up pretty much everything. I mean, the stuff I did wrong, I know how that went. I want to do it wrong in new ways.

In the meantime, New Year’s parties come along, and this week my friend Salina Robinella Cocachella told me that she was invited to a New Year’s Eve party. Unlike some such parties that require nothing more than a willingness to consume with enthusiastic abandon, this party was to include costumes.

“I’m wondering how to dress up,” Salina said.

“Maybe as a pop star,” I suggested. I didn’t mention that Salina is a Unitarian minister, so she’s kind of an abstract thinker.

“Ah,” she said, “like Renée Fleming.”

“Who?” I asked.

“Renée Fleming. She’s an opera singer. One of her roles was Lucrezia Borgia. I could dress up as Renée Fleming doing Lucrezia Borgia.”

“Opera singer?” I said, “Didn’t I say pop star? How would anybody know you were an opera singer? Wouldn’t they just think you were Lucrezia Borgia?”

“I could sing everything I said at the party,” Salina answered.

“Yeah,” I replied. “That probably wouldn’t suck all night. Why don’t you just go as a historical figure without the singing?”

“That’s even better. I could go as Søren Kierkegaard.”

“Holy moly!” I scratched parts of my body that were itching. “Who the hell was that?”

“You don’t know Kierkegaard? He was a Danish philosopher, probably the first existentialist. Or maybe not actually the first in reality, but the first to—”

“What if you went as someone people have actually heard of?” I asked.

“Or maybe the Indian king Ashoka, who helped spread Buddhism.”

“Exactly what I had in mind. Because who doesn’t like…know some Indian chief or whatever?”

Salina’s face was lit up with enthusiasm. “I like the idea of someone who helped spread Buddhism.” She paused in her headlong rush through obscurity. “Or maybe I could dress up as an idea,” she said.

I put my head in my hands because Lord, what was there to say to that?

“No, really,” she said. “Like the idea of free will.” She stopped and frowned. “But how would I dress as free will?”

“You could go naked,” I said.

“Oh, but it’s in January. Or what if I dressed as the idea of skinny dipping? Ha! I know how I would do it. I’d wear a flesh colored body suit, then I’d tie some branches on over the top of it. I could hang items of clothing from the branches. So it would look like I was undressed behind the branches.”

“But you’re a minister,” I said.

“A Unitarian minister. Can I borrow some of your underwear to hang on the branches? Mine are too nice.”

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Family Festivality

pink turkeyI was talking with Waldrudge, which you just know is not his real name, but who am I to disturb chickens before they hatch? The name I give whenever the police call is not my real name either. You know how it is.

So I was talking with Waldrudge, and he was telling me that his sister and her husband and three children were coming for Thanksgiving. I thought what a joyous gathering that must be, so many family members in one place, with the delights of holiday cooking and all those memories of days gone by to talk about. Kill a bird with two stones, you know.

Waldrudge didn’t look as enthused as I would have expected. “My family is pretty odd,” he said.

I just scratched my head in propensity. “But you’re odd,” I said. “Seems like a good fit to me. I figured you’d all be cooking together for Thanksgiving. You know the old saying, plenty of cooks spill the broth.”

“Nobody cooks but me,” he said. “Not even my wife. Everybody else consumes. My brother-and-law really just wants to watch football. He sits in front of the TV yelling ‘You useless bastards!’ But he only likes teams that have mammals for mascots.”

“Like dragons,” I said.

“No,” Waldrudge said, “I don’t believe those are mammals.”

“They have milk,” I told him.

“No, I don’t think so.”

“Cow dragons,” I said.

“No.”

Two days after Thanksgiving I ran into Waldrudge. He looked relieved, if “relieved” is the right word. Sometimes “relieved” means “drunk” doesn’t it? That’s been my experience, although I don’t know how much it counts as experience when you don’t remember it.

“How was your time off?” I asked.

“I didn’t have time off,” he said. “I was with my family. I thought I told you that.”

“Lovely,” I said, wanting to seem capacious.

“Did I tell you my sister is a teacher?” he asked.

“Teach a man to fish and he’ll be gone on Sundays,” I said. “Does she teach fishing?”

“No, she doesn’t teach fishing. She teaches second grade. During Thanksgiving dinner she decided to share an assignment she gave her students. She had them write what they wished for, and she pulled out a stack of papers and started reading to us at the table. One kid wrote ‘I wish everyone had hair.’”

“Well, that would be a sheep in wolf’s clothing,” I said. “What about people who prefer to be bald?”

“Don’t ask me,” Waldrudge said frenetically. “I’m not in second grade. Speaking of kids, my three nephews suddenly decided they wanted to have a favorite color. The middle kid chose blue, but the oldest said he had picked blue the week before, and he told his brother he had to use another color. They argued for an hour about who got to use which color as his favorite, and in the end they made the youngest kid take pink, so he started crying.”

“It’s not a bad color on birds,” I said. “Although a bird of another color isn’t pink.”

Waldrudge added, “My sister was oblivious, sitting at the table talking to my wife about teaching second grade, and of course her husband was on the couch watching TV.”

“No surprise there,” I said. “You already hit that nail with your head. So he found a game he wanted to watch.”

“Yeah, the Georgia bulldogs were playing.”

“I prefer Georgia Tech, myself,” I said. “Does he like them”?

“No, no. Yellowjackets. Those are insects.”

“Oh well,” I said. “As the old saying goes, ignorance is blessed.”

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