Friday, October 31, 2008

Sing Along With Betty

OK, Bossy Betty Fans! Whenever that Collared Lizard appears, it means just one thing: Sing-Along time with Betty! I believe that singing should be an essential part of your daily routine. My hope is to create a
Pavlovian response to the Collared Lizard (both plastic and real) causing my readers to burst into song whenever they see one. Let us all sing with the bravado that the lizard shows!

Today's selection is a favorite among English teachers. My friend Jim reminded me of it about a week ago, and I have been humming this ditty in my head ever since then. (Thanks, Jim!)

Emily Dickinson may have been a strange little lady, but boy, howdy, could she write a poem when she wanted to and the amazing thing is that all of her poems can be sung to the tune of "The Yellow Rose of Texas." So here's one for you to try out.

Let's do it together! Everybody!

Because I could not stop for Death
He kindly stopped for me;
And the carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.

We slowly drove, he knew no haste,
and I had put away
My labor, and my leisure too,
For his civility.

We passed the school where children strove,
At recess, in the ring;
We passed the fields of gazing grain,
We passed the setting sun.

We paused before a house that seemed
A swelling of the ground;
The roof was scarcely visible,
The cornice in the ground.

Since then 'tis centuries; and yet
Feels shorter than the day
I first surmised the horses' heads
Were toward eternity.

Repeat as necessary throughout the day or whenever you see a Collared Lizard. Betty salutes you!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Check This Out

Rest assured, Bossy Betty does not take lightly nor abuse the use of her incredible gift of mental telepathy. I understand I must use it for the good of all. I understand (thanks, Spiderman!) that with great power comes great responsibility. Therefore, I choose very carefully when to unleash the power of my mind. OK, OK, I'll admit that once in great while at night, while out walking the very slow dog (see earlier post--where is that Urine A-Go-Go, people?) who, for some reason has chosen the middle of the street as the best place to walk, I will only rarely send to the driver of an on-coming car a mental message to turn into a driveway so that we can continue on our trajectory instead of my frantically trying to pull the dog over. Do I feel guilty about it? Well, yes, a little, as I imagine the driver of the car who, five minutes earlier, left the house with the simple idea to go get bananas and vodka at Vons, is now sitting in the driveway of a stranger's house, clutching a shopping list and wondering how he ended up in there.

However, my last attempt to use mental telepathy was not just for my sake, but for my fellow huddled masses there in the Big Box Store where we all stood in the long, snake-like line with our thawing value packs of sorbet cups and large bags of softening frozen french fries. From my place, about six customers back, I could see the woman who had reached the destination of our pilgrimage-- the cash register. I looked with envy at this woman who had reached the shrine, and would, with the mere passing over of money be released with her goods. Yet there was something strange about her behavior. She was there, standing at the alter of consumerism and yet she was not offering up the sacrifice required there. So what was she doing as the cashier rang up her items? Was she swiping her credit card through the magic swiping machine? No. Did she even have her credit card in her hand ready to swipe? No. Was she opening her wallet, opening her purse, even looking for a credit card? No. She was standing. Waiting. She had a semi-amused look creeping onto an otherwise blank expression as she watched the cashier scan each item. Apparently this was her entertainment for the evening and she was going to make the most of it.

Now, Bossy Betty believes that you should think ahead and prepare for that inevitable moment when (and it does come, people) the cashier tells you the dollar amount and you (consumer) pay for (purchase) the items of goods sold to you (which in this case included a large blister pack of "fast-acting" nasal spray--go figure). Bossy Betty believes this preparation and forward-thinking is just part of being a Good Citizen. With that in mind, it was time to teach this little lady a lesson. (Let me say here that she was neither elderly nor disabled in any way. Bossy Betty is not without a heart and would gladly make allowances for those deserving of them.) I began to unleash my powers and send a concentrated thought stream her way that resembled those high-powered laser flashlights that can be seen for miles and can blind small rodents. "Get Out Your Money." "Get Out Your Credit Card." I know the searing beam went in her direction because all five other customers in front of me quickly began opening their purses, and patting their pockets to dig out wallets. Still, there was no movement from the woman, save a slight turning of her head as she followed the travels of each and every item over the scanner. I turned up the beam a bit, squinting in concentration as I stared right at her and beamed the message "PREPARE TO PAY." "PREPARE TO PAY." "PREPARE TO PAY." People behind and to the side of me began getting out their money and cards. I saw employees of the store begin to search for their wallets. I was just about to turn it up one more notch when I thought about the ricochet effect and the poor people all the way in the back of the store, dropping their hot roasted chickens and 15 gallon drums of dishwashing soap to look for their credit cards. I reluctantly stopped the beam, but I did not take my eyes off of the woman. She stood, still entranced by the parade of items which by now I think she believed the cashier passed over the pretty green light just for her approval and amusement.

Finally, her order was all scanned, her groceries all boxed up. I saw the cashier point to the number on the digital readout that was at eye-level to the woman. It was only then that she took what I am sure she considered swift action. She took her purse from her shoulder, placed it on the counter, u-n-z-i-p-p-e-d it, pulled out her wallet, opened it up and then... went back to dig around in her purse for a pen. That's right. A pen. It was check-writing time.

Oh, don't get me started.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My Adventures in the Beeping Judicial System

Juror #11--that was me a few weeks ago after I was plucked from the mass of humanity huddled in the large room on the first floor of the government center and sent upstairs with 60 other people and finally empaneled. The case itself was sad, but not terribly complicated. For four days in a row, I got up and proudly clipped on my plastic "Juror" badge and got to the courthouse on time.

Now, as near as I can figure out, unless you are getting married or adopting a child, if you visiting this particular government center, you are not having a good time in your life. There are several signs that point to this, including the great number of people puffing away nervously on cigarettes outside of the building. I took a deep breath each morning and ducked under the wall of smoke to get inside the building. This is where you are confronted with the security check portion of your visit.

It was on a Thursday morning that I choose to wear a nice pair of slacks, white shirt and a stylin' jacket. To top it all off, I wore a big silver necklace, something that on someone like Oprah would have looked normal, but on a small-boned, small-headed person such as myself looked like something Flavor Flav would sport. Still, I thought, it was so shiny and new, and I was tired of all my tiny, small-headed person's jewelry, so I decided to go for it. All my clean girly trouser socks had holes in the toes, so in desperation, I grabbed a pair of Dan's thick, ribbed, man socks. My pants came down far enough to hide any evidence of the socks and I made a mental note not to cross my legs all day, so I was ready to go. I reached the government center, ducked under the wall of smoke and walked through the metal detector, only to set off the loud, beeping alarm.

Now, I've already explained in this blog how I feel about authority figures in uniforms. Come to think of it, the person does not even have to be wearing a badge. A manager at say, Target, can have the same effect on me. I am more than willing to comply with any and all demands. So it even surprised ME a little when I found myself balking at the uniformed officer's request to raise my pant legs. I lamely pointed at the large silver disc weighing down my neck and said, "It's probably my necklace." He grunted at me and once again pointed his metal-detecting wand toward my ankles. "Pull up your pant legs , Ma'am." OH, he was getting rough now. I really wanted to take him off to the side and explain to him that I was certainly not carrying any weaponry in my socks (think of the unsightly bulges that would create!) and ordinarily, I would be wearing thin women's trouser socks, but for the fact that I have nearly razor-like toenails, a condition that would almost make me eligible for my own special on TLC, (if those specials had not all been given away to seemingly ungrateful Indonesian Tree Men--see earlier post) and those toenails tend to rip through the lighter knits that women's socks are made of. Further, I wanted to explain to him that if he just stopped and thought for a minute instead of waving that modern-day club at me, he would realize that it was the silver turkey platter I had chosen to wear as ornamentation on my bird-like neck that set off his overly-sensitive alarm.

Now this is all what I wanted to tell him, but I finally, just relented and lifted up my pant legs looking for all the world like Eliza Doolittle practicing to be a "real lady," while exposing her true, backwards nature. My only hope is that on the day this big burly security man is forced to wear his wife's frilly pink socks is placed in a similar situation, I am there to see it.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Dede and Me

It's not that I like watching television, mind you. I would much rather be re-reading and deconstructing The Decameron or memorizing the peripheries and prefectures of modern day Greece. However, because of my gift of a seismometer-like ability to detect even the slightest shifting of the sociological tectonic plates of the delicate landscape that IS our pop culture, I feel is it in the our society's best interest of all that I use my talents for the good of all. So while I would love to discuss Rachel Zoe's forehead (it does NOT MOVE--EVER!) and the disturbing, flat space between Susan Lucci's breasts (to replicate this, simply remove the tray from a Mounds Bar and place between breasts--Viola! Same Effect) I feel I need to move on to a more complex discussion befitting my sophisticated readers. Today I would like to discuss "My Shocking Story: Half Man. Half Tree."

The original "My Shocking Story: Half Man. Half Tree" was aired about a year ago on TLC. If I were talented enough to put a short video on this blog I would, but you can go to YouTube to see a video. This program, which I watched from beginning to end, features Dede, a 32 year-old in Indonesia with a medical condition that causes his limbs to be covered with growths causing his extremities to resemble the roots of a tree. We see him attempt his everyday activities and interact with his children. He is forced to make a living putting himself on display with a traveling circus troupe. A doctor from Maryland is called in. He takes samples, takes them back to the US, works hard to arrange for free medical care, and finally sends word back to tell Dede the good news.
By this time in the show, my bladder was about to burst from not moving from the couch throughout the entire episode. I did not even get up during commercials to get snacks. The investment I had made in this show was too great to risk any interruption at all. I had grown to love Dede and I only wanted the best for him. Besides, if Dede could travel through life with pounds and pounds of warts upon his limbs, I could make the small sacrifice of not leaving him now. Dede was about to receive the news we had all been hoping for and I was nearly breathless with anticipation. The way I saw it, TLC and I had a non-verbal agreement. I was trusting the network to come through on the inherent, even if unspoken, promise of a happy outcome. The man went to give the good news to Dede that he could be treated but Dede was not in the village. OK, I was fairly upset, but still hopeful. They will find Dede. They will give him the good news. We can all cry together out of happiness when that moment arrives. Then, the show ended--that's right--ended, with only a short voiceover at the end, informing us that Dede had said the equivalent of , "No thanks" to the treatment. "OH NO! Wait a minute!" I shouted, falling from the couch to crawl towards the TV. "No! No! Let ME talk to Dede! I can convince him! We've been through so much together! Go, find him! Bring him to me!" I pleaded, kneeling there in front of the screen, waiting, waiting.... "Dede!"

It has taken me a long time to get over this whole event. In fact, I could not even talk about it for months and NOW I hear there is a show called, "Half Man. Half Tree: The New Developments." Oh, no, not this time, TLC. I'm not going there. I can't afford the emotional investment. Don't even talk to me about it.

If you come to the village to tell me news, good or bad, I will not be there.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

My Fabulous Inventions

I can only do so much. I supply the fabulous ideas. Others must carry through with the small details to bring these inventions to the public. Here are my first two. More to follow.

Our dog, Maddie, (pictured above) is around 14 years old. She's an old dog who walks at an old-dog pace. Near the end of the walk route, it's pretty torturous. We are talking S L O W. I have, at times considered calling Dan to come in the car and get us. However, when Maddie sees or smells another dog, she takes off, all fatigue and age forgotten and she goes at a good clip. We can get a whole half block or so out of, say a Cocker Spaniel, but the real amphetamine of the dog walk is a couple of German Shepherds. That's GOLD! We can get a full block and a half before she collapses again. However! With "Urine A-Go-Go" we hold the power in our hands! That's right. We bottle dog urine (not your own dog's--stay with me here) in catsup-type bottles so that when the going gets slow, one quick squirt on the street in front of the dog gets said dog going again. Think about it, people! We HAVE the factories in our own homes!

Is your mobile phone once again missing from its cradle? Do you love to bake but hate putting away the flour and sugar canisters after the job is done? Is your phone book still out from that number you had to look up two years ago? Well, you're not alone. Let's face it: putting away things can be a drag and really, what's in it for you? Now there's a reason to be organized. With the Pleasure Placement System, you'll be eager to do those odious putting away/putting back chores. The system comes with discs that cling together like magnets until you separate them, placing one on the item and one on the place you want the item returned to. When the discs meet, the person replacing the item is given a blissful burst of pleasure, radiating throughout the body. That's right. You''ll receive a shudder of delight each and every time* you do what you should be doing anyway. Imagine looking forward to putting the garden tools back where they belong! Putting the laundry basket never felt SO GOOD! "Say, honey, what do you say I bring in the trash tomorrow morning?" Available in children's strength too. Soon you'll be hearing, "No, Mommy! It's MY turn to put the giant plastic toys away. He got to do it yesterday!" Oh yes, The Pleasure Placement System WILL change lives.

*Since the potential for abuse is great, the PPS system is designed to deliver the burst of pleasure only once every thirty minutes per device. Sorry, people. You'll need to pace yourselves.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Steps, Stamps, and Sweatshirts

The American school system did a very good job when it came to inculcating me into complete submission and compliance with any and all rules given out by a person wearing any sort of governmental uniform. In 1985 or so, Dan and I stopped by the Pt. Reyes Lighthouse around sunset, walked the half mile to the 308 steps which we took one by one until, exhausted, we reached the platform where a park ranger, replete in that dark green uniform said, "We are closing; everyone, back on the steps." Like a trained dog, I immediately turned back around and, risking sudden death from heart failure, started up the steps. I felt Dan grab my hand and he said, "We've come all this way. We are GOING to look around for five minutes." That's when I knew I had married a dangerous, law-skirting, scofflaw. (FACT: He is in Traffic School right now!)

So when I enter any institution the least bit laced with the scent of governmental oversight, I feel both a bit nervous and submissive in a strangely anesthetized kind of way. The post office is one example of this. The nervousness starts when I see one particular clerk on duty at his window at our local post office. This is a man who likes to take even the most perfectly wrapped package, turn it over in his soft little hands and then make a sucking sound through his teeth. "What kind of tape did you use on this?" he asks suspiciously. "Are you aware this corner could rip away like it was made out of tissue paper? Just the slightest pressure and it's gone." He shakes his head while the mailer stands, and slowly shrinks into the floor, mumbling excuses, his or her self-esteem plummeting, as the clerk continues to make clucking sounds about the packing job.

Last week I had to mail a package to my Sonny Boy who goes to college up north. After obsessively maneuvering my position in line, assuring I would not get Picky Mail Clerk, I found myself in front of a seemingly very nice mail clerk who did not look at my package job with complete disdain. She began reciting her question about if the package contains any hazardous, explosive, perishable, you-know-the-rest items. (Aren't we all just trained to say "no"?) Now, the clerks do not ask what is in the package but I feel compelled to tell them. This IS the government we're dealing with and I want to be a good citizen and tell all. (And really, if you were a postal clerk wouldn't you really want to know? Wouldn't you be curious? I sure would.) I do not hesitate to spill the beans immediately, complete with adjectives and explanations, "It's an old ratty sweatshirt with holes in the sleeves and a stain on the front left hand side caused from some old guacamole. Really, it should be in the rag bag. I mean, it's not even worth the money to mail it." I would ramble on some more, but I look up at the clerk and realize she REALLY DOESN'T CARE! I suddenly wish I had something more exciting in my package, something that would grab her attention. For example, "I've got ten stuffed gophers in there with marbles from the 99 Cent store glued in all twenty eye sockets." Alas, all I have is a sweatshirt. "I can get it there tomorrow for $35.88," she says. Is she kidding? Has she not been listening to what I have been saying? It's a ratty old sweatshirt. Do they get a commission for up-selling? Has our proud postal service gone the way super-sizing services as if they were french fries? "No," I say. "Let's just go parcel post." (I love saying "parcel post." It's a great sound. ) "That could take five to seven days," she says. Wait! Do I detect a note of motherly concern merely disguised as disinterest? I think so! "That's OK!" I say with such enthusiasm and a smile so broad it may send her seeking that secret button under her counter.

I mailed it Monday morning. It got there Tuesday afternoon, all for $4.50. What a deal! Wonder what those stuffed gophers would ship for?

Why I Got (and Stay) Married

Dan (hubby) came home last night from a week-long business trip and it is a darn good thing too since I was sitting in bed this morning ritualistically eating my bite-sized shredded wheat dipped in peanut butter when I took a swing of my Trader Joes Orange and Bergamot Unsweetened Green Tea (my favorite) and thought "Oh, that just doesn't taste quite right, hummmm." I continued eating and took another swig. I could faintly sense some primeval instinct knocking on my skull, urging me to "PUT DOWN TEA! RUN! TELL THE OTHERS IN VILLAGE 'BAD WATERS FLOW FROM SLENDER GREEN BOTTLE!'" but the kitchen is a long way away, my bed was so cozy, and the cat was strategically balanced on my feet for maximum warmth distribution. I was just about to take another big sip to strip away the peanut butter coating on my tongue the when Dan walked in. I handed him the glass, "Hey, try this and tell me what you think." "New kind of tea?" he asked as he lifted the glass to his mouth. I really don't remember nodding. He took one sip and nearly spewed it across the room. "Do you think it's little off?" I asked in my flutey, bird-like voice. "It's horrible! It's rotten! Don't drink it!" he said, his face contorted in a Steven Seagal-I-just-found-my-woman-with-another-man-look of disbelief. He stared at me and I could tell he was shocked by his perceived ineffectiveness of my taste buds. (My taste buds are fine! They are better than fine! It was the Peanut Butter Effect!)

Now, I think it is a tribute to our relationship that, while I ignored the instinctual primeval voice inside my head, I paid heed to my man's authoritative tone and stopped drinking the tea. Trust and Obey, Ladies. OK, it was his tone and the fact that he took the glass out of the room, holding it far out in front of him like it was a container of plutonium.

I'm glad he's home. I am sure he is too.