Sunday, February 19, 2017

The World Moves Too Fast For Val

My Sweet Baboo took me to the movies today. Okay, actually, I had been waiting for this movie to come out, and I'd told him that when it did, we were going. So when I told him Friday that we were going to the 11:00 showing Sunday, Hick agreed. He likes going to the movies (mostly for the snacks, I suspect) but rarely got to accompany the boys and me because we went during the day, in the summers, when he was working.

Let the record show that Val has not been to the movies in quite some time. The last movie I vividly remember seeing in a theater was The Heat, when I took my mom. And maybe I went after that with Genius, to one of the Hunger Games movies. The second one, I think.

Things have changed at the theater!

We have a 4-plex nearby, over in bill-paying town. I like to go to the first showing on a Sunday morning, a result of shrugging off the mantle of my small-town celebrity all these years, and consciously avoiding students during my off-time. Of course no outing involving Val is without a glitch or two. But I'll take glitches. I am still celebrating the fact that I did NOT have a weirdo encounter.

Did you know that NOW, the staff at AMC Theatres does not fill your soda for you? It's true! They have a giant soda machine in the lobby, where you take your plastic cup and pour your own beverage. You would think, with all her 44 oz Diet Coke experience, Val would be right at home. Not so. This machine is HUGE! Thank goodness that if we have an earthquake HERE, the ground will swallow us whole, rather than that behemoth toppling over and slowly crushing the life out of me.

Hick, such a wizard with machines, stepped right up and pushed that lever and got his ice and then...and then...FROZE. He tried to touch the screen to select his soda (from a menu of 100+ choices!) and was about to fill his cup with CAFFEINE FREE Diet Coke. Well! I stopped him forthwith, and he figured out how to go back, and I showed him the plain old Diet Coke button! Then he had to tell me how to get ice (I don't know how I forgot that one) and I went right into that Diet Coke menu and selected...are you ready for this...Diet Coke with LIME! I set my plastic cup on the machine, right under the spigot, and

DIET COKE WITH LIME SPRAYED STRAIGHT OUT AND DRENCHED MY SHIRT!

Okay. Some of it went into my cup. But, being old and cantankerous now, and caring even less than a honey badger...Val did was quick to voice her displeasure.

"IT'S SPRAYING ALL OVER ME!"

Of course there was attendant there watching people. Kind of like those self-checkout monitors at Walmart. I know he was watching me, because he took one step from where he was loitering, leaning on the machine, and said, "I'm sorry, Ma'am. That was Diet Coke with Lime, right?" He fiddled and faddled with that machine, and then said, "The spigot was twisted. I fixed it now."

Yes. Well. He didn't have a blow-dryer to unsoak my shirt. Perhaps I should have taken my finger off of the Diet Coke with Lime button when the spraying started. But I wanted to fill my cup, by cracky!

Anyhoo...we proceeded to take our giant popcorn and vats of Diet Coke, and watch Fist Fight. You can't go wrong with a movie about teachers fighting. With the two biggest stars being Ice Cube and Tracy Morgan. I found this movie hilarious, but then I have simple tastes, and like really stupid movies, according to Genius.

There was one couple in the theater ahead of us, sitting about midway down on the other side. It could have been a mother and son, or a cougar and her prey. We took the next-to-last row on the left side of the theater. Only 4 seats in that row. So nobody would climb over us. With that Sunday morning crowd, you know.

Right as the movie proper started, three dudes came in. I think it was a dad and two sons, or a son and a friend. Of course they chose to sit in the row RIGHT IN FRONT OF US. At least that was a row with 8 seats, so they didn't block my view.

Being the smart sort, I had packed in my movie purse a baggie with 1/3 box of Sno-Caps, and a small gift bag left over from Christmas so that I didn't have to share a popcorn bag with Hick. He lets me hold it, but that job takes two hands, the way he digs into it. So I had him pour part of the popcorn from the AMC bag into my gift bag. Then I could sprinkle some butter flavoring on it, too.

You don't really want to be in a theater when Hick is eating popcorn. He digs his hand down into the bag, rustling the sides, crunching up the kernels, until he had the maximum kernelage in his mitt, and proceeds to cram that popcorn into his gaping maw by covering his mouth with that scoop, crumbling it against his lips until it all fits between his teeth. I kept SHUSHING him during the quiet parts, but his eating was so loud that he did not hear. Never mind the fact that he went for the refill before the movie had even started.

After the show was over, I had packed my glasses back into their case, and the case back into my movie purse. I put my extremely large soda cup on the floor beside my chair, because I knew that I would have to lean on the armrest to unfold my knees and stand for a moment before they were loose enough to walk. I had every intention of throwing my soda cup away. I had toyed with the idea of refilling it on the way out, but with a 20-minute ride home, and no foam cup, I figured I'd rather stop for my regular 44 oz Diet Coke. The movie one I'd filled with ice so that it would stay cold for 90 minutes. So I was only hydrating myself, really, and not overdoing it on Diet Coke.

As the outtakes were showing just before the credits rolled, a female usher stepped in and propped open the doors. While she was standing there, to make sure all seven of us exited in an orderly manner, is when I set my soda on the floor. While she was there, I even picked it up and took a sip, and put it back on the floor.

Well! The moment the credits started, I stood up. I told Hick, "I've got to stand here a minute, to loosen my knees." I know that usher gal heard me. The other five people left. I was turning to pick up my soda when Usher Gal close-talked me.

"Ma'am? Are you done with this soda?"

"Um...well...I guess so..."

SHE ALREADY HAD HER HAND ON IT! On the top, like you grasp it like a claw, over the lid.

"I'll just throw it away for you."

"I was going to do that." You know, I might have wanted another sip! I MIGHT have wanted to refill it on the way out, just to spite her!

As I was gimping along on the right knee that doesn't like to straighten out all the way, I turned and said pointedly to Hick, "You'd think I could have 30 seconds to stand up and grab my soda!"

Can you believe Hick took HER side? "Val. She was only being nice. She saw that you were having trouble, and picked it up for you to throw away."

Bull. I think Usher Gal was too aggressive. It's not like they give a Nobel Prize for Ushering.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Val's Undoing

It's no secret that Val has been making wise choices. And if not exactly WISE choices, at least wiser choices. The lesser of two fatteners. Picking her meals and snacks so that they do the least damage to the undiet that she started last February.

Normally, I don't deny myself something I want. I take less of it. And I balance out the meals around it. Still, I abstain from buffets. No good can come of that. And I buy snack foods that, although not falling into the healthy category, have a means to control portions, and calculate calories.

One thing I DO deny myself right now is PEEPS. I LOVE PEEPS! Especially the best PEEPS, the purple bunny PEEPS. It's too long until Easter. If I indulge in PEEPS now, it might be the beginning of the end. They leer at me from every shelf. Walmart, Save A Lot, Country Mart. I'm surprised the gas station chicken store has not stocked up on them to tempt me. There will come a day, closer to the vanishing point of PEEPS, that I take some of those bunnies home with me. But lately, I've been able to resist.

I've also driven right by the frozen custard store that I waited a year-and-a-half to reach completion. Yes, I would dearly love a Kiddie Cone of chocolate custard on these unseasonably-warm 70-degree February days. But I resist. Yes, a Kiddie Cone is a better choice than a medium concrete with chocolate custard, chocolate chips, and caramel. But I can do it. I can delay that treat for a while.

With such a will of steel, it might come as a surprise to you that Val fell off the wagon two nights ago. It surprised Val, too. After all, she builds into her undiet room for a snack every evening. Most often, it's two Hershey Kisses or two mini Reese's, along with an individual bag of pretzels, Sun Chips, or Cheez Its. Sometimes with a side of Frank's Original Red Hot Sauce for dipping!

Val's fall from grace was obviously Hick's fault, right? Because she was talking to him upstairs, before bringing her snacks downstairs. And thus forgot her chips on that fateful evening. Val is not one to climb steps all willy-nilly. There are 13 of them from the living room to her dark basement lair. When I discovered the missing chips, I decided that a bag of Cheez Its was not worth a hike back up from my subterranean hideaway.

I was sure I had something stashed away in my dark basement lair. Not so much stashed, as in hidden...as stashed, as in set aside in all the clutter and forgotten about. Under a wooden chair from Hick's old kitchen table, stacked with books I'm meaning to read, was a Walmart bag. I use them to transport things from one level to another. So anything could have been in that bag. Important envelopes that I was sure I'd need for taxes ten months later. Books to add to the chair stack. Magazines that I might want to reference. A video that I'd taken to school for a holiday or reward showing. A box of Puffs with Lotion. ANYTHING!


I pulled that bag out and looked inside. JACKPOT! I found some chips! Yummy! I hadn't had these chips in a long time. They're like Pringles, but tortilla chips instead of potato chips. AND I had two packets of Red Burrito Hot Sauce left over from previous Hardee's Chicken Bowls on my desk. My nightly chip bags run anywhere from 110 calories for pretzels, to 150 calories for Cheddar Jack Cheez Its. So I counted out a serving of 15 chips for 150 calories. NOM-NOM!

The problem was, you see...I had some hot sauce left over in the packet. I never should have opened the second hot sauce packet. Should have just stretched that first one until it ran out. But just a couple more chips wouldn't hurt, right? Right? I ATE TWO MORE SERVINGS OF CHIPS!!! That's half a can of chips, people!

But that's not the whole shocking story. I wondered why I haven't thought about these chips lately. I used to buy them all the time. They're great with Frank's Original. And great with Red Burrito Hot Sauce. I don't remember seeing them at my local Walmart lately. Maybe this could explain why:


Now that I think about it...those chips DID taste a little like cardboard. Not that such a fact stopped me from foundering myself on them, eating THREE SERVINGS!

That's right. Val did not eschew her wise choices for a delectable, special occasion or celebratory meal. Nope. She ate two-year-old, stale, pressed-particle, processed, tortilla-like chips.

I feel so cheap.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday #48 "At Weirdos Only Dot Com"

Blog buddy Sioux is hosting Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday. I have 150 words to convince you to fake-buy my fake book. Woodn't you like to get in on the ground floor with the release of this week's fake book? Don't be a knot-head! Don't go against the grain! Beat the logjam and fork over your sawbucks! Support Val Thevictorian, a blossoming fake author, as she puts down roots in the literary world. C'mon! What in blazes are you waiting for? Val is stoked!


At Weirdos Only Dot Com

Magnolia didn't know she was looking for love in all the wrong places. Or looking for love at all. Until her in-box blew up with unsuitable suitors. She politely rejected. Not interested in elderly gent Hubba-Hubba. College kid Pokingman18. Nor the earthy gal, SensibleShoes. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Magnolia plans a getaway from technology. She unplugs her laptop, stuffs it under a quilt in the closet, and heads for her childhood vacation home. For safety reasons, she calls How Much Wood Could a Woodchipper Chip, to arrange for a delivery before she arrives. Can't be too careful.

Just a-swingin', Magnolia is shocked when a stately gentleman yanks her chain. "I've been trying to find you. I'm Smart Ash. I saw your profile." As he leans over to whisper sweet somethings into her hearing aid, Magnolia feels a little prick on her shoulder. She looks down to see... (150 words)


__________________________________________________________________

Fake Reviews for Val’s Fake Book

The Sidler..."Good thing Smart Ash wasn't carrying TicTacs, or this fake story would have been over before it started! This fake book sneaks up on you. You don't really like it, but it's hard to get rid of. Just like the author."

Tom Cruise..."I am so excited about this fake book that I could jump on a couch to proclaim my love for it! Which doesn't mean I'm all that into it. I give it about six years. Then it'll be time for me to find another fake book."

Dennis Rodman..."I like this fake book so much that I wish it had been fake-written back in 1996, so I could have given it to myself as a wedding present. It would surely have had more staying power than my self-marriage. I never should have married myself on the rebound." 

Vincent Van Gogh..."I put the EAR in wEIRdo, and I heartily recommend this fake book! The fake author paints with a wide brush, as perhaps a street urchin might have done in whitewashing Aunt Polly's fence after being hoodwinked by a young ne'er-do-well."

J. Edgar Hoover..."This fake book really blows my skirt up! If the fake author's background check comes back clean, I heartily recommend this inauthentic tome."

Howard Hughes..."I have holed up in my coffin to read this fake book over and over. I think I'm on reading number 150 at the moment. It would be 151, but my excessively long fingernails prevent me from turning the fake pages in a timely manner."

Penelope, SNL Character of Kristen Wiig..."Val Thevictorian fake wrote this fake book? Well...I fake wrote a faker book: At Humongous Weirdos Dot Net. So you should all fake-buy MY fake book. It's better. And I'm a faker author. Though not bigger."

Thursday, February 16, 2017

This Week's Punishment for Val's Good Deed

On Sunday, I set out to make spaghetti for Hick's supper. He had requested it a few days earlier. I figured I could get the sauce put together and let it kind of diffuse its flavors through the day. It's not like I coddle precious tomato plants in the house, then move them outside, raise them like spoiled children, pick the prettiest and ripest, peel and puree them, and simmer a sauce all day. No. Please try to conceal your surprise.

I hand-crank open a can of Hunts Tomato Sauce (With Meat). Let the record show that I've never seen any evidence of meat in that sauce. I screw the lid off a Save A Lot jar of pizza sauce and add it to the pan. I drain a little can of mushrooms and toss them in. Stir in about a pound of cooked ground beef. Squeeze in some minced garlic from one of those plastic bottles that you store upside down. Sprinkle in two packets of Splenda to cut the acidity. And then add a little fresh-ground black pepper from the grinder that my best ol' ex-teaching buddy Mabel gave me as a gift one year.

Simple, right? Even Rachel Ray could do it.

But not Val. Not on this day. I was on the final step. I wanted to get it ready before I left for town. I actually stopped on my way out the door to accomplish this task, because I knew I wouldn't want to dally when I returned with my 44 oz Diet Coke. The ground beef had already been cooked the day before, when I made pizza. Now it was only a matter of stirring everything together to stick in FRIG II until supper time.

Val plans. The Universe conspires. Even Steven guffaws.

I picked up the pepper grinder with my right hand. Took off the bottom cap with my left hand. Held the pepper grinder over the pan of sauce, and pushed the top button with my right thumb.

You know what happened, right?

THE WHOLE BOTTOM SECTION OF THE PEPPER GRINDER FELL INTO THE SAUCE.

That's right. The clear plastic portion that holds the peppercorns plopped right into that red sauce. I had to dump out those peppercorns and rinse out that section. I took it outside for a picture (because I don't like my indoor photos looking like I live where the sun don't shine) to show you the carnage.



There's the salt grinder, all smug and together, and the dismembered body of the pepper grinder. I usually rely on the mechanical aptitude of my college boys to fill those things up for me, or put in batteries. Now I was on my own. I had to clean them up from being on the cat-bed bird-toilet porch rail. Then I had to set them to dry over the heater vent, so all moisture would evaporate.

Hick has no idea what I went through to make his spaghetti. I don't even like the stuff, myself.

No good deed goes unpunished. I'm pretty sure if I think outside the box, in a convoluted manner, I can find a way that it was Hick's fault. In fact, I'm pretty sure HE'S the last person to use the pepper, on the chicken and dumplings I made him last week...

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

There Are Probably No Calendars or Clocks in the Afterlife

The Truth in Blogging Law says that I must inform you that this post is pre-blogged. I am typing it at 10:30 on Monday night, February 13th.

I already have several ideas in my queue, with outlines in my head, that I've been planning to write this week. And I will be blurbing my latest fake book on Friday, so I'm not sure when I'll let this one out. But I'm writing it up while it's going down, by cracky!

You might remember that on Thursday, February 9th, I wrote about some odd coincidences happening in my life during the early days of February. How on Sunday night, February 5th, I had a dream in which my mom was sitting off to herself at a party, and when I asked what was wrong, she said, "Well, I'm a little sad. My friend [REDACTED] just passed away." As I wrote, this dream seemed very real, and I shed a couple of tears over it the next morning.

What I didn't mention was that I spent several days perusing the internet, looking to see if there was an obituary for [REDACTED]. Just...you know...to see if she had died years ago, or maybe if she really HAD passed away on February 5th when I had that dream. I tried the local online newspaper, and a couple of local funeral homes. Nothing. I tried a couple of Mom's other friends' names, in the cities where I last knew them to live, and even one in Florida. Nothing. Nada. I decided that it was just a weird dream, and that IF one of those friends had died, it was so far back that her name wasn't coming up in my searches. No big deal. I was just curious.

About 15 minutes ago, I was skimming local news. There's a murder investigation going on, and the paper has been updating a couple times throughout the day. A relative of the victim attended the school I just retired from, thus the interest. Seeing no updates at this time, I scrolled down the main page to the obituaries. I don't normally go there. Last week Hick had me looking for an old classmate of his. But I haven't looked for that for five or six days. I just scrolled down on a whim.

[REDACTED] was the first name on the obituary list.

Huh. I'm kind of surprised. The date of death was Sunday, February 12th, one week past Sunday, February 5th, the date my mom appeared in my dream saying she was sad because [REDACTED] had passed away.

It's a crazy coincidental world out there. I wonder if Mom knows anything about PowerBall...

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Ya Got Struggle Right Here In River City

Are you tired of hearing about my casino trip yet? If the answer is, "Affirmative, Val," then first you need to shut that crap up and talk like a regular person, and next, get over yourself, because you'll read what I put in front of you, by cracky, or you can just go find the daily blog of some other woman who complains about her husband.

This post is not really a complaint about Hick, though. Mark your calendar. And if that calendar was a gift from an ex-mayor, and your sister the ex-mayor's wife called to say you left it at her house on Christmas Eve, I hope to Not-Heaven you have stopped by to pick it up already.

So...Hick dropped me off at the front door of the casino, and I headed straight for the bathroom. What mature lady taking blood pressure medicine every morning does not, after an hour ride to the casino? But I'm getting ahead of myself here. We will revisit that bathroom later. More than once.

With my money arranged in my pants pocket for easy access, and my player's card in my shirt pocket for quick withdrawal, and my cell phone in my other pants pocket pulling down the most recent pair of slacks that I THOUGHT were the right size when I bought them...I made a beeline for the FREE Diet Coke. Oh, yeah. There are other flavors. But who bothers even looking at them, when there's FREE Diet Coke!

My tiny not-44-oz cup in hand, I headed for my little area of the six machines that I like to play. WAIT A MINUTE! My machines were gone! What's the deal? I can't enjoy myself playing random slots all willy-nilly! I want MY machines. The ones I fell asleep with visions of dancing in my head. Huh. I walked all around. Even back to the non-smoking area, which we all know is crap, nobody likes to play those games, they just want to give their lungs a respite. I had to pass through the high-roller area to get there and back. Not for Val. No siree, Bob! I headed over to the other side, too, where my favorite gambling aunt likes to play. Nope. Nothing of interest to me. Crap! Now what was I going to do?

By now I was back at the entrance, and crossed over again to where I started. To see if that ONE other slot I kind of like was available now. It was. I was soon up several tens of dollars, but itching to figure out where the dastardly conspirators in charge of that casino had put my favorite machines. I ambled over that way again, squinting at every single slot I passed.

AND THERE THEY WERE!

My six favorite machines. In the exact same place they'd always been, me having gone one aisle too far after the soda machine, missing them by not turning my head to the right. Oh, well. It's not like I'd been pouring out my heart to the wrong grave or anything...

The rest of the gambling part is pretty uneventful. I lost. Hick lost less. We ate a great burger. I had another hour to lose as much as I could before time to go. And then I cashed out the tickets I had in my pocket.

"I'm going to the bathroom, then I'm ready."

"Oh. You're not going to the one on the way out?"

"No. I told you. They only have one handicap stall, and there's always an old lady in it. I'll go in this one."

"Okay. I might as well go in this one too. While you are."

So Hick walked over to the restrooms with me. I told him I'd meet him right there in the hallway, and we'd walk out together. That would keep him from going back by the main entrance to sit on a slot machine stool turned the wrong way, watching people cash out their tickets. I find that kind of creepy. I don't even want Hick watching ME! You don't want to make people nervous in a casino.

Let the record show that I prefer to use the handicap stalls. The toilets are higher, and the walls have handles to hoist myself off the throne. I have no desire to squat over a hole in the ground like I'm an exotic world traveler. I like my toilets high, like Hick likes his bowls of vegetable beef soup.

The restrooms at this casino are pretty nice, as restrooms go. Not Shoji Tabuchi Theater in Branson nice, but still better than most public facilities. The stalls go almost all the way to the floor, the doors have latches that show a red bar when occupied, they have regular door handles, not those little turny disk kind of things where the bar never quite fits in the slot. Pretty nice. No billiards table in the men's room like at Shoji's theater (that I know of), but still nice. I planned to make a brief pit stop, count up my money to see how much I lost, and rejoin Hick in the hall to head home.

There are many stalls in the ladies' room here. Probably 20 or more. The last two on each side are the handicap stalls. Which seems kind of cruel, making the differently-abled hike all that distance to use the facilities. But still, there are four.

I breezed in, ready to commandeer a comfortable seat. And was shocked to see a corridor of old ladies waiting for stalls to become unoccupied! I have NEVER seen so many ladies in that room in my whole casino life! It's like there was a nursing home convention. At least they were mobile, or it would have reminded me of that Gone With the Wind scene of soldiers stretched out on the ground as far as the eye could see!

There was a logjam in the crapper, by cracky!

The old ladies with walkers ambled along as if they were pacing that narrow passageway. One old lady in a wheelchair, being pushed by another old lady who was probably using her as a walker, was jiggling door handles!

"No. It's full, too."

I saw the writing on the wall. Figuratively. I knew I wasn't getting into a handicap stall anytime soon. But Hick was outside waiting. I ducked into the first stall on the right. A regular stall. The toilet appeared to be a height that could be utilized by a pre-schooler. I wasn't lowering plopping my ample butt onto that tiny thing. I could hold it. But I could also use this privacy to count up my leftover gambling stake. When I came out, those hobbling non-wounded were out of sight. I went all the way to the end. I knew better than to try the last handicap stall on the left.

I'd tried that very stall upon arrival. THE HORROR! I got so far as to enter and close the door behind me and turn the lock. EEK! Goldilocks, or more likely Thinning Platinum Locks, had been there. And let's just say that Thomas Jefferson, allowed into that ladies' room by way of his powdered wig, sitting on that toilet instead of his boot to take a crap, would have needed a laundress to scrub the coattails of his waistcoat, had he sat down before looking at the toilet seat. I tore out of there like a cat tossed into a running shower.

So now, I chose the last stall on the right. It has a problem self-flushing sometimes. But it's workable. Myself relieved, I washed up and found Hick, standing forlornly, nobody's business to mind but his own.

Seriously. You'd think a casino would make even MORE handicap stalls, what with the slot aisles clogged with various ambulatory-aided septuagenarians all the livelong day.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Riddle: Which Is a Bigger Pain in the Butt? Hick, a Seatbelt Buckle, or Four Puffs With Lotion?

So...Hick took me to the casino on Sunday. And you'll never guess what happened. Okay. You probably will. Hick was up to his shenanigans again!

I had planned to walk in with him this time. He usually drops me off at the front door, and goes to park the car in the free outdoor parking lot. Valet parking is free, too, but Hick never uses it, even though my favorite gambling aunt does. Anyhoo...the weather was clear, the temps in the upper 40s, and my casino-legs bolstered by daily walks on the washboarded/gravel-duned/pockmarked driveway. Since I was going to take a day off from the driveway, I figured I could substitute casino walking.

Well. Hick declared, before we were even on casino property, that he was going to visit a nearby flea market that we saw from the road he spotted with his eagle eye like a sniper's weapon's red laser dot honing in on a target for the kill. So he dropped me off at the door again. No need for me to climb out of T-Hoe in the parking lot and walk in alone. Because, make a note-to-self, people:

"If I'm ever going to mug someone at a casino, do it on their way IN to the building, when they are most likely to have money on them."

You know, unless they're one of those freaky modern folks who use the casino credit system thingy. What's the world coming to? I just got used to the extinction of slot tokens! Jabbing in bills and getting back tickets is not nearly as fun, though hands do remain a bit cleaner.

Anyhoo...Hick came back after squandering some of his gambling stake [!] (given to him by ME) on flea market finds. After hitting the slots for a couple of hours, Hick declared that the Goodwills were open now, and he left again to go find more bargains. Never mind that on the way home, we'd have to stop by two more Goodwills for his shopping pleasure.

When Hick returned, we ate lunch, then he allowed me another hour. Because it was my birthday celebration, by cracky! We had an enjoyable 2/3 of a day, and then headed out to the parking lot. I usually walk out with Hick anyway. You never know when he might forget me if I let him pick me up out front.

Of course there was a ne'er-do-well parked right up against us, on the passenger side. Tires right on the line. Val needs to open T-Hoe's door completely, people! It only has two notches when it opens. Not far enough, and all the way. Even though there's a running board for Val to stand on and get situated before plopping into the seat, she has trouble bending her knees more than 90 degrees. It takes some finagling to get both feet inside the vehicle.

"I'll pull up for you," said Hick, knowing the drill, even sometimes parking a little more toward his line to leave room for my door. Which is a good deed kind of negated by a close-parker on the other side. To make matters worse, the person was IN the car! And to make matters worser, the person pulled forward slowly as Hick pulled forward!

Let the record show that I don't think it was a case of asshole-y-ness so much as a case of paying attention to a cell phone and not understanding what was going on outside the car. Like maybe that person was getting ready to pull out of the parking lot, and was creeping up trying to see if anything was coming around the front end of T-Hoe. Or...she was just an asshole.

Anyhoo...with that driver right next to me, encroaching on my door-space, I sprang to the running board and plopped onto the black leather seat and dragged my legs in as fast as I could, then closed the door. Hick started out of the lot so as not to block traffic.

"Uh...where's my seatbelt?"

Let the record show that Val uses a seatbelt extender. It is not required for buckling after all these wise choices, and was not actually required before, but is more comfortable, what with the path the shoulder belt takes across Val's breastesses on her ample chestal area. I leave it buckled into the regular clicky thing, and it has another buckle at the end of a 2-3 inch segment of seatbelt webbing. Hick inherited with his brother's stuff ten years or so ago, and I took to using it, because it fits our GM vehicles.

"I don't know where your seatbelt is! Why do you think I did something with it? It's YOUR seatbelt! Why would I mess with it?"

"I don't know. Why WOULD you?"

"I didn't! Maybe you're sitting on it."

"Maybe. IF somebody flopped it over onto the seat instead of leaving it like I left it."

Indeed. I WAS sitting on that buckle, which I found out by feeling where it went from the regular seatbelt connection. Val is certainly not Pea Princess royalty, what with being unable to feel a metal buckle under her rumpus!

But that's not all! A few miles down the road, I wanted to blow my nose. To get all that casino cigarette soot out of my nasal cavity. But the four-or-five Puffs With Lotion that I keep laying on the console, down by T-Hoe's cup holders, were nowhere to be found.

"What did you do with my Kleenexes?" Yeah. That's what we call our Puffs out loud. Branding is a magical thing.

"I didn't do nothin' with your Kleenexes! I didn't touch them!"

"Well...I notice that my change cup is gone from the console. I guess you don't know anything about THAT, either."

"Oh. I put the change cup INSIDE the console. So nobody would break in for the money."

"Did you think they would break in for my Kleenexes? Is that where you put THEM, too?"

I opened up the console, and found my change cup, but no Puffs.

"Val. I told you I didn't take your Kleenexes. Where were they?"

"Right HERE! And now there's nothing. Just the bare fake wood."

"Did you throw your seatbelt buckle on them? Maybe it dragged them off."

"Why would it DRAG them off? How did my seatbelt buckle get in my seat? Were you going THAT fast, that when you rounded a curve, it slung a seatbelt buckle over there? Or did you put it there on purpose, so I'd sit on it?"

"Val. I don't know why you keep accusing me!"

"Um...maybe because YOU WERE THE ONLY ONE IN THE CAR? TWICE? Without me in here. And when I got out, everything was where I left it, and when I got back in, stuff was missing! I don't know who else you're going to blame it on."

"Just look around."

"Well, they're not back here behind the console on the floor. But here are the nail clippers that The Pony left on the console by the change cup about six months ago!"

"Oh. They must have fell off when I opened up the console."

Let the record show that Hick and I searched our respective sides of the car cabin, and down in between the console and our seats. Those Puffs were gone, baby, gone!

"Maybe you're sitting on them. Like the seatbelt."

That was crazy logical, coming from Hick. So I hoisted myself up and fumbled around. But unlike Hick, unable to find his own butt with two hands, I found my Puffs with ONE hand!

"Huh. Here they are. I don't know why you had to put them on the seat for me to sit on."

"Val. I did NOT put them on your seat!"

Yeah. He can sing that song till the cows come home. I know that I didn't LEAVE my Puffs and seatbelt on the seat. Whether they got there by inertia from Hick's reckless driving, or his unthinking hand...Hick was the deliveryman of their distribution.

Now you should be able to answer the riddle:

"Which Is a Bigger Pain in the Butt? Hick, a Seatbelt Buckle, or Four Puffs With Lotion?"