December 2nd, 2013
These days it’s usually Activia and whole grain gritty something-or-other but it wasn’t always like that…
The TV was on all the time pitching many wonderful things we kids should eat for the morning meal. The Sugar Bears would dance and sing about Sugar Crisp. And if that wasn’t enough, we got Super Sugar Crisp which was even better – especially with a few spoons of sugar or honey on it. We had Sugar Corn Pops with Andy Devine as “Jingles” the cowboy on the box. “Hey Wild Bill! Wait for me!!” (while my teeth fall out).
When we ate Frosted Flakes, “Grrrreeatt!” Yelled Tony the Tiger. We wanted to make Tony happy by eating his cereal. These days, Captain Crunch and Count Chocula are wimps in comparison.
Our cereal paralleled the cold war. Each time megatons of explosive power were added to our bombs, megatons of sugar were added to our diet. But it was counter-productive – with so much quick energy sugar surging through our veins it was hard to remain still under our desks during the nuclear attack drills. We finally figured out those little wooden desks offered no protection from being vaporized – it would be just as effective if we were to go outside with a baseball glove and tried to catch the bomb. The first to go would be the lucky ones….but I digress….(back to breakfast).
A bowl of sweet cereal, rounded out with a donut or two and a glass of chocolate milk to wash it all down jump started the day. Don’t forget to shake the milk first. We were good to go.
To con us kids or to “sweeten the deal,” Milk amplifiers were popular like Bosco, Cocoa Marsh and Ovaltine. Some even claimed additional benefits of being “fortified” with vitamins and minerals. The theory was if you make anything sweet, kids will lap it up. It was true then and it continues today. Our national palate was transformed in those post-war boom years.
Contrary to those images, role model adults demonstrated what was really necessary to begin a new day; black coffee and a few smokes. There was a time when I thought hacking up smoky phlegm was nature’s way of saying, “Top of the morning to ya’”
Sir Walter Raleigh’s were Mom’s choice because each pack had the added enticement of a little coupon. A zillion of them could be traded in for valuable merchandise such as a home-chest X-Ray machine. We had an entire kitchen drawer dedicated to those coupons. Dad apparently did not crave that X-ray machine, he was a Winston man.
As for coffee, we were not brand-loyal. Sometimes we’d get aromatic fresh ground coffee at the A&P on main street. It was ground at the end of the checkout counter. Next it might be a can of Savarin or Maxwell House – whatever was on sale. There was no such thing as decaf, espresso, latte’s or any of those ‘chino drinks.
If we lacked milk amplifiers, other incentives were offered such as intimidation and the basic human need of pain avoidance. We’d hear a familiar voice through the haze of cigarette smoke, “Dammitt! Drink your milk!! You want strong bones and strong teeth??” (How many kids of that era actually thought his or her name was Dammit?)
The building blocks of the 1950s food pyramid were fat and sugar.
Before the infestation of sugar cane into breakfast cereal we were limited in choice. The staples were Corn Flakes, Raisin Bran, Cheerios, Shredded Wheat, Farina, Oatmeal and Wheaties – Mickey Mantle was on the box even though he really preferred Gin, blondes and Camels for breakfast.
Weekend breakfasts were special. With her black-iron frying pan, Mom would cook up a pound of bacon and then fry the living begeebies out of our eggs; there were burnt parts on the edges and they would sizzle and spit in the pan like that anti-drug TV commercial that says, “This is your brain”. Eggs fried and smothered in bacon grease were the best!
We didn’t have a toaster so a piece of Jane Parker white bread would be impaled on a long fork and held over the gas burner until it reached a nice crisp brown with a tinge of natural gas flavor. Slathered with real butter, the toast was a gourmet delight.
But children learn what they see so when the choice became my own, breakfast for decades was coffee, two donuts and a few Marlboros. There was some concession to health when I switched to Marlboro Lights – that was the real breakfast of champions.
November 22nd, 2013
As next week’s holiday on our national calendar approaches, it becomes apparent it’s the one secular holiday that centers around a single meal.
It’s about the food and food is a big thing for us all. Academically this became an accepted fact when back in 1943, Psychologist Abraham Maslow began writing about basic human needs. Food became firmly entrenched in the top ten of his hierarchy – right up there with the “propagation of the species” which has since been catered to by the publication of the annual Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue and quickly stowed under the mattress of many middle school boys.
But even before Maslow and Sports Illustrated we were treated to the National Geographic’s photo essays about islanders of the south seas. (oops, I got off topic).
OK back to food. Before Maslow’s food need was published, we had the little known Greek Philosopher, Epicurio, who’d sit at the base of the Parthenon with his buddies Aristotle, Socrates and Larry King and wait for the discussion to ebb so he could suggest, “Let’s go grab some lunch!” They had so many lunches together, it led Epicurio to invent the toga to hide the results.
Food is psychological, it is bio-chemical, it is recreational and it tastes good! For we senior citizens it looms even more important since that one about procreation has dropped out of Maslow’s top ten.
Food is an even bigger to those without any. Food can be underused or overused. It can be a great asset for us or a cause of personal downfall. It is something we have to control for ourselves – if we are addicted, we cannot go into a denial phase to cope. I battle with that. How can we moderate an addiction?
We use food for many things; we use it for nutrition, as an expression of love and it can also reveal a symptom of psychological disturbance and revenge. Food is used for recreation. It can be multi-sensory art and also be used as a weapon – in addition to food fights in the school lunchroom we use it to lever our influence in the world. Food is a complex topic.
To many, food is taken for granted while to others who lived during the Great Depression, or even under more harsh circumstances such as famine, it is revered.
Even with all that in mind, here is a lighter perspective of the role food played in a certain family…perhaps in the New York suburb of um, let’s say…Chatham, NJ in the mid to late 1940s.
In this family there were two items of common understanding around the table. First, he who eats fastest gets the mostest and second, “Dammit! You must eat everything on your plate!” “Be a member of the clean plate club!”
“There is a child just like you, starving in Europe and he (or she) would LOVE to have what you are complaining about!”
This did two things. It portrayed a classic example of child rearing by guilt and it sowed the seeds of social consciousness within me that ultimately led to marrying one of those starving children in Europe. (Truth be told she was not really starving).
Even though progressive Benjamin Spock’s “Baby and Childcare” had been out since 1947, some parents still clung to the old ways.
To this day the old ways of guilt and fear still work but have been abandoned in the practice of child rearing and instead applied on a larger scale to satisfy political agendas and international relations.
A second variation of the theme of food was based on the implicit intimidating power of adults over children. That one involved, “You are not going to leave this table until you finish everything on your plate!!” To a kid who needed all his food separated – not touching one another, a casserole covered with American cheese was the same thing as a steaming bowl of palpitating Yak vomit. No way! It simply ain’t gonna happen!
The grand finale was, “You’re going to sit here until MIDNIGHT if you don’t eat your dinner” So what did this lead to? It led to a compulsive eater who has a certain eerie feeling about the concept of midnight. Even now, as I bask in the glow of Medicare and Boy Scouts offering to help me cross the street, I often find myself inexplicably sitting at the dinner table at 11:45 p.m. unable to explain why I feel the need to be there.
The issuer of this proclamation – requiring a ridiculous marathon dining experience – would go off to read the Newark Evening News and leave his designee to enforce his ridiculous dictum. That must have been encrypted the fine print of their marriage vows.
Learning to cope with foods I did no like was a big part of growing up. There was a handy little support shelf under our dining room table and the day, when I was 9 when we packed up to move across the county from Chatham to Chester, the table was tipped and lots of dried-up stuff happened to fall from it onto the floor. Nine years old and I was BUSTED.
Now that I have some choice in such matters and although my palate has become much more accommodating to variety, our cuisine still intentionally lacks Brussels sprouts and liver.
Food preferences change and I eventually grew to enjoy casseroles yet, there is a give and take in marriage. Lovie loves Brussels sprouts, liver and a few other things that I equate with tree bark and spoiled milk – so she gets them when she wants – in restaurants.
In the meantime, please pass the cranberry sauce…
November 15th, 2013
One of the ultimate comfort foods, pancakes, only rarely makes appearance in our house so it is a big deal when the time comes. Last Monday morning, I made an alpha-male declaration, “Friday morning will be pancake morning!” Then I retreated to my man-cave and licked the wounds from the immediate protests.
But Lovie finally came to her senses and remembered who wears the pants in this family. She put them on and drove to the store. (rim shot). But she came home with hummus and bean sprouts – no pancake mix.
We have been out of pancake mix for about 14 months, nine days, fifteen hours, 45 minutes and um…(let me check my stopwatch) 28.9 seconds – but who’s counting?
In our garage fridge, we have a quart of real maple syrup awaiting its official opening. Having real maple syrup in the house without anything to drench it with is like (insert any inappropriate simile you wish here).
When we grocery shop together (always a risky proposition) I go to the pancake mix aisle and try to sneak some into the cart. I try my best to find a box that prominently displays the words, “whole grain” or some populist health-related come-on. I figure that’ll make it past the customs agent who’s over in the beansprout aisle at that moment. But, alas and alack, she reappears as if her internal radar has directed her. She reaches into the cart and takes out the box.
“What’s this?” she asks. I feign ignorance. We stand there for about 12 minutes while she reads the listing of ingredients and the other thing that tells of the nutritional values of the contents. She cross-references all that information with her vast knowledge of such things and regales me with facts about the overall malaise to us as individuals and to the world in general if we were to purchase and actually prepare and eat the ingredients. The box goes back on the shelf.
BUT the other day, I saw a new box. It was in that same pancake aisle. “Grizzly Alaskan Easy Fixin’Flapjacks; Just add 1 cup of drool carefully collected from a Kodiak bear on the fifth day of the spring thaw.” To further entice me, there was a picture of a bear on the front of the box. I knew this HAS to be good!
I slipped the box into the cart…but lo and behold, my underhanded method once again was met with resistance. Back on the shelf it went.
I think I finally touched the soft spot in Lovie’s heart because those episodes of my hand wringing, teeth gnashing and finally pathetic whimpering opened the door to some serious negotiations. The talks went on for three days and an amicable settlement was reached. No binding arbitration was necessary. Friday would be pancake morning!! Whew!!
I agreed I would make them from scratch with ingredients already on hand. Friday arrived and I was awakened by the sound of my stomach growling (like the almost forgotten bear on the box). I made the coffee as usual, we sipped our coffee and read about an hour. About 9 a.m. I sprang into action, getting out the necessary implements.
As I was reaching for the flour, baking powder, etc. Lovie suggested (mandated), “Try to make some oatmeal pancakes!?” As if there is a real choice in the matter.
I had already conceded to making them from scratch, cooking them on our cast-iron griddle. This was turning into an epic internal struggle but I still managed a vestige of positive attitude.
“Let’s add blueberries!” The blueberries came from the farm at the end of our street where I’d earlier personally supervised the crop dusting of Monsanto’s finest offerings sprayed from a biplane that was burning certified organic fossil fuel – it can’t get any better than that….and now it’s OATMEAL this and oatmeal that?
But, desperate for any kind of conveyance for the prized syrup, I agreed. We were on a roll.
Lovie found the ingredients and I happily began measuring and mixing – being careful to employ the gourmet touch I recently learned – to mix the dry ingredients before adding the wet. But things went quickly awry.
I began to read the procedure part of the directions. Why isn’t the first direction to read IT before measuring and mixing? Then it comes to me…, I AM a guy and I don’t need any stinkin’ directions!
Separate the whites and yolks of the eggs and add them at different times.
Preheat the milk and add only the oats. Let it rest for five minutes. I hate that resting part – I am hungry! But the ingredients were already mixed with the baking powder, salt, oat flour and sugar. Complications set-in! Should I pick out each oat to re-separate it all?
Add the oil. To what? When?
I was quickly getting overloaded. I was reaching for the car keys to go out to a restaurant when Lovie once again came to the rescue. She was chuckling – at what, I don’t know…
The pancakes were delicious!…..for lunch.
November 13th, 2013
As a teenager, I read Vance Packard’s “Hidden Persuaders” which began my appetite for what is my insatiable hunger of cynicism about corporate goings-on. While the companies that make things portray their “new and improved” products as if they really cared for welfare of the public, it is a little more selfishly motivated than that. Of course business is about making money. That is called capitalism and the money that is sought comes from selling more widgets to more people in more places. And recently, it also comes from expending less and less in the manufacture and distribution of their products. More is better yet it is never enough. One way to increase the bottom line is to passively diss the old widgets and extoll the virtues of the new widgets even when the old widgets are just fine.
This all came to mind this morning in the shower when I grabbed my new BIC razor to trim around my facial growth. Four blades!! Count ‘em – FOUR!!
Back in my peach fuzz days, there was only ONE blade. Gillette made them. Gillette Blue Blades – presumably made from blue steel. Interestingly the Gillette brothers whose likeness appeared on the packaging, each sported a full beard – or maybe my memory serves me wrong and those were the Smith (cough drop) brothers. But, whoever they were, that didn’t bother me at the time for critical thinking was in its infancy of my repertoire.
But wait! Then they soon came out with Super Blue Blades…then stainless blades, then Teflon-coated super stainless steel, then there were the ever-iconic twin blade razors and the race was on. All razor companies were tripping over each other adding blades to their products – each with dramatic demonstrations of how more effective the latest product is. What was never mentioned or even whispered about in the recesses of both corporate board rooms or in discreet consumer conversations was the fact that all the previous product’s claims were now out-of-date and lacked the amazing properties they originally touted.
Three blades, FOUR blades and the ads always showed a Nordic blonde approaching the shaving guy from behind and now, with his babyass smooth face, she can’t keep her hands off him. Lovie never did that to me…
Now, corporate America is hiding price increases by downsizing packages. A half-gallon of ice cream ain’t no mo’. It is a quart and a half – and shrinking. “Everyday rock bottom low price!” reads the tag on the display shelf. Price per unit of product volume or weight keeps climbing but who’s to notice that? Package looks the same but the volume/weight of the contents are in smaller print in obscure places on the labels.
Oops, my new iPhone5 is ringing – gotta answer it before the iPhone6 comes out! I’m trapped!
November 9th, 2013
It’s not unusual that Lovie gets up for morning coffee after I’ve been up for awhile. But the real tell-tale sign of a restless night usually appears hours later, about 4 p.m. We call it our afternoon slump. It has become ingrained after more than 30 years of teaching – when the kids left the school(s) about 3 p.m. there was an overall biological relaxation from the tensions of the day. Even after 14 years of being away from it all, the slump is part of our DNA (whatever that means). But some days produce a deeper “slump” for following reasons.
Today’s tale of SCOR (slump-causing overnight restlessness) was accompanied by bouts of laughter at the silliness of it all.
About two weeks ago we were preparing to leave for an overnight adventure that included a Halloween costume contest in which we played roles in a nine-piece ensemble of killer bees and a giant potted plant. Guess who was the plant! Each Bee had a unique name and Lovie was “Boo-Bee” (double meaning intentional – as her bee costume also featured a 46DD black bra stuffed with paper and set off with flashing lights).
Often when we are to be gone, Lovie likes to travel light – so light in fact she hides her credit card(s) to protect them. Years ago, the inevitable happened and we never did find the credit cards until the place where we donated books called and told us they’d found our credit cards in a few of them.
So this time, as we were buzzing out the door to embark on our adventure of highly intelligent, mature Bee-havior, Lovie remarked, “Remember that I put my credit card in the SPOHDTCGYZX file folder” (or was it a certain book?). Telling me in that place at that time or even more, telling me anything at any time in any place is akin to telling it to the heads on Mr. Rushmore. Even my response is the same.
So, yesterday as we approached the ATM machine, Lovie started rifling through her wallet and purse for the card. Of course, it was not to be found. Then there was a low level “Ah-Ha!” moment when we each remembered the card had been hidden at home. But the Ah-Ha moment was incomplete and quite unsatisfactory for neither of us could remember WHERE or in WHAT the card was stowed.
So item number one was placed in Lovie’s evening-loss-of-lull-going-to-sleep agenda; at the top of her list. The symptoms of SCOR became evident. Toss. Turn. Toss. Turn some more…
“Where’s that CARD??”
“Where IS that card?”
“Where is THAT card?”
Loss of sleep agenda item number two was soon to follow.
“Do you remember the name of the lady who gave (granddaughter) Monika her piano lessons years ago? I am trying to remember her name,” she’d asked me earlier in the day. I gave the usual Mt. Rushmore look and response. I’m SO helpful!
Laughingly, Lovie told me this morning, she finally solved agenda item number two. “I remembered the piano teacher is a member of our retiree’s organization so I checked the membership directory…I knew if I saw it, I’d recognize her name.”
The organization’s membership directory lists nearly 700 names, addresses and contact information. “I thought I’d be smart so I started at the back, you know, at the ‘Z’s’ and work my way forward.” That approach is entirely logical. After all, in this strongly Dutch community, the “V” section of any directory is the largest. We have Van’s, Vanden’s, Vander’s, Vande’s and more.
But alas and alack, she had to laugh when she finally saw the woman’s name. Aardema; it was first name out of all 700. She’d been fooled by those tricky double Dutch vowels again!! It took her a few hours of sleepy-eyed searching but she’d found it.
But the elusive credit card? That is fodder for nights yet to come.
November 6th, 2013
How do manufacturers and retailers get their offerings announced to their potential markets? Direct mail merchandising is one way. With modern technology, they have easy access to who we are, where we are and what we do. With that data merchants can target certain demographics with ads offering products unique to their likely wants and needs.
Being on the wrong side of 65 and just barely on the good side of 70, Lovie and I are getting more and more interesting things in our mailbox. Catalogs arrive with titles such as “Independent Living”, “First Street”,“Popular Decrepitness” and “Fourth Quarter”. Well, two of those are real; you pick. But the message remains clear. The catalogs all feature items to help me see better and hear better. They promote things to help me get out of a chair, things to help keep me vertical and other things to help me be horizontal.
Getting a little medical for a moment, in hospitals, they call it intake and output. The catalogs offer items to help me eat better and other products to help me jettison what I have eaten or to manage what I have just (ahem) unexpectedly jettisoned. Senior citizenship can be full of surprises.
But what is causing some alarm, in each of those catalogs, I am starting to see things I can actually use. One, for example, is a lighted magnifier on a stand. Printed materials are becoming increasingly challenging. I know publishers are intentionally reducing font sizes to save paper, printing and distribution costs. Even the New York Times is beginning to resemble those micronized documents like The Holy Bible as printed on a grain of rice. In fact, the Sunday Times arrived last week and it was the size and weight of an owner’s manual for a smart phone. But even with electronic media view screens, keyboards and buttons are all getting smaller. Some come with a thing called a stylus to help one access the teeny buttons but those don’t help one find the desired button to push. I need a magnifier.
Then there is the adult-sized bib. I don’t know how it happens but by the end of most days, I can easily review my caloric intake by examining (with the help of a magnifying glass) the front of the shirt I have been wearing
By nightfall my shirt resembles an archaeological artifact that contains stratified layers of evidence that could lead its discoverer to remark on some future PBS nature show in the year 2765, “It appears this cro-magnum man subsisted on a diet of ground cow and fried strips of white root vegetable slathered with a sauce they apparently called ‘ketchup’”. Then the voice-over would add, “Recent research has revealed conclusively that diet was a likely cause of the downfall of his culture shortly after the turn of the millennium.”
It’s strictly defensive but now I am going for dark plaids; they seem to camouflage more of my leavings but, alas and alack, these shirts seem to clash with the bell-bottomed plaid pants I’ve been sporting since I bought them in the 70s. Most experts agree, it is hard to find matching plaids. Even my signature white patent-leather belt does not provide a smooth visual transition from shirt to pants.
My only suggestion to these catalog people would be to perhaps offer shirts with removable front layers so after a meal, one could easily excuse oneself from the table, retire to a discreet cubicle in the men’s room to peel off and dispose of the soiled layer. No one would be the wiser, wink-wink, nudge-nudge. That would be an intriguing feature product on a Sunday morning infomercial: “The Amazing Showtime Popiel ShirtByb, featuring the latest in ‘Strip-it and Ditch-it’ technology. Our operators are standing by.”
October 29th, 2013
I’ve been taking it for years…it helps keeping my triglycerides in check. Occasionally it requires doctor re-authorization and here is where the process has continued to be counterproductive to my well-being.
For the past six or so years, at least three times a year, the following scene repeats itself:
I call Walgreens and play the required touch-tone bingo and am told by Clerk Robotica, “doctor re-authorization is required. Please allow extra time for this prescription to be filled.” I did – for a week.
A week passes (insert waiting muzak here – I HATE Kenny G. – without telephone holds, he’d have NO career).
I call Walgreens and play touch tone bingo once again. After about four minutes of tantalizing choices and if I push all the right buttons I joyfully hear, “Your prescription is not yet ready for pickup. We suggest you call your physician.” I can already tell where this is leading.
I call the physician’s office and get their cheerful electronic greeting and myriad of choices – none of which offers an option for my situation. Talking to a real live, heartbeating, mirror-fogging human being would be sooo helpful at this point but alas and alack, I try all the avenues of entry to no avail. On the fourth try, I wait a little longer and hear, “If you are calling from a rotary phone, stay on the line for the next available associate.” Ah Ha!! while I hate the overused term of “associate” I know this person usually fits the description I desire; a real live person.
Associate Jodi picks up. I explain my situation and allude to past events when her office points its finger of accusation at the pharmacy and then the pharmacy, in turn, (after more touch tone bingo) points its finger of accusation at the doctor’s office. I suggest, “How about we skip the finger pointing this time and get my prescription refilled.”
“I’ll transfer you to the nurse who handles these things.”
Click, click, ring, ring.
“Hello, you have reached the phone of Nurse Ratchett. I’m away from my phone right now but if you leave your name and number, I’ll get back to you a.s.a.p.” Five hours pass and apparently it is yet to become possible.
In the interim, the phone rings and in my eagerness I pick up without checking the caller I.D. It is Danielle from the American Institute of Cancer Research asking for a donation.
Six phone calls – each with its required voice mail options and two more episodes of finger pointing later, I continue to await the communications between doctor’s office and pharmacy to resume.
What a system this is! Yet I don’t believe it has anything to do with the Affordable Care Act as it has been occurring for many years. In my mind’s eye I envision both pharmacy and doctor’s offices staffed by their versions of the Keystone Kops.
Marcus Welby? Dr. Kildare? Gimmie a break!
October 19th, 2013
Sheila was riding with Eric Caswell in his car driving down the road. “Thanks for taking me home Eric.” said Sheila. “No problem Sheila my pleasure.” said Eric. All of a sudden the sky started to shatter like a glass window and a very loud sound that sounded like whales boomed out. “AAAAAAHHHH!!!!!” They both screamed “WHAT HAVE WE DONE?! LORD HAVE MERCY!!!” And then the sound stopped and they were sitting in a completely dark room. All a sudden the car disappeared out of thin air and now they were sitting on chairs made out of cow bones. “I’m scared Eric.” Sheila frantically whispered. Eric stared at her for several minutes and then he shed his human skin and evolved into a butterfly and started making buzzing sounds. Eric then spit out from his cone-shaped mouth red-tinted warm saliva that wrapped around Sheila’s waist. Then the saliva turned into orange juice and fell to the floor and then the orange juice soared above them and the lights in the room came on showing that the floor and walls were plated with copper and the room could easily hold an aircraft carrier and then some. Then five sentient bass fish that hovered above the ground materialized out of nowhere. “WHO ARE YOU THAT YOU ARE IN OUR HOLDING CHAMBER ON OUR SLIPPERY SHIP THE SLIP SLIP SLIP FISHINESS!” The lead one shouted out. Eric all a sudden turned back into human form and said “I am infected with some virus i turned into-” “SILENCE YOU FOOL WE TURNED YOU INTO A BUTTERFLY AND THEN WE CHANGED YOU BACK WE OWN BOTH OF YOU NOW YOU WILL SERVE US OR WHOEVER YOU SERVE!!!” “Where are we?” Asked Sheila. “We are on the very northern edges of the slippy galaxy a cubic-shaped galaxy 250,000 light-years across in all directions 7 billion light-years from your home.” The bass then wrapped them in tight bacon bonds and tied them to a 2-ton new york strip steak cooked medium rare so that Sheila and Eric were facing the floor. They were paraded throughout the halls and past other bass doing various tasks like fixing a wire or mopping the floor. Then they were brought into the bridge with hundreds of bass some of whom were standing at attention with plasma rifles in hand and at the front was a gigantic lizard. “SIR! WE HAVE THE NEW ANTHROPOIDS!” The lizard which was 4 stories high and about as long as a semi truck turned around and said in a very soothing and calm tone “Thank you minion now back to your station, untie them and eat of the steak.” So Sheila and Eric were untied and all five bass devoured the entire steak within twenty seconds and left. The lizard then said in a very aggressive, dominating and ecstatic tone “Now then…my name is Zanban and you two are my new pets.” “HEY WE’RE NOT YOUR-” “YES YOU AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!” Zanban screamed out and then let out a cold-blooded evil laugh that went from loud to quiet then got sped up and then abruptly stopped. “Guards…lock them…in the…BASEMENT!!!!!!” As Zanban let out yet another laugh two of the bass guards grabbed them, opened up a trapdoor in the floor and threw them both in. Sheila and Eric fell about ten feet and the landed on a pile of leaves and then the bass shut the trapdoor but not before throwing in a couple things of chicken lettuce ketchup soup. Sheila had only a couple slurps of her soup and Eric had all the rest and then they just sat there. After quite a few agonizing hours they both fell asleep. Eric awoke to hear red alert sirens and the sound of battle. “RED ALERT!!! RED ALEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRTTTTT!!!” Shouted out Zanban and to that Sheila awoke wildly and gasped. They could hear the bass guards uttering “We’re taking enemy fire sir no damage. We disabled the enemy’s left engine sir.” “What is this?” Said Eric he rubbed his hair with his fingers and then he all a sudden started breakdancing. He was busting quite a few really amazing moves when all of a sudden the trapdoor opened and Makoto was thrown in. “SHEILA! How’d you and…him…get here?” He asked “Loooooooooooooooooooooong story pal.” said Sheila. “Well, I was melted into a liquid by my bed and then all of a sudden i was thrown down this trapdoor in this strange…place?” “WOW that is kinda’ cool.” Eric stopped breakdancing and then lay down on the floor and whispered “WHAT?” After a minute of staring Sheila and Makoto left Eric alone. Then all of a sudden a large explosion sounded and the lights in the room grew brighter and then they heard “Complete destruction of the slip slip slip Fishiness will commence in 15 minutes.” All of a sudden the trapdoor opened and Zanban looked in with lots of drool dripping on all of them. “Now…My pets it’s time to be sacrificed to satisfy my hunger.” He shot his long sticky tongue down but all he got was a few leaves. Then he froze and dropped dead and an actual human soldier wearing thick armor and carrying a plasma rifle jumped down and let out a roar. “You three either come with me or die!” All four grouped together and teleported onto the soldier’s ship. They watched for a few minutes until Zanban’s ship which was shaped like a pigeon blew up into flames and Zanban’s corpse flew just right above their small frigate. “You three are new recruits for the Human Empire.” “Put on these bees’ wax jumpsuits, follow the guide to the mess hall to get your standard grub and be back up here within one hour.” Sheila, Eric and Makoto went to the mess hall and got some strange soupy mixture from a grumpy middle-aged woman where all she did was get the food and grunt impatiently and they also got some bowls of water, a few strange fruits and vegetables and one little bag of some brown powder. So in about 2 minutes even though it tasted extremely bitter they wolfed it all down and went straight back to the bridge. “I appreciate having you 2 new recruits here but it looks like Eric here isn’t up to par with soldier material so we are going to send him back to your home planet except he’ll be on a completely desolate island with nothing but his jumpsuit.” “No…no…NOOOO!!!” They heard Eric scream as he was teleported back to Earth. “Now, you two go get some rest here are your-” A loud explosion rocked the ship and both Sheila and Makoto blacked out. They both awoke in a wooden cage right in the middle of a Mesopotamian agrarian farming village. People walked right by them as if not caring at all. “Why do we know that we are in 7,000 BC Mesopotamia? 9,000 years in the past?” They both said in perfect unison. The village elder came over and then said to them in flawless english “Wrong we are in 2013 AD and we are on a mesopotamian space colony that is independent from the Human Empire 700 light-years from where you were found. We live a stone-age life except for situations where modern technology is needed to save our lives like modern medicine or space travel we live a simple, primitive stone-age existence.” “Well…this is QUITE an adventure Makoto.” “Yeah this is unique.” “Yeah well guess what tonight you two will be inducted for life into the tribe as horse stable cleaners you will have to clean 150 stables a day and per stable you fail to adequately clean you will get less food rations and will get licked by the salamander of the stars whose saliva stings harder than untalented bacteria doing guitar solos on their microscopic guitars.” So the village elder left and then the sky grew dark and the people went back into their huts. “Hey they forgot to lock us in!” Sheila said. “Alright! Let’s get out of here i don’t want to clean horse stables all my life.” Makoto said. So they got out and right after they passed the town gate six warriors with spears and shields in hand saw them and charged at them. “GRAB THEM!!! WE NEED THEM TO CLEAN OUR HORSE STABLES!!!” So they ran about seven miles until they reached a hill and then Makoto shed his human skin and turned into a tyrannosaurus rex and then scared off the warriors and then changed back. “This galaxy is ooooddd.” Sheila remarked right after Makoto changed back into human form. They wandered for about half an hour through the swampy woods dodging an occasional mosquito here and there and even tripping on logs a few times. Then they found an abandoned bunker that had strange mayan hieroglyphs graffitied on it and went to sleep in it. They awoke and found a whole bucket of deep-fried chicken wings from KFC just sitting there and so they ate it all as quick as they could. They wandered from dawn until the middle of the day and then got to the seashore and hid behind a tree when they saw a reptilian humanoid about eight feet tall standing guard with a plasma pistol and riot shield in hand. “What do we do?” Asked Makoto. “We go up nicely and distract him.” Said Sheila. So they walked right up to the reptilian and when he saw them he smiled and said “So you escaped huh?” They said “Yeah we did who are you?” “I am a soldier for the Draconian Federation on behalf of the federation that controls the rest of this world besides the subcontinent we are standing on right now i welcome you.” He then bowed and clicked his tongue several times and then a canoe with a motor appeared and they climbed in and set off for the horizon. Right when the sun was setting into the horizon which the sun was blue instead of yellow like ours the reptilian said “My name is Warren by the way what are your names?” “I’m Sheila.” “I’m Makoto.” “Alright they’re pretty cool names now we will stop for a few minutes to get some food before heading to my ship.” “O’k” All of a sudden a submarine shaped like an ant surfaced and floated right on the water and it’s mechanical mouth appendages banged as if hungry. “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!” All of them shouted. “IT’S THE DOLPHIN FEDERATION THAT LIVES UNDERWATER IF WE DON’T GET HELP WE ARE DOOMED!!! DOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMEEEEDDD!!!” “Alright calm down dude.” Makoto said. All of a sudden the sub’s loudspeaker came on and shouted out in a low-pitched whiny drone “THAT MAKOTO KID WILL HAVE TO CHOOSE WHETHER HE HIMSELF, HIS ACCOMPLICE SHEILA OR HIS OTHER ACCOMPLICE WARREN WILL BE CAPTURED BY US AND HELD FOR INTERROGATION!” “How long do i-” “You have 50 seconds.” A calm female voice said. After 40 seconds Makoto then shouted out “I VOLUNTEER SHEILA TO BE TAKEN INTO INTERROGATION!” 10 seconds later a steel cable wrapped around Sheila’s right foot and sucked her into the submarine. Then the sub made a few grinding noises and disappeared beneath the water. Makoto and Warren sat in silence for several minutes and then Makoto said “Oh well…LET’S EAT!” So Warren dove into the water and 20 minutes later brought up five crabs, two water-breathing gazelle and a roast ham. Then they ate and only uttered a few words to each other. In the morning Warren’s ship arrived and picked them both up. Warren walked Makoto past the other reptilian soldiers to the bridge where the captain of the ship was eating live tarantulas. “Oh hey Warren i see you have returned with our new citizen.” “Yes i have sir.” So they talked and they talked and then Makoto was sent to live in the capitol city on the 500th floor out of 900 floors in one of the apartment buildings. Makoto was then assigned a job as an online website manager so he can set his own schedule. After twenty years of doing it and got married to fifteen wives fourteen of whom spawned children who grew up to be respectable citizens. In the Draconian Federation women are looked at as mere objects and are commonly bought and sold as wives from their families. Makoto awoke in a wet sweat in the middle of the night at the age of thirty-six he was sixteen when he was transported to this new realm. “I gotta’ get back home.” Makoto gasped. So it was three in the morning and he put on his clothes and grabbed his wallet and headed out. He walked until he saw the sun start to come up and then he leaned against a railing looking at the zooming air cars pass on by. He then was grabbed from behind by a red-skinned humanoid with feathers on it’s head and Makoto lost consciousness. Makoto awoke later in a wooden crate in a very uncomfortable position and he heard a crowd cheering and right when he fully re-gained consciousness the crate turned into orange jell-o, crawled away and released him and hovered up into the sky. He was in the center of an arena with about several thousand of those red-skinned feather head beings staring at him and then he saw Zanban apparently re-incarnated drop down into the arena. “MY PET!!! WELCOME TO MY HOOOOOOME! THIS IS WHERE YOU WILL STAY!” All of a sudden Zanban disappeared and six hovering balls of apple juice started circling around him. “Oh god what have i done now? Please let me-” One of the balls launched an apple juice missile at his abs and he crumpled onto the ground feeling very sharp pain. Makoto then blurted out some gibberish and five of the six balls screamed in terror and turned into dust and fell to the ground. The last ball then chanted “THE MANCHURIAN GODDESS OF NATURE COMMANDS ME TO DO THE BIDDING OF ZANBAN THE SUPREME LORD OF CATARONIA!” Then the ball launched several more missiles at Makoto and he was slightly paralyzed so now he couldn’t use his feet and he fell to his knees. The ball then turned into a baseball and slammed into Makoto’s chest leaving a big bruise. Makoto whimpered as the crowd was cheering. Then as the baseball swung around for another hit Makoto grabbed the baseball and spit on it. Causing the baseball to turn into the red-skinned feather head being that grabbed him and then it ran away. As it was running away Makoto then blacked out. Makoto awoke back in his sixteen-year-old form in his bed the night before the day he was going to take Sheila to the concert. He then remembered that he was going to not take Sheila to the concert and instead he would catch the bass and go to the concert by himself. “That was the most insanely and intensely weird thing i have ever been through.” Makoto said to himself and then he rolled over and fell back asleep.
– you can contact Warren at email@example.com –