According to my blog’s stat page, I haven’t written squat since Christmas Eve. Is that right?
Okay, my editor says I shouldn’t openly admit how long it’s been since I last wrote, and…
*receives another note*
Okay, I’m also not supposed to mention how my editor sends me notes.
*receives third note*
Oh for cripes sake, I TOLD you the chocolate is on the second shelf, toward the back. Sheesh!
Anyway, sorry for ghosting on you. Been a bit busy and all that. I’ve got a couple blog posts percolating, but nothing quite up to snuff. So instead we’ll be doing a quickie for today.
This came to me via a sister from the convent. She works with college students at a volunteer ministry and they were studying the creation story. One of them brought up the scene from the Sistine chapel. The part where God is reaching out to Adam.
You can picture it in your mind, right? I don’t need to show it to you.
Okay fine, I’ll show it to you:
So the student pointed out something I was aware of, but never really thought about.
Look at how how God — he’s the one on the right — is stretching out with everything he’s got. You can see his muscles at work, he’s straining, doing all he can to reach Adam. The angels look like they’re holding on to God, afraid to let go.
And then there’s Adam. Lounging about, taking it easy, barely managing to hold his hand out.
I mean, he’s not even looking at God.
Did you ever notice that? I didn’t.
I don’t know what Michelangelo had in mind, but I couldn’t help thinking this is like an extremely condensed version of the entire Bible.
God — forget for the moment he’s shown as a white-haired old man (this is art, baby) — God is always reaching out to us.
Come on, people… just a bit farther… you can do it!… I’m right here…
And we’re all, like…
“Hmm? … Oh, yeah… um… I don’t know, God. I’m kind of swamped right now...
Isn’t that interesting? And when you think about the Biblical stories — taken as a whole, I mean — then it seems clear that…
Okay, my editor thinks I’m getting too religious and need to back off. But you all know I work at a convent now, right? It’s gonna be hard not letting it creep in a little.
*yet another note*
What do you mean you can’t find it? You freak out over a misplaced apostrophe, but you can’t see a box of chocolates right in front of your face?! Geez!
I better go. I’ll see you all next week. In the meantime, keep reaching… 😉
For those of you who landed here in the hope of finding a recipe for bread pudding with bourbon sauce, let not your heart be troubled. For indeed, there is one.
And since I know how irritating it is to have to scroll through an entire blog post when all you want is the freakin’ recipe–seriously, do we need a picture for every time they crack an egg?–I made you a jump link straight to it: Click to jump to recipe
(Gosh, it’s been so long since I did a jump link, sure hope I did it right. If not, I wonder where they all went to?)
Oh well. On my nativity set. Here’s a picture of it:
The set is from the Willow Creek collection and is ridiculously popular, but for the record, I bought it when it first came out. Before it was popular. Just so you know.
It’s the first nativity set I ever bought and the only reason I did so is that Mary is holding the baby.
Most sets have her praying, like she wishes he’d go to sleep already…
Other times she looks surprised there’s a baby at all, which I guess is reasonable given the circumstances…
Once I saw a set where Mary was holding up a cloth. I told Husband, “Look! She’s got a diaper!” He thought it was the swaddling cloth. Sadly, I never saw the set again.
Anyway, the reason I’m musing on nativity sets, other than it being Christmas and all, is that it recently came to my attention it was St. Francis who came up with the idea.
(For those of you who follow this blog and don’t just come here hoping to snag a recipe, you’ll know I recently started working at a Franciscan convent. Hence, my recently acquired knowledge of nativity sets.)
It was St Francis who created the first living nativity. He set it up in a cave in central Italy and it was so popular that for several years after it was reenacted throughout Italy. Eventually they created small replicas for people to keep in their homes.
His intent, St. Francis’ that is, was to have a scene where people could reflect on the event; no one cared if it was historically accurate or not.
Even so, for a lot of us, it became gospel truth. The stable, the wooden manger filled with straw, the shepherds and wise men jockeying for space, the stingy innkeeper, the whole shtick.
Several years ago I saw a video of a theologian talking about the nativity story. It was quite entertaining, mostly because he talked with so much enthusiasm.
According to this theologian — his name was Dr. Bailey — it’s far more likely Jesus was born in a home, not a stable. The homes of that time and region consisted of one big room, a portion of which was lower and that’s where the animals were kept at night. Mainly to protect them from thieves, but also because they added warmth to the house.
As for the manger, it was probably a concave spot cut into the main floor for feeding the animals on the lower level. When the angels told the shepherds, “You will find the babe wrapped in bands of cloth, lying in a manger,” they would have pictured a home just like one they grew up in. The message was clear: “He’s one of us!”
There’s a lot more Dr. Bailey said, including specifics as to why they’d be in a house. If you’d like to read an article he wrote, you can do so here.
What I love about this rendition is that it becomes a tale of hospitality and family. A new baby lain not on scratchy straw but in a cozy nook, a young couple assisted by relatives they probably never met before, the nervous new mother comforted by wise and knowing women. And however poor the family, they would have shared their food as well.
It could be that this is where our present day Christmas gets it right. Families and friends getting together, sharing food and conversation, a extra room if needed.
And here’s where we segue into the bread pudding with bourbon sauce, because if you’re going to be hospitable toward your family, a little bourbon can’t hurt.
And if my jump-link worked, we’re now joined with our recipe hunters too.
This is a tasty, grown-up version of bread pudding, with cranberries because I’m not fond of raisins. But feel free to use whatever dried fruit you’d like. Also, if you’d rather not have bourbon in it, use apple cider instead.
4 or 5 cups dry bread cubes
2 cups half-n-half (can use milk or almond milk instead)
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried cranberries, soaked a couple hours in 1/2 cup bourbon or apple cider
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
4 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup bourbon whiskey (reserved from soaking fruit)
First off, put the dried cranberries (or dried fruit of choice) in a bowl and soak in bourbon (or liquid of choice). Let soak for a good 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour half-n-half (or milk) in a mixing bowl and add the bread cubes. Stir gently until all the liquid is absorbed. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, vanilla and spices. Strain the dried cranberries, reserving 1/4 cup liquid for the sauce. Pour the egg mixture over the bread cubes and add the cranberries, stir gently until combined.
Grease an 8×8-inch pan with the melted butter. Pour the bread and egg mixture into the baking pan; bake at 350°F for 35 minutes or until the liquid has set.
To make bourbon sauce: Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat; stir in sugar and egg and whisk until smooth. Slowly cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens a little. Remove from heat and stir in bourbon. (Note: the alcohol does not cook out.)
Pour the bourbon sauce over the bread pudding to serve. Enjoy!
Several bloggers I follow recently announced they will be taking a break from blogging. Most gave a time frame for their return, others said, “we’ll see.”
They will be missed, but I commend them for taking a needed rest. Especially those who said it wasn’t fun anymore. I mean, if you’re not enjoying this blogging thing, then why do it?
Which led me to think about this here blog. This Feeding on Folly.
You might have noticed our posting has been a bit sporadic. For the first three years there was an article every Wednesday, and sometimes a Saturday too if we were feeling especially productive.
But since this last June, around the time we relocated closer to Santa, the posting schedule has been hit or miss. There might be a Wednesday post, it might be Thursday, possibly Friday, or hey, maybe none at all. (Oh, the suspense!)
So after reading the fifth blogger in a row who wrote, “this will be my last post for the foreseeable future,” and I swear I heard a dirge playing in the background, I got to wondering if that was my problem. Maybe I’m in need of a break? Am I facing blogger burnout?
Has Fun left the building?
We decided to give the matter some serious thought. It was time for Self-Reflection, and if you’ve been following FoF for any reasonable amount of time, you know that Self-Reflection is our game.
For our evening of Rumination and Cogitation, we selected the chair nearest the fireplace and poured a glass of zinfandel.
Some might say pinot noir is a better choice for Introspection, but there is much to be said for zinfandel. The primary one being the zinfandel was on sale for six bucks and the pinot wasn’t. So there you go.
Sitting in the chair with Me was the Me doing the analysis. The Me doing the analysis was drinking Earl Grey, as she wanted to keep her wits about her.
Our conversation went as thus:
Me: It’s nice to see you again. How are things going?
Me: No complaints. You?
Me: Same. I noticed you didn’t do a blog post last Wednesday. Is everything okay?
Me: Aw, you noticed! That’s so sweet!
Me: Well, I didn’t notice right away. Truthfully, I forgot it was Wednesday.
Me: Right?! It’s so hard to keep track of those things.
Me: So was that it? You just forgot? That’s… troubling.
Me: Is it?
Me: What about Thursday, Friday or Saturday? You could have posted something one of those days.
Me: Meh. I just wasn’t feeling it. And now I’m kinda worried I might be facing burnout.
Me: Uh-huh. And how does that make you feel?
Me: Interesting. Tell me, has the well run dry? Are you lacking ideas?
Me: No, I’ve got plenty of ideas. I just wasn’t sure any of them were blog-worthy.
Me: I see. Listen, how about you tell me one of the ideas and I’ll tell you what I think of it?
Me: Gee, I’m not sure…
Me: Hey, if you can’t trust me, who can you trust?
Me: Okay… well, for one of them I was writing about my new job at the convent and about how last week I was helping with this workshop thingy and when one of the nuns realized she forgot something she said, “Oh shit.”
Me: Really? A nun said shit?
Me: That should be worth a blog post. A nun saying shit.
Me: Is it though? I mean, so what if a nun says shit? They’re human.
Me: Yeah, but you don’t expect them to say shit. That’s what makes it funny.
Me: Maybe. But there’s only so many times you can write shit before you wind up with a post full of shit.
Me: I see your point. What else have you got?
Me: Well, then I started thinking about how different this job is from my last job. You know, going from a high school to a convent.
Me: Go on.
Me: And how after two months of working here it was the first time I heard shit, but there–
Me: You heard it every two minutes?
Me: Something like that.
Me: Okay, yeah, I could see that being funny.
Me: Yeah. But then I got to thinking I was sounding all goody-goody, like I had a problem with people saying shit.
Me: And really, I don’t care. I mean, hey, sometimes I say shit too.
Me: But not at the convent. I don’t say shit there.
Me: Some places aren’t shit-appropriate.
Me: And then I started writing about how I finally met the oldest sister at the convent. She’s 103.
Me: No kidding? A hundred and three?
Me: Is she the nun who said shit?
Me: No… though I bet she does, don’t you think? Say shit?
Me: I bet she does. Heck, when you’re 103, I bet every morning you wake up and realize you’re still alive you say, “Oh shit.”
Me: I suppose.
Me: Yeah, I bet she does. I bet she says shit.
Me: Listen, about this blog. What do you think? Give it to me straight – am I facing burnout?
Me: No, I don’t think this is burnout.
Me: Really. Borderline psychosis, maybe. A touch of schizophrenia. Mild hysteria leading toward an eventual breakdown, sure. But not burnout.
Me: Oh, that’s such a relief. I feel so much better.
Me: Glad I could help. Now pour me a glass of Zin.
On a post about five or so months ago, where I told of my relocation up North, I ended by saying I got a job at a hospital near our house.
Maybe you wondered why I never mentioned this job again? Or maybe you never thought about it, which is completely understandable because why would you?
The reason I never talked about the job was because 10 days into said job, I quit.
Have you ever started working at a place and as you stood there watching the other employees do their thing, know deep in your heart it’s not your thing and never would be your thing and what in God’s name ever made you think it could be your thing?
Also, what I was told would be my schedule turned out to be more theory than practice. It might one day be my schedule, but for now it was anything goes. So I went.
What followed was a time of self-reflection, doubt, and existential malaise. Or, what is commonly known as, a job search.
I forget how many interviews I had. Or how many times Indeed-dot-com notified me with: “______ looked at your resume!” Without bothering to note that “_____” was in California or Florida or Guam.
I tried to stay positive.
Hey, with all this free time, I can write blog posts galore! Resuscitate its Facebook page, update the blog theme, tidy up the sidebar!
Gosh, maybe I’ll even dig out that novel I’ve been working on for… oh gee, I don’t know… 15 years? Hey, now I can be a full-time writer!
Oh, if only I had a smoking jacket! Or smoked!
But lo, this writer’s dream was not to be. I found that with no pressure on my time, I make sad use of it. I needed to get out of the house. I needed a sense of purpose. I needed—gasp!—I needed to be around people. (For an introvert, this is a startling revelation.)
Then Husband found a help wanted ad in the paper:
Administrative Assistant with desktop publishing and database skills; ability to write and format newsletters; creativity and good writing skills a must; knowledge of video editing software a plus. Please send letter of introduction with resume.
There was one peculiar addition:
Must be knowledgeable of Franciscan spirituality or willing to learn.
Forgot to mention, the job was at a convent.
So, yeah. I’m working at a convent now. Have been for a little over a month. It’s a fascinating place.
I don’t mean to put down men—honestly, I love you guys—but there’s something about women who choose to live without them. It’s like they come into their own.
Also, this Franciscan thing.
The couple I work for–they’re a lay couple who oversee two of the convent’s ministries–they give me books to read so I can understand their work better. They reserve a quiet room for me, I can get free popcorn at the convent’s top-notch cafeteria. We meet afterwards to discuss what I read.
It’s like I’m getting paid to attend a book club.
Things I’ve learned: St. Francis was a radical. And here I thought he was just a guy who liked birds.
These nuns can be pretty radical too. Never before have I worked with a group of people who are so focused outwardly. Even things like tossing a piece of paper in the garbage—Wait! That can be recycled!—Wait! Did we write on both sides first?
The woman I work for, let’s call her Mrs. Boss, said if anything were to happen in town—if some injustice was occurring—these sisters would be the first ones marching out the door, carrying signs in protest.
And I can see it happening, too. Though it would be a slow procession, given their ages and several using walkers.
Such is my life now. Living in a blue state, working among Franciscan nuns.
And here I thought the biggest change for me would be the weather. 😉
Many Thanksgivings ago, back when we lived in an old green house in central Nebraska, we were invited to an elderly professor’s home for dinner.
He was a widower, tall and lean, with thick, white hair and a gentle, noble demeanor that all elderly professors should have, if they can possibly do so.
We were joined by five others: a truck driver, a convenience store clerk, a school secretary, a dental hygienist, and one of the professor’s former students who was currently “between jobs.”
You might say we were a rag-tag bunch, but I won’t because I was part of it. Rather, I choose to believe we were an eclectic group of wise and witty conversationalists. A regular Algonquin Round Table, Nebraska-style.
The school secretary and unemployed student loved movies. They recommended Double Impact highly, but Child’s Play 3 was a disappointment. The truck driver admired the layout of our host’s home. The dental hygienist commented on the color of the drapes (mauve). The convenience store clerk had many opinions that he was only too happy to share, mostly with regards to Thanksgiving being a complete sham. (There’s always one in the crowd.) Husband played the role of devil’s advocate with aplomb, pointing out that whatever the original Thanksgiving was, at least now there’s gravy.
I delighted in the homemade cranberry sauce.
“It’s made with brandy,” the elderly professor said.
“That’s brilliant,” I declared. And it was.
I’ve been thinking about that Thanksgiving so many years ago. Imagining this kind man striking up conversations with people and upon hearing they had no plans for Thanksgiving, saying, “Well now, that won’t do! Stop by my place at four for cocktails, dinner’s at five. Here’s my card. Cheerio!”
Okay, maybe he didn’t say Cheerio.
Anyway, the idea is a lovely one and beings how Husband and I had no plans this year, I threw out the idea of following in the path of our kind, elderly professor. And we probably would have, but we found out the town in which we live has its own version. A community-wide Thanksgiving dinner that apparently is quite the to-do.
It started several years ago with the idea of it being for low-income and elderly people, but over the years it grew to include just about everyone, from all walks of life, all getting together to celebrate the day. And so many people want to help out, they actually have to turn volunteers away.
Fortunately we got our names in early; I think we have dish duty. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Back to our elderly professor: being the kind man he was, he shared his recipe with me.
You only use three ingredients: cranberries, sugar, and a small amount of liquid which can be water, juice, or in our kindly professor’s case, brandy.
The amounts are as follows,
4 cups cranberries
2 cups sugar
1/3 cup liquid
Kindly Professor made his on the stovetop (cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the cranberries pop and the sauce thickens), but I’ve seen recipes that bake it (one hour at 325 degrees, giving it a stir every 15 minutes or so).
I’ve played around with the recipe because that’s what I do, and I like to add about 1/2 cup chopped walnuts and an apple. You could add raisins if you feel so moved, but if your family is anything like mine, it’s best you don’t.
Another note: in place of the brandy, I’ve used red wine and once did Bailey’s Irish Cream. I like the brandy version best, but if you’d rather not use alcohol, orange juice is an excellent option.
Final note: the fresh cranberries I used were Minnesota grown. Meaning I now live in an area with bogs, as that is where cranberries grow.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! 🦃
P.S. Per Susie’s request, here’s a picture of a cranberry bog in Walker, Minnesota:
Right before harvest, the area is flooded and the cranberries float, then the harvesters wade in and collect the berries. According to what I read, cranberries are native to Minnesota, but most of the cranberries grown commercially are from Wisconsin.
A few days ago we had our first real, honest-to-goodness snowstorm. It’s Dog’s first and she’s not sure what to make of it.
I, on the other hand, love it.
I also love the gray skies and the way my phone claimed it was -4° when I woke up yesterday.
Mind over matter, folks. Mind over matter.
I’ve always loved snow so this desert gal is glad to be back in it. The -4 and dropping?
Hey, I can handle it. As long as I have my LL Bean boots and down coat, I’ve got this.
I’m pretty sure our neighbors think we’re crazy. Moving from Phoenix, AZ to central Minnesota was the first clue, but when a grown woman tromps around in the snow and giggles?
Yeah, she’s a nut-job.
But then I’ve always been a little crazy when it comes to snow. Like, for instance, the time when I prayed for it.
I was an innocent preteen, back when there were such things, and we were headed to South Dakota in early October to celebrate my grandparents’ 50th anniversary. We usually visited them in June or July, on account of school, but I was a good student and my teachers gave me plenty of work to keep me occupied for the entire 10-day trip. (I finished it in two.)
When my parents announced the trip, I was beyond thrilled. For the first time in my life, I might see snow!
Okay, let’s back up. I’d seen snow before, but I’d never been in it. Never felt it upon my face. In the winter Dad might drive us a couple hours north of Phoenix, point out the window and say, “Look guys, there’s snow.” That was about it.
Twelve years old and never built a snowman.
But now, in South Dakota, in early October? Will it snow?
“It’s too early for that,” Dad said.
Mom agreed. “It never snows this early.”
Never? Never ever?
“Well, it’s highly unlikely.”
So there’s a possibility?
“Don’t get your hopes up.”
But I wasn’t leaving it all to chance. Every night, I made my requests known unto the Lord.
Please, oh please, oh pleeeease, let it snow! I don’t need a lot, just enough for a snowman. That’s all. All I want is to feel it on my face and build a snowman. That’s it. Please?!
Every night, over and over. (I was a strange 12-year-old.)
We left Phoenix on October 2. Two days later we were at a motel in Nebraska, right at the border to South Dakota. It was morning, our last day of travel, maybe three hours from my grandparent’s house. Dad took our luggage to the car.
He walked back in. “It’s snowing,” he said. Not happily.
I zoomed past him.
“Christi, get your shoes on!”
“Prayer works!” I cried.
Alleluia and praise be! This is the snow that the Lord has made, Let us rejoice and be glad in it!
My South Dakota relatives were not amused. It was one thing to deal with an early snowfall, but to find out your young relation had prayed for it? Hoo-boy, that didn’t sit well.
Even so, two of my uncles and one cousin aided me in my quest for a snowman. Despite everyone’s belief there wasn’t enough snow.
O ye of little faith. I knew better.
I had prayed for “just enough” snow and that’s what we had. Along with a lovely coating of leaves for rustic charm.
Uncle Bobby loaned his hat, Uncle Richard fashioned a pipe from a stick, Cousin Sheila found some fallen apples for the eyes and nose.
My first snowman.
You know, it’s funny. As much as I love this picture and the flood of memories it gives me, I don’t really believe it was divine intervention that created that snowstorm.
Had it happened today, my dad would have checked his weather app before we left Phoenix and would have known all about the storm. And he probably would have stopped off at a gas station to buy his silly daughter gloves because she forgot to pack them.
Don’t get me wrong — I believe in prayer and I pray daily.
Well, mostly daily. Sometimes I forget. (Hey, I’m human.)
I think far too often we confuse God with Santa Claus:
“If I’m a good girl and I pray really hard, God will give me what I want.”
Sorry. Doesn’t work like that.
I read something recently that said prayer is about making yourself open to a relationship with God.
Which, when you think about it, is a whole lot more scary and probably why I “forget” to do it.
Like I said, I’m human.
In any case, that’s my take on the situation. Maybe you have different views and that’s okay. There’s room enough for all here.
But right now there’s a layer of snow in my backyard with more to come, that’s for sure. And while I have no plans of building any snowmen, I remember a time when I did. With complete confidence it was God who made it possible.
And who knows? Maybe that 12-year-old girl had it right.
I’ve been terribly negligent with my inbox. So many unread emails, so much blog reading I’ve fallen behind on. So little writing done that I’ve lost the ability to see a proper, preposition-free way to end that last sentence.
I’ll catch up on the blog reading, no worries there. Preposition-free endings are over-rated, so sail on archaic grammarian, sail on.
I might have done a little reading. Speaking of reading, do any of you subscribe to the New Yorker?
Neither do I, but I get their free weekly newsletter. They let you read four articles a month before you get the dreaded, “You have exceeded your monthly free articles, subscribe now to continue reading” notice.
Anyway, on account of it being Halloween, reading a few Shirley Jackson tales might be in order. And just for kicks, here’s a short article on the first paragraph of The Haunting on Hill House and why it’s possibly the best first paragraph in literature.
As for my own Halloween plans, I’ll be with my kids who are visiting for a few days. We’ll be doing our family custom: watching The Abominable Dr. Phibes, a campy horror flick with Vincent Price, and gorging ourselves on candy. (Fellow bloggers: I’ll be catching up on your antics in-between Vincent’s diabolic murders.)
A more serious concern: Neighbor Buddy tells us to expect “around 100 to 200 trick-or-treaters.” He says many of the rural families drive into town, park, and let the kiddos wander the neighborhoods. (Eek!)
For context, see this article on how several towns are making it illegal for teenagers to go trick-or-treating.
However you stand on the proper age for trick-or-treating, you gotta admit that spending time and energy on passing a law is the type of folly this blog feeds upon. 🤗
Hello, I’m Roger Stolid and this is your evening news.
Our lead story tonight — trick-or-treaters are making their rounds tonight, but before you pass out those mini-Snickers, be aware: You might be abetting a criminal. On location with this story is Paula Propellant. Paula, what have you found out for us?
Paula: Thank you, Roger. Yes, it’s true, some of these trick-or-treaters are risking steep fines and possible jail time for soliciting suckers from citizens. I’m standing at the corner of 12th and Ambrose Street and by my side is Officer Handy, who’s been patrolling the area. Officer, who are these desperate individuals seeking sweets?
Off Handy: Well, Paula, it’s now illegal for anyone over the age of twelve to trick-or-treat, and that means we got ourselves a situation. Fact is, some teenagers think it’s fun to get all dressed up like, oh, I don’t know, vampires or serial killers or Hello Kitty. And that’s all well and good. But if we catch them going door-to-door asking for candy? We’re just gonna have to run them in.
Paula: I see. What should homeowners do if they suspect one of the children at their door is past the age of legal trick-or-treating? Should they attempt any action on their own?
Off Handy: No, I don’t recommend that. There’s no telling what a teenager might do in that kind of situation. I’d say the best course of action would be to ask their age and if they’re over twelve, tell them to kindly step away from your porch. But if they say they’re younger and you think they’re lying? You can call the station with a description and we’ll send someone over.
Paula: I see. They could say something like, “There’s a witch on fifth street who looks old enough to drive.”
Off Handy: Exactly.
Paula: What do we tell parents whose child looks big for their age? Like, let’s say their ten-year-old looks fifteen? Should they be concerned?
Off Handy: We’ve thought of that Paula. What we’re recommending to parents is if their Tommy makes a tall mummy, consider slipping his birth certificate into his treat bag. That way if anyone detains him, he can prove his age.
Paula: What if they bring their school ID? Would that help?
Off Handy: Problem there Paula is school IDs don’t show their age, and we might have a SquareBob SpongePants who’s been held back a few years.
Paula: You mean SpongeBob SquarePants?
Off Handy: Yeah, that guy.
Paula: I see what you mean. Like over there, that boy in the banana suit. He looks like he needs a shave.
Off Handy: I’m on it! Hey, you there! Drop the candy! (Runs across street; Banana splits.)
Paula: Thank you, Officer Handy. Roger, we’re also speaking with Bella Buttinsky, head of the local watchdog group, No Treats for Teens. Bella, when did your group start meeting?
Bella: Let’s see… I guess it started after last Halloween. One of my neighbors posted on Facebook that a Batman grabbed her whole bowl of candy. I mean, he just took it! The whole bowl! So we were all like, how old was he? That sort of thing. She was pretty sure he was a teenager. It’s a real problem. These kids are just too blame old to be trick-or-treating. I know with my kids–
Paula: So all this is on account of one rogue Batman?
Bella: No, he just started it. Her post wound up going viral. I think it got over a hundred likes.
Paula: I don’t think that’s what “going viral” means.
Bella: Well, there were tons of comments. Everyone agreed teenagers were ruining Halloween. I mean, honestly, parents need to–
Paula: Did you have any specific concerns about teenagers? Other than the lone Batman?
Bella: Of course we did! Anytime you get a group of teenagers hanging around together, you’re just asking for trouble. They’ll be smoking, drinking… they could be selling drugs to your little princesses and cowboys. Listen, all you have to do is let your imagination run wild and then you’ll see my point.
Bella: And teenagers are just plain rude. The little kids will take whatever candy you give them, but these older kids are all like, “Don’t you have chocolate?” and “I hate coconut.”
Paula: Okay, thank you, Bella.
Bella: If you’re begging for candy, you take what you get!
Paula: Thank you for talking with us, Bella.
Bella: Where are their parents? That’s what I want to know. I mean, when my kids were little–
Paula: Thank you, Bella. Roger, we were hoping to speak to someone in favor of teens trick-or-treating — or just in favor of teens in general — but we couldn’t find anyone. Until now, that is. Roger, this is Bud Light, a concerned citizen and father of the banana we saw earlier. Mr. Light, were you aware there was an age restriction on trick-or-treating?
Bud: Damn straight, I knew.
Paula: And yet you allowed your son to go trick-or-treating?
Bud: Allowed him? Hell, I told him to do it! I said, “Son, if you want to go out with your friends and enjoy Halloween, you damn well do it.” I even helped pay for the banana.
Paula: Even though you knew he might get fined or arrested?
Bud: Oh hell, the banana suit cost more than the fine. Listen, it ain’t often the boy still wants to do something fun from his childhood. If it means I have to pay a little fine to help him do it, then I damn well will.
Paula: I see. But what if the fine was higher? What if it was five hundred dollars?
Bud: The fine is five hundred dollars?
Paula: No, I think it’s a hundred dollars.
Bud: It’s a hundred dollars?! He told me it was twenty-five dollars! That damn kid lied to me! (runs across street)
Paula: Sir? Sir?!
Bud: (from a distance) Someone grab that banana!
Paula: Well, that’s it from me. Back to you, Roger.
Roger: Paula, what about adults? Can adults trick-or-treat?
Paula: I don’t think so, Roger. The law states no one over the age of twelve.
Roger: Oh, that’s a shame. Guess I’ll have to break it to the wife. Haha.
Paula: Haha. Happy Halloween, Roger.
Roger: Happy Halloween, Paula. And Happy Halloween to all our viewers out there. Have fun, be safe, and keep a lookout for fugitive bananas.
If you’d rather I read this story to you (think of it as story time for grownups) click here:
Once upon a time there was a very useful garden shed; it was made of wood and painted red. It had no windows, but it had two big doors that stuck a little in humid weather.
The shed belonged to a blogger named CJ Hartwell.
CJ was a gardener, or at least she liked to say she was a gardener. Between you and me, she kinda let things go to seed.
One afternoon on a frosty October day, CJ decided it was time to pick the last of the apples on her apple tree. She put on her coat and her Isotoner gloves and walked out to her garden shed to get a ladder. For the apples were very high on the tree and she could not reach them.
First, she unlatched the big wooden doors and pulled them all the way open. Next, she pulled out her seldom used lawn mower and her even more seldom used rake. And who do you suppose she saw hiding behind the rake?
Why, it was none other than Ethan, who made the garden shed his home.
Ethan was a mouse.
Ethan looked at CJ; CJ looked at Ethan.
Ethan didn’t say anything because Ethan was a quiet, unassuming little mouse. CJ did say some things, but we will not repeat them here because some of the words were naughty, and good little boys and girls ought never to use them.
Ethan didn’t know what the fuss was about, for while the garden shed was a modest home, he did his mousy best to keep it tidy and clean. So he squeaked a soft little squeak, which was to say, “I’ve seen your house, lady. You think you can do better?”
Did it do any good? No! CJ stomped her feet on the floor making a terrible racket!
This frightened poor Ethan something awful. He called out to his very special lady friend, Tiffany, who had come home with Ethan after a romantic evening together in the woods.
At this particular moment, Tiffany was on CJ’s bicycle.
Mid-stomp, CJ saw Tiffany scurry down the bicycle. She garbled a few more choice words for now there were two mice!
Ethan called out to Tiffany, “Hey babe, over here!” and together they raced underneath the ladder that was leaning against the wall.
Quick as a flash, or rather stumbling in her haste, CJ put the mower and rake back in the shed and shut the doors, latching them tight. She said to herself, “Screw it! The apples can rot!”
Then she went inside her house and opened a bottle of red wine that she had bought at Costco for $8.99. She had two glasses, one for each mouse.
After her second glass, she decided mice in the shed were better than mice in the house, and she was very happy she had a cat in the house.
As for Ethan and Tiffany, they were very happy CJ left. They agreed the less they saw of her the better, but Tiffany did enjoy a nice bike ride now and again.
Later that evening, Tiffany made a nice dinner of mushroom salad with a rotten apple compote. Ethan said it was the best meal he’d ever had.
Afterward they had consensual sex and fell asleep in the bed Ethan fashioned out of an empty box of Milk Duds.