Buried Treasure

After I retired from the Air Force, Diana and I moved to a little farm house in Kentucky. I went back to college to get a degree in elementary education in the foolish belief I would be able to deal with 10-year-olds on a daily basis, while Diana began working for a local bank.

One day, a couple of years after we had settled in, Diana came home from work with one of those huge, canvas bank bags. She looked a little nervous.

“You stealing money from the bank again?”
“Not quite.”
“Then what’s in the bag?”
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”
“Try me.”

Diana shot me a guilty grin and opened the bag to reveal the largest collection of what were known in the olden days as ‘marital aids’ I had ever seen. There were probably 20 or 30 motorized latex penises in that bag, along with a wide assortment of other items I couldn’t readily identify – all seemingly brand new and in their original packaging. Yes, Diana had literally brought home a bag of dicks.

“Holy hell, Darling! Something you want to tell me?”
“Okay, you remember Theresa from work?”
“Honey, I have no idea who you work with.”
“Well, she hosts these parties for women only.”
“What kind of parties?”
“Lingerie and… uhhh… intimate stuff.”
“Like Pampered Chef only with rubber dongs.”
“Exactly.”
“Did you ever go to any of them?”
“No. She invited me, but I didn’t think I’d feel comfortable sitting around with a bunch of strange women, drinking wine and looking at corsets and vibrators.”
“Sometimes that’s all I think about. Do they do demos? You need to score me an invite.”
“I don’t know what they do, but it’s too late – her husband got orders, and they’re moving. She’s getting out of the business, so she brought me what was left of her inventory.”
“Why did she do that?”
“I have no idea, but I didn’t want to hurt her feelings by refusing.”
“Yeah, that Southern politeness. You’re incapable of turning down a gift, even if it’s a bag of sex toys. Anyway, you do give off kind of a pervy vibe.”
“Really?”
“Yeah, it’s why I married you.”
“So what are we going to do with all of this stuff?”
“First we need to go through it and see what all is in there.”
“Okay, go lock the doors and close the blinds. I don’t want want any of my family walking in on us.”

We then spent the next hour looking at all the products, laughing, and trying to figure out the less obvious devices.

“What’s this?”
“I have no idea.”
“What’s this for?”
“Yeah… I’m stumped.”
“What are these?”
“No clue. Are there directions on the box?”
“I don’t see any.”
“Check inside, there may be a users manual.”
“Oh, hey, there is.”
“What’s it for?”
“Here, you read it.”
“Oh, that doesn’t sound pleasant… or hygienic.”
“No, it doesn’t. Hey, what’s this one?”
“I think that would be for me.”
“What does it do?”
“Not entirely sure, but I remember putting rubber bands around my fingers when I was a kid and they turned purple and went numb. I’m not putting anything on Mr. Happy unless I can be sure I can get off again without a trip to the ER.”
“I don’t blame you. What are these?”
“They look like steel ball bearings.”
“What are they for?”
“Don’t know, but I think I’ll save them. You can never have too many ball bearings.”

After going through the inventory, we were left in a state of confused amusement. Clearly, we were not as worldly as we thought we were. Diana sighed and smiled:

“We are such rubes. We really need to get out of the house more.”
“Obviously.”
“Well, what are we going to do with all of this crap?”
“Get rid of it… just as soon as I figure out how.”
“Just throw it in the Herby Curby.”
“Not a good idea.”
“Why not?”
“We can’t throw it away in the bank bag – someone will open that for sure looking for money. Our fingerprints are all over it. And we can’t risk throwing it away in a big trash bag.”
“Why?”
“Suppose the bag falls out and busts open while they’re picking up our trash. Most of these things have batteries already installed. Can you imagine 30-odd latex vibrators dancing all over Highway 117 like a swarm of ferrets?”
“People would talk.”
Yeah, they’d talk. And if any of them made it into the corn fields, we’d never catch them. They’d be halfway to Herndon or Gracey before their batteries ran out.”
“Okay, then take them in town and drop them in a dumpster behind a grocery store or something.”
“Too risky. As soon as I got them out of the trunk, a cop would pull up:”

‘Sir, what’s in the bag?’
‘Ummmm… a portable meth lab. You should take me in for questioning and have the bag destroyed immediately without opening it because of the toxic chemicals.’
‘Open the bag please, sir.’
‘Fine. Here.’
‘Uh huh.’
‘Am I getting a ticket?’
‘No, sir. Any man who has that much trouble satisfying his wife doesn’t need any extra grief from me.’
‘Thank you, officer.’
‘God bless you, son. Good luck.’

“So, how do we get rid of them?”
“I don’t know. I’m going to hide the bag up in the attic until I figure something out.”
“Okay, just don’t forget it’s up there.”
“I won’t. If we die together in a car crash, that’s not the sort of thing we want our kids to have to deal with while sorting through our stuff.”

‘Dang, Mom and Dad were stone freaks.’
‘Yeah, they were.’
‘What should we do with this?’
‘Craig’s List.’
‘Cool.’

I stowed the “big bag of angst” in the attic – and then completely forgot all about it.

A few years later, I had finished my education degree and began teaching 4th grade at a local elementary school. I lasted six whole months before realizing I had made a terrible career mistake. I loved the kids, but was completely unprepared for the myriad other tasks and stressors that educators have to deal with on a daily basis. I was too old a dog to learn new tricks.

After I resigned my teaching job, I managed to get on as a civilian contractor with the Air Force in Nebraska – basically teaching airmen to plan and execute the same reconnaissance missions I flew when I was still on active duty. I moved up first to secure the job and a house, while Diana stayed in Kentucky to pack up our things. Right before she came up, I went back to help finish the packing. As I was doing a last check of the house, I looked in the attic to make sure we hadn’t forgotten anything. There I saw the bright yellow canvas bag.

“Shit!”

Diana yelled up from downstairs:

“David, did you say something?”
“The bag of dicks is still up here.”
“Shit! Honey, you were supposed to get rid of that! We’re leaving tomorrow for good.”
“Yeah, I know. Don’t panic. I’ll get rid of it.”
“How?”
“Just leave it to me. I’ll figure something.”

I left the house with the yellow, canvas bag and came back in 30 minutes later still carrying it.

“I thought you were going to get rid of that.”
“I did, but I want to keep the bag.”
“But the zipper is busted, that’s why the bank gave it to Theresa.”
“I can fix it.”
“What did you do with the stuff inside?”
“Tossed it down the well out front.”
“In the WELL?”
“Yeah, I panicked and couldn’t think of any place else to dump it.”
“Oh, honey, all those…. things… will clog up the water lines or the pump.”
“No, they won’t. It’s an old cistern well. It’s just a concrete tank in the ground. The only thing it’s connected to is that rusty pump on top of it, and that doesn’t even work. Your dad’s been saying for months he’s going to fill it in so no one falls into it.”
“But won’t whoever fills in the well see them floating around?”
“No, I double wrapped them in trash bags with a couple of bricks. Sank right to the bottom when I chucked it in. They’ll bust up the concrete cover and dump the pieces into the well, then fill the rest of it in with dirt using the front-loader. Everything will be buried.”
“So no one will ever find it?”
“Oh, someone will. Thousands of years from now, some archeologist is in for a big surprise.”

‘HUGE CACHE OF ANCIENT FERTILITY SYMBOLS FOUND DURING EXCAVATION IN WESTERN KENTUCKY’

“At least they won’t know who they belonged to.”
“Yes they will. I put a card with your name on it in the bag so they can put it on the exhibit in the museum. People will think you were some kind of shaman or fertility priestess.”
“I hate you.”
“Really?”
“No, but you make me mad sometimes.”

 

 

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Etiquette

Once when I was in the 5th grade, three of my friends and I were helping to set up for the Christmas program in the cafe-gym-atorium at Gladden Elementary School in Belton, Missouri. Basically we were roadies moving things around for the benefit of all the kids with actual talent who would be performing that night. I would be in the pageant too, but I was consigned to the back row of a couple of ensembles with all the other kids who made the music teacher wince whenever we tried to sing. We were instructed to just “mouth the words,” which was fine by me. My parents wouldn’t know the difference, and I could play “Who’s going to fall off the back of the open bleachers first?” with my talentless, trouble-making friends.

The stage crew job was really just an excuse to get out of class for a few hours by volunteering, which the four of us (and our exasperated teacher) normally took advantage of any chance we got. There wasn’t much to do, and we soon found ourselves goofing off in the hallway. The halls had colored tiles that formed two-way traffic lines for marching kids to and from class, and we were blocking one of them, when a teacher came up behind us with a line of 1st graders and politely asked us to make way.

“Excuse me, boys. Would you move please so we can get through?”

We all started to move, but I could not resist looking sidelong at one of my friends and saying under my breath, “No. We can’t.”

Well, apparently it was not entirely under my breath as I discovered when out of nowhere a pair of talons latched on to my earlobe and yanked.

I have known pain in my life. I have been kicked in the groin numerous times, broken my arm, separated my shoulder, and shredded my anterior cruciate ligament, but I have never experienced blinding agony equal to that of the basic “ear pull.” Mom regularly used the ear pull on me and my brother in church whenever we would play the “What Song am I Playing on My Zipper” game (where one of us would zip the fly on our pants up and down to a rhythm of a particular song, while the other tried to guess the song):

Zip zip zip… zip zip zip… zip ZIP zip… zip-zip…
Jingle Bells?”
“Yep. Okay, what’s this one?”
“Zip zip zip zip zip ZIP zip, zip zip… Zip zip zip zip zip ZIP zip, zip zip zip…
The Immigrant Song?”
“No, you goof! It’s In-A-Gadda-DaAAAAaaaaaastopmompleaseohgodI’msorryahhh!!”

Through trial-and-error, Mom eventually discovered just the right pressure to effect instant compliance while still protecting the people in the surrounding pews from our blood-curdling screams. The teacher currently locked on to my ear was completely unconcerned with such niceties. I was now a teaching tool for the other students; the louder – the better.

The next several seconds were a blur as the teacher swung me around by my ear while lecturing my friends on general politeness and civic responsibility. Of course she was forced to speak up in order to be heard over my shrill girl-shrieks, and every time she turned to address a different person, she dragged me right along with her as I flailed around on my tip-toes trying to reduce the pressure on my ear.

By the time she released me (and the entire event probably only lasted a minute), I was totally broken – both mentally and physically. I am of the firm belief that instead of waterboarding, interrogators could get more information from their prisoners by threatening them with an elementary school teacher:

“Where is the bomb, Vladimir?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Do you want me to bring in Miss McGillicuddy again?”
“Locker number 403 at the train station. Bottom row, third from the right. Cut the green wire to disarm it.”

Anyway, after I had dried my tears of shame in a corner, we were soon back to the sort of jerking around at which 5th-grade boys excel: thumping knuckles, trading shoulder punches, and sword fighting with our pencils until one of us got a piece of lead broke off in his arm. Boys forget traumatic pain much like mothers forget the agony of child birth… only quicker. We did stay clear of the hall for the rest of the day.

I don’t remember that teacher’s name, but I would like to thank her for what my Dad always referred to as a “character-building experience.” She did not cure me of my smart mouth, but she did teach me a very important lesson about volume control, a lesson which has served me well over the years in my marriage.

“David, if you’re going upstairs, would you get me a drink?”
“Do you have polio?”
“What?”
“I said, ‘of course I’ll get you a drink.'”
“Thank you. I love you.”
“Oh yeah, you do.”
“What?”
“I said, ‘I love you, too.'”

Sounds Like a Plan

Diana walked into the living room on Sunday. She wasn’t exactly bristling with wrath, but I could tell there was definitely tension under her surface demeanor. She wasn’t mad, yet, she was just waiting for the right words to set her off. I conveniently provided them.

“David?”
“What?”
“I was just upstairs and saw we had a message on our answering machine.”
“Well, who was it?
“Eddie. He called yesterday to confirm what time Zach’s wedding was.”
“Oh.”
“Oh, what?”
“Oh, shit.”
“You need to start making sense real quick.”
“I think our Godson’s wedding was yesterday.”
“You think? Did we get an invitation?”
“Yeah… well… there was a problem with the invitations.”
“How do you know?”
“Lori told me when she invited us. She messaged me all the info.”
“Did you tell her we’d come?”
“Sure I did. I told her I’d show you the message, and then it would be a ‘done deal.’”
“Oh… my… God. I can’t believe you ‘sounds-like-a-plan’-ed Lori.”

Many of my Air Force friends will understand the sounds-like-a-plan reference, however an explanation of it is probably in order for the rest of you. During my years in service, and especially during my later flying career at RAF Mildenhall, I was known primarily for two things: 1) strange, rambling stories about my gonads, and 2) painful social awkwardness. My social ineptitude manifest itself in a number of ways. First of all, I was an absolute ninja at quietly ducking out of social events whenever I got tired:

“Where the hell did Porter go?”
“Don’t know. I just saw him standing over there two minutes ago. Must have ghosted on us again.”
“Dude is like the wind.”
“Yeah, we should call him Col Flagg.”

… Which some of them actually did. I acquired a number of nicknames over the years: ghost, willow, badger… some less savory ones. Secondly, I picked up a reputation for agreeing to attend social events and then not showing up. I even had a standard phrase when responding to the invite: “sounds like a plan.” This wasn’t my fault. If I didn’t want to do something, I said so. But some people refuse to take “no” for an answer, and eventually I would agree just to get them off my back.

“Hey, Porter. We’re having a pub crawl for Buzz’s going away party. You coming?”
“No.”
“Yeah, you are.”
“No. I’m not. I got other stuff to do.”
“You’re coming.”
“No.”
“Dude, you’re coming.”
“I don’t know.”
“Come on. He specifically asked me to ask you.”
“Man, I’m too old to be throwing up on my feet at four in the morning in the bathroom of a Medieval public house.”
“Buzz wants you to come. Just do it.”
“Okay. Sounds like a plan.”

I still remember a very inebriated-sounding Buzz banging on the door of my bungalow in the early morning hours and saying, “I know you’re in there, Porter! I can hear you breathing!” in that thick, North Carolina accent of his. It got to the point that whenever I used the phrase “sounds like a plan” in conversation, everyone would roll their eyes and laugh, “Aaaahh sounds like a plan. That means you’re not going to do it.” This is not something I’m proud of, but I felt it was necessary context to the current story. So, anyway:

“I did NOT ‘sounds-like-a-plan’ Lori. I wanted to go.”
“Really?”
“Of course not. What man ever wants to go to a wedding? But I knew you would want to go, and that I would have to go with you.”
“Then why didn’t you TELL ME?”
“I meant to. Honestly, I really did. Lori messaged me the invitation information at the end of December saying that there was a problem with the invitations but that we were invited and the wedding was on January 17th… which my brain interpreted as ‘the end of January’. After a couple of days, ‘the end of January’ somehow became ‘sometime in the vague and distant future.’ This is how my brain works. You know this. Then, secure in my knowledge that I had possibly six to twelve months to relay the information to you, I promptly forgot all about it.”
“What is wrong with you? Were you dropped on your head as a kid?”
“Several times.”
“We are the worst Godparents ever.”
“I know. You’d think at some point people would stop asking us.”
“They HAVE stopped asking us.”
“Yeah, I’m pretty sure we’re on some kind of ‘bad Godparent watch list’ at the Vatican. Zach probably put in for an annulment from us years ago.”
“We suck.”
“Yes. Yes, we do.”
“Well? What are we going to do? You need to fix this.”
“I think we should get a clever wedding card and stuff it with hush money.”
“First you have to apologize to Lori… to everyone.”
“You don’t understand the concept of ‘hush money’ at all, do you? If I pay them off, I don’t have to apologize.”
“You will apologize.”
“Okay, I will.”
“I mean it.”
“I know.”
“And no funny crap on Facebook either. This isn’t funny. You do it straight.
“I will.”

Dear Lori, Zach, Madison, and everyone else,
I am truly and sincerely sorry we missed your wedding on Saturday. It was entirely my fault. I’m not actually a very good or very bright person, but Diana is, so you should forgive me for her sake. In a couple of months, when I think it will be safe to do so without getting stabbed in the eye, I will show her all the wonderful pictures everyone posted from the ceremony. Seriously, she hasn’t been this furious with me in decades. Hush money is on the way just as soon as a find a clever card.

Again, I’m very sorry.
Dave