Candy Rant

"I killed a rat with a stick once."

Friday, October 19, 2007

A Thursday Evening

Phoenix traffic. Difficult.
Downtown Phoenix traffic. At rush hour. More difficult. Exhausting. Claustrophobic.

I'm hungry. Baked in the windshield sun. My mind is racing with what needs to get done at home. The CD is playing the last of 12 songs.

3 blocks from home. In my mind I have already pulled into the carport, gotten the mail from the box, unlocked the door, glanced at the light on the answering machine, dropped the pile of mail on the kitchen counter, taken the strap of my leather bag from my shoulder, kicked off my clogs, pulled off my jeans, walked to Hankie's favorite sleeping location. I'm just reaching down to scratch his ears---

Red and blue flashing lights. A long row of them. Cop cars barricading all 6 lanes of the very end of my drive home.

I turn on the radio and find some news. There is a standoff, not quite 2 blocks from our house, between a platoon of policemen and a man who is sitting in a truck, wielding a high-powered rifle. He may have threatened people around him; he may be suicidal. Some family members have been brought to the scene to try to talk to him. It is 5:20 p.m. The standoff began at 1:30. I must find another way home.

If our human moods were measured, accurately, by using a spectrum of children's board games, with a system something like this:

Ecstatic, euphoric: Twister

Extremely happy: Mousetrap

Very happy: Chutes & Ladders

Happy: Candyland

Content: Life

Thoughtful: Scrabble

Bored: Chinese Checkers

Apprehensive: Boobytrap

Frightened: Trouble

Perplexed: Mystery Date

Angry: Hands Down

Enraged: Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots

Sorrowful: Operation

...and so on, then my mood would have just that second plummeted to a very dangerous broken-in-half Ouija Board that has been set aflame and shit on by a thousand angry scorpions.

Which, translated from BoardGamese into English is: "Let me out of this f*cking car and I'll kill him myself."

I start the zigzagging and backtracking necessary to actually get home, and am dizzyingly tired when I finally pull into the driveway.

Inside, I try to recalibrate, catch my breath. I turn on the TV news. The man has just shot himself in the head. The standoff is over.

I go and email Scott to tell him what's happened, then I need some contact with good old Mom. So I email her. And since I crave the mental equivalent of a stiff drink, I toss my sense of decency out on its ass and I type "He blew his head off. Good. One less dumb f*ck to ruin my day tomorrow."

I see her reply pop up a couple of minutes later. I imagine her clicking the mouse on the other end. It is Thursday. And Thursday is "Hair Day" for my mom. It has been Hair Day for as long as I can remember. Thursdays at 3:30 she goes to see Marcia, her "beauty operator" and gets her hair done. Washed, put in curlers, sat under a dryer, teased, sprayed. My dad, who can no longer drive or be comfortably left alone for an hour, goes with her and sits in a chair waiting during the whole process. It takes 50 minutes. Then they pick up styrofoam containers of broccoli and cheese soup 3 doors down and take it home and eat it for dinner.

Her message:

"Well, it is everywhere, even here. Two guys in a black van shot a window out of the
school gym, and the janitor got glass in his eye. He had to go to the hospital. All the schools were on code yellow. I don't know what it is all coming to.

It was cold out today. Our soup was good."


  • At 1:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    That's weird. The other day, Donna called me at work and said, "Don't bother coming home for lunch. The entire street is blocked off by at least twenty emergency vehicles."

    Turned out that a house around the corner caught on fire, and blew up some old guy's oxygen tank. Killed him.

  • At 1:54 AM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Yes, very weird. It's so creepy when it's close to your home. Like they've crossed some unfair border.

  • At 9:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I saw it was your hometown on the news. I think it was on national news. I pray every day for the safety of my kids when they are in school. I didn't know things were happening in Phoenix too.

    We also had a tornado blow through Indiana last night-northwest of us in Amish country. Weird weather in October. Sorry to make you think of Al and his global warming. (I am mean today!)

  • At 11:46 AM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Belle...My mom said they had a bad storm last night too.

    Things are always happening in Phoenix. There is an almost daily shooting. You can't put this many people together and not have them shoot each other.

  • At 12:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I find it incredibly cool that your mom does e-mail, Candy. My mom has never attempted to send an e-mail, and I've never been sure whether her befuddlement over all things Internet is genuine or just a passive-agressive disapproval of a "new" mode of communication.

    I personally think it's high time the telegram made a comeback.

  • At 12:17 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Yeah, I'm very proud of my mom for starting email in her late 70s. And that was on a tiny "email station" that looked like a cheap calculator. Now she's 85 and totally into using her laptop, even though she ONLY does email. She has never surfed the web.

    You and your newfangled telegrams. Don't go so modern. Let's start with smoke signals. I'll go light up a fire in the backyard and send one to you right now. Watch for it.

  • At 2:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    What about Monopoly?

  • At 2:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Also forgot game called Sorry. Maybe it could be the emotion of regret?

    You also have to get sex in there somehow.

  • At 2:13 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    I'd originally had Monopoly in the list to represent greediness.

    Sorry! I remember Carol Burnett and "Mama" playing that game on her show. Wildly funny.

    Sex would be Twister with Mazola.

  • At 2:16 PM, Blogger Citlali said…

    Wow, what a story. I swear that last line "Our soup was good today" almost made me cry. It was a very poignant end to the story. You've got the recipe for a tear-jerker there... Now just add sappy music to your "Operation" game and voila: instant kleenex moment. Ooof, had to make a joke. What is up with all that violence??!!! CRAP! It's insane. Glad you finally got home ok. I'm with you: glad he's gone too... HAVE A SWEET weekend!! = ]

  • At 2:21 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    No matter what my mom proclaims in an email, it always goes back to life going on, with things like soup. I like that about her.

    You have a great weekend too!

  • At 2:51 PM, Blogger Jerry said…

    Urban environments are quickly becoming free-form penal farms. If everybody who is potentially dangerous to the average citizen were to pop-the-weasel, think how much safer our world would be.

    At some point, we all reach our limit and just want some peace. We have compassion...we have empathy...we have guns in our cars and homes. We want surcease...we want cessation...we want it all to go away.

    I am tired of emoting over the sins of the world, the pain, the insane, the poor, the unlucky, the homeless, the addicted and the abused. I am satiated.

    So, you become indifferent--if you are lucky. You focus on you and yours and drink a Pina Colada and watch "Desperate Housewives"

    And walk among long dappled grass,
    And pluck till time and times are done
    The silver apples of the moon,
    The golden apples of the sun.

  • At 2:58 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Wow. Look at your poem:

    I am tired
    of emoting over
    the sins of the world,
    the pain, the insane, the poor, the unlucky, the homeless,
    the addicted
    and the abused.
    I am satiated.


  • At 3:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Problem is, in Phoenix, you just can't seem to get away from it. It's everywhere, every day, all the time. Suburbs, inner city, it doesn't matter. There is never a break from it. While this kind of stuff does happen sometimes, in most places, it actually shocks people in most other places. It isn't just another day in the city. Life as usual in the Phoenix metro area doesn't even really consider how the soup was. And if you've ever lived in a quiet place prior to living in Phoenix, you really miss that. There is very little to appreciate in Phoenix. Except the mountains, when the air is clear enough to get a view of them.

    I imagine most big cities are very much the same. The only way to escape from it is to hide in your house and avoid the news. But eventually, you need to go to work or buy groceries. You can't hide forever. So you take a deep breath, say a prayer, and get behind the wheel for another day of kamikaze driving and encounters with rude, selfish people. And you program your senses for high-alert to make sure you don't get carjacked at the next gas station.

  • At 3:27 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Such great writing you guys are cranking out today. I love this:

    "Life as usual in the Phoenix metro area doesn't even really consider how the soup was."

  • At 3:28 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    The spacing on Jerry's poem didn't come out the way I typed it. But anyway, it's still a wonderful short poem.

  • At 3:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I love Jerry's poem too. I feel that way so often.

    And thanks, Candy!

    The rest of my writing was a lot of fragmented sentences, but I was just kind of writing how I would speak. And I am too tired to proof-read, inconsiderate witch that I am.

  • At 3:48 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    No way, F-Sis. That whole chunk was excellent. Perfect ending too. Having such cool comments on my blog is like having little bowls of ice cream delivered right to my door.

  • At 7:18 PM, Blogger Jerry said…

    I am tired
    of emoting over
    the sins of the world,
    the pain, the insane, the poor,
    the unlucky,the homeless,
    the addicted
    and the abused.
    I am satiated.

    Very nice Candy; you are creative with your words and as well as the words of others.

  • At 8:55 PM, Blogger Carin said…

    I think I fought the good fight for long enough by living in Detroit. I'd had enough. Who said I was to be some sacrificial lamb?

    Quadruple murder yesterday in Detroit; two adults and two children. Women were on the radio screaming and asking why. I'll tell you why; the parents were (known) drug dealers,and they cared more about the cash than they did for their babies.

  • At 10:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    See, now. I didn't see Mom's email as poignant so much as a hilarious juxtaposition to Candy's neighborhood. I especially liked her Aunt-Bee response to some guy with a shotgun blowing himself to kingdom come in her girl's fairly immediate neighborhood was 'I know just what you mean about all of this carnage creeping into our lives, why just the other day the janitor got glass in his eye from some kids with a bb gun! Violence, violence, violence. Dangerous times. (tongue clucking sound then the stop-on-a-dime change of tone and we're talking soup all of a sudden.)" Candy, I love your mom. Does she make pie?

  • At 10:56 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Carin, you did fight long enough. I was just talking about you to a new acquaintance yesterday. She grew up in Detroit, and lived there into adulthood and had all kinds of horror stories to tell about SWAT teams and her next door neighbors (the whole family) being held hostage with sawed off shotguns to their heads.

    It actually did sound as though Detroit is the worst city ever. Terrifying to even hear about.

  • At 10:59 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Exactly, Ana! Her switching gears like that is very common, too. She can be talking to me about something very serious and then belt out "GET that damned spider!"

    Our hometown used to be a lot like Mayberry.

    She doesn't make pie anymore, but she always has a Marie Callender Razzleberry Pie in the freezer for emergencies. Like being alive.

  • At 1:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I am satiated.

    I like it too, but I do not think that word means what he thinks it does.

  • At 7:18 AM, Blogger Jerry said…

    "CraigC said...

    I am satiated.

    I like it too, but I do not think that word means what he thinks it does"

    Quite right Craig. Satiated usually applies to a desire or need rather than an aversive stimulus. In operant conditioning, it refers to a stimulus that has lost its reinforcing properties; that can be a positive or negative reinforcer. Meaning you no longer avoid the stimulus because you are desensitized to it. In that sense, it connotes the anesthetization of sensitivity to a class of stimuli or a specific stimulus.

    One can subordinate the exact meaning of a word to the context of a literary expression such as a poem, where the denotative meaning is abandoned in service of the desired effect. As in Gerald Manley Hopkins poem, "To R.B." where he frames the line, "The rise, the roll, the carol, the creation."

    In that line, the meaning of the word "carol" is stretched to Hopkin's devices. All that notwithstanding, I think your observation is appropriate. A better word than satiation would have been "anesthetized." It is more expressive of my feelings and fits the meter that Candy has established.

    Candy deserves the credit for being the poet; she has the vision.

  • At 8:18 AM, Blogger Carin said…

    Parts of Detroit are horrible, and parts are ok. The trick is knowing which is which. I'm just sick of the politics of it all; mostly the corruption that holds everything back.

  • At 11:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    If that's a long-winded way of saying that "satiated" connotes being happily full, and not "I've had about enough of this," then, yes.

    And I screwed up the reference. It should have read, "I do not think that word means what he thinks it means."

  • At 11:23 AM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    To satiate, according to is:

    "to supply with anything to excess, so as to disgust or weary; surfeit."

    So it would fit here. But the reason I liked it in that context is that I think most of us hear that word and connect it with being filled up with good stuff, freshly sexed, fed rich foods, whatever. And in the context of crime on the news, in the neighborhood, people shooting themeselves in the head, it sometimes feels to me as though we have a sick need to eat that stuff up, to hear about WHY the guy wanted to off himself. And then we get enough, and we don't care.

    Also, I think Craig was quoting a line from "Princess Bride."

  • At 11:25 AM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Oops...just saw Craig's new comment. Musta popped up while I was typing.

    YOU wrote the poem, Jerry. I just "arranged" it. We are Hal David and Burt Bacharach.

  • At 11:50 AM, Blogger Jerry said…

    CraigC said...

    If that's a long-winded way of saying that "satiated" connotes being happily full, and not "I've had about enough of this," then, yes.

    And I screwed up the reference. It should have read, "I do not think that word means what he thinks it means."

    I just don't think I could be an happier. You take the time to applaud someone's perceptivity, and they insult you for doing so.

    You'll have to excuse me Craig, for being "long-winded." My past experience included punishment from my peers for not providing comprehensive responses. I wish I could be more concise.

  • At 11:56 AM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Jerry, Craig often comes off as insulting. Don't worry about it.

  • At 1:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Oh good. I wasn't the only who picked up on his rudeness.

    Of course, with my poor writing and penchant for typos, then I had better really watch myself.

  • At 4:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Lord. Ok, from now on, I'll provide you with emoticons. Better yet, just assume whatever I'm saying, I'm saying tongue-in-cheek.
    You'll know it when I want to be insulting.

  • At 7:16 PM, Blogger Ana Martin said…

    Jesus on a cracker, Craig. You're the Apergers poster boy, you know, except you don't have it. Where's that damned emoticon??

  • At 7:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I absolutely love the expression, "Jesus on a cracker"! Never heard it before. Yes, tommorrow we hopefully won't be on code yellow, but it is so sorrowful that someone chose to shoot through an elementary school's cafeteria. No bee'bee gun, I'm sorry to say. I miss you, kiddo. Anita

  • At 7:14 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    I miss you too, Anita. And I miss fall in Indiana.

    I laughed until I cried the first time I heard that phrase. And it was from Ana. She's the only one I know who says it.

  • At 7:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Are we waxing poetic here? I think we're waxing poetic. So here's a great poem about the discomforts of City Life:

    A Description of the Morning
    by Jonathan Swift

    Now hardly here and there a hackney-coach
    Appearing, showed the ruddy morn's approach.
    Now Betty from her master's bed had flown,
    And softly stole to discompose her own;
    And slipshod 'prentice from his master's door
    Had pared the dirt, and sprinkled round the floor.
    Now Moll had whirled her mop with dext'rous airs,
    Prepared to scrub the entry and the stairs.
    The youth with broomy stumps began to trace
    The kennel-edge, where wheels had worn the place.
    The small-coal man was heard with cadence deep,
    Till drowned in shriller notes of chimney-sweep.
    Duns at his lordship's gate began to meet,
    And brickdust Moll had screamed through half a street.
    The turnkey now his flock returning sees,
    Duly let out a-nights to steal for fees.
    The watchful bailiffs take their silent stands,
    And schoolboys lag with satchels in their hands.

    Ah-HUH! Now if I may just get personal for a second--the biggest obstacle to sanity and a civilized life in the Big City is the auto-alarm. Going off everywhere all the time. OK, maybe it's not up there with murder or mayhem or staff infection, but it's pretty damn annoying.

  • At 7:50 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Tony! I've just turned in "A Modest Proposal" to teach it in the freshmen classes next week! What a coincidence, eh?

    No, you're right. The car alarms are worse than da murders. They also LEAD to murder.

    Thanks for the poem. I had never read it, cultural pygmie that I am.


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