Saturday, July 27, 2013

It Finally Happened

Angie and Ian met at the convenience store, in the morning, as usual. With an exchange of greetings, they were off to the downtown area. The two hadn't talked much, during their rides into work together. However, after the incident yesterday afternoon Ian felt as if he needed to say something to Angie. He just didn't know what that it should be. He certainly didn't want to complicate things more that they already might seem.

Angie, on the other hand, had decided on a very specific action in response to the incident yesterday. The two arrived downtown and secured their bikes. Their shower routine went as usual until they were dressed and about to leave. Angie stepped up to Ian and put her arms around his neck just as she did yesterday. Today, however, her eyes showed desire.

”Do you really like to hold pretty girls close to you?”

“Yes, but I’m particular about which girls that I do that to.”

He put his arms around her and pulled her to him. He looked into her pretty eyes for only moment before kissing her hard and long. Angie was taken. It was as if the water had been rising slowly toward the crest over the past weeks and, now, an upstream deluge was pushing it over the dam. Reluctantly, they separated after a long moment. They still held each as Angie was first to speak.

“I may like to do a little more than watch you play volleyball on Saturday.”

“I can think of some possibilities.” Ian smiled.

Angie picked up her things and started toward the street. She turned to speak to Ian again and was surprised to see him still standing by the lockers.

“Aren't you going to work today?”

“Not for few minutes.”

“Is something wrong?”

“Nothing that won’t be okay in a few minutes. You go ahead.”

Angie was about to press him for what was wrong when she saw the bulge in his slacks. She burst out in laughter.

“I can’t believe it. That soldier has been standing by at ease for three weeks of sharing the shower with me and now… Now a sensuous kiss brings it to rigid attention and ready to into a full engagement.”

Ian could say nothing. A little embarrassed, he only gave her a smile. Then, as if a switch had closed in her brain, Angie’s entire face lit up. There was mischief in her eyes as she guided Ian to the end of the bench in front of the lockers.

“Come over here.”

“What are you doing?”

“I’m going to do something that I like to do but that I won’t do to just any guy.”

Without hesitation, Angie unbuckled Ian’s belt, unfastened his pants and, before he could protest, hooked her thumbs into the waistband of his boxers and dropped it all. She held his pants just below his crotch and instructed him to sit. The bench was cool to his bare butt but the soldier stood tall.

She knelt in from of him. It didn't take long. Angie looked up at Ian beaming with the mischievous spontaneity of her action. He smiled back.

“Feel better?”

“Of course,” he said softly, “but hold still for a moment. We can’t have you looking like Monica Lewinsky before she stood up and dribbled on her dress.”

He reached for his bag, pulled a clean pair of socks from it and used one to wipe off her chin. He used the other clean himself before putting his clothing back in order. Angie was still grinning like a naughty school girl.

“You owe me now, Buddy. You can start with buying me lunch today.”

“Then can I pay you off on Saturday?”

“I don’t know if you can pay me off but you can start the installments.”

Grinning back to her, Ian put his arm around her and nudged her toward the street.

“We need to get to work. O’Malley’s at about 11:30?”

“How about Spaghetti Works?”

“Done! 11:30?”

“Yep! See you then.

This the fourth story of a series. 
The first story is Showering Naked in Public
The second story is Showering with a New Friend
The third story is Beyond Sharing the Shower

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Nut Cups

What comes to mind when you hear nut cup? There are nut cups for sports, baking, weddings, and baby showers. There are nut cups for a myriad of things.

Some nut cups are paper. Some are plastic. Some nut cups are a baked crust that is filled with nuts or candies. Some are not cups at all but, instead, they’re cakes or pastries with nuts baked in.

Nut cups are filled with mixed nuts and candies for parties. They’re called party nuts. Some people are party nuts but they don’t fit into party nut cups.

The first athletic supporters were for bicycle messengers so that they could double-bag their nuts but they didn’t cup them. A hard fall on the cross bar might have bicyclist wishing that he had cupped his nuts. It’s not a coincidence that BIKE is a brand name for athletic supporters.

Many other athletes cup their nuts. Baseball players wear nut cups for protection from a ball in the balls. Hockey players don’t want to get nut-pucked. Football players don’t want a knee, elbow, cleats or a helmet breaking their jewels. A soccer goalie without a nut cup might have his balls socked. If I guy gets kicked in the nuts, you could say that he was footballed.

Nut cups are designed differently for where it is most comfortable for a guy to have his penis in the cup with his nuts. Some guys like to hang-over and others like to lay-up. Some guys can’t wear any nut cup comfortably. They’re more vulnerable to ball busters.

Beyond Sharing the Shower

After three days of sharing the shower every morning, Ian and Angie had come to know each other a little better. On Thursday they met for lunch. Through this conversation they learned that, though they each lived in different neighborhoods, their bicycle routes into work overlapped at about halfway in.

Angie was careful not to disclose exactly where she lived. She was feeling a fondness for Ian but still kept a sense of caution. They agreed to meet at a convenience store from which they would finish the ride to downtown together.

Friendship grew between them over the next two weeks. In addition to bicycling, they found that they had a common passion for volleyball. Ian had a friend with whom he played two-on-two sand volley ball. He also managed the girls’ varsity team in high school. Angie had played varsity volleyball, while in high school, and she played intramural volleyball in college.

After several weeks, Angie began to wonder why the relationship between she and Ian was still so platonic. Though he was subtle, he clearly seemed to enjoy looking her over in the shower every morning. She kept a close enough eye on the red-haired soldier that she would know if it came up to parade rest. However, the pinked-tipped length of flesh simply hung at ease every morning.

Finally, Angie decided to take some initiative. The next morning, instead of putting one shower space between them, she took the shower next to Ian. He neither seemed uncomfortable with the closeness nor more interested in Angie.

One day while Angie was at lunch with her coworker, Lisa, she spotted Ian and another man when she and Lisa walked into O’Malley’s. Angie’s first instinct was to turn and leave. However, before she could think of an excuse to give Lisa for doing so, Ian spotted her.

He beckoned for Angie to join them. Angie knew what the buzz was going to be at the smokers’ table outside of the office this afternoon but there was no walking away now. Introductions went around. Ian’s friend, Justin, was also his roommate. They had known each other in high school, went their separate ways in college, and ended up back in Des Moines after college.

Lisa was unusually quiet during the lunch as she soaked up all of the information that she could. Justin was also Ian’s sand volleyball partner. They invited the women to watch them play a tournament on the coming Saturday. Much to Angie’s wish otherwise, Lisa enthusiastically accepted.

On the way back to the office Lisa was about to bust.


“Well what?” Angie kept her eyes straight ahead as they walked.

“You've been holding out on me. You didn't tell me that you've continued to ride your bicycle to work and shared the shower with that hunk for the last few weeks.”

Angie was keeping her panniers in large shopping bag and getting into the office earlier than Lisa everyday so the shopping bag, with its contents, went unnoticed. Lisa always left exactly on time so she didn't see Angie leave dressed out in bicycling wear.

“Well, Lisa, I’m not obligated to keep you informed of everything in my personal life.” She smiled at Lisa.

“Oh come on, Angie! Is he as good as he looks?”

“I don’t know what you mean, Lisa.”

“You are not going to tell me that you have been sharing the shower with him for over three weeks and you haven’t fucked him yet.”

“Okay, I won’t tell you that.”

The two women walked into their office building, up the elevators and Angie pushed the button. Two other people came to wait with them for the elevator. When Lisa saw them and she stopped her interrogation.

The elevator opened directly into the law office where Angie and Lisa worked. This kept Lisa quiet until she took her cigarette break. It wasn't long before a woman, who frequented the smoking table with Lisa, gave Angie a knowing look with a suppressed smile as she walked by.

Angie kept her nose into her work to avoid engaging in conversation with any more knowing coworkers who passed by her desk. Lisa didn't bother her for the rest of day and, as usual, she led the stampede to the elevator at five o’clock. Although Angie didn't go with the herd, she was consistent with her departure time in order to meet Ian for their ride home.

Angie had been changing into her bicycle gear in the handicapped stall of a public restroom on the ground level floor. She didn't see the need for it anymore. Thanks to Lisa, the word was out.

One man was on the elevator when it stopped at Angie’s floor. Another got on a couple of floors down. Though she didn't look directly at them, other than to exchange a greeting, she sensed that she was being watched. Then the second one of them engaged her in conversation.

“Do you ride to work every day?”

“I have been for almost three weeks now.”

Angie gave him a polite but slightly aloof smile. The man continued.

“How far is your ride?”

“I live about sixteen miles from here.”

“Wow! A hundred and sixty miles per week. That’s awesome! I take short rides a couple of evenings per week and I ride the trails on the weekends. I’d like to ride to work once in awhile but I’d be soaked in sweat and need a shower.”

The man looked awkward when he realized that what he said could have been taken wrong. The elevator door opened into the ground floor lobby.

“Nice talking to you.”

Angie hurried across the lobby to the exit before the conversation could continue. The man watched her well defined spandex-wrapped form exit the building as he walked casually across the lobby. Outside, he turned in the same direction as Angie did.

Feigning a check both ways for traffic as she turned to cross the street, Angie caught a quick look to confirm that the man was behind her. She didn't know if he was actually following her or if it was coincidence. Either way, her senses were on alert.

Angie was glad that she and Ian had started riding together. He was unlocking his bike when she arrived. She kissed him on the cheek, put her arms around his neck and whispered into his ear.

“Hug me back. I’ll explain in a minute.”

Ian put his arms about her waist and pulled her to him. The impromptu act looked very natural to the elevator man as he passed. This time Angie made eye contact with him, smiled and waved. He returned the gesture.

“Have a nice ride!”

“Thanks! Have a good evening!”

“Who is that?”

“He’s just some guy on the elevator. He may be harmless but I wanted to nip it in case it was going to blossom. Thanks for going along with me.”

“It’s okay. I like holding a pretty woman close.”

“Really? And to think that I've been so far out of reach for the last few weeks.”

Ian was clearly embarrassed by Angie’s touch of sarcasm. Angie left it at that. She turned away feeling awkward but unsure about what to say next.

As they mounted their bicycles, Angie didn't miss notice of the enhanced bulge at the crotch of Ian’s spandex shorts. At least, she knew that the soldier could rise to the call.

The first story is Showering Naked in Public
The second story is Showering with a New Friend.
This the third story of the series. 
The fourth story is It Finally Happened

Monday, July 22, 2013

Stand Your Ground

Trayvon Martin’s death was a tragedy. My sincerest respect and admiration goes out to his parents and those who loved him.  The dignity and composure that they have maintained through their loss and the subsequent events clearly shows them to be people of the highest character. I don’t know if I could have been as strong as they are.

From the first bits of news about the shooting that spewed forth from our ratings motivated media, I withheld my opinion. I did this for lack trust in the information that we were receiving. As the information leveled off, I had little doubt that George Zimmerman would go on trial for second degree murder.

One constant out of the information that was given to the public, was the fact that Zimmerman got out of his car and pursued young Trayvon. The error of this action was amplified by the fact that the sheriff’s dispatcher, with whom Zimmerman was speaking over the phone at the time, told him to stay in his car. That one simple fact, in my mind, makes Zimmerman unquestionably responsible for the death of Trayvon Martin.

I had no doubt that the jury would come back with a guilty verdict. However, I did not receive the instructions on the letter of the law that the jury did. As were many Americans, I was dumbfounded by the verdict.

I hold no fault with the jury. I would not have wanted to be in their position and would not likely have been chosen if I had been a candidate. I’m sure that they acted to the letter of the law.

There are rumblings now to repeal the Stand Your Ground Law. What that could mean is that without such a law, an actual armed criminal will have the advantage. The criminal will have the advantage because the intended victim, whether armed or not, must attempt to run before taking a defensive posture.

In other words, only when the criminal overtakes the victim, or the victim is rendered unable to flee, can the victim fight back with deadly force. The imbalance of this hypothetical situation, in favor of the criminal, is obvious. A savvy citizen is aware of the surroundings and potential danger and will do everything reasonable to avoid such of a situation. However, if confronted, the citizen deserves the right to fight for self preservation.

In the case of George Zimmerman, he needed to Sit His Ground by staying in the seat of his car with the windows up and the doors locked. Once he left the car, he gave up his safe posture by his own initiative. If there is any need for change in the Stand Your Ground Law, it is to ensure that behavior such as George Zimmerman’s makes a person unquestionably culpable for the death of another. To repeal the law would be an injustice to victims of violent crime whether they defend with guns, pocket knives or martial arts.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

A Ball in the Balls

All three of our boys played baseball in their childhood. They each had their own distinct skill set in the sport. Kevin, the youngest of the three, had potential to be a pretty good pitcher.

It took a couple of years for the right coach to get hold of him so that he could learn to put the ball where he wanted it. Meanwhile, being the dedicated but sports stupid father that I was, I tried to work with him. It didn't take me but about fifty catches to figure out that I couldn't hold up to his pitches for very long with a fielder’s mitt.

My mistake, when I bought a quality catcher’s mitt, was disregarding the need for additional equipment to protect my personal equipment. We had a six-foot-high board fence in our back yard to stop any wild pitches that I couldn't stop with the catcher’s mitt. Kevin had a bucket of baseballs. I was certain that we could get by.

It was going fairly well at first. A few high or wide pitches got past me but Kevin seemed to be calming down. Then he hopped a low one off of the grass. I missed that one with the mitt but I stopped it smartly with the family jewels.

Even a fledgling 10 year-old pitcher can put 60-70 MPH on a baseball so catching a ball in the balls is not funny. Somebody didn't explain that to Kevin. I assumed that he had probably experienced, at least, one of two inadvertent assaults to his own privates. Therefore, I foolishly assumed, that it went without saying.

I was sucking up the pain pretty well and without rolling on the ground and moaning like a wimp. Then I looked up and saw a big grin on Kevin’s face.  The last thing that any modern parents ever expect to do is outlive their children. However, the combination of the grin on my son’s face and the pain that he had just put into my gonads was pretty close to a deal breaker for him outliving me at that precise moment.

I don’t remember exactly what I said to him as I stood up and glared at him with an attack and destroy look in my eyes. I only remember that the grin instantly faded. It was replaced by enough fear and empathy that I quickly calmed down.

In hindsight, the cost of the catcher’s mitt was about $50. A helmet and mask with a throat guard was $70.  A chest protector was about $60. Shin guards were about $30. Protecting my gonads from a 70 MPH pitch so that I wouldn’t murder my son was priceless.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Oysters on a Half Bun....Holiday Sliders?

“What’s for supper?”

“You can warm up some that oyster stew,” my mother responded.

When my mother made oyster stew, she made enough of it to feed us for a week.

Without protest, I went to the kitchen and put the pot of left-over oyster stew on the stove to heat.  My siblings went for the peanut butter and made themselves a sandwich.  When the stew was slightly more than tepid I ladled some into a bowl for each of us.  

There were soda crackers, on the table. They were there only for appearances this time.  Nobody added them to the oyster stew.  

One of us maintained lookout while the others shared the disgusting mollusks with the dog.  Unlike us, the dog liked oysters.  But then, dogs like to eat rotten smelling and disgusting things.  The remaining broth went down the drain of the kitchen sink followed by a good rinsing of water.

Oysters were part of the holiday meal tradition at our house.  Guests would rave over my mother’s scalloped oysters.  For those of you blessed by ignorance of what scalloped oysters are, simply imagine the little slimy mollusks in a cake pan with soda crackers and milk.  Then they are baked in the oven much to the disgust of anyone with healthy olfactory senses.

Those who consume oysters, to my best assumption, must be totally lacking in the senses of smell and taste or, at least, they lack the gag and vomit reflex.  I have a vivid picture, to this day, of a cousin taking two full helpings of scalloped oysters.  Not being satiated, he tipped the pan of the remaining casserole to his face and shoveled the last of it into his mouth.  Disgusting!

I have never known of anyone outside of our family circle that relished oysters, in any form, for the holiday meal so I researched.  Oysters have been around for centuries as a food.  Somehow, in early America, they became tied to the Thanksgiving celebration.  There is no evidence that they were part of the “first Thanksgiving” but they caught on later in coastal New England.

Personally, I think it best to leave the oysters in the water.  They’re natural water filters by how they nourish themselves.  As oysters draw water over their gills, plankton is filtered out and digested.  

One oyster alone can filter five liters of water per hour.  That is the best tree-hugger argument that anyone could ever make for leaving the little buggers in the water where they belong.  Just imagine the perpetual cleanliness of our coastal waters if we just leave these mollusks to do what they do best.

If people are going eat them, oysters should be introduced to the fast-food industry.  I can picture an advertising billboard in my mind.  Instead of cows hanging over the billboard saying “eat more chicken” there would be chickens dancing along the top of the billboard saying “eat more oysters.”  Then the bottom of billboard could depict some kids yacking oysters back into a half-shell.  Chicken fast-food industry stocks would double in no time.

The burger industry could get a boost, too.  I’m thinking that oyster sliders on the half-bun as a new menu item would be a succes.  Better yet, put them on a soda cracker and call them scalloped oysters on the half-cracker.  Add a special algae sauce with secret ingredients and, with proper promotion, the curious would pour into the restaurants to try the little snacks. 

It wouldn’t take long for normal people to realize that they couldn’t stomach the oysters but the short term revenue increase would be tremendous. If it was done around the holidays it could be the black Friday of the fast-food industry.   Not only that, it would fit right into the holiday tradition of scalloped oysters as part of the holiday meal.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Good Christians?

I occasionally hear people refer to themselves as “good Christians.”  For me that begs the question, good Christians as opposed to what?  I have never heard anyone refer to themselves as bad Christians.  Is there a benchmark by which Christians measure themselves against each other?  If so, I am unaware of it.  

I have always been of the notion that being Christian didn't require subjective adjectives to separate one Christian from another.  If a Christian truly subscribes to and selflessly practices the teachings of Christ, then I am totally befuddled as to how one Christian could be more Christian than another.  That would be like saying that something is more perfect.  It seems to me that all Christians would be equal in their devotion to God.

It even seems curious that Christians would be compelled to announce their faith at all.  If, in fact, one is truly a practicing Christian wouldn't it be obvious by their behavior?  I once had a shipmate in the Navy who didn’t smoke, drink, swear or lust after women.   He was always kind and tolerant toward others.  He enthusiastically carried his share of the duties about the ship.  If he said something was so then I didn’t doubt it.  He was an honorable and trustworthy person.  

He was the sort of person that, if he had found a lost wallet, he would have opened it only to determine the name and location of the owner.  He wouldn’t know the exact contents as he handed the wallet back to the owner because he would have no reason to look.  This man was a Christian.  I knew this not because he told me but for two other reasons.  

First, I knew because of the way that he behaved.  Second, after a time, a pattern of his being absent from the ship on Sundays became apparent, when we were in port and he wasn't on duty.  As we came to know each other better I became curious and asked of his denomination.  Whether this man was a known Christian, or not, it didn't matter to him because he knew that he had God in his heart.

I have also known a number of people of other faiths.  Yet, I have no recollection of one of them ever announcing their faith to me.  The person’s religious affiliation more likely came to my knowledge by their absence from work for a religious holiday or their lack of interest in Christian holidays.  Many Christians, in my experience, announce their faith as if it was an earned badge of honor rather than a divine gift to all who choose to practice it.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Why I Call It RAPE!

I will never know the experience of the most violent, dehumanizing, traumatizing and intimate crime possible to be committed against a woman. I have a wife, a sister, granddaughters, nieces and daughters-in-law that I could not bear to suffer being a victim of RAPE. The helplessness would be overwhelming. That is why I call it RAPE.

We invent euphemisms to say what seems too ugly and painful to speak. With terms like attack, assault and violated it seems easier to speak of that ugliness that cuts away our souls. These terms help defense attorneys gain empathy for their clients. However, even when we couple these words with the adjective “sexual” and the horror is masked, it is still RAPE. That is why I call it RAPE.

Should one of the cherished women in my life fall victim to the RAPE, I can only try to imagine their suffering. What I know from reading and listening when victims try to tell of their trauma, being RAPED is worse than dying. At least, with death there is no more pain. When a woman is RAPED the pain never stops. If anything, it intensifies with the passing of time.  That is why I call it RAPE.

I recently read an article in which a woman told of her sister’s RAPE. After the RAPE, the woman’s life as she knew it dissolved around her. The shell that was left took four years, seven months and twenty-six days to force her tortured spirit from her flesh. That is why I call it RAPE.

This author’s story started with statistics that I knew all too well and no longer need to research before quoting. Around the world and in every niche of life women under the age of twenty-five have a twenty percent chance of being RAPED. That makes RAPE more of probability than a possibility. That is why I call it RAPE.

In addition to these stats, in our own US military services the women who are RAPED are usually in the lower enlisted ranks. The men who RAPE them are in middle-level enlisted ranks or they are junior officers. This, quite simply, translates to a fact that it is men in positions to intimidate and manipulate women by power of rank who RAPE them. That is why I call it RAPE.

Of those women in the military services, who pursue charges against the men who RAPED them, 97% are discharged before their contracted discharge dates. Make your own assumptions as to the reasons. That is why I call it RAPE.

One can only try to guess the unfathomable numbers of women who are RAPED but, for whatever their personal and delicate reasons, do not report the RAPE to bring justice against their RAPISTS. That is why I call it RAPE.

Those who do attempt to have their RAPISTS adjudicated, whether in criminal, civil or military court, are RAPED over and over and over again by the due process that must be in place to protect the potentially innocent. Even when their RAPISTS are convicted, the victims lose. That is why I call it RAPE.

The men who are alleged to have RAPED are referred to as “subjects” in the Department of Defense Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military. (Note: Sexual Assault is a soft term in this title.) That is why I call it RAPE.

I have a beautiful granddaughter that I nudged toward naval service for the opportunities that it has to offer young people. A Navy veteran myself, I fear for her as I know all of the places on board a warship where a woman might be lured and RAPED. These are places where a witness would not likely come or hear a scream for help.  That is why I call it RAPE.

The most blatant disregard for victims of RAPE in our military services is the power of military commanders to override adjudication handed down to RAPISTS by court martial. This has been done. This means, quite simply, that a commanding officer can overturn a prison sentence and set a RAPIST free if he disagrees with the court martial sentence. Legislation was introduced to the House of Representatives in March 2013 to change this but it is not law yet. That is why I call it RAPE.

For the men who respect women as sacred equals we are grateful. For the parents who teach their sons that women are to be cherished we are grateful. For the people of the world who are apathetic and blame women for the RAPES committed against them; that is why I call it RAPE.

My eyes fill and spill over, while I quiver with emotion, as I write and edit these words. That is why I call it RAPE.

I Am Here to Call You Out!

This story is fiction and the picture is a stock photo.

The students shuffled into the gymnasium and found their way to their assigned seats. No one was told what the assembly was about. No one really cared. As long as it didn't go on too long, anything was okay to get out of the classroom for awhile.

The principal of Lincoln High School and one of the two assistant principals stood at the end of the gym watching the bleachers fill up. Both of the end bleachers were also opened and nearly filled with parents who arrived a few minutes earlier. Kelly Griffin leaned toward her superior.

“I know that this is your call Jack but are you sure? This could end up as a serious detriment to your career.”

“This is already a detriment to my career and if something isn’t done this will surely implode, not just on me, but on all of us. I don’t care about my career as much as I care that this behavior is stopped.”

Parents were told that the assembly had to do with potential changes to student safety. Those who probed for more were politely denied any preview. Just the same, the teaser was enough to get twenty percent of them to take time away from their busy lives.

With the bleachers filled and students settled, Jack Barton stepped to the podium. He welcomed everyone and thanked the parents who came. His look shifted equally between the student body and the parents as he spoke.

“A presentation has been prepared for you that is, to my knowledge, completely unprecedented. I have agreed to allow one of your classmates to address this assembly. I believe as strongly as she does that she carries a burning and necessary message to this audience. Though, her presentation is of her own design, I have reviewed her outline and format. She has my unwavering sanction for what she about to say to you. Please welcome your classmate, Ashley Henderson.”

As Ashley walked to the podium the entire audience was silent. There was not a single attempt to initiate introductory applause. The principal and his colleague watched quietly also.

Ashley did not hurry in her step. She held herself up straight and walked with deliberate confidence. Snickers, grins and nudges went around a few circles. Some were accompanied by low volume off-color comments.

Ashley did not greet her audience. It was not because they had not applauded her entrance. She simply felt that to greet them would be too phony in the context of what she about to say.

As she spoke, Ashley’s voice was even and as confident as her walk to the podium.

“I have come here today to tell to you about some innocent and shattered lives. They have, or least had, many things in common. They were all happy and beautiful young women. Like all teenagers, they did some things from time-to-time that they should not have.”

As she paused, Ashley moved her knowing look from the eyes one young girl in the audience to another.

“Of those things that they should not have done, was getting a too intoxicated at a party. That happens to many teenagers at one time or another. However, it is not license for what happened to next. Some teen-aged boys, whom they thought were their friends, took advantage of the girls in their semi-conscious or unconscious state.”

“They were RAPED by teen-aged boys at the party while others looked on. Some even took photos or video. Being intoxicated is not synonymous with consent for sex. These girls awakened later to find themselves in a strange place and without their clothing.”

Ashley paused again. This time her eyes moved about the audience and stopped, one at a time on the people that she knew to be guilty of such betrayals. Her look was not returned as each gaze was down or immediately dropped when it met hers.

“After the incident, they were stripped of their dignity and RAPED over and over again but in a different way. Their photos and their stories were passed around via word of mouth and social media. These innocent girls were called sluts and blamed for what happened to them.”

Again, she her eyes picked individuals from the crowd but, this time, of both genders.

“Two photos lit up the huge screen above and behind Ashley. Of these three girls that I am telling about, two of them chose to take their own lives rather than go through another day of ridicule, mental torture and being ostracized by nearly everyone except their immediate families. That is the price of a few boys getting a few seconds of sexual excitement while they took their turns RAPING these girls. That is the price of the giggles, snickers, sneers and taunts from classmates, former friends and peers that should have tried to help these girls whether before, during or after they were raped.”

She did not let up. Her sweeping look and the silence of each pause amplified her message.

“The third RAPE victim has chosen to remain as anonymous as her community will allow her to. With all of my heart I hope that she can put her life back together without deciding to end it as the others did. She is victim to the same behaviors as the other two girls. I feel her pain and suffering. I… feel… her pain... and her suffering.”

With each of the pauses in her last sentence, her increased inflection clarified her expression. The inflections continued as she spoke.

“I feel her pain, suffering and sense hopelessness because there are boys sitting right here in these bleachers that did the same to thing to me. They are your heroes but they are my tormentors. Since they RAPED me, far too many of you have stood by them to ignore, slander, ridicule me and join them as my tormentors.”

The purest silence of another pause was not violated by a single sound. Perhaps for fear of someone seeing their ugly truth, few eyes in the audience met any others, though many were beginning to redden and well with empathy and the reality of what had happened.

“My parents have received anonymous letters and anonymous phone calls suggesting that, if they had been better parents, then their daughter wouldn’t have become a slut. My brother’s friends no longer include him in their circles. With exception of a couple of teachers, no one has approached me to ask what they might do to help me.”

“Before this RAPE I had experienced one sexual partner. Can anyone tell me how that makes me a slut? Can anyone tell me why you have no derogatory name for your heroes who RAPED ME?”

There were no more pauses. The tempo and the mood were set and the train was hurling down the tracks. The air horn had sounded the warning.

“No doubt, you’re all wondering what I hope to accomplish here today. First, you must understand the when a girl or woman is RAPED part of her dies. She will never be whole again.”

“The girl who clings to frail anonymity, I expect, is grieving that partial loss of herself. That is why she chooses anonymity. She’s trying to learn how to get on with what is left of her life after she was RAPED.”

“The other two girls couldn’t cope with their partial death while vermin continued picking at their wounds, keeping them inflamed and festered. They decided to complete the job on their own. It, no doubt, seemed less painful than suffering a lonely half life. With a hanging noose they forced their tortured souls from their dying flesh. The heroes responsible still walk free.”

“I am not ready to shrink into anonymity or total death just yet. I can’t say that I won’t get there. The other girls had much longer than I to have their strength drained from them. However, until I can absolutely no longer go on, I’m here to do everything that I can to ensure that no other girls at Lincoln High School are RAPED.”

Don’t stand on the tracks, kids. This girl is not stopping now.

“I am here to call you out! I call out, first, to those who I thought were my friends but stood by and did nothing while I was RAPED. Some of you were at the party and you knew that something wrong was happening but you did nothing to try to stop it.”

“I am here to call you out! I call out the parents who made that party available to under-aged drinking and without supervision of any sort.”

“I am here to call you out! I call out those who watched, photographed and shared my RAPE with others. In addition, I call out the people who gave them audience without protest.”

“I am here to call you out! I call out those who blame my parents and me for my RAPE. I call out those who have abandoned and ostracized my brother.”

“I am here to call you out! I call out those who think that this is no big deal. I call out those who think that it is okay because, after all, boys will be boys.”

The train slowed down. Along with the audience, Ashley was quieter but she continued to speak.

“I am not going to call out the boys who RAPED me. That is for those of you who enabled them to do so. They are your heroes. If you think that what your heroes did was okay then I challenge you.”

“I challenge any one of you, or any number of you, to remove all of your clothing and allow those around you, whether girls or boys, gay or straight, to do whatever they want to you. Would that be okay?”

Ashley took another pause. Some individuals were returning her eye contact now. There was awareness in their eyes.

“It is not okay. We all know that. We all do wrong things. RAPE, however, is a wrong thing that should NEVER happen again to anyone at Lincoln High or anywhere else.”

Ashley’s tone was softer but still very strong.

“I call you out one last time. I call you all out to say that this will never happen again. This will never happen again. This will never happen again.”

She increased her volume a little with each repeat. With the third repetition, her brother stood in the bleachers and joined in.

“This will never happen again! This will never happen again! This will never happen again!”

Her brother’s friends that had ostracized him began, one by one, to stand and join in the chant. Soon everyone was joined in. Everyone except the heroes, that is, were standing and chanting. No longer emboldened, the heroes shrank into their seats.

There was one voice and it said, loud and clear, that no one was ever going to be RAPED again at Lincoln High. The support of the assembly didn't make Ashley feel whole again but there was hope.

The energy from her peers gave her hope that the other girls didn’t have. The energy from her peers gave her hope that she might be able to go on. The energy from her peers gave Ashley hope that all RAPISTS at Lincoln High, both existing and potential, had been thoroughly emasculated.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Handicapped Toilet Humor

Some recent surgery had put Ralph on crutches. Regaining his strength, he sought to also regain some independence by getting out of the house a little more on his own. Ralph didn’t find getting around on crutches too difficult once he got the hang of it. However, it isn’t very easy to handle a shopping cart or carry your purchases while on crutches. He planned do his shopping with a, store provided, handicapped shopping cart. 

As Ralph was coming up to the handicapped parking, he couldn’t believe his luck. Beside one of the empty parking spots was handicapped shopping cart. When he parked and opened his car door it was right there. It took no effort at all to get from the car to the seat of the rider. Not seeing an easy way of carrying his crutches on this particular unit, Ralph decided to leave the crutches in the car. The battery charge light on the handicapped cart was showing a full charge so he was confident that he wouldn’t need the crutches. 

As Ralph left the sun warmed parking lot and entered the cooler temperature inside of the store, he felt the need for a restroom. His morning coffee had made the way south and was now pressing for a way out. In many of the modern department stores the restrooms are in the front of the store near the check-out lanes. This store was a much older version that had the restrooms in the back of store. This older design was more convenient for shoplifters but somewhat of a bother for the honest shoppers that just needed to pee. 

As Ralph headed for the far side of the store for the restroom, his previously enjoyed good luck faded. The little light on the rider console started flashing. The bold print next to the light read, LIGHT MUST BE ON FOR NORMAL OPERATION. DO NOT OPERATE WITH LIGHT FLASHING. The first thing to go through Ralph’s mind was that, since he had to pee, this wasn’t to be considered normal operation. 

Ralph stopped and looked about for the remote possibility of finding help. In the distance he spotted one of those vests that read, HOW MAY I HELP YOU? The trouble with this was that if Ralph could read the message then the store employee wearing it wasn’t looking his way so that he might get his attention. The message was on the back of the vest and the man seemed too far away to shout for help. 

The light on the console had stopped flashing so Ralph continued toward the restroom. As soon as he started moving, of course, it started flashing again and the unit began to slow down. He was at an aisle intersection now and saw another vest to his left but some distance away. Ralph raised his hand to beckon her. He had no doubt that they made eye contact with each other and she saw that he was about to beckon for assistance. 

She turned and walked the other way exposing the sign reading, HOW MAY I HELP YOU? Ralph thought that to be quite a coincidence being that he was about to answer that question for her. She took off at a double quick pace away from him. 

Ralph’s need for the restroom wasn’t letting up. He thought about trying the cart again but then he didn’t want to give up his four-way vantage point if the thing died between two aisle intersections. Up ahead he saw another vest coming straight in his direction. He was about to be rescued… or not? 

As soon as she caught sight of Ralph in the handicapped cart with a hopeful look on his face, her face took on a look of one in need of an escape. At the aisle intersection between them she took a right turn toward the back of the store. As she rounded the turn to make her run for it, Ralph caught glimpse of her vest reading, HOW MAY I HELP YOU? 

By now Ralph was thinking that those vests should instead read, CATCH ME IF YOU CAN! That gave him an idea. He eased the cart back out of the intersection just enough that he could appear to be looking at the merchandise on the shelf next him. Then he spotted a vest coming toward him from the right. 

Ralph continued to look interested in the merchandise until the vest cleared the last intersection coming his way. Then he eased across the intersection slowly while appearing interested in the merchandise on the aisle end-cap. When the guy was close Ralph looked up with a smile and said, “Hi!” 

The rear of the cart was in his path but without missing a step or saying a word the vest sidestepped the cart and hurried around Ralph. (CATCH ME IF YOU CAN!) 

“Whoa!” Ralph called out loudly to him before he could clear the intersection. 

Shocked, the guy stopped and turned back toward Ralph. He was a young man probably still in his teens by look of the adolescent foliage on his face. 

“I need some help. This thing stopped running before I got halfway across the store.” 

“Uh… Yeah… But… but if I don’t get off of the clock I’m going to get yelled at for going into overtime.” 

“Really? Well, if don’t get some help then somebody is going to get their ass kicked by a one-legged old man that has to pee so bad that it’s painful” 

He looked at the brace on Ralph’s knee and then into his face to see how serious that he looked. Ralph wasn’t smiling. Then the vest turned and took off at a trot while calling out something unintelligible over his shoulder. (CATCH ME IT YOU CAN!) 

By now, Ralph’s need for the restroom was urgent enough that if he had been stuck in the garden center instead of house wares then he would have watered a potted plant without hesitation. A set of a shining stainless steel pans caught his attention, where he was, and his mind wandered a bit. Nah… he knew that he’d better hold off a little longer. There was a box of pans on the shelf that had the seal broken. Just in case, thought Ralph, he put the box into his cart. 

Another vest was approaching from the distance. As soon as Ralph, in his broke down cart, caught his attention the vest took a turn at the next intersection. There was no doubt that most of the store employees knew that the carts didn’t always work and they did not want to be bothered with them. 

Ralph considered lying on the floor and faking a seizure. At least then he would have an excuse for pissing his pants. The trouble with that plan was that he would end up leaving the store on a gurney for a ride in the back of an ambulance. 

Then Ralph had tamer idea. He laid his left arm on the steering wheel and put his head down on the left arm. He let his right arm hang unsupported beside him. This snare worked. In less than three minutes there was a voice close by and calling to him softly. 

“Are you alright, sir?” Ralph felt a gentle touch to his shoulder. 

With the most helpless facial expression that he could muster, Ralph slowly raised his head and looked into the concerned eyes of the woman whose name tag read Aimme. With feigned hesitation and confusion, he responded. 

“This cart is broken down and I have to pee very badly. No one will help me. I don’t know what to do. I feel helpless and so embarrassed.” 

“Do you want me to get the maintenance man over here to help you?” 

“That might work if he could come very soon,” replied Ralph, “but maybe first you could go over to the sporting goods department and bring back one of those Coleman portable toilets for me. Just in case he takes too long, it would save needing to call someone to clean up the floor, too.” 

The urgency took a more clear definition for Aimme. She had a two-way radio on her belt. Ralph listened to both sides of the conversation as the woman instructed the other person to bring a new handicapped cart right away. 

“Bring one of the green ones,” she instructed. When the other person started to protest Aimmee cut her off. 

“If you don’t have time to bring a cart then make time to call 911 as we won’t need the cart. This man is about to suffer an explosive hydraulic expulsion and the ramifications of that are more serious than you can begin to imagine. Do you want the responsibility for that?” 

The reply was too meek for Ralph to hear but he was certain that cavalry was about to crest the hill. When Ralph first saw Aimmee’s name badge he was concerned the she was just another idiot as manifested by her parent’s inability to properly spell Amy. His attitude changed immediately upon witnessing her superb improvisation skills and hearing a vocabulary that had words in excess of two syllables. Satisfied that rescue was on the way, Aimmee put her attention back to Ralph. 

“Okay, sir, let’s do what we can to close the distance between you and the restroom. We’ll try a combination of the cart power and I’ll push you at the same time.” 

She leaned into the rear of the cart and Ralph pressed the FORWARD button. They moved slowly but the good news was that the cart was moving. Crossing the next aisle intersection the woman spotted another vest. She beckoned the other woman to also put her back into pushing the cart. It was a good thing because the power was nearly gone.

They had reached the back wall of the store and made the turn toward the restroom when Ralph heard the bugle sounding over his shoulder. The new cart zipped up alongside of him and he swapped mounts. He thanked Aimmee and told her that he owed her a hug but couldn’t risk it right now for fear of the she might be sprayed. 

When he touched the FORWARD control this time it was like crawling out of 1965 Volkswagen Beetle and stepping down on a 1965 fastback V8 Mustang. This bugger would go. Ralph was at the restroom in no time. Entry was a breeze as the door was propped open by the trash can. 

From inside the handicapped stall a cleaning woman looked around the petition at Ralph. 

“The restroom is closed.” 

“I’m very sorry but it just can’t be closed right now. Ma’am I really have to go.” 

Probably the only thing that this woman had ever had any authority over in her life was the restroom and that had certainly gone to her head. 

“No one is going to use this restroom until I’m finished!” The woman’s gravel-toned voice made Ralph wonder how many years she had been smoking. 

There are people in this world that are simply too stupid to reason with. You have to out-maneuver them. In all of his urgency and panic Ralph did not miss the fact that this woman was in the handicapped stall and the door on that stall hinged outward. It was hanging at forty-five degrees to the closed position. 

Ralph feigned concession and turned the cart around. The woman went back to her cleaning. Quietly, he eased the cart back until it touched the door and then he punched it a little. The door slammed and the inflexible cleaning woman was trapped. 

Ralph pulled himself to his feet, unzipped and turned loose the source of his torture onto the floor. Inside the stall, the woman was screaming and roaring like a she-bear. You would have thought that Ralph had cub-nabbed her young. 

Finishing up his business Ralph sat back down and punched the GO FAST button on the green Mustang. Over his shoulder he called out to the she-bear. 

“Catch me if you can!” 

With speed, skill and daring that would have made Steve McQueen proud; Ralph cornered the Mustang out onto the back wall aisle and didn’t let off a bit. The she-bear, in hot pursuit, cooled off at the first aisle intersection for lack of wind. Ralph laid the Mustang hard into the turn onto the main exit aisle without the slightest let-up in speed. 

As Ralph came upon the exit doors, still at full throttle, they opened just an instant before he crashed into them. He came to a halt beside his car and abandoned the Mustang where he had found the broken down Volkswagen earlier. Ralph never returned to the store to give Aimmee the hug that he had promised her.