Sunday funnies

This is from Bluebird of Bitterness

bluebird of bitterness

One Sunday morning, an old man wearing patched overalls, a faded shirt, and a frayed jacket entered a church just as the service was about to begin. The church was in an affluent part of town, and everyone in the congregation was very expensively dressed. None of them greeted or welcomed the visitor.

After the service was over, the minister approached the old man and said, “Before you come back here again, have a talk with God and ask Him what He thinks is the proper attire to wear to church.”

The old man assured the minister that he would. The following Sunday, he showed up again, dressed exactly as he had been the week before. The minister took him aside and said, “I thought I asked you to speak to God before you came back here.”

“I did,” said the old man. “But He told me that He didn’t have a clue what…

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Cinderella in Reverse

Me in my stylish saddle oxfords.  I rememer those socks.  They were pink and green circumferential stripes.  I think they were boy socks.  That dress was red and white checked.  Mother must have let me pick my outfit that day.  I was not quite three here.


Saddle Oxfords ruined my life.  The whole time I was growing up, my mother’s fashion sense was stuck in the forties.  In the picture above, you see me modeling a scuffed and dirty pair.  I absolutely despised those shoes.  Almost as soon as they came out of the box, they looked horrible.  I was then, and still am, incapable of keeping my clothes and shoes nice.  I ought to wear  brogans and a burlap bag for all the good dressing up does.  Now I wear nothing but dark jeans with cotton prInts,  plaids, stripes , checks, or confuse people and look presentable longer.    I can reach in my closet and pull out any pair of jeans and any shirt and it will do.  It is the same for shoes.  I have brown, black, and navy shoes that go with anything.  Five minutes and I am dressed.  Of course, life does occasionally demand a dress, but I have a few in classic styles that get me through anything.  No thinking required.

I was stuck with saddle shoes because Mother liked them in high school.  She somehow didn’t notice styles had changed by the time I came along.  After I started school, Mother just took a paper where she’d marked around our feet to the shoe store and brought shoes home to us.  We were stuck with her choice.  Length was the first concern.  We were going to be wearing those shoes awhile so she got them big.  Sometimes it looked like we were wearing skis.    Durability was a major issue.  With five kids, she had to get something that lasted.  Those damned oxfords lasted.  I’ll bet roaches will be wearing them long after the apocalypse.  Oh, and Mother thought the were “cute.” so that covered style.

On “shoe day” I’d beg Mother for strap shoes.  Mother was a tyrant on dressings us.  We wore what she bought and learned she wasn’t taking any backtalk.  Patent leather would have thrilled me.  That wasn’t going to happen.  I always got the same story.  “When patent leather gets wet, it cracks,”  I didn’t care.  I still coveted it.  The next best would have been red leather shoes.  Mother was a tyrant.  We wore what she bought.  Our opinion didn’t factor in on trying to dress seven people on a pitiful budget.  “No, I can’t get red  shoe polish.  They’ll look awful,”  I always hoped for a miracle, but no patent leather shoes,  velveteenshoes, or cowboy boots ever came home with her.  I guess she never got a look at those dirty oxfords I clumped around in.  In theory, the saddle oxfords could be polished nicely.  I was so rough on mine, they still looked liked thunder after polishing.  The scuffs were more gray than white.  Mother was not particularly good at polishing, anyway.  After Connie and Marilyn came along, she had me polishing my own and I found out what a crappy job really looked like.  I smeared white all over the edge of the black.  Did you ever see chicken poop?  It’s mostly black with a little white saddle on top.  That was my shoes in reverse, mostly white with a dollop of black.  The white was generously slopped on the black.  We always had that pathetic white  liquid shoe polish that  didn’t cover worth diddly.  It was only good for making the black look worse.  Not only that, I was supposed to polish my shoes the night before.  I’d get up the next morning and realize  I’d already been threatened to polish my shoes a couple of times, and slap on a messy coat of white.   It didn’t usually have time to let it dry, much less buff, so I looked a mess.  Better yet, if I’d waited too late, I got polish on my legs as I walked around.  See, it was all Mother’s fault I wasn’t a fashion icon.  I guess there are just some kids destined to wear saddle oxfords while others get patent leather.  Life isn’t fair!

The third child on the hay is my sister Connie Swain Miller.  You see here she got a good dose of those ugly shoes.  They look even worse without socks.  The other two children were family friends.  Notice all the diapers on the line.  My younger  sister Marilyn was seventeen months younger than Connie.  She may have escaped the Saddle Oxford Curse.  You notice they have sneakers, or tennies, as they were called then.








It Couldn’t Be Helped Part 10

Kathleen, my octogenarian mother was snatched from sleep at three in the morning by the sound of hysterical screaming and pounding on her front door.  Through the peep hole, she recognized her neighbor, a frail, single mother clutching her toddler and tiny infant, begging to come in.  Mother was horrified to hear that Melinda had been raped at gunpoint, the lives of her tiny children threatened.  Nonetheless, Melissa called the police and an investigation was begun.

The next morning, the neighborhood was in an uproar.  Residents stood in the streets discussing the details and studying the composite drawing.  Mr. and Mrs. Smith and their son Jeremy stood on the edge of the crowd listening intently.  Mother had been meaning to go meet them, so as a friendly neighbor, she pulled them into the conversation.

Of course, the rape was on everybody’s mind, so Mother launched into her rapist defense plan, boasting of the shotgun under her bed and her plan to shoot to kill, not mentioning the rusty shotgun hadn’t been fired in thirty years, and never by her. She didn’t even know if she had shells. She was ready.  Eventually, tiring of the drama, the crowd dispersed and went about business as usual.

About two hours later, Mother was surprised to answer her door to Mr. Smith and Jeremy.  She had liked them well enough, but hadn’t expected them to accept her invitation to coffee so soon. After chatting a bit, Mr. Smith brought up the rape. Mother launched into her plan for the rapist, getting more excited as she continued, embellishing the agony in store for him should he be so foolish as to cross her path.  She wasn’t one of those namby-pambies who feared killing an intruder.  She’d go straight for the heart.  Should there be anything left afterward, she’d empty her gun in him just for fun.  Jeremy, a sullen teenager, rolled his eyes as much as he dared in the company of his father.  He was a little smart aleck, but Mother still thought it was nice of him to come down with his dad to check on her.

Mr. Smith was still very concerned about Mother’s safety despite hearing of her excellent rapist deterrent plan. Inspecting her locks for security, finding scratches on her back door, showing the rapist had tried but failed to gain entry there.  He asked to see her shotgun, and upon inspection, found the safety rusted shut.  When he asked her if she had a pistol, it caught her by surprise.  She had to admit she didn’t.  Mr. Smith pulled an heirloom quality pistol from his jacket, showed Mother how to fire it, had her demonstrate, loaded it and left, Jeremy in tow.  Mother was touched at his concern and generosity, realizing the pistol would be a lot more good to her than the ancient shotgun with no shells, at least theoretically.

A few days rocked by. The Smiths moved.  Little Jenny Whitmore who lived opposite the Smiths recognized Jeremy from the composite photo.  He was arrested, confessed to the rape and sent back to Wisconsin to serve the rest of his suspended sentence on his previous conviction for sexual assault.  Now Mother understood Mr. Smith’s concern for her safety.  Melissa and her babies moved away.

Life settled back down.  Relieved to have this business settled, Mother’s little neighborhood once again felt safe, secure and friendly.  The only fly in the ointment was when Mr. Smith came calling a few weeks later to reclaim Mother’s/his lovely pearl-handled pistol, not so generous after all.  She still feels bad about having to give up that sweet little pistol.  It was cute and old, just like her. (to be continued)