Lowes Lawn, Garden, Bank and Trust

One day it became perfectly clear. I had just pulled the starter cord of a brand new Black & Decker weed eater, and began slaughtering a patch of dandelions, when it dawned on me that I’d been conducting all of my financial transactions at the wrong place. Get this: my money was in a bank. That’s right…a bank! For reasons you’ll soon understand, I kissed the handle of that wondrous weed eater, and returned to my slaughter.

I’ll admit, I was a slow learner. It took years until I finally understood I could get more bang for my buck by depositing my money into a more rewarding and innovative financial institution. I can’t tell you how happy I am to be banking at my local Lowes Home Improvement store. Or, as I like to call it: Lowes Lawn, Garden, Bank and Trust

Understand that while I do have a checking account with my regular bank, I keep as little in it as possible, but just enough to pay the bills. My reasoning is because banks don’t give me light bulbs, ceiling fans, power tools, lawn and garden equipment, or lumber when I give them money. Traditional banks are stingy. I once went to my bank and deposited $500.00, and they gave me a sour apple Dum Dum lollipop about the size of a small marble. Lasted maybe three minutes. The day before at Lowes, I deposited $129.00 and they let me walk out with a 16′ aluminum extension ladder which will last for years. Pretty obvious which financial institution I prefer.

If you’re feeling a bit confused here, then let me explain how the Lowes banking system works…

It was a Saturday morning, and already I was off to a bad start. I had gotten up early to water the garden, but couldn’t because there was a leak in the hose. Upon closer inspection, I noticed it was more than just an simple puncture. It looked as though something had tried to eat the hose. Perhaps a vermin of some kind. Like a raccoon or opossum, or even a wayward sewer rat whose sight might have been impaired with cataracts or rodent glaucoma. Whatever the case, I had a damaged hose that needed to be replaced. Off to Lowes I went.

Since I’m very familiar with Lowes, I headed straight to aisle 21 and grabbed a 25′ hose. I took it to one of the cashiers (or as I call them, tellers). The conversation went like this…

“Hello!” said the upbeat female teller. “Looks like you got some watering to do, eh?”

“Sure do,” I said. “I think a vision-impaired sewer rat tried to eat the one at home. Musta thought it was sausage or a defenseless garden snake.”

“A rat would eat green sausage? Does green sausage even exist?”

“A blind rat would, yes. Perhaps a special green sausage for St. Patrick’s Day,” I said, putting the packaged hose on the countertop.

She picked up the hose and scanned it. “$25.00.”

“Great!” I said energetically. “If I deposit $25.00, then I get the hose?”

“Deposit?”

“Yes, deposit. If I give you $25.00, then I’m rewarded with the hose, correct?”

“Rewarded?”

Smiling I said, “You guys aren’t just innovative, but you’re fun too! Rewarded for my deposit—I get the hose, correct?”

“Uh…yeah…in a manner of speaking, that’s correct.”

And in a manner of speaking, this is what I love about Lowes. It’s your money. People return their deposit rewards all the time to get cash back in their pockets. That’s what separates Lowes from conventional banks. At Lowes if you don’t like the hammer they gave you for depositing money, then just say, “Hey, I don’t like the hammer.” And they’ll not only take back the hammer, but give you money for not liking it. I mean, think about it…try to return a Dum Dum lollipop that a bank gives you after a deposit. Good luck with that! I once heard of a man who deposited over $10,000 and the bank gave him four lollipops as a way of saying thank you. Four lollipops!! I bet there’s not a single bank that has a chainsaw in their back closet! Outrageous!!

This appalling reality sent me on an immediate visit to my bank. It was time they heard the facts! I told them how Lowes was a far more inventive financial institution. I explained to them, in detail, the Lowes deposit/rewards system. They said I was crazy. They said I should be institutionalized and locked away for good. They said banks save your money, and Lowes doesn’t. I told them they were crazier, as all I have to do is return a reward item and I’ll get back the same money I had deposited. I also told them in a fiery voice (putting the security guard on alert), “THAT LOWES DOESN’T MAKE ME FILL OUT DEPOSIT SLIPS EITHER!!!” At this point there was no need hearing what these imbeciles had further to say. So I concluded., “AND UNLIKE THIS GOD-FORSAKEN HELL BANK, AT LOWES I DON’T FEEL LIKE I HAVE TO WHISPER AS IF I’M TALKING IN A DAMN PUBLIC LIBRARY!!!”

And off I marched; head high and chest out like some kind of morphed half-human half-puffer fish. If only the Board of Directors at Lowes had seen my performance. If only they had witnessed how I defended their great banking institution. Oh, the shovels, flashlights, and gallons of wood stain they would reward me with!

The cameras! Of course! The bank video cameras had captured my entire debate. As a long-time customer, all I needed to do was request a copy of the video, or, if it came time after their numerous refusals, I would alert the media of the harassment I had suffered. That, perhaps, might be the best plan as the Board of Directors could then watch my defending arguments on all the major news network channels. I can only assume without any reservation that my status as a member of the Bank of Lowes will be upgraded from “Basic” to “Distinguished Platinum”.

Ladies and gentlemen, eternal rewards are headed my—

“Mr. Sewol…Mr. Sewol! Back away from the computer, please…Oh, just great…you’ve hacked into the blog site again…Look, I need you to take your medication, then let’s get you back to your room. Come along now, Mr. Sewol.”

                            Copyright Ros Hill 2016


 

My Low Automotive IQ

If there’s one place I shudder to go near, it’s under the hood of a car. For therein lies the nightmare of an intimidating labyrinth of hoses, filters, valves, wires, and belts. Locating the parts that those things connect to is, for me, a complete guessing game. Though I’m proud to say I’m quite skilled at identifying the engine, the battery, and where to add the oil, I can only imagine what my moment of fame would be like in TV hell…

“Hey, Ros!! Welcome to “Find Those Things Under The Hood!!” You’ve got thirty minutes. Can you find the alternator? Remember…if you find it, you get the car!!!”

I’m on the show’s set with the hood of a brand new Toyota Sequoia opened before me. Instead of getting busy with the task, I stand frozen, looking at the camera in front of a large studio audience. “Three million viewers!” the show’s host had told me excitedly back stage, with a big, hearty pat on the shoulder. “This is your day, buddy! Own it out there. Make it happen!” My attention falls further into the camera. I’m a deer in the headlights. I’m under hypnosis. Before three million viewers, I’m a zombie staring into oblivion.

“Oh, there’s no alternator in that camera,” assures the host. “Might I suggest you try the car?”

I turn to the Sequoia and peer into the dizzying mechanical mess that, somewhere, contains the alternator. Truth be told, I don’t even know what an alternator is. For decades I’ve heard the word, but I never gave it any thought. I would like to say it is a part that provides drivers alternative music through their satellite radios. I would like to say that, but I don’t. “And just why would such a music-providing device be located under the hood of a car?” the automotive industry would ask. “Well, that’s a really, really, really good question,” I’d say. “Because the alternative music recording artists petitioned for it to be there?” I do have my obvious moments of undeniable hopelessness.

My head under the hood, and aimlessly probing at things here and there, time is running out as the host stands next to me. “It’s been twenty-nine minutes, Ros. You’ve got sixty seconds…just where is that alternator?”

For half an hour, I’ve set a show record for taking the longest time to identify an automotive part. During four commercial breaks, three special guest appearances, and in front of the studio audience, confidence finally arrives. I point to the alternator seconds before the buzzer sounds. “That thing!” I say. “Yes…that thing!”

There is an awkward pause in the studio as the audience is watching a closeup of my selection on some overhead monitors. It is the pause that not only precedes disbelief, but I’m certain is widespread amongst three million viewers as well.

“That?” asks the host. “That is your answer?”

I have pointed to a cloudy plastic container. “Yes! That!

The host’s voice shifts into a consoling tone—softly sympathetic and fatherly, as if I were his son having just struck out at home plate…again. “Sorry, my friend. No alternator there. That’s the car’s windshield washer fluid reservoir.”

It was hard to distinguish between snickers or tearful sniffles that were coming from the audience. It was also hard to locate the nearest exit sign so I could make my quick escape, and never return to that harrowing place in TV hell.

“Of course, no one walks away from here empty-handed,” the host proclaims in an upbeat voice. “For playing today, you’ll receive a free set of jumper cables!!”

Good grief. Where is that exit sign?

*  *. *

The labyrinth of automotive. engineering beneath a vehicle’s hood is highly impressive. How all of those parts fit and work in unison is beyond me. I am forever impressed by auto mechanics who diagnose and perform work on cars. Covered in grease instead of blood, and holding wrenches instead of scalpels, they are the surgeons of the automotive world.

And then there are people like me who break out in a cold sweat when we enter an auto parts store. All I need is something to make my car’s interior smell better, and five steps through the front doors I’m already feeling like an idiot.

“Excuse me,” I say to an employee walking by. “Do you have those tree-shaped smelly things?”

“Smelly things?”

I can feel the cold sweat beginning. Tiny ice-cold droplets beading off my forehead as if this were an arctic expedition. What am I doing here? Why didn’t I just go to Hobby Lobby and buy a basket of potpourri?

“You mean an air freshener? he says.

I roll my eyes at myself. “Yes. That’s it.” But I know deep down, he could’ve said, “You mean an alternator?” and I would’ve replied, “Yes. That’s it.”

My low automotive IQ is best illustrated (and I really hate to admit this) whenever I get an oil change. It’s always some teenage boy who approaches my car and asks the world’s most difficult question…

“Good morning, sir. What kind of oil would you like?”

He might as well ask me what the exact measurement of the earth’s circumference is in inches. I’d probably have better luck.

I give him the easy-out answer and say, “Whatever oil you suggest.”

But he’s young and smart, and knows I’m an idiot, and says, “I suggest 10W-40, but would you prefer full synthetic, synthetic blend, or conventional?”

Synthetic? First thing that comes to my mind is a polyester shirt. Synthetic blend? Polyester/cotton shirt. I find myself looking at the teenager’s shirt that looks very polyester, and I’m wondering if it’s made out of motor oil? And why do motor oils and tax forms sound so similar? 10W-40 oil, 1040 tax form. By chance, does the IRS offer a choice between conventional and synthetic tax forms? This is all so confusing.

The teenager stands by my window, tapping his pen on a small clipboard. He seems like a nice kid, just a bit impatient. But perhaps it’s because two cars have pulled in line behind me, and he simply needs an answer. My automotive IQ is not helping. As pressured and indecisive as I am, I figure out exactly what oil I want.

“I’ll take a conventional synthetic high-mileage 10W-40 Schedule B please.”

His pen stops tapping, just falls dead. He’s not writing down a single thing I’ve said. I’m the worst. The absolute worst possible customer. And I’m a grown man. How did I ever make it this far in life without knowing what oil to get, how to articulate a tree-shaped air-freshener, or possess any knowledge of the alternator? A third car has now pulled in line behind me.

“Sir, a ‘schedule B’? That kind of oil doesn’t exist.”

I shouldn’t exist. Not in this line anyway. I can’t even give an educated guess regarding what type of oil my car needs. And my poor car. To think I am its owner. If there were ever a Car Protective Services agency, I’d be on their radar.

The kid’s pen resumes tapping. A cold sweat runs down my temples. I need out of here.

“Excuse me,” I say, as I put the car in drive. “I forgot to feed my fish.” And drive away.

Feed my fish? That’s the best I could come up with??? A quarter mile down the street, I get the feeling that I need to redeem myself, to make things right, or at least prove that I’m not a complete automotive flop.

Then I see it. I hit the brakes and make a sharp right turn. A big smile forms instantly as I come to a stop. I roll down my window to be greeted by an attendant. “Good morning, sir! Welcome to The Car Wash. What can we do for you today?”

My smile grows larger. I’m in heaven. This is my car, and I know my car. “The Works,” I say. “I’ll take The Works.”

“Great choice,” he says. “Nothing better than someone who knows what he needs.”

I step out of the car, hand him the keys, then walk off into the sunshine toward the waiting room. It is the start of a very good day.

 

Copyright Ros Hill 2016

Poor Service, Please

What is there not to like about her?  She is tall with legs that can drop your jaw like you’re looking at the perfect sunset.  Her thick, wavy brunette hair is cinched in a pony tail that gorgeously drapes the back of her neck. Her lips are painted crimson red. I’m not sure what she has applied to her eyes, but I’ll call it “Hot Midnight Trouble”.  Regardless of her striking looks, my concern is whether or not she is complete with a personality to match.

Ah, here she is…approaching my table…

“Have you been here before?” she says, speaking coldly without any introduction.  “Cuz if so, I can take your order now.”

The toneless rush in her voice. The unfriendly, monotone delivery is all I need to know that I have just met Ms. Right.  She has the perfect personality!

“This is my first time here,” I say. “Anything you recommend?”

“Hamburgers. Fries. You want that?” Cold. Her voice is cold as an ice pick.

“No thank you, Jessica,” I reply, reading her name tag. “I’ll take a few more minutes with the menu, if you don’t mind.”

“Sure. Whatever.” she says sharply, then leaves—obviously so disgusted with my decision to prolong my order that, if given the option, she would drag my butt back to the kitchen and dump me in the deep fryer.

Dear God, she is everything I could ask for.

*               *               *

I’ll get back to Jessica in a bit, but perhaps a little clarification is needed to understand what my attraction is to this woman with a harsh personality.

She represents the exclusive group of waiters and waitresses who, I believe, were put on this planet for one purpose: to save me money. They are an elite group of individuals to whom I have no problem giving them little or no tip at all.  Order a hamburger, and they’ll bring you a hot dog. Ask for an iced tea refill and pray you get it before they deliver your check.  The lettuce in your salad is wilted? No problem, your waiter will gladly take it back to the kitchen with the scowl of a bladder-infected opossum.

There was a time when poor service simply ate up all my patience. I’d track our waiter as he served other tables, waiting for that moment when he’d turn and I could flag him down for some extra napkins.  Of course, he wouldn’t turn, and I’d be left an impatient mess, tapping my fingers on the table–caught in a state of high anxiety that didn’t end until I got my napkins. I became so focused on what the waiter or waitress wasn’t doing that I had little time to enjoy myself.

Then, one day, a manager came by my table and asked how my meal was.  “Honestly,” I said. “The steak is undercooked.”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” he said. “Let me get you a new one.”

I handed him my plate, then added, “For whatever it’s worth, our waiter didn’t deliver our drinks until after the appetizers.”

“Really?” he said, in a concerned tone.

You would think I had just alerted him that our waiter was a Russian recipe spy. Not only was I not charged for my meal, but all of our drinks were free as well (or comped as they say in restaurant language). Bright light bulb goes off in my head.  I start doing the math…

1 bad waiter + 1 concerned manager = FREEBIES!!

From that day forward, my perspective on quality restaurant service completely changed. What I quickly learned was that even if a concerned manager never got involved, I could at least justify tipping less because of poor service.  No longer was I anxiously trying to flag down a waitress for not getting enough ranch dressing, but I was now praying for as many mistakes as possible. Don’t just bring me cold soup, but take your time reheating it. Intentionally drop a couple of flies in my lemonade. I’m allergic to jalapenos.  When I eat them, I break out in severe hives and itch for days. I want that jalapeno juice smothered in my mashed potatoes. If I asked for ketchup, you can bring it, but slam it down on the table like you’re trying to kill a six-foot rattlesnake.  And please, oh pretty please, don’t smile.  I want that bladder-infected opossum scowl up front and personal all meal long.

*              *            *

Now that I’ve clarified myself, let’s get back to Jessica.  She should be returning to my table soon to take my order.  Little does she know, I’m going to need a couple more minutes before I decide what I want.  And just how do you plan to handle that, Jessica?  Maybe just cut to the chase and spill a tray of drinks into my lap.  Be my guest, sweet Jessica—I’m all for saving money by slashing your tip.

Here she comes—woman on a mission to take my order.  Hmmm….interesting…she’s smiling…

“Hello. I’m so sorry I forgot to introduce myself earlier.  I’m Jessica, and I’ll be serving you tonight.  Do you still need some more time with the menu?”

NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! This cannot be!!  Who deprogramed my waitress!!? This is not the Jessica I knew ten minutes ago!!  This Jessica is sweet, courteous, and professional. I demand an immediate explanation!!…I demand rudeness!!!

I’m searching for a reply. I don’t know what to say.  “I…umm….I’ll take the hamburger and fries.”  It’s the last thing I want to order, but I say it in hopes to trigger some kind of recall in Jessica’s mind.  In hopes she might become instantly unfriendly.

“Great choice,” she says, happily. “You’ll find that our burgers are quite delicious. Would you like sautéed mushrooms on yours?”

My evening is ruined. Not only will my food taste great, but I’ll have to reward her for such cordial and delightful service. How could things have possibly gotten this bad? I can’t take it. I’m desperate…

“No, I don’t want sautéed mushrooms. But I’ll take jalapenos. Lots and lots of jalapenos.”

 

Copyright Ros Hill 2016

Culiseta

If you were to have seen me, I must have looked like I had lost my mind.  It was nighttime, and a full moon’s soft glow illuminated my dashboard.  I was alone in the car, in the parking lot, slapping myself in the face. Not just once or twice, but numerous times—as if my hands were being controlled by some mad puppeteer.  My ears took most of the hits.  Sharp, stinging slaps that accomplished nothing.

And just what was it that I was trying to accomplish, you might ask?

Murder.  Cold-blooded murder. Even if it meant my suffering some facial lacerations, I was intent on delivering death to a mosquito.

The trick was locating it.  You’d think killing a mosquito shouldn’t be much of a chore.  I am, after all, about a million times larger. I have a daily regimen of going to the gym to lift weights.  Compared to the mosquito, I possess the indestructible cross-bred strength of King Kong, Hercules, and Chuck Norris.  I can rip off the wings from a mosquito’s thorax in the quarter-blink of an eye. I can blow the bug off my arm with relative hurricane force.  I can annihilate it in any manner I desire just as long as I can…locate it.

And this is the part where all of my robust power falters like the graceless floating ability of a cinder block.  This is also the part where I am convinced that the incessant buzzing next to my ear is, in fact, the sound of a mosquito’s joyous laughter.  With each failed slap to the face in the parking lot, my car rocks like a baby’s cradle. Yes, I put that much effort into it. It is literally slapstick comedy that is literally bugging me.  Its buzzing laughter appears to be hovering no more than one inch from my ear.  Slowly, I raise my flattened hand to a spot about a foot out from where I detect the sound.  The hovering laughter has not stopped or moved. How can I possibly miss? I take one deep calming breath before I commence with the slaughter.

WHACK!…WHACK!!..WHACK!!!…WHACKWHACKWHACKWHACK!!!!!!!…

There is now silence. The car stops rocking. I look at my palm to find no signs of murder.  Seriously!? Then I hear it: bzzzzzzzzhahahahah!!

WHACKWHACKWHACKWHACKWHACK!!!!! Repeatedly, I continue to strike out at the plate.  This is infuriatingly frustrating. How is this even possible!? Miraculously, my hand and upper jaw bone are not broken.  And though my ear hasn’t fallen off the side of my head, it is, however, throbbing and as if swollen to the size of a football.

By mere coincidence, I have a book on the passenger’s seat titled, Insects. A friend had loaned it to me to read about a certain caterpillar than is infesting my oak trees.  Curious, I look up the mosquito to get a better look at whom I am waging war. Turns out it’s a woman.  Or so its name appears.

Culiseta longiareolata.

Culiseta. Sounds so feminine. I’m impressed that scientists gave the mosquito such a beautiful name.  Still, what did I ever do to anger this flying woman?

Culiseta my love,

Oh how you hover above,

And buzz so close to my ear.

 

Please depart from this place,

Or I shall smash your face,

And never again call you my dear.

 Her laughter stops. My car fills with silence. Perhaps during the whackfest I might have maimed her, shattering a couple of her legs or rendered her blind.  Culiseta did all she could do to maintain flight, but, in the end, pain and exhaustion got the best of her.  Perhaps she plummeted to the floor behind my seat, where she shall spend her final hours entangled in dirty carpet fibers.

And then, I feel it—my ankle.  That all too familiar itch immediately following an insect bite.  Except mosquitos don’t bite, but rather pierce your skin with their head syringes and suck your blood.  I react quickly and scratch my ankle like I’m certain it’s a winning lottery ticket.  Of course, the more you scratch, the worse it gets.  As my lottery ticket fails me—and out of pure irritation—I do what I always do:  I rake that ankle deep and raw until it goes numb.  In 24 hours I will have a scab a half-inch wide by two inches long. All from a spot that began no larger than one-tenth the width of hair follicle.

I’m now fit to be tied, caged, locked-up…euthanized.  I don’t care who hears my raging voice: “CULISETA!!…WHERE…ARE…YOU!!!??”

Another skin prick hits the other ankle.  A third one lands on the upper calf.  And a fourth one needles me behind the knee.  No buzzing.  No laughter.  She is the ancestry result of over 100 million years of mastering stealth assaults, and she is on a mission. Hell hath no fury like a female mosquito in attack mode.

I open up the Insects book next to me.  I’m curious about her anatomy, specifically her head syringe.  It’s called a proboscis.  Turns out Culiseta is quite the drinker, as she can consume up to three times her body weight in blood. I read on, until I am interrupted by her buzzing.  Only this time it’s not by my ears. Culiseta, for whatever reason, is bouncing around between my dashboard and the windshield.  She is not only completely exposed, but has set herself up for total inhalation.

Four times with the back of my hand I try to smash her against the windshield, jarring my knuckles hard against the glass.  She makes her way to the tight crevasse where the windshield meets the dashboard.  All I can do is dart my fingertips into that confined area, gnashing more of my knuckles as I try. I look for a towel, a pencil, anything to assist in the jabbing.  I have no such item, until I remember that I keep a pocket knife in my glove compartment. Rummaging through miscellaneous stuff and numerous oil change receipts, I find the knife buried beneath the clutter.  Pulling out the blade, I scan the dashboard and see that Culiseta is quietly positioned in the crevasse.  This is my chance.

It will be a difficult jab as I’ll have to hold the knife from the end of the handle with my thumb and index finger in order the wedge into her confined location. Cautiously, so not to disturb and send Culiseta into flight mode, I position the tip of the blade two inches from her…

*           *          *

100 million years of ancestry.  Culiseta’s lifespan is but a microcosm of that as she should perish within 42-52 days from her birth.  Like any insect, there is nothing to be learned.  They do as they are genetically instructed to perform.  Wasps and bees simply know how to build their hives.  There was no schooling involved.  Mosquitoes know how to extract blood and reproduce more mosquitoes. They know how to transmit diseases.  They know how to annoy.  From the perspective of certain animals, mosquitoes are known to be a source of food. Culiseta is part of a complex food web within the animal kingdom.  Perhaps this is destined to be her lucky day.  I cannot deny the cunning fight she put up earlier.  I cannot deny her ability to evade punishing blows to her fragile existence.

The grip on my pocket knife loosens.  I pull the blade back, having come to the conclusion that, as bizarre as it is, I am going to free Culiseta into the night air. This compassion towards an insect that has nailed me four times in the leg, and has made me slap myself at least twenty times in the head, just doesn’t make sense.  But, then again, maybe it’s not supposed to.  Maybe I’m simply going on my genetic instincts.

Rolling down my window, I manage to shoe her off the dashboard and out of the car.  I actually smile at this act of kindness.  Life, I say to myself, is good.

 

Copyright Ros Hill 2016

Fixing Monday

Monday.

The word alone evokes images of too little sleep, headaches, sluggish commutes, and endless cups of black coffee.

As your bloodshot eyes struggle to open, Monday has already reared its ugly head at your bedside.  Its heavy face stares at you with ten thousand pounds of annoyance.  Its breath is burdensome with a putrid odor keeping you from falling back to sleep. At 5:00AM, Monday already stinks.

Arriving to work, you notice there is not one single co-worker who has dodged the wrath of Monday.  As they shuffle around with a head-filled quagmire of drudgery, their enthusiasm is at another all-time low. Seventy-two hours ago they had a bounce in their step and were thrilled to be alive.  TGIF is not just a welcome cliché, but is also the celebratory creed of the working world.  Rain or shine, the long-awaited weekend never fails to deliver relief.  Of course, they push Sunday to its limits, trying to squeeze out every drop of its restoring tonic.  They have a little more to eat, a little more to drink.  And then they go to bed late, doing whatever they can to not think about the forthcoming and menacing buzz of the alarm clock.

If you find that you’re missing some screws or hex nuts as you assemble your IKEA furniture, you can bet that the packing error occurred on a Monday. If your cable man is supposed to be at your house on Monday, don’t expect him until Tuesday.  If you’re supposed to have brain surgery on a Monday…cancel it!

It is a day that needs to be restructured. Twenty-four hours is too many hours for a Monday.  I propose we make Monday a 12-hour day, and give 36 hours to Sunday.  The fact is Sunday goes by too quickly.  If you’ll watch the clock closely on Sunday, what you’ll see is that one minute is up in thirty seconds.  In fact, late into Sunday night, it takes only twelve seconds for a minute to pass by. Unbeknownst to many, Einstein discovered this Theory of Time Rip-Off Relativity by applying his advanced mathematics: no symbolE=MC² (where no symbolE represents No Energy, M is Monday, and C² is Crappy Crappy.  Hence: No energy on a crappy crappy Monday). He had great intentions to publish his findings which occurred on a Sunday night.  Unfortunately, the following Monday morning he took his hand-written papers to a publisher who had a head-busting hangover.  The combination of his post-intoxicated state and having to rise early for work led to his frazzled mind mistaking the papers as linings for a kitty litter box.  Needless to say, they perished.

Still, it really doesn’t take Einsteinian theory to prove that Monday’s hours need to be curtailed.  If we allot 36 hours to Sunday, then that means Monday morning would roll around at the regular Monday noon time—no more dark, dreary mornings.  Instead of an 8-hour work day, Monday would now have a 4-hour work day. That alone would make people look forward to Monday.  There would now be a 36 hour work week.  With the decrease in on-the-job errors, businesses would generate healthy bonuses to be paid out for increased worker productivity.  Everybody wins.

The assembly pieces to your IKEA furniture…they’ll all be there.  Your cable TV will be working by Monday afternoon.  And that surgery you have scheduled…well, it’s a no-brainer…go for it!

 

Copyright Ros Hill 2016

 

Anyone Want To Go Smell A Movie?

For several rotations, her head spins around three-hundred and sixty degrees.  Her eyeballs are bulging, just shy of popping out of their sockets and being propelled across the bedroom. Lizard-like, her tongue moves in and out—a literal extension of the demonic presence that possesses her.  She is twelve years old, and speaks in a guttural tone resembling the failing hydraulic system of a decrepit garbage truck.  A biblical plague of locusts fly out of her mouth beneath a head of hair that is as well-kept as tornado debris. As the windows shatter, there is a burning hole in the wall behind her from which a thousand screaming ghostly souls are filling the room.

It could be the scene from a new horror film, or the scene from any horror film.

Today’s horror flicks are becoming cookie cutter productions. How many times do we have to watch a screaming child claw at her bedroom floor as she zips backwards on her stomach in her nightgown?  How many times do we have to watch her do a ninety-degree change in direction as she quickly slides backwards up a wall, only to be slammed against the ceiling where, at that moment, all eerie high-pitched violin sounds suddenly cease, and she drops to the floor with a heavy thud?

So often the same themes and scare tactics are repeated over and over without any thought of originality. Into the dark basement our main actor goes.  Lights out. Grab a flashlight. The camera pans the room slowly until an elderly woman is spotted through the spider webs.  Her head is bent down with an entangled mess of grey hair falling in creepy disarray. Will he survive the old woman’s eminent chase up the stairs? Of course he will!—the movie still has an hour to go.  But he’d better watch out for the man behind him in the bathroom mirror.  You’ll recognize his disfigured, hallowed-eyed face, as he’s been making more bathroom mirror cameo appearances in horror films than there are Hollywood exorcisms.

If you want to horrify (hence the name “horror”) an audience, don’t do it with “jump scares”—those sudden, unexpected surprises that completely catch people off-guard.  Jump scares have a very short scare-life, after which, things quickly return to normal.

Horrification is a result of a few sinister seeds that must be planted deep within the cerebellum so they can creepily grow into something terrifying.  A good horror film will rely more on pushing your psychological limits, rather than your exposure-to-gore limits.  A tap on her shoulder. A cold whisper in her ear.  She turns to see who is there. Nobody. Just darkness.  Until…another tap on her shoulder…  There’s nothing jumping out at you, except your mind imagining what might be.  When you’re shuttering inside your head, that’s when a horror film is paralyzingly successful.

However, since the movie industry is struggling to break free from cookie cutter horror films, then I propose we create a new genre of movies.  A genre that will push the envelope of petrifying horror.  A genre that will not just have the audience on the edge of their seats, but will send them…running for safety.

Enter:  Foul Odor Horror movies.

These films will bring to the horror movie industry what horror movies have been missing. Just as Dolby Surround Sound has dramatically enhanced the movie goer’s audible experience, then so too shall the latest technology enhance the sense of smell: Dolby Surround RealTimeStench.

And just what is RealTimeStench? It is created by:

  • 8-cubic-yard commercial dumpsters that have been collecting garbage for at least ten years in the back alleys of restaurants that preferably discard unfinished meat dishes, blood-soaked Styrofoam meat packaging, meaty bone scraps, and raw chicken and turkey skins. These are specially selected dumpsters whose interiors are caked with years of spoiled meat grim, resulting in nothing less than housing the ghastly, putrid stench of bacterial breakdown.
  • A commercial-grade gas furnace heating system designed to blow enough hot air to quickly fill a theater.

Theaters showing Foul Odor Horror films will utilize RealTimeStench systems by rigging the dumpsters upside down in the ceiling.  They will be positioned so that their openings are flush with the ceiling, and hidden behind sliding panels.  Air vents will be positioned inside of each dumpster to quickly deliver 92 degrees of foul, obnoxious, and repulsive dumpster air upon the movie patrons.

In addition to RealTimeStench, there are two major requirements to qualify as a Foul Odor Horror film:

1). It cannot be a horror film sequel. Originality is vital. The Exorcist was great.  Should’ve stopped right there. The first Halloween was brilliant.  Should’ve stopped right there.

2). The Foul Odor Horror genre will not use the typical horror movies titles that we’ve all grown accustomed to offering a lack of frightful originality.  People know what to expect just from the titles (Night of the Living Dead, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Evil Dead).  Other Predictable horror film titles could be: Rabid Sorority Girls Eat Planet Earth, Dead Teenagers Alive in the Sewer, Twenty Knives Stuck in the Bride’s Eyes, or Blood-Sucking Snakes in the International Space Station.  Well, you’ve got a pretty good idea what’s going to happen in those films. Foul Odor Horror films will have highly obscure titles to stir curiosity.  Films slated for the Christmas holiday season are: Grandma’s Teeth Rotted on the Subway, On Wednesday I Threw My Feet into the Boy Scout Campfire, and I Found Spoiled Meat and My Great Aunt Nelda in the Bloody Ice Cream. Creepy. Strange. Unpredictable. Unsettling. Horrifying.

To give an example of a Foul Odor Horror film in action, and to see how RealTimeStench is incorporated, let’s take a look at a scene from Grandma’s Teeth Rotted on the Subway…

 A grandmother is riding on a subway train and eating a rancid roast beef sandwich that she unearthed from her refrigerator where it had been in a plastic bag for over two years.  Though the sandwich is dark-green, black, fuzzy, and completely unrecognizable, she nibbles away. This is because:  a) she has severe cataracts, b) she has a rare nose condition where she is hard of smelling, and c) she’s missing her tongue because in the first five minutes of the movie a street magician made it disappear (spoiler: the magician makes it reappear in the last five minutes of the film, just in time for her funeral.  Oh, like that matters.)

 Her back is to us as she eats. The camera slowly zooms in while moving around to her side. The sound of the train becomes less and less audible until it fades.  In exchange, we now hear her saliva as she chews.  It is the sound of gross.  And gross becomes more and more evident as we are drawn closer to her mouth to witness the watery mucus secretions coating each bite, as well as a mouthful of rotted teeth.  Through a series of quick flashbacks, and as the camera continues to zoom in, we learn she has a history of consuming spoiled sandwiches, night after night.  Up close and way too personal, she opens her mouth to take in one last bite. Smiling as she does so, she exhales one enormous heavy breath directly at the audience…

 The sliding panels in the ceiling have opened as, simultaneously, the gas furnace begins blowing the oppressive heat through the ventilation system.  RealTimeStench is alive, fumigating every patron in the theater with a thick, warm blanket of foul dumpster stink…or, in this case, better known as Grandma’s Breath.

Typically, four types of experiences shall occur as a result of being subjected to RealTimeStench:

1). The Survivors: These are the people who will make it through the rest of the film.  There will be that initial reaction of “Good God, who farted!?” But other than that, they’ll be back to eating their popcorn and enjoying the rest of the film.

2). The Sick: These poor souls will quickly be reaching for their air sickness bags located at each seat.  Due to the high volume of retching that will be occurring, it is strongly suggested that everyone wear a plastic hair cap or rain poncho to prevent any undesirable splatter coming from patrons sitting behind you.

3). The Fainters:  Chances are these people will miss the majority of the film.  But no need to stress, as each theater will be assigned with a highly-trained Emergency Medical Team.  These skilled first-responders will not interrupt the rest of the film.

4). The Runners: These people will just want out.  And want out quickly! They’ll be running for the exits to grab fresh air and a refund as soon as they can.  They’ll get the fresh air only.  No refunds with a Foul Odor Horror film.  That’s part of the risk you take when you purchase a ticket to smell your movie.

So, there you have it.  Unless the horror movie creators begin producing truly original and frightful films, then we’re going to have to abandon that track, and move onto something a bit more different.

Even if it means raising a stink.

 

Copyright Ros Hill 2016

The Burp

Last week, I burped several times during a run. Not little innocent burps, but rather the heavy-duty kind that grumble with the guttural force of a mufflerless hot rod.  Up through the esophagus the gas climbed, before its volcanic pressure spewed a foul aftertaste into the atmosphere.  Each time I had to stop to belch.

All I wanted was one continuous easy run. Just an easy pace through the flat and shady neighborhoods that captured the serene ambience of a lazy summer day. But that was not going to happen.  Acid reflex was in control.

Why did I stop?  Because the alternative not to would’ve resulted in an implosion of gas distributing massive amounts of pressure against all walls of the belly chamber—much like a birthday party of 6-year-olds bouncing their indestructible bodies in all directions inside an air-filled jumping castle. Did I want to stop? Hell, no! We distance runners are a stubborn species.  We’ll push through any pain or discomfort just shy of a broken femur.

But apparently not gas.

We take a lot of pride in not stopping on a run.  In our obsessive minds, if we do stop, it can be classified as “FAILURE”.  As I feel the gas percolating, my mind wanders, imagining a dreadful encounter with another runner….

He’s running on the opposite side of the street, and notices me bent over. I can feel his eyes. I look at my watch, as if that’s a reason for me to have stopped.  He says, “Gas, buddy? That was quite a burp.”

“No,” I reply, “No gas. Just a side stitch.”

“In your throat?”

“Yeah, it’s a big one.” I wave him off like a mosquito.

“Don’t wave me off like a mosquito!” He says, raising his voice to a mild but pointed holler. “All I did was ask a question.”

“I didn’t wave you off. It was a fly.”

“Fly my ass, buddy.  I know your kind.”

My kind?  I’m now a kind? What kind of kind? Like a mischievous vagrant? I swear this mosquito is a pest.  I take a stand and say, “You know what…buddy…you’re a…”

My sentence is interrupted. I can’t speak. The gas pressure fires up through my esophagus, then quickly expands into my mouth that, for an instant, inflates my cheeks like a pufferfish. And then…that all too familiar sound: the comical quick burst of a burp.

Busted.

“You got issues, buddy. Not that you’re burping, but that you feel guilty for stopping. As if checking your watch made for a legitimate reason to stop. Like it’s against your running religion. You, my friend, need the Twelve Stop Program.

And that’s where my imagination peters out, and the man continues his run, dissolving into the distance. I’m left alone with a superego that is creatively trying to convince my ego that despite the discomfort of acid reflux, stopping during a run for a some needed burp relief, really isn’t such a bad thing.

I never did get to explain to myself just exactly what enrolling in a Twelve Stop Program would entail.  My imagination decided I might be better served just accepting things and moving on. So, I fess up and shoe denial away. After all, like the man said: it wasn’t the burping that was the issue—it was everything else in my head.

We humans can be an obsessive breed for sure. Stopping on a run is really small potatoes. No need to feel guilty. Life will go on. And, eventually, so too will the run.

Copyright Ros Hill 2016