“Somehow,” Fensterblau told Fatrack at the local hangout, “We didn’t rate an invitation to a party this New Year’s.”
“I don’t care,” his sidekick replied. “‘The Twilight Zone’ annual marathon’s on. I’d rather party with Orson Bean, Inger Stevens, Chloris Leachman, Andy Devine and Billy Mumy anyway.”
They agreed to spend the weekend drinking coffee and watching one of their favorite shows.
“First we buy five pounds of coffee here, and then we get a few cases of junk food over at Associated, and were all set,” Fatrack intoned.
They couldn’t have been happier. The new year started well.
Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff~Fields for taking charge of our weekly Friday Fictioneers and our hundred~word stories. This week’s photo prompt is from Jean L. Hays
Tom, Jim, Burt, Jerry and Wally got together every Wednesday night after work for a poker game. It was an old habit, going back thirty years. Wednesday, for these boys, was a time set aside for gossip, cigars, a few drinks and relaxation. There was only one catch: their wives were sick and tired of all the drinking and cigars. Jerry and Jim came up with the perfect solution though. Each one rigged up a faucet on the fence in his backyard, with a secret compartment for stogies.
“The girls will never figure out our trick,” they assumed.
Over the course of at least my entire adult lifetime I’ve always been notoriously incapable of getting any significant amount of sleep. I always tell people that I haven’t slept five minutes since the presidential debates between Kennedy and Nixon. This can be quite an advantage whenever I have either a job or some other unavoidably necessary responsibility to which I must attend. Being wide awake for its own sake though is much more of a have-to than a get-to. I don’t usually bother to peek out my windows in order to see the sun. Most of the time I just lie back and relax. It’s an especially good feeling being able to rest before the main part of the day has to kick in. A while ago, when I worked at the postal service in Bethpage, I usually worked the overnight shift. It was such an interesting feeling being able to drive home on the Southern State Parkway while the sun was coming up. All that peace and quiet, combined with quite a perfect view, made me quite happy. Occasionally I’ve been known to stay up voluntarily, for things like high school reunions, parties and other occasions. It’s not a habit I should like to get into though. When I don’t get enough rest there’s always the very serious risk of migraines. Ultimately I thoroughly enjoy always being up so early each day. Even though I don’t bother to pay attention to the rising sun, I can enjoy all the perfect solitude. Peace and quiet are unavoidably necessary for me. It’s the rest of the day that really gets on my nerves.
Nobody can say that my eating habits have ever been precisely orthodox. Whenever I go to a restaurant, or there are distinctive foods available at either a party, church or workplace, I’m the kind of character who can be counted upon always to go for the really eccentric stuff. I’ve never been concerned about drinking only red wine with meat or white with seafood. I’ve always raised more than most people’s share of eyebrows over the years for my taste in food combinations and toppings. I often put salad dressing on meat. In spite of all the whining I get from others, I highly recommend it. There are many people who just can’t get over my liking ketchup on eggs, though I think it’s a more common practice than they’re willing to admit. Maybe it’s because my parents were both from northeastern Pennsylvania but I’ve always had several seriously offbeat quirks anyway, including some involving food. The weirdest thing I’ve ever eaten may have been a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with pickles. It was quite a very long time ago and I haven’t ever bothered with it even the least bit recently. I can remember having gotten quite a kick out of it. It just occurred to me, as far as I can remember, entirely on an impulse.
It was expected to be one of the biggest showdowns of the year for little league fans, the annual game between Jackson Heights and Lindenhurst. The weather that day was perfect and all else went well too. Somewhere around the beginning of the third inning, though, the people in the bleachers got quite a surprise. Suddenly, from out of nowhere, a bunch of sheep started showing up. It was the oddest sight anyone could remember ever having seen in his lifetime. After only the next half hour the entire stadium was filled with all those ovine nuisances. Of course no one in his right mind could possibly have even tried to explain where they could have come from. It wasn’t a typical scene at a little league game. The youngsters, of course, being kids, all got quite a kick out of it. Their parents and other adults, though, spent all that day running around trying to notify the local policemen and other relevant authorities of the bizarre occurrence. Of course the sheep weren’t deliberately making any trouble. Everyone knows how polite and friendly sheep always are. It was just that the whole thing was as much of an inconvenience as it was a surprise. The more curious folks took advantage of the occasion to take youtube videos of it all. Inevitably the local news media were all called in to check it out. Exactly because it wasn’t even the least bit of a dangerous or scary thing people started, after a while, to take advantage of the offbeat nature of the occasion to turn it into one big party. Unfortunately, because of no one’s ever having previously heard of a sheep party in a little league stadium, people were a little confused about the necessary protocol for such a thing. Ultimately it turned out to be the most enjoyable experience anyone could remember having been through. Other than the frightfully messy aftermath-it took the cleaning crew months to get it all fixed up-everyone still members it all so very fondly.
Howard and Ethel Quackenbush were a reasonably happy well adjusted middle aged married couple from Lindenhurst, New York. They had only one very bad problem though. They were perhaps a little too concerned about their physical health. One day, after having consulted with their family physician, they made a firm commitment to a juice fast. He made them promise, for three days before, to phase out all the coffee, meat, sugar, dairy, alcohol and wheat in order to avoid bad headaches and other problems with withdrawal. He also insisted on their eating a lot more vegetables. Of course, since they thoroughly enjoyed a nice well rounded diet with a lot of meat and a wide variety of nice fattening foods, this drove them to much anxiety and frustration. During the course of the fast they drank about thirty two to ninety six ounces of juice daily and a third of the juice was vegetable juice, because of the chlorophyll in it.
Because of the overwhelmingly strict requirements of their new diet, Howard and Ethel were soon overwhelmingly frustrated to the point of major personality changes. They really started getting on each other’s nerves. They started getting a bit on the silly side too. In order to avoid any unnecessary frustration they took a vacation from work so they wouldn’t have to let any temptation from the outside world mess things up for them. While they were home they decided to watch a lot of television in order to pass the time. Eventually things started getting too far out of control.
They really let their frustration drive them crazy. After a while though, having exhausted all their temper tantrums, they decided to have a bit of fun with all the free time. It was the fourth day. They went to the nearby Barnes and Noble and bought a few copies of the old children’s show “Lamb Chop’s Play-Along”, starring puppeteer Shari Lewis. That was when things started getting so very enjoyable. They got onto their cell phones and got in touch with all their friends, especially the ones they grew up with. “Hey”, intoned each into the phone, “Come on over tonight. We’re having a party”. Of course the menu was most certainly nothing to go crazy over unfortunately. That wasn’t the point. Upon entering the house, each guest was given the appropriate party favors and told to do whatever he wanted as long as he enjoyed the juice and didn’t violate any of the dietary restrictions.
Amazingly what started out striking everyone as insane ultimately turned out to be the single nicest thing ever to have happened in the history of the neighborhood. Somehow strangers in nearby towns eventually found out about the Quackenbush’s party and eventually countless thousands of people were hanging around, trying to barge into their house, hoping to be allowed to participate. The state policemen were called out in order to regulate the traffic and crowds. It literally couldn’t be stopped no matter how hard anyone tried. Fully grown adults, each holding a large glass of cold fruit juice, were constantly singing nursery rhymes along with an old television show.
Throughout it all, Howard and Ethel gazed at each other, completely stupefied. “Hey, why didn’t we think of starting it off with a kids’ show in the first place?!”, he asked her.
It most certainly wasn’t an absolute matter of life or death. I’ve been known to get more desperately insatiably interested in many other things throughout my lifetime. A while ago, though, I promised myself that if it turned out to be so much as the least bit possible, I should really like, by the end of this year, to get a nice digital camera in order that I could start taking pictures and making videos. Last Christmas Mary Anne, Steve and the kids got me a really nice Samsung computer with Google chrome. That may not have been quite their single smartest move considering that I’ve always been quite inordinately interested in that kind of thing. Since then I’ve always really wanted to take every possible advantage of it by getting a nice camera. I’ve been looking forward to taking some especially nice pictures and videos. Over the course of the past few weeks I’ve been going to the Radio Shack on Park Avenue every once in a while to see what they have. A while ago my cousin Gary told me on the phone that Canon makes exceptionally good cameras. Yesterday I got one. The price was originally a hundred and forty dollars. The salesman said it was marked down to only a hundred dollars. Unfortunately he said the memory card that was required for it to work wouldn’t be available until tomorrow. Then I shall be all set. Knowing me I can count on being quite deliriously happy once I have everything I need. I can go down to the beach and take lots of nice pictures and videos there now that the weather is so warm. Besides that I also really want to see how it works for traveling, parties and vacations. If ever I should have been entirely unable to get one, I could very easily have gotten over it. Not counting all the extreme annoyance of the short-term disappointment, I could have gotten along quite as well as I always had so far anyway.
If there’s one thing that can compete with cold weather for the distinction of being the thing I most bitterly despise, it’s when I’m forced to stay up late at night. Of course, I arrived, quite a while ago, at the conclusion that I have all sorts of major neurotic problems about control anyway but there’s something about staying up late that tends to drive me especially crazy. Besides that I always, whether I like it or not, and whether I’m obligated or not, end up waking up obscenely early each morning. I always tell people that I haven’t gotten an entire five minutes worth of sleep since the Kennedy-Nixon debates. That may be perhaps a bit of an exaggeration but throughout at least most of my adult lifetime I always have been incapable of sleeping well at night. What make things even much worse are the facts that I have a major problem with impatience and frustration and that I get unusually tired out anyway, combined with my inability to fall asleep. Many people claim to be able to fall asleep either by reading or by watching television. Things like that never do me any good. I just like to lie in bed and wait for sleep to happen. I got to the point, quite a while ago, where I finally decided to settle for as much rest, though not necessarily sleep, as possible. Often people have told me to go to bed later than I’m used to, based on the assumption that a later bedtime will help. Having taken them up on it, I found out the hard way that I wake up with a headache if I stay up too late. For quite a few years, my cousins and I were on a bowling league with St. Jane Frances de Chantal Knights of Columbus council 6526 in Wantagh. Although it was always quite an especially enjoyable experience for me, it drove me crazy whenever the night lingered on until very late. Whenever we ended up staying in the bowling alley’s bar for an even somewhat long time I got frustrated and restless. It was even worse at the end of each season at the annual party. Those nights lasted until at least midnight and always drove me nuts. Cousins Larry, Gary and Joe enjoyed being out all night long but I was the lone voice of dissent among us all. Another example of this problem was when Mary Anne, Steve and I, along with Mark, Laura and some friends of theirs, spent two consecutive days and nights in Manhattan a few months ago. It drove me entirely out of control. Besides the fact that both days were filled with non-stop activity, neither ended until insanely late at night. I simply couldn’t handle the strain. Those were examples of nights that are filled with activity, but I can’t even try to enjoy a late night of peace and quiet. After a while all I really want to do is to go to bed, no matter how especially nice and enjoyable my circumstances are, and to get it over with. I seem to be quite good only during the daytime. In the morning, no matter how much I may dread having specifically to get up out of bed, once I’m up and taking a shower, getting ready to start my day, I can count on having all the spunk and I’m going to have, as well as quite an exceptionally charming personality. I appear to be the veritable personification of the rule about early-to-bed-and-early-to-rise. If I do things any other way I’m simply incapable of functioning.
Saturday night has always been such an exceptionally nice quiet relaxed time for me. Unlike earlier decades there’s nothing especially good to watch on television. I’ve never been in the habit of going to parties. For some reason I don’t even think I’ve been missing out on anything anyway. Although I can quite thoroughly enjoy the occasional Saturday night party-there’s no rule against inviting me to a party-my typical Saturday night is just quietly sitting around without any specific plans, simply taking each thing as it comes my way. Sometimes I watch a DVD. Everyone knows how I’ve always so thoroughly enjoyed old television shows and movies. Lately I’ve really been getting exceptionally interested in my computer too. The internet is quite a weakness of mine. As anyone can see, after having gotten to know me, I’ve always had quite an obnoxious side. On Saturday nights, though, I can be quite quiet and inconspicuous. I can take advantage of the nice relaxed quite atmosphere and circumstances by playing the guitar, drinking tea, or perhaps reading a book or periodical. Now that I have to spend so much time with Mary Anne, Steve and Bridget, they may want to do something every once in a while. I occasionally get mixed up with them for certain kinds of things. One weekend, a few months ago, Mary Anne, Steve and I, along with Mark, Laura and a few other people, even spent both Friday and Saturday in Manhattan. I’m most certainly not entirely averse to something like that. As a change of pace it’s exceptionally interesting. It would drive me nuts, though, if it ever were to happen on a regular basis. I’ve been noticing over the years that I quite enjoy an occasional trip like that. Unlike many people, though, I have absolutely no patience whatsoever with the kind of lifestyle that would involve something like that on a regular basis. I realize that there are very many people who thrive on constant activity of that nature. I’ve most certainly done my share of trying to keep up with the party animals in my crowd. It’s quite a bit more trouble than it’s worth though. Just let me have a lot of time to hang around and relax, with only occasional spurts of activity for a change of pace. That, and finishing it up with an early bedtime, can make for a fine Saturday.