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