To life’s frustrating moments or annoyances, we may respond with: Oh hell!
Good grief! That’s the way things go!
The Shortened Race
We were having a family Christmas at my Grandparents’ home in rural Wisconsin. Stomachs full from one of Grandma’s prepared feasts, we descended to the basement to open gifts. The basement was spacious. We were in the section that had a large flat rug revealing food stains from years of use. On it, sat a sofa that too, was well-used but comfortable. Four armchairs were in a semicircle to the right of the blue spruce Holiday tree filled with ornaments and housed in a homemade stand.
My aunt wanted, and successfully lobbied for a free-for-all this year instead of people taking turns to open presents. I didn’t mind!
“Hey, I got the racecar I wanted,” I said. One of my cousins said, “Hey dude! Go over by the stairs and rev it up.”
“I’d like to see what it can do,” I responded, excitement rising.
Standing within the first section beyond the landing, with the remote in hand, heartbeat quickened, I was primed! My metallic racecar was bright red, mag wheels, about a foot long from end to end.
“Hey, that’s pretty neat,” my Grandpa said.
“I think so too,” I added, “Watch these turns, Grandpa.”
“I was talking to your mother. Your cousins gave her a waffle iron,” he said.
I realized the racecar and I were having our own moment. I used the controls to increase the whir of the motor, speed of the racecar, and was in awe and wonder as it traversed the outer basement.
Trouble began when the remote buttons refused to work on demand. Panic set in. The forward, backward, right and left buttons refused to budge. Was the inevitable going to be demise?
The car veered to the right. It crashed into a wall. My heart broke with the abrupt sound of plastic and wood coming together. A cracking was followed by short silence. The whir of the furnace was the only sound.
Mom’s words, harsh in tone broke the silence.
She said, “Good grief, for heaven’s sake! You only had this out of the box for minutes. Couldn’t you be more careful, son?”
Grandpa’s sympathetic remark, “This is too bad. I know you’re hurt. The racecar is now history, and, you were having fun from what I could see.” The sound of the crash itself kept running through my mind. It hurt more than Mom’s words and felt like a new boulder in my gut over Grandpa’s soothing sympathy.
I had decked the wall with a broken, expensive racecar.
Oh well, the pleasure derived from a toy racecar for a ten-year-old lasted for several minutes.
No Pomp In Circumstance
It was the final day of this long semester on the university campus for myself and the student body. My parents and I loaded the last of my possessions into the car before making the lengthy trip home. The mood appeared mixed by observation. Seniors sulked and sophomores shunted about acting like they scaled some major mountain. For us seniors, it was the end. I was among the last to leave the resident hall on campus. The graduation ceremony would be left to one’s fancy. Last month, during one breakfast, I read the university’s notice in the school newspaper. I was having a second plate of scrambled eggs. The morning edition was on my mobile device, that lay on the table to the side.
“School officials have decided to cancel the commencement exercises scheduled for Saturday May 22nd. The pandemic was the reason given. Furthermore, observing mandated policies from the State Health Department to protect staff, students, and families were in place, which the university would support.”
In the lot, I paused, looking around at budding flowers, my dorm in the quadrant; I heard the distant sound of the bell tower clock chime on the quarter hour. My mother embraced me. My dad congratulated me on this milestone. Inside myself, resignation rose to the forefront.
Oh well, no one said I would be the center of attention. Who needs a ceremony anyway?
Dreams vs Reality
In my office safe, was an envelope box filled as full as possible with US currency in the form of one-dollar bills. I had saved funds earned over several weeks. The total was $125.00. It would purchase a novel, couple online subscriptions, and dinner out with my wife, or so was thought, Until:
Our Granddaughter had been receiving tutoring services by a retired teacher. This arrangement had gone on for about five weeks. The pandemic had schools in virtual mode. Most youngsters felt angst over the home school regime. The day arrived when the not-so-easy choice was made to use the stash to purchase some select gift cards for the youngster’s tutor. You’re right, my dreams were upended. The cash would be converted to credit as in an assortment of gift cards for the tutor.
Oh well, this saved me from having to downsize and let someone else enjoy personally selected treasures.
Different Folks Exist Online
Social media is certainly here to stay. We appreciate, and have grown accustom to the options it provides: sending photos, family time with those distant, new friends or colleagues from anywhere imaginable. Moreover, one has opportunities to enjoy discussing life, writing, music, or the attention-grabbing news.
However, I recently found the downside. The takeaway: beware of the group where a sporadic member may earn the informal diagnosis as:
Eccentric, someone different from their own profile, or perhaps Eccentric.
Synonyms for ‘eccentric’ are plentiful.
Sociopath, a notch or two down from one who is a psychopath.
Loon, not intended to offend the Midland Loons, a minor league baseball franchise, or the breed of bird that flutters about the countryside.
Dingbat, someone who has dinged from reality and bats a big fat zero.
Flake, someone who has enough sense equal to that of one snowflake.
Oh well, we may all find out sooner or later that there are some cranks and crackpots in every online bunch.
Not A Boy Scout
The Holiday was the American Thanksgiving. I had risen early that morning to assemble dinner for the in-laws who would be my guests: for a good hour preparation included based the turkey, stuffed with wild rice, set out more stuffing, put three packages of frozen beans in the refrigerator, mashed the potatoes and cut two dozen apples into slices. The pies, covered with aluminum foil, were on an adjacent counter.
Midway through the morning, my neighbor called me to assist in an urgent errand. It took an hour longer than anticipated. Some of the local service stations were closed. She brought along a five gallon gasoline can to replenish her vehicle, and had plans to spend the afternoon with her parents at a local care facility. She thanked me for helping her resolve her emergency.
Entering my house, my nostrils took in aroma of smoke probably from the oven.
“Oh shit,” I thought. The inevitable had occurred.
I called a local restaurant that came to the rescue. They had one turkey dinner to serve eight that would bail me out of my mess. With some ingenuity, all would get a choice between turkey, smoked, or prepared with near expertise by someone earning double time today.
Guess what? The in-laws are now pulling in the driveway.
Oh well, life happens when one has other plans.
It’s In The Mail Or At The Cleaners
The day got away from me the minute my feet hit the floor on climbing out of bed. I slept through the ringing of the alarm clock and had thirty minutes to shower, dress, eat something, and drive to work. Arriving at the office, setting my valuables within my work station, an emergency meeting had been called to deal with a human resource matter.
After the meeting, I had one emergent phone call from my daughter, and a pile of purchase order requests to sign on.
A late morning lunch was at the cafeteria with co-workers. The afternoon pace of this Friday continued much the same as the a.m.
I went home after work, exhausted, fell into a sound sleep on the sofa while viewing reruns of situation comedies. I awoke with a start glancing at the clock that read 7:30. Saturday would arrive in just hours. The highlight, the afternoon work holiday party. I only had one outfit for the occasion. It would be my ugly gray sweater with kakis. The sweater, a gift from a former girlfriend. Guess what?
Oh well, I have a party tomorrow and my dress is at the cleaners which is closed for the day.
Stress Is Everywhere but The Shower
I glanced at the clock on my home office wall. It read eighteen minutes before three o’clock. I had ninety minutes max to proofread my eight page report and submit to the board for their approval. Future funds were at stake.
Midway through, my computer started to wink and blink. I thought a power outage was occurring. Rising, I went to the living room, turned on the TV, it worked just fine. The refrigerator too was doing its assigned task. Returning to my desk, the wink and blink had become a dark screen, no whir of the computer fan noticed, though all cables and cords were entangled per usual. My nine-year-old reliable friend had appeared to take a permanent hiatus. The report at hand was on a thumb drive.
The library would be opened until seven o’clock, and thus, I went to join the segment of society who did not own, or could not utilize their working computer. I would hand deliver copies as my Friday night out so to cover the bases.
Oh well, my report is due tomorrow and my computer died..
Oh Those Nonverbals
The work morning had begun like many previous. My guide-dog would accompany me to a café in a plaza where I might get a couple donuts with coffee, or a breakfast sandwich with the same. We arrived on time and settled into the work station. An hour or so later, we would go out for a relief break.
Unbeknownst to me, on this given morning my dog took her relief break by the door to one of the three elevators in the corridor. Thankfully, the outdoor conditions were spring-like, partly cloudy, and in general, comfortable.
Re-entering the office, our main supervisor was voicing her angst.
“Someone’s dog crapped on the floor outside the elevator!” A couple staff had cleaned up the mess in our absence and seemed to excuse the inconvenience.
Oh well, my boss is upset again but this time it’s about my service dog whom, by behavior, voiced our nonverbal thoughts concerning the work routine.
We were watching Saturday morning cartoons on television, and had put our breakfast dishes in the sink. Dad had left for work, and mom slept in as was her custom on Saturdays. It was almost nine o’clock. The doorbell rang, and I volunteered to see who was calling.
“Is this the right house?” a gentleman asked.
“Excuse me, what did you ask?”
“Is this home?”
“I guess so. Come in.”
The man entered, wiped his shoes on the entry rug, walked over and seated himself on a chair in the living room. He said nothing.
Soon, our mother came out wearing a robe and was not pleased with what she viewed. “What is this grown man doing in our living room?” voice stern.
“Barry let him in,” my sister answered.
“What did you do that for?”
“Mom, he asked if this was the right home, and I said yes.” She turned to face him, asking, “Excuse me sir, why are you here?”
“Your kid told me this is the right house.”
“Where are you trying to go?”
“I’m here. This is the right house,” he said tone firm.
“Sir,” my sister began, “Are you related to someone named Mr. Johnston?” His hair and eyes were nearly the same color compared to Mr. Johnston. Our mom slipped into the kitchen, called the neighbor and explained the situation. He said, “Yes, that’s my son. Is he home already?”
Minutes later, help arrived, and he escorted his father to the right house.
Oh well, don’t assume your house to always be the right house.
David Russell is a tenacious writer of short fiction, and general article content for a freelance service. He has had stories in micro-fiction anthologies, New Authors Journal, and on Spillwords.com. David lives with his wife, three turtles, and also plays piano professionally in lower Michigan, USA. Publications: 'Homecoming: A Memoir' (2018), Amazon; 'Waiting For Messiah' (Anthology - 2017), Smashwords.