Monday Memories: View from Mockingbird Lane

Courtesy of Pinterest.

I have been living with my aunt and uncle for a few years on Mockingbird Lane.  While I love my family a great deal, I must admit my life has been much too challenging at times.

I always feel frustrated at being the “plain” person in the family.  I pretty much look like anyone who walks by our house, but I am sure people talk behind my back when they see the rest of my peculiar family.

Uncle Herman once greeted one of my dates at the door.  When I came downstairs to meet him, he had rudely disappeared.  I guess he felt overcome with fright upon seeing my uncle who stands over seven feet tall.

Aunt Lily, who is a devoted wife, enjoys preparing pancakes every morning, but I seldom have an opportunity to eat many of them.  My uncle gobbles them down faster than she can cook them. 

Grandpa is a gentle soul who enjoys telling stories about the good old days in Europe.  I think my ears have heard every story at least three times over from this “past his prime” storyteller.

Cousin Eddie is quite a bit younger than I am.  He is still in elementary school, but he misses a whole lot of school because he sleeps in each morning after a full moon.  He wakes up at midnight, and he isn’t sure if he wants to howl at the moon or go in search of some red, bloody meat in the refrigerator. 

As you can see, I don’t quite fit in with this family.  I almost always have to walk to school by myself because all of my classmates walk on the other side of the street.  One morning, they fled when they saw my uncle catch a ride to work in the company car (a hearse).  He crawled in through the back door and lied down in the back.

I appreciate you listening.  Please stay for a bit longer as I have several more grievances to discuss. 

Uncle Herman has a steady job with Gateman, Goodbury and Graves where he works as a grave digger.  Being big and strong, his employer appreciates his excavation skills.  But for a mature man, he still melts down with childish temper tantrums when he doesn’t get his way.  Good grief!

Aunt Lily and Grandpa stay in touch with relatives who still live in Europe.  I sometimes dream of traveling there until I realize that they both have ancestors back in Transylvania.  Yes, you got it!  They are both vampires.

Eddie is a creepy juvenile delinquent, and his appearance scares everyone away.  Who would want to play with a boy who is half vampire and half werewolf?  I rest my case.

My naive uncle took me trick-or-treating a few times when I was younger.  People loved his costume, but they became fearful when he would want to shake someone’s hand.  They would freak out upon seeing all of the “real” hair on the back of his enormous hands.

Oh, I almost forgot.  My uncle traces his family tree to Germany, and he is a close associate of Dr. Frankenstein.

So if you see me walking along the street in the neighborhood, please don’t run away.  I would love to find a few new friends.  All of my old ones are too scared to come around anymore. 

Marilyn Munster

“The Munsters” was an American sitcom back in the mid-1960s.  Even though the show only aired 70 episodes, it gathered quite a following when the show went into syndication.  By the way, Marilyn Munster did look like any normal, young woman with her blonde hair and modern dress.  

The cast of “The Munsters”: Fred Gwynne, Yvonne De Carlo, Al Lewis, Butch Patrick, and Pat Priest. (courtesy of Pinterest)

 

Originally published October, 2020.

Back in School

Courtesy of Pinterest

Being retired, my days are usually filled with plenty of leisure time.  But even the best laid-out plans can suffer from a surprise.

Arriving in the afternoon mail is a registered letter from the local school district.  Hmm, I wonder what they want with me.

In examining the letter, my usual fun-loving outlook fades while reading each sentence.  My school transcript shows that I didn’t complete Kindergarten. 

My goodness!  I’m 66 years old and a grandfather.  What gives here?

I’ve been instructed to show up on the first day of school at Central Heights Elementary School (my alma mater). 

The following Monday, I am in the classroom . . . not exactly eager to be here.  I look around the room at the tiny tables and even smaller chairs.  How am I going to be able to sit in these?

Suddenly, I spy a much bigger chair in front of a colorful rug on the floor.  I sit down while the rest of the class comes rumbling in from the playground.  Their voices raise the roof with all of their morning energy.  I guess that they’ve been fed with extra sugar, oh my!

The teacher, Mrs. Meissner, makes her dramatic entrance.  A piercing whistle quiets down the class.  I am already feeling a migraine headache approaching.

Mrs. Meissner walks over and motions me to sit in a much smaller chair.  Are you kidding? 

Later in the morning, she directs the class to sit on the colorful rug.  Everyone sits “Indian” style with both legs crossed.  I am somehow able to sit in this yoga position, but I can feel my muscles already cramping up.

As she sits in the adult-sized chair, she reads a story to the class about what Kindergarten will be like.  As she reads, she inserts each student’s name into the plot.  I keep listening for my name, but the story ends without a single mention of yours truly. 

As the day continues, we (the students and I) practice how to walk in straight lines to the restroom and the cafeteria.  We also are reminded to keep our hands to ourselves and to speak with soft voices.

The school bell rings at dismissal time.  The youngsters eagerly and safely board their busses for their ride home. 

I stand at the curb and wait for my granddaughter to pick me up.  My car is being serviced at the garage as it needs a 100,000 mile checkup. 

After just one day of Kindergarten, I feel like my body needs an immediate check.  Rubbing my aching lower back, I am thinking of scheduling a chiropractic exam as soon as possible. 

I finally reach home, and there is another registered letter waiting for me.  Tearing the envelope open, I find that the school board has ruled on my appeal.  I am no longer required to attend Kindergarten.  Hooray, no more back to school for me!

Inside the envelope is an application for employment with the school district.  They are looking for additional staff since there is shortage of Kindergarten teachers for this school year.

 

Roald Dahl Quotes

Photo by Melvin Matute on Pexels.com

And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.

A little nonsense now and then, is cherished by the wisest man.

Roald Dahl (1916-1990) was a British author, poet, and screenwriter.  He was a prolific storyteller and writer of children’s books.

Lesson in Patience

Photo by Tatiana Syrikova on Pexels.com

Fred and Wilma return home with a purchase from the Bedrock Mall, and their daughter, Pebbles, is so excited to have her Daddy set up her brand new Kiddie Kamp tent.

With both Wilma and Pebbles’ encouragement, Fred is more than willing to take a few minutes to pitch the tent.  As Fred unpacks the materials from the box, he looks at the directions and pitches them aside. 

After all, Fred is set to be the next foreman at Slate Rock and Gravel Company, where he has worked for several years as a bronto crane operator.  He certainly won’t need to follow any directions.

Pebbles watches her Daddy as he begins to pitch her new tent.  She is excited to show it to her next door friend, Bamm-Bamm.

Bamm-Bamm’s Mom, Betty, is on the phone with Wilma.  Wilma tells her, “Pebbles is really looking forward to playing in her new tent.  Fred should have it up quickly.”

Patiently watching from a few feet away, Pebbles smiles as her Daddy finishes up.  Fred tells himself, “Another piece of cake for the next foreman at Slate Rock and Gravel.”  Pebbles claps to show how happy she is.

Meanwhile, Betty has finished her phone conversation with Wilma.  She remarks to her husband, Barney, “Perhaps you should go over and see if Fred needs any help with pitching this tent.”

Fred steadies the tent.  Because of the summer heat, heavy sweat is running down his face.  His patience is wearing thin.  Suddenly, the tent collapses and falls into a disheveled pile of canvas and sticks.

Barney takes a glance out of his backdoor to witness something he has never seen before.  He steps back in and tells Betty, “Too late!  Fred has already pitched the tent.”

Poor Pebbles!  Her brand new tent is piled up by the trash.

Writin’ and Wonderin’

Photo by Anton Klyuchnikov on Pexels.com

Writin’ these silly words

Beginnin’ to brew smiles

Fillin’ summer’s catchwords

Drivin’ another mile

 

Farmin’ at Green Acres

Dreamin’ of somethin’ new

Watchin’ for rainmakers

Joinin’ this harvest crew

 

Drinkin’ up coffee’s vibes

Entertainin’ new thoughts

Takin’ what life prescribes

Tyin’ self up in knots

 

Washin’ up them dishes

Knowin’ life ain’t so great

Fishin’ for new wishes

Singin’ with cool George Strait

 

Thankin’ all for stayin’

Readin’ poetic rhyme

Goin’ without sayin’

Wonderin’ ‘bout next time

 

Photo by EYu00dcP BELEN on Pexels.com

Hey Neighbor!

Photo by Gustavo Fring on Pexels.com

Fred’s backyard shed is filled with his treasures.  When he is busy tinkering and grooming his immaculate yard, he is often seen heading to his shed to find another tool or implement of some kind.  Because he works from sunup to sundown every weekend, he is known around the neighborhood as “Farmer Fred.”

His next door neighbor, Milt, is a sociable and friendly sort of guy.  However, he has one irritating flaw.  He doesn’t own too many tools and such to help with his own yard work.  And of course, he feels a need to keep up with Fred’s pristine garden oasis.

Every day or so, Milt walks over to Fred’s backyard.  With a smile and a familiar voice, he calls out, “Hey neighbor!” 

He asks Fred if he can borrow one of his precious tools from the shed.  Fred always gives Milt the “okay” and watches him take it back to his place.

Over the next several days, Milt borrows a nearly endless list of Fred’s treasures . . . shovel, rake, wheelbarrow, trimmer, and even his brand new lawnmower.

On Saturday morning, Fred walks out to his nearly empty shed.  He thinks to himself, “Yes sir!  Milt has just about taken every piece of my valuable equipment and more to his place.”

With a scowl hidden by his ever-present smile, Fred swiftly marches over to Milt’s yard. 

“Hey neighbor!”

Final Showdown

Photo by Kristu00f3f Sass-Kovan on Pexels.com

After a couple of hours of card playing, the final stakes come down to this rivalry between two players.  Their card-playing skills have outlasted the rest of the field.

The final hand is ready to go with cards now being shuffled and dealt.  The room’s atmosphere deals out its own stillness, filled with the sharpened concentration of these two savvy card sharks.

The old man’s mind strains to stay focused, and his eyes fill with intensity.  The master has traveled down this path many times in the past.  His experience is sure to overcome his younger opponent.

The young, upstart challenges for the master’s crown.  His fearless, confident approach attempts to break through.  Will his skills and luck be enough?

Looking over their cards again and again, both competitors try to gain one last advantage before this final, dramatic hand plays out.

The room’s activity grows quiet.  The small gallery of onlookers silently waits for the night’s final outcome.

The young man understands that the next play will determine the winner.  Victory is within his reach.

Grandpa boldly asks, “Got any four’s?”

His determined grandson replies back with a smile, “Go fish!”

Time to Laugh (Haiku Series #184)

Disconnecting

Driving hidden roads

How did we ever get lost?

GPS offline

Photo by Dziana Hasanbekava on Pexels.com

Overwhelming

Back to the office

In-basket overflowing—

Is it Friday yet?

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Lacking

Boss tells teenager

Need to use more elbow grease—

What on earth is that?

Courtesy of Pinterest.

Monday Memories: Coffee by the Cup

Originally published in February, 2020, this humorous short story features the wills of a serious coffee drinker and a determined server, who wants to have the last word. 

assorted variety of foods on plates on dining table

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

Wednesday morning broadcasts the arrival of another breakfast meeting for Billy and his other retired friends.  Once a week, he meets his five best buds for hot coffee, delicious food, and welcome conversation at Bob’s Diner.

He always wears his favorite plaid, flannel shirt (perhaps you recall Al Borland from “Tool Time”).  His faded, tractor green “John Deere” cap covers his nearly bald head, but his smile always catches his favorite server’s attention.

Flo has been working for the diner ever since Mel’s Diner closed (you might remember Mel and Alice—they became quite an item).  She holds her own with humor and a smile, always managing to take care of Billy and his pals every Wednesday morning.

As Flo is scurrying around the diner with her always full coffee pot, she sets it down near Billy’s table as she takes another order.  Billy appropriates the full pot of freshly brewed refills for his own private use, and sets it right next to his nearly empty cup.  He tells Flo, “Thanks my dear.  Now you won’t need to worry about refilling my cup.”

Billy remarks to his friends, “Ain’t life great!”

Billy enjoys his coffee, probably too much.  The manager takes a look and shakes his head . . . as his profits shrink with every coffee pot Billy drinks.  He motions Flo to come over for a moment, and they share a quick word.

Flo formulates a plan to take care of Billy’s endless and bottomless coffee drinking.

By the end of the breakfast meeting, the gray-haired trio times two has solved just about all of the world’s problems for another week.  Billy has nearly eaten a whole hog as he has devoured crispy bacon, honey-baked ham, and perfectly browned sausage links, along with the usual fixings of hash browns, eggs, and pancakes.  It’s time for the check please.

Billy surveys his bill, and his smile stretches to a frown.  Reading on, he sees that he has been charged for a whole pot of coffee.  He thinks to himself, “What’s this?”

Billy’s check has a special note at the bottom, “Cheaper to drink coffee by the cup instead of by the pot!”

red and white coffee set

Photo by Marcelo Chagas on Pexels.com

Monday Memories: Vacation Paradise

Written and published in June, 2019, this short story is an early attempt with humorous, flash fiction.

field of trees near body of water

Photo by R. Fera on Pexels.com

Pete has been planning a well-deserved, solitary fishing trip for months.  His actual plans have remained a secret—especially from his nauseating cousin, Wilbur.

Wilbur always meddles in Pete’s affairs.  So much so, he even frightened away the love of Pete’s life.

Pete is ready to make his “secret” trip for some rest and relaxation.  He anticipates fantastic weather, superb fishing, and time all to himself.  Paradise awaits!

As Pete enters the lobby of the sleepy, little motel in a tiny, isolated town, he agonizingly hears, “Good Buddy!  How ya doin’ cousin Pete?”

Vacation paradise . . . Never!