Grasshoppers? Really?

You will remember from a previous story how I grew up with a kid named Rex.  Rex, as you will recall, had the idea to be an egg farmer that did no turn out so well.  

                As long as I knew Rex, he was always looking for some new idea to make money. Having failed at the egg farm, he went off to the library in search of inspiration. It was on an obscure shelf at the downtown library that he found a book of grasshopper recipes. Rex decided then and there that his fortune was to be found raising grasshoppers. I saw him the next day at school.

                “Rex, do you know anybody that actually EATS grasshoppers?” I was laughing so hard I could barely get the words out.

                Rex was incredulous. “Well, stupid, why do you think they would have a book of grasshopper recipes at the library if nobody eats them?” I knew there was no use arguing with him. Besides, if he gave this idea up, he would just go find another, even weirder idea.

                The Texas Panhandle has never had a shortage of grasshoppers. Rex figured all he would need to do is catch them and figure out a way to keep them captive until he had time to fatten them up to sell. Rex decided the best place to keep control over his inventory would be in the garage. He originally wanted to move his operation into his room but after the egg farm fiasco he thought he had better keep his work away from his Mom.

                Well, Rex got himself a couple of cardboard boxes and installed them in an obscure corner of the garage behind the freezer. Then he filled them part way with and twigs and I don’t know what all. Anything he figured a grasshopper would eat.

                The next morning was Saturday. He left the house early with a couple of glass jars and spent all morning and a good chunk of the afternoon collecting grasshoppers of all sizes and shapes. Once he was done with that, he put them in the two boxes behind the freezer. The day was, in his mind, a highly successful one. As the fellas sat around the far corner of the field that evening, he told us about his plan and further added that he would be needing people to work for him as his operation grew. We all agreed that we would be glad to help him out as long as it paid enough.

                While Rex was out planning his (and our) future in the grasshopper industry, a career ending disaster awaited him at home. It seems his sister (it was always a girl that ruined everything for us) was sent out to the garage to get something out of the freezer. She spotted the two boxes behind the freezer and decided to investigate. It did not take long for the grasshoppers to make a leap for freedom in the closed garage. Rex’s sister ran out in a crying panic straight to Mom and Dad.

                We did not see Rex for three weeks after that episode. When he did turn up, he said it took him most of the three weeks to get all of the grasshoppers out of the garage and attic. Rex being Rex, though, he was unfettered from finding another “project.”

The Bad Mouth

(The following appeared in the January 11th edition of the Franklin Township Informer.  My dear friend, Barb Hook, asked me to post it here which will send it to the other places where folks can read. Enjoy).

                Well, it has been one of those days. I had just written one of my most brilliant pieces for this paper. I wasn’t feeling all that great so I sprawled all over the couch for an hour or so. When I came back to edit what was to be a minor literary classic, it was gone. It will remain a mystery as to the manner of its loss and now I am left to recreate something in a short time. I have now stared at my computer screen for what seems an eternity in increasing desperation to create something useful.

                I remember I had written about my second grade teacher at Western Plateau Elementary School in Amarillo, Texas. In great eloquence, I told the story that Mrs. Weding (not her real name) was very aggressive in rooting out what she called “the bad mouth” from all of the junior rednecks she had charge over. I explained that she defined the bad mouth as any and all swear words and any name calling against other people. Were she to catch one of us in the act, it resulted in a violent shaking for the boys or a hard swat on the back of the knees for the girls. I retold the story of my own punishment at Mrs. Weding’s hands as a result of me calling Rex a _______. She drug me out into the hall by the ear and shook me until my brain came loose (explains a lot, doesn’t it?).   I told the story, in the most violent terms, of her having my ear in one hand and my forearm in another and shaking me until I couldn’t see straight.  When she was done with my torture, I penned, she told me she would be calling my father and she was sure he would have some additional input for me. In terms of lofty anguish, I recollected my meeting with my father later that night.  In the now lost masterpiece, I wrote to you, my hopefully sympathetic audience, that my father and my mother had a lot of painful (for me) input that evening.

                Yes, the piece that was lost to eternity also spoke about the need for more Mrs. Wedings in the world today. I had written that Mrs. Weding would be busy night and day trying her best to rid the world of the bad mouth. I concluded by letting you, my dear reader, know of my affection for Mrs. Weding after all these years and wishing she were among us now.

                The piece is lost for all time I’m afraid. Maybe someday I can re-create it.

Scott Emmett is a retired American soldier who makes his home in Greenwood with his wife, Karen, and one ornery old cat named Toby. Email him at scott@scottemmett.com

Rex

                 Rex was one of the kids I grew up with. Rex looked like a Rex. He was a tall boy for his age and skinny as a rail. He had a shock of fire engine bright red hair. That red hair must’ve been part of a solar panel as Rex had more energy than anybody else in the neighborhood. All that energy had to go somewhere and that somewhere was a lot of hare-brained ideas that almost always got him and / or us into trouble.

                One time, Rex got the idea that he was going to be an egg farmer. Being as how Rex was only ten years old at the time, he did not have a lot of resources and no money. That did not deter ole Rex, no sirree.

                Rex knew enough to know that he had to have some chickens if he wanted to have any eggs to sell. Back in those days on the Texas Panhandle, a body just couldn’t wander over to the nearest farm store and buy a bunch of chicks. First of all, none of us had cars and, even if we did, we’d never find a farm store. Rex decided that he was just going to hatch his own chickens.

                First, he got a couple of quart milk cartons and cut them in half. He filled them with grass from the lawn he had just mowed and set them by the window in his room. Rex figured he would start with four chickens and go from there. With that in mind, he went to his Mom’s kitchen and swiped four eggs. Up to his room he went and nestled his soon to be chicks into their warm nest boxes by the window.  He was so proud of himself. He went to bed that night with dreams of a huge egg operation and all the money he would make.

                Well, Texas in the summer is real hot and his house did not have air conditioning. By the time he got home from school the next day, things did not smell so good in his room. He figured it was just part of the process of hatching chicks and left to go find the fellows.

                By the time he got home for supper, the smell from the eggs had gotten stronger and made its way downstairs. His Mama had thrown the now rotten eggs out and had every window in the house open trying to get rid of the stench.

                We did not see Rex for a week. When he did surface, he was not very willing to talk about the egg project or where he had been the previous seven days. He didn’t like sitting down much either come to think of it. He did have a new project though and this one was (according to him) a surefire hit.

                That is a story for next week.