Life as we know it
Coming of Age Division
MAR remembers: “It all happened at my friend Peter’s 13th-birthday party.
“Peter, his mom, his older brother, David, and perhaps 10 of us close friends all headed out to the Basil Theater one Saturday afternoon in late December 1965. We were going to see Sean Connery in ‘Thunderball.’ At that point, on the verge of adolescence (kids stayed young longer back then), we were all confirmed Sean Connery fans, having already sat mesmerized, slack-jawed, through ‘Dr. No,’ ‘From Russia With Love,’ and of course ‘Goldfinger.’
“‘Thunderball’ did not have a scantily clad Shirley Eaton gilded in gold paint, or a rock-hard bodyguard with a steel-brimmed hat as a weapon; nor did it have Ursula Andress in a ripped toga scampering across a rocky shoreline. But it did have our man Sean, all six-pack abs and bulging triceps, bending over a scantily clad Claudine Auger and biting a stingray quill out of her bare heel, as well as a nifty behind-the-back spear-gun shot and some really cool motorized underwater sleds. Hey, give us some popcorn and sugary carbonated drinks, and we were as close to Heaven as a bunch of 12- and 13-year-old boys could be in the Midwest in 1965, short of sneaking peeks at our dads’ ‘hidden’ Playboys.
“Then it happened. After the movie, we all filed out, stunned by the climax of the film and riding our sugar highs. Someone — I don’t remember who — went into the men’s room at the theater to relieve the soft-drink pressure that had mounted up. He came back out seconds later, wide-eyed, and silently motioned to a few of us to follow him back in. We did, as coolly as we could, so as not to upset Peter’s patiently waiting mother. Then we totally lost that coolness. Gone. Once in the men’s room (really, for these purposes, it should be more properly termed a boys’ room), we stood around in a semi-circle and silently stared at it. There it was, resting in the middle of the boys’-room floor: a woman’s black bra, cups up, straps flung out to the side. We gaped; we squinted; we moved our heads slightly left and right to see if we could get the darn object in focus, see if we were indeed processing this correctly.
“Yep. It was a bra, all right. No doubt about that. And it was black and sitting up there proudly, in the middle of the floor, dutifully awaiting the intense scrutiny of 10 adolescent boys. How it got there, who brought it, who left it, who it belonged to, how it GOT there (!) — these questions went unanswered at the time. After a few minutes, or moments — time was lost to us — we filed back out of the boys’ room. We did not look at each other. We did not mention the occurrence to Peter’s mom, or to the attendants at the theater. We only walked out of the theater in a hush, without talking about our discovery, even amongst ourselves, as we soon enough lost that blindingly intense sense of wonder in the fuzziness of birthday cake and presents and general birthday tomfoolery.
“That was more than 50 years ago. I remember it as if it were yesterday. I’ve thought about that day many, many times with a full range of emotions and possible formative conclusions. But I’ve never figured out how that bra made it into that theater that day, amazing a bunch of boys who were already too far gone on James Bond to BE more amazed.
“So that is the story of the lost bra. I will never be that young again. Alas.”
Now & Then
(Formerly) Minivan Mama of Woodbury: “Subject: Fake news.
“When I was in sixth grade, at the time of the Johnson-Goldwater political campaign, the hot news was that if Goldwater won, he was going to make us go to school six days a week, including Saturday.
“Pre-Internet fake news.”
Our squirrels, ourselves
The Pro from Dover: “Living in a 100-plus-year-old house, we always have some sort of animal life in residence. Insects and spiders are a given. Periodically, mice in the basement. Before we put the new metal roof on a few years ago, squirrels and the occasional bat in the attic. The squirrels (the nasty little red ones) chewed a hole under the eave, and the bats would use it, too, in the winter. I like bats, and they are in crisis, so I never minded them using our attic as their hotel, but the squirrels were another matter. They chew everything! And they were storing black walnuts from our neighbors’ tree in every corner of the attic.
“The steep stairs to the attic are inside a closet. That is pretty common in turn-of-the-century (20th century) houses. When a squirrel got into the attic, someone would have to go up there and chase it out. ‘Out’ meant opening a window and herding the squirrel to it. None of the silly things ever had the wherewithal to go back out the way they came in. We did keep a Hav-A-Hart trap primed at all times, but only ever caught one squirrel in it.
“Once, my husband went up to evict a squirrel and forgot to close the closet door behind himself. Yes, the squirrel promptly ran down the stairs and into the main part of the house. Now we were both scrambling to get the little bugger out. After many minutes of chase and hide-and-seek, we finally got him cornered in the sunroom. Just when we thought we had him, he leaped up onto the parrot’s cage and squeezed through the bars. Up to this point, Bill-Bill (the parrot) was watching us with detachment. But as soon as the intruder was in his home, he started shrieking and flapping his wings. This scared the squirrel into immobility (maybe he was just really tired, or resigned), and I was able to open the cage door, place my box over the squirrel, slide the box lid under the squirrel, and save the day.
“To this day, many years later, Bill-Bill always shouts and flaps his wings at the squirrels.”
The highfalutin pleasures
And: Our theater of seasons
Cat’s Mom of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin: “I have welcomed the move to the online version of Bulletin Board. It fits nicely into my morning routine: watching the Weather Channel and browsing on my laptop.
“However, with the decline in my DH’s health, life has changed and I am pretty much homebound. I am looking forward to his return to health — the doctor’s schedules are busy, and appointments seem to be a month out. No instant gratification.
“And I am looking forward to spring and my new flower beds blooming. In the meantime, I am drooling over the seed catalogs. Here is a picture from last year.”
The Permanent Granddaughterly Record
Lola: “Attached is a picture of granddaughter Ava’s ‘Ode to Watermelon.’ Told you it was and is her favorite food!”
The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills: “The recent references in Bulletin Board to ‘an amphibious pitcher’ reminded me of this old joke:
“‘I’d give my right arm if I could be ambidextrous.’”
Everyone’s a copy editor!
Vapid in Vadnais: “I expected better of the Press. In story that followed the headline ‘Two arrested, two sought in home invasion’ the writer states: ‘… four men wearing dark hoodies busted through the front door.’
“I’ve listened to the news anchors misuse this word for a long time. I’m never going to get used to it. I blamed it on their collective ignorance of grammar and vocabulary. I think most of them are hired because they can read a script. But the paper, my beloved Press — how could the editors let this pass? I’m so disappointed.
“‘Broke’ through is the correct phrase. Busted is slang for having no money, getting caught doing something wrong, failing to draw the card(s) needed to complete a poker hand and a few others. It is listed as a synonym for burst. Burst and break are not the same.”
Website of the Day (responsorial)
Wednesday’s Bulletin Board ended as follows:
“Website of the Day: ‘Us Tareyton Smokers Would Rather Fight Than Switch’
“BULLETIN BOARD REMEMBERS: We were a kid then. Our parents weren’t upset that cigarettes were being marketed to their children. They were dismayed by the commercials’ ungrammaticality! ‘Us Tareyton Smokers,’ indeed. Snort!”
We presently heard from Poet X of PDX: “Don’t forget the cigarette that made an entire campaign of ‘ungrammaticality’: ‘Winston tastes good LIKE a cigarette should.’
“Speaking of TV ads, you presumed so wrongly that I was reacting to Super Bowl ads. I’ve never watched a football game in my life, let alone a Super Bowl. A few years ago, I was tempted to see Madonna’s halftime performance, but I didn’t time it well and missed it. Oh, well. Some years I’ve gone out shopping during the Super Bowl — whole aisles to myself! When the ads started to become as important or more important than the game, civilization took a major turn for the worse.
“TV ads are a sore spot for me in general and a topic on which I could expound for days. I was still in grade school when I realized that ‘Let’s Make a Deal’ and especially ‘The Price Is Right’ are nothing but extended commercials, and I don’t allow either into my living room. A former roommate’s favorite show was ‘The Price Is Right,’ and he knew I would leave the room if I was present when it started. Without fail.
“In high school I had a teacher who explained that with television, the product is you, the viewer. It was one of the most memorable things I learned in high school.
“If I am casually watching TV, I tend to have a few ‘backup’ channels which I go to when commercials intrude on the program I’m watching. It sometimes happens that the backup channel will distract me from whatever I was originally watching — especially bothersome when the original is ‘Jeopardy!’ before the final question. [Bulletin Board interjects: The final answer, that is.] At other times, the backup channel will also be doing commercials, sometimes even the same one!
“If I’m doing other activities with the TV on, I’ll usually let the commercials play . . . but there are a few exceptions — commercials so irritating that I fly to the remote and quickly change channels or hit the Mute button. Liberty Mutual commercials are high on that list, as well as Aspen Dental commercials in which the main character speaks a few lines, then lapses into song. The tip-off is that the opening spoken lines are usually delivered with a bit of cadence — remote alert!
“Any commercial with amateur singing will get rejected. Months ago, some commercial — I forget for what, but the song was ‘Put a Little Love in Your Heart,’ and it wouldn’t last more than two notes before I would get it changed. My sister visited a few weeks in December and became adept at doing me the favor.
“Another general rule: If people are shown riding in a car and singing, it will be changed as soon as I can get to the remote. Driving or riding tends to make singing intolerable.
“Besides the otherwise-bothersome ads prompting a channel change, I avoid ads for prescription drugs. In most of the world, those ads are not allowed on public TV, and it ties in with the overall corruption of pharmaceutical companies that they are allowed here.
“Ads for weight loss which show bare midriffs ‘before’ and ‘after’? Hey, I might be eating! Stop that!”
Where we live
And They Don’t Division
Al B of Hartland: “I was working in St. Cloud, Minnesota, in January. It rained. That wasn’t right.
“I awoke in the morning and staggered outside into a frigid day. I stared at a beautiful crystal. I was so taken with its charm that I nearly forgot that my car was encased in it.
“I was fortunate enough to be able to open the rear hatch and retrieve a long-handled ice scraper. I attacked the thick ice with a ferociousness that I generally reserve for tater tot hotdish.
“I’d made glacierlike advances and had my car’s glass nearly ice-free when people from a nearby car approached me. Their car had Alabama plates, and they asked if they could borrow my ice scraper. I replied in the affirmative, just as soon as I’d defeated the last bit of ice cover.
“I’d no sooner responded when my scraper broke in two. I handed it to them. It was shorter, but still usable.
“I told the Alabamians that they could keep the ice scraper as a reminder of their trip to Minnesota.
“If they make another visit, I suspect they will bring a flamethrower.”
Band Name of the Day: Soft Drink Pressure and the Abandoned Bras
Website of the Day: The Powerful 1940 Map That Depicts America as a Nation of Immigrants