Words with Girlfriends

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

Words with Girlfriends

My proudest moment as a child was the time I beat my uncle Pierre at Scrabble with the seven-letter word FARTING.” -Tina Fey

“’O’, ‘B’, ‘L’, ‘I’, ‘Q’, ‘U’, ‘E’, ‘S’.  Obliques.”

“I can’t believe you.”

“So that’s eighteen points, on a double-word square makes it thirty-six.  Then of course, it’s a bingo…”  Chuck let his voice trail off as he finished reveling in the victory.

“Really.  We’re done”, Kelli replied.

“…which would put me at eighty-six points.  If we were keeping track, that is.”

“I don’t think you should make that move”, Kelli said.

“Wait, why?  Because it opens up the top row for you to get a triple?  I think I’ll be okay.”

“No, I think for the sake of keeping your girlfriend happy, you shouldn’t move there.”

“What, are you joking?”  Chuck took his eyes off of the board.  It was evident by the way Kelli had leaned away from the board and crossed her arms that she was not kidding.  Her brows furrowed in a way that they met her ebony bangs just right and Chuck found it adorable.  However he didn’t feel that now was the best time to tell his significant other that her look of angry defiance was cute.

“You’re already something like seventy points ahead.  Now you’re going to win by one hundred and fifty.”

“I thought you weren’t letting me keep score?”  Chuck was confused.  He had a great fondness for the game.  He had it with him at all times.  He played it on his phone while waiting for the bus, he played it online against friends and family members; it was like the world needed more words to be spelled out and Chuck was only too happy to oblige.  Oddly enough, it was the physical board and tiles that he used the least often.

Kelli, his girlfriend of the last five months, was less enamored with the game.  It had taken some thorough cajoling to get her to play.  Backrubs had been promised, along with the solemn decree that no points would be written down.  Despite how it felt at the moment, Chuck’s intentions had been for this to be fun.

“I don’t have to use a pen and paper to figure out that you’re beating the pants off of me.”

“Now that’s an entirely different version.  If you want to start doing that, then I’ll definitely…”  Chuck stopped himself.  Kelli wasn’t smiling.  He wasn’t sure what a more severe version of a frown was, but Kelli had it.  Daggers were shooting from her eyes to Chuck, then the board, then back to Chuck.  If there was such a thing as an anti-laugh, that was what Kelli had on her face.

“Don’t try to change the subject.  You’re being inconsiderate.”

“How is that?”

“You should be letting me win.  It’s the chivalrous thing to do.”

Chuck had to shake his head and blink a few times.  “I’m sorry, I’m not chivalrous?  I thought I was all kinds of gentlemanly around you.  The flowers, the car door openings, the making of breakfasts?  When did I stop being chivalrous?”

“When you played that word”, Kelli replied.  “If you were a truly nice guy, you’d take that move back.”

“But”, Chuck stammered.  “That’s the best move to make.  If you can make a word with a ‘Q’, especially on a double word spot, and certainly when it’s an eight-letter word, then you make it.”

“I wanted to play there.”

“Okay…”

“Look”, she said turning her tiles to him.  “I was going to spell ‘SIN’.  I put the ‘I’ by the ‘’Q’ and the ‘N’ by the ‘U’.”

“I get that, by why not just put it at the bottom of ‘FIGHT’?  Or you can use just the ‘S’ and the ‘I’ and get a double-word out of ‘SIX’?  Why do you care if I use the ‘Q’?”

“I want the ‘Q’.  I like that word”, Kelli replied in a matter-of-fact tone.

Chuck waited in silence until he was sure no further explanation was forthcoming.  “That’s it?”

“Yes”, she said.

“You want me to cheat, to take back a word… just because?”

“Yes.”  Kelli’s voice had a dangerously calm tone to it.  She wasn’t merely explaining, she was stating.  Whenever she stated, it was a firm stance that she would not budge from.

“What happened to women being treated as equals?  Aren’t I supposed to give the same opportunities to both genders?  Do you really think a guy would get to tell me where I would play if we were facing off across the board?”

“We could play it that way”, Kelli said.  “If you want this relationship to go how it goes with your buddies, then we can do that.”  Leaning over the board that was between them and arching her back just enough to show her intent, Kelli whispered in Chuck’s ear.  “I don’t think you really want a ‘friend’ kind of arrangement here.  Do you?”

“You’re serious, aren’t you?  You want me to take that move off the board.”

“Yes”, Kelli replied as she returned to her side.”

“And you have no problem with me going easy on you instead of playing to the best of my ability?”

“Golfers have handicaps”, Kelli countered.  “You’re more of an expert at this game, so why not give me the edge so that I have a shot?”

“Am I supposed to double check every move with you before I play?”

“If you want”, she replied.

“That was a rhetorical question!”  Chuck was filled with disbelief.  “If anything you were supposed to say ‘no’.”

“Yeah, but I didn’t.”

Chuck stopped and fought off his urge to argue logic.  Kelli was the heart of the relationship.  She was the one who rolled around on the floor with her nieces, she was the person who would stop and ask the checkout clerk at the grocery store how they were doing, and she was the one that would run marathons for charity.

Chuck was the book-type.  He wanted precision and he wanted accuracy.  If they were leaving for a movie or a play at seven, he was in the car with his seatbelt fastened at six fifty-nine.  He always knew how to spend less on electricity.  He factored out which gas station would have the lowest price and whether or not its distance from Chuck’s residence warranted the cost of driving there.  Kelli wanted the world to be a better, friendlier place while Chuck wanted the world to make sense.

Somehow, their differences worked with the other.  Chuck’s attention to detail made sure that Kelli never felt forgotten.  Her birthday had been celebrated, he listened to gift suggestions and acted upon them four months later, and he worked to put her priorities at the top of his agenda.  In return, Chuck saw how people reacted to Kelli and was immensely proud to be with someone like her.  She always made him feel like the world was a decent place.  Some days Chuck couldn’t make sense of why things were happening or why people acted the way they did.  When he turned to Kelli, he saw a source of hope and he could believe that things would work out.

Now Chuck was analyzing the data put in front of him.  If he continued to play the way that he liked, then he would win and victory was his.  Even if he took back his move, Chuck was a sure bet.  Yet, if Chuck took back his move, Kelli would probably see it as a sign of affection.  He considered the act as something akin to giving her a boost when she couldn’t reach a tree branch.  Was it really so bad to let her have a leg up once again?

“All right”, Chuck said.  “I’ll capitulate.”

“What?  Is that like a catapult?  Are you going to throw your tiles across the room?”

“No, I’m just throwing the game off.”  Chuck flipped the tiles back into his fingers and made his move towards the other side of the board.  “’B’, ‘O’, ‘X’, ‘E’, ‘S’”, he spelled.  “BOXES.  There, now the ‘Q’ is all yours.  Happy?”

Kelli glowed with delight.  “Yes, yes I am”, she said as she put her three tiles down.  “Thank you for understanding.”

“Now hold on there”, Chuck said as he felt himself smiling along with Kelli’s infectious grin.  “This was a one-time thing.  If I get another good word, I’m going to play it.  Understood?”

Kelli leaned over the board and kissed him quickly.  “Yes”, she said as she put her hand on his cheek and rubbed it with her thumb.  “I still like the gesture, though.”

Kelli sat back down on the carpet as Chuck picked four new tiles out of his bag.  He cursed under his breath.  If he played his tiles correctly, he would be able to spell “SUBTITLE”.  At least it wouldn’t use a “Q” or get double word points.

Cat on a Hot Car Roof

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

Cat on a Hot Car Roof

Cats are rather delicate creatures and they are subject to a good many ailments, but I never heard of one who suffered from insomnia.”  ~Joseph Wood Krutch

Max was a particular sort.  Only the best food would do.  The search for the friendliest person to visit with never ceased.  And, most importantly, Max needed the best resting spot he could find.

Maximus von Scratchyerface, as Max preferred to be called but never was, simply wanted the best of the best.  At thirteen years of age, Max felt that he had stuck around the world long enough and suffered plenty, so he wanted the luxury life for however long he had left.  Most people that saw this cat knew that he had plenty of his nine lives left, assuming he didn’t die from obesity.

When Max had been a kitten, he had been as adorable as could be.  A short-haired cat, Max had gray hair over almost the entirety of his body.  The exceptions were his paws, the tip of his tail, and just under his nose.  Everyone who came across this cat commented on how adorable he was with his little white “mittens” for feet.  The white spot under his chin silently demanded attention and all who attended the feline scratched him while he purred contentedly.  More than a decade later, the beginnings of a bald spot were developing on the under-side of Max’s jaw, but all were too polite to mention it in his presence.

Today, as was the case with every day, Max was tired.  The warm sun had been hiding all week.  Whenever he went to his typical sunbathing window, all he had been greeted by were grey clouds.  This morning, the rain had poured down in droves, hypnotically sending Max into a state of slumber.  That, however, was the morning.  It was now time for Max’s post afternoon-nap. 

Walking through his little swinging flap in the kitchen door, Max strolled through the neighborhood.  Across the street, he noticed a flash of movement.  Max hunkered down in the grass, his head just barely above the ground as his tail wiggled in excitement.  He thought he saw something he could catch, but instead he found an item that would make a promising napping spot.  Pulling into the drive across the street was a bright red sport convertible.

The man with the ponytail carefully closed the door on the sport car and hurried inside.  Max had seen this man before.  He often wondered why the man had a tail attached to the back of his head, especially when he was so follicle-challenged on the rest of his head.  Max would never understand how humans kept warm without the proper amount of hair.

Making sure that he wasn’t seen, Max slinked over to the car.  He had never perched on a sports car’s hood before.  He assumed it would be just as warm as any other car engine, but classier.  Max leaned on his back two legs, flipped his tail back once, then twice, and then he sprang up on the car’s hood.

Immediately, the searing heat attacked the pads on Max’s paws.  He hopped down onto the ground and hissed at the front bumper.  Max couldn’t believe the vehicle would be so hot, so inhospitable, to one such as him.  Looking around, Max found the perfect solution.

There, on a ditch that ran along the concrete, was a deep puddle.  All things considered, the hole in the ground didn’t hold much water.  However it did have plenty of what Max was looking for; mud.  Max dipped his paws in the wet earth and immediately felt better.  The car hood was warm, just as he liked it.  The temperature simply needed a mild adjustment.

It only took a few minutes worth of work.  Max’s feet were quickly coated in mud.  The distance between the ditch and the car was minimal, so Max was able to track substantial amounts of mud with him.  He hopped up on the car, jumping up and down to avoid burning his paws.  He felt the hood cool down, but not as much as he liked.  Max sauntered back over to the ditch and recovered his feet.  He spattered the mud on the hood and felt it becoming more agreeable.  A third trip and the hood was the perfect temperature.  The bright red hood was now resembled a sun-burnt Dalmatian as it consisted entirely of large brown blobs taking up over half of the formerly-gleaning surface. 

The important thing was that the engine was now the proper temperature.  Max settled down and began to get comfortable.  Unfortunately, all the mud that he had used to cool off the metal surface was now sticking to his fur.  He started to contemplate just how dirty this nap was going to get him. 

Then, from across the yard, Max heard a sound.  It was a sound that always cheered him up.  He could hear the can-opener in his kitchen going to work.  Max forgot his desire for sleep and headed back home.  He gave one last look to the car, gave it a bored expression, blinked, and ran off to eat supper. 

No harm done, the cat thought to himself.

The Dangers of a Safety Meeting

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

The Dangers of a Safety Meeting

There is more real pleasure to be gotten out of a malicious act, where your heart is in it, than out of thirty acts of a nobler sort.” -Mark Twain

Kenneth sat in the safety meeting that his work had required him to attend.  Kenneth slid around uncomfortably on the plastic chair that was made more for its stackable-form than for actually sitting.  Kenneth fidgeted and looked to the paper bag at his feet.  Five more minutes, Kenneth thought to himself.  Five more minutes and I’m wrapping this meeting up.

Kenneth didn’t feel that safety was something that needed to be focused on.  His school of thought was that if you were a klutz, then you should be careful.  If you were a coordinated individual, then you should avoid ice patches and falling pianos.  People needed to follow those simple guidelines and that was all there was to it.  Should a person cut their hand with a knife, they should put on a bandage and shut up.  Kenneth was the “heal with duct tape or super glue” type and had no patience for lessons on how to bend with his knees.  To Kenneth, if you couldn’t lift a box, you were a wimp.

Yet, because the pencil-necked little runt was in charge of things and Kenneth wasn’t, the man found himself waiting for the clock to count down to his freedom.  The presenter was droning on about the “dangers of extension cords” and how they were a tripping hazard waiting to happen.  Kenneth looked at the stranger and assumed that he was a consultant.  “Consultants” in Kenneth’s mind translated to “over-paid talkers”.  Kenneth felt his eyes drooping so he turned his attention out the window.

The view was the only saving grace that Kenneth had.  He always assumed that the company shouldn’t have allowed the blinds to be open if they really wanted him to pay attention.  The Stalwart Shipping Company occupied the forty-fourth floor of the skyscraper.  The building itself was the closest skyscraper to the ocean and the view was astounding.  In the distance Kenneth could see ferries lazily shuttling across the water while several smaller boats puttered about the coastline.  Further down the waterfront were the shipping lanes, but Kenneth had as much interest in the docks as he did in the presentation.  He looked at the water, the blue sky above, and back at the water.  If he were taking in the view under different circumstances, it would have been quite relaxing.

The trouble was that Kenneth wanted to be out in the world, not sitting and looking out at the panoramic view.  It was Friday afternoon.  He had a ticket to the baseball game in his pocket.  He had served the company well all week.  No one had gotten past his security checkpoint.  No unexpected visitors had gotten in.  He was a fine employee, a dues-paying union man, and it was almost time for him to punch out.  The company had gotten thirty-nine hours and fifty-five minutes out if him.  They were not going to get much more.

Kenneth rubbed his hands on his knees.  He felt the need to be free growing stronger within him.  He flipped open his phone and compared the time to the clock on the wall.  Both clocks told him that it was four fifty-nine.  Kenneth began to count down from a hundred and pulled the paper sack closer.  He didn’t want to cause a ruckus, he only wanted to leave.  The paper bag was just in case.

Lonnie Johnson, the creator of the Super Soaker.

The presenter was obviously oblivious to Kenneth’s feelings.  He continued to prattle on.  Kenneth could see that all of his coworkers were as anxious to leave as he was.  Well, everyone except the head of marketing, who had arranged the meeting in the first place after he had sprained his ankle.  Kenneth rolled his eyes at the accident.  If they hadn’t been giving tours of the warehouse, the clod wouldn’t have tripped over the crate.  Or the suit could have just watched where he was going.  Kenneth shook his head.  Now why would you ever do that, he thought to himself sarcastically.

“I know we’re a little behind, but we have just a few more slides.”

Kenneth’s eyes lit up with rage.  The presenter actually thought that Kenneth was going to sit there and listen to more of this.  The presenter was wrong.

Kenneth stood up and started walking towards the door.  The chairs around him started to swivel in his direction as the others saw him leaving.

“Kenneth?  We’re actually not quite done here”, the suit stated.

“It’s five o’clock.  I gotta punch out.  Union regs.”

“I’m going to have to ask you to stay.  I’m sure we can work out the details.”

That was it.  Kenneth hadn’t wanted the opportunity to present itself before, but now he almost relished his planning.  With a sudden move, he reached into the paper bag, pulled out a water balloon, and lobbed it into the air.  It landed on the shiny wood desk, bursting open and thoroughly soaking his higher-up in their precious suit, the presenter, and the presenter’s over-priced laptop.

“I said, I gotta go.”

Kenneth walked out of the room and slapped a few high-fives.  He walked out as a few people whispered their appreciation to him.  There would be repercussions, perhaps even some sort of write up.  Kenneth wasn’t too worried.  One of the men that had high-fived him was the union rep.

Safety could wait for later.  Kenneth had a ball game to enjoy.

A Hairy Predicament

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

A Hairy Predicament

Now they show you how detergents take out bloodstains, a pretty violent image there. I think if you’ve got a T-shirt with a bloodstain all over it, maybe laundry isn’t your biggest problem.” -Jerry Seinfeld

All started off rather quietly in the Fultz’s home.  The two children had managed to drag themselves out of their comfy bedrooms and lumbered out the door to catch the bus; their bellies full with cereal and orange juice.  Mrs. Fultz had done an admirable job of getting everyone except herself fed.  As she scurried about the kitchen, she poured herself a cup of coffee before she drove downtown.  Even Mr. Fultz, the man in charge of the home front, had read his paper in serenity.  He resisted his normal urge to comment on the state of the world or blame the city’s problems on the government official that he had voted for.  Had the Fultz family known what would occur in their home that day, they would have savored the calm environment that was their abode.

As with all instances that turn horribly awry, it started off simply enough.  Mr. Fultz decided that he really should do a load of laundry before he saw to the other tasks that the day held for him.  He pulled the collection of dripping jeans and towels from the front-load washer and placed them haphazardly into the drier.  He pulled the screen out, noticed it was typically fully of purple-grey lint, and removed the obstruction.  Despite Mrs. Fultz’s desire for Mr. Fultz to, “Just toss out that junk”; Mr. Fultz liked to let the pile of lint collect.  Somewhere in his brain he believed that there might be some grand purpose for all that wonderful lint.  In a way, he was right.

When Mr. Fultz slammed the drier door shut and walked away, he didn’t notice that the massive lump of lint was precariously close to the edge.  In walked Fido, the Fultz’s St. Bernard.  Fido was feeling excitable and shook his body back and forth vigorously, sending heaps of dog hair flying into the air.  Fido then skipped off to play elsewhere, and so there were no witnesses for anything that happened next.

The dog hair flying, the lint collection being jostled, and the resident static electricity that was created and passed on by Fido’s tail-wagging all culminated in something new.  Through some fluke of science, the two masses collided with each other and were combined with a flash of blue-white light.  Thanks to the laundry machine and Fido, a new creature had obtained intelligence.

The hair-lint creature had been brought to life just like Frankenstein, but with less purpose.  As it half floated, half bounded away from the laundry room, the hair-lint creature paused to wish for legs.  Creatures made up of discarded animal hair and fabric remnants were not afforded the luxury of limbs.  The hair-lint creature would simply have to bounce and float around the best that it could.

Then the creature realized that it didn’t have a stomach to digest food in.  It was doomed to forever be hungry.  The hair-lint creature opened up an orifice to create a small mouth, and growled angrily.  The idea of perpetually unmet cravings turned the hair-lint creature into a displeased monster.  It decided that it if couldn’t have what it wanted, then misery would be its mission.  And the easiest way to cause misery was to be an obnoxious force of nature.   The hair-lint monster decided that for it to be truly threatening, it would have to consume more mass.

Led on by some sort of cotton-fabricated instinct; the creature bounded into the bedroom.  There the monster felt the presence of many other cloth-creations.  A veritable buffet was laid out of for the creature and it partook greedily.  First it consumed the comforter, then the sheets.  The pillows were next, even though it had to spit out the buttons from the pillow cases.  It started in on the mattress, but the taste of metal and wood drove the monster away in disgust.  It could sense that there was more fabric to be consumed.  However without arms, let alone opposable thumbs, the hair-lint creature was unable to pull the drawers open.  It was now seven times larger, thanks to the fabrics that had increased its mass.  However bigger does not always mean more capable of delicate tasks requiring coordination.  The monster decided to hunt down Mr. Fultz.  He would be forced to fetch the creature more fabrics.

Mr. Fultz sat at the dining table working on the jumble when he heard Fido growling.  He looked up to see a giant bundle of cloth coming towards him.  It resembled an oyster from a puppet-movie turned on its side, only without the beady eyes or pleasant personality.  As the creature approached, Mr. Fultz could see that it wasn’t entirely grey.  It was made up of a variety of colors, and he thought he even saw a few purple daisies from his pillow cases mixed in there.  Whatever color it was, it was coming straight for Mr. Fultz.

Fid continued to bark, but the dog’s bravery was only an act.  Somehow the canine sensed that part of him was residing within the creature, and Fido was afraid that it would try and devour him for the rest of the fur.  While Fido barked from underneath the kitchen, Mr. Fultz looked for something to defend himself with.

He ran to the closet and found a broom.  When he thrust it at the creature, it only reincorporated itself around the wooden object. When Mr. Fultz swatted the bristles and jostled the broom head around, the creature’s form scattered, but then it solidified again when the broom was removed.  Mr. Fultz tried a steak knife, but that was like trying to stab a layer of fog.  All the while, the creature was getting closer and closer.  Mr. Fultz knew he would have to stop the monster, and soon.

More out of desperation than logic, Mr. Fultz grabbed for the extending hose at the top of the sink.  He threw the water on full blast and shot little streams of water straight at the advancing enemy.  To his great relief, it produced immediate results.

The sparks of life in the monster began to break down.  The hair-lint creature that had been held together by electricity and static charge soon found itself negated.  It moaned at its defeat.  In less than a minute, the once proud monster was turned into a damp pile of cotton and polyester.  With the crackle of life removed, the intelligence sputtered out.

Mr. Fultz let go of the extender hose and watched as it halfway recoiled back into the sink.  He knew he should reach up and turn off the faucet, but first he needed to catch his breath.  Fido walked up to the pile of fabric cautiously and sniffed at it, never getting too close.  Mr. Fultz shook his head in amazement.  He realized the old saying was true; deadly accidents really did happen in the home.

Intermission- Some People Just Want to Watch the World Burn

(I apologize for the departure in tone today.  Normally I would happily write a cute story filled with sci-fi possibilities or a will they/ won’t they couple.  But today I’m not feeling happy or creative, so you get this.  Hopefully tomorrow will bring happier thoughts.)

For those not well-versed in their comic book movies, the subject line is a little too appropriate for today.  The quote comes from The Dark Knight, and it serves as a description for a villain who kills and causes terror just for the sheer fun of it.  Tragically, the world was served a reminder this morning that such people exist outside of comic books.

I’m sure the final count and details are still being worked out, but I know enough to be horrified at the tragedy.  Twelve people were killed and thirty-eight people were injured when a man came into a screening of The Dark Knight Rises, dispersed smoke, and opened fire.  Police apparently have a suspect in custody.

I don’t know very many people in Colorado.  I would never claim that I will be as impacted as the friends and loved ones of that theater audience.  On a much smaller scale though, I will claim that the room was filled with my people.

Comic book nerds are an interesting breed.  We have a reputation for being anti-social.  I’m here to tell you though; one of the quickest ways to get in our good graces is to read comics, to be one of us.

I work in a comic book shop.  There have been many occasions where I have heard guys and gals say, “Yeah, I just moved to the area.  I needed to find a good shop.”  We leap to make connections with fellow nerds.  We want to share stories and opinions about the latest issue back and forth.  I’ve sold comics to young and old, rich and poor, gay and straight.  Some are of a minority race, and some are classified as disabled.  We don’t care what the world thinks of you, we just like that you enjoy comics.  It’s hard to care about race or religion when the fate of the world is in jeopardy on the four-color page.

That is why I mourn the crowd in Colorado.  I don’t know you folks, but I like who you are.  When we see each other on the street with our mutual comic book t-shirts, we exchange a knowing wink and nod.

In addition to working in a comic shop, I also work in a movie theater.  It’s a giant, six-story screen that is, not surprisingly, playing The Dark Knight Rises.  Last night, when the world was getting ready for bed, I was strolling around the lobby in a Batman costume trying to get people ready for what I think is a pretty great film.  There was a Joker, several Batmans, and a Catwoman in attendance.  We gave away posters and comic books.  They just wanted to watch an epic movie and have a good time.  Hopefully they did.

What do I do today?  The rain was falling as I left the apartment, but I didn’t reach for my standard Superman cap to keep me dry.  I need a time to feel dreary.  I’ll call it a win if no one on the bus recognized that I was about two seconds away from breaking down.  I have to go to work and decide if I really want to dress up as The Dark Knight and possibly put people on edge.  Yesterday they would have enjoyed the silly guy in a black costume.  Today they might pause and ask themselves what kind of person is really under that mask.

I’m sure action will be called for.  The police and the legal system will do their thing.  Undoubtedly conversations will occur about whether or not we should screen bags at movie theaters or if movies about crowds taking over a city encourage violence.  And I would guarantee that there will be one more argument for gun control.  I’m not saying any of those talks are good or bad.  I’m saying we all have our own ways of dealing with tragedies like the one that happened this morning.  In one way or the other, the guilty will get what’s coming to them.  Maybe it will be in the court of law, maybe it won’t.

“Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” -Romans 12:19

Myself, I’m going to be in mourning.  I called up the gal who’s been on my mind this week and made sure to tell her that my life is better with her in it.  I’m going to try to find a comic book that I feel like reading.  A Batman comic wouldn’t feel right today.  Maybe it will tomorrow.  I’m supposed to dress up as Batman tonight and I have no idea whether it’s the right thing to do.

To me, Batman is one of the most hopeful characters ever created.  Every night he goes out trying to keep anyone else from suffering like he did.  The odds are impossible, the circumstances are out of his control, but he still keeps fighting.

No, I’m not going to stop reading comics.  No, I’m not going to give up movies.  I won’t be scared or bullied into worrying about my safety.  I may take a little break from celebrating and Bat-festivities, but I won’t give in to the misguided.  If Batman can have hope in a city like Gotham, then I can too.  The world can break my heart with its cruelty, but it’s not going to keep me from enjoying the good things in life.  Hopefully the darkness will be a little less so tomorrow.

College Learning Put to Use

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

College Learning Put to Use

Dating is like trying to make a meal out of leftovers. Some leftovers actually get better when they’ve had a little time to mature.” -Lisa Kleypas

Joel thought Trisha was pretty cute.  Everything about her was round.  She had round eyes, round cheeks, and a rounded off chin.  If there was anyone that had soft features and an attitude to go with it, that was Trisha.

Trisha in return often told Joel how much she appreciated his attentiveness.  Trisha was always the caring one, the friend who took care of everybody else.  For some reason, Joel took it upon himself to take care of Trisha.  He was liked by their fellow church members, he hugged when asked, but he did not actively seek to help out anyone except Trisha.  He ended up sharing a pew with her in church one Sunday, held the hymnal for her, and his willingness to support her sprang from that.

Thus began a rather pleasant friendship.  The two shared conversation time after church, though both would have been quick to say that no profound topics had been discussed.  When two teenagers have active social lives, homework, and a family to ride home with, it is hard to dive into every aspect of the other person.  They each thought the other was fine, and they were fine with that.

Many high school friends drop out of touch when college life begins.  Trisha and Joel were no exception.  They had expected to keep in contact, but they had both underestimated how busy they would be.  E-mails went unanswered.  Whenever one was home for holiday or summer break, the other was off on some wild trip or simply working a few extra shifts to pay for the increasing cost of tuition.  The two friends that had once been quite cordial eventually lost touch entirely.

Joel kept very busy.  Nicole saw that as her mission.  She found Joel sitting in the back row of their Advanced Applied Chemistry class and decided on the spot that she had to have him.  Nicole was not the sort of person that sat around and mulled over cause and effects; she had enough of that in class.  In life, when Nicole wanted something, she went after it with all the gusto she could muster.

Joel had to admit that he found the attention very flattering.  He had never been doggedly pursued before and he rather enjoyed it.  He did not think that Nicole was someone he would have selected as his “type”, but she was certainly attractive.  The multiple nose and facial piercings had given him pause, especially when paired with a head that was shaved off on the right side with bright pink spikes on the other.  However Nicole was adventure personified and Joel found the ride to be fascinating.

To say that their relationship was wild would be understating it.  Joel found himself trying to recuperate after each outing.  But Nicole would always grab him by the hand and yank his arm, along with the rest of him, off to some epic trip.  There was the time that Nicole hopped onto the field during a baseball game and Joel spent three hours trying to get her released from jail.  The Great Grand Canyon Adventure taught Joel what it was like to be lost in the wilderness for three days with no compass and not nearly enough food.  The howling animals at night and his fear of snakes had not helped matters any.

Joel’s logical side constantly warned him to turn and flee in the other direction.  Then there was the other side, the side that most college fellows listen to quite often.  That was the part that Nicole nudged along every time she offered to reveal a new tattoo.  Their own personal chemistry was beyond anything that Joel learned about in class and the two had some rather steamy nights.  The whole thing should have been tremendous amounts of fun for Joel.  However, after almost a year of being sucked into the force of nature that was Nicole, Joel finally figured out what the problem was.

Nicole was always the one in charge and Joel did not mind that.  However, in her eagerness to try new things and perhaps get a few new bumps and bruises, Nicole never consulted with Joel.  He was often too tired to care where they went and Nicole had a long list of things that she wanted to do while she was still young.  The result was that Joel never felt like himself.  He was the “plus one” in the relationship.  Nicole suggested something then he went along with her.  As that year came a close, Joel felt his identity slipping away.  He did not like it.

The break up took thirteen hours, none of which Joel thought went well.  They started out in a greasy burger restaurant.  Joel told Nicole that he felt she was overpowering him, overly reckless, and therefore their relationship should be over.  Nicole responded by over-reacting.  Dishes were thrown across the dining area and they were asked to leave.  The yelling started on the way back to Joel’s place.  For the rest of the night there would be apologizing, making out, fighting, and more yelling.  When it had all wrapped up just after sunrise, Nicole was off to go steal a motorcycle and Joel wondered if hiding under his bed was allowed.  His fear of further retribution proved to be unwarranted, but with Nicole one never knew.

Playing Pool by Kristel Rae Barton

Joel spent the rest of college being single for the most part.  He would go on a date or two, but nothing really clicked.  There were the nice gals that were uninteresting and the darker gals who had heard about him and Nicole.  Neither scenario ended with Joel feeling like himself or caring deeply for the other person.

Joel focused on his studies.  He worked on the school’s grounds crew to help with tuition.  He studied until his eyes were red.  And after many hours of lectures and tests, he graduated.

Summer came, final transcripts were printed off, and Joel found himself heading back home.  He did not have a job yet, but he felt that he was capable of being hired soon.  For a few weeks Joel just wanted to relax.

In all the years of college and all the nights out with Nicole, Joel had never once played pool.  In the back of his head he always pictured playing pool with a glass of beer nearby to be part of the college experience.  That was why, a month after he returned back to the town he had been raised in, Joel walked up the stairs of the town’s only pub and made his way to the pool table on the second story.

When he found the pool table, he saw that it was occupied by a single player.  A woman whose back was turned to Joel was muttering to herself.  Joel watched as she talked to the table, re-aimed the pool stick a few times, and finally bounced the white ball along the red-felt surface until it struck the nine-ball.  The end result was that the nine-ball ricocheted off of the side of the table and then rolled to a stop just short of the pocket.

“Close shot”, Joel commented.

“Thanks”, the woman answered without turning.

“Would you like someone to compete against?  Although I should probably warn you I’ve never actually played pool before.”

The woman turned around, a smile appearing slowly on her face.  “If that is the voice of Joel Braden, then I would love to thwomp you soundly.”

Joel had to look, and then look again to confirm what he could scarce believe.

“Trisha?”

The two hugged and laughed at finding each other.  Apologies for not keeping in touch were made, memories were recapped, and degree information was soon exchanged.  The two lingered near the pool until they picked up their pool sticks and faced off.

Joel watched Trisha play and found himself feeling captivated with her.  He remembered Trisha as having lots of nice curves in her face.  Yet now he realized that the rest of her features followed her face’s lead.  As Trisha leaned and maneuvered around the table, Joel wondered how his hormonal high school-self hadn’t seen what was so completely obvious.  Trisha was unequivocally stunning.

“What shall we do when we finish off this game?”

Joel found his train of thought interrupted by Trisha’s question.  “Did you have something specific in mind?”

“Oh, you know me”, Trisha replied.  “I always have a few fun ideas up my sleeve.  But what about you?  Surely there is something that we could both enjoy?”

With that gesture of consideration, and with the way she kept running her fingers along his arm, Joel was quite taken.  For some couples, love at first sight works out fine.  With Joel and Trisha, a double-take was more their style.

A Better View

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

A Better View

As one who has often felt this need, and who has found refreshment in wild places, I attest to the recreational value of wilderness.” -George Aiken

Marie had called it quits for the day.  The constantly ringing office phone, the boss who had a seemingly endless pile of projects for her; and then there was the commute.  She rolled her eyes at the thought of her drive.  It wasn’t just the traffic; it was also the construction that had eliminated half the lanes for what she thought were pretty cosmetic upgrades.  Marie was done.  She needed an escape.  She only had so many vacation days left but her mental health demanded that she take one.

Thus, early on Tuesday morning, Marie climbed into her car and revved up the engine.  Her normal business attire had been shirked for shorts, tank top, and shades.  The cup of coffee that she usually guzzled down by eight a.m. had been replaced with a bottle of water.  She had already sent an e-mail to her boss that something had come up and she wouldn’t be able to make it into the office.  Marie purposefully neglected informing him of the details.  Vacations were meant to be taken, she decided.  She’d worry about the consequences some other time.

Driving down the interstate, she giggled at the rows of cars.  They were all heading towards downtown while she was driving speedily in the other direction.  As the vehicles became less and less frequent, the mountains in the distance grew closer.  Even on the warm sunny morning, she could still see plenty of snow on the majestic peaks.  Marie’s car bounced and bumped along the gravel road.  An hour after she had left her house, she had arrived at the park of her choosing.

A cursory glance at the lot revealed only three cars.  Marie nodded in satisfaction.  That meant that the trails would be almost entirely clear and that the park was, in theory, open for her boot-clad feet.  She signed in, paid for her parking, and took herself and her backpack into the woods.  She left the real world and her cares behind with the car.

The longer she spent on the dirt path, the more life seemed to make sense.  What did it matter that the blind date from last week had been shockingly incapable of chewing with his mouth closed?  Who needed a successful date when there was a perfect waterfall that could sooth and relax her?  Did it matter how many voicemails were on her phone when there were chipmunks to chuckle at and watch as they skittered from tree to tree?

The petty everyday tasks and annoyances were put into their proper place.  Mighty trees that had withstood centuries passing and forest fires showed her that there was more to the world than a week’s “to-do” list.  The world kept turning, the trees kept growing, and the mountain snow would still melt and feed into the cascading rivers below.

As if to further punctuate the point, a doe scurried up the hillside.  It had no need for trails.  It leapt, bounded, and bounced between the trees and over any rocks in its way.  The doe stopped for a moment on the path.  It glanced calmly at Marie, blinking once, and then twice.  Marie wanted to step forward and get a closer at the animal, but she knew it would dart away.  The two female creatures stood there for a minute, each measuring up the other.  The doe’s ears turned up the hillside, obviously aware of something.  Just like that, the doe changed course and took off up the mountain.  Marie gave the doe the thumbs up gesture as it left.

The two hour hike gave way to a breathtaking view.  The sound of waterfalls had died down.  Marie wondered just what this lake was going to look like.  Then it came into view.  “Holy…”, was all Marie could manage to say.  In front of her was a panoramic view of a dozen peaks.  The lake, having thawed just recently, lay cool and calm with small chunks of snow dotting the surface.  The white covering still dominated the terrain.  That didn’t stop the rocks from trying to break through.  As the sun glistened in the clear blue sky, Marie beamed in response.  She spread out on a giant rock and lay down, using her pack as a pillow.

Bring on the sun, bring on the warmth, bring on the freckles, Marie thought to herself.  This is the life for me.  Marie knew the scene was too perfect to last.  She refused to acknowledge that truth quite yet.  Her batteries simply needed a recharge and the best power source in the galaxy was happily obliging.  With sunglasses on her face and heat waves rippling off her skin, all was well with the world.

An Affair Worthy of the News

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

An Affair Worthy of the News

Be faithful to your love and you will be recompensed beyond measure.” -Albert Schweitzer

“What do you think we should do?”

“Make out.”

“Tom”, Gretchen said with exasperation.  “We made out yesterday, now we need to be serious.”

“You think I’m not?  Well if you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m always serious about making out.  I am all about serious.  I think we should do some serious making out.”

“Funny guy”, she said.  “But we need to come up with some sort of a resolution here.”

Tom lay on his side looking at Gretchen who was doing the same.  The weather was far too nice to be ignored and the couple had taken a blanket to a small patch of grass.  Tom saw his relaxing day off turning into a, “we need to have the talk” ordeal.  He took his right hand off of Gretchen’s hip and reached all the way around her back.  He rolled her on top of him and locked his arms tightly behind her lower back.

“What are you doing”, Gretchen asked.  A smile eked out of the corner of her mouth, proving that she was only partially resisting.  “We’re supposed to be talking out a plan of action here.”

“I am”, Tom replied.  “I just want to make sure that I have your full attention.  I know how you get distracted.”

Gretchen’s penchant for being distracted was what had caused the two to meet in the first place.  She had decided that the life of a reporter would be enough of a hustle to keep her brief attention span occupied.  The bosses liked her enthusiasm and had asked Tom to show her the works.  Neither of them had meant for anything to happen, but they certainly weren’t complaining at the results.  Tom had started off by showing her the press box at the arena, showing her the best secret places around the city, and generally sharing with her the secrets that came from years of reporting in they city.

In return, Gretchen had let Tom have an outlet for his playful side.  At work he was seen as reliable and professional; one of the true grunts that would work until the job was done.  Gretchen loosened him up.  Whenever she rushed off to explore some new sight in the city, she grabbed him by the hand and took him racing along with her.  Her laugh, the way her long hair bobbed up and down in the loose ponytail as they darted from one place to the next; it was all too much for Tom to resist.  Everything had come to a head at the boxing match.

Despite Tom’s protesting, his editor had enlisted him to help out while one of the sports writers was on maternity leave.  Things were quiet in the features section and the boss assigned Tom the wrestling match.  When Tom started to vent his annoyance to Gretchen over their morning cup of coffee, she excitedly revealed her secret love of the spectacle.  A quick call to the stadium resulted in a second press seat being obtained.

Tom was astounded by the fun he had at the event.  Gretchen was the main reason why.  She reached a level of excitement Tom could scarcely believe.  She screamed and cheered, calling each wrestler by name and crying for such attacks as “the whirlwind of destruction” and “the bang-town boom”.  Tom had tried to understand the actual proceedings for the first half hour, but he ended up watching Gretchen.  She was clearly having the time of her life and she only became more enthralled as the night went on.  Finally, as the victor pinned his weary opponent, the crowd echoed in one massive cheer.  Gretchen clutched her hands in front of her, her tiny hands balled up into eager little fists of glee.  She looked to Tom, unclenched her hands, and lunged at him.  Her right hand grabbed the back of his head and she pulled him close, her lips fiercely pressing against his.

Tom felt her warm kiss send sparks throughout his body.  He hadn’t expected this kind of attack at the arena.  Gretchen pulled away, realized what she had done, and blushed.

“Sorry” she apologized.  “The spandex, the chaos, the crowd”, she gestured around her.  “I guess I sometimes forget to censor myself.  Please don’t be mad?”

The reply came quickly as Tom put his hand through her hair and leaned close.  “I won’t if you won’t.”  Slowly, making sure he was okay, Tom pulled her towards him and the two enjoyed their exchange in the madness around them.

Ever since that night of kissing, the two had been having the time of their lives.  Their different assignments and pre-existing obligations kept them from spending as much time together as they liked, but they managed to sneak in a date or two each week.  If nothing else, they tried to always grab a quick cup of coffee at work.

Work, although it was the reason the two found each other, was also the biggest problem looming in front of them.  Gretchen had stated in her interview that she had big ambitions, and she had meant it.  From the day she sat down in her business suit and answered the questions asked her, the goal had always been present in her mind.  She wanted to be an editor.  She wanted to be the one making the shots and keeping tabs on all the activity around town.  She cringed at the idea of being trapped behind a desk, yet that was a sacrifice she thought she could handle.  That drive and passion was appreciated by the higher-ups.  But the part that they bristled at was the obvious affection that Gretchen had for Tom.

The newspaper had a rule.  The rule made sense.  The rule was strict.  And for Gretchen and Tom, the rule was a problem.  The rule stated that no employee should be in a relationship with an employee that could be answerable to the other.  Tom showing Gretchen around town and taking her places; that the bosses could excuse as a professional courtesy.  However two employees out and out dating while one made choices that could affect the other; that they wouldn’t have.  Gretchen had made informal inquiries to Anne, an editor she had grown to respect and like.  Anne explained it as softly as she could; management wouldn’t let an editor date a reporter, even if they weren’t assigned to the same sections.  The company wanted to avoid any and all appearances of nepotism, no exceptions.

Gretchen had tried to have fun with Tom, and that part had succeeded entirely.  The choice they would have to make soon continued to loom over their heads like a giant typewriter.  Any day it was going to fall and one of them might be crushed.  Gretchen warned Tom as they walked towards the park.  A decision had to be made.  She would prefer it to be made today.  Tom nodded quietly; a sign that he was trying to figure out a way to phrase the thoughts in his head.  That was one of the things Gretchen loved about Tom.  His thoughts always came out perfectly formed because of all the time he spent developing and arranging them in his head.  Tom rarely went through drafts or needed revisions; his writings, just like his conversations, emerged from his head ready for their audience.

“Here’s what’s going to happen”, Tom said.  He watched as Gretchen tried to pull away, but he wouldn’t let her.  She pulled her long hair out of Tom’s face, only for it to fall back towards him after she had readjusted it.  “Leave it”, he said.  “Here’s what we will do.  We will continue to fall deeply and madly in love.  It’s that simple.”

“Okay, she said as she ran her thumb against the line of his jaw.  And when I become editor?”

“Then I’ll quit”, Tom said quietly.

“Wait, quit?”  Gretchen broke free of Tom’s arms and sat next to him.  She stared down at him in disbelief.  “You can’t quit.”

“Sure I can”, Tom replied.  “People do it every day.”

“You can’t quit”, she repeated.  “You’re great at your job.  You love it.  You’ve spent years developing all those contacts.  What would you do if you quit?”

“I could still write”, Tom replied.  “I put some feelers out and there’s freelance work available.  Plus, my agent seems to think that there’s a book or two in this noggin of mine.”

Gretchen was stunned.  “You talked to your agent?”

“Well yeah”, Tom said has he sat up.  “You’re not the only one who’s been thinking this out.”

“Do you really want to quit, though?”

“No, I don’t”, Tom replied sadly.  He saw Gretchen was about to argue, so he spoke first.  “But I will.  You and I both know that editor jobs are rare in this city.  The media outlets just aren’t what they once were.  If you think a job is going to open up for you, then you have to seize it.  Period.”

“I don’t want you to have to quit”, Gretchen said.  “You’re good at your job.  You enjoy it, I know you do.”

“Very true”, Tom replied.  “But I enjoy you more.  And I care about your happiness more than a job, no matter how good I am at it.  Of course, if you ask my current editor, he may disagree with just how talented I am.”

“Don’t do that”, Gretchen snapped.  “I hate it when you put yourself down.”

Tom smiled.  “Yeah, I do.  Sorry.”

“You really plan to quit?”

“The way I see it, I have two choices.  I can keep seeing you, keep building on this wonderful stretch of, what, seven months?  Or I can have my job.  My job is interesting, but it isn’t everything.  I’d rather have no one calling me, offering jobs, than not have you call me at the end of the night.  It’s really that simple.  I’m supposed to support you, right?  Cheer for you when you want to have something for yourself?  Well then, consider it done.”

“You”, Gretchen said as she choked up, “are amazing.”

“No, the version of me that’s with you is.  I like myself more when I’m with you.  You make me feel more happier, smarter, and more confident.  Life is better when you’re with me.  It’s that simple.  You make me feel attractive, and it’s not just because you’re so stunning.  Which in case I haven’t told you today; you are.  The sun shining through your hair?  It’s pretty great.”

“You’re not so bad yourself”, Gretchen replied.

“Oh, I know.  I’m kinda perfect”, Tom said as he lay back on the blanket.

“Says the guy who forgot my birthday last month”, she retorted.  Gretchen lay back down and nestled next to Tom.  She put her head on his chest as they watched the few clouds above float lazily by.  A large cumulus in the shape of a sitting camel seemed to wink at her, wishing her the best.

“I did forget”, Tom admitted.  “But I promise to buy you flowers when you get promoted.  I’ll have them delivered to the office.  It’ll be a grand spectacle sure to embarrass you.  Hey, maybe you can use it as a reason to fire me?  Wouldn’t that be a fun story for our coworkers to gossip about?”

Gretchen rolled her eyes and sighed.  She wanted to be annoyed at his bad joke.  She couldn’t; Gretchen was far too busy enjoying a quiet day with a man who truly loved her.

Tales from a Batsuit

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

Tales from a Batsuit

It’s not who you are, it’s what you do that defines you.” –Batman Begins

There is an experience that only a select group of individuals have been subjected to.  Granted, the choice is usually their own, and in theory they take up the mantle willingly.  Still, the argument can be made that only those that go through this act of lunacy comprehend why they do such crazy things.  I am of course, talking about dressing up like a giant bat.

Other costumes exist and other heroes can be portrayed.  Spider-Man is especially fun because one’s entire face is covered.  Anyone can be Spidey.  Plus, the more you leap up on random objects and take on wacky poses, the “better” you are at being the Friendly Neighborhood wall-crawler.  I think Superman is a little harder to pull off.  If you don’t have the chiseled jaw and black hair, not to mention the muscled physique, then the whole thing can just come off as a sham.  (The attempt to pull Supes off led me to dying my hair, including my eyebrows, black.  The less said about the whole thing, the better.)  Sure all the kids love a good Superman, but one has to be able to pull it off.  Iron Man, Captain America; they’re all well and good.  In the end, nothing tops Batman.

The only trick is finding the right suit.  Thanks to the wonders of built-in padding, all ages, genders, and builds have portrayed The Dark Knight.  As someone who has dressed up for several movie openings at work, Batman is, no contest, seen as the coolest.  It helps if you have extra gear like batarangs or a Joker to chase around, though it is hardly necessary.  People see Batman, and they smile.  Fist bumps, photo opportunities, high-fives; all are common occurrences when a guy is dressed as Batman.

This is not to say that adopting the cape and cowl is all perks.  First off, the ears are floppy.  Have you ever seen a cool Batman with floppy bat-ears?  No, you haven’t.  There are ways and tricks to fixing them, such as ironing them stiff or inserting bits of cardboard, but it all seems rather silly.  Due to the open nature of Batman’s face, facial hair is simply a no-no.  If you’re going to play Batman, you’ve got to shave that beard off.  However, Batman is a creature of gruff and scruff, so stubble is quite okay.  Also, let’s just come out and say it.  The Bat-Booties don’t really cover up one’s shoes all that well.

Then of course, there’s the heat.  Batman movies have this annoying habit of coming out in June or July.  I may not live in the desert, but it feels like it in the suit.  The thing is all black and multi-layered.  The next time that you are going to the beach in your swimsuit, consider putting on a full-body, tight-fitting costume, then go ahead and drape an extra layer over your back.  Top that off by covering your hands and head.  The whole thing gets mighty toasty.  However, the kids like it, so it’s worth it.  And they’re not the only ones.

It has been said that, “Chicks dig the car”.  Well, the same can be said for the suit.  I don’t pretend to understand it.  Maybe women really do like dark characters.  Maybe Batman is fun for all ages.  Maybe we all want to be a little silly and leave our worries behind.  But for every guy that wants to hug, hang out, or take a picture with Batman, there are five females that feel the same way.  I have heard squeals of excitement, off-color comments, and then there was the gal who ran and literally jumped into my arms.  (Happily she wasn’t heavy and I wasn’t holding anything when she leapt at me.  That gal was either a little too excited or quite brave.  Or both.)  They smile, they wink, and sometimes they get a little handsy.  It’s odd, but also highly entertaining.

That perk is rather nice, but it is not the reason why I spend several minutes putting on a decidedly high-maintenance suit.  In the end, I think some movies deserve a little more effort.  I like romantic comedies, but those don’t really require anyone detaching their mind from reality.  Action movies are fun, however for those you mostly just have to turn off your brain.  Comic book movies; well there’s a certain suspension of disbelief that folks have to adopt.  If there’s a guy in a Batman costume waving and shaking hands, then it all becomes a little more plausible.  Really, I fell that folks want to have fun and I think some big goof in a costume helps that along.  Of course, none of them will ever know that fear the constantly haunts me.

They can’t see the run in my bat-tights, right?  I sure hope not.  The Bat-Sharpie only fixes so much.

An Electric Education

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

An Electric Education

Children have to be educated, but they have also to be left to educate themselves.” -Ernest Dimnet

Gregory was an intelligent and accomplished man.  He had graduated college with a degree in engineering.  He had a nice wife and two precocious children.  While others were running out and buying mp3 players for their cars, Gregory built one out of a small hard drive and a power source that hooked into the vehicle’s cigarette lighter.  Yes, Gregory was a smart sort of fellow.  Of course, he hadn’t started out that way.

Gregory also had a brother by the name of Mort.  Mort was a year and a half younger than Gregory, so perhaps he thought that his older brother wouldn’t do anything to inflict any harm.  However, Mort operated off of the faulty assumption that Gregory knew what he was doing.

ImageThe two brothers got along well enough, but there were certainly visible differences.  Gregory was around ten years old, which naturally made Mort eight.  Gregory had already developed his fascination for electric things.  He played with LED lights, knew how to work a volt meter, and was only too content to spend hours working on his electric train set.  Mort was less engaged in technological things and was happy to spend his mornings reading comic strips.  When he heard Gregory mention the word “transformer”, Mort got very excited.  Of course, when he realized that his older brother was playing with some mechanical controller and not any robotic toy, Mort turned his attention back to the book he had spread on the floor.

On one seemingly uneventful day, Gregory and Mort were both sitting on the dining room floor.  Their mother was in the kitchen, but there was a wall between her and her two boys.  How was she to know that Gregory had absconded a butter knife and was looking at it in his hands?  She couldn’t have known that Gregory was holding Mort’s hand.  However she quickly was alerted to Gregory putting the butter knife into the electrical socket and shocking both himself and his brother.

Thankfully, no one was seriously hurt.  Granted, Mort saw a few spots in front of his eyes and Gregory’s hand tingled for a few moments afterwards, but they would live to cause trouble another day.  Gregory had learned the importance of using caution around electricity; a lesson he surely passed on to his daughters as they grew up.  The younger brother learned an equally important lesson which helped keep him out of trouble.  Mort found that there was a limit to how far he should trust Gregory whenever his brother had a plan.

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