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Summers in my family can be described by just one word -- CHAOS
Many of my followers know my father died, leaving my mother with five kids -- ages 2, 3, 14, 16, and 17. Mom tried, she really tried. But sometimes I wonder how none of us were permanently committed to an institution.
Every summer, my mother loaded the station wagon with coolers, sandwiches, beach towels, chairs, her kids and the neighbor's kids and sat in the 70 mile long stretch of traffic headed for the Jersey Shore. In 100 degree weather with no air conditioning in the car, we sat yelling and complaining while my mother made threats we knew she would never keep. "Just keep fighting and I'll turn this car around right now." Yeah, okay. HOW? There's a thousand cars here and nowhere to go even if you wanted.
I'm still not sure why my mother preferred Brigantine, but us kids loved the haunted castle and pier filled with arcade games and junk food.
When I was about six years old, I distinctly remember all my siblings and the two neighbor girls standing in the velvet rope line, swatting at "green head flies" to keep them from biting us. We were so anxious, and all so very different in personalities.
My oldest sister, Renee, has always been whimsical, yet somewhat reserved. She's never been loud or aggressive like the rest of us. We talked her into a tour of the castle knowing that even at 20 years old, she was too afraid to go in. After waiting an hour in line, and walking about thirty feet into the attraction, she grabbed my brother's hand and ran out. She tried to tell us he was scared, but we knew it was her.
Our group was taken into a room with a fireplace, adorned with a portrait of Dracula. While a worker distracted us, the picture slid sideways and a live "Dracula" jumped from behind the picture ... threatening to suck our blood. Abby's response was, "Did you brush those fangs today? How hygienic is blood sucking?" He stomped his foot and threatened us some more before we were led to another room. Lee yelled at him, "You're not so scary!" Abby grabbed her arm, urging her not to push her luck.
This time, a mad scientist produced a fake hypodermic needle and lunged toward me. I hid behind my sister, Lee, who pointed in the woman's face, "You ain't touchin' my baby sister. Go pick on someone else." I think Lee was more terrifying than the "ghosts" in the castle. Our neighbor, Chantel, pushed her sister forward, "Here! You can shoot my sister with a needle. I don't even like her!" The two sisters jostled each other as screams were heard from other parts of the castle.
The next room was an undertaker asking us for our last will and testament in the event we did not survive the castle. We were assured black roses would be delivered to our funerals, then informed of the cause of our impending doom.
"Our pets have not been fed lately. Do you hear them scurrying across the floor? Monster-sized rodents who hate the lights, so we apologize for the darkness in the next hallway. Should you wish to survive, I suggest you repeat our chant: Ratsy, Ratsy, big and slimey, please bite the person that's behind me."
Abby started mouthing the words right away as we felt along the black painted walls ... until the rats showed themselves. Abby screamed, "Oh my God! I felt one across my leg! I can feel their tails!"
Lee shouted back, "Nah uh! And stop chanting, cause I'M the person behind you. Do you want them biting me? If I get bit, I'm biting you!"
Being so short, I figured out the "tails" they were feeling were rubber hoses glued to the walls. And naturally, I slunk between the girls and wiggled the hoses, making my sisters and the neighbor girls scream and shout.
By the time we got out of the castle, Abby was hyperventilating, Lee was threatening all the workers, I was laughing, and the neighbors were fighting with each other. We teased Renee for being chicken, spent the rest of the day playing games and hanging on the beach ... then headed home ... but with a "passenger" we didn't expect.
Lee found a jellyfish washed ashore and decided to keep it. A DEAD jellyfish. Unbeknownst to any of us, she scooped it into a soda cup and carried it the whole two hour car ride home. She kept it in her bedroom, and it smelled so badly, my mother finally put it on a paper plate and threw it out the back door on a the patio.
Thanks again for reading another "Short & Silly". And be sure to check out my FREE Kindle books in June! :)
MY CRAZY LIFE CONTINUES ...
Many of my followers know my writing career started when I published "Goin' Postal: True Stories of a U.S. Postal Worker." The wild stories in that book seemed indigenous to postal life. But perhaps they are indigenous to MY life.
Last summer I decided I needed some serious changes to my life and found an outstanding trucking company that taught me how to drive big rigs and I have since been driving coast to coast. Along the way, I have found my Jersey Girl attitude has created some serious laughs.
Upon meeting my trainer he said, "I take all my students over this one bridge on their second day. It will make or break you as a truck driver. It's called the GW."
Me: "Uh, forget it. I don't drive over the bridge with my car, I'm not doing it in a 75 foot long, 80,000 pound truck."
Trainer: "I do it will all my students."
Me: "I've never driven a stick before, and I'm not starting by driving that. You're last student was 23 and from California. I'm 42 and from NJ. I KNOW that bridge. Go ahead, try to make me drive it. I'll park that big bitch right on the bridge and walk to Jersey to have my brother pick me up."
Three days later the trainer got us a run to Connecticut. While leaving, the trainer set the GPS for the George Washington Bridge that connects New York and New Jersey. I took a different route.
Trainer: "Where you going? You gotta take I-95 South."
Me: "No I don't. I'm driving and I'm taking the Tappen Zee Bridge." He continued to protest until I told him "I just commandeered your truck. I'm driving and I say this way is better. When we head back to the Midwest where you live, you can tell me where to go. I live here and this is where I want to go."
When he told this story to another trainer friend the guy said, "That is the kind of student I want. One who won't follow the GPS and can make a decision regarding safety." I thought "Wow... a job where my attitude is a good thing!" hahaha
I realized while riding on my trainer's truck I could in no way ever have a CB on my own truck when I went out solo. Here's why:
One night I was driving through a construction zone with a 55 mph speed limit. The zone had concrete barriers on both sides of a single lane, shifted and curved, and the asphalt was tilted which made me feel I would roll over. I was doing 50 mph.
Driver Behind me on CB: "Hey driver, you can DO 55 here"
My response: "Hey Jerk, I can DO 45 here also. So keep talking and see how that works out for you."
On another occasion, I had my hazard lights on while driving through a 5 lane industrial park. I pulled all the way to the right at 15 mph trying to find the correct customer drive way at 3am. Not only was there a passing lane but also a center turn lane. I was in no one's way.
Driver Behind me on CB: "Hey, why you have your hazards on? You're in my way."
My response: "Cause I love the blinking lights! It reminds me of Christmas!"
The worst part about trucking is learning to back up. It's hard and takes lots and lots of practice. One day while I was backing into a dock door, a man came shouting "Hey, you almost hit the pole on the other side!"
Me: "Almost, or did?"
Me: "So it's still standing? What is your problem then?"
Thanks for reading today's Short & Silly. Now that I am out of training and in a truck of my own, I'm going to start posting regularly again. I have quite a few books I need to review for other authors, and I thank you all for the support you have shown me over the past year during my career transition.
Goin' Postal and Zodiac Lives will be FREE on Kindle during June, be sure to look for them!
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