"Sugarhigh" commented on my recent blogiversary post wondering if I was going to comment on how one year in the blogosphere had changed me. Specifically, the question was whether it had wisened me.
I don't know how to answer that. I've enjoyed the mental exercises and the meeting of new people. I've enjoyed writing and have fallen in love with the fiction exercises. I know that it has been good for my blood pressure and my marriage, as I no longer feel any need to discuss politics with Prince Charming.
However, I don't discuss current events with my family as much as I used to, and I miss that. My father, sister, and stepmother are very well-informed people who have very interesting outlooks and opinions.
But I don't think you could say it has wisened me. More like, it has kept my mental muscles in fighting condition.
Wal-Mart & Target: Unwashed Masses vs. The Bourgeoisie
Kathyhas a post up comparing the two heavy weights of the discount world, that was inspired by another post by JB at Fraters. The question JB brings up is the whole issue of whether some people don't shop at Wal-Mart because the feel it is beneath them, that associating themselves and their dollars with the Walton Family somehow makes them into trailer trash, so they shop at Target instead.
Is it possible that such ridiculous, class-conscious idiots exist? Alas, yes. Would I count myself among them? Not on your life, or mine for that matter. Which is funny, because all my life I've been labeled "snob" by them who felt I was too big for my britches.
Let's be honest here. Neither Wal-Mart nor Target is Marshall Fields or Dillards. They aren't Macy's or Saks or Bendels.
These are discount stores, defined by their abilty to offer up cheap goods and discount prices to the masses. Anybody who feels the need to show their caste placement by shopping at one over the other isn't just insecure, have illusions of grandeur, or imagine themselves the long-lost Anastasia, but they smoked their breakfast. If you are buying your goods at any discount store, you aren't quite 'all that'.
I shop at both Wal-Mart and Target. I've shopped at both stores all of my life.
First, Wal-Mart: I, as regular readers are well-aware, am from the great unpopulated state of Kansas, where there are 2,000 people living in the county. That's county. We have one stoplight in the county and it only actually works for 2 hours each day: in the morning when the high school kids are going to school, and in the afternoon when school lets out. The rest of the time it just blinks caution. So, now that you have a feel for what sort of place I'm from, I must defend Wal-Mart a bit. Wal-Mart, for the vast majority of my life, was the only non-grocery place to shop. You could go to Emery Drug and maybe find an item, but Wal-Mart always had what you were looking for, and had choices. Going to Wal-Mart was great fun! The toy aisle alone was like Christmas! Wal-Mart employed lots of people and brought goods to the area that we would otherwise have to travel hours to get. I'm serious about those "hours" of travel. We often went school clothes shopping in either Denver (7 hours), Colorado Springs (5.5 hours) or Amarillo, TX (4 hours). Naturally, that means that trips like this to "the big town" as we called it, are few and far between. This only made Wal-Mart all the more important locally. Can Wal-Mart be a nasty place, with grimy floors and full of people who fit the description of "trailer trash"? Yep. But that's not Wal-Mart's fault. They are in the business of selling goods, the more customers they get through the door, the better. And, let's not forget that it provides goods that would otherwise not be available in smaller communities.
Now for Target: Growing up, I was a rent-a-kid. My parents divorced when I was 5, meaning I spent lots of time in Kansas, and lots of time in the suburbs of one city or another. I have to tell you, when I was a kid, Target grossed me out. Our local target (in Suburban Chicago) was where the undesirables hung out. These were the toughs and the people who didn't speak English. They were the troublemakers and the shoplifters and the local police always had a car in the parking lot. We still shopped there, though. And ever since Target's acquisition and makeover/renovation, it has been a very pleasant shopping experience. But, don't kid yourself, it is still a discount store, even if it does sell goods designed by Mossimo and Mizrahi. It isn't exclusive. They'll let anybody in the doors. The carts are safety orange in color, for criminey's sake, not some fashionable alternative. And, come on, they have a sleezy snack bar in every one.
I still shop at both stores, but mostly I shop at Wal-Mart. Why? Our local Wal-Mart is a Super Wal-Mart, meaning I can buy groceries and all of the other goods I need each week in one convenient stop. My time is precious. I'm not going to run all over hell if I can avoid it. However, I do get to Target too. Sometimes I won't like the particular choices at Wal-Mart and instead will find what I desire at Target. It just depends.
But neither place is reeking of exclusivity. Neither place speaks to culture or class. I've seen trashy bimbos in tube-tops in Target just as often as I've seen them in Wal-Mart. Neither discount store has particularly good customer service or knowledgeable staff. For that, I'm afraid, you are going to have to shop a little higher up the ladder.
The whole idea of someone being "too good" to shop at Wal-Mart makes me think of Paris "What's a Wal-Mart" Hilton. And if ever there was "white trash," that chick defines it. No class, whatsoever.
The rapid growth phase begins to slow down this week. The heart grows stronger this week, and the legs are reaching their relative proportions.
Oh boy. Pregnancy is not as fun as people tell you it is. It is all a big fraud. People tell you how wonderful it is, (lies, damn lies), as a way to perpetuate the species. If women really knew how bad it can be, they wouldn't do it. Or at least, fewer would do it.
My exasperation is fueled by the continuing morning sickness. It just isn't glamorous to puke. There is no way to do it casually, or even look good doing it. You are bent over, heaving, red in the face and sweaty. Come to think of it, this may resemble what I'll look like in labor. Lovely. Yet another reason not to document the moment on video. Who wants to remember looking and feeling like that, I ask you?
Things are changing for me. I'm showing now. This weekend I'll be doing the shop of shame: buying maternity clothes so that I can be seen in public. I have stopped wearing my wedding ring. I was afraid that if I didn't stop, they'd have to cut it off my sausage-like fingers. Instead, I am wearing a different diamond ring that I usually wear on my middle finger of the right hand. It slides on and off easily, so no need to defile any gold or diamonds.
I went shopping with my mom this weekend. We took the Baby Depot by storm. I picked out a stroller/carseat jobber, a play pen, a swing, and several other critical pieces of baby equipment. Additionally, I showed Mom the furniture and decorating scheme I've decided on. She agreed with my plan, so I feel confident and good about that. Mom even bought the baby a little hat while we were out. It is a sort of beret, pink velour of course, with little embroidered flowers. Adorable.
I'm feeling a little more prepared. I still don't think I know everything I ought to know, but then, who does? I mean, they'll let anybody be a parent, so I figure I can't be the worst option out there. Moreover, our little girl has already chosen us as parents, so there is little she or I can do about that.
Prince Charming has been very sweet. I made him get out of bed Friday night to bring me toast and apple sauce. He did so with very little grumbling. I reminded him that it could be a lot worse. He could have had to drive to some place for some special item. He told me that he wouldn't do that. Ah, well. We'll see.
It is Friday again, which means only one thing: More Fiction. You know the drill. Silk gives us three pictures and we try to tell a story in 1,000 words using the images as inspiration. I have again drawn from all three images, as you will see. This week, I have continued the story started last Friday, which you can find here, as so many wanted to see what happens next. I hope you enjoy this next installment. I will update with the links of the other participants.
Cairo had not gone well. Damn it all, anyway. Mark had tried to penetrate the cell, but she lost him in the market and he had not made contact since. It had been four days and she was worried. At least she wore the worry well. It went with the goth-girl brood that she had donned for this meet. She was sitting in some goth bar in London, heavy black eye makeup and greasy hair providing her disguise. She ordered another drink, a “blood-sucker” and continued to wait.
In time, a young wiry man approached her, walking as though he wore a very dirty diaper. He spoke to the bartender first in a thick Scots brogue, ordering a “Pulsing Corpuscle.”
“Have you heard the new Inkubus Sukkubus yet?” Samantha hid her tension behind her hair, imitating the hiding manner of so many disaffected teens.
“Aye. Did you get tickets?” He turned toward her, blood red drink with blue flame in hand.
“No.” She began, before he interrupted her.
“Let’s get out of here.” He downed his drink and led her from the dark bowels of the club and out toward the stairs that marked the club’s entrance, grimy as they were with unidentifiable effluvium that resembled the remains of solid human waste. The spotlight shown down through the cigarette smoke that had accumulated and created the illusion of a ghost hanging in the middle of the stairway.
They slouched against the railing, still keeping up the act. Roman pulled a CD case from the inside of his jacket and flipped through the titles, ostensibly discussing them with her.
“What do you know?” She asked in a soft whisper that disappeared in the heavy air.
“Not much, I’m afraid.” His Scots brogue was gone. “Mark left Egypt under an alias. Willingly or not, I’m not sure, but there is someone who can tell you.” He slipped her a concert ticket stub with an address on the back. “He won’t be willing, but he can be coerced.”
“Thanks.” She said, fearing that she’d never see Mark again.
Next day, she took a bus to Stone Henge with the tourists, this time dressed to blend into the crowds of holidaying teenagers. Her hair was in ponytails, braided down the side of her head. But her attire was something else. She wore an itty bitty t-shirt that showed plenty of midriff and left nothing to mystery north of that. She wore itty bitty short-shorts too, that just hinted at the under curves of her rear. She hated dressing like this, but if she were going to fit in with the teenie-boppers, it was necessary. She grabbed a Samuel Adams baseball cap from her bag, placed it on her head, and began her search.
Inside of 15 minutes, she had identified the man. He appeared to get nervous and turned away from the crowds, but she followed him. She slithered into his path through the grass, pulled out her knife, and placed it to his neck from behind.
“Say nothing. Keep walking.” Her voice grated on the words, she was so angry. Too much pent up frustration and worry were working on her control. They walked further until she found a place sheltered from the view of the public. She turned him forcefully around and pushed him up against the abandoned bus, keeping her knife handy, but not threatening him with it. “Where is Atta?”
The dark skinned man stared into her eyes, clearly evaluating and calculating. He took in her appearance, lingering a little too long on her breasts, but said nothing.
She pulled the knife forward and brought it to his scrotum, applying steady but so-far harmless pressure. “Here’s what you need to know: I’m a farm girl. Daddy taught me to perform castrations and Mom taught me to sew. I’ll have no trouble removing your equipment and making myself a handy coin purse and a sack for carrying my tampons.” She reinforced her argument by applying more pressure. “Now..., Where. Is. Atta?”
The man was clearly alarmed and sweating profusely. “But I know nothing.”
“Wrong answer, Asshole.” She pressed her point further and she knew he was near his breaking point. “Look, buddy, it is no skin off my nose if you can’t impress those 69 virgins…” She let her voice trail off.
“Hamburg,” he began, but then a glint of victory came to his eye. She failed to turn in time, and a sharp blow to her head cut off her words and turned her world black.
She awoke, she knew not how many hours later, to find herself cuffed to a rickety iron bed frame with a mattress that smelled distinctly of sex. The room was empty, unless the five or six scurrying rodents or roaches counted. She didn’t wait long before two Arab-looking men entered the room and locked the door behind them. One of them wielded a cricket bat, but neither of them were her would-be coin-purse donor. She could tell they weren’t innocents in this war, but hardened soldiers, hungry for blood.
The larger of the two began beating her with his bat, concentrating on her ribs. She tried to resist with her legs until the second man bent down to hold them to the bed. Her beater seemed to tire of his sport. She suspected that the interrogation was about to begin until she saw the lust in his eyes.
He pushed the second man forcefully away from the bed and climbed on top of her. He cut her t-shirt from her body with a knife and started to remove her shorts. He had them open and was starting to cut into her under garments when she heard a large thwack, like a baseball bat hitting a pumpkin.
Her molester slumped to the side, finally showing her the face of her rescuer. But a fraction of an instant later, her molester’s companion engaged the man and she was helpless, cuffed to the bed as she was.
But when a Democrat says some inane, unhelpful and quite obviously shocking things to garner press attention (Can you say Cindy Sheehan?), what happens?
I'll tell you what happens. The press licks it up. Like sharks lunching on chum, they froth at the mouths to get the story out there. Other people rally to her like she's some kind of soothsayer in a Zero Mostel comedy. She says that the Iraq war was illegal, that "Bush Lied" and her son died, she calls for the impeachment of the President and bringing him up on War Crimes charges. She's even called the President a terrorist - the worst if my memory serves me correctly. She says that both the War in Afganistan and Iraq are really all about Israel, and if we'd just get rid of the neocons and get out of the Middle East, everything would be pre-9/11 happy again.
Is anybody, and by that I mean somebody with the so-called public stature of Nancy Pelosi, going to demand that Cindy apologize? Hell no.
But does that mean that Pat Robertson is wrong and Cindy Sheehan is right? Hell no.
All it really means is that the left won't attack her because she's on their side and the right won't attack her out of respect for her son. She's got everybody by the short hairs, and it pisses me off. Don't get me wrong, she has every right to spew her bullshit far and wide. But then, the first amendment doesn't just protect Ms. Sheehan, it also protects the speech of Pat Robertson. So he should be able to spew his crap just as far and wide as she does.
And don't give me that crap about Robertson being a "public figure" held to a higher standard and Cindy Sheehan being a "private citizen" in mourning. Cindy has been speaking in public for some time now (even before squatting in Crawford) and is no less of a public figure than Robertson now. In fact, I suspect she's getting far more press than Robertson on a daily basis.
So, that's what pisses me off. Republicans are called on the carpet if they say anything extreme and an apology is demanded. Democrats say something stupid and are embraced as "media darlings."
So, to step into Nancy Pelosi's serviceable pumps (ewww, I feel so dirty) I do hereby DEMAND that Cindy Sheehan apologize to the President, our fighting men and women, and me personally for making my bile rise (remember, I'm pregnant). I'm gonna keep griping until she apologizes.
When a Soldier catches my eye dress uniform or fatigues, I almost cry all crisp and shiny, neat and dry I have to stop and question why?
Why are some so fast to decry, to cast aspersions and imply, that the military is all pork pie -- full of murdering baby-killing bad guys?
Why do they not see it as I: Patriots, Heroes, and Those Who Defy Injustice and Oppression, far or nigh They are what makes our apple pie!
They stand a post, ably by, they sneak and storm and even spy, knowing full well and whereby that "this time" might mean Goodbye.
So, to those, who sneer and raise the hue and cry, I ask the following in reply: Are you prepared to answer the battle cry? Raise a rifle when the enemy comes by? Or are you really just another French fry?
I started watching The West Wing because, although it put liberal issues and agendas front and center as The Only Right and True Way, it did fairly represent more conservative viewpoints. And I mean that to say that they didn't portray all Conservatives and Republicans as wackadoo. However, somewhere in the third season the train jumped the tracks and I couldn't watch it anymore.
When they wrote out the Ainsley Hayes character, in my opinion, it wasn't worth watching anymore. I sure as hell am not going to be drawn back in by guest appearances by Garofalo. Neither will I be induced by appearances by Babs Streisand, Alec Baldwin, Ed Asner, or Chuck E. Cheese.
I am holding my own protest. You shall all be witnesses.
I do hereby announce that I am going to send out vexing and irksome thoughts to Ms. Sheehan until she agrees to quit being a horse's ass and dragging her noble son's name through the media mud. I will wish her to have hangnails, papercuts, splinters, flat tires, indigestion, ingrown hairs, long lines at the grocery, idiotic and unhelpful sales clerks, parking tickets, broken shoe strings, acne, deodorant that fails, charlie horses, weeds in her flower beds, sloppy trashmen.
I will curse her with always entering the stall of a public restroom that is without toilet paper. I will curse her with squeeky shoes that make farting noises when she walks. I will curse her with vegetables that rot in the crisper too soon. I will curse her with the only available parking space being the farthest possible to the entry, whereever she goes.
I will curse her with headaches in the absence of pain relievers. I will curse her with never knowing the date or the time. I will curse her with dead batteries. I will curse her with annoying flies buzzing around her head, and not a fly-swatter in sight.
I will curse her with the continued presence of annoying people asking stupid questions. I will curse her with food stuck between her teeth whenever she gives an interview. I will curse her with bad breath that makes people wince and duck when they speak to her. I will curse her with noisy bowels.
All of this I shall do, peacefully protesting her antics, until she either publicly rescinds all of her previous lies and inflammatory speech and revokes her demand that the President meet with her again, or until I run out of curse powder.
We had our monthly checkup with the OB/GYN yesterday. It has been determined that we are doing just fine. Baby's heart rate was 153 beats/minute - just as it was a week ago when the Fetal Cardiologist took it. So that's good.
The doctor measured me and I measured "just right". However, before he proclaimed this he said, "Lady, you are Pregnant!" It weirded me out that he was so surprised. I mean, it is kind of a relief that the diagnosis hasn't changed. But I was half tempted to answer him with...
"WHAT!?! You are kidding! I thought it was weird that you people kept asking me to come back! And the constant puking should have been a signal. Still, this is all happening so fast."
But I resisted. It is best not to sass the guy who will be playing "catcher" to your "pitcher" in the Big Game, if you know what I mean.
The meme has one list 5 quirks/idiosyncracies and admit to them in all of their shamefulness. So, here's mine. This should give you a look into my brain that creeps you out.
1. The way towels are folded. Oh, man. Am I a freak, or what? I don't like for my towels to folded except in the Phoenix-approved way. Each size of towel has an approved folding method, as do different classes of towels and different location towels. Bath sheets must be folded in half, half again, and then in thirds. They must be stacked in the linen closet with folded edges facing out, not loose edges. Regular size bath towels must be folded in half three times and stored with folded edges facing out. Hand towels are to be folded in half, and then in thirds. Standard rule about folded edges facing out applies. Washclothes are folded in half, with tag hidden, then stacked with edges all facing north when stored. There is another system for kitchen towels and car cleaning towels. God help me, I'm a freak.
2. The location of kitchen equipment. This is a big deal to me because I despise having to look for anything, particularly in my own home. The kitchen is a big deal to me because I love to cook, but also because this is the space in my home most likely to come under attack by semi-authorized and unauthorized individuals. (Semi-authorized would include Prince Charming.) I am a control freak, I know. For example, I have a cannister of kitchen utensils sitting on the counter next to the cooktop. These are items that are meant to be used daily, but that I have no vested concern for. If one disappears or doesn't make it back to the cannister, I won't send out a search party. Then, I have a drawer specifically for Prince Charming's grilling tools. These items are NEVER to mix with mine. Why? Simple. It is because I don't want him rifling through my storage spaces looking for something. So, he has his own drawer. I have a premium equipment drawer. This is MY equipment. Do not use it without asking unless you'd like to lose an arm. Within this drawer, there are dividers. Items in one section should not stray to another section. If you do take your life in your own hands and use one of these utensils, you'd damn well better put it back where you found it. Furthermore, the large majority of these tools are never to see the inside of the dishwasher. Some, however, are permitted this method of cleansing. I don't have the time to itemize the list, so let's just say you should leave it in the sink if you aren't going to handwash it yourself. But that isn't all! If you use my small wisk and anything happens to it, you may not survive the night. Never, ever, ever abuse my good spoonulas. If you mistreat my Wustof Santoku knife, I'll be using it on you. Never use a knife of mine to pry anything open. Never use my knifes to open cardboard or plastic. That's what I have a kitchen scissor for! Do not nest my bowls in an unapproved order. The clear glass should be on the bottom, holding the two blue-glass bowls. The large collander belongs on the topmost shelf in the baking cupboard, not in the plastics drawer. And on and on it goes. My kitchen is a very dangerous place for the untrained. Prince Charming's training is coming along quite nicely.
3. My lists. I make lists. Lots and lots of lists. Then I cross things off of lists. When a list becomes mussed by numerous crossings-out, I remake the list. I have long-term lists, short-term lists, and daily lists. I have project lists, grocery lists, and wish lists. I have a mental list of all of my lists. I have a serious list problem. I do not like to lose a list. I like to always have my lists with me, and be able to make a new list on the go. Don't make fun of my lists, or you'll end up on my list, if you know what I mean.
4. Key Problem. I have a problem with keys. When I was growing up, my mother used to lose the keys all of the time. It was a perpetual problem that consistently meant a key search preceded nearly every departure. She didn't just lose them either. Oh no! She locked them in the car, in the house, and other places. So I'm a freak about keys. I have a rack just inside the garage, for the placement of keys. Hang the keys here. This way, you can grab them on your way out the door, and have a place to put them when you come back. You won't have to look. If you take the Jeep, for heaven's sake, put the keys back on the peg - and the appropriate peg - when you return. Do not leave my keys in the ignition. Do not leave my keys in your pant's pocket, your jacket pocket, or the bottom of some sack. It isn't difficult to comprehend. Just put the keys on the peg. Then I won't have to kill you.
5. I hate to be late. I despise being late. I can't stand it when somebody else makes me late. I would rather be 45 minutes early than 5 minutes late. It doesn't matter what the occasion is either. I am consistently 15-20 minutes early for work. If a party starts at 2:30, you can expect me at 2:30 unless I let the hostess know I have a conflict and will be late. If I have a doctor's appointment, you can expect me to be at least 15 minutes early. I plan ahead so that I won't be late. I find people who can't be on time tiresome because I view this as their inability to plan ahead. Now, I'm not saying that unforeseen things can't happen to make you late. Of course they can. That is why I plan and allow for plenty of time. It is just that, in my experience, it is always the same people who are late for everything. They just can't be on time. I don't know if they are just unlucky, if they fail to plan, or if they just don't consider punctuality a virtue. It doesn't matter. They vex me.
So, there you have it. I am frighteningly close to having full-blown OCD. Scared yet?
Week 20. The experts say that developmentally we can expect the following this week:
We're halfway through the pregnancy, and the baby has as much sleep and awake time as a newborn. The scalp hair begins to grow. If your baby is a girl, her uterus is starting to develop.
I have to be honest. I'm tired of being pregnant. I woke up this morning with an aching back and an aching neck, the products of fretting about not sleeping on my back or my stomach. You see, pregnant ladies are supposed to sleep on their sides, preferably on their left side. My sleeping self knows this and so I don't sleep restfully, but tensely, switching back and forth to my two sides, surrounded by pillows so that I don't accidentally turn over. Hence the neck and back aches, likely all from tension.
But it isn't just the aches. Oh no! I tossed my cookies this morning again. You would think that this would have stopped by now, but it hasn't. So, it looks like I should expect this continue to the very end. I look forward to the month when I don't have to view stomach acid first thing in the morning.
But even that is not enough. This morning I woke up and I physically felt fat. Urg. Like an over-full grain truck waddling to the elevator, that's how I feel. Have you ever driven an over-full grain truck? It isn't pleasant and you must be very careful. Come to think, driving an over-full grain truck makes me tense too.
I have a regular check-up with my OB/GYN this afternoon. With any luck they will have communicated with the Fetal Cardiologist by now.
This from the fellows at Cox & Forkum. It was too good not to post here, considering my many recent posts on the issue. Oh, and The Maximum Leader also weighs in on the topic, declaring it not to be the stupidest idea ever, just in the running for the title. Fair enough.
Now, according to the report, this animal was being restrained by a handler. Moreover,
"This animal had been around people across the country and there's never been a problem," Sheriff William Blundell said in a telephone interview.
So, one would think that this animal was at least partially domesticated, much like the one that attacked Roy Horn. And we all know how well that ended.
So I say again. If partially wild animals are not to be trusted around humans (aka "hot lunches"), then is it really wise to introduce a population of fully wild and extremely carnivorous animals into a region that is already claimed and occupied by humans?
I realize that many people on either coast feel that those of us here in "fly-over country" are just a bunch of gun-totin', conservative bubbas that could use a bit of culling, but we are people too.
I don't care what the BATF says, if you release cheetahs, lions, elephants, and camels into my area, I'm going to consider them a personal threat and arm myself accordingly. The environmentalists can go hang! But don't worry. If I have to kill any of them to protect my life or the life of someone else, I'll be sure to feel bad about it later.
I'm just surprised that Cindy would leave her media throng for anyone. Although, I suspect if things do not go well for Cindy's mother, that too will be blamed on the President, the so-called "illegal" wars in Iraq and Afganistan, and the "evil" Jews.
Then she'll have too victims to piss on. Imagine the party!
I just can't help myself. I had to weigh in on this week's addition too. For those unaware, the Friday Fiction exercise is one in which several bloggers attempt to tell a fictional tale in 1,000 words, all drawing inspiration from the same source.
Now, in the past, this inspiration came in the one or two sentences provided by the hostess. Silk, however, has taken the concept and twisted it into a "picture is worth a thousand words" thingy, providing us with 3 photos each week to provide inspiration. One may choose to use any of the photos or all of them. When I saw this week's photos, I knew that I'd be writing again. So, this one is for SpySistah...
The sleekly sexy couple was preoccupied on the bridge, sharing a kiss that conveyed love at its most passionate and consuming. Or so it seemed to on-lookers who gazed at the couple and the Eiffel Tower in the distance. To the trained eye though, Samantha’s well-toned musculature, coiled and poised at the ready, belied a different agenda. Mark’s strange posture in the kiss, too, would have given them away to a professional. But in the pre-dawn haze, no innocent would ever suspect.
Mark whispered into Sam’s ear as he pretended to nuzzle her neck. “Do you see her?”
She tapped her finger twice on his neck where her fingers had been playing in his hair, indicating no.
Partners they were: teamed together in life and in the desperate game they played for their country. They were both American, but as is so often the case with spies in the field, they could blend into any culture. Samantha’s dark straight locks, almond eyes, and olive complexion made it possible for her to be Hispanic, Italian, Israeli, or Arabic. She spoke French, Russian, Spanish, and enough Yiddish and Arabic to get by. Mark's genial features allayed any questions, making him look younger than his years and putting people off guard. He could pass as Irish, Spanish, French, and Russian if he brooded. His years as a military brat had served him well: he spoke Russian, French, German, and Farsi.
But today’s mission had them speaking French on a bridge and searching for a contact in the light mist that enveloped the early dawn hours.
Samantha spotted the young Algerian girl over Mark’s shoulder and tapped his neck again. He lazily wrapped his arm around her and they sauntered toward the other end of the bridge. The dark haired young lady moved industriously, setting up her artist’s easel facing the Seine. She had palette in hand and was quickly making short work of the canvas before her, painting an impressionistic scene from the Bois du Bologne from memory.
They stopped in front of her to admire her artistry. “That is the Bagatelle Gardens, non?” Mark asked in perfectly accented French.
“Oui.” The girl responded. “A very romantic place, where my parents were engaged.”
“Do you, by any chance, do portraits? We’d love to capture this perfect morning of our love.” Mark was all casualness and calm while Samantha peered away from the artist, seemingly bored with the conversation.
“Non. Je regrette. I am not so good with the human figure. This one you may like.” She said handing him a landscape.
“Beautiful. How much?” Mark finished bargaining, taking note of Samantha’s tensing. The sun had still not risen completely but the mist had stopped. A profound and unnatural stillness enveloped the area.
“What is it?” Mark asked quietly, wrapping his arm around Samantha’s form.
“1,000 yards back, a homeless man…seems a little too interested.” Samantha was a professional and whispered this while gazing besottedly into Mark’s eyes.
“Let’s see if we can’t get back to the van and decode the message. Just for safety, you take it and I’ll keep the picture.” Mark’s hand slipped negligently to the back of the picture, dislodging the chip, and then into his breast pocket. He handed Samantha the chip in his crumpled handkerchief and she blew her nose. The snort was lost in a staccato of rapid gun fire. Mark and Samantha ducked and ran to cover behind a pillar. Samantha was further encumbered by dragging the young contact along with her. Mark’s weapons were concealed in a pair of shoulder holsters under his jacket. Samantha ran and tore the tear-away bottom half of her sheath dress free, revealing her twin 9mm Berettas with the mother of pearl grips.
The two spies exchanged gunfire briefly with their pursuers, before splitting up. “Stargazer! This is ‘Ursa Minor’, plus one. Taking fire! ‘Ursa Major’ north-bound from point. Need Extraction!” Samantha cried this into her coms unit hidden in her necklace. She ditched her spiked heels and ran south toward where she knew the company van was parked. It was driving toward her at breakneck speed and slowed as she approached. The side door slid open and she grabbed the proffered arm and jumped into the vehicle, pushing the Algerian woman in before her.
“Drive up the street, but take the first left!” Samantha urged the driver. She reloaded then looked to her appearance. “Jim, give me your boots!” she ordered, tossing him the chip. Samantha tore away the bodice of her dress, revealing a hot pink pleather bustier. She donned some pink eyeshadow and black lipstick, then spiked her hair up with her fingers by teasing it and letting the severe bun out. “Stop here.” The van slowed to a stop and Samantha hopped from the vehicle, playing the new role of punk rock chick.
She walked with attitude back around the corner and toward the café where she had last seen Mark headed. Her approach was casual, but as she got closer, she began to hear fists hitting flesh. Samantha looked around to make sure that she wasn’t observed. Then, she headed down the alley toward the sounds, stepping carefully and deliberately to keep her presence unknown.
In the dim light, she saw Mark near the end of the alley in desperate need of her assistance against five martial arts aficionados. She engaged two almost immediately. She sent one to his maker rapidly with a swift thrust of her hand, sending his nose into his brain. Another passed out when she kicked him into the brick alley wall, smashing his head. She turned to assist Mark and noted that he was fighting his last foe. When this last villain fell, she turned to the mutilated Mark and suggested they get the hell out of Paris.
“Where are we going?” Mark asked breathlessly.
“Cairo. The cell is in Cairo.”
“Any news of Atta?”
“Sorry. I was a too busy trying to save your ass to debrief. Shall we?”
UPDATE: The other participants have posted.
Mark, the WitNit has a description-rich Femme Noir tale he has entitled Sin City, with a shocking surprise ending. FABULOUS!
Silk weighs in with a tale from the sands of Egypt entitled Masked. I think you will love the ending.
I've been gaining in traffic lately and people are leaving more comments. These are good things, certainly. I mean, at the end of the month I will have been blogging for a year, so it is good to know that I'm improving.
But...I want to know why my modern analysis of the old fairy tales gets more interest than does my essay on a group of scientists' plan to put the Safari version of Jurassic Park in the Midwest? Do you prefer me funny to smart?
I have to tell you, most people laud my brain not my sense of humor. Just asking.
"Scientists" are - get this - urging the reintroduction of cheetahs, lions, camels, and elephants to the American Great Plains and Southwest.
It is so frigging crazy - I'm sputtering and spewing!
Why are they suggesting this? Ah, well, it seems that these areas are not population centers and could provide eco-tourism revenue to these economically "depressed" farming regions. Oh, and because these species are dying out in Africa. And the most hilariously stupid goal (and I mean that it is so stupid I started laughing crazily in a freaked-out sort of way when I read it) is to re-balance the predator-prey relationship in the Great Plains. Apparently, these people consider the rapidly spreading menace of dandelions, jackrabbits, ground hogs, and field mice, and wild flowers to be offensive.
The article calls the idea (I find that term extremely generous) "Pleistocene Park."
So now, for you, I will channel Jeff Goldblum's Dr. Ian Malcolm from Jurassic Park:
You can't reintroduce wild animals into an environment and expect to be able to contain them. Nature selected against them! How the heck are you going to feed cheetahs and lions...and I assume you are planning a cage?
This cage, presumably, is elephant proof? I mean, I know elephants are vegetarian, but they have tremendous strength. They'll knock down a section of that fence or the cheetahs will find another way out. That's what they do. "Life finds a way." Jurassic Park was fiction, true enough, but I think it is the perfect metaphor for this idea. Cheetahs and lions are not going to be content to be fed. No matter how large an area is provided, you still run huge risks to the human populations in these areas. We all know that the cheetah is the fastest land animal on Earth. How the heck are we going to catch one if it escapes, huh?
The entire premise is absurd! First of all, it presupposes that these agrarian areas can easily make room for these new wild animals. What they fail to take into consideration is the fact that large portions of their chosen zone are grazing areas. This means that bison and cattle roam free, or some are more free than others. You see, in the United States we have "fence-in" states and "fence-out" states. This means that, in Kansas for example, a fence-in state, that you are required to keep your animals fenced in for the safety of society. Other states, however, are fence-out states. This means that animals are allowed to range free and if you want them off your property, you must needs build a fence, Bubba.
So what? Now the American Rancher and Farmer will have to fence out Charlotte the Hungry Cheetah to keep his children safe? And what about his livelihood? His herd amounts to a mighty appetizing treat for Charlotte and Lenny the Lion, almost like McDonald's on the Hoof. So you plan to endanger the lives of humans (thinking, advanced beings for the most part), as well as their chosen profession? This is your grand plan? Will you also choose to "introduce" foreign plants to the Great Plains so as to please the Elephant's palate? Will these new plants become the kudzu of this generation and be nearly impossible to kill?
You "scientists" may know lots about the extinction of species, but you don't appear to know diddly about animals. Animals, WILD animals, don't fit into your pretty little boxes. I realize that zoos, circuses, and Las Vegas shows would indicate that these sorts of wild animals can be domesticated and made safe and even make it look easy. But what about Roy Horn? They still don't know why that animal attacked. Animals escape from zoos all of the time too!
Is this the height of arrogance? Do you really think that these wild animals are going to be good neighbors to the farmers and ranchers of the Great Plains and Southwest? 'Cause I don't. For heaven's sake, even the dog and house cat, two animals which have undergone extreme amounts of domestication, revert back to the wild animal world if given the opportunity. House cats will hunt for sport! Dogs, if allowed to go feral, will form packs and hunt as a unit (think Velociraptor). And these are animals that have been selected and trained against this behavior. Do you still think it a good idea to loose really wild animals in areas where grade school children on a playground look like the buffet at a 5-star restaurant?
If you push this, I guarantee that you are going to have trouble with the farmers and ranchers. They are going to want Elephant guns, automatic rifles, and lots of ammo. And I just know you aren't going to be comfortable with that.
Moreover, we already have meat-eating predators in these areas. We have coyotes that cause trouble. We have mountain lions and cougars who come out of the mountains and cause trouble. We don't need to import any more trouble!
Consider the Great Plains and Southwest for just a moment. These are areas not known for their abundance of fresh running water. I'm from a farm that is located on the North fork of the North fork of the Cimarron. This is a fancy way of saying there's a ditch in our neighborhood that's been dry for at least all of my lifetime. In Pleistocene Park, you no doubt plan to feed these animals, but have you also given thought to water? These are animals that seek out and travel long distances looking for water. Six kids in a swimming pool 20 miles away is a short walk to a soup dinner!
I think you scientists, in your zeal to improve the great inequities that Mother Nature has dealt to some species, forget who these species are. Elephants can destroy buildings and cars, uproot trees and other things with no trouble. Elephants tend to follow paths and migrate along the same paths all the time, which could lead to compaction and water runoff issues on our fragile Great Plains soils. Cheetahs are too fast and too hungry to be contained by any fence. They are patient hunters who will adapt to the chewy taste of toddler in no time. Lions are lazier than cheetahs, but not by much. They too will adapt. The camel? How the heck would I know? All I am certain of is...this idea has the smell of a Roland Emmerich film!
Step away from the mary-jane boys, pull your heads out of your asses, and think about it!
No animal is more important than a human life. Not. A. Damn. One.
I know you mean well, but your half-baked grungy-granola plan is not just doomed to failure: it is doomed to end as a bloody footnote in the testing phase.
And your big marketing scheme - the notion that all this eco-tourism revenue could be made...BULLSHIT. Have you actually ever been to any of these places you are advocating becoming Pleistocene Park? Let me be the first to inform you...these places aren't known for their excitement. You aren't going to get people to come to Kansas to see animals they could see at Disney World's Animal Kingdom. Part of the draw of the San Diego Zoo is that it is in California. Trust me: Great Bend, KS is no San Diego! Not. Even. Close.
Did you "scientists" smoke your breakfast, or what? Just desperate to be published? This idea is a bloated corpse on the side of the road. Go get a job!
I'm very excited! So is Prince Charming, though he's currently trying to convince himself that his little girl will throw a perfect spiral and be interested in tractors. As a matter of fact, he's already gotten protective, issuing a warning to the little newborn baby boy in the neighborhood that his little girl is off limits, and that Prince Charming will be keeping an eye on him.
Her heart appears to be fine, at least as well as the Fetal Cardiologist could determine, given the limitations of the technology (we had a fetal echocardiogram this morning). We also had an anomaly ultrasound and everything there looks normal too. They measured her every possible way and estimated that she weighs 11 oz. at the moment.
Her heart rate was measured twice, once in the ultrasound and once during the echo, and came in at 154 and 153 bpm, respectively. The placenta and amniotic sac look good. And we have the full complement of parts: 2 arms, 2 legs, 2 hands, 2 feet, a sturdy little spine and rib cage, and a brain that shows early signs of brilliance (even if I do say so myself). She waved at us and we watched her move around for nearly an hour and a half! She’s pretty active.
I am hugely relieved. I can't even describe it! I was a bit worried that something might be wrong, but everything looked great! I guess I just have exceedingly cautious doctors.
Now, no more procrastinating! It is time to paint, shop, and prepare. No more waiting around twiddling our thumbs!
No, I don't think that title overstates matters or is over the top.
Cindy Sheehan is a Media Whore. Not content to pester and plague the residents of rural Crawford, TX with her ridiculous "protest" and the traffic it has created, now she feels the need to begin bleating about the Isreali/Palestinian conflict. In fact, she feels that The President personally killed her son and is now vowing not to pay her taxes this year as she feels she's already "paid" with her son's life. She also wants the President to be impeached. I'm shocked.
She is a Media Whore. The only way she can stay in the media spotlight is if she keeps saying stupid, outrageous, and shocking things. The media has a very short attention span, after all, and the President is set to stay in Crawford for the month. Her little protest could lose a lot of media traction in that time. I mean, let's face it, she isn't a young, pretty girl who has gone missing, so who really is going to care? She's more like a weathered old crone in the pictures I've seen than a sympathetic character. In all honesty, she's beginning to look like a loon.
A neighbor of the President was checking his shotgun in anticipation of dove season and this got the Cindy Camp a bit riled up. I find it ironic that her "peace" protest was marked with the checking of a weapon for dove season. Let's be perfectly clear: he never threatened anyone or aimed his weapon at anyone. He was perfectly within his rights as this happened on his own property, as evidenced by the fact that no law enforcement agency took umbrage at his actions.
Still and all, if I were him, I would have set up a rifle range on that corner of the property and started teaching gun safety and marksmanship to 8-year-olds out there. Mostly 'cause I'm a bitch and the woman pisses me off.
Why does she piss me off? She clearly thinks that she is more important than anybody else. She's already gotten to meet the President once, but now demands a second hearing? BULLSHIT! She had her chance! There are plenty of folks who've lost family in Iraq and Afganistan that haven't gotten face time with the President. What makes her so goddamn special, huh? I'll tell you: She's a damn Media Whore. She's fucking entitled. I call Bullshit, again.
While I respect the fact that she has a right to protest and to speak her mind, it offends me that she's pissing on her own son's grave. Why doesn't she just come out and call her son a "baby killer" and get it over with. And let's be honest, Cindy Sheehan, your son was an adult and served this country of his own free will. She didn't pay anything with her son's life. Her son paid with his life - something that belonged to him, not her. She may have brought him into this world, but at some point you have to cut the apron strings, lady, and let a man do what he must.
I'm sorry that her son died. I really am. I feel for every family that has lost someone in the war. But, that doesn't make our President a "war criminal" anymore than her son's death makes her a saint. Of course she hurts. How could she not? But she should spend a little more time honoring her son than pissing on his grave and disrespecting the cause he gave his life for. This betrayal of her son's honor, I feel, amounts to child abuse. She's beating the crap out of his memory, almost as though she blames him for dying, just like one beats that proverbial dead horse. She's kicking the crap out of her son's memory. It is disgusting to me that she's doing it, disgusting that she's being encouraged to do it by the media, and disgusting that her family hasn't shut her up already.
She's a media whore, not unlike Al Sharpton, and a child beater to boot.
Week 19 is here! This is baby sex determination week and I am so excited! I thought that I was excited last week, but that was nothing compared to my current excitement. I am all a-twitter.
The experts say the following about this week's development:
Along with the lanugo, vernix caseosa forms on your baby's skin. Vernix is a white cheesy substance that protects your baby's skin from its aquatic environment ~ imagine how your skin would look if you sat in water for nine months! The placenta continues to grow and nourish the baby.
You know, there are a lot of parts of pregnancy that are really gross. Vernix is hardly the first, but it definitely ranks up there.
In other news, my big baby gear shopping/research expedition plans got changed a bit. Instead of going with a friend, I ended up going with Prince Charming on Saturday afternoon. If was a bust. I mean, there were so many pregnant couples there looking at stuff I felt like I couldn't do anything. There was a line behind certain stroller models and Prince Charming was less than enthused to be shopping in the first place. In fact, I think the only reason he agreed to go in the first place was my promise that we could have supper at Quaker Steak and Lube.
Prince Charming is not a shopper. It isn't that he's disinterested in the baby, just retail venues in general. He is not shopping-enabled. He is a shop-a-phobe. I should have known better than to expect him to have an opinion, I guess. One crib or stroller is the same as the next to him. Needless to say, it was a fruitless enterprise. Maybe I can get my mother to come up and do the research with me.
I've been having trouble sleeping. Of course, that may have something to do with the every-2-hour pee breaks. That is so annoying! On top of that little nuisance is the need to sleep on my side. You are supposed to sleep on the left side, but you are not supposed to sleep on your back or on your front. So, in order to keep my sleeping self from reverting to the more comfortable positions, I have to sleep surrounded by pillows to keep me from turning. Which is annoying because it makes me hot and I prefer to be cool while I'm asleep. So sometimes I have to switch to my right side to get comfortable again.
Silk wanted to know my take on two more fairy tales, so I expanded the list a bit and now have the following additional lessons to offer up, gleaned from a fresh perusal of a handful of quite famous fairy tales.
Jack and the Beanstalk:
Jack and his mum were in an economic tight spot when they decided to sell that cow. Jack had always been unsuccessful when seeking gainful employment away from the farm, so why did Jack's mum think he was the best man for the job of selling the cow? I haven't a clue. I can be fairly certain, however, that if you are having trouble finding a job in town, maybe you aren't the best person to negotiate the sale of your only remaining asset.
However, if you are going to negotiate the sale on your own (unwise considering your abilities) do be sure to seek all pertinent information. What good are beans that germinate and grow overnight? What is the crop? Is it saleable? Who cares if the beans grow overnight if it can't be turned into cash? Remember, you are in financial straits. Getting flush again is the whole point, and usually not remedied by a fast-growing pie-in-the-sky concept.
If you meet someone who readily admits to eating people like you for breakfast and doesn't mean that as a euphemism, GET OUT. RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN!
If you do happen to get away from the one who would have had you for lunch and find that it has enriched your purse, don't get greedy. Don't go back, pressing your luck. One of these days you'll run out of luck. It would be a real shame if you discovered this in the casserole dish.
The Little Mermaid:
More dos and don'ts about deal-making. When you are negotiating a deal, particularly with an untrustworthy and unsavory character, (come on! Are you stupid or what?) be absolutely certain that you know what is "fair" and what is "foul" according to the terms.
Furthermore, negotiate from a position of power. If your father is the great and almighty Sea King, don't be cowed by the underbelly of the sea. They don't know you don't have permission to make the deal. Drop Daddy's name if you have to, just don't be tied to a no-win deal.
The Princess and the Pea:
Honey, if your skin is that sensitive, I'm wondering if you aren't a hemophiliac. See a doctor.
Also, all modern day princesses should be aware that any "prince" who demands only the most "sensitive" of princesses, likely doesn't deserve one. How smug and superior to insist on some ridiculous measure of a princess and not care one bit for her cleverness or her leadership skills! I suggest to you that a real Prince wouldn't make any lady suffer the torture of a whole night's poor sleep, particularly when she came to the castle in dire straits to begin with. He's a sicko, a sadist. Steer well clear of him.
The Frog Prince:
All men are slimy frogs in the beginning. Some men can shed the slime when kissed by the right woman. However, this means that all princesses have to kiss a lot of frogs before they find one with the potential for metamorphosis. Since a considerable amount of slime-kissing is in your future, prepare yourself with a layer of protection in the form of a sturdy, waterproof lipgloss.
Stop dropping your prized possessions in the well, you twit! If you prize it, don't be so capricious in the care of your treasure.
Little Red Riding Hood:
Stick to the plan and the schedule. Don't be lured off of the path and procrastinate with the seductions of strawberries, butterflies, and flowers. Only simpletons are so stupid in a forest filled with dangerous animals.
If it doesn't look like Grandma, sound like Grandma, or smell like Grandma...it might not actually be Grandma. Ask a question that only Grandma knows the answer to, for cripes sake! Don't doubt your own initial instincts or it could land you in the belly of the beast.
Beauty and the Beast:
The actions of a man speak louder than his words. If a suitor keeps his promise to you and has proven himself to be a kind man, you must also keep your word to him. Else, you'll be branded a heartless beast yourself and end up with someone much less deserving.
All men seem to be beasts in the beginning. They are rough around the edges and in need of domestication. However, in time, all animals can be trained. Just keep an eye on the rugs during the training process, and don't forget to reward positive behavior with treats.
Here we are: 4 days out from the big day, the day we learn if the baby's heart is okay, if he or she is developing normally, and, indeed, whether it is a he or a she.
I am all a twitter! I mean it, I am fairly bubbling with anticipation. My first thoughts, of course, are for the baby's health and welfare, but I am a rather optimistic person. I have been given no reason to suspect that something is wrong in those areas, but that these examinations are merely precautionary. As such, I will admit to being very interested in the baby's sex.
"Interested" doesn't quite say it.
I am ready to know if the little one is going to be a little girl or a little boy. So ready.
I want to start painting the nursery and decorating. I want to start shopping! I am a control freak, a planner, and a major campaigner. I make lists, check things off, and keep to a schedule. I know, it is not very romantic, but it is quite pragmatic. This is who I am. I can't be any different. So sue me.
Part of me would love to have a beautiful little girl. Dark curly locks and green eyes, someone upon whom Daddy will dote. But it would be equally wonderful to have a mischievous little boy, someone upon whom Daddy will begin to impart all the knowledge of football.
Prince Charming won't tell me if he has a preference. I don't really have a preference either. I am aware that, biologically speaking, it is all up to him. However, in my family, every eldest daughter has always given birth to an eldest daughter. Will I be the one to break this chain?
We'll know on Tuesday.
Which brings up a funny little truth. Everybody knows we are supposed to find out the sex of the baby on Tuesday. Do you have any idea how many people want to be the first person we tell? Many! And everytime I bring up informing people in a mass email, I get the poo-poo-ed, "Oh, that's fine, but call me, okay?"
Despite this, I will be informing you, my faithful readers, in a post on either Tuesday or Wednesday. (It may take me a while to make all of those phone calls.) Will we have a little Villain Vanquisher or a Villain Vanquishette?
Despite what my sloppy typing may have conveyed, I really do know that "too" means also and do not intend to confuse it with "to". I also know the difference between "say" and "save", but my rapidly flying fingers rarely pause when my brain is on a roll.
I apologize for appearing dumb as a rock and making your reading difficult.
Silk took over the "Take Two" organizational responsibilities from the lovely Christina and gave it a twist. She proposed that instead of being given a snippet of text from which to draw our inspiration, that we would all view the same photo, or photos, and let them be our muse.
As such, Silk delivered the following pics for this week's literary exercise. We were told that we could draw from a single photo, or any combination of the three. As such, my humble submission follows. (I think you'll soon see where my inspiration came from.)
I don't really know where the story came from, but it flew from my mind as my fingers flashed across the keyboard. Personally, I don't think it as good as my first foray into the realm of fiction (that being my tale of Ariadne) but, it is still enjoyable, I think. Of course, my first story had three weeks worth of revisions and I hardly revised this one at all after the first read-through. If it is rough, blame the amount of free time I've had between work and researching strollers, cribs, carseats, and layettes.
Leave me a comment and let me know what you thought of it. Oh, and be sure to check out the other entries in this week's Take Two.
Without further ado...
Missy stood silently in her assigned spot and wondered how adults could be so dumb. She just knew that the dress she would be wearing tomorrow in this spot would be itchy and she’d have to wear those nasty white tights. She watched as her big sister and her boyfriend stood at the altar “rehearsing” with the preacher.
Annabelle and Marcus couldn’t hear what Marcus’s mother was saying behind their backs, but Missy could. How could the old bat be so mean? Missy swore that if she were older or taller she’d call the decrepit old biddy out on her catty behavior. She’d had the gall to sit in the pew with her equally archaic and foul smelling friends, discussing the desirability of her sister to be the vessel that delivered the next generation. Talking about the thickness of her thighs and the width of her hips, Missy recognized the behavior as being the same as what she went through at school, only she was picked on for wearing glasses.
Missy stood in her spot fuming, frown on her face. Mom looked at her sharply from her seat in the pew silently communicating, “Put on a happy face or else!” But then, Mom couldn’t hear what was being said. Missy smiled at the thought of her own mother tearing Mrs. Weatherby’s throat out like the lions do on Animal Planet. The smile pleased Mom and she looked away.
The rehearsal ended in a scrum when Annabelle and Marcus pretended to walk back down the aisle as man and wife. Missy followed the throng out of the church and in no time was seated with her parents and her brother Nathan at their table in the restaurant. Nathan was such a baby; only five and very messy with food. But, Annabelle had needed a ring bearer, so Missy grudgingly accepted his presence.
“Missy,” Mom said, “do you want chicken or fish?”
“Chicken, please, and can I have a Shirley Temple too?”
“I suppose. Nathan:,” she said to her youngest, “Fish or Chicken?”
“Is the fish in sticks? I’m only eatin’ ‘em if they’re in sticks. Fries are sticks, can I have fries too?”
“Hmm. We’ll see.”
The waitress came and took their order, and then left them to their devices. Mom and Dad busied themselves making nice with the aunts, uncles, and cousins that so rarely visited, even making polite conversation with Marcus’s mean mother. When dinner was served by 20 white-coated waiters, everyone returned to their seats.
Nathan was enraptured with his meal of sticks: French fries, fish sticks, and carrot sticks. Missy thought it all extremely ridiculous, but understood that her parents were just trying to keep Nathan happy so that he wouldn’t be trouble.
“You see,” Nathan said quite seriously, “food in sticks is perfect. No fork, no problem. Sticks are easy to hold, easy to bite, and easy to blow.” Nathan demonstrated by swinging a ketchup-laden fry in Missy’s direction.
As with all accidents, time seemed to slow, but not quickly enough to prevent the ketchup from flinging onto Missy’s face and hair. Nathan found this hilarious and could not be controlled. Mom attempted to quiet him while urging Missy to clean up in the lady’s room.
She was furious at this humiliation, but showed Nathan how one is supposed to act by wiping her face with the cloth napkin and gracefully rising from her seat. She was still furious when she arrived in the bathroom. She used the handsoap to lather her face and the side of her hair that had been coated in condiment, then rinsed.
Once presentable again, she made her way into a stall. She struggled with the many layers of her skirt, attempting to keep them out of the bowl while she eased her tights down to her knees.
As she sat there, she heard two ladies enter and begin chatting at the mirror. She stayed seated when she realized that she had been joined by none other than Mrs. Weatherby and Marcus’s vile aunt.
“I tell you, she is not good stock. He should have chosen better,” the lady spoke with a firmness that identified her as Marcus’s mother.
“What can you do? Things are not the same here. He must be given his choice.” The aunt clearly was tying to avoid irritating the old bat.
“Even so, her inadequacies abound! She is pale, skinny, and I am not convinced of her intelligence.”
“But, I was told she is a doctor.”
“She’s studying to be a doctor. Don’t let the distinction confuse you.” Why was Missy the only one ever privy to these observations?
They continued their verbal assault of her sister, unknowingly infuriating Missy to the breaking point. She pulled up her tights, flushed, then smoothed out her skirts.
“Well…,” Marcus’s mother began again, “I suppose she will have to do for his first….”
Missy couldn’t take it anymore. She swung the door of the stall violently open and began speaking before she even laid eyes on the two vicious hens.
“My sister is very smart, I’ll have you know! She graduated at the top of her class at Notre Dame, and they don’t just let anybody into Harvard Medical! She is very nice and will make an excellent mother, something I’m sure neither of you will understand at all. If anything, I doubt Marcus deserves….” Missy’s voice trailed off in shock when she saw the face of her sister’s future mother-in-law. Sallow skin clung to the overlarge head of the alien. It had deep dark shadowed eye sockets that contained dark black, glistening eyes without any white parts. Her nose was only two small slits on a nearly imperceptible bump.
They were aliens. Aliens. She quickly pivoted and walked out of the bathroom, eyes wide open and unspeaking. When she reached the relative safety of the table, she sat, still shocked to her core.
“That’s much better dear. See, everything is fine. Daddy ordered you another Shirley Temple.”
UPDATE: The other participants' efforts can be found at the following sites...
Feisty Christina's efforts cast mine not in the shade, but in a dark so bleak I can't find my way out. It is brilliant, touching, shocking, and very well done. Read it, you won't be disappointed.
1. Like this news that Britain is expelling 10 foreigners that are a threat to the nation. You just know this is gonna piss off the Amnesty International crowd.
2. And this news, that very quietly is being shopped around Texas, of a civilian branch being added to existing Border Control efforts. These individuals would be trained and deputized, though I'm not fond of the idea that they would be out there unarmed. But still, it is an idea that is about, oh, 15 years past it's time.
Surely, taken together, these two items must be a sign of the apocalypse.
It seems to me that many fairy tales were written to keep young children in line, instilling lessons in them to obey their parents, distrust strangers, and the like.
However, as a woman, and an adult, I take the following lessons from these famous fairy tales:
For criminey's sake, if someone tells you not to touch something, Do Not, under any circumstance, Touch It!
It is very important to keep up your appearance. It would be a real shame if you tragically fell asleep, drool drying on your pale and unkempt cheek, and your prince took one look at you and decided not to say your ugly-assed self. If you do not have naturally rosy cheeks and lips, invest in a good moisturizer and a decent lip gloss.
Don't be an idiot. Sometimes it is right to treat suspicious characters as suspicious characters. For heaven's sake, look the gift horse in the mouth and don't eat anything if you don't know where it came from.
Sometimes fruits and vegetables aren't the best thing for you.
See also, Sleeping Beauty lesson 2.
Work hard, by all means, but never so hard that you look like hell. What if your fairy godmother has the night off?
The shoes make the outfit. The right shoes can make the girl!
Never, ever, ever be late.
Proper hair care is never wasted time. You should take diligent care of your tresses as they are your crowning glory, an important asset, and can be very handy in a pinch. What would have been Rapunzel's fate had she split ends? I shudder to think....
Don't just let anybody come into your window.
Hansel & Gretel
Cleverness is very important. Oftentimes your best course of action will be too outwit your enemy.
There is no harm in playing up your innocence. Don't act dumb, just sweetly innocent, and you will be rewarded and make others look like cynics and asses.
If you are going to enter into an agreement, get it in writing. More importantly, READ THE FINE PRINT!
Gathering intelligence is crucial to any successful operation.
There you have it, my fine friends: The major fairy tales boiled down to the lessons they offer up for the girl of 2005. As I think you will see, the advice is sound. If you are curious what other fairy tales offer up modern lessons, leave a request for a specific fairy tale in the comments.
One of the Divas is hanging up her feathered boa. That's right, Feisty Christina is quitting the blogosphere. I feel like a huge hole has opened up in my galaxy, a rip in the space-time continuum, if you will. What shall we do without stories of Sweet One's growing up and Wee One's precocious exploits? My daily surf just won't be the same.
This post is so highly controversial, in fact, that a select committee agreed that it wouldn't be posted. Which I found extremely amusing, since they didn't actually ask me so much as tell me that it wouldn't be posted.
So I have my own little committee of censors. That is quite a development. I'm not blogging with the big dogs, but how many of them can lay claim to their own Censorship Committee?
That's what I thought.
But I had to ask myself if I was the kind of girl to bow to censorship. Regular readers won't have any trouble figuring the answer to that question. We call ourselves "Villians Vanquished" - not "It would be ever so nice if these people wouldn't be so mean to us little people, please, pretty please, with sugar on top?"
So, while I am loathe to bow to my censors' wishes, I find myself unable to defy them. You see, they made their proclamation while forgetting that, being absent from the festivities, I wouldn't have much to say on the subject.
What can I say? I was tired and didn't feel well. I'm sorry that I wimped out, but the baby has to come first. If he/she says "no", that's all there is to it. The baby has ways of punishing me if I don't tow the line.
So, there it is. The most highly controversial post of the decade.
I have recently discovered that the truly wicked go to a special part of hell. Namely, Customer Service.
I went to the post office on Friday afterwork. I arrived at 4:35 p.m. and the door said that they were open from "8 am to 5 pm, Monday - Friday." However, once I got inside, I immediately realized that the gate had been shut and they were no longer "helping" customers. So, I rang the bell indicating my need for service. It was then that I saw the sign over the closed window that said "Open 8 am to 4:30 pm, Monday - Friday." So two different signs. It seems the door is open until 5 pm, but you can't get any service after 4:30 pm. Handy, huh? They weren't even close to being helpful.
Earlier in the day Friday I was wrangling with a computer company's customer service line. Somebody tell me why you have to answer the same slew of questions three times before anyone will actually speak to you about your problem? The disembodied voice who answers the phone requests info then repeats it to make sure HeShe has it correct. Then, you are put on hold (an equally evil, less intense level of hell) to await your first human contact.
This human, to whom English appears to be a second language at best, speaks so rapidly you have no idea what they are saying. You begin to wonder if they are speaking fast because they are jacked up on caffeine from the need to be awake and at work at 3 am in Upper Bangladeshi, or where ever they are. In no time you find yourself answering the same questions that the disembodied voice asked and return to the hell of hold.
Finally you are transfered to yet another person, equally English-challenged, who re-asks the same questions you've already answered twice. But, this person at least seems interested in helping you, so you forgive him. He asks you the nature of your trouble and you inform him you need to know when FedEx will be picking up your broken computer for repair. He returns you to the land of hold so that he can look into that for you.
"Yes, Ma'am. That will be picked up on August 2nd." Said in a heavily accented obsequious manner.
"Well, that's a slight problem. I don't know what day it is where you are, but it is August 5th here." Can you tell I was frustrated?
"Ah, I see the problem. " Clever boy. "I put you on hold again, please."
"Okay. That be pick up on Monday, August 8."
"But I was told on Wednesday that it would be picked up today."
Pursuant to the NCAA's grand announcement about "negative" and "abusive" Native American mascots, which I ranted about here, I do hereby propose a new mascot for my Alma Mater, The University of Illinois.
I propose that we change our mascot to The Flaccid Penis.
Has a certain ring to it, doesn't it?
The Flaccid Penis has quite a lot going for it. Firstly, who could be offended by a penis? Everybody either has one or owes their existence to one (or both). So who can be offended? Furthermore, since it is a flaccid penis, it is not a symbol of power, but of potential. Which, to me, is a very positive message to send. "We aren't about power, but harnessing potential, and making you all that you can be." See? Very positive image that embraces all comers. (Tee hee.)
Not even womyn's groups can be upset with a flaccid penis because it can do nothing to subjugate them.
Next, think of all of the great cheers, slogans, and clothing for sale! "Get Screwed at the University of Illinois", "The Big Dick is Here, Get Ready", "University of Illinois Blow Out", etc. If South Carolina can market hats that proudly proclaim "COCKS," the University of Illinois can do them one better. Everybody will want a Flaccid Penis stuffed doll, hat, and sweatshirt! We'll be rolling in the dough!
And the very best part of the whole proposal...
It would be one hell of a way to tell the NCAA to "SUCK THIS!"
I felt woefully stupid this weekend when I attempted to go baby equipment shopping. I felt so unprepared and stupid! I walked into this place and there were 40 strollers on display. How in hell does one choose from 40 possibilities if one can't even figure out what the critical features are? For example, all of the strollers had wheels.
And it wasn't just the strollers. There are car seats, playards, bottles, toys, baths, cribs, bassinettes, and a million other gadgets.
I looked at the cribs and couldn't get a single one to let down it's side so that I could test the mechanism. If I can't work it at the store, will I ever get it to work at home? Somehow I doubt it!
So, next time I'm not going alone. I have put out pleas for advice about brands, models, and features. If you have any advice, please leave it in the comments with an explanation of why it was so good or so bad.
I hate to feel so stupid that I can't choose a stroller. It makes me feel weak.
Week 18 is here. That means there is only 9 days until we find out if we are having a little boy or a little girl! Which is very exciting, to say the least. The experts say that this week is all about...
Our little one is nearly half a pound now and very human looking. Pads are forming on the fingertips and toes, and the eyes are looking forward rather than out the sides of the head. Meconium, the baby's first bowel movement, is accumulating within the bowel. If your baby is a boy, his prostate gland is beginning to develop.
If you notice your belly making jerky movements in sync, don't panic; your baby may have the hiccups!
Hiccups in the womb? I don't think I'm prepared for that. Physically, I'm no different than I was last week. I still haven't felt the baby move or kick, but friends have assured me that they didn't feel it this early either. I was sick again this morning, much to my displeasure.
Prince Charming and I discussed names again this weekend. We have settled on a name for a girl and have continued working on a boy's name. We are getting closer on that front.
The power to make recess appointments is a sacred one, and should be exercised only by a benevolent Democrat president for awarding ambassadorships to campaign contributors and chicks he's banging, without any partisan interference from an obstructive right-wing congress.
I am so freakin' pissed I can't even see straight! This article brings me to the conclusion that Political Correctness has gone too far. That, and the NCAA FUCKING SUCKS.
And no, that isn't too harsh!
The gist? Well, the NCAA feels that certain mascots by college teams that are derived from Indians are "hostile or abusive." So, these schools will be unable to participate in NCAA tournaments unless they change uniforms and other clothing, effective February 1st.
The NCAA has fingered Florida State's Seminoles and Illinois' Illini as among the offensive and racist. However, North Carolina - Pembroke's Braves are okay with the NCAA because, get this, 20% of the student body is American Indian.
This is dishonest! Do you know who has a problem with the Seminoles and the Illini? I can tell you who it is! I am an Illini. SpySistah is an Illini. The only people who have problems with the Illini are the same people who have problems with everything else. They are the ones who have problems with the term "semester" as it lends too much credence to the male. They are the ones who find offensive the mere existence of sororities as negative reinforcement of prevailing images of women. They are the same loonies who take offense, forgive me, at every damn thing.
You don't say hello to them (perfect strangers) on the Quad - "Die Racist Pig!"
You don't want to go out with him or her - "Die Racist Pig!"
At the University of Illinois, The Chief is revered. The portrayal of Chief Illiniwek at the beginning of each game is an honored event treated with quiet respect by the student body and the Alumni. You have to go to a special training session in order to portray Chief Illiniwek. And then, of course, there is the small matter of the obvious.
If the Illini were not respected by the student body, wouldn't we vote to change the name ourselves? If we disrespected or found the symbol offensive, would we want to be identified with it? For example, how many teams are known as the "clumsy rapists" or "imperial Nazis" or "stupid motherfuckers"?
None that I'm aware of, certainly.
So, if we treat it with respect and care and admiration, what's the big freakin' deal?
What if I were Irish and took offense at the portrayal of the Leprechaun by Notre Dame? What if I am a bird lover and find the portrayal of the Iowa Hawk offensive? What if I was offended at the portrayal of the Boilermaker by Purdue, was an animal lover and took offense at Wisconsin putting a badger in a red sweater, or was a nut lover who objected to Ohio being "Buckeyes"?
Wouldn't you quite rightly tell me to get over myself and get glad in the same pants I got mad in?
The latest blogosphere brouhaha, history of which can be found here and here, is all about one female so-called top blogger's assertion that women don't generally have the sensibilities to be President of the United States. Moreover, she asserts that she doesn't care what you or I little people think, since she's the top dog and people read her crap, her's is the only opinion that matters.
Such a nasty and petty, and too-big-for-her-britches display is the primary reason why I'm not going to link to her. The fact of the matter is, I find her sweeping generalization, lacking in any sort of support or argument, to be little more than an attention grab, not unlike the four-year-old who throws a temper tantrum when you prevent him from beating his little brother with a bat.
No, instead, I'd like to address the actual arguments of the idea of a woman being capable of being the President of the United States. (A blogger discuss an idea - now that's a novel idea.)
First off, I think sweeping generalizations are just dumb. The next thing you know, she'll be saying women don't have brains and aren't fit for the work place, the vote, or even be entitled to having an opinion. Honestly, the whole argument sucks.
I could make the same claim about men. After all, statistics "suggest" that men think about sex every 7 seconds, isn't that what I've heard? It seems to me that that makes a man, generally, very preoccupied. Preoccupation, in my mind, doesn't go well with the guy who has a finger on the big red button. Case in point: Bill Clinton. I'm not saying that he ever pushed the big red button, but you could certainly paint a picture of him as one who was a man, President, and definitely preoccupied by sex and his favorite humidor.
Woman is every bit as capable of being President as man is. Women run corporations and businesses all over this country and world. They are Governors, Senators, Doctors, Lawyers, Agronomists, and even Mothers. Women balance career, kids, house, and carpooling everyday. Surely they could balance the House, Senate, the Court, and the media just as well. Women have been a part of the building of this country, I see no reason to deny them, in general, the top job. So long as they are 35-years-old and a natural born American, they meet the Constitutional requirements.
But, just like you evaluate male candidates on merit, ideology, and history, you should do the same with a female candidate. I don't think you should vote for someone just because they are male, female, or have good hair. To me, (and I know this is soooo unreasonable), you must look for leadership, integrity, a can-do get-it-done attitude, and a firmness. I don't want someone who can be bought (Bill Clinton). I don't want someone who seems to have no firm beliefs, but waits for the opinion polls to come in before making a stand (Hillary Clinton). I don't want someone so lacking in personal integrity and loyalty that he will lie about his friends (John Kerry).
I think the sensible thing to do is evaluate each candidate on his OR her merits. Then, make the best decision.
There is no part of being President that requires the use of a penis. If there were, Clinton would have accomplished more. (Sorry, we are all about the cheap laughs here at Villians Vanquished.) A vagina is not a detriment to clear thought. If anything, having a woman in the White House might teach the other world leaders not to fuck with us.
If you were some hardline Middle Eastern Potentate of an emerging nuclear power (think Iran) would you really press President Phoenix when she is PMSing? Dude, that's the surest way I know to getting fubar! Moreover, the female of a species tends to be the more aggressive, a natural instinct that comes of having to protect the next generation. Do you really think a woman President is going to callously disregard a whole nation's next generation? Not bloody likely.
Even further, a woman is not likely to send in troops without fully considering first. Troops, too, are somebody's children. Women also tend to be more sensitive to and tuned in to the feelings of others. This would most certainly be helpful in negotiations and diplomacy efforts. It might have been helpful, for example, in 1941 when we were seeking a "diplomatic solution" with the Japanese while they were planning a certain little attack on Pearl Harbor. Women, you see, are good at identifying when people are not being entirely honest. I can't count the number of times that I've seen behind the facade to the manipulations and machinations of someone's intent, mentioned it to a man and he was completely clueless.
None of which is to say that men don't have these same qualities.
I simply mean to point out the rationale and reason for judging a candidate on his or her merits, and not on their plumbing.