Traveling B.O.B.s: That time we babysat a horse

Well, it’s that time of the week again.

The time where I bang my head against stationary objects until I think of something remotely entertaining to write. Sometimes I even bang it on stationery objects, like a pen.

That is just the first phase of the process for a writer like myself. Eventually I move on to sitting down at a keyboard and typing, crying optional.

It’s not that I lack subject matter – my life is usually highly entertaining, just not reportable to the masses.

Still, I am surrounded by the most amazing women – every one of them – and I have stories for days, maybe years. With that in mind, I gave the stationary objects a break.

I have a group of friends I travel with every year, and we just returned from our 16th annual weekend away.

We call ourselves the B.O.B. Club, pay dues every month and use that money to fund the weekend trips.

In the past 16 years we’ve travelled through Texas and Oklahoma. We have seen and done things that prove real life is, indeed, stranger than fiction.

One of those trip was to the Fort Worth Stockyards a few years ago. We stayed at a hotel in the the middle of the stockyards, all five of us in one room.

For some reason, there was no hot water that morning for showers, which was noted by a shrill scream of the first one in and followed by four more.

We left the hotel around noon, looking like we hadn’t seen daylight since 1642.

After lunch, we parked ourselves on a large picnic bench in front of the famous White Elephant Saloon armed with a Michael Jackson t-shirt we bought on a clearance rack for $2 and a fresh Sharpie. We then proceeded to ask strangers to sign the shirt as their favorite celebrity with plans to give it to somebody really gullible or list it on Ebay next to the Virgin Mary cheese toast.


One of our celebrities

B.O.B. Lynda pets the dog of another celebrity

We had more takers than anyone could believe, and thought we were going to get Wyatt Earp for sure when a cowboy rode up on his horse and dismounted in front of our picnic bench.

Shawnee, the clairvoyant of our group, said, “I hope he doesn’t ask me to babysit his horse.”

So, he did.

A reasonable facsimile of the horse we cared for

We babysat a horse in the Fort Worth Stockyards while his chaps and spurs wearing owner went into the White Elephant Saloon for a cold one. I guess we technically horsesat.

While Shawnee charged a fee for people to pet the strange horse, the rest of us continued asking strangers to sign the t-shirt that was eventually lost anyway.

Things like this are why we keep doing it year after year.

These memories, and so many more, are the tapestry my highly entertaining life is made of.

B.O.B.s Shawnee and Janice during one of our more serious discussions

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We don’t have to agree, but we do need to talk

I had begun a blog this week on a fabulous Geico TV commercial featuring the rarely-acknowledged triangle soloist.

And it would have been good, but my heart wasn’t in it.

The commercial features a concert with a triangle soloist putting his heart and soul into his moment in the spotlight.

Granted, it’s a commercial selling insurance, but in my humble opinion, triangle guy should be nominated for an Emmy for his acting, a Grammy for the musical performance and whatever award exists for the comedic value – it’s the trifecta that made for one of the best commercials I may ever see in my life.

Then Las Vegas happened. Another mass shooting in our country, and I could not concentrate any longer on triangle guy.

As a nation, we can and must do better. It is well past time to talk about it and find solutions.

Call me naive, but I’m sure an answer exists that will be suitable to most everyone, and more importantly, save lives.

I alone don’t have those answers, and neither do you. But together … it’s possible.

I want to be very clear: I have been a gun owner since I was 18 years old. I am, I humbly offer, a really good shot. Further, I have had two members of my family murdered with guns. I get both sides of the issue better than most.

But fundamental human rights will always win with me.

My grandson is two years and four months old. In his short life, the United States has seen 19 mass shootings with the first one of his life happening in his home state of South Carolina. four days after he was born.

Killed in these mass shootings have been 194 of our neighbors, with several hundred more injured.

I recognize I’m not in a good geographical location for this conversation, but a conversation needs to be had. This isn’t about politics, it is about human lives, the safety of which should be our utmost priority.

Like everyone else, I don’t have the answers, but I have ideas.

Some things I think are worth looking at include requiring liability insurance for gun owners; requiring the buyer’s medical information bureau file before selling a gun; banning the sale of an apparatus that can turn a semi-automatic weapon into a fully-automatic one. Those are just a few.

There are those who would say these things infringe upon their constitutional rights, but I can’t think of a greater infringment of my rights than laying on the ground with a bullet in me.

I’ve heard great ideas from many people who are looking for solutions, and who are not bolted into their way of thinking no matter what. It’s going to take a lot of compromise to get this done, but now is the time to start.

To fix this, everyone is going to have to give up something, but it is doable.

I’m sure discussions about how to prevent this from happening again have been had all over the United States this week, just like in our office.

We don’t necessarily agree on all of the solutions, but each of us brought some good ones to the table. It was a starting point, and if we can do it in our office, it can be done on a national scale.

More than 10 years ago, one person – ONE – tried to get on a plane with a bomb in their shoe. Thankfully, they were unsuccessful. Because of that, today we all have to take our shoes off to get on a plane.

Nobody says that is an infringement on our civil rights because it worked.

Do not let the bad guys win. Do good because it’s good. Act out of love, not fear. Be kind.

We all want the same thing, really, and as my favorite poet Maya Angelou said, “We are more alike, my friend, than we are unalike.”

Show up at the table with that in mind. Show up on Facebook and Twitter with that in mind.

So do your good because you know it’s good. Don’t grab the bait on social media that encourages hatefulness and discourse among the people you live among. It’s not worth it.

I want to find answers because I think life shouldn’t look like this for my grandson. So, do it for your grandchild, your grandparents or your third cousin, twice-removed. But, please, let’s talk and stop this madness.

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Iowa Park – 48 years in our hometown

It was 48 years ago this week that my family moved to Iowa Park and started this newspaper, the Iowa Park Leader.

I was four.

You could say I grew up in the midst of all things journalism and  Iowa Park, and both are part of who I am.

In these 48 years, we as a family and staff,  have been honored to serve this beautiful, quirky and proud town – what we call our hometown – through some bright and beautiful times, as well as a few dark and desperate ones. The latter is always hard, but history has a right to have honest record of those as well.

In this almost half-century, we have made, and a few times sadly, lost, life-long friends. We have been inside almost every business in town, attended close to every public meeting, and have served on councils and boards to do our part to inform and be a part of the fabric of  Iowa Park. We have recorded Iowa Park’s history as it has heppened and is happening, and it makes us proud.

Like most newspapers, we’ve have had death threats – luckily, few – and we have seen people at their worst. That makes us sober and I think, pragmatic.

More often, we catch people at their best – this is what keeps us in the newsroom, and around the community. The generosity and spirit of our students; the outpouring of love, time and resources I have personally witnessed consistently in my time here when someone local or not needs a helping hand. Iowa Park has quite a heart, we are happy to report.

Both are what keep the balance, I’m just glad the good side of the scales are always heavier.

 

Because this is my space, I get to brag on our staff just a little.

The publisher, Dolores Hamilton, has been at the helm the entirety of our existence. As she is my mother, I have seen her during this time not only raise five extreeeemely well-behaved children, but also work the tremendously long hours required to keep a budding newspaper afloat and feed a family. I am proud of her for this. She has, in her career, done every single job in this newspaper and done them well.

Some other things most people don’t know, but I do, make me even prouder than this. When I was young, in the middle of all of this, Mom also took painting and piano lessons for herself. She planted the seed that made the Gordon Lake Walking Track project grow, and then continued to water it. I know because she made me help. I don’t know if she has ever known how much those things impacted my life.

Kevin Hamilton, editor, sports editor, photographer and another heir apparent of many hats, is always the guy in the background with a camera. But never in a creepy way. He captures the best moments Iowa Park has to offer and records them here, each week. He is, I say with great confidence, one of the best photographers in the state of Texas and has the hardware to prove it. During his time here, Kevin has covered meetings, banquets, assemblies and spent thousands of hours at sporting events covering our athletes all the way to state competition, much of that in his personal time. In addition, he is a helluva writer.

Also, he’s my brother and he didn’t pay me to say any of that. Seriously, Iowa Park, you are lucky to have him.

Last but not least is reporter and feature writer, Sherrie Williams. She is also a photographer and circulation manager. We have a small office with many jobs, and she has managed to be worth five times her weight in gold.

Sherrie has worked with us for 20 years and covers events, writes features, serves on the city council and some state boards. Over the years I regularly see her work all day at the paper, then work several evenings a week either for the newspaper, or for civic organizations to raise money to help other people. She has headed up 9/11 ceremonies, July Fourth events, and worked more Whoop-T-Do’s than anyone I know. She truly loves Iowa Park. She also has the best memory of anyone I know – it’s scary.

This week also happens to be my 33rd anniversary at the paper.  For those wondering, I got a brand new iMac on my desk.

But, so did Kevin, so … I’m still working out what that means.

I also publish these columns on my blog, www.onefunnybroad.com. I encourage you to check it out.

I mention this because I was looking at my stats for the year this weekend, and I noticed that I have readers from literally all over the world.

I’m not bragging, though. It was cool because some of my most-read blogs are those about Iowa Park, which means people from around the United States and  dozens of countries around the world have heard of Iowa Park, Texas.

My hometown.

Our hometown.

Thank you for a fun and heartfelt 48 years with you. It is a pleasure to be a voice for our community.

 

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It’s not what you ask, it’s who you ask

I try, I really do. But I am ‘that mom’.

Last week after Hurricane Irma hit Florida and continued on a northwestern bend, I was talking to my daughter on FaceTime. She told me about how they were expecting high winds in South Carolina, a lot of rain and probably a tornado or two because there were “on the tornado side of the hurricane.”

The fact that a hurricane is a all-you-can-eat buffet of natural disasters did not escape me, which caused me to say the words no mother should probably utter.

“Do you have a plan in place in the event of a tornado?,” I asked my daughter as I caught a glance of my two-year-old grandson sprinting behind her with an apple he appeared to have just stolen in an effort to not starve in the aftermath of the tornado.

She gave me this look, one that lay steadily in the space between exasperation and anger management in action. One that I have had on my face before when I felt someone had underestimated my immeasurable skills.

“I’m 31. I have a plan,” she managed to say without opening her teeth.

In my defense, I contacted every friend and family member I had on both coasts to make sure they had a plan. I just can’t help myself.

Also, my son lived in Boston during historic snowfalls, so I eat worry for breakfast. This time, to her brother’s relief, it was my daughter’s turn.

I didn’t ask her to send me bullet points of her plan. Instead, I went over her house plan in my head and surmised the hall closet was the best place to go. I never told her because I’m sure she already thought of it, Plus … that look.

I just hope she remembers to move the bowling ball she keeps in there for posterity – to California or somewhere equally as far away from a tornado.

When I talked to her the next day, businesses in South Carolina had shut down, so her husband was home from work and taking a nap with their tiny force of nature and his emergency apple.

My daughter was calmly decorating cookies in this rare peace, except the wind was blowing like a gazillion miles an hour outside. Still, she talked to me on FaceTime using zen-like motions to decorate cookies, the bowling ball clearly not in her thoughts.

She was on top of her cookie game, so I assumed she would wake up her crew and calmly herd them toward the bowling ball-free closet in the event that a tornado meandered through their part of South Carolina. She was never called to do that, and I will never know about the bowling ball.

Two hurricanes of massive proportion within two weeks of each other is insanity. I am certain I’m not the only mother this month who asked their child if they were prepared in the event of  hurricane-related shenanigans.

And I won’t be the last, I’ll just ask my son-in-law next time.

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Welcome to Iowa, Park in Texas (where commas are important)

Although I moved to the fair community of Iowa Park, Texas when I was a worldly four years old, I consider it my hometown.

For some people reading this, it will be preaching to the choir to lay out the logistical nightmare of ordering something on the phone when the town you’re from has the name of a state in it, just not the state you reside in.

When the early settlers from Iowa arrived in what is now known as Iowa Park, Texas, their first inclination was to name the town Daggett Switch, which had something to do with the railroad but sounds suspiciously in the same neighborhood as Possum Holler.

Ultimately, it was decided that a nod to their home state was warranted, and tacked “Park” onto the end because the original city plat boasted nine. Iowa Park today officially has 8.

The year all that took place was 1888, and how were they to know that more than a century later it would cause people like … us … massive confusion any time you have to order something over the phone and have it shipped.

My experience while ordering things to be shipped to our office in the past month has been:

Order Taker: City, please?

Me: Iowa …

Order Taker: No, city first please.

Me: The city is Iowa Park.

OT: Iowa Park?

Me: Yes.

OT: (Deep sigh) Zip Code?

Me: 76367

OT: But, that’s in Texas. I thought you were in Iowa?

That my friends, is why commas are important. As are patience and forgiveness for our town fathers and mothers, in my experience.

For instance, I want to scream my zip code right after I give the company name but decorum prevents that. They also won’t let you give your zip code first and work backward. I’ve tried.

I thought one time about pitching the current city council a few different ideas for memorable, yet un-confusing names. My favorite, yet unsustainable, name was “I’m From.” That way you can answer anyone who asks you where you live with “I’m From, Texas”. It’s efficient, right in your face and equally confusing.

It just won’t work because the next question will always be “Where in Texas?” It would be like Abbott and Costello’s* Who’s on First routine, only with a heavy drawl and weaponry. I’m getting old and I don’t have any more time for that than I do the original problem.

So, Iowa Park it is.

Salute!

Seriously though, we love visitors. Our official slogan is truly “The Town of Friendly Living.”

We don’t care where you park – Welcome to Iowa Park, in Texas.

In the spirit of give what you’ve got, your prayers, love and thoughts are sought and needed by those affected by Hurricane Harvey in the coast of Texas and Louisiana, as well as Puerto Rico, Haiti and Florida which is expected to bear the brunt of Hurricane Irma this week..

I have friends and family affected by both, and it is heart-breaking and life-changing. In that spirit, please give what you can of things people need. Lately when I’ve been shopping I’ve been asked if I want to give a dollar of my purchase to hurricane relief. I do, and I do. It’s not much, but if enough people do it, it adds up. And the need is great, and about to be greater.

Give what you can, when you can. It is showing me the good in this country in the midst of political discord. No questions are asked because people need help.

In that vein, I want to thank the people from Iowa Park who have worked to help people – some they might know, most they do not – in a time of dire need. There are far too many to name, and I would leave out a name (I know me), and they don’t do it for a pat on the back anyway.

Our city has given money, and generously. They have filled a semi-truck and more, and they have offered their homes for refuge, all of which is the primary spirit of this country.

Many communities are doing this, thankfully. But I don’t come from most communities,

I come from Iowa Park, Texas, The Town of Friendly Living. A town that is not in Iowa.

 

**** For six hours, everyone who read this knew that I don’t know my comedy acts from days of yore. My hero was Gilda Radner. Thanks to my now editor-at-large Richard for  setting me straight that it was not, in fact, the Three Stooges who did that brilliant bit. This isn’t the first time he has saved me from myself.

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Look for the helpers

With all eyes seemingly on the coast of Texas and Louisiana, I have been no different, keeping close watch on several good friends from high school who now live in Houston or the greater Houston area.

The historic hurricane Harvey made landfall Friday in Corpus Christi, and the result since has been record-breaking rainfall on United States soil, most of it in Houston and the surrounding areas.

News and social media coverage has made it much easier to get accurate news, and check on friends and family. Luckily, most of those I know have escaped injury and a significant loss of property.

Some have even been able (and more importantly, willing) to leave their homes and neighborhoods and help others deal with their losses.

We got word at the newspaper yesterday that several residents from Iowa Park left for the coast to aid in the rescue efforts. Some were sent with their jobs, and some went as private citizens and took boats with them. One of our locally-owned gas stations donated the fuel for the trip.

A locally-owned pizza restaurant, Ken’s Pizza, raised in one day $7,100 for the Red Cross to aid victims. Even more have begun collecting necessary items to truck south.

At tragic times like this it is important to look for the helpers, because it is far too easy to find the problems. There is still more good than bad, my friends.

One of my friends who lives in Port Arthur used humor to make it through the worst days, sending me a picture taken in her back yard of a croc … Seriously, a shoe – that Croc – that had ended up in her back yard,  and said, “some people might not find this funny, but …”

Finding a bright spot, something to smile inside about, in tragic times is a healthy coping mechanism, I think.

And because it is my lifelong vocation and passion, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the local media who are covering their respective communities, many of whom I’ve known most of my life.

Not only have several had significant personal and business losses, but they are also charged with accurately covering the damage as it is occurring. And they are doing it in many cases with no electricity and with their staff scattered all over the state, helping remotely. Their own homes will have to wait, but the newspaper will be printed for the good of the community.

With national rhetoric as of late tearing down this honorable profession, it’s important I think to cast a light on the importance of what they are doing.

It’s important to send prayers and love and thoughts to these people on the Texas coast, but if you can, send more.

Many reputable news organizations are publishing lists of what is needed by the victims – and what is not needed – with organizations all over Texas taking donations and getting them to the proper place. Check that out and do what you can, even if it is only $10, a box of diapers or some feminine hygiene products.

And to my friends and family who live there, or who have travelled there to help out, stay safe and keep making sure that love bats last. Your spirit is healing in many ways.

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Call that friend, today

The general foul mood of our countrymen continues this week, along with the ongoing shortage of unicorns and rainbows.

This kind of week reminds me  to keep reminding myself – as it did last week – that love bats last. It also laughs last.

So I call a friend, or two or three. It always does the trick.

I think we all should call a friend whose parents have been sick and see how everyone is. Or, call the one who has survived cancer because she reminds you she has faced death and your problems are not so bad.

Call the one who suffers from depression, because she is having a good day, or because she isn’t. Call the one who figuratively wants to wrap her fingers around the necks of her lazy children. All involved will thank you.

Or, call the one who lost her husband a few years ago, because she still misses him.

My friends and I have all these contingency plans in place because, life happens.

So we call each other, we travel, we meet for dinner, drinks and laughter.

When things get rough, we can throw together an impromptu weekend getaway with a text message, as we have this week.

We are just that good.

This weekend, a bunch of us are getting together for a weekend swim because the suckage of life has been great, according to us, and this is how we survive it.

We also survive it like this … (shout out to the Boston Fire Department!)


… and this. (shout out to Medicine Park….remember us?)

And this. (Shout out to a tipsy Christmas Lights trolley extravaganza)

The next weekend, I will probably repeat the same with another group of friends. One good thing about friendship is it’s totally polyamorous. You can have as many as you want or can handle, and it’s legal and encouraged. Win/win.

I also have a totally different type of rarified friends whom I know through the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop that only meets every two years in Dayton, Ohio. Our friendship is definitely long distance most of the time, but when we get together to write it is like no time has passed. We are just a bunch of hilariously and beautifully-matched friends who happen to meet every two years and will probably be lifelong friends.

Because of these wonderful women in my life I have experienced things I would not have otherwise. Many I cannot publish because of some statute of limitations mumbo-jumbo, but several priceless ones I can.

We’ve had a pre-hysterectomy going away party for a uterus.

I have been witness to the holding of horse reigns by one of us during a girls trip to the Stockyards while a thirsty and trusting  cowboy went into the White Elephant Saloon for a beer. You can’t make this stuff up.

I have hiked the Lost Lake in the Wichita Mountains, something I would never have done without a friend to say, “Hey, let’s do this.”

The ninth hole at midnight

We have hunted for ghosts here at home in Iowa Park, Texas and as far as Jefferson, Texas. We’ve  sung “You Don’t Have To Call  Me Darlin’ (Darlin’) at full volume on karaoke night five hours from home. We’ve taken selfies laying our backs on the ninth hole of the Cliffs Golf Course at midnight; and I have personally watched a woman laugh so hard she threw up in the bushes – it was a proud moment in my life.

Judy and Gina at Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop – they know about the bush incident.

This is all recently, and I am getting old, y’all. The older I get, the clearer it becomes that these women remind me the world does not, technically, suck and it’s because of them. In fact, the love is palpable.

I’m betting on that.

So get on the phone and call a friend, get together and laugh. Your world will look better instantly.

My happy hope for the future … my daughter and her beautiful tribe. Keep it going.

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My future may not have hair, but it has hope

Between the general foul moods of my countrymen and discovering recently that female pattern baldness is a thing, I needed a break. I needed unicorns and rainbows; and cotton candy and kittens.

Disappearing hair notwithstanding, national and global news seems to have everyone on edge this  week.

With no unicorns, rainbows, cotton candy or kittens handy, my relief came in a phone call about a little girl whose actions remind me that good always bats last.

The feature picture on  the front page of this week’s issue of the Iowa Park Leader is a result of the phone call that pulled me out of that funk.

Little McKyla turned seven years old last week and the only gifts she wanted for her birthday were those that could feed people who are hungry.

This week, she gathered up all the canned goods and non-perishable items she received for her big day and took them to the Iowa Park Food Pantry for distribution in emergency food boxes.

McKyla gets it.

Her mother tells us she has been volunteering her time to help distribute commodities to local families. She is a little girl with a big heart as it says in the photo caption on page 1.

And I pray she represents the future of our community and nation.

Only seven years into her stint of being human, she understands that other people sometimes need a hand up; and that other kids might not have the abundance of food in their home that she enjoys.

A little girl after my own heart, McKyla reminds me that good remains in the world and the best part is it is coming from her young generation.

It reminded me of last year when a young man named Tanner asked for money for his 10th birthday. While that’s not uncommon, what Tanner wanted to do with the money was.

Tanner took his birthday money to church and gave it as an offering so “other people learn more about Jesus.”

We need to learn how to act again, folks. These innocent, generous minds haven’t been taught to only take care of their own; or to judge the why of someone’s circumstance.

They each understood a need and filled it in the purist way they know. By giving, by sharing.

There is a book out there by Robert Fulghum titled All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. The first thing on the list is to share everything. The last thing on the list is to be aware of wonder, which is what I’m doing here because it is indeed a wonder to see that degree of selflessness.

We all need to read that book, twice.

If we took the book seriously, Facebook and Twitter would look different; our country would look different; and if we took the lessons to heart, we would look different.

I hear a lot of people griping about the millennials these days, and to be quite honest, the millennials are the people raising these children who are so generous in spirit. They must be doing a lot of somethings right.

If this is the case, we should all just act like children again, because these kids seem to have their act together, and they also still have their hair.

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Hang on to your spaceknickers

It’s not often you get news of global interest from a small blogger in north Texas, so hold on to your spaceknickers.

I’ve been watching the manned International Space Station (ISS) fly overhead almost every night since Saturday, and you can, too.

In fact, I encourage it and will tell you how.

I’ve been looking up more than usual lately, by design.

By looking up, I mean less social media and more engagement with what is going on around me in real time.

My sister, Kay, called me Saturday night to let me know the  ISS would be visible overhead in north Texas in just a few short minutes.

I watched for it, not really knowing what I was looking for since this was my first (but not last) time searching for this thing.

What I found was a beautiful light, steadily moving across the sky. Only this light was travelling 17,200 miles an hours had been in orbit 20 years, and was currently occupied by three American astronauts, one of whom is a woman.

In fact this woman, Peggy Whitson, is not only the commander on this mission, she is the first woman to command two expeditions on the ISS.

It took seven minutes from when I first saw the space station until it disappeared from sight, and according to an app on my phone, it travelled from Mexico to Michigan in that time. It took a while for that to soak in.

Monday night, Kay alerted me again, causing me to pause my Shark Week alien shark episode to see it the space station yet again. The flyover would be at 9:33 p.m.

I was already dressed for bed, which in laymen’s terms means I looked homeless.

Since this time the ISS would be flying southwest to northeast, I decided to watch it from my front yard which gave me a better vista. I don’t go out front much, and I’m not sure the neighbors would recognize me on a bet.

So, I sat on the curb in the dark wearing leggings and old t-shirt with no shoes and no makeup, just looking up at the stars.

I noticed a woman a half block away walking her dogs toward me. As she passed, she looked at me funny and said “Hi,” in that tentative way that says, “have you been approved by the home owners association?

So, in my quick thinking I said, “Hi! I’m not weird. I’m waiting on the space station.”

For some reason, I opted not to expound, which has probably made me public enemy number one in the home owner’s association. As if on cue, the lady hurried away and probably alerted the neighborhood watch on Facebook.

Since it makes 15.54 orbits around the earth each day, there are several opportunities for everyone to catch it. In fact, according to my research, the next time to catch a good visual will be at 9:22 Friday night, when it will be travelling from the northwest to the northeast.

Look up, y’all. I didn’t watchthis on Facebook, or even learn about it there.

Also, wave at ‘em. Even if you look homeless.

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The chickens didn’t deserve it

                                                                                                                                                 It always begins with an earworm, right?

“It” being impromtu concerts, questionable columns and insanity.

An earworm is a psychologically disturbing way to describe a song that gets stuck on terminal loop in your brain, until something even worse (preferably not by Neil Sedaka) replaces it.

Please dear God, not Neil Sedaka.

This week my personal earworm is a song called Hot Potatoes. Only the name of the song is actually Rock Me Amadeaus.

In this song sung by Falco back in the 1980s, the only recognizable words to me are ‘hot potatoes,” sung many, many, many, many (Lord God) times in a row.

Only, those two words are not actually in the song. I’ve known this for years, but when I hear the song today it is once again reduced to a song about a side dish that goes with beef.

Enunciation can be your friend, Falco.

It’s hard to believe that a teenager would accept that a song was specifically written about potatoes, but it was the 80s, which also gave us Xanadu and MacArthur Park, a song about leaving a cake in the rain, so cut me some slack.

Misunderstood lyrics have been a point of conjecture and embarrassment since the Star Spangled Banner was written by attorney and poet Frances Scott Key and first sung in front of  The Mrs., who promptly misunderstood the first line – “O say can you see?”   to say “Jose, can you see?”  Not having any mutual friends named Jose, Mrs. Key was understandably confused.

My cousin, Kevin Slimp, admits that as a young kid he was also confused about Jose’s role in this song. This kind of confusion has become a tradition, and expanded to other, more frivolous songs like Dirty Deeds (Done Dirt Cheap) and You Picked A Fine Time to Leave Me, Lucille.

What’s refreshing is to find out everyone has lyrical malfunctions and that makes for great comedy. My friends and readers are the most refreshingly hilarious, and they gave me a sampling of some of the best misheard lyrics this week:.

Lucille was over it, seriously

Everyone’s favorite seemed to be You Picked a Fine Time to Leave Me, Lucille (circa 1977) by Kenny Rogers. I found it to be the most misquoted song lyric in my circle of beautiful people.

The line in the song that says, four hungry children and a crop in the field was misquoted by many of my friends in the following, fairly similar ways:

400 children and a crock and a seal, or my personal favorite version,

400 children crappin’ in the field.

In a logical sense, unless they lived in a hotel, where else would they go?

Even Rock Stars Gotta Sleep

My friend, Cindy, said her most embarrassing lyric failure was from Kiss, when they sang I wanna rock and roll all night (and party every day).

She thought they were singing, “I wanna rock ‘n roll all night, and part of everyday.”

We all get to that point right up until we hit the “sleep is so underrated” phase of our lives.

Howard is a fine name

Both a mother and sister of the same man told me this man grew up believing God’s name is Howard, because in The Lord’s Prayer, it says “Howard be thy name.” His sister candidly told me “I have no idea if he still thinks that. I’ve never corrected him.”

I bet their reunions are a hoot.

Rude, but kinda catchy

Another friend thought Phil Collins’ hit single Sussudio” was saying Sue, Sue, Sue you’re old. She also thought the song Duke of Earl was Duke a Girl. Both rude and unnecessary, the thought.

Fashion Don’ts and Poker Etiquette

Tracy thought the song, Desperado by The Eagles, went Don’t you draw the queen of diamonds boy, she’ll beat you with a bow tie.

Which is almost as brutal as the original lyrics “beat you if she’s able,” but with a little more panache.

Define ‘Dirt cheap’

Julie, Cyndi and I were driving around on a Saturday night in 1982 when we plugged an AC/DC 8-track tape into Julie’s state of the art stereo system in her classic Mustang. We were singing the song Dirty Deeds (Done Dirt Cheap) like we were at an arena show when Cyndi belted out Dirty Deeds and the Thunder Chief.

Another friend, Debi, remembers she and her sister floating in the pool and her sister singing  “Dirty Deed and the Dundle Cheek,”  in a German accent.

Dirty Deeds are notoriously difficult to understand.

Why chickens can’t  walk in paradise

I’ll end with my favorite.

Keith Vaughn, a DJ at The Bear 104.7, gave me what may be the best misheard lyric of my lifetime.

The same year Lucille left her 400 children to do their business in the field, Eddie Money was on the radio bragging about Two Tickets to Paradise, which may or may not have been a coincidence.

However, according to Vaughn, that is not what a few people heard. Instead, they thought Eddie Money had “Two chickens to paralyze.”

Jose, the chicken

I have the best friends. They give me earworms that aren’t even accurate and I’m highly entertained anyway. Even Jose can see that.

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