2016: The Annus Horribilis, vol. 2

In 1992, Her Majesty The Queen opened a speech with these words:  “1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure.  In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an annus horribilis.  I sometimes wonder how future generations will judge the events of this tumultuous year.”  I’m not sure about you, my dear reader, but I believe these words could also describe our look back at the aftermath of 2016.

I think this past year can be summed up in four words:  what the heck happened?!?  While I realize that my memory isn’t one for the record books, I don’t remember a year where we’ve dealt with more hatred, death, bitterness,division and all-around disappointment than we have this year.

On a personal note, this is the year I lost my last living grandparent. My grandma on my father’s side passed away on June 10.  Her health declined rather quickly in the last few weeks of her life, but I’m so grateful to have been able to see her and talk with her before she passed.  It will be I time I shall forever hold dear to my heart.

This year marked a milestone for me.  After over ten years at the same job, I made a move to another office.  So instead of being an oncology nurse, I’m now in pulmonary.

But enough about me, on to the rest of the world…

We’ve dealt with the Flint, Michigan water crisis, which started when high levels of lead was found in the citizens water supply.  Trying to fix it became no easy task, and to this day, the poor people living there are still having to deal with the red tape and other day-to-day problems this has caused.

The Powerball lottery reached a record 1.6 billion (yes, that’s Billion, with a “B”), and I didn’t win one red cent of it.Powerball Lottery

A bunch of redneck he-hanks in Oregon, led by some Jethro Bodine wannabe, decided they wanted to go live in a wildlife preserve to protest the government not letting them do whatever it was they wanted to do on federal property.  They became such a laughing stock by not thinking their little sit-in completely through and going on youtube or wherever asking people to send them supplies, that they were actually sent, get this… boxes upon boxes of dildos!  Eventually, their great leader was caught outside the compound with a few others in his car when they were pulled over for a minor traffic violation.  Things went from bad to worse when one of them got testy and decided he wanted to run towards the cop and throw a hissy-fit (or something along those lines, I forget) and get himself shot. Things went downhill from there.  Let’s just say they’re all in jail now, or on trial, or both.A pro-militia supporter holds a constitution while chanting

This year we saw a rise in police shootings in the black community, which brought about the Black Lives Matter movement to counteract the shootings. Then, an All Lives Matter movement started to counteract the Black Lives Matter movement.  Throughout the entire year I’ve seen my friends go back-and-forth with each other over who was right and who was wrong. Personally I think that having sunk to the point of needing either movement and not automatically treating each other as equals and having mutual respect for one another, is a sad commentary on where we are as a society.2015-09-04-1441395137-7049687-image3

A new game came out on smart phones everywhere called, Pokemon GO.  If I understand it correctly, you run around with your phone catching imaginary pokemons, and he who has the most, wins.  People were running around like they had lost their ever-loving minds, standing in the middle of roads, running onto others private property, and even falling off cliffs to their death trying to catch these things. I don’t know about you, but trying to catch some Peek-a-choo, Peak-at-you, Hoochi-hoo, Coochie-Coo, or whatever they’re called isn’t enticing enough for me to risk my life.  Thank you, but I’ll pass on this one.1-go-300x169-jpg

The biggest news, for myself anyway, is the vote in Great Britain to leave the European Union.  The “Brexit” vote, as it had become known, came as a surprise to practically everyone, since all the pollsters predicted the victory would go to the “stay” campaign. Ironically, it was only AFTER the results were announced the next day that Google declared there was a huge uptick in the people of Great Britain looking up, “what is the European Union?”  David Cameron resigned as Prime Minister, as well as other Tory leaders.  Theresa May was placed in the role of Prime Minister, all in a time span of approximately two weeks.Great Britain and European Union

The summer Olympics were held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, even though there were doom-and-gloom predictions of the city not being ready for them, due to being behind on construction of the proper facilities.  To add insult to injury, they also had to deal with the Zika virus outbreak, as well as reports of the water being unsafe to swim in.  For the most part, however, the games went smoothly from what I understand.  But of course, I didn’t watch them since I don’t keep up with the volleyball.maxresdefault

Samsung began selling the Galaxy Note 7 to much fanfare, only to discover once you got yours, it was destined to spontaneously combust into flames, burning you and everything around it.  Even airlines refused to allow them on their flights. Samsung eventually had to discontinue the phone, even after the initial recall to fix the problem failed. I knew it was hailed as the new hot item, but I think actually setting itself on fire is taking the idea of being “hot” to the extreme.160902161818-02-samsung-galaxy-burnt-phone-note-7-exlarge-tease

The closer we got to Halloween, the more we started hearing about these bizarre clown sightings, where weirdos dressed up in clown costumes would just stand in the edge of the woods near playgrounds, creeping out kids and parents alike.  If it was just an isolated incident, I could understand that it was most likely one sicko with nothing better to do than scare people, but it seemed to be happening all over the country.  Simultaneously. That just added way too many levels to the creepiness for my taste.download

One of the most unusual things about 2016 is the amount of notable people and celebrities who have died this year.  It seemed that it started in January, and never stopped.  Here’s a list of some who have died, although it’s by no means a complete list:

Pat Harrington, Jr
Most famous for playing Dwayne Schneider on “One Day at a Time.”  Died January 6.

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David Bowie
Iconic musician, actor.  Died January 10.

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Rene Angelil
Celine Dion’s husband and manager.  Died January 14.Celine Dion & Rene Angelil Arriving At

Alan Rickman
Actor famous for roles in “Harry Potter,” “Love Actually,” “Die Hard,” and others. Died January 14.alan2

Glenn Frey
Co-Founder of the band “The Eagles.”  Died January 18.635887447644481100-xxx-glennfrey-glader-hp2a5017-v01-78965680

Joe Alaskey
Best know for voicing “Daffy Duck” and “Bugs Bunny.”  Died February 3.020316-joe-alaskey-composite-getty-3

Maurice White
Founder of “Earth, Wind & Fire.”  Died February 3.maurice-white

George Gaynes
Best known for roles as the commandant in the “Police Academy” movies as well as “Punky Brewster.”  Died February 15.960

Angela “Bid Ang” Raiola
From the reality show “Mob Wives.”  Died February 18.960-1

Harper Lee
Author of “To Kill a Mockingbird.”  Died February 19.Nelle Harper Lee

Tony Burton
Played Apollo Creed’s trainer in the “Rocky” movies.  Died February 25.8bb103a0-3c0e-4fca-935f-beb470b8f0f4-large16x9_tonyburtonz

The Earl of Strathmore
Michael Fergus Bowes-Lyon, the Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne, cousin to Her Majesty The Queen.  Died February 27.

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Joey Feek
Part of the country music duo “Joey+Rory.”  Died March 4.gty-joey-feek-cf_151214_16x9_992

Pat Conroy
Author of “The Prince of Tides.”  Died March 4.gettyimages-697790_wide-52f67899aee1aa239c59c58300242f10ca4e9dca-s900-c85

George Martin
Manager of “The Beatles,” often called “The 5th Beetle.”  Died March 8.george-martin

Phife Dawg
From the hip-hop group, A Tribe Called Quest.  Died March 22.tribecafilmfestival2011portraitstudioczmefy2dmkal

Garry Shandling
Actor most famous for “The Larry Sanders Show.”  Died March 24.gs_headshot

Jim Harrison
Author, “Legends of the Fall.”  Died March 26.28harrison-obit-master675

Mother Mary Angelica
Founder of the Catholic TV network, EWTN.  Died March 27.160327-mother-angelica_3328b036067ec2fc40d88a3c54c3ad7b-nbcnews-ux-2880-1000

Patty Duke
Star of “The Patty Duke Show.”  Died March 29.29906170001_4821895521001_4821837867001-vs

Erik Bauersfeld
Voice of General Ackbar from “Star Wars.”  Died April 3.admiral_ackbar_erik_bauersfeld_split

Doris Roberts
Actress who played the mother on “Everybody Loves Raymond.”  Died April 17.50942744CBS_CON025635067

Prince
Musician known for “Purple Rain,” “When Doves Cry,” “Raspberry Beret,” and “Let’s Go Crazy,” among many others.  Died April 21.prince

Michelle McNamera
Crime writer and wife of comedian Patton Oswalt.  Died April 21.160423102606-michelle-mcnamara-patton-oswalt-exlarge-169

Papa Wemba
Known as “the king of Congolese Rumba.”  Died April 24.Congolese singer Papa Wemba performs dur

Billy Paul
Singer best known for “Me and Mrs. Jones.”  Died April 24.billy-paul

Alan Young
Actor best known for his role in “Mr. Ed.”  Died May 19.21youngsub-obit-master768

Muhammad Ali
Award-winning boxer.  Died June 3.Muhammad Ali 1970

Anton Yelchin
Known as Chekov in the new “Star Trek” films.  Died June 19.anton-yelchin-2015-869x1024

Elie Wiesel
Holocaust survivor and humanitarian.  Died July 2.elie-wiesel-9

Miss Cleo
Famous for playing a Jamaican psychic in infomercials.  Died July 26.miss-cleo-dead1

The Duke of Westminster
Gerald Grosnever, the 6th Duke of Westminster.  Died August 9.Duke of Westminster death

Kenny Baker
Played the droid R2-D2 in “Star Wars.”  Died August 13.1_star10

Gene Wilder
Known for playing the title role in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” as well as characters in “Haunted Honeymoon” and “Young Frankenstein.”  Died August 28._90962477_mediaitem87811809

The Lady Chablis
Transgender performer made famous by the book, “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” and played herself in the movie version.  Died September 8.ripladychablis2016-500x565

Alexis Arquette
Transgender actress.  Died on September 11.169768042_1473621270

Shawty Lo
Atlanta rapper.  Died September 21.

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Agnes Nixon
Creator and writer of “All My Children,” “One Live to Live,” and other soap operas. Died September 28.agnes-nixon-dead-ftr

Shimon Perez
Nobel prize winning Prime Minister of Israel.  Died September 28.166

Raine Spencer
Raine, Countess Spencer, step-mother of the late Diana, Princess of Wales.  Died October 21.Countess Spencer

Janet Reno
U.S. Attorney General under President Clinton.  Died November 7.janet-reno

Leonard Cohen
Canadian singer-songwriter.  Died November 7.1411561144285-cached

Robert Vaughn
Actor from “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”  Died November 11.172582164_1478889790

Gwen Ifill
Co-anchor of PBS “Newshour.”  Died November 14.gwenifill

Florence Henderson
Best known for portraying the mother on “The Brady Bunch.”  Died November 24.agape_rg3_florence-henderson-horiz_s4x3_lg

The Hon. Margaret Rhodes
Margaret Rhodes, cousin and best friend to Her Majesty The Queen.  Died November 25.Margaret Rhodes

Fidel Castro
Former President of Cuba.  Died November 25.1420832283181-cached

Ron Glass
Actor best known for his roles on “Barney Miller” and “Firefly.”  Died November 25.

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John Glenn
The first astronaut to orbit the earth.  Died December 8.john-glenn

Joseph Mascolo
Actor best known for his role as super-villain Stefano DiMera on “Days of our Lives.”  Died December 7.

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Alan Thicke
Actor who played the father on “Growing Pains.”  Died December 13.2014-08-08-alanthickehs1

Zsa Zsa Gabor
Hollywood icon and socialite.  Died December 18.zsa-zsa-gabor-1

George Michael
Musician best known as the front-man for the 80’s rock group Wham!, and his later solo career.  He was known for having hits with songs such as “Faith,” “Father Figure,” “Careless Whisper,” “Outside,” and many others.  Died December 25.

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Ricky Harris
Comedian with a recurring role on “Everybody Hates Chris.”  Died December 26.58627e111500002300915fdc

Barbara Tarbuck
Actress best known as Lady Jane Jacks on “General Hospital,” as well as Mother Superior Claudia on “American Horror Story: Asylum.”  Died December 27.

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Carrie Fisher
Best known as Princess Leia from “Star Wars.”  Died December 27.carrie_fisher_2013

Debbie Reynolds
Actress and singer.  Carrie Fisher’s mother.  Died December 28.debbie-reynolds

While not a complete list, and I’m sure I’ve missed some, it’s astounding to me how many notable people have passed away this year.  I’m convinced there is some kind of cosmic serial killer on the loose in Hollywood.  I do hope they’ll catch this cosmic killer before he/she does anymore damage!

Since this was an election year, I would be remiss to not mention the election cycle we just survived.  The Americans just experienced the most bizarre election that I can personally remember.  Mind you, I’m not one to get into American politics, but this year was different for me.  To begin, the Republican party seemed to begin the election cycle with everyone who was a Republican running for President. Eventually, they whittled away their candidates until they were left with one:  Donald Trump.  On the Democrat side, they had Hillary Clinton running against Bernie Sanders for the nomination, and it was Hillary who won the nomination of her party.  In the spirit of full disclosure, I have to tell you the only reason I was remotely interested in the American elections was Hillary. I’ve been a huge fan of hers ever since her husband, Bill, was President.  Even in those days I wanted her to one day be President herself.  Don’t ask me why… I chalk it up to a “cult of personality” thing more than any stance on any issue.

Given the vile, misogynistic, xenophobic, fascist, nauseating and overall repulsive things Donald Trump said during his campaign about minorities, women, LGBTQ’s and anyone who isn’t a white, straight, Republican male, I couldn’t in my wildest nightmares imagine this guy would have a chance to become President.  During the campaign, videos emerged of his rally’s where people were attacked, thrown out, and bullied.  The man was endorsed by practically every hate group in the country, including the Ku Klux Klan, who said he was the candidate that “most embodied their beliefs.”  And yet, Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton in the electoral college, although she won the popular vote by nearly three million more votes. Now the orange hemorrhoid is about to lead the country for the next four years.

On the other hand, there actually HAS been some good to come out of this year.  I met some amazing people at my new job who are absolutely wonderful.  I had to buy a new car when my Mazda gave up the ghost, but so far, my new gray Nissan is running really well. We nicknamed it “The Gray Ghost.”  We’ve made plans to visit England this coming February, and airline tickets and hotel have been reserved.

So having said all that, here’s to the end of 2016, the annus horribilis vol.2. Let’s all hope and pray 2017 is somehow much better.  Lord knows, it couldn’t get much worse.

Misadventures in Physical Fitness

Poor Martha didn’t know what she was getting into.  She has been asking me to go to the gym to try this “Body Pump” class she’s been taking for months now.  I always refuse.  You see, I hate going to the gym.  As a matter of principle, I hate anything having to do with exercise.  It’s not that I’m lazy, but I figure if I’m going to put forth an effort to push my body to its physical limits, I need to see some immediate results.  For example, when I do any sort of manual labor, usually I can look back and see the results of my hard work at the end of that same day.  Not so with exercise… it seems it takes forever to see any results from that.  I guess I’m just a sucker for instant gratification.

My particular aversion to exercise is nothing new.  Since the days of gym class in junior high school I’ve been this way.  During those days I was one of the few who refused to “dress out” for gym class or any other such ridiculous thing that involved jumping around, sweating, and looking like some fool needing a heavy dose of Ritalin.  If it wasn’t for the academic aspects of that class, I’d still be trying to get a high school diploma at the age of 45.  Silly, I know, but sometimes the truth just needs to be told.

When I went to college, little did I know I would have to endure this nightmare all over again with yet another PE class.  As you can guess, I put it off as long as I could.  I think it was my first semester as a junior before I ever gave in and finally decided to get that God-forsaken class over with.  It wasn’t bad enough they made me go through the agonizing misery that only a sadistic, evil, hateful, spiteful, vindictive, deceitful Bush administration torture expert could conceive of doing to another human being; no, they had to add a swimming test to this class just to prove their callous hearts had no soul.

You see, I do not swim.  I don’t even go into wading pools.  With my luck, I would be the one you read about in the paper who drowned in his bathtub when he fell asleep.  So you can imagine my dismay at the announcement that we had to take this swimming test and actually pass it in order to pass the class.  Just as soon as class dismissed that day, I marched myself right up to my PE teacher with the bad perm and explained, rather convincingly I thought, that I could not swim and there was no way I would be able to pass this test.  Thinking that she would have mercy on my soul and just let me slide from this one thing since I had endured all sorts of humiliating things in the name of finishing college, I felt pretty confident that I would be able to talk myself out of it.  The only thing she would do, however, was give me an “Incomplete” for my grade and told me to take a swimming class the next semester and come back to take the test.  Can you believe that nonsense?  The next thing I remember were the paramedics reviving me with spirits of ammonia.

Time passed, and I had completely forgotten about any swimming test.  But like an old wise sage on the mountaintop, a college registrar forgets nothing.  I got a letter in the mail the next year stating I had an “incomplete” in that PE class to remove from my transcript before I could graduate.  Having a renewed sense of stubbornness and zeal to beat the system, I once again decided there was no way “they” were going to beat me in this thing that, in my mind, had become a full fledged war between myself and the dark forces of the PE department.

The very next day I sauntered myself into the office of the Chair of the PE Department to explain how there was no way I could pass such a test and how unfair it would be to force me to do something of that nature.  I think I used excuses like, “afraid of water” and other things that might not have applied to my particular situation just to make my case stronger.  Believe it or not, the evil little man behind the desk didn’t buy it… I would have to swim whether I wanted to or not.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, that didn’t sit well with me.

Not to be outdone, I made an appointment the next day with the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences to plead my case to someone who obviously had more sense than a simple PE teacher with an over-inflated ego.  But after 30 minutes of bearing my soul and laying it on the line, he proved he was no better than anyone else.  He agreed that I would have to take this test.  That idiot!

Well, that didn’t sit well with me either.

So the next step, obviously, was the President of the University.  Trying to get an audience with him, however, was like trying to get a peek at the Pope.  In no uncertain terms, the little troll of a lady sitting behind the desk informed me that if the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences had agreed with the PE Chair, there was no way the President was going to overrule their decision and I would be forced to take this test or not graduate.  I’ll spare you the details of the scene that ensued in her office… suffice it to say there were threats of calling security that just didn’t fit into my envisioned scenario, so I left.

So there I was, stewing in my dorm room, trying to figure out a way out of this mess that I had gotten myself into.   Still, admitting defeat was not an option.  They say it’s always darkest just before the dawn, and little did I know my “dawn” was getting ready to walk into my room in the form of Shane.  Shane was a good friend of mine from one of the organizations I was involved with on campus.  We started talking and I explained to him my dilemma.  He explained that since there was a completely new staff in the PE department from the time I had taken the class, he could impersonate me and take the test for me.  FINALLY… a light at the end of the tunnel!  The very next morning, we called and arranged an appointment for “Glenn” to take his swimming test.

When the day of reckoning finally arrived, we casually walked over to the natatorium, Shane having memorized and rehearsed all the information needed to convince the swimming instructor he was actually “Glenn.”  After about thirty minutes, Shane emerged and said, “Well, you got an A.”  Once our friends figured out what happened they couldn’t believe we went through with it… and actually succeeded!  Twenty-odd years later, that little incident is still brought up in conversation.  I guess that goes to show you there’s more than one way to skin a cat.

I suppose I tell you that story to give you a little background as to how humiliating it was for me to finally break down and tell Martha that, yes, I would finally go with her to this “Body Pump” class.  You see, I had gotten on the scales the week before and almost had a nervous breakdown because of the numbers that flashed before my eyes.  Never in my life had I been that heavy.  So I decided that something dramatic had to be done.  Little did anyone realize, however, exactly how much drama would be involved with this experience.

The day of reckoning finally arrived.  After work, I followed Martha to the gym where we met her husband who was also taking this class.  Now keep in mind, by this point I’m more nervous than a woman of ill repute in church about setting foot in a gym.  All sorts of terrible scenarios crossed my mind, but the worst was getting ready to become reality.  We walked into this place where everyone looked as if they’d been on a strict steroid regimen for at least two years.  When we got to the room where the class was held I was introduced to the instructor who was this twenty-something girl who looked like the Incredible Hulk, and here I was looking more like the Incredible Bulk.  This was not the start I had anticipated.  We picked out our weights, and I took the smallest amount possible (hey, why kill myself on the first day?).  Finding our place in the back of the class, we started with the warm-up exercises.  I should have known it would be all down-hill from there when the instructor jumped into the class without even a mention of how to go about doing these exercises.

So here I am, at least a beat-and-a-half behind everyone trying to figure out what the heck they’re doing.  About ten minutes into the class, my legs have turned to jelly, and my head is floating about 10 feet above the rest of my body from sheer dizziness.  Then, the truly unexpected happens.  We had to place this barbell over our shoulders for part of the exercises, and that’s when I must have pinched a nerve in my neck.  All of a sudden, I get the worst headache known to humankind.  In two seconds, I had convinced myself I was having a stroke right in the middle of the gym.  Everything blacked out, I couldn’t hear anything but my heart beating in the middle of my head, and I became so nauseous I was convinced I was going to toss everything I ever ate in my entire life onto the floor.   Surely, I don’t have to tell you that this is not how I planned to meet my Maker.  Never in a million years had I imagined my obituary would read something like, “Glenn died unexpectedly from suffering a stroke while working out and drowned in a pool of his own vomit.”  But struggle through, I did.  Before class was over, however, I did have to worship in front of the porcelain god in the restroom and make an offering of my lunch from earlier that day.

At the end of this class, I was so relieved the ordeal was over I could have kissed the ground when I left the gym.  Martha didn’t think it was as bad as I did, which only convinced me even more she must be a card-carrying masochist.  I was so nauseous and had such a headache when I got home, I immediately went to the medicine cabinet, swallowed two Percocet for my headache and shoved a Phenergan suppository up my backside as far as I could get it for the nausea.  Needless to say, I spent the rest of the evening in bed.

The next day, I was so sore it literally took me five minutes just to get down the stairs.  It even hurt to blink my eyes!  My headache was still there, and it would be with me for at least three more days.  I could hardly move.  When I finally made it into work, I wished the ten plagues of Egypt upon Martha all at once for subjecting me to such torture when I hadn’t done anything in life bad enough to have to endure this kind of suffering.  It was sheer hades on earth!

Eventually, the pain went away.  I forgave Martha for trying to kill me, but in no uncertain terms I let her know I learned not to fall for her evil tricks ever again.  The other day, she actually tried to convince me to go to a different class.  The look I gave her almost turned her into a pillar of salt.  The next time I get this crazy idea to lose a few pounds quickly, I can guarantee you it won’t be by going to a gym.  No, next time I think I’ll simply have my jaws wired shut.  Believe me, it’s a lot less painful!

Runway Runaway

I’ve been mulling over the idea of whether or not to write this particular post, due to the possibility of offending certain people. With that in mind, and not being one to back down from setting the ill-informed straight, here we go… and to “heck” if the guilty are upset.

Lately I have found myself being an attendee at a few weddings and funerals; two very different observances in the circle of life, but both extremely important. While attending these particular ceremonies, I have noticed (as one would over the last few years) that I need to remind my dear, precious readers of the importance of at least one very important thing.

What is that thing, you might ask? To put it simply, it’s HOW YOU DRESS!! Of course, there are other things I could discuss concerning how to conduct yourselves during these events, but for this particular blog entry, allow me to focus on this one particular subject.

There is hardly anything in our lives that are more important than weddings and funerals. They are, for the most part, once in a lifetime events for those who are the center of such functions (although I know there are those who marry two, three, four or more times… as well as those who “die,” but there’s a mistaken identity which leads others to believe the dearly departed is another person… or perhaps I’ve been watching too much Days of our Lives, you never know). In times such as these, it is extremely important to remember that those in attendance should have at least one thing for the person or persons you are honoring: that thing is called RESPECT.

For most of us, it pretty much goes without saying that you should dress appropriately for said ceremony, but unfortunately, it seems that it is becoming more common among some people to totally disregard the appropriate dress for such occasions. That brings us to the point that I feel I simply have to remind you of what is acceptable and what is not.

While I thought about discussing each event in individual blog entries, I decided to lump them together since it seems the offending individuals treat both with the same disregard for decency. When you are invited to a wedding, that should alert you to the fact that the couple thought enough about you that they decided to share their most important day with you and that you would, at the very least, wear the appropriate attire based on the time of day the wedding will take place. As a general rule, that would include a suit and tie for men, and dress for women. Based on what time the wedding is to take place and the venue, a quick Google search would tell even the the most ill-informed what would be the most appropriate items to wear to said event. But even if you’re too stupid to read subtle hints, I can assure you that shorts and a t-shirt will not be on the list.

The same rules apply to funerals. If you loved or admired the dearly departed enough to attend their funeral, even the most common of attendees should have enough sense to wear something appropriate for such a ceremony. I have attended funerals lately where people have actually shown up with t-shirts with various wording printed on them, jeans, shorts, flip-flops, etc. Since these people seem to have no frame of reference to base their poor decisions on, let me be the first to tell you that this is not acceptable. At the very least during a funeral, you should wear a suit and tie or dress, similar to the proper attire for a wedding.

Now before you get all huffy-and-puffy and try to blow somebody’s house down, I completely understand and accept that there are exceptions to every rule. There are some situations where other attire would be completely appropriate. For example, I recently attended a memorial service for a very dear friend who wanted his service at the beach, led by a friend who asked others to share stories of their time together, and they specifically asked people to dress casually, in beach-appropriate clothes. It was an amazingly beautiful service, and it reflected the personality of our friend who passed away perfectly. That, my dear readers, is an instance where it’s totally acceptable to show up in shorts, flip-flops, t-shirts, etc.

The same exception can also apply to something like a backyard-barbecue-styled wedding, where the bride and groom have asked those in attendance to wear casual, street clothes. I’m hoping you can see a theme emerging for the exceptions, but if you’re much too daft to catch on, let me spell it out for you: only wear what I would call “street casual” clothes to such events if you’re told by the hosts that it’s the preferred style of dress. Got it? Lord have mercy, I hope so.

Not only does dressing appropriately for said functions show respect for those you’re honoring by your attendance, it also shows respect for YOURSELF. One would hope that when you go to functions such as weddings and funerals, you would also show enough respect for yourself as to want to make an effort to look your best. It may seem counter-intuitive, but actually, dressing appropriately will help deflect attention away from yourself (even though that might be slightly traumatic to those who are actually narcissistic enough think they’re always the center of attention, regardless of the situation), and allow the focus of attention to be on the ones you’re actually honoring by being at their service. When it’s all said and done, after all, it’s about them and not you.

Don’t misunderstand my little rant here by assuming I’m suggesting that everyone show up in the latest Christian Dior or Vera Wang ensemble to come off the runway. Far from it. If you’re someone on a tight budget (and believe me, I know there’s more of us than those who can afford designer clothing), I’d like to point out that even Walmart carries clothes that would be considered appropriate styles for such events. So you see, dear readers, dressing appropriately doesn’t have to break the bank. If you don’t have at least one suit or dress in your wardrobe for such events, now you can go out and get one. You never know when you’re going to need it. Believe me, no one is going to know where you got your clothes or how much you paid for them unless you’re one of those crass people who shout that kind of information from the rooftop.

Keep in mind, all of this is simply my opinion, which I realize in some circles doesn’t mean anything. You might disagree wholeheartedly with what I’ve just said, and that’s fine. You’d be wrong, but you can disagree all you’d like.

So having said all this, please keep in mind that if you ever get the chance to attend my wedding or funeral, I would personally prefer you dress for the occasion. A word of caution, however; if you come to my funeral in flip-flops and t-shirts, I will jump out of that casket, snatch you bald, and have security guards drag you out and throw you onto the street for showing such disregard for my memory.

Got it? Good.

The First Annual Christmas Letter

It’s that time of year again—the time where people take stock of the previous year and reflect on the good things that have happened as well as the not-so-good things that have occurred. Many people have taken to participating in this trend of writing Christmas letters to their loved ones, so for the first time ever, I decided to do the same. Here are a few highlights from my year:

As many of you know, my driving expertise is considered by many to be lacking. To add to the weird things I’ve hit with my car, you can now add “swimming pool” to the list. It wasn’t my fault, however, so let me explain… Upon leaving the illustrious Walmart, I found myself behind someone who bought one of those kiddy pools they have propped up on the side of the store. Unfortunately, they didn’t have it tied down very well. As we started driving down the road, the wind picked it up and threw it onto the road, just in enough time for me to run over it as it hit the ground. I suppose I should be grateful their weren’t any “kiddies” in the pool at the time.  Did I also mention I received at text from “John” asking me if I would be interested in driving for Uber?  I guess “John” doesn’t remember riding with me.

This year, I actually received a letter requesting my presence for – of all things – jury duty! To make matters worse, it was from a county I haven’t lived in for probably ten years. While I thought it was a nice gesture on their part to think of me, I wasn’t about to be bothered with all that nonsense. We all know I would have found them guilty just for dragging me to a cold, inconsiderate, uncomfortable courthouse that hasn’t had fresh air in it since 1952. When I called to inform them I couldn’t accept their lovely invitation due to not being a resident of that particular county, the receptionist (or whatever you would call her) on the other end told me I had to send proof of residence in order to be removed. I asked her, “Was the fact that you had to send me the letter to my address two counties away not proof enough for you that I don’t live there anymore?” After a brief silence, Miss Personality rambled on about how they needed a copy of my drivers license and such. Fine. I sent her the requested info to which I received a letter releasing me from said jury duty for the rest of my life.

We decided to move this year after finding a good deal on a house outside of town, so we decided to sell and move.  I don’t know how it is in your area, but I’ve quickly discovered it seems people house-hunting in Wilmington seem to expect people to GIVE them a house.  For free.  After some insulting, low-ball offers, I instructed our Realtor to tell people if they want a free house to talk to the people at Habitat for Humanity and to leave me alone. I hate it for my Realtor, however. She’s the sweetest girl you’d ever meet, and she’s doing her best, given the fact Wilmington house-hunters are cheaper than Ebeneezer Scrooge after he’s fallen on hard times.

Since this is the year where all the arguing and fights start to commence in the political arena, I would be remiss without mentioning that there have been some back-and-forth banter among my friends and myself. Suffice it to say, I have some stupid friends.

That pretty much sums up my noteworthy experiences for 2015. There’s plenty of other things I could have written about, but let’s face it – I would’ve totally bored you to tears if I haven’t already. I hope you have had a great year, and an even better one to come! In the words of Her Majesty The Queen, “A very happy Christmas to you all.”

The Duggar Dilemma

So, my dear readers, it would seem we have another scandal amongst the religious right to discuss. As I’m sure anyone who’s not been living under a rock for the past week has heard, the Duggar family has found themselves a tad embarrassed by the actions of their eldest child, Josh. I’m sure you’ve heard of the Duggars… they’re this cult-like ultra-conservative family who has managed to make themselves famous by having a reality show called “19 Kids and Counting” which has aired on the TLC network. They’re part of this weird group of people who follow some odd “quiverfull movement,” which prohibits any and all kinds of birth control due to some whacked-out belief that it is somehow on the same level as abortion.

These people, who I might add are as crazy as a houseful of sprayed cockroaches, actually have nineteen children. Can you imagine giving birth to nineteen children? My nether regions hurt just thinking about it, but that’s neither here nor there. It would seem Michelle, the family matriarch, has had no problem popping out one child right after the other. I don’t know what Jim Bob (and that’s really his name, I’m not making this stuff up) does for a living, but I suppose he had to be well-paid to feed nineteen quiverfull mouths on a daily basis.

In any case, it has been revealed this week that Josh, the oldest of these nineteen children, had sexually molested his sisters and some others in his early teenage years. As if that wasn’t bad enough, his parents knew about it the entire time and kept it under wraps. Now the truth has come out, and as expected they’re playing the part of the victim.

Why the part of the victim, you might ask? As they’ve gained notoriety and fame, they have come out against gays and lesbians, and anyone who isn’t just like they are, to accuse them of living sinful lives and condemning them to eternities in hell as if they had that kind of power to begin with. In doing so, they’ve placed themselves on a pedestal as the definitive Christians that everyone should strive to be, and woe unto you if you don’t live up to what they deem acceptable. In their attempts to be the perfect Christians, they have also promoted themselves as martyrs if anyone disagrees with their viewpoints or fights back against their hatred clothed in religiosity.

Now that pedestal seems to be cracking and falling apart, and rightly so. After all, these so-called “Christians” tried to keep the illegal actions of their oldest child away from the authorities and out of the spotlight so no one would know. I know some will say they reported it to the authorities, but if you look closely they only reported it to a “family friend” who, by chance, was a policeman. This same policeman was also found to have child pornography in his possession. This “child pornography connoisseur” only gave him a “stern talking-to” and left it at that. One has to wonder if this “talking to” was nothing more than trading pornographic child molestation stories or something else. I guess the world will never know. It also seems quite odd to me that this revelation was only made to the public after the statute of limitations had passed for this particular crime.

In any case, these people have led others to believe they are so superior in their ethics and beliefs that they have become (in their own mind) the standard by which all others are judged. They have taken it upon themselves to speak out against such things as transgendered persons using the appropriate bathroom when they have to relieve themselves. Michelle, the family matriarch, accused transgendered people of being “child predators.” Well, I suppose if anyone would be an authority on child predators, it would be Michelle Duggar. After all, she raised one.

But I digress.

It now seems that the shoe is on the other foot for these so called “Christians,” and it isn’t fitting well. It’s funny to me how these people are so quick to sit in judgment of others while they and their loved ones are guilty of the very same acts they accuse others of doing. While it may be said by those who support these hypocrites that “he who is without sin cast the first stone,” one has to remember that it was the Duggars who have been willing to cast the first stones at anyone and everyone who were different than they were from day one. Now, those stones are being thrown back at them and they have nowhere to hide.

Poor Duggars. I guess they forgot about that verse in the Bible that says,”For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.” (Luke 8:17).

Have fun with working out the fact that, like everyone else, you are sinners and no better than the rest of us. Actually, I might take that back: you might be worse than anyone else, seeing that you put yourself on a pedestal for all the world to emulate. After all,”From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.”(Luke 12:48)

While I’m sure there will be those who defend the Duggars to the ends of the earth, I have to wonder how they would feel if it was their daughter who was molested by this clown. When the infraction hits close to home, most people sing a different tune than the one sung by his supporters. But I suppose it’s easier to pontificate on appropriate actions from a distance than when you’re the victim or trying to cover up the sins of your family.

The Drama-Llama Goes To A Funeral

I’m sure that most people can agree that, most of the time, social media is a good thing. Sites such as Facebook and Twitter make it so much easier to keep in touch with others we know who might live far away, and gives us a chance to see what’s going on in their lives. Like all good things, however, there seems to be a rotten, vile, decaying underbelly of a dark side to it which I stumbled across this weekend.

While I’m still not sure how it happened, I found myself with a notification on Facebook glaring at me that a friend of mine had a family member who passed away in another state. Being the wonderful, sweet person that I am, I thought I’d click on the message and see what happened and offer my condolences. Well, dear readers, just when you’d think it was safe to wade back into the waters of Facebook status updates, the sharks I ran across in this thread made Jaws look like a mild-mannered goldfish.

Even as I write this, I’m not really sure what happened to the dearly departed – and from the comments left by those on this message thread, it doesn’t sound like they were 100% sure either. From speculations of a drug overdose to stroke, the cause of death ran the gamut between the two. Eventually, a family member joined in the conversation and told someone it definitely was NOT an overdose, and the one spreading such erroneous information should take that post down due to it upsetting the family even more. Astonishingly enough, said poster refused to take it down, stating that she heard it was an overdose, and she might amend her statement, but she wouldn’t take it down.

Say what? I sat there in disbelief as I read that statement. Even after someone with intimate first-hand knowledge of the situation at hand reveals this person did not die of an overdose, the poster in question still refuses to take down erroneous information?

That’s when things really got heated!

You could tell that people all of a sudden divided themselves into two camps over the issue of who was right and who was wrong, and the hatred and vitriolic comments spewed forth like no one had ever heard of a personal filter before. Suddenly people were attacking each other like they were involved in the cyber version of the Battle of Normandy, and honestly, I think they forgot what they were fighting over. I think if we could have gotten them all in the same room, it would have been the bar fight to end all bar fights.

The whole time I was reading the foolishness people were saying to one another, I kept thinking to myself, “do you people not realize you have someone here who has passed away? Of all times, this is NOT the time for this kind of pettiness!” If the drama llama were to ever attend a funeral, I’m sure it would be really proud of the scene playing out before me on my screen.

Having said all this (and believe me, I left a lot of what was said out of the story because there might be children reading), I want to tell you that this is NOT how to behave when someone dies. I felt bad for the deceased as I read, thinking he would be ashamed of how those he knew and loved were treating each other, especially over Facebook where all the world could see it and read what was being said. While I’m sure there were deeper issues at play than what was revealed on my computer screen, things like this shouldn’t find it’s way out into the world for everyone and their Grandma to see. As a sign of respect, I would have thought that those in mourning over the passing of their loved one would at least honor his life by not fighting over a computer. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but we just don’t do that sort of thing here.

As someone who has spent more time at funerals and wakes than most people my age, allow me to give you a few pointers on how not to behave:

1. When you give information on how the dearly departed has died and are then shown the person in question didn’t actually meet their Maker in that fashion, you should politely apologize for spreading false information and retract your statement. In the same instance, others should accept that apology and move on.

2. This is definitely not the time to drag up old issues that have gone unresolved. Nerves are raw enough without dragging out what Aunt Suzie or Uncle Joe did twenty years ago that still has you miffed. There is a time and place for that, and this is NOT it.

3. If you’re unsure if what you’re about to say is helpful or not, KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT. Simply offer prayers and support instead of risking the start of World War III over saying something stupid.

4. Never, and I mean NEVER, resort to blaming others over what happened or using the moment as an opportunity to air your dirty laundry in public. No one wants to see that, and believe me, you’re doing the person you’ve lost a disservice by acting in this manner.  Keep this argument quiet for another time.

I’m sure I could go on and on about things you should and should not do, but I think you get the point. Maybe someone who was involved in that argument might read this and come to the realization they were acting like petulant children and being an embarrassment to the memory of their loved one. Maybe they’ll see this and get all bent out of shape that I’m using them as an example of poor behavior. If that’s the case and you get angry, well… that says more about you and your self-centered, despicable attitude than it does about anyone else.

Either way, I’m sorry for your loss. I hope you come to honor your loved one with love and respect and can at least put aside your differences until after the funeral.

The Superstitions of New Years Day

It’s that time of year again. Christmas has come and gone, people have returned to work after the holiday break, some are returning gifts that weren’t quite right and we’re all gearing up to celebrate the arrival of a new year. In all the upcoming celebrations where we eagerly await the arrival of 2015, many of us automatically revert to honoring old traditions as a way to celebrate the new year. Most of us, myself included, never really think about why we do some of the things we do; we just do it because we’re supposed to.

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself why we follow certain traditions on New Years Day? Is there any particular reason why we kiss at midnight, why we eat certain foods that day or a plethora of other things we do? Most of these traditions started many years ago as forms of superstition and attempts to ward off evil.

I’ve never considered myself a particularly superstitious person, but many of my older family members are extremely superstitious, whether they’d like to admit it or not. I can remember vividly when I was a teenager my Grandmother scolded me rather harshly for attempting to wash clothes on New Years Day.

You better put those clothes back in with the rest of the dirty clothes,” she said, “you know you can’t wash clothes on new years!”

I remember being bewildered as to why she’d be so adamant about me not doing laundry, and even more bewildered as to why she’d think I knew not to do such a thing. She explained, “If you wash clothes on new years, you’re gonna wash the life outta somebody!” Therefore, it was forbidden to do laundry that day. I suppose it was a good thing I had clean clothes to wear the next day. My mother, who isn’t the superstitious kind at all, told me not to worry about it, that it was “just an old wives tale, and you know how Grandma can be about those.”

On that day, we’d always go to Grandma’s house for lunch, and as I remember, she always had black-eyed peas and collard greens for lunch. I never thought much about it until the conversation took place over lunch one year that eating these two foods were supposed to bring a person good luck throughout the year.

There are other traditions we follow that have origins in superstitions, and I’m sure we all know of at least three or four we could spout off without thinking about them. For instance, did you know that it’s tradition to kiss your significant other at midnight because it ensures the ties and affection will last throughout the coming year? All this time I just thought it was because it was a sweet thing to do.

As mentioned earlier, you shouldn’t do any washing or cleaning on New Years Day or you’ll wash away the life from someone that year.

Never start the new year in debt, so make sure all your bills for the month are paid before January 1. If not, you’ll be paying out money all year long.

Shouting and making loud noises at the stroke of midnight was done as a way to scare away the devil. So the next time you wonder why the crazy neighbors are outside banging pots and pans (well, here in the South anyway) at midnight, you now have an explanation. Hopefully, they’re doing it for traditions sake and not just crazy. But as a friend of mine says, “Honey, we got us a whole lot of crazy ’round here!” So if they’re still banging pots and pans past a reasonable amount of time, feel free to call the cops. I gotta get some sleep!

Make sure that you’re wearing a new article of clothing on New Years Day to ensure that you’ll get more new clothes throughout the year. There is also this odd superstition that some hold about not changing your underwear on New Years Day, but I’m gonna have to take my chances on that one. I’m not going to be caught dead in day-old undies!

There are probably a million more superstitions and traditions we follow. I have to admit I follow some of them myself; not because I believe in bad omens, but simply because I think it’s fun to do. In some way I can’t explain, it helps serve as a connection to our past. Or maybe I’m just sentimental.

To those of you reading this, what other traditions/superstitions do you follow during New Years Day? Why do you do them? Does it leave you with a sense of connection to your past and those older family members you have? Feel free to let us all know in the comment section below. I’m looking forward to reading what you have to say.

Oh, and before I forget, happy new year!

The War on Christmas: Battle of the Holiday Greetings

I love Christmas. Out of all the holidays of the year, I’d say it’s my favorite of them all. There’s something about the feel of the season that I can’t quite find words for that make the season simply magical to me. I’m not sure whether it’s the childlike anticipation of Christmas morning, the beautiful decorations, smells and tastes of the season, but whatever it is – it’s a beautiful thing. The beauty of the season is evidenced by the displays of lights, trees and various decorations that are on display everywhere in anticipation of the big day. Even more importantly, for me anyway, is the fact that this is the time those of us who are Christians celebrate the birth of the Christ child in the manger.

Lately however, my facebook newsfeed has been all aflutter with news of a war on Christmas. Say what??? How could anyone want to declare war on the most wonderful time of the year? Well, dear friends, it seems there has been a movement of some kind claiming that wishing someone “happy holidays” or “merry Xmas” or other such blasphemy is an attempt by some evil force to vanquish the baby Jesus to some orphanage in Romania where they beat children everyday, never to be heard from again. Evidently, this war has been raging for some years now, but since I never watch the news unless I’m on it (which rarely, if ever, happens), I’m a little late in hearing about it.

To hear someone who believes Christmas is being attacked explain it, this movement is so evil that it makes the Grinch look like the Virgin Mary. When asked, they tell me that people are being forced to say “happy holidays” in order not to offend anyone with such vulgarities as the word Christmas, and writing “Xmas” so they wouldn’t offend anyone with the word Christmas, because, after all, they are “X-ing out Christ from the season.”

Well, after staring at the person who explained this to me with my mouth open in disbelief for at least ten minutes, I got to thinking about all this “war on Christmas” mumbo-jumbo. I asked them what, if anything, one was supposed to do when attacked by someone who was evil enough to wish you a happy holiday. Their response was, without taking a second to consider the irony in my question, “You tell them it’s Merry Christmas, not Happy Holidays!”

I don’t know about you, dear friends, but it’s hard for me to see this as an attack on Christmas, or my beliefs. Maybe it’s just my upbringing, but to me, “happy holidays” doesn’t seem like an attack at all, but a simple wish of good cheer. After all, there’s more than just Christmas at this time of year. Don’t forget that there’s also New Years, Boxing Day, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Epiphany, as well as other holidays in there during this season. To me, saying “happy holidays” is just a form of wishing another person a joyous whatever-you’re-celebrating type of greeting in an attempt to be polite. In which case, I firmly believe you should respond with a simple “thank you, and a merry/happy [insert polite greeting here] to you as well” without getting your undies all in a twist about someone being friendly.

 

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The other big affront to those who believe in this war on Christmas is the issue of people writing “Xmas” instead of spelling out “Christmas.” I honestly had someone tell me “they do this ’cause they want to X out Christ from Christmas.” Seriously? I was so appalled at this level of ignorance that I rolled my eyes so hard my head hurt. I tried to explain to them that wasn’t the case, and that the “X” was originally the Greek letter “Chi,” which looks like the English letter “X,” and that it was the written symbol used for Christ waaaayyyy back in the day, so actually, it was technically still keeping “Christ” in Christmas. Unfortunately, they didn’t want to hear any of my explanation, and continued to believe in their erroneous ideology. Oh well, you win some, you lose some.

The whole “keep Christ in Christmas,” and the “Jesus is the reason for the season” campaigns are nice enough ideas, but let’s not forget that, historically, most of the Christmas celebrations we know today were around before Christmas started being celebrated as the birth of Christ. The early Christians didn’t even celebrate Christs birth until around the year 388 when John Chrysostom decided it would be a lot of fun to throw Jesus a birthday bash and, since everyone was in a good mood to party anyway, why not have it around the Saturnalia/Winter Solstice celebrations around December 25th? It caught on, and everyone’s been celebrating since then.

So it seems a bit odd to me to hear people say there’s a war on Christmas simply because people celebrate the season a little differently than someone else. Sure, there might be controversies about nativity scenes being erected at courthouses and various other places, but let’s keep in mind that these aren’t religious institutions, so to cater to one religion over another in a public place is inviting controversy that’s simply unwarranted. Feel free, however, to put a nativity scene in your own yard. I’m sure it’ll be beautiful.

Next time you’re out and about and someone wishes you a “happy holidays,” be polite. In a warm, thankful tone, say “thank you, and to you as well.” At least they took the time to greet you and pass along their wishes for you to have a nice holiday season, regardless of what you’re celebrating.

Or, you can forget everything I’ve said and cause a scene, screaming at the top of your lungs, “It’s not happy holidays, you heathen, it’s Merry Christmas!” and beat them over the head with a giant candy cane. I’m sure Jesus would be soooooo proud.

Where There’s Smoke…

When you think of people throughout history who were known for their patience, various people inevitably come to mind. The biblical character of Job, for instance, is probably the most recognizable character among all the patient people of the world. Mavis, however, would never make that list. When she wanted something, she wanted it then and there, not accepting any excuse as to why it couldn’t happen. Most everyone knew this, especially her family. When Mavis wanted something, it was usually best to stop whatever you were doing and take care of her requests then and there rather than face the storm of Mavis not getting her way.

On one particular Saturday morning, Mavis decided she wanted to go to the grocery store to pick up some things she needed to make Sunday dinner. Not being one that liked to drive if she didn’t have to, she called her daughter who lived next door to have someone take her to the Piggly Wiggly to shop for the things she needed. “I need to go to the grocery store to get a few things,” Mavis told Sylvia, her daughter, just as soon as Sylvia picked up the phone.

“Okay mama, when do you want to go?” Sylvia asked.

Frustrated that she would even ask such a question, Mavis retorted, “Well, I want to go ahead and go and get back,” meaning she wanted to go that very minute.

While on the phone with Sylvia, Mavis became distracted with a story she was telling as she was asking her to take her to the supermarket. Normally when Mavis starts a story, there’s no point in trying to interrupt her because she’s been known to either talk right over you or not listen to what you’re saying and pick back up where she left off just as soon as you’ve finished with what you wanted to say. Sylvia, of all people, was well aware of this.

Since Sylvia was getting ready to go outside to turn on the heat in her workshop to get started on a woodworking project when Mavis called, she wasn’t in the frame of mind to carry on a phone conversation, much less go on a supermarket excursion. As Mavis began reciting a story to Sylvia she had already told her at least twice (which Mavis had been known to do on more than one occasion), a thought popped into Sylvia’s mind. Sylvia thought she could lay the phone down, go the workshop and turn on the heat and come back to the phone, all in enough time for the end of Mavis’ story if she played her cards right. Since both Sylvia’s and Mavis’ back doors faced each other, Sylvia wondered how she would do this without her mother seeing her. Mavis was notorious for standing at the door looking across the yard towards Sylvia’s house while on the phone, so she was sure to be noticed if she tried to carry out her plan. Regardless of the ramifications, she decided she would come up with a plausible excuse if she were caught in the act.

After building up her courage and determination, Sylvia placed the phone down on the countertop in the kitchen and casually walked out the back door. She glanced over at Mavis’ house and, sure enough, there she stood in the doorway watching her walk to the workshop all the while standing there holding the phone to her ear. Sylvia entered the workshop, turned on the heat, and walked back to the house. While she was going inside, she looked over at Mavis’ and saw her still standing there holding the phone to her ear. Sylvia, knowing all too well Mavis’ temperament, imagined she would be waiting on the other end to scold her for walking off while on the phone. To Sylvia’s surprise, however, she picked up the phone and heard Mavis still in the process of retelling her story as if she never missed a beat. Watching Sylvia walk out the door to the workshop and back in again never stopped Mavis from talking. Could it be she forgot who she was even talking to? Sylvia never asked, but let her keep talking.

After she finished, Mavis asked if she could speak to Glenn, her grandson, to see if he would take her to the supermarket. Even though Mavis said she only wanted to get groceries, Glenn knew there would be more than one store visit involved in the trip. “When do you want to go, Grandma?” he asked, although he already knew the answer.

“Well,” she said, “I want to hurry up and go and get back!” Seeing that it would obviously be best to take her now, Glenn readied himself and, before you could turn around, both Mavis and Glenn were in the car and on their way.

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When they arrived at the supermarket, Mavis told her grandson to push the shopping cart while she focused on looking for things she needed. Regardless of the fact that she supposedly only needed one or two items, Mavis always had the habit of going up and down each aisle just in case she saw something she needed that she had forgotten about, or more importantly, ran into someone she knew so she could socialize. While they were going through the produce department for Mavis to decide if there was anything she needed there, they both heard a female voice loudly yelling behind them.

Thinking it was someone trying to get another persons attention, both Mavis and Glenn turned around out of curiosity to see who it was. They never expected to become witnesses to the fiasco that played out before them. There, in the middle of the produce department, were two women who were obviously screaming at each other over what Mavis and Glenn deduced was a man who was seeing both of them, but keeping both women in the dark about his cheating ways. The secret was now out, and anyone within earshot could now put the sordid pieces together as to what exactly was going on.

As the screaming escalated, the produce manager came out of his secret hideaway in the back to see what was going on. As he started to approach the screamers, things got physical and deteriorated quickly.

The two women in question began throwing punches, biting ferociously and not holding back their animosity for one another in the slightest. Those around who were watching the altercation scattered as if someone just announced the Black Death had just been found in aisle three.

In those few minutes of watching the fight in the produce department, time felt as if it was standing still. As fists, hair, jewelry and purses were flying through the air, it looked as if everything was taking place in slow motion. Just as the produce manager and a few of his underlings approached the two women to attempt breaking up the fight, both women fell into the banana bin that was beside them. Squashed bananas, however, did little to drown the firery hatred these two women felt for each other. They kept fighting as hard as they could. As the produce staff did their best to separate the two women and get them out of the bananas, they didn’t exactly come out of the altercation unscathed themselves.

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After they finally separated them, you could plainly see one employee suffered a bloody nose while another had multiple scratches on his face and arms. Banana peels and banana guts were everywhere; on the floor, on their clothes, in their hair, even in their ears and up their noses. It looked as if the Chiquita banana company had been bombed. The managers promptly took the women to the back of the store to await their fate.

Glenn was shocked all this was happening, but Mavis took it in stride and went about her business. No sooner than all the commotion was over, Mavis was back to shopping with a vengeance. As she perused the aisles of the supermarket, Mavis would complain about the prices loud enough for anyone in earshot to hear her. “My God, how do they expect anybody to afford to eat with groceries as high as this!” she would say, which seemed to be one of her favorite things to say in the middle of the supermarket. Normally Glenn would try to dissuade her from such outburts, but having witnessed the “Banana Rumble,” he wasn’t paying her much attention.

Turning onto the next aisle, Mavis saw Lula-Belle, a friend of hers from the neighborhood who just so happened to be shopping that day as well. Mavis walked over to her, making small talk in the middle of the aisle. People would try to work their way by without hitting them, but having situated themselves in the middle of aisle, that was almost impossible. Eventually they relented, and moved closer to the potato chips so they could still talk without getting run over by the random cart. Lula-Belle had entered the store shortly after the “Banana Rumble,” and was telling Mavis she heard there was “a commotion by the fruit” before she came in. Mavis relished being able to recount the story to Lula-Belle, and gave her a blow-by-blow account of the incident.

“Great day in the morning!” Lula-Belle said, “I hope they at least have the sense to leave that man alone now,” referring to the man the two women were fighting over.

Mavis huffed, saying, “I don’t know. You know some people never learn. I hope they ain’t gotta pay for all those bananas they messed up, ‘cause the prices in this store are shameful…” and launced into her tirade once again on the prices of everything in the supermarket.

As Mavis and Lula-Belle parted ways to finish their grocery shopping, Mavis began going through the list of things she needed in her mind. One thing she remembered she needed that she had forgotten about earlier was a box of matches. “Remind me to get matches when we get to that aisle, I completely forgot that I’m out.” she said to Glenn.

“Oh really?” Glenn asked, kidding with his Grandmother as they so often did, “and just whose house are you going to burn down this time?” he asked.

Mavis huffed. “Yours,” she said, “if you’re gonna stand there and be smart-alecky.”

“Well, you can burn it down when I actually get one, how about that?” Glenn said, all the while laughing at the thought of Mavis setting fire to someone’s house.

Mavis snickered all the while grinning at him and said, “Alright, I will.” With that, they were off to the next aisle in their grocery shopping adventure.

After picking up a few items in the next aisle, Mavis and Glenn turned the corner where the paper products, charcoal and other sundry items were displayed. After picking up some toilet paper as well as paper towels, Glenn and Mavis pushed their cart towards the spot where the charcoal and grilling items were shelved. There, on the top shelf above the charcoal and lighter fluid displays, sat the matches. They were too high for Mavis to comfortably reach herself, so Glenn would have to get them for her. As they looked at the offerings of different types of matches, Glenn had to ask Mavis, “Okay, Grandma, which kind do you want?”

As Mavis looked over their choices, it was surprising to her how many different types they had available: there were short matches, long matches, book matches, blue matches, red matches… any kind of match you could imagine was there. Seeing the regular box of matches she was familiar with, she pointed to them for Glenn to reach up and get them. “I want those there,” she said as she pointed.

Glenn looked in the direction of where she was pointing, but wasn’t exactly sure which type she wanted. Glenn took a guess as to which ones Mavis wanted and grabbed the book matches. He looked at her as he was pulling them off the shelf and said, “Are these the ones you’re wanting?”

Mavis looked at him as if he was the stupidest person she’d ever met. “No, they’re not!” she said, having very little patience in her voice, “I want the ones beside ‘em.”

Glenn reached up to put the book matches back on the shelf and retrieve the right ones, but Mavis went to reach for the boxed matches at the same time.

That’s when it happened.

As both Glenn and Mavis reached up to the matches, they knocked a pack of the box matches off the shelf. Once again, time seemed to move in slow motion as the box of matches traveled from the top shelf to the floor. It felt as though they both were reaching for the matches to catch them, but neither of them was successful in catching them before they hit the ground. As the matches hit the floor, time finally caught up with itself and returned to its normal pace to catch them both off guard.

Just as soon as the box of matches hit the floor, a loud “Swooosshhhh!” sound emanated from the matches as though they were getting ready to take off into outer space. Before Mavis and Glenn realized what was happening, the box of matches spontaneously combusted into flames right in the middle of aisle nine. The flames shot out of the box as though they were trying to consume whoever woke them up in such a violent manner. The flames from the matches all of sudden lashed out at the bags of charcoal briquettes on the bottom shelf, catching them on fire as well.

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“Heck!” Mavis exclaimed as both her and Glenn ran for cover just as soon as all this was starting to happen. Both of them took refuge hiding in the dairy aisle out of sight from what was fast becoming another major incident in the supermarket that day. Since the dairy aisle lead to the back of the store, they saw employees coming running out of the back wielding fire extinguishers in an effort to put out the blaze. They sprayed the fire like their lives depended on it, asking anyone in earshot if they had seen what happened and who was responsible. Of course, no one saw anything since Mavis and Glenn just happened to be the only people in that aisle at the time.

After the employees had put out the fire, you could plainly see everyone stopping to gawk at the damage and all the smoke in the area. Cashiers at the front were craning their necks to watch the smoke as it drifted towards the meat counter like fog coming off the river during the early morning. The meat manager was trying to set up fans as fast as he could to keep the smoke away from his counter. “By God, I don’t want my meat tasting like smoke!” he would say to anyone asking what he was doing. The fire trucks arrived, although it was much too late for them to do anything.

Glenn looked at Mavis and whispered to her, “I think we need to get out of here before they find out it was us!”

Mavis grimaced and snapped back, “They ain’t gonna know it was us if you keep your mouth shut! Now just act like everybody else and nobody will be the wiser!”

Glenn rolled his eyes, knowing that Mavis was determined to finish her shopping and get what she needed. She had never been deterred from trying to finish what she started, and she wasn’t going to start now. “Well,” he said, trying to convince her to leave as fast as possible, “lets get what we need and get out of here while we still can!”

“You just push the buggy and come on!” Mavis retorted, huffing at the mere suggestion that anyone could find her at fault for doing something wrong. She walked by the store manager, the cashiers and other shoppers as if nothing at all was wrong.

As they finished piling the items in the cart, Mavis and Glenn headed to the checkout lanes. As they were paying for the groceries and bagging them up, the cashier tried to engage Mavis in conversation by talking about the fire. “Did you see the fire that was burning back there? I heard somebody got mad ‘cause they couldn’t find the right charcoal and decided they’d try to burn the place to the ground! I don’t know why somebody would want to do something like that just over some charcoal!” Then the cashier decided to try to joke with Mavis, who was just standing there looking at her. “Either way, I suppose whatever meat they bought is smoked meat now,” she said as she started laughing uncontrolably at her own joke.

Mavis didn’t find it at all funny, and said, “Well I don’t know how it started. But you can’t believe everything you hear. Besides, it just happened about ten minutes ago, so I doubt they really know what all happened yet. It’s best not to believe everything somebody tells you!”

With that, the cashier nodded her head and said, “True, true. Guess it is too early to tell what exactly caused it.” Feeling the dissapproving stare coming from Mavis, the cashier quickly finished ringing up her groceries. Mavis paid for them, and off she and Glenn went to the car to leave as fast as they could.

When they arrived at their car, they saw a police car sitting in front of the store. Glenn’s heart sank. He just knew the police were there to arrest someone for setting the fire, and in all probability, he knew it would be him and his Grandmother. Mavis, however, was unphased. “They ain’t here for us,” Mavis said after Glenn mentioned his worry to her, “they’re most likely here for them two women who were fighting in the bananas.”

In all the excitement of the fire, Glenn had forgotten all about the two women who were fighting in the produce department. He breathed a sigh of relief. “Well, let’s not take any chances, and get our butts outta here!” he exclaimed to Mavis. Sure enough, just as they got in the car and were backing out of the parking space, Glenn saw the police with the two women in custody heading to the police car.

“See, I told you so,” Mavis said. “Now let’s get home. I gotta start getting the chicken ready for tomorrow.”

“You ain’t gonna cook it over an open flame, are you?” Glenn asked. Mavis looked at him over her glasses as if she was going to reprimand him, but smiled her michevious grin and didn’t say anymore about the topic.

After getting Mavis back home, groceries unpacked and put away, Glenn went back home. He told his mother all about what had happened, although it seemed a little too much to take in. Knowing her mother, however, Sylvia could very well imagine the scenario playing out in her mind. “Well,” she said, “I guess the old adage of ‘where there’s smoke, there’s fire’ is definitely true here.”

“Yep,” Glenn said. “But maybe they should update that to say ‘where there’s smoke, there’s Mavis’.”

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