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aadd.jpgGrandpa’s Pirate Ship

By D W. Steep

© 2008

 

    “My other grandpa has a plane,” said my six year-old grandson, Eric, as we strolled along San Francisco’s Pier 39. “He let me sit in the pilot seat and hold the steering wheel when we were flying way up high.”

    “The control column,” I corrected.

    “Huh?”

    “Planes have control columns; cars have steering wheels, Eric.”

    “Whatever, it was fun!” 

    “Look at the boats!” I blurted, in an effort to distract him from once again meandering down Other Grandpa Lane.

    “My other grandpa has a boat!” he shot back. “He takes me fishing all the time, and he even lets me sit in the captain’s seat and drive it!”

    “Navigate it,” I corrected.

    “Huh?”

    “You don’t drive boats, you navigate them, Eric.”

    “Whatever, it was fun!”

    Mercifully – I don’t get to see my little grandson Eric too terribly often. Only once a year now – and apparently for no other reason than his being able to update me on Other Grandpa’s latest over-indulgent spoil the brat spending sprees. The man designed a computer chip somewhere around 1975, and has since become, or so I call him — The Geek Tycoon.  

    “Would you like to visit Ripley’s Believe it or Not?” I asked.

    “No,” he replied, “I already went to the Ripley’s in Florida, with my-

    “Other grandpa,” I interjected.    

    “Yep … hey, can we go on that pirate ship over there, grandpa?”

    “Of course we can, Eric,” I replied. “It’s my pirate ship.”

    “No way!” he spluttered, his little eyes now bulging with excitement.

    It was precisely that excited look in his eyes, I now know in hindsight, which led me completely out of character and down that deep dark ugly road for which I then took. “Yep, it’s mine,” I repeated, adding with a sweeping wave of my arm, “in fact; all these boats are mine, Eric. Didn’t you know that?”

    “No way!” he gushed.

    “Way,” I assured him, before taking him by his little hand and leading him aboard the old schooner he’d innocently mistaken for a pirate ship. “I bet your other grandpa doesn’t have a pirate ship like this,” I boasted, while purchasing two tickets.

    “You shouldn’t lie to him like that,” whispered the nosey ticket seller.

    “Mind your business, lady,” I hissed. “You wouldn’t understand.”

    “If this is your boat,” said Eric, with a tug of my hand, “how come you have to buy tickets, grandpa?”

    “Yeah, grandpa,” mimicked the ticket seller, who was rapidly working her way towards walking my pirate ship’s plank.

    “Because, Eric,” I carefully explained, while pointing out the ticket seller. “If grandpa doesn’t buy tickets, this nice lady won’t have enough money to buy more bleach for her hair.”

    I won’t repeat what the woman said, suffice to say — I was forced to cover Eric’s ears as we hastily skedaddled to the top deck of my pirate ship. “Wow!” bellowed Eric, as took in the entire panoramic scene from on high. “This is my grandpa’s pirate ship!” he then proudly boomed, while pointing me out to a group of Japanese tourists, who then surrounded and proceeded to blind me with a seemingly endless stream of camera flashes.

    God bless the language barrier, for there was nothing but broad smiles and indulgent nods as I recounted for them, within earshot of my grandson, my many pirating exploits.

    “Did you really do all those things that you told those people on your boat about, grandpa?” said Eric, as we climbed into the car at day’s end.

    “Most of them,” I replied.

    “Did you really discover California?” he pressed.

    “Ah …well,” I stammered, “not all of it.”

    “Did you really sink the Spanish Amanda?”

    “Armada, the Spanish Armada, and yes — I did. But when we get home, we can’t tell grandma about any of these things, okay?”

     “Why not, grandpa?” he asked.

    “Because grandma had relatives on the Spanish Armada and we don’t want to make grandma sad, now do we?”

    “My other grandpa has a really big house in Spain!” he blurted. “Last year he took me and mommy-

    “I have a really big house too!” I interrupted, right after having made the mental note that our next day’s activities would include a visit to San Simeon’s, Hearst Castle.

   

Mommy Knows

By D W. Steep© 2008

   

    He stood before the full-length mirror in The Oval Office’s bathroom and made several highly animated attempts at concocting a look of sincerity before finally acquiescing to the fact that it was utterly futile. He shuddered with disgust, clinched his fists in anger and gazing to the heavens he bellowed aloud, “Why hast thou forsaken my facial features, oh Lord!”

    Laura, with her ever present security entourage buzzing about her heels, hastened down the long hallway leading towards The Oval Office. “Where did the mirror come from?” she barked.

    “I have no idea, ma’am,” replied Warren Graham, the newest head of Barbara’s Mirror Removal Security team.

    “You’re fired, Graham!” she hissed, causing Graham to stop dead in his tracks while the rest of the group hastened onwards.

    “I tried to make a happy face but the Faces software I got from the FBI quantified it as brooding and highly sullen, what’s wrong with me, darlin’?” asked a disheveled and apparently somewhat intoxicated George — in response to his wife’s having burst through the doors with her sans Graham entourage in tow.

    “Nothing is wrong with you, honey,” she replied, while taking him quickly into her arms before covertly motioning with her eyes for the mirror’s immediate removal. “Nothing at all, my sweat-pea,” she whispered, before kissing the tears from his cheeks. 

    “Why did he say that?” asked George.

    “Why did who say what, sugar-plum?”

    “That Reykjavik reporter,” replied George, “who said that no matter the happenstance, my facial expressions often leave me looking thicker than Icelandic whale dung during mating season?”

    There was an audible bang, causing George to jump, as the door slammed shut behind the mirror removal team. “We’ve been through this a thousand times now, George,” she admonished, while straightening his attire. “You have a special kind of face, and you can’t pay attention to what other people have-

    “To say about it, I know, I know,” George interjected, before pushing his wife’s meddlesome hands away from his collar. “But I don’t want a special face, Laura, I want a normal face! I want a face that says sad when I’m sad and mad when I’m mad, for example. I don’t want-

    “George!” boomed Laura. “Sit down, this instant!”

   “No!” bellowed a defiant George. “I won’t sit down and I won’t shut-up about it any longer, Laura. It’s my face, and I want to understand why it doesn’t work properly, why can’t you empathize with me on this?”

    “Empathize with you on what, George?” replied Laura, while reaching out to take George in her arms only to be pushed away.

    “You know perfectly well what, Laura,” replied George. “Our honeymoon, for example, when you looked up at my face and asked me if I needed to go to the hospital, remember?”

   “Well, I thought, you looked,” stuttered Laura.

    “I wasn’t in pain, Laura. That was supposed to be a look of joy, not pain, Laura. Do you see what I mean? My face is broken, it’s like that reporter from Dallas called it, a schizophrenic patchwork anomaly.”

    “No more, sweetheart,” said Laura, taking the bottle of Gin from her husband’s grasp.

   “I see it, Laura, and it drives me crazy. I saw it last night, during that CNN coverage, when I was hovering over New Orleans in a chopper looking like a giddy little kid on Christmas morning. What’s that, Laura, I ask you, what in the hell is that, Laura? I’m hovering over devastation and the look on my face is one of detached bemusement, that’s not normal, Laura, and it wasn’t what my brain told me that my face was doing at the time!”

    Laura covertly slipped the bottle of Gin in her bag and then headed for the computer in the hopes of confiscating the FBI Faces software. “You must be famished!” she chirped, in a desperate attempt at changing the subject.

    “Does my face say that?” queried George. “Because I’m not hungry; and if my face says otherwise there’s just one more example of what I’m talking about here.”

    “I meant with all this Gin, you must be-

   “Don’t touch my Faces!” screamed George, causing Laura to shriek before dropping the disc to the floor, whereupon George scooped it up, slipped it back into the system, booted it up and after smiling his happiest smile at the screen, pushed printout. “See there,” he said, handing the evidence to Laura, who then took the sheet and read “Place on twenty-four hour watch, possible suicide.”

   “Look,” pressed George, while holding up for his wife a recent front page article in which he’s seen looking animated and jovial during the Rosa Parks funeral.

    “She would have wanted it that-

    “No, Laura, don’t go there!” wailed George. “The fact is, Laura – I was sad, and was fighting back tears, but my face lied again. It always lies; I have a lying, cheating, and schizophrenic thicker than whale dung face!”

    “Are you done now?” asked Laura, before walking George to a nearby chair.

    “It hurts, Laura,” he sighed, before plunking down akimbo and kicking off his shoes.

    “I know, darling,” said Laura, while softly rubbing his throbbing temples. “Momma knows.”

    “I’m sorry about the mirror,” he whispered, while feeling himself growing drowsy. “I was walking past the windows by The Rose Garden and saw my reflection this morning, and I thought I was feeling good up until that point, but my reflection said otherwise, and it started again, that need to know thing, so I ordered a new mirror, you know?”

    “Momma knows,” cooed Laura, while rubbing more deeply. “Momma knows. But you promised, remember, no more mirrors?”

    “No more,” said George, in a barely audible far off tone. “No more mirrors, mommy.”

    “And no more Faces software,” she added.

    “And no more Faces software,” echoed George.

    “And my face is perfectly normal,” she pressed.

    “And my face is perfectly normal,” mimicked George, shortly before falling fast asleep, with his eyes wide open.

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St. Pinocchio Memorial

Where politicians go for career health care

By D W. Steep

© 2008

    “Excuse me,” began junior senator Robert Caldwell, to the nurse behind the glass partition. “But, I think I’m feeling the onset of a Conviction.”

    The nurse immediately sprang into action via triggering the emergency alarm, for they are rigorously taught at St. Pinocchio Memorial to be on guard for just such red-flag words — the utterance of which immediately elevates a political patient to emergency status. A battery of tests ensued, after which, junior senator Robert Caldwell was ushered into the office of chief administrator, Dr. Rupert Burns.

   “I’m sorry to inform you, Mr. Caldwell, but our tests have confirmed that you do indeed have a Conviction,” began Dr. Burns, who then placed a cat-scan upon the viewfinder. “It started right here,” he continued, while pointing to a small grayish area in the upper left corner of Mr. Caldwell’s scan, “and the virulent little sucker has now spread all the way down to this small pocket right here, at the base of your spine.”

    “My political life is over,” gasped Caldwell.

    “Not exactly,” replied Dr. Burns, “luckily for you, Robert, we caught your Conviction early, before it had a chance to grow into an Unwavering Conviction. So, at the moment, thank goodness — it’s only a benign Conviction.”

    “So there’s hope?” gulped Caldwell.

    “Only if we can get to the root cause of your Conviction, Robert,” replied Dr. Burns. “Until we know what caused it, we can’t treat it. So tell me honestly, Robert, have you been exposed to anyone suffering from the disease of Conviction as of late?”

    “My new girlfriend, doc,” confessed a sullen Caldwell. “She’s an environmentalist and has been harping endlessly at me about what she perceives as my lack of concern over environmental issues.”

    “Let me guess,” said Dr. Burns, “you cohabitated with this woman, knowing full well that she suffered from the disease of an Unwavering Conviction – and you didn’t use any protection, is that right?”

    “Those earplugs are uncomfortable, doc,” mumbled Caldwell. “So let’s cut to the chase, doc, how do I get my political health back?”

    Dr. Burns whipped a notepad and pen from his breast pocket and began his prescribed regimen with, “First dump that environmentalist conviction spreading incubus of yours, then go to our bookstore downstairs and grab the following pamphlets, conviction exposure, second-hand convictions can kill, and — most importantly – how to live a conviction free life.

    “That’s it?” asked Caldwell.

    “No,” replied Dr. Burns. “There’s a support group consisting of politicians just like yourself, meeting downstairs in approximately ten-minutes, I highly suggest that you attend. Hopefully, their stories will inspire and fill you with hope. It will assist greatly in the overall recovery of your political life’s health, Robert.”

    Robert Caldwell arrived and hastily took a seat with his new support group just as the testimonial phase got underway. “My name is Cindy Mathews and I’m a councilwoman from Des Moines,” began the pleasant looking young woman at the podium, “and I’m also suffering from a rare strain of the politically life threatening disease known as, An Inability to Lie or Deny.”

    The room went silent for quite some time, aside from those, that is, who upon hearing the news – were moved to weep openly.

    “She’s so young!” blubbered a visibly shaken female senator, whose Kleenex was rapidly turning mascara saturated purple.

    “But wait, there’s good news!” added miss Mathews, causing the crowd to immediately perk-up in their seats. “Thanks to Dr. Burns and the staff here at Pinocchio Memorial, I’m happy to say that my disease is now in full remission!”

    The small intimate crowd exploded with joy at this much welcomed news. “How did they do it?” asked a congressman currently suffering from an intestinally disruptive case of politically life-threatening, Immutable Core Beliefs.

    “Well, the treatment was painful at first,” stated miss Mathews, “because it involved completely disowning my parents, who, as it turns out, were directly responsible for giving me this disease. Especially my father; and his dictatorial adherence to that politically unseemly doctrine called, telling the truth.”

    “They don’t deserve you!” shouted councilman, Del Grady, whose own mother had planted the seeds which eventually culminated in his current politically life-threatening disease of, Overt Compassion.

    “Don’t get me wrong, it’s not easy,” added miss Mathews. “But I do believe that I’m learning to lie and deny with more and more gusto with each and every passing day.”

    “You go girl!” shouted a visibly moved congresswoman, herself in the midst of battling a politically life-threatening reoccurrence of the disease called, Platform Adherence.

    “Now, all I have to do in order to stay well,” said miss Mathews in closing, “is to follow Doctor Burns’ ongoing treatment regimen of avoiding anything written by Abe Lincoln, stay away from my parents, never rent the video Mr. Smith Goes to Washington – and — to limit my political studies to the reading of nothing other than William Jefferson Clinton footnotes.”

    The crowd thundered their approval as a blushing miss Mathews left the podium. Robert Caldwell then watched intently as one after another his political peers in pain gave their heart wrenching testimonials. With each and every one – Robert swore that he could actually feel the Conviction in his head shriveling exponentially.

    Then was heard the final testimonial of the afternoon, which carried with it a mention of that letter which they had all been secretly dreading to hear, The Big “C” … unceremoniously brought to the podium by mayoral candidate from Wisconsin, Huey B. Delbert.  

    “You heard me right,” reiterated Huey, “I have a politically life-threatening case of Character.”

    The crowd winced. The Big “C” … they had all heard about it, sure, but living as they did — predominantly in Washington DC – none of them had ever before been exposed to an actual case of it. “I thought Character was cured in the sixties,” whispered Caldwell to a neighbor, “during the televised Nixon Kennedy debates, when politically-pretty killed it.”

    “Apparently, it was just lying dormant,” replied Caldwell’s neighbor.  

    “Now for the good news!” continued Mr. Huey B. Delbert. “Yes, my brothers and sisters of the politico — thanks to Doctor Burns and the staff here at St. Pinocchio Memorial, my Character is now in full remission!”

    “Yet another miracle!” bellowed many in the now jubilant crowd.

    “A miracle indeed – for I now have my political life back!” added Huey. “That filthy abscess called Character no longer has jurisdiction over my future, and has instead been appropriately replaced by the far more politically proficient, non-committal, unassuming, bland, watered-down, waxing, waning, hedging, hawing, lying, cheating, and all around intrinsically moribund little carbon-based animation that I am today!”

    “Delbert for mayor in 2008!” exploded the room.       

7892.jpg OK that’s over with….

    Now let us turn our attentions to that model for the many-clawed beast from Wagner’s    Gotterdammerung Itself – Hillary Rodham Clinton. “Are you frightened by powerful women?’ comes the bleating from the usual suspects. To which my answer would be, “No, I’m frightened by that many-clawed beast from Wagner’s Gotterdammerung – there’s a big damn difference.”

    In Hillary’s case – it’s what’s lurking behind those six scant centimeters of publicly fronted faceplate – that worries me. Trust me, this is not your typical male knee-jerk reaction to a woman on the go, we’re not talking about some macho schlep slipping a banana peel under Mary Tyler Moore’s heel during her rendition of “You’re going to make it after all” … no, this is more – this is The Sentinel peering through the curtains, witnessing the approach of The Unspeakable One and screaming, “Screw gender, everyone run!”

    When all is said and done, however – there’s really not much that we mere mortals can do in stopping the forward egress of The Devil’s Hooves. At best, we could borrow a page from the old Niner Dynasty days and catching The Beast’s minions on their way to the polls – we could chop-block the poor misguided little creatures.

 

~D W. Steep

SteepThinking.com at:  http://steepcolumn.ieasysite.com