Someone Left The Gate Open
After the widespread effort to rig the college admissions process for children whose parents were willing to pay bribes, here is lighthearted take on the fascinating world of the Gatekeepers: those in charge of accepting or rejecting students who, in a distinctly American rite of passage, apply for colleges all across the United States.
Dear University of Southern California Admissions,
I will be graduating in May from Edmund Muskie Senior High in Rumford, Maine. I had not planned to attend college but now that I see there are two openings on your crew team, I informed my parents last night I wanted to apply.
They both said, “Rowing? That’s not a mainstream (pun intended) sport.”
“True,” I answered, “but the YouTube videos I watched mentioned it was a great sport that offers a chance to start at an older age. I mean, no one has been rowing since childhood. I was thinking maybe that’s how a Hollywood celebrity was able to get her children on a crew athletic scholarship. They never rowed before. It also provides overall body conditioning and I can get in great shape since you always say I spend too much time in front of my computer and not enough time outside. I can make new friends since you don’t like the ones I hang with anyway. You think I stay so isolated in my room so this is an opportunity to learn teamwork, too.”
They continued, “Honey, remember all those times when you and your dad went deep sea fishing in Destin when you were a little boy? You had to take Dramamine to keep from getting sea sick on the boat.”
I reminded them, “I grew out of that.”
They reiterated, “That’s because you stopped going.”
“Well,” I interjected, “What’s your point?”
They pointed out, “That’s just one reason. Another is you don’t know how to swim!”
I commented, “That used to be true. But I am mature now and would like to learn. I never liked to get wet and I don’t have to being a crew member. I mean, sure, they’ll be splashing oars and wet boats, but since I’ll be wearing a spandex, not cotton, unisuit, that shouldn’t be a problem. And when I finally have some chiseled muscles from the year-round practices and the girls see me in that spandex, watch out USC!”
My mother and father asked, “We don’t want to discourage you finally wanting to go to college, but can’t you pick another direction and another school?”
“Rowing is the oldest intercollegiate sport in the United States starting in 1852. Who doesn’t want to feel like a Viking on the open sea?”
And with that, they gave up. But not me.
I hope you will see my determination to row at your fine university. I plan to study pre-law because as you can see, I made some pretty good arguments with my parents.
P.S. Do you have to see my grades or can my parents just pay for it since there is a precedence set?
P.S.S. I am also applying to UCLA, Wake Forest, and other Operation Varsity Blues universities. But since you are my first choice, I hope to hear from you soon.
Home For Sale!
For the Fayette News
January 20, 2019
I am a retired teacher. But from 1988 – 1993, I took a break, studied for my real estate license, and became an agent in Georgia. I was hired by John Wieland Homes to open Brentwood, their newest subdivision at the time.
I learned a few things selling real estate for John Wieland. Never heard of him? 1994 Professional Builder magazine’s Builder of the Year; 2005 Builder magazine’s America’s Best Builder; and 2007-2009 J.D. Power and Associates award for Highest Ranked Quality Among New Home Builders in Atlanta.
He was a one-stop-shop real estate company. They offered financing through their own in-house-lender. They had their own building and supply to help cut costs for your next home. They offered add-ons to their house plans and made it simple just like buying a car – here’s your standard model and if you want more we can do that, all it takes is money. They offered interior and exterior design services. Did I leave out something? Forgive me; it’s been twenty-five years.
And his neighborhoods are pretty, too. Their amenities fulfill every homeowner’s dream: some are on golf courses, many surround lakes, there are Olympic size pools and kiddie pools, there are waterslides, clubhouses, kiddie parks and recreation, nature trails, and more! You get the picture? It’s all about lifestyle.
I now live in a neighborhood that resembles this scenario. And I’ve learned a thing or two about image from him. We are downsizing. I think our Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor ads, to name a few, need to know this. I am adding them here.
Our listing should read: This neighborhood boasts of an expansive gated play park for neighborhood children. State-of-the-art swings, slides, sand box, and play area will make the children squeal with delight. Another added attraction is the possibly rabid red-tail female fox who made her home here, too, and keeps watch over her pups. Such a delight to see!
This gorgeous neighborhood also brags about concrete sidewalks meandering through the canopied woods where one can walk their dogs for enjoyable strolls. While doing so, the neighborhood has added extra excitement with their very own possession, a wild bobcat and the beautiful sounds they screech at sunset! Dogs will squeal with delight over encountering this community pet!
If you choose to step off the sidewalks into the deep woods, you are most welcome. The paths have (at one time) been cleared by volunteer homeowners to make them more desirable to you, and recently, that black bear that was seen walking through them and onto the paved sidewalks in broad daylight. What an experience! You will be squealing with delight over having seen a bear up close without having to pay the ZOO prices, which is another treat offered by this neighborhood.
Looking for more excitement? There is rumored that a cougar has been lurking in the water drain system throughout the neighborhood. Should you find out, please me know so I may add to my House For Sale description.
The newest addition to the neighborhood menagerie of wildlife is the alligator found in a pond. No, my eyes did not deceive me and yours won’t either. Those wood ducks and white ducks beside the pond didn’t have a chance. You and your dog will both squeal with delight as you see the gator’s (gators?) head part the waters and eye you for lunch.
Your children will learn economic lessons living here, too, by having mace stands instead of lemonade stands. Future entrepreneurs!
This neighborhood has more wildlife than the regular birds, chipmunks, and squirrels you’ll see elsewhere. That’s boring. Come view my house in this astonishing neighborhood! Your children are going to love it here until your cat goes missing.
excerpt from She’s A Keeper! Cockamamie Memoirs from a Hot Southern Mess
It’s 2019. I started being nostalgic. So I pulled out my old high school yearbook and realized those are some of the most dim-witted times of our lives. The comments that people wrote in my 1971 high school album were in-keeping with our inexperienced youth.
I went to elementary, middle, and high school with Mack Neal. He lived in town next door to one of my favorite girlfriends. There were lots of kids on their street. This girlfriend and I were attached at the hip. She was either at my house or I was at hers as we swapped off sleepovers on Friday nights from elementary through high school. I liked her house better because her street had more kids to hang out with including her two-years-older sister and all her own friends. And the boys were cuter, too. We all met under the street lights until we were called in and in the summer, that was way after dark.
This decade, the 1960s, was a more innocent time and we all could be trusted, except for Dwayne, who was a hottie because he was really a year older but was held back a year in school so he was not only more physically built in 5th grade, he was knowledgeable, too, since he had much-older brothers and sisters. His reputation preceded him. But that’s another story.
One day in middle school, which we called Junior High then, our teacher was absent and a male adult substituted for her. That was unusual. We mostly had female substitutes. We were respectful. There was not any misbehavior like trying to trick the sub. He called the roll to see who was in attendance and when he rounded the alphabet at the M/N’s he called out Mack’s name.
Mack answered, “Present.” (Present? Really? That’s archaic. We used to say stuff like that.)
The man said, “And what is your first name?”
Mack answered, “Mack.”
The substituted responded, “What did you say? What is your first name?”
“My name is Mack Neal.”
“No, son, I have your last name. What is your first name?” the man asked.
And so it went a while longer until the old man got it straight.
Now this Mack Neal and I attended school together for 12 years, played as children under that lamp post in middle school, were in the same high school classes and clubs, and were forever entwined in our small town. When he signed my favorite and precious school yearbook for the last time, I thought he would be writing something so profound about all our years together. I thought he would bring up memories that I might have forgotten about in all our adventures. I thought he respected me so much that he would write a challenge for me to make something of myself in the years to come or how he expected me to excel in this or that in my future. That’s what I remember writing in his yearbook for the final time – words of wisdom, advice, some achievement in our youth that would prove that we would go far in life and make each other and our community proud.
I looked forward to seeing those sentimental and heartfelt words written only for each other in our last year of high school. It was going to be special just like we wrote to every other person in our graduating class like, “Good Luck!”, “Can’t wait to get out of this place!” , “Our math teacher can go to H***!” See? Unique verbiage.
And Mack’s message to me was memorable. While reading it, I saw all the effort and thought he put into those last words that he’d never pen to me again which read, “It’s been real. Mack.”
NOT YOUR AVERAGE REINDEER GAMES
Excerpt from SHE’S A KEEPER! Cockamamie Memoirs from a Hot Southern Mess
I’m counting down the days until Christmas. I had always gone that extra mile to make it special for my children when they were little, like I feel sure you did, too.
As I set up my Christmas story, let me tell you a bit about my line of thought. You might remember, I am an only child who entertained herself a lot. So when my boys finally arrived in my immediate family, I loved to play with them. My oldest, now thirty-three and who we called The Heir, loved to dress up as superheroes and such. Between the ages of three and five, you might see Popeye, Superman, Batman, or others around town. Yes, I let him go out in public in these get-ups. People would say “hello” to the character de jour.
Once, while dressed as Dick Tracy, I took him to the city police station. I walked in and asked the receptionist, “Is Dick Tracy here?” all the while nodding my head in the negative.
“I beg your pardon?” she asked?
Nodding ‘no’, I reiterated, “Is Dick Tracy here?”
“Why, no, he isn’t.”
I continued, “But he has an office here, right?” This time nodding up and down to indicate ‘yes’.
She caught on. “Yes, his office is here.”
“May I just show my son his office, please?”
“Certainly,” she said. I love small towns.
“Look, honey,” I said to The Heir. “Dick Tracy is busy out catching criminals but here is his messy desk with all his important papers.” He loved it.
And what’s with Trick or Treating at Halloween? I mean, no one is tricking except mostly in prepared chicanery like having to pay for tours of Haunted Houses. Very rarely are there other ruses. Many times kids ring the doorbell with no trick in sight. I decided to do something about that. Let other people serve treats. I am going for the deception. Turning off all my house lights, I rolled crime scene tape across my entire front yard to shoo away prospective candy begging goblins. I sure hope they were tricked. But who knows? With all the movie sets around town displaying cinematic scenes, it may just seem like another movie production company planted itself in my yard. Well, at least I chuckled at my machination.
Those are examples of my tom-foolery thought process. My husband says I easily amuse myself. That’s true.
So, one Christmas when The Heir was five, I decided to make Christmas really special. I wasn’t going to just make cookies for Santa or produce a carrot for Rudolph. I went all out: I used my husband’s L.L.Bean boots and several large baking soda boxes and put my plan to work. When our son was fast asleep, I laid down a boot on the rug, poured baking soda around the perimeter, lifted the boot, placed the matching boot a step ahead, and again poured the baking soda. After several steps, it looked as if Santa had sloughed off snow on the rug from the fireplace to the Christmas tree where he laid out our presents.
When morning arrived and he saw Santa’s footsteps, he was overjoyed. As friends popped by that day, and days after, he continued to brag and show them when St. Nick had been.
When our second son, The Spare, turned five, I remembered how our first child received such pleasure from my creativity that I decided to pull this same trick. We duplicated the same scene. This second child was not the dreamer like his brother. Wise from being the second in the sibling lineup he looked at the situation and the first thing out of his mouth was, “Why hasn’t it melted?”
Didn’t think he’d catch that.