Beside me in a church lobby sits a flower-girl, a full two years old—a bit too young to fully value her 15 minutes of fame. Conversation is sparse, limited by the 21 years, 150 lbs, and 4 feet I have over her, and the transfixing aesthetic appeal she finds in her flower-girl dress. Our corner of the room is relatively silent, as the two of us sitting on the stairs are less talkative than the rest of the wedding party, who are periodically shushed by the penguin-suited ushers. I observe the walls; she, her dress. Lifting her head, she breaks the silence with the raising of her foot and the assertion—related to me with wide-eyed sincerity—that upon her white patent-leathered-foot is, as she says, “shoe.” I find no reason to argue, as I agree myself that it is, as she said, “shoe,” so I simply nod and confirm that she is correct. Satisfied that her observation has been shared, she drops her head and once again studies her dress. The time for petal-throwing draws near, girl and basket are towed off by some fatherish looking fellow, and I sit alone on the church lobby stairs, waiting for my time to come.
Watch this program on Wednesday, 09/15/04.
Several times this past week I have experienced the unpleasant phenomenon known to scientists as "The Uncomfortable Experience of Hearing a Greeting in Your General Vicinity but not Knowing if the Greeting Was Addressed to You." This phenomenon is caused by several blunders in communication, which usually are the fault of the Greeter. If, for example, you wish to greet one person who is in a group of people you know, you must address the person by name. Otherwise all the Greetees in that group will experience TUEoHaGiYGVbnKitGWAtY. You, the Greeter, must also refrain from greeting people who are not facing you, unless you address them by name.
The worst blunder though--again, the fault of the Greeter, in my opinion--is that of mouthing words or gesturing to someone across the room, when there are more than one possible Greetees. The Gallup polls reveal that Greetees almost unanimously consider this type of TUEoHaGiYGVbnKitGWAtY the most embarassing.
You, the Greetee, are not left helpless though. The vast majority of Greetees agree that the best response is one that returns the ambiguity: a smile and a quick wave that are pointed to no one in particular give the impression that you are responding to someone. Such a response appeases the Greeter (in case he/she is indeed addressing you) and keeps you from looking like a fool (as far as everyone else knows, you are Greeter to someone across the room).
Though one may quickly tire of flashing uncertain smiles and greeting people across the room that don't exist, he has no other option until a better method is discovered.
Those mutilators of collections, spoilers of the symmetry of shelves, and creators of odd volumes.
Charles Lamb (1775-1834), quoted in
The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations
(2nd edition), p. 306
Enter the Tale of Terror.
with contributions by Seth Carper, John MacInnis, and Jon Sligh.
Roger was considered by most to be a perfectly charming little boy. This was evidenced by many proofs, namely, his weekly attendance at church, and his strict adherence to all points of the Decalogue. But if the tree outside Roger 's window could tell a tale of its own, that tale would differ greatly from the common perception of Roger as an angelic cherub of a boy. You see, Roger was a vampire.
A vampire, my young friend, bears no resemblance to its sister words, "empire," " inspire," "conspire," or "perspire," as most vampires live in isolated castles in mountain-rangish territories well away from main villages, where they do not attract children to virtue or give anyone the strength to go on, nor involve themselves in politics ("count" them out!), nor sweat the small stuff. So you see, they remain in a class entirely by themselves, which certainly could lump them with the all-American "Umpire," but we won't go there. So Roger (with the talking tree outside his window from whom I got my information), who appeared charming, eastern-establishment, urbane, and college-bound, was really an edgy and restless youth, with a mega-byte he kept entirely secret.
Until Mr. Perkins came along. I don't mind telling you rather frankly that you should be suspicious of any Mr. Perkinses you might chance to meet. As a whole, they tend to be meddlesome, self-righteous in their quests to preserve humanity from medieval horror-tale creatures, and entirely too adept at figuring out one's secret identity. So it was with this Mr. Perkins. Meddlesome to his very core.
Roger was not aware of this cruel fact of nature. He thought Mr. Perkins to be the most delightful of all the elderly parishioners. Mr. Perkins often brought candy to church and give it to Roger with an unsettlingly innocuous smile. His eyes, though, had a dead look about them--reminiscent of pickled sardines, glassy and silver.
Roger would scuttle happily through the aisles of the church, and when the offering plate was passed, he would always place a gold coin in. Mr. Perkins was the only one who noticed the absence of a reflection in the plate as it passed Roger. And he thought it rather curious that Roger was the only person who ever used actual gold and not nickles and dimes like the other children. But Roger would smile, and his bloodstained fangs were quite cute in a little boy.
So I guess you’re wondering how I (the narrator) factor into this story. Well, it’s a long story. I mean, a long story. I’ll give you the basics, I guess. It all started out with me, in a karaoke juice bar, in Albequerue, New Mexico. I…um…well, let me just preface this by saying that I’d just drunk 11½ cans of tomato juice, and the humidity was sky-high. Just keep that in mind—I wasn’t exactly myself at the moment. Um…er, right. So there I am, croaking out [editor has deleted title of song]. And as I’m standing there, during the instrumental solo—my air-guitaring almost matching the guitar wizardry exploding from the speakers—and who should walk in but Gilberto Fong, my old chess buddy from Notre Dame....
To be continued (actually, it probably won't be continued)
About the authors:
Seth - Seth is a college student and a firm believer in the power of love.
Jon S. - Jon is a male nurse. He still believes that there are little men living inside the television set.
John M. - John studies church music.