Saturday, December 02, 2006

First Comes The Yard Sale, Then Comes The Delousing...

A few years ago, I found myself possessed of way too much stuff. I made an attempt to deliver it to the local GoodIntentions and was greeted frostily by a drop-off manager who had just been snookered into taking fifteen liquor boxes of garbage from some yuppie in an Escalade. Not nice. But still, my boxes and bags were full of clothes, shoes, books, records, and all kinds of household sundry-type stuff that people dig at the GoodIntentions. The Drop-Off Brahmin sniffed at my boxes and bags, declared the two he'd looked through acceptable and then snapped his fingers so two of his eunuchs could carry them into the store. Cheered by the approval, I started to unload the rest of my stuff.

"Wait just a minute, Missy! I have to look through those, too."

"Every one of them?" I was incredulous.

He stared at me and didn't so much as twitch when a fly landed on top of his forehead. Now, that was zen. It was also very unfortunate because I had to be somewhere very soon and had no time for each bag to be inspected and approved. I offered to leave everything there and they could throw away what they didn't want. No dice. So, I went back home with everything minus the two bags of stuff they'd taken in and got on with my day.

When Big Gay Kevin suggested a garage sale, it seemed like a good idea. People would get to dig for cheap thrills and I could pick up a little money. It sounded like a plan to me and settled on the following Saturday.

The Friday before, I made some signs and went to the intersections closest to my house to put them up. As I was putting up my last sign, an older man pulled up to read it. A lot of people had been doing that and then pulling away, sometimes shouting a cheery "See ya tomorrow!" so I didn't think much of it.

"You got computers?" he asked.

"No," I said, "It's mostly clothes, books, some movies and music and small household stuff."

"Well, lemme go see what you got."

I was taken by surprise by this. "You mean right now?"

He chuffed and said, "Well, yeah. I'll follow you home and check out your stuff."

Two things came to mind: everything to be sold was in a box or a bag to be put out tomorrow and this guy gave me the creeps.

"Ah no." I said "Thanks, but I've got some stuff to do so it isn't a good time. You're welcome to come tomorrow when I've got everything out."

"I won't come tomorrow." He said in an odd challenging way that I couldn't place at first, but realized that it was the same tone my nephew used when he would tell me I was no longer the coolest aunt ever for not getting him a Slurpee AND Angry Angry Beavers Bubblegum Cards.

"Oh, well." I said and gathered my tools and got into my car and drove away.

The hours on the sign said the sale lasted from 8 to 2. At Kevin's behest, I added "No Earlybirds Please!".

At a quarter to six the next morning, I went out to get my paper and saw a van with Indiana tags parked in my driveway. A short, sparkplug-shaped woman wearing an "I Heart eBay" shirt was trying to force open my garage door.

"May I help you?" I asked. For those of you not familiar with Tennessee manners and mores, "May I help you?" means "I don't know you, you're scaring me, and I'm about to get my big strappin' male cousins to escort you out of my personal space."

"You need to let me in so I can look at your stuff."

I was a hardened pro by now.

"No can do!" I said breezily, "The sale starts at eight. You're welcome to come back then."

"I won't come back!" she snapped. I shrugged and went back to my porch.

She glared at me and bellowed at the van, "Beverly! Start the van! We're leaving NOW!"

I saw the van lurch to the right as the sparkplug climbed into the van and poor, put upon Beverly, who was saddled the double challenges of marriage to the sparkplug and being given a woman's name, pulled away. Sparkplug rolled down her window and barked, "I'm not coming baaaaack!" as they rolled down the street.

Oh, but she did come back. And so did the creepy guy from the day before. And so did a number of other very original souls who I had no idea lived in my part of the state. I also got to know my neighbors better, made a little money and got the phone number of a man who wanted to be called if my neutered male dog ever had puppies.

copyright 2006 Jas Faulkner

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Welcome to my Organ Recital

This is yet another post about woman stuff, so if you're male and reading this, you might want to stop right now and find something else to read. Why not take a look at Keith Olbermann's Countdown site ? Trust me, you'll be glad you did.

Okay, here's the thing. I went to Dr. Al Gore for my annual checkup. His real name isn't Al Gore, but he looks so much like our former Vice President that I've wondered if they're kin. To his credit, he has never rolled his eyes and sighed at me. This is no mean feat since he's been my doctor since 1986. He also managed not to make a locked box joke during my first pelvic exam, for which he deserves credit. But I'm digressing...

During this visit, I asked him about the absolute lowest age someone could reasonably expect to start menopause. (You see why I sent the guys over to Olbermann's site? They should be thanking me.) There's a good reason for this. I was sure I was going through menopause in 2000. I had a job where I had to do mulitple things like run a bitchy meme and come up with five to six fresh political jokes five days a week and was also told that the gig would run through the end of the election. Well, we all know how that worked out. Sometime around September, I stopped menstruating. I also stopped eating regularly and sleep became a hobby to be revisited whenever I could remember it. I thought it was due to me running out of eggs. Dr. Gore thought it was the stress of slipping into a persona that just wasn't me to entertain the masses and trying to find something funny about an election season that could have been scripted by Mencken on crank. When I when I went back to working with shelter kids at the first of the year and started merrily cycling, eating and sleeping again, we concluded that he was right. Score points for him for not being insufferable about it. Digressing again...

So I asked him about the Big M for real this time and he told me it was still a way off but that I needed to consider kegeling because the continual seasonal coughing thing I do this time of the year could cause the muscles that hold my stuff in to weaken. What? WHAT? I mean, I've joked about coughing up a lung or leaning over and feeling one of my eyes pop out, but now there's the very real possibility that I could cough and push out my uterus? What the...? Oh, that's just gross.

He then wrote down a URL for me to get instructions on how to kegel and blithely moved on to other topics while my mind was racing about what would happen if I dropped my freaking uterus. I was imagining waking up to find a collection of internal organs I had kicked to the foot of the bed in the night or worse, being in line at the bank or post office, coughing hard and getting a pantsfull of what should have remained inside of my body.

I let this anxiety get to me for about a week and finally called him to ask if there was anything else I could do to keep those muscles toned.

"It's not a big deal. You're getting a little older and it's time you paid more attention to details like that. Did you think your bladder was going to shoot out the next time you coughed?" he chuckled. He. CHUCKLED!

I wanted to say, "Yes, Dr. Gore, it has worried me for some time and when I got up to let the dog out to pee, my uterus just fell right the heck out. I've got it sitting here on a salad plate. Should I put it in a baggie of milk and bring it to you?"

What I said was, "Oh, no. That's just silly. Ha ha! Just doing a follow up."

"Well, good. Say hi to your mom for me!"

So that was that.

I'm not going to squeeze everything out like a cannoli in a kid's fist and life is good. Now I'm going to go see what Keith Olbermann has to say.



copyright 2006 Jas Faulkner

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Yeah, I'm the Freakin' Lorax...Siddown!

Most of the time I've really loved living in Nashville, mainly because it's a green, pretty city. To be accurate, I actually live in what used to be a small burb just outside of Davidson County whose main drag consisted of an Eisenhower-era Rexall, Nadine's Taxidermy and a family-owned hardware store that looked like a set piece from a community production of "The Music Man". Then the population started booming and quite frankly, a newcomer would be hard pressed to tell my once-little town from Franklin or Gallatin or Murfreesboro. Don't get me wrong, I think change and growth can be good things, but I am concerned about the effect this is having on indigenous flora and fauna.

Critters used to be abundant and there was a sort of respect and forebearance between the animals who called this part of Tennessee home and the bipeds who demanded to drive on it. It wasn't uncommon to see foxes, raccoons, muskrats and possums wandering around Gallatin Road when I came home after a long, late working night at the Opry. Herds of deer roamed the farms and could be seen running through the trees at the Army C of E Dam and Marina. Now those are rare sights. Even rarer are some of the plants that used to grow by the bushel in the forests and fields around here.

I'm starting to think that the credo for Tennessee has gone from "The Volunteer State" to "Ooh lookie! A tree! Let's kill it!"

This is going to sound really dumb, but one of the things that has bothered me the most about the building boom is how it is affecting the turtles and tortoises around here. There used to be more wetlands and there were plenty of snappers and loggerheads paddling their way through the cattails. They're interesting to watch and good for keeping the insect population in check. I'm sure there are still some around, but fewer wetlands mean fewer turtles and that's a shame.

Tortoises are a different story. There seem to be plenty of them, at least for now, but they have no place to go. When the weather changes you can see many of them squashed on the road as they wander around looking for food. The thing about tortoises is that they tend to stay on the same square acre or so their whole lives. When they get a mind to go in a direction, they keep going every time you set one down no matter how many times you interrupt his progress. So if a tortie thinks there's food across the street, he's gonna go and there's really nothing you can do unless you want to pick him up, carry him on across the street and hope he doesn't get confused and walk back into traffic. You can't relocate a tortoise to a new, quieter place and expect him to be happy. If he can, he'll meander back home. I know this from way too much firsthand experience. I've also lost a few perfectly good shoes that landed in the beds of pickup trucks driven by rednecks who swerved to hit the tortoise I'd just tried to keep out of traffic. I'm not proud of that.

I'm also not proud of the fact that I once attempted to use tears to keep a Metro Nashville police officer from writing me a ticket when I was stopped in the median just past a busier part of Gallatin Road to assist a tortoise. Mama didn't raise me to act that way, but at the time, I didn't have a choice.

I saw the tortie, pulled into the median and picked it up. Okay, I took a minute to pet it and talk to it. It was enough time for me to get careless about how long I was there and the next thing I knew, flashing blue lights. It was Metro. Crap. The cop strode around my car and started to tell me I needed to put my hood up. Then he saw the tortoise.

"Lady?" he said

Oh crap oh crap oh crap. I could not afford a ticket. I worked up a quiver in my voice and said, "I'm really really sorry. I'll move my car. I was driving by and he was starting to go across the street and turtles are really nice and they don't hurt anybody. See?"

I held up the tortoise for him to see and it responded to my call to bond with nature by hissing, pulling into its shell and peeing down my arm. (There has been some argument as to whether tortoises pee. This one did. Or if it wasn't pee, I don't want to know what it was...)

The policeman sighed, told me to take my turtle and please move my car or I would be towed. I thanked him profusely, offered to let him pet the tortoise (he declined) and drove to the shoulder so I could release him into the field next to the road and watch to see that he didn't wander back into traffic and get smashed.

So, where ever you are Mister Tortoise, I hope you had a good life and thank you Mister Metro Police Officer for either being nice enough to let me move the tortoise or afraid enough of the crazy hippie lady to let me do my thing.


A Shame-Faced Jas

copyright 2006 Jas Faulkner

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Studies Show That Southern Women Really Are As Mean As Snakes

There's this misapprehension everyone seems to have that Southern Women are docile creatures with big hair and Daddy issues who need nothing more than an endless diet of frou frou and a fainting couch. Did I mention that we all grew up wanting to marry our horses or Atticus Finch? Well.

I will cop to having big hair and quite frankly, I've always looked for the same qualities in a man that I could find in my late, much beloved horse. But a fainting couch? Frou frou? Most of us are more like Ellie Mae Clampett in spirit than Scarlett O'Hara. Think about it. Ellie Mae got to climb trees and hang out with all those cool critters by the cee-ment pond. What did Scarlett O'Hara ever do other than throw hissy fits, tease those pitifully inbed Tarleton twins and pine after that meally-mouthed Ashley Wilkes? I would go so far as to say - Gentlemen, would y'all please go into the other room and see what's on ESPN? Thank you. - I would go so far as to say that Ms. Scarlett was stuck in pre-sexual adolescence and was probably deathly afraid of orgasms, bless her heart.

Beautiful Alice would probably disagree on the grounds that she loves Scarlett. In fact when we were in college, there was a job announcement that got passed around asking for candidates to assist the docents at the Margaret Mitchell house for the summer. The flyer mentioned that the docents were actors who dressed as characters from "Gone With the Wind."

"So that means that someone down there is pretending to be Scarlett?" Alice stared incredulously at the flyer.

"I guess so," I said.

"But I'm Scarlett." she said in a deadly quiet tone that made one of our more Indiana Jonesish classmates scoot away from her.

"Honey," I said, "You're Alice and you're here in Kentucky. That girl was probably born and raised in Georgia."

"Hunh." She said. "Well, I'm just going to have to go to Atlanta and jerk somebody baldheaded."

I have to admit that I don't get that way unless someone wants to mess with my dog, my family, my friends or anybody whose work I like.

One of my ex-boyfriends will attest to the last item on that list. We were at The Beale Street Blues Festival when some intoxicated yuppies started screaming "You're fat!" at Etta James. ExBoyfriend Who Looked Like Liev Schriber pinned my arms and shushed me until a retinue of bikers a couple of rows ahead of us made their way back to the yuppies in an outreach effort towards peace, understanding and enhanced music appreciation.

The bottom line is that we're aware of our humanistic connections with each other and we're not afraid to use them. Say Tom Stoppard is a linguistic arriviste and I'll get my big, strappin' boy cousins after you. Make fun of my dog or Kevin or Alice and we're going to strip to the waist and duke it out in the parking lot. Did you say "Your Mama"? Do you see this Mephistophelean death stare? And we don't end our sentences with prepositions, Bitch.

copyright 2006 Jas Faulkner

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Bunkered in on De Debbil's Night

It drizzled rain all night, so trick or treaters were sparse. I called upon my rights as a Phlegmsponge-American to pass on the fun this year. We kept the lights off in the front of the house and basked it the blue glow of scary movies.

I figured it would be a quiet evening and nobody was really missing out, so the guilt I'd experienced that morning for not setting up The Punkin Patch* pretty much went away. Around 6:45, O'Neill went a little bonkers. I knew the preteen across the street was going all out and figured he could hear them. When he kept barking I peeked out the front window to see two sets of parents and about five kids standing in my driveway. The parents were carrying those heavy-duty lanterns most people use for camping or power outages. I shrugged and went back into the living room, assuming they would eventually figure out that we weren't participating this year and move on to houses that were lit, decorated and had people standing on the porch with bowls of goodies.

You know what happens when people assume. A minute after I sat back down, everyone in the room jumped out of their skin as bright lights flashed into the living room windows and multiple fists banged on the locked storm door as all five of those kids screamed "Trick or Treat!" over and over. A quick straw poll by the BFF, his boyfriend and co-BFF, my mother and the dog concluded that since I was the sickest, sounded like Regan from "The Exorcist" and looked like Binkley from Bloom County, I was the best choice to go to the door.

I opened the wooden door, not wanting to open the glass door and thus spread my flu-cooties and the munchkins began pawing and clamoring. One of the dads pointed to the handle of the storm door and urged me to open it. I shook my head.

"I have the flu." I croaked. The fact is, I could have told him I was a pomegranate or that I was Inigo Montoya. It wouldn't have mattered. When you can't talk, people just parse whatever you struggle to utter into whatever it is they want to hear and move on.

"Aren't you going to decorate?" he bellowed at the door. We always take pictures of our kids here." He stared expectantly as the fruit of his loins and their little friends continued to mill around his legs and squeak their palms against the glass in vain hope that I would feed them.

I meant to tell him that I was really sorry, but I had the flu and given the wet, nasty state of things, it just wasn't happening this year. What he probably heard was: "Hello! My name is Inigo Montoya! You killed my father. Prepare to die!"

"Whut?" he bellowed.

"I'm sorry, I really need to go," I croaked.

"WHUT?" he bellowed again.

One of the smaller kids started licking the storm door where my dog's nose was pressed against it on the opposite side.

"Dude. When was the last time you fed your kids?"


I finally mimed and croaked, "I'm sorry. Cough cough sick here. Bye bye." and shut the door as a couple of kids hollered "Bye bye sick lady!"

They trooped away as Big Gay Kevin and my Mom helpfully sang "You're a Mean One, Mister Grinch".

I sank gratefully onto the couch and watched what was left of the movie. Thirty minutes later there was another knock at the door. It was a pair of Jehovah's Witnesses. I thanked them through the storm door and told them I was pretty happy with my own set of beliefs, but thanks for dropping by. One of the ladies leaned forward.

"Did you say you were Inigo Montoya?"

I sighed, waved bye and headed back to the couch. Before I could even sit down there was another knock at the door. It was someone from the local Seventh Day Adventist outreach group. They were canvassing the neighborhood to let everyone know about their open house/vegan workshop and taste-in. I thanked them and closed the door.

"There had better not be anyone else on this porch tonight", I said as I closed the door, forgetting to turn off the porch light. Unbeknownst to me, the porch stayed lit and not another soul knocked.

*The Punkin Patch is a tradition I've kept for quite a few years. I have approximately 55 of those fiberglass fake jack-o-lanterns that I've rescued from trash heaps, garage sales, thrift stores and the like and a number of other cute, tot-friendly decorations. My entire front yard is then covered in strings of green lights, jack-o-lanterns and other cute stuff. It was intended as a non-scary place for little kids to get bottles of bubble stuff and enjoy halloween. That way, parents could bypass the more nightmare-inducing yards featuring Jason, Freddy Krueger, etc and the older kids could have their fun with each other and everybody would be happy. Or something like that.

copyright 2006 Jas Faulkner

Friday, October 13, 2006

Think Pink!

I'm trying to find a delicate way to talk about this and words are failing me.

Oh, what the hell.

This is a blog post about tits. Gentlemen, I love you dearly and you gladden my black little heart and all, but hey, you're excused for the remainder of this post.


Go see if ESPN Classic has a good movie on. (And for goodness' sake, don't watch "Ole Yeller"!)

Now, where was I? Tits. Okay, we all have two of them. Well, most of us have two of them. And a lot of the time, especially if we're not particularly touchy feelie with ourselves or someone else, it's easy for stuff to go undetected.

That's why I wanted to talk to you about mammograms and the BSE or Breast Self Exam. If you are 40 or over, you need to be getting a mammogram once every one to two years. The BSE is something we need to be doing at least once a month. You can download and print an instruction card from the Susan G. Komen website here. It's easy! You can even do it in the privacy of your own shower. Hey, how often is it that the key to your peace of mind about anything is right there in your hand?

Okay, while we're on the subject of getting to second base with ourselves...well, yeah, your husband or boyfriend or girlfriend could help you, but they need to read the card you're going to print out so they know what they're doing. Speaking of boyfriends and husbands, it's much a rarer thing, but they can get breast cancer, too.

The scary thing about male breast cancer is that with the exception of Fabio's, most moobs (man-boobs, Mom) are going to be much smaller than our boobs; so cancer can spread to the chest wall more quickly. Early detection is pretty important for them, too. Note any changes in the chest area including lumps, skin dimpling, puckering or nipple changes. (Why do men even have nipples?)

Want to learn more? Visit The Komen Foundation's website at . You'll find all kinds of useful information about breast cancer dectection and treatment. There is also a wealth of information about ways to support agencies that are working to eradicate Breast Cancer.

And by the way...October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. You might have noticed that some of your favorite retailers and products are sporting pink ribbon logos or pink packaging right now. Those aren't Easter leftovers. They're special products indicating that a portion of the proceeds from the sale of that item will go toward funding for breast cancer research and awareness education. So if you're deciding which item to buy, the choice is easy. For the month of October, do the right thing and Think Pink!



copyright 2006 Jas Faulkner

Monday, October 02, 2006

Curbed Service

Please bear with me because I'm going to get on my soapbox for a paragraph. Summer is nearly over and many regions in the US are experiencing slightly cooler weather. It's very tempting to load your best four-legged friends into the car when you head out for errands. What a lot of people don't realize is that it's still pretty warm and your pup could get mighty uncomfortable waiting for you as the sun hits those windows and windshields and heats up the inside of your car. So please think twice and leave your bud at home and maybe bring them a nice organic biscuit or something.

Now, having said that, I've been subjected to two instances of well-intentioned people who just wanted to be sure that I wasn't leaving some creature in my car to roast. Fortunately, it wasn't the case either time, but they were not to be deterred. I salute them and offer their acts of heroism up for your amusement.

The first happened many years ago. My nephew, SproutBoy, was just a tot and had a stuffed platypus that he adored because it was colored just like the shih tzu who owned me at the time. PlattyBooger's permanent place soon became the place next to Sproutie's car seat. I would often forget it was back there until someone asked me about the gray and white fuzz ball in the back seat.

So it's late spring and it's kind of warm. I'm in a hurry to get two boxes of juice pops for the kids we would be subjecting to adventure-based therapy, so I was trying to get out of the car and sprint into the store when the woman loading her groceries in the car next to mine stopped me before I could get too far.

"Don't you think you should at least crack your windows open a little?" she asked.

"Oh, I'm only going to be in there for a minute." I gave a goofy sweeping gesture with my hands that I hoped she would take to mean that I wanted her to let me by.

She took a deep breath and then her lips disappeared.

"It's hot in that car." she barked at me.

"I really appreciate your concern but my windshield isn't going to crack. We're just barely into th 80s tempwise."

She strode to my car and tapped on the back driver's side window.

"What about this?" she snapped.

"What?" I leaned over to see what was upsetting her and it dawned on me that she thought Plattybooger was a live animal.

"Oh! It won't feel a thing!" I chuckled and started to walk away.

She drew a quivering breath and shouted at me "HOW can you be so heartless?"

"Ma'am," I said, "Look. It's not alive" I leaned over and tapped the glass. Platty didn't move.

"It's DEAD!" She began to cry.

A bag boy walked up to see if everything was okay.

"It's dead!" She said again, glaring at me accusingly.

"It's polyester!" I said. I opened the door and took Plattybooger and held it up for her to see, wiggling his pink felt beak and feet at her.

The bag boy blinked at me. "You mean to tell me you're leaving a stuffed platypus in your car with no water and the windows rolled up in 80 degree weather?"

The woman shook her head. "I keep trying to tell her..."

I'd had enough. "I'm going in. The two of you can sort this out any way you want to."

It wouldn't have surprised me in the least if I'd come back to find the woman had opened a carton of milk and a bag of Oreos and was having morning snacks with the bagboy and Plattybooger. She was gone. No one had smashed in a window, but I must have forgotten to lock the back door because Platty was sitting upright with a bottle of water between his front flippers. That'll teach me.

Okay, so what are the odds of coming across similarly inclined but well-intentioned loonies? It was almost ten years later. I had retrieved my dog, a large Old English Sheepdog mix, from his spa day at the groomer's and stopped at a Mexican place to pick up the dinner order I'd called in.

Because I knew it would only take me a few steps and as many minutes to get dinner, I turned up the AC, cracked one back wondow about six inches so he could poke out his snoot and sniff around, clipped off the door key and locked the doors. I was in there maybe three to five minutes when the couple who had been ahead of me in line came back to inform me my dog was shut in a car in the heat. I assured them that it was much cooler in the car than it was in the restaurant and stayed where I was. They left in a huff and then returned madder a couple of minutes later while the counter guy was ringing me up.

"He growled at us! We were trying to help him and he growled at us." The girl looked very angry and a bit shaken.

It wasn't like him to growl at anybody. Then the boy spoke and cleared everything up.

"And he took our tacos."

What? I went outside to find O'Neill still in air conditioned comfort, happily tearing into a bag of tacos.

"Every time we reach in, he growls at us." The girl complained.

"He thinks you're going to take his tacos." I said.

"They're OUR tacos!" The boy corrected me.

"He did leave you a couple." I said. There were a two tacos still in their wrappers on the ground next to a piece of the bag O'Neill hadn't managed to pull into the car when they were probably trying to "liberate" him.

They snatched up their tacos and went back into the restaurant. I saw them point at O'Neill and me as they talked and then I saw the counter guy laugh. Who knows? Maybe they entertained him sufficiently that he comped them some more tacos.

My point, and I do have one, is that it's always a good idea to speak up if you think an animal is in danger. However, use some common sense. The dinner (and dignity) you save may be your own.

copyright 2006 Jas Faulkner

Finding Jesus, Seeing Buddha in the Road and Getting Lost With Chet

I was sitting in the backyard with Legba. It was late and we were enjoying what was probably one of the last remaining nights of the year when everything was still lush and yet the weather wasn't unbearably hot.

A small, squat woman leaned over my gate and waved.

"Yoohoo! Hellooo!"

I waved and then turned back to Legba. He was about to tell me the truth about Robert Johnson and I didn't want to ruin the moment.

"Uh, hi! Hello? Can we talk for a minute?"

Legba rolled his eyes, sipped the lemonade I'd made for him and stared off into the distance. I sighed and got up from table.

As I approached the gate, the woman fidgeted and wiggled like a happy, fat scottie.

"Can I help you?" I asked.

"No." she said, using the same tone of voice my dentist's assistant uses just before she's about to do something she knows will hurt like a bitch. "I'm here to help YOU. Let me ask you this. Have you found Jesus?"

Legba dropped his cool act and looked genuinely startled.

"Crap." He said "You mean the Ramirez kid is missing? He's only three. Maybe we should call the police."

The lady cleared her throat loudly.

"My dear sir," she intoned, "I assure you that Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is not a small Mexican child."

Legba drained his glass and shook his head.

"Sweet Jas," he said as he got up and appraoched the gate, "Given the sudden change in the barometric pressure, the next one is gonna have to be a bit harder."

I took his glass with every intention of filling it with lemonade and a shot of Lynchburg's finest, but I also didn't want to miss a word of the exchange that was sure to follow.

"Now why is it, my dear lady, that you don't think Jesus could be a small Mexican boy? What does Jesus look like? I need something to go on if I'm going to go looking for him."

Legba cocked his head to the side and waited for the squatty woman to respond. She patted her lips with two fingers and cleared her throat.

"Well, I ah, didn't actually mean for you to go looking for Jesus."

"Why not? You asked us if we'd found him. Is he lost or not? And if he is lost, how does a grown man get that way in this day and age unless he's Chet Baker?"

"I think you might have misunderstood..."

"You're about to tell me some little white man named Jesus is lost? In Tennessee? Jas, are you listening to this?"

I smiled reassuringly at the lady. She smiled back at me, hopeful that she had an ally.

"Ma'am?" I said.

"Yes?" She was almost breathless.

"Have you checked in Rhea County?"

"Rhea County?"

"Yeah. It's in East Tennessee, at the foot of the Cumberlands. Pretty country. They had the Scopes Trial there. Now there are a hand full of churches and a Bible college and the home base of some organization that wants people to remember Tennessee's Biblical heritage, which is really kind of funny, because I've read the Bible cover to cover and I've never seen Tennessee mentioned anywhere."

Legba glared at me.

"Girl stop the stupid before you have to see a grown man cry."

"I'm just saying it makes more sense for Jesus to want to be around his people. You see what I'm saying?"

Legba muttered something I didn't quite catch and the lady reached over the fence to touch my arm.

"Are you a Christian?"

Marc Cohen might have sang "Ma'am, I am tonight." but all I could manage was a cheery "No ma'am. I'm Buddhist. I follow the teachings of Buddha. Have you seen him lately?"

"Buddha?" She looked very confused.

"I'll bite," said Legba, "What does Buddha look like?"

There are quite a few fat, cheerful bald guys wandering around. It would be a pity to have their moods ruined by this lady. So I lied.

"What does Buddha look like? Well. He looks like Keanu Reeves."

Legba spluttered and walked back to his lawn chair. The lady looked very distressed and backed away.

"I need to go," she choked out,"But thanks for the chat."

I went in and got Legba a fresh lemonade that would hopefully carry enough kick to loosen up his tongue.

"Keanu Reeves." He snorted. "That little cocksmoker doesn't look a thing like Keanu Reeves. Danny DeVito maybe. Is this strong?" He took a sip. "Oh yes it is. Now where was I?"

"Robert Johnson."

"Yeah, yeah. I met Robert Johnson one night when that little fool was trying to hitchhike to Memphis..."

copyright 2006 Jas Faulkner

Friday, September 22, 2006

Tell Me What's On Your Transcript, And I'll Bet Good Money You Didn't Go To My Alma Mater

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Somewhere there is someone who has filled out the little slip of paper required to get a transcript, included all of the dates of attendance, name, s.s.n., d.o.b., m.o.u.s.e., included the appropriate funds and their records were shipped toot sweet to the institution of their choice and they went on their merry way and everyone was happy and there were kittens and puppies and sunshine and rainbows and they ate Cherry Garcia until they threw up.

That never happens to me.

I blame myself for a lot of this. You see, I would decide to go to college for all the wrong reasons, be incredibly miserable for a while, drop out and then go back thinking I'd surely grown up enough to get over the desire to be a cowgirl or an astronaut and just get on with my life. Being smart doesn't help. My interests and focus were all over the place and my transcipts look like someone put clothes on a bonobo, gave them a backpack full of textbooks and the keys to a dorm room and sent them school for a few months at a time. Was that really me? Alas, yes. So I can't blame anyone for losing a semester or two when they've had the sorry job of collating all of those lovingly hammered dot-matrix sheets that are supposed to represent my misspent youth. But still... That's my youth they're messing with. They could be a little more careful.

This morning, I had to straighten out a situation with Northwest Mississippi Junior College. I went there because they gave me a full ride marching band scholarship to play the cymbals. No, I'm not making this up.

The thought of dialling Senatobia made me wish I knew someone who could get me a tab of acid. Okay, that's a bit harsh. I'm a one-beer drunk (which also means I was really bad at being an Episcopalian) so maybe I should have chewed on a couple of baby aspirins and leathered up. You see, a few years ago, I was desperate to make everyone happy and applied to law school.* When I requested transcripts from Northwest Mississippi, they were convinced I wanted to go to school in Senatobia and informed me I had to either finish high school or send them proof of graduation.

"I just want my records sent to Our Lady of Perpetual Chagrin School of Law for Wayward Girls. I've sent you the information and the money already."

"But I don't see anything here about your high school..."

"You don't NEED my high school information. You're sending records OUT, not processing me IN. Please, just send my transcripts."

"Young lady, do you want to go to college?"

"Ma'am, I've been to college. I have a degree-"

"Oh, really? What's your degree in?"


"What's that?"

Oh, hell. Ask any anthropologist to define anthropology and they'll either change the subject, tell you they don't know or give you a list of definitions to pick from.

"It's monkeys and dead people," I said.

"Do your parents know you're doing that?"

"Ma'am please, please, please, I beg of you. Just send my records to Our Lady of Perpetual Chagrin School of Law for Wayward Girls."

"I'll have to check with my supervisor."

They took all of the info again and then called me back thirty minutes later to say they'd found all of me. Thank. God.

One down, three to go. The most potentially worrisome was my alma mater, Western Kentucky. It's not that I've had any real problems with them as an alumnus. It's just that the last semester before I graduated, something happened that shook my faith in their administrative staff.

Someone from the records office who does graduation review took a look at all of my transcripts and decided, two weeks shy of graduation, to call me and let me know that I needed two PE classes and a speech class before they'd let me graduate. I had majored in theatre most of the time I was at my previous school in Memphis and had tons of dance hours, stage combat and juggling as well as the aforementioned semesters in marching band. She finally relented and allowed for the prancing and crashing. But what about the speech class?

"I'm two credits shy of a theatre degree from Memphis. You mean to tell me nothing on that transcript would qualify as a speech class?"

"I don't see anything on here actually called speech. Just being in the speech and theatre department doesn't count."

I wracked my brains trying to remember what Memphis State called their speech classes for majors. I knew there was one that had the unfortunate abbreviation of anal-oral comm., but that wasn't it. Then I remembered taking a class from a very funny, smart woman who had gotten her start writing speeches for Gerald Ford. Everything came back but the actual name of the class.

"Is there anything from that department with 'political discourse' in the name?" I asked.

"No, there's nothing here I can use."

"Please look again. Is there anything listed that does not include the words 'theatre', 'acting', 'voice', 'dance' or 'tech'?"

"No. Oh, wait. Here's one, but it's not a speech class so you can't use it."

"What is it called?" I asked.

"It's a funny word."

"What is it?"

"I have no idea how this is pronounced." She was getting very tired of me.

"Would you spell it out for me?"

"Oh, all right. R-h-e-t-o-r-i-c."


"That's not a speech class!"

"Do you have a dictionary in your office? Go look it up. I'll wait."

I heard her set down the reciever and go ask someone what that funny word meant. She interrupted them to explain that I was demanding she count that as a speech class. Then there was a moment of silence followed by urgent sounding whispering and the tippytap of her footsteps returning.

"You're good to go! See you at Diddle Arena (no, I'm not making that up, either) in two weeks! Bye bye!"

She hung up and I went somewhere quiet and chewed on baby aspirin until it was time for my next class.

*Yes, I got in. No, I didn't go. Don't you think there are enough lawyers as it is?

copyright 2006 Jas Faulkner

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Mama, He's Rabid: The Child Abuse That Is Disney's "Ole Yeller" (Part One)

Tonight one of my best friends, Kevin, broke a cardinal rule of being a grown-up and having a tv and movie player of some sort of his own so he can watch whatever he wants whenever he wants. Of his own violition, my boy watched "Ole Yeller".

Somewhere there are 35-45 year olds who can watch "Ole Yeller" with dry eyes. I haven't seen any of them, but I'm sure they exist. My one and only time sitting through it was as part of a presentation for all of the fourth graders at Sunset Acres Elementary in Shreveport. We packed into the auditorium for our weekly assembly and were told it would be a movie. These were usually scratchy McGraw-Hill 8mms about rail safety or Bobs-Merrill strips about the dangers of lying. Little did we know what they had in store for us.

In all fairness, I should note that their presentation of "Ole Yeller" was decidedly low-fi. We sat in the dark as the first frame appeared on the screen, followed by the Disney logo and then the advice to "Start here. Click to the next frame at the sound of the tone." We waited as the scratchy record began and we were transported to post-Civil War Abilene, Texas. Now, you'd think that this would mitigate the emotional ending, but it didn't. It has always been my suspicion that "Ole Yeller" was my teachers' revenge on all of us for giving them so many reasons to cry every day. As we wept in the dark, they probably sat in the teachers' lounge, laughed, smoked and passed a flask around. Most of us stumbled into the light swearing to never, ever watch "Ole Yeller" again.

And most of us kept that promise. Except for Kevin. He showed it to his boyfriend, who got depressed and went to bed. Then he called me up and I answered when he was in midsob.

"What's wrong? Did you and Dave get into a tiff?"


"Oh, honey. Take a deep breath and tell me what happened."

"Dead dog!" (and then more snuffling)

I nearly dropped the phone. "Sophie is dead? What happened?"

Just then something must have caught her attention because, to my relief, I heard her bark.

"Kevin, what is going on?"

"They shot "Ole Yeller" and then Dave got depressed and went to bed."

"Oh, for God's sake! Take it out of your DVD, send it back to NetFlix and promise me you will never, ever watch 'Ole Yeller' again."

"But it's such a good movie!"

"Kevin, listen to me. 'Ole Yeller' is like chicken pox. Only children can endure it unscathed. Watch it as an adult and you run the risk of having sniffly flashbacks, getting too sensitive to live and worse, killing off your libido. Do you want that? Send the movie back. Now!"

"I had no idea. It's in the envelope. Now it's sealed."

"That's my boy. Now get yourself an Otter Pop and watch "Life of Brian. I'm going to bed."

copyright 2006 Jas Faulkner

Mama, He's Rabid: The Child Abuse That Is Disney's "Ole Yeller" (Part Two)

Someone has asked me to explain exactly what a filmstrip of "Ole Yeller" would be like. Okay, let me get this out of my (and everyone else's) system once and for all. So dim the lights and get out your hankies. I now present:

The Script of the The Last Three Minutes of "Ole Yeller" on Filmstrip

(in Low Definition where available)

Ole Yeller: Wuff! Wuff! Snurgle! Rrrrrrrrr!


Mama: Jedidiah! Zebulon! Cortelia! Chlymidia! Lucifer! Abraham! Isaac! Git in the house now!

Isaac: Aw Moooooowm!

Mama: The dawg has th' rabies! Now shoo!


Cletus: What are you doin' with that gun, Mama?


Mama: Cletus! Get in the house! Yeller has the rabies!

Cletus: Yer gonna shoot Ole Yeller?


Cletus: Well, heckfire, that's a relief! I thought you was gettin' tired of us.


Ole Yeller: Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!


Mama: Cletus, git in the house now.

Cletus: No Mama. He's my dawg. If anybody's gonna shoot 'im, it'll be me. Give me the gun.


Ole Yeller: Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.


Cletus: C'mere Yeller. C'mere boy!


Ole Yeller: Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.


Cletus: Yeller? Yeller? This is no time to go pee on the hitchin' post! Aw, crap.




Daddy: Hi kids! I'm back from the cattle drive and I brought you a puppy!


Cletus: That ain't Ole Yeller.

Jedidiah: And the Mrs. Fletcher says you ain't my Daddy.


Daddy: What the?

Mama: We need to talk.

(The End)

(Disney Logo)

Theme song plays as weeping children are led out by teachers who are looking very bright-eyed and refreshed.

Ole Yeller

woof! woof! woof!

Ole Yeller!

woof! woof! woof!

Root'nest toot'nest dawg in the doggone Weeeeest!

Well, I hope you enjoyed this little presentation. Good night, bright blessings, eat your vegetables, call your Mama and always floss.

copyright 2006 Jas Faulkner

The Unbearable Lameness of Being

You know how there's always one woman in every group who has to tell you way more than you want to know? When you were younger, she was always dating one of your best buddies and while she was tolerable when she was sober, get a couple of Seagram's Peach Coolers into her and she'll start discussing why she prefers uncircumcised men and how she always feels more connected to Gaia at certain times of the month. Well, my version of that chick was named Allie and she lived down the hall from me when I was at Tiger High in the 80s'.

One afternoon I was sitting in the hallway with my friend Anita waiting for some addled performance piece prop to dry (art and theatre school in the 80s', enough said...) when Allie came flouncing down the hall dressed like Botticelli's Primavera only with optional patchouli fumes and bitemarks on her collarbone. She stopped in front of us, made two attempts to speak and then squealed.

"Do you want the law students out here with mace again?" I asked.

"Noooooooo," she said, "Lissen lissen lissen! I was at this bonfire party? And there was this big burly biker guy? And I thought he was cute? And since you're supposed to have sex to help the crops? We went into the woods and started fooling around? And he was a girl! Isn't that cool? I'm a lesbian!"

And then she sauntered off, singing "I yam what I yam and I yam a lessssbeeeeyann!" while Anita made horrible faces at her back.

"That's cute. I wonder how many people she's told." Anita shook her head.

"I wonder how much of this she'll remember by the end of the day."

I felt a little bad for her. But in truth I was even more selfishly feeling a little bit sorry for myself. You see, up until that time, I'd done nothing that was rebellious or embarrassing enough to be fodder for my own deep dark secret in the years to come. At the age of nineteen I had already attained the respectability of a thirty-year-old deacon's wife. How sad.

"My hypothetical, socially maladjusted children are going to laugh at me." I looked mornfully at Anita and she glowered.

"You're being a big baby AND you've already got selective memory. Gah!" She started reading the ads on the newspaper underneath the prop.

"You mean the pot Belinda gave me after I stopped eating?"

"It made you very stupid. You told whatshername the voice coach lady she had the biggest feet you'd ever seen on a woman."

"Oh, crap. Did I really?"

"There now. Do you feel suitably ashamed?"

I thought about it for a moment.

"Not really. I mean, where's the scandal? Marijuana will probably be legal in a couple of years anyway."

Anita yawned and curled herself into an enviably perfect lotus postion. "You're just not wired to be debauched. You're going to be a goody two-shoes who fucks her husband silly and pretends she doesn't know what or where her clitoris is in front of the Friends of the Library Guild."

"That's not true!"

"Name one thing about yourself you haven't told me because you are honestly embarrassed."

"Okay. You know how I help with Rowan's coven's circles because I know how to play the drums?"

"Let me guess. You've never had a lesson in your life."

"Oh no. I've had years of lessons. But I've never gotten to play drums."

"So you were never in a marching band? That's actually a good thing"

"I was in band in both high school and that year in junior college in Mississippi."

"There was no music scholarship?"

"It was a full-ride payout, tuition, books, board, the whole schmeer."

"I give up. What's the problem?"

"I was embarrased about the straps and braces making my boobs look bigger so I played the cymbals from tenth grade on."

"Oh, the horrors. I don't know if I can be seen with you. I guess if we ever go to Senatobia, Mississippi, I'll have to pretend I don't know you."

"Anita, this is a very painful part of my past!"

"You're such a candyass. Wanna play dirty scrabble?"

"Freakin' A!"

"I rest my case."

copyright 2006 Jas Faulkner

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

A Woo Woo Pronouncement from Rufus Christ...

I wrote this for an online friend who was having a rough day and posted it on a forum where we chat. Here it is so you, too can experience the cosmic peace that can only come from guided meditations accompanied by new age muzak. In fact, another online friend made an audio file of it here so you can get the full effect:


(cue Kitaro music)

You are a creature of the universe. God danced on the day you were born so that you could dance and sing and love and eventually unfold into a flower in the garden that is his universe.

When you are sad or have menstrual cramps or want to stab an ex-boyfriend in the eye with a pencil, all of the Care Bears and My Little Ponies get together and bake gooseberry tarts and meditate on ways to heal the cosmos.

The angels told Rod McKuen about you and he popped a boner.

In conclusion: Count the seeds in a pomegranate, laugh at the clouds, kiss a puppy and thank every diety who will return your calls that you're you and not Ann Coulter.

copyright 2006 Jas Faulkner

Friday, June 23, 2006

The Lake House: A Review

For the longest time I tried to hide the fact that The Lake House was coming to a theatre near me from my adopted granny, Sylvia. There are a few good reasons for this:

1. Keanu Reeves does not know this yet, but Sylvia has decided that Susan Sarandon is her role model and that her next husband will be young, pretty and Keanu or the next best thing.

2. I still hadn't forgiven Reeves for Constantine.

3. It's a kissing movie!

As luck would have it, she found out. She called last Friday to inform me we would be seeing The Lake house when I was in the middle of dealing with a client who had dropped trou as his way of letting everyone know what he thought of the state of social services in Tennessee. I didn't have time to argue, so I said yes and went back to de-escalating ButtBoy.

I called Syl at lunch and chided her for catching me in a weak moment.

"Oh, don't be such a sourpuss. I want you and Keanu to make up."

"John Constantine is not from Los Angeles."

There was a long pause at the other end. Then Sylvia answered in the same tone you might use to tell a stranger her skirt was tucked into her panties.

"Don't you think it's a little weird to get that invested in a comic book character?"

I let it go. Hey, at least I have no designs on marrying John Constantine.

We caught a very late showing because I was playing the waiting game with another angry client (Angry Friday! Friday! Friday! At the Free Clinic!) who was seated in a coworker's cubicle and seemed to be whiling away her time by swearing, excusing herself when she realized I was still working, shedding what I hope was a weave over the partition and onto my charts and apologizing and picking up her hair when she noticed it had fallen on my desk.

Syl and I got great seats and nested in.

"You know, " she said, "This is a time travel movie, so it's your kind of movie."

"Oh, trust me, it's a kissing movie. I've seen the Korean original. Nothing explodes, it's not animated and there's no CGI."

"Picky!" she said and proceeded to drop peanuts in her coke and quietly unwrap her contraband Moon Pie.

Here's the thing. I liked Speed and still think that the next movie they made together should have been Miss Congeniality. Nothing against Benjamin Bratt, but Keanu is an action-guy type and would have made much more of the role than BB did.

So we watched this thing and goodness, they were both mopey! I prefer Smart, Sassy Sandra and ActionGuy Keanu to Mopey Sandra and Keanu. Twenty minutes in, you don't care if they get together, you just want them to eat some fresh fruit and take a Paxil.

Roughly halfway through, Keanu cries. I looked at the screen and muttered, "Yeah, I know how you feel. We both want to be next door in Over the Hedge."

The teen boy sitting in front of us turned and said, "You said that. My lady talked me into seeing this because I liked The Matrix. This thing is nearly over and Keenoo hasn't kicked anyone's ass." His girlfriend smacked him on the arm and he turned around. Syl pointedly wadded up her Moon Pie wrapper and dropped it into my lap. We behaved for the rest of the movie.

Would I recommend this movie? Both actors have done better seperately and together. If they were to try another genre all together or maybe a less leaden love story, they would be fun to watch. I'd say unless you're a fangirl/fanboy completist type, give this one a pass.

copyright 2006 Jas Faulkner

Monday, April 03, 2006

Short bits and odds and ends from The Comedy Patio

For about a year or so, I was part of a collaborative blog called The Comedy Patio. It was a really nice project that brought together a lot of very funny people who had hung out and riffed on various subjects at The Atlantic's Post/Reposte board before it went to a pay for play model . Our crowning achievement was a roast we held for Bill Maher with various writers taking the roles of people he was piublicly associated with on Politically Incorrect. I played his dogs, Blackie and Odie. As time went on, we got pretty scattered. I would post, but it seemed like no one else was and it was making me feel like an ugly special-ed kid at a middle school dance. Since the contact simply isn't there and I don't know where anybody is, it seems like the best thing to do is preserve my stuff as best as I can and move on. Somewhere in the ether, I hope they're hanging out together and I wish all of them well. Shine on, you crazy diamonds!

from: Your Guide to Plane Drunks

The Bride of Big O Jesus
This is someone who is usually older, female and large. They may or may not have flown before and may or may not have consumed alcohol before. Pre-flight preparation is always nerve-wracking for The Bride. They will mutter, pray and sometimes sing softly to themsleves. There will be a brief crescendo of "Oh, Jesus, oh, Law!"s that will die down once we are airborne. However, after much agonizing over whether to take a drink to soothe her nerves, The Bride will soon be smacking stewardesses on the ass with the bottom of her cup and demanding more vodka. This is punctuated by loud exclamations of "Oh Jesus! Oh, LAW have MERCY! LAW!" every time we hit some turbulence. The net result is a first class section full of spanking new Atheists and a coach class section full of passengers who are smugly thinking what mooks those first class passengers must be to pay that much more money just to watch "When Harry Met Sally".

from: Bad Taste Movie Theater

To: Duncan McBlain

From: Hargus Langerfeld

re: untitled for proposed disaster pic for late 2006

First off, let me say that I want to see more of this and sooner! Right now we still have crying orphans and widows all over the news. Lets get this in the can while the topic is hot but not so soon that it looks like we're money-grubbing ghouls.

Here are some changes that I want to see:

1. The title. It just isn't grabbing my tits. Lose "Tsunami: Tide of Terror" and go for something shorter, catchier and for God's sake, American like "Big Wave".

2. Speaking of making it accessable to the flyover people, lets change the location. Nobody in Wichita is going to give two hoots what happens to a fried conch vendor in Phucket. I'm also having problems with the name Phucket. How is that pronounced? Could it get us an automatic R? Maybe we need to leave it in, only have it be a resort off the Virginia Coast or something.

3. Change the age and casting suggestions for the leading lady. Helen Mirren isn't going to cut it. I can't take her seriously as a seismologist. Make it Brittany Murphy. Here's the deal: if she wears khaki shorts three sizes too big, a Texas A&M jersey, short hair pulled back and glasses, she'll look serious and hot. That's how I picture seismologists.

4. We need a dog or a kitten to wander out on the beach when the water retreats. Then we need Brittany Murphy's orangutan sidekick (see next note) to run out and save the kitten, running just ahead of the wall of water.

5.Replace Jeff Daniels. I don't want to see him assisting Brittany Murphy. Give her a pet orangutan with a cute name. Lucas? Walt? Darwin? Clyde?

6. We need a scene where she eats a Twix bar. I'll explain later.

7. The ending is a real downer, don't you think? Instead, lets have her drive a nuclear warhead out to the beach. As the tide approaches, she puts the truck into gear, jumps out and runs inland as the vehicle rams into the wave and detonates, causing it to become a warm rain falling all over the Virginia Coast.

I'll have more notes after I've actually read the script.

Ciao for now!

copyright 2006 Jas Faulkner


Your Body is a Taco Stand (from The Comedy Patio)

Your Body is a Taco Stand

For the record, even during those dry spells when I knew a really extravagant VDay would consist of a card from my mother and being ignored by the dog, I've never really minded Valentine's Day. Its the sheer suckitude of friends predicating their self-worth on whether they happen to be attached or not on February 14th that makes me want to take a bottle of white-out to the second page of the calandar. Its a day that just screams for really bad poetry. So here goes...

Free Verse to My Secret Love, Mark Watson , 427 Lee's Passing Court, Hernando, Mississippi, 601-798-2340

My dog and my mother hate your guts
My girlfriends and best gay boyfriend
Think I'm nuts
I think they're just jealous
of our true love
And the box with they intercepted?
The one with the nipple clamps and Bush Stickers?
A setup.

Haiku to DJ Ito

standing on my lawn
with a John Mayer CD
closed the taco stand

Another Haiku to DJ Ito

intense look on face
boombox turgid with love
you're still no Cusack

To Joe Bob

Roses are red,
So is my neck.
I'm sorry I pulled your rear window rifle rack loose
During our last date.

copyright 2006 Jas Faulkner

Four People You Meet in Nashville (from The Comedy Patio)

Four People You Meet in Nashville

Last week I spent some time talking to a woman who had never been to the American South before. She was coming down to help with the post-hurricane clean up and had decided to forego the Red Cross's offer to fly her back home in favor of renting a car and driving through Beulah Land.

Her idea of what we're like is something along the lines of everyone being like Andy n' Opie n' Thelma Lou n' Aint Bea n' Goober n' Gomer. It was kind of cute, really. The truth is we don't have very many Mayberry types here. There are a few lawyers who really do make you want to run after them yelling, "Atticus! Atticus!" Years ago we had a mayor with the unfortuante surname of "Boner" who promptly lost his mind and traded his wife in for a country-music hanger-on who told Oprah and everybody more about either of them than anybody wanted to know. He imploded so spectacularly that I figured Robert Altman was off somewhere trying to figure out who he needed to write to explain that he was just kidding. They were all entertaining, but are they the people my new buddy is likely to meet on her visit? Nope. Lets take a look at who she could encounter:

Scary Mary Fangear They are everywhere and they're not limited to any particular form of entertainment or affiliation with any group. My friends still like to talk about the woman who wanted to strip to the waist and fight me in Centennial Park because she overheard me saying that I thought Vince Gill looked like Andy Kaufman.

My favorite, though, was the woman I saw at a stoplight next to the Juvenile Justice Center one afternoon. She was first in line, then there was a man in a Lexus and then me. The light turned green and I guess the woman in her Suzuki Samaurai didn't pull away fast enough to suit Mister Lexus. He hit his horn with three rapid blasts and gunned his engine. The Samaurai began to shake as this very, very large -as in blot out the sun large- woman in a Steve McNair jersey and an impossible Titans blue and red weave began to shuck herself out of the driver's side door of her little car. I heard the whirrrrr of the Lexus windows rolling up as she approached the car.
She banged on the window and bellowed, "Do you know me? Hey! Do you know me? Are you a friend of mine? Were you trying to get my attention? Hey! Hey! I'm talking to you! Are you my friend?"
I guess he didn't want to be her friend because she sauntered back to the Samaurai, squeezed in, turned back to the Lexus and said "Honk at me again, fool!" and then slammed the door shut, causing it to rock back and forth at least three times before it stopped. She sat through the next light. He just sat there. I didn't go because I wanted to see what would happen next. Unfortunately, she got bored and pulled off the next time it turned green.

Cletus the Fetus Poor Cletus swims through life in downtown Nashville in his own amniotic fog, pooping where he will and occasionally demanding money and/or canoodling from any paralegal who makes eye contact. My only line of defense against Cletus was a stamped leather purse in the shape of a fish. He approached me one morning and asked me if I wanted a Walnetto and then mentioned there was a fish on my hip.

Me: A fish?

Cletus: Yeah! That bag looks like a fish! You got a fish on your arm!

Me: No, I don't. It's a plain old black canvas purse from Dillards. You think it looks like a fish? I don't get it.

Cletus: Yeah! Its a fish! You want a Walnetto? (Okay, he didn't really offer me a Walnetto, but you get the idea.)

Me: There's no fish here. Its got two little ducks on the flap, see?
I held up the fish shaped purse and pointed to two little duck appliques that weren't there.

Cletus: Aw, lady! I'm seeing a fish. I gotta go.

Beetleskeeze Beetleskeeze stands on Broad and seems to be waiting for someone to say his name three times so he can escape whatever dimension he's living on. Sometimes he feels magnanimous and will help visitors find their way around the city.

Beetleskeeze: Woooooooooooooooooooooooo! Wooooooooooooooooooo! Hi, pretty girls! Are you lost? I'll help ya!

Girl in Car Who Completely Lacks Gavin DeBecker's Gift of Fear and Rolls Down Her Window (GiCWCLGDeBGoF): Yeah! We're looking for the Hard Rock Cafe. You know where that is?

Beetleskeeze: You're looking for a hard rock? Why?GiCWCLGDeBGoF: The Hard Rock Cafe. We're going to to a party there. You know where it is?

Beetleskeeze: A Hard Rock party? Its in my pants! Woooooooooooo! Hey! Where are you going?

Spliff Daddy Spliff Daddy is a youngish man who is on a constant quest to find the perfect place to hone his craft as an old school rapper. Sometimes its the bandshell-like perfection of recessed doorways. Other times its the overhang at the Tennessee Perfoming Arts Centre. My favorite place to catch Spliffy is on the corner of Fifth and Union. It is there that Spliff actually sings with a partner. The life-sized statue of Chet Atkins sits patiently as Spliff holds forth about the weather, MNPD Chief Ronal Surpas and Big Macs. Since he's all about sharing, Spliff always gives his cornermate a chance to shine, pausing mid-rap to shout "Take it away, Chet!"

Of course she could float through town and never meet any of these people. That would leave the tourists, the Baptists and the odd, embittered native who remembers what the place was like back in the day. But where's the fun in that?

copyright 2006 Jas Faulkner