191. pushing jello uphill

When I was a middle school teacher, there were times when kids would sit with blank papers in front of them during the time allowed for writing their  little assignments, usually the world famous five paragraph model. “I don’t know what to write” was their typical response to any prompting. I’d say something like, ” Just push your pencil and see what you get. You can always rewrite it later; that’s what editing is about.” Somehow these kids thought that making a mark on paper was equal to opening negotiations with an international extortionist. (Mind you, they had time to brainstorm and outline prior to writing. We did follow a logical  process.) If they left the paper blank, so it seemed to me, then they would not have to edit or rewrite or share with anyone. The case was not that they had nothing to share; nor was it a case of double negatives; rather, they lacked trust and enjoyment in the communication business.  Once the trust hurdle was cleared, we could have some fun with the written word. Sometimes, though, it felt like I was delivering breech babies…”Okay, I’ve got a foot. Pull. NO! That won’t work. It’s Stuck! I need 100 cc’s of vodka, stat!! Uh, that’s for me, Nurse.”  At other times it was more like Caesarean deliveries in a school desk. “Okay, you have a wooooord… is that THE? Now what would be a good word to follow THE? People? Good. Which people? The people around you. Alriiiight.” Whew! chipmunk brain surgery.

Occasionally I need to apply the same push to my own writing. “Just start, Senor Burrito, and you can always edit how you like later”, I tell myself. “Push it”, like Jimi Hendrix playing live, with no thought about the mixing and editing later. Just jam now. (Forget the fact that he was on several hits of acid.) If I approach topics like an obsessive-compulsive safe cracker, I’ll never write anything. It’s not poetry here, bloggeisters; it’s just a brief communion of your mind and mine, as scary and unholy as that may be. I appreciate your courage in investigating the tapestries and caves of my meandering mind. I hope that you find at least one redeemable sentence woven in the tapestry, or one cave painting that intrigues you. After all, I have trusted enough to open the negotiation of communication, knowing full well that there are risks on-line in our sue-happy country.

My attorney daughter cautioned me not to use last names to avoid torts. (I told her I didn’t personally know any torts, then she clarified this is not a slang term for the dull witted…otherwise I would qualify. Rather, it’s the name of  litigations in civil court, aka, lawsuits for money, not to be confused with tortes, flourless cakes in nice restaurants.)  Thus far I’ve only referenced one dead rock legend by last name, so I think I’m safe, though safety is not my goal. But torts are not either, especially since the word comes from the root “tort”, meaning “to twist” from which we get ….. contort, extort, distort, and torture. You get the picture.  These are not happy verbs to experience, I know. Also, I want to assure you that, unlike my hero Jimi, I am not under the influence of any hallucinogenic drugs at the moment. Still, I think it would be prudent if you signed a release of liability at this point, indicating that  reading beyond this sentence implies that you are not damaged or annoyed by the content herein.   Signed___________________________ and dated_____________________. Thank you. And while you are up, would you pass me that buttercream torte on the counter?

I’d hate to live in bubble wrap with a helmet, steel toed boots, an air bag safety vest, a harness, skateboard pads, and a mouth guard just to avoid the risks that come with living. Risk free living is not living, in my book. Every once in a while we have to push our limits, fears, and comfort zones if we are to grow ourselves. If not, we live defensively, doing the same safe things over and over, setting up like thick green Jello in the back of the fridge. I’m not saying that you should go skydiving in the nude over Vegas, but mix it up at home, take a small chance on a regular basis.  Sure, it’s messy making changes. Just ask Chris…uh, the governor of Jersey. When you rip down that 1980’s wallpaper of  ducks and cattails, it’ll be pure chaos for a short while. However, once the new sagebrush blush and tangerine paint go on and you rearrange the lighting and furniture, the ducks and cattails will only be  faint background quacks and meows. This is what I tell myself when I contemplate renovating our finished basement. The temporary trauma will not override the lasting tranquility of calming colors on the walls. I say, “Push against the torts. Out with you, rabid Torts! If you don’t like it, sue me.”Image result for fat folks on treadmills pictures

Push the Jello uphill, Blog Nation. Step it up on the treadmill that is everyday life or be hurled backwards onto the floor of Planet Fatness. Some days it feels like the cholesterol clots are chasing us on the treadmill; they are flying monkeys released by the Wicked Witch who wants our cool running shoes. But press on. Soon I need to give my annual blood work for my doc to take roll of the good and bad cholesterol twins and the evil  triplets, those triglyceride demons. I feel like Alex Rodriguez about to be busted and put on medication probation. I’m pretty sure that the increased diet and decreased exercise regimen that I have been on since October will produce some spoiled fruit in my circulatory system. A pineapple clog, a bushel of triglyceride kiwi, a watermelon-sized aneurysm somewhere. Yup. So I must keep on pushin‘ my jello uphill. I’ll see you at the top of the slop.

153. Porn and Rogaine

So it was another day in the classroom back in the day. The kids were working on preparing for the big debate. They were doing research on-line trying to find answers for their position or against the opponent’s position. Oh my word! It was exhausting to read and give feedback on point after point to seventh graders who were just learning how to think on a semi-adult level. Then Julie and Katrina came up for my check in on their progress. They had several pages of good material to support the question they were researching.

“Alright. This is good stuff. Hmmm, your printer prints both sides? Mine won’t do that.”

Katrina responded, “No, I printed on my mom’s recycled paper. She has tons of rough drafts pages stacked around her office.” Now it is critical to know that her mom is a romance writer. Actually a crotch novelist of local fame. Anyway, as I read the back side of these debate papers, I saw something like this…

“Raul touched her erogenously and repeatedly until pleasure roared through Charlotte like a steam engine through a Great Plains wild fire. Ecstasy welled up into her pulsing throat. Take me now, you wicked toreador! And Raoul maneuvered…”

I must have entered into panic mode because both girls said, “Mr. Burrito, you’re blushing! What’s wrong?”

I could only gasp, “Where are the rest of your notes? I need them all. All the double sided paper. Now.”

“Why? It’s just my mother’s…”

“Yeah, th- th- that’s it. I know.  I mean, I need to copy it, g-g-get it all one-sided.” My throat was dry and my heart beat hard. I’m holding a pile of soft porn in my hands and can’t figure out how to detox it without creating a circus attraction for two very innocent twelve year old girls.

“Mr. Burrito, you’re stuttering. Are you okay?”

“Yes, I’ll be right back.” I jogged down to the main office to the copier. I made a one-sided copy of all the papers while deep breathing and trying to figure out how to deal with this incident. I walked back to my classroom and gave the new one-sided copy to the girls, who greeted me suspiciously.

“Are we in trouble?”

“No, not at all. I, uh, I just need to check in with your mom.”

Katrina squirmed.

“It’s no big deal now. Don’t worry.”

Later that day I put all the passion pages into a fireproof manila envelope with a note that said something like “I appreciate your recycling efforts, but sometimes it’s better to save one’s dignity and use up another tree.”

A few days later I received a note and an autographed copy of the author’s latest thigh busting “novel”. Fortunately she found the humor in it all. I tried to read her romance. It was atrocious. For some reason the only song I can think of for a soundtrack to the movie version of the book would be Little Feat’s “Fat Man in the Bathtub”. Pornography is the absence of intimacy; it’s so plastic and counterfeit that the ink drips off the pages. Ick.


Then there was Brad. I had him in homeroom, English, lunch, study hall, drama, and everywhere I turned. He was a nice kid in search of appropriate humor targets. Early on in that year he decided that telling me I needed Rogaine for my balding head was hilarious. Perhaps it was cute once. And I rolled with it for a while. After a few weeks, or was it months, I told him enough with the Rogaine. It just was annoying. He failed to comply.

One day I went to the assistant principal, Mr. Kirk, to discuss a scam involving Brad. I told him the back story and asked him if he’d go along with a punking the next morning. He agreed.

The next morning right on schedule Brad greeted me at 7:30 outside homeroom. He had no idea that he was about to release the furies of Hell and the Kracken of the deep.

“Rogaine, Mr. Burrito. Rogaine.”

I  sucked in a deep breath and put out my best acting job. I exploded, “Brad, that’s it with the Rogaine. I’ve told you again and again. This time is the last.”  I told him to come to the office with me.

He went from calm and cool to flushed and scared. “I’m sorry, Mr. Burrito. I won’t do it again. I swear I won’t. Please!. I was just kidding. Come on. No.” His cool façade was cracking.

I did not look at him for fear of breaking into uncontrolled laughter. I just walked faster into the assistant principal’s office. “Mr. Kirk, may I have a word with you?”

“Yes sir. What’s the matter?”

Brad was ready to confess to any unsolved crime and pee his pants. I shut the door and again had to bite my lip to keep from cracking up.

“This young man is Brad, the guy I told you about yesterday. He has a habit of telling me that I need Rogaine. I ‘ve repeatedly asked him to stop and he has not. I’d like you to take it from here.”

I sat back and let Kirk take it from there. He was not a large man, but he sucked all of his 5’ 6″ frame up in front of Brad.

“You think baldness is funny?”

“Oh no. I di-di-didn’t mean anything I said….”

“Do you think this man can help it if his hair falls out?”

“No, no, I, I, I. I won’t do it again. I’m sorry.”

Kirk picked up the phone. “Do you want me to call your parents?”

“No,no, please don’t. I’ll do whatever you want. Don’t do that. I swear…”

Brad was spent. I believe he was so stressed out that he was having an out of body experience. He had dissociated into an altered state of being.

Kirk rambled on about some other official sounding stuff and asked me if we’d gone far enough. I agreed that we had and left with Brad. We walked next to one another on the return trip. He was in a daze. I said to Brad, “You have been Rogained, my friend.”

He was still stunned and just said, “I’m sorry. I won’t do it again.”

I tried to explain to him that he had just been scammed, but he was losing consciousness in the hallway and sort of mumbling and stumbling along like an over- medicated homeless guy. He kept muttering, “I’m so sorry. Man, I’m sorry. I won’t do it again.”

I almost felt some guilt. Nahh.