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Monday, February 25, 2013

Fellowship of Christian Athletes Toys with Blasphemy

"You won't believe what happened at school today," my 6th grade daughter dramatically initiated, plopping her sweet self on the stool in the kitchen. These are my favorite moments, when stories are shared and lessons are learned; and she recounts everything as theatrically as if she were center stage in a Broadway play.

But I will spare you the agony of enduring an 11 year-old girl's attempt to hit her entire day's word quota in one conversation. I will mercifully give you the abbreviated version.

At the FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) meeting during 7th period, the 6th-graders were asked to stand. They did, my daughter included. It was explained to them that the leaders needed volunteers to participate in an activity. Of course, hands shot up all over the room. (Sixth graders have not yet fully entered into adolescent apathy. They are as willing as sheep.)

"I wanted them to pick me so bad, Mama," my girl confessed, and she showed me how she waved her hand, shaking it like she was trying to fling a leech free. To her great disappointment, she was not selected. One of her best friends was.

As the group of privileged students assembled at the front of the room, they were instructed to each remove a sock, which they did. An opened bottle of Pepsi was placed in front of each student. The students were next told to stretch their removed sock over the top of their bottle of Pepsi.

At this juncture, my daughter paused in her recount to inform me, "I'm so glad I didn't get picked."

Knowing my daughter, her toenails probably needed cutting and she was likely, out of laziness, wearing the same socks she wore the day before and her foot odor probably gave it away. So, I could see how she was relieved.

"It was so gro-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-sssss!" she squealed, making me picture all of those other children's nasty toes and grimy socks. "They had to drink it! Through their socks! They drank a Pepsi through their socks!"

"O-o-o-o-o-o-oh, disgusting!" I agreed. "I'm so glad you weren't picked."

We're from Georgia for heaven's sake, the home of Coca Cola. We wouldn't even drink a Pepsi through two sweaty socks.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Where Winners Go

Of course I went in!

(Located on Commercial St. - If I remember correctly - in Lerwick, Shetlands, UK.)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Dreary Day Job

U.S. customs agents must have the dreariest job of all Federal employees. I imagine that a lottery is cast among applicants for government posts and the losers are remanded to cubicles in airports. They stand at their stations in a windowless expanse of room where they process endless queues of people.

For eight hours, they are completely cut off from the outside world in this no-man's territory located on an imaginary demarcation between outside-the-country and inside-the-country. It's lonely in a place that so many people pass through, but none stays.

All through their shifts, pale, emotionless customs officers greet tan, exuberant souvenir-toting arrivals returning home from abroad. It's thankless work interrogating people who have been places, seen sites, done things. Thinking up new questions to stump homecomers and create a bug in the routine, a blip on the radar, carving out craved excitement from the monotonous toil becomes tantamount to other responsibilities.

On my recent return to the U.S. from my trip to Scotland, I went through customs in the Atlanta Hartsfield Airport. I waited patiently in line, making sure not to do anything suspicious. I learned my lesson about looking suspicious on a previous re-entry to the country. Federal folks working in that tomb of a room are always looking for distractions from their aching feet and under-stimulated brains. They made me their distraction that evening, initiating me into the club of detainees sequestered behind locked doors in small rooms where multiple officers enter and exit all asking the same five questions. It's a stand off to see who can hold out longer.

I won that round, but I didn't desire to go another. So, on my return from Europe I made a special effort to blend in with the carpet and take on the countenance of a stock character. I stood in line but I did not stand out.

When I finally reached my turn with a customs officer, I extended my passport and looked plain. Without inflection, he asked me where I had been, why I had gone there, how long I had stayed, who went with me, my maiden name, my shoe size, and what purchases I had made. At last satisfied with his efforts to discomfort me, he closed my passport and slid it toward me. "What do you do for a living," he tacked on, one last try at tripping me up.

"I'm a freelance writer," I replied.

"You write books," he snorted, his fingertips still pressing my passport to the surface of the desk.

"Yes, and magazine articles and newspaper pieces," I added, placing my hand on the desk but not touching my passport.

"Are you wealthy," he uttered more as a challenge than a question.

I saw his knuckles relax. It was my chance to retrieve my passport and step across the imaginary line into my homeland. I picked it up, began striding away and responded to his final question, "No. I'm happy."

In retribution, he summoned the agriculture inspector to detain my parents.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine Wishes

Valentines Day at my house is a pretty low-key affair. There are no long-stem red roses. There are no chocolate-dipped strawberries. There's no romantic serenade. Wine does make an appearance, but it's the $3 bottle of white merlot.

Words of undying devotion rarely cross lips. But tonight my husband broke tradition. I was minding my own business munching a conversation heart when he paused and looked deep into my eyes. So I stopped crunching and gazed back.

"You make staying awake exciting," he said.

"That's it? That's what I get? That's my Valentine?" I asked. You can imagine my tone.

"Well, I was just sitting here thinking, and that's what I thought," he eloquently explained.

I hope it didn't hurt his feelings that I didn't respond in kind. Or that I suggested we go to bed.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Burn Me Galley Down! (Revised)

This is a video of the 2013 Jarl Squad and Stevie the Guizer Jarl in Lerwick, Shetlands. They are singing the two songs that I doubt I'll ever be able to forget after hearing them so jovially repeated over the course of our stay.

I was told to dress smart casual to attend the post-procession affair at Town Hall. Not knowing quite how to interpret that from an American packing perspective, I asked my 15 year-old son, Duncan, what he thought it meant. He said, "Dress like a librarian." So I did.

I was the only one:

The waves are rolling on!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Lerwick Humor?