Friday, December 30, 2011

Is this what that Scorpions' song was about?

                It’s been an exhausting Christmas season.  First I got sick, then my Daddy got sick, then he got me sick again.  It’s the first time we’ve shared something since the opinion that I was adopted became our unspoken agreement sometime during my junior high “Duran Duran” haircut phase.  Since September, we’ve realized that although we still don’t have a whole lot in common, we have both made efforts to get along and have been doing a pretty darn good job of it until last night. 
                I witnessed an incident so hypocritical that it was absolutely breathtaking in more ways than one.  Now as I have been, at various times in my life, a Southern Baptist and an Art major, I am more than familiar with those who are both self-righteous and hypocritical.  Truth be told, I can lay down some judgment both hypocritical and hypercritical myself, so I am not casting any stones from my glass abode, mind you.  But this particular situation was, I believe, the single most ridiculous reaction to an event I may have ever witnessed and I’m including that boy from my hometown that ran his truck into the tree in front of his house to demonstrate to his mother that he was mad at her for something that was pork chop related.  I’m not sure if he was pro or con, but he was fired up do you hear me?
                My Daddy banished Lulu, his faithful Boston terrier, to her bed at 8 pm for the sin of...farting!  Can you believe that?  Is he kidding me?  The Department of Energy has designated his bedroom as a possible alternative fuel source.  Ed Begley, Jr. texts me daily, urging me to “do my part” by procuring mass quantities of legumes, both pinto and Great Northern.
                When I questioned the banishment he said, with no sense of irony, “She needs to stop farting.  It’s starting to smell in here.”  Starting to smell? It has smelled since he wheeled into my life in September.   I have single handedly rescued the Febreze people from the throes of this recession in my vigilant fight against the stench that has invaded my home.   The walls in his bedroom have turned a lovely shade of yellow I call “Unbrushed Teeth”.  The squirrels in our yard have more bad perms than a Brady Bunch reunion special due to the “funk bubble” that encases my cul de sac.  The air outside is so thick with “nasty” it’s hard to walk briskly down my street and the fumes make my eyes water so much that the proprietors of the grocery store across the street offered to pay for grief counseling for whatever tragedy had unfolded.
                When I laughed with my signature blend of condescension and pity, he seemed truly surprised.  When I scoffed and pointedly told him that anyone who passes gas as often as he should be the LAST person in the Americas, both North and South, to place sanctions on someone else’s faux pas, he not only pleaded confusion over my use of a French term but wanted to know when farting had become so political. 
                On that note, I offer my assistance to the public. For 2012, let’s “air” our opinions, shall we?  I say we take each of the candidates for President, regardless of their party affiliation or level of delusion concerning their electability (I’m talking to you Two Ricky Bachgrich) and force them to sit in a room with my Daddy.  Any time one of them says something stupid, hateful, racist, xenophobic or simply untrue; my Daddy would get to fart on or near them.  Now, in order for this to be fair, he would need an interpreter as his definition of xenophobia would probably be “fear of xenos”.  And as you know, the only people who could survive that apocalyptic situation would be a cockroach, Gary Busey or Cher, so the fate of these candidates lies in the hands of those who have a somewhat limited worldview.  But I say we give it a try.  The worst that could happen is no one in the aforementioned paragraph would survive except my Daddy and Cher and, truth be told, we might be better off.
                Gives a whole new meaning to the winds of change, doesn’t it?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sweeter than a turkey?

               I’m in Maine a few weeks ago, sitting at a cute little overpriced bistro called “The Salt Lick”, which sounds more country than I would have imagined in Southern Maine.  Although, if I were being honest, I always felt Maine was like Mississippi with snow when I lived in Massachusetts several years ago. 
             Normally I don’t answer the phone when it rings as it is rude, in my opinion, to do so while dining.  However, seeing as how my Daddy had been left to his own devices in California while I was gone, I immediately answered hoping the query would be mundane and not involve anyone that had taken an oath; either Hippocratic or “to Serve and Protect”.
“Where’s your stool softener?” he bellowed into the phone loud enough that my table mates could hear him without the utilization of the speakerphone option.
“I don’t have…that,” I said, at once disgusted and desperate to erase the picture forming in my mind.  “What is the problem?”
“I haven’t dirtied in about 6 days,” he yelled.  Deciding I wanted this conversation to end post haste or even faster I took the bull by the horns and proceeded to say in one breath, “That’s not true I haven’t been gone for 6 days and I can assure you you’ve never missed a day I don’t use it I don’t need it I’m just lucky that’s rude you need to go across the street to the grocery store yes the Mexican one and buy that product if you are in that great of a need yes they speak English no I don’t know how to say softener in Spanish that’s almost racist why are you talking so loud unless you or the house are on fire I have to go because I’m eating remember I’m 3 hours ahead of you no you shouldn’t eat lunch yet it’s not noon where you are yes it’s good but you wouldn’t like it because its sorta fancy yes I’ll probably have lobster tonight I know you could eat one the size of small dog and I promise I’ll talk to you later tonight love you bye.”  Good thing I played trumpet in band all through school.  Circle-breathing does wonders in all sorts of situations.
This is just another example of my father’s inability to do anything quietly or discreetly.  He has no issue discussing his many bodily functions regardless of our location or relationship with those within earshot.  And if you know my Daddy everyone is within earshot.  And I mean everyone.  His hearing has gotten worse over the years and now he feels sure you can only hear him if he can hear himself.  And don’t bother asking him to whisper as he doesn’t understand that concept.  His version of whispering is him lowering his speaking voice an octave but with no discernible change in his volume. 
This poses no issue at home but becomes somewhat nerve-wracking when we are out and about like this morning.  We were eating at our favorite brunch spot and as he had decimated his eggs, sausage, biscuit and gravy, he was commenting on everyone around us.  Under normal circumstances, this is normal diner chitchat but then he started to say things like, “That old man with the jiggling legs and the shaky arms sure is eating a bunch.  I wonder how much longer he’s gonna live?  He looks old as Methusaleh.”  Or “That Messican (redneck for Hispanic) lady sure is being a turd.  She’s arguing with that waiter about the table.  She ought to sit her bubble-butt down somewhere.”
And it wasn’t so much that I disagreed with what he said, that old man was 130 if he was a day; he looked like he had done his student teaching when Adam and Eve were in Pre-K.  And that little woman, whose butt did in fact resemble a large bubble, was being extremely rude, but it’s just not polite to say things like that out loud.  A good Baptist does it in the confines of their house or at least in the fellowship hall at church.  He may have been confused because of the food.  You know the rule, if gossip is shared over breakfast items or a cheese-covered casserole, its called fellowship.  For those Southern Baptists who are offended by what I just said, please refrain from talking about me until you can do it in a group, with food, and have a proper prayer circle about the condition of my soul now that I live in the land of the heathen.
Which brings me to my next point.  My father is still in denial about where he now lives.  He realizes that California is not Alabama but doesn’t understand why it can’t be.  Por ejemplo (which is Spanish) we went in search of meatloaf yesterday and when I found that plus lemon icebox pie, he didn't seem surprised although I was; he seemed only to be concerned about the lack of available sweet tea.  I informed him that outside of the South you can’t get sweet tea unless it’s fruit-flavored.  Even in the South sometimes you can’t get sweet tea.  Of course, what do I know seeing as I have only lived outside of the South since 2002 and he hasn’t?  Every time we go to a restaurant, he orders sweet tea and has one of two reactions.  If they say they don’t have it he questions their right to live in America and breathe the same free air that he breathes.  If they say they have it and he orders it and its fruit flavored, he seems surprised and loudly questions the American-ness of the entire dining establishment and adjacent stores in the strip mall. 
Prior to leaving for my trip I cooked up a storm to ensure he had enough pre-made meals to get him through a nuclear winter, or at least the 8 days I would be gone.  If I give him enough meatloaf, taters and greens he seems to not notice there is no sweet tea and he feels more at home. 
When I returned I found that he had not eaten all the food I made.  Apparently he had grown tired of eating the fried turkey dinners I had also made from Thanksgiving and I noticed several contraband Chinese take-out containers and a fortune cookie in the garbage can when I emptied it into the bin.  Apparently he had ventured out from the house.  When I questioned the containers he insisted that he had only gone to the “messican” grocery store and had ventured no further. He said he guessed the containers were left over from the previous tenants although I have lived here since June and he since September.
So, the battle continues in our fight for his health.  He swears I’m trying to starve him.  Today we ate brunch around 9:30.  At 11:00 a.m. he said, “It’s time for dinner.”  My response was that it might in fact be 11:00 but he had only recently eaten and there was no way he was actually hungry, adding, “You haven’t truly been hungry since 1957.”
He said, “The way you starve me, people’ll be able to count my ribs pretty soon.”  I replied that would only be at a BBQ joint as his body’s ribs were firmly encased in several layers of pudge and then I poked his belly which makes him giggle uncontrollably.  It’s hilarious.  I should tape it for YouTube.   
And after he made a strange announcement at brunch, I began to wonder if he had frequented the donut shop across the street.  See, when my Daddy has done something he shouldn’t he makes a random statement to the effect that he has, in fact, NOT done something.  When he announced, apropos of nothing, that he had NOT eaten any donuts while I was gone, I immediately became suspicious and skimmed his diabetic diary entries he keeps for his doctor.  I noticed several spikes in several days.  When I questioned one particular spike from 130 to 253 over the course of 4 hours one day, he spent considerable time trying to convince me that the turkey had caused the increase and that was why he didn’t eat the rest of it.  Silly me, how did I not know turkey was a dessert?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Between me and paradise

               My holiday plans have taken a turn.  My brother is Active Duty Air Force and was transferred to Hawaii with his family this summer.  I know, right?  Out of his 13 years in the military, he has been stationed in Biloxi, Australia, the Azores and Colorado Springs.  That only glitch in this almost perfect list was the bustling metropolis of Enid, Oklahoma.  Their time in Enid is referenced somewhat like that random cousin in jail.  We agree that it is unpleasant and only refer to when pressed and even then in code.  For people who have often lived on the edge of poverty, we've had a number of relatives on extended "vacations".
              Anyway, my sister and I had discussed going to my brother’s for Christmas this year.  However, two things put a crimp in those plans.  The first was the cost of the tickets.  Now, last year I took my sister and niece to Hawaii with me when I had to visit Honolulu for work.  The trip was their Christmas/Birthday/Valentine's/Easter present for the next six years.  My previous job afforded many opportunities to travel.  Your tax dollars at work and I thank you.  Traveler’s tip:  the week after Thanksgiving is the best time to go to Hawaii.  Ticket prices are reasonable and the island is practically empty of tourists so no waiting in lines for the exciting performances and crappy food at the luaus and no need for reservations at the overpriced restaurants.  Also, if you're ever in Cheyenne, Wyoming I can recommend an excellent cajun restaurant.
              The second, and main, reason is the disaster that would befall my family should my father ever come into contact with airport security.  Now, I will admit that I have never traveled with my father outside of a multi-state car ride as a child with my mother driving and my father riding shotgun, parrot on shoulder.  We have had our share of unique pets who have left our home is various ways, mostly through death.  This particular parrot, Seymour, took his leave in the avian equivalent of a teenage girl eloping with a biker.  He flew away one day when the door was accidentally left open and we saw him a few weeks later, circling the house with a hawk in tow.  I guess he came back to rub it in our face?  Can a bird flip ‘the bird’, I wonder?
              In his defense, my father has traveled by train successfully.  But if you’ve ever taken an Amtrak ride you know that you can walk onboard the train with a see-through box of Ebola-riddled gibbon monkeys holding placards that say “Death to America” and as long as you have your ticket punched at some point on the ride and don’t talk in the quiet car, you will be left to your own devices. 
              When I close my eyes and imagine my father attempting to travel by plane, this is the scene that unfolds:  Not wanting to tip a porter to curb-check his luggage, he walks inside thinking he can just get on the plane and immediately becomes distracted by the smell of bacon wafting from the concourses. 
Not having the patience to stand in line to check in for his flight (“I bought my ticket, what else do they need?”) he will loudly disparage the moral fiber of not only the airline employees but various members of their family tree.  He will also demand to know the source of the bacon and an ETA on when that bacon will become his.
Since I have to check in (because the wardrobe for a week’s vacation, for me, consists of more than 2 pair of underwear, a Costco sized bottle of antacids and a bag of insulin needles), I ask for his ID so I can get his boarding pass as well.  The thought of him trying to manipulate the self-check kiosk without setting something on fire or accidentally launching the space shuttle is hilarious.  The man has never purchased, or even touched a computer; much less learned how to use one.  Why do you think I write this blog without restraint?
Once I get him to understand that it is a law that they must see his ID to get his boarding pass and will then have to threaten him with a bacon-less future in order to keep him from openly maligning the character of every member of Congress and police force as we head toward yet another line to get to security.  Now, in his defense, most members of Congress have no discernable character to malign but the activities he would ensure all listening they have willingly participated in, would strain the credibility of human endurance.  Cops on the other hand are upstanding citizens whom I admire, at least as far as they know.
Entering security, he would have to remove his shoes, which is possible.  However putting them on would require a series of ropes and pulleys that I feel sure would not make it past the screeners.
Hopefully they won’t ask him to remove his suspenders because they have metal parts.  They are only semi-successful in keeping his pants in the general vicinity of where they need to be to keep a public indecency charge off his record.  One of the reasons his previously mentioned tiny almost-butt is so readily available for photo ops is that in order to get underwear that fit him in the waist, we must battle so much superfluous fabric we could incorporate knife pleats and still have enough left over for a matching poncho.  You would think that with all the extra material and the lack of buttock, there would be little chance of a viewing, so to speak, but these cheeks act not unlike an overachieving middle child, desperate to be center stage.  I wish I could come up with a strategy to combat this issue.  However, as I am not comfortable discussing this predicament with my local seamstress, we simply accept this as a reality and take our chances with the possibility of an eclipse.  I am not referring to the vampire movie, although the skin tone is roughly the same.  Well, if I’m being honest, that vampire dude has a rich cocoa tan compared to mi padre.  If he only moons me, I can take it.  As I am 1/16 Native American, stoicism runs in my blood, people.
Even if we successfully navigate the previous procedures, I can assure you at some point before we board the plane, he will tire of the entire process and loudly proclaim, “What do they think I am a terrorist?”  At this point the FBI will arrive and I will have to forgo my traditional Snapple and kettle chip breakfast to accompany him to the airport “jail” to assure the authorities that he is (1) not crazy enough to be locked away and (2) not a real threat to anyone unless they have a sense of smell and/or are offended by racial epithets involving turbans.  Of course, I could always deny I know him and due to my East Coast travel wardrobe of jeans, loafers, button down and sport coat with pocket square, I think they would believe me.  What’s the point of overdressing if it can’t get you (1) a free upgrade or (2) a place above suspicion?
Of course, if he did land in jail, his “vacation” if you will, I would need to get a refund for his ticket.  Is having a crazy father covered as an “Act of God” in my travel insurance policy?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

If Wal-Mart can rush the season, so can I

All I want for Christmas is a butt.  It’s a lot to ask I know but it’s something that I have wanted ever since I was old enough to notice the extra “seat” in my trousers.  I am, of course, referring to that wad of material that bunches as you walk when you have nothing to fill the back of your pants but hope, dear friends.  If I have ever had a conversation with anyone, I have invariably discussed the complexities of trying to be fabulous while wearing husky-sized Tuffskins.  That statement encapsulates my childhood.  I feel sure that many other episodes and character traits were in play during my formative years, but all I remember was the feeling that somehow I had been switched at birth and there was a sad preppy family in the North (I was always hot natured as a child) who was stuck with a red-headed redneck and they spent their days doing extraordinary things, pining away for their long lost son. 
Chad Wolf was a boy who was born on the same day in the same hospital as I (Lake Providence, LA for those who don’t know).  I felt, for many years, that perhaps the parents of the Wolf family were really mine.  That is until we met them unexpectedly at a football game in Texas when I was in the seventh grade.  I was very unhappy to find that they were more like us than we were.  The only difference between Chad and I was that his Buster Brown haircut did not have a cowlick.
Don't get me wrong, my childhood was not unhappy, my Mother was an exceptionally fabulous person; it was more that I felt out of place.  It’s not even like I was the black sheep of the family.  I would have traded my fake Members Only jacket to be a sheep of any color.  I felt more like the plaid koala bear.  What happens to plaid koala bears in a herd of sheep?  They feel a never-ending weirdness.   At least that stupid Ugly Duckling was a bird.  Where’s my image-affirming children’s book?  But I've grown up so everything should be okay, right?  Well, I can tell you the only difference between a baby plaid koala bear and an adult plaid koala bear is the financial means to buy more plaid and the limited ability to not seem uncomfortable should sheep-like behavior and/or sheep-adjacent activities become necessary.
Back to my butt, or lack thereof.  I inherited this lovely physical trait from my Daddy.  I guess it could be worse.  My butt is teeny-tiny, but it has many butt-like qualities.  It is, in fact, butt-esque.  Butt-onic if you will.  His butt on the other hand doesn't even contain the essence of a butt.  It's the mere memory of a butt that may have been.  It’s not even flat, it’s actually concave.  It’s less than a butt.  It’s an anti-butt.  There’s more meat on a chicken neck, people. 
On his 70-year-old self, it’s not a bad as it could be I suppose.  However, on my 41-year-old-thinking-I'm-cute self, it looks as if I have been wearing my pants for three weeks non-stop the minute I put them on freshly pressed from the dry cleaners.  I age about 30 years from front to back.  It's so bad, I could get a senior citizen's discount at Denny's if I were to walk into the restaurant backwards.  
My assistant, Marie told me about a product that will give you a fanny, so to speak.  She had noticed my lack of derriere and, like me, has no filter.  Apparently there is underwear that has fake butt cheeks built in.  What a technological marvel.  She suggested I buy one.  I informed her that I felt enough shame purchasing my Spanx t-shirts at Nordstroms and tried to do so only late in the evening while wearing a ball cap and jeans just in case someone recognizes me. I would NEVER by fake-butt panties or whatever you call them.  I just want a normal butt.  I don't need a Kim Kardashian or a Jennifer Lopez sized butt; I just need a tiny cheek.  Because the only thing worse than a man with no butt is a man with a big ol' woman butt.  Can I get an Amen?
I feel compelled to tell you that I only buy those over-priced spandex t-shirts because they are a medical necessity.  They keep all the excess skin from my significant post-surgery weight loss under control and in a reasonable facsimile of a normal body.  Without them, I am unpretty, dear readers. Unclothed, I look like an uncooked turkey after a steam.  Consequently, the only time I am unclothed is in the shower and that is due to the knowledge that showering in your underwear is, well, stupid.  A fact I wish I had known at the age of 12.  This bit of childhood trauma is etched in my memory as the only time I showered in the locker room after a football game in junior high.  Most of the time I just went home sweaty and stinky. Well, as sweaty and stinky as you get standing on the sidelines talking to the cheerleaders.    I was short, chubby and had a bad self-image which was not helped by the fact that my locker mate had a visible moustache.  In the 7th grade.  I called him Burt Reynolds behind his back due to that and his thinning hair.  Now that I think of it, how old was this guy?  For several years after the incident (which he not only pointed out to everyone in the locker room but also recounted the next week for all who would listen), I suffered panic attacks anytime I heard running water or saw a black Trans Am.  A water park advertisement during a Smokey and the Bandit marathon would render me catatonic.
But I have persevered despite my many physical peculiarities.  Like my Daddy, I also have oddly short legs.  At 6’, my inseam is 29”.  It could be worse, I suppose, his inseam is 27”.  From the waist down we could have our own reality show on TLC.  To give the illusion of normal length legs, I wear my pants so high that my belt buckle is at my belly button.  But it looks normal.  No one would ever know.  Until now, I suppose.  Hmm.  I didn’t think this through.  Can you just un-read that last sentence?  Then we could go back to where I imagined we were which was where you felt I was fabulous and I agreed wholeheartedly.  Buying into someone's delusion is an inexpensive gift, folks.  Just saying.
Which brings me back to Christmas gifts.  My Daddy recently gave me insight into what he wanted this season.  We were returning from a quasi-rare dinner out when we passed a Harley Davidson motorcycle and he said, “I wish I had that fella’s hog (motorcycle enthusiast vernacular for, well, a motorcycle) and he had a feather up his butt.  Then we’d both be tickled.”  Now, I don’t think I can get him either of those things, seeing as how I am not about to buy a Harley or a feather.  But I do think that I can find him something he'll like.  He has mentioned on more than one occasion that he feels I am "mean" in my oversight of his diet.  How dare I try to keep candy and soda from a diabetic?  What's my problem?  At this point, I think he’d be thrilled on Christmas morning to be allowed to drink an entire Mountain Dew in one sitting (FYI: serving size is 2.  Check the bottle) without my signature look that is a mixture of condescension and pity.  When you set the bar low, you're pretty sure to exceed it, right?
Anyway, Happy Holidays!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Is one day enough?

Today is Veteran’s Day.  My Daddy is an Army Veteran, my brother is Active Duty Air Force and I have countless uncles and cousins who have worn the uniform of our nation’s armed forces. 
As an employee of the Department of Veterans Affairs, I am in a unique position to thank our Nation’s Veterans every day for their service.  My department is Prosthetic and Sensory Aids.  We provide any item or service that a Veteran uses in their home, including but not limited to artificial limbs, power and manual wheelchairs and lifts, glasses and hearing aids, pacemakers and artificial hips and knees, computers, ramps, home remodeling, automobile adaptive equipment, shoes, walkers, canes, crutches, blood pressure monitors, home tele-health equipment, home oxygen, hospital beds, blind aids and items of daily living.  All these devices and services are free of charge to all Veterans, regardless of their status or medical condition.  This care is available at all 153 VA medical centers at a cost of around $2 billion for 2012.  I say this only to educate everyone about the exceptional care offered to our Nation's heroes.
I don’t know why my Daddy joined the Army at the age of 16.  What inspired him to serve his country? Did he want to escape the desperate poverty of his home?  Was he tired of the endless days of working and the endless meals of beans and the occasional biscuit?  Was he leaving behind a mean-spirited and selfish father who was in actuality, and not for dramatic effect, a sharecropper?  It begs the question, why my brother joined the Air Force?  Was he escaping a life that while it was not exactly one of poverty, wasn’t so far removed as to be comfortable?  Why didn’t I join the military?  My aversion to authority aside, wouldn’t it have given me an escape?
Regardless of the whys, he and others like him offered themselves to keep this country great.  That, and that alone, is reason enough to honor them today and every other day.  I take pride in the fact that I help Veterans, like my Daddy.  This is what gets me up every morning and gets me to work.  I love the energy of a hospital.  We help people.  Many have questioned my decision to leave a very cushy job in Washington, DC to return to the “front lines” to run a hospital department, but as I’ve grown older I’ve realized what’s important to me in my career and that is simply a sense of pride in helping people.  I’m not driven by a title; I’m driven by a sense of obligation to give back to those who gave so much, where I can see them and talk to them and, selfishly, receive their gratitude.
Regardless of a Veteran’s length of service or position in the military, the fact that they offered everything they had, up to and including, their life if necessary is something that compels us to honor them.  It’s not just another day off for federal employees or another inconvenient day when the banks to close. It’s a way for us to honor those who honored us by offering their all.  It’s not often I quote Billy Ray Cyrus, but his song sums it up best:  All gave some; some gave all. 
I capitalize Veteran as I'm used to doing so at work.  VA Secretary Eric Shinseki started this several years ago as a sign of respect and I like it.  It's one small way to remind ourselves, as VA employees, why we come to work every day - to serve those who serve(d).
So, tell a Veteran thank you.  If you’re traveling, thank the soldier you see in uniform at the airport.  Buy him, or her, a drink or a meal.  Let them know how much you appreciate their service.  We can go to church, protest anything we want and blog about our crazy redneck Daddys, but only because the members of our armed forces willingly sacrificed for our freedoms.
Just because “Freedom isn’t Free” is a cliché, doesn’t mean it’s not true.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Bumpkins are people too?

              I'm starting to feel like the title character in Cal Smith’s 1974 hit, “Country Bumpkin” and not just because I know the words.  The song greeted me this morning as my Daddy had awakened earlier than normal due to his appointment at the hospital and apparently couldn’t start the day without a little country music.  See, his doctor wanted to see him at 1:30 pm, so naturally he felt the need to arise at 5:00 am, cook himself, but not me, breakfast and ensure that we arrived at the hospital 7:00 am, just in case. Thank goodness I work there.  Heaven forbid he not drive himself to the hospital and stay at home sleeping his day away.  He’d rather come to the hospital and alternate sleeping in the lobby, cafeteria or my office.  Imagine trying to conduct a conference call with a sleep apnea-riddled yeti leaning precariously close to the edge of your desk who, snorts himself awake and demands peanut butter crackers. 
                And that’s not even the reason I’m feeling all bumpkinish.  No, the main reason I am feeling “fresh as frost out on the pumpkins” is that yesterday, my father called me at work and asked me to find him a container to store used cooking oil with which to prepare the animals he isn’t supposed to eat in a manner which isn’t conducive to achieving his goal of outliving me.  Of course those are my words.  What he said was, “Git me a grease can so I can fry me some chicken.”  As if he had not already fried chicken, which is not allowed, filling my house with a scent that, while wonderfully nostalgic, was so thick you could “sop it up with a biscuit”.  Upon opening the front door, I took a deep breath, immediately gained three and a half pounds, and said, “Did you rob a ‘tucky Fried Chicken?”  Tell me I’m not as country as the Mandrell Sisters.  Okay, I’m probably more Arlene than Barbara, but whatever.  The point being, he asked me to help him fry chicken which he had already done, but tried to hide.  I know his eyesight is less than it used to be, but I find it hard to believe he didn’t think I saw the flour, pepper and salt that covered almost every surface in the kitchen up to and including his hat and the dog.  Not to worry, it was one of his six identical Tractor Supply hats.  Apparently stealth cooking requires something less formal than a fedora or bowler.
My point, besides the sinking feeling that I am being forced to acknowledge my roots more than I would like, is that my Daddy is incapable of hiding anything.  Feelings, prejudices, candy wrappers.  Nothing is hidden.  Nothing is held back.  He has taken to telling all sorts of tales to my staff and I don’t know what stories he shared with my administrative resident, but trying to explain “Hee Haw” to a 23 year-old master’s candidate from Chicago while keeping one’s cosmopolitan façade intact is difficult people. Thank goodness I have been able to keep the “I reckons” and “fixin tos” to a minimum.  But I have had to resort to being an interpreter of sorts for those who come in contact with him.   
There is a certain code to know when talking with my father.  A certain language, if you will, although I don’t believe Rosetta Stone offers training in his dialects which include Basic Southern, Judgmental Redneck, Big Honkin’ White Trash and even Mumbling Cajun, although I secretly think that last one is due more to a lack of denture adhesive than anything else.  And as much as I go on, I sometimes find myself using his phrases to confuse and intimidate my staff.  Smell that?  That’s leadership, people.    
The reason I bring this up is that to know my father is to listen for the clues in what he says to give you the realities of what he’s done.  It’s a matter of gleaning the trace amount of truth out of his statements.  For example, when he entered my office this afternoon, after his doctor’s appointment, he stated, “I sure did want a Mountain Dew today, but I didn’t have one.”  To the uninitiated, he is following his diet.  To those in the know, he in fact just finished a Mountain Dew.  As I am attempting to keep “the sugar” from taking his feet, as you know, I have taken it upon myself to micro-manage his diet.  When his blood sugar goes up he gets very sleepy.  This leads to moments when he will nod off in mid-sentence and has on more than one occasion caused alarm with visitors who ask about “the homeless man asleep in (my) office”.  Just today he fell asleep sitting across from me at my desk and I had to complete an employee’s performance appraisal in the conference room as there is no method to wake a sleeping bear without causing some sort of unpleasant interaction with either the gas or the curse words, both of which he lets fly with alarming speed and frequency.  Even with my sweet ninja moves and more combat experience than is warranted in a childhood this side of Chechnya, I am sometimes caught in the crossfire, if you will. 
                And I am not exactly thrilled with the turning tides at home, so to speak.  I can’t pinpoint exactly when the power shifted but all I know is that there is a skillet full of grease on my stove, a belt sander in my foyer with an orange extension cord trailing through the front window and a 15 pound sack of potatoes in my pantry.  There is some nefarious scheming afoot and I think the end goal is to create some hybrid country caretaker cook.  Well, all I can say is if I wanted to be a Southern woman, I assure you I’d choose Julia Sugarbaker instead of Aunt Bea.  I will fight this tooth and nail.  I will keep my zebra occasional chairs, mirrored furniture and pastel chinos.  I will continue to eat at the dinner table with no dog and a balanced meal.  And as God as my witness I WILL NOT make biscuits from scratch.  I feel like Scarlett O’Hara but without the turnips and drama.  Okay maybe some of the drama, but definitely not the turnips.
To be honest, I don’t remember where I was headed with this thought, but I do need to go.  My favorite Lacy J. Dalton song just came on the radio and I’ve got a roast in the crock pot.  Oh crap, is country contagious?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

You can't pop your collar without a good breakfast

Apropos of nothing, my Daddy enters the room and says, in a pained voice, “So if I grew a ponytail, you’d just cut it off?”
                “Yes.  Lopped.  Immediately.”  To catch you up, we had recently had a conversation about things that I loathe; men with ponytails being one of them.  Al Franken, Dick Cheney and people who think irregardless is a word are three others.
“Lopped?” he asked, with the same look on his face that Lulu (his dog) had the first time she saw herself in a mirror.
“Yes.  Lopped.  Maybe even with pinking shears.”
“Just like that?”
“Just like that.”
“But it’s my hair.”
“Obviously if you are so inclined to grow a ponytail, you have taken leave of your faculties and someone needs to intervene.  That someone is me.”
“Ok, but what if I wanted a mullet?”
“A mullet is simply a ponytail having a party.  It would be lopped as well.”
“Without any warning.”
“This counts as the warning, just so you know.”
“Who made you the hair police?”
“It’s not just hair; clothes too. And I was elected.”
“I don’t remember voting.”
“It was secret ballot.  But I assure you, you voted for me.  Twice.”
“Why are you so aggressive about this?”
“Ponytails on men are aggressive.  So are popped collars on old people, so don’t get any ideas.”
“What’s a popped collar?”
“You’ll never need to know.  See how I protect you?”
Dear readers, I feel I must take a minute and apologize if anyone reading this has been offended.  Of course, I’m not apologizing for my opinion; I feel pretty confident that I am right.  But if you have a ponytail, feel a kindred spirit for those who do or are at present wearing a popped collar (and you’re over 21), I apologize for the fact that I am judging you so hard right now, I think I may have just pulled a muscle.  And for that I am truly sorry.
After the hair discussion, my Daddy decided to “git inside that head ‘a yours” and asked me for my opinions on any number of topics.  I would like to think it was to truly gain insight into what makes his eldest son tick.  I suspect, however, that is was simply a ruse to distract me while he foraged for illegal items that he doesn’t know I know he hides in the deep recesses of his bedside table.  What sort of caretaker would I be if I didn’t spy, people? Don’t be so naïve.  I have to save him from himself.  This is a diabetic who fixates on sugar to the point that it’s almost funny.  In the middle of a meal that he has personally requested and is eating with as much as haste as a Minuteman waiting for Paul Revere to ride by screaming about lanterns and boats and British dudes, he will state, “Boy this sure is good, but not as good as chocolate ice cream.  I’d love a gallon (!) of that right now.”
                So I am forced, FORCED do you hear me, to sneak and spy.  Peek and pry.  I have, however, found very little in the way of evidence of contraband snacks.  I have, so far, simply found more empty wrappers of his approved snacks than is typically allotted.  Even if they are sugar free, eating 7 popsicles in a day is not good.  Anyone who has gone on a sugar free diet can tell you what sugar alcohol does to you.  And you, as a regular reader, are far too familiar as it is with this area of his personal hygiene.  If you are a new reader, start at the beginning.  And thanks for your support.
                I started to think I was making headway.   Maybe he is listening to me and not eating foods that are bad for him although he has stopped losing weight after the initial 20 pounds.  And I was about to get all proud of him (and myself) when my network of accidental spies began reporting.
                Before you get all judgmental, let me say that it all started innocently enough.  My assistant Marie casually mentioned that she saw my Dad at the snack machine (on the hospital campus where I work), buying a soda one afternoon after his doctor appointment.  Another time she made him some coffee and when she asked how much sugar he took, he told her two spoonfuls, never mentioning that he is supposed to use Equal or Splenda or Old Lady (Sweet n Low) since he is diabetic.  Later her daughter, Dawnyielle,  then mentioned, oneday visiting on her day off, that she had seen my Dad on the other hospital campus (where we live) reading a book outside the convenience store, soda in hand.  When I casually mentioned this chance sighting, my Daddy had the nerve to say that she must have mistaken him for someone else.  As if there are two redheaded rednecks with a grey bowler and green paratrooper suspenders, riding a red scooter.  Really?  That’s your defense?  It wasn’t me.  Are you suddenly an R&B singer?  If you’re going to make a concerted effort for people to notice you, which was his goal with the hats, then you must deal with the consequences of being noticed.  Wearing colored pants (pink, kelly green, aqua) keeps me honest, y’all.  You can’t perform any activity that requires stealth or secrecy if people can see your pants from outer space.   
                I decided not to press the issue due to the fact that I was secretly proud of him for actually leaving the house without me, even if it was to cheat on his diet and move ever closer to the reality of “the sugar taking his feet”, which is his favorite lament.
At least he’s doing something.   The fact that these activities are simply sketchy as opposed to openly larcenous is a workable paradigm.  This coupled with the fact that he’s started to cook for himself in the mornings is progress. I'm looking past the fact that there’s not much else to do once you’re awake at 4:30 AM.  Apparently he feels that God has taked him with ensuring the sun rises on time because he wakes at the same time each day and he has no chickens to feed or cow to milk.  The only downside is that he is not one to cook breakfast foods on a consistent basis.  I have attempted to grow accustomed to being awakened to a variety of smells.  Some are awesome (bacon); some are subtle (grilled cheese) and some are downright odd (shrimp and okra?!). 
The fact that he is up makes me happy.  I worry about his health being negatively impacted by his lack activity on a daily basis.  So even when I would prefer not to be roused from slumber with an offer of stewed tomatoes, or tommy-toes, as he calls them, I am happy that I am offered something other than silence.  Because I know that day is coming and I can't bear to think about it.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Change ain't just a jingle in your pocket

Since we last spoke, I had an interaction with my Daddy that aired out some laundry so to speak.  One of the items on the agenda was, in fact, the laundry or lack thereof.  I was concerned that when I washed his clothes on Saturdays, I found but one lone pair of underwear, pants and socks.  For the entire week.  Now I am not one to go searching for household chores. Truth be told, if it weren’t for this Southern Baptist guilt related to the cleanliness/Godliness connection, I’d have those Merry Maids, making merry all up and through here. 
However, when the stench can rouse you from sleep like the most unpleasant of alarm clocks, something must be done.  “Old Man Butt with Feet”.  Talk about the worst Yankee Candle scent ever.  As I have previously mentioned, but feel compelled to repeat, this odor proves to be more than these new Febreze canisters (that supposedly can cover the smell of a room full of rotting meat and/or animals) can take.  The funk has got to go, do you hear me.  And I said as much. 
During the ensuing discourse on habits that are just flat out wrong, I spoke so eloquently of the need for portion control when eating, better aim when peeing and the actual definition of a clean dish, grown men wept and Shiite Muslim terrorists loudly sang the national anthem.  I mean, it was awe-inspiring and downright patriotic.  I assure you, if I’d have spoken even one more sentence, Mary Lou Retton might have flipped through the living room in her American flag unitard, a sparkler in each hand.
And I think I got my point across.  Now, you have to realize that portion control for him is the most quixotic of pipe dreams.  Giving him free reign of the kitchen and expecting him to control himself is like giving the most felonious of carnival workers full access to the funnel cake/corn dog cart.  It’s just too much temptation not to end in a gastrointestinal nightmare.  And he seems oblivious to the connection.  When I explained that the average person does not use a roll of toilet paper every three days unless they are decorating someone’s lawn, he seemed genuinely shocked.
I recently attended a retreat with my church choir and he was left to his own devices for exactly 46 hours.  When I returned, the level of carnage in the kitchen simply defied logic.  Had he been my teenage child, I would have immediately accused him of having either a party with 80 of his closest personal friends or having offered housing to a small family of refugees.  Either way, more food than could have been safely consumed by one person had disappeared.
You have to understand my father views eating as a competition.  It isn’t an activity to enjoy so much as it’s a means to end.  And it doesn’t matter if it’s good; as long as it’s a lot.  This intake of food is Olympic level.  That chubby little dude on Food Nation is an amateur, people, compared to mi Padre (that’s Spanish).  And his need for crackers is nothing short of an addiction.  I fixed him BBQ pork roast, macaroni and cheese and broccoli for dinner the other night.  And he asked for crackers to go with it.  When I asked why on earth he needed crackers, he insisted if he didn’t have “bread” he didn’t think he could enjoy himself.  I told him I felt pretty certain he’d survive.  If one of the tenets of parenting is a mastery of sarcasm, I may be parent material after all. 
I tried to explain that if he insisted on getting full every meal, he would never lose another pound.  And since his only exercise is walking to the toilet to relieve himself, his food consumption should have a commensurate decrease.  He accused me of speaking French and went in search of a sugar free Popsicle. 
And I don’t know what he’s doing in the bathroom, but there is pee EVERYwhere.  It’s as if he were a urinating Willy Waterbug.  You remember those water toys from the 70s that had little tubes that sprayed water every which way?  Imagine this, but with pee.  I mean, how else do you explain urine on the rug in front of the sink and on top of the toilet tank?  Try to un-picture that, dear friends, I dare you.
And I realize I should have left well enough alone, but I just had to slip the last topic into the conversacion (also Spanish).  Now I am fully aware that you can’t un-poke a bear but I just had to ensure that he understood the real definition of washing dishes.  See, he has decided that “his chore” is washing the dishes after I cook.  And as a harried homemaker, I appreciate the effort.  However, washing dishes is not his forte, as it were.  Mind you, there are both dishes and water involved but oftentimes they do not meet.  I have witnessed him wetting the silverware, with cold water and then wiping it with his fingers and placing is ever so gently onto the towel to dry.
At first, I tried to give subtle hints by placing still-dirty dishes back in the sink to be washed again, but it was to no avail.  Now I don’t know if his eyesight is such that he truly can’t see the food remaining.  However, a good rule of thumb for cleaning should definitely be “if you can still smell the chicken, the casserole dish might be dirty.”  Just sayin’.
But apparently our “talk” worked.  He has been toeing the proverbial line for the past week.  I washed four, count them, four pair of underwear today.  And he even ate the pre-portioned meals I cooked with very little pouting and protestations of hunger.  Have we reached a middle ground?  Or is he just trying to lull me into a false sense of security?   Surely he hasn’t matured that quickly.  He couldn’t possibly have grown as a person in a week, could he? 
I should have known he’d do something so nefarious, so diabolical.  I mean, how dare he become a better person, just when I've begun documenting this social experiment.  See how selfish he is.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Red(neck) is the new Black

It’s the end of the first month and we’ve settled into somewhat of a routine.  I accuse him of being the source of all odd smells and he accuses me of “forgetting where you come from”.  Now, I have been accused of many things in my day, some nefarious, some untrue and others quite on the mark.  But as someone who is able to recognize a Jim Ed Brown and Helen Cornelius duet from another room, I take exception to that remark.
I may want to forget some of the more redneck aspects of my heritage, like peeing in the yard without shame or the cover of darkness, but as someone who once dressed as Buck Owens for Halloween, I feel I am sufficiently country as to be welcomed at a 4-H meeting, y’all.  I mean, I am the former owner/caretaker of a cow, sheep and horse; not necessarily in that order.    I have worn Wrangler jeans and cowboy boots, albeit under duress, but I actually bought chukka boots last year, people.  Chukka Boots!  The fact that they are navy and come with a matching suede belt shouldn’t take any of the shine of my spurs, if you know what I mean.
After being confronted with this information, my father’s terse reply was, “Well, pardon me, Conway Twitty.  Did you get your pink pants at the feed store?”  Touché, Farmer Brown.  Touché, indeed.
And so it goes.  I have cooked boiled okra, people.  Boiled Okra!  But to be fair, I have made him watch Project Runway, which he says he doesn’t like but still manages to vocalize his opinions on which dress looks most “hookerish”.  Oddly enough, we usually have similar tastes although I am able to guess which weird-shouldered Barbarella dress the judges will pick, whether I actually like it or not.
I think this sudden interest in fashion stems from his purchase, upon arrival, of a black bowler.  He has now decided that he wants to collect hats and has since purchased gray bowler and a brown fedora.  He asked me what I thought about his hats.  I said I liked them just fine, but that if insisted on wearing them he needed to start dressing in more fashionable attire.  As it is he looks like a hillbilly who mugged a British banker in the 1870s.  And he agreed!  I was rendered speechless and fled to Marshall’s before he could rescind his comment.
 Why not TJ Maxx, you ask?  Well, I’ll tell you.  TJ Maxx and Marshall’s (and Homegoods) are owned by the same company (TJX) but there are distinct differences.  TJ Maxx has jewelry, only women’s shoes and more designer labels.  Marshall’s has shoes for the entire family, no jewelry department and Big & Tall Menswear. 
In my frenzy, I purchased an additional pair of khakis (he now has two) and a blue plaid button-down. Gingham is the new black.  You heard it here first.
Of course, he hasn’t actually worn the shirt yet, but I’m holding out hope, y’all.  I have made it my duty to make the world a better-dressed place one person at a time.  I guess I should have picked a less complex pupil for my latest project.  But fear not.  Those huge, yeti-like feet will be encased in coordinated socks by the end of the year.  I mean, he can’t see his feet so he wouldn’t know anyway, right? 
Stealth fashion seems to be the best bet for this redneck redo.  I’ll be like a Navy Seal of fashion, without the guns or camouflage make-up or the combat.  Okay, maybe not a Navy Seal.  Maybe just a navy-jacketed style coach for those who wear overalls. I’ll do whatever I need to do, as long as I’m cute, not sweaty and get a free pass for being judgmental.  You pickin’ up what I’m throwin’ down?

Friday, September 30, 2011


It’s almost funny the number of noises that emanate from general area of my father up to and including his dog Lulu.  Not only are there the previously mentioned toxic fumes but there are also random bursts of what I can only describe as auditory clatter.  For example, he has recently begun singing, apropos of nothing, the 1960s song “Brand New Key”.  You know, the “I’ve got a brand new pair of roller skates; you’ve got a brand new key…”song?  I don’t know why either.  Of course it’s preferable to his usual song of choice which starts with that timeless phrase, “I don’t know but I’ve been told, a green grasshopper has a red…”  I’ll leave the last word to the mysteries parked in his noggin, y’all.
There are also the staccato bursts of whistling which, although impressive, occur at random times that tend to startle one such as me; someone who is used to a quiet little abode.  I didn’t realize that old people are loud people.   Not only just with the level of sound needed for them to enjoy the TV, but just the loudness of the talking, the coughing, and the wheezing.  Hold on a minute, I think he needs his inhaler.  Sometimes I can’t tell if he’s having a bronchial incident, as the ER docs call it, or if he’s just practicing his pre-pout huffing.  And he is an Olympic level pouter my friends.  It's truly astonishing.  The fact that he’s lost 12 pounds in 3 weeks is lost on him.  His only focus is that he has only been allowed one soda since he arrived.  I explained to him that diabetics can’t have regular soda.  Since he refuses to drink diet soda because of the “aftertaste”, he can’t have any at all.  What aftertaste he’s referring to is beyond me, since he is a big fan of Sweet and Low and everybody knows that tastes like old lady; you know like White Shoulders and baby powder.  Maybe it’s just me.
Anyway, the noise level doesn’t abate even when he begins to slumber, which occurs at any given time of the day or night.  He sleeps in bursts, like an overworked programmer for Microsoft or some other Silicon Valley company.  Every couple of hours he’ll nod off and then suddenly wake up like that girl did in Pulp Fiction when John Travolta gave her the adrenaline shot.  You know, when she jumped and gasped?  Although he adds a look of accusatory confusion that says “where am I and what happened to my sandwich?” 
I already discussed our TV tastes and the fact that we have agreed to “play pretty” and allow each other to watch our favorite shows from time to time.  Being a non-regular viewer of TV, but a hard core user of Netflix, I am usually exceedingly generous with the remote.  However, I have grown used to the habit of enjoying my disks on Tuesdays and Saturdays and watching each disk the day it comes in and returning it the next day.  Obviously all the selections in my queue were chosen long before this co-habitation was even a glimmer of an idea in the back of my mind.  And even though he enjoyed the Burn Notice Season 4 marathon, he does not care for multiple episodes of Big Bang Theory, also Season 4, which I purchased or The New Sherlock Holmes, which I Netflixed. 
He decided to be polite and said, “This show is not in’tresting me at all, so I’m gonna take a nap ‘til you get your fill.”  That seemed awfully benevolent; until the snoring began.  Both he a Lulu are mouth breathers in the literal sense.  She because of her boston terrier heritage (short snout) and he because of the numerous nose breakings throughout his life, from incidences and allegations the likes of which even he will not disclose.  And this reticence is from a man who had a conversation that veered from flatulence to the Playboy channel in his initial conversation with my assistant, Marie.  Thank goodness she’s good natured and not litigious.  
And the snoring not only began in earnest it crescendoed to the point that I had to leave the room as I couldn’t turn up the volume enough to hear it without waking the slumbering duo and I just flat out refuse to use closed captioning on any program spoken in English.  I'll gladly read a foreign film, but my "fanciness" has boundaries, y'all.
I was forced from the room like a despot from his third world throne although the noise from those unhappy mobs is no match for the chaotic symphony of numerous sleep-interrupting horks, the loud, metallic pwangs and wooden plomps of his recliner being declined (is that the opposite of recline?) and the random snorffs (that's a snort and sniff combo) of both father and dog.  At least I'm used to them now.  The first night he lived here and got up to use the bathroom at around 2:00 am, I thought somebody was trying to break in the house and "git" me and I near about wet myself before I realized that if my intended captor was making that much noise, it wouldn't take much effort to escape. 
Throughout the evening, I've been trying to think of a way to bring this whole thought home and maybe make some sense of the situation, but I've come to realize, it'snot really that simple.  There's not always a Family Ties-esque synopsis that both educates and entertains.  Truth is, he's old and loud and set in his ways.  I can be downright persnickety and am more set in my ways than I ever imagined or admitted.  But we're family and you make do with the cards you're dealt.  At least that's what Kenny Rogers taught us and although some days I may feel ready to run, I'm not ready to fold 'em just yet.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Me, you and the Boob Tube

For those who asked, the soup was pretty good.  I tried a little the day he cooked it and it’s a good thing I did as he finished off the entire pot by the next evening.  I’ve never seen so much food eaten so quickly since the last time I watched ‘Man vs. Food’.  And he wasn’t even trying for a shirt or to get his picture on a wall. 
He has been trying to get me to buy a painting of a cowboy for my living room.  When I questioned which particular painting, he said “Oh, just any of ‘em.  Everybody needs a cowboy picture”.  Untrue.  I do not need a cowboy picture, not even if it was an original Andy Warhol of Elvis as a gunslinger.  The decorating scheme of my living room is a modified art deco meets thrift store chic.  It’s quirky.  Cowboy anything is not quirky.  Cowboys wouldn’t call me quirky, even at church.  That’s just not how they talk.  What some of the called me behind my back and even to my face occasionally, is better left to history.  I can’t really blame them; after all I did dye my top-siders aqua blue and use Madonna in my successful campaign for Sophomore Class Reporter.  Apparently “Desperately Seeking Dusty” resonated with somebody besides me.  And this was at a consolidated high school with around 250 students in Northeast Texas.  I must have been insane.  Most of the people that knew me must have thought I was some sort of social experiment.  I wonder if they wondered if they were all on Candid Camera.  My sister used to tell everyone I was adopted.   I used to joke that the only thing my Daddy and I had in common was the belief that I was adopted.  And that’s become more apparent as we enter our third week as roommates.
I knew there would be a learning curve living with someone in their 70s.  And while he and I have never really been on the same page, I thought I had a reasonable idea of who he was based on the fact that I have visited with him several times a year since my mother died in 2000.  Truth be told, we’ve never been in the same section of the library, y’all.  But I tried to combine the new him of the visits with my memories of who he was when I was growing up and the reports from my brother and sister-in-law with whom he shared a home for the immediately preceding two years.  None of this prepared me for the reality show that is my father. 
He is an enigma, wrapped in bacon, swathed in big ’n’ tall men’s denim.  The overbearing, judgmental and downright scary father of my childhood has somehow morphed into an aged, slightly depressed version of Dan Conner from ‘Roseanne’; all bathroom humor and false bravado.
His complaints are both understandable and irritating.  He wants to be in Alabama without being in Alabama.  I just want him to assimilate as quickly as I do.  He wants me to be a housewife from the 50s armed with a war chest of carb-heavy comfort food recipes and slotted spoons.  I just want him to change 70 years of eating habits overnight.  I want a roommate; he wants a Southern June Cleaver.  Other than a tendency to be over-dressed while cleaning, June Cleaver I shall never be.  Although if you read my book (A Gone Pecan – available at your favorite on-line retailer) you might think I certainly sound like a middle-aged woman.  Quacking like a duck doesn’t make me a duck, dear friends; it simply makes me duck-esque.  Duck-onic if you will.     
You must forgive this digression.  I am trying to collect my thoughts while the entire nation of Guatemala is celebrating something in the parking lot of the El Rancho Supermercado y Tacqueria across the street from my neighborhood.  Supermercado is Spanish for Supermarket.  As far as I can tell, Tacqueria is Spanish for “add cheese”.  And you know I’m on board for that.  If you put a boot in a casserole dish, topped it with cheese and set it out at a Fifth Sunday Dinner on the Grounds, I’d do my darnedest to eat it. 
TV seems to be the one area where we’re willing to compromise.  I have been subjected to boxing, football and re-runs of America’s Funniest Home Videos.  He’s been subjected to Project Runway, Dr. Who and Drop Dead Diva.  We both like Big Bang Theory, NCIS and Bait Car.  The Judds may think love can build a bridge, but so can TV, y’all.  And any chasm can be bridged with a shared enemy, ya’ll.  I have never agreed with him more than just now when he said, “Them people need to turn that mess down.” 
Amen, Daddy.  I mean, we’re trying to watch funny home videos over here.