Saturday, January 31, 2009

We Can't Believe Our Eyes.

I knew it was a red letter day when I accidentally slept until 1:30. That's P.M. ladies and gentlemen.

The excitement of finding out my brother had been brave enough to even talk to girls (increasing my chances of someday becoming Auntie Laura for real) coupled with the completion of my Firestarter socks had led to my staying up until three. That's plenty early, much more so than is normal for me. I like to be in bed by midnight at least, but on weeknights usually bedtime is eleven. I was mocked through my teenage years, called an "old lady" at 16. I never cared. Still, there are times when a bit of caffeine causes me to lose the chance to sleep at night, and that was last night.

The problem I have with "catching up" on sleep usually makes me feel sick all day long, as if I was walking around while still comatose. Today, though, I shook off the haze of over-sleep in an instant as I overheard my brother asking my mom on the phone if he should just take the car and go back to campus without me.

There are several problems with this. One of them is that it would leave me, alone, without food, and bored out of my mind with network television all day long while Paul sat at MC with the ability to drive around, get food, and have fun. That being said, Paul would have let the car sit in the student lot until he ended up with the fourth parking ticket of this academic year. He would staunchly refuse to come home to get me later in the day, citing "work" even though he's a full-time student whose classes haven't started for the Spring semester yet. The work would be, in fact, a raid in World of Warcraft, which I could care less about. It would, however, prevent me from having a life at all this Saturday, and I deserve a bit better.

So I threw myself together and drove Paul to campus, stopping for him to pick up his Coronary Pizza (the meat-lovers kind with more grease on it than a pig at a fair) and dropping him off at his dorm with its occasional windows (they get broken a lot).

It was on the way back to 114 from MC that I noticed it. Some strange, indefinable thing that nonetheless left me unsettled, convinced of the wrongness of it. However, I was driving the speed limit on 2nd street--slow, but not slow enough to make out fine detail. So I turned around.

I could not possibly have seen what I thought I had. This is North Manchester. I can count the number of murders within the city limits during my lifetime on one hand--and I'm sure the number of murders through all time wouldn't take up the second. The population is only a few thousand (if that) and it drops considerably when MC lets out for the summer. There are more churches than gas stations, and most of them are Anabaptist--that means pacifists. Lots of them.

Here it is.

I know what you're thinking. I was going by faster than you are though, you get to sit there and stare right at it. I was moving. And I have watched many, many hours of Criminal Minds, not to mention reading Helter Skelter and all those evenings when there were only reruns of CSI and Law and Order to knit by.

Needless to say, my overactive imagination led my to envision myself featured on America's Most Wanted, then I pictured signing the release form that would allow my story to be reproduced on the small screen at least. Within a few weeks, I would be consulting on the screenplay detailing my small life, because when you're a writer, you need a stroke of luck, family connections, or God on your side to get a job in your skill set. Since I have none of those things, my best chance is to find a corpse, headless, limbless, and propped up against a trash bin in a rural area.

This retelling is, naturally, overlooking the obvious side effect of my finding a corpse. If that had really been what happened to me, I would have to kiss my writing career goodbye on my way to the institution where I would live out the remainder of my life. I'd have my meltdown long before reporters could interview me, let alone get a picture of me that didn't make me look like I have an unnaturally long neck, deep rings under my eyes, and no color but the blue of my blood vessels shown through my skin.

I would look like the murderer, and that picture would end up on every Indiana television network by nightfall, then the national news because whenever something happens in Indiana, it automatically makes The Today Show just so it looks like all the states get the same air time.

So I made my turn, parked along the side of the street, and walked over to the mannequin torso that awaited me. It was headless, limbless, covered in dried red paint and bashed in on one side. Instantly the imagined future of me, cared for throughout my life and with a cushy room to boot dissolved into years of flipping hamburgers and self-published novels. I sighed and took some pictures. I knew my family would never believe me without them, and really, where does something like this belong if not immortalized on the Internet.

So I drove home, confident that others would at least be amused at my story, if not reduced to the same hysterical laughter I was.

I called Mom, Dad answered.

My parents were at Grandpa and Grandma's, that's Dad's side. That meant they were most likely sitting across from each other, staring at each other, wishing there was something to talk about, and slowly falling asleep.

I was right. The phone (that's me) was passed around to each of the four adults, and I was forced to retell the story again and again and again and again.

Mom was on the Internet, hoping to find some kind of entertainment in the form of a NOVA special she had seen featuring the topic of a horrible book Dad is using to inflict deep emotional wounds upon himself. She looked for video online, but found you had to order a DVD to see it again. I told her to go to YouTube and see if it had been posted.

She did.

I got a phone call moments later. Mom had gone to YouTube, she said. And it was porn. She was horrified, momentarily blinded, and in her shock had unplugged the computer from the wall in order to shut it down more quickly.

This is not the first time Mom has unwittingly discovered Internet porn. She's stumbled across spyware which infected our old computer, making random windows pop up at any given time with unspeakable content. Then there was the Christmas when she wanted to order snorkeling equipment for Paul, and thought she would check Dick's sporting goods. Naturally, she typed into the web browser, and you can guess what greeted her when the site loaded. Yep.

Mom had typed in YouTube this time, but she didn't know that YouTube was spelled YouTube, she thought it was UTube, and she found something horrid.

I informed her that only people who secretly wanted to see porn actually typed web addresses into the browser. Everybody else uses a search engine. That way, you know what you're getting.

Disgruntled, she opened Yahoo and gave it a try. This time, she made it to YouTube, only to find that Google Ads had a massive advertisement for some kind of sexy dating service overwhelming half the screen. She asked me repeatedly if this was really the place where Paul and I found all those funny videos we showed her.

I assured her that it was, then warned her to be wary of innuendo as she typed in her NOVA search, because I didn't want to get blamed for anything else. The last thing I needed was a mother struck blind by dirty videos involving Disney characters or clips of old television shows put together to make actors seem involved in something unsavory. Sorry, Mom, that's really out there.

Then I took my dog, Darcy, for a walk. We found something amazing. Two bald eagles, perched on a sycamore branch at the edge of our property. They took flight as we got closer, and we walked across the field behind my neighbor's house to get a closer look.

There was a male and a female, and if we're lucky, we'll have a nesting pair. This is amazing considering that through most of my life there have been no eagles in our state, let alone in our backyard.

My cat will have to be careful.

I leave you today with the first image of the day, something that I feel is pretty enough to wipe the porn from my mother's eyes.

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