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Clueless

Yesterday, as I was standing in the kitchen, I witnessed my husband creating a tasty looking lunch.  He made the most divine looking sandwich!  He put it all together and placed it on a plate, grabbed a napkin and walked off.

“So?”, you’re thinking.   “Good for him!  At least he did it himself!”

All that being true, I cleared my throat….

“Boo?  Forget anything?” I asked.

“Oh yea….chips!”

I sweetly said, “Look down.”

“What??”  “Ohhhhh, I think that was there before I came in the kitchen.”

What I’m referring to is that in less than ten minutes, he made a sandwich with chips and fixed a tea.  But, on the floor beneath the counter was a piece of cellophane from the chip bag, a lettuce leaf, small sliver of ham and tiny breadcrumbs.

Don’t get me started on the counter top!

Is it just me or do we all agree, it’s not that hard to pick up what you drop?

He was oblivious, AKA Clueless.

In our home as in most households across America, we have a “junk drawer.”  Occasionally my husband will ask, “Do we have any tape?” (or fill in the blank…batteries? Glue?  Rubber Bands?)  I’ll say, “Look in the junk drawer,”  and I will hear the drawer open and then close.  Then I will hear, “Can’t find it!”

Is it just me, or don’t most people know that you must rummage through a junk drawer to find things?  It might not be readily available…. It’s a junk drawer, for pete’s sake!

Is he unobservant or just clueless?

Last Christmas my husband surprised me with one more package.  He was so proud of himself as I tore the paper off of a small pink box.

“I got you some new undies!”, he cheered.

Really? 

Really Boo?

Is it just me, or do you agree that most mature women don’t shop at Victoria Secrets?

I cautiously opened the box, secretly hoping they weren’t thongs, so I wouldn’t be too embarassed in front of the family.  Gratefully, they weren’t thongs, but they were tiny, flimsy and one pair said Juicy on the rear!

“Thank you??”, I stammered.

Clueless.

My husband is always willing to grocery shop for us.  He believes he is more efficient and a better bargain hunter.  Occasionally, I will ask for something specific, like a can of artichoke hearts.  This request will totally baffle him and throw him into a tizzy.

The first time I put canned Artichoke Hearts on the list, he looked at me quizzically and said, “I don’t know if I can do that.”   I described exactly which aisle, where they were located on the shelf and what the can looked like.  I then said, “Just get the plain ones, not marinaded.”

This situation could go in one of several ways, as you might imagine.  An hour and half later, he returned home from HEB flustered and grouchy.

“They didn’t have any,”  he said.  “I looked everywhere.”

I wish I hadn’t, but I questioned, “Did you ask someone?”

Well….we all know the answer to that!  Only one word sums it up,

Clueless.

What about the time I broke into tears after shopping for a swimsuit?  He was standing outside the dressing room and said sweetly,

“Just pick one, I thought they all looked good; but if we’re going back to Nordstrom’s can we stop at that candy store on the way?”

The longer I live, the more I realize that sometimes being clueless is a cover up for lack of initiative or dare I say laziness?  But, sometimes being clueless is just the way it is, it’s the whole Men are from Mars thing. Sometimes clueless is downright endearing and precious; and sometimes……it’s not.  They don’t mean to be unaware or insensitive, bewildered or foolish; they’re just plain…

Clueless!

— Nancy Malcolm

Nancy Malcolm is a true Southern woman, who believes in the Southern way. Like, its never too soon to write a thank you note; everyone should own a deviled egg plate; and good manners often take you where neither education nor money can. And she definitely believes no one ever outgrows the need for a mother’s love. To see more of her writing, go to sittinuglysistahs.wordpress.com and soulspeak2016.wordpress.com.

Faking it…as a farm girl

Welcome to my Green Acres Level Life.

You see, I am Eva Gabor aka “Lisa Douglas” deep in my soul. Somewhere along the way I traded in my stilettos for muck boots.

I married this highly educated, well-known equine veterinarian who often commands a room when he is speaking. He has authored books and traveled to far-off places consulting on some of the highest-dollar racehorses. He loves fine dining and fine wine. He is shy, yet sophisticated with a deep Southern charm — the truest of Southern gentlemen. Being a Virginian by birth is something that he holds dear to his heart. When we were dating, I was so enamored hearing tales of his childhood here at Green Level Farm, a once operational and booming center of pork, peanut and pine production. We were actually married before I ever visited the family home (farmhouse) that is now nearly 300 years old. I was not disappointed in the least when I came to visit for the first time.

I have always been the curious girl full of imagination. When I found the hidden staircase leading to the attic, the magic carousel in my mind came to life. Suddenly, I was in Anne Franks’ hidden room. Her story is both horrendous and inspirational, and I had suddenly been transported right into it. I was like a little girl in a storybook!

Now we live on the farm full time, and I am faking it as a farm girl. Perhaps, I do not give myself quite enough credit as when it comes to everyday maintenance and repairs, I give my husband a run for his money!  A 300-year-old house requires lots of maintenance and repairs and unlike city apartment living, I cannot just call maintenance. I am maintenance!

When I first met my husband, I thought horses had paws. While working at a Sonic in my teens, attempting to make conversation with a customer, I told him what pretty horses he had in his horse trailer. He replied “well, thank you, darlin’ but them are cows!” And, there was a time in my life when someone called me over to a carton of eggs with the utmost excitement because of a found “hen egg” to which I inquired, “Well, how do you know?”  Yep. This farm thing was going to be a challenge.

First, let’s begin with dialect and accent. I encounter other human beings (I think), yet they speak a language very different than my own. I have checked out Rosetta Stone and cannot seem to locate Virginian. I have begun to compile a list of questionable words, and, in due time, I am determined I will figure them out.  They are the loveliest people, though. Another funny thing is that my husband acquires the exact same accent when he speaks to one of them. Suddenly we have PEE CANS and AKINS everywhere! I see and HEAR the transformation right before me.

Back in the day (before farm living), a drive-up window was where I pulled up to get my food after placing an order at the intercom. It was glorious. No dishes!

Now, the only window where anyone gets food is the one on my backdoor where the rooster and his harem of hens knock and wait for me to hand out pieces of bread.  Oh, how I miss the days of fast food opposed to a kitchen full of ingredients. I am a self-declared great cook. Just call me Betty Crocker. The thing is, I just don’t wanna! I am a closet Taco Bell addict and the nearest is about 40 minutes away. I could more easily have possum stew that I can have Taco Bell.

I can order a package to be delivered to my house (that is not how they say it here btw!), but the post office does not think I mind just picking it up there as we are all friendly and such. It is okay. The lady at the desk is kind and when there is a full moon, she has allergies. How would I know that otherwise?

On the occasion that I happen to get a Fed Ex package, my dog Mojo normally gets a handwritten note along with three Milk Bones from our delivery guy. Mojo is convinced that just doesn’t happen in town!

The last time my husband travelled out of town for work we had substantial rainfall and I ended up with a frog crawling up the drain of my bathtub. The only thing that this city girl wants in her bathtub is bubble bath and wine!

I have a pair of muck boots by the back door and often wear them with my pajamas out to the barn. I may have even gone into “town” that way once or twice. I find myself crawling under bushes and looking under things for eggs before adding them to the grocery list.

Internet and cable are now luxuries that happen only in the best of weather conditions. My cell phone does not ring often, and I am not sure if that is because I have no service or no friends.

OMG! Trash. There is no trash service. I have to haul that stuff in my car to a DUMP! They look at me a little bit funny when I do that in heels, btw.

We do not go to a local church but rather an ONLINE CHURCH out of Georgia. Well, I declare, “Is that on that there internet or something?”  Imagine the confused looks I get when I tell them that I work remotely — yep on that there computer thing, ordering DRUGS! I once asked a local lady where she goes to church and she replied, “Oh, it’s real traditional. It’s not for everyone.” (I felt like I was in Harper Valley PTA.)

Apparently roads and streets are not at all the same. My purse became a pocketbook and collards are a thing.  Beagles (the Snoopy dogs) are for hunting not petting. FOR REAL!

People around here are quick to offer to share their deer meat and helpful hints on how to cook it. Actually, if you cook anything, as long as you cook it in Zesty Italian dressing, it is sure to be lip smackin’ good. Do not ask to taste their bear meat, though. That is just “good eatin’” and no one is quite that neighborly.

If I were getting a report for farm life so far, I am guessing it would say “needs improvement!” I may not be quite as convincing at faking this farm thing as Meg Ryan was faking IT in the movie “When Harry Met Sally,” but I am hoping for best supporting actress or at least honorable mention.

The thing is it really is a storybook life full of charm, but it goes much deeper than the surface that I fell in love with. The farm life is rather easy going, laid back and quite forgiving. For instance, 35 mph means just that. No one gets in a hurry as there is no place to get in a hurry to go to except The Virginia Diner on buffet days/

I am sure that my suburbanite self is as much of an oddity to the local town folk as they are to me. I am admittedly rather reclusive. If I did not know me, I would be making up all kinds of stories about the city girl writer that lives on Green Level Farm, but then again, I would not understand what they had to say anyway.

— Cynthia Bain

Cynthia Bain is a blogger and author who writes motivational, inspiring and sometimes humorous stories inspired by life as she knows it — never ordinary, sometimes crazy and always fabulous.  She lives in Wakefield, Virginia with her husband and two “fur-kids” (Chloe, the Yorkie princess, and Mojo, the frequently misunderstood Jack Russell Terrier), where they are currently in the process of reviving a 300-year-old farmhouse.

My tumor

For some strange reason last month, I searched for a Facebook group about “acoustic neuroma.”

It’s an inner ear brain tumor, usually benign, that I had successfully removed more than 30 years ago. “Successful” is a relative term here because it was necessary to sever my auditory, facial and balance nerves on that side of my face. It was a long recovery, I am deaf in that ear, and I’ll never be a ballet dancer, but my facial nerve was repaired and I am fine.

When Acoustic Neuroma Friends with almost 2,000 members popped up, I was curious and asked for permission to join. The rules were strict, with the emphasis on coping suggestions and not medical advice. Thirty years ago, the only choices were surgery or “wait and see” since these tumors are slow growing. However, mine was impinging on my brain stem, so out it went. Now there are several choices, and I am grateful I wasn’t given them, since decision making is not my forte.

After my introductory post, I had this niggling feeling that I could help in a way that I learned from the best at the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop — turning tragedy into humor, a la Judy Carter, Elaine Ambrose and my beloved Gina Barreca. I explained the concept as simply as I could and then wrote my first funny anecdote — that I can sleep on my good ear when my husband snores —  and asked them to share theirs. I had no idea the concept would be so welcomed. The comments to my post were downright hilarious — and clever!

Some use the surgery as silly but an authentic excuse. When an Army private was asked why she hadn’t locked a gate, she quipped, “I just had brain surgery. What’s your excuse?” Or when another’s husband gave her a look because she slurped her spaghetti, she said,”I have facial paralysis. What’s your excuse?”

We lose our balance often and one woman just grins and says, “Sorry, guess I’ve had too many.” The looks on her fellow grocery shoppers’ faces are priceless.

Or these quips: “Don’t be nervous, it’s all in your head” or “Using humor is a no-brainer” or my favorite, “Tumor Humor.”

Another term for acoustic neuroma is Schwannoma, so one clever patient made a song video called “My Schwannoma” to the weird ’70s ballad, “My Sharonna!” Another had the No Sound logo tattooed behind his deaf ear.

My initial post garnered more responses than I could have imagined so I continued to try to make these fellow warriors grin. I followed that post with one about the problems with background noise in restaurants or cocktail parties. We find ourselves nodding during conversations we can’t hear and fearing that we’re agreeing to something outrageous or chairing yet another fundraiser. Many of us seat our spouses to our  bad ear, because they know to tap us for attention…or so we can tune them out, as one responded.

I told the story of my 20th high school reunion, my first anxiety-causing occasion after my surgery, where no one seemed to notice my crooked smile and my high school  boyfriend said something I never heard while slow dancing. That prompted a possible Country and Western song title, “Please Don’t  Whisper Sweet Nothings in My Bad Ear.”

A plethora of new acronyms have popped up that are that are puzzling to me. Like SSD (Single Side Deaf) or W&W (Watch and Wait) to go along with the various choices for dealing with these ANs — another acronym that seems to make this tumor seem less threatening. So, in a new post, I came up with some of my originals, like INTW (I Need Training Wheels) or WMGGS (Why My Golf Game Sucks), which prompted more wonderful silliness from my new friends with my favorite being IRN2W (I Run Into Walls).

If humor can help allay the anxiety of the surgery or waiting to see how the tumor grows, I will use the power of my Erma tribe to put smiles on these warriors’ faces. So, I hope they grin every time they stumble, smile when they turn their good ear to conversation, laugh at their unique crooked smiles and never believe their dreams have ended, except maybe that Olympic gymnast gold medal or Tour de France yellow jersey.

Thank you, Elaine, Judy, Gina and all the humor writers who inspire us at Erma.

— Yvonne Ransel

Yvonne Ransel is a writer of essays — some humorous, some poignant — who is inspired by life’s crazy, everyday events. She was a librarian, then a bar owner, now a librarian again. She survived the ’60s and the millenium and the years in between as mother, wife and now grandmother of six.

Self-Checkout: Another female telling me what to do

I’m not a coupon clipper. Never have been. But I admire people who do. I saw a woman at the grocery store the other day carrying a three-ring binder full of coupons. No telling how much money she saved.

I will use a coupon if it’s actually attached to the product. I’ve done that at least once. It happened a couple of weeks ago when I picked up a box of Sweet ‘N Low. There was a coupon attached to it that read, “Save 50-Cents Now!” The cashier scanned it, and it showed up on my receipt. Cool, I remember thinking. And besides saving 50-cents, a banner on the box read, “Bonus Pack! 120 packets for the price of 100.” At two-packets per cup, that’s enough artificial sweetener for 60 cups of coffee.

I’ve been told that this stuff isn’t good for you. But I’ve used it for so many years I’d be afraid to stop; my body could go into shock!

Because of bar codes, checking out is pretty foolproof these days… and easy. So easy that some stores have self-checkout aisles, where you just scan your own stuff. For some reason, though, all the machines have female voices telling you what to do. That’s why I don’t use them.

Women have been telling me what to do all my life; my mother, my big sister, most of my teachers, and my wives (and their mothers). So the last thing I need is a female computer voice telling me to weigh my bananas.

Then there’s the female “navigator” on my GPS telling me where to turn. So far, though, she doesn’t tell me where to park. But I’m sure that “find-a-parking-place” technology is right around the corner. In the meantime, my wife can tell me where to park. And if I forget where I parked, we have an app on our phones that will locate the car. And it works well. I tried it this morning and found the car exactly where I parked it last night; in the garage.

So, tonight I can program the restaurant location into its GPS and head to dinner. But it won’t be to the restaurant that sent me a coupon last week.

The deal: “Surf & Turf Dinner” for Two: 6 oz. filet mignon, served with 8 oz lobster tail – $75.00. Tax and gratuity not included. Beverages not included. Expires 9/30/17. Wow, that’s $37.50 apiece. Wonder what the price will be after 9/30/17?

By comparison, I can get 10 filet mignons and 10 lobster tails from Amazon for a little over $200 with free shipping. All I have to do is tell Alexa and the order is placed. Then she can tell me who won the Dodgers game last night. And then tell me a joke. She hangs onto every word I say, without interrupting. And would never tell me where to park.

Where has she been all my life? (sigh…)

– Raymond Reid

Raymond Reid is a national-award winning humor columnist from Kernersville, NC. He can be contacted at rreid7@triad.rr.com.

Clutter nonsense

I straightened up in the bathroom the other day and placed a clean throw rug in front of the sink. When my wife Carol came home that evening, she saw the rug and told me: “I don’t want that on the floor.” My response: “Where else would it go?”

I knew she meant she didn’t want that particular rug on display, but I have so few opportunities to zing her that I had to jump on the non-sequitur. More importantly — why, then, were we holding onto something we no longer had any use for?

We recently bought another storage shed to join the one we already have in the yard; the new one serves as a place for all the furniture we continue to keep that does not fit into our current home. When we moved to our lovely but modest lake house in Maine, instead of downsizing our possessions, we brought everything with us and just gerrymandered the boundaries within which they are legally permitted to reside.

When company comes, we offer a comfortable guest room with a few tastefully arranged family heirlooms on display. However, we’re able to do that only by relocating an insane amount of stuff into our bedroom for the duration of their stay — several barrels’ worth of family photographs and craft supplies, stacks of books and magazines, assorted folding chairs, two sewing machines and my exercise bicycle (which is actually a full-sized bike with the rear wheel sitting on a treadmill-like stand so I can peddle furiously without actually going anywhere, much like when I ride the bike outside). We can’t show overnight visitors the master bedroom on the house tour since we have to put a shoulder to our door to force it open.

Once in a great while when we are house cleaning (and by this, I mean that we house clean only once in a great while), Carol will look at me and say, “I’m in a mood to get rid of things.” This is a rare event, like a visit from Halley’s Comet, or a truthful statement from a member of the Trump administration.

We immediately jump into action once those words leave her lips; we fill box after box with no-longer-worn clothing, no-longer-used kitchen appliances, no-longer-functioning electronic devices and other redundant possessions, and rush them to Goodwill before regret has time to take hold. We unload so much during these trips that the IRS dispatches an agent to supervise the donations. Once everything is accounted for, he hands us a completed Form 8283 (“Noncash Charitable Contributions”), and to express our thanks we offer a bottle of wine (valued at $20 or less, as per federal guidelines), throwing in a few sticker books if the agent happens to mention there are small children at home.

Some people find it hard to give up things they rarely (if ever) use because of emotional connections to those items. That extra set of china that’s sitting in a box up in the attic? It belonged to your grandparents. That collection of Instamatic cameras, which they don’t make film for anymore? You’ve held on to them since adolescence, when your life’s ambition was to become a photographer for National Geographic. The dress you wore to your senior prom? That’s the night you lost your… contact lenses.

These keepsakes remind you of connections to family, or special events, or a time when your vision of the future excited you more than it might right now. I tend to be less sentimental than my wife, so it often falls on me in these moments to remain objective and ask that perfectly rational question: “Why do you want to hold onto something you no longer have any use for?”

Lately, I notice Carol staring at me for a long, long time before answering.

— John Branning

This essay is adapted from John Branning’s latest book, Keys To The Truculent Me – And Other Things That Drive Me Crazy. He is a well-meaning but woefully inadequate husband and father. John blogs at JohnBranning.com.

Stick to the list

The cashier asked, “Did you get everything you needed?” “Everything and more,” I replied.

Just once I should go to a store and buy only what’s on the list. Once while shopping I found someone else’s list. When I read it, I became intrigued by several items and wound up buying things that were strange to me from a stranger’s list. I’m convinced it was the store’s marketing strategy to leave a random list for an unsuspecting customer like myself to find, causing impulse purchases and increased store profits. Shrewd!

When my husband does the grocery shopping, we do what I call the ‘reading of the list.’ He’ll scroll down and ask, “Bread, what do you mean bread?” I answer his question with a question. “What do mean, what do I mean by bread?”

“Question three is same as the first — “Yes, what do you mean by bread?” We have started phrasing all our sentences in the form of a question and have started playing Jeopardy. I must stop the insanity.

I phrase my next sentence to end with a period rather a question mark. “Bread, you know the thing you put meat and cheese between to make a sandwich. It’s been around forever. You love bread.”

“I meant what kind of bread do you want — white, wheat, rye or what?” “Just buy whatever’s on… oh wait, buy the bread on this list I found.” He does a reading of the stranger’s list and asks, “You want me to buy bread from a total stranger’s list? What if we don’t like it?”

“Oh, I doubt that, so far I love everything I’ve bought on their list.” His voice is filled with doubt as he says, “I’m off.”

“Bye and remember — stick to the list.”

— Cindy Argiento

Cindy Argiento’s first column appeared in the Greensboro News and Record as a Personal Ads feature on April 30, 2002. Later that year, her first “As I See It” column appeared in the High Point Enterprise, where it would become a regular feature for several years. Her columns also have appeared in the Reidsville Review, Eden Daily News, Gilroy Dispatch, Hollister Freelance, Hopewell News and Foothills Paper. Other essays have appeared in Chicken Soup For the Soul books, Family Matters and Married Life. Three of her pieces were recognized as a finalist, semi-finalist and honorable mention in HumorPress.com “America’s Funniest Humor” writing contest. She blogs at Cindy’s World.

Laugh-Inn: A Hotel Room of One’s Own

Room service. An omelet bar. The sun rising over the Great Miami River or, as some affectionately call it, the Dayton Riviera.

What writer wouldn’t want to spend two all-expenses-paid, blissful weeks at a hotel in Dayton, Ohio? Yes, a hotel. It’s the ultimate gift for any writer — the luxury of time to write.

That’s the premise behind the newly launched “A Hotel Room of One’s Own: The Erma Bombeck | Anna Lefler Humorist-in-Residence Program” at the Marriott at the University of Dayton.

Thanks to a generous gift from comic novelist and writer Anna Lefler, the University of Dayton’s Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop is offering two emerging humor writers the opportunity to dive into their comedy writing without the interruption of those pesky everyday responsibilities.

Writers selected for the inaugural residencies will receive a free registration to the April 5-7, 2018, Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop as well as travel, hotel and meal expenses for a two-week experience of a lifetime. The Marriott at the University of Dayton is an in-kind sponsor for the program.

Online applications are due by noon (EST) Oct. 6, with the winners announced Dec. 4. The program is open to all aspiring humor writers regardless of gender or comedic point of view. Writers working on novels, narrative non-fiction, plays, essays, sitcom scripts and other humor writing are encouraged to apply, with special consideration given to emerging writers. The application fee is $25. All entries will be blind-judged by preliminary and finalist judges, all established writers.

“The premise of the program is to give a creative boost to writers who do not yet have the benefit of a milestone achievement such as a traditional book deal, a sold script or the like,” says Teri Rizvi, founder and director of the University of Dayton’s Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop. “The application process is open to all, with the understanding that judges will be keeping this premise in mind throughout the selection process.”

A self-described “lifelong fangirl and devotee of Erma Bombeck,” Lefler says she was inspired to start the program because, much like the wildly popular biennial workshop, it has the potential to transform a writer’s life.

“The chance to step away from your everyday responsibilities to concentrate on your humor writing AND have access to unlimited tiny soaps? The comedy practically writes itself,” says Lefler, a Los Angeles-based humorist who is the author of two funny books, Preschooled and The Chicktionary, and a three-time faculty member at the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop.

“This is an opportunity for funny writers to deep dive into their comedic voices and create without limitations. I would be thrilled for this program to provide the catalyst for emerging comedy writers to break through with their art.”

For any writer, an uninterrupted block of time is golden.

In the early days, celebrated humorist Erma Bombeck kept her bedroom door closed while she tapped out her syndicated column on a typewriter on a makeshift desk — a plank between cinder blocks. When the children came home from school, they pushed notes under the door. At one point, Bombeck quipped to her husband, “You know, Bill, I have lost chapter two of my book, and I found out I had been sleeping with it.”

Lefler says she wrote much of her first book in her car. “I always carried my writing with me and when my children, who are 17 months apart, happened to fall asleep at the same time while I was driving, I would find a shady spot to park and work until they woke up. I didn’t have a laptop back then, so I wrote longhand in pencil on a legal pad propped on my steering wheel. Quiet writing time was golden and I made the most of it — at least until I had to go to the bathroom,” she remembers with a laugh.

As part of the residencies, the winners will write funny essays about their experience living and writing at the Dayton Marriott for the workshop’s blog and meet with University of Dayton classes to discuss the writing journey.

“Like all serious writers, we expect our two residents to fritter some of their time away on social media. Look for updates from the Dayton Marriott under the hashtags #HotelLOL, #RoomServiceWriter and #LaughInn,” Lefler says.

A Hotel Room of One’s Own: The Erma Bombeck | Anna Lefler Humorist-in-Residence Program is one of a number of unconventional writing residencies popping up around the country. This year, more than 4,000 writers applied to be the Mall of America’s writer-in-residence. The Kerouac Project of Orlando offers four residencies each year to writers, who stay in the Florida cottage where Jack Kerouac wrote. And Amtrak has funded a writer-in-residency for scribes who enjoy writing on a train — and blogging about their experience.

Founded in 2000, the University of Dayton’s Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop has been dubbed the “Woodstock of Humor.” It’s the only workshop in the country devoted to both humor and human interest writing and is so popular that it sells out within hours. It also co-sponsors an international writing competition.

For more information about the writing residency, visit http://www.humorist-in-residence.com.

A Mouseketeer shows up for dinner

If it hadn’t been for a well-placed coffee table, my surprise dinner guest would have turned my kitchen into a Disney amusement park and tapped danced through every nook and cranny of my home.

In fact, this dinner guest wasn’t interested in the dinner menu, enjoying small talk or even a glass of wine. So, to make sense of this story, we have to back up to where it all started at a bank parking lot.

You see, my mother-in-law was the real invited dinner guest and was on her way to our house from her job at the bank when she soon discovered a stowaway had set up a Mickey Mouse Club inside her car.

A flashback to the children’s show it was not, and this Mouseketeer didn’t show up for roll call, either.

In a panic, my mother-in-law called to say she’d be a little late for dinner as a mouse had decided to take up residence inside her car. Not to mention, it wasn’t even close to being as cute as a Mouseketeer and had about as much song and dance talent as Elmer Fudd.

Not being able to chase out the whiskered hitchhiker, she had no choice but to get in her car and drive. Her plan was to make a pit stop at her local auto shop to de-varmint her car from any looming Mickey Mouse mayhem.

You can imagine the hesitation you’d feel driving across town knowing a mouse was lurking somewhere beneath your feet or, worse yet, riding shotgun without a moment’s notice.

When my mother-in-law arrived at our house an hour later a little shaken and rattled, she dumped her belongings in a hurried haste and proceeded to tell her titillating tale of the mouse gone rogue in her car.

No doubt, we were all ears” when she explained that the mechanic at her loyal auto shop had searched high and low for Mr. Mouseketeer. Not even the promise of a good talent agent could reel this pesky rat out.

“I think your mouse has left the building,” the auto mechanic exclaimed.

Believing in her mechanic, she took his word for it and continued on her journey.

No sooner had she finished her mouse story and the great escape, when we heard a pesky nibbling at the kitchen wall.

This Mouseketeer didn’t have nearly the resemblance to Annette, Bobby, or Cubby and, for you younger folks, not Britney or Justin either. In fact, through my eyes, this wasacally rodent was huge, hairy and had claws the size of Shere Kahn scratching at the wall.

Naturally, we screamed and my mother-in-law shouted, “That’s it, there it is!”

How in Looney Tunes did it end up in my kitchen? One striking clue was an overturn purse on the table with remnants of scavenged mints inside. This would entice any Mouseketeer wanting to hitch a ride on the candy train. It’s still a mystery how a sneaky mouse piggybacked undetected inside a purse.

It was my husband’s quick thinking to grab the coffee table to block off the kitchen entry. This runaway rodent wouldn’t be slipping through again!

With the courage of a real Musketeer, my hubby swiftly snatched up a broom to corner the sneaky critter into submission. With one sudden thrust of the broom, it was curtains for this Mickey Mouse show!

Tonight, there’d be one less guest for dinner and one less Mouseketeer with a shot at stardom.

Consequently, after writing this loony story, it’s only appropriate to end with a quote from another famous Looney Tune character…”Th-Th-The, Th-Th-The, Th-Th…That’s all, folks!”

— Laurie Oien

Laurie Oien is a wife and mother living in Minnesota and determined to uncover the second half of life with zest and zeal. She has a background in marketing and accounting for the last 25 years and recently discovered that one can’t live by adding machines and numbers alone. Therefore, she created a humorous lifestyle blog. Laurie has been a contributor to Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop and Midlife Boulevard. Also, she’s a featured author in the anthology, Feisty After 45, released by Mills Park Publishing. Laurie blogs at A Square of Chocolate.

Reflections of Erma