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Friday, July 10, 2015

"Shut Up and Dance!"


By Jody Worsham
All rights reserved for Arthur Murray lessons

 

Being senior parents of a fourteen-year-old and a ten-year old, the timing is off for some types of activities, skydiving, playing catch for more than five minutes, snow skiing, or staying up past eight o’clock.  Our social gatherings seldom included children unless grandchildren happen to be visiting our friends at the time.  So when we were invited to a wedding, we took advantage of it, especially when we were promised other children would be there.  It occurred to me that our children had never been to a wedding of any kind.  Time to expand their world.

This was to be a Catholic wedding.  I had never attended a Catholic wedding myself,  but I had friends who had so I knew it was going to be much longer than the usual twenty minute Protestant “I Love You Truly”, repeat after me, “I now pronounce you man and wife”  ceremony.  I tried to prepare everyone.

The ten-year-old was cool with the length until I told him he could not take his I-pod, DS Nintendo, or I-phone.  I promised him there would be lots of standing and kneeling so he wouldn’t be just sitting the whole time.  The kneeling part made Dr. Hubby wince.  After explaining that Miss Me jeans would not be appropriate for a formal wedding even if they were covered with bling, I promised to take the fourteen-year-old shopping for a dress.  Unfortunately I used the word “appropriate” before the word “dress” which immediately triggered an episode of eye rolling.

The day of the wedding arrived and we made it through the ceremony with a minimum of wiggling, wincing, and watch checking (on the part of Dr. Hubby); then it was off to the reception and party time.  The food was delicious and the band was great.  With the children’s plates loaded with groom’s cake, wedding cake, chocolate covered strawberries, chicken, cheese squares, and an ample supply of punch, we were free to dance.  The DJ had asked for all couples to come to the dance floor.  The slow music began and after a minute the DJ. said:

“Now it is time for all unmarried couples to leave the floor.”  That cleared out all the bridesmaids and groomsmen.

“If you have been married less than three hours, please leave the floor.”  That got the bride and groom off the dance floor.

“If you have been married less than ten years, you may leave the floor.”  That took out four or five couples.   The music continued.  Dr. Hubby stepped on my toe.

“Couples married less than twenty-five years, may sit down.”  How long is this song? I wondered.

“Married less than thirty years, time to sit down.”  That sent the bride’s parents to their table.  That trumpet player sounded a little winded.

“If you have been married forty years or less, I know you will be glad to leave the floor. There are only four couples left.  The drummer dropped his sticks.   Dr. Hubby stepped on my other toe.

“If you have made it to forty-five years or less of marriage, you may sit down.”  That took out everybody but that elderly couple and us.  I think I am getting a leg cramp.

“If you have been married fifty years or less, God bless you and sit down.”  The elderly couple sat down leaving us alone on the floor,

 From the time I was sixteen, I had dreamed of this moment…  American Bandstand and the Spotlight Dance! 

Dr. Hubby held me close and whispered “I’ve got to sit down.”

I whispered back “Shut up and Dance!”

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Falling Apart is Normal or Old Blind Mice Declared Normal

By Jody Worsham

All rights reserved for Bionic Restoration

Recently I went in for my annual eye exam.  I didn’t want to but there was this tiny black Roshak ink blot that kept floating across my eyeball.  And the numbers on the wall calendar were suddenly all double digits plus I was having trouble seeing the guide on our 55 inch TV screen.  Then there were the text messages that I had to have the ten-year-old read to me if I couldn’t find my Dollar Tree glasses.  Maybe the eye exam was needed.

I arrived for my appointment.  I was greeted and asked to verify my birthdate.  I noticed this time the receptionist omitted saying the year aloud.  I guess when she saw the year and looked at me, there was no doubt.

Then it was off to exam room number 1 or it might have been exam room number 11.  I didn’t have my readers on. 

“Stare at this light, don’t move your eyes.”  I did. 

 “Which line on the eye chart can you read?” Well, first I had to locate the wall containing the eyechart.  I assumed it was the wall opposite me with the white rectangle must be the eye chart to which she was referring, but how was I supposed to read any letters with these black/blue sun spots from her flashlight swimming around in my eyes?  I just smiled and picked a line with an equal number of dots and with the least number of sun spots on it.

Using my great powers of deduction, I guessed that if the letter looked like a donut it was an O, D, P, Q, or G.  That gave me a 5 in 26 chance of getting it right.  Of course the odds changed significantly if the dot looked like some Pick-up Sticks thrown on the wall.  That could be an A, B, C, E, F, H, I, K, M, N, R, T, V, W, X, Y, or Z.

Then it was “Does it look better number three or number four?”  She skipped right over one and two.  Ok, nobody defined “better”.  Yes three was darker than then four and stood out more, but four had more space between the dot/blobs.  I guessed three.  That must have been the wrong number because she then progressed to “Better seven or eight?”  What happened to five and six?  Five and six might have been the right number.  “Better eight or nine?”  “Better ten or fourteen?” “Better 16 or 39?”  I glanced over to make sure she was still checking my eyes and not picking her lottery numbers. 

“Tell me when you can’t read the letters.”

“Now.”

After clicking the little dials for five minutes and not finding the psysic radio station and after selecting all the numbers she needed for the Power Ball, she said “Alright, any questions?”

Uh, yes.  “What about seeing double letters?” 

“That is normal.”

“I have trouble seeing the guide on our 200 inch TV screen.”

“That’s normal.”

“I can read the highway signs but not the speedometer.”

“That’s normal. You do have the beginnings of cataracts but that is normal for your age.”    

Ok, Dr. Hubby thinks I’m blind as those mice.  I see blue circles and double digits, have floating sun spots,  can’t see the TV guide, text messages look like donuts and Pick-up Sticks, and I have the beginnings of cataracts but I am normal.   

Next week it is the dermatologist, the dentist, and the orthopedic specialist.  Dang!   What if they say I am normal? 
Normal ain’t what it used to be!

 
 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Does Your Bladder Hang Low?


Ok, I remember that point in the mother -daughter relationship when I did not want to go home anymore not because I didn't love my family but because of the hot topics of conversation.  The first thing Mother greeted me with was "Well Ethelene died last week. She was only 98.  She looked real good in the casket only I don't know why her family chose
green satin for the casket lining. With that red dress made her look like a tomato". She continued to rattle on about all the recently dead relatives that I never knew even when they were alive. This was usually followed by an audio recanting of the entire obituary column from the local paper since my last visit.

With all the recent dead buried she would then begin to review her every bodily function and malfunction since my last visit. This has continued to the present. At 95, she calls my sister every day to give her the latest report on the whereabouts of the hot dog and lemondade she had for lunch.  She would call me except I have caller ID.

And now my friends have joined in on the "What's My Body Doing Now" program. My neighbor reported that she fell backwards off the porch. Ok, that's bad so I said "Hope you are ok." Wrong thing to say.

"Well, I didn't break anything but I did feel something fall out." The mental image of all that could possibly  "fall out" was searing my brain. Before I could formulate "Glad you are ok now" she went into total My Mother auto load and rewind.

"I went to the doctor. He said 'You knocked your bladder out. You want to see?' And he whipped out a mirror and sure enough there was this little red ball thing hanging out my..."

"Was that the tornado siren?" I hopefully asked.

"I don't think so. Anyway, he told me he could reattach it next week at no charge if I agreed

to let them film the procedure for some television documentary.."

My brain was short circuiting like a TV with an antennae in a hurricane. I think I blacked out. I hope I did.

"Anyway, I said no, because I didn't want to take a chance on becoming one of those  reality TV stars what with my spastic colon and all so I decided to take therapy  instead to, you know, strengthen those muscles attached to..."

I began bargaining with God, promising to work with the Lepers or at least send them a check if He would just make it stop.


Mercifully He answered. Everyone's I-phone weather tornado alert sounded and we headed for shelter.

As I was sitting in the basement a variation of an old childhood song was playing in my head and I began to sing softly.

"Does your bladder hang low? Does it wobble to and fro? Can you tie it in a knot? Can you tie it in a bow? Can you throw it o're you  thigh but still look me in the eye? Does you bladder hang low?"


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Saturday, May 16, 2015

Neutrons, Protons...and Morons!

By Jody Worsham

All rights reserved for Boomerang Science Project

As a teacher I was accustomed to students asking “When will I ever use this?”  I even asked the same question as a fifth grader.  “Miss West, why do I have to learn the parts of an atom?  I am never going to need this.”   “You’ll thank me one day young lady, now finish the project.”  And I silently thought “Not in a million years.”

I reluctantly went back to punching holes in ping pong balls, then gluing them onto wire and securing the wire onto the bulletin board.   My protons and neutrons were colored cotton balls glued to the center creating the nucleus.  It was an impressive three dimensional representation of an atom on a three by twelve foot bulletin board complete with labels and assorted blurbs of atomic trivia.   When the project was finished and I received my A, I filed away the experience in a remote part of my brain reserved for totally useless information and experiences.

Fast forward through 39 years of teaching, bringing up six children through high school and college, and never once having to access that part of my brain. ..until this past weekend.  The thirteen-year-old came home and announced “I have to do a project over the atom.”

They say a traumatic experience will cause your life to flash before your eyes in an instant.  In this case, and at my age, it took about ten minutes to rewind to Miss West’s fifth grade science class.  “Ok,” I said shakily, “when is it due?”  “I don’t know.”  “Well, where are the instructions?”  Blank stare.  “The sheet that has the requirements?”  Continued blank stare.

Now any of you who have reared children to adulthood know of what I speak.  Somewhere in the midst of junior high and hormone high, the future Presidents of the United States turn into  brainless-I-can’t-remember-any-thing-except-the hottest-300-rock-stars-and-the-lyrics-to-every-song-they-ever-wrote person thing.   

I located the instructions in the third trash can I went through.  Hey, I couldn’t have the “Presidential Memoirs”  revealing how I allowed the potential President of the United States to fail 8th grade science due to a hormonal imbalance of the brain could I?

Like an amnesia victim, there were bits and pieces flashing through forgotten recesses of my brain.  Proton?  Neutron?  Moron?  What kind of moron wants you to build a 3ft by 12 foot atom?  No wait, wrong century, right brain cavity.  Thanks to Google and copious cups of coffee, the project began to take shape in my brain.  No bulletin board this time.  A simple Aluminum atom, atomic number 13 on the Periodic Table of Elements made out of Rice Kirspies and jelly beans!  Perfect.  I gathered the supplies while the teenager, BeatsSolo2 clamped and booming in her ears, googled the information for her report. 

“Let’s use food coloring to differentiate the valance.  Black jelly beans can be the electrons and you choose 13 proton jelly beans and 14 different colored jelly beans for the neutrons in the center.”

“Pretty cool.  An edible science project.”

The Rice Krispy aluminum atom model made it to school unscathed and uneaten and on time.  When the thirteen-year-old returned I asked how it went.

“Good.  I made a 95. Everybody liked my project.  They were starving.  How do you know so much about atoms, Mom? ”

“You’d be surprised!” 

Ok, and it didn't take a million years, only 61...and thank you, Miss West.   

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Where are My Peeps?


By Jody Worsham

All rights reserved for F.B.I. (Friends By Internet)

You are probably thinking “Well, Jody, Easter is over and the blue rabbits, yellow chicks, and assorted colored globs of mystery flavored goo have returned to the freezer, the one reserved for sugar coated foam bits.”   But I am not talking about those kinds of Peeps.

 I’m talking about my peeps, the ones I met through the internet, my Net Wits, my Humor Writers, my Southern Humorists, my blog commenters, the ones who were there for me when I had those 2 a.m. feedings, the ones who were always up and ready to e-mail regardless of the time zone, the ones who guided me through potty training, I-phones, computer software crashes, magazine rejections, and the birth of my only book.

 I miss the exchange of what contests are where and link to enter.  I miss the critiques you would give on my writing attempts.  I miss the sharp repartee that would send my brain into that humor writing zone.  I miss the hyperventilating laughter you cause when I click on my e-mail each morning.   I miss knowing what everyone is working on, trying to work on, or never want to work on again.

Has the laundry piled up so deep that your computer overheated?

Are you over scheduled with podcasts, radio spots, and book tours?

Are you trying to lose 20 pounds before your Oprah TV debut?

Did you win the lottery?

Did you find another source of inspiration, stimulation, and feedback?  Tell me, I want to go there, too.

Have you gone back to china plates and now have to actually wash the dishes?

Are you in the throes of potty training kids, puppies, or senior citizens?

Are you snowed in, waterlogged, or in the Bahamas?

Have you contracted fingernail fungus thus unable to type?

Have you fractured your funny bone?

Has everything funny been written?

I PROMISE I will not ask you to buy my book, send me money, or give your e-mail address to the Home Shopping Network.

I miss my funny Peeps.

 

 

 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

"McFarland, USA" a Review and a Wish


By Jody Worsham

All rights reserved for writing lessons and lessons learned

If you have not yet seen the Disney movie “McFarland” do not read any further.  If you have, read on.

If an exceptional movie is based on telling a story that loops through your brain night and day, makes you laugh and cry  at the same time, and finds you thinking, thinking, and still thinking weeks after seeing the movie, then “McFarland” is that kind of movie.

This movie spoke to me on so many levels.

As a Caucasian , I identified with Coach White on his first day in town when he and his family were leaving the restaurant and a group of cars with Latino males drove up.  As a teenager I remember walking around the block to keep from having to walk in front of a store where several teenage Latino boys were leaning against the storefront windows.  They spoke a language I did not understand and that frightened me.

The Diaz boys were on the bleachers just before school was out when their Mama pulled up in a truck to pick them up before class was over.  Coach White told the boys to stay.  “That’s our Mama” the boys said as they left.  “Tell your Mama she can wait.”  The boys laughed and said “You tell her that” and they jumped in the truck.  Family over school.

That first team worked in the fields starting at 4:30 a.m. as pickers before school and after school.  When it was time for school Mama Diaz called out “Run to school.  Show respect to your teachers.”  Respect, always.

When the cross country team had their first match, a white team member from another school commented “I’ve never seen a Mexican run unless a cop was behind him or a Taco Bell was in front.”  McFarland’s team did not respond with anger or hatred; no response was necessary or would have changed anything.  Running the race was the challenge. When McFarland won their first match, the team immediately knelt in prayer and thanksgiving.  God first.

Mr. White was known as White or Blanco to his team until the morning he showed up at 4:30 a.m. to work in the fields alongside his team.  The boys told him to bend his knees to save his back.  They shared their lunch with him.  When he couldn’t work any longer, they had him lay down and worked on his back to relieve the pain. He was soon Coach.   No judgment.  No ridicule.    Only encouragement and acceptance. 

Coach White got the team shoes for their next race.  Mama Diaz and the other ladies were organizing a tamale sale to raise money for the team.  “Why you buy the boys cheap shoes?  You don’t think they deserve good shoes?”  Being poor is an economic state, not a measurement of value.  That kept me thinking for a couple of days.

There were so many other incidents in this movie that had my brain thinking all night. 

As a writer, I appreciate the script for this movie.  It presented so many lessons that sneak up on you in retrospect. It struck common chords in us as human beings.  Mama Diaz pulling her son off the top bunk by his shirt for breakfast had me laughing.  Coach White receiving the phone call that strikes ice in the veins of any parent whose child is out with other kids at night.  No words, silence then “We’ll be right there.”  In the car only murmurings “Please God, no. Please God, no.”  Deafening chords of silence resonating within all parents.   All this without a curse word.

The cinematography and screen writing was so subtle yet powerful.  In one scene the track team runs down along the fence line of the nearby prison before turning a corner.  The white car pulling out and blocking the quincenera parade and then cutting away to the phone call to Coach White.  And the next picture of the ambulance, the police lights, the firemen.  Without showing me any of the graphic details, I shuddered.  The next picture is the store owner hosing down the parking lot in front of his store.  Such a picture!

“McFarland” was never just about a cross country track team.  It was never about just getting out of poverty.  It is about character and discovering who you really are.  It is a journey that simply continued for the Dias boys but along another path provided by Coach White.   For Thomas, it was a chance to make a difference in lives similar yet different from his own.  Victor made his choices and used that experience in his life.   For Coach White it was seeing through different eyes, the same things we all value, the importance below the surface. 

With the exception of Thomas, that first track team still lives in McFarland along with Coach White.  They still run with and encourage McFarland’s cross country team.  It was never about escaping from McFarland; it was always about God, family, respect for themselves and each other and home…..wherever that may be.  

Thursday, April 2, 2015

"No Thanks, I prefer Alpo!"

By Jody Worsham

All rights reserved for Canine Thesaurus

Mark Berryman wrote about a device being developed by the Nordic Society for Invention and Discovery (NCID).  Developer Eric Calderon claims to be able to record your dog’s thoughts and translate them into words. Fluctuations in dog brain electrical signals are picked up by a microcomputer.  So far they have detected patterns for “I‘m hungry, I’m tired, I want to pee.” 

 Now I would be the last to burst somebody’s NCID icicle, but I think they may be suffering from a little brain frostbite.  Dogs have been communicating that information for hundreds of years and without wearing a doggie head set.  If they are chewing on your hand, your shoes, pawing at the refrigerator door, they are hungry.  If they are stretched out in front of the fireplace, draped across the door steps, eyes closed, they are tired or dead. Not too hard to tell which it is.  Suspicious puddles, wet spots on the carpet, or crossed legs with severe whimpering are a dead give-away that there is a doggie bladder in distress.  That is also an indication that you have a toddler or senior citizen in the house.

 Now I am not saying Roy Roger’s dog Bullet or RinTinTin  wouldn’t have something worthwhile to say if they have been on the trail of the bad guys.   And maybe it would be useful to the CIA if super spy lap-dogs could relay sensitive information, but they would need some really smart dogs. 

I have just ordinary yard dogs.  I’m not sure they even have brains. The other day I was sitting on the porch watching them in the yard.  Even without this cutting edge technology, I knew what they were thinking.

 Gypsy:  Does my tail make my butt look big?

Rover:  Just a minute, I’ll check.

Gypsy:  Whoa, your nose is cold.

Rover:  Sorry.

Gypsy:  Does my butt smell like other dog butts?

Rover: I’ll have to compare and get back to you.

Gypsy:  Forget it, I’ll check mine myself.  Nope, don’t smell a thing.

Rover: How about mine?

Gypsy:  You might want to do a little grass wiping.

Rover:  Check.  Doing it now.

 Maybe the Nordic Society for Invention and Discovery should focus their efforts on reading the brain patterns of our politicians; that's assuming, of course, they have brains.   The microcomputer could put their thoughts into categories:   What I am supposed to think, what I really think, what I was told to think and I have no thoughts.

 In the meantime, “Gypsy, Rover, keep your noses out of other doggies' business and I don’t care what you say, no Alpo.  It’s leftovers or go catch a rabbit.”