FOR THE LAST SIX MONTHS (AT LEAST) WE’VE HAD A MAJOR CHANGE take place in our television viewing habits. I think that this change has come about because of two things; Online services such as Netflix and Hulu among a number of others have begun to air some new and very creative programming. Just about everyone else has been wallowing in a Political Stew that has been tasteless, without any real meat, and triggering my gag reflex.
So, we were faced with a choice: Enjoy some new and excellent programs or endure sphincter clenching broadcast venom.
Not a difficult decision – let someone else watch all the stuff with zombies.
Inside the crowded cabin, the roar of the jet engines was only a constant vibration to him. No sound was getting through. He always flew stone deaf. It would take two days for his full hearing to return.
“I know, Dominic,” said Peeto. “Happens every time you fly.”
“Happens every time I fly.” Dominic pinched his nose and blew, trying to open his blocked ears.
“I tell you, Peeto, I hate to fly. I really hate it.” The blowing did no good.
“Yeah, it always messes up your hearing,” nodded Peeto.
“It always messes up my hearing, y’know?” He stuffed five sticks of gum into his mouth.
It was a little more than an hour into the flight from Newark to LAX and the flight attendants had already started dealing out the prepackaged, precooked, and pre-ruined meals to the passengers. It was a ritual known to the attendants as “slopping the hogs.” Somehow, that part never got into their ads.
Last week I was in my usual spot at St. Arbucks having my morning coffee and being sociable with The Usual Suspects, whatever their names are. I had just picked up my free refill and returned to my chair. It was then that everything began to come apart at the seams.
Throwback Thursday from January 2016
I know a person with a graduate degree in finance from an Ivy League school. He can squeeze so much value out of a dime that it makes FDR get up and walk.
Now, I like saving money as much as the next guy – maybe a bit more even. I grew up poor with cardboard in my shoes to cover the holes. Even today, at an overripe old age, I still wince whenever I spend money. But, the fellow of whom I speak has elevated money-saving to an Art.
(Advice: Never stand next to a Mime. You might end up as collateral damage or, even worse, you might get stuck inside that invisible box that all Mimes seem to have.)
I take that back – I see ice in my coffee, but there is no ice on the roads or on my windshield. I’m not complaining mind you. In fact, I am doing my Happy Dance – big time.
For the last week the Weather Bunny on Channel Two has been predicting that Terre Haute (That’s French for “What’s that floating in the Wabash?”) was going to be hit with several days worth of ice storms, Sleet, Freezing Rain and NCAA Athletes. I don’t mind the athletes, but the ice, sleet and freezing rain I can do without.
FOR REASONS KNOWN BUT TO GOD AND THAT BURGER AND FRIES I HAD FOR DINNER, I didn’t sleep all that well last night. I did wake up several times to go and contribute to the water table. Getting back to sleep I found a difficult problem.
I finally gave up at about 5:30 AM. I’ll make up for my tossing and turning today in front of the TV. All I need to do is drop my bones into the Rip van Winkle Memorial Chair, turn on TCM and BOOM! I’ll be sound asleep within seconds. Like a Polar Bear in winter.
Fiction Saturday – Chapter 24
“Davis, wake up. I want you to take over. I’m exhausted and I think we’ll be safer with night coming on. We’ll switch again when we stop for gas.”
“You look drained. Laura, we are going to make it, right?”
“We’ll make it, Davis. Things will be fine. Once we get to the border, we’ll be fine.”
“Yeah, beautiful, carefree, Mexico.”
They were both whistling past the graveyard and they knew it.
They had changed their path south to California Route One, the coast road. Just north of Ventura, on the outskirts of LA, Laura pulled the car into a Shell station.
The orange floodlights washed over the concrete and the islands with the self-serve gas pumps. Inside the station a young man with stringy hair and acne sat behind the counter reading a motorcycle magazine.
“I’ll fill it up,” said Davis.
Laura opened her door and got out. She stretched her arms and yawned. She looked around the brightly-lit station.
“I’m going to the bathroom. I’ll be right back.”
She walked into the mini-mart and reemerged seconds later holding a large brass key attached to a miniature baseball bat. She disappeared into the darkness around the side of the building.
Davis used his debit card to fill the tank of his three-year-old, white, four-door Ford Taurus. He made a mental note that it was due for a scheduled maintenance checkup. He topped off the tank and put the nozzle back into the pump. It was then that he realized he was finally hungry.
He really hadn’t eaten anything since he had picked at his lunch back at the Target store in Santa Maria. Now he wished that he had, at least, eaten his churro. Laura had inhaled her food as if lunch was going out of style.
“Maybe she’s more used to this than me,” he thought to himself.
After replacing the gas cap and pocketing his receipt, Davis walked up to the cashier’s counter inside the station.
“Hey, good evening, Mister. Can I help you?” The young clerk put his magazine down on the counter.
“We got a pretty good selection of munchies and the cold sodas and stuff are over there in the cooler. We don’t sell beer or anything hard any more.”
“Thanks. Soft drinks will do.”
Davis walked over to the rack. He studied the collection of foil and paper-wrapped sweet and salty junk foods. He picked up a small bag of chips and headed over toward the beverages.
“Hey, Mister,” the kid called out to him.
“Yes, what?” Davis turned away from his search.
“I think you got some company outside,” said the young man, his head tilted toward the door and the gas pumps beyond.
Throwback Thursday from January 2015
I SAW THE FOLLOWING news item yesterday and I thought that it might have repercussions beyond just traffic problems.
“ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. — Authorities closed all southbound lanes of Interstate 95 north of Rocky Mount early Wednesday after a tractor-trailer carrying ramen noodles wrecked near N.C. Highway 4.
No other information about the wreck has been released, but boxes of noodles were spilled over a larger portion of the highway.
The state Department of Transportation said the closure could last all morning. Lanes are expected to reopen by 3:30 p.m.”
I thought that when the word of this crash got out all hell would break loose.
My brain created its own little movie of college students all over the South dropping their textbooks and i-phones and rushing to the accident scene.
The first reel, even under the opening credits, would show speeding traffic along Interstate 95, and then the Semi in question loosing traction and slamming into a bridge abutment. Next comes a slo-mo following shot of thousands of those little cellophane packets of the Ramen Noodles spreading out across all lanes like little flavored migratory butterflies.
Music comes up: Paul McCartney and Wings – reunited to sing: “Food on the run.” I can almost smell an Oscar nomination coming for the soundtrack.
The next shot cuts to hordes of skinny underclassmen and women sensing the possibility of free meals, scattering across the landscape, heading toward the Interstate. It is meals just ripe for the picking. An overturned truckload of gold bullion (not bouillon cubes) would not draw such a response.
Those Ramen Noodles don’t grow on trees, y’know. One must strike while the saucepan is hot.
In my collegiate days (Pre-Ramen) we were limited to making grilled cheese sandwiches with a steam iron or instant soups that tasted like flavored sea water. If an accident like this had happened back in the late 1960s I would have been moving with all imprudent speed to scoop up as many free and easy meals as I could stuff into my backpack.
Most days I can look at news stories and just yawn. Things don’t vary all that much from Six O’clock News to Six O’clock News. If you want to get my attention you’ve got to do something original, or at least really dumb. Spreading several tons of Ramen Noodles across an Interstate highway gets my attention. It also makes me hungry.
Talk amongst yourselves for a while. I’m going out to get some lunch.
THIS HAS BEEN ONE OF THOSE DAYS ALREADY. Up early to try to get in some writing, then coffee time at St. Arbucks, a trip to the pharmacy, and then to the bank, and to the everpresent Kroger.
What will be on the agenda for after 10 AM remains to be seen, but I’m not terribly hopeful?
When I arrived at St. Arbucks at about 7:30 AM several of the Usual Suspects were already there, sick fools that they are. Didn’t they know it was freezing out there?
Even in the middle of an Arctic Blast Cold Front I order iced coffee. I just can’t take my meds with hot coffee. Its Science meets Coffee.
This particular morning it was Coffee meets Exotic Cars.
Fiction Saturday – Continued
“See, I told you I’d come in handy.” Davis looked out of the passenger side window at the passing California landscape. “I wish you’d let me drive for a while, though.”
“Later tonight maybe. I’m a better driver than you are and it helps me to relax.” Relax was something that Laura had not been able to do for a second, ever since she saw her own face staring out from page four of the San Francisco Chronicle. “Besides, I think better while driving. Maybe I can figure a way out of this mess for us.”
“Well, I’m a very good driver—no accidents ever, and you could use a break.” Davis knew there was no changing her mind once it was made up, even though Laura looked like she hadn’t slept in days and her jaw was clenched tight.
Appreciating his effort to care for her, Laura smiled and gazed at him as he huddled up against the car door. He looked lost, she thought.
“Well, dearest,” she said, “at sixteen I was picking up extra pocket money as a wheel man. Just for kicks really. My father never knew. It was stupid and dangerous, but I was good at it.”
“Don’t tell me any more right now.” He was a stranger in a strange land if ever there was one. “I haven’t digested everything you’ve laid on me so far.”
“Okay, I understand.”
“I do have one question though,” he said. “Why did we stop at a travel agent before we left? A ticket for one from Miami to Detroit?”
“A little deception. Detroit is a border town, a ten-minute walk out of the country across the river. I bought it in my own name, of course. It won’t fool anybody for long, especially Dominic. But the Feds will have to check it out. It’ll tie up a couple of their guys for a few hours and give us a little extra edge. It’ll help our odds, maybe.” She shook her head and shrugged her shoulders. “Maybe not. I don’t know.”
“What are our odds?” He was immediately sorry that he had asked.
“We’re two snowballs and we’re driving south.”
It happened again last night, and even though it wasn’t in the best of taste, it was funny.
After dinner, my wife, the lovely and ever tolerant, Dawn, said that we needed to go grocery shopping. I’m all in favor of that because, without it, I’d wither away to a mere shadow of myself. My doctors have suggested that my shadow could use a little whittling down.
After all of the usual thumping, poking, and listening he seemed to be relatively pleased, almost surprised it seemed to me, that I was still alive and kicking. I admit that I don’t kick as well as I used to, but I have the “alive” part down cold.
IF I SAY THE WORD “FLARP” TO YOU WHAT COMES TO MIND? If you are over the age of 12 probably nothing – I hope. Unfortunately, it does carry a very specific meaning to me and I can blame several children and one adult for that.
“Flarp” is a product that is gloriously described as “Noise Putty.”