In the early 1990s I placed third in an essay contest sponsored by Sassy magazine. I don’t recall the exact essay topic, but I do remember that I advocated changes in the U.S. public education system that paralleled the system in Scandinavian countries, where the population’s literacy rate is at 100%.* I won a camcorder.**
I never told anyone about this particular achievement. One week before I found out I placed in the contest, a cute boy-type friend saw me perusing a copy of Sassy and made fun of me. Because I admired him so much, I felt silly and immature in my choice of reading material.
Fast forward a decade or so. Said cute boy-type friend was a key researcher on the infamous Dan Rather story about Bush’s service record in the Texas national Guard on CBS’s 60 Minutes Wednesday.*** And to quote Matty, “Where is Dan Rather now? Mopping up at the peep shows, that’s where.”****
I’m not embarrassed anymore. Hey, world! I placed in a national essay contest! Slap my hand now!
*That was, like, three years before I even considered becoming an English teacher in the public school system. At that point, I was totally going to be an investigative reporter. Which makes *** all the more ironic. But still true!
**Six months later, the camcorder was gone — along with my stereo, two pieces of computer equipment I’d borrowed from the local high school, a Jim Croce two-disc CD set (still pissed off about that, even though I replaced it), a Meatloaf two-disc CD set (still embarrassed about that), and a riding lawn mower. Turns out my roommate’s son fenced the items for drug money a couple of months before he held us hostage at knife point on Valentine’s Day. But that’s a whole other post.
***There’s so much more to that story than the general public will ever know — or, at least, recognize. That was just a cheap shot at my boy-type friend made at his expense to get in a Matty joke, because Matty is hilarious and I think everyone should frequent his website. It’s filled with comedy gold.
****Matty likely has no idea who I am and will kick my online ass when he finds out about this. What he doesn’t know is that I’m Rumpelstiltskin, and I will soon take his first born son — whichever twin that is.
If you’re ever in Arkansas, you’re going to have to know how to speak the language. As a start, I want to provide you with pronunciations for Arkansas towns that are probably different than what you expect.*
Augusta: uh GUS tuh
Blytheville: BLY vil
El Dorado: el duh RAY doh
Elaine: EE layn
Gamaliel: guh MAYL yuh
Helena: HEL uh nuh
McGehee: MUH gee
Palestine: pal uh STEEN
Pearcy: PEER see
Searcy: SUHR see
*I was 28 years old before I knew that Worcester (Massachusetts) was pronounced “Wooster.” Doh!
Last time I went to visit my aunt, I organized her wine rack for her. Today she called me because she was having a problem. Apparently her daughter drank several bottles (!) of wine this weekend (Don’t worry, girls. I’m not going to say which daughter.), so my aunt had to restock the wine rack. She said, “I don’t understand how you organized them. I don’t get your system.” “It’s the alphabet,” I said. “You divide them into white and red, and then you alphabetize.”
I always thought I most identified with Anya. Apparently I’m Giles. Somehow, “rakish uncle” isn’t so appealing as “feisty waif with a firey temper and a vulnerable heart.”
That’s reaver, by the way; not reaver.
- In college I was so poor that I used to tuck rolls of toilet paper from the campus restrooms into my bag to use at home.
- I pocket toothbrushes at work and take them home.
- I was once part of a group that stole a picture the following items: 1 Dictionary of Cultural Literacy; 1 giant world map; 1 caution flag; 1 crab leg cracker from Red Lobster; 1 poster of a statue of Michael Jackson and Bubbles; 1 Hustler order form filled out in the name of the school secretary and billed to the school; and 1 plastic network from Arkansas Educational Television Network.
My daddy dons pantyhose when he hunts. He insists they’re good insulators. Why he can’t wear thermal underwear like other dads is beyond me.
No one has ever said to me, “Your mother wears army boots!”
However, I fully expect someone to yell, “Your daddy wears pantyhose!” any day now.
Happy belated Father’s Day, Daddy.
(Eleven years ago, anyway.) Apparently, there really was a kid who became an MD as a teenager. Truth is stranger than fiction.
Wait. I take that back. Nothing is stranger than Doogie Houser.
Today it occurred to me that there is an entire group of people who are important to me whom I’ve never actually met. I could say to these people, “So, where do you stand on lesbians and sheep suits?” or “You can have only one food for the rest of your life, and there are only two choices. So what’s it going to be: pie or sammich?” or “You are kidding me. That’s completely womlu!” And these people would know exactly what I was talking about.
When I was in college, I had a friend who, for some inexplicable reason, had an extra wise man in his plastic outdoor nativity set.
It just so happened that that year Christmas fell on a Sunday. So we put the extra wise man at the entrance to the Kingdom Hall on Saturday night, so all the non-Christmas-celebrating Jehovah’s Witnesses would see the wise man as they entered services on Sunday morning.
The JWs were not near so amused as we were and took the wise man to the police station. Luckily, my roommate was a police dispatcher, so she gave me the wise man back.
After that, we drilled a hole in the wise man’s mouth. We’d put a lit cigarette in his mouth and stand him on the edge of the stage when my friend’s band played.
Everybody should have an extra wise man.
There are a lot of difficult things one faces when moving to a new town: new home, new community, no friends, no ties. But you can decorate a home and make it your own, and you can get out and meet people. What you can’t do is take your beloved local newscasters with you.
When I moved from central to north Arkansas in 2005, I didn’t manage to adjust to the news teams on the local affiliates in the six months I was there. But then I returned to central Arkansas, and all was right in my world for eight months. Now I’m three months in to my latest re-location to south Arkansas, and I am certain I will never feel at home again.
First, let me explain that I get only four local affiliates with antenna: ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC. This is okay with me, because pretty much everything I watch is on CBS. (Translation: I am not too terribly discriminating in my TV viewing diet and can survive, if necessary, on three flavors of CSI, several bland detective shows, and Charlie Sheen fare laden with your more common additives and preservatives.
What I cannot stomach is the local newscasters.
I miss my KTHV friends from central Arkansas. Every morning when I watch the news on KSLA, I lament the loss of BJ — who was doing the news long before I was even a zygote — and Robyn, who is just the sweetest thing. (I don’t much care about Tom, because he comes across as an asshole.) In the evenings I yearn for Anne, who has had the same hair cut for 20 years, and Andy, who started out on KATV when I was in elementary school. I long to see Craig and his big lips, reliving the days when he was the DJ on B98.5 and DJed my last prom. I ache for Ed, who really is the the most trusted newscaster out there, as he’s gotten me through more than one tornado.
I miss you, KTHV!