That Lever on the Left

Like a number of other people, I get frustrated at certain things while driving. Lately, I’ve been frustrated even more than usual. Some of that I can blame on slowly turning into a grumpy old man, but I have to believe some of my increased frustration is valid. Of course, through the years, traffic has increased just about everywhere. Also, of course, due to population growth, the number of idiots has increased just about everywhere…and they drive.

I remember a few years ago, when I was cut off by a woman in a luxury SUV, I found an opportunity to share my frustration. It turned out she was going to the same store and I parked near her. I’m guessing she knew I had been behind her because she gave me a dirty look when she looked at me after getting out of her vehicle. Up until that point, I knew I probably wouldn’t have said anything because I can sometimes have a quick temper and nothing makes it quicker than a confrontation with somebody so obviously WRONG. Her dirty look changed my plans.

ME: I think your turn signal is broken.

HER: I don’t think so. I think you were following me too closely.

ME: Before or after you swerved in front of me in my lane? Do you know what a turn signal is?

HER: Are you being a smart ass?

ME: I’m trying not to be…you know that lever on the left of your steering wheel?

HER: I don’t have to listen to this! (She began to stomp towards the store. I followed right behind).

ME: That’s true…you know that round thing you put your hands on when your driving? (No answer, just stomp, stomp, stomp). Ok, do you know what a car is? (Apparently, I struck a nerve. She stopped and turned around, a little red in the face).

HER: I KNOW WHAT A TURN SIGNAL IS!

ME: Oh! Good! That will save us some time! Um, do you know how it works?

HER: For YOUR information, I didn’t need it! I know exactly where I’m going!

Ok, let that sink in. Yes, I embellished the story…just a little, but that last comment from her “I know exactly where I’m going” is a direct quote. I’ll repeat, A DIRECT QUOTE. She has a license. She actually passed a test at some point in her life to get that license. This should scare you because I’m pretty sure there are others like her…men…women…and they’re breeding. It’s kind of like a zombie apocalypse, but instead of the whole body, it’s just their brains. This might only be a theory, but I know there are a number of you reading this, nodding your heads, and thinking about some of the zombie brained people you already know. Just remember, THEY ARE BREEDING!

Of course, there are other scary things that happen while driving. Have you ever pulled up to a red light, looked over to the car in the next lane, and suddenly realize there appears to be no driver? After a closer look, you determine there is a driver, but all you can see is a pair of hands on the steering wheel? Then you do that thing while sitting in your car…you know, that thing? That thing where you try to get taller while sitting and craning your neck forward to get a better angle? Good, now that we’re on the same page, we can go on. After doing that thing, you see the top of a short old person’s head? Or maybe they’re not old, just short? Or maybe they have like really, really long legs but an extremely short torso? Or maybe…well, I think you get it. All you can see is knuckles. That’s scary.

Another scary thing is the swerver. Swervers like to show up during rush hour. They’re the ones that seem to think that by constantly switching lanes, especially if you’re barely reaching 5 miles per hour, they will get to their destination before everybody else? After an hour of this, don’t you want to laugh at them, or flip them off, as you pull up next to them at the exit ramp? After all, although the swervers serve to keep you awake during the traffic jam, they are annoying because you’re always watching them to see if they’re going to swerve in front of you again…and they are usually from the zombie brain species evolving (or should I say, devolving) in our midst. How do I know? THEY DON’T USE THEIR TURN SIGNALS! That’s how.

There are plenty of other examples. The person who pulls up only a couple of feet behind you at a red light, on a very steep hill, and you’re driving a stick? The person you were kind enough to let in front of you and then they slow down to half the speed limit? The person driving at night that keeps tapping their brakes…and nobody is in front of them? I could actually go on for quite a while, but I think everybody reading this has plenty of their own examples.

Now for all you zombie brains who might be reading this, I apologize if I offended you. I had no intention of degrading anybody in this post. Seriously, I mean it. There’s enough of that going on in the world today. But, as long as I have your attention…you know that lever to the left of your steering wheel?

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Ding Dong The Witch is Dead

When I was still a younger boy, my best friend and I went camping. This was the early 70s and kids were still allowed to do things by themselves back then, like camping. The difference with this camping trip and others was that it was the dead of winter. My best friend’s parents owned a forested lot near the Kettle Moraine Forest in Southeastern Wisconsin and even though there were some homes nearby, they went camping there often.

We begged to go by ourselves and after my best friend’s dad was convinced we could take care of ourselves, he allowed us to go for a weekend. We were dropped off on a Friday night and set up our campsite. We started a good fire (my best friend called them “Council Fires”) and sat around it to get warm. We also brought his dog who was a German Shepherd and Lab mix and she was plenty at home in the forest.

Our night began well. We planned our snow fort for the next day and then joked around as young boys do. We even sang a song or two together. It was going to be a good weekend, we knew it. Then came the singing from a distance away…

Ding dong the witch is dead, the witch is dead…”

This was followed by the sound of a chainsaw and a woman’s scream.

ME: Um…

FRIEND: Was that…

ME: I think someone’s been murdered.

FRIEND: What do we do?

ME: I don’t know.

We sat around a little while longer by the fire before deciding we better put it out before the murderer saw us. The dog added to our paranoia by staring into the distance while lightly growling and whimpering at times. It was like even she was scared.

We had a fitful night of sleep but managed anyway. The next morning we woke up with the paranoia slightly faded away. We ate breakfast and began our snow fort. We were halfway done when the voice returned…

Ding dong the witch is dead, the witch is dead…”

This time it was followed by chopping sounds like an ax and the woman screamed again.

FRIEND: What do we do?

ME: I don’t know. I wish there was a phone nearby.

FRIEND: We could go to one of the homes and ask to use the phone…

ME: What if we accidentally knock on the killer’s door?

FRIEND: Oh man…

ME: Wait…isn’t there a ranger station down the road?

FRIEND: About five miles away!

We stared at each other before another blood-curdling scream broke our silence. The dog didn’t growl this time…just whimpered. Five minutes later, we were walking down the road.

We made good time and reached the ranger station. We told them our story and it was obvious they didn’t believe a word we said.

RANGER: Who can I call to get you little guys home?

We walked back to the campsite and waited. My best friend’s dad rolled up in his station wagon and was surprised to find we had already broke down the campsite and our bags were packed and ready. We told him our story and he just laughed at us. I guess grown-ups never believe little boys when they tell them something like this.

DAD: I knew you guys would chicken out.

Just then, a neighbor in one of the homes a little way down the road walked up.

NEIGHBOR: Were you guys camping here last night?

DAD: The boys were but then got scared of noises.

NEIGHBOR: I am so sorry! When we didn’t see your car, we assumed they were vagrants.

DAD: Wait…

NEIGHBOR: We tried to scare them away. Sorry, boys.

Even though we felt slightly vindicated, we were disappointed that our weekend was cut short. My best friend’s dad wouldn’t let us stay out another night because he had already made the trip to get us.

For years afterward, whenever we were together or in a group and heard strange noises, we would look at each other, smile, and then begin to sing…

Ding dong the witch is dead, the witch is dead…”

Some Scary Words…

Back when we lived in Northern Wisconsin, we lived in a very small town. If you read some of my other blog posts, you’ll remember my description of it where everybody knew everybody. I worked for the county and was fairly known around town. I only lived a couple of blocks from the county building where I worked so it was convenient when the heavy winter snows hit. It was especially convenient when my kids were off from school.

The town was surrounded by lakes and during the winter, it provided some nice places to sled, snowboard, and generally have a good snow-filled time. My kids were pretty good at keeping themselves busy while I was at work so I never had to worry much. As is usual when things are going so well, you become complacent.

One of my son’s loved to snowboard. He pretty much liked anything that involved a board. Snowboard, skateboard, smorgasbord, and wood boards that could be used to build forts and stuff. You could say he was never bored because of all the boards…ok, that was more corny than funny…sorry. Anyway, you get the picture, he was a very active kid.

I was sitting at work with a client when my assistant interrupted us.

ASSISTANT: You have a phone call…it’s an emergency. (I grabbed the phone).

ME: This is Dazeodrew.

CALLER: This is Katie at the Texaco, your son had an accident!

ME: What? Which one? What happened?

CALLER: I’m not sure who, but he was hit by a snowmobile!

ME: WHAT?!?! BY THE TEXACO?!?!

I barely let her confirm where this was before grabbing my coat and bolting out the door. The Texaco was only a couple blocks away so I ran there as fast as I could, slipping and sliding on the ice and snow the whole way. I made it in record time and was about to run into the store when I saw the small crowd about 100 feet away along a hill by the lake. I veered toward that direction. I saw my son sitting on the slope with a towel on his head. I didn’t see a snowmobile anywhere.

ME: Are you ok? Where are you hurt? Is that blood on that towel? Where’s the bastard who hit you?

SON: Huh? (I figured he was delusional from getting hit by the snowmobile).

ME: Let’s see.

I moved the towel and saw a decent sized cut on his head. Then I checked out the rest of him.

ME: Are you hurt anywhere else?

SON: No, just my head.

Now I was puzzled. I’m no expert at people who are hit by snowmobiles…truthfully, I’ve never met one…but I assumed he would have other injuries. I just couldn’t picture the snowmobile hitting one little spot on his head. I looked around again for the snowmobile.

ME: Who hit you?

SON: Nobody hit me. I hit myself.

ME: You hit yourself with a snowmobile?

SON: Huh? (Obviously, we weren’t getting anywhere because we already went through the “huh” part).

ME: Ok, tell me what happened while we walk home and get the car.

It turned out that he had hit himself in the head with his own snowboard as he went off a jump. We drove the 20 miles to the Emergency Room in the next town and they stitched him up. Poor Katie at the Texaco was so sorry she told me he had been hit by a snowmobile. It was one of my son’s friends who ran to her for help and just rambled on about snow, blood, and please call Mr. Dazeodrew. In everybody’s defense, a snowmobile trail ran right by where they were snowboarding, so it was plausible. What was more plausible was the friend of my son’s not getting the information right…he wasn’t all there. Maybe that’s what happened to him to make him that way? Again, however, in his defense, he did the right thing by immediately seeking help.

So, now I know how I’ll react if one of my kids, or grandkids, gets hit by a snowmobile. I can picture it now…

PERSON: He got hit by a snowmobile!

ME: I got this…where in the head did he get hit?

Rock Around the Clock

One of my favorite things to do when I was younger was to go see bands play. Of course, there were the major bands like Rush, Van Halen, Pink Floyd, the Eagles, etc. I went to a lot of those concerts, but what I’m talking about are the local bands that would play at the festivals and bars. In Milwaukee, there were a lot of those bands and they were all pretty good…even better after a few beers.

I was fortunate that the drinking age back then was still 18 years old. That meant I could go see a lot of those bands.

I must’ve seen the band Snopek a dozen times. That band was led by a musical genius (at least I thought so) named Sigmund Snopek. From what I understand, he’s still very involved in the Milwaukee music scene. Besides their original songs which I liked very much, they usually finished their concert with a rendition of “I am the Walrus.” We all waited so patiently for the lines towards the end where we all bellowed, “Everybody smoke pot, smoke pot, smoke pot.” Of course, most of us already had smoked pot before the concert so it became an anthem for our lives…at least at that moment.

Another band I liked to see and saw on at least a half dozen occasions was The Booze Brothers. They were a take on the Blues Brothers and they were a blast to watch and always drew a sizeable crowd. Of course, “Soul Man,” was the biggest hit in their repertoire, but we all waited patiently before trying to time “Rubber Biscuit!” in our drunken states.

For good old fashioned rock, the band to see was Bad Boy. They definitely fit the mold of the late 70s and early 80s of a good rocking band that got the crowd swaying and stomping and clapping. They were an awesome band that released a single called “Disco” that was definitely not supportive of disco at the time. The problem with getting people to listen to the song was always the same…

ME: Listen to this!

OTHER: It’s called Disco, I don’t like disco.

ME: It’s not disco, it’s a song that rips disco.

OTHER: Then why’s it called Disco?

Anyway, it was a good song whether you liked disco or not.

The final band I’ll bring up is the Violent Femmes. They probably became the biggest band to come out of Milwaukee but I remember when they were still small. They are definitely a band that is hard to define with a label. They’re a little bit rock, a little bit punk, and believe it or not, at times sound a little bit country or folk. All I know is that whatever they do, it works. Their most popular song is probably “Blister in the Sun” which was also the theme song for some television show, but I’m not sure which one. I really don’t watch a lot of tv. Good catchy song, however. I just wonder if people actually listen to lyrics? Hmm.

Now for the funny story…

I ran into one member of one of the bands I just wrote about at a bar once. He was shooting pool and I put my quarters down so I could play the winner. He was pretty good and I ended up playing him. Now, before I get into the rest of the story, there have only been two times in my life where I suddenly played incredible pool. Every angle worked, every bank shot worked, every application of English worked, and nearly every shot worked. On top of this, I’m ambidextrous so to have both left and right handling shots work was rare and phenomenal, at least for me. I had a good night shooting pool.

ME: Wow, I can’t believe that shot went in!

BAND DUDE: Yeah…can’t believe it.

ME: Play again?

BAND DUDE: Yes…

A few minutes later…

ME: Wow! I’ve never run the table before!

BAND DUDE: I bet.

ME: Play again?

BAND DUDE: YES!

A few minutes later…

And a few minutes later…

And a few minutes later…

I didn’t bother asking for an autograph. He was pissed. He was so pissed that he let everyone in the bar know that I was some kind of hustler until someone pointed out that we didn’t play for money. That seemed to really make him mad. I left the bar before he could ruin my good time.

We went to another bar and I tried my hand, um, hands at pool again. I couldn’t sink a shot if my life depended on it. I guess the famous guy met me at the wrong bar.

Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves

My wife has a heart of gold. She is always helping somebody and inevitably, some of them turn around and burn her despite her kindness. After each burn, she’ll say she’ll never help anybody again and a few days later, she’s helping somebody again. Her heart is one of the things I love about her.

We have taken in people who have either been homeless or on the verge of homelessness. Some of them have been addicts or former addicts. Some have been alcoholics. Some have just lied repeatedly and we’ve always given them another chance. Some have stolen from us and we have forgiven them and gave them another chance.

Some of you might consider us foolish, and that’s ok, but for every dozen or so failures, we have somebody who genuinely appreciates our efforts to help them and that makes it all worth it. To see that person move on in life and make a successful recovery means everything to us. It takes a lot of work, money, and patience but it’s worth it to save a life. I owe it all to my wife. She was born with a servant’s heart. I love her for this.

What astounds me is some of the things said by the people we attempt to help. We have heard it all through the years. Here’s an example of a conversation with somebody whom we let stay with us for a year as she was getting her things and leaving. Keep in mind that this person didn’t pay a penny of rent during that year and lied to us repeatedly about her income. She had a job, but we never saw any contribution to our living expenses or food. All we found were 3 full garbage bags of empty beer and wine bottles after she left.

MY WIFE: Aren’t those my towels you’re taking?

HER (the person we tried to help): Like you can’t afford new towels!

Basically, that statement said it all. I often wonder what possesses a person to take ownership over another persons things or money. They feel that because you have some things that it makes you privileged and it’s ok to take those things away from you. It doesn’t matter if you worked hard to afford those things, they still view you as somebody it’s ok to take from.

The other thing that seems to be taken often, even by people who just visit, are our prescriptions. Even though some of the people owned up to stealing these things, they obviously didn’t care that they were stealing something we needed. Our prescriptions are prescribed to us because we have conditions that requires the prescriptions.

I am a disabled veteran and the VA actually takes good care of me. It took over twenty years to get to that point. I do not abuse my medications and only take them as prescribed or needed. When they disappear, I notice. They are easy to miss when you start out with sixty and suddenly you only have six or so. It’s also easy to determine who took them when they have been the only person to visit since the bottle of meds was last opened. My wife or I will always confront them.

US: Did you take our meds?

THEM: I can’t believe you would think I would do something like that!!

US: Well, you were the only one here.

THEM: You probably misplaced them! You guys are always losing things!

US: We didn’t lose the bottle, just the meds that were in the bottle.

THEM: Are you calling me a liar?

Two days later.

THEM: I’m sorry, it was me who took your meds.

US: Can you give what’s left back? We need them.

THEM: No, they’re all gone.

US: You took fifty of them in 2 days?

THEM: I hate that you treat me like a liar! Do you know how that makes me feel? You’re not a very good friend!

US: Look, maybe it’s better if we don’t remain friends.

THEM: Like all of this is my fault? I suppose this means you can’t lend me fifty dollars until payday?

US: You’ve never paid us back from the last three times you borrowed money.

THEM: LIKE YOU CAN’T AFFORD IT!!!

Possible moral of this story? For us, there is none. We just try to learn from every incident. We’re still going to try to help people. It’s in my wife’s nature to do this and I love my wife so it has become my nature as well. She is one of the best people I know and I’m proud to stand with her.

Dazeodrew, The Musical

I wake up every morning with a song in my head. It’s a different song every day and there is no pattern to how my brain picks these songs. Sometimes it’s a song from 40 years ago, sometimes it’s a jingle from an old commercial, sometimes it’s annoying, and sometimes it sets the tone for my day. Like I said, there is no pattern, just music both good and bad.

As far as I know, I’ve always been like this. My earliest memories have me waking up with songs in my head. As a grown-up, I mentioned it to a doctor who told me it’s a form of OCD. Then the doctor did what doctors do and prescribed meds. They didn’t work. The musical hits keep coming.

It’s not all bad. Yesterday morning I woke up with Jethro Tull’s “Thick as a Brick” in my head. Not bad at all. Another day it was the dueling guitar riffs from the Eagles “Hotel California.” I can live with that. It’s not always classic rock hits, however. A couple of Ed Sheeran songs have gotten stuck in my head. Still not bad. Now for the bad…

I woke up one morning with the song “Timothy” by The Buoys stuck in my head. I hadn’t heard that song since the early 70s so I’m not sure how it got stuck in my head. For those of you who don’t know, it’s a song about three trapped miners and to survive, two of them ate Timothy. It’s not a song you really want stuck in your head. I just took an awful risk by writing about it. It may resurface again and only hours of Metallica can erase it.

Another old song that popped into my head one morning was “Billy, Don’t be a Hero” recorded by Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods. They didn’t do it originally, but they sure were able to implant it in my brain. Once again, hours of Metallica is the only cure.

Not all the one-hit wonders were awful in the 70s. I’ve had “Seasons in the Sun” by Terry Jacks stuck in my head and I really didn’t mind. “Brandy” by Looking Glass is another one I don’t mind. There’s also “One Toke Over the Line” by Brewer and Shipley. All these songs were pretty decent and it didn’t bother me to have them run through my brain over and over and over and over and over…ok, maybe they did get a little old after a couple hours after all.

What really gets to me is when an old commercial jingle gets into my head. “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is.” A couple hours of this and you definitely need the Alka Seltzer the jingle is referring to. There’s a few more… “Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun” or “I am stuck on band-aid, because my band-aid is stuck on me” and the ever famous “My bologna has a first name, it’s O-S-C-A-R.” They just don’t make the earworm jingles like they used to, that’s for sure.

Not all my head music comes from the 70s like I mentioned before. Certain bands seem to do complete concerts in my head, or at least it feels like it. I’ve had Matchbox 20, Nirvana, Train, The Wallflowers, and plenty more. It’s not always rock either. David Allen Coe, Toby Keith, Alabama, and others from the country world have invaded my brain on occasion. Even classical music can get in on the act. I can’t count how often “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies” has invaded my brain, and not just at Christmastime.

I’ve mentioned that hours of listening to Metallica cures my problem. I’ve also had success with AC/DC. When I need a song out of my head, I go with anything that’s hard rock. Of course, I’m a bit fired up after this cure so I have to tone down with some Louie Armstrong or America.

Bottom line is, my head is a jukebox that never loses a song and only gains more. If only I could put speakers on my head and a coin slot above my nose. I’d be rich.

Angry People

Do you know anybody that always seems to be angry at something? They practically live on top of a soapbox and every conversation revolves around what they’re angry about at that moment? For those people, every event presents an injustice of some kind. They are always under attack. If in conversation, you dare to speak about the bright side of things, they trash your thoughts with another example of injustice to them. Or, perhaps, you have suddenly become their subject of injustice because you finally spoke out against their angry view of the world around them. Don’t you just love these kind of people?

I’ve known a few of these people throughout my life. Even if an injustice didn’t occur, they will find a way to create an injustice out of nothing. Oftentimes, they can be so narcissistic that it’s obvious by their verbiage that the world revolves around them and that their view is the only view that could possibly be right. God forbid you ever try to express your own opinion.

I once listened to a person at the casino who just won a jackpot on a slot machine for $18,000. Personally, I’d be ecstatic. This person pissed and moaned about having to pay taxes on the winnings. They were visibly angry about this. They were also visibly angry that it took a whole 5 minutes for someone to come and do the paperwork for their jackpot. Then they were angry that it took yet another 5 minutes to go to the cashier to get their jackpot. After all this anger, I had to ask a question.

ME: Even after taxes, you still won a good jackpot.

THEM: It would’ve been better without the taxes.

ME: Ok, what if you won $13,500 and didn’t have to pay taxes?

THEM: That would be great, then I wouldn’t be paying taxes to all those freeloaders on welfare!

ME: Well, if you look at this jackpot as a $13,500 win and ignore the taxes you paid, it’s about the same.

THEM: But the freeloaders still get my money!

ME: That’s ok, karma will come for those who don’t deserve help from your taxes.

THEM: Not soon enough…hey, do I have to report this jackpot as income?

ME: It’s already reported as income to the government.

THEM: What if I had not chosen to have taxes withheld?

ME: It’s still reported to the government.

THEM: That’s just great! Now I’ll lose my food stamps!

Yes, I was dealing with a hypocrite. What’s even worse, I see them in the casino every other day. They take what money they are given and spend it on slot machines hoping for a big payout. When they get the payout, they still remain angry. After all, they deserve their free benefits from the government, not anybody else.

I know there are a lot of people that deserve the benefits they get…just not this angry narcissistic unhappy Debbie Downer. Of course, they would just view this as yet another injustice.

Chasing Dirt

The other day, my wife was cleaning the floors. My wife loves a clean house and works hard to keep it that way. I just try to keep up. When my wife gets into cleaning mode, it’s like a tornado whizzing through the house. She has the ability to clean 3 or 4 rooms at the same time. She will bounce from room to room, doing a little at a time in each. I just stay within reach in case she needs me to move something heavy or fetch things she needs fetched. After a few hours, the results are wonderful. Anyway, while she was cleaning the floors this time, she said something that clicked with me.

WIFE: It feels like my entire life has been spent chasing dirt!

I thought this was a unique way of expressing what was happening. Most of us just clean, or wash, or dust, or sweep. My wife chases dirt…the archenemy. She is a dirt hunter. She is a superhero, like Batman…or Batwoman. I serve as her lowly sidekick, Robin. I have absolutely no superhero skills when it comes to cleaning…or chasing dirt. That’s why I can only achieve sidekick status. Heck, I think our old Roomba outranks me in the cleaning superhero universe. I know the cat does. Her fluffy tail does more effective dusting than anything else we have. I exist only to help provide the means to have a place to chase dirt at. I think that might be the only reason they keep me around. By “they,” I mean my wife, the cat, and the Roomba.

I can just imagine the dirt having a warning system in case of attack.

DIRT COMMANDER: Is there any movement?

DIRT RECON GUARD: No sir, just a couple false alarms…no, wait…she’s moving towards the weapon of mass dirt destruction!

DIRT COMMANDER: Are you sure?

DIRT RECON GUARD: YES! YES! SHE’S MOBILIZING THE WMD SEQUENCE! SHE’S PLUGGING IT IN!

DIRT COMMANDER: MY GOD! WE MUST WARN THE CITIZENS OF THE CARPET!

DIRT RECON GUARD: TOO LATE!! TOO LATE!! AAAAHHHHHHH!!!!

DIRT COMMANDER: God help us all…

Of course, against a superhero like my wife, the dirt was always doomed to fail. But if you really consider this, the dirt wasn’t destroyed…it was moved. My wife isn’t killing anything…well, maybe an amoeba or some bacteria, but not the dirt. The dirt goes from our floor to the vacuum or dustpan, and then to the garbage can. From there, freedom is only a garbage truck away. In other words, my wife is liberating the dirt! Seriously, if I were a speck of dirt, I would much rather prefer the great outdoors over a carpet any day. Granted, it might be a dumpsite, but it’s still freedom.

So now I’m suggesting that my wife might be a superhero to dirt…well, maybe not all dirt. It’s probably the rough and rugged dirt that appreciate her moving them from a carpet to the great outdoors. The indoor loving city dirt probably doesn’t appreciate her at all. They probably lived oblivious to the threat and weren’t prepared like the rough and rugged outdoor dirt who probably had bugout bags ready for this very day of attack. They were prepared.

Possible moral? Always be prepared…even if you’re dirt.

Green Acres

Everybody who’s ever served usually has a personal basic training story. I have a few and I already posted one of them. This one is all about me…and my favorite Drill Sergeant…let’s just get right to the opening scene, shall we?

DRILL SERGEANT: Where are you from, Private?

ME: Wisconsin, Drill Sergeant!

DRILL SERGEANT: So you’re a farmer.

ME: No, Drill Sergeant! I grew up in Milwaukee, Drill Sergeant!

DRILL SERGEANT: So you’re calling me a liar, Private?

ME: No, Drill Sergeant!

DRILL SERGEANT: Good! I’m glad we agree Private Dazeodrew! You’re a farmer. I’m going to call you Green Acres!

ME: Yes, Drill Sergeant!

So from that point on, I was called Green Acres for the rest of basic training. For some reason, that particular Drill Sergeant took a personal interest in me. It wasn’t all bad, but it definitely had its moments. Like the unspoken agreement we had that whenever he looked at me, I dropped and gave him twenty push-ups…and he looked at me a lot! He would also screw around with me, like, for example, in the mess hall line. He was walking along the line and looked at me. I dropped and began to do the push-ups.

DRILL SERGEANT: What are you doing, Green Acres?

ME (grunting a little as I pushed): I’m doing my push-ups, Drill Sergeant!

DRILL SERGEANT: In the mess hall line? Get up, Green Acres. (I jumped up)>

ME: Yes, Drill Sergeant!

DRILL SERGEANT: Did you do twenty?

ME: No, Drill Sergeant!

DRILL SERGEANT: So I guess you owe me forty next time I look at you.

ME: Yes, Drill Sergeant!

DRILL SERGEANT: I’m looking at you, Green Acres…

He liked to be deceptive that way. But like I said, it wasn’t all bad. He was a different man whenever we were learning things. He was patient, took the time to figure out the problem, and was a steady teacher. For me, he was Jeckl and Hyde. I would get something right and he would joyfully pat me on the back as if I were his son. Then we would celebrate with me doing push-ups. It was a very consistent relationship we had with each other.

I did more push-ups during that period then I had done my entire life prior to Basic Training. I always could do a lot of push-ups, but my skinny frame was deceptive about that fact. I just never looked the part of a push-up pushing guy. I would push and push and push, but my skinny muscles would just get harder, not bigger. I seemed to have a Barney Fife body that could do Andy Griffith things. It was weird for all of us.

Went I went on to advanced training, we swapped out Drill Sergeants. The new ones were a little more relaxed and the environment was more about learning rather than push-ups. Oh, we still did our fair share, but I didn’t have to drop every time I was looked at.

When they finally gave us a weekend off, I decided to take a walk around post. Fort Leonard Wood intrigued me and being so new to the army, I wanted to get a better feel of it. I was walking past my old building when I heard my, um, name.

DRILL SERGEANT: Hey! Green Acres! (I automatically dropped to the ground out of habit).

ME: Yes, Drill Sergeant!

DRILL SERGEANT: Get up, get up.

ME (jumping up and waiting for the deceptive part): Yes, Drill Sergeant!

DRILL SERGEANT: At ease, relax man. You’re not in Basic anymore.

ME: I didn’t want to risk it with you, Drill Sergeant. (This made him smile).

DRILL SERGEANT: You want to know why I rode you so hard, Private Dazeodrew? (He actually used my name…I was confused and wary).

ME: Um, sure, Drill Sergeant… (I had my own theories…)

DRILL SERGEANT: Because I could tell that you were smart, I just thought you needed a little more upper body strength. That’s it.

ME: Yes, Drill Sergeant. (He could tell I didn’t fully believe him).

DRILL SERGEANT: I’ll make it up to you. Tonight you’re coming over to have dinner with me and my wife. Do you like beer n’ brats?

All was immediately forgiven… I had a great time and he had a great family. The man I visited with was the man that showed up when we were learning things. He was kind, patient, loving to his wife and kids, and turned out to be someone I could easily make friends with. He also made the brats the right way.

Cruising in a Small Town

My daughter found out the hard way that it’s hard to be a delinquent teenager in a small town. If you read my last blog post, you’ll know that we lived in a small town in Wisconsin of only 1500 people for a few years. Everyone knew each other and it was a pretty safe community. Of course, that’s the recipe for boredom for teenagers. Other than the tiny bowling alley, a Dairy Queen, and a spattering of other food places, there just wasn’t much to do if you were a teenager. Once you reached adulthood, the world opened up because of the 1500 bars in and around town…ok, slight exaggeration…there were about 150 bars, still, that makes a bar for every 10 people. Welcome to northern Wisconsin. Other than fishing, there just wasn’t a lot to do.

One evening, I received a phone call from a concerned (perhaps nosey?) neighbor. She seemed very concerned about my daughter’s whereabouts and used an opportunity to dig deeper. Since she was one of the town’s many gossips, I felt I had to tread carefully with her.

ME (answering the phone): Hello?

HER: Hello Mr. Dazeodrew, this is Gladys.

ME (carefully hiding my fear…or annoyance…or both): Hi Gladys! How are you?

HER: I’m well. How are you?

ME: I’m well, I…

HER: How’re your kids?

ME: Well, they…

HER: Are you aware your daughter is running around with a bunch of boys?

ME: Well, this town is so small the selection of girls is…

HER: They’re cruising through town in a car.

ME: Oh, well, I…

HER: Back and forth, back and forth. They’re driving me crazy!

ME (the annoyance starting to come through): Well, maybe if you move away from your window?

HER: Oh, they can’t see me. I’m hiding behind the curtain.

ME: That’s not what I meant. Anyway, I’m ok with the cruising. (Brief moment of silence).

HER: With all those boys?

ME: I’ll tell you what, while you’re peeking out of your window, let me know if they all go into a bedroom somewhere? That might concern me.

HER: Oh, I will, Mr. Dazeodrew, I will!

Anyway, my poor daughter couldn’t get a break in that small town. Everybody seemed to like to call me to let me know what my kids were doing, even if it wasn’t my kids doing it.

NEIGHBOR: Do you know what your kids are doing?

ME: Yeah, they’re eating dinner.

NEIGHBOR: Oh, well I thought I saw, well, never mind. Enjoy your dinner!

One of the reasons my daughter didn’t get a break was because she would often come home and try to tell me about her time with her friends.

DAUGHTER: Dad! Guess what we did?

ME: You started out at Becky’s house, then Josh and Jeff came by, then you all piled into Jeff’s car, then you cruised for about 37 minutes, then you stopped at Dairy Queen to see who could get the worst brain freeze, Josh won, then you went to the bowling alley and you bowled a 125.

DAUGHTER: Um…

ME: I’m a little disappointed because last week you bowled a 150. I had some high hopes for you…

The other thing about living in a small town is the lack of selection come prom time. My daughter was only a freshman at the time but was asked to prom by a senior. After getting some much-needed help from a friend getting my daughter a dress (being a small town, it was almost a 2-hour drive to the nearest dress store), we had her all ready for the prom. She looked beautiful and was very excited to be going. Then her date showed up…

Small town or not, I had never met this kid. He had chosen…CHOSEN…to dress up like a 1930’s gangster, complete with the hat. He looked sleazy, cocky, confident, and perfectly like a criminal. That crap-eating grin and belligerent attitude made me think of a predator. Now, I was concerned. I was prepared, however. I was working in my woodshop when the little Al Capone wannabe and his entourage arrived, laughing and joking and no doubt filled with thoughts of their freshman conquests they had planned for later. One look at them and I began to cut wood on my table saw while talking.

ME: So… (Rowrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr)…what time are you (Rowrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr) planning to bring her back?

CAPONE (smiling that crap-eating smile): Well, you know, it’s prom…

ME: So midnight (Rowrrrrrrrrrrrrrr), huh?

CAPONE (giving me an incredulous look): No! It’ll be more like 2 or 3 in the morning. (I told you he was cocky).

ME: You said (Rowrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr) 11 tonight?

CAPONE (still clearly not getting it): No, Mr., um, no, I said (Rowrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr) um, 2 or 3 in the (Rowrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr) morning.

ME: See you at 10. (Rowrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr).

My daughter was home nice and early. On her own, she chose never to date little Al again. Good, because it’s hard to raise kids from prison.