Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Ladies Take Over the Barbershop



We’ve got UNRULINESS, blogfriends. Right here in Barbershop City. We’ve got UNRULINESS. In the middle that's a capital L. That rhymes with not-heaven. And that stands for Little Barbershop of Horrors. We’ve surely got UNRULINESS. Right here in Barbershop City. Right here! Gotta figure out a way to close down that future den of iniquity!

Oh, dear. Where to start. Hick has been working night and day…well…evening and weekend day…on his precious barbershop. I have fresh pictures, but you'll have to wait until tomorrow for them. Because right now, you must hear of Hick's latest barbershop adventure.

When we last convened, Hick had painted the front wall red and set up a mantel with no fireplace, a mantel dotted with St. Louis Cardinal memorabilia. That left him three bare walls to contend with. But in Hick's mind, that was only three walls left to decorate with man-things for my barbershop. So he got to furnishing his newest labor of love.

Last week, Hick came stomping in the front door at quitting time. Oh, not quitting time after work at his day job, which he should be keeping, I tell him, rather than thinking we can exist on the proceeds of his pipe dream. No. It was quitting time from decorating his barbershop.

Hick was agitated that day, my friends. Agitated, like a hipster doofus in a dented motorcycle helmet after an encounter on the street with the former boyfriend of a gal with a big wall of hair and a face like a frying pan, Crazy Joe Davola, the Pagliacci fan, dressed as the tragic clown.

"My barbershop is full of them! Ladybugs! All over the place! There must be five thousand of them! They're down my collar, up my sleeves, in my hair...all over me!"

So of course he came straight into the house to virtually shake himself like a wet dog, spraying ladybugs throughout our homestead. At least that's what I pictured upon hearing his lamentations from my dark basement lair. That's the last thing we need. An infestation of ladybugs to rival those in my mom's drop ceiling, which don't seem to bother her, since they go back into their hideaway after crawling around on the walls and windows all day.

So far, I've only seen one, near the ceiling, on the master bathroom wall by the shower. If only Hick hadn't chopped up those mice in the ceiling light vent fan, they might have eaten any ladybugs that get in the attic. Nah. That's just wishful thinking. Mice don't eat ladybugs. And of course Hick is going to chop up every mouse he gets a chance to behead in a bathroom ceiling light vent fan.

I find a certain symmetry in the fact that five thousand LADYbugs invaded the MANcave barbershop that Hick is decorating.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Only Two Things Come Out of Backroads: Fears and Peers



Tap tap tap. Is this thing on?

Greetings, jury of my peers. I address you tonight while still reserving the duties of judge and executioner for myself. No need to give up a power position to mere peers, when I can keep it to use for my advantage.

I stand before you to present my case. A case of good intentions that took a twisting turn. Please refrain from passing judgment until you have all the facts. On the surface, this may appear to be a case of dereliction of duty. But I shall show you otherwise. Please excuse me for a moment while I slip on a long white wig. Because I can.

All right. Get your quill pens and your parchment paper ready. I plan to show that the behavior this morning of Val Thevictorian did not violate any statutes regarding the care and instruction of high school students. Her intentions were good. The instinct to protect her charges is strong in this one. Don’t let the fact that Spiderzilla ran unchecked through her classroom sway your opinion on Mrs. Thevictorian’s fitness for teaching. Let’s begin with the pertinent information.

At approximately 10:25 a.m., Mrs. Thevictorian observed an arachnid the size of a 50-cent piece skittering across the floor, between her own desk and the second row of student desks. Mrs. Thevictorian’s first instinct was to KILL.

Having nary a vintage pump sprayer of insecticide, nor a pocketful of lizards, birds, wasps, or scorpions…Mrs. Thevictorian did what any selfless protector of empty vessels yearning to be filled with knowledge would do, and jumped into action. She grabbed a Puffs With Aloe, sprang to her feet, and took three quick strides across the brown speckled industrial tile to stomp the intruder and scoop him up while the students, in the dark, watching an instructional video on volcanism, were unawares. Only to gape in horror as that eight-legged Kennedy-head-coin-sized interloper scampered out from under the sole of her intended instrument of death and scurried right toward the closest student, who was tapping his heels with the excess energy of adolescence. The prey darted under one pistoning heel. Mrs. Thevictorian inhaled the deep beginning of a huge sigh of relief, only to watch her foe shoot back out with not a hair on one of his eight legs harmed.

Mrs. Thevictorian had two choices. She could scream, “SPIDER!” and risk injury of her charges as they leapt from their chairs, perhaps toppling them, ramming their growth plates against the bottoms (heh, heh, I said bottoms) of their desks. Or she could slink back to her desk, Puff still clutched in her hand, so as not to be noticed hovering behind the anticipated spider-squishing pupil in the dark like a stalky creeper. She chose the latter.

Spiders, after all, roam through people-populated areas all the time. It is not their modus operandi to crawl upon a human and sink their fangs into flesh. That is their defense mechanism. Spiders don’t eat humans. Humans eat spiders. At night. As they sleep with their mouths open. So the students should be fine with a spider on the loose. Right? And if it’s spotted, an outcry will arise, and Mrs. Thevictorian will have another chance to be a hero.

No harm. No foul. Everything’s right with the world. Students and spiders may occupy the same space with without issue, because they don’t occupy the same niche. They should be able to peacefully coexist. Right?

Case dismissed. Mrs. Thevictorian is free to leave.

Oh. Excuse me. You’re the jury. Do you need to retire to the conference room to deliberate?

Monday, October 27, 2014

I'll Give Him 99 Uses and a Crypt May Be One

You know how Hick always starts five more projects before he finishes the current one? Uh huh. I was sure you'd say, "Yes." Even though you don't live with him and see his obsession first-hand. Well...he's at it again. The Cardinals memorabilia mantel in his Little Barbershop of Horrors has scarcely had a chance to gather dust, and he's off with a most scathingly brilliant idea.

I was on my way home this evening when I got a text. I had The Pony read it for me. Val is not one of these over-the-center-line drivers who can't keep their hands off their phone in the car. Hick had discovered, at 4:00 p.m. when I was in a meeting, that one of our school buildings is for sale. I didn't see that text until 4:37, after the meeting. Val is not one of these I'm-so-important-that-I-can't-turn-off-my-phone teachers at the faculty meeting. I sent back a message that I was NOT interested in buying one of the school buildings. Jiminy Christmas! I'm retiring in slightly less than a year and three quarters, at which time I will have no desire to be the owner of a school building.

Hick was so excited that I could hear it in his text, read in a monotone by The Pony. "It's only $75,000, and I already have 100 ideas how to use it." Woe is me. That man of mine is almost too much to handle sometimes. Willie Shoemaker in his prime would have had difficulty reining in my Hick. As I dictated The Pony my reply, HIS phone rang.

"We're on the way home now! It's Dad. He says he has 100 and ONE ideas how to use the school."

"Let me talk to him. There's no way we're buying a school."

"Here. She wants to talk to you."

"I couldn't hear what she said. Val? VAL?"

"We are NOT buying the school. I don't care how much it is. We're not buying it."

"It's only $75,000!"

"That IS kind of cheap for a school. But no way am I going to get involved. You could please 99 people with your project, but then one would have a fit and make a stink because HE went to school there, the first one ever to graduate in his family, and that school should be preserved as a shrine. People don't want the building sold or torn down. They want it maintained. As a shrine to their glory days."

"But I know what we could do with it. It's already had new windows put in, and the asbestos removed. The kitchen downstairs, with the cafeteria, would be a great place for wedding receptions!"

"Nobody wants to have their wedding reception in an old school!"

"You'd be surprised. People have them in a lot nastier places than that!"

"I can't see it."

"And downstairs, where that friend of yours who sold the guns had his classroom...that would make three apartments down there."

"I'm not renting out rooms in my school. It might be worth the $75,000 just for the furnace and the fixtures and the scrap."

"Heck, I'd pay 'em $35,000 just for the gym. It has the kitchen and cafeteria, and all those lockers."

"You could probably sell the chairs in the gym for quite a bit."

"I know! And..."

"WAIT! We are NOT buying the school building. It's not worth the headache. People in the community don't want it sold."

"Well, that doesn't include the new part with the shop and the music rooms and the offices. They want a hundred-something thousand for that."

"Yeah, well. We're not buying any of it."

Oh yeah. It's not like we would buy the school and kick all the kids and teachers out. We're getting a new building. The ground has already been broken.

Sad thing is...I really think Hick was serious. But once I walk out the door and start my forever vacation, I am not interested in re-entering those hallowed halls of academia in any fashion. Not even as a landlady or party promoter.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

A-Shiverin' In Me Timbers!

When we last convened, Val was returning from town on a special Friday off work, having narrowly dodged the Hick-stays-home bullet that so frequently pierces her solitude when the Hickster gets advance wind of her mini vacation.

The time was 12:45, when Val would normally be spouting off about the commensalism form of symbiosis, where one organism benefits and the other is neither helped nor harmed, as with the example of eyelash mites in the follicles of humans. But not today. Today Val's heart raced not with the excitement of ecosystems and the fine tightrope balance required amongst organisms and their environment, but with apprehension over the sight she beheld in her BARn field.

A TRUCK WAS PARKED IN FRONT OF THE barN!

Let the record show that Hick's truck sits near the BARn, and his $1000 Caravan sits near his truck. But they are farther from the BARn, more towards his freight containers hidden in the fence row, which he plans to turn into a storage building for odd autos and 4-wheelers. This truck sat insolently between the fire pit where Hick burns refuse to obtain scrap metal, and the pen where the goats and mini-pony frolic.

No truck should have been in our BARn field. So Val did what any self-respecting country spouse would do, and vowed to get to the bottom of this trespass incident. What if somebody was planning to steal two lawnmowers again, out from under the BARn lean-to? They already got our two non-working lawnmowers. I'll be darned if they're going to get the working one without a fight. Besides, what was I supposed to do...sit in the house, peeping out the mini-blinds, waiting for that truck to leave, or for somebody to break in? It WAS a workday for the rest of the world, you know. Nobody supposed to be home here.

Perhaps you remember Val's apprehension every time that unmarked white truck carrying the ginger-bearded "meter-reader" shows up and that dude tromps across the porch. We are not located on a beaten path, but ensconced upon 20 acres on a dead-end gravel road. Val has not forgotten the time the sheriff's deputies blocked off access to her homestead for several hours due to an abandoned portable meth lab a half mile down the road. Nor the more recent investigation of the headless body found in a septic tank a half mile up the road in the other direction. She is well aware of the remoteness of her surroundings. When seconds count, the county deputies are just 30 minutes or more away.

I drove up the driveway, not following the tire tracks of that truck that went through our ditch and into the field. I pulled off into the front yard, and called The Pony to put on shoes and meet me in T-Hoe. The BARn is about 100 yards from the house, with a bit of woods and the animal pen in between.

"See that truck over there?"

"Yeah..."

"Was it there this morning when you fed the animals?"

"No."

"I didn't notice it when I went to town, either. So it must have got there within the last hour or so. We're going to see who it is."

Yes. That's Val. Sitting on an armory stockpiled with firearms, yet knowing how to use none. Taking with her The Pony, a creature only slightly less helpless that a newborn kitten. The vigilantes were on the case. Val and her posse of one. Let the record show that The Pony wore flip-flops. Yet even that fact did not bode well for Val, who didn't have to be able to outrun the intruder, but only The Pony.

I drove across the yard and onto the gravel section of faux road that Hick has in front of his Little Barbershop of Horrors. We approached the truck, dark green in color, with a crew cab, tinted windows up, but no driver in sight. There were two large styrofoam soda cups in the holders. Perhaps The Pony and I were outmatched.

Neither of us had seen this truck before. Hick's oldest son, Sonny, sometimes comes out on the weekends to help him build stuff, or let his kids pet the mini-pony. But he has a white truck. Like that ginger-beareded so-called meter-reader. I looked around for people. None. No sounds. I drove along the side of the trespassing truck. Turned back to get the license number. And saw that the plates were from Texas.

"Did The Veteran move back to Missouri?"

"I don't know."

"Does he have a truck like this?"

"I don't know."

"He hasn't been out here in over a year. I thought he was still in Texas. Your dad hasn't said anything about him."

"That would be the most logical explanation."

"I know. Why else would a person with a Texas truck even know this place was here?"

"Yeah."

I think The Pony was just glad there wasn't going to be a rumble. We drove back up through the field, around the main sinkhole, and back onto the driveway. I parked in the garage and started carrying out groceries. The Pony took them from the porch into the house. My sweet, sweet Juno was nowhere to be found, no doubt bonding with our intruder. I gave her arch nemesis, Ann, both shares of cat kibble. Actually, I put out a big pile for Juno, and a little pile for Ann, but Ann hogged it all. You schmooze, you lose, Juno!

"Need any help?" It was The Veteran, Hick's second-oldest son, walking across the front yard.

"No. I think we've got it. Now I just need to put it away. I think The Pony's coming out." The Pony had told me, on his next-to-last trip to get the groceries, that he saw The Veteran over by the chicken pen.

"Yeah. I just stopped by to say hi." He had his two little girls with him.

"Sorry, it's been a long week, and I've got stuff I planned to do today." I went inside to put up the food and start my next load of laundry and set out The Pony's lunch, and mine.

Let the record show that Val is not as heartless as she appears on screen, and that she has no beef with The Veteran. Let the record also show that Val abhors drop-in visitors, values her privacy, and looks forward for two months each fall to this conference-week day off with grand plans for leisurely writing.

I sent a text to Hick after I got the household duties under control. Funny how he had sent me one while I was in the garage, and hadn't had time to check.

"Are you having a good day off?"

"No. It's a good thing I didn't call the sheriff when I found a strange truck by the BARn. It's a good thing I don't know how to shoot any of your guns. And it's a good thing I don't pass out from hypoglycemia, because it's 2:00 and I still haven't had lunch. And no, I am not having a good day off."

"I didn't think you'd even know he was on the place."

"You might have thought to warn me in case I heard something. Or saw a strange truck. He says he stopped by to say hi. Funny, what with this being a workday, and me supposed to be gone to school."

"I told him he could come out and see the animals, but your name never even came up."

"That's odd. If I was at work, he wouldn't have stopped by to say hi. I bet you couldn't wait to get on the phone this morning to tell him to come out. You always find a way to intrude on my days off. You've never even told me he was back in Missouri."

"I didn't know. Until today."

There's something fishier than Fishy McFisherson about this story. I can't wait until Hick's barbershop patrons start showing up unannounced to wander around the premises.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Imagine Yourself Chugging Up That First Big Hill, Then Being Trapped Overnight Before You WHOOSH Down

Are you one of those people who can't ride roller coasters because of a heart condition? Because if you are, you may want to sit over there under that tree and have a frozen lemonade rather than risk the ups and downs and twists and turns of today's story.

Friday was a hard-earned day off from school, since we stayed late for conferences two nights that week. I know I told Hick that I was off. I told him last weekend, when he didn't get T-Hoe's gasping tire fixed so that it doesn't lose five pounds of air a week. So when Hick claimed, on the bed-edge, after waking me from a deep slumber at 6:00 a.m. on my day off, that he didn't know I was off, I begged to differ.

I didn't argue strongly, because hey, he didn't know, so he hadn't taken the day off to be with me like he always does, on every day off, ever, to horn in on my free time. I even managed to go back to sleep, probably something to do with getting home at 10:30 the night before, what with picking up The Pony at his Halloween dance. By the time I did a load of laundry, opened the mail, wrote out some bills, and made a shopping list, it was going on 11:00. I jumped in the shower and left for town. The Pony elected to stay behind and lay on the basement couch playing computer games. Shocker there...

My town trip was fairly uneventful, though somewhat informative, because the Save A Lot clerks were all a-twitter with news that one of them had come up short yesterday! By a whole dollar! They were castigating an employee who was not present, agreeing that when OTHER PEOPLE are on your register, you can't really be held accountable. I slid my debit card through the dealy-bobber, much to their relief, and they were so grateful that they cautioned me, "Don't use your debit at Dairy Queen! A guy was in here yesterday, and his identity was stolen, and he had to get a whole new card, and the bank did an investigation, and it happened at Dairy Queen!" So I told them about Genius's identity theft, and the problem it caused with our taxes not being able to file electronically. We do that, you see, in Backroads. Bumpkins helping bumpkins. Maybe I should start a fundraiser for that, and stand outside the gas station chicken store with an empty ice cream tub, and collect money to help with cash register overages for my gals.

I picked up the Hardee's burger that The Pony had requested for lunch, and some chicken tenders for myself, and headed back to the ol' homestead. Time was ticking away on my precious day off. It was now 12:45, and I still had to put away the frozen groceries, toss in more laundry, and wash a week's worth of dishes that my nonexistent dishwasher had so callously ignored since Monday night. I think Hick was about to get creative like the Hecks on The Middle when they gave Mike's dad their old dishwasher that contained all of their dishes, resulting in Axl drinking soda out of a measuring cup, and Frankie serving coffee in a tall glass boot to an old lady applying to be Aunt Edie's caregiver. I could imagine Hick with a grout trowel, trying to skim some No Sugar Added Blue Bunny Banana Split Ice Cream into his mouth.

So I was a little preoccupied as I drove up our gravel road, nearing home, passing in front of the field wherein looms the BARn. Something caught my eye. You know how your subconscious notices when things are amiss. And...

WHOOPSIE! Too long. You'll have to come back on Sunday evening to see what Val saw.

Friday, October 24, 2014

I'm Surprised He Hasn't Applied To Drive the Wienermobile

Hick has the nerve to claim that Val doesn't cook, so much as she warms food in the oven, or heats it up in the microwave.

Let the record show that Val is actually a genius, what with managing to warm that food with only one working oven element for nigh on 365 days, and having to open her microwave door with two hands, one on each of the drawer knobs that substitute for a long, curved ACTUAL microwave door handle. Compared to Hick, Val is a 5-star Cordon Bleu master chef.

At his advanced age, and spending time batching it between wives, one might assume that Hick knows his way around a kitchen. Au contraire. One would only be making an A S S out of oneself and me. Hick is what you might call a Wiener Chef. Maybe not you. But he's what I call a Wiener Chef. Or just a wiener.

The full range of Hick's culinary repertoire extends from the wiener to the weiner. Some calls it a hot dog. I calls it a wiener. And if you know what movie quote I'm parodying, I've got some biscuits and mustard for you. Mmm hmm.

Even before we were married, Hick relied on his wiener. His boys would come for the weekend at his apartment, across the parking lot from my townhouse, and he'd fix them wieners. His secret recipe was one package of wieners, one saucepan, and tap water. Give the Wiener Chef a blue ribbon, because he always served up the meal on a glass plate. Yep. He'd set that plate of 8 wieners in the middle of his kitchen table, for himself, his 5- and 7-year-old sons, and his 10-year-old stepson. You can imagine how fraught with danger such a meal was, what with those boys not having much to munch on between weekend visits, and possibly being taken on one of Hick's never-ending rides and missing lunch. A fork is a dangerous weapon when you're only 5 years old, with short arms, and starving, longer-armed people stabbing for sustenance.

It's not that Hick didn't have more than one package of wieners. He was a workin' man, with a regular paycheck. The other pack of wieners was for breakfast, cut up in the scrambled eggs and dusted with garlic powder. On the positive side, Hick's boys never had to fight off a vampire.

When we married, Hick sometimes cast aspersions on his old high school friend who lives on the land next to ours. "He is so lazy that his wife mows the yard. That's about three acres. And she works full time at Walmart."

"Yes. But he DID buy her that riding mower."

"He told me one day that he about starved to death between the time he got off at 3:30, and she got home to make him supper. 'I just laid down on the couch, I was so weak.' He didn't even have the sense to open up a can of soup."

Like Lucky Ned Pepper declared to Rooster Cogburn, I must say, 'I call that bold talk for a one-eyed fat man!' Because Hick has never made himself a can of soup, even though soup is plentiful in our pantry. Must be his aversion to the 'runny' part of soup. He waits for me to make it so thick he can stack it over the edge of the bowl. But he can whip up a wiener like a champ.

Lately I have been taking wieners in my lunch. That's because they're quick. And when you only have 22 minutes for lunch, quick is a plus. I buy the giant packs at Save A Lot. But a couple weeks ago, it seemed like my wieners were running low. Even though Hick was fed a proper diet of oven-warmed, microwave-heated meals, I fear he was skimming wieners. I mentioned that I needed three more wieners to get me through the week, and there were only four left in the pack. Hick became indignant, blurting that he DID NOT sneak wieners! Still. I finished the week with not a wiener to spare. I have a feeling Hick will also deny sneaking those Kraft American Singles, of which there was a whole pack last time I checked, and then only two left last week. And to think that I used to blame poor innocent Genius for being the cheese thief.

Yes, Hick's gastronomical proclivities are skewed heavily toward wieners. He'll eat them on buns, he'll eat them on Nutty Oat Bread, he'll eat them on the chicken bread languishing on the countertop for two weeks. When I was in the hospital in May, I'm pretty sure Hick survived on wieners. Thank goodness my mom took care of The Pony.

Don't you worry about Hick running out of wieners and starving to death. In a pinch, he will devour wieners' bastard cousin: baloney.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Man Who Would Be Sausage King

The workday starts early in the Thevictorian household. I'm up by 4:50 a.m., making lunches. Hick ends his sheet-stealing, breather-spraying, spouse-leg-stabbing slumber at 5:30, with The Pony rolling out of the rack at 5:35.

We all have our separate routines, mine being to grab a recliner nap from 5:40 to 6:00, then wish Hick a good day, then call my mom for 15 minutes. After that I grab two mini sausage biscuits, and pack the lunches into their traveling containers.

The Pony plugs in his phone for unlimited internet, grabs some sweet item of the week for breakfast and sometimes even eats it, then goes to his basement couch with his laptop.

Hick bangs and thumps all bathroom objects not screwed down, emerges from his shower, slips on his work uniform, tosses his sausage/egg/cheese muffin into the microwave, feeds the dogs, then bids me farewell.

Yesterday, Hick nearly became unglued. "Did you not get me any sausage biscuits at the store?"

Here's the thing. I buy Hick his sausage/egg/cheese biscuit or muffin every week. They come 8 in a pack. So after a while, we have enough for the work week without buying. They don't all fit on his shelf in Frig's freezer door. That means I have to get creative. I put the extras on the freezer door shelf below. Hick is a creature of habit. "Biscuit here. Banana there." That's his breakfast every day.

Let the record show that Hick has gone without a banana because they were on the cutting block in the center of the kitchen, right by Frig, and not on the counter by the door, beside the sink. And that no matter how many bananas I buy and put on the counter by the door, beside the sink, there are always just enough until Friday. If I buy eight bananas in a bunch, three mysteriously disappear on Sunday. If I buy five, all are there on the counter by the door, beside the sink, until the last one is used on Friday. It's uncanny.

So here was Hick, bellowing about his sausage biscuit. "I know you have enough until Friday. Look on the bottom shelf."

Then commenced such a digging, with rustling sounds such as might be heard if Little Lotta sprang to life and traipsed across my kitchen in dungarees made of shower curtains, that I was sorely tempted to give up on the last five minutes of my chair nap to investigate. "WHAT are you doing?"

"I'm looking for my sausage biscuit, Val."

"On the bottom shelf, right below where you get them every morning."

"Oh. I found one." He also dumped a couple Hot Pockets on the floor for good measure. That man purely enjoys his morning thumping.

The thing is...Hick has tunnel vision. There is only one place for his breakfast foods, and if they are not in that place, he might starve to death.

Don't get me started on his hot dog self-made meals.