Friday, March 31, 2017

Teenagers Leaving the Nest

They come to us as helpless bundles of joy. Our lives take on more profound meaning than we ever imagined. As parents, we have huge expectations for ourselves and our children.

There are sleepless nights as the baby's needs come before our own. Every whimper or cry sets off our alarms as we selflessly devote to determining and rectifying the cause. They are fed, diapered, and nurtured in every way that we can guess might quiet the infant sounds of distress.

We watch with anticipation and glee as they gain weight, grow and develop control of their little muscles and frame. We hang on every sound that they make as toddlers, while they learn to form words and communicate with us in words rather than cries.

Soon they become preschoolers and we devote hours of time to them as they learn colors, numbers, alphabet, and names of objects from books and "educational" toys. We are an ocean of knowledge. They are the insatiable sponge of all that we can offer.

As they move into the pre-teen years, their horizons expand considerably. They may even challenge the status that has been given them, from time-to-time. Family vacations are planned for what might be the most fun and educational for the children.

When hormones begin to manifest the morph of our children into teenagers, we recall with vivid reality the times that we might not have survived those years into adulthood ourselves. Our fears for our children surviving their teen years are more profound than we could have ever have imagined the mental suffering that we caused our own parents.

The fact remains that these youths, though mottled with signs of adolescence, have full-feathered wings. However lacking that they might in the navigating the skies they are going to fly. Many teenagers, suffering the stress of trying to act like an adult without the full autonomy of being an adult, become frustrated and threaten to leave home. A few actually do.

Some of my adult children have teenagers, and even grandchildren, of their own now. I used to tell them, as young adults, that a teenager leaving home was like a baby maturing out of the need for diapers. I did not mind going through it but there would not be any do-overs. Looking back on how this worked out, I am eternally thankful that none of them went back to shitting their pants, too.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Raised versus Reared

In contemporary times most people refer to a child's upbringing as being raised. That is an evolution of American English. It was once considered proper grammar to say that children were reared rather than raised.

The term raised was used in reference to farmers bringing animals to maturity for market or growing crops until ready for harvest. Now, to say that one was reared rather than raised only tells the age of the speaker or makes him sound as if he is talking down to others.

Being somewhat of a grammar Nazi I avoid both terms. Instead, I will say, for example, that I was "brought up in Iowa." When you think about growing up in Iowa, which is a state stereotypically thought of for agriculture, it throws a much different connotation into the phrase "raised in Iowa." 

Thinking back, Dad often had colorful ways of getting his point across. I remember, on occasion, that one of us would be told that if we were going to eat like hogs then we could get away from the table and he would get a feed trough for the offender to eat out of.

One thing that I'm certain of, though, is that I felt more reared than raised when a high velocity motivator, applied for benefit of behavior modification, impacted my backside. However, in extreme needs of motivation I was occasionally raised by the sudden impact of a size ten-and-a-half boot to my rear.

One of my father's favorite warnings when my behavior wasn't in sync with his expectations was to say, "If you don't do like I told you right now then you and I are going to be going to the hospital to get my foot taken out of your butt."

Years later, as an adult, that conjures quite the humorous visual image for me. Imagining that I am walking into the emergency room slightly hunched over with my father hopping behind me on one foot will always bring a smile to my thoughts. My mother would have had to drive us, though, because Dad could never have managed the clutch of his three-on-the-tree manual shift transmission on the old Ford. Nonetheless, the warning was effective back in my childhood.

Thankfully, it's all behind me now.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Too Hot to Handle

Matt brought the pot of chili to a boil and then turned it down to simmer for awhile. He and Jason, his roomie were having friends over on Saturday to watch the game. Matt’s chili was always a popular request.

Matt made it from scratch and used only fresh ingredients. Nothing that went into his chili came out of a can, package or shaker jar. After cooking, he always let the chili set in the refrigerator for a day or two to bring the flavors together.

Matt watched the news as the chili simmered. About an hour later he got up and turned off the chili so that it could cool. He turned off the TV and settled back into the recliner to do some assigned reading for one of his classes.

The recliner wasn’t the best place to read. It wasn’t long before Matt dozed off. When he woke up later he found that involuntary vascular dilations had caused some discomfort in his jeans.

Matt tugged at his jeans and pushed things around in an effort to ease the discomfort. It wasn’t working. He looked at the clock on his phone. Jason was at work and wouldn’t be home for hours. There was no sense of letting this go to waste.

Matt stood up, stripped down and kicked back in the recliner totally naked. Ninety percent of guys will admit to self-gratification on occasion. The other ten percent were liars in Matt’s opinion.

Not long after getting started, Matt realized that he should have washed his hands after cutting up the chili peppers. However, the climbing warmth, from within, was overriding the heat upon his tender parts as he continued in his excitement. It wasn’t long before the sensation of the chili peppers was actually enhancing Matt’s gradual building of internal rush.

When Matt climaxed it was far better than any Do-It-Yourself experience that he could remember in the recent past. All of the fibers of his body relaxed as Matt melted into the recliner. The soldier went from full attention to parade rest. Soon it was fully at ease and the remaining semen that was oozing from it turned cold against Matt’s abdomen.

About that time another sensation won Matt’s attention. The excitement was over but the heat of fresh chili peppers on Matt’s pecker was not. There are approximately three-thousand nerve endings in a male penis. And now, every one of those nerves was sending signals of extreme burning terror to Matt’s brain.

He grabbed his shorts and wiped himself clean of semen before charging to the kitchen sink. He soaked a wash cloth in cold water and began rubbing himself with it in effort to gain relief. Most everyone has experienced trying to drink water for relief from spicy food in their mouth.

Water wasn’t working on Matt’s privates any better than it does in one’s mouth. In fact, it was worse. Rubbing with the wet cloth had spread the capsaicin to his scrotum. There, it burned worse than on his penis.

Then he remembered that drinking milk would help to calm a mouth burning of spicy food. There was no milk in the refrigerator but there were snack-sized containers of fruit-flavored yogurt. Grabbing the first one in reach, Matt peeled back the foil cover and applied a generous supply to his burning privates.

He was starting to feel better when there was a knock at the door. Matt froze. Then he could hear female voices outside the door. One of the two girls, who was a friend of Jason’s, wanted to drop off some notes that she had borrowed from him. The other girl hoped to use the bathroom while she was there. They knocked again.

“That’s odd,” Matt heard the voice again. “Jason said that Matt would be here. Maybe it’s unlocked and I can just leave this on the kitchen counter.”

There was nowhere to go. Matt’s wide-opened eyes locked on the turned-open deadbolt and then the door knob as Ashley twisted it from the outside. He wondered what greater hell that there could be than having your privates on fire, smeared with blueberry yogurt and getting caught naked in the kitchen at the same time. He was about to find out.

Ashley pushed the door open enough to lean in and called out toward the living room. She saw Matt’s clothes on the floor by the recliner and picked up the faint odor of fresh sex. She was about to withdraw back outside when she saw Matt standing naked by the kitchen sink.

“What the…?” Ashley’s face filled with confusion. She stood in the half-opened door staring at Matt and trying to assess the minimal information into something that made sense.

Her friend, Morgan, pushed up behind her. When she got an eye full of Matt, she forgot that she had to pee. She couldn’t stop laughing.

Morgan pushed past her friend and stood, with one hand on the kitchen counter, hardly able to keep her knees from buckling at the hilarity of what she saw. Ashley was amused, too, but more at the reaction of her friend than the naked man with blueberry yogurt on his balls and standing naked in the kitchen. After a bit, Morgan regained enough control over herself to remember that she had to pee.

“I have to pee but don’t let him break that pose before I get back.”

When Morgan returned, Ashley was laughing hard, too. She had figured out what had happened, from the cloths on floor with the scent of semen, and the fragments of sentences as Matt tried to explain. Ashley related the story, with her own embellishments as she went along, and two girls nearly peed themselves from laughing, anyway.

The girls eventually calmed down. Matt cleaned up and got dressed. The story was soon all over the campus and there was no end to the teasing at the gathering for the game on Saturday.

Matt held up to the harassment pretty well. It helped his ego that the incident resulted in eventual intimacy between Morgan and him. He didn’t mind that. If it became permanent the two would have a funny story to tell for many years to come.

One thing that would never be the same again was Matt’s reputation for making chili. It was a hot topic now.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Paying It Forward

It was the week after Thanksgiving and the festivity of Christmas was all around. Jan had a little more bounce in her step than usual as she walked into the supermarket to buy a few groceries. After over two years of unemployment she had finally found a job. She would start on Monday.

Jan had been laid off at Reamers, a factory job that she had held for nine years. Looking for work was depressing. The last few months had been especially difficult as she was forced to get into her retirement savings to survive.

Down the first aisle of the supermarket she saw, Ted, one of her former co-workers. Jan and Ted had been laid off from Reamers at the same time. Unfortunately for Ted, he was still unemployed.

The two weren’t close friends but the commonality of long employment gave them some things to catch up on. Ted and his family had been getting by on his wife’s earnings but it hadn’t been easy. On the positive side, Ted admitted that, as much as he needed to get back to work, he had really enjoyed the extra time with his two children.

Jan told Ted of her new job but held back on the excitement that she felt. She ached for him. Things had been tough for her but she couldn’t imagine what it would have been like if she still had had children at home. The former co-workers continued to chat as they shopped and they ended up at the check-out together.

The woman ahead of them broke into a huge smile when she saw Ted and Jan behind her. Helen was another co-worker from Reamers. Helen was an old-timer though. There was no one who had been working at Reamers longer than Helen. Even the owners were children when she started.

“You must be about ready to retire,” Jan said to Helen after everyone exchanged updates.

“I can’t retire, Sweetie. I’d go crazy. And besides, those kids that inherited everything from their old man still don’t know what they’re doing. Reamers will have to close down if I retired.”

As everyone was chuckling over Helen’s humor, she pulled the divider out from between her groceries and Ted’s. Only the cashier noticed. He gave Helen a questioning look. Helen only nodded back to him.

“Hey wait! That’s my stuff,” Ted said to the cashier as he began to ring his groceries with Helen’s. “I don’t think that she wants to buy my groceries.”

The cashier started to stutter for lack of knowing exactly what to say. Then his eyes locked on Helen.

“Your money ain’t no good today. Just get your butt around me and make sure everything is kept separate.”

Ted opened his mouth to protest but only thanks came out. He knew Helen well enough to know when it was useless to argue with her. He pushed his empty shopping cart past her as she stepped out of the way. He directed the bagger which things went into his cart.

Helen looked straight at Jan. “The same goes for you, too, Missie. You used to like to argue with me once in awhile. Don’t start again now.”

 Jan could feel her eyes well with tears of gratitude. A barely audible, “thank you so much,” formed from her quivering lips.

Helen looked at the cashier. “Just keep on scanning until I say whoa, Buddy.” The cashier nodded.

The total came to $526.39. Helen’s debit card was declined. If ever there was a look on someone’s face that said, “You have to be shitting me,” it was on the face of the cashier.

Helen was not flustered. “Oh it just hit the daily limit. Take $400 off of that card and we’ll run another card for the balance. Before the cashier could even nod in agreement, a hand pushed past Helen that was holding another card.

“Take it all of off of this card.”

“Mr. Reamer!” Helen had definitely been caught off guard. Her boss was the last person on earth that she ever expected to see in a supermarket.

“What’s that matter, Helen? Did you think that just because I’m too stupid to run the company without you that I had no sense of compassion either?” Unnoticed, Don Reamer had witnessed what Helen was doing from the next checkout line over. His face broke into a big grin. “I’m going to take this out your Christmas bonus, though.”

“Good luck with that. You’ll be drawing a deficient for what I get in a bonus.”

Everyone knew that Helen was teasing. Jan and Ted hadn’t forgotten Don Reamer’s generosity at Christmas time. Other businesses around the area had become such tightwads that they didn’t even give out Christmas hams anymore but, at Reamers, you could do your annual Christmas shopping off of the year-end bonus.

A couple of weeks had passed when Jan and Ted ran into each other again in the local Big Box Store. Jan loved her new job and, especially, the nice paycheck that it generated before the holidays. She was shopping for her grandchildren.

Ted was more upbeat this time. He was starting a new job after the first of the year. Still, things wouldn’t improve much until a few paychecks came in. Ted had his two children with him.

“Hey Kids! I could use your help with shopping,” Jan said. “I have to buy some gifts for my grandchildren but I don’t know what kids like this year. Do you think that you could help?”

The children smiled and nodded simultaneously. Ted started to say something but Jan cut him off. “Please, Ted, I promise that I won’t take long.”

Reluctantly, Ted gave in.  With the children’s help, it didn’t take long to get a few of the top ten hottest selling children’s gifts of the season into the Jan’s cart. Before checking out, Jan took the kids into the dollar section and told them to pick out anything that they wanted in appreciation for the help that they had given her.

Ted checked out ahead of Jan. Jan rang the dollar items that the children had picked out, first, so that they could take them as they left.

Ted had just finished buckling his youngest into the safety seat when Jan rolled her cart up behind his car. “Pop your trunk.”

“Jan, thank you but, no, really…”

“Pop your trunk, Ted or I’m going to tell your kids who Santa Claus really is this year.”

“Ashley and I have already bought a couple of those things for them so…”

“Then take them back and get something else or give them to the Toys for Tots.” She held up the receipt.

Slowly, Ted took the receipt. He didn’t know what to say except, “thank you.”

“It’s alright. Ted. You’ll get your chance to pay it forward.” Jan hugged him. “Merry Christmas!”

She turned and went back into the store to finish her shopping. She had a good idea what her grandchildren would like.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Fire Ants in the Pants

There are no shortages of flora and fauna in southern Florida that are going to bite you, scratch you, sting you, stick you or eat you. Next to mosquitoes, fire ants are the most likely of potentially unpleasant encounters for people. Luckily, fire ant mounds are fairly easy to notice, avoid and keep under control in areas that people frequent.

We get them from time-to-time in the yard. Usually, we spot the mound while it’s still small and treat to get rid of them. Left unchecked the mounds can get to several square feet of ground surface with entrances to the colony throughout the mound. Stepping into a fire ant mound of any size is not likely to be pleasant. The little buggers are going to come after you.

Whether it is a squad of these six-legged soldiers that make your flesh a battlefield or a whole regiment, they are going to make you suffer. Fire ants move up a person’s body until they find bare flesh. Then the fire ant lieutenant sends out the command to open fire.

If you’re wearing sandals then you will feel the sting of battle very soon. If not, then they will continue to move up your legs until they clear the tops of your socks. You will start to feel stings simultaneously around your knees. When fire ants first sting they are not as painful as their name implies.

The bad part, though, is that the stings might not be noticed until many of the ants have already stung you once or twice. Fire ants take hold of your skin with their mandibles and sting from their abdomen like their wasp cousins. That is why it is common to find two or three sting welts close together. They hang on and just keep jabbing.

On one recent occasion, I took the dogs outside after dark wearing only flip-flops. This type of footwear is not advisable near known colonies of fire ants. However, I was going to stay on the driveway and did not expect to disturb any fire ants. If there is an active mound on the yard then we usually know about where it might be.

On this particular day I must have got in the way of a foraging party that was making its way across the driveway. A squad of the little soldiers wounded my right foot multiple times before I sensed their attack. I had about twelve stings on my toes and on the top of my foot near my toes.

Fire ant stings itch more than they burn. The worse thing that you can do is to scratch them. Breaking the skin by scratching could result in an infection. Scratching also intensifies the itching exponentially.

The initial welt formed by the fire ant sting will form into a pustule that looks much like a white-head pimple. It itches horribly. If you have ever suffered a mosquito bite on one of your knuckles then you have vague idea of what a fire ant sting on the toe is like. Just multiply the agony times ten or more.

In my opinion, the best treatment for the profuse itching is an over-the-counter topical analgesic. However, if the pustule gets broken open, rubbing alcohol will help to ward off infection and dry the pustule before applying the analgesic.

Though, most of us don’t readily admit it, we all have more than enough stupid on hand to get us into trouble from time-to-time. A few days after the fire ant attack to my toes, I took the dogs out, again, wearing only flip flops. To make the situation even worse, I had succumbed to the itching of the stings and scratched to the point of causing some infection just above my toes.

I was pretty confident that the infection was going heal without a visit to the doctor. However, I was outside again with only flip flops on my feet. The rest of this story might seem obvious at this point but I was oozing with stupid on that day.

I had found a small fire ant mound near the air conditioner the other day and treated it. A common practice to determine if a fire any mound is live is to drag your foot across the top of it, scraping the loose dirt off of it. If it’s live then the soldiers are going to come to the surface madder than honey bees protecting their hive. All you need to do is step away quickly to avoid being attacked.

Remember now, I was wearing flip flops. Oh, and yes, I scraped the mound with my foot that had been ravaged a few days before by fire ants. I was spilling stupid all over the place.

I hit the mound with the sole me flip flop and, seeing that it was still live, I moved away quickly. Thinking that I had out-maneuvered the little soldiers, I was standing on the driveway watching the dogs when I felt folly of my erroneous assumption. At least another platoon must have managed to hang on to my flip flop and were now, on signal from the platoon leader no doubt, exercising an effective offensive on my foot and toes.

You will remember that I said that I had a scratch-induced infection? These little guys found it and stung me over and over on that infected flesh. A trip to the doctor seemed inevitable now.

With this being the information age and all, I often seek alternative information before I make a run into the doctor. My way of thinking was that if red lines started forming up the line of a vein in my foot then I’d waste no time in getting the doctor. However, if I could find a remedy online that was worth trying, my thanks would go out to Sergey and Larry rather than the doctor.

It just doesn’t seem likely that, out 391 million possibilities that Google can put in front of me in less than a minute, that Sergey and Larry would give me the most stupid solution out there. How wrong that I was. My search was a homerun for some dumbass that has no business talking to other people, much less posting “information” on the internet.

I found How to Treat a Fire Ant Sting. First of all, the title is bogus by reference to stings in the singular. One single fire ant sting is a rarity. These guys attack in armies.

Next, it offers two steps in Dealing with Fire Ants. First, step away from the mound. Now this might not seem obvious to someone who has never had the misfortune of stepping on a fire ant mound. However, I assure you that, experienced or not, you are going to step off of the fire ant the moment that you realize that your error. Nobody needs to tell you that. I couldn’t help but wonder if this half-wit thought that I was still standing in the middle of the fire ant mound while I reading his very limited wisdom on my smart phone.

The next instruction is to that you should pick the fire ants off one at time. Oh yeah! I can guarantee that, if you’re suffering a regimental fire ant attack then you’re going to knock those buggers off with as few sweeps of your hands as possible. You might pick off wood ticks but you had better wipe off fire ants very quickly.

Remember, north to a fire ant is up your pant leg. It will give a whole new meaning to the childhood colloquialism of Ants in Your Pants. That brings us to the next instruction from this idiot.  If there is a chance that fire ants got into your clothing, remove them immediately. Duh?

This happened to me once while I was running a gas-powered weed trimmer in the yard. By the time that I realized that they were there, those soldiers were high enough up my leg to claim the jewels. I didn’t care who might be offended by the sight of a half naked old man in my back yard. Everything from the waist down was off and was caste aside as I launched my counter-offensive.

I could not imagine going to the doctor with a part of my gender specific anatomy swollen beyond recognition.  I’d be sitting there in the exam room while the nurse took my vitals and then she would ask, “And what are we seeing you for today?” Try explaining that one without wearing a crimson face.

Then there would be the itching. Every guy has to scratch once in awhile but with the intensity of itch that fire stings cause… It would be like perpetual masturbation….but without a climax.

This is one of the best of the stupid instructions in the internet article. Do not slap the fire ants as this might agitate them. How ridiculous is that? You just walked all over their home. How can you “agitate” them more than you already have? They are already, willing to die for the survival of the colony, livid with you.

Imagine if Godzilla came tromping around in your neighborhood. You’re not going wait for him to slap you into agitation. You’re going to take that sucker out with a couple of RPGs into his vitals before he can even get to your next-door neighbor’s house.

For Treatment of Fire Ant Stings, which isn’t the same as Dealing with Fire Ant Stings in this article, the first step is to hold the affected area high to avoid swelling. Now I don’t know how well this ding-a-ling was listening when he went through Fire Ants 101 but he missed a couple of important points. Fire ants live in the ground and the most likely affected areas are, therefore, the person’s feet and legs.

Are you going to walk home on your hands to avoid swelling in your feet and legs? About the only way that you’re going to get stings from fire ants above your waist is if you and you intimate partner are foolish enough to get naked and do the horizontal mambo in the near vicinity of a fire ant mound. That is certain to be a screwing that neither of you will ever forget.

It’s pretty much guaranteed that those ants would heat up your foreplay like never before. Then it will you sitting in the exam room when the nurse asks, “And what are seeing you for today?”

You might as well go to the doctor together. Maybe you can a twofer discount and then only one of you will have answer sheepishly, “Well… we were making bugaloo on a fire ant mound when all of the sudden they started coming. They just kept on coming and coming until we were fire ant hot all over.”

Friday, October 25, 2013

A Pretty Young Woman Bumped Her Head under President Obama's Desk

Now that the half truth title that implies a blatant lie has your attention, you should read on. You might be one of the persons that this article was written for. Ignorance is contagious.

In the final years of the 20th century two doctorate students at Stanford, by the names of Sergey and Larry, came up with an internet search engine that put all predecessors to shame. So effective is their search engine that it can sort through 391,000,000 possibilities in less than a minute and put the top ten, in order of relevance, on the computer screen in front of you.

All other search engines of the time were comparable to wading through a university library without benefit of the card catalog and Dewey’s decimals. The name, Google, that Larry and Sergey chose to call their search engine has become synonymous for the verbs search and find with respect to the internet. With a few taps on your computer mouse and keyboard, you can find the answer to any question that comes into your mind.

So, how is that we can find postings on Facebook that are, not only erroneous, but mindlessly “shared” as if they contained divine truths? Think of it now. At the touch of the very device with which these morons passed on this frivolous and blatantly incorrect information, they could have verified the authenticity in only a few seconds.

Stupidity is innate. However, ignorance is not born into us. It is a choice made by an individual neglect to one’s own learning at all levels of intelligence.

Some of the people sharing this trash are no surprise, if we know them, as they have never exhibited the desire to absorb information of their own initiative. Others are frightening because they appear, at least by the nature of their socio-economic status, to be intelligent people. Some of the examples of “shares” are simply mind boggling that the information isn’t suspect to even a stupid person.

Don’t eat instant noodles because they are coated with wax to keep them from sticking together. That wax can cause cancer. Now right away one has wonder why cancer hasn't wiped out the whole world population of honeybees. There are some reasons not to eat instant noodles but it has nothing to do with wax. If instant noodles require wax to keep them from sticking together, then wouldn't it also be so in other forms of pasta? The short answer, it just ain’t so.

Here’s a good one. American service men and women must serve 20 years to get the equivalent of half pay for their retirement. However, one can earn full retirement, in the U.S. Congress, by serving only one day. There is half truth there. Military service retirement is what this says it is. However, as lucrative as the retirement benefit is for our congress, who could believe that it is that good? Doubt it? Google it.

President Obama is not an American. He is a Kenyan. This is the really scary one because otherwise intelligent people actually believe this. President Obama was born in the United States of America. With that and his mother being a natural-born American citizen, he is an American citizen. He is not disqualified from American citizenship because his father was a Kenyan.

The real argument is regarding President Obama’s eligibility to be the president of the United States. His mixed heritage brings that into question but no one has had the good sense challenge that properly. The U.S Supreme Court set a precedent over 150 years ago to define citizenship eligibility for a presidential nominee. If that fact had been shared on Facebook with a half truth or lie thrown in it would have gone viral within days.

Maybe some goober should post this on Facebook. President Obama is a heterosexual lesbian with Republican tendencies. That would be certain to get around, represented as hard fact, in no time.

The sad part about this article is that it can’t be written in twenty words or less and put onto a colorful poster. If that was possible then it might get the attention of the ignorant people that really need to read it. Most everyone else who took the time to read this far will probably agree with most everything that is said in the article.