Category Archives: Whimsical

Ransom’s World

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Ransom stood at the kitchen sink, the book folded open in front of him, the fingers of his tired right hand forcefully holding the pages down so he could see them. Minutes before, he casually opened the book and skimmed the first paragraph. Minutes later, he was on page six and his mind was in the new world created by the book he underestimated.

He briefly looked up, across the wide living room, and out into the rainy street, trying to extricate himself from the clutches of the book. He failed to note it wasn’t raining when he started the book or that the cup of coffee next to him on the counter by the coffeepot had long cooled. He began devouring the thickly layered plot. Each word seemed interminable as his eyes flashed across them, vivisecting the complexities of language and people inhabiting the pages. He couldn’t shake the feeling that the words were somehow written in a foreign language.
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Last Saturday afternoon, Ransom went to Birdsong Books in a town over from him. It was his little secret place, one filled with books of both beauty and content. Minutes seeped past him at an alarming rate while he walked the shelves inside. It was the embodiment of how he felt while discovering new worlds inside of books.

“What are you looking for?” a small voice asked him. Ransom looked up from his shelf to see a young girl standing about five feet away from him. In her hands, she held a sloppily bound book.

“Everything,” he replied, with a smile and mischievous wink. He could already tell that the girl was interesting. Her hair was pulled away from her face and the ponytail was stuck haphazardly along the right side of her head.

“It’s a good thing I found you here. I’ve been waiting to give you this.” Upon pronouncing the words in her little musical voice, she stepped forward and extended the book toward Ransom. Without thinking, Ransom reached out and accepted it. It weighed much more than he expected. His hands cradled the sides of the book as he took it, as the pages seemed slightly loose inside it. It reminded him of the sensation of being handed a cage with a restless animal inside it.

Behind him, a book fell from a shelf. Ransom momentarily turned to see what had fallen. When he turned back toward the girl, she was gone.

“Hey!” Ransom weakly shouted. He quickly went around the shelves, only to see the owner looking at him with an odd glance.

“Yes?” asked the owner.

“Oh. Did you see the girl who went by? She handed me this book by mistake.” Ransom was certain he was being pranked. The girl certainly seemed capable of such an endeavor. The owner, although witty and personable, wasn’t the type to participate in shenanigans, however.

“If she handed it to you, it was no mistake.” The owner peered at Ransom knowingly over the rim of his glasses. The edges of his eyes belied a slight smile forming on his face.

Ransom handed him the book, and the owner skimmed through it. “It’s not mine. That much I can tell you for sure.”

The girl was nowhere to be found inside the bookstore.

After a few minutes, Ransom took the book home with him. He placed it absentmindedly on the table adjacent to the front door and forgot he had done so. Until this morning, when he awoke, certain that he had been dreaming about the girl he’d met at Birdsong Books.

In the dream, the ponytail girl sat on a bench next to him, pronouncing each word as she lovingly read a page from the book open in her lap. Ransom heard himself say in the dream that the girl sounded like she was reading out loud in italics.

The girl turned to lock eyes with Ransom. “You must finish the book! Time is escaping.” She grabbed his arm with her small fingers. In the distance, someone played a xylophone with keys tuned to be slightly off.

Ransom woke up fully energized as he started his morning routine. While starting coffee, he looked across the kitchen bar counter and to the front door. Next to the door sat the book. As the coffee brewed, he could hear xylophones, ones which sounded familiar and provocative. Without realizing he’d done so, Ransom went to the book, picked it up, and returned to the kitchen. He poured a cup of coffee and flipped open the cover of the odd book.

As he began to read, the xylophones filled his ears, and the world slipped away.

( ~ )

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I can hear the whispered and fragmented melody in my mind, its composite notes melting away the stress and confines of the world that lays siege to me. Yet I can find no translation out in the world; the buffering of angry, terse words, frustrated glances, and dismissive behavior wash across me like a litter-filled wave of salty water. I live here, inside and cloistered. The notes seldom fail me, cascading in a series of fulfilled promises that anchor me in a past that never was.

Forward On A Backwards

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It’s difficult enough to reset an analog clock near the ceiling: it’s even more cumbersome to spring forward a backward clock. P.S. Backward clocks are awesome, especially when observing people as they struggle to easily glance at it without a look of confusion clouding their face.

Elegant Shoes For Tuesday

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“I saw a werewolf with a Chinese menu in his hand,” or so goes the song. Which is absurd. Werewolves don’t read Chinese.

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It’s hard to believe that it’s been 4 years since we talked about Coleman Sweeney.

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“His Sunday shoes amplified his bitter heart.” -x

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I tried defying gravity.
But the court order obligated me to comply.

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I wonder how long it would take an employer to notice that someone had modified their legal notice poster regarding minimum wage to indicate $55.43 per hour? The answer is 11 months. In theory, I mean.

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meme 444This should be obvious to all the well-meaning people out there.

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He may have gained the upper hand in the argument, but I got the lower foot.

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Once Upon a Time & Habia Una Vez

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A video of a Syrian dad recently went viral. He’d taught his daughter to laugh when she saw bombs dropping. To some, it sounded ridiculous.

I didn’t doubt it. I have a story I wrote down four weeks ago, one involving Latinos with a different approach to negativity. It didn’t seem as interesting until I saw the Syrian dad with his daughter yesterday in the video.

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I was careening around Walmart to distract myself from the malaise of modern living. You know the feeling: one moment you’re happy with life and smiling at babies – and the next, you desperately need to walk around in a cavernous retail warehouse to get incredibly (and incrementally) irritated at other visitors. You know how it is: you enter the market to buy a bathtub plug and 75 ounces of Argentinian fava beans, then realize that something is amiss with the world; namely, that being in a market is both necessary and ridiculous.

As I rounded the aisle near the spices, an older woman jumped backward as two adorable little Latina girls whirled by, both chatting feverishly to one another. “Chicas!” a concerned dad shouted from just out of sight. I could hear the practiced exasperation in his voice.

The older woman hissed toward me, “They’re everywhere. And can’t control their little brats.” The girls suddenly stopped their mutual little dance and looked from me to the older woman. It was apparent they spoke English, as well as understanding the tone of the woman’s voice. I hoped they didn’t think I was with the hateful older woman.

The dad rounded the corner. “I’m so sorry,” he said.

“You shouldn’t be here,” the older woman said. Normally, I don’t get surprised by people. It was obvious she wasn’t referring to being at Walmart.

This story isn’t about anger or prejudice, though.

It’s about me witnessing the response of this amazing dad.

The two girls looked at their dad as he said, “I’m sorry. Please forgive us.” The older lady didn’t acknowledge him at all as he apologized the second time.

“Había una vez, niñas…” Both girls smiled and told their dad they were sorry.

The old woman evidently couldn’t stand the sound of another language in her delicate ears. She whirled her cart around and stomped off, her face frozen in an ugly state.

For those who don’t know, the phrase “Había una vez” translates to “Once upon a time,” and often starts fairy tales and stories in Spanish.

Because of this, I asked the dad what he meant by the fairy tale phrase.

In Spanish, he told me, “It’s game me and the girls play. Don’t let someone having a bad day or life get us down.”

“You’re a genius, sir,” I said, as he laughed at the idea.

“Tell them that,” pointing at his two girls, who once again curtsied and made dance-like steps between the aisles, their encounter already forgotten.

 

A List For The Ages

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I was at the in-laws’ house, chopping wood for the fireplace.

The next-door neighbor came out and said, “Need firewood, do you?”

“No, I just hate trees,” I told him.

Bill Engvall could not be reached for comment.

In an oblivious nod to wordplay, my health insurance said they don’t cover baldness.

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It bears repeating: if you are in it, you ARE traffic.

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Monday, I woke up with random splotches of hair on my head.

I went to the doctor.

He diagnosed me with non-pattern baldness.

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Unusual sign you’re an artist: if your cat vomits on the floor and your first thought is whether decorative beads would enhance the design – or detract from it.

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Two-part anecdote: the lock on my community mailbox was inoperable. Instead of waiting on the postal tech to replace the lock, I forced the key in to get the treasures I knew I would find. Among them was a custom deck of playing cards I had made for someone unlucky enough to be related to me. (Note: I had to break the key off to keep people from getting inside the box pending alleged scheduled repair.)

Also, and much to my surprise, a fellow Aficionado of Shenanigans had honored me with a pleasant surprise. The envelope was addressed to: “President of the Avian Minstrel Society, NWA Chapter.” I assume I’m the president. My wife never mentioned an interest in anything either minstrel nor avian, unless cooked in the oven and coated in gravy. Inside the envelope was a page from the best/worst book ever published. Its pages are regarded as both awesome and awful, depending on the dosage of whatever medication you’ve been overprescribed.

It is advisable NOT to attempt to make sense of the contents of the page.

P.S. I bet Zuckerberg never imagined that Facebook would ever have a post as weird as this one.

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Note: don’t try to suck the cork out of a bottle of wine, no matter how much Walmart drives you to it during winter weather. P.S. I did drop a bottle, though – and felt terrible, especially since I successfully passed it 15 yards. (Does anyone else see a bird in the accidental mess?)

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I rarely post other people’s pictures. This one, however, bears such an uncanny resemblance to my mother-in-law that it made me look twice. No word on what my sister-in-law might have prepared for lunch that day.

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“…As for you, if you’re 60 or older, you were born closer to the 1800s than today…”

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Regarding the almost-road conditions: 99 Problems But The Ditch Ain’t One…

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I walked in with a couple of scratches on my face.

“Attacked by a pack of coyotes?” a coworker asked.

“No, a pack of cigarettes.”

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“Monday is ranch dip with a hidden cockroach in it,” the man said, fairly loudly.

I laughed. It’s a good line.

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Possible tourism slogan for small towns in Arkansas: “It was more real than I imagined it would be.”

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“I’ve been working like a dog,” my boss said.

“Yeah, you get distracted every time someone passes by.”

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I can see for miles and miles, if I choose. I’ll stay here, though, and grimace at the walls in front of me – and recoil with each mundane complaint from those around me. It’s out there, though, the wide expanse of world. I could see for miles and miles. If I chose.

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At 4 a.m., the rain violently washed away all the accumulated sins. Unlike with yesterday’s social media rants, people drove with caution as their cars skidded on the impromptu rivers eddying across the roads. To avoid a fully-clothed shower, I detoured through the cavernous hallways as I walked. A woman absently exited through a side door ahead of me. She muttered to herself as my steps fell only two feet behind her. Halfway down the hallway, she jumped in surprise at my unexpected presence behind her. “You startled me,” she said, laughing. “Yes, just like the day will,” I cryptically answered. We both laughed and went our separate ways.

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Though it’s early February, I’m out under a gazebo, jacketless, enjoying the breeze pass over me. I can’t gather impetus or enthusiasm to immerse myself once again in the literal confines inside the place in which I trade my finite minutes for small, rectangular green pieces of paper. Inside I must go, leaving the breeze and approaching daylight. I take a tiny portion of the darkness with me as consolation.

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I’ve abandoned my plan to publish a yearly Non-Farmer’s Almanac.

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“Can you drive a stick?” the snarky senior citizen asked me.

“Yes. Where do you want me to take it?”

I bowed.

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Things might have been different if Ted Kaczynski’s neighbor had been prone to sudden staccato bursts of trumpet playing at random intervals.

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For 5 consecutive days, I’ve successfully printed a form and reduced it 5% each day without anyone noticing. I’m proud of this achievement and hope fervently to reach 1/2 size on the form before someone has a panic attack.

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An epitaph I wrote for someone who died last year…

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Regarding the almost-road conditions: 99 Problems But The Ditch Ain’t One…

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Listing To The Middle

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Make fun of my stack of index cards I always carry? Look at this totally legit “Coupon” I’m gonna use at Guido’s Pizza.

The young cashier got a huge kick out of the coupone when I handed it to her at the register. She went to the back to prank the kitchen staff. She proudly kept it.

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“No, it’s none of your business why I want a dozen of these.”
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I submitted my concealed carry gun permit application. Because it didn’t have my category, I scribbled in “Glue Gun.”

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Iguess holding up a $3 bottle of Oakleaf wine at Walmart market and shouting, “I’ve got supper!” is somehow not a good idea?

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There are times when I catch myself forgetting how nice it is to be able to communicate in another language. English is a bastard of a language and I pity anyone trying to feel comfortable with it as a second language.

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If it is one thing I’ve learned the hard way that I can’t count on, it is an abacus.

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Bad news: my neighbor’s new pet Rhesus monkey died during an explosion.

Good news: now there’s enough Rhesus Pieces to give out to the kids on Halloween.

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Today is a day when I truly need Shoresy to accompany me as I encounter the rash of degens in my path.

P.S. If you don’t know who Shoresy is, you have my sympathy, loser.

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Another deconstructed social media post…

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A bit of foolishness, a bit of satire…

If you suffer from GSS, please accept my non-apology.

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“Thumbless people have no middle finger” is both true and deeper than the words themselves belie.

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The market is getting too specialized. Now they’re identifying foods by the hour of consumption.

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Nuance

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Your Monday options: will you be Malachi or Isaac today? Regardless of where you work, I suspect you might think you too are in a dangerous cult, led by madmen.

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Do you call them “buffet pants” or “comfy pants?” Or “fat pants?”

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“Forever Box” is my new favorite word for coffin.
And people say I can’t learn anything from the internet.

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Last night at supper, I inevitably did my artwork with index cards, markers, and the tools around me. Thus was born “Shredded Cheddar President.”

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Box fan from home.
Check.
Full set of pillows from home.
Check.
Two individual comforters from home.
Check.
I pity everyone else in the hotel.
Savages!

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According to my manager, I should not refer to my workplace as “The Badlands.”

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*Content warning: I love mocking positivity memes and clichés. My version expresses a greater truth, one rarely voiced by our great poets, yet still affecting us all.

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Last week, my friend Josh invited me to his church. “It’s right up your alley, X. We do things differently.”

At 10:05, I entered a bit late. Josh was already seated up front. I nervously walked past all the congregants. An unusual, high-pitched sound filled the air. I was too distracted by my lateness to figure out what was afoot.

I sat next to Josh on the second row. “Sorry I’m late,” I whispered.

I soon figured out what the noise was when I entered.

The pastor looked across the pews and said, “If everyone will get out their Humnals, we’ll hum #456.”

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“The more violent the sport, the sexier that those on the sidelines dress. Which means politicians should be wearing negligees.” – X

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Halloween Might Come Early

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I’m not generally a “Get off my lawn” sort of old person. I didn’t know that my neighbor was out of state until today when he wrote to me and asked me to do him a favor. Around 7:45 tonight, a ruckus outside drew my attention. A herd of younger kids was on our lawns, climbing over our vehicles, and generally misbehaving. I tried to be as cool as a 50+ person can be. I spoke to them in English, Spanish, and a bit of Marshallese, to ask them to be considerate and to be as loud as they wanted in the street or on the sidewalks. I felt old, though, doing the job that the parents of those kids should be doing. I know how this game is played and the adults always lose.

I guess I’m going to need to get out my Halloween mask and scare the absolute #$%! out of some kids as the October nights come early.

If my neighbor installs a camera, I hope the footage of the trespassing kids shrieking for their lives as I jump out from the dark keeps us warm at night – if not laughing.