Thursday, April 17, 2014

Lunch Caters to the Young

We have a new delicacy in the Backroads High cafeteria. Not that I've tasted it myself, of course. I'm a lunch-bringer. But my cohorts ate it. They didn't even know how very special it was, until the first bite.

"Whew! That broccoli is spicy!"

"Yes, it is rather strong."

"Since when did we get cheese on our broccoli?"

"This is nacho cheese!"

Of course the rest of us chorused: "It's NOT YO CHEESE!" Because we're not mature. Not ready. Can't act like adults yet.

Perhaps the palate of the young is different from the palate of the old. But I think a more practical approach would be to drench that broccoli with syrup.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

You Almost Got Fanny Hugg

Alas, my creativity has ebbed. Seems like only a few moments ago it was flowing out my fingertips in comment responses. But now it has forsaken me. The genie is out of the bottle, and it ain't goin' back in. I guess the bottle of the creativity genie does not bear the slightest resemblance to the bottle of Major Nelson's Jeannie.

It's a shame, too. I was all set to tell you a little story about Fanny Hugg. Doesn't that make you want to run out with buckets and bowls and saucepans and spittoons and chamber pots, to capture the fast-flowing lost creativity of Val before it seeps into the ground, down to the creativity table, where it will remain until tapped by a well drilled by someone in desperate need of creativity? Like Val!

If only I could store my creativity in Tupperware in my neighbor's freezer until I need it. Then I wouldn't have to worry about losing too much creativity, and being rendered dry and droll like a Backroads Hick.

Perhaps I should write my posts before tending to comments.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Maybe I Can Set Up a Punch and Judy Stage Where Her TV Used To Be

My mom paid a surprise visit to school today. She usually does not drop in on me. Even though it was after hours, a whole FIVE minutes after the dismissal bell, I was a bit apprehensive.

One does not drop in with good news. Not even my mom. So I figured something was wrong, or she'd done something she wanted to confess. First I thought perhaps she had backed her Blazer into a garage support. Or let workmen into her house without checking their credentials. I was not so much concerned about her health, because I knew she did not have a doctor's appointment, and she exhibited no cuts, no bruises, no blood, no limp.

Mom has been wanting to dump her cable provider. She has her phone, TV, and internet all through the same company. Now she's got a bee in her bonnet because some big change is coming up. To hear Mom tell it, they're going completely digital, and will have a thousand channels. Mom does not want a thousand channels.

"I have not been happy with them for quite a while. I am going back to AT&T for my phone, and getting DISH Network for my TV, and only keeping the cable for the fast internet that The Pony likes."

"Mom. You don't have to have a thousand channels."

"Well, that's what it said. I have enough trouble with the ones I have now. I don't know the numbers. I click through to get to what I want. It's bad enough with 50 channels."

"Mom. You can program your remote for the ones you want. I'm sure Genius could do it when he's home."

"No. I'm going to see what AT&T has. I might even get internet from them, too. I'm going over to the store to talk to them and tell them what I want."

That was on Monday. As you might imagine, the plan did not quite solve Mom's problem.

"I don't know any more now than when I went over there. This man was very nice, but he had no idea what I wanted. And he kept asking me what I paid my cable company. Then he said he'd need to see my cable bill. and I thought, 'He doesn't have any business looking at my cable bill.' So I told him I'd think about it, and I left."

"Huh. He's probably wanting to see what you paid for cable, and offer you a plan for a few dollars less."

"I think so. Why else would he need to see my bill?"

Today, Mom was all flustered. "I just came by to tell you what I've done. I called DISH Network to see about getting a dish installed for my TV. I told them how much you like yours, and we went through everything that I need, got it all set up, and then the man asked for my credit card information. So I told him, 'I don't have a credit card. I'm not going to pay by credit card. I want to get a bill in the mail and pay it by check.' But he kept saying he couldn't give me an account without a credit card. So I told him he would have to, because I don't have one. And he said, 'Don't you have a daughter?' And I told him yes, that I would talk to you, and he said he would call me back this afternoon."

"Yeah. That's how they are. It's probably about the receivers."

"Yes. He said he needs a credit card so they can make sure I return their receivers. But the more I thought about it, the more I think, 'Why should YOU be responsible for my DISH bill?' And I'm just going to tell him that he must not want my business very much if he can't find a way to get me service without a credit card."

"It's not that I don't trust you, Mom, but I don't really want your account linked to my credit card. If you really want it, I'll do it. But I just want you to know I'd rather not."

"Oh, I agree."

"They can send a man out with the dish and the receivers, and he can take a check. Or cash. Then their receivers are paid for. If they really want your business, I think they can find a way. What they really want is a credit card so they can automatically charge you every month for your service. They've tried for years to get us to do that, and I won't. I want that paper bill, and I'll pay it and know when it's been paid. Not risk an 'error' where too much is charged, or too many months, or their accounts are hacked, or some other little problem. OnStar and SiriusXM Radio try to do that, too. Nope. Not for me. I make them bill me, I write a check, and I've been getting my service. I'd barter with them for a basket of eggs if I thought I could get away with it."

"Well, I just wanted you to know, in case they call you, that I did mention that you already had DISH."

"Great, Mom! Now they know I have a credit card! If they call me, I'm going to say, 'I never heard of that lady. She's trying to scam you.' I'm sure that will help you get your DISH. This is like when we went to get Genius his first iPhone. We waited about an hour in that store, then got the order all written up, and they wanted my credit card. I told them I was paying cash. Nope. Can't take cash. Can't take check. Can't take debit. Credit card or no iPhone. I used my credit card, because it was for Genius, and he was almost starting to cry after waiting so long for an iPhone. The old man and lady with the other clerk got to that credit card point, and the man said, 'Forget it!' and they walked out. I wished that was me."

"I am going to find a way to get rid of my cable some way. But when that DISH man calls me back, I'm going to tell him never mind. I'm not using a credit card."

Neither of us has quite recovered from that big TV antenna withdrawal in 2009.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Val Firmly Believes That a Need-To-Know Basis Should Be a Two-Way Street

Genius sent me a text this morning that he would be calling this evening to get information. Did you get that? Genius was seeking MY input on INFORMATION. Uh huh. I'm not as stupid as I used to be, it seems, when he lived under my roof.

The information needed concerned how to fill out a W-4 form. Genius has an RA position locked up for next year. Not that it pays in cash, just a pittance each semester, with the big payoff coming in room and board. Still, he needed a W-4 and proof that he can work in this country legally. He also has a summer job lined up in the city. This is where it gets dicier. He will be making $20/hour, 40 hours/week, for most of the summer. His total earnings will be just under the amount that requires filing a tax return. So...he wanted advice.

I do taxes for the Thevictorian family, but Hick is more knowledgeable on the W-4s. I always consult him when one rears its head. So I had Genius in my left ear on the house phone, and Hick in my right ear on my cell phone as he was driving home from work. Let's just say neither of those two can take a hint. Can conform to social cues. Like waiting until a person is done talking to put in their own two cents.

It started out all right. "Genius, I'm going to ask your dad. Just a minute." Then after Hick's input, "Okay. Let me tell him." That worked for about two sentences. Then I felt like Larry Kroger, Pinto to his Animal House buddies, upstairs with his supermarket girlfriend, an angel on one shoulder, a devil on the other, both talking to him at once. Only I was not getting information on how to take advantage of my passed-out date, and I did not have a handful of tissues that fell out of her foundation garment.

"I can't do this! You KNEW I was talking to him. You could hear me. Why did you start spouting off again? You always do that! Talk when the other person is talking! I'm done."

"Fine. I'll call him myself."

Yeah. That's what we needed. Hick the one-eyed, inattentive, master sweaver on a back country road dialing Genius with one hand. So that's how Genius got his information.

I can't believe he has not yet responded to my request for input on why I can't open docx files anymore. You'd think one hand would wash the other, now wouldn't you? But I scratched Genius's back, and he won't scratch mine.

Someone got a dirty hand out of this deal, and I think it's me.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Hick is Under My Skin Like Termites in a Creek Log

Hick has been quite productive today. By his standards, anyway. He has managed to get under my skin TWICE! Okay, thrice if you count this morning when I blamed him for the fitted sheet pulling off my side of the bed because he wallows and spins and wraps up in it like a burrito every night, and he had the audacity to proclaim, "I ain't done nothin'! I'm just layin' here!" I find it hard to believe that a wanna-be magician wandered in overnight, stood at Hick's side of the bed, and yanked that fitted flannel sheet from under us like a fancy linen tablecloth from under the china and silver at a four-star restaurant.

Next cat out of the bag, I caught Hick dragging a trunk under the porch. Okay, that's not as sinister as it might sound. Technically, Hick's oldest son, a regular adult wearing overalls and starting to look like Hick, drove that big tree trunk across the front yard in his truck, and backed it up to the front porch, where he and Hick dragged it out and put it at the corner by the downspout, near my rose bush.

I questioned Hick as to the thought processes that went into putting an old rotting tree trunk up under a wooden wraparound porch on a cedar home. Hick seems to think that his very special tree trunk that he dragged from the creek is not full of termites that will delight in a smorgasbord that will keep their family fat and sassy for generations to come. "There's no termites in that tree trunk! I got it out of the creek! You could see them if there were termites in it." So sayeth the self-appointed termite inspector. I'm waiting for him to adorn his very special tree trunk with an eternal flame that licks just shy of contact with the bottom board of the porch.

Hick made a shocking discovery on the way to the creek to get his very special tree trunk. We have surprise chickens! Three newly-hatched chicks, which were not expected yet, even though Hick knows he has hens sitting, just not where, or for how long. He usually catches one sitting in the chicken house, and stuffs a couple of days worth of eggs up under her. From that point, it takes 21 days for the little peckers to bust out. Hick wants to put them up in a separate pen until they are a bit bigger, but he can't catch the momma.

Oh, and according to Hick, "YOUR DOG TRIED TO EAT MY CHICKS!" Yeah. Right. My sweet, sweet Juno trying to eat fluffy fresh baby chicks? I don't think so. Upon further interrogation, Hick reported that he caught Juno SNIFFING THE NEW CHICKS. "She had her nose right up against them!" Um. That's what dogs do. Sniff things. Other dogs' anuses. Men's crotches. Groceries set on the side porch to await carrying in by a 16-year-old. Just-hatched chicks. Dogs don't eat everything they sniff. Laws, no! M-O-O-N. That spells we'd be in a world of trouble if dogs ate everything they sniffed, because other dogs would have no anuses, and men would have no crotches, and people would starve to death.

I will not believe Juno was trying to eat baby chicks unless I discover her with tiny feathers clinging to her gums, and three chicks seem to be missing. TRYING to eat baby chicks? If she wanted to eat them, they would already be eaten. Hick is not so powerful that his gaze falling upon her in the act would stop my sweet, sweet Juno from chickicide.

I'm sure Juno will be Hick's best friend when he grills steaks later this evening. I hope the deck does not collapse under them due to weakening by termite jaws.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A Scratch-Off Tale From the Gas Station Chicken Store

Val has had many unique adventures here in Backroads. Many unique adventures involving fellow customers at establishments she frequents. Indeed. She has been caressed by a woman in Save A Lot. Had her buttocks molested by a geezer's arm in the dead-mouse-smelling post office. Was propositioned by a ZZ-Top-bearded, Daisy-Dukes-wearing man of questionable oral hygiene on the parking lot of Walmart. Had a roll of cash thrust at her by a friendly, generous, inattentive man while boxing her groceries at Save-A-Lot. Suffered verbal overfamiliarity from a dude who yelled, "That's ever man's dream!" when she asked for two breasts and two thighs at the gas station chicken store.

And it's the gas station chicken store that calls us back today. The scene of the latest indignity to befall our heroine, Val of Backroads.

Perhaps I've mentioned that I do not have a fondness for other people's children. Unless I am responsible for them in a supervisorly educational role, I have no interest in them. Seen and not heard. There's a reason for that idiom. It was not coined by idiots. I would like to coin my own idiom. "Children should be left outside in a well-ventilated car with proper adult supervision, and not brought into convenience stores." Not quite so catchy as "seen and not heard." But quite as serviceable.

I had stopped in for a 44 oz. Diet Coke and a scratch-off ticket. Yes, I DID win, as a matter of fact. Fifty dollars on a ten dollar ticket. But I didn't know that until later. Because, you see, I was fighting for my life against an eight-year-old girl in the gas station chicken store. Or at least for my hide.

A man was already at the Coke machine. He looked at it, and moved on down the counter towards the back cooler, to the coffee machine. Had he asked, I might have suggested something stiffer. But Val is not one to give unsolicited advice to strangers in convenience stores. That guy had three little girls with him. They all called him Daddy. Stair steps, they were. I'm guessing 8, 7, 6, though I am not well-versed in the sizes and cognitive skills of youngsters much under the age of 12.

The girlies swarmed around those three aisles like a working drug-sniffing canine, an ant checking out a dessert buffet, and a goldfish in a just-tapped aquarium. DaddyO seemed a bit frazzled. Eight suddenly appeared to my left, at the section where one orders gas station chicken, though the kitchen was closed, it being only 10:00 a.m. She eyed the plastic-lid-covered tray of donuts. "I never saw a donut for only eighty-nine cents, Daddy." He sighed and pressed the lid onto his coffee. "Well, then, you must not have been in many convenience stores." The other girlies swarmed him and grabbed his legs, asking for assorted treats. I moved on to the counter with my refill.

A new clerk was training. Her minder left her to go in the kitchen, perhaps to drop a batch of chicken. The characteristic aroma did not yet permeate the store. Trainee was slow. She had to look up the price of a refill. She had trouble tearing my scratcher ticket off the roll. DaddyO and his brood were behind me. And beside me. I daresay I'm lucky they were not up in my buttocks like that post office geezer's arm.

The minder came out to the other register. "Can I help you over here?" DaddyO stepped up. That, to his litter, was an invitation to belly up to the short counter. As if they, too, were paying customers. DaddyO had caved, and was buying them a bag of chips to share. "Five dollars for a bag of chips?" The minder was not helping the situation. I'm thinking his total was five dollars, not just the chips. But that is neither here nor there, because Eight was HERE. Right under my left armpit. Jostling me. Bumping me. Stabbing me with her youthful elbow that had not yet acquired a cushion of fat to soften the jab of skin-over-bone. I moved away. She followed, as though attached by a safety chain.

Twice more she jabbed me. Then she commenced to scratching her angular elbow. AND SCRAPED SEVERAL FINGERNAILS WORTH OF SKIN OFF MY PLUSH OLD-LADY ARM! I've endured less damaging swipes from my ungrateful garage-peeing cats.

There needs to be a law. Like...kids under 16 must be carried through stores by their parents. That would be much safer for victims like me. What if some mishap were to befall that child over the next 24-48 hours, and Val's skin cells were found under her fingernails? I could be framed for ne'er-do-well-ness!

Yeah. There oughta be a law.

Friday, April 11, 2014

You're Not Getting Older, You're Getting Tireder

Val is tired tonight, my friends. Tired, like a marathon runner named Jean-Paul whose alarm was thwarted by a fuse blown by a hot tub.

Getting to school today was a bit like crossing the wide prairie with my lover Ike, two yoke of oxen, one spotted hog, a tall Shanghai rooster, and an old yeller dog. There was road resurfacing on two of the three ways I can get there. The third way is really not an option, miles out of my way, through territory of which I am unfamiliar. I guess I could do it if it meant losing my job. But it didn't, so I took the second of the two work zones. Val does not like disorder and change. It's draining.

Just walking from T-Hoe on the school parking lot into the building proper was a Herculean task. Halfway up the sidewalk, I wanted to lay down in the newly-sprouted blades of grass around the downspout. Who would know? Besides everybody watching me on the camera, and those faculty who pulled up after I sank into a Rip Van Winkle slumber. I was as drowsy as Dorothy in a field of poppies. It was as if Morpheus himself had hopped onto my back and wrapped his arms around me. Commercial Lunesta moths circled my head like stars around the noggin of a poorly-skilled cartoon boxer.

Now that I'm getting on in years, perhaps five hours of sleep per night is not quite enough.