Sunday, July 24, 2011

Slobberpalooza '76 Redux

In the July 10, 2011 “Humor Me” I reported on a time in which I fell asleep in a history class in high school. A person calling himself “Wheeler Wildcat” posted this on Facebook claiming to have witnessed the event. I will be making parenthetical comments.

One day in high school, during the very last period of the day, I was in my history class. We had all been given topics to study and it was now time for each of us to give an oral presentation in front of the class. I had already given my report and now I was forced to sit there and listen to person after person drone on and on about topics that they hardly knew anything about. I was really just hoping for a meteor to strike the classroom or to suddenly be consumed by a particularly fast acting strain of flesh-eating bacteria – just anything to end my suffering and boredom. (He did not like book reports. Personally, I would rather listen to a book report than be suddenly consumed by a fast acting strain of flesh-eating bacteria. That’s just me.)

Sitting to my right was my friend Alan. We took a lot of history classes together in those days. My recollection is that we had just had our tennis class together the period before. Since this was in the springtime, we were still pretty hot and tired from the tennis class as we were sitting there being subjected to the endless stream of drivel.

We were breaking the monotony of the moment by discussing Alan’s latest song parody.(I find it amusing that my song parodies would be more interesting than American History.) At that time Alan was producing parodies of popular songs that were MUCH better than anything that “Weird” Al Yankovic (this is the only Wheeler graduate from the 70's that ever spelled "weird" correctly) ever produced later on – if only Alan had known that there was a way to make a living doing that! Two of his song parodies that I remember are “There Must Be 50 Men Running for President” (a parody of Paul Simon’s “There Must Be 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover”) and “Bad Barf” (a parody of Neil Sedaka and Elton John’s “Bad Blood”). Time has dimmed my memory of the complete lyrics but I do recall the chorus of “Bad Barf”:

Bad (BAD!) Barf (BARF!)
The steak is on the floor
And what’s more than that
It’s rolling out the door!

If Alan still remembers the complete lyrics, and since Neil and Sir Elton are still living, perhaps it is not too late to get them in the studio and FINALLY lay down that track. (I was really proud of “50 Men Running For President” because I have been able to use it in every election cycle since. I’m working on next year's: “Don’t have a fit, Mitt….)

I recall that someone had finished their report and that there were a few comments from the teacher. As the next speaker started her talk I focused on her for a few moments to see if she was going to say anything interesting. She said nothing of importance so I looked back over at Alan to continue our discussion of the lyrics. However, in the brief time since we had last spoken, Alan had fallen asleep.

“Fallen Asleep” really does not adequately describe Alan’s state at that moment – Alan was basically totally comatose. He was draped over his desk with his head laying on its right side so that his face was facing me. Alan wore glasses; the force of laying on them on his right side had forced the left side of the glasses up several inches from his left ear. Thankfully Alan was not snoring although his mouth was pretty much wide open, with his lower jaw resting on the surface of his desk. Alan was completely zonked out.

I was already planning the various ways I was going to tease Alan about this when I noticed something even more remarkable – Alan had already drooled a considerable amount of saliva out of his mouth and on to his desk. In the brief few moments since we had last talked Alan had managed to create a pool of saliva that was at least eight inches in diameter – and growing. When that much saliva is involved, an amount that is clearly of Biblical proportions, you cannot merely refer to it as spit; that quantity of saliva DEMANDS respect and so must be referred to by the Biblical name of “Spittle”. Thereafter this was referred to as “The Enormous Lake of Spittle”. (At least, I'm Biblical.)

I could not imagine that a human being could produce that much saliva in such a short period of time. Even if you locked me in a room with Pamela Anderson, Scarlett Johansson, SofĂ­a Vergara, and, of course, all the women of the Wheeler High Class of 1977, it would take me at least an hour to drool that much. (I will say this: considering it is 34 years down the road, the Class of ’77 could still make you drool.) Teenagers are well known for having overactive glands – it is just that, in Alan’s case, it was his salivary glands that were raging out of control. (Great, the story of my life: overactive salivary glands.)

I am certain that if Alan’s drooling abilities were to be made known to medical science he would soon be on the cover of every medical journal in existence. I am not sure what units they use to measure the volume of saliva but I think that, if Alan’s story were to become known, soon the standard unit of salivary output would be known as The Alan. Soon the tabloids would be filled with stories like the following:

“Wetumpka, Alabama resident Hawk Flemm has a basketball-sized tumor growing on one of his salivary glands and, as a result, is drooling a Quarter of an Alan PER DAY!!! His drooling is so intense that he has to wear an adult diaper wrapped around his head just to keep from drowning any toddlers and Yorkshire Terriers who happen to be nearby!!!”

I would also guess that there is no instrument that is designed for humans that has a large enough capacity to measure Alan’s drooling ability. Somewhere, there is probably some scientist who has a government grant worth billions of dollars a year who measures the salivary output of African Bull Elephants or Blue Whales; perhaps they could somehow gather up 10 or 12 of the Elephant and Whale Slobber Measuring Devices and have enough capacity to fully measure Alan. They might possibly have to keep emptying them out just to keep up.

Over the years Alan and I have discussed who the person was whose lecture caused him to zonk out. I have a crystal clear recollection of who was speaking when I noticed he was comatose; Alan’s recollection of who put him to sleep is different. I suppose it is possible that it took a while for Alan to complete his descent into his comatose state and that one person was speaking at the beginning of that descent and another was speaking when I first noticed. I am in possession of the names of both people but I will keep those names to myself for now. (I am willing to release the name: a skinny kid that said he was from Hawaii named Barack Obama.)

In the realm of saliva, I like to think of Alan as a mythical, Babe Ruth-like figure – he is “The Eminence of Expectoration”, he is “The Pharaoh of Phlegm”, he is the “The Maharajah of Mucus” - he is “The Sultan of Slobber”. (I like "The Maharajah of Mucus".)

Saturday, July 16, 2011


I was privileged to give the Eulogy at my mother-in-law's funeral. Please allow me to share it with you. I promise the funny stuff will come back next week.

It is a testimony of Mrs. Stanley’s character to have a son-in-law give her eulogy. I have never had any issues with her. In fact, I’ve known her since I was seven years old. She was a friend of my mother. Mom used to say, “I really like Mary”-just like everyone else because she was impossible to dislike. She treated me like I was one of her own. You could not have a better mother-in-law.

When Mr. Stanley asked me to “say a few words”, I jumped at the chance. How could I not talk about a subject I know so well? Additionally, with the exception of the “Grandson-in law”, I’m the only one in the family that has any public speaking experience since I teach the 9th grade Sunday School class at Roswell Street Baptist Church. I appreciate any opportunity to speak any place where I am not the oldest one in the room.

Mary Stanley was excellent with numbers. She probably could have been an accountant. She taught Lori how to make and keep a budget. Because of that, thankfully, we have lived comfortably within our means.

She was also very good with puzzles. Up until the end she was still helping Pogie (Lori’s dad) with the crossword puzzle in the Marietta Daily Journal. One of her favorite TV shows was “Wheel of Fortune” and I have never seen anyone solve a puzzle so quickly. There would be one “M” on the board and she would say: “America, The Beautiful” or the letter “B” would appear twice on the board and she would say: “Bless the beasts and the children” and she would be right!

While Mrs. Stanley was a person of great Christian faith, she was just a little bit superstitious. When Lori and I got married, the Stanleys gave us a couch that was a sleeper-sofa. During the move to our first apartment, a box of my baseball caps (I collect baseball caps) was put on the couch. Mary had a running duck fit when she saw this box marked “baseball caps” because hats on a bed bring “bad luck”. I told Lori that it really wasn’t a bed so “bad luck” should cut us some slack. However, I did work 17 years processing health insurance claims, so she may have been right.

Sometimes she would surprise you. For those of you that do not know, Wayne Clancy (Pop) and I became friends while his grandson (whose Dad was a neighbor of mine in Beverly Hills) and Ben played football together. We would sit and watch the practices and this led Pop to joining our church and soon he became friends with Lori’s parents.

One time, Lori’s parents had us and Pop over for an after church meal. As often the case with older people, the conversation began centering around what they did “in the old days”. Out of the blue, Mary said, “Wayne, Wayne. Did you ever smoke rabbit tobacco? Now that was a good smoke!”

For Mrs. Stanley, family was the most important thing. When I informed her that I was going to marry Lori, she told me: “Alan, never ever do anything that would come between Lori and her family”. I’m happy to say that I haven’t.

Incidentally, she loved our cat, Gracie. Gracie is your basic house cat that we got Ben when he was in First Grade and here he is a Junior in college and she is still with us. For some reason, Lori began giving Mary cards and presents from Gracie. Mary thought this was so funny and looked forward to her “Gracie” cards. (By the way, Brown children, a couple of Christmases ago, you got presents from Gracie. You know that was from us..right? Gracie does not have any income.) Last week was Mary’s final birthday and we took Gracie to see her along with a birthday card from Gracie.

The last year of Mrs.Stanley’s life was very difficult. First, Mr. Stanley was for time in the hospital in ICU. In October, she suffered stroke while pulling weeds, fell and broke a rib. This led to a hospitalization which foreshadowed the future because she became very confused. Afterward, she was so worried that she might have done something embarrassing or said some inappropriate. She hadn’t.

After this hospitalization, we had to explain to her that Lori has been diagnosed with an Invasive Ductal Carcinoma tumor and would need surgery. As Lori’s surgery approached, Mr.Stanley had to be place back into the hospital. All this time, Mrs. Stanley was in great physical pain due to various ailments. A few days after Lori’s last radiation treatment, Mrs. Stanley went into the hospital for the emergency surgery from which she would never recover.

Mary loved her friends. She loved all of the people at the East Marietta Christian Church, Lost Mountain Christian Church, and Roswell Street Baptist Church. She loved to “tell the old, old story of Jesus and his love”. Then the “some sweet day” she finally sang that “song of victory”.

Last night, after we left visitation, Lori commented that she couldn’t believe her mom was gone. We were all blessed to have Mrs. Stanley around as long was we did. 82 years is nothing to sneeze at. Even though she is gone, I can look at all of her children, grandchildren, and now, great grandchildren and see her qualities and attributes. It reminds me of a song that said: “I’ll see you in the skies above, in the tall grass, in the ones I love”. Mary Stanley left a legacy of kindness and faith. We would all be better to have people see that in us.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Slobberpalooza '76

A recap of another event that explains why I’ve never been on the cover of People magazine.

There are many embarrassing things that can happen to a person. Fortunately for you most of them have happened to me. Of course, most of these happened in high school, a time which you are keenly aware of being embarrassed.

It was the spring of my junior year, 1976, at Wheeler High School. At that time in history, this was THE school in Cobb County, mainly because we didn’t have a Bass Fishing team. We were called names by all of the other high schools, but we didn’t care. We were special and we knew it.

My friend Moody (see Humor Me: Bogus Bells 6/8/11) and I had two classes together. The first was a tennis class taught by the inappropriately named Coach Ham. Coach Ham may have been 4’9” and may have weighed 90 pounds. This class had a bunch of other goofballs in it. Needless to say, she lost control of this class quickly and spent the valuable class time running around telling us to “Quit it!”

One of the things she wanted us to quit was an awful habit we had of throwing a tennis ball at the gut (or the area below the gut) of whichever friend was beginning to serve to his opponent. Pretty low brow stuff and it was fun, as we used to say back then, as all get out.

The class after tennis was American History (1932-present) taught by the lovely Kitty Love.

Miss Love ( sounds like the name of one of those detective movies of the 70’s) was a hip young teacher. She seemed to like and enjoy the students, although I remember her saying “Ya’ll are just awful, just awful” almost every day of the class.

In one of those modern education moves, she assigned us an “Oral Book Report”. We had to actually READ A BOOK and then stand in front of the class and report about it.

I remember my book: The Breech of Faith: The Fall of Richard Nixon by Theodore H. White. It wasn’t one of Theodore’s best efforts. White wrote a dull and dry book because for all of its importance, Watergate did not have any sex, drugs, or rock and roll. It had some cuss words, but that was about it.

However, everyone else in the class read the book The Day of The Jackal which was about a guy that was trying to assassinate Charles de Gaulle, who I can guarantee you that most of the people in the class thought was the bassist for Uriah Heep.

One day, after an incredible Tennis class in which we did something closely resembling the sport, I sat in Miss Love’s American History class prepared for another round of oral book reports on the The Day Of The Jackal. This particular class room was on the western side of the building and was, at this time of day, nice and toasty.

There are conflicting opinions as to whose The Day Of The Jackal report I fell asleep in. I had contracted a terrible case of adolescent narcolepsy. Then I did the second most embarrassing thing you can do while asleep: I drooled.

(To this day, I wonder what that poor student was thinking, while giving an oral book report, seeing another student asleep, mouth open and slobbering)

When I awoke up, I looked down at my desk there was a literal pool of saliva (Pool of Saliva sounds like a good name for a band). In 70’s lingo, I freaked out.

One of the pleasant aspects of my high school career is that most of my class was not your stereotypical high schoolers. The Jocks got along with the Nerds and everybody loved the Stoners. With the exception of one person: the girl who sat in the desk across from mine. This young lady based a young man’s worth by his position on the Football team. It wasn’t good enough to be second string for her. For some reason, a boy that was short, thin, with Coke bottle glasses, greasy hair, bad teeth, pimples and the quaff of B.O. didn’t turn her on (Go figure). If she saw “Lake Manis” as it came to be known, she would make a scene like no other and I would probably never get to kiss a girl.

Quietly I got out a couple of pieces of notebook paper and wiped up the pool of DNA. I thought I had gotten away with the crime until I heard Moody say, “Good Job”.

It turns out Moody was basically the only person that noticed my drooling and my life was not ruined by embarrassment. I’m still short, but wear contacts lenses and a good bit of cologne. For some reason, I still have pimples. By the way, I have kissed a girl-Yeah come on!

All that remains is this: to whoever was giving the book report on The Day of The Jackal that day, it was not you. I’m sure you worked hard on the report and I hope you got a good grade. I feel awful about it, just awful.