Thursday, November 27, 2008

"Dear Jeebus and Pilgrims Who Are Dead: I Am Thankful For Teaching That Is Never Dull"

A follow-up to my previous post.

After a few days of putting out feelers, I managed to hook up Mindy with an office on campus that helps with things like food and cars and telephones. Now, dauntless, even in the face of an STD, Mindy continues to spread her witless charm throughout the Land of Freshman Composition.

Mindy Moment #2:

After class last week, she began chatting up a classmate that she knows vaguely, someone more interesting than most:

Her: Are your parents tall, like you?

Him: No, not really. I'm trying to remember--I was always small and scrawny, but then we moved somewhere, and I shot up. It was traumatic. Hmmm. Where did we move? I think we moved to Indonesia, and then I was starting a new school--

Her: Wait? What do you mean, like, Indonesia? I've heard of that continent! Why would you move there?

Him: Just my parents' work. It was just their jobs.

Her: What is their job?

Him: My dad's a diplomat, but it's not a big deal; it's just his job.

Her: WAIT. A diplomat? So you're all rich?

Him: No, not rich. My dad just works. He has a job, and part of it is that we moved around.

Her: OH. MY. GOD. He's a diplomat? That's, you mean, like, he's the duke to the king?

Him: (incredulous silence) (then a beat) (more incredulous silence) I, bwah...derflup...huh?

Me: (stepping in for the save; reaching out and patting Mindy's shoulder affectionately) Yes, Mindy. That's right. His dad is the duke to the king...of the United States of America. The duke to our king. It really is a great honor. Maybe one day, you can work for the king, too, holding his mirror or combing out his wigs. Reach for the stars, Peanut.

Monday, November 24, 2008

"Can I Talk to You After Class?"

In the middle of a rousing class session, during which I assigned the persuasive essay and outlawed the topic of abortion (never a good subject for a two-page paper written by untried students who still live at home), a 19-year-old student named Mindy came up and asked me if we could have a private moment after class. Denying my impulse to shout "NOOOO, for you see I have a date with 8 ounces of raspberry yogurt up in my office at roughly 12:04 p.m.," I assured her my every breath would be applied to realizing that future meeting.

Twenty minutes later, when the room had cleared, she came bopping up.

"What I have to tell you is...well, this is hard to say to you because you're, like, who you are, but, um...I think I have herpes."

Since I don't, and I'm only her English teacher and therefore--shout out to the Marquis de Sade, Oscar Wilde, Anais Nin, Henry Miller, and Erica Jong--am only vaguely equipped to diagnose STD's, I wasn't exactly clear as to why Mindy had stayed after class to provide me with this information. Was I to hug? Apply cream? Create an Excel spreadsheet tracking her outbreaks?

The subsequent conversation unfolded thusly:

Me, after some mulling: And, so, is that why you didn't have your rough draft today?

Her, dodging the question in a rush of "logic": I went to the doc last week to have her look at it, but when I got to the clinic, no one was there. I only have an OBGYN now that my other doctor died--did you hear about that? It was in the paper. So I can only see my OB, and if she's not there, I'm done. So anyhow, I have no phone, no computer, and the fuel pump went out in my car, so I can't drive to school right now. Sure, I can catch rides with my boyfriend, but that's actually keeping me from dumping him, and he was on a one-month plan with me, and then he was going to be out. Now he's trying to find me a new fuel pump, but last time he got me a car repair, he hired a crackhead who was so high he didn't put in any calliper screws, and the car was even worse after he fixed it, and I eventually had to push it into a different place and pay, like, three times as much, and now my boyfriend has found me a $20 fuel pump, which I bet is made out of Mt. Dew cans and Skoal. Did I tell you I'm afraid my three-year-old is going to get kicked out of daycare right now because I can't pay--is it too late to apply for a state daycare grant thing for next semester?--so my baby's daddy's grandma is watching my daughter today, but the kid is all gross and dirty when she gets picked up from Nana's house, and so do you ever offer extra credit in this class?

Me, squaring shoulders and unfloobernoodling my brain: I, so, well, um, what? Oh, yes. I can see how herpes makes it hard to get daycare. So, hey, you're very good natured in the face of all these stresses. I'm sorry I'm laughing, by the way, but you're making this all kind of funny. There's something kind of charmingly carefree about you, as you relate your woes.

Her: Ah, f***, I was raised like this. We never had any money or anything, especially after my dad left, so everything's always a fight. Hey, I want to learn Spanish. Will they teach it here next term? I have a good Cuban friend and a good Puerto Rican friend--I met them when I lived at the YWCA in the Young Mothers' Program--and I learned some good cuss words from them in Spanish, but I want to learn more. I actually know quite a bit from Dora and Diego. My daughter learned to count to twelve from those shows, and now I've taught her to count to thirty in Spanish. So can I take it here? Next term?

Me: Yes, it's offered pretty much every...

Her: I actually want to learn Spanish because I want to go to San Juan, you know, like in Puerto Rico, and get my butt done.

Me: (incredulous silence)

Her: You know, they take the fat from your stomach and inject it in your butt so that it looks all perfectly round. I looked it up on the Internet. It costs $3,000. I mean, I want to have one more baby one day, and it makes sense to wait to do the butt job until I'm done having kids, so I have time to learn Spanish while I'm waiting, right?

Me, further unflagemallatinging my brain: Well, I guess it's all about priorities. Learning Spanish is a good idea, no matter your motivation. But how about dealing with what's on your plate right now? When can you go back in to deal with the herpes? I think we have some programs on campus that offer emergency assistance to students in need; would you like me to contact some people and see if we can find you the money to get your car fixed, so you can get to the doc more easily?

Her: Huh? Yea, that'd be okay, or whatever. I just wanted to know if I can do some extra credit.

Me: Oh? Oh. I got all distracted. You know your life is quite the soap opera.

Her: I know. I only ever watched one soap opera, and they cancelled it.

Me: Well, now. It seems you just can't win this month, doesn't it? Here's the deal: I don't offer extra credit, as that smacks of high school to me. College is more about doing the work to your best ability in a consistent fashion. Plus, as I look at your grade here, I see you have--against all odds--a B. That's great, so stop worrying. Just get your paper written by Wednesday. Do you have a topic for it yet? Remember, I always urge you to find a topic that you have experience with and that relates to your own interests and life so that you can draw your examples from what you've actually lived.

Her: Yea, I've got a topic, and it's a good one: alcoholism.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


School pictures came home last week, toted in backpacks jumbled with Boxcar Children books, broken pencils, water bottles, and gym shoes. The kids are proud and excited about the photos; usually, I fake an interest on their behalf.

However, I find I'm turning a corner, when it comes to my attitude about these highly-contrived photos that jam a kid onto a stool in front of a magnification of Stephen Hawking's brain.

Thus far, I've balked at school pix--and not just because, in my high school senior photos, the shoot's stylist made me lean on a wagon wheel and clasp my hands under my chin coyly. No, my issues go beyond Conestoga trauma. Here's what rubs me:

Some company comes in, holds my kid hostage for a few minutes, using a photographer that calls every kid "Patty" in an effort to get him/her to smile naturally, and then the whole outfit tries to charge me, the parent, large American dollars to buy back my own uncomfortable-looking children in packaged form so that I then have something to share with the relatives come holiday time. Couldn't I do this type of thing every year on my own, at the J.C. Penney's, if it mattered to me? And don't I, quite willfully, resist doing that, too, because it's all just so fake and weird and hell if I don't prefer a candid shot I've taken myself for free? And couldn't I just give the relatives new socks, if they require a holiday thought? Or perhaps a free weekend--or week, or month--with the kids, if they need to see them so damn much?

Clearly, school pictures make me swearish, and I think we all know I'm generally quite refined.

But this year? I've been surprised; I'm appreciating adding their photos to the progression of years. I like seeing them grow up through the school's eyes. Crunk it, but I think I prefer my kids wallet-sized.

Hence, suddenly I am all about embracing the school photos, even though they give me paper cuts when I hug them too tightly.

Plus, the photos prove that my kids exist when I'm not around, and I've never been completely certain on that point before.


You know why I don't blog about this one as much as the other one? Because she shows up, shuts up, and does the job, all with a sprinkling of freckles. Oh, and if you ever need a kickass speller, call 1-800-GIRL.

Certainly, when she's overtired and has had a big day of Scholastic Book Fair + Parent/Teacher Conferences + Swimming Lessons, the sum of these parts is just as likely to be her lying on the floor of her bedroom, screaming in high dudgeon, a toothbrush dangling out of her mouth, kicking her heels repeatedly in an impressive fit as it is to be her spelling "temperamental" correctly.

But then she recovers and helps her little brother with the snap on his pants.

If you've ever wondered what it looks like when a Finnish/Norwegian-American gets his monkey on, this is your day.

Note the pebble-creature necklace, which I was given when I turned 12.

I think I wore it in my school picture that year...the necklace, a new bra, a cowl-neck sweater, and a smile manufactured just for the photographer when he called me "Patty."

Monday, November 17, 2008

"Twenty-Three Years and Thirteen Days"

In terms of female friendships, I have sixty-eleventeen inspirations but only three true Women of My Life. One of these three I met in 1985, in a dorm lounge, where she was being way too cute and cynical and cutting for her own good. Intimidated, I decided I didn't like her.

She kept being cute and cynical and cutting, however, and at some point, I realized I loved her. Eventually, I went with her to Ireland for a semester; I listened with her to The Pretenders; I cried with her under a sink; I stood up with her at her wedding; I learned new dimensions of pain and guilt from her during her divorce. Twenty-three years later, she can make me blow open a kidney with laughter and provide the comforting feeling that someone in the world knows everything about me and still doesn't make a citizen's arrest. She and I? Lifers.

This dearling gel, called Colleen, has spent the last few decades shedding her armour of cynicism and allowing kindness and vulnerability their rightful place.

She is so cool.

Who better, then, to relate a pivotal moment for the U.S., the moment when millions of citizens felt--hokey as it sounds--a renewed sense of possibility?

I refer, of course, to the recent presidential election. Colleen lives in Chicago with her beau, Tim, and threw her energy on election day towards hope. Of that historical day, in an historical place, she writes:

I spent the afternoon of Nov. 4 curled up next to the elevator on the floor of the tiny lobby of a nondescript downtown Chicago office building, peering at a list of Pennsylvania voters, clutching my iPhone in one hand and plugging my ear with the other to block out the cheery voices of a dozen others who'd fled the steamy warren of basement offices crammed full of Obama campaign staff and eager volunteers. I left lots of cheery voice mails reminding people to vote. A few of the people who picked up the phone were curt; two hung up on me as soon as I said "I'm a volunteer with the Obama campaign" (which I found thrilling to say), but most were delighted to tell me that they'd voted for Obama.

Making calls did what I hoped it would: distracted me from my anxious, audibly-whamming heart, and made me feel like I'd done some little thing besides sending money to fight the good fight. I hopped the El to Tim's office at 5:00. We sat at his desk eating takeout sushi and obsessively refreshing news Web sites until we joined the river of people heading to Grant Park around 7:15.

It's impossible to be a misanthrope in the midst of an enormous, good-natured crowd. Nobody shoved, nobody was drunk or obnoxious, nobody bitched about the long lines for the metal detectors, everybody joshed good-naturedly with the cops, everybody was smiling and laughing. As the field slowly filled, people were glued to the Jumbotron screen showing CNN. (Seriously, Bill Bennett, shut your giant head the fuck up. Best comment of the night, from an incredulous James Carville: "After the last eight years, I hardly think y'all have any authority to tell Barack Obama how to govern.") Roars went up every time CNN projected a state for Obama. Boos for each state called for McCain. Roars whenever the screen showed the live feed from the park. That's us! Wave! Woooooooo hooooooo! We're in the middle of history! When the California polls closed and CNN declared Obama the winner, people screamed, cried, hugged strangers. I felt a funny mixture of giddiness and gravity: We did it. Take that, haters. I can finally let go of eight years' worth of anger & embarrassment over what's been done to my country. Oh, god, there is so much to heal and to fix.

The crowd was surprisingly quiet during McCain's concession speech, booing only when the camera shifted to Sarah Palin. We waited another hour for Obama to come onstage, turning to one another every few minutes and saying incredulous things: Holy shit, this is real. I can't believe I'm here for this. Oh my god. Yes, we can.

I said the Pledge of Allegiance and really meant it.

When Obama and his family appeared at 11:00, a quarter of a million people whooped and cheered and hallelujah'd. I'll never hear anything like it again as long as I live. I teared up at the sight of him and his young family, beautiful and smiling and willing to take on this tremendous task for us. When he began to speak, I started to flat-out weep, big gasping sobs of joy and pride and relief (and a little bit of fear for him, too). Yes, we can, everybody chanted along with him. Yes. We. Can.

Here's a picture for you. Tim is dead center in the "frame" formed by the two flags; Colleen is to his left, leaning on him.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


A pot of water boiled on the burner behind my husband, as he leaned against the stove, pulling my face into his sweatshirt. This story does not end with seared human flesh, so relax, gentle reader.

He hugged me to him for a long time, hard.

Finally, I managed to choke out, through thick tonsils, "I really love the hug. But I'm having trouble breathing even when my air passages aren't obstructed by a hoodie. Let me come up for a gasp."

I reared back, gulped in some oxygen, and nuzzled back in for the hug.

After a minute, he took my hands off the sweatshirt covering his back and tucked them underneath, so they touched his skin.

"That's never bad," Groom pointed out.

"Brave man. You're not very discerning about who touches your unclothed bits. You have no idea where these hands have been. But I like your skin."

We were quiet for a minute. The water burbled behind us.

"I'm really sorry you've felt so pooky for so long this week," he said into my greasy hair.

"I'm really sorry I haven't showered for two days," I responded. "And thanks. This tonsil stuff has been suck slathered onto a crud cracker."

"I'd do anything to help you feel better," he said, hugging me tighter, cutting off any hope of breaf to my body.

Breaking away for a few more gasps of air, I pointed out, "You let me watch America's Test Kitchen and brought me omelets and espresso milkshakes in bed. You made me feel twelve kinds of better."

"Well," he noted, "I like you."

"I like me, too."

Then he turned to the pot of water and poured in the macaroni that he would bring to me, minutes later, after I'd crawled back into the bed. While I ate the noodles, wincing with every swallow, he joined me under the covers and stroked my calf with his foot.

Nine years ago today, my husband literally was The Groom. I was the other one. As we stood up in front of 120 friends and family, it was unseasonably warm. That Santana song featuring Rob Whatzhisfutz was the #1 song in the U.S.. I cried a lot during the ceremony, and not just because that Santana song featuring Rob Whatzhisfutz was the #1 song in the U.S..

I'd never actually dreamed of being a bride. However, I had dreamed of finding a One True Love.

It's simple to feel that I've found such a thing when we're both in perfect health; it's unquestionable that I've found it when one of us is suffering an illness.

I am constantly awestruck that I have something to believe in.

I was a bride married to amazement
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms

--Mary Oliver

These banners, painted by my mother-in-law, were the backdrop to our vows.

Monday, November 10, 2008

"Decapitating the Child"

For almost nine years, Groom has been our stay-at-home parent (I married him because he was the closest thing to a woman I could find in a man's body). He is an example of walking Zen, so his temperament has been perfectly suited to taking the kids to storytime at the library, playing soccer in the yard, building a pirate ship out of cardboard boxes, making Mommy a latte, and cooking up spicy pork bits for dinner. It's been a good ride.

But now Girl is in third grade, and Niblet is in half-day kindergarten, and Groom is thinking about what he wants to be when he grows up. Certainly, he's held some part-time jobs (newspaper boy, coffee shop barista, cross-country running coach, adjunct anthropology and world geography instructor) during our marriage. And before I yanked him away from it, he was working as a naturalist at an environmental learning center. In sum, he can throw paper, grind beans, run 50K, lecture on the Yanomamo, and teach Voyageur canoeing to a group of 4th graders.

Looking at his resume, then, it would seem he can do anything but may be qualified for nothing.

To get past that little issue, Groomeo is, this semester, taking advantage of one of my job perks: free credits at the college where I teach. While he's already got a degree from one of them spendy private liberal arts institutions, he's now experiencing the rich and diverse pageant of humanity known as the community college classroom as he takes ceramics, drawing, and 2-D digital design courses this semester, with an aim, ultimately, to earning a second degree in graphic design or art education. While he's heard my stories for years about how agonizing it can be to teach students how to be college students while they're in college, the reality of being in courses where he's the only person to turn in an assignment when it's due has been occasionally startling. Equally startling for me has been the inside glimpse I'm getting into my colleagues as they instruct my husband. Since Groom and I have different last names (he's "Smothers" and I'm "Brothers"), the instructors of his classes don't know that they're teaching my husband.

Even better is the fact that one of his courses is taught online (the 2-D digital design), so I can read the teaching and look right at the class.

It's kind of, um,


While I think most of my colleagues are crazy-ass talented rock stars, not everyone is turning in a performance worthy of Ozzy biting the head off a bat. In fact, I'm discovering that sometimes students do terrible work or no work at all, and still they get big points. And sometimes instructors send out messages to their classes that are so undecipherable and riddled with errors that I have to read it out loud seven times before throwing up my hands and saying, "I have no idea what she's trying to tell you. I don't think she's ever written a sentence before."


But since I'm merely a fascinated onlooker, I can only read and blush and apologize and try to urge Groom to set the standard, and maybe everyone in the class, from the other students--to the teacher herself--will realize that the work can be better.

In the 2-D design class, the students are asked to post their assignments to a class blog, so everyone can view the image that's been created, along with an explanation of what the student is trying to achieve and how he/she went about making the final image. Here are a few copy and pastes from Groom's classmates, as they elucidate the subtleties of their pieces, on that blog:

"For my abstraction, i chose pieces of fruit. I tried to get a real close up image so you weren’t exactly able to see what it was. I wish it flowed more than it does because I don’t think the art work is very balanced."

"I think the pictures here speak for themselves. I did not use any computer programs to maniulate the images because the images are cool on their own."

"I used mostly images and shapes that appeal to me and tell who I am. Sorry It’s so small but I had to resize it that small to get it to fit."

Clearly, these students have taken chisels and pounded little holes into their hearts which allow love and passion and emotion to flow out of their chests and into their art. On top of all that, their critical thinking is staggering.

When I see the larger context of the entire class's explanations, I find myself appreciating, on behalf of the, em, challenged instructor, that she gets to have Groom in her class. He's generally a person of few words, but at least he's willing to take the time to explicate his process. So, here, for your reading enjoyment, is one of the Groom's posts for class**:

I am glad that we have about a week to complete these assignments. My brain doesn’t create the best designs on a short time frame. I need to get into the class, read the assignment, and then just let it sit and ferment in my brain for a few days. If anyone has ever made beer, this will make more sense. After an initial fermentation, you rack the liquid (transfer it to another container to remove sediments and jump start the fermentation process) and let it sit some more. After my initial processing of ideas, I sit down and “rack” my ideas into a design. It usually isn’t that exciting–just like your imaginary beer or wine at the racking stage of the process. I let the ideas ferment (usually on bike rides, runs, or when I wake up in the morning) some more and come back to them at the bottling stage. Some more tweaking and changes occur, just like the process of moving my brew from carboy to bottle. Then I need to go away and come back later. My imaginary brew needs me to do the same. It sits and mellows. So does my design. The results end much better at the end of this long process than when they were a jumble of ingredients. Enjoy my latest homebrew. It is posted above.

Part of my problem in the early fermentation stage is the Internet. In this assignment, we had to find six items with a radial balance. Sounds easy. But when I do a search in Google, like for “bicycle wheel image”, and then 100s of search pages appear, I start to hyperventilate. I just don’t have the patience to sift throught them all and find what I truly want. I find it much easier to make my own images, from my own life, and work from there. So I photographed six different fruits and vegetables with radial balance on a white background (making it easier to cut them out in Photoshop later). I loaded these into Photoshop and began altering them. First I changed them to black and white by switching from RGB color mode to Grayscale. Then I messed with the contrast and brightness. Once I had an image I liked I cut the fruit or veg from the background and pasted it into a new document. Here I switched back to RGB color mode and created a new layer in which I selected the image, airbrushed a green color over the image, and then selected overlay so the color and black and white image below merged. I did the same thing with my son’s head.

Then I created the master document and began to copy and paste the images. First, I created a layout by creating a gradient layer with the red color. I put the darkest color in the lower left corner, creating the radial focus point of the design. The color fades out from here, empahsizing the design’s radial direction. My son’s head went over the focal point, and I began to arrange the food in a spiral pattern from his mouth, resizing the images to get larger the farther they got from his mouth.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this brew. It has left me mellow and hungry for some squash.

**I'm the kind of sick this week where I have to wince, cringe, groan, and clench my fists every time I swallow. My tonsils have a lifelong history of kicking all other tonsils' asses when it comes to swelling and pain. When I'm sick like this, and the docs tell me to open my mouth and say "ahhhh," they generally jump back and hold themselves for a minute before gasping out, "Well. Now. That's impressive." At any rate, that's why I didn't have a whole lot of sass to pour into this post. Since I literally can't talk right now, Groom's words have pitched in.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

"In a Fog"

It was full-frontal foggy the other day. This wasn't just film noir, dry ice kind of stuff. Nay.

This was, "Holy Haunted House, but I'm holding my hand up in front of my face, and I can't see it!"

Okay, it wasn't my actually my hand, but I was waving something vaguely hand-like up in front of my face--a glazed bear claw from the donut shop, in truth--and I couldn't see it a bit. Which makes it all the more fortuitious that pastries can be eaten by touch and require no sight.

Indeed, it was so foggy last Monday that a person might have been forced, there, outside the bakery

--as if she were slow dancing with a man named State of Desperation--

to use only mouth feel and feather-light fingertippling to feel her way around yeast and glaze and buoyant dough, until the claw disappeared and only chin crumbs remained. Yup, it was Sticky Face Foggy the other day, friend, the kind of day where pride is unnecessary, as you can't even see yourself falling upon 500 calories of wickedness in a frenzy. You might as well eat three, for only the shadows know.

Some hours after that person Helen Kellered her way around a baked good, she awkwardly high-fived her healthy self and went for a run on the Superior Hiking Trail. Getting to the trailhead was an adventure in itself, as visibility was down to approximately 15 feet, which meant, once she knew roughly what part of town she was in, she had to flip on her blinker and then drive another 400 yards in the turn lane, muttering, "They ate Hutchinson Street. There is no Hutchinson Street. Yoo-hooooooooo...Where are you, Hutchinson Street? Maybe Hutchinson Street looked like a bear claw to someone this morning, so they mauled it with their teeth. Whoa, jinkies! There it went. That little curb thingy back there was Hutchinson Street. Looks like nobody's behind me--but who would know, on a day like today?--so let's throw it into reverse and hit it on the rebound."

Eventually, our nameless bear claw ravener, also named me, forwarded and backed herself to the trailhead. I parked, pretended I was Catholic so I could cross myself dramatically, and headed into the woods.

Blundering through the fog, I listened to the Halloween podcast of "This American Life," which featured the anxiety-inducing tale of a woman outside her country home who was attacked by a rabid raccoon on the driveway. Only after she managed to pin the 'coon by its neck and feel around in her pockets for something--anything--did she find her cell phone, with her that day by a fluke. She called her son, and within minutes she had the aid of her family. But, get this: after her husband bashed at the rabid beast with a stick for several minutes, trying to kill it, the thing only got angrier and more aggressive. So they got a tire iron, the ultimate meat tenderizer, whereupon it only took another twenty whacks to put the poor, diseased creature out of its misery.

As I listened, I was reminded that going for a trail run is really relaxing, especially when you're making your way through the forest juggling an enormous branch, a shard of broken glass, a granite rock, and potentially-rabid-animal-blinding confetti made of leaves.

What? I heard a puma.

And a badger. Discussing, in an exchange of hisses and gnarf-gnarfs, which parts of me looked most tender.

I had the children to think about, as I armed myself, intent on self-preservation. Wouldn't want Niblet and Girl to grow up without a mother and all. Who else would dissect for them the talents of American Television Icon Chuck Woolery? (one day, when they're ready)

Equally as heebiejeebie-ing as the thought of being stalked by rabid monsters was this worry: in that soupy fog, was my face going to melt?

Or in a slightly-brighter scenario, I posited that I might get back to my car and look in the rear view mirror, only to see this:

I'd have to gasp and be all, "Where'd my hair go?"

Fortunately, nothing used its cougar fangs or bear claws to tear at my flesh that day. And my face didn't decompose into a smoky masque.

In fact, the whole thing turned out unexpectedly well. The scary podcast ended with David Sedaris visiting the morgue for kicks and giggles. The carbo-loading I'd done earlier in the day kept my tiny cat feet happily gliding over the trail. And the best bonus of all--that which keeps Bono looking 48 instead of his true 87 years old--is that mist and fog are hella good on the pores.

When I finished my run, flushed and trail tangled, I dropped my arsenal of weapons and hopped into the car, doing a quick check of my look in the rear view--for stray branches that might be dotting my hair.

HAWP. Looking back at me was this:

Oh, joyful, face-tightening fog, you made me ten again! I am glorious! I am magical!

Then the curious goiter on my shoulder bit me.

Monday, November 03, 2008

"Casting Your Vote in 2048"

In about forty years, if you start seeing lawn signs in your neighborhood touting "Wee Niblet for President," I urge you to slow down your hover vehicle and take note.

In Wee Niblet, you'd have a president who could work both sides of the Target Halloween clearance aisle, who could stabilize the economy ("One dollar, per piggy bank, per week, but only if you empty the bathroom garbage can on Tuesday mornings"), and who could revitalize America's health care system by insisting everyone have tubes put in their ears, as he has, making "pool adventures in ear plugs and a cap" a national mandate.

Punky has a platform, all right.

Even more convincing for you Undecideds out there (waiting for Rosie, your robot maid, to bring you a Mercurytini, as you recline in your easy chair made of moon dust and monkey chromosomes) is the fact that Niblet, even in his early years, proved himself an accomplished stretcher of the truth.

For example, at age five, he swore up and down a bunkbed ladder that he did not like Kit Kittredge, An American Girl: The Movie one, single



Crackerjack photographers on site during the movie viewing, however, proved the politician-in-training to be

a liar of "we have found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq" proportions.

When asked about the photos, Niblet replied, "It's amazing what Photoshop can do. I wasn't even there that night; I was home, with Hilary, making cookies in an effort to prove that she's a woman."

Unfortunately, Future President Niblet's disclaimers felt hollow in the face of further photographic evidence, which clearly indicted the "Commander in Cheat" as

a swinger without remorse.