- I met Steve. And Steve died. Steve the rat, that is. This story is not intended to cast my workplace in a bad light, as the maintenance guys do a super job of fixing everything from door hinges to plumbing malfunctions. A rat showing up at work is merely indicative of our northwest-PA locale. Northwest PA has wildlife. Fact. So, there I was, sitting at the staff desk. My girls had a few hours left to sleep when I saw a movement in my peripheral vision. I told myself that I was seeing things because I was tired, but I looked to my left to assure myself this was the case. There sat an upright high-top Converse shoe, and another lying on its side. One of the girls must have forgotten to put them away. So that must be what I had seen, and I imagined they had moved. So I thought. No sooner had I looked back at my work on the desk, than something moved again. Roughly three inches from my left foot. It was about the size of my foot. Plus a tail. (The maintenance guy said later, "Oh, so it was just a baby! Maybe about six weeks old." Funny. Very funny.) I don't scream. Very easily, that is. Alright, I screamed. And shot back in the rolling chair and to my feet before I thought. Mercifully, that chair is on wheels because the results could have been dire otherwise. In psychology class I learned that reflexes originate in the spinal cord because you might die in the milliseconds it takes for neurons to transfer signals to the brain. I guess my body thought I was about to die, because I am positive that signal never reached cognition. Poor Steve shot away across the room so fast that I heard his toenails catching the carpet. I sat down very quietly, hoping he would venture out again because I had never seen a rat before. He must have been quite emotionally scarred, because it was a good hour before I heard rustling and crackling sounds under the baseboard heater across the room. I turned inaudibly and could see his little feet sticking down to the floor behind the heater guard. Soon he stuck his head out and popped out. Rats must have jointed ribs or other mobile parts that biologists have overlooked, because they can flatten themselves so much that pancakes would be jealous if they could. He was so big that the heater guard flattened his ears when he poked his head out, which he did slowly enough that his perfectly round ears boinged up together and silhouetted themselves against the white heater. (I admit that I moved just enough to make him pull his head back in the first time so that I could watch his round ears boing up again.) Then he ran around for a little while I watched him, rather entranced. I think I might like a rat for a pet, but rats should not be permitted to run about living rooms whenever they please. Then I had a crazy thought: what would happen if I had my dad's 2/70 and shot the rat from across the room (a 2/70 is a deer rifle, if that gives you any clue about the absurd things I think and find hilarity to increase with absurdity)? Would there be any wall left? Would I be fired? (Bad pun. Groan here, if you please.) [Epilogue: I did not kill Steve. The maintenance guys did. I also didn't find out that his name was Steve until after it was too late to greet him politely by name. Two days later, my co-worker asked me, "So, have you seen Steve lately?"]
- My geography professor in formed us that Brazil dumps excess coffee into the ocean to stabilize the global coffee prices, not to keep the fish awake.
- The co-worker that named Steve (the rat) looks exactly like The Edge did twenty-five years ago. I asked him if he's ever heard that he looks like The Edge, and he replied, "What kind of name is that?" Of course, I felt obligated to educate him and he said that the only reason he would get an education is so that he can be called "doctor". "Or captain," he said. "Actually, I think I want to be called 'captain' more than I want to be called 'doctor'." Captain? As in a boat captain? "Yeah," he said, "the only problem is that I get seasick. So I'll be far inland and my crew will call me and say, 'Captain? Where are we supposed to go?' And I will say, 'I have no clue where you are. But can you call me 'Captain' again?'"
- Bekah called me and said, "Hannah and I are bored. May we make an apple crisp and bring it to you?" If you need an example of a rhetorical question, please reread the previous sentence. See, last year, Bekah, Amanda, and I all lived together. And, as the weather got colder and the leaves ignited with color, we all started making our favorite fall foods with regularity. Manda made the most bestest caramel corn ever, I made lentils in every form imaginable (and convinced the unnamed skeptics among us that lentils taste as good as they are healthy... I felt so accomplished), and Bekah made killer apple crisps. So Bekah had the phenomenal, wonderful idea that she should continue tradition and make an apple crisp for me this year. I was so excited that I cleaned my house in an hour. And lit pumpkin spice and vanilla candles, listened to music, and felt all festive. Then Bekah called me and said that she had another idea, as the hour was getting a little late for school teachers like her and she has an hour drive to my house. What if we met roughly halfway, in Conneaut Lake? Awesome and random. So we met in the parking lot down by the lights over the docks and the dark water and I jumped into their car armed with a spoon. Apple crisp was consumed and terrible jokes were told and we only stopped laughing to talk and take bites. Well, I took bites. Bekah and Hannah decided en route that they weren't hungry. That anti-climax only added to the randomness of the venture, and some anti-climaxes are quite delicious for some of us.
- One of my girls was still awake when I arrived at work. She was understandably upset because her home visit had been cancelled at the last minute. We talked for about forty minutes and finally were able to laugh in spite of it all. "Life, huh?" I said wryly. She replied, "It's like a freeway." When I managed to stop laughing (the type of laughter that comes after a rather honest, emotional, and "wish-I-could-freeze-the-moment" type of talk), I asked her how in the world life is like a freeway. Her reply? "Everyone is flying along, all together, but in their own cars. And some people are really bad drivers and you have to keep swerving to avoid getting hit by them and you end up on the rumble strips for a little. But you have to keep focused on where you want to be and how to get there." Amazing. She's 15. And that funny and wise.
Sunday, October 16, 2011
last week's happenings
Some funny things happened last week. At least, I thought they were funny. You might not agree, and I am quite fine with that because people groan at my jokes just as often as they laugh. I'm fine with that, too. Because I think the groaners are almost the best. But, back to the happenings. Here are a few of them: