I Was Batman – Public Enemy #1

The day I became Batman and Public Enemy #1 was the same day my brother, Scott, became Robin and Public Enemy #2.

The year was 1975. Our parents had noticed that the Dallas schools were in rapid decline and even though my brother and I were in second and first grades, respectively, the folks wanted to find a rural area to move to in hopes to get us out of Dallas before entering junior high.

Every so often, for several years, we would hit the road to look at a tract of land that our father had found for sale. The parcels of land that we went to inspect in this story were all located in various rural areas of Arkansas.

It was our last day in Arkansas and we had just spent the night at a little motor lodge in the town of Imboden. Scott and I grew quite bored watching our parents pack up our little U-Haul trailer that we had rented for the trip, so we decided to play one of our favorite games – Batman and Robin.

Scott is a year and ten days older than I and has never let me forget the fact. As children Scott’s seniority allowed him more privileges than I was happy with – including the privilege of playing the lead role in all our games of pretend. This meant that Scott was always Batman and I was always left playing the Boy Wonder.

On this particular day I wasn’t having it! I took an extremely rare stand and fought for my right to be Batman!

“You always get to be Batman! It’s not fair!”

“Batman’s older than Robin,” Scott reasoned, “and I’m older than you so I’ve got to be Batman.”

“It’s not fair!” I screamed, “You’re always going to be older than me! I’m never going to get to be Batman!”

After a good deal of crying and a royal temper tantrum Scott reluctantly gave in and forfeited his birthright for the day.

I climbed behind the steering wheel of our 1958 Pontiac and Robin assumed his position in the passenger’s seat. We were now ready to begin the script.

“Atomic batteries to power,” said Robin. “Turbines to speed.”

“Roger,” I replied, ever-so Batmanny, “ready to move out.”

In an effort to be as authentic as possible I pulled the gear shift down with all my might, not realizing that this might not have been one of my best ideas.

It didn’t take more than two seconds for us to realize we were moving. We looked at one another, saucer-eyed, as our faces turned from pink to stark white. I was the first to speak up about the matter as the car transported us across the street and into a vacant lot. In an effort to stay in character, I reacted the same way Batman would have in that situation.

“WE’RE GONNA DIE!” I screamed.

“No, we’re not,” Scott assured with a trembling voice, “we’ll be okay.”

“WE’RE GONNA DIE! WE’RE GONNA DIE!”

The car had picked up momentum after crossing the street and entering the vacant lot. I decided to take action, so thinking only of myself, I opened the driver’s side door. As the Batmobile was making its way through the vacant lot, I jumped out and onto a cement water main cover, skinning my arms, knees, shins and the palms of my hands.

After I was able to gather my wits, I stood and watched the Batmobile dragging the little U-Haul trailer across the vacant lot. Scott was still in the car but rather than jumping out of the passenger’s side, he climbed across the seat and peered out the driver’s side door as it swung back and forth.

The car continued its journey across the lot and was just about to enter the traffic of the town’s main street. In daredevil fashion Scott jumped onto the door which was swinging back and forth, knocking his body against the door frame of the car. Just as the car’s front tires were about to touch pavement of the semi-busy street, Scott loosened his grip on the door and fell into the irrigation ditch.

During Scott’s graceful bailout he accidentally performed a backward somersault – an achievement he had previously attempted without success in an attempt to receive a Cub Scout achievement badge.

After Scott bailed out I started running across the lot while screaming his name, afraid he might be dead. I was halfway across the lot when Scott popped up out of the ditch and started running in my direction. Realizing he was okay, I turned around and we both ran together toward our motel room where both of our parents were standing slack-jawed.

Scott began screaming with unanticipated glee, “Mommy! Mommy! I did a backward somersault! Can I count that as a Cub Scout achievement?”

As Scott and I were making our return to the motel room the Batmobile had continued its journey across the street and crashed into the town’s bank, taking out a pillar or two and crashing firmly into the front wall of the bank.

Scott and I walked up to the door of our motel room as our parents stood in shock. Our father decided he should probably go check out the situation while Mom cleaned up our bloody bodies and administered first aid. Mom tended to me first, as I was the bloodiest and was crying uncontrollably.

After I had been thoroughly cleaned and bandaged, Mom gave me a tapioca pudding cup and turned her attentions to Scott. As soon as Mom was convinced that neither of us were permanently damaged, she proceeded to lecture us.

Apparently – to hear Mom tell it – people shouldn’t drive cars into buildings. It’s just not nice!

“Do you realize your father could go to jail?”

I started crying even harder at the thought of my father going to jail – our only means of support – leaving us to die in this small Arkansas town.

My memory of what happened next might be a little fuzzy. I was six-years-old and distraught at the time so the details might not be 100% accurate, but my recollection is as follows:

A man walked through the open door of our motel room. He was wearing a cowboy hat, western shirt, a pair of belted blue jeans and cowboy boots. His belt buckle was about the size of a dinner plate but the detail that stood out the most was his height. I was so in awe of his loftiness and the large belly button shield he wore as a belt buckle that without realizing it, I had stopped crying.

“Is she okay?” asked the giant.

“Yes, thank you,” Mom answered, “she’s okay.”

I resumed my bawling at this point and screamed, “My father’s going to jail!”

“No, he’s not,” said the giant.

“Yes he is! My mommy said so!”

“Well, sweetie,” said the giant, “I’m the sheriff in these parts and I promise you your Daddy’s not going to jail.”

A promise from a strange giant ruined Mom’s attempt to scare us straight. I believe the “your father could go to jail” remark was intended to teach us a lesson, but since the giant ruined her plan, she needed to devise a new plan! A new moral was needed to insure that something good came from this experience.

Mom’s new plan entailed walking her two evil super heroes across the street to the scene of the destruction. I was back to my normal self by this point and was pestering Mom with some very important questions.

“When our car hit the bank do you think it hit any boxes of money? I bet they keep all their nickels in big boxes. Do you think any nickels were bent when the car hit them? They won’t be able to use the bent nickels – people want flat nickels. Do you think they’ll give me the bent ones?”

Mom sighed and asked, “What ever would you do with a box of bent nickels?”

“I’d beat them with a hammer and I’d be rich!”

Mom walked a little more briskly after that. She was either stifling laughter or counting silently to ten in an attempt to calm herself down.

I started getting nervous as we approached the bank, thinking somebody inside was probably ready to scream at us for wrecking their building. I needn’t have worried though because apparently in Imboden it’s a sign of friendship to run your car into the bank.

The bank employees were lined up just inside the door awaiting our arrival. We were celebrities! Batman and Robin were receiving a grand welcome!

One of the tellers gave us candy, another gave us bubble gum and a third gave us balloons. Mom looked rather exasperated as her second attempt to teach us a lesson failed.

An employee approached Mom with a smile and asked, while pointing to me, “Is this the one who was driving?”

“I’m afraid so,” replied Mom.

“She’s so cute,” crooned the lady teller.

“What do you say, Vicki?”

No longer nervous and taking advantage of my new celebrity status, I asked, “Did our car bend any of your nickels?”

Vicki Lynn!” Mom scolded.

Mom succeeded in getting me to say “thank you” and proceeded to give us a tour of the wreckage in an attempt to teach us both her long-awaited lesson, but we were too hyped up on sugar by this point to feel remorse.

After our tour of the destruction we caused and after our father was finally able to convince his insurance company that his children were Batman and Robin and were forced to bail out of the Batmobile to save their lives, we were finally allowed to go.

Mom walked Scott and me back to the motel as our father started up the car and backed it out of the bank. The wall was partially caved in where the car had made contact and bricks were scattered around on the pavement, but old Bessie fared well! That old Pontiac received a few minor blemishes, the worst being a busted headlight.

An hour later we were on the road, heading back home after our week-long trip to Arkansas. I was sitting in the passenger’s side back seat behind Mom.

I turned to my left and noticed Scott digging in the goody bag he was given by our adoring fans at the bank. He pulled out his balloon and began to blow it up. Not to be outdone by Scott, I pulled my balloon out of my pocket and attempted to blow it up, too. I blew so hard my cheeks ached!

My balloon was a dud! It was welded shut. No amount of breath could inflate my defective balloon.

“I can’t blow up my balloon!” I whined.

Mom turned around and looked at me over her shoulder and in her sternest tone of voice, she said, “It serves you right!” Smugly she turned back around, satisfied that she was finally able to teach me a lesson.

I learned a valuable lesson that day. When you go around crashing cars into financial institutions, you get stuck with the defective balloons.

I never wrecked another bank after that day, and I hope I never do! The consequences just aren’t worth it!

Never Trust a Sleeping Vicki

Death On My Doorstep

One spring day back in the 90s, when I was living in Lake Dallas, Denton county, Texas, we had a terrible storm. I was working as a graveyard shift security officer at the time and did all my sleeping during the day. It was undetermined whether there had been a tornado, but the dangerously high winds caused a lot of damage to the area. When I awoke late that afternoon the storm had passed.

My next door neighbor had a huge old Cottonwood tree that was felled by the storm.    People from blocks away heard the tree meet its end.  My bed was close enough to my neighbor’s tree that I could have been killed or severely injured if it had fallen in a different direction, but it never fazed me.

I slept right through it.

The Barbecue Crisis Call

Several years later I had moved back home to Paris, Texas.  I was working the graveyard shift, once again, but now I was working as a shelter advocate at a battered women’s shelter.  There wasn’t a lot to do during the graveyard shift, as the residents and their children were usually asleep, but one of my duties was to man the crisis line.  We would often go days without a crisis call, but it was important to be at the ready when one did come through.

The night shift shelter employees were allowed to nap and there was a bed available for us in case it was needed.  Being a night owl, I did most of my sleeping during the day but occasionally I wouldn’t get enough sleep and would take advantage of my on-the-job napping privilege.

On one such night, as I was sleeping soundly on the job, I awoke to find the crisis line in my hand.  I pulled it away from my ear, trying to make sense out of the situation, when I heard a woman’s voice say, “Are you still there?”

“Yes, I’m here,” I answered.

“I’m afraid I don’t understand you. You’re not making a lot of sense.”

That’s when I realized I had been having a conversation with this woman … in my sleep.  I had no earthly idea what her situation was or what I had said to her, so my gut instinct was to simply ask, “Are you okay?”

“Yes, I keep telling you I’m okay.  I just don’t understand what barbecue has to do with anything I’ve said.”

Apparently I was either dreaming about barbecue or I was wishing I had some.  Or maybe I thought I was speaking to a barbecue delivery service and was simply placing my order.  Who knows?  I couldn’t very well ask her what had happened during the last ten minutes.  Asking such a question would probably be interpreted as unprofessional, so I winged my way through the rest of the call and always made sure to show up well-rested for future shifts.

Sherlock Brain to the Rescue

Several years later I was living with my late partner, Connie.  I was sleeping and awoke to find her putting something in one of the dresser drawers.

“What are you doing?” I asked groggily.

“Isn’t it obvious?” she answered.

But it wasn’t.

I had no earthly idea what she was doing.  Brainy had not yet remembered that it inhabited a human body that resided on planet Earth, so there was no making sense of such things yet.

I continued to study Connie’s movements as she folded things and put them in drawers.  Slowly Brainy started putting the pieces of the puzzle together until I was given enough information to finally make sense of it all.  That’s when I loudly exclaimed, “You’re putting up laundry!”

Connie was not impressed with my brilliant powers of deduction, but I think I may have startled her with my outburst.

Hamburgers and Monkeys

About  year later I was managing a convenience store in Waco, Texas.  I worked long hours and was always exhausted.  Connie and I both knew I couldn’t be trusted with the telephone on my side of the bed so it was always on her nightstand in the event of a middle-of-the-night call.

One night we received such a call after midnight. My alarm was set for 4:30 am.  I never awoke for this phone call but apparently I had a very interesting conversation nonetheless.

I went to work the next morning, still oblivious to having received a phone call in the wee hours of the morning.  It wasn’t until the end of my shift when Robert showed up to relieve me that I was made aware of the previous night’s call.

“What were you talking about last night?” he asked.

“What do you mean?”

“I called you last night.”

“No, you didn’t!” I argued.

“I was having a problem with the paperwork.  I couldn’t make the money balance so I called you. You started telling me how to make the perfect hamburger.  You went into a lot of detail.  I brought up the subject of the paperwork again and then you started talking about all the monkeys in the trees.  I finally gave up and figured it out on my own.”

I accused Robert of pulling my leg and when I got home that evening, still believing that Robert made up the whole story, I told Connie about it.

“He wasn’t pulling your leg,” she said.  “That’s exactly what happened.”

“Did it ever occur to you that monkeys in trees and perfect hamburgers weren’t exactly store-related topics?” I asked.

“It did seem rather strange,” she said, “but I figured you knew what you were talking about.  Besides I wanted to hear the end of the story.”

Panic Time!

Because that job was so stressful for me and because it required me to work 12 to 16 hour days, I was often sleep deprived and occasionally overslept.  It wasn’t uncommon for me to hit the snooze button repeatedly until the alarm finally woke me up, but occasionally I would simply turn off the alarm clock in my sleep preferring not to be bothered.  On several occasions Connie would wake me up after I had overslept, yelling, “You’re going to be late for work!”

As previously mentioned, Brainy can’t make sense of the world immediately after awaking, so on these occasions when I would oversleep and was startled awake by Connie’s helpful but alarming warning, Brainy would simply alert me that it was time to panic.

I would jump out of bed and in my stupor I would run around the bedroom aimlessly, picking up random objects – thinking I needed them for some reason – and continue to run around trying, unsuccessfully, to make sense of the world with a pillow in one hand and a flashlight and yesterday’s dirty sock in the other.

Connie would usually intervene at about this point and calmly and slowly explain to me that I was running late, that I wouldn’t have time for a shower and that I would need to get dressed and drink at least a half cup of coffee before I was able to leave.  She would then take whatever objects I had managed to pick up during my maniacal run through the house and would introduce me to the closet while explaining that clothes could be found within.  She would then leave me to my own devices as she started the coffee.

My point in sharing these anecdotes was to convey to the reader that I’m a heavy sleeper and generally spend my first 15 minutes of apparent consciousness in a state of delirium.  I hope I succeeded in this endeavor because I have one more story which just occurred this last weekend.

Serial Killer Comfort

I have a relatively new Facebook friend who has been going through some stuff recently.  Friday night I sent her a message inquiring as to how she was doing.  I then took a two-hour nap  and immediately after awaking I decided to check my Facebook notifications.  She had responded to my message with, “I’m alright”.

Anytime I simply answer, “Fine”, “Okay”, or “I’m alright”, it generally means I’m not, so in my sleep-stupor I decided to respond.

I told her I didn’t believe her but understood that she might not want to talk about it.  Then, in an attempt to offer comfort, I thought it would be a good idea to bring up Jack the Ripper.

I explained to her that my listening and communication skills may rate lower than those possessed by the 19th century serial killer but that I have an aversion to blood and am too lazy and skittish to go around killing people.

This was Brainy’s idea of comfort with a dash of humor.  I was barely able to keep my eyes open as I typed the message.  Immediately after hitting “send”, I went back to sleep.

My mind is almost always busy.  It often keeps me awake for hours when all I want to do is sleep.  The only time it’s quiet is after waking up – which simply proves that my delirium is more powerful than Brainy … at least until the former starts to fade.

I awoke again early Saturday morning. I had been up for the better part of an hour and was on my second cup of coffee when my stupor started to leave me.  That’s when Brainy took over and cheerfully announced, “Jack the Ripper”.

Jack the Ripper?  Why am I thinking about him?  Did I have a dream or something?  I don’t remember dreaming about Jack the … OH MY GOSH!  NO!  Please tell me it was just a dream!”

That’s when I started to remember that while most of my body was virtually dead to the world Brainy decided to offer words of comfort by sending a message of blood and murder.

I immediately opened Facebook to see what I had been up to during the night and found my “message of comfort”.

I sent another message: “Please ignore the last message and please just know that I hope you’re really okay. I vaguely remembered writing something about Jack the Ripper and thought, ‘Oh no! What have I done? And why did I think that was okay?'”

I panicked much of Saturday until I finally heard back from her.  Thankfully, she saw the humor in the situation and wasn’t disturbed by it.

But I was!

I now know I’m capable of sleep-messaging and am dreading the day when I next inflict my demented brand of textual terror on another unsuspecting victim.

The Dairy Queen Buzzard

Whenimg_20170226_201228 traveling through New Mexico one of the phenomena of the highway is the number of billboards one sees. If they aren’t advertising “The Thing” or some other tourist attraction, there’s a 97% chance the billboard will be a Dairy Queen advertisement. There are stretches of highway where you’ll see a DQ billboard every mile or two. It would be interesting to find out just how many there are traveling from the east to west – state line to state line.

I first discovered the DQ billboard phenomenon back in the late 80s when I was traveling with my parents, from Paris, Texas to Salt Lake City, Utah, to attend my brother’s wedding.

Iimg_20170226_194535 was in the front seat with Mom, who was driving, when I noticed we had passed five or six Dairy Queen billboards. The scenery throughout much of New Mexico is quite dull, so the colorful billboards were a welcome distraction … until I noticed they were advertising a new menu item called, “THE BUZZARD”.

“Did you see that, Mom?”

“See what, honey?”

“Dairy Queen is selling something they’re calling, the Buzzard!”

Eww!  That doesn’t even sound pleasant!”

“I know! I’ll show you the next time I see one.”

Now I was on the lookout for a DQ Buzzard billboard. The next several signs that we passed were advertising their hamburgers, ice cream treats and other menu items, but we traveled another 15 miles or so before I spotted another one.

“Look, Mom,” I pointed, “There! The Buzzard!”

Mom looked and shook her head, “Whoever’s in charge of their marketing campaign needs some help.”

We both agreed it was a terribly distasteful name for a menu item. The billboards didn’t even give a clue as to what kind of menu item it was! Was it a hamburger? A chicken-fried steak? Was it an ice cream treat? Was it roadkill? The only text on the billboard was “TRY OUR NEW BUZZARD,’ and then “Dairy Queen, 49 miles”.

I was curious about Dairy Queen’s disturbing menu item, but we didn’t stop to eat in New Mexico. Mom always packed sandwiches and fruit for long road trips and this road trip was nearly 1,300 miles – one way!

Theimg_20170226_182222 reader who is familiar with Dairy Queen has already determined that Mom and I were simply misreading the billboards. The actual item being advertised was the “Blizzard” – a new menu item in the 80s and one I had never seen advertised on television because I usually live without the distraction of television.

The problem with the billboards was that only capital letters were used and the font employed for the text fused the “L” and “I” together, making it appear to be a squared-off “U”. Months later – maybe even as long as a year later – I finally discovered my mistake and was relieved to know that Dairy Queen had not sunken so low that they started using birds of prey as an ingredient.

Sorry, Wrong Number

img_20170224_133734I really have to be in the mood to talk on the phone. The unexpected call is the worst! When I’m basking in my introversion and the phone rings, I often feel as though my space has been invaded. I don’t hold it against the caller because I understand that sometimes messages need to be passed on, or perhaps a friend has a question or just needs to vent. I understand! But that doesn’t stop me from panicking when I hear the phone ring.

Iimg_20170224_134350 don’t own a cell phone – I still have a land line – so I can only make and receive calls from my tethered phone at home. I like it that way! If I were to receive a call while I was out and about, doing my own thing, I really would feel as though my privacy had been violated! I do have a couple of friends who would probably be happier if I had a cell – simply because I ride a bicycle and have been known to have accidents in the past. Perhaps, one of these days, I’ll get one for emergencies but for now, I live in the 80s when I’m away from home.

Iimg_20170224_133514 talk on the phone, on average, about once a week. Sometimes it’s a friend calling, but more often than not, it’s a telemarketer or someone conducting a survey. The other day I was enjoying a nice, quiet afternoon at home when my phone rang. I grumbled and cursed and picked up the phone. The exchange went as follows:

Me – Hello?

Woman – (In a friendly/sexy voice) Well! Hello…

Me – Hello!

Who is this? The voice doesn’t sound familiar. Do I know this woman?

Woman – How are you doing?

Me – I’m fine, and you?

Oh my gosh! I must know this woman, but her voice isn’t ringing a bell.

Woman – I’m good! I miss you!

Me – Awww! Thanks! …um … When was the last time you saw me?

I still don’t know who this is! If only my called I.D. worked! I need to figure this out!

Woman – Don’t be silly!

Me – I’m sorry, this is embarrassing, but you’re going to have to tell me who I’m talking to. I just can’t seem to…

Woman – Oh my gaw… Is this Jane?

Me – Oh, thank goodness! No, you have the wrong number and I’m not crazy!

Woman – I’m so sorry! It’s been nice talking to you though!

Me – You, too! I can’t remember when I had a more entertaining and stressful wrong number call.

Woman – (laughs). Well, you have a nice day, darlin’!

Me – You, too! Take care!

Thank goodness!  Wrong number!  Stage fright is diminishing and I can return to being normal again.

img_20170224_133424

The Man with the Crooked Toupee

img_20170223_115343If I had a home away from home, it would be my neighborhood Dollar General.

I am there almost every day. It’s only three blocks from home, so it’s a quick and easy bike ride. The majority of my social life takes place there. I know the employees by name and regular customers greet me as if I were an old friend. It’s usually rather easy to get in and out. I know where everything is and often help fellow shoppers locate a hard-to-find item. I like it there … in five-minute increments … as long as everything goes according to plan.

On a recent trip to the Dollar General to buy milk for my coffee, things didn’t go so smoothly.

I walked through the automatic doors, picked up a hand basket, greeted the cashier and proceeded to the cold cases to grab a gallon of milk. I placed my hand basket on the floor, opened the cooler door to retrieve my milk and was joined by a man wearing a crooked toupee.

If we had been in a crowded store, such as Walmart, I probably wouldn’t have thought to mention his toupee. I would have just ignored it. But since it was only he and I standing there, I considered pointing out the matter. I quickly browsed my memory bank to see if there was anything in there regarding toupee etiquette.

There was not.

I still hadn’t decided whether to mention anything or not when the man sneezed, causing his toupee to slide off his head and land on the gallon of milk I had just put in my hand basket. I immediately turned away and started looking at more items in the cold case even though I had only gone for milk.

“Oh, this looks good!” I exclaimed enthusiastically. “I don’t think I’ve ever tried this before! I might just have to get some.”

I was simply trying to save the guy some embarrassment by appearing to be distracted. I had no idea what I was now holding … this luxury ingredient I had just raved about. I had simply thrust my hand in the cooler and grabbed something in a moment of quick thinking to save the guy some humiliation.

Iimg_20170223_114557 tried not to look while he removed his hair from my milk, but I couldn’t help but notice that it wasn’t actually a toupee at all. It would probably be better described as a hair piece.

Just imagine a hairy yamaka.

He returned the hair piece to its resting place and I turned, still holding the amazing item i had grabbed from the cooler.  The guy looked at the item in my hand, then looked up at me with disgust. He wrinkled up his mouth and nose, making it obvious he had taken an instant disliking to me and said sarcastically, “Really? You’ve never had butter before?” He then turned and walked away with his crooked hair piece on his head.

Understanding the Super Bowl

After 48 years of life I have finally decoded our American version of football and would like to share what I have learned with those who still remain clueless.

This last Sunday was the day on which the event known as the “Super Bowl” took place.  The Super Bowl is the game in which the two best football teams of the year compete to determine who gets to go to Disneyland.

Understanding Football

img_20170209_142901If you’re not from America, please don’t confuse this sport with what you know as football. Your version of football is probably played with a round ball (because “round” is basically the definition of “ball”) but in the U.S.A. we have redefined the word (along with many other words) to mean whatever we want it to mean. An American football is somewhat egg shaped, coming to a point at each end, and quite resembles a giant almond.

Object of the Game

An almond.

An almond.

Football is best explained as an extremely complicated dance in which opposing teams hurl a giant almond at each other, hoping to knock opposing team members unconscious.

The opposing teams meet in the center of the field, facing each other. Those with the nicest derrieres will bend over so their own team mates can admire their butts. The team member in possession of the giant almond then tosses it behind him, between his legs, to another team-mate who throws it to yet another team-mate who is running as far away as he can get. This gives the opposing team a chance to intercept the almond. Whoever catches the almond will then run to his predetermined end of the field. If he makes it across the finish line, he is then allowed to dance a little jig which is meant to taunt the opposing team. Fellow team mates will congratulate the jig-dancer by copping feels of his butt … but they insist that this isn’t a gay thing.

I’mimg_20170209_144557 not exactly sure when or why this happens but at some point during the game someone is allowed to kick the giant almond over a giant, funny-looking pitchfork – undoubtedly an evil symbol, meant to intimidate.

The Costume

Theimg_20170209_143246 football player’s costume is called a “uniform” and consists of fancy long johns with padding underneath to give the appearance that certain parts are larger than they actually are. This is meant to intimidate the opposing team because men seem to think that size matters … even in regard to throwing giant almonds at each other. Topping off the uniform is a protective helmet to prevent the giant almond from causing brain damage … a circumstance that few players have to worry about, but since the helmet matches the long johns, they wear it as a complimentary accessory.

Prizes

Atimg_20170209_143900 the end of the Super Bowl the winners receive rings as prizes and get to go to Disneyland – a place where people dress up like fantasy characters and welcome paying attendees to gawk at them.

Additional Details

The Superbowl is a televised event and people all over the country stop whatever they’re doing to watch the game while indulging in beer and snacks. Advertisers spend top dollar to have their wares plugged during the Super Bowl, often resulting in some of the best (and most expensive) commercials of the year.

The people who watch the event call themselves “fans” – slang for “fanatics” – and are generally very serious about the game.

Summary

Toimg_20170209_143512 sum it all up, football players are made up of men who pat each other on the butts, dress up, wear padding and accessorize. The winners get jewelry and fans, who are very passionate about the sport, pay to watch the live event and consume lots of beer and snacks.

Conclusion

img_20170209_145243Football is basically the straight world’s version of a drag show. The Superbowl, being the final competition which declares the best of the best. In a drag show, the player is called a drag queen. In football, the drag queen is called a player.

The Year I Survived the End of the World

“The trouble is that some children are timorous and some children are reckless but in order to save the lives of reckless children, warnings are calibrated for their safety, the result of which is that the timorous live in a state of perpetual terror.  What I needed to be told was, ‘You know what?  Most days you won’t die.'”  ~David Mitchell, British actor/comedian

My story begins during the summer of 1983.  I had just graduated from the 8th grade and was about to enter high school.

Weimg_20170205_081833 lived two miles outside of the small town of Roxton, Texas, on 40 acres of virtually unused land.  Every summer, if he could make the arrangements, my father would have a local farmer mow and bale the grassy portion of our acreage.  The farmer was allowed to keep half of the hay and we would keep the other half.  Occasionally my father would sell a few odd bales to an interested party but more often than not, those big round bales would be left to rot.

During the summer we took it pretty easy.  My father worked the evening shift in Paris, so my mother, brother and I would spend the evenings together.  We didn’t have air conditioning in our little mobile home though, so outside of chores the majority of our time was spent indulging in idle leisure activities in an attempt to survive the Texas heat.  Watching TV was out of the question, however.  During our seven years in Roxton we lived without television for all but one month – the month we had a standing antenna.  Our solution to television reception was taken out by a storm and no further attempts were made to fix the problem.

So Mom, Scott and I would usually spend our time reading.  On Saturdays we would make the 16-mile trip to Paris and back to do our laundry at the laundromat and go grocery shopping.  On Sundays we made the same trip to attend church.

Prior to our 1979 move to Roxton, we lived in Dallas, where Mom sometimes went to seminars – a virtually free method of continuing her education in a variety of subjects.  One such seminar dealt with the speaker’s prediction that the world would end (a.k.a. “the Second Coming of Christ”) in the year 2000.  In spite of her acceptance that the end would occur around the turn of the century, Mom would always stress the fact that “Only God knows when it will happen.  It could happen tomorrow!”  (I wasn’t at all pleased with the world ending tomorrow!)

Duringimg_20170205_082054 our Saturday trips from Roxton to Paris, Mom would usually take us to the Paris Public Library to stock up on reading material for the upcoming week.  During this particular summer, I had developed an interest in the Titanic and checked out every book I could find related to the tragedy.  I spent the following week immersing myself in the history of the Titanic.  I found that most of the books made reference to a handful of people who avoided a tragic end after having premonitions of doom, so after learning all I could about the Titanic, I became obsessed with the subjects of premonitions, predictions and prophecies.  The following Saturday I checked out several books about these phenomena, including “The Prophecies of Nostradamus”.

Iimg_20170205_082333 threw myself into Nostradamus’ prophecies and was amazed by several of them.  One predicted that America and Russia would become allies.  When I told Mom about the prediction regarding our cold war enemy, Mom responded, “Oh, that already happened.  We were allies in World War II.”

Unbeknownst to Mom, she had just given me a reason to have an undying faith in Nostradamus and his prophecies.  Now I allowed myself to view the book as more than just a novelty.  I referred to the interpretation of every quatrain dealing with the present and future – from 1983, onward.  I read about a great hail storm which would cause death and destruction.  People would starve after giant boulders of hail wiped out all the crops and livestock.  One way to avoid this calamity, however, would be to embrace the death of being targeted by an icy boulder!  The year this was to take place?  1984!

Nostradamus’ “great hail storm” prediction was the beginning of a 17-month long panic attack.

I threw the book down on my bed and ran to the living room, “Mom!  Mom!  The world’s not going to end in 2000!  It’s happening next year!  What if I’m at school when the hail comes?  What if it kills the whole family, except for me, and I have to end up living like Grizzly Adams?  What if Jesus forgets to save me?  What if…”

Vicki Lynn,” Mom interrupted, “what on earth are you talking about?”

“A great hail storm!  Boulders of ice!  In 1984!  Nostradamus said so!  We’re all gonna die!

“Vicki, it’s just a prediction.  It probably won’t even happen.  Don’t worry about it.”

“But Russia!  He was right about Russia!  We’re all gonna die!”

“Just because he accurately predicted one thing does not make him a true prophet.  True prophets are called by God.”

It was obvious that Mom wasn’t going to support my newly-acquired knowledge, so I went to work looking for signs – the signs mentioned in Revelations, mixed with Nostradamus’ prediction of an icy haily hell.

Summerimg_20170205_082722 passed and I started the ninth grade.  One day, early in the school year, our school librarian set up a display highlighting George Orwell’s “1984”.

“What’s this?” I asked.

Pleased as punch that I took an interest in her little display, she responded, “That is George Orwell’s book, ‘1984’.  He wrote it in 1948 about a future when people were no longer allowed to think for themselves. I highly recommend it.”  Then she added, with a wink, “1984 is just around the corner, you know,”  (She had no idea that she had just fed the Panic Monster, allowing it to become stronger and more insane than before.)

I checked out the book and spent the next week warning Mom of the perils which awaited us in the upcoming year.

“It’s just a book, Vicki,” my mother sighed, “It’s fiction.  Look at the copyright page.  Doesn’t it say that it’s fiction?”

Fiction or nonfiction – it didn’t matter to me!  Nostradamus and George Orwell both agreed that 1984 was going to be hell … and I was the only one who believed them!  It would be up to me to save the family from death by hail and doublespeak!

Christmas came and went and was a welcome distraction from my mania … until I caught Mom telling Grandma and Aunt Kathy about my fear of 1984 after Christmas dinner.  I eavesdropped until I heard them all giggling about the matter.  That’s when I burst into the room and said, “You just wait and see!  You’ll be sorry for not listening to me when we’re all dead!”

Several months passed and it was now spring of 1984 and with spring, in Texas, come the spring storms.

I was looking out of my bedroom window on one rainy, spring day, wishing I could be outside … and that’s when I saw it!  A pebble of ice fell from the sky, followed by another pebble … and another.

“IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD!” I screamed, while I hurriedly put on my socks and shoes.

Momimg_20170205_082557 apparently knew exactly what was happening because she yelled from the kitchen, “It’s just pea-sized, Vicki!”

I ignored Mom’s attempt to calm me down.  She simply wasn’t taking the matter seriously.  I rushed into the kitchen after my shoes were securely on my feet to scream my warning in her face.

“IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD!”

“Calm down!  It’s just pea-sized hail.  It’ll be over before you know it.”

Baseballs will be next,” I warned, “then boulders – ice the size of cars!  Get dressed!  Put on your shoes!”

It was obviously up to me to save my family, so I rushed into Scott’s room, where he was reading a book, and made the announcement:  “IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD!  Get dressed!

As I was leaving Scott’s room I heard him utter the words “worry wart” under his breath – which had been his nickname for me since about the age of five.  But I didn’t have time to get upset with Scott’s taunting.  I was too busy trying to ensure that the ice boulders didn’t crush us.

Mom had finished her work in the kitchen and was now seated in the living room reading a book.  “Am I the only one who doesn’t want to die today?  Put your shoes on!”

I then took refuge under the kitchen table.  It wasn’t an ideal place to hide from the killer ice, but it was the best I could do.  I sat there imagining how I would live in a world with few humans and virtually no vegetation when suddenly something massive hit the side of our trailer.

“IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD!” I screamed from beneath the table.

“It’s just Misty,” Mom sighed.

Mistyimg_20170205_082838 was our Saint Bernard, who hated thunder storms as much as I hated boulder-sized hail.  Every time it stormed she would body-slam the trailer windows in an attempt to seek refuge.  She didn’t have the sense to seek refuge under the trailer – a place to which she had easy and free access.  But it didn’t matter.  My heart suddenly bled for Misty.

“We have to let her in,” I said, “or she’ll be killed by the giant hail!”

“We can’t let a Saint Bernard in a 58-foot mobile home!” Mom argued.

“But she’s gonna die!”

“Look outside,” she said.  “The hail stopped.  It’s just raining now.”

I climbed out from under the table and looked out the window.  I just knew it wasn’t over yet!  The boulders would come by surprise … as soon as we let our guard down!  I climbed back under the table for a while, until I became bored with the quiet and was able to go about my routine existence.

Several more months passed and it was now summer, 1984.  I read the book of Revelations so I’d be aware of “the signs” of doom, but for the most part my mania was asleep.  No major incident had occurred since the great pea-sized hail storm, so I was in a state of virtual calmness.

One of the great things about living out in the country is how clear and bright the night sky is.  I would spend many a summer night perched atop one of our big, round hay bales, watching the stars, wondering if there was life on other planets, wondering if UFOs were real and wondering if someone else on another planet was sitting on top of a bale of hay wondering the same things.

Onimg_20170205_083027 this particular summer night I was stargazing and thoroughly enjoying the calm night when I turned my head and looked at the rising moon … which was as red as blood … which was also a sign from the book of Revelations.

From my position on the hay bale, I screamed as loud as I could, “IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD!”

I ran in the house and found Mom cleaning up after dinner.  “THE MOON’S TURNED TO BLOOD!  END OF THE WORLD!”

Then it was Scott’s turn!  I ran to his room where he greeted me with, “Yeah, I heard.  Moon, blood, end of the world.  You can go now.”

I then ran to my room to retrieve my stamp collection.  I couldn’t bear the thought of being raised up into the sky while my stamp collection was left to burn.

I wasn’t exactly sure what to do at this point, but I knew I needed to be outside … where there was no ceiling to cause head injuries while I’m being levitated from the earth.

I hugged my stamp album tightly as I started running – down the driveway, past the row of hay bales and down highway 38.  I was headed to town – to Roxton – when I stopped and thought about what I was doing.

If this is the end of the world, I want to be with Mom and Scott.

So I turned back around, with a death grip on my stamp collection, and went back home.  I climbed back on top of the hay bale and watched the moon as it gradually lost its blood-red color and returned to a normal pale yellow.

Another false alarm!

I made it through the remainder of 1984 with no further incidents, but remained ever-watchful of the signs throughout the year.  On January 1, 1985, I was able to go back to living a normal life, having lost only 17 months of my adolescence.

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