Out of Kilter

Ken Carpenter's Out of Kilter has hit the web. The same original blend of history and humor. None of the editorial restrictions.

Gummers of the world take heed

I have been locked in a creative slump lately, but decided to break my chains and re-write a 2004 story on chewing gum. Don’t smack it, don’t stick it on anything and, above all, don’t chew Black Jack.

Cavemen were the world’s first gum chewers, and evidence indicates that they masticated tree resin for the pure enjoyment of it. When they weren’t chewing on each other, that is.
The oldest identifiable piece of gum is 9000 years old, and I bet it was at least as fresh as the petrified sticks of pink gum we used to get in our baseball cards. Before they started putting gum in the card packs in 1951 they included a single cigarette, much to the dismay of Mom’s everywhere.
Every society in history has routinely chomped on some kind of resin, sap or wax to exercise their jowls and freshen their sour breath. Given the horrible sounds that come out of many modern gum-chewers, I can only imagine the atrocious noises that came out of the supposedly less mannered chompers in the past. I am guessing that more than a few over-exuberant gummers were bashed or skewered in the old days for irritating or disgusting fellows who felt they should keep their darn smacking mouth shut when they chewed.
My own opinion is that a bashing or a skewering would not be out of line for somebody who smacks and pops their gum with an open mouth. Humans are not bovine creatures and they can’t use the excuse that they have a big old cud that needs chawed.
Some people chew their gum fiercely like they are mad at it and they are determined to make it suffer. If they were cannibals they could be gumming the gristly tendons of an especially hated enemy who had finally succumbed to their bushwhacking ways.
I have heard women who could make their gum pop like a pistol shot. The Queens of Gum Popping were the high school girls from the 60’s, who could have drowned out a fireworks display.
I have no idea how the queens decided that gum popping was cool, but they always seemed to be having a competition. I swear my ears still smart from the POP! POP! POP! of any female gathering over two from that era. There must have been some kind of opposite sex appeal thing going with the popping, but I was immune to it if indeed it existed. The whole thing was a little intimidating to me.
Bubble gum was invented by accident in 1928, and was an instant success. It is not with me though, for I am one of those who could not blow a bubble to save my life.
It’s not like I want to hold the world’s record, but it just seems like if a little kid can do something a grown man should be able to. By the way, my 1995 Guinness Book listed the world’s record bubble at a 23-inch diameter, and I don’t really care if there has been one bigger since then. Sniff, sniff.
A ‘Gumbug’ is a blob of used chewing gum, ‘Gumbugging’ is the unsociable disposal of used chewing gum where it can be viewed in public places, and a ‘Gumbugger’ is one who practices gumbugging. A good Gumbuggering with a five-pound cylinder of Gumbugged Gumbugs might dissuade them.
There is one place in the world that hates gumbugging with a passion nowhere else can rival. It is Singapore, where you can be imprisoned for importing chewing gum and fined $1000 for chewing it!
I can just see the shady gum dealers lurking on the side streets, sneakily opening their minty, green trench coats and flashing their chewy wares in hopes of enticing some poor soul down the Dentyne path to destruction.
The average American chews over 300 sticks of gum per year, and the gum companies sell over $2 billion worth of gum to Americans during the same span.
Interestingly, doctors in the 1860’s used to advise their gum-chewing patients to abstain unless they wanted their innards to stick together. I think my Mom used the same story to get us kids not to swallow our gum, and I haven’t swallowed any to this day.
I don’t use much, and the corporations who enrich themselves by wearing out people’s jowls would go broke if they relied on us who gnaw a dozen or two chunks a year. What I do chew is kept to myself, for I work at it with my mouth closed, I do not smack and slobber while I chomp it, and I couldn’t pop it if I was offered good money.
In truth my sparing use of chewing gum in any form can be piled high in front of the licorice flavored door of the murderous Black Jack. I almost gagged every time a fan of it walked up oozing wafts of licorice from their mouth and pores.
I hate black licorice above all other things except the New York Yankees. I wish all Yankees past and present could be lined up, coated with a diarrhea-textured soup of gummy black licorice and set free to scurry like addled Cane Toads on the infield grass in front of a packed Yankee Stadium.
On second thought, cancel the soup idea. I’m sure a horde of crazed, licorice-tongued, New Yorkers would charge onto the field and slurp their Yankees clean, much to the enjoyment of the lickees. Besides that, the mere thought of licorice soup is making me queasy.
Oddly enough, it was the pitiless and famous Mexican general Santa Anna, of the Battle of the Alamo renown, who was directly responsible for Black Jack. He was probably still pissed off about losing the Texas War of Independence, and wanted to dish up a serving of disgust to Americans.
Anyway, the former president was exiled from Mexico and he moved to New Jersey in 1869 toting along a ton of chicle. Long story short, he sold the chicle to a demented fellow who flavored a bunch with anisseed (which I regard as anus-seed) and in 1884 Black Jack became America’s first flavored and first stick form gum. Urp!
Declining sales, “Yay!”, caused it to be discontinued in the 1970’s. It was eventually re-introduced every few years, “Boo!”, and it still is. People who like to nauseate others can buy it online, only $55.17 for 20 five-packs.
In closing I would like to say that if I am ever elected dictator of the world anyone who chews their gum in a loud obnoxious manner will be sent to the plains of Texas on the next bus. Black Jack abusers would get Siberia. They can then spend eternity smacking at each other in the wide-open spaces.


Gullible makes the world go around

This story was done in 2011, but it could easily have been from any era since mankind first developed. Fooling other people is an international institution that fills pockets, empties wallets and places smooth talking idiots in control of their country’s destiny.

Gullible makes the world go around

I made the mistake the other day of mentioning to a friend that I was once again stumped about a subject for my next story, and was just hoping for one word with potential to pop into my head.
“How about gullibility?” she said without hesitation.
“Any particular reason?” I asked with suspicion.
“Oh no,” she lied, “But I was thinking how easy it was to convince you last month that you don’t really look your age.”
“Oh yeah,” I said, slightly offended, “That was the same day I conned you into believing that you could pass for forty.”
Gullibility is simply the tendency to be easily deceived or cheated. A person who is easily tricked or manipulated into an ill-advised course of action, and can be conned into believing unlikely propositions that are unsupported by evidence, is gullible.
Politicians could not survive without the support of the gullible.
You don’t have to be stupid to suffer from gullibility though, plenty of smart people are as easy to fool as the run-of-the-mill boobs.
There has always been a saying among con men that “There is a mark born every minute, and one to trim ‘em and one to knock ‘em.” The meaning is that the population is evenly split among the gullible victims, those who will take advantage of them and those who will protect them.
There is no scientific evidence to support that claim, but I’m guessing it is pretty close. I also know that almost all of us can occasionally be naive in some way, or take advantage of somebody else’s gullibility to pull a joke on them, but that third of the population that prospers from “weasel words” are the ones to look out for.
There it is, my new favorite term, weasel words. Words or claims that turn out to be empty upon analysis are known as “weasel words.” The phrase first appeared in a political story published in 1900, in which they were referred to as “words that suck the life out of the words next to them, just as a weasel sucks the egg and leaves the shell”.
It is doubtful that a weasel actually sucks an egg, but anyone with half a brain knows that advertisers, politicians, journalists, salesmen and a legion of others use “weasel words” to lull the naive into falling for their con and parting with their hard earned cash, votes or simple decency.
A shill is another interesting foe of the gullible. My first hardcore exposure to a shill was at a carnival in 1977. He was outside of a tent featuring a “Shark-boy”, and he repeated the same phrase over and over like a broken record: “He’ll meet ya, he’ll greet ya, watch out he don’t eat ya!”
Thirty-four years later and I still hear his shrill shill bleating sometimes. Now that is a successful shill. Most of them are a lot subtler, trying to help out a person or organization by pretending to be an independent customer with a heartfelt enthusiasm for whatever product is being marketed.
They thrive on the Internet, where those who are prone to gullibility can have their minds crammed with lies and their pockets emptied of cash in record time. They also pop up at some auctions, where they drive up prices with phony bids and are called “potted plants”.
“Crocodile tears” are very useful to some psychological manipulators who are trying to steer a gullible victim in a direction that is advantageous to them. Guilt tripping is also a handy tool to elicit the proper amount of sympathy for a cash-starved enterprise, and should be met with a stern “Did you learn that from your Grandma Maizie?”
My youngest brother is nine years younger than I am, and I must confess that I often took advantage of his gullibility when he was younger. We loved tea, and I would frequently heat up a teapot of water and make cups for my next youngest brother, my sister and me.
Young Nate was usually zipping around somewhere and I would holler out a “Teatime!” to which he would respond. We three older ones would sit smacking our lips, raving about the stupendous quality of the tea.
His cup was always the black one, and it was almost always filled with hot water instead of tea. Soon he would join in, sipping and raving, until he happened to notice us shooting each other sneaky glances and trying not to laugh.
At that point he would scowl, march over to the sink, and pour out just enough water to see that, “Yes!”, he had been duped once again. Howling, cackling and wrestling ensued.
I honestly don’t know how many times this same trick worked through his gullible years, but I loved every one. It was a good lesson too, because he is not one of the gullible ones now.
So gullibility is not always a bad thing. Without a little bit of it, we’d never be able to trick anyone.

The ruination of the world, and other trivial things

A small load of crap

This story was done in June of 2006, so pay no attention to lines that make no sense now. I am also pleased to say that in 2007 my wife Joy and I moved into a nicer home, complete with a heat pump, so I no longer have swelter in my own juices in my bedroom.
On the whole, this story deals bunk because I couldn’t think of anything else to write at the time.

The ruination of the world, and other trivial things

As I sit here broken hearted,
I try to think but can not get started.
And so, my brain, milked dry of wit,
Shall have to settle for pure bullshit.

Some days it does not pay to get out of bed. The only consolation is that my bedroom will probably reach the temperature of a nuclear reactor by 10:00 AM, further thickening the ample supply of pollen that haunts me like a flatulent brother-in-law.
Scientists agree that global warming has caused plants to produce more pollen, and we have only the greed of mankind to blame. The bees must be happy campers, but I have met people this spring who are having allergies for the first time in their life, so most humans are not buzzing with glee over the changes.
It is the most natural thing in the world for folks to grumble though. One of the main things they gripe about is the weather, unless they live next door to that brother-in-law I mentioned. I’m no different, and the only thing that can stop me from complaining about sneezing and wheezing is watching the thermometer soar above 90 degrees. Heat is hot, and since I’m not a horny toad I don’t like it.
TV commercials would lead you to believe that there could be nothing better than sizzling heat, and I have to admit that the hordes of scantily clad women jiggling to and fro could influence the unwary. Problem is, if I were there the sweat running in my eyes would keep me from enjoying the scenery, and the fact that I was trying to enjoy it would likely earn me a rib cracking from my wife. If there is one thing I know about misery it is that it is miserable, and it should not be sought out because it will find you soon enough.
I wish I was the Dictator of the Universe, I’d set a few things straight. First off, “No Torment For Kenny!” No temperature over 74 degrees, all pollen goes straight to where it needs to go and avoids my swollen beak and watery eyes, no bruised ribs for ogling those who live only to be ogled, no warm beer (unless there is none chilled), all tasty foods only make you skinnier, all toilets have massagers in the seat so you don’t get that unsightly ring and numb legs when you read one too many articles, and please, no three-bean salads at the company picnic.
Those little chores would start my first day in office off right, and I’m sure my reign would be a benevolent one. Of course, the rich would all become poor, the poor would become rich and the middle class would become richer. Texas would have a 100’ fence put around it and all criminals would be locked in to create their own society. I’m sure they would get along well with the Texas Republicans, who would be too crooked to be allowed to leave. Law abiding citizens who happened to be mean bullies would be locked into New York City, where they would have to listen Barbra Streisand for 24 hours a day until they changed their ways.
Last but not least, hot dogs with ketchup would be outlawed.
Sigh, I guess maybe I wouldn’t be a good dictator after all.
I’d just be a self-serving lout like every other leader in the world today.

The Seven Deadly Grins

Grins and sins

The following story is a take-off on the Seven Deadly Sins. As usual with my stuff, some will like it and some will not. Just because organized religion gets a lot of mileage out of the sins, don’t dare get the idea that I am part of one. It has no more use for me than I do for it, and that is all I’ll say about it.
Read on.

The Seven Deadly Grins

Both religious and archival history have gotten a lot of mileage out of “The seven deadly sins”. In reality there are many more, but I suppose you could encompass them all with some tie to the lucky seven if you wanted to get creative.
One day my shifty mind came up with the idea for a story title, The Seven Deadly Grins, and I threw my shoulder out of joint patting myself on the back. It was Pride, the deadliest sin, paying me back, I’m sure. I smugly decided to piece together a story to go with the, I was so sure, unique and oh so clever title.
I put the Seven Deadly Grins in Google, where it only had a miserable 38,700 hits. To my further and eternal disgust, one of the Seven Deadly Grins is a punk mariachi band. The concept makes me dizzy, and I refuse to ever put those two words together again as long as I live.
Out of pure stubbornness I will keep the title, though it does not roll off of my tongue as easily as it did before.
King Solomon, son of David, was the King of Israel from 970-931 BC. In some publications he is called one of the wisest men of all time. In others he is called a pervert, whose lustful ways caused the Jewish kingdom to be torn in two. He had 700 wives and 300 concubines, so in my mind he was simply crazy.
Anyway, he wrote much of The Book Of Proverbs, which included its own lengthy list of deadly sins. In the 6th century Pope Gregory the Great whittled the list down to the current seven, since a more manageable list would be easier to keep believers in line.
Just to jog memories and establish my ill-guided direction and focus, I will list the seven in the order from least sinful to most. They are as follows: Sloth, Greed, Wrath, Lust, Gluttony, Envy, and, to my great surprise, the original and most seriously hated by the pious, Pride.
Now that I have bitten off more than I can chew, it is time to create a few deadly grins to go with each deadlier sin. I wish I had stuck with my first idea, Fat-bottomed Gripers, which I know a little more about.
It should be established now that the difference in a smile and a grin is simple. One is used exclusively in a positive way and the other can be used both in a positive situation or a negative situation. A smile usually has love or appreciation as a sidekick. A grin can be happy, or it can be hiding an evil enjoyment of another’s bad luck.
Ogden Nash quoted that “The only people who should really sin are the people who can sin and grin.”
In my mind, even if it doesn’t always fit, he pretty much nailed it. Why sin if you can’t enjoy it? I think most people make a conscious decision to maximize their self-indulgence, prompting a sin filled life, and others do so accidentally.
Now, from the original sin Pride, considered the sin that spawned all others, and on down to the least of the seven, Sloth, my monument to ineptitude continues. I also have to point out that in ancient times when paintings were done showing all of the active seven sins, animals or women were the sinners depicted. Who was the true sinner there?
Pride-Deadly Grin #1: The Mocking Taunt, Pride is designed to limit excessive belief in one’s own abilities but can be induced by an inadvertent show of Pride, thereby sinning without meaning to. It may also be accompanied by a cheerful bellow if your child just hit a home run in the championship game. On the whole, overly prideful types have a superiority complex.
Envy-Deadly Grin #2: A Tight Lipped Grimace, fueled by Envy. These are not nice grins, nor are the thoughts that accompany them.
Have you ever pulled up to a stoplight in your ten-year old car, looked to your right, and wished with all your might that you owned the gun metal blue Mercedes without the payment that might accompany it? You always look at the driver, wondering what life could have been like with a few more good choices. Bottom line, you want the car and would stomp a bunny to get it.
Gluttony-Deadly Grin #3: The Bloated Sneer, because you just spoiled yourself rotten. This is often paired with a gurgling burp.
If you watch any TV, you know that the entire advertising world wants you to become a bigger glutton than you already are, if you have any hoggish tendencies at all. Eat the triple patty, six slices of bacon burger, then waddle next door and buy the biggest flat screen and flashiest phone you can find, neither of which you need.
Lust-Deadly Grin #4: The Lecherous Leer, usually brought on by four Aces, another overcharged customer or a bare bottom. Don’t deny it, we have all been afflicted with it at one time or another.
Lust is an uncontrollable craving for sex, power or money. Ask King Solomon about that, he of the 300 concubines to fill the time his 700 wives could not.
Anger-Deadly Grin #5: The Wild Eyed Smirk, providing self-justification for wicked ways, the only true fuel for an empty soul.
Some folks let Anger rule their lives, belittling others for no reason, bullying those who allow it and generally looking for a flimsy excuse to pound or push around somebody smaller than them. They are a great pleasure to embarrass.
Greed-Deadly Grin #6: The Lip Smacking Snigger, for pure greed satisfied will put you on an imaginary pedestal quicker than anything.
Greed should be further up the list, for it is usually the cause of every war, even if the foes say it is for ideological differences. A look of pure greed on a human face is one of the most unsettling things in the world.
Sloth- Deadly Grin #7: The Sly Jeer, no teeth showing. It takes too much effort, doncha know, but the unreasonable contempt these freeloaders have for their supporters can’t be hidden.
Lazy is sometimes in the eye of the beholder, for there are often unknown reasons for a person to ignore physical duties. On the other hand, the country is full of those who want their needs provided for by others when they are capable of doing it themselves.
So there they are, the deadly seven, all of which could probably be improved on with a little more practice. Don’t stand in front of a mirror and rehearse them, I don’t want anybody to sprain a lip.
I guess as we pass through the world we will either grin and bear it or grin and bare it, determining if any of the sins will pop up occasionally to steer our life.
Decisions, decisions.

A little green goes a lot of different ways

The Grass Is Always Greener

The following story is about the color green, written in 2003. Green is not my favorite color, though it is not offensive and I wear it quite often. Those who do love it are said to be caring to others, have a fierce need to belong, hate details, drift into gossipy behavior at times, have to battle jealousy and envy and take long, smelly poops.
Well, I may have taken some liberties with that last one. Regardless, it is the color of harmony and balance, it symbolizes hope, renewal and peace and it also causes penises to shrivel and vaginas to gape.
Damn! That little bastard on my left shoulder is working overtime tonight.
Green is supposedly number two on the top ten favorite color list in America.
I guess shriveling and gaping runs rampant everywhere.

Green is all over these days. Grass is still popping up, greenbacks are diving across nursery counters, you can find people on every corner who look green around the gills and squinty-eyed glares green with front-yard envy are rampant.
There are those who would kill for their neighbor’s lawn. To the casual observer, like me, grass is grass. To the fanatic it is pure gold.
Yes, it feels good to the toes. Unfortunately it also attracts doggy booby traps, which are also partial to toes. My own feet are strangers to bare ground, given their tendency to find sharp, disgusting, or biting objects.
Grass also adds to the atmosphere at a baseball game. Whether playing or watching, the appeal of our national pastime suffers when played on dirt or an old, brown pasture.
I have to admit, a thrilling element of danger is added when you have to dodge cow patties as you chase down a fly ball. It’s funny how manure coated shoes seem to curtail any Willie Mays fantasies you may like to indulge in though.
Personally, I wouldn’t mind if all my grass turned to rocks overnight. My lawn mower and I have a mutual hate thing going that dampens any of my enthusiasm for grass of any kind.
Why don’t I just shoot it and put it out of my misery, you might ask?
It is really quite simple Watson. It is because all pull-start, gas powered machines and I have a mutual, life-long hate thing going with each other. They can’t stand the sight of my face, and my own eyes turn vicious when they spy one sitting there smirking at me.
Even if somebody else successfully starts a machine on the first pull fifty times in a row, it will go on strike as soon as I get my club-fingered little hands on it. If it starts at all, it will wait until its crank has been yanked forty times and I am within one minute of collapsing with exhaustion.
Once it establishes who is boss, it will grudgingly fire up unless it is in need of a longer nap. In that case, all the brains in NASA could not start it.
Not until I step around the corner anyway. At that point, it will start purring like a kitten with one pull.
I need to change the subject. I am grinding my teeth to nubs just thinking about my first post-winter session with that squatting demon lurking in my shed. I should just buy another goat, but I fear it would not like me either and they have teeth.
Getting back to green for a minute, I am reminded of the team colors of the Boston Celtics. Not because I like them, but because they were central to a tale of sisterly woe from the 1960’s.
At that time my brother, our friends, and I would shoot baskets by the hour on a short (very short) rim that we could dunk on. We would each pretend to be our favorite NBA stars as we played countless simulated playoff games.
My sweet, too-soon departed, younger sister, Elana, watched us day after day, and she finally decided she wanted to play too. We were not pleased by this unexpected development, but we soon relented with a few stipulations.
We let her play, though she had to stay out of the way and be satisfied with an occasional shot or pass. Oh yeah, and she also got the privilege of being Satch Sanders.
Every single time.
We convinced her that Satch was the stud of the NBA and that it was a supreme sacrifice by her caring brothers to allow her to be him, when we all really wanted to. She was pleased as punch that she got to be the handsome, talented Satch.
Every single time.
In reality, Satch was one of the ugliest humans who ever drew a breath, as well as being a member of the hated Celtics.
Well, one day we were watching a basketball game on TV and sis wandered in and sat down. As luck would have it, the Celtics were playing and the sweaty, almost deformed looking Satch Sanders was getting ready to shoot a free throw.
My cronies and I looked at each other, trying hard to keep a straight face, and when Satch’s name popped up under his face you could have heard an ant burp.
“Saaaaaaatch!” she shrieked in an inhuman voice, for her mortification had even seeped into her vocal cords.
All of the conspirators collapsed into giggling lumps on the floor, numb to the pummeling she proceeded to dole out to us. She called us a string of less than complimentary names, and swore she would hate us all forever.
Her short basketball career had come to an end, but her career as Satch was only beginning.
She soon stopped hating us, but she never could stand the sight of a Celtics jersey.
I guess we shouldn’t have called her Satch all those years, for even when we should have been old enough to quit but didn’t, but a guy always hates to give up an advantage.

Tales from Gnomeville

I always loved Gnomes, and it would be very cool if they really existed. Who knows, maybe they do. What I don’t love about them is that I resemble one, both in stature and appearance. Maybe attitude too, but not having conversed with one I’m not sure about that.
The following story is from 2002, in the middle of my last bachelor days. I am not sure how that affected my writing, though the story does touch upon bare boobs and the sexual proclivity of Gnomes. Oh yeah, I forgot, I was living the life of a monk during that period. Anybody want to buy the Brooklyn Bridge?

An ordinary human must suffer many indignities throughout their lifetime, and many times the indignity of the indignity is that their own flesh and blood is the cause of it. In my case, the sour fruit of my loins, my youngest son, has decided his poor old Pappy is deserving of a nickname that is based primarily on physical stature. I am now known as the Gnome, even in the sanctity of my own home!
Deciding not to take this latest insult lying down, I dug out my Gnome encyclopedia and did a little research. I am not making this up, I have a 1” x 9” x 12” hardcover book that tells everything you ever, or never, wanted to know about Gnomes. It was a present from my sister 20 years ago, and she no doubt thought it hilarious that the book includes a full color picture of bare Gnome bosoms. More on that later.
The first discrepancy I discovered concerning my new moniker is that Gnomes are only six inches tall, so even my stubby little legs are taller than they are. Maybe only by an inch or two, but taller nonetheless.
Gnomes are very hairy little dudes, and I admit a few people to whom insults are the candy of life have called me a hairy ape. But Gnomes, even though they can live for 500 years, never go bald. So (Hah!) that slowly spreading bald spot on my dome is yet another clue that if I have any Gnome blood in me at all, it is tainted. The fact that I have a beard, as all Gnomes do, is circumstantial evidence at best.
Gnomes are reputed to be master craftsmen who can create wonderful and useful objects from the most rudimentary of materials. Building projects under my power become monuments to ineptitude where the only square thing around is the builder.
The favorite headgear of a Gnome is a red, peaked, dunce-style hat. I do not like dunce hats, even when I am sitting in the corner. I do, however, have a green elf hat that pops up around Christmas, but I don’t think it counts.
Legend has it that Gnomes are the veterinarians of the forest, mending and helping animals of all kinds. They are also vegetarians, so they help out in that way too. I eat meat, and while I may have a serviceable bedside manner, folks or creatures in need of medical attention would do well to look past my Tylenol wielding mitts.
Gnomes remain sexually active for 400 years, or at least they have spread the rumor they do. While I would enjoy such a reputation, the world’s best PR guy would be unlikely to convince anyone of that.
Now I have to digress for a minute, for it is time to get back to the bosoms. The little Gnome Mama in the picture has to be named Dolly, for of her ten ounces of weight, four must be bosom. The footnote below the drawing says that Gnome ladies have no need for bras because gravity has little effect on such small beings. Keeping that in mind, I would advise humans with sagging parts to make extensive use of the line “ It’s that pesky gravity” when they feel an explanation is necessary.
I now feel I can rest my case. If my gigantic son, all of three inches taller than me, insists on continuing to call me a Gnome, I can rest easy knowing he has based his conclusion on misinformation. Except for one thing. Gnomes have long memories and they always get their revenge.

Silly, grave-dancing, poop-sharing geese

The following story is from 2003, and I can’t remember what inspired it. Probably a dose of goosebumps, which would really be a rarity if it was as roasting hot as it has been lately.
Geese are not renowned as the smartest birds in the world, though they are smart enough to fly in a V with the first one breaking the wind. Hmmm, I could have stated that different, even though I have no doubts that a goose can fart up a storm.
Anyway, my goose story is fairly short so it shouldn’t be too intimidating. Have a nice, goosebumpy day. As if!

Help! A moose walked over my grave and I can’t stop shivering!

“Whatsamatter, a goose walk over your grave?”
Many folks can rely on hearing this remark almost every time they suffer an unexplainable shiver, like the one you get if you visualize your Great Aunt Bessie wearing a string bikini.
My question is, how did geese become renowned for loitering in cemeteries? It is not like there are legions of beady-eyed geese in little black trench coats roaming the countryside looking for graves to dance a jig on.
If the powers that control such things are determined for a goose to be involved, the saying should be “Whatsamatter, did a goose dropping splatter on your grave?”
That would be the more likely event to occur, for geese fly all over the place and they have notoriously rude toilet manners. Not to mention, their droppings are big enough to bring a cow to its knees if hit in the head from 500 feet up.
It would still make a lot more sense to blame a shiver on the future footsteps of a moose or a hippo, whose size would make it much more likely for a tiny shudder to be sent back through eternity.
I suppose there could be a future tribe of super geese with ESP-powered brains the size of one of Dolly Parton’s bosoms that might be able to mail us a shiver, but I doubt it.
It’s not that I don’t believe in psychic phenomenon, because I am always ready to accept the existence of ghosts, spirits, banshees, and other assorted entities. I just don’t want any goosey ones messing with me. It’s creepy.
There is one goose-related term I like. It is ‘a gaggle of geese’, which just has a ring to it that is pleasing to the ear. Gaggle is a Middle English word meaning ‘to cackle’, which if I am not mistaken is how chickens communicate. Anyway, it came to stand for a flock of geese who are not in flight and is often used to describe a pack of humans who are all experiencing overly excited vocal cords at the same time.
I often call my four wiener dogs silly geese, which is probably a cliché by now but it seems to fit. Geese do not seem any sillier than any other birds or animals to me, but they are stuck with that reputation now and are not likely to lose it at this stage.
As a matter of fact, a ‘murderous goose’ would seem to be more accurate, at least from my experience. Any bull goose I ever met was interested in one thing above all others.
Sneaking up behind me and giving the back of my thighs the deadly goose-twist pinch, which could bring a giant ape to tears.
Geese are cranky and have little tolerance for strangers, and if anyone has a use for a guard dog they might consider opting for a guard goose. Except for their toilet manners, which as I already mentioned are atrocious and unlikely to change with any amount of training.
Hmmmm, something seems to have just walked over my future resting place, for I just endured a sudden shiver from the blue.
I am kind of hoping for a moose.
I want nothing to do with one of those Parton-brained geese from the future.

A garlic lover’s salute

I could almost eat garlic with every meal, though I have yet to dredge up the nerve to try it on pancakes. It might surprise me, but I have my doubts.
It’s history is interesting, in many ways I never expected. I suppose nothing about garlic should be puzzling though, it is truly magical what it can do to jazz up an otherwise bland dinner.
It can also jazz up an otherwise low spice love life, if rumors are true. The following story, from 2006, addresses this in a mostly respectful manner. Mostly, I say.
So, if you dare, catch up on some garlic trivia. If the household cook starts throwing minced garlic in everything, watch your butt. The house could heat up in a hurry.

Oh garlic; plant those lips upon me

If I have one culinary weakness in my life, it is garlic. Garlic, known for mysterious reasons since Roman times as the “stinking rose”, is nothing less than a gastronomic treasure. I used to buy it by the 48-ounce jar, minced, and heap it into everything I cook. Now I have switched to fresh, but like it in any form. There is virtually nothing it can’t make better, with the possible exception of chocolate pudding.
There are those who might disagree, for garlic ice cream is popular at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Gilroy, California. Over 100,000 people a year attend it, making it the largest food festival in America. Gilroy claims to be the garlic capitol of the world, and Will Rogers once said it was the only place in the world you could marinate a steak just by hanging it up outside.
I hope to sample their wares someday. Garlic is, as once was written, “the sovereign extract of the Earth”.
Garlic has been used in cooking and medicine for thousands of years. It has been reputed at one time or another to cure baldness, snakebite, insomnia, rabies, and numerous other afflictions. It is recognized for its antioxidant, antibiotic and antiseptic properties, and garlic pills are sometimes prescribed to battle high cholesterol and high blood pressure. There are those who think it can reduce the size of tumors.
Some matadors think it dissuades a charging bull, and it has been used to repel mosquitoes, vampires, witches, amorous widows and crocodiles.
Come to think of it, I never met a pizza gobbling crocodile named Luigi.
To dream that there is garlic in the house is supposed to be lucky, while dreaming about eating it could mean that you will discover hidden secrets. I don’t know what it means if you dream about dancing the polka with a giant, smiling garlic clove.
Perhaps it means you are fated to meet Wayne Newton in the local pantyhose shop.
A very odd aspect of garlic history is that it has at different times been connected with both good and evil. On one hand, it is said that garlic sprouted from the spot where Satan’s left foot touched when he left the Garden of Eden. Not good. Then again, it is also used to ward off the “evil eye” in parts of Europe, and has traditionally been a crucial ingredient in anti-vampire lore.
I’ll take my chances, so flavor mine garlic. If I’m wrong, no biggie, I always had a devilish side.
Speaking of devilish, Tibetan monks are forbidden to enter the monasteries if they have eaten garlic. Why? It is quite simple really, because there has been medical, scientific and (ahem) personal studies that prove garlic is an aphrodisiac.
Monks do not like embarrassing situations, and garlic’s tendency to “inflame” is legendary. I guess if the monks robes suddenly resembled vertical tents with tent poles it might become scandalous.
I don’t know how much you have to eat to produce this condition. As much as my wife likes garlic, even she has noted how strong my dinners have been with the pungent bulb lately. Research continues.
The bubonic plague was still, well, plaguing Europe in 1772. Except for four grave-robbers from Marseilles, that is. They raided plague victim’s corpses with immunity, thanks to a trade secret, garlic-infused vinegar. They ate it, soaked their clothes in it, and breathed through rags anointed with it. There is still a garlic-vinegar known as the Vinegar of the Four Thieves.
I wonder if they were popular with the ladies.
It is beyond doubt that garlic can give you a serious case of dragon breath. You can fight it like you would any other case of halitosis, but don’t knock yourself out. If you eat enough it will still come out of your pores anyway, negating the effects of your sweetened breath.
That’s OK though, I don’t care if you smell like garlic.
Us garlicophiles have to stick together.