Wednesday, August 31

Are We Really This Stupid?

Actual product label warnings:

“Not for human consumption” – from a bottle of rat poison
(Damn. There goes my plans for spouse-icide.)

“May cause drowsiness. Do not drive or operate heavy machinery.” – from children’s cough medicine label
(Junior! Park the bulldozer. Time for your 8:00 dose.)

“Ignite away from face.” – from a disposable lighter
(Guess I’ll have to start putting cigarettes in my ass first.)

“May contain nuts.” – from a jar of peanut butter
(Is this a gay lottery? “Shit, Lance, this one didn’t have any nuts!”)

“For indoor or outdoor use only.” - from a package of Christmas lights.
(I’ll remember that next time I celebrate the holidays in hyperspace.)

“No activation required. Call toll-free number to activate.” – from cellphone instructions
(Everything I say is a lie. I am lying. So that means I’m telling the truth. But it cannot be the truth because everything I say is a lie….Help!) (Yes, S., I ripped off Harry Mudd.)

“Remove aluminum wrapper before insertion.” - from suppository instructions
(Honey, bring the aquarium net! I’m crappin’ a gold mine!)

“Not intended for highway use.” – from a wheelbarrow
(Buford, better take that Cessna engine offa the go-cart.)

“Do not reuse bottle to store beverages.” – from bottle of drain cleaner
(Contact me for investment opportunity. Cornering the market on laxatives.)

“This product can burn eyes.” – from a curling iron
(Is there some kind of weird Jedi initiation going on in the girls’ locker room?)

“Not responsible for broken teeth.” – from a caramel apple
(Crap. All those Halloween get-rich-quick schemes down the drain.)

“For use on animals only.” – from an electric cattle prod
(Can I consider my couch in the driveway dog barking at 2:00 a.m. four broken cars neighbor an animal?)

“Warning: May contain small parts.” - from a Frisbee
(Undoubtedly aimed at Steve Tyler and Julia Roberts.)

“Not for infants.” – from a bottle of vodka
(Slap a nipple on it. I’ll drink it.)

“If swallowed, seek medical attention immediately.” – from a pack of alkaline batteries
(No, honey. Leave the vibrator. You’re so full of energy tonight!)

“Safe for children or pets.” – from instructions for toilet bowl cleaner

(Daddy, will it bring Goldy back?)

Saturday, August 27

Life's Random Bounces

When I was a wee lad, back in the mid 1960’s, toys were cool. TV was full of promises on Saturday morning. “It’s Slinky! It’s Slinky! For fun it’s a wonderful toy!” Mousetrap. Booby Trap. Silly Putty. Tinker Toys. Erector sets. Captain Action with Batman accessories. View Master. Lincoln Logs. Matchbox cars (with real rubber wheels!). Close ‘n Play record players (“When you hear this sound, “prriing,” turn the page”). Even breakfast cereals held forth tantalizing treasures, as long as Mom didn’t mind you emptying the whole box of “They’re GREAT!” into one of her prized mixing bowls.

But one day, I saw something I just had to have. The Superball. Something about the “Super” conjured up images of comic book heroes, Martian explorations, and mad scientist chemistry experiments in a lab with stuff that went “zap” and “chzzzzzzgg.”

In those days (insert sound of grampa here) we weren’t handed toys whenever we wanted one. So when you got a surprise, it was a big deal. You would parade your new toy in front of all the neighborhood kids, accepting their accolades. It was like a mini-Christmas that might happen once, rarely twice, in a year. I don’t remember how I got it. Probably my Dad bought it for me on the way home from work one day just to shut me up.

But get it I did. I opened the vacuum plastic and there it was. Black with a seam around it where the two halves had met in the mold. Even the seam was cool. The other boys and I imagined a factory with sparks and fires and robots, where a brawny man in welder’s goggles poured the secret stuff into a glowing mold to make my Superball.

The very first day I rushed outside with the Superball. Polliwogs and marbles and rocks were forgotten. Everyone, even the girls (ick), wanted to play with it. We rolled it in the gutter, threw it on the sidewalk and watched it describe amazing arcs that seemed to orbit our houses. We quickly learned that if you flicked your wrist, and smashed it into the concrete, you couldn’t predict where it would go. It bounced and bounced and bounced and bounced zig-zag along the street hitting parked cars shaking leaves from the trees scaring dogs making us giggle.

It was the coolest toy ever.

Then, in one horrifying moment, it slipped through my fingers. Into the street. And a car ran over it. It was blown to jagged mysterious boingy pieces

Life is like that. Sometimes it rolls slowly in the gutter. Sometimes it bounces perfectly and you can catch it. Sometimes it aggravates you in your attempts to retrieve it, as it describes its own random path. Sometimes it’s all you can do to chase after it and giggle.

And sometimes, just sometimes, something smashes into it and shatters it into parts you can’t put back together.

I didn’t cry that day. I learned a lesson I still try to remember, although I often fail:

“Damn. That was really cool while it lasted.”

Sunday, August 7


This is a work of fiction. Copyright © 2005 Rumba Creative. All Rights Reserved.
No portion of this work may be copied, retransmitted, reposted, duplicated,
or otherwise used without the express written approval of the author.


There was but one directive. Although she could not know it, it was the overriding necessity of her mother, and her mother’s mother, and so on into the depths of time unacknowledged and unknown. One thing, and one thing only, was the point of her existence. To consume was important, to understand your shoal mates was important, to understand each rock and each phase of the sun and moon was imperative. All this she knew instinctively. Yet there was but one directive: multiply.

She wriggled through the tough eggshell that had encased her, allowing the water to carry her beneath the protection of the smooth stones in the nursery cove. She absorbed the sack from her abdomen, easing her stomach, but not her tongue. Within days, she was chasing the minute shrimp that shared her stony lake bottom. It was good to stalk them, to watch them, unaware of her presence, until her strike and the pleasant wriggling feeling in her gullet. When small crustaceans were unavailable, she feasted on the remains of her unborn brothers and sisters.

Soon her fins were strong enough to venture into the heights of the water column that splashed the suns rays into kaleidoscope patterns. With her relatives she learned to ride these shifting shadows, to hide herself and confuse her enemies. Feel the motion of your brethren! Anticipate the movement of the currents! Know your place and grow strong! Only then would she be worthy of passing on her skills to the next generation.

For months she swam, and gulped, and lived among the thousands of her kind, swirling among the shafts of light, hiding among the rocks at night, avoiding the larger of her kind, and devouring the smaller. Her strength, and those of her kind, was the mass and confusion of the shoal. It was the time of testing. It weeded out the weak, and made the strong stronger. Only the remaining few would survive to multiply, perpetuating the shoals that darkened the wide, warm lake that was their ancestral home.

On the third full moon after the warmest of the waters, the shoal began to fragment. The males who, until now, had mostly escaped her attention, left the safety of numbers and headed to shallow waters. She and her sisters migrated to the deeper, colder areas of the lake, searching out the minnows grown lazy on the free-floating algae and invertebrates blooming in the warm sun of the lake’s surface. For perhaps a half moon they gorged themselves on this field of plenty. Their appetites were insatiable, and they themselves grew fat on the tasty morsels and the unfertilized life growing within them.

On a morning bright with the receding sun, her hunger waned. For a while she and her sisters lolled in the rippling shafts. Within hours, the directive was upon them: Multiply!

With the fever of the annual cycle, they sought out the warmer shallows of the shore, reuniting with the males. She searched the submerged rocks, deadwood, and castoffs of the surface world for the perfect place. The males were dark with aggression and lust, darting at her, teasing her, locking jaws with their rivals. None would do.

In a cove shallow and warm, she saw him. The charcoal stripes on his sides and the flush in his gills were in defiance of predators. His fins rotated with confidence and vitality. His shuddering dance and caress against her scales were irresistible. The depression in the sand, surrounded by carefully placed pebbles, was perfect. The surges within her were undeniable.

In unison, they darted to toward the surface, beginning the intertwining of the mating ritual. Before the dash back to the safety of the sandy bottom, the sky fell in on her. She was hauled into a dry suffocating place where the sun burned her eyes to blindness, and her tail flailed helplessly against an insubstantial atmosphere. Caught in a nasty abrasive mesh for which she had no comparable experience, she gasped and died.

The directive to multiply would die with her.

* * * * *

“And they say unto him, ‘We have here but five loaves, and two fishes.’ He said, ‘Bring them hither to me.’ And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full. And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children.”