Nonetheless…

Prompt: Dim


Hello Wednesday,

My sixth grade English teacher, Miss Connor, once told me I was a dim bulb. I was shocked, although not entirely certain what it meant.

I grew up so sheltered that almost every insult hurled at me as a child is embedded in my brain. Because there just aren’t that many to remember.

I sometimes pushed my mother to the end of her patience, and she said a few unkind things, which are branded on my internal skin as permanently as a cattle brand. They hurt. And yes, as I say, I grew up in a loving home, with mostly non-psychotic relatives or teachers or friends, so I did and still do feel whole, healthy, and secure.

Imagine a neglected or abused child. Imagine them long enough to go right now, maybe to a site like Charity Navigator to pick out an international children’s advocacy group to donate to, or maybe consider chipping in to Big Brothers or Big Sisters, or other local groups.

I’ve heard that one, one kind word, or moment of kind attention to an otherwise invisibly neglected child can change their life for the better, and I believe it.

Well now this post took an unexpected turn. Let’s get back to the daily prompt, dim, which is related to the first of today’s favourite cartoons, but in no way related to the others…

cartoon dim lighting

cartoon toe tapper

cartoon clown pres


For the record, Miss Connor didn’t even know what a gremlin was, insisting it was only a brand of car and not a creature when I wrote about one for an assignment. So who’s the dim bulb?

Bye-bye February!

~~FP

 

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When Iggie Met Sally

Prompt: Astral

aster

Aggie had her baby on July 17, and it was immediately apparent that Iggie was not the father. The child had very long, straight brown hair and its tiny baby features were snugly concentrated in the centre of her face, which reminded everyone of someone else… but who?

We had them over for dinner again to admire the new addition to the family, and it was Celia, torn away from her iPhone long enough to examine the wee thing with a critical eye, reached over her, smoothed her soft hair into a part, then snatched Uncle Fred’s glasses from his face and posed them over the little face.

All eyes turned to Uncle Fred, who turned an alarming shade of magenta, then to Aggie, who immediately took the baby up to nurse, and finally to Iggie, who was idly clipping his chest hair with my mother’s favourite sewing scissors.

He looked up, unalarmed. He was used to people staring at him and had given up trying to figure out why. He smiled and waved, then set the scissors on the coffee table. He picked up a magazine, and proceeded to rip out the pages, one by one, leaving them in a neat stack on the cushion beside him. He looked up once, to glance meaningfully in the direction of the kitchen, indicating he was ready to fill his belly.

My mother, who had turned pink in the face too, gratefully hustled into the kitchen where the Crock Pot roast needed no attention at all. In fact, we all threaded our way around the furniture in a long, windy, single line like a regiment of ants, into the kitchen to join her. All except Iggie, Aggie, Uncle Fred, and my father.

We could hear my father’s low baritone, humming soothingly, and Uncle Fred’s less sedate squeaks, coughs, and something that sounded like Gregorian chanting. My mother told me to get away from the door and mash the potatoes, which was usually Uncle Fred’s job, though the consensus was he mashed them too much, making them gluey. I was determined to have fluffy mash, and dedicated my full attention to it.

Julia poured herself another glass of white wine. “Who else would have him?” she said, and my mother told her to hush, even though, if you thought about it, it was true.

Uncle Fred had meticulously parted and gelled brown hair, hardened into a helmet, and he wore an abundance of Old Spice cologne because, we suspected, he had an aversion to bathing. He was very white and prone to sunburn even in the winter. He didn’t like animals and we had to lock Charlie in the basement whenever he visited, because he pretended to have an allergy. He had a lot of alleged allergies, including aversions to poppies, asters, rayon, acid-free paper, dish soap, chain link, and Chapstick. Almost everyone had caught him watching porn on my father’s laptop, because he was afraid to access it at home in case “they” could trace it back to him. He wore white sport socks with leather loafers. Uncle Fred’s political leanings shifted regularly to the opposite of what everyone else thought. He believed he was a good debater, but he had no true beliefs.

Well, nobody’s perfect.

Iggie was surprisingly and profoundly disinterested in the fact that Aggie and the baby would now move in with Uncle Fred. If you looked back, you could see their relationship had been troubled for a while. Iggie had stopped taking Aggie’s hand and putting it in his lap a long time ago. Aggie had stopped licking his face when she felt amorous. Perhaps it was inevitable that they would drift apart. The stresses of moving to a new town and to an era far different from the Pleistocene Epoch could strain any relationship.

The landlord of the apartment that Iggie and Aggie had called home wanted to torch the interior, and possibly the entire building, but my father convinced him the place could be salvaged, and called on his friend Ernie McMurphy to come and do the drywalling and carpet installation at no cost to the landlord, since the damage deposit had barely begun to cover the necessary renovations.

So Iggie needed to find a new place, a bachelor pad, and my father called on one of his ex-students, now a real estate agent, Sally Bonaparte, to help Iggie find an unfurnished studio apartment on the ground floor with room for a fire pit outside.

It was love at first sight.

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner [Repost]

Prompt: Assay

Rockwell turkey dinner.jpg

At least Iggie and Aggie were dressed for dinner. By that I mean they had some clothes on. Iggie wore a pair of my father’s swim trunks, which looked uncomfortably tight and inflexible, and Aggie wore a pair of Julie’s terry cloth work shorts. They each had a kind of shawl, made of deerskin, which they wore fur side in, and which actually didn’t smell that bad. When ever my mother passed Aggie, sitting awkwardly in her dining chair, she wrapped the shawl a little tighter at the front, to avoid the exposure of Aggie’s nipples.

Breasts were OK at the dinner table, just not nipples. Julie wore a very low scoop-necked white sweater, which so showed off her pillowy breasts that Iggie reached across the table to touch them. His wrist was caught in a swift move by my father, who slapped a turkey drumstick into Iggie’s palm, and this seemed to diffuse the situation.

Iggie and Aggie glared at Uncle Fred, because Uncle Fred made no allowances for their sneezing and wore a healthy dollop of Old Spice anyway. Uncle Fred never made allowances, so Iggie and Aggie should not have taken this personally. Uncle Fred also resisted allowing them to touch his carefully gelled and parted hair, or poke their pinkie fingers into his ear.

We never had our devices with us at the dinner table; it was a rule. Except for Celia, who at eight years old pretty much did whatever she wanted. My mother made her put a napkin over her iPhone, and surprisingly, she complied. But she peeked at it every so often, and whatever she found there made her laugh. Iggie and Aggie looked at her with pity. They had never seen an Apple, though they seemed quite fond of apples, which they ate whole, spitting out only the stems, which still lay on the hallway floor.

When Celia realized that neither of our guests could speak or understand English, nor any language, really, she very cheerfully made child judgements of their appearance and smell. “Iggie smells like Charlie’s breath, that time he ate that dead fish that washed up on the beach,” she said.

“That,” said my father, “is very disrespectful.”

Iggie picked up the fork at the side of his plate, which he hadn’t used yet, and started to scratch his groin with it. Aggie watched him with disdain, then snatched the fork out of his hand and threw it across the room. This seemed to be some kind of personal issue, so we stayed out of it.

When it was time to go, we all stood up. Mother gave them a tupperware container of homemade chocolate chip cookies which they put in the Batman pillow case that Celia had provided. Aggie took the turkey carcass from its platter and put it in the pillow slip along with the cookies. Iggie crossed the room and picked up the fork Aggie had thrown and put it in the bag, too. Then he bit Julie in the ass. Aggie, startled by his attentions to another woman, bit Uncle Fred in the ass. They started to laugh, and we all joined in.

We must have inherited their sense of humour.


Original Prompt: Modern Families, January 10, 2016
If one of your late ancestors were to come back from the dead and join you for dinner, what things about your family would this person find the most shocking?

dog and fish

Creamy Nougat Center

Prompt: Encrusted


Dear Wednesday,

Winter has returned to our little corner of the world. Freezing cold, some snow, brisk winds, and I have to wear socks.

The lakeshore is encrusted with rough little glaciers where frigid waves pounded against the sand and froze in place. Is that the correct usage of today’s word prompt, “encrusted”? Yes or no.

There are no cartoons in all the world that I would want to look at that include the word encrusted. So may I present instead a few of my favourite cartoons that are less than tenuously related to the prompt by way of the root word, crust?

cartoon yogi crust

cartoon red lobster 2

(Did you see what I did there?)

cartoon earth crust


Time to go get the fireplace going.

Stay warm!

~~FP

Just a Girl [Repost]

Prompt: Costume

flapper-costume

I was dressed as a flapper, whatever that was, with a cloche hat and a blue fringed sleeveless dress. My older brother was a robot, a costume he made himself from cardboard boxes and silver paint. We were handed white pillow slips and told to limit our Halloween begging to a three block radius, and under no circumstances cross the busy street behind the house.

The house at the top of the block was in total darkness, as it was every Halloween, because of the owners’ religious beliefs. We got an early and annual education in the sinister side of church-going, since the idea of denying us chocolate and caramels and Tootsie Roll Pops seemed dark and ungodly.

A few doors down from them was the over-decorated house, with sheets meant to be ghosts hanging from the trees, half a dozen carved smiling pumpkins hosting flickering candles, and the black silhouettes of bats and witches on broomsticks bedecking the windows. Mr and Mrs Williams were always jovial but asked too many questions and talked to us as if we were toddlers. “Oh my goodness, what do we have here! What are you all dressed up as, little lady?” A flapper. “Oh!” Much chuckling on their part, and scowling and blushing on mine, until they move along to the next victim, who was not my brother, because he’d got his Mars bar (the full size candy bars being the only reason we bother with the Williams) and escaped from the porch.

Many houses later over on the next block was the scary place, where someone had made a graveyard out of the front garden, and the house was dimly lit inside, and you had to knock on the door in the dark, and you never could remember if the people inside had criminal records, or living children, or had somehow harmed a friend of a friend last Halloween. This night, a teenager with a scarred green face and blood dribbling from his mouth tosses packets of gum into our pillow slips. Maybe we’d skip the scary place next year.

The night wore on and there were fewer and fewer children on the street, but my brother’s stamina was legendary, and he had a special new goal: The haunted house across the busy street.

I had almost reached the status of non-girl in his eyes, as in not as dumb or as weak or as scaredy cat as a regular girl, as in almost tolerable. Was I to risk all this advancement, this near-shattering of the plastic ceiling, because I was afraid to disobey our parents, and terrified to go near the haunted house?

Hell, no.

The haunted house was only haunted late at night, when you were adrenalin-pumped and jittery, and almost ready to go home from trick-or-treating, if you could survive. By day it was a very old Victorian-style wooden house, with the requisite peeling paint and boarded up windows. Tall weeds impeded progress to a sagging front porch, which ran the width of the facade. It was a eyesore, perennially rumoured to be the new location of a Baptist church, or Harvey’s Drive In, or a pet store.

Me, my courageous brother, and his best friend, Donny, approached the house from the north, on the sidewalk, walking nonchalantly so as not to alert anyone or anything that we were possibly frightened and possibly going to do something stupid, like walk up to a house that was surely the site of past atrocities, and damned for eternity. I was trembling. Also shivering. I told my brother I was cold. “Too bad,” he said.

Donny, who was dressed as a cowboy complete with chaps and side arms, was strangely silent as we navigated through the weeds to the front door. For some reason, my brother thought it was a good idea to knock. Logic was never a strong point in my family. So he knocked on the front door. It was a cold, hollow sound.

The door flew open! There was an inferno! A piercing scream!

Donny fell backwards off the porch and landed on his head. Blood poured from his skull. My brother ran down the stairs and dove into the tall grass. I alone stood, paralyzed with fear, on the porch, staring at what I saw was some kind of industrial-strength flashlight, wielded by a boy much older, but no taller than I was. He was wrapped in dirty bandages and his face was lit from underneath, so his yellowish face was in hideous shadow.

He grabbed my pillow case, and slammed the door. The house was dark and silent again.

My brother and I dragged the bleeding Donny to our house, where our parents cleaned him up and called his mother. “It’s not as bad as it looks,” said my mother. My dad, showing more spunk than I thought him capable, went out in the car to check out the haunted house, but no one was there. Our punishment would wait.

Donny was sniffling. His head wound probably hurt. His cowboy jeans were soaking wet. No one said anything.

My brother turned on me, “You’re just a baby, screaming like that and scaring everyone.”

“I didn’t!” I felt anger tears welling to the surface, but dared not lose face by crying.

“Cry-baby scaredy cat,” said my brother. His robot head was off, but he was still wearing a crumpled silver box around his midriff. He scowled at me and took the wrapping off a Tootsie Roll for Donny, just as his mother knocked on the front door.

Donny’s face was a smeared mix of blood and sticky chocolate as his mother picked him up in her arms and carried him out, as if he was a little baby.

My brother laid out his candy haul on the kitchen table, sorting it by weight and value. My mother told him he would be sharing his bounty with me, his younger sister, since my pillow slip had been stolen. He sighed, frowned, and rearranged the piles of chocolate and wrapped candies.

“It wasn’t me, it was Donny,” I said to my brother. “I didn’t scream.”

“I know,” said my brother. “But he would have felt bad if I knew it was him.”

I feel bad because of what you said.”

“Too bad,” he told me. “You’re just a girl.”

Our punishment was harsh. No television, no playing outside after supper, so we basically had nothing to do but meditate upon our sins. Or read, which I did, so I didn’t have to think about Donny.

My brother gave me the full size Mars bar as part of my share of the loot, but it wasn’t enough. Not by a mile.


  • Original Prompt: Rearrange, October 28, 2016

The Stablest of All

Prompt: Bewildered

IMG_1073

Wednesday! You look bewildered. It is impossible for a thinking day of the week, or person, not to be bewildered by the power allotted to a certain politician. I know I am bewildered, as are most of my countrymen.

And we are not actually bewildered that such a human being exists, but that so many millions of people thought him worthy of high office. That is a crazy sandwich.

To wit:

cartoon trump genius


cartoon trump power


cartoon trump stick


Be careful out there.

~~FP