Freak Flag

Prompt: Freaky


Hello Wednesday! Long time no see!

I’ve been sick and tired (in the literal sense) for the past couple of weeks— a combination of exhaustion from a week-long family reunion and the dense smoke from the surrounding forest fires that sometimes rains ashes and charred pine needles upon us.

We who live in this paradise wonder if this is “the new normal”. Stinking hot summers, fires all around us, unbreathable air— and all because of this “hoax” called climate change? I have pressed my government reps for years about prioritizing global warming as a crisis that will affect generations to come, and in the worst possible way. Now my pristine lake country home has turned, very suddenly over a few years, from a utopia into a dystopia. Is this what our children and grandchildren have to look forward to?

Fortunately, we  have cartoons to save us from despair. At least for today, for now, let’s enjoy a few giggles as I present a few of my favourite cartoons, the first of which corresponds to today’s casual prompt, “freaky”:

cartoon a-young-boy-asks-his-grandfather-barbara-smaller

cartoon step away from the laptop

cartoon beachball


Enjoy the last few precious weeks of summer!

Peace, love, and a clean environment,

~~FP

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Voyage [Repost]

Prompt: Smell you later

portrait of a young woman

Oh, what a journey!

Everything smelled horrible and I couldn’t eat the food. It was foul. But when I could, I went up on deck where the air was a little fresher, though the smoke from the smokestacks often settled over us, dropping black ash into our lungs.

I was little, so I could get up there even when it was crowded. Unless the ship was storm-tossed, I would stay up top in the rain, underneath a box that was full of ropes (I looked). It was better than being crammed together belowdecks.

My mother dressed me like a boy, because she thought I would be safer. But you might be surprised how many men want to be with boys. I knew how to look after myself, though, I was pretty smart for a kid.

My mother had a boyfriend on the ship, though she didn’t think I knew. It was such a long, boring, unpleasant, filthy voyage that my mother welcomed this man, with his jokes and and the way he always had sugar cubes in his pocket, like a stableboy. My mother had a sweet tooth, and those sugar cubes were the closest thing to candy she was going to get.

Sometimes at night, when they thought I was asleep, they snuggled together.

One time I made it up to second class. This was very hard, unless you were half-monkey, like me, at least my mother said so. I could climb anything. I had my cleanest boy clothes on, so didn’t smell too terrible, and I climbed up through the inflatable life boats closest to the steerage deck, and made my way by ladder to the crews’ quarters, where it was easy to slip onto the second class deck.

It was pretty nice up there. People weren’t vomiting or covered in ash, or making love in dark dirty corners that smelled like pee.

I even got to meet the captain. A very pretty lady, about my mother’s age, saw me crying as I clung to the railing, breathing in the sea air. I forget why I was crying. When she asked me what was wrong I said I lost my mommy and daddy— I used those words— and she gave me a hug and said, “Well I know the captain, and he can find your parents for you.”

Meanwhile, she bought me some ice cream. Wow!

The captain quickly determined that I was steerage, that I (my mother) had only paid $30 for my passage, that I was not lost but an overly-curious girl dressed as a boy.

The captain was old, I remember that, but I mostly remember that he had a cat, whose fur was the same grey colour as the captain’s beard. He said the cat killed vermin. I asked if I could take the cat back to steerage with me. He didn’t laugh, and neither did the lady.

My mother told me my father would be waiting for us, once we docked and cleared inspection. I didn’t remember my father, not one bit, so I wasn’t sure how to feel.

I wondered how my mother would clean us up, how she would wash away the voyage, with its smells and indiscretions and adventures, and if my father would love me, or even know me. I told my mother that perhaps I could stay a boy, since fathers liked boys better.

My mother kissed me and said no, and my journey ended.


Think of the Ways [Repost]

Prompt: School

child poster pollution

Yes, children: Help the world. Think of the ways. Walk more. Don’t litter. Plant a tree. Recycle your pop cans. If you don’t, everything will die and we will all choke to death. Including puppies.

Something about the way we teach ecology to children rankles. They can be worked into a frenzy over juice boxes. Taught to fear asphyxiation if parents idle their cars beside the school waiting for the final bell. Are willing to pick a square of cellophane out of a garbage bin for the sake of recycling.

Why so much pressure on the kids, when the greater reasons for life-threatening, world-ending pollution rest in the hands of the polluters and the politicians who enable and bless them?

Certainly every little bit helps. It is important to recycle, to value trees and plants, to be aware that small changes add up.

But I don’t remember, as a child, being unable to sleep because the glaciers are melting, or having a panic attack when a juice box ends up in the trash can. Guilt and hopelessness make us panic and give us insomnia. Let’s stop loading the responsibility for a clean future, if we have a future, on six year olds.

Let’s teach them a little bit about ethics and civics. Give them relevant information that allows them to assess choices in the products they use. Let them understand the power of the consumer and of the vote and, yes, even of peaceful resistance.

Children aren’t stupid. I’ve worked with children and they constantly floored me with their wisdom and common sense. Let’s arm these children, sensibly and without terror, with the tools they need to face a real crisis and transform a future that is not as bright as it should be, or as bright as they deserve.


Original Prompt: Atmospheric, November 18, 2017

Rash Decisions

Prompt: Home

Colorbock-Wide-Brim-Summer-Hat-Boardwalk-Style

“But I just started moving in here!” cried Envy. She removed her hat in a dramatic gesture and flung it across the room. It was straw and had a floppy brim and soared like a frisbee, landing gracefully on a stack of unopened cardboard packing boxes.

They’d spent the day at Spanish Beach, lounging and cuddling and eating the picnic Bob had prepared and transported in an old-fashioned basket, where the plates, wine glasses, cutlery and other accoutrements all had their special storage places. He’d made, of course, fried chicken and potato salad. Envy’s contribution was a cold bottle of rosé.

Envy’s skin burned easily. She found hats uncomfortable, but she needed to wear one in sunny weather even as they sat in the shade. Now, that hat had found another use.

Drama.

Bob purported to hate drama. But, Envy found, all drama-creators hated the drama they created.

“And it’s a pretty nice apartment,” said Bob, strangely calm in the face of Envy’s outburst. “I like the big windows and the balcony. Nice crown moulding. What’d you pay for this place again?”

Envy gritted her teeth. Ok, they were engaged now, but she hadn’t ever told Bob what she paid for the condo. He continued to open his mouth and spit out whatever was closest, no matter how intrusive or bad mannered it was. Well, she could be radically honest too.

“I never told you what I paid. And I don’t intend to.”

Bob shrugged. He always said he wouldn’t be radically honest to others if he couldn’t take it himself. Envy didn’t know if that was true or whether that shrug was a carefully crafted and honed reaction that hid outrage or hurt.

She sighed heavily. “I don’t want to move into your house. I don’t like the location. It’s suburban, miles from everything.”

“There’s that giant park next door, the outlet mall is only a five minute drive, and there’s a satellite college campus—“

“Whatever ,” said Envy unpleasantly, wondering absently when had been the last time she’d been so rude.

“It’s not like you to be so abrupt,” said Bob.

“We’ve had this conversation. I don’t want to move, I haven’t even moved in here.”

“You’ve been living out of cardboard boxes for six months. I took that as a sign of your reluctance to settle in here.”

“I don’t need your amateur psychology, Bob.”

“I’m glad we’re having this conversation,” said Bob.

Envy stifled a scream.

Why hadn’t she unpacked properly though? This was the apartment of her dreams, light, bright, with high ceilings and polished wood floors, plenty of wall space for her art— yet none of it unpacked.

And what was the real reason she didn’t want to move in with Bob at his suburban but otherwise charming Victorian reno home right beside the park with the rose garden, which she adored and remembered visiting as a child? Bob even wanted to get married there.

Envy said, “I’m not ready to move.”

Bob nodded. “Not ready to move on, you mean. From Marcus. From all that.”

She thought of the last time she saw Marcus. In prison, when her leg was still in a cast, and he didn’t even have a lawyer. She got him one, and he pleaded guilty to the arson but not to the attempted murder.

That was love. That was passion. That was simpatico, trust, joy, heart-stopping sex, loyalty, even fealty. It was impossible to pinpoint the day when their connection began to erode. If there ever truly was a connection. If.

She was twisting the ruby engagement ring round and round her finger. She and Bob noticed this gesture at the same moment.

“No rash decisions,” he said.

“No rash decisions,” said Envy.

Leep the Outsider [Repost]

Prompt: Fly on the wall

wash-hands-sign

Franco the Barber had a maddening (and probably unsanitary) habit of waiting until he was out of the toilet to zip up his fly. It was as if he was in such a rush after peeing, Leep thought, that he couldn’t stop— no, he had to walk and zip; and peeing is normal and everyone knows he has to zip up so why worry?

So he was in the hallway to the living room, zipping away as he approached them where they sat in the living room, all except Leep who leaned on the doorway to the kitchen. He never felt he quite belonged. He was ever the outsider, and sitting down would mean he was part of this family group of Uncle Alberto, his nephew’s widow, Deborah, and her mother, Beth. Franco the Barber had no qualms about joining them, he exhaled heavily as he dropped into an armchair, simultaneously grabbing a handful of salted peanuts from a dish on the glass-topped side table beside him.

Did he wash his hands? Leep had a craving for something salty but would avoid the peanuts.

There was another outsider in the room: Deborah’s lawyer, Carmen.

“I don’t know why we need a lawyer here,” said Uncle Al. “We’re family.” Even though he wasn’t family, Franco grunted in agreement, which was another maddening habit, though Uncle Al didn’t seem to object.

Uncle Al was casual today. No tie, but the same dark suit and white shirt which designated him the boss of the room, over Franco’s somewhat rumpled striped suit and cobalt blue polo shirt.

Carmen had her hair in a ponytail and was clad in a cranberry red suit and black pumps. To Leep she looked a bit intimidating, so was the lawyer he might hire if he ever needed one, which wasn’t beyond the realm of possibility.

Deborah and her mother were jean casual, as was usual for them. Deb had taken to wearing Vincent’s old jerseys, this one turquoise trimmed with black, number sixteen.

Deborah’s mother Beth, or Lizzie as Leep called her (in his head) had the courtesy to look embarrassed. She rustled up a smile for Uncle Al and said, “I was visiting Carmen on another matter and mentioned the annuity, she just offered and is not looking to make anything difficult.”

“Certainly not,” said Carmen, and she smiled at everyone in the room individually, including Leep the Outsider. He squirmed, just a little bit. She had an air about her, as if she could read your mind. Leep resolved not to gawp at Lizzie for the rest of the meeting, or think about how he wanted to frame Alberto for Vincent’s murder.

“It’s just an allowance for Debbie,” said Uncle Al, who was the only one to use her childhood name. “My nephew was a good boy and a good husband but was not good with money.”

Leep remembered Vince bragged about using a credit card for his vacations and the 46” flat screen TV and the new steering wheel on his Taurus. Poor old Deborah was probably up to her ears in debt.

“He was always on the verge of growing up,” said Lizzie.

“Mother.”

“May he rest in peace,” said Franco the Barber.

Lizzie said, “We are so grateful, Al, but I was wondering about the um…”

“Non-disclosure clause,” said Carmen.

“That is in all my documents, for business reasons,” said Uncle Al. “My lawyer insists. If he insists, I insist.”

“It’s no big deal,” ventured Franco the Barber.

“Shut up, Franco,” said Uncle Al amiably. “You’re no lawyer.”

“True,” said Franco with a chuckle.

Carmen continued. “And the visitation clause?”

“If I’m paying is it such a hardship that I see the girl and her mother once in a while?”

The discussions continued, and Leep slipped away for a few minutes, going to the toilet and fully zipping his pants before he washed his hands thoroughly, with lots of soap.

When he returned there were handshakes all around. Uncle Al looked victorious, though Leep suspected that was a strategy he employed at the end of every negotiation. Even Franco the Barber was shaking hands and grinning at Carmen the lawyer. She had probably shaken hands with worse, in her career.

Lizzie went into the kitchen to make coffee, and Uncle Al got on his cell phone to his legal adviser requesting minor changes to the contract. He wanted the revised document by six pm that evening.

Good, thought Leep. He leaned against the wall in the doorway, watching Uncle Al take Deborah’s hands and carefully kiss her on both cheeks. She blushed, but was used to his quirky formalities by now. What was important was that she and Lizzie would be looked after, no matter what happened to Alberto Demarco.


  • Original prompt: Maddening, December 16, 2016.

Flip-flop Friendly

Prompt: Flip Flop


Hello Wednesday,

What a timely prompt, coming on the heels of US President Trump’s capitulation to dictator Vladimir Putin of Russia, exposing himself as a dupe and a puppet, and cravenly trying to backpedal a day later.

But no, I am on a Trump news break in the interests of my own sanity and desire to live so this brief post is not about one of the most disgraceful flip flops in US history.

I grew up calling flip flops, those cheap little rubbery sandals with the toe piece, thongs. They will never be frickin’ “flip flops”– what a ridiculous mouthful for a deceptively simple bit of footwear.

But then some skimpy underwear interfered. Ok, stringy torturous women’s panties are called “thongs” so god forbid we every refer to rubber sandals using the same term we use for an intimate garment.

When I say, “I’m gonna wear my thongs” it is definitely your problem if you think I will be donning multiple string panties.

Thongs are footwear, too.

The first cartoon of today’s small collection of favourites is connected to today’s prompt, “flip flop” so please enjoy!

cartoon flip flops

cartoon so youre a baby

cartoon do-you-have-any-books-on-the-white-male-experience-new-yorker-cartoon_a-l-14261423-8419449


The last cartoon above is kind of illuminating isn’t it, with regards to why feminism exists?

Have a wonderful evening!

~~FP