Calamity Pain

Ways I’ve injured myself over the years:

Almost cut my pinkie toe off playing in the back of a friend ‘s dad’s work truck.

Fell into the middle of a Tilt-a-Whirl at a carnival and knocked myself goofy.

I slid off the back of Studly’s motorcycle and broke my tailbone after he landed on top of me.

My socks slipped and I slid down a flight of stairs on my butt. Twice.

At a Linton, ND, basketball game I fell down an entire set of bleachers.

I stepped out of a bus at the University of Mary in Bismarck, ND, and fell flat on my butt.

My first trip into Manhattan I slid on a slippery street and landed in the middle of Times Square. My hand landed squarely on a heart shaped charm on my bracelet and for two months I had a perfect heart shaped imprint on my palm.

I once got my feet tangled in my purse straps and fell face down in front of a group of coworkers, bruising a knee in the process.

The very next day I slipped on a patch of ice and bruised my other knee.

Numerous times I have bonked my head on cabinet doors and open drawers.

I have a Ph.D in toe stubbing. My thesis was “Why Toes Are a Necessary Evil in a World of Coffee Tables and Desks.” I’m still searching for a publisher.

Roller Skates and Sexual Innuendo

Melanie Safka recorded “I’ve Got a Brand New Pair of Roller Skates” back in 1971. As a teenager I loved the song and sang it often. This past week something triggered memories of the tune and it got stuck in my head. I found myself singing it all the time. What a fun, happy song!

Or is it? An acquaintance of roughly my age heard me singing it and commented, “I always liked that song, but my mom wouldn’t let me sing it.”

“Really?” I asked, intrigued. “Why?”

“Well, she thought it was too sexual.”

Ok. This came as a complete surprise to yours truly. What could possibly be sexual about a young girl celebrating her love of roller skating? I turned to Wikipedia, the defacto source of information for everything in the universe.

According to Wikipedia, “Many listeners detect sexual innuendo in the lyrics, with the key in its lock meant to symbolize sexual intercourse, or in phrases such as “I go pretty far” and “I’ve been all around the world.”

Miss Safka said that she wrote the tune in about 15 minutes, and that there was no deep expression behind the lyrics. She explained, “…people read things into it. They made up incredible stories as to what the lyrics said and what the song meant. In some places, it was even banned from the radio.”

She also acknowledges though, that locks and keys are pretty obvious Freudian symbols for sex, so one could certainly draw such conclusions about the song.

I can’t believe I’ve been so naive all these years! What other subliminal messages lurk in the songs from my youth? Next they’ll be telling me that “Ring Around the Rosie” is really a reference to the Black Death outbreak in the 14th century. I don’t even want to think about “Eensy, Weensy Spider.”

Can you imagine what the lyrics for “Roller Skates” might be if written in this century? The innuendo would be gone, and the key replaced with an anaconda.

Lyrics to “I’ve Got a Brand New Pair of Roller Skates

I rode my bicycle past your window last night
I roller skated to your door at daylight
It almost seems like you’re avoiding me
I’m OK alone but you’ve got something I need, well

I’ve got a brand new pair of roller skates
You’ve got a brand new key
I think that we should get together and
Try them on to see
I been lookin’ around awhile
You got something for me
Oh, I got a brand new pair of roller skates
You got a brand new key

I ride my bike, I roller skate, don’t drive no car
Don’t go too fast, but I go pretty far
For somebody who don’t drive, I been all around the world
Some people say I done all right for a girl

I asked your mother if you were at home
She said yes, but you weren’t alone
Oh, sometimes I think that you’re avoiding me
I’m OK alone but you got something I need, well


I roller skate, I ride my bike, don’t drive no car
Don’t go too fast, but I go pretty far.
Sometimes I think that you’re avoiding me.
I’m okay alone but you got something I need.

Oh, I’ve got a brand new pair of roller skates
You’ve got a brand new key.
I think that we should get together to try them out and see,
I’ve been looking around awhile
You’ve got something for me
Oh I’ve got a brand new pair of roller skates
You’ve got a brand new key.

Peace, People!

October State of Mind

If “Playmonth” was a magazine and each month received a centerfold, October’s layout would be the best of all. I can see her now, flaming red hair against a backdrop of gold, green, and rust. Her arms flung wide in welcome. Her smile warm and generous. Oh, and her eyes! Her eyes would reflect the passion and promise of autumn. “Come enjoy me,” she’d seem to say in that come hither voice of hers. “I’m all yours.”

When the voting for “Playmonth of the Year” was tallied, the results wouldn’t even be close. October would prevail in a landslide. She’d be interviewed on “The View” by Whoopi Goldberg and Rosie O’Donnel.

Rosie: Hello October! You are looking good!

October: Mmm. Thank you so much. I’ve been working out.

Whoopi: Wait. Welcome, October? I don’t get it…October’s a month….Who booked a month as a guest on the show?

Rosie: I hear you have a big project in the works. Are you more than just another pretty month?

October: Yes, I hope so anyway. My project is to encourage all the coniferous trees into following the deciduous trees’ lead by turning colors during my time as Playmonth of the Year.

Rosie: That’s quite an undertaking.

Whoopie: I’m sorry, but I think that is scientifically impossible.

October: Oh I won’t let a little thing like science stop me. You see, my likes are happy thoughts and nonsense, and my hobbies are roasting marshmallows and hiking through crunchy leaves. I have no use for science.

Rosie: Spoken like a true Playmonth! Everyone, check out October’s layout in “Playmonth Magazine” and you’ll see why she’s Playmonth of the Year.

Whoopie: Why are we calling it that? It’s a calendar for Pete’s sake. October’s a month. Good grief. See what happens when Barbara Walters leaves the show?

Peace, People!

My Apologies to Lennon and McCartney

All my wrinkles seemed so far away.
Now it seems as though they’re here to stay,
Oh how I miss my yesterday.

Gray hair grows where none used to be.
Aging just seems so unfair to me,
Oh yesterday came suddenly.

My youth had to go,
Yes I know
It couldn’t stay.

I turned 58
It’s too late
For yesterday-ay-ay-ay.

Menopause was just a lark you say
These hot flashes keep me warm all day
Oh how I long for yesterday.

Note: I hope I didn’t plagiarize. The tune “Yesterday” kind of popped into my head yesterday afternoon, and the goofy lyrics followed. Surely no one else thinks up dumb things like this.

Peace, People!

So You Think You Can Sing

Singing. I sure wish I had that talent. Watching “The Voice,” I fantasize that I could do what these kids are doing. I want to move people with my voice. I mean, inspire them, not make them run for the exit.

If I had three minutes on stage what would I sing? “Without You” by Harry Nilsson? Dolly Parton’s “Jolene?” I’ve been practicing with my keyboard. Maybe I should play and sing the one song I know–“Jingle Bells.” Oh, the possibilities! Which judges would turn their chairs around? Could I allow Adam Levine to be my coach without falling in love with him? Would he be able to resist my charms? Perhaps I should play it safe and go with Gwen Stefani; although, she’s pretty hot.

I’d need a fresh outfit to cement my street cred. Something that says, “I’m happening in an ageless way.” Maybe I should start lifting weights to tone up my guns. That means ‘arms’ to all the cool cats. I’m definitely cool. As a cucumber. Iceberg lettuce cool.

And I’d need some instruction in stage presence. Should I practice holding the microphone like a diva? Do I stand still crooning into my mic or should I pace around the stage like a caged cougar?

Argh! So many things to consider. Maybe I’ll take up dancing instead. Now, if I only had the talent. Who knows how to apply to, “So You Think You Can Dance?”

Turn down for this, People!

Howard Stern, Neil Young, and Inspiration

I have an hour between testing sessions at schools, so I’m sitting outside in my car listening to Howard Stern’s interview with the great Neil Young.

The two spent a great deal of time discussing Neil’s songwriting legacy and what inspires him. Neil spoke about the ideas that come to him as a gift. When he gets an idea, no matter where he is or what he is doing he stops and takes care of the idea right then. His ideas, he said, come to him out of the ether.

Howard chose that time to play one of Neil’s greatest hits, “Ohio,” the lyric story of the murders at Kent State so many years ago. The inspiration came from the Time magazine cover that captured the horror of that day, an image that drove Neil into the woods where he sat on a rock until he had captured the song. It didn’t take him long–many of his songs came to him quickly.

He made me think a lot about inspiration. Some days the ideas flow like a wide open faucet and I’ll end up with five or six posts without breaking a sweat. That doesn’t mean they’re all great, but that’s not the point. Someone else, says Mr. Young can decide if what one writes is good or not. The world has plenty of critics.

Other days no ideas come. It’s like I’m knocking on a door, but nobody answers. On those days I just start typing. Sometimes what happens is surprisingly good, but usually it gets the delete treatment. I try to capture my ideas as soon as they hit me, but many float in and out of my head before I even recognize them as ideas. What I’d really like is for Neil Young’s creative genius to be magically implanted in my brain.

Fun fact: Did you know that Neil Young and Rick James once roomed together and played in a band called the Mynah Birds? They weren’t yet out if their teens.

Defrost the Kangaroo

One night last week I had a dream that I can’t quite shake. I was in the home of a friend and we were cooking dinner. It must have been for a special occasion, like Thanksgiving or Christmas because there were a dozen or more people milling around. My friend asked me to take the goose out of the freezer so it could thaw. A simple enough request except that she had at least ten freezers spaced around the kitchen, and I couldn’t find the goose in any of them.

Finally I found a butcher paper wrapped item that looked to be the right size and shape. I decided to unwrap it so it would thaw more quickly. Imagine my surprise when a quite alive and lively kangaroo emerged from the paper. She hopped around a bit before fleeing the kitchen. No one seemed even a little bit surprised.

I never did find the goose, but by then the dream moved on, as dreams often do, to a scene in which I was sleeping outside under a blanket of stars. Ok, I’d love some interpretation.

Peace, People!

Wagons Ho

Many years ago my little family embarked on what seemed like a journey of epic proportions. Native Texans, who’d never even had a proper interstate vacation, we found ourselves in the midst of a major move to North Dakota.

Studly had gotten the first of several important promotions in his career. To move up with his company we literally had to move “up.” It was a big deal for us, and an opportunity to make our lives better, so in spite of the heartache of leaving our families back in Texas we embraced this move to the unknown.

That’s not to say that there weren’t tears. Our eight year-old daughter cried for at least the first two hours of the 13 hour drive. I cried almost that long. We waited for Christmas break to make our move so the kids could start a new semester in Linton, North Dakota. The gray December skies outside our car matched our moods.

Studly who had been living in North Dakota for the better part of two months, had flown home to Amarillo to drive with us to our new home. Our belongings were following in a moving truck. There were four humans–Studly, our son J, daughter A, and me in our small car, along with one medium sized hyperactive dog and a doped up cat. Surprisingly we traveled well as a group, stopping only for meals and potty breaks, and we made good time.

Somewhere in the sand hills of Nebraska we decided to look for a place to stay for the night. We were north of North Platte and south of Ogallala on highway 87 when I spotted a sign advertising a motel eight miles off the main highway. Studly pointed the car west and soon we were pulling into the parking lot of an old fashioned motor court, the Shady Lady Motel, with a sign in the front window that read, “Where Strangers Become Friends.”

The name of the motel and the sign should have been enough to make us think twice about staying the night, but we were exhausted so Studly went ahead and rented a room. We stayed exactly three minutes. Nothing about the room made us want to stay–not the cobwebs in the corners or the mouse droppings on the floor or the weird toilet/shower combination situated next to the ancient television set. I insisted that Studly march right back into the office and check us out. For once he listened to me and we got back on the road.

Less than 30 miles from the Shady Lady we came upon the Thunderbird motel at a major crossroads. To the west lay Ogallala, Nebraska, and to the north lay Pierre, South Dakota. The Thunderbird was a clean, inexpensive, welcoming oasis on our journey. The pets were more than happy to get out of the car and soon snuggled together in one of the rooms–a phenomenon that would never occur again, but the cat was still stoned on tranquilizers, and the dog was just goofy.

After a good night’s rest we headed toward Pierre. At this point, Studly began lecturing us on the dangers of living in North Dakota. His two month long experience in the great white north had apparently qualified him as an expert on extreme winter living. He warned the kids about attempting to walk home from school. He lectured me about driving on icy roads. He lectured the pets about taking too long to do their business. By the time we hit the South Dakota line the kids and I were scared to death of frostbite, hypothermia, and snowmobiles, not necessarily in that order.

Studly stopped at an army/navy surplus store in Pierre (rhymes with “beer”) so we could purchase winter hats, gloves, and coats. Newly armed, we felt confident that we could survive even the worst winter in North Dakota.
Of course, that winter turned out to be one of the mildest on record for North Dakota, but it was great for helping us acclimate.

The months right after our move were picture perfect. Studly had found us a beautiful home to rent on the banks of Beaver Creek (crick to the native North Dakotans). Our children became very close friends out of necessity. I wasn’t working or going to school, so for once I got to be the mom who had chocolate chip cookies baked just in time for the school bus to deliver the kids home every afternoon. Yes, we missed the folks back in Texas, but it finally felt like we were living our own lives, like we’d cut the apron strings and ventured out into the wonderful, wide world. Those were very good days. Cold, but good.

Peace, People!

Girl Gone Wild

Studly and I went to see “Gone Girl” this past weekend. I’d read the novel, and told Studly I really had no interest in seeing the film, but a couple of his golf buddies said it was really good. So, golf buddies’ opinions trumped wife’s opinion and off we went. I’ll try to avoid any spoilers here.

First off, Ben Affleck is nearly perfect in his role as the husband/suspect. In fact, the entire cast was dead on. My problem is that the movie sticks quite nicely to the novel, which is to say that once it was all done, I was left feeling really, deeply pissed off. I kept trying to gauge Studly’s reaction throughout the movie, but he was inscrutable. He laughed when appropriate and cringed when it was called for, as did I.

I kept hoping that the film would have a different ending than the book, but I guess I was one of the few who found it unsatisfying. When all was said and done, Studly turned to me and said, and I quote, “What the hell?! Yep. That’s what makes us soul mates.

Peace, People!