So Now You’re A Senior

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You’ve done it!

You lived long enough to be called a senior citizen. Congratulations! It’s better than the alternative right?

Here’s your official cane. Now, I’ll walk you through what it means to be…a senior.

  1. You can accidentally (or intentionally) go to the supermarket with your house slippers on, and no one will even notice.
  2. You’ll get discounts at most restaurants, stores, and movie theatres.
  3. It’s your right to spoil you grandchildren.
  4. It’s your duty to spoil pets, especially little dogs that bark a lot.
  5. It’s easy to get someone to do your lifting.
  6. Clerks will offer to walk you to your car, and will put your purchases in the backseat, or trunk. You get to pick.
  7. Your children will realize you knew what you were talking about when your raised them. (Hopefully.)
  8. You’ll have more time to take about the good old days to anyone who’ll listen.
  9. The older you get, the better chance you’ll outlive your enemies.
  10. You have to retire your bikini.

Even with all the aforementioned perks, you have to realize that your body is falling apart, and you’re going to have mystery aches and pains. Old injuries will remind you of when you were young and active.

As for your memory. It may be slipping a bit, but that’s okay. There’s always lots of people younger than you with bad memories. It’s just part of “The Merry Game” as my grandfather use to tell me.

As It Stands, there’s no such thing as growing old gracefully. Grace has nothing to do with it.

 

 

A Private Conversation

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Have you ever accidentally snorted Kool aid?

I poured a package into my palm once and started licking it when, for reasons unknown, I inhaled deeply. Wow! What a rush! I didn’t see colors, like when I tried LSD years later, but there were lightning flashes popping behind my young eyeballs for a few moments.

I won’t attempt to count how many dumb things I’ve done in six decades. That’s not the purpose of this piece.

I’ll get right on track here, and take you down the line to enlightenment and sharing.

I talk to myself…a lot. You don’t have to reply. I’m just sharing a part of my life right now.

The thing is, I see nothing wrong with talking outloud, now and then, to stay focused on a subject. I admit I have to be careful or people will start looking at me. So I talk in a low voice. A compromise designed to keep me out of the looney bin.

Let’s skip the part where you think I’m crazy. You should know I’m not alone. Lot’s of people find some solace saying what’s on their minds out loud without directly talking to someone. To be sure, I’m not talking about constant conversations with yourself to the point where the real world is blocked out.

There’s a fine line, okay?

I can remember being in a position of extreme danger when I was only 16-years-old. I was alone and hanging on for dear life from the side of a mountain. Loose shale kept giving away causing me to slide a few inches. I sank my raw fingers into the dirt and slowed down enough to get ahold of a large Manzanita root. It held.

At that moment I didn’t pray (I wasn’t raised with religion), I started talking to myself. I asked myself if I was ready to die yet? The answer, of course, was no. I berated myself for getting into such a dangerous position, calling myself names like “moron” and “dummy.”

The one-sided conversation calmed me down, because after a while my heart rate slowed and I was breathing evenly. I don’t recall how long I hung there before attempting to climb back up the way I came.

The hot sun beat down on me, hardening the mixture of sweat and dirt caking my face and arms. Foot-by-foot, I worked my way upward, carefully seeking secure spots where bushes and roots protruded from the side of the mountain.

When I finally reached the top of the trail, I crawled a few feet and then sprawled out,  gasping for water. My whole body was shaking uncontrollably. I was so light-headed I couldn’t stand up for at least an hour. Time is a tricky thing when you look back in retrospect.

You may be wondering why I brought this incident up. It was my moment of enlightenment when I realized no one could help me but myself. I talked myself through a life-threatening experience.

Since then, I try to be discreet in public, and mumble when I’m carrying on a one-sided conversation. At home I can talk freely to myself, and get this; my wife understands!

As It Stands, this essay is all I have to say about that…right Dave?

Welcome to the 2320 Milky Way Olympics

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“Hello! I’m Stu Jones, and the guy sitting next to me is Jerry Rider, welcoming you to the 2320 Milky Way Olympics!”

Stu: “Well Jerry, is there one planet that stands out to you? A sure pick to dominate in these games?”

Jerry: “No. It’s too close between the big three; Earth, Mars, and Jupiter. These three planets continue to invest heavily in their athletes.”

Stu: Speaking of athletes, who are the top runners?”

Jerry: Earth is going with last year’s winner, Shaun Silverton. Mar’s has an exciting and upcoming runner in Vis Opti. Jupiter’s entry, Pah Zee, has improved his times since finishing 2nd overall in the 2316 Games. 

But I got to tell you Stu, the runner to watch for is Els Xeen from Saturn. He’s got the longest legs among all the contestants. He’s new to running, but is catching on fast. This is his first Olympic appearance.” 

The crowd in the enormous stadium suddenly broke out into cheers. Athletes from all the planets in the solar system solemnly walked out in colorful groups. When they had all taken up their place the crowd grew silent.

The Games Commissioner, Gart Vita from Mercury, welcomed everyone from her skybox above.

“Greetings! Peace! The Milky Way Board of Commissioners thanks you for attending and entering your greatest athletes in these time-honored Games.”

She waited patiently until the roars of applause died down.

“We must never forget that these Games bring us together as a solar system. The bonds we forge here aren’t forgotten as we communicate and trade with each other in peace. Our safety and futures depend upon the open flow of cultures and species.

Now, let the Games begin!”

Crowd roaring.

Jerry: As always, it’s good to be here.

Stu: I want to let our viewers know that there’s been a rule change in the Boxing category. Those contestants that have more than two arms, are now going to be handicapped with heavier gloves and small weights around their ankles/tentacles.

Other than that, everything remains the same.”

Jerry: Thanks Stu. I can’t wait to see the 500-pound Heavyweight Division. Is anyone every going to beat Mej Hei Mon from Neptune? 

Stu: I doubt it Jerry. I think you could drive your LX Space Cruiser right into him and he wouldn’t blink! You know what I’m looking forward to watching?”

Jerry: “That’s easy, Gymnastics. Any special reason why for these Games? You always do.”

Stu:I’ve got information from my sources that there’s going to be a credible threat to Mar’s 2316 winning gymnastics team. As you know they put on a masterful performance and experts are predicting they’ll do the same this time.

But..the Venusians have come up with several totally (from what I hear uninhibited) routines that are mesmerizing species across the solar system!”

As It Stands, Olympics, humor, and a path to peace. How much better can it get? 

 

The Space Hobos of Saturn

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Meeting Hall of the Intergalactic Space Hobos Fraternity

Saturn Chapter –   Special Session

“I’ll be straightforward with you,” said the president. “We look like a pack of amateurs!”

The membership stirred uneasily.

“Every Hobo Chapter planet in the Milky Way is racking up better numbers than us. Their Hobos catch three times as many free rides as we do daily. Mars, the leader, records six times as many illegal hops a day more than we do.”

A nervous buzz broke out among the membership. One member stood up on all three legs and asked if he could speak. The president nodded affirmatively and moved away from the podium.

“For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Rill-Tara, and I’m the librarian/accountant for our chapter. I’ve been following this disturbing trend for three years now, and I think I know how to turn it around.” 

Excited whispers. President Nor-Rav held up all three of his hands and called for silence. “Proceed brother.” 

“As we all know, for many years the earthlings had the best hobos in the universe. Then earth became embroiled in inter-planetary wars that sent mankind back to earth’s stone age.

Technology of all kinds was lost. The remaining humans were reduced to hunter gatherers who could no longer read or write. The trappings of their great civilization crumbled and rotted with time.

My interest of study started with the origin of Earth’s great hobos, and then branched out to the years they were dominate in the Milky Way.”

Someone in the crowd yawned.

“Okay! I get the message. I’ll keep it short. The first hobos emerged during the Great Depression. The most well-known hobo of the period was the King of Hobos, “Steam Train Maury.”

Generations of other hobos have been inspired by his exploits. The five-time holder of the title, set the standard for stealth and inventiveness. I couldn’t find much about him as I shambled through earths decaying libraries, but I did find a movie (that I converted into a hologram) about his life.

Earth movie director, Robert Aldrich, made the hobo opus titled, Emperor of the North. After watching this movie I was inspired and invigorated. It was about a brutal conductor of a train who had a personal vendetta against the best train-hopping hobo in the Northwest.

The hobo in the movie was called A-1, and he prevailed against the cruel conductor. I believe this movie can serve as a wake-up call to all of us!” 

President Nor-Rav thanked him and took the podium. “Let’s vote on this idea,” he said.

Two weeks later the Saturn Chapter of the Intergalactic Space Hobos Fraternity celebrated when they moved into third place.

As It Stands, I always thought Lee Marvin’s best performance was the character A-1, in Emperor of the North.

The Ghouls Night Out

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It was just after midnight when Cindy, Laura, and Tonya arrived at the trendy restaurant in Newcastle’s graveyard.

Blood and Bones offered the very latest in human cuisine and was a good place to be seen.

They were just good old country ghouls who enjoyed mingling with wealthy vampires and werewolves. When their waiter arrived, a zombie in a tuxedo, they ordered Hors d’oeuvres of boiled eyeballs and pickled ears.

The main dish they picked out was bar-b-que ribs, a chilled gut salad, and livers smothered in human fat.

“I still remember the old days,” Cindy said, while chewing on a pickled ear. “We had to hunt around for food and usually ended up with skimpy grave leftovers after the vampires and werewolves were done feasting.”

They toasted with a round of sparkling spinal fluid.

“To progress!” Tonya declared as she drank hers in one gulp.

Laura was delicately sipping hers when she saw a tall dark vampire who looked a lot like Elvis Presley. He was moving from one tombstone table to another casually greeting everyone.

Bela was the genius who came up with The Blood and Bone franchise that now spread throughout New England.

His black hair was swept back in a ducktail. His pale face made his red lips stand out like blood rubies. His black pupils were obsidian orbs that never blinked. The cape he wore over his fine black suit was lined with scarlet red satin.

Tonya saw Laura’s attention was elsewhere. Focused on Bele.

“Isn’t he a snappy dresser?” Tonya asked Laura.

Cindy whispered, “Here he comes,” and hurriedly swallowed the rest of the eyeball she was enjoying.

“I hope the food is acceptable Ladies.”

“Oh, yes…” they agreed in unison.

“You must be new. I don’t recall seeing you here before. I have an eye for pretty ghouls and would have noticed you.”

They were charmed. Finally, Laura spoke up;

“We’re from the hills about 10 miles from here. Not much happens up there, and we get bored. So, we like to have a ghoul’s night out once in a while, and go to a city. You’re right. This is our first time here.”

“How quaint,” Bele noted. “You should know there is a dress code here, and ragged blue jean shorts and low cropped blouses are not on the list.”

As It Stands, I’ve always enjoyed the classic monsters and this is a silly tribute to the genre.

 

How Little Tim Made A Bigfoot Run

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“Did you hear that?” six-year old Tim asked his four-year old brother Tony who was already beneath the blanket.

“Yessss…” Tony groaned.

“Someone’s outside our window. I saw a face.”

Tony’s low groan turned into a high-pitched whine of fear. He was afraid of things that went bump in the night. His active little imagination pictured a loathsome creature intent on eating him and his brother.

Tim pulled the blanket away and slithered down to the carpet. Moving cautiously, he crawled over to the window. Peeked through the lower part. Full moon. Lot’s of shadows. Something was out there.

He didn’t believe in the boogeyman. That was a four-year old’s fear. Nothing to it. But there were other things. Bad things. Bad men. Thieves.

He thought about the baby-sitter in the living room. She probably had her cell phone glued to her ear talking with her dumb boyfriend. He bet she didn’t hear anything. Someone would have to kick the front door down to get her attention, Tim grimly thought.

Just then he spotted a hulking figure picking apples off their tree in the backyard. Tim had sharp eyes. Everyone said that. Right now they were wide open trying to make out what the figure was.

A big man wearing a furry coat? Could be. It could also be something else. Something his dad once told him about living where they did in northern California. “It’s Bigfoot Country,” he told Tim ever since he could remember.

But Mom and Dad said Big Foot was just a legend that everyone liked to talk about in these parts. He was never sure. More than once he caught a couple of oldtimers sitting outside Lud’s General store talking in serious tones about a Big Foot sighting.

Was that the real thing eating their apples out there?

Suddenly he heard the back door open. Then to his utter amazement the babysitter, Lulu, walked right up to the hairy hulk who had stopped eating an apple and turned her way. Before Tim could gasp the hairy thing enveloped her in it’s shaggy arms!

Without thinking, Tim grabbed his baseball bat and ran out the back door. He heard funny noises as he came up on the thing that had Lulu. Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Mickey Mantle…all of them would have been proud of Tim the way he weilded that bat!

Screams. Lulu’s high-pitched screech tore the night in half and the Bigfoot made some wounded sounds then staggered off into the forest grunting in pain.

The next day when Tim and his family went to the local football game – his parents were volunteers – there was a short announcement about the school mascot not being able to perform tonight, but don’t worry, the doctor’s said he’ll recover in a week or so.

As It Stands, as the school mascot found out, life is full of surprises.

 

 

Man’s Best Friend Has A Secret…Maybe Two

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A very short story for animal lovers today:

When the front door locked and all the lights were turned off, except for the front window display, Seth, the German Shepard (who had the best view), barked once and said, “All’s clear!”

“Just in time too,” said Penelope the Poodle, “I was ready to tell that human to shut up already!”

“Easy with the tough talk missy,” Perry the Pug warned. “You’re supposed to be a sweet little doggie that someone would want to adopt.”

“Blow it out of your ear you stupid pug!” Penelope huffed.

“Both of you take a chilly bone. We don’t want to hear you two argue again all night,” Bob the Beagle interrupted. “Oh look! Larry got out again…” 

Just then Larry the Labrador Retriever came around the corner. He stopped in the middle of the aisle and greeted them all; “Told you. No stupid human can keep me locked up if I don’t want to be.” 

“Why you calling humans stupid Larry? Bob asked, with his  southern drawl. “They feed us, give us a place to live, play with us and if we’re lucky they love us.” 

“You know what I like about you Bob?” said Larry.

Bob smushed his snout into the cage door bars and asked, “What?”

“Your an optimist. You also come from a championship litter and humans like that. Take mutts. Mutts usually end up in dog pounds and shelters where their options are; get put down for the endless nap; live their entire life in a five-by-five cage; or someone MIGHT adopt them.”

“You can’t compare pedigree breeds with mutts. We’re bred to be superior, while mutts are usually an accident between two breeds,” Penelope proclaimed in her high (and highly irritating) snooty voice.

Well, we must be as stupid as humans if that’s the case,” Chico the Chihuahua chimed in.

“Why’s that?” Perry asked.

“This talk about one type of dog being better than another is racist. Just look at the humans. They’re divided up into groups who barely tolerate one another because they look different or have different beliefs,” Chico explained.

Horace, the Blood Hound puppy, had been listening intently to the conversation. He finally spoke up, “Hey guys! How come we don’t talk with humans?” 

A stunned silence.

“It’s to our advantage.” Seth said. “We always know what’s on their mind because they don’t think we understand them and speak freely in front of us. It’s way better than trying to read expressions.”

Horace seemed happy with the answer, and snuggled up with his two litter mates.

Larry then made his rounds seeing if any dogs needed anything – a midnight snack? No problem. The place was full of treats. Whenever Larry got adopted someday they’d all miss him.

It’s nearly time for the human to show up!” Larry warned as he headed back to his cage.

“At least I won’t have to listen to you talk anymore you ugly pug,” Penelope snidely whispered.

As Jean the shop owner unlocked the front door store she thought – just for a moment – that someone said, “Stick it up your ass bitch!”

As It Stands, when I was young I really believed animals could talk and I just wasn’t lucky enough to catch them conversing. It’s a fantasy I still have.