It is a rare Saturday evening that finds the missus and me without some sort of plan for the evening. Not that we are social gadflies or anything, but we do like to have something to do on Saturday evenings. This past Saturday was the first weekend after Thanksgiving and we were “recovering” from a house full of our grown children and our five year old granddaughter. The “plan” for the evening was to stay home and watch a movie. It was a fine plan and I was very much looking forward to an evening practicing the “art of doing nothing.” No such luck.
The missus thought that I was in need of some article or two of clothing and decided that the two of us would go shopping. This was on a Saturday night which happened to be the day after “Black Friday.” That’s the day after Thanksgiving and is reputed to be the biggest shopping day in all of the United States. I have never personally witnessed the affair known as Black Friday but I have it from reliable sources that it is a dangerous time for anyone who values life and limb. The day after, I am further informed, is just as threatening to one’s constitution and wallet. So it was in this knowledge that I raised a most strenuous objection to going shopping on a night like this. “Nonsense,” said the wife. “You’ll be fine.”
We went to a clothing store that is in the general proximity of a large shopping mall. I was pleasantly surprised to find the people there to be minimal and actually a little on the friendly side. They should be, considering that I thought their prices to be on the high side. I voiced that opinion to my beautiful bride whereupon she announced that we would go a store in the mall where prices might be found that are more reasonable. “Surely we would not survive an excursion to the mall,” I protested in vain. “Nonsense,” said the wife. “You’ll be fine.”
The mall is a curious place and, I must admit, a useful place to people watch. This venture was also to be found void of the masses of crazed shoppers that I expected. Sadly, I found the prices on the articles I proposed to purchase to be higher there as well. You know, one would think that I would have learned my lesson by now. I voiced the same protest over the prices that I had raised in the previous store. “Oh, ok,” the wife announced. “We’ll go to the discount store.” I looked at her in dread. “Are you mad? It will be crazy there. I’m not going.” “Nonsense,” said the wife. “You’ll be fine.”
As luck would have it, the trip to the discount store was uneventful. I had found what I wanted at the price I wanted to pay. I had come away from the trip without a scratch and had acquired what I had set out for. Three different stores and I had survived. All that work and stress for a package of t-shirts.
On the way home, the missus thought it might be a good idea, being as how we were out already, to do a little Christmas shopping for our granddaughter and suggested a local toy store. I was about to raise an argument against the idea when she looked at me intently and said, “Nonsense. “You’ll be fine.”
The NaNoWriMo project has been successfully completed . Final word count is 50,390 words. Now, it’s returning to writing the shorter stuff for this website and getting back to a first person narrative that went on the back burner in October.
I will not look at the novel until after Christmas when the hard work of revision begins. It was a fun and challenging project. Think I might even do it again next year.
(NOTE: Here is an excerpt from the book I am working on. It is part of the NaNoWriMo project that you may have heard about. The goal is to produce a 50,000 word novel in first draft during the month of November. This particular excerpt comes in the latter chapters of the book. A lot has happened before this point and the “fellas” will be in very deep do-do shortly. Enjoy!)
The trick to catching snakes with a number two mustard jar was to set it in the gutter so that water would gush into it. The gushing water would bring snakes. We would wait until the jar was full of snakes and then would pull the jar out of the water and put the cap on. We would then have a jarful of maybe twenty of thirty snakes. We would walk around with it and watch the snakes squirm around. We’d finally get bored after awhile and dump them all out. We might do that three or four times in an evening. On what turned out to be the last jar full of snakes, we noticed one was different. Most of the snakes we caught were small garter snakes of maybe one or two feet in length. They were harmless. This last jar had one in it that was very different. For one, it was MUCH bigger and fatter. It was also black. We could not see his head but could see that he was much, much larger than any snake we had seen before. I thought it would be a good idea to show it to somebody’s Dad. Maybe he could tell us what it was. “My Dad is at home,” Randy said. “Let’s go ask him.”
Let me go on the record right now that I do not currently, nor have I ever owned, a purse. I hear that some men in Europe use them (I think they are called shoulder bags or some such nonsense) but I have yet to see a man use one in this part of the Midwest. They don’t make a lot of sense anyway what with no more than the average man has to carry around with him. A couple of credit cards, driver’s license, and a few bucks for lunch is all the average man needs. The average woman, on the other hand, is genetically required to carry the entire contents of her vanity, plus every key to every lock that she has possessed since birth, AND the complete name and address of every human being they have ever encountered since the first grade. It’s true. No, I have not seen inside any purses in my lifetime nor do I wish to. This knowledge comes to me because I have a wife, a daughter, and a granddaughter. The three of them together carry more stuff around with them than is carried by a parcel delivery driver.
For example, I was out with my daughter the other day and she asked me to hand out her purse from the car. When I did so, two things happened. I heard the springs from the car it was in sigh a relief from the weight it had had to endure and then my shoulder popping from the weight and volume of this “suitcase.” I swear the thing had wheels. “What in the world are you packing around in this thing?” She said it contained only the things she needs on a regular basis. I took a risk and peeked inside and therein contained all the keys and address books that I suspected where in there. In addition, there was enough makeup to do the entire Dallas Cowboys cheerleading squad. There was a cell phone among other trinkets and things that I did not recognize. I dare not look deep in the bowels of this monstrosity and so gave it to her as quickly as possible. My shoulder is still sore from the ordeal. Now, keep in mind that my daughter owns no less than 200 purses (I probably exaggerate a bit) . I don’t know why and I am afraid to ask.
I decided to have a look at my wife’s purse. She has considerably fewer than my daughter and they are, in general, smaller. Perhaps as women get older they may find they have less to pack around with them. It might possibly be that their shoulders are worn out from all the weight over the years. I found the same general contents in my wife’s purse than in my daughter’s. As was true in my daughter’s case, I declined from looking into the bottom of my bride’s purse. I just think there are some things best left alone and the bottom of a woman’s purse is one of those places.
I just don’t want to know.
(NOTE: I am at the halfway point in the NaNoWriMo project – 25,004 words. In celebration, here is an excerpt from the novel “When Girls Had Cooties”)
We were out there one day having a great time. There was the five of us and some other kids from another neighborhood. We were just goofing off when somebody out of the blue threw a horseradish and smacked Mark right across the mouth. That meant war and also meant we had not picked out sides. It was every man for himself! I ran behind a horseradish tree only to find Mark there nursing his wound. We decided to team up. He did not know who hit him but we decided that we were going to get Steve for it regardless of who actually did it. The fact that we could see, and therefore hit, Steve made it an easy decision. I had a great big horseradish and nailed him right in the back of the head with it. Pow!! Steve doubled over and grabbed his head. He looked around to see who had hit him but we had ducked away. He did see Garry however, so he went after him. So, now all three of us were trying to get Garry. Lyndon, Randy, and a couple of other kids were attacking us and had us trapped. I told Mark I would run around the other side of the barn and come up behind them and surprise them. I gathered up a handful of clods and horseradishes and took off at a dead sprint. I ran around the back of the barn laughing my butt off at what I was about to do. Just as I turned the corner at the edge of that barn, I ran right smack dab into a stupid turkey. I tried to jump out of his way but he came after me….you ever been wing whupped buy a giant turkey? He like to beat me half to death. I could not get away and, boy, he could run fast. He ran me down and knocked me to the ground and whupped on me something terrible. I really thought I was going to die. I screamed for help and everybody on the field came running. Try as they might to run that mean old turkey off, they couldn’t do it. They threw clods and horseradishes at him and tried to scare him. That trashy thing was gonna end my life one way or the other.
So, I am awakened early one morning recently by a strange sound emanating from downstairs. Sounded like somebody rustling through my stuff. It stopped momentarily and started again. I sat up in my bed and listened intently. It was silence for a minute or two so I laid back down to resume my dream whereupon I rule the world. No sooner had I shut my eyes than the noise from downstairs resumed at an even louder volume than before. This time I sat up straight in bed ready to fight. I reached for my “defensive tool” and kicked the covers back. The wife had, by now, awakened and asked what was going on and why do I have “that” in my hand. I passed the cell phone to her and told her to call 911 if she hears a ruckus once I got downstairs.
I walked silently to the top of the stairs and waited. Silence. Wait! There’s that rustling again. It sounds like the criminal is in the kitchen, I thought. I steeled myself for a fight. Creeping down the stairs, I was ready for anything. My stairs are on two flights and when I got to the top of the first flight, I realized I had a new problem. From my vantage point, I could see the living room to my right and just into the kitchen and the den to my left. I could not see both ways at the same time (chameleons can; not that that would do me a lick of good at 2:00 AM as I do not possess a pet chameleon). I kept still until I could hear the noise again and so figure out the direction (and hope there are not two thieves in my house). Ah! There! It’s in the kitchen (I hope). Silently, I moved towards the kitchen. Step by step with my heart pounding like a jack hammer, I moved towards that which could possibly end my life and swipe all my stuff. The noise resumed again and I suspected that I had the drop on this nefarious character. I reached for the light switch and readied my “defensive tool.” I switched the light on in full adrenalin rush for the battle to the death that would undoubtedly ensue.
Nothing. Maybe he was hiding behind the island. I moved cautiously through the kitchen to the island. He was not there either. I looked in both pantries and found them empty. Still in attack mode, I moved into the dining room and through to the front room. There was nothing to be seen or heard. He could be anywhere and could have possibly slipped upstairs. As I stood in the front room pondering my next move, I heard the noise from the kitchen again. I ran into the kitchen knowing that I had him now but that he also knew of my presence. This would be it. I jumped in the kitchen ready to fight! Nothing. What the….?
About five feet in front of me on the floor was a large plastic bag that contained a shirt that I had bought that day. I did not see it until it moved. Then it moved again. It moved a third time and out from the bag popped my orange cat, Toby. He looked at me with that typical cat expression as if to say, “What do YOU want? Can’t you see I’m busy here?”
I went back to bed.
Today is the start of the National Novel Writing Month. I enrolled in that project. I have until November 30th to produce a 50,000 word novel in first draft. It’s going to be an interesting, and long, month. I’m looking forward to it.
If I don’t put a story up here very often this month, NaNoWriMo is why.