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.

Month: August, 2014

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.