Silence!

There’s not much noisier in the natural world than Great Blue Heron rookeries during mating season.  Cars being crushed would compare nicely.

Kids, in their unbridled enthusiasm, were naturally noisy.  Parents generally tolerated outside noises, unless someone started crying.

At bedtime, it was a different story.  “Knock off that racket and go to bed.”  It was best not to press the issue with dad–because soon came the dreaded, “Don’t make me tell you again.”

And if kid noises weren’t enough, there were other ways to make noise.  Two blades of grass moistened with just enough spittle, would shriek when blown through.  Balloons, playing cards in bicycle spokes, weren’t loud enough.  Pieces of wire, metal against metal, made a terrific motorcycle-like cacophony.  Which resulted in loose spokes and wobbly wheels.

The cloud of doom hung over my head when my younger brother or sister ran into the house yowling about something I’d done.  Nothing else to do, but wait for punishment that always followed.

Pity gift givers that gave us drum sets, clickers, whistles, or noisemakers of any kind.  They were likely to be confiscated.  Parents just wanted some peace and quiet.  Was that too much to ask?

Never Could Say Goodbye

Why did the process of leaving a family friend or relative’s house seem to take forever?  Little kids hated adult small talk, “My how you’ve grown.  What grade were you in school? You’re almost as tall as your older brother.”

Adult chattering never stopped.  Pitiful expressions, tugging at mom’s skirt, never made the process go faster. Going to your father for help didn’t work, either.  His standard response, “Go ask your mother.”  Which really meant, he knew from years of experience, saying goodbye could not be hurried.

Two generations later, blessed with more patience, the process hadn’t changed.  Only the players in these mini-dramas were different.  Grandma, family matriarch, cooked at home–did most of the cooking away from home.

For that reason, the head chef needed proper utensils, small appliances, to feel at home away from home–anything easily transportable.

Leftovers had to be divvied up.  Grandma refereed the process.  “Don’t take all of that–take more of this.  Your sister likes cranberries, you know.”

“Where were the disposable containers?  I can’t find anything in your kitchen.  Why do you keep things on  top shelves where I can’t reach them?  Better take a couple of pieces of this lemon meringue pie.  Your grandpa and I will never eat it–it will just go bad.”

Lost items, previously ignored, became priorities; followed by discussions of where said lost items could be; bouts of anxiety, then, retrieval of lost items–purses, sweaters, jackets, electronic devices.  When, items weren’t found.  “Well, I’ll pick it up next time–or you can mail it to me.”  The postal service would never go out of business on our account.

When visitors left our house, the process was mostly the same.  Grandkids added interesting twists to the goodbye process.  Internet savvy kids left behind connectors, adapters–strange to unhip grandparents, various clothing articles.  They sometimes took things home, not noticed, until weeks, even months, later.

“What happened to the Caladryl lotion?”  I asked, after getting into some poison ivy.  “Oh, one of the grandkids took it home–he had an itchy rash.”  That wasn’t going to help me at that moment.

Goodbyes and hugs took forever, because we never could say goodbye.

 

 

Late Bloomed

Cockeyed optimists

Little Miss Sunshines

Played in yards–with

White picket fences

Puberty knocked

Nobody answered

Social awkwardness

Became closest friend

Bony ankles popped

With every step

Mom was usually right

Which meant someone

Else was usually wrong

Southern fried pies

Blue skies forever

Revivalists, cynics

What else was new?

 

Dialing For Doilies (Trouser Truths)

Oh, Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz…

Oh, Lord won’t you buy me a color TV

Dialing for dollars is trying to find me

I wait for delivery each day until three…  –Janis Joplin–

 

Remember doilies–those white crocheted things on the back of your grandma’s couch and overstuffed chairs.  They would slide off and granny didn’t like little fingers playing with them.

There was an old TV show, called “Dialing For Dollars,” viewers competed to win cash.  I don’t think “Dialing For Doilies,” would have been nearly as popular.

Before I fire up the grill, more silliness for a Sunday afternoon–a grandfatherly conversation.

When I was your age, we wore real trousers–made from real fabrics.

Wore them with pride.  Snugged them up to our chests–like they should be.

Because we were real men–and that’s what real men did.

A Word Slinger’s Lament

It’s a stormy, late-spring day, with thunder and flashes of lightning.  I’m in a reflective mood.  Everything is ruled by the big karma wheel in the sky.  Why have certain topics been chosen repeatedly?

After several fifth-grade geography classmates failed, I correctly pronounced–“Nova Scotia.”  Because of Nova Scotia, I missed detention during recess.  Recess was a big deal back then.

“M-I-S-S-I, crooked letter, crooked letter, I”spelled out the famous state and river.  I wasn’t blessed with athletic prowess, so as a matter of course, used spellings of big words, to lord over other students.  The jocks didn’t care, but it caught the attention of a few geeks like myself.

Counted among word slingers; skinny, dorky kids, slinging big words around–big words, with rapid-fire spellings.  Which worked fine, until other word slingers came around.  Word slingers with reputations among other word slingers.  Kids named Dennis or Roger, that never smiled–with even longer words, faster spellings.

I fell, wounded, from–E-N-C-Y-C-L-O-P-E-D-I-A.  Looked into the cold, steel-blue eyes of Dennis–the victor.  What kind of name was Dennis for a word slinger?  “Dennis, the Word Killer” would have been far more sinister.  Dennis chewed through difficult words, spit them out, ground them into playground dust with his P. F. Flyers.

Defeated word slingers seldom came back.  Moderate success came with a-n-t-i-d-i-s-t-a-b-l-i-s-h-m-e-n-t-p-a-r-l-i-a-m-e-n-t-a-r-i-a-n-i-s-m.  Hours studying dictionaries and encyclopedias proved all for naught.  With the popularity of s-u-p-e-r-c-a-l-i-f-r-a-g-i-l-i-s-t-i-c-e-x-p-i-a-l-i-d-o-c-i-o-u-s–the big word everybody liked, from “The Sound of Music,” my word slinging days were finished.