’19 A To Z Challenge – U

AtoZ2019Letter U

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A USELESS TALE ABOUT ABSOLUTELY NOTHING

O Nostalgia, where is thy sting?

What do I do when a blog-post theme occurs to me while I am having lunch?
Keep munching! A good platter of nachos is like a contract with God Himself. You guys can read my blatherings any time.

Nachos

My Father was a minor performer. Before the advent of radios in automobiles, he used to regale us with ditties and folk-songs on Sunday drives and road trips. I have found most of them on Google, as folk or minstrel songs, but no indication that any of them were ever recorded. He must have received them as oral history.

The other day, as I was dashing through melted cheese and jalapeno rings, I recalled my mother crooning a little ballad to me in the late 1940s. At first, I thought it might have been just something that she had heard Dad sing. My friend, Dr. Google assured me that this had been a real, live song.

I typed in, Down In The Garden Where The Praties Grow.” If you tap, you will see that the title is merely, The Garden Where The Praties Grow. I remember asking my Mother what ‘praties’ were. She explained that this was an Irish term for ‘potatoes.’

I already knew what indignities the skirt-wearing Scots had inflicted on the language. It was no surprise to find that the drunken Irish couldn’t keep their words straight. Mom must have heard it on the primitive radio when she worked in the big city of Detroit. It was recorded in 1930, but the original version must have been written about 1870, with fashion references to Grecian Bend – women’s hunched stature, caused by a huge bustle – and ‘chignon’, a large, then-trendy, braid or bun at the nape of the neck.

I hope that some of you enjoy a bit of entertainment/fashion history. While I claimed that this story is useless, and about nothing, to me it is a fond remembrance of the soft, kind, loving support that my Mother gave to me as a growing child. This post, and the history/musical link, are particularly dedicated to 1Jaded1, who likes when I connect my story to a song.

Flash Fiction #192

Mom

PHOTO PROMPT © Valerie J. Barrett

FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS

The more household chores I take on because of the wife’s medical situation, the more I am impressed and amazed at my dear, departed Mother.

Toilets won’t clean themselves. Unattended laundry will not voluntarily enter a washer. My mother ran a house without modern conveniences. Laundry water boiled in a big copper tub on a wood stove. The washing-machine had to be rolled out from a corner. A rinse tub filled with a pail.

Growing up, I thought I ‘did my share’ around the house. I now know that she let me off easy. A woman’s work is never done.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Friday Fictioneers

WOW #29

Fuck It

I was going to publish this post earlier, but I didn’t remember to.   😳  A previous A To Z was about the word “Forgettery.”  This one’s about the same thing, just with the slightly more upscale name of

OBLIVESCENCE

The act of forgetting Oblivescence dates from the late 19th century and is a later spelling of obliviscence, which dates from the late 18th century. The spelling oblivescence arose by influence of the far more common suffix -escence. The English noun is a derivative of the Latin verb oblīviscī “to forget,” literally “to wipe away, smooth over.” The Latin verb is composed of the prefix ob- “away, against” and the same root as the adjective lēvis “smooth.”

Oblivescence has such a rich, round, regal sound to it. Today’s modern society is so chock-full of need-to-know technical knowledge, that the history, pride and good manners of our more elegant past are being forgotten.  There was a time when you could call another man a liar without calling him a liar, by saying that his claim was ‘mendacity, Sir.

Today’s schoolchildren are not taught to add, subtract, multiply or divide. Rather, they are trained to use a calculator.  There’s one inside every computer and Smart phone. “Siri, how much is 12 times 17?” They are not taught cursive writing, but rather how to use a keyboard, or even a little touchscreen.  Kids have forgotten how to pick up and use pencils, pens and crayons, but will soon evolve powerful thumbs from texting.

We have forgotten how to debate, or even how to have a polite conversation with those who don’t totally agree with us. Society has forgotten good manners and tolerance.  We, as writers, should attempt to help others recall kind acceptance.  Remember what your Mother taught you; “Play nice with others!”   😀

Flash Fiction #122

grind

PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook

GETTING THE RUNAROUND

His mother had told him a thousand times. His Dad had said the same thing a few times, but nothing nags like a Mother.  Stay in school! Get a diploma!  Get a good job!

He was smarter than that.  Right after high school he’d got a paying job, while the rest wasted their time and incurred debts.

Ten years later he was making auto parts, while his sister was a doctor, making triple his salary.

All he had to look forward to was the daily grind, round and round. Get up, work his ass off, come home tired – and poor.

***

This little cautionary tale is all Rochelle’s fault. Go to her Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story for the Friday Fictioneers.

 

The Wages Of Sin

ten-commandments

I recently read a post from a young(ish) woman, titled, “I saved myself for marriage, and now I can’t have sex with my husband.” [Tough luck. Looks good on you. Oops – did I type that out loud?]

She had had a string of boyfriends since high school, but had informed each of them that she intended to remain a virgin until she was married. Perhaps that explains the ‘string of boyfriends.’  She was 26, and her husband was 27.  Maybe one or both were beginning to get a bit desperate.

She had been raised in an ultra-conservative, Fundamentalist-Christian home, and had it pounded into her, and pounded into her….and POUNDED into her, that premarital sex was evil, dirty, sinful! She suffered from vaginismus, a painful spasming of the vaginal walls which made it virtually impossible to engage in intercourse.  I find it ‘interesting’ that they did not find this out until they returned from their honeymoon in The Bahamas.

Possibly it was only the diagnosis and name of the affliction that they found out. While not ‘common,’ this problem is well-known in psychiatric circles.  It occurs in many other hyper-Christian families.  The girls are told over and over and over that sex (and by extension, them, if they perform it) is bad, bad, bad.

Nothing is said about the acceptability – inevitability – necessity – of marital relations. When these women try to have sanctioned sex, they are still overwhelmed by the cognitive dissonance.  No-one ever tells them about the good side.  No-one ever tells them about anything except the evil.

She now goes for daily(?) physiotherapy, and weekly psychotherapy. Wouldn’t it be cheaper to just hire a hooker to come over a couple of times a week?

When I was young, and learning about sex, my Father obtained a couple of comedy albums by a bawdy Jewish woman who worked in Nevada and Catskills clubs. She said, if you liked her act, her name was Rusty Warren.  If you didn’t, it was Lois Lipchitz.

Come early – get a good seat. She would pick a woman down front wearing a vee-neck sweater, and ask her if the V stood for virgin.  “Hmm, must be an old sweater.”  She told a story that she claimed happened to her.

Every day, as she left for school, her mother sang the same cautionary song.  “Don’t take gum!  Don’t take candy!  Don’t talk to strange men!  Don’t ride in strange cars. Keep your legs crossed, your panties up, and come home from school in a group!  And whatever you do, DON’T DO IT!”

Grade 1, Grade 2, Grade 3….especially when she went to high school, the admonition was always the same. “Don’t take gum!  Don’t take candy!  Don’t talk to strange men!  Don’t ride in strange cars!  Keep your legs crossed, your panties up, and come home from school in a group.  And remember….DON’T DO IT! Don’t do it!

She finally got a boyfriend, who became her fiancé. On the day of her wedding, her mother was with her at the Synagogue.  As the happy couple ran down the steps to their car, her Mother yelled, “It’s OK!  You’re married!  Now you can do it!”

She stuck her head out the window of the car, with a confused look on her face and said, “Do what??!  You never told me!”

These ‘Good Christians’ tell the rest of us that the wages of sin is death, but the wages of this self-righteous hypocrisy is….truly Karmic.   😯

Psychotic Relations

Straitjacket

Some families are a little more tightly wrapped than others.  Even the best of families though, have a member or two who aren’t let out in public without a leash, or a minder.  Jimmy Carter had beer-drinking Billy.  George W. makes Jeb Bush seem like Mensa material.  These are the folks that we can look at (and snicker) and think of Jeff Foxworthy’s line.  “Compared to them, why, we’s dang near royalty.”

The recent publication of my Sunny Disposition Flash Fiction reminded me of the couple who inspired it.  In my family, it was my sister – half-sister actually.  My Our Mom moved to Detroit, and got married and gave birth.  Mom’s husband cheated on her, and when his daughter was born, abandoned them both.

I never met the man, so it’s hard to judge the nature/nurture ratio of her psychoses, but the totals were impressive.  They started when Mom took a divorce settlement, moved 200 miles back to small-town Ontario, and bought a house for them to live in.

By age 8 and 9, she was accusing Mom of “hiding her away from her Father,” despite the fact that her ‘loving father ‘ stood outside the house one day while she was at school, after his most recent girlfriend had dumped him, but didn’t have the nerve to knock on the door.  He knew where she was, but didn’t care.

It was strange that, when Mom remarried, she didn’t resent the new husband.  In fact she treated her stepfather better all her life than she did her real mother.  Then Mom gave birth to me, and three years later, my brother.  Soon the oft-repeated line was, “Wasn’t I enough?!  Why’d you have to have them?”

After my brother’s birth, a sickly child, requiring a lot of care and personal time, the new mantra became, “Those damned boys!  Those damned boys!”  Interesting language for a 13-year-old girl, in the 1940s.

Always headstrong, and constantly craving attention, she acquired a 21-year-old boyfriend and told Mom that, if she wasn’t allowed to marry, she’d just get pregnant and elope.  As the least of several evils, she was allowed to say “I do” a month before her 16th birthday.

She pumped out five children and a miscarriage in eight years.  The last, a 13 pound, 8 ounce Butterball baby boy fortunately sterilized her.  Children having children??!  She was far too immature, insecure and needy to raise kids.  She was manic/depressive back before ‘bipolar’ became the politically-correct description, and her co-dependent husband wasn’t much better.

“Up”, and drinking and having fun, and then, sometimes within an hour, one or both of them would crash, and they’d be fighting like two cats in a sack.  Both of them often sported bruises, cuts or scrapes.  She had to put four brands of Lite beer in the beer-fridge.  They were having too many ‘lost’ weekends.  She failed one suicide attempt.  After about 12 years of a WWE marriage, they moved into a house directly across the street from my parents – a blessing, and a curse.

One or another of the children would run across the road and yell,  “Grandma, come quick, Daddy’s killing Mommy!”  (Or Mommy’s killing Daddy – however the wind happened to be blowing that day.)  Mother would trudge across, and separate the combatants.

One night, the seven all sat down to dinner.  One of the adults(?) said, “The sky is blue,” the other said, “Fuck you,” and the screaming and yelling started.  He said something objectionable, and she tossed the contents of a water glass at him.

He threw a plate of meatloaf and potatoes at her.  She threw the gravy boat at him.   He threw the bread basket at her.  She threw….he threw….she threw….  The kids wisely scattered.  The oldest daughter came running across for the referee.  “Grandma, they’re wrecking the house!”

Mom said that, by the time she got there, the tornado had blown itself out.  He was sulking in the living room.  She was leaning against the dining room wall, trying to catch her breath, and surveying the wreckage.

There was ketchup on the 10-foot, white ceiling.  There was mustard on the hardwood floor.  There was bread tangled in the chandelier.  There was butter on the outside wall, and peanut butter on the inside wall.  Pickled beets were in the floor vent, and broken glass and dishes were everywhere.

As often happens with tornadoes, there was an undamaged jar of Cheeze-Whiz, inexplicably still sitting on the table.  My half(wit)-sister dourly looked at it, and surveyed the chaos.  “Well, you might as well join the rest of them,” and threw it against the kitchen door-frame.  “Now, we can clean up!”

And so, a 100 word Flash Fiction was born unto me – the normal one.  Don’t you feel superior now?

#461

Flash Fiction #10

 

VISTA

tree2bcrook

 

It’s tough, being only nine years old.  He finally reached the broken branch, lodged in the crotch.

Quickly climbing, he made it to the topmost branches of the tallest tree in town, situated atop the highest hill.  From here, he could see his entire little town.  He could see the tiny cars, and the miniature people walking.

He could see the lake, and the lighthouse on the dock.  He could see the town hall clock, which said 11:55 AM.  Turning in the other direction, he could see his mother at his front door.  Better get down, it’s time for lunch.

 

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site.  Use her Wednesday picture as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.