Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Summer Of Sam

Rod Stewart’s Maggie May spilled out of the transistor radio dangling from my Montgomery Ward’s Stingray. Samantha Honeycutt straddled its banana seat backwards smoking the filtered half of one of my dad’s Winstons while I smoked the other half spitting little bits of tobacco into the water.  We were at cane pole pond and Sam was telling me how “immature” boys her age were (I was her age). “Maturity” was all of a sudden a major issue with all of the girls in the neighborhood and at school I’d noticed. Samantha informed me that she no longer had time to hang out with “immature” boys and now only liked older, “mature” boys. At least teenagers! she emphasized.  Samantha was wearing one of those braless shirts that were popular in the 70s; basically a pillow case with holes for the arms and a draw string around the neck. It was an orange one I’d seen her wear plenty of times climbing trees or fishing for bream. There was something different about it on that day. When she twirled around on the seat of my bike and grabbed the high rise handlebars, I knew just what it was. I was still only 12 ½ , my birthday wasn’t until December, but I turned thirteen that summer.
From the Thinking 10 prompt: I turned thirteen that summer.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Vinny The Vegetarian Vulture

Harry B. Sanderford

When Vinny was little his grandpa told him stories of how the old timers could panic west bound pilgrims and prospectors into picking up the pace just by circling overhead. Well those days were long gone. The pioneers may have had to keep one eye on their canteen and the other one on Grandpa's grandpa but these days humans didn't go as far as the corner market without a cell phone, a bottle of water and their own personal GPS, so the likelihood of his ever tasting the chewy center of a thirsty cowboy was looking pretty remote.

Vinny spent most days loitering with his pals along the shoulder of US highway 17 between Peirson and Barberville, just waiting for a pokey gopher turtle or near sighted armadillo to wander into traffic; all the while day-dreaming of circling high overhead.

One day a carload of passing surfers hucked half a cheeseburger right to, or maybe it was right at him. Handout or hand grenade, it was an epicurean epiphany for Vincent. He'd never tasted seasoned, or for that matter, even cooked meat. When he thought of all the Uniroyaled roadkill he'd snacked sans any salty benefit, he cringed. But even worse, he'd unknowingly been on the Atkins diet his whole life and this crusty, pickle chip imbedded half burger bun, this castoff cache of culinary carbohydrates, triggered sensations of delight beyond any earthbound buzzard's bearing. And so began Vinny the vulture's vegetarian adventure.

He took flight soaring higher than he'd ever been before following the little blue maverick with the surfboards on top. He flew all the way to New Smyrna Beach where he can now be found circling overhead on the afternoon trade winds with his new girlfriend, a seagull named Sasha who taught him where to look for kid dropped ice cream cones, and his pal Pedro, a pelican pirate from the panhandle who introduced him to sushi and claims to have dined on every bait barge from Pensacola to Jacksonville the long way around.

Now knit something with that yarn!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Swine Actor's Guild

by Harry B. Sanderford

Like so many child actors, Arnold Ziffle struggled after the cancelation of his hit series Green Acres. Once considered heir apparent to the Porky Pig theatrical throne, Arnold bombed on Broadway with his self indulgent production of The Three Little Pigs in which he insisted on playing not only all three pigs but the wolf as well. He followed that debacle with leading roles in a succession of low-budget Star Wars and Top Gun type knock-offs which also failed miserably as Americans still just stubbornly resist the coupling of pigs and flight. No longer a piglet and really beginning to pack on weight, the plum roles began passing him by. Soon the only scripts being offered were from Jimmy Dean or Oscar Mayer. Offended, he considered such roles demeaning and vowed to end his career before accepting one. Arnold would work blue but he refused to work browned.

P.S. Don't worry about Arnold. True to his word, he gave up acting and entered politics, unseating six term incumbent Ned Beatty as President of the Swine Actor's Guild.

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Bedtime Story

Harry B. Sanderford
We dine on Top Robin and Mac-O-Cheese, culinary euphemisms you can probably figure out. Spencer and Lauren are old enough now to know the real names but we still think these are more fun. Their parents have gone out for the evening leaving me in charge. Both girls love this knowing that no one runs a looser ship than Uncle Harry.

It's true and for the next few hours we’ll blow bubbles and soak each other with squirt guns and water balloons. We’ll eat animal crackers in a bed sheet tent on the living room floor, decapitating giraffes and turning elephants into hippos by biting off their legs and trunks. Lauren will teach their cat Kato what look to be some fairly advanced yoga postures and inescapable wrestling holds while we watch countless episodes of Sponge Bob Square Pants and laugh extra loud at jokes that are really just kind of funny.

Tonight I have brought a book to read to the girls at bedtime. This is not significant, my bringing a book. I have read to these girls many times. What is significant is that I've brought this particular book specifically for bedtime. To date on my watch there has not been a bedtime.

Many things prescribed for your own good, like bedtime, have only theoretical benefits. You're asked to believe in some imprecise, down the road goodness, while forsaking what you know to be the immediate and tangible goodness of another hour of T.V. or an extra slice of Birthday cake. When it comes to babysitting, I have my own theory. No bath? No problem. Maple syrup on your french fries? Make it so. And bedtime? Well when you're sleepy silly.

I have seen my angels transformed in the aftermath of one of our all-nighters though, and know I did their parents no favor. So at 8:00, for their own good, I tell them to put on their PJ's and brush their teeth. It's time for our story.

To my astonishment, my treachery goes undetected. Both girls comply brilliantly. Lauren shaves seconds off her teeth brushing speed record, while Spencer, who chooses to rinse with O.J. after brushing, discovers minty fresh and fresh squeezed to be gross-ly incompatable. Neither suspects that their normally allied Uncle Harry has defected to the other side.

I tuck them in, kiss them, turn off the light and take a seat in the doorway to catch the hallway's light on the page. The book I read from is a Harry Potter book, chosen for the obvious reason. I believe it's entertaining because for the first couple of pages the girls are quiet.

In bed, Lauren has never been able to control her lateral squirmage. She is the needle on a compass and Spencer is due North. "Stop it Lauren," commands Spencer. "I'm not doing anything," Lauren protests from her position of twenty past nine. I give Harry Potter a short break while I re-scooch Lauren, who is quite pleased with her interruption, to a position closer to six O'clock. I read on for awhile, occassionally glancing at my wards to see how my trick is working.

Listening to the story has made Lauren sleepy. And as she turns over, she tugs some of the covers along with her. This infraction does not go unnoticed by Spencer, who with a great yank, unfurls her sister from her slumber. "She's hogging all the covers," Spencer argues. Heartfelt testimony in the trial she knows she has started. "No I'm not," shouts Lauren, now wide awake and mounting her own defense.

After delicate deliberation of the facts, stacking "did nots" and "did too's" along side "Un-Uh's" and "Un-Huh's". I would rule in favor of Lauren, pointing out to Spencer that she is still fully covered and has quite possibly overreacted. But, even though there is a certain Yin-Yang balance, I know the offshoot gloating and subsequent pouting will lead only to further litigation. I declare a mistrial, re-tuck, re-kiss, and resume reading our story.

Lauren is asleep in a minute. Spencer hangs on to the end of chapter one. I close the book, and kiss them both once more. It's for their own good.

Now where did I put that remote?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sugar, Them's Ears Not Handles

Harry B. Sanderford
Sleepy's hand carresses Cowboy's cheek then tosses his hat and grabs a yank of hair. Cowboy's thinkin' Sleepy might throw dogies in the rodeo as the little lady hauls his face into place. But he don't mind the scenery none, kinda takes to it, thinks maybe he'll settle down here. Sleepy closes her eyes and her lips form a small o as Cowboy whispers his muffled story punctuated with kisses. Before long the sleepy cowgirl lets out a breathy sigh, gasps a new lungful, arches her back and shudders. Her small o is a larger molar showin' O, then it's "OOOOOmygod!" Cowboy, (thinkin' if'n he had his hat on he'd take it off) glances up for a second and Sleepy gives a look that sorta scares the cowpuncher, then in a voice he don't much care for screams, "DONTYOUDARESTOP!" Cowboy's ridden some 'n been throw'd by others, but he weren't ever meant for pullin' up short on the trail. He whoops a giddyup 'n kicks it in for another stretch.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Story Story

Harry B. Sanderford

It was one of those sweltering afternoons that San Diego endures only several times a summer. I’m riding on El Cajon Boulevard, with my friend John in his old Chevy pickup. John is a lifelong San Diego resident and fanatical Charger backer. He's talking up some pre-season game taking place somewhere in the world, between some team and his beloved Bolts.

The six months between the Super Bowl and the first pre-season games seems interval enough for most Charger fans to forget the bitter humiliation of the preceding season and throw themselves headlong and hopeful into the promise of a new and as yet unsullied season. John’s jacked about his beloved team’s prospects this year. This off-season the Chargers have acquired a couple of veteran quarterbacks in Jim Harbaugh, and Eric Kramer. B-guys for sure, but any change in this post would seem an improvement over the tandem fiasco that was rookie Ryan Leaf, and veteran bench-warmer Craig Whelihan last year. They have a new coach and a clean slate. It is undoubtedly the best time of the year to be a Charger fan.

Pre-season of course means nothing. Air conditioning however, can only truly be appreciated during temperatures of at least Floridian severity; a situation only rarely encountered in the agreeable climes of San Diego. The idea of luxuriating in the air-conditioned, dimly lit, confines of a local watering hole, drinking ice cold beer and watching football, even just pre-season football, well it’s the San Diego adult equivalent of a snow day. John is going on about Junior Seau, the Chargers schedule this season, and so forth. “You had me at air conditioning,” I say to John. The sign in front of the Nite-Life tells us all we need to know: NFL, GIANT TV, COLD BEER, AIR CONDITIONED. We pull in.

Stepping from the stark daylight through the heavy curtain that serves as a door into the cool darkness gives the sensation of entering a cave. After a moment our eyes adjust and we move to a table near the TV. The air conditioning, its nip exaggerated by the sweat drying on our skin, is Frigidaire frosty. The bar itself is practically vacant, our own little oasis. We order up, pour our beer and toast our good fortune. Here we sit, 97 degrees on the street, cool as your mythical cucumbers, happy as your proverbial clams, inside. And this is where we meet Jane.

She approaches us inquiring, “Would you guys like a table dance?” The NiteLife is, to use their terminology, a gentleman’s establishment. John and I decline the offer. We're saving our money for more beer during the game. But given the hour and the pace of things in the bar, we’re really the only patrons and so are engaged by Jane in conversation. It turns out that this is in fact Jane’s first day on the job. She is working part-time as a table dancer but does not intend to dance on stage where she would be required to remove her top. She is also working fulltime as a public librarian. The stereotypical notions regarding either occupation do not escape us and after much joking with Jane concerning the obvious disparity in her chosen career paths, I suggest to her that her experiences might well make for a good story.

Jane sees me coming from a mile away. Suspecting my motives to be less than genuine, she reminds me that she really doesn’t have any experiences. “My first day, remember?” she says excusing herself presumably to greener pastures. Her instincts, possibly correct, do not deter my interest. Though suddenly, I have renewed interest in football.

John, being the only one obsessed enough to realize that football is even occurring so early in the year, has dialed in via satellite what he thinks should be an awesome confrontation between some second string, and another. And you know what? He’s right. Damned if we don’t have the Chargers VS the Broncos. Here are the Super Bowl champs, squaring off against John’s Chargers. Live from down under. That’s Australia mate. Pitcher, please.

I am not without sympathy for John and the minions of annually allegiant Bolt Backers. Having served my time as a Bronco fan however, I cannot help but espouse an air of superiority under the circumstances. Elway, god love him, has himself gone on to even greener pastures than Jane. But the machine that Mike Shanahan built can easily be driven by Bubby Brister, or Brian Griese, or in a pinch, me. Give me Terrell Davis, Shannon Sharpe, and Ed Mccaffrey, and in the immortal words of Steve Martin, “I don’t need nothin’ else.”

The Chargers look good in the early going. It’s preseason, so I’m not worried. But they look pretty good. They’re up 17 points. It's preseason. Preseason doesn’t count.

“Jane! Where have you been, any new experiences?” Jane has no new experiences to report but has gotten the hang of pretending to be amused. She drains the last two inches of our pitcher equally into our mugs asking, "More beer fellas?”

"Well, yeah!"

The Broncos are coming back, but it doesn’t matter, the real game happened in the first quarter. Like I said, it’s preseason. It doesn't count.

The Bronco’s second and third teams come back to nullify the Charger’s 17 point lead. They win by 3 against the Charger’s number 2 and 3 guys.

Still, based on the early play of their starters the match is scored as a win among the Charger faithful. And so a new season, full of promise, begins.

John and I retire to the smoking room for victory cigars. Actually, it’s a twelve by ten smoke filled closet with tables behind the rear stage at the NiteLife. Across the table from me sits Jane. She is small and slender, delicate really. She is in her mid to late twenties. Her features are Asian though her hair is blondish or light brown. She is on a break and so dutifully smokes a cigarette as we talk. Jane is pleasant but still she's not buying my story story. It’s getting late and she indulges my attempts at sending the two of us into over-time. But just like preseason, it doesn’t count.

Friday, September 3, 2010

A Dog Eat Dog World

By Harry B. sanderford

By 1962, her beauty faded and promotional appeal diminished, Hillevi, in an ironic twist of fate found it necessary to seek employment in the factory that produced the very franks she'd helped popularize in her spokes-model days. She started in lymph-nodes and nostrils and after only 17 months was promoted to the cartilage and organ meats division. In no time at all she'd been through knuckles and spleens and was well on her way in colorings and preservatives.

Her rise was meteoric. Unprecedented, remarked Tube Steak Today, the industry journal that again and again profiled Hillevi's accomplishments. She was it seems, a natural. A term not tossed freely about in either spokes-modeling or the red-hots biz.

Sadly, despite her rapid advancement and apparent success, it cannot be said that Hillevi was happy. As a girl, Hillevi dreamed of a different life for herself. She hoped to one day settle in Bunnell, or Hastings, or some other cosmopolitan metropolis with an inordinately high rate of wiener consumption and open a roadside motel that featured the most glorious hot dog buffet ever imagined.

Such a sweet, simple, foolish dream. Alas, the unfulfilled dream of an idealistic young beauty queen, only a glimmer of whom remains.

Hillevi seldom plays her clarinet these days. And though she cannot imagine her life without them in it, she no longer regards the dogs as worthy of her charms.

* Hillevi Romblin was Miss Universe in 1955.

Other than charming wieners in the photo above, her career in the red-hots biz, as far as I know, is one of my own fabrication.

Bon Apetite! H