Category Archives: Partially Fact Challenged

STONE COLD

    What does a colander, kidney stones and Church have in common?  This is the question on the front of every thinking person’s frontal brain lobe, isn’t it?  If it is, here is my answer to my own question.

     They all came together one hot, summer Sunday morning at our Church.  It began when one of our Church ladies started cornering people who were still inside the Church.  She was carrying one of those short, squatty plastic glasses that a person gets from the local convenience store from the soda fountain.  The cup appeared to be filled with something cold because beads of condensation had formed on the glass and were temptingly sliding down its side.  Was it a soft drink, iced tea or just ice water?  Any one of them would have been welcomed on such a warm day as it was turning out to be.  What I had hoped for, what I had imagined in the cup was not at all what the cup actually held.

      Like the rest of the unsuspecting Church people whom the woman had trapped, I too was given the opportunity to see something only a few eyes have seen.  At least, that is the feeling the woman was trying to push-off on us.  

     “Ivan, you gotta see this”.

     I had to see it?  What if I didn’t want to?  I wished I had gone with my frontal brain lobe thought that said, “Run far and fast.  You ain’t going to wanna see that!”  Sadly, I didn’t listen to myself!

     Frozen in the clear ice of the glass, suspended in cold storage, were small, smooth, hardened clumps of what looked like peanut butter with a slight case of Jaundice.   Yellowish, beanish looking orbs. 

     After the show of’ show and tell’ came the ‘tell’ part and tell she did.  Her explanation blasted any thought of wanting an ice-cold, refreshing drink far from my mind because of what we were having deciphered to us.  Kidney stones.  Those globulations on ice were kidney stones.  To be more precise, they were her kidney stones!  She had cultivated, produced, grown and somehow harvested her own kidney stones. They were locally raised, one owner, genuine kidney stones from a lady in our Church.  What more could a person ask for?  More details? Definitely not! Not me.  I was not going to ask for any details.  I had seen enough and had managed quite well to keep my breakfast down, up to that point, though it was becoming somewhat of a struggle. 

     I didn’t need to ask.  She didn’t need to be asked.  She was the queen of show and tell!  I knew she had not recently had any operations because she had not missed any Church. Her story of explanation was deep with explanation of her taking some kind of special medication to get the stones, her stones in motion.  In order to tell if the procedure was doing any good, she had placed a kitchen colander in the toilet every time she ‘did her duty’.  That was how she had managed to catch and collected the stones.  For a woman who did a lot of fishing, why she didn’t believe in the ‘catch and release’ idea, I’ll never know.   After catching, all that was left for her to do was to add water to her specimens, freeze them to keep them fresh, just so she could show them to everyone at Church.  That included all who were not interested or had weak stomaches which basically covered every person in our Church!  The good news in all of this is that no one puked, at least not publicly. 

I have come up with this CONCLUSION: In the end, I thought that a person like her was just the one to start a chapter of KSAP or Kidney Stone Anonymous Passers.  They could meet weekly after completing a Twelve Flush Program.  One by one, they could stand and say something like, “Hi, my name is so and so and in the past, I have been kidney stoned.  Not anymore.  I have been relieved.  Let us now pass the plastic glass around.”

     By the way, that’s all I have to say on the subject,  just in passing!

     (The above sketch is another of my early attempts to sketch my thoughts with the only resources I had available at the time.)

FOOD FOR (the) THOUGHT(less)

    

The other day, I drew the CONCLUSION that I’m not against sitting down with the family and having a meal together. We do it all the time. It helps keep the family, well, together! Evening meal time is a time of sharing, talking about the events of the day and generally, a place to chew the fat. (Not that we chew much fat. We’ve tried to cut out as much fat out of our diet as possible.)

I remember one night, many years ago when, after having our meal together, I did what I usually did after a hard day at work. I herded three youngest of our six kids off to bed while the oldest two, mom and the baby stayed up a little while longer. It was only about 9 PM and, as usual, I was sleepy. So……..since Dad was going to bed, the younger three should also go to bed. I thought that all I had to do was to tuck them into their beds and then I could be off to mine. That should have been it. That should have been the extent of my duties at night. How hard could something like that be? How long could that take? That was the way it was supposed to be but that was not the way it was going to be that night!

I tucked the two youngest kids into their bunk beds and the older one into his double bed. It was at precisely that magical moment that the action began. Requests, excuses, tattlings, whinings and general chaos.

“Can I have a drink”?

“I have to go potty”.

“I’m hungry now“.

“I’m cold”.

“I’m too hot”.

“Will you scratch my back”?

These and so many more stall tactics were incorporated, even before the tungsten in the switched off light bulb had cooled down. I wasn’t going to turn the light back on so I did my best to deal with the kids in the dark. And then, there was one question that always caused me to turn the light back on. One question I simply could not resist. One question, which looking back on it now, many years later, I realize the kids knew I couldn’t resist.

“Dad, will you read to us”?

“Okay, just a short bedtime story”, I thought. After all, I enjoyed a good bedtime story as much as the other kids did but that night, I wanted to read something I felt was interesting to me. Unfortunately, classic poetry was out of the question, unless of course, it was the all educational Dr. Seuss or the Bernstein Bears. What I was going to read had to be light and childish and something a little bit more exciting than a picture book. To my way of thinking, all of their choices of reading material were about as exciting as the getting the flu! After much begging, I graciously gave in.

“Fine! I’ll read the book you chose”!

I was too tired to argue anymore about whatever it was that they had chosen so I lay down on the double bed with two kids laying on one side of me and one on the other side. I began reading but abruptly stopped my reading when I had a question of my own to ask.

“How come it smells like someone wet the bed”?

One of the kids replied, “Because they did”!

“Where”?

“Right where you’re laying Dad”.

By then, it was too late to move. I had already begun to sponge it up. Gross! I quickly made a mental note that from then on, I would not give the kids anything to drink…. for three days before I put them to bed!

As for the bedtime story I had begun to read, somewhere after the first five or so pages of a twenty page book, the story had worked its magic. The sound of snoring was echoing off of the walls, but that was only to be short-lived. One of the kids interrupted the noise by saying, “Dad, wake up. You’re keeping us awake with your sleeping!”

Was it my fault I couldn’t keep my eyes open when I stretched out on a bed with a good child’s book in my hands? A moment’s relaxation could have turned into a night’s sleep, if only the kids had not interrupted me. I was so ready for sleep, why weren’t they?

I tried reading again and again, the story worked its magic. I closed my eyes for just a second and the next thing I knew, the kids were fighting and crawling all over me as if I was a human jungle gym. Right about then, my wife called out and asked me, “Are you putting the kids to bed or not”?

When I said, “Yes Dear”, she said, “It sure doesn’t sound like it”! Then she added something like, “Did I need her to come in and do it for me”?

Like I needed her to do my job! Then again, I did wonder why they were having such a hard time falling asleep when I was having no trouble at all.

It wasn’t too long before, once again, I was lulled off to lull-lull land by the rhythmic soothing sounds of the kids screaming and hollering at each other! I never did know how long it was before I woke up to the sound of too much quietness. The sound of silence was eerie. It was plain to see that the kids were still not asleep, that much was easy enough for any sleepy-eyed Dad to see. Something was wrong. They were not fighting! There was no screaming. No one was wetting the bed! Instead, the only noise I heard them making was a munching, crunching, chewing sound. I wanted to know what was going on.

The two youngest kids were sitting on one side of me and the older one sat on the opposite side as I lay in their bed. Their positioning had not changed. The three sat there, quite contentedly chomping on some of those little fish-shaped cheese crackers. They weren’t being very neat about it either. As I began to wake up a little bit more, I began to wonder why I was covered with crumbs. Cheese cracker crumbs.

As it turned out, while I had been sleeping, the kids had gotten hungry and one of them had quietly gone for snacks. Whether on purpose or not, they had shared their munchies with me, turning me into a piece of furniture. Specifically, I had been used as a table. Each kid had put their personal stash of cheesy crackers somewhere on my belly. Quietly, politely and one at a time, the kids were eating their crackers from off of my tummy. I was covered with a mess of yellow crumbs up and down my belly and I had an itching in my belly button.

Looking back on it all now, there were three things I should be thankful for. First, they were all quietly sharing. Second, they were eating crackers instead of something that required forks, knives and spoons. And, third, if it had been potato chips they were eating, they may have used my belly button to hold the chip dip! Now that would have been disgusting!

     Below is another sketch I made in ink, on colored, lined paper, years ago.   I have since discovered erasures, white, unlined paper and colored pencils.  Now, that’s progress! 

ROMANCE, RATS AND SHOELACES

     Romance, rats and shoelaces hardly are kissing cousins when it comes to being related to each other yet, somehow I managed to lump the three together!  It all was so innocent and began when I had just cleaned up from a hard days work and was sitting on the couch with the love of my wife for eighteen years, my wife.  She was looking lovely as ever.  It was early in the evening and we were leisurely sitting in front of the flickering glow of the TV set.  Although we were all alone on the couch, we were not at all, all alone.  Strategically seated around the room were all six of our children, each one in their personal favorite spot.  With that setting, I could tell that romance for the evening was going to be tough but still, I was going to try.  I was not embarrassed to show romance to my wife in front of the kids.  They had seen us smooch and snuggle too many times to count and each of those countless times were enough to gross them out.  They freely showed true feelings by their reactions of gagging or complaining or both simultaneously.  With those visions vaguely on the back of my mind, I leaned close to my wife’s ear and whispered these six little words;

     “Sweet nothings.  Sweet nothings.  Sweet nothings.”

     I was whispering sweet nothings into her ear.  In between crunches of the corn chips she was munching on, her response to my romantic gesture was, “What”?

     I tried to tell her to hush because I didn’t want it to be obvious to the kids that I was trying to work my romantic magic.  After all, any couple that was near the forty-year old mark should not be romantic, at least according to them.  Their biggest nightmare was to see their own parents being romantic!  How terrible could that be? 

     Looking around, I noticed that not a kid had seemed to have noticed nor had any one of them lost their focus on whatever it was they were doing at the time.  That gave me reason to be encouraged enough to try it again.  Once more, I whispered the same six words.

     “Sweet nothings.  Sweet nothings.  Sweet nothings.”

     Ah, but the second time, her response was different.  She turned to me and repeated what she had heard.

     “Sweena, sweena, sweena?  Who’s Sweena”? she asked as she took  another corn chip and put it in her mouth.

     Instantly, I began to question the futility of the situation but decided it was time for me to step things up and take desperate measures.  Taking her face in my hands I kissed her long and deep.  Then I said the next six little words that popped into my head.

     “You smell like a rat, Dear”!

     What I said and what I meant were two entirely different things!  Of course, after my bold statement, it was at that exact moment that the radar of each kid came on.  Normally, anytime an adult spoke, their radar was turned off.  Not then.  It was up and running.  Full blast!

     Glancing over his shoulder, my sixteen year old son said, “That really sets the mood for romance, Dad!”

     Our fourteen year old daughter then said, “Smooth move, Dad”!

     Of course, her comment was followed by, “Way to go, Dad” from my eleven year old son. 

     His seven-year old brother chimed in and said, “”Awe ver!  Dad said Mom is a rat”!

     Not to be outdone, our four-year old daughter said, “Dad!”

     And last but not entirely least, our eight month old baby girl had to get her two cents worth in.  For some reason, she simply started to cry.  

     It was at that precise moment that the whole ball of wax of romance, rats and shoelaces came together.  All I was trying to do was to be a little romantic but when I mixed in the part about the rat, the shoelaces naturally had to follow! 

     My wife looked long and hard at me then spoke her feelings on what I had just said, thus, the introduction of the shoelaces.

     “You just stuck your foot into your mouth, Mister”!

     Quickly, I tried to cover my verbal tracks by saying, “I mean, your breath smells like a rat.” 

     Wrong line number two!

     Glaring in my general direction, she continued by saying, “You just stuck your other foot into your mouth, Buster”.

     I could see the ice beginning to form over any romantic attempt I was going to put forth from there on.  And yet again, I tried to come to my own rescue.

     “It doesn’t smell like a rat all the time”.

     “You just swallowed both feet, clear up to the laces of knee-high army boots!  Thanks a lot, Dear!”

     With that said, I knew I had just put a polar icecap on my own iceage which was going to last a very long time, especially if I didn’t stop before I got any further behind.

     By that time, none of the kids had any idea of what was on the TV nor did they didn’t care.  As it turned out, I was more entertaining than anything they could ever think about viewing on the TV! 

     Looking back on it so many years later, I still ask, “How was I to know that one little ‘rat’ comment could cause such a big stink”? 

     All I could do that night was to head off to bed, pull the covers over my head and wait for the thaw.  One CONCLUSION I have learned from all I had  been through was this:  Corn chips, when eaten, will always smell like a rat!   And whatever a husband may do, he must never tell his wife what her breath smells like!  Never!

     PS:  This is another one of the stories I wrote about 1996.  As said before, since that time, I have discovered white, unlined and uncolored paper; pencils and erasure for rough draft sketches and colored pencils to add color to my sketches.  Has my artistry improved?  Probably not but I still love giving it a try.  Hope you liked what you just read.

USED TOO

 

     Generally, I put on my pants just like anyone else.  First one leg-Okay, take them off.  Had started putting them on backwards.  Usually, I’m not always wide awake when I first wake up so you can understand how a guy like me could make a  simple mistake like that!  One leg on at a time, zipper in the front.  All is well.  But then, one morning, there was one thing in particular that really irritated me.  It really rubbed me the wrong way.  What caught me a little off-center was the seam running up and down the back of my work pants.  Let me explain.

     A few days earlier, I decided that it would be cheaper for me to buy my work uniforms rather than rent them.  That way, when I laundered my clothes, I had the ability to spread the dirt, grease, odors and all sorts of germs from my work place to the clothes of the rest of my family!  Yep, I could save money by owning my own dark prison blue pants and light blue, pinstriped shirts.  In other words, clothing that could also be known as ‘Picasso grease rags’.  The whole idea was that if I repaired my own buttons, furnished my own laundry soap, repaired my own rips and replaced the clothing when it became thread-bare, it would be cheaper than paying someone else to do it all for me.  Yes siree, I was going to save myself a bundle by purchasing my work clothes!

     I would be buying five sets of clothes, a set for each work day though I had never  considered what I would do if I ever had to work on a Saturday!  So, since I was on a thrifty, tightwad money-saving spree, I was not going to buy new uniforms, I was going to buy used ones.  I was offered that option.  Compared to buying new blue jeans, it would be cheaper to buy the uniforms. 

     As soon as the guy who delivered the uniforms to my other co-workers, I would talk to him about my purchase.   When he came around, I approached him and he asked me what I had in mind.   I didn’t want to sound too cheap but finally, I weasled my way around to the question of how much my uniforms would cost.  He started at $15 and I silently panicked. 

     “$15 for a pair of pants and a shirt”? I asked.

     “That’s right”, he said.  “$15 for the shirt and another $15 for the pants”.

     Let’s see; $15 times two times five would run me$150!  $150! Was he crazy?  I quickly asked him if he had anything else, something I wouldn’t have to take out a second mortgage on the White House for!

     He looked me up and down til I felt a little uneasy.  Then he confided that he could get me some Grade D uniforms.  Finally, we were talking!  Well, he was talking, I was listening.  Granted, the other guys at my work place were being rented Grade B uniforms, as I had been so how much difference could there be between Grade D and Grade B?  Of course, it still depended on how much it was going to cost me to buy my clothing before I signed on any dotted line.

     $1.50 was the price I was quoted so I asked if that was $1.50 for both the shirt and the pants to which he gave me a crusty look as well as a crusty reply. 

     “$1.50 for the shirt.  $1.50 for the pants.  $1.50 apiece!” 

     He seemed to turn up the volume when he said “apiece”.  Maybe it was just the acoustics in my head but I don’t think so! 

     I was still doing the math in my head when he said, “$15”!

     Again, the pitch level of his voice was a little bit more than I thought it should have been.  He turned and headed for his van.  As he drove off, I guess I never realized that one of those big delivery vans could turn a corner so fast and still keep it on two wheels!  

     I could hardly wait for the week to pass, the end of which would bring my new “threads” to me!  

     Sure enough, bright and early the next Friday morning, the uniform man showed up with a bundle of freshly laundered, crisp looking uniforms for the rest of the guys.  Poor suckers!  Renting when they could buy!  What losers!

     After hanging up the uniforms, the man stopped long enough to explain to me that he did not have my uniforms that day. As a matter of fact, he was hand-picking my uniforms, personally, for a guy like me.  As it turned out, I would wait another two weeks before my clothes finally showed up.  After giving me my new possessions, he again seemed to leave on two wheels, this time appearing to be laughing up his sleeve, so to speak.  (A little bit hard to do since he was wearing short sleeves.)

     Five o’clock the next Monday morning rolled around way too soon as all Monday mornings do but I was excited that the day would see me in my newly acquired clothes.  It was going to be a day I would remember, one that would stand out more than others.

     I slipped on my uniform shirt and sniffed deeply the odor of cheap laundry soap.  As I reached the top button to finish buttoning up, I noticed that there was an extra button-hole. Upon further inspection, I discovered that one of the middle buttons were missing which had caused me to mismatch about half of the buttons.  All I could do to deal with the situation was to deal with the situation like a reasoning adult should do.  I could just set that shirt aside to be repaired later, get another shirt and continue.  Or, I could….just let it go.  If I didn’t allow my shirt to ‘pooch’, the missing button was hardly noticeable.

     I went for the pants next because, well, they were the next thing I needed to put on.  Pulling them on, I immediately began to wonder if I had put them on backwards because of the uncomfortable feeling I was getting.  My left hind side was feeling a little bit restricted, more so than my right side.  Not a proper feeling.  I tried twisting the pants to the right while keeping the back seam right where it should be, directly in the center.  My left side still felt way too tight, like my pants were holding that side of my posterior in a death grip, trying to suffocate it.  Try as I might, no amount of adjusting and adjustment would remedy the out-of-balance situation.  Slowly, carefully, cautiously and awkwardly, I backed up towards the mirror on the medicine cabinet mounted in the wall above the hand sink.  That feat in itself was hard but somehow, I got the view I was looking for.  Sure enough, my back side appeared to be out of kilter. 

     By the time I had made the assessment, it was getting late enough that I needed to be heading out of the door, off to work.   On the drive there, for some reason, I kept trying to rearrange and shift and make things right but all to no avail.  The seam that had gone astray would not be tamed.  No amount of digging could fix the crooked ‘terrorizer’.  The longer the day wore on, the worse the chaffing got but I felt that no matter how bad the situation was, I could put up with it for 1/5 of my work week.  At least the other four newly purchased pants would make up for the one bad sheep of the pant flock. 

     Sadly, I could not have been more wrong.  Yes, every pair of pants were in next to new condition with few stains, rips and working zippers.  Of course!  Whoever had previously rented them had probably worn them just once before they were exchanged for pants that were fit for humans, not aliens, to wear! 

     On top of the lop-sided fitting pants, there were also the zippers that wouldn’t stay zipped, pockets without bottoms or pockets sewn shut at the top.  I could deal with my change sliding down my leg and sometimes dropping in my shoes.  I could handle not being able to put both of my hands into their respective pockets and I got in the habit of checking often for fallen zippers.  But what I could not get past was the idea that if I continued wearing such ill-fitting pants, I could be deformed on the back side for the rest of my life. 

     What did I do?  What could I do?  I endured till I wore those uniforms completely out and wouldn’t you know it?  Those were the ones that lasted me the longest in my working career. 

     Anyhow, this is my story and I’m sticking to it.

     Regarding my uniforms, did I mention they were USED TOO?