The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Most Precious Gift

          Earlier in the week, I got a present from one of my students. It was in an envelope, so I figured it would be one of the frequent drawings they give me. (Some of them are pictures of me, and I am always tipped off when they have a crayon in their hand and they ask, "Mrs. R--is your hair orange?" as they are vacillating. That tells me I have gone overboard with the hair dye.)

      He's a hard little kid, too. At any given time you can see him slamming a chair around, glowering at me, or shouting at a peer (sometimes all three at once).

      I need to go back a little further. Just a little, I promise. Last week, we had our monthly "auction." The kids earn "money" through their behavior, work habits, etc. At the end of every month we take bids on dozens and dozens of things--stuffed animals, fancy spiral notebooks, bags of candy, and so on. One of the most popular items--two months in a row--was a giant (two feet in diameter) roll of bubblewrap. (I'm sure the parents were quite appreciative of that thing coming home...)

       One student (the kiddo who gave me the present) bid on and got a set of refrigerator magnet picture frames. I told them it would make a great Christmas present for someone. 

          So, I was surprised when I opened the envelope and there--framed by one of those magnets--was a little love note to me. Pencil on notebook paper, it was carefully folded so it fit into the frame. This little boy doesn't even have enough food to eat every day, but he managed to give me a present I will cherish for a long, long time.

        What is the sweetest gift you ever got--from a child or an adult?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Getting Drunk Pays Off (For Me)

          Last night was the John Prine concert in St. Louis. The opening act was great (one singer-songwriter with an acoustic guitar) and John Prine's group was spare and pared down--just another guitarist and a bass player/guitarist. No need for anyone or anything else...

      In spite of no Bonnie Raitt or Emmylou Harris or Iris DeMent making a guest appearance, it was an unbelievable evening.

      Here is one of Prine's more humorous numbers. At the end, he even pokes at Bush.

Your Flag Decal

     Prine did little talking. He let his songs speak for him. People kept calling out songs, like "Christmas in Prison' (he did), or "The Great Compromise" (he didn't sing that one), and at one point, he said, "I'm not gonna sing that, I'm gonna sing the next song," which got a laugh.

      My seat was in row Y; we had the two aisle seats. I had suceeded in finding a friend who does know who John Prine is, and she was thrilled with the last-minute opportunity. (My husband was sick and had to bow out, much to his dismay.) While the opening act was performing, the guy next to me said he needed to leave but insisted, "I'll be back. I promise." It was obvious he had enjoyed several beverages already. I wanted to tell him, "I'll be holding my breath until you return." 

     When he came back and rejoined his two drunk stooges music-fan friends, all three guys had a conversation during every song. They'd point up at the balconies several times; apparently something about those seats or something floating in the air (that only they could see) was quite fascinating. Or aggravating. It was hard to tell.

     I told my friend I had to leave, apologized, and went to the usher. I told her where we were sitting, and let her know that the three guys next to us were drunk, and would not shut up. She said she'd talk to someone.

      No one came to shine a flashlight in their face or slam it against their head.

      Then all three guys left--apparently their thirst needed re-quenching.  When the one next to me went by me, as we stood in the aisle (while the opening act was still performing) he put his hand on my shoulder and said, "I'm so sorry."

       For the next few songs, I plotted my response if he put his paw on me again. "Put your hand on me again, and you'll pull back a bloody stump, and it might not be your hand that's missing."

      Sadly, I could only live that moment Walter Mitty-style, because he didn't touch me again, but he did return, along with the other two jackasses enjoyment-suckers. The conversations were loud enough for people several rows in front of us to hiss and call back for them to be quiet.

     When the opening performer sang a song about being on the road and missing home, the guy on my left turned to me and said matter-of-factly, "Gypsy."  I immediately thought, 'WWPD? What would Pearl do?' After all, she rides the bus every day, and uses the fodder for hilarious blog postings. I put on my writerly hat and hoped the fun would continue so I'd have something to write about.

      It did.

      I excused myself again. A different usher said she'd talk to the house manager. Probably, they came and listened/observed, but these guys didn't  talk nonstop. They would talk, then shut up, and then talk some more. And to add to the mix, the one next to me kept strumming an imaginary guitar, without a break.  (At least I think that is what he was banging away on. I tried not to look too closely.)
        The third time apparently was a charm. I got up when one of his friends got up as well. (He was really Mr. Thirsty!) The strummer chucklehead next to me had a bottle of beer he was drinking from and then hiding under his jacket. (I was hoping that was the ONLY thing he was hiding under there...) The friend was so far-gone, as I was at the door talking to the house manager, saying, "This is one of the guys," he just stood there. He didn't even have the brainmatter to run and hide.

      The house manager moved my friend and me to row K--primo seats--and thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the concert.

      So, if you're a teenager and your parents tell you that getting drunk will lead to no good, don't believe them. It's a lie. It's not true.

      If someone else is plastered, it could get you into the seats where rich people sit...

This is an incredible picture book (quite meaty when it comes to the text) by Byrd Baylor. A kid in a family thinks they're poor, and the parents start adding up their "riches." The fact they get to work outside is worth so many dollars, and because they get to see the mountains every day is worth so many dollars, and so on. By the time the parents add it up, they maintain that their kitchen table--a table that is homemade and scratched up--is where where rich people sit, because THEY are rich and they sit there.