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Yucky Delicious Food

When I was little, I ate pimento cheese. Somebody gave it to me, I liked it, so I ate it. Once, when I was about 12 years old, I was whizzing through my grandmother’s kitchen while she was mashing up pimentos with the back of a fork. I didn’t know what it was, but it certainly got my attention! I asked what she was doing and she told me, mashing up pimentos to make pimento cheese. The realization that I’d eaten the same type of science project that she was doodling with just about made me sick. Later that day, when the pimento cheese was made, she asked me if I wanted some and I emphatically said no. She asked why because I’d never refused it before. I told her I couldn’t eat something so gross and I was horrified that she and mama had given me disgusting food to eat and they were using the fact that I trusted them against me and didn’t they love me more than that? I told her I wouldn’t feed her something so gross. She just shook her head at me. A couple of months later, I began eating pimento cheese again. I realized that sometimes something disgusting is good to the palate. Case in point – shrimp. I bought a pound of medium sized unpeeled shrimp for dinner. I shelled them and de-veined them. With all my heart, I can certainly say there isn’t much grosser than deveining shrimp. That little weasel is kind of slick/slimy and the digestive track is sticky and totally disgusting. This is coming from a person who has dissected worms, frogs, pigs, sea urchins, eye balls, sex organs, and whole cadavers. Yes, deveining a shrimp is the worst! The black, gelatinous alimentary canal would adhere to the slime on my thumb and I’d have to flick it off into the sink. Sometimes I’d have to flick several times before it gave up clinging to my skin or fingernail. I could almost not eat the shrimp after having my hands in them. Well, I remembered the lesson I’d learned about pimento cheese. I proceeded to skewer the shrimp, give them a coating of Old Bay, and grill them (well done). They were delicious! While I was eating my shrimp, I sincerely thought about their prior yuckiness and, after the transformation from heat, they really weren’t yucky anymore. Good. I always have enjoyed eating shrimp and am glad I didn’t ruin myself. So, I eat manually masticated pimentos and slime from the sea and really like both.


Silly woman, you can’t ride a mechanical bull!

When the movie Urban Cowboy came out, I remember the local movie theater set up a mechanical bull in an adjacent, vacant lot.  It was good publicity!  People wishing to test their machismo lined up to ride the bull!  Subsequently, people driving by were likely to stop and check out the hullabaloo, then, people having just seen the movie could participate in bull riding too.  The movie was very persuasive!  It could make even the weakest, sickliest person feel they were big, strong, and could conquer the world.  I wasn’t able to ride the bull because I wasn’t tall enough.  I did enjoy watching other people ride (or try to ride).  I have always had it in the back of my mind that, if I have the chance to ride a mechanical bull, I’d take it!  No wimps here.  Flex my girl machismo!

Fast forward twenty years.  I found myself living in a city that had a country-western night club.  Actually, it was a huge club divided into two parts.  The right side was a rock club and the left side was country-western.  The rock side was the same as any other rock club in town but the country-western side had something extra special.  It had a mechanical bull!  I lived in this city, knowing about this bull, for approximately five years before I had the opportunity to go inside.  I’d fantasized about what it would be like to ride that bull.  In my mind, just my sheer presence would be enough to somewhat tame the beast!

Monty, a friend of mine, played in a rock band.  One Friday night, Monty’s band was hired to play a gig on the rock side of this sprawling night club.  Monty called all his pals in his tight-knit social group, and told us to come hear him play.  Of course, anything for a buddy!  (And, it didn’t hurt that there was a mechanical bull either!)  We all loved an excuse to kick up our heels and let loose so we happily went to hear Monty play.

Well, how do I dress?  Should I look like a rock-n-roller or a country-western cowgirl?  Ha!  This was a no-brainer; I went cowgirl-style like Debra Winger in Urban Cowboy!  I didn’t put on a 10 gallon hat, ‘cause that would mess up my hair, but I did put on some tight jeans and cowboy boots.  As soon as I arrived, I said hello to all of my friends, went to the bar to get a beer, then began to roam the country-western side looking for the bull.  The place was packed so I pushed through the crowd inch by inch scouting for my nemesis.  I didn’t see it!  With each new area of the floor that I scoured, I became more and more disillusioned.  I couldn’t find it!  I would look for bully, drink another beer, then keep looking for bully.  I was determined, that if that bull was still there, I would find it!  My heart fell to my toes.  They must have taken the bull down because it wasn’t anywhere to be seen.  I propped up against a decorative wagon wheel to re-group and sulk.  My thoughts were negative and I beat myself up for living in this city for five years and not coming sooner.  I took for granted that they’d always have the bull so I could come anytime.  What was the rush?  Now, my dream of taming the bull would never be fulfilled!  I didn’t know of any other place that had a mechanical bull so now I would never be able to test my girl machismo.  The dream was shattered!

There were four bars on the country-western side and I’d already been to three of them.  The fourth bar was across the dance floor practically diagonal to me.  Giving into my need to keep things equal in sort of a rational symmetrical way, I decide my next beer should come from the only bar I hadn’t been to.  I slowly pushed through the crowd, skirting the perimeter of the dance floor, to get to the bar on the far side.  I separated people, pushed this way and that way, gently elbowed folks, maneuvered around couples, and low and behold, out of the cigarette smoke filled room, the crowd parted at just the opportune time for me to spy THE BULL!!  Hell yeah.  It was tucked away in a hard to see area behind the bar.  That’s why I hadn’t seen it!  It was behind the bar out of plain sight!  Woo Hoo!  My dream of taming the bull wasn’t dead after all!  I sauntered over to get a good look at the apparatus and watched the movements the operator was making.  My intension was to learn his style, which should help me stay on the bull longer.  I actually thought, “Eve, what are you thinking!  Playing cowgirl is one thing and riding a mechanical bull is another.  You’ll break your neck!”  Yeah well, there was no way I was going to let this opportunity slip through my fingers.  I mean, just a minute ago I was lamenting about how I should have come sooner to ride the bull.  I wasn’t going home that night without trying my luck at riding ole bully.  No way, Jose!  Woman versus beast…let woman prevail!

A voice sliced through the background noise and said, “Hey Eve, ‘ya gonna ride that thing?”  It was one of my friends, Simone, who had come from the rock side to find me.  I answered, “Hell, yeah!”  (Realize that I just verbally committed.  There won’t be any backing out now.)  I went over to the bull operator and told him to let me give it a whirl so he said okay as long as I signed the waiver.  Waiver?  Yes, I had to sign my life away but, since I’d had a few beers, I didn’t mind.  As I was signing the paperwork, Simone called our whole gang over to watch me ride.  I stepped out into the bull pen and people applauded and cheered vigorously.  I felt bigger than life, invincible, unstoppable and 100% confident that I would stay on the bull a respectable amount of time.  I mean, why would I not?  I’d seen Urban Cowboy maybe ten times, I knew how to ride a horse, and I had on my boots.  There wasn’t anything that I couldn’t do when I had on my boots, even stay on a mechanical bull until the person running the controls gets tired and gives up.  Really, how hard could this be?  Piece of cake!  Y’all step back!

The bull pen was one massive air bladder just like stunt men set up when planning a fall.  Simply maneuvering to the bull was a feat because the air bladder was so, well, mushy.  Guess what – I couldn’t even get on the bull!  Man, I felt defeated.  Every time I’d get ready to swing my leg over the beast, my fan club cheered!   Then, immediately they were let down because I couldn’t get my short, stumpy leg high enough.  A nice young woman onlooker, who I later learned was Liz, jumped over the railing into the air bladder and crawled over to give me a lift.  Good for me!  (Oh and by the way, that damn bull was really high.  When I was just standing beside it, the back of it was about as high as my arm pits so there wasn’t any way I could have gotten on it without help.)  Liz made a stirrup with her hands so I’d have a place to put my left foot to get a good swing over with my right.  One-two-three and YES, I’m on, but my tush wasn’t on the “saddle.”  (I put that in quotes because it wasn’t a saddle at all.  Rather, it was some make shift leather throw that someone tossed over the back of the bull.  I suppose if there had been a real saddle, I would have had a stirrup so I could have gotten myself on the thing easier, but, I digress…)  Liz wasn’t strong enough to give me a good leg up and I only got up high enough to flop my torso over the back of the beast.  On my way up, the leather throw got bunched up and it was in a wad underneath my breasts.  I was able to wiggle my body parallel with the bull’s back, then swing my right leg over and straddle the beast.  The problem was, the saddle was still bunched up underneath me!  So, I raised myself up and Liz straightened out the saddle so it would be in the correct position when I lowered my tush.  (Great girl, that Liz.  I’m glad I eventually learned her name.)  Now, I’m up on the beast and vertical.  My new girlfriend gave me a great tip before she left me.  She said, “This thing is really dangerous and the last time I rode it, I sprained my wrist.  So, be careful and really get your wrist under that thing tight.”  (As she told me this, she pointed to the rope that had been attached to the contraption’s neck area.  It was tightly secured and looked just like the rope rider’s put their hand underneath when riding a real bull.  I know this because sometimes, I watch bull riding on the country music channel on TV.)  When Liz said the word sprained my ears perked up a little bit but not enough for me to back out of my plan.  I was going through with this even if I sprained everything in my body.  So, I secured my hand underneath the rope and gripped tightly, just like they do on TV, then, I lifted my left hand to signal that I was ready and away we went!  I stayed on about 5 good bucks before I went sailing into the air and landed quite ergonomically on my back.  Pain?  Pain?  Do I feel pain?  Nope, no pain!  The crowd was cheering and all my friends loved it!  As I was crawling on top of the air bladder to get myself out of the coral, I saw many of my friends head for the waiver forms so they could sign their life away and ride too.  Oh man, everyone had so much fun that night riding the bull and laughing at each other.  I didn’t ride again because my better judgment kicked in and told me to count my blessings and keep my feet on the ground.  I was quite mad that I didn’t stay on longer than 5 bucks.  All my friends said that was a respectable run but I didn’t believe them.  I just knew I could stay on long enough to make the bull operator get tired and give up!  You know, with my boots on, it is certainly do-able.

Well, I suppose I am not the Debra Winger type.  It is fun sometimes to play a role, like pretending to be a cowgirl, wearing tight jeans, boots, and riding a mechanical bull.  We had a ball that night and I wouldn’t trade the memory for anything.  I’m also very thankful none of us got hurt.  None of my friends, or me, are the type who could successfully ride a bull for more than a few bucks.  Also, the bull operator that night wasn’t being easy, so I suppose in retrospect, staying on for five bucks was really pretty good.  I still enjoy the movie, Urban Cowboy!  When I watch it, I project myself inside Gilley’s and become one of the women whose husband doesn’t mind if she rides the bull.  That’s right, because my cowboy would think I’m sexy riding the bull with my tight jeans on and boots.  I’ll always forgo the hat, though, because it would mess up my hair!

Math: Ba-Humbug!

(A little commentary I wrote about math. Take this tongue in cheek!)

I don’t like math. I haven’t liked it for as long as I can remember but my mother said there was a time that I did like it and was good at it. Whatever. If it was so long ago that I can’t remember that I was once good, then it won’t help my self-esteem in the moment at hand.

There isn’t anything logical about math. Why anyone would want to spend their time doing something as illogical as math is beyond me, but hey, if it’s your cup of tea then have at it. Just don’t come near me with it. I remember distinctly my first day of algebra class. The teacher wrote on the board 2 + x = 4 then asked everyone, collectively, what’s x? I thought, what kind of question is that? X is x. There. There’s your answer. No one in the class answered so she rephrased the question and said, find x. I wondered what kind of joke she was trying to pull. Find x? X is right there. Can’t she see it? Sure she can see it, I mean, she wrote it so she should know where she put it. Did this teacher go to school?

Truly, the first day of algebra class is etched in my memory and will be there forever. It was a bad day. Sometimes, I hear people muse about a particularly good day and how they wish they could relive that day. Well, I do not ever, in my entire life want to relive the first day of algebra class. As a matter of fact, just thinking about it (so I can tell you this story) is irritating me.

“Kathy, if I told you to find x, what would you do?” Ms. Everette, the algebra teacher, asked.

Wait, did I just hear my name? Yes, I believe I did. Sometimes I zone out but when someone calls my name it sounds kind of sharp and startles me back into reality. I don’t know why she picked me though. I’m sitting here looking just as indifferent as everyone else. Perhaps I should assess the look on everyone else’s face and see if they are looking more indifferent than me. If so, I must quickly make my expression match theirs. If you happen to look too interested, it might make the teacher call on you and that’s bad when you don’t know the answer to the question.

“Well, I’m not sure. It depends on the situation, but right now, I happen to see it’s in between the plus sign and the equals sign. So, it really isn’t lost and you can’t find something that isn’t lost.” I reply.

The class erupts into laughter and I am not sure why. She asked me a question and I answered her. What’s so funny? What she wrote on the board is illogical and it won’t work. What is it that I’m supposed to say?

“Don’t be a smart aleck. How would you find x?” She asks again.

Good God. I wasn’t being a smart aleck but if I tell her that I wasn’t being a smart aleck, that will sound smart aleckie and that would be bad. What’s on the board doesn’t make sense and what she’s asking doesn’t make sense. She wanted to know where x is and I told her. I must think a little deeper about this. We’re in math class and that’s some sort of equation on the board. Okay, I got that much. The equation cannot be completed because apples and oranges don’t mix. See, I learned that last year in math when all year long we did those nonsensical word problems and Mr. Randy kept saying that apples and oranges don’t mix. See, Mr. Randy went to school to learn that and he passed it onto me so here goes, “Well, see, apples and oranges don’t mix so I don’t know how to do what you’ve written on the board.”

The class again erupts into laughter. And again, I’m not sure why. She’s asking me questions and I’m answering her.

“Right, apples and oranges don’t mix and the equation is legitimate, so what would you do with it?”

“Nothing. I wouldn’t do anything with it, I’d leave it right there.”

More laughter and Ms. Everette says, “You’re being a smart aleck.”

I am not! What she’s asking doesn’t make sense! Last year, I did not enjoy math class because every time I turned around we had to do more of those hateful word problems. I was truly hoping this year we could get back to doing the kind of math that makes sense. I see we are not. Oh wait, perhaps this is just an isolated lesson. Tomorrow’s lesson we’ll get away from trying to combine math and English. See there you go, you can’t combine apples and oranges. If the teacher I had last year went to college to learn this, you’d certainly think that Ms. Everette had also learned it in college. I mean, they have the same degree! Forever, we’ve had math, the subject that works with numbers, and we’ve had English, the subject that works with letters. This is math class, hence, the x on that chalk board is in the wrong subject. Good God, somebody, take that x back to Ms. Christian’s class, she’s apparently lost it. She’ll never think to look for it in Ms. Everette’s class. If I were not so worn out from trying to answer this lady’s questions, I’d volunteer to take the letter back to Ms. Christian. Teach is going to have to appoint somebody else to go that. Share the love. I’m just about done with this mess.

I look at my watch and see that only 10 minutes has passed in this period. Damn, it’s going to be a long 40 minutes until lunch. Wonder what we’re having today? I don’t know why I wonder because no matter what the cafeteria ladies fix, it’s always awful. I suppose the best question to wonder is what’s the color of the entre they’re cooking? Red? Green? Maybe white. It could have mozzarella on top which would mean it’s probably pizza and pizza is good. Let’s hope for white food.

And then, for no apparent reason except that my reverie is boring me, I zone back into the lesson and realize that Ms. Everette has put Donna in the hot seat. Good. Make her squirm. I don’t like her anyway. Donna is one of those girls that will tell you something really ugly and hateful then laugh and tell you she didn’t mean it because she was only joking. I don’t know who she thinks she’s fooling because everybody is onto her game.

Dag on, would you look at that. Teach has managed to move that x from the left side of the equal sign to the right side. Why would you do that? It doesn’t matter where the x is, it’s still a problem because, hello – THIS IS MATH CLASS! I can just image Ms. Christian down the hallway worrying herself to death because she can’t find her x. Give her dag on x back! This afternoon, when I get to English class, I’m gonna tell Ms. Christian that Ms. Everette has her missing letter and we’re gonna come down here and steal it back. Then, tomorrow, I won’t be aggravated by any more letters in math class.

I’ve always looked at concepts and tests like this: if there are 10 concepts you supposedly learn for the upcoming test, it is okay to forfeit one or two of those concepts for the sake of sanity. You’ll have to make sure to have the other concepts down pat because every single one of those answers (on the test) will have to be correct in order to counter weigh the questions you know you’ll get wrong. If, at least, I make an 80 on the test, I’ll be okay. My parents don’t institute ramifications unless the grade is below 80. I can swing an 80. The only other question is, what other concepts will be on the test? Obviously, I don’t know but none of them can be as crazy as this performing math on a letter concept! Forget this mess!

So, can you imagine my horror the next day in algebra when Ms. Everette pulled a y out of her arsenal! She mentioned that these letters are variables. Well, no kidding! She’s varying the letters in the alphabet so I guess you could call them variables. No, it wouldn’t be plural because we’re only using one at a time so it would be a variable, not variables.

By the end of the first week of algebra, I realized many things. First, this isn’t math. It’s some new hybrid that doesn’t have a name. Maybe I could name it maEng or Engma? I don’t know. Neither really has a ring to it. I’ll have to think more on that during my next day dream. Second, I’m in deep trouble on the upcoming test. Every single day we’ve supposedly learned some of this nonsensical mess that I can’t wrap my mind around. I have no idea how many more of these concepts we’ll learn before teach finally goes back to teaching math with numbers. Hopefully, this is a unit and we’ll do this whole unit then take the test. That way, I’ll only bomb one test, can suck up the ramifications, then move onto happier times. I told my grandmother about this algebra crap (of course, I didn’t say crap to her) last night and she said my uncle couldn’t ever catch onto this mess either. Obviously, my uncle has as much sense as me since he can see this stuff is irrational. Can you imagine, what nut sat around and thought up integrating letters and numbers? The guy has way too much time on his hands and someone needs to help him find a proper hobby. The third thing I have realized is that not all aspiring teachers learn the same concepts in college. APPLES AND ORANGES DO NOT MIX, PEOPLE. Perhaps I’ll slide an anonymous note underneath Mr. Randy’s door and tell him that Ms. Everette never learned that apples and orange don’t mix and would he please be so kind to inform her of this fact.

After my introductory week struggling with this crazy hybrid math, I went home and told mama to get me out of that class. I also mentioned that making an 80 or better on an algebra test was impossible and for she and daddy not to expect much. She laughed like I was being so funny. Why is it that sometimes people will laugh like I’m being funny when I didn’t say anything funny? Not one thing I said was funny and my expression should have indicated as much. Perhaps my mama needs some help interpreting body language. I know one thing, I’m in some deep sh** ……….oh sorry, I mean crap.

I do remember one more day quite clearly that happened the same year I took algebra. I was in algebra class, and struggling with another lesson that defeated me in the first two minutes of lecture. I purposefully took the attitude (yet again) that it’s okay not to learn this lesson because I couldn’t possibly need this stuff after I fail the next test. I was day dreaming about shooting poisonous darts at Ms. Everette because she was a hoo-dooer of children. Mr. Randy never informed Ms. Everette that apples and oranges don’t mix so we were stuck in hybrid math purgatory until the end of the year when we could hopefully get back to math with numbers. That afternoon in English class, Ms. Christian said something to me (and what she said was unimportant and I really don’t remember it anyway because the next words out of her mouth blocked my mind from all reason) bla, bla, bla, two plus two equals four. So my face transformed from deadpan, unresponsive, bump on a log to fire and brimstone primitive Baptist preacher in a pulpit. In the middle of her spill, I held up my hand indicating STOP and I told her I had already been to math class that day and I didn’t plan on going back! Then, I told her that it wasn’t fair how Ms. Everette brought letters into the world of math and for her to please keep numbers out of English. I remember that she replied by asking if I knew that two plus two equals four and I said yes, then she told me that’s as much as I’d need to know about numbers in English and to please try and keep my cool. She mentioned something about an analogy but I can’t remember exactly because the adrenaline coursing through my veins was making me not process too well. After about 15 minutes, Ms. Christian hadn’t mentioned any more numbers so I calmed down and settled back into deadpan, unresponsive, bump on a log mode. But hey, one thing I taught Ms. Christian that day was that even though I’m choosing to indicate that I’m a vacant shell, I’m not and my ears are still working. I’ll bet she thought, when in doubt if Kathy is still alive, throw some numbers at her and see what happens. It’s kind of like dousing a demon with holy water.

For the record, the next year, math didn’t get any better. I was introduced to geometry and in two shakes of a stick I was begging mama to let me go back to the class where you can do math with letters. Proofs and theorems were proving not to be my thing (and that was putting it mildly). That’s the year I completely gave up on math. I decided the entire mathematical establishment had gone completely insane and they were not worthy of my time.

So, for a couple of decades, I’d flat tell you from the get go, I don’t do math. Kindly keep it away from me and all will remain peaceful. See, I don’t like it when somebody hoo-dooes me, like teaching one thing then pulling the rug out from underneath me as I’m right at the precipice of mastering a concept. I had just sort of gotten used to word problems and, all of a sudden, was abruptly thrust into finding letters. Then, we did another flip-flop and left finding numbers to proving the rationale behind sentences. Sheez! Give me a break!



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