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Friday, July 26, 2013

Bubba's Limo--Max's Lament

Bubba and Max--Roll Playing

By Carolyn J. Rose




  
Max: (confronting Bubba at the water dish) How long are you going to keep limping around and milking this?



Bubba: Milk? Somebody spilled milk? Where?



Max: Forget about eating. I’m talking about that alleged injury of yours.
Bubba: Nothing alleged about it. (Bubba limps around in an exaggerated manner, ala Chester from Gunsmoke) I pulled a thingie in my knee. Dr. Ferguson said so.


Max: (A) You don’t have a real knee and (B) I bet you made that up.


Bubba: Did not. If you hadn’t been at the groomer getting all clipped combed, massaged and girlie smelling, you would have heard him.


Max: I’m a purebred. Grooming is important.


Bubba: So is doing what Mom and Dad ask you to do, but nooooo, you can’t be bothered with that.


Max: I’m busy. Sun was in my eyes. I had an itch. (Licks himself in an embarrassing place to make his point).


Bubba: You’re busy every time they ask you to sit or come?


Max: Mostly. My calendar is, uh, crowded. You wouldn’t believe how many squirrels I’ve had to bark at this week. Besides, I’m protesting my treatment. I have to walk. You get to ride. It’s hot and my tongue hangs out. It’s not fair.


 Bubba: (Practicing a prom-queen wave) Seems fair to me. Besides, I walk as far as Mom lets me. The stroller was her idea.


 Max: Yeah, well, that shows what she knows. That stroller is way uncool.


Bubba: You’re just jealous because people stop and pet me and say “Ah, what happened to the puppy?”


Max: (Snorts). You haven’t been a puppy since Clinton left office.

Bubba: Sure, play the age card. (In a creaky voice) Someday you’ll be old. Someday you’ll wish you weren’t so “busy” and paid more attention when Mom asks you to stand on the right step so she can put on your harness.


Max: Blah. Blah. Blah. Harness, blah blah, step, blah blah old. (He sniffs the air) I still say you’re milking it.


Bubba: And I say you’re a squirrel-chasing dum—


Max: Squirrel? Where? (He sprints for the sliding door, only to collide with the screen full face)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Panhandling

By Mike Nettleton


 I joined a line of cars waiting for the light to change at a busy intersection in the Northeast part of Vancouver. A flurry of activity caught my eye on the corner to my right and I glanced over. A middle-aged lady clad in light blouse and baggy slacks, held a sign in the air, bobbing it up and down. A tight frown flickered across her face. The sign read:



Please don’t give my children any more money for heroin!



The message struck me like a slap in the face. I became so intent on watching her and wondering what combination of circumstances had led her to this level of desperation, that it took a strident “toooot” from the driver behind me to alert me to the now-green traffic signal. I cruised slowly across the intersection, watching the parental picketer in my rear view mirror.



Part of me wanted to park, hike back to where she patrolled and ask questions. How old are your children? I was guessing, from her age that they were probably adults. At least in terms of the number of years they’d been on the planet. Why did you pick that intersection? Was it because her children habitually panhandled there? Or simply because she could communicate her message to the largest number of people. How did your children begin using heroin? This is the drug that is the ultimate boogie-man to many people (Despite the fact that methamphetamine is much more prevalent and every bit as addictive). What other things have you tried to help your children prior to this? Is rehab easily obtainable to someone with this kind of addiction? What are some things you didn’t understand about heroin addiction until you children became involved?



For years, I’ve resolved not to give the numerous panhandlers I encounter any money. Some friends of mine, wonderful, caring, generous souls continue to hand over cash to the people who hover on street corners and freeway exits. My perspective is that I don’t want to contribute to an ongoing drug or alcohol addiction. I happily give money to charities that will shelter and feed the homeless and feel it’s a much more effective way to provide help.



My always-ready-to-give friends believe that many of the desperate looking folks with their hand-lettered signs might not have substance abuse issues at all and are merely hungry and homeless. They feel that it is not their place to judge what the money they donate will be used for.



I might be less cynical, were it not for my 4am encounter with a panel van that disgorged eight or nine people I’d seen hitting up motorists for donations at a variety of spots around town. They stocked up on convenience store coffee and cigarettes, assembled signs and chatted among themselves. As I pulled away, I saw them piling back into the van, ostensibly on their way to assigned spots.



I will admit to feelings of guilt upon waving off a street-corner panhandler or a desperate-sounding woman who approaches carrying a gas can, saying she just ran out of fuel and needs to get to Seattle (Hint for those trying this ploy. It might be more convincing if you weren’t smoking a cigarette when you approached me). My better nature, my more evolved self wants to reach into my wallet, extract a few bills and hand them over. After all, there but for the grace of whatever deity you believe in, go I. But I won’t. And part of the reason is the vision of that despairing mother at the intersection and her hand-lettered cry for help.



Please don’t give my children any more money for heroin!



I won’t. I promise. And I hope you can find them some help before it’s too late.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Lemonade



Lenomade! Lenomade for sale! Only 25 cents! Lenomade!

 By Mike Nettleton

When I came home from the gym the other morning, the little boy across the street had set up a lemonade stand and stood beside his proud and bemused mother hawking his wares to the neighborhood. Keep in mind that ours is not a terribly busy street. I’m guessing that by the time he grew tired of the game no more than half a dozen cars passed by.

Still, he had the fire and fervor of a born pitchman, bellowing out Lenomade! Lenomade! in a shrill bellow that belied his limited lung capacity.

Carolyn, who’d been puttering in the yard, wandered over to buy a glass. When she asked him how much a paper cup’s worth cost, he screwed up his face in thought and then blurted 25 cents. Carolyn, always one to mess with kid’s minds handed him two quarters and said “All I’ve got is fifty cents, will that work?” The boy accepted her money, then stood, scratching his head, wondering what to do next. His mother, grinning all the while, prodded him. “Don’t you think you should give the nice lady a quarter back?” The boy considered the concept for a minute, then shook his head. “No.” Carolyn gave him the extra quarter as a tip.

She came back to the house, told me I should walk across the street and encourage the young entrepreneur. Ever obedient, I strolled across and bought a paper cup of yellowish liquid, brought it back to the house and set it on the kitchen counter beside Carolyn’s. (Note: I didn’t tip the boy. I figured he needed to learn early on that some customers are tightwads).

This incident reminded me of all the ways I tried to make money as a kid. My first epiphany was discovering that I could get three cents refunded on an empty pop bottle or a penny for a beer bottle. This worked pretty well until my parents reminded me that they’d bought the pop and beer and were therefore entitled to the refund. Rats!

The back pages of comic books offered a myriad of schemes for kids to make money. One involved a product called Cloverine Salve, which, according to their pitch, was magic for aching muscles and joints, healed deep bruising and cured general malaise. You sent them money, they mailed a package of flat cans of the stuff and you went door-to-door selling it at a significant markup. A couple of small problems arose. I had to borrow the money to buy the first shipment, the stuff smelled awful and I was possibly the worst door-to-door salesman every born. My standard technique involved knocking on a door and when someone answered it blurting out “You wouldn’t want to buy any Cloverine Salve would you? I paid the advance money back by snitching pop bottles and running them to the store.

I never opened a lenomade stand, since the place I grew up was cold, rainy and not conducive to lenomade sales. I did sell copies of a local weekly newspapers to the drunks at the Alibi Tavern, shag golf balls that had bounced into the gorse bushes at our local nine-hole course (I’ve still got the scars) and mowed lawns and pulled weeds.

At one point, my friend Johnny and I decided we could pick up stuff on the beach that the tourists would find on their own later and sell it to them as they pulled into the roadside parking lots. Hey, a quarter for a piece of driftwood that looks like the letter J is a heck of a deal. An authentic Oregon Coast seashell for a dime. A steal.

Another friend, Bill, who was a bit of a scientific prodigy as a sixth grader invented a sluice box that would separate gold from the other elements of the black sand found in abundance on his father’s land in the dunes north of town. It worked, but by my estimation it would have taken until my forty-seventh birthday to come up with an ounce of gold. To make any significant amount of money we’d have needed a sluice box the size of a football field.

I forgot about the lenomade sitting on our kitchen counter until late in the day when time came for my evening libation. I tipped a little from one of the paper cups into my mouth and shuddered. Apparently our budding businessman had limited access to mom’s sugar supply. But, with abundant ice and a healthy splash or two of Jack Daniels it made a pretty good whiskey sour. I think we got our fifty cents worth. (Plus tip)

What do you remember about the ways you tried to make money. Lenomade? Walking a neighbors dog? Buying and selling stock online? (For the truly prodigal). Love to hear your stories. Leave a comment.