Thursday, December 31, 2015

You May THINK It's Camouflaged, But It's Not

Happy New Year!

Here's a little gift, courtesy of the folks of Outer Backroadsia:

Yeah. People are d*cks. Just because you don't want your old stinky ugly couch doesn't mean the out-of-town folks want it. You might as well give us your muffin stumps. Or your toilet book, "French Impressionist Paintings." What we need is Rebecca DeMornay as a frontwoman to vocalize our cause. We don't want your charity, and we especially don't want your trash.

Or, to put the idea out there in Hick's words..."I don't know why people do that. They could have tossed it in the river and it would be gone by now."

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Maybe Val Should Write a Primer to Prepare High School Graduates for Everyday Life

Just like Val's mom had a penchant for serving up expired foodstuffs, and Hick has a penchant for collecting figurines such as Thomas Jefferson sitting on a boot taking a crap, (or a wine glass for a proctologist that says, "Bottoms Up!"), The Pony has a penchant for selecting damaged packages off the shelf at Walmart.

The Pony is my right-hand man. My legs. My go-for guy. I tear the shopping list in half, and send him off to the far reaches of the store. I should have learned by now that if a can has a dent, The Pony will pick it up. A box with a crushed corner? It finds its way into my cart, courtesy of The Pony's selection process. Ripped labels? Puffs With Lotion already torn open? A multipack of lunch Cheetos with two bags stale due to open seams? A 12-pack box of soda which spilled cans out the end due catastrophic glue failure? Hand soap with the spout already screwed open, thus dispensing liquid antibacterial goodness in the bag on the way into the house? There are too many incidents to blame coincidence.

So I should have known better. Really. There's no excuse. I only saved a few steps. One more aisle, and I could have done it myself. But no. I met The Pony on the beverage aisle. No need to make my little pack mule carry two 12-packs of soda (what with their tendency to come unglued in his hands), and a six-pack of his IBC Root Beer (in BOTTLES), and a pack of Great Value Cherry Limeade powder. So I took the cart. All I had to do was turn the corner and grab them myself. But no. He had that end of the list.

"Okay, Mom. Now I'll go get the eggs."

Foolish me. I started along the frozen food bins. The Pony could catch up to me by the chicken wings, or in the produce section. And he did. Sure, he set one end of the egg carton down on the bananas I had selected. I pointedly removed it. Only for him to toss two blue boxes of Jiffy Corn Muffin mix on their tender yellow skin.

"Pony. No. That will bruise the bananas. We don't set anything on top of the bananas but bread. Something soft. Not heavy or with corners."

"Oh. I did not know that." Kind of like when I told him he could use the car brakes while making a turn.

A brief disagreement arose at the deli area, where I picked up a bag of already-boiled eggs.

"Ew! That's just wrong."

"Why? I've bought them before. The date is way good."

"I draw the line at buying eggs already boiled and peeled."

"Of course. Because they're going into a 7-layer salad that you are not going to eat."

"Still. That's wrong. Don't get them."

"Okay. I have the dozen eggs. I'll take 15 minutes to boil them. Then cool them in the sink in cold water for an hour. Then dry them off. Then let them sit in the fridge overnight. Then peel them. THEN slice them for the salad. It will only take me about an extra hour and a half."

"Get them then."

"No. Seeing as how you disapprove so much, I won't."

"Please! Get them."

"No. I'm good. Let's check out."

"Awww...I feel really bad now. I'm going back to get your boiled eggs."

"No. It's fine. We're already here."

We made it to the check-out line and parted ways. The Pony went off to the arcade to play a shooting game. Funny how he gave up the driving game once I started insisting that he get his license. I only had one person ahead of me. The perks of shopping at noon on a Wednesday at the end of the month. The checker was a veteran of the Walmart army. She must enjoy the perks of working weekdays, nine to five. Very efficient. Conscientious bagger. She made sure to set my eggs in a bag by themselves, up on top of the carousel. "There are your eggs." Yes indeedy. I put them in the child-seat of my cart, and only placed a loaf of french bread on top.

I made it to T-Hoe before The Pony was done massacring. I had most of the stuff out of the cart by that time.

"You go ahead and get in. I'll do it and put back the cart, Mom."

"Okay. That's the cold stuff. Wedge that heavy bag with the pasta sauce and paper plates against the soda so it doesn't slide."

Yep. We had it covered. A relatively simple shopping trip. Once home, The Pony declared that he was carrying everything in. That I did not even need to get them out of T-Hoe's rear and put them on the side porch for him. Inside, I told him I was going to put the eggs on to boil while we put away the groceries.

"I think I'll boil the whole dozen. I really want about eight. But I might want a boiled egg for something else during the week." The Pony got out my big pan, and I opened up the carton. "Um. Pony? This one has a crack in it. See? Throw it out to the dogs." I ran the cold water in the bottom of the pan. Started setting eggs in. "Pony? This one here in the corner is stuck. Look. It's like a star indentation. Leaked out. Throw it to the dogs." Egg, egg, pan. Egg, egg, pan. "Uh. This one has a big crack down the side. Throw it to the dogs."

"I feel really bad. You should have gotten the already-boiled eggs!"

"No need to feel bad. It's done. I should have known better than to send you for eggs. I guess I will just boil nine. Didn't you check to see if any were cracked? That first one you could see as soon as I flipped open the lid."

"No. Nobody ever told me of such things."

"How are you going to survive out on your own?"

"I don't know! I don't know any of this."

"Okay. When you buy eggs, you open the lid and look. Maybe feel to see if they're stuck or loose."

"All right."

"Now at least you know about buying eggs. Not to put sharp things on top of the bananas. And how to slow the car down when making a turn."

We've got a long way to go.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Absence Makes the Workload Harsher

Genius is gone but not forgotten. Back to college, but leaving his mark on Thevictorian homestead.

I turned on my old-fashioned Memorex radio/cassette player

to listen to our basketball team play in an annual tournament tonight...and could not tune them in. Uh huh. Thanks to a brief visit from Genius to my dark basement lair before he left. During which he stood behind me (he knows this drives me crazy) while talking, and twisted my antenna to and fro.

"Oh. I guess I shouldn't be doing this, should I?"

"What? NO! It's so hard to get that station! Now I can't listen to the games!"

"Oh, calm down. You can tune them in again." Easy for him to say. It took me five minutes.

Monday morning Genius called. He only left Sunday evening, you know.

"Hey. Is The Pony up yet?"


"Well, when he gets up, send him in my room to see if I left a folder on the floor by the heat vent. It has stuff I need that I'm working on. There are three magazines on top, too. If they're there, send them to me. There's no hurry. But I need that stuff."
"So you want me to mail it to you?"

"Uh huh. And there's a coffee cup, I think, on the table where The Pony piles his junk. It's green. I don't need it. I will buy another one. It's only $10. I think I left it. I saw one there and thought, 'That's odd. The Pony likes the same kind of cup I do.' But then I realized that it was mine. The reason I'm telling you is that I think there's coffee in it. I normally rinse it out, and I'm pretty sure I did. But just in case, it doesn't need to be sitting there with coffee in it."

"So you want me to wash it?"

"Yeah. And when I'm home, or when you come out, I can get it back."

"Okay. When I get up from the La-Z-Boy, where I'm resting, after spending DAYS getting Christmas presents and food ready, and a whole day taking you gambling...I'll find your folder and put it in something and take it to the post office and pay to mail it, and I'll wash your coffee cup."

"Okay. Thanks. Bye."

Just Genius. Keeping himself relevant. Like George Costanza leaving his belongings in a date's apartment.

Monday, December 28, 2015

It Ain't a Fit Day Out For Man or Beast

We had a little rain here this weekend.

Let the record show that Backroads was safer today than any other day of 2015. On our errand-running trip this afternoon, The Pony and I observed widespread flooding.

The prisoners weren't about to tunnel out and pop their heads up like John Goodman in Raising Arizona.

The water had bubbled up through the little sinkhole out front, inundated the grounds to the parking lot, and even come over one lane of the road.

Nobody would be dropped by an errant shot at the gun club, because the river was out of its banks.

Yeah. That's not the river. The river is on the other side of those trees to the left. The gun club shooting grounds (All welcome every Sunday!) is the grassy area on the right. What's left of it.

THIS is the river:

The mailbox thieves were not going to make a quick getaway today. Our creek was treacherous as well. Not the one I warned Genius about. That goes without saying. This is our bridge down by EmBee. Thank goodness the county road department replaced the old concrete slab low water bridge about eight years ago. Now we have a roundabout way of getting to town. But at least it's our second route, and not the third or fourth resort we had to use before, the last being driving twenty miles out of our way to hit the main highway. Which is not really feasible unless you're a teacher, and HAVE to get to work come not-heaven or high water.

Here is a view of our new whitewater rafting run, which you can ride for an extra fee when you take the deluxe tour of the proposed handbasket factory and Hick's Folly village. Oh. And a raft is extra.

Let the record show that water would have been four or five feet over our old version of this bridge. And that it usually runs nowhere near that slanted concrete support, but down to a four or five inch trickle over flat rock, no whitewater.

I admit that The Pony and I were stymied by water over a culvert in town, and that we drove through it. But not until we saw an oncoming truck make it across with fairly calm water to the top of its tires, and only because we were on a blind curve hill and could not back up without risking an accident. Plus we were in our trusty 4WD workhorse, T-Hoe, and not in my new, untried, AWD Acadia. We also had to drive through a mini low water bridge to get farther than 1/2 mile from home. Hick had brought T-Hoe through it Saturday, so we knew it was safe. Enough.

This weather is for the birds. And for sturdy 4WD gas hogs.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Absence Makes the Heart Forgive More

I don't know why I worried about preparing a proper Christmas dinner. The clientele around here spent as much time eating it as Chevy Chase as Clark Griswold spent viewing the Grand Canyon with dead Aunt Edna strapped to the roof of the Family Truckster. Oops! Sorry for that spoiler, in case you haven't seen National Lampoon's Vacation. But's older than an adult child. You really should have seen it by now.

Yes, I could have served some roadkill vittles, stewed in a cast iron pot, passed around on the end of a pool cue as far as my Backroads hillbilly menfolk were concerned. Case in point: Genius begged for 24-hour pizza only the day before. Oh, not pizza that could be delivered 24 hours. Or even pizza that could be cooked and picked up 24 hours. Nope. He wanted a single piece of DiGiorno Supreme that had been sitting on a pizza pan on top of the stove since lunch the day before. A leftover slice, uncovered, the pepperoni with its edges curled and hardened, two shades darker than pepperoni should appear.

"But Mom! We would eat it at my college house! None of us have ever gotten sick from it."

Indeed. I would say that the alcohol probably disinfected it the minute it dropped into their stomach acid. But no. Not on my watch. I was NOT letting my son eat a 24-hours-old slice of pizza. That belonged to my sweet, sweet Juno.

Perhaps Genius was in a fit of pique over the pizza denial when the incident occurred. It was right after our 12-minute Christmas dinner. I went to start my 30 minutes of cleanup after my three days of cooking, and could not find the butter wrapper. Let the record show that in some ways, Val is very much like her dear departed mother. When the food is unwrapped, the wrappers are set aside for reuse. The stick of real butter could easily be restored to its waxed paper wrapper. We don't use a lot of stick butter around here. Besides, Hick guards that cut-glass butter dish like an employee of Fort Knox. At Thanksgiving, he snatched it as soon as the table was cleared, to put back with his collection. Collection of what, I don't know. But when I need a butter dish, I ask Hick, and one appears.

Anyhoo...I went to re-wrap the butter stick, and the wrapper was gone! I searched high and low. Under the Glad wrap from the top of the 7-layer salad. Under the foil from the Sister Schubert's rolls. Under the Glad wrap and lid from the top of the deviled egg container. No butter wrapper.

"Has anybody seen the butter wrapper?"

"Oh, I put that in the wastebasket."

"WHAT? I was going to reuse that! Get it back!"

"Um. Dad just took out the trash. You're not getting it back."

Let the record show that Genius did not throw away the Glad wrap and foil. Only the butter wrapper. The dude who will not throw away his red Solo cup full of melted ice that has depleted Frig II's store, nor the paper plate than held pumpkin bread that he brought us so he could snack on. Suddenly, Genius was a one-man butter-wrapper cleanup crew. Go figure.

He was also the main suspect in the disappearance of the 44 oz Diet Coke straw that I had rinsed out and laid beside the sink. However...Genius was smart enough to deny any knowledge of my soda accessory.

He left two hours ago, and I already miss him.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Throwing It Away Like It Grows On Trees

The day dawned dreary and late at the hour of 8:00 a.m. So much for getting an early start on gambling. Thevictorians enjoy sleeping in on their days off. We did, however, get out the door by 9:05. T-hoe was our transport, due to the forecast, and me not wanting people to think we had money. A 2008 Tahoe caked with mud and covered with cat footprints might just deter a would-be robber, you know. Because I'm sure the millionaires are driving 2016 Acadias to the casino.

Hick dropped off Genius and me at the front door. He's a good egg sometimes, when I pointedly request his compliance. We chose River City, the closest casino to our neck of the woods. It's not my favorite, because it's like a big box. Like a pole barn. One big rectangle. I much prefer Ameristar because of the two levels, or Hollywood back when it was Harrah's, because it's like two casinos in one. But River City will do when we don't want to spend extra time on the road. I told Genius as we waited for Hick that I had forgotten my phone in the car. It's always good to keep track of time, and text good fortune to one's gambling mates.

"Send him a text, Genius! In case he's not already on his way in." Genius, sensing the urgency, called Hick instead. We heard his phone ring. Hick is a bit hard of hearing, but not so much that we should hear his phone ring from the parking garage.

But there came Hick down the corridor, to meet us across from the big fake gingerbread house. And Hick was holding out his hand for me. How sweet! Oh. He was holding out my phone! Hick is a really good egg when you least expect it.

Let the record show that Val has been putting aside money throughout the year for Christmas, taxes, and various and sundry unexpected expenses. So when Christmas rolled around, the taxes were paid, and no major household appliances went kaput, Val had a little nest egg. Not so good as the rocks we're not yet harvesting for our retirement nest egg. But extra money not spoken for. Compiled from the leftovers of Val's weekly cash allowance all year. One less lottery ticket every few weeks, perhaps. One less gas station chicken breast. Val is as good a saver as Katie Nolan in "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn." Only she does not nail a tin can to the closet floor for her bank, but uses a pocket of her checkbook. So Val, Hick, and Genius each had an allotment of $200 at their disposal.

Let the record further show that the final tally was Hick with a win of $50, Genius with a loss of $100 (but he IS a novice), and Val with either a loss of $15.50, or a surplus of $10. The waters were muddied by the donation of an extra $60 to Genius from Val. What's a mother for, anyway?

When we arrived at 10:00 a.m., the service desk was not open. So no player's card for Hick, who had lost his previous one, who knows how, since he always stuck it in the crevice of the mirror on the bedroom dresser. And no player's card for Genius the novice. Not that it matters. This place has the worst comps in town. And you don't need a player's card to play. But Val had hers, by cracky! Stored in her gambling purse, with previous winnings (or not-losings). So Hick and Genius roamed the premises untracked, and Val has an alibi for any significant crimes that might have occurred during those hours. The security people did not give us a second look, but asked for Genius's ID at the entry gate.

Genius followed me to the first machine, to learn the ropes. He played momentarily beside me, then struck out on his own. A few times every hour, he would check back in with me and update his progress. He was having a blast, winning small jackpots, and trying out the video slots, which even he found confusing. We mostly stuck to the quarter reel slots.

"Mom. I got busted by Security while I was over on the other side!"

"What did you do?"

"Nothing. I was just sitting there playing. And he came over and asked for ID."

"Well. You ARE the baby here today, I'm sure."

"Yeah. He looked at it a long time. And shined his light on it."

"Did you say, 'Yes, sir. Here it is.' And be real polite? So you didn't end up with a carpet burn on your face? Or have to say, 'Don't tase me, bro!' and turn up on the news? Or YouTube?"

"Pretty much. After a while, he said, 'Oh. You JUST TURNED 21.'"

"Don't be mad at him. He had to save face. AND he had to make sure you were legal, or he could lose his job. Or worse. He works for the mafia, you know." (Val is a well-known soldier in the politically-incorrect army. She must have inherited it from her mother, the formerly "gypped" customer of Save A Lot.)

"I know. It was okay. I'm getting used to showing ID."

We took a half hour break to chow down a tasty burger, the first bite of which sent juices dripping onto Val's shirt. Let the record show that it doesn't pay to have a rack when eating a burger in the casino. Genius was quite philosophical about it. "Don't worry, Mom. People will think that stain was already on your shirt when you walked in."

We returned to the gaming floor and found our favorite machines. Genius and I played side by side at a machine I can't name because, hey, who cares about the name, anyway, enough to remember it? If you played three credits, it sometimes hit a bonus spin on the middle reel, worth 2x, 3x, 4x, or 5x. It was tremendous fun, though the one Genius took possession of was looser than mine. Still. At one time, I was up to $78 after putting in a ticket with 35 credits ($8.75). Here's where the controversy rears its ugly head.

Hick was ensconced on a game behind us, talking his fool head off to a woman in the next seat, not realizing that in a casino, people don't want to hear him blather. Genius looked over his shoulder a couple of times. "Dad is ahead. He's up to 400-something credits!" And later, "He's up to 550! We're never going to get him away from that machine." Hick is the one who declared we were leaving at 2:00. At 2:30, we saw that wasn't happening.

"Well. I'm out of money. I guess I'll go sit by Dad. I have these tickets I can cash out, though. And play some more. I was cashing out the big wins so I didn't play them all away."

"No. Don't cash them in. Here. I can give you a twenty." Let the record show that Val carries along some throw-down money. Money that is there if she runs out, but that she mostly uses to pay herself back. For instance, if she has a twenty in the machine, and wins jackpots totaling 80 credits, she takes a twenty from that stash and puts it in her WIN pocket. That way, she doesn't have to cash out the machine that she might have developed a rapport with, and can keep playing the credits, adding them in her head again, and still pockets that win. It sounds confusing, but it works for Val. Never a big loser, though rarely a winner.

Two more times, Val gave Genius another twenty. Here's where the controversy occurs. Some of that Genius money came from the WIN pocket, and some from the throw-down pocket. And then Val was out of throw-down money. So she couldn't pay herself back as per regular routine. She was up to 534 credits that she owed herself. That's $133.50. But Val kept playing, because she'll be darned if she gets a trip to the casino and sits idly by, watching Hick. She did, however, cash out at $40 left. And she had that $60 that she had given Genius. But was it gambling stake money, or throw-down money. My head hurt trying to figure that out. Genius refused to even try, pretending he didn't understand my system.

Bottom line, Val cashed in tickets of $40, $40, and $70. Giving her $150, plus all of her throw-down money accounted for. Then there was the $60 she had given Genius. So it seems as if Val came out ahead. But she gave the $60 back to Genius, because he played with it, and won some.

Don't you worry your pretty little head. Each Thevictorian retained a significant portion of their $200 gambling stake.

And had a blast.

Hick's winnings were burning a hole in his pocket, so he had to stop at Goodwill on the way home and spend some. It took only 10 minutes, but time was at a premium, what with the creeks rising higher by the moment. We drove though water on the county road, a shortcut Hick takes from work every evening. Then we had to cross two low water bridges within our gravel-roaded compound. I was against Hick's method of easing in and waiting for the current to take him away. He and Genius ganged up on Val and told her to shut her piehole, that this was the proper method of crossing an overflowing concrete bridge. Val still begs to differ. She unbuckled her seatbelt and got ready to swim. T-Hoe forded the crossings admirably. He should have been an option in that Oregon Trail game.

Anyhoo...Thevictorians are home and safe, none-the-richer overall, and certainly not any wiser. With a load of laundry to do, since Eau de Ashtray Bottom is not a preferred fragrance around the homestead.

Friday, December 25, 2015

The Beginning of an Era

We are taking Genius to the casino Saturday. Uh huh. Made him wait a whole two weeks after turning 21. To show him gambling is not a way of life, you know. We don't want him living in a van down by the river. Although we will be RIGHT NEXT TO the river, we no longer have our van. The $1000 $600 Caravan has a new home. And Thevictorians have $400 for it!

Since we are out-of-town hillbillies, none of that normal gaming rigmarole for us! We do our gambling early, by cracky! Up with the chickens, and back home before dark. Genius seemed disappointed at first, when I told him Hick was driving us there.

"Oh. I thought it was going to be you and me. You said I could drive you."

"No. Your dad and I both planned on taking you. We haven't been gambling forever. A couple of years at least. Besides, I figured if you had a drink, what with your brand-spanking-new-21ness, your dad could drive us home."

"Oh, I PLAN to have a drink."

He may change his mind when he finds out he has to pay for it. Mom's Gambling Stake, Inc. does not provide a drinking allowance. I already warned him to wear something washable. Not because he will spill alcohol on his togs, or because he will "refund" his lunch. Because he will come out of there smelling like a smoked ham lost in a house fire in the middle of 10,000 smoldering acres after a wildfire.

Genius doesn't know what kind of gambling he wants to do. I imagine he will end up on the video slots. He probably knows how they work. Hopefully not enough to be banned for life from the casino.

Val, on the other hand, prefers the more traditional 3 reel variety. They are probably obsolete now.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

For Those Of You Who Have a College Genius Home For the Holidays

Val is never quite as stupid as when Genius is home to point it out to her.

Wednesday morning, we were off to meet my best ol' ex-teaching buddy Mabel for breakfast. I had promised Genius that he could drive MY NEW CAR to town. It's only five miles, you know. And ten minutes. But alas. A morning storm blew in, and I refused to move my baby out of the garage. Still, Genius wanted to catch up with Mabel (I'm sure the free breakfast had nothing to do with his motives) and went along anyway, to spend an hour with us before being picked up by a college buddy to run some errands in town.

The problem with sudden storms in Backroads is that the creeks begin to rise. As we approached EmBee, I saw that water was running halfway up a concrete bridge support by our mailboxes.

"We'll have to go around the long way. That other bridge will be underwater."

"No it won't."

"Yes it will. I know how high this one can get before that one goes under. Just a couple of weeks ago, this one was right at halfway up, and The Pony and I took a chance. We had to turn around, like the two trucks ahead of us, and go the other way."

"You are ridiculous. That bridge will be fine."

"I think not. I guarantee you it is under."

"Okay. GUARANTEE me, then."

I swear I detected a mocking tone in Genius's voice! And he was almost downright huffy. Still. I was behind the wheel of T-Hoe. So off we went. The long way.

After socializing, then some errands on my part, I headed back home. Still, I knew the main bridge was under. But I wanted to prove it to the man-about-town Genius. I drove all the way to it. Took a photo.

And emailed it (because texting a photo is not in my electronic gewgaw repertoire) to Genius with only the words...

"My guarantee."

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

It's So Hard To Find Help Running a Good Scam These Days

Last Friday we took Hick out to eat for his birthday. We enjoy the local all-you-can-eat catfish establishment a couple of times a year. On this evening we were seated in the left side of the restaurant. It's the smaller of the two rooms, but not by much.

We were led to a table directly across from the ice machine. This is no ice dispenser like the top of a soda fountain at a convenience store that you fill with a bucket. No sirree, Bob! This ice machine made its own ice. Which we found out shortly, what with the avalanche of square cubes onto the pile we could see through the flap-down silver door. This ice maker was a marvel. I swear it dumped a load every five minutes.

I'm shocked that this type of ice machine management is allowed by the health department. Leaving that large rectangular door flapped down, I mean. Because just as it is easy for the aging waitresses in their fuzzy Santa hats to walk over and scoop out ice for the mason jars of too would it be easy for a wayward preschool child to walk by and dip his hand inside.

Val is a convenience store insider. And a former unemployment office investigator. She knows that waitresses are not allowed to drag a cup or glass through the ice. A regular scooper must be used, and left inside the ice field, and not used to distribute ice into anything but a fresh glass or container. And the waitresses must wear a fresh glove to reach in there. Not so at the catfish house.

Sure, sometimes rules go overboard in trying to protect the public from dysentery or E. coli. It's not like those aging fuzzy-Santa-hat-wearing waitresses are Elaine Benes, that disease-carrying wh0re out to sicken Peggy down at the J. Peterman offices by touching her water bottle. But it seems that the flap-down metal door of the ice maker should not be left open, subject to errant animal hairs and more unpleasant particles wafting in from the clothing and skin of customers led by on the way to a table.

Still. That's not what bothered Val about the ice maker that evening.

After each avalanche, a couple of cubes cascaded out of the pile and onto the ceramic tile floor. A couple of them bounced all the way over to our table. The Pony looked at me with raised eyebrows.

"I know! An accident waiting to happen. One of those waitresses is going to break a hip."

"Or a customer."

"Pony! Maybe you should get up and walk to the bathroom. And slip on that ice! It won't hurt for long. I can squirt some ketchup on the floor around your head. The hospital stay should be brief. And I'm sure you'll completely regain your mental faculties. Come on! Play along. It's not like you'd be getting run over by your dad in a city truck."

"Nah. I don't think so."

"Well...think it over. We need money to cover the down payment on a new car."

"With our luck, we'd probably just get hospital bills covered."

There's always a catch.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

An Accomplishment Two YEARS in the Making!

Thevictorian family not only has a new car also has a NEW DRIVER!

I am pleased to announce the arrival of our most recent bundle of licensed driver, THE PONY!!! He joined the population of legal drivers at 9:38 this morning. Well done, you little scamp! As for now, the twain of Acadia and Pony ne'er shall meet. Not until The Pony has accrued significantly more miles under his cinch.

The Pony was more of a reluctant driver this morning than Don Knotts was an astronaut. He didn't want to get up and get going. He moaned of his nervousness. I ran through what the examiner would test him on. Interrogated him on his parallel parking that he practiced 15 or 20 times with Hick on Sunday. Reviewed the steering wheel position for parking uphill and downhill, on curbed and uncurbed streets. Made him point out various accessories on the car. Headlights, blinkers, windhsield wipers, hazard flasher, heat, defroster, parking brake.

"You know, Pony, all you have to remember when parking on a hill is that you want the car to roll onto somebody's yard if it gets loose. Not into traffic. So you turn the steering wheel so the front tires will hit the curb if it rolls, or so the car rolls directly into the yard if there's not one."

"I don't get it. Don't you turn the wheel to the left if you are parked uphill? No matter whether there's a curb or not?"

"NO! You don't want the car to roll its back-end into the street if there's no curb to catch the front tires! It could run over people. I know you don't really care about people. But it's common sense. Keep the car out of the street if it rolls."

"Still not clear on that. WAIT! You mean the only time you turn the wheel left is when you are parked uphill with a curb?"


"Well, why didn't you say so? That's EASY to remember." No need for The Pony to reason when he can rely on rote memory.

I also broke the news that he might have to take the written test again. You know. Because it's been two years since he originally got his permit. Even though he faithfully renewed it on time. No sweat off The Pony's brow. He LIVES for tests. After a quick roundup of more than enough documentation, we hit the road.

"Don't be so nervous, Pony. The very worst it can be is about 20 minutes of your life. That's hardly any time at all. Look. Here's a list of immediate disqualifications. I'm sure they won't happen to you. Number One is: Being involved in an accident that is your fault during the exam. What are the odds of that, really? I don't think you have to worry. Oh, no. Number Two: Running over a pedestrian. Now don't go following in your father's footsteps here. I don't think that's genetic. Number Three: Not yielding to emergency vehicles. Just get off the road as quickly and safely as possible. Don't drive along the shoulder! Signal and pull over."

"I think I can do that."

The Pony chose to drive my mom's old TrailBlazer for his test. Genius took his driving test in it. But that was five years ago, when it was in better shape. Having something to do, I assume, with my mom's upkeep, and not Hick's. The problem now is that it has a bad clutch fan. So it roars like a jet engine upon acceleration. Oh, and last night, on the way home from signing papers for Acadia, the cassette tape player went nuts. It clicked and clacked, trying to eject a nonexistent tape.

"You know, it's never done this so long. Usually, it gives a couple of clicks, the radio goes off, and then it stops and the radio comes back on." So sayeth Hick. Not so this time. That clickety-clacker ejected a phantom tape for twenty minutes. Or more.

Still, that was The Pony's choice. Hick left it home for us and drove his Ford F250 Long Bed Club Cab monster. But only because The Pony's little Ford Ranger had a dead battery. From lack of use, Hick declared.

"You should probably warn the examiner, Pony. Before you get in the car. That it's going to have noise from the clutch fan, like a jet engine on takeoff, and the tape player might act up."

The Pony drove us to the testing station, a highway patrol office next to the local junior college. He did well in the TrailBlazer. But he was a ball of nerves. We walked inside, and he hung back. There was a big sign inside the door of the exam room that said, "Wait Here."

"Pony. Come on! Wait there! I'M not the one taking the test." One of the four women at the counter asked what she could do for him. He stepped up. But said nothing. "Tell them, Pony. What you're here to do." Stage fright, I guess.

The law requires that anybody under 18 MUST bring a parent or guardian. Yet when I stepped in that room with Genius five years ago, a government wench behind the counter icily announced, "Ma'am, YOU'LL have to wait OUTSIDE." Really? I had not said a word that day. Only stood there ready to sign if needed. So I was a bit gun-shy today, entering that room with The Pony.

A male patrolman walked over to take his information when The Pony said he was there for a driving exam. "But I read on the internet that I might need to take the written exam again. Because it's been so long since I got my permit." A regular Chatty Cathy he was then. Forking over his permit. Verifying his address.

"Yes. I'm afraid you're right." The patrolMAN took The Pony to a row of computers to bring up the written test. The Pony grinned from ear to ear. I think that broke the ice. Without even being banished, I stepped out of the room to the chairs in the hall. If I leaned sideways, I could see The Pony's back. And his computer screen. It wasn't long until I heard him talking, and saw that his screen had been vacated.

"You can leave your glasses on. Or take them off. But you need to look through here at the signs and tell me what they are." Then they moved on to the eye chart, I suppose. Which made it clear The Pony had passed the written exam again. The ones some of our students take 7 or 8 times.

"I'll tell you right now, when I take my glasses off, I can't even see the top line."

"Okay. We might just as well make this a restricted license."

The Pony came out the door with a patrolWOMAN. On the way to the car, he warned her of the sounds.

"That's okay. No problem with that."

I checked my phone. It was 9:27. Two men came in. One went inside and announced he was there to take his driver's test. He was even older than The Pony! At least 35! Perhaps he had been revoked. Anyhoo...a bit later he came out with another patrolWOMAN to take his driving test.

And then, at 9:38, The Pony returned! He was walking ten paces behind his patrolWOMAN, with a little grin. He went into the exam room and returned with his paperwork. Smiling from ear to ear. Again.

"I passed! I don't know my score. But on the written part I had to take again, I only missed two. I don't remember what they were about, but I know there were TWO questions on how to turn your wheel when parked on a hill!"

"Did you remember how?"

"Sure. That was easy."

I looked at his form. He had scored a 75 on the driving part. You need a 70 to pass. You can only take it 3 times, and then you need a special letter of permission from a state official. AND you have to provide evidence of attending a driving school. The Pony was happy with his 75.

It was, after all, the same score Genius had gotten on HIS driving test five years ago.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Coming Soon, to a Driveway Near Val!

Y'all know I love my T-Hoe, right? My trusty 4WD companion who gets me there and back each and every day. Even on those snow days (not counting the 21 we had last year) when my district did not have the foresight to call off in advance, necessitating the feeding of lunch at 9:00 a.m., right after breakfast, and an early dismissal at 10:00, and a drive that took Val 2 HOURS to make it home in a blizzard.

Farewell, old friend. You have served me well. But now it's time for some new blood. RED blood. Blood that gets my heart to pumping. Do you blame me?

I didn't think you would. Take a look at my new pal. A 2016 GMC Acadia! That's him. My very own. Well. Mine and the bank's, to be exact. But I own more than half! Hick took this photo tonight at the dealer. They had just bathed my beauty and parked him inside. Of course Hick cut off his nose. He's coming home tomorrow. My Acadia. Not Hick. Hick is home now. He will still come home tomorrow, too, of course. He's hitching a ride to work, and picking up my new companion after dropping off a check at the end of the day.

Now don't you go worrying about T-Hoe. It's not like he's Black Beauty, being sold all over the countryside to various and shady owners. We're keeping him, by cracky! That's the good news. The bad news is that Hick will drive T-Hoe every day. Unless there's snow in the forecast and I have to work. In which case my new AWD buddy will sit in the garage (why take chances, right?) and I will again take my trusty 4WD T-Hoe, while Hick takes my mom's former car, the 4WD Trailblazer.

I have not yet decided on a name for our newest addition. I am open to suggestions. The frontrunner, A-Cad, seems a bit sketchy, perhaps casting aspersions as to the motives of my new transport. Feel free to offer up a noble name in the comments.

We have not had a brand-new car since the 1992 Toyota Corolla. Even T-Hoe was a dealer demo, with 5000 miles under his 2008 belt. In the meantime, "Welcome to Thevictorians' fleet, Acadia!

I love the smell of new car in the morning.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Justice Isn't the Only One Who's Blind

Alas, my jury duty term is drawing to a close on December 31st. But don't you worry about Val! She's going out in a blaze of glory, having been selected to appear on December 29th! What are the odds, I ask you. What are the odds?

Hick does not seem to have confidence in Val's skills of deliberation. Too bad he's not the public defender, nor the prosecutor. Then I would never have to worry about being chosen. Even when my number is two, and number one doesn't show up. I found this out in a roundabout way yesterday, when Hick was driving T-Hoe to go look at new cars.

"Whoa! Look out!"

"What? I'm fine."

"You were headed toward the bridge railing. We were about to hit it! Can you just pay attention to driving and watch the road? Is that too much to ask?"

"I was trying to turn on my seat heater. Just the back. But it's all on, and the butt part is too hot. I need to know how to only put on the back."

"Good luck with that. The back heater barely works on the driver's side. This one works great. But you'll have to hit the button three times to turn that off. Then only hit the top part to turn on the back."

"See? Was that so hard?"

"STOP! You're sweaving again. You put double mileage on the cars, the way you drive."

"I'm trying to adjust my mirror. It's off."

"The Pony was driving. He set it for himself. Can you just pay attention to the road?"

"Val. I have been driving for 45 years. I've only had two accidents, and one was when I ran off that culvert bridge because I went to sleep. The other was when Johnny Johnson and I got in that wreck, and that's because a car's lights were in my eyes, and that car was coming at me. There was no avoiding it."

"Well, I wasn't in your car then. And I am now. So you need to be more careful."

"You're just too nervous. My driving is fine."

"So the time you ran over that old lady was on purpose? Because you said you've only had two car accidents."

"Oh. The old lady. Well, I guess it was three. But they weren't my fault."

"Why can't you ever take responsibility? I guess it was that old lady's fault you ran over her."

"Yes. She said she didn't see me. Admitted it right there in court."

"Still. YOU ran over HER. She didn't jump under the city truck. She was an old lady. You probably sweaved out of nowhere after she looked both ways."

"I didn't see her. That's what I told them. Then that prosecutor got all smart-alecky with me. I told him I'm blind in my left eye. So he says, 'Cover your left eye with your hand, and turn your head, and tell me how far you can see.' And I told him, 'YOU cover YOUR eye with your hand, and turn YOUR head, and you'll KNOW how far I can see.' The jury got a laugh out of that."

"Yet they convicted you."

"They awarded damages, Val. It's not like I left the scene. I'm the one who got out to help that old lady. I held her hand until Jimmy came out of the parts store and sat down with her, then I called 911."

"Was she still under the truck?"

"Yes, Val, she was under the truck."

"Was the truck ON her?"

"Her leg was beside the tire."

"Did you actually RUN OVER her leg?"

"I don't think so. Her leg wasn't broken. It was her wrist. I think she broke it while she was falling. But yes, she was sitting with her legs under the truck, beside the tire, while I held her hand."

"The hand of the wrist she BROKE?"

"I don't know, Val! I don't remember which wrist she broke. But she should have settled out of court, because the jury didn't give her as much money as the settlement would have."

"There you go, blaming the victim. She SHOULD have been compensated. You RAN OVER her!"

"But I didn't see her."


"I'm not surprised they never choose you for a jury. You would believe whatever you hear. You hear it once, and you think it's the truth. Not like me. I remember when I was on the grand jury, and they told us the guy threw a gun out of the window of the car while they were chasing him. How did they know it was a gun? Could they see it? They might have known if it was a rifle. But if somebody in the car up there threw a pistol out the window, could you tell it was a gun? No. And there were no fingerprints on this gun, and it was found at a corner where EVERYONE in that community throws out their guns. So was I convinced that the guy threw out a gun? No. I had reasonable doubt. But you would say he threw it out."

"What else would he be throwing out the window when the police are chasing him after a murder? I don't think he'd be littering at a time like that. That would only draw attention to him. Even more than speeding to get away from the police."

"See? You automatically think he's guilty. But they didn't prove to me that the gun belonged to him. I wish they would call ME for jury duty again."

"Me too."

Perhaps Hick will get his wish after he retires. That would be the best scenario ever.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

As an Added Stocking Stuffer, Val Bestows You All the Poop That's Fit to Scoop

There has been a recent development in the PoopShowerGate scandal!

I swear, Hick must be leading a double life. At some point, perhaps on a work trip to Germany, or Wales, or Brazil, or New Jersey...he apparently underwent training in tactics to avoid incriminating himself in House Subcommittee Hearings. Or Val's relentless questioning. The main facet of such training being DENY DENY DENY, followed by the second principle, REDIRECT REDIRECT REDIRECT.

Just this morning, as we headed out the driveway to try and buy a new vehicle, I asked Hick about the restroom facilities at the auto dealership. Not for pooping purposes. For the purposes of a lady who takes blood pressure medication in the morning, and is used to fighting tooth and nail with other ladies who take blood pressure medication in the morning, for the one-seat faculty women's restroom, a battle more violent than the opening round of the Hunger Games, when the 24 tributes are upthrust in their tubes to begin their battle to the death.

"It has nice bathrooms. I used them plenty of times when I was there having your mom's car serviced."

"With toilet paper and everything, I guess. Not that you'd need it."

"I didn't say I don't need it, Val."

"Yes you did! You said you don't use it. Remember? When I was getting it out of the closet to carry to the bathroom? You said you just get in the shower and wash after you poop!"

"I did NOT! I've been in there three times already this morning, and I used toilet paper!"

"Of course you did! Since I carried it in there for you! And anyway, that's too much information!"

"I use toilet paper. I only get in the shower when I poop in the morning, right before my shower."

"You are such a liar! You told me that you don't use toilet paper."

"No I didn't!"

"Yes you did!"

"Oh, Val. I don't say half of the things you say I said."

"You do too! You can't REMEMBER half of the things you've said!"

"YOU are the one who can't remember. Not me."

"I am SO done talking to you! You always change your story. You are SO full of crap!"

Let the record show that this morning, Hick was only figuratively full of crap, having emptied himself of his literal crap during those three trips to the bathroom. After which he did not take three showers.

Friday, December 18, 2015

As an Early Christmas Gift, Val Presents You With Front Row Seats for the Theater of the Absurd

Please proceed at your own risk. Remember, what has been read cannot be unread.

We took Hick out to dinner tonight for his birthday. A local all-you-can-eat catfish house was selected as the venue. That establishment might have made money on The Pony's appetite, but not on mine and Hick's.

There we sat, WAITING for our food to arrive at the table. Seriously. I say there is no excuse for that. It's all you can eat, for cryin' out loud! We sat down at 4:55. Do the people who run that place not understand that a lot of people will be coming to eat all they can on a Friday evening at that time? Should they not have a plethora of fried foodstuffs ready to carry out? They only do three main dishes: catfish, chicken, and shrimp. The dining rooms were not even half full. Surely there was some food stacked in the kitchen, ready for dispensing. It's not like we were asking for a baked potato at 2:30 in the afternoon.

Anyhoo...while we waited for 15 minutes, Hick busied himself by eating the platter of sliced onion, bread-and-butter pickle chips, and dill pickle slivers. They are meant as an accompaniment to the meal, you know. But as one who has eaten butter-pat candy off the Playboy Club table, Hick knows what he looks for in an appetizer. He stabbed a pickle chip, chewed it, and said, "Eww! Bread-and-butter pickles! I never did like them." Then he ate some more. And two slices of white onion. And started on the dill pickle sliver. Let the record show that Hick was using a fork and butter knife to cut up his pre-meal treat. Criminy! You'd think he was Mr. Pitt, sawing away at a Snickers bar!

Next thing I know, intent on a conversation with The Pony, seated across from me, a chunk of something shoots off Hick's plate and onto the table. He had tried to slice that dill pickle sliver with his butter knife, and a section of it got away from him. We're lucky it didn't fly across the room and clobber somebody. And luckier that when the food came, and Hick continued his hoity-toity ways with the catfish pieces, chicken tenders, and fried shrimp, which are, in my opinion, and all other diners' as well...made for eating with the hands, nobody complained and asked for him to be removed.

We have been talking about buying a new car again. On the way home, Hick professed that I may not want a big car like T-Hoe this time, but maybe an Arcadia. That's what he said. "Arcadia."

"You mean an Acadia. Not ARcadia. Acadia. Without the R."

"I know that."

"Then why did you say 'ARcadia?' If you knew that."

"I didn't."

Well then. Hick might as well be Elaine, declaring she never said that a certain guy was a real "Sven-jolly." WE ALL HEARD IT!

But that's not the climax of this little vignette. Please remain seated. No intermission.

When we got home, I was busy doing what the lady of the house does, sorting through the mail, dealing with a medical statement that has been paid once and billed twice, writing in Hick's birthday card, goading The Pony into getting his own card, stacking the printouts of the prospective auto purchases we might pursue, moving the long-necked pink fuzzy flamingo hat The Pony paid a dollar to wear on fundraiser Hat Day yesterday...when nature called. I walked into the master bathroom and immediately back out and to the hall closet.

"Looks like I'm the only one who knows how to get a new roll of toilet paper around here. Because obviously, I'm the only one who uses it."

And then he did it. Hick let loose a lie more untruthful than the 75-year-old, five-foot-two real estate agent who was called as an expert witness at my very first jury trial, and perjured herself severely by announcing that she had taken a tape measure and climbed down into and back out of a 15-foot deep hole to measure how big the gas tank of the former gas station had been. ALL BY HERSELF!

More untruthful than George Costanza declaring to an unemployment official that he applied for work as a latex salesman at Vandelay Industries.

Hick said, "You are, Val. I don't use toilet paper. If I take a poop, I just get in the shower and wash off."


That Hick is a regular real-life Jon Lovitz Tommy Flanagan pathological liar!

He'd better be.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Last Sunday I Slept With a Fr~nch Wh0re

Val hesitates to reveal her latest secret. It’s a tale that’s a bit off-color. Or at least off-odor. Don’t think Val is just shining you on. This one can definitely pass the smell test.

I slept with a Fr~nch Wh0re last Sunday.

Well…truthfully, I did not exactly SLEEP with a Fr~nch Wh0re. There wasn’t much sleep involved. And technically, my bedmate was not from France. Perhaps the wh0re part is exaggerated as well. No money actually changed hands. I’m pretty sure a proper wh0re would not give away the milk for free. She would at least expect the recipient of her professional charms to rent the cow in order to get the milk of human passion.

So I kind of figuratively, though not literally, slept with a Fr~nch Wh0re last Sunday. But that doesn’t make for a catchy title. Kind of clunky.

Before you go jumping to any conclusions, let the record show that Hick was the Fr~nch Wh0re. He’s the one who taught me that expression, so it is fitting that he is now the designated Fr~nch Wh0re himself.

Last Sunday evening, Hick had his Christmas dinner at work. I knew he was going, so I did not bother to prepare him food, nor hang around waiting to send him off. I heard him return, and then go to bed early. So I had no warning. No inkling of the fate that awaited me when I climbed the stairs from my dark basement lair.

I first noticed halfway up. Stair number seven. The faint smell of cologne. With each successive step, it grew stronger. Until, by the time I reached the top, that smell was like the Arnold Schwarzenegger of smells. I daresay it could have ripped a NYC phone book in half. Bent a piece of rebar with its bare hands. Hoisted an elephant onto its shoulder.

Let the record show that this miasma of Hick’s cologne was more potent than the parking valet BO that sullied Elaine’s hair and caused Jerry to give his car to a bum.

Each step towards the bedroom caused my throat to constrict a little more. My nose clogged. Which one would think would cut down on the perception of the stench. But it did not. I could hardly draw breath, laying in that bed beside Hick, that stinker!

Hick has always gone a little overboard with the cologne. I rue the day he received a large economy size bottle of Chaps as a Christmas gift. It must have been a re-gift, because I don’t remember my mom asking what fragrance Hick preferred, or my sister the ex-mayor’s wife ever using this method of tormenting me.

I woke up with a headache Monday morning. The scent survived the night. I could smell it wash off of my hair (I hoped) in the shower. I settled down in the La-Z-Boy in an effort to recoup a few of the 40 winks I was lacking from my night sleeping with the Fr~nch Wh0re. The acrid odor had permeated the afghan that I use to warm myself during my chair nap.

It still stinks.

I’m thinking of driving it to town and draping it over the bridge. For the people who live below. Unfortunately, I am afraid one would show up on my doorstep like Rebecca DeMornay with her muffin stumps…to castigate me for assuming homeless people would be grateful to have smelly afghans donated to them.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

That's What THE PONY Said

The Pony has been feeling his oats lately. I'm almost afraid to say anything to him, because he loves to play me like a violin and shout, "That's what SHE said!" at the least opportunity.

Did I ever tell you the story of how Val once waited five years to get payback? Probably not. Some day, perhaps. But it happened. So even though The Pony was happily she-saiding for days and days, he had no idea that Val was plotting her revenge. Val is not one to telegraph her signals. The Pony thought he had free rein. SHE-said this, and SHE-said that. Oh, how the self-imagined untouchables sooner or later (usually later) find themselves with the marks of Val's steamroller all over their flattened, formerly heightened sense of wittiness.

Let the record show that The Pony was supposed to put up the Christmas tree on Sunday evening. Monday morning, no tree. Tuesday morning, no tree. So I said to The Pony on the way to school...

"I didn't notice a Christmas tree in the basement when I got up this morning. I heard your dad getting the box out of the workshop. But there's no tree. And now it's already Tuesday, and Christmas is only ten days off."

"I couldn't get it up last night. So we are going to try again tonight."


Let the record show that The Pony knew he had been bested at his own game. The look on his face in the rearview mirror was priceless.

"That's enough, woman!"

He made a few feeble attempts to regain the upper hand as I chatted with him the rest of the way to school.

"Nice try. But you KNOW that can't touch mine, right?"

"That's what SHE--oh, okay! That WAS a good one."

I figure I can rest on my laurels until the weekend.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Hick's Nickname Might As Well Be Spuds McEmpty

Poor Hick. He doesn’t ask for much. A towering bowl of soup when the weather turns chilly. A weekly allowance so he can use the debit card for gas and scam auction money from his cash allotment. Rocks socked away in the earth for a retirement nest egg. And once in a blue moon, Hick likes a potato.

We took Genius and a friend out to lunch Saturday. Hick and Genius both wanted to eat at Roadside Roadkill. That’s not exactly the name. It’s half right. Hick had his appetite set on a baked potato with all the fixin’s. At our old favorite local BBQ restaurant, this was called a Terrible Tater. It was filled with beef or pork, and butter and sour cream if you wanted. The Roadkill Tato, as described on the menu, came with beef or pork, cheese, baked beans, butter, and sour cream. Hick said it’s what he always gets when they go there. I decided I’d give it a try, but I was also leaning towards some nacho chips, or a platter.

The waitress came, and Hick ordered his Roadkill Tato.

“Oh. I’m sorry. We don’t have any. We will have to bake the potatoes. The lunch crowd cleaned us out.”

Let the record show that we arrived around 2:30. As Hick wondered out loud after the waitress went to check on how long that would take: “What kind of restaurant doesn’t bake their potatoes for the whole day?” Inferring that folks coming in for supper around 4:00 or 5:00 (it’s the Midwest, you know…we eat our vittles before sundown) might also order a Roadkill Tato.

When the waitress returned, she said it would be 25 minutes before they were done. As Hick wondered out loud after she left: “Ain’t it possible to microwave a potato? A potato’s a potato. I want the stuff IN the potato. I could care less how the potato gets cooked.”

So Hick, being denied his Roadkill Tato due to time constraints, decided on the pulled pork platter.

"I'll have baked beans and potato salad for the sides."

"Potato salad? How do you like your potato salad?"

"Well. Like potato salad!"

"I mean, do you like it sweet? Because our potato salad is a family recipe, made with Thousand Island style dressing. It's orange. A lot of people don't like it. Do you like Thousand Island dressing?"

"I don't want none of that. Bring me the fries, I guess."

The fries were kind of strike three for Hick, going to bat for a tasty potato treat at Roadside Roadkill. I should know. I had them, too. Along with slaw. The fries were kind of like Steak N Shake fries, all thin and pointy and not much more than a stringy hard shell with nothing inside. The slaw was passable. I ate almost half of it. But before you go thinkin' Roadside Roadkill was a bust, go take a gander at what Genius ordered.

That's called Roadkill Loaded Chips. Genius got not the mini chips, but the $11.00 chips. It was served in a metal pie pan, heaped higher that a bowl of Hick's soup. Even Genius could only eat about a third of it, and took the rest home. For after his "I'M 21 NOW" blast, I suppose. That picture shows round chips, so it must be the mini serving. Genius had triangle homemade chips, like restaurant style chips. Duh! We were in a restaurant, by cracky! If you look at that link, and go to PHOTOS, you can see the table we sat at, at the window, to the left of the fireplace. At the other end of the building, behind the picture-taker, was a full bar. Which I pointed out to Genius. As if he didn't already know. Who said, "Yeah. But it's closed."

Oh, the naivety of youth! I'm sure all he had to do was ask, and they would have served him a drink. Though whether Hick would have paid for it is uncertain. Probably yes, since he was using the debit card, and not his own weekly cash allowance.

To thwart Hick's appetite even more harshly, just as he was asking Genius if he wanted piece of birthday pie (while planning on ordering one for himself), the waitress brought the bill, slid it onto the table next to me, and disappeared back into the kitchen. Probably to hold those potatoes between her knees and in her armpits to bake them.

Hick's disappointment was at least as severe as that of Genius at the DMV, trying to get his over-21 license one day early due to weekend office closure.

Monday, December 14, 2015

You Only Turn 21 Once

Genius hit the big 2-1 last week. Or perhaps I should say at the END of last week.

Maybe you remember what it meant to turn 21. I was in college, living in a dorm, because junior college was good enough for VAL, and I didn't have ready-made friends to live with on (or should I say OFF) a distant campus. My hall made me a big ol' poster, signed by each and every one, with some questionable graphics, and in big balloon letters: LEGAL! Let the record show that Val was already the go-to gal when it came to needing a ride, what with her having a car on campus. My net worth only increased with my 21-ness.

Uh huh. The 21st birthday is a big deal. Genius has no doubt been planning for this day since he left the crib.

Well. That's not quite true. He never would stay in his crib, preferring to sleep between Hick and me in the bed when he was an infant, or on the couch with his head up in Hick's hairy armpit in the evening, or in the mechanical swing if I could trick him into not turning into a starfish to avoid placement there, or on the couch in the living room after midnight once he was toddling, but mostly not at all. Forget naptime. That kid never had time to slow down.

Genius got a notice last month that his driver's license had to be renewed on his birthday. I sent him the paperwork. We had a conversation about how the DMV does not work on Saturday. I thought maybe he could take his information there on Friday afternoon, and see if they would renew it. Apparently, the DMV in College Town hires honey badgers.

"Mom! She was so rude. 'No. We can't renew it. It's not expired until tomorrow. Well. We COULD renew it. But it would still be an UNDER-21 license. Because you're not 21 yet. You could come back Monday and have it changed, but you would have to pay the fee again.' Can you believe that? So if they renewed it, I would still have a vertical license. That's what they look at when they card people. The UNDER-21 is vertical, and the other one, like you and Dad have, is horizontal. I am NOT going to go through pointing out my birth date on my license for six years! But now I will be driving without a license on Sunday. And Monday, until I get to the license office."

Sucks to be Genius, I guess.

Because the checker at Walmart gave him attitude, too.

"I went to Walmart this morning to get supplies for our party tonight. The checker was really hateful with me. She asked to see my ID, and then said, 'It's your birthday.' And gave me a look. Real grouchy. Not even a 'Happy Birthday.' Just 'It's your birthday."

"Well, she might have wondered why you were there at 6:00 a.m. buying alcohol."

"It wasn't 6:00 a.m. But pretty close. Still. She didn't have to take an attitude with me."

Alas, my poor special unicorn. He was also cheated out of voting in his first presidential election by three weeks. So sad. The Pony and Genius will vote in their first election next year. That is certainly sticking in Genius's craw as well.

At least I have promised him a trip to the casino when he comes home for Christmas.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

POKER? He Doesn't Even KNOW Her!

Saturday morning, The Pony cleaned out T-Hoe and found a treasure. He carried it into the dark house and held it in front of the living room window with a glare of natural light behind him.

"Look. That picture Dad found in Grandma's garage when he and the ex-mayor cleaned it out."

"I can't see that, Pony. There's a glare. Bring it over here."

"You know those pictures of dogs playing poker. It's kind of like that. It's a dog in a raincoat. Dad said he brought it because it looked like me. I MEAN, he said it looked like something I'd want. I don't, really. But he brought it for me, and it was Grandma's."

"What are you going to do with it?

"I have no idea."

And I have no idea why Mom had this picture in her garage. It's not even a real picture. There's a frame. But this is like a magazine cover stuck inside. Mom never had a dog that I know of. She said when she was a kid, her dad had beagles. But she never spoke of a pet. And she only tolerated our miniature poodle, Buster. So why she had a framed picture of a dog in a raincoat, under an umbrella, is beyooooond me.

Shhh...I don't want my sister the ex-mayor's wife getting wind of our windfall. She might come a-knockin'.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Coincidence OR a Sublte Message?

Karma and Even Steven are real jokers, are they not?

After making the decision Friday afternoon to allow Pete-from-work to take the $1000 Caravan home, even though he's only paid for half of it...look what Hick and Val saw Saturday morning:

You'll have to look closely. Val is no photographer under the best of circumstances. And in a moving T-Hoe (driven by the Master Sweaver, Hick), using a hand-me-down more-than-four-year-old cell phone with no glass over the camera hole, she's barely better than a courtroom sketch artist.

Look. Not at the Dairy Queen drive-thru awning. Not the white car making its exit from the Drive-Thru Liquor Store's gravel driveway. There! Third in line waiting for the light! It's a Dodge Caravan.


Let the record show that for all the time our vehicle has been cooling its wheels in front of the BARn, with Hick's handiwork sealing the window closed...we have not seen another one with the same repair job.

Sure, it's not exactly like our $1000 $600 $300 Caravan. Ours is maroon, and has the passenger side window held up by silver duct tape. While this one is dark blue and has the driver's window held up by red duct tape.

I wonder how much they want for it?

Friday, December 11, 2015

Do You Need Your Cockles Warmed This Evening?

As much as it pains Val to share a feel-good story with her ever-dwindling audience, she can't resist foisting this one upon her readership.

I might not have mentioned it here, but Hick is selling the $1000 Caravan to a guy at work. The deal was made in mid-October. I believe the particulars were for the low, low price of $600, with $200 paid down, and two more payments of $200 to come with successive paydays, the Caravan remaining here until paid for. The dude, let's call him Pete, gave Hick the $200 that day. The next payday came and went. He told Hick he didn't have the money because something came up. Then the next payday, he gave Hick $100. That's all we've gotten. The $1000 Caravan sits over by the barn, its silver duct tape resplendent in the evening sun, holding that passenger-side window closed so that no critters get inside to befoul the gray cloth interior. Which is really in good shape, since that most of the use has been Hick driving it to and from work (without a functioning speedometer), not hauling around a dirty, smelly soccer team.

This morning, interrupting my chair nap, Hick said that if Pete could come up with $100, he felt like letting the guy have the $1000 Caravan, and finish payments later. I agreed. As I was trying to leave work this afternoon, putting my spare shoes in a Walmart bag for The Pony to carry out, Hick called me. Because obviously he can see through the phone, and knows the most awkward moment to foist himself upon me.

"Just a minute. I need two hands. We're trying to put a pair of shoes in a bag."

That did not deter Hick. He kept right on talking. As I forgot the bottle of water I set on my desk to carry out to T-Hoe, and as I struggled to lock my classroom door with one hand, and as I stood beside T-Hoe, unable to clamber up on his running board while holding the phone to my ear.

"I'm getting ready to leave work. We had a little meeting this afternoon. Then I called Pete back to my office. 'Pete. I need to talk to you. You're not in trouble.' We sat down and I told him, 'Val and I talked this morning, and if you can come up with a hundred dollars, you can drive the van home and pay us later. You can wait until after Christmas, and after you get caught up at the first of the year. You can wait until your tax refund if you need to. And if you can only afford fifty dollars right now, that's okay, too. Let me know what you can do. Call me on Sunday and we'll talk.' And Pete started to cry!"

"Oh, no. Because he doesn't have the money? Did you make him cry? I don't want him to feel bad if he can't afford the van! We can give his money back if he needs it."

"No. He wasn't sad. He was happy. It was like he couldn't believe somebody was doing something nice for him. He just got an emergency call yesterday at the plant. It was his wife. The car she has been driving broke down in the middle of nowhere. Apparently, her and the baby--did you know he has a less-than-two-year-old baby? They had been to Walmart, and she broke down on the side of the road. So he had to leave work to go get them."

"I know they have a baby. They brought it to parent conference night, and it had a ladybug in its nose! It's a really cute baby."

"So I know he needs the van. It made me tear up when he started crying. I told him to call me Sunday. To talk it over with his wife. Even if he can't afford anything right now, to call me and we'll talk."

"As long as you didn't make him cry because he can't afford the van. It's just sitting there. I hope it still runs. I don't care how long he takes to pay. But he'll want to pay, because he made the deal."

"It runs. And it has good tires. Those studded snow tires we put on it last year or the year before. Pete is handy. He can tinker with it. I don't think anything major will go wrong."

"Well, then. He needs to come get it Sunday."

"Yeah. I think so too."

Now don't be thinking we should just give the $1000 Caravan to Pete. He's a worker. Not a charity case. I don't think he'd go for that. He might be willing to accept a hand-up. But not a handout.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Anti-Waldo

Val has a monkey on her back. And in her pocket. And under her feet. And all over her.

Well...not so much a HICK.

No matter where I go or what I do, there's Hick. It's uncanny. He can track me down any time of day. In any location. He should be one of those people-finders. All he'd have to do would be put a little Val scent on the folks he was tracking. He always gets his woman.

Wednesday, for example. He woke me with the thump of his left ham-arm across my torso when the alarm went off. Okay. So it's not hard to find Val when she's sleeping in the same bed right next to Hick. But we're only just beginning. After his shower, he found me in the La-Z-Boy. Still not much of a challenge. But after waking me to say how much he hates his job (more like hates being told what to do), and after feeding the dogs and making his breakfast, he came BACK to tell me some more how much he hates his job.

At school, between the time I arrived and the time I turned off my phone to start class, Hick sent me a text that he loves me. Yeah, yeah. I figured that. Or he would have hit the highway long ago. At lunch, Hick sent me another text wishing me a good day. At 3:30, he called to tell me he was on the way home to meet the roofer about another estimate on our hail-shingles.

When The Pony and I got home, here came Hick. Right into the garage as The Pony was trying to smuggle in a gift for him to hide under his bed. Good thing I had made him wrap it up in my coat. To stall Hick from opening up the back of T-Hoe, just trying to help, The Pony loaded his arms with lunch sack, backpack, school bag, and my purse, plus the mail and a loose physics book. "Dad. Can you get this door for me? I don't have a hand to turn the doorknob."

Distracted, Hick went to open the garage people-door. He came back and opened up the passenger door of T-Hoe. "That's okay. We can get it."

"All right. I'm going to fill up a box with wood for Genius. He wants to make a bonfire Saturday night. We'll take it to him." Because there is no wood in college town, I suppose. Even at a rental house with a large yard and trees all around the back.

I went inside. The Pony smuggled the gift. I changed clothes and was putting a load of laundry into the washer when Hick walked in.

"Oh. There you are again."


"Well, I haven't started supper yet. I just got home. I was putting in this laundry. I was going to read the mail. And now here you are again."

"Okay. I'll go back outside."

As soon as supper was done, I sent Hick a text. Wednesday is Survivor night for Val and The Pony. We take our meal down to the basement in our haste to watch our show. "Supper is ready. I'm out of the kitchen. Genius sent a letter. It's on the counter." Hick had wanted to make his own supper of eggs he wrestled out of the mouths of Poor Dumb Ann and Sweet, Sweet Juno, along with leftover Thanksgiving ham.

I took my meal down to my dark basement lair. No sooner had I fired up my New Delly and taken a bite than there was Hick. Standing behind me. Not quite as stealthy as The Sidler. In no need of TicTacs in his pocket. Because I had heard his footless ankles stumping down each of the 13 steps.

"That Genius! I KNEW I was right about his typewriter."

"Yeah." Heavy sigh.


"It's just're always around me. I need some time to decompress. Some alone time. I've been around people all day. It's like I can't get away from you."

"Oh. Okay." Stump stump stump stump stump stump stump stump stump stump stump stump stump.

He's gonna hafta CHILL when we both retire. He's like the Anti-Waldo.


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Val Thevictorian Tips the Scales of Justice

Order in the court! All rise. The honorable Mrs. Val Thevictorian will now continue with her story of courtroom intrigue. You may be seated.

Let's get down to brass tacks. I don't want to specify the nature of this case, but it is not funny in the least. I am not making light of the issue. Far from it. Sometimes, you gotta laugh to keep from crying. Or laugh after you are almost crying out loud in front of 70-something people. So bear with me. Let's just say this case involved a word that sounds like the shape of Lady Liberty, and a word that has its root in the sister city of Gomorrah. The prosecutor made that clear right up front. The incident allegedly occurred with a child who was then 9-10 years old. There would be four witnesses giving testimony. The child. The mother. The therapist who was told the details by the child (and a video of it), and the police officer who took the initial report. Let the record show that the plaintiff, the mother, and the defendant all had the same last name.

As with all jury proceedings, the attorneys first question the pool of peers to see if there is any reason they cannot be fair and impartial. From whether they are related to, or acquainted with, any of the parties involved. Then they inquire as to whether any of us have been party to an event such as the charges made against the defendant. With a case of this sensitive nature, we were instructed that we did not have to elaborate on our personal experiences. Simply raising a hand and giving the basics was okay. OR we could go to the bailiff individually during a break, and speak privately about our reservations of impartiality. The members of our group did not seem shy about sharing.

"I am a survivor of rape. I do not think I can be impartial."

"It happened to me. I think he is guilty."

"I am a victim of abuse. I don't think I can be fair."

"I put away my son for the same thing. He's in prison. I will not let it happen to somebody else's grandaughters."

"When I was a babysitter, it happened to me. I can't be fair."

Some of them were shaky. Some spoke with determination. But they all did exactly what the rule of law calls for, and informed the court that they could not give that man a fair trial if chosen. I was wondering from the beginning if I could be fair. Lefty had talked about going to a jury orientation, and a group where they heard evidence and decided if there was reason to go to trial. "Most of it was about sexual abuse. Child abuse. It would break your heart. It's hard to listen to that time after time."

"I don't know. If it involved a kid, I don't know if I could be fair. I've spent my whole life working with kids. I don't know if I could do it."

And then THIS. The charges in the trial. So I was uncomfortable. I had not put up my hand when the prosecutor questioned the jury pool. Was that fair? I figured those other people had it so much worse than me. That it would look like I was just trying to get out of getting picked. Because the prosecutor said the trial was expected to go well into the evening, possibly into the night, and perhaps into the early morning hours. Which gave another group of possible picks a reason to disqualify themselves.

"I've had a hip replacement. It's hard for me to sit here. Even this long."

"I am scheduled for a hip replacement in two weeks. It is very painful for me to sit."

"I had my left hip replaced, and I'm scheduled to get my right one replaced. I am in a lot of pain when sitting."

"I am pregnant. Due on Christmas day. It is very uncomfortable for me to sit."

"Did you ask your doctor for a note?"

"Yes. He said, 'Pregnancy is not a disability.'"

"That's because HE was never preganant!"

"You have a crappy doctor!"

I swear, you could see that fetus writhing beneath her t-shirt. We were afraid she might give birth right there in the second row.

The prosecutor finished, and the cute young Defense Dude began to address the crowd. He led with a big, "GOOD MORNING!" The response was less than stellar. It was kind of less than the dim lights over Val's kitchen table. "Let me try that again. HELLO!"

Lefty could not control herself. "HELLO!" You could hear her over the whole crowd. Who had just kind of mumbled.

Defense Dude took a step towards her. Looked her in the eye. "That's more like it. Hello." He went on with some sports analogies. They went over like a lead Hindenburg.

Left turned to me and whispered. "He was so cute. Then he had to open his mouth."

Defense Dude also had a visual aid, which I had seen him carry into the courtroom. It was a science fair display board, black, with manila folders and notebook paper taped to it. Seriously. A third-grader could have done it better. Or at least the third-grader's parents. Defense Dude should have had his mom help him. He held it up like it was the most advanced visual aid ever carried into a courtroom.

"This is what you have to ask yourself. Can you say, beyond a reasonable doubt, that my client is guilty of the charges? You must be sure, beyond reasonable doubt, of each of these five items." He let down the flap of each manila folder as he went along, pulling out a red push-pin. Inside each folder was drawn, in red colored marker, a question mark. To the right of each folder was a piece of notebook paper, labeled. Who. What. When. Where. How.

Defense Dude also asked if we expected crime scene evidence. "It's not always like on TV. We don't do that stuff. But would you be able to convict without a doctor's report? Or a doctor's testimony? Would you be able to convict if the defendant decided not to testify? Would you think he was trying to hide something? I bet none of you got up this morning, drove to the courthouse thinking, 'Gee...I wonder that Joe Blow is not guilty of?' Did you? No. You most likely were thinking, 'I wonder what Joe Blow is guilty of?' Right?"

The prospective juror who said this happened to her said, "No. We didn't know his name yet."

"Oh. So you think he's guilty, even before you hear any of the facts?"

"He IS guilty!"

Let the record show that at this point, the defendant leaned his head over the table and cried. Silently. Until his assistant DA gave him a tissue.

Defense Dude got crackin'. "Is there anybody who has not already stated they could not be fair and impartial who has anything to add? Any questions I should be asking?"

Then I couldn't stop myself. My hand went up.

"Over here. Juror number <REDACTED>."

"I have been a teacher for 28 years. I have spent my life working with kids. I am afraid I would believe the child. I would not be fair and impartial."

Lefty let out a gigantic sigh. She had visions of us being picked together to serve on this jury. At the break, she said, "Well, they'll never pick you now. But I understand. You were about to cry, weren't you. I heard it in your voice. I saw you tear up."

"We're not supposed to discuss anything relating to the case. But next time, I'll tell you."

Here's the thing. I know sometimes kids lie. I know that sometimes kids are persuaded to lie, convinced to lie, given false memories by a divorced parent in order to get revenge on the ex-spouse. But once you've worked with kids who have been abused, you always want to err on the side of the kid. Do whatever you can to let them feel safe again. No matter how much I tried, I don't think I could have given the defendant an equal chance to prove his innocence. Which is not fair to the defendant.

Let the record show that Val was not chosen for the jury. But the case is still on her mind.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Val Has Her Day in Court

I had a bad feeling about it. Before it even started. No matter how many times I called that information line, I got the same answer: the case for my scheduled day of civic duty judging my peers was still on.

I even told The Pony on the way to school. Uh huh. Somebody has to drop him off, you know. It's not like he has his driver's license. "I am not looking forward to this, Pony. I feel sick. Like I might throw up. I don't get it. I've served on a jury before. I know where I'm going. I have plenty of time. I know where I'm parking. But something is off. Something makes me dread it today."

Foreshadowing, people. My keen psychic sense was trying to ease me into it. Like that joke with the punchline: "Grandma's up on the roof."

You might recall that the last time I appeared in court, I was member number--whoa, Nelly! You don't think I can give out that information, do you? I was one referred to by the defense attorney as EXTRA! One who had no chance of being chosen. Let the record show that THIS time, I parked T-Hoe down by the liquor store, gingerly-stepped my unhappy knees up the differently-abled ramp to the courthouse like a 1980 Olds Toronado up the cut-backs to Pike's Peak, presented myself to the clerk handing out number badges, and noticed that she did not look flustered in hearing my name. Do you know why? Because she immediately glanced down and struck a line through me. Like I was Sean Thornton, and Will Danaher told her to write down my name and strike a line through it! And it was easy, you see, because there was only ONE name ahead of me. Making me member of the peer panel number--aha! Thought you'd trick me, eh? I can't tell you my number!

Clerk pointed out the stairs, but since I'm a regular there, I walked across her outstretched arm. If somebody is so blind they can't see the steps right there in the center of the courthouse, they need to not sit in judgment on a trial, methinks. Especially since this one had visual aids. But I'm foreshadowing again...

The wood-paneled elevator took me one floor up, to the more modern courtroom. Shinier pews. Carpeted floor, not as creaky. I was immediately show to a seat right up front. Thank goodness there was no CRAZY EYES across the rail from me this day. My peers trickled in. The one on my left had been near me on my previous legal outing. We chatted about old times. Old CRAZY EYES. About our spouses. Children. Lefty was surprised to hear that The (famous pictures-in-the-paper) Pony was my son. We had plenty of time, because once again, we did not get started until an hour and a half after our reporting time. Counsel came and went. Lefty was quite excited about the defense dude, a young thing with spiky black hair and an athlete's build. "I know I'm married...but I can LOOK!"

"Do you want me to hold up a sign in front of you that says, 'Pick ME!' right before the recess?"

"No. I would never ask you to do that. Hold one up in front of yourself, with an arrow pointed at me, that says, 'Pick HER!'"

While chatting, I learned that on Lefty's previous case, when the group was asked the standard question of whether anyone had a reason they could not stay for the whole day and possibly late into the night if chosen...a man raised his hand and stood up. "I'm going to be honest with you. I've had a couple of drinks." Well. He was told he could leave!

"I should have thought of that! How simple! Of course, word would probably get back to my school..."

"Yeah. You'd make the news."

"I'd be on the front page of the paper, next to a picture of my son..."

"One for being so smart. One for being not very."

"Yeah. Not a good idea. But I DID park down by the liquor store. Not in front. I figured why block their customers. You know. The ones headed up here with us."

I sent a text to The Pony. "Hey. I'm here. I am juror number REDACTED."

Then came his response. "Oh, CRAP!" Because, you see, if I was tied up (just an expression, I'm pretty sure they don't allow that, even here in Missouri), his father (you know, HICK) would have to pick him up from school.


Monday, December 7, 2015

Hick's Words Of Wisdom Concerning the Legal System

Val is a time traveler tonight. She'll type up this tale and it will appear Monday evening while Val is elsewhere. She's magic like that.

Jury duty looms Monday morning. No matter how many times I call that information line, I cannot get the message I want to hear. So plans have been left, The Pony will be dropped off, I will drive to the courthouse in bill-paying town, I will drive back to pick up The Pony after school and attend the First Monday faculty meeting (if not chosen for jury), and then drive BACK to bill-paying town for an appointment of The Pony's after stopping by the bank on the way during one of those trips. Yes. A regular day of work is preferable to jury duty.

Sunday morning, I may or may not have complained to Hick. It's so rare that I voice my displeasure with anything, I seriously doubt that a cross word exited my lips. But for some reason, Hick told me to call the courthouse and tell them I couldn't be there.

"Tell them you take a water pill and you can't sit in the courtroom that long."

"That's not going to work. They won't even take a doctor's note from people who really have something wrong with them. They'll issue a bench warrant if I don't show up. Remember, like when the process server brought those papers for you to go to court over the lawnmower incident?"

"That was the most ridiculous thing I ever heard of!"

"I know. And YOU were the one pressing charges!"

"Yeah. And after missing three days of work because they would continue the trial every time I showed up, I told them to stick it. I told the judge that I was done. I wasn't pressing charges anymore. It was the judge's secretary, I guess. The clerk. And she said, 'You can't do that!' And I told her, 'You watch me. I'm not coming back. I don't want to press charges. I've lost too much money missing work for three days. That kid has served more time in the county jail waiting for his trial than than he'll get if you convict him. I think he's learned his lesson. I'm done with it!' And then she went off to talk to the judge, and came back, and of course they made it sound like it was their decision, so I didn't have to go back."

"That kid never did have a nickel. He had a stringy mullet haircut, and Dollar Store tennis shoes that were falling apart, and he was thin as a rail. He probably ate better at the jail than he did at home. I don't know how he had the strength to carry that riding mower over the swinging bridge."

"Yeah. But the other kid was loaded. His parents had all kinds of money."

"So HE got bailed out, I guess. I didn't know him. And he would have gotten off anyway, probably, because he'd have had a good lawyer."

"More than likely. Just tell them that you're a racist or something. So you don't get picked."

"That case I had to serve on, I THOUGHT I had it covered. It was about eminent domain. So I made sure to say I was against it. That I had strong feelings about it because the highway department took our land behind the house to put in that road. My dad was bitter because they paid almost nothing. And I'll be darned if they didn't PICK ME! I was about #40, too. I should have not said anything. I'm sure the guy who was suing the state had his lawyer pick me. Because he thought I'd give him more money. That's what the trial was for. It was a done deal. We just had to decide on the award. It was kind of interesting, though. We had a bunch of expert witnesses, and one of our jury questions was how much each witness was being paid to testify. One guy got $5000! He was from the DNR. The local realtor only got a couple of hundred dollars. That would have killed her to find that out. She really thought she was something. She's the one who lied and said she climbed down in that 15-foot hold where the gas tank had been, all by herself, and then out again."

"Some people don't realize they oughta just take what they're offered and not go to trial. The guy would have had to pay the lawyer and the witnesses out of his money. And didn't you say that one went late?"

"Yeah. We were there until after 10:00 at night."

"Now that lady I ran over with the city truck? She should have just taken what we offered, which was $25,000 and her medical bills. She only broke her arm."

"Well. YOU broke her arm. When you ran over her with the truck."

"Still. Seven years later, it goes to trial, and she only ended up getting $33,000. No medical bills. So she would have been better off to settle in the beginning, and not pay the lawyer for the trial. She would have come out ahead."

"Hindsight. If she had that, she may not have gotten run over by you."