Candy Rant

"I killed a rat with a stick once."

Monday, October 30, 2006

Le List de la Pummel

We're at that difficult time of the semester. 11 weeks in. 3 weeks till Thanksgiving Break. The students are exhausted and irritated and would tell you, if you asked them, that they're being overworked and that the bad old faculty members are mean. Really bad and mean. And bad. And that's why they're coming to class late so often and whining about paper deadlines and rolling their eyes a lot. And asking bafflingly moronic questions such as "I know I have a D on all my papers, but I can still get an A in the class, right?"

The most irritated students are the laziest and most incomprehensibly stupid. They cannot do the simplest assignments, because they have the brain capacity of a gerbil who has been oxygen deprived after a 2 week stay at the Maison de la Gere. These students must be punished.

I will admit it: Some days, Candy longs for the chance to take out her frustrations by pummeling ten or so people. I want them to line up as I call out their wretched names, accept their fate, and just make it easy for me. My friend Michelle has 2 German Shepherds, Dublin and Grania. A couple of times a week, she brushes their teeth, with an actual toothbrush and beef flavored toothpaste. The dogs understand that this must be done. And they have come to accept this routine so well that when Michelle brushes Dublin's teeth, Grania sits directly behind him, waiting her turn. The dogs have no idea why they are submitting to this treatment, only that it is their destiny.

And so it would be with The Ten. I told some co-workers today of my desire to have a public throttling. I had mentally chosen my whiniest, wussiest, surliest, most intensely annoying students, past and present, for the special list. This started a flurry of activity amongst my colleagues. They started describing their own students who must be added to the list. The many voices shouting out at once brought a tear to Candy's eye. Being the charitable type I am, I agreed to lengthen the list, to include their despicable underlings in the thrash-fest. We added all those students who have ever sat in our classes wearing their obnoxious little "ear buds"; all who have answered their cell phones; all who have sent a text message during class; all who have come to class late, then gone to sleep and even snored in class; all who have yammered the sentence "Dude, I got so wasted last night."; all football players who have full scholarships but are too frontal lobe impaired to successfully open a bottle of Aquafina; all students who whine about the grade on the paper they half-assed, and chase us down after class to ask just what it is we have against them. The call for an organized bludgeoning was heard far and wide. Torches were lit, pitchforks were wielded. We wait at the ready.

We can make room for a few more deck chairs on the Ship of Doom.

Who can we add to the list for you?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Travel is Really Really Fun! Yay!

It is never a happy day when I have to leave the best fiance in the world and head back to the midwest. The most recent return trip:

Sunday, October 22nd. Boarded aircraft, 12:25 p.m.

The flight was scheduled to leave at 12:55. When I stepped onto the plane, it creaked like an old ship. An old rotting ship. And old rotting ship that is longing to crumble into a pile of very fine sawdust. As we unsuspecting passengers gingerly walked to our seats, the ancient plane took on the persona of the Tin Man, moaning woefully as though each step we took was tearing it a new aero-butthole. This aircraft, my friends, had seen too much action. If it had been a horse, its name would have been Methusela and they'd have shot it a decade ago as it gummed at a stale old sugarcube.

There were slipcovers over the seats that were worn and dirty, and those were covering the original seats, which were old enough to have held the still-perky derriere of Phyllis Diller as she flew to her first appearance in the Catskills.

The night before my flight home, I had dreamed that my plane went down. We were in a steep, horrible nosedive, the G-force pushing us all out the top of our seat belts. Then we abruptly landed, safely, and the pilot walked back into the cabin and said "Now. If you'll each give me 200 dollars, I won't have to do that to any other people." I was so infuriated at him that I held his face down in gravel and ground his flesh into the rocks like I was grating cheese. He tried to explain to me that he only needed the money to go see his mother, but I said "See how your mother likes your new face, you dumb bastard." It never occurred to me to ask him why he didn't just fly to go see his idiot mother.

Back in reality again. When we'd all been sitting in the plane so long that it was hot and stuffy and beginning to smell rank, the pilot came on the speaker and told us there was an instrument malfunction, and that "we're gonna do our best to fix it, fokes." The bad dream was going to come true. I started to sweat.

25 minutes later. "We're still trying to fix it and get you on your way to Dallas. But nothing we've done so far seems to be working. Heh heh." My sweat turned to the little beads above the upper lip that accompany such things as a zealous strip search, or the approach of a hypodermic needle the size of a javelin. I had to get my mind off of my imminent death in this crippled aircraft. I decided to grade papers. I reached up and turned the little knob that lowers the tray table. The tray table fell off into my lap. I shit you not. The whole thing.

30 minutes after that. "We're not going to be able to use this plane today, fokes. We're going to have to park it. You'll need to gather your belongings and make other arrangements inside the terminal."

There was much cursing and gnashing of teeth.

I can't even go on with the rest of this. It would take me the better part of the wee hours to finish writing it. And there is no alcohol in the house. And I would have to fully lubricate my inhibitions in order to admit to you the things I yelled when, after originally purchasing 2 $3.00 bottles of "secure" airport water, the security hacks made me throw it away, unopened, as I came back into their holy, sanctified secure area after booking another flight. But I will tell you that there is a very fine line between shouting things that insult the airline and all who are employed by it and their morally ambiguous mothers and the horses they rode in on, and being detained by the airport police. Tread carefully.

But really, the strip search wasn't that bad. They never even found my I-pod.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

How Long is 65 Years?

Today, October 23rd, 2006, was my parents' 65th wedding anniversary.

I told the students in one of my classes. One kid said "Wow. That's longer than I've been alive." Duh.

My mom and dad are two tough people. They endured WWII, mostly apart, ran a farm for 40 years together until my dad retired at 62. Raised 4 kids on the humble earnings of an independent crop farmer. Dealt with a long recovery from a knee replacement, skin cancer, diabetes, bad crops, hard times, and currently are fighting the battle with my dad's Alzheimers. But they have one of the most obvious loves I've ever seen. My dad doesn't have many jokes left in his memory. Doesn't know when he's repeating himself. But he still likes to say, after all these years "It's a trial marriage."

They still hold hands every day, must have their quota of snuggle time every night during the local news, and still, even in their compromised physical conditions, I'm certain, would fight to the death to defend the other.

Among my favorite memories of my parents:

Late 1960s, early 1970s. My dad usually came home from the field for lunch. Filthy, sweaty, his overalls layered in dust from being on a tractor all morning. He pulled into the gravel driveway on his tractor, his radio blaring the country music station. (The only local station we had.) I remember Freddie Fender's "Before the Last Teardrop Falls" and Charlie Rich's "Did You Happen to See the Most Beautiful Girl in the World." (He hated rock and roll. Called it "whangy-dang music.") We could actually hear the radio from a quarter mile away, because he had to have it so loud to hear it above the tractor. Mom went outside where he was standing on the patio, waiting. She picked up her broom and started beating him with it. Big yellowy brown dust clouds flew off of him, and until she had beaten him to her satisfaction, he couldn't come inside.

They were playful, her swats with the broom getting a bit slapstick, him often saying "That's a little too hard, honey."

For lunch, his favorite meal was Campbell's tomato soup, a grilled cheese sandwich, a pickle, and white whole milk with Hershey's syrup mixed in. I remember the clanging of his spoon against the glass. Lunch (which is called "dinner" on the farm) started promptly at noon, so Dad could watch the mid-day grain report on TV. You did not want to make noise during this moment.

On days when he was too far behind in the field to come home for lunch, Mom and I took it to him. I got the job of holding the freezing cold 16 ounce bottle of Pepsi with the plastic cup turned upside down on top, and the opener. This was the highlight of my day. I had no one else around on the farm. Mom and I would try to guess whether, when we got to the field, Dad would be going away from us or coming toward us on the tractor. The wait was longer when he was going the other way. He got off the tractor, pulled his red bandana out of his back overalls pocket, wiped his face, then sat down in the shade of a tree. Mom unpacked his sandwich and a little ziploc bag of chips, and something sweet like a Twinkie or a cupcake, and I handed him the Pepsi and the cup and the opener. I watched him eat and I watched Mom watch him eat.

20 minutes later, he got back on the tractor and worked until dark. Usually a 14 or 15 hour day in the field, if the weather held.

Oh, I forgot. When he came home for lunch, he'd take what today would be called a "power nap." Too dirty to get onto a bed, he laid on the living room floor, flat on his back, and my dog Nicky, the size of a loaf of bread, curled into the bend of Dad's elbow and slept soundly with him.

He does still remember Nicky.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Really Hideous Moments in the History of Dating

Now that we've all admitted, here at the Candy Rant Halfway House, whom we were desperately in love with as smitten and lobotomized teens, I think it's time we cleansed our souls further.

Tell me, what kind of unforgettably bad moments have you experienced in the dating world? I have so many I don't know where to begin. So I'll go with an old favorite:

In college, when I was 19, I was lounging on a couch with my first uber serious boyfriend, Rob. We were talking about impossibly deep subjects and listening to a 45 of Justin Hayward singing "Forever Autumn" over and over and over. I had on a soft, fuzzy, dark green sweater and felt like the hottest babe on campus. Or at least in that particular dorm room. We had safeguarded our alone time by bribing Rob's obese and surly roommate Brett. For a jumbo bag of Taco Flavored Doritos, Brett would take his sagging ass and go downstairs to watch TV in the dorm lounge for a few hours.

Rob, the perfect mannequin boy, 6'4", blond, blue eyes, and who finally bored me senseless a few months down the road, was targeting the green sweatered chick for romance. Rob also had a really, really bad cold. He was sniffling and snotting and was one of those guys who would not blow his fool nose. He chose instead to sniff and snort and make that liquidy, annoying sound that makes you want to take a ball bat and make of their head a snot pinata. Maybe blowing his nose would have turned him into some kind of pansy in his own eyes. Or maybe emptying your nose holes in front of someone had been deemed uncouth in his remote part of northern Indiana. Whatever the reason, he had one big-ass head full of snot.

Enter: the peak moment of romance. All cuddled up together and deep into our steamy undergrad love for one another, our moment was molding itself into a magic one. I was on my back. Rob slowly leaned over me to kiss me. He must have felt it coming on, this thing that was about to happen. This thing that would stick with me for all time. Just as he was about to kiss me, he slowly turned his head to the right, to take another juicy sniff. But not in time. And I was watching him. Which made my fate much worse when a giant ball of snot, a perfectly formed sphere of mucus, dropped directly into my wide open left eye.

The horror that I felt at that moment was somewhere between finding out I have lice, and having a hot poker rammed up my sphincter. I could not move, could not scream. For 10 seconds I was as immobile as a family dog in a yard at Pompeii, preserved in lava, mid-yip.

I was not the woman I am now. I was too embarrassed for myself and for him to provide even the slightest hint to Rob that he had mercilessly snot-douched my retina and made me want to projectile vomit and dance a foot-stomping Jed Clampitt jig at the same time. I calmly got up from the couch, said I had something in my contact (which didn't exist) and coolly walked down the hall, to the stairwell, all the way down four flights of stairs to the women's bathroom, all the while looking as though I had lost my monicle.

Once safely behind the locked bathroom door, I shot enough water into that gel-filled eye to dilute 600 gallons of sulfuric acid into a harmless summer drink.

So, Rob, if you're out there, what I really wanted to do was heave your too-tall lanky ass off the couch, wipe my dripping eye onto your cherished high school letter jacket, and, while making for the door, bitchslap you while screaming about your senseless fear of blowing your sopping honker into a friggin' kleenex, you socially crippled dillweed.

But I didn't. I am left only with my memory. And every time I hear the Moody Blues, my eye fills with tears. Just the left one.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Perplexing Cubbyholes of the Teenage Heart

It seems that my friend Tony from the Bronx, has, in the previous comments section, dared to show disdain over my deep attraction for Marvin Hamlisch.

There is good news and bad news about my romantic ponderings over this underrated, darker, more mysterious version of Burt Bacharach.

The good news: My feelings for him were way back in junior high school.

The bad news: Marvin Hamlisch was only the tip of the iceberg.

My best friend Mary and I, in 8th grade, shared numerous sultry crushes. I was intensely jealous when, for Christmas, her mother got her a door-sized poster of Mark Spitz, in his Speedo trunks, the red, white and blue ones, his 7 shiny gold medals resting on his tan, shiny, manly chest. I was ready to rip down that taunting poster with my teeth and have my way with it. Our lengthy conversations about how "neat" Mark Spitz was, led to other tittering discussions, which led to our decision to very seriously sit down and make a list called "Guys We Would Do It With."

Perhaps the most disturbing fact about our list is that it included 78 guys. That's a lot of guys to do it with. Especially when we were 14-year-old virginal farm girls and at least 5 years away from letting our freak flags fly.

On the list, among others:

Chad Everett, star of Medical Center. (The 1970s version of Dr. McDreamy.)

David Brenner, comedian with the biggest nose known to man, and who more than slightly resembles a vulture.

Robert Klein, another comedian. (Even then we went for the guys who made us laugh.)

All of the male Not Ready For Prime Time Players: Dan Ackroyd, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, and Garrett Morris.

Steve Martin.

Robert Redford. (Mary and I both cried when he was brutally gunned down while floating in his swimming pool during The Great Gatsby.)

James Caan. (We suffered through our loud, brokenhearted sobbing to each other over the phone after he so poignantly died in "Brian's Song.")

Clint Eastwood. (Just his scowl could make you pack your bags and leave your momma's house.)

Michael Jackson. (Insert your own joke here.)

Mel Brooks.

Bob Barker. (Yes, I said Bob Barker. Shut up.)

Fred Astaire.

Bobby Sherman.

Johnny Carson.

Doc Severinsen.

Dick Cavett.

Tom Snyder.

Rich Little.

Fran Tarkenton.

All the members of Three Dog Night.

All the members of the Doobie Brothers except the guy who had a walrus moustache.

Richard Chamberlain.

Our biology teacher, Mr. Price.

Robby Benson.

Barry Manilow. I cannot tell you how we loved Barry Manilow. We went to his concert back when they let you bring in tape recorders, and taped his concert on a chintzy blue plastic recorder. Everything on the tape turned out to be indecipherably distorted except for Mary's lengthy monologue (during "It's a Miracle") on the topic of her boyfriend Dave's addiction to Dristan Nasal Spray. I have never forgiven her.

Our first realization of how cruel love could be came when we basked in the great passion we felt for our separate crushes. They were the only men we could not agree on. Indy 500 race car drivers, both of them. But so, so different. I loved Mark Donahue, a baby faced, grinning hunk of a man who looked positively dreamy in his white racing jumpsuit. Mary was betrothed, in her mind, to Peter Revson, heir to the Revlon fortune. A dark, dangerous looking guy who didn't even need to race because his family was so rich already with the swelling profits from lipsticks and blemish creams.

I comforted Mary after Peter Revson crashed and burned in 1974. Little did I know that my own beloved Mark would meet the same dramatic fate in 1975. They had never even met us.

What else could we do but set our sights lower? Our lives were lived among endless cornfields with endless lackluster characters all around. Mary dated Dave and his Dristan bottle until junior year when he threw her over for a boring, squinty eyed dullard of a girl with a face like a cat squeezing through a fence. My first high school boyfriend was Dale, whose dream it was to be a mortician. He was a year older than me, and when he left for college a day before my birthday, he gave me a new blow dryer and told me "I'm gonna marry you someday." That did not come to pass. And neither did his dream of being a funeral director. He flunked out of mortician school. Mary and I escaped our town and never went back.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Busy-ness, and How it Turns Us into Crazed, Cornered Animals

There is always something to do. Something that must be done. And then when you're done with that, there is more. And then more. And then you sit for a minute to take a rest. GET UP! Get that lazy ass of yours back in the game!

My friend Elizabeth is frantically trying to finish her dissertation before April. She works constantly on it. That is, when she's not teaching, tutoring, job-hunting for the fall, and generally having a nervous breakdown. She gives herself 2 cherished breaks per week. Sunday afternoon, and a 3-hour TV break on Thursday nights, night of her beloved "Grey's Anatomy." Problem: She can't even force herself to enjoy the breaks because of her I-should-be-working guilt. And if the guilt somehow doesn't come, the downright unnatural feeling of not working does.

And right there is another problem: forcing yourself to enjoy. It sounds like a date with Bobby Knight.

I go into the same pitiful mindset. For instance, I just bought this great relaxation CD. A systematic 30-minute deep muscle relaxation thing that supposedly will help me lower my blood sugar. Because in matters of diabetes and pre-diabetes, stress is the evil and less-talked-about goth sister of sugar intake. She sits morosely by in her nihilistic mood, tossing big gluts of insulin resistance into the bloodstream of her target. She is a hag with black fingernail polish who needs to be forced to listen to John Tesh CDs while needlepointing, in pink, a pillow cover with a frisky kitten on it.

So I tried listening to the CD. And instead of deep muscle relaxation, I got deeply hacked off with myself for not being able to relax, for not effectively using the 30 minutes of relaxation, and then into my mind came my Walmart shopping list, my checking account teetering on the brink of disaster, and then age old questions like why is there suffering and why can't I get rid of this belly fat?

Where is the feeling of calm? Where is the dreaming big dreams of mountaintops and snorkeling excursions to Australia and being covered in ice cream by Marvin Hamlisch? Or, er, maybe that's just my dream.

Life is too stupidly busy. I end up longing for time to do the dishes or just clean the living room so that I don't feel quite so much like a methed-up hamster careening off its running wheel into a nest of its own turdlets. This is not to say that my living room is accented with turdlets. My decor is much more highbrow: wrappers from Glucerna bars and old TV Guides.

What would you do if you had nothing you had to do? I'd read books, lots and lots of books, and write blog posts with slightly hidden Bobby Knight references.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

When You've Been Apart Too Long, Reality Shifts

After a year of long distance romance, I'm seeing some patterns.

There is the countdown, of course. The beginning of the countdown is dismal. It comes just after one of you makes the trip back home, and the long weeks in between start their merciless, annoying metronome.

I need to admit, right here, that my fiance and I are wimps. Here's why: We get to see one another at least once every 6 weeks. For a full week. Each time I think about how tough it feels to be apart, I remember what my mom and dad went through during WWII. They had to last for up to 10 months apart, with nothing but letters to live on. No phone calls, no flying back and forth while sucking down the in flight cocktails, no 2-dozen emails zipping to and fro between them every day. Just the letters, sometimes delivered late, read and re-read and cherished and frustratingly void of so many things. My parents were not wussies. Still aren't.

In my quest to be half the woman my mother was back then, I make the best of things. I push myself to be grateful. Life is extraordinarily good. Even with my near-violent chocolate cravings, my profoundly lazy students, my inability to financially stabilize, and my default mode of general disdain.

But life does get hinky when we're nearing that 6 weeks apart mark. We've said "I love you" and "I can't wait to see you" so many times on the phone that the words start to grow woefully ineffective. It feels like we're trying to cover a watermelon in thumbtacks just by tossing them onto it. They don't stick. They bounce off and roll back to us, their little points dulled. Like my brain when it's locked inside a body that is 2,000 miles from the body I'm missing.

The fiance put it perfectly months ago: "Our visits are so intense and so amazing and then we have that freakish, undulating shitstorm of hours in between."

The good news: I'm packing.

Monday, October 09, 2006

WAIT! How Could I Have Forgotten This One?

The very first semester I taught at a university, as a grad student, my freshman composition students were asked to write a profile of a person who had profoundly affected their lives.

A kid from small town Indiana (like me) wrote about his uncle, the taxidermist.

The stand-out sentence:

"My uncle says that it's the opposite of what people think: it is much easier to mount a large animal like a moose, than a small one like a squirrel or raccoon."

Friday, October 06, 2006

I Have Seen the Future, and It Is Misspelled

But not just misspelled. Butchered.

I teach at a giant university where, as I've said here before, there's a lot of bragging and hornblowing about how only the whip-smartest students are accepted. Why, just pick up one of our brochures and look at them! All toothy smiles and Abercrombie and Fitch clone-wear and armloads of textbooks to make them even smarter!

Now, walk with me, won't you, into the dark abyss that is their true smarts. I won't deny it: I do have some wonderfully talented students. Students whose papers I hide in the middle of the pile so they can pop up and save me from the inferior ones. Like a delicious grape popsicle appearing in between mouthfuls of raw liver. I love those students. They have mercifully kept me from many drunken hours.

Then there are the idiots.

Here are 3 examples of recent weeks:

1. "My father keeps the drawing I did in first grade on the top shelf of his arm wall." (Armoir.) ((A senior writing major wrote this.))

2. "The cat was paroled up on the window sill." (I can only guess she was trying to say "curled" up on the window sill. But how does one get from "curled" to "paroled." Or maybe I'm wrong. The cat committed a crime, went to kitty prison, and the window sill is the cat equivalent of Martha Stewart's ankle bracelet.)

3. My current favorite: "Why do we even need to talk about Hitler anymore now that his reign of tenor has ended?" (Written by a junior in college, this sentence was wrong on so many levels, that when I read it, my head imploded and hung down on my chest like a melting Dali clock. It took heroic efforts to revive me.)

But seriously, didn't you hate it when Adolph belted out a tune? Even his friends wouldn't tell him he sucked.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Better Life, Yard Donkey

That was the subject line of a spam message I got the other day. For some reason, I found it charming. Perhaps because it was a somewhat benevolent sentiment, wishing me a better life and all. Plus, there's a benign sound to being called a "yard donkey." A sweet little burro grazing in the front yard, oblivious to the worldly troubles beyond his tiny locus of control.

Or maybe I found it charming when compared to the usual spam I get. Which is, by far, mostly to do with my penis. I can not only, it seems, "Make it 6 Inches Longer" but one message promised to "Strengthen Your Crank" because "She Love the Power." Yes, she love the power. A coquettish grammatically incorrect verb usage like when Oprah says "Girl, I loves my macaroni and cheese."

These opportunities pale in comparison to the bold spam promises of "Barnyard Sex" of course. I do realize that they're referring to some hired skank-bag who is posing with various cattle, a la Katherine the Great. But wouldn't it be a nice change to see a rooster in a silk Hefner-esque smoking jacket, bending over a stereo in the pasture, his nervous beak inserting a Johnny Mathis CD, as he begins his crafty seduction of Bessie, the jezebel of the meadow? Of course it would.

Or maybe a quiet candlelit dinner in a dark corner of the musty barn, setting the stage for a tired old mangy coon dog who has his sights set on the fat pink pig across from him, in all her lardly glory, giggling into her napkin like Totie Fields. (If you know who Totie Fields is, I love you.)

But I cannot go on with this. I must go and turn in for the night, dreaming of what could happen if I did have a penis, and took advantage of every single offer I got to lengthen it. I would be trying to find some way to effectively store it for the workaday bustle of everyday life. Like wrapping it around one of those big metal garden hose spools.

Good night.