Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Land of the Flowered Bed

Hairy the Hedgehog was not quite sure what to think of the enormously fat bee that sat before him. He was used to his plump friend, Cookies the Owl, but he had never quite seen a bee this fat before.

"He's gigantic!" he whispered to Cookies. "He's so fat, he might implode on himself any minute!"

"The poor insect looks as though he is worse for wear," Cookies whispered back. "He looks like he needs a good washing and tumbling about in the drier."

"Excuse me!" Pumble the bee whined in a high voice. "I can hear what you're saying, and it's quite rude! I'm not fat, I'm pleasantly plump! And my fluffy exterior may be a bit worn because I've been cradled in a girl's arms for the past year and a half. Do you have anyone that snuggles to sleep with you? Well, do you?"

Cookies and Hairy looked down, ashamed. "No," they muttered reluctantly.

"Well then!" Pumble's voice shrilled. "I believe you ought to keep your mouth shut then!"

The seals, also frequenters of the Flowered Bed, barked and clapped their paws together, in the way seals do.

"Oh, get a life," Cookies snapped. Cookies always turned cranky when he felt humiliated. He was quite an arrogant owl, and loved to stare down his black pointy beak at the rest of the animals. "Why don't you balance a pink ball on your nose? Geez!"

The seals looked at each other in glee and dove into the pillows to look for a pink ball. They barked and called excitedly to each other as they swam between the covers.

Cookies rolled his eyes and sulked, burying his face in his wing.

"You need a nap!" Pumble the Bee pointed a sticky arm at him, munching on his favorite treat of honey and crackers. "You're a cranky owl! And you're not exactly tiny yourself. "

"And you're a fat bee!" Cookies snapped back. "I don't see me telling you to get some exercise. Though I'm sure it would take a forklift to lift you off the ground. I don't believe your tiny wings could support a ton of weight. A literal ton of weight."

Before Pumble could retort, Hairy, who had been watching Pumble with fascination, asked him, "Should you be eating on the covers? Shouldn't you eat in the kitchen?"

"They'll never know," Pumble dismissed with a wave of his arm. "I eat here all the time. They never find the crumbs, because the seals usually sweep them under the bed for me with their tails. And she never vacuums under the bed."

Hairy remembered the vacuum and shuddered in fear. "I dislike the vacuum," he said quietly, shivering to himself.

"You're scared of puppy dogs and sunshine," Cookies snapped.

"And you only like grey days and self-righteous mice!" Pumble shot back.

"That's true," Cookies said thoughtfully. "For some reason, there are no mice around these parts. How distressing. I once had a wonderful friend, a mouse, did I tell you about him?"

"Oh no, not this story again," Hairy said, burying his fuzzy face in his hands.

"He was such a clever mouse, schooled of Harvard of all places. Then, unfortunately, he ran into the school cat, such a dreadful cat, a cat hated by all, whether insect, fowl or foe--"

"The mouse DIED!" Hairy exploded. "We've all heard this a dozen times, there's no need to depress us all again."

Suddenly, the seals emerged from the pillows barking excitedly and pointing at the door. The animals froze as they heard the garage open.

"They're home!" Pumble shoved the rest of the crackers into his mouth in a hurry, honey dripping down his chin. The seals used their tails to brush the crumbs onto the floor and under the bed. Then, all the animals carefully arranged themselves into their order. As the key turned in the lock, Pumble licked the rest of the honey from his lips and chin and wiped it on his arm. The door opened, and the animals froze.

The woman walked into the room and changed into her lounge clothes, laying her dressy pants on the bed for hanging up. She looked at the animals and smiled. "Hello babies!" she greeted them. "How are you?" She picked up Pumble, who had tilted over a bit and looked at her hand. "Pumble, you're a bit sticky!" she exclaimed. "Ben must have drooled on you last night!"

"Crud," Pumble thought to himself as she carried him off to the kitchen to clean him up. Behind her, the other animals smiled.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Part 2: Visions of Rawhide

Dear Invisible Friends,

I know I beseech you for comments on a daily basis, but I need comments. Let me know what you think! My fragile ego is crumbling in tears at the silence!

Pathetically yours,

The Blonde Duck

Continued from Part 1

Unfortunately, the damage was done. The younger children stared up at their mother and father tearfully.

“You fill the stockings?” on little boy whispered. “Santa doesn’t come after all? So I’ve been good for no reason! This is horrible. This Christmas is the worst Christmas ever! Mom, you ruined Christmas!”

The other children agreed and threw down their stockings, most bursting into tears.

The mother, now even more angry, brandished the bone at her crying children and shouted, “I didn’t ruin Christmas! Rex ruined Christmas! Your father ruined Christmas because he bought this stupid bone because he’s never been totally committed to the vegan lifestyle. Richard, this is all your fault!”

“No it’s not,” the boy argued. “You took Rex’s bone away and caused this trouble. Now Santa will never come back. Oh that’s right, you’re Santa. So Christmas doesn’t mean anything after all!”

“Shut up!” Mrs. Sandson screamed, completely out of control now. “Richard, this is your fault!”

“This isn’t positive energy!” one child shrieked. “Bad Christmas karma!”

Soon, the entire family was screaming, crying and shouting all at once. Rex, utterly distressed his bone was now in the trash, went to retrieve it quietly. Just as he was pulling it out of the trashcan, Mrs. Sandson saw him.

“You!” she shouted. “You ruined everything with your stupid bone! Bad dog!” Taking him by the corner, she dragged him out of the house by the collar and pushed him outside, locking the door behind her. Rex could hear her dropping the bone in the trash can. When he heard the plastic crinkle, his heart sank even further.

Depressed and almost sick over the loss of his bone, Rex sank into the grass and laid his head down on the ground. After a few minutes of feeling sorry for himself, he raised his head and stood up on his feet.

“I’m done with these vegetarians,” Rex said to himself as he shook the grass off his coat. “I’m going to find a newer, nicer family. I’m going to find a family that will feed me steak everynight, brush my coat, and give me bones the size of small dinosaurs!”

“It’s still Christmas after all,” Rex said excitedly to himself, as he trotted down the street. “I’m sure there’s someone who wants a Christmas present of a dog!”

Cheered and drooling over the anticipation of another bone, Rex walked for hours. He stopped to snack on some left over hamburgers in a dumpster, which just made him even hungrier for juicy bone. He walked until after dusk had fallen, and he walked until his paws would walk no more. Exhausted, he dropped down on a long wooden porch. He was in the country now, way outside of town, and this was the first house he had seen in a few hours. Rex planned to sleep for the night, then to keep walking the next morning.

Right as he was about to doze off, a robust older woman banged out the screen door. Rex jumped and flew down the steps, afraid she would yell at him for being on her porch.

All the woman saw was the movement of a shadow. “Who’s there?” she yelled. “I can’t see without my glasses.” She pulled her glasses from her hair and put them on. Once her eyes adjusted to the darkness, she saw Rex hiding behind a truck in her front yard. “Come here, buddy,” she called, slapping her thigh and clicking her tounge. “Come here so I can see you doggy.”

Rex crept forward slowly, and stared suspiciously at the woman in the front yard. This woman looked a little batty to him.

“Well hi there!” the woman called cheerfully. “Aren’t you a beautiful puppy? Merry Christmas to you!”

Rex barked back in reply.

“I bet you’re just starving. Are you lost from your family?”

Rex growled in response.

“No family then? Well, if you’re just passing through, you’re welcome to stay with me for awhile. I just have a small lap dog, and I’d dearly love to have some more company. It’s just the two of us rattling around in this old house.”

Rex took a few steps forward.

“Why don’t I fix you a plate of leftover steak? I had steak for supper tonight, and my family has all come and went already. The next crowd’s coming in the morning. I sure don’t want to throw good steak out.”

Rex had already barreled through the door and was trotting into the kitchen. A small white dog came running up to him.

“HIHHIHIHI! My name is Spaz and I’m a dog that got dumped out here by my owners! They said I was too hyper but Granny says I’m just happy! Are you my new friend? Did you get dumped? Do you want some steak? It’s good! Are you going to be my friend? We can cuddle and snuggle and chew on shoes! The steak is good, have a bite! What’s your name?”

“Rex,” Rex mumbled as he wolfed down a T-bone steak.

“My name is Spaz and I got dumped out here by my owners! They said I was too hyper but Granny says I’m just happy? How long are you staying---oof!” Spaz was scooped up, still chattering wildly by Granny, who sat down a bowl of water next to Rex.

“Now Spaz, let him eat,” Granny chided him gently. “He’s a tired and hungry boy, aren’t you?”

Rex nodded as he chewed happily. After his belly was full of leftover steak and a full T-bone, he laid next to Granny as she brushed his long hair. Spaz jumped from the chair to the couch to the table and back again, chattering the whole time about all the things they were going to do together.

“I think Spaz is glad to have a friend,” Granny said, “And I am too? Think you might want to stay awhile?”

Rex barked in agreement and nuzzled Granny’s arm. “This is almost as good as a big bone,” he thought sleepily as Granny rubbed his protruding belly.

Granny made him a nice bed of soft towels and old pillows and Rex went to sleep for the night next to Spaz. In the early morning, he woke up to a bright light coming through the window. Lazily, he stretched and walked to the window and looked outside.

On the porch was a bone the size of a small door. An artic wolf was standing in the front lawn, his piercing blue eyes meeting Rex’s. Rex bounded out the doggie door and ran out on the porch before the wolf could run away.

“Wait!” Rex yelped, as he danced happily around his big bone. “Who are you? How’d you get this to me?”

The dog simply grinned and winked in reply. Then he ran into the early dawn, the morning mist swirling around him. As Rex gazed up into the dark stars, he heard the faint jingle of bells and a deep belly laugh. “Ho ho ho!” he heard in the distance. “Ho ho ho!”

Rex stared at his large bone in utter delight and joy. He was so happy, he could cry. The door squeaked behind him, and he turned around quickly. Please let me keep my bone, he thought. Please, oh please, let me keep my bone.

Granny stood behind him, peering around Rex. When she saw the enourmous bone on the porch, she started laughing. “Santa bring you a late present?” she asked, laughing. “Well, best get it inside before the coyotes get it.” She laughed as Rex proudly trotted his gigantic bone into the house, laughing even harder as he had to drag it in sideways since it wouldn’t fit through the door.

As Granny’s family came in for New Years, Rex sat contendtly chewing on his bone. He was the luckiest dog in the world. Granny brushed his coat and fed him beef every night, since she owned a cattle ranch and there was a lot of it around. Every night, Rex fell asleep with a full belly, a brushed coat and a hyper little buddy named Spaz, who turned out to be a loyal friend. Now instead of dreaming of visions of rawhide bones, he dreamed of spending evenings on the porch with Granny and Spaz, chewing on his big bone.

Thank you Santa, he thought as he chewed on his bone, thank you so much. In the distance, he heard a wolf howl in reply.

“Merry Christmas!”

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Visions of Rawhide

I know it's after Christmas, but this story takes place during and after Christmas, so I thought it was appropriate. Let me know what you think!

Instead of dreaming about sugarplums and snowflakes, visions of a rawhide bones danced in his head. His leg twitched, his eye shed a tear and drool pooled under his mouth. All he wanted for Christmas was a nice, juicy bone. It didn’t have to be a big bone, one the size of a small deer would do. Just something he could really sink his teeth into, really chew on. Unfortunately, he was as likely to get it as it was to snow in South Texas. Much to his dismay, Rex the dog lived with a family of the worst of all types of humans—vegetarians.

They weren’t bad people, necessarily. The Sandsons were always very kind to him, and they fed him all organic soy dog food which kept his belly full. It tasted like cardboard, but it got the job done. They had even bought him a organic cotton cushion to sleep on and a few natural fiber toys. While they were nice enough people, they simply weren’t Rex’s kind of people. Rex needed to live with a trucker who ate chili and greasy hamburgers every night and gave him the left overs. The Sandsons spent their nights doing yoga and mediation.

One night, Rex laid on the floor chewing on a hemp rug. “If it doesn’t taste like cardboard, it tastes like paste,” he thought to himself. “I do wish one of these teenagers would rebel and eat a cheeseburger or something. I could even deal with some chicken nuggets or French fries.” He sighed as he continued to eat the rug. The Sandson children came running in. Since the parents didn’t believe in birth control (it wasn’t natural), there were children from 16 years old to 3 years old. Waving white sheets of paper, the children shoved the paper into hemp stockings.

“I wrote my letter to Santa!” one of the children shrieked. “I bet I’ll get exactly what I want—a tofu making machine!” an older boy squealed. “Now, now,” Mrs. Sandson chastised. “Santa does his best to get you what you want, but sometimes Santa has to do what’s best for you.”

“No, he doesn’t,” one of the children argued. “He brings you exactly what you want if you’re nice. That’s why he makes his list and checks it twice.”

“He brings you exactly what you want?” Rex thought to himself. “That’s it! I’ll ask Santa for a bone!” Pleased with himself, he trotted to his bowl to lap up some distilled water. Then, he stopped suddenly. “Wait a minute,” he thought aloud. “How do dogs write letters to Santa? Where do we send them to?” In a panic, he ran to look at the living room mantle. “I don’t have a stocking!” he panted, his warm brown eyes looking alarmed. “How am I going to send the letter?” In a sheer frenzy, he ran out the doggie door and down the street. Felix will know, he thought as he ran down the sidewalk. Felix has to know.

When he got to Felix’s yard, Felix was laying in the sun spread-eagle and half asleep. He lazily raised his head as Rex trotted up and gave him a lazy head nod. After a few seconds, he sat up and yawned.

. “So tell me what you need,” Felix said. “Tell me what’s on your mind.”

“I need to write a letter to Santa Claus,” Rex said, looking at Felix gravely. Instead of laughing, Felix simply raised an eyebrow. “Why?” he asked.

“Because I need to ask him to bring me a bone for Christmas,” Rex said. Felix raised the other eyebrow. “Why do you need to ask Santa for that? Why can’t you just---oh, that’s right,” he said, finishing his thought before Rex could answer. “You live with vegetarians. They won’t buy you a bone.”

“Not unless it’s made out of soy or tofu or some crap like that,” Rex sighed. “It’s utterly dreadful. It’s torture, really.”

Felix stretched out his front legs and sat down, tail wagging. “Here’s what you need to do,” he said. “You need to find an old stick and chew a message. Then put the stick on the top of your doghouse. By morning, it’ll have been picked up and you’ll have your answer.”

“How do you chew a message?” Rex asked. “I’ve never heard of that.”

“You know when you’re chewing on something and another dog walks up and you growl for him to go away?” Felix asked. “Well, when you growl, it leaves tiny impressions in the wood. So when another dog puts the stick in his mouth, he can feel all those impressions. If he knows how to read a message, he knows exactly what the other dog said.”

“Wow!” Rex said. “How do you know about it?”

“I know everything,” said Felix loftily, examining his front paw nonchalantly.

“How’s Santa going to read that?” Rex asked, looking confused. “He’s not going to stick a piece of chewed wood in his mouth. And I’m sure the reindeer or elves couldn’t figure it out.”

Felix sighed. “Santa has a whole staff of animals that takes care of other animals needs at Christmas,” he said. “You didn’t think humans just celebrated it did you?”

“Well, yea, that’s what I thought,” said Rex bashfully. Felix shook his head and sighed heavily, muttering, “You’ve been living with those vegetarians for too long.”

“Anyway,” he continued. “Cats have a head cat, fish have a head fish and dogs have a head dog. So whenever a dog writes to Santa, his head dog reads the sticks and tells Santa what each dog once. Then while Santa is at their people’s house, he drops off the present for the pets as well.”

“What about wild animals who don’t have people?” Rex asked. “What do they do?”

“Father Christmas takes care of them,” Felix said. “He takes care of the wild animals, Santa takes care of the city creatures.”

“Santa isn’t Father Christmas?” Rex asked, completely confused.

“No,” Felix said. “Santa is a saint, while Father Christmas is a spirit from nature. Two different people. Anyway, just write a message in a stick. I have a new one behind my house you can use.”

Rex was elated. “Wow!” he shouted, spinning circles. “This makes me so happy! Thank you so much Felix! I know I’ll get a bone now!”

Felix smiled and laid back into the grass. “Anytime,” he said, leaning back in the warm grass. Rex took that as his sign to leave and picked up his stick and left.

When he got back to his doghouse, Rex happily chewed and growled his message to Santa on his stick. That night, he placed the stick on top of his doghouse and went to sleep. In the morning, he bounded out excitedly. The stick was gone! It was gone! Now all he had to do was wait a few days until Christmas.

When Christmas morning finally came, Rex bounded excitedly into the house through his doggie door. He turned circles in front of the tree and waited impatiently for the children to barrel down the stairs. The seven children flew down the banister and immediately started ripping their cloth wrappings off their presents. The cloth would later be used to make quilts and gloves, and the mother began picking it up and putting it in a straw basket. Impatiently, Rex thumped his tail against the ground until it was time for stockings. His stocking was hanging like a beacon of glory from the wooden mantle. One of the children brought it down and opened it.

“Oh look Rex!” he exclaimed joyfully. “Santa brought you a bone!”

The bone was the size of a small deer leg and rawhide. It was the most beautiful thing Rex had ever seen in his life. Tears sprung to his eyes. He could almost feel his teeth around it, the bone and sinew crunching inside his mouth. He was so happy he thought he would burst, his tail wiggling so quickly it might fly off.

As the child unwrapped the bone and handed it to Rex, no sooner had he put his jaws around the enormous bone then did Mrs. Sandson swoop it up. Rex growled and clung to the bone, but she jerked it out of his mouth.

“Richard,” she chided in an icy tone, “Did you buy this for Rex?”

“No, honey, Santa brought it, remember?” Richard said, trying to keep his tone light in front of the children. “Santa brought Rex a bone! How nice!”

“Richard, this is not vegan friendly,” the mother snapped. “This does not fit into our lifestyle. We can’t have it in the house. Where’s the soy dog treats I asked you to put in his stocking?”

Richard cleared his throat and smiled unconvincingly at his children. “Honey, I didn’t buy the bone,” he said in careful, measured words. “Santa brought the bone for Rex when he came last night.”

Unfortunately, the damage was done. The younger children stared up at their mother and father tearfully.

To be continued.....

Friday, December 22, 2006

Ode to Brown Sugar Frosted Mini Wheats and Why I Love Thee

Ode to Brown Sugar Frosted Mini Wheats and Why I love Thee
Ode to brown sugar frosted mini wheats and why I love thee
Your sweet sugary taste is one like no other,
After I eat one bowl, I desperately want another.
Every night I fight the cravings.
The sweet taste is one of perfection,
It is not sugary sweet,
but is an explosion of maple sugar,
Causing my tongue to faint in utter anticipation.
The perfect bowl of frosted cereal,
is complemented by a half peanut butter sandwich.
The sweet lure of the cereal, is then topped off with the rich buttery flavor.
I can't stop eating it,
no matter how I try.
The bowl magically refills itself and the spoon is ready and waiting,
Stopping is an impossible choice- and I'm not quite sure why.
The cool milk lulls me to sleep,
Filling up my belly and making the night complete.
While some might find this to be an over the top endorsement,
Let me just say: It's soooo worth it!
I scour the grocery stores looking for boxes,
going through cartons and crates.
When I find a hidden supply,
I happily replenish my stock.
When guests come to stay the night,
the boxes are hidden away,
deep within crevices and cabinets,
and far out of sight.
Possessive over my cereal I may be,
Even a tad obsessive perhaps,
but whatever noun you may choose to use,
that just means there's more cereal for me!
So while I am slumped over in a sugar coma,
don't even think about stealing my precious cereal.
For even if I'm hooked up to an I.V. and barely breathing,
one thing is for sure:
I can always eat!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Christmas Tree part 2

Here's the second part...... please leave comments, dear Invisible Friends! I really want to know if you like it or not!

Over the next few weeks, Joe and Jadie spent a lot of time together. He took her sledding in a fake snow park, since they were too far south for real snow. They walked in the country and decorated some real trees, placing stars at their top and giggling when birds tried to fly away with them. They volunteered at the animal shelter, helping convince people to adopt Christmas puppies and walking dozens of dogs. The last night before Jadie was to return home, Joe took her on a carriage ride downtown and bought her a cup of hot chocolate. She was so happy, she felt her toes lift off the sidewalk and float down the street.

Christmas had suddenly become very important to her. In a whirlwind, she decorated her dorm room, much to the amazement of her roommate, Maureen.

“But you’re leaving tomorrow,” Maureen sputtered. “What’s the point?”

“The point is Christmas!” Jadie had said, spinning around happily. “Isn’t this just the most wonderful time of the year?” Maureen had just laughed and called in some other girls to see how cheerful Jadie was.

Later that night, Jadie bundled up and went out on a walk through campus. The air had chilled considerably, and she walked with a spring in her step. Everywhere she looked she saw signs of Christmas, and it filled her heart with joy. She couldn’t wait to thank Joe for helping her see how wonderful Christmas could be again.

She walked to the enormous tree, and waited under it’s sweeping branches. When she heard footsteps behind her, she turned around with a huge smile on her face, then stopped.

A boy she didn’t know was walking toward her, holding a white envelope. “Are you Jadie?” he asked. “Yes,” she said, crossing her arms over her chest. “This is for you,” he said, holding it out to her. “Where’s Joe?” she asked as she took the envelope. “I don’t know who Joe is,” the boy said. “I work at the front desk of the dorms, and there was a note to take this to a girl named Jadie. So, here you go.” The boy walked away.

Jadie walked to a bench under a street light and opened the envelope. She opened up an envelope that had been written in thick black ink.

“Dear Jadie,” the letter began. “I’m sorry I couldn’t see you before you go home for Christmas. I know that you must be disappointed. However, I want you to remember the joy of Christmas. I want you to remember the look on that little girl’s face when you gave her a teddy bear. I want you to remember the laughter of your friends when you decorated your dorm. When you’re feeling down, I want you to think of our carriage ride through the city, and how your cheeks glowed when you drank the hot chocolate. When you think of Christmas, remember the joy you felt as you looked at our tree.” Jadie stopped to wipe tears from her eyes, sniffled, and kept reading.

“Under the tree, there’s a gift for you,” the letter continued. “Have a Merry Christmas. Love, Joe.”

Jadie wiped her eyes on her gloves and reached under the tree. She pulled out a thin silver box that was tied with a thin white ribbon. She opened it and slid off the box top. “Oh,” she breathed. She pulled out a delicate silver necklace with a snowflake charm hanging off the thin chain. Clutching the necklace in her hand, she looked up the tree with tears in her eyes. “Merry Christmas,” she whispered. Then, holding her necklace carefully, she walked back to her dorm slowly.

The next day, Jadie drove to her parents home a few hours away. As soon as she walked in the door, she was swept into a whirlwind of hugs, kisses, presents and sit down dinners. Throughout the holiday, she touched her necklace several times. She couldn’t get Joe out of her mind.

On Christmas Eve, after all the younger children had been put to bed so her parents could play Santa, Jadie walked outside. She walked to the main street of her small town, to the main plaza where a tall tree stood in front of the courthouse. Staring at the tree, she sat on a bench and fingered her necklace. Suddenly, she heard footsteps behind her and whirled around.

Joe stood behind her in the light of a street lamp. “Joe!”she exclaimed, running over to him. “How did you know I was here? How did you know where I lived? How did you find me? Why weren’t you there the last day of school?”

“You’re wearing the necklace,” Joe grinned broadly. Jadie looked down. “Oh yes,” she breathed, “It’s lovely. Thank you so much! But where were you? You just left me there!”

Joe laughed. “I’m sorry,” he said. “It was unavoidable. Tell me, how are you enjoying Christmas?”

“I love it!” she gushed. “It seems so much more real. Everywhere I go, I’m beginning to see signs. I’m beginning to see tiny gestures—a grandmother knitting a present for her grandchild, people caroling in the streets, shopkeepers giving treats to children. Everything seems so much brighter, so much kinder.”

“I’m glad,” Joe said, smiling softly. “I’m glad for you. I’m glad you believe in Christmas again.”

“But you’re not answering any of my questions!” she exclaimed. “How did you find me?”

Joe looked down and when his eyes rose, they looked sad. “I have something to tell you,” Joe said, looking in Jadie’s eyes. “I won’t be back next semester.”

“Why?” Jadie asked. “Did you flunk out?”

“No, nothing like that,” Joe said. “I’m not exactly a student.”

“So you lied?” Jadie said in disbelief. “You’re just pretending to take classes? For fun? I don’t understand.”

“I’m not exactly a person,” Joe said, smiling slightly at her. At her look of shock, he explained, “I’m a ghost.”

“But I can see you,” Jadie said. “I can touch you. You drank hot chocolate.”

“Kind of,” Joe said. “A lot of that was illusions, for your benefit. You see Jadie, I’m the Ghost of Christmas Present.”

Jadie felt as if she had been kicked in the stomach. Not only had this guy stood her up, but he was lying to her. And a really stupid lie too.

“Oh God,” she said. “Couldn’t you have come up with something better than that? You have a girlfriend don’t you? Or you’re really old. You’re like 25, and a townie that hits on desperate college kids. That’s pathetic. That’s really pathetic.” Tears coming to her eyes, she began to walk away.

“My job is to make sure that people don’t lose their Christmas spirit,” Joe said, hurrying up next to her. “You were dangerously low on Christmas spirit. You needed my help. I wasn’t trying to hurt you.”

“Yea, whatever,” Jadie dismissed him. She began to walk quicker, the could stinging her cheeks.

“I can prove it,” Joe said, running up next to her. He held out his hand, and looked at her pleadingly. “Touch my hand.”

“No,” she said, walking quicker. “Go away. Just get away from me.” Joe sighed and walked up to her quickly, grabbing her by the shoulders and whirling her around. Before she could say a word, he grabbed her cheeks. She gasped.

In an instant, she saw hundreds of families celebrating Christmas. She saw lonely women crying, and an old man staring wistfully into the fire. She saw children throwing temper tantrums over not getting enough presents, and one child receiving a battered bear as a gift and clutching it tightly to their chest. When he released her, she stared at him in shock.

“Why me?” she asked. “I’m just some bratty girl at college. Why not the old women, the sad old man, or that poor child with the teddy bear? Why not help them?”

“You needed it,” he said simply. “And now that you know, you can spread the cheer for others. You already have in some ways.” He smiled at her, and reached towards her snowflake.

“Remember all the fun we had,” he said, as he began to fade into the glow of the streetlight. “Remember our tree. And Merry Christmas!”

“Merry Christmas,” Jadie said softly. She turned and walked back slowly to her house, thinking about what she had seen. When she reached the front door, she stopped and lifted her necklace to look at it. “Merry Christmas,” she whispered. “And a happy New Year.” As she stepped through the door, a single snowflake fell and touched her hair with a whisper.

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Christmas Tree

Here's the second in a series of Christmas stories I wrote... let me know what you think.... I'm curious! I need comments!

Jadie didn’t know what to think. She sat in her empty dormroom, staring out the window at her dorm mates going nuts on the sunroof. They were shouting and laughing as they threw snowballs at each other, tackling each other and squealing as they ducked behind lawn chairs. It didn’t snow often in Texas, so when it did it was a real treat. It was even a bigger treat when it meant blowing off studying for finals to throw a few snowballs.

She sighed and looked down at her textbook. The last thing Jadie wanted to do was study environmental science. She longed to go run and laugh with the other girls, but she didn’t feel welcome. They had invited her of course, but she had declined. Rather, she scowled at them and had said snippily, “I have to study. One of us has to get good grades around here.” As the girls rolled their eyes, she had stared at her roommate and asked, “Don’t you have a scholarship to maintain, Maureen?” Maureen had avoided her eyes and mumbled something about needing a break, slipping out the door with the other girls.

Now Jadie was alone, feeling like Scrooge. Nothing felt right this year. College didn’t feel right, home didn’t feel right, and Christmas didn’t feel right. She hadn’t bothered to decorate her dorm room since she was going home for Christmas. What was the point? Even if it was only a few weeks until Christmas, it felt so far away. For some reason, Jadie couldn’t gather any Christmas spirit. Jadie had always loved Christmas. When she was younger she would start shopping for presents in July, and playing Christmas music right after July. But now, it just seemed empty. It felt like Christmas was missing this year.

Everywhere Jadie looked, all she saw was commercialism. Ads screaming about pre-lit plastic trees, fake wreaths and tons of decorations that you needed for a true Christmas haunted her dreams. She cringed at the sight of sales and shop displays advertising new fun gifts. Her shopping had been done in October on the Internet to avoid the holiday crowds and bad Christmas music. The whole affair simply left her feeling empty. Was Christmas just turning into an excuse to buy things and eat a lot of food? All her suitemates were stressed, her parents were stressed and everyone walked around with a scowl on their face. How could that be Christmas?

Grabbing her coat, Jadie went for a walk. If everyone else could goof off, so could she, she thought bitterly. She clomped downstairs and walked to the center of campus. Soon, she forgot about her troubles and her unhappiness. She was too busy looking at the decorations, and the enormous Christmas tree in the middle of campus. The single tree standing regally in the middle of the square, elegantly decorated, made her feel peaceful. It made her feel at home.

“Beautiful, isn’t it?” Jadie jumped, clutching her hands to her chest. A cute boy stood staring at her grinning. He was one of those guys that looked like a football player, and meant trouble. Jadie scowled at him. “You scared me.”

“Sorry,” the boy said, smiling. “But it’s beautiful isn’t it?”

“Yea,” Jadie looked up, the moonlight lighting her face. “It’s peaceful.”

“I think it’s more truthful,” the boy said thoughtfully. “It’s real. It means something. It really makes you feel like Christmas.”

Jadie looked at him strangely. “That’s strange. I thought the same thing.” The boy grinned at her. “Maybe we just both understand Christmas.”

“Maybe,” Jadie said, looking at the tree. Even with the decorations, the tree seemed simple, real and true. It stood regally, the ornaments reflecting silently in the moonlight.

“What brought you out here?” she asked the strange boy. “It’s late, you know.”

“I could ask you the same thing,” he said easily, fingering an ornament. “Girls don’t usually come to look at trees this time of night.”

“I just—I just needed a break,” she sighed. The tightness she felt in her chest felt like it would almost explode. She could feel the words wanting to flow from her lips, but she held back. She didn’t want to spill her guts to a complete stranger.

“Understandable,” he said quietly. He played with some of the ornaments and stayed thoughtfully quiet. Slowly, Jadie could feel herself relaxing like she hadn’t in a long time.

“It just feels so fake,” she said slowly. “Christmas, I mean. It just feels like it’s all about presents, big light displays and fake trees. Nothing seems real. People don’t even seem to enjoy it anymore, you know? It’s not even about getting someone a gift, it’s about getting someone the gift. If it’s not perfect and doesn’t cost hundreds of dollars, it doesn’t mean anything. And that’s just so—“

“Wrong?” the boy finished, nodding slightly.

“Yes!” Jadie exclaimed, feeling all the emotion explode from her chest. She immediately felt lighter, almost as if her toes could lift off the ground. “I feel so much better,” she admitted. “I’ve been wanting to talk to someone about that for a long time.”

“I’m glad you could talk,” the boy smiled. “I hope you feel better.”

“I do,” she said, smiling. When the boy remained quiet for a few moments, she felt anxious. “What do you like about Christmas?” she asked awkwardly.

“Everything,” he said simply. Jadie looked at him funny. “How can you like everything?” she asked. “I thought you just agreed there’s too much commercialism.”

“There is,” he said easily. “Nothing is perfect. Every holiday, person, animal and plant isn’t perfect. They all have the good, and they all have their bad. Sure, there may be too much commercialism. Sure, people use the holidays as an excuse to one-up each other just to feel superior, or make people feel badly about themselves. Sure, there’s lonely people or people who are missing family members over the holidays. But there’s so many good things about Christmas—the love, the laughter, the sharing, the generosity and just the spirit, that it makes all that ok. If you concentrate on the bad, nothing will ever seem good. There’s no point in making the world more depressing than it already is.”

Jadie sat quietly for a few minutes. “I never thought about that,” she said, rubbing her head. “I don’t know what to think.”

“Let me help,” the boy said, smiling at her. “Let me show you Christmas as I see it. That may help you get some of your Christmas spirit back.”

“I doubt it,” she said under her breath. Still, she couldn’t help smiling, really smiling, at him. “Let’s give it a shot!”

“Good,” the boy said. “I’ll see you tomorrow.” Jadie smiled and watched him walk away, when she suddenly gasped.

“Wait!” she cried, running after him. “I don’t know your name!”

“I’m Joe,” he said, turning back around to smile at her. “And you’re Jadie.” Startled, she stared at him. “I never told you my name,” she said suspiciously. “How did you know that?” “It’s a college campus,” he shot back. “Things get around.”

To be continued....

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Big House

"I've got to escape," the cricket said to himself. "This life isn't for me, man. I didn't do anything to deserve this. It wasn't my fault."

"You can't escape," a dying fly said weakly from the bottom of the abyss. "The gates rarely open. The poison, the poison seeps into you. It kills you man. It kills you."

"I can survive!" the cricket snapped. "This isn't my fault. It was my circumstances. I was trying to better myself."

"By breaking and entering?" the warden, a fuzzy black spider by the name of, well, Fuzzy, sneered. "You got a lot to learn boy."

"I'll be good," the cricket pleaded. "I swear. I'll make a difference. I'll live in a halfway house."

"Our halfway house got destroyed in the storm of Wednesday," Fuzzy said. "We had to switch it to a temporary pot, and it's not ready for any new inmates. There's already four spiders, a cricket and a bee living there. They're overrun."

The cricket looked out at the open sky desperately. There was a huge pile of trash just waiting for him to frolic in. There was tons of dust to kick his heels up and twirl about. And oh, the best thing of all. The thing that had him salivating at the screen that prevented his escape into the world: there was a tree. A tall, glorious tree that did not attract birds. That tree would be his.

But how should he escape? He had no teeth to chew, and he had sung all night to no avail. His tiny feet clung desperately to the screen as the wind blew. Perhaps fortune would smile on him and the screen would shake lose.

"All is lost," the fly down below intoned, twitching on the metal door frame. "The darkness is coming. All is lostttt."

"You're really depressing, you know that?" the cricket snapped.

"Sorry!" the fly sighed. "Where's a toad to put me out of my misery? Where's the toad that lives by the air conditioning?"

"He's working today," Fuzzy the spider said.

After what seemed an eternity of torture, the cricket's miracle had arrived. The screen door was opened, and now the entire world was open to him. The trash was available to roll around in. The dust was swirling about, just waiting to be twirled in. And the tree, the big bird-free tree, was waiting with open branches.

And the cricket couldn't move. He just clung to the door.

"What are you waiting for?" Fuzzy said.

"I don't know," the cricket said. "I believe I'm stuck."

"Well, just let go," Fuzzy said.

"I'm not ready yet," the cricket said through gritted teeth.

A few minutes later, Fuzzy asked again. "Ready now?"

"Nope," the cricket said.

An hour or so passed. "Ready now?" the fly asked.

"Nope," the cricket said.

The afternoon began to turn dark with the beginnings of dusk. "Ready now?" Fuzzy said.

"Getting there," the cricket said, still clutching on to the screen for dear life.

After the sun had set, the fly had gone to bed for the night and Fuzzy had gone home to his 80 children. Finally, the cricket said to no one in particular, "I'm ready."

And with that, he flew into the night into his big friendly tree, and settled in for his first night as a free bug.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Bird Brains

Arguing with birds is worse than arguing with a pig. Not only do the birds not enjoy it, they do not understand what you are arguing about in the first place.

On my walk today, I encountered dozens of birds lurking in the trees. In a shot, they would fly off in a large black cloud and return just as suddenly, peering down at me from the sparse branches.

As they cocked their heads at me, I stared back. Challenged, one of the birds stuck his neck out at me. I raised an eyebrow. He protruded his beak. I glared.

"You can't glare at me!" he said indignantly.

"Why not?" I asked.

"I have to glare at you."

"Why?" I asked.

"I'm intimidating," he said. "We all are. See how intimidating we look? Aren't you scared we'll peck out your eyes?" They all peered down at me menacing, acting as one giant black bird.

"No," I said bluntly. "How can I be scared at something that steals McDonald's french fries?"

The bird gasped and looked around. "Which one of you did it?" he asked sharply. "You know how bad that hurts our reputation. How can we be terrifying with a french fry hanging out of our beak?"

"Especially a french fry that is half-nibbled and has fallen from a toddler's grasp," I said, laughing. "That's so tough I'm just shaking."

"This is humiliating," the bird said, shaking his head as his companions squawked their defenses.

"It was tasty!" they shouted. "There haven't been bugs for weeks!"

"Then starve!" the bird shouted. "I can not be a part of this batch of bird brains anymore." He dramatically flew off into the grey sky, which immediately darkened. The birds followed him, flapping behind him in a panic.

"Wait up!" "Wait for me!" "Don't leave us!" "Oh, another french fry." "Don't eat it." "Score ten points for the windshield!"

As I walked back, I couldn't help but laugh. Arguing with a pig may be like wrestling in the mud, but arguing with a bird is far more interesting.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Today, I had a mission. I was out to find an animal friend. During the summer, I had been visited by lizards, Water Cooler Ants, squirrels, birds and most of all, the butterflies. The butterflies had been a constant companion.

When the cold front hit San Antonio, the butterflies disappeared. They floated south to a warmer place, prepared to hide in cocoons and bury away from the winter weather. I knew they would return in the spring, but I still felt an empty ache where their presence had been. There were no more mystical moments, no more symphonies of whispering winds around my ears. It was eerily silent, and had been for some time.

Depressed at even the lack of squirrels prancing around our yard, my walks had become completely devoid of fuzziness. The most I had to work with was some weeds and dandelions, and even those had sharp leaves. The only fuzziness in my December was that of the blanket on my couch.

So I set off on a search for some companionship. I searched through grass, tree leaves and behind my house. My backyard offered up a few worms and several black birds, who I suspected, weren't there to simply say hello. My front yard offered dead flowers and half dead bushes, with an occasional fly or mouth. Around my work, the stray dog had quit coming and everything was covered in cement. The Water Cooler ants had moved away, and the Cricket had silenced himself. Slow slipping into madness, I considered adopting a pet rock I found on the sidewalk. Maybe he could be a creature of limestone, and offer some wisdom and knowledge.

On one of my daily walks, I was kicking about some small pebbles when a flash of yellow flew by my eye. Could it be? My head whipped around. It was!

A bright yellow butterfly fluttered around my head and landed on the dandelions on the sidewalk.

"You're back!" I cried joyfully. "I've been so depressed without you!"

"It's Christmas!" the butterfly said, raising his imaginary eyebrow at me. "How can anyone be depressed at Christmas?"

"Well, I'm not depressed about Christmas," I stuttered. "I was sad that I didn't have any animals to talk to."

"Well, it's Christmas," the butterfly said again. "Do you not think animals celebrate Christmas?"

"Do animals celebrate Christmas?" I asked curiously.

"Why shouldn't they?" the butterfly said. "Humans assign their own meanings to holidays. Sometimes, holidays are greater than humans imagine. Did you know for example, that penguins celebrate Christmas by having a feast of seaweed and salmon?"

"I did not," I said, fascinated. "How do you celebrate Christmas?"

"I flutter through the sky," the butterfly said, flying around my head and grasping the ends of my hair with his tiny feet. "I dance on the wind. Sometimes, I swing on the leaves of long grass and gorge myself on Hyacinthia honey. It's a special treat."

"Don't you always flutter?" I asked as his wings tickled my face.

"Don't you always eat?" he countered. "Just because you do something a lot doesn't mean it can't be special some of the time."

I nodded, smiling. The wide blue sky and sunshine beat down on my face, and I could barely hear the butterfly's tiny sighs.

"It is time for me to return," the butterfly said, stepping gracefully in the breeze. "I will see you again."

Instead of feeling a sense of loss, I felt rejuvenated. "Merry Christmas!" I shouted to the breeze, watching the tiny speck of yellow until it disappeared from sight.

As the wind blew by my ear, I heard his reply.

"And a happy New Year!"

Monday, December 11, 2006

Hey, Cinderella

On a cool night, I gingerly stepped outside in my heels. With my blue satin dress swirling around me and my pretend-diamond studs at my ears, I was Cinderella going to the ball. I swirled around as I clutched my purse, imagining dancing during the night. As I swirled between our cars in the garage, my heels began to twirl on a wooden floor. The band played slow jazz as I whisked about, spinning carefully through the crowds of people. My dress began to flare as I stopped in a pose.

"Get in the car before you freeze!" the cruel voice of reality broke my thoughts. "Let's go get some num-nums!"

We drove to the restaurant and enjoyed a lovely dinner. It wasn't easy to be Cinderella during dinner because my wool coat was itching my shoulders. The coarse fibers of the fabric were raking my skin out of spite.

After parking at the company building and taking a shuttle, I realized it is hard to be Cinderella when you are clomping through a parking lot downhill. As I did reverse lunges down a cement mountain, I prayed the straps on my shoes wouldn't break. I could see a disaster coming before me.

Clutching Ben's arm as we entered the convention center, I breathed a sigh of relief. The room was warm and open, with tons of people milling around. I shed my coat at the coat rack and stuffed Ben's pockets with my camera and lip gloss. For princesses in training, it is not easy being Cinderella while lugging around a camera.

As we walked around the event, acrobats spun through the air and ballerinas tiptoed over to us on 6-foot tall stilts. Jugglers were covered in florescent lights as bands played in the background. People danced, people ate and people watched in fascination as performers dangled from high in the air.

During the event, I decided it was time to take a journey. Seeking sugary smackerals, I wound my way through the crowds while I peered at the tables. Plates full of roast beef, potatoes, breads and delicious fruit lay before me. However, I declined them all in search of my sweet morsels. Gracefully dodging the crowd, I spun through crowds of people who all stared at me. At first, I was embarrassed. As a princess should not do, I had been worried about my outfit and had worried I would be under dressed. Now however, I spun through the crowd, pirouetting on my silver heels. With grace and ease I have not had since, well, ever, I danced my way to the dessert table.

And what lay before me but enough sugar to corrupt an entire preschool! Thick slices of cake and large bars of fudge lay appetizingly on silver platters. Basking in the glow of sugar, I walked around the table like a vulture, licking my lips. Suddenly- people swarmed the table. Hands appeared out of folds of dark cloth, plucking the culinary delights off their trays. The cookies were threatened! The cookies were threatened! I must save the cookies and protect their fragile exteriors from the clutching hands of the masses! How could people who had inhaled an entire roast beef appreciate the delicacy of a cookie? It was my quest to save them! I clutched a plate and saved the ones I could, beating a hasty retreat to the safety of my table. There, we were safe from the clutches of the sweet- stealers.

Soon, the night came to a peaceful end. We said good bye to the ballerinas and the stilt performers and waved farewell to the table of sweets. I was whisked back home by a shuttle and carried off to bed in a grey Jetta, where I settled in for a long sleep next to a handsome prince.

And when I awoke, I was no longer a princess clad in billowy gowns with grace and ease. I was the Blonde Duck, slapping at a hysterical alarm clock and wondering why I could not convince myself to sleep for a little longer.

However, deep inside the camera tucked away in my purse, the princess smiles. In there, she still exists, just waiting to return one day.

It's the Internet's fault

Dear Invisible Friends,

I humbly apologize for my lack of posting over the weekend. My eyes well up with tears when I think of how distressed you must have been over my lack of writing. However, I want you to know it's not my fault.

Do to the snippiness and bad attitude of our router, it threw a temper tantrum this weekend and demanded my husband argue with it. After arguing, fighting, slamming around and giving it a good solid smack, it is sullenly working again- at least for now. However, I know that it doesn't help you at all.

There will be a posting later this day in an attempt at peace. My head hangs in sorrow at your torment of emotions and distress. But- the router did it, not me.


The Blonde Duck

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Childish Wonder

In the safe bubble of my Pond, I spend a lot of time joking about being in a bubble. If I don't want to do something, it's because I'm in a bubble. If I don't want to go somewhere, it's out of my bubble. I give off this cute, bubbly attitude to where people think I'm a perpetually happy airhead. The majority of the time, it works to my advantage. I'm the cute blond that can surprise people with talent/smarts/work, etc. Other times however, the bubble traps me, instead of protects me.

As the Blonde Duck, I spend a lot of time focusing on the good of the world. I notice the butterflies, the flowers, the beauty of a person. I do notice the bad things- I see the cracks, the decay and the slow erosion of people's souls into people that aren't people at all. I see the mean people, the cruel and the ones who honestly don't care about you at all.

People say that children don't understand the world, they don't understand the world can be bad. I'm often lectured and protected because I don't understand the world. I will fully admit I don't a lot of the time. I'm often so focused on the good that the bad falls outside of my blinders, and it can put me in dangerous situations or around dangerous people. Slowly, I'm learning.

Children instinctively know when a person is bad, mean or just wrong. Sometimes, children are blinded by charisma or a slick personality, but the truth always wins out. I prefer to think that I think this way. I may miss the notice the first few times, but eventually, I'll get the message loud and clear.

As someone who has been noted for being full of childish wonder, let me state that I'm not trying to bury my head in the sand. I know the world can be bad. I know that things happen I don't want to think about. I know that in the sunshine of my mind, shadows of fear and worry creep in. I know that sometimes in the grocery store, I'll watch the man with the cart carefully if I get a fully feeling down my neck.

I'm not arguing with this notions. But, the way I retain my wonder is by not focusing on it. Instead of dwelling on the number of kidnappings and rape, I push aside the weeds to look for the nest of butterfly eggs. Instead of worrying about all the strange looking people in the grocery store, I laugh at the child who is secretly eating his cookie so he can pretend to have dropped it and get a new one. Instead of thinking about the heartbreaking things that happen to people in the world, I prefer to daydream about heartwarming moments.

It seems that the world would be a better place if most of us faced the sunbeams, rather than glancing over our shoulders of the shadows. Does that mean that we should ignore the shadows? No. Does that mean we should close our eyes and let the sun warm our face as the shadows creep towards our feet? No. All it means is that instead of feeling the chill on your arms when you step out of the sun, turn your face to the light. Love and happiness win over despair and worry any day. And that truly, is the great wonder of it all.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Winter Fairies

Most people past the age of 5 don't believe in fairies. Well, I'm not most people. While you may be rolling your eyes, I don't think that I necessarily turn my back and have fairies fluttering around me, only to disappear when I turn back around. However, I don't necessarily not believe in them either.

Pressing my nose against the window, I stared into the early winter morning sky. The sky was dark with a few streaks of yellow splashed against it. In the morning dawn, the faint sunbeams danced over the frost covered lawns and plants. The frost touched the leaves so delicately it almost didn't seem possible it simply settled there late in the night.

Stepping out onto the patio, I knelt down to examine a leaf. Delicate swirls and lines graced it's soft surface, as the warmth from my fingers began to melt the thin layer of ice. In an instant, I knew what exactly had occurred.

In the dark of night, just before the dawn, the Winter Fairies come. They fall gently from the cool wind that blows against houses, rattling shutters and stripping trees of their leaves. As they reach plants, they skate against the leaves, touching tip to tip. In their tiny fingers, they grasp a large paintbrush which they press against any foliage they pass. As they pass, the brush leaves a thick texture of frost, creating patterns of ice crystals that could not be produced by the greatest artist. To our simple eyes, all we see are swirls and shapes.

As they skate on lawns, flowers and down the branches of trees, the outdoors begin to change. Seeds retreat deeper into the thick soil, burying in it like a blanket. The sunshine waits a few hours to appear, admiring the icy wonderland that lays before him. Ice in the Pond? How can it be?

Sidewalks turn into small swimming pools, in which the fairies swim and play. As soon as they step on the stone banks to shake off the water, the shallow water immediately freezes. When the morning sun emerges, the Fairies take their last bow. They float on the breeze to bus stops, where they paint children's cheeks pink and their breath to steam. Eyes water as they admire themselves in the reflection of hair barrettes, and hands are shoved deep into pockets as they mischievously twirl on the tender tips of fingers. The Fairies run through hair that blows in the wind, swinging from strand to strand, and laugh as they fog up the windows of cars with condensation. For this brief time, the world is their playground. For awhile at least, we live in a winter wonderland.

And as Christmas approaches and mentions of Santa and elves grow, be sure to pay your respects. The Winter Fairies have something to do with the pink in your cheeks and the brisk walk of your step. And though you may not be five, maybe, just maybe, you'll think about the fairies. Maybe when you're walking to the building you work in, or taking out the trash and notice the frost on the ground. After all- the Winter Fairies worked hard decorating your own winter wonderland.

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Game

Sports bars are mysterious places. Walking into the bar, I've realize I've entered enemy territory. Not only am I not properly attired to be a sports bar wife in my no-makeup-fuzzie and jeans state, but I am in the football sector. I stand awkwardly at a table reserved for OU alumni and join our friends. The entire room has been transformed into a spirited area. Shiny red pom-poms and OU alumni stickers cover the tables. Everyone except Ben and I are wearing red. They stare at us as we smile back.

Eyeing us, they allow us to sit at the table until more alumni show up. I have a feeling we'll be booted when the next people drenched in red and looking for blood arrive.

Everyone sits transfixed, staring at the T.V. Even our friend from Baylor is decked out in OU gear, and he yells louder than anyone else. I rolled my eyes and strained to hear the music in the next room.

Armed with beer and nachos, the men sit next to their wives and discuss strategy.

"This is a Texas Bar," one of them states. "That's probably why we're not having as good of a turnout. Damn longhorns."

"Yup." Another one says. "But this year, I thinks we're going to beat them. I think we're headed for nationals."

As I try to ponder how exactly different alumni mark their bars (I wonder if peeing is involved and stare in alarm at my seat), the MAN of the group has arrived. The MAN is decked out in a jersey and jeans, while his simpering wife is wearing a tailored jacket in red and an alumni fitted shirt. Even her nails are painted a glowing red, as she primly sits and examines herself in the mirror. Her job is to shake the pom-poms and make sure everyone has a pom-pom. She watches as I began braiding the strings of the pom-pom and glares at me. I put the pom-pom down. The more I try not to touch the pom-pom, the more it calls me. The shiny red metallics just begged to be played with. I resist.

While a few of our friends have begun the beer-guzzling and yelling ritual, I begin to examine the ceiling. Suddenly, a fierce yell startles me.


A deranged man is standing in front of me beating on his chest. He chest bumps his fellow members and hugs his wife, shaking her as he jumps up and down. He humps the air and bellows out a school song, while his drunken alumni chant along holding up their beer mugs. He strides over to us and stares at the only people who are not wearing red. His eyes narrow.

"Who are you?" he roars, looking as though he may strike us down.

We point to our friend. "He invited us."

He looks at the friend who waves and gives a thumbs up as he guzzles his beer. "Ok," he nods. "Ok."

Soon, the deranged man begins to decorate the room. He's adding Sooners wagons, pom-poms and more red balloons. His frenzied movements suggests that he thinks the more decorations, the more points the team will gain. His wife just smiles and sits calmly staring at her nails.

A few minutes later, the man is roaring and bellowing at the television, along with the rest of his followers. He jumps up and slams himself into a chair at every 10 yards. I began to wonder if the deranged man truly believes he is on the field and is actually playing the game. I'm not quite certain he can distinguish between reality and television.

After a few points are won, he slams his hands on our table. We all stare at him. "Let's do a wave!" he shouts.

"A wave?" we question.

"A wave." he nods. "You, start."

His wife stands up and quickly waves his hands, and we all follow except a man who is busy staring at the Victoria's Secret commercial.

"You ruined the wave!" he bellowed. "This is unacceptable. Again!"

We all stand up again, except for a woman whose small child has dropped something on the floor. The man roared in frustration.

"AGAIN!" he commanded.

Again, we all stood and waved. As the man turned to see the others, Ben grabbed my hand. "Let's get out of here," he said. We quickly left as the man shook his arms in anger at the television.

As we hurried outside in the night, we could see the deranged man jumping through the window. We were lucky to have escaped with our lives.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Training Day

I glanced around the corner, holding my gun close to my chest. Using the mirror, I stared down my opponent. As he reloaded, I quickly fired.

POW! A dart flew into his shoulder and he scowled.

"You're going to get it!" he shouted. I ducked back to the wall as the darts came flying toward me.

POW POW POW POW POW! The wall became covered with darts. I remained unharmed. Cocky, I shot three more darts and crept toward the wall for more ammunition. I had to move quickly. My opponent had an automatically cocking weapon, while I had to reload after each dart.

The battle raged on. Suddenly, my opponents switched. A different opponent took the darts I had fired and reloaded his own weapons. He strode towards me as I struggled to reload mine.

"Draw," he said, a smile twitching at the corners of his mouth. I loaded my weapon and met him in the hallway. The air was still, save a few dust bunnies blowing around the fuzzy rug at our feet. I looked at him. He looked at me. His finger twitched. I gripped my gun tighter. The creases around his eyes deepened.

"I'll draw," he said. We both pulled our weapons and fired. Darts flew through the air, bouncing off our hair and clothing. He threw down his gun, triumphant, as I reloaded to fight my original opponent. I continued to hide behind my wall, firing. Suddenly, I was out of ammo.

"I need help!" I bellowed. "I need backup!"

The bystanders simply stared at me and went back to their magazines. My opponents were cackling in glee. With no darts to defend me, I crept among the fuzzy rug to the supply of stolen darts. As I reached the desk, darts began to strike my face and chest.

"Retreat!" I grabbed a handful of darts and ran back to my defense, darts hitting my back and butt. I scooped up some extras and loaded, firing back.

After the air cleared, I staked out a new position in the depths of a papasan chair. My opponents and I had declared a draw. My next mission was to defend myself against the invaders. They were due to arrive any minute. I crept and waited for what seemed like an eternity. The weight of the plastic weapon weighed on my arm.

Suddenly, the door handle turned and invisible hands knocked on the wooden door. This was it! I cocked the gun and waited, aiming towards the intruders.

As the door opened, my opponents and I fired towards the door. The invaders yelled and ducked, shielding themselves from darts of justice. They fell over themselves like puppies, yelping as they threw the darts at our feet. Big mistake. We quickly scooped up the darts, reloaded and fired. This time, they'd barely made it into their room before their faces and necks were struck. Eyes were poked, foreheads were targeted and their long hair was swishing around darts lodged in their collars. We were victorious.

We left the battlefield triumphantly, having strewn our weapons on the fuzzy rugs. Clutching my first opponent's hand, I grinned up at him.

"Honey, can we get some dart guns like that for our house?"


"Why not? It would be fun. Daddy liked them."


"They're cheap. We can get some at Wal-Mart."


"I would be careful with them. I wouldn't break anything."

He laughs loudly, his breath escaping in the night air. "No."