A Modicum of Diversion…

Pineapple on pizza–yes or no?  Why was she yelling at me?  It wasn’t about pineapple or pizza.  Leather sofas were on sale at the local, discount, close-out store.  Not the first place to shop for furniture in my estimation.

“Why don’t we go and just look around?”  That meant we weren’t going to leave without buying something–better to just go along.  My hopes were, that nothing would happen to ruin this beautiful, sunny, winter day.

The sofas were better than expected–stock overruns from a popular major manufacturer.  Who was I to have doubted?  Even though, I was in for some dreaded furniture rearranging.  If everything stayed the way it was, from now till eternity, it would have been just fine with me.

At the service desk, two men waited.  The gray-haired older gentleman seemed calm.  The younger man, who may have been the son, complained about noise emanating from the other side of the store.  There, a young child was in the midst of throwing a temper tantrum.

“Why hadn’t she taken the young boy outside?”  Said the young man to his father.  “Nobody wanted to hear that kid’s ear-splitting screeches.”  The father mumbled something about permissive parenting being the downfall of civilization.

Waiting for the store clerk’s return, seemed to take forever.  We were second in line, behind the disgruntled young man, and his father.  The clerk returned briefly from checking inventories.  The young man complained about the noisy child to the clerk; the clerk refused to take sides, went back to work.

That was when the stalking began.  “I’m going to check on why this bratty kid won’t stop crying,” Announced the young man.  My wife and I looked at each other.  What business was it of his?  And what could he do about it–without causing a major incident?

The young man walked away hunched over, like he was trying to make himself smaller, to avoid being seen.  Jacket collar pulled up to his chin.  It was comical–in a Groucho Marx sort of way.  He carefully duck-walked the rows one-by-one, until the offenders were spotted.

What had he done–if anything?  The store was, once again peaceful.  The little boy stopped crying.  Had I underestimated the young man’s skills as a “Child Whisperer?”  Our sofa was in stock and would be delivered in a couple of days.

Then, temper tantrum, version 2.0, began, like a loud clap of thunder.  The young man and his father, were aghast.  “I’m going to show them a thing or two,” The son, announced.

In his best Groucho Marx, killer commando mode, the stalking resumed.  My wife and I made an exit at that point–wondered how things turned out.  Nothing made the police blotters.  It was one of the strangest public scenes we’d witnessed in our lifetimes.

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Ultimatums

They seem cruel now–but, back then they were attempts to gain control.  Different from admonitions, these were warnings; do/don’t do this, or this will happen.

“Come on, I’m going.  I’m not telling you again.  OK, you can just stay here at Aunt Edna’s.  Your Bubba bear is going to miss you.”

A few tears, later and the recalcitrant youngun’ came dragging along.  He wasn’t about to abandon his favorite teddy bear.

Behind Rose’s Market was an outhouse and a storage building.  The small town grocery store, was an after school meeting place.  Old men from town, met in the back, by the oil-burning stove, for their daily gossip fest.  Charlie Rose, the proprietor, gave a familiar warning.

“Get away from that shed–the boogeyman will get you.”

Grandparents gave an ultimatum or two.  Some of them quite macabre.

“Don’t play on the telephone.”  Or, Nelson Fenton, proprietor of the local independent telephone company, would come and, “Cut our ears off.”

Ultimatums came from everywhere, from aunts and uncles, teachers, townspeople.  They were battles of wills; attempts to maintain order.

“If you don’t stop crying and behave, I’m going to take you to the doctor and get you a shot.”

That usually did the trick.  No kid I knew liked getting shots.  Working in health care later, I discovered this approach, hindered more than it helped.

“Hit your sister again, and I’ll swat your butt.”  Direct and to the point–nothing else needed to be said.

Along the path to maturity, these ultimatums were no more cruel, than those elsewhere in the animal kingdom.  Mother cats cuffed misbehaving offspring; carried them by the scruff of their necks when necessary.  All creatures had to learn their places.  There were consequences for misbehavior.

 

 

 

Telephone Salvation (Encore Presentation)

seance 2

One size fits all, misfits

Screamed, indulge me!

Make me happy!

Boys from Possum Junction

Veronicas from Pecatonica

Sat around the parlor table

In a séance, for miscreants

Conjured spirits, of

Recently departed ambitions

Contemplated, turning points

Of contention, where, how, when

Relationships went askew

Deliberations, starved

For attention

Couldn’t make up, for

What, wasn’t there

Folded arms–a few stifled yawns later

Cautious glances, at watches

Last words, soon forgotten

Boredom ended, with

Telephone salvation

Snow Birds

Spread your tiny wings and fly away…

And take the snow back with you

Where it came from on that day

And if I could you know that I would

Fly away with you

–Anne Murray–

 

Every winter

Southward, they flee

From cold and snow

In larger numbers

Than the year before

Checkout lines stretch

From here to eternity

Restaurant reservations

Almost an impossibility

Can’t complain, I’m afraid

A few years back–this

Snow bird came and stayed

 

 

 

 

 

Twenty-First Century Good Fellas

“I really like you kid; in an appropriate, non-gender specific sort of way, of course,” Said Sal.

“Jimmy, you’re gonna’ go places if you follow a few ground rules.”

“What do you mean, Boss?” Asked Jimmy.

“First of all, you can’t go around cracking coconuts; like you did with Herman the German.  These are our clients; even if Herman’s Grocery doesn’t sell sustainably produced agricultural products.  Why, in the old days I woulda’ head-slapped you already.”

“Thanks Boss,”  Jimmy answered.

“Don’t thank me.  Thank Big Eddie for bailing you out.”

“Eddie, what the hell are you doing?  Are you going to sleep on me?”

“No Boss, I was meditating,”  Eddie answered.  Sal’s face was beet red.

“Do your meditating somewhere else, on your own time.”

Big  Eddie hadn’t been the same since bariatric surgery.  Last night, he ordered vegetarian lasagna at Luigi’s.  Lucky for Big Eddie, Sal didn’t know, he now practiced yoga.

“Don’t neither of you lugheads get too comfortable.  I’m not done talking.”  Sal was on a roll.  Big Eddie craved a smoothie in the worst way, but kept quiet.

“The business has changed.  Think of what we do as, Sal’s Security Services.  I want you guys to become marketing experts.  Instead of gourd cracking, you’ve got to play to people’s fears and anxieties.”

“It’s like being a bartender–saying things like, ‘How ya’ doin’ Pal?’ ‘That’s a tough break–I’m here for you.’ Listen to people–be sensitive to their needs.”

“They serve salty snacks at bars.  And how about salty, movie theatre popcorn?  Do You two knuckleheads have any idea why they do that?  Sorry, that was insensitive of me.  Do you two gentlemen have any idea why they do that?”

“So they can sell more drinks, Boss.”  That’s right Jimmy.  Keep thinking that way and I’m going to keep you around.  Think of people’s fears as salty snacks.  We will quench their needs for security, just like those 64 ounce, refreshing, cold drinks.”

“Big Eddie you’re looking good.  You dropped some weight, got those double chins tightened up.” “Thanks Boss,”  Answered Eddie.  “I’ve still got a ways to go.”

“Jimmy, stop wearing that stupid baseball cap turned around backwards.  At least, wear nice slacks and sports shirts.  We’re professionals–we want people to like us.  Next week, you’re both going to anger management and sensitivity training.”

Jimmy and Eddie looked as if they’d been shot.  Sal fractured many bones over the years–none of them sensitive.

Sal, alleged, but never convicted, wise guy, became Sal, mentor, philosopher, proprietor of Sal’s Twenty-First Century Security Services.  Jimmy and Eddie looked spiffy in their new, dark green, embroidered uniform shirts.  Eddie sighed, contemplated going home after work to play with his new boxer puppy.