Thursday, March 31, 2005

April Quotes & Police Calls of the Week

Quotes of the Week
"The police officer said, 'You verbally assaulted her.' And I told him, 'I never touched the bitch!'" -- Campbell

"Motorcycles are great, but one boo-boo and your ass is splattered all over the highway." -- Kenny

Police Calls of the Week
Feb 3: Harassment. An employee of Burger King, 1980 Rahncliff Court, said a man claiming to be "Bob," the Ramsey County Sheriff, called and asked if he could pick him up in a limousine and take him to a hotel to have a drink.

March 16: False alarm. A caller reported that a dog was tied up with rope all around its legs, mouth and body in the 900 block of N. Linden St. It turned out that it was not a dog, but a deer lawn ornament wrapped with Christmas lights.

Friday, March 25, 2005

You're excommunicated!

I've been "lucky" enough to hear the words "You're fired" twice in my lifetime. Unfortunately, neither one came at the hands of a bad-hair day billionaire. I've also delivered the words "You're fired" at least 10 times in my management career.

I guess that's why my wife easily hooked me into watching The Apprentice. It's fun to see the different people interact on projects and watch them develop business plans that are either brilliant or train wrecks. But mostly my obsession deals with Trump's famous two words: "You're fired!" The boardroom gravy is The Donald's mastery of hand gestures during the cannings, such as the "Lone Ranger trigger finger," the "cobra strike" or the "Three-Stooges-wavy-hand-before-the-eye-poke" maneuver.

This year, The Apprentice hits a little closer to home. My sister swore one of my old grade school classmates was a contestant on the show. I thought she was joking at first until she told me John's last name - Gafford.

Gafford. That name was very familiar. From 1979-1981, my family lived in Lake City, Florida. That's where I befriended a couple of Gaffords, including a little hellion named Darren. But I was no angel either. Darren, a couple of other classmates and I terrorized Epiphany Catholic Grade School for 2 years. I think they performed an exorcism after I left to make sure my spirit was no longer lingering in the school halls.

Sister Marilyn must have doused herself in holy water each day to endure our demonic behavior. OK, so we didn't levitate or barf pea soup, but I'm sure she wanted to scream, "The power of Christ compels you!" more than once to control our possessions.

We called her Sister Hairy Leggs due to the thick, prickly, unshaven leg hair sticking out of her nylons, which made her body appear as if it was supported by two large cacti. I knew if I was ever real thirsty I could probably cut open one of her legs and get a glass of water. She also had excessive facial hair making me wonder if she had sideburns like Wade Boggs' under her habit. Besides hating us for coining this moniker, I suspect she also disliked us for being such dirty little bastards.

The group of boys I hung out with had one mission: Find something dirty in everything, and then laugh about it like a hyper hyena. If you could get someone else in trouble for laughing, it was a double play!

To Sister Hairy Leggs' horrors, some of the most boisterous gigglefests happened in church. I'm sure I have a reservation at Darren's table in hell and I'm already packing my handbasket for what I am about to admit. However, I have come to terms with the fact I will someday provide endless entertainment for masses of hoof-footed, pointy-tailed, horny-headed, goatee-wearing, red pajama-clad, pitchfork-wielding devils.

But how could a sixth grade hellion resist laughing when he hears someone say the words "Jesus was laid in the tomb" or "Mary rode Joseph's ass to Bethlehem" during Mass? Of course, the words were meant to be sacred and solemn, but words like that took a whole new meaning in our evil little minds. These things were even funnier when read aloud by one of the two beer-swilling Irish priests who were there (they had kegs tapped in their garage, but I was too young to truly appreciate this at the time). It was like the Lucky Charms cereal mascot was reading excerpts from the Penthouse Forum.

There was always a price to pay for such sacrilegious deeds. Sometimes, Sister Hairy Leggs would give you a choice: Either take a hit on the hand from her massive wooden yardstick, or write 1,000 times "I will not laugh during church services." I took the former punishment as I had studied her swing like a pro baseball scout. On the first cut, she swung for the fences like Jason Giambi juiced up on steroids. I knew the secret was pulling away your hand a couple of times first to get her winded. She warned me to keep my hand out for the third swing so she could actually make contact. I did, but she had nothing left in her swing, which at that point wouldn't have bunted her to first base. My classmate Rusty, a Ghandi-type who resisted violence in any form, took the writing punishment. I'm sure he regretted it as my hand slap didn't even hurt while his essay ended up being 45 pages long and gave him a lifetime of carpal tunnel syndrome.

For the second offense, four of us (myself and Darren Gafford included) had to kneel in front of the classroom and hold a bible in each hand with our arms raised at shoulder height from 8 AM until lunch. That really sucked. I recall looking up at one of the stations of the cross around 10:15 AM and thinking, "Sure, you wore a crown of thorns and had to lug that cross around, but did you ever have to do this?!" Hopefully some day Jesus can cut me a little slack for that.

Perhaps our worst display was during prayer after lunch every day. When Sister Hairy Leggs was done praying for the Pope, the bishop and any sick nuns she knew, she would allow us to say aloud any names we wanted the class to pray for. Since laughing during prayer was obviously one of the worst offenses at a Catholic school, we tried to make each other laugh and get in trouble by coming up with alternate names for the penis during this prayer. So every day, the class would pray for "Dick," "Peter," "Frank," and "Junior." There was much muffled snorting after the announcement of each name.

One day Sister Hairy Leggs thought she had finally busted our little game when a kid who normally didn't participate in our juvenile antics prayed for "Willy" and caused a ruckus of laughter. She confronted the kid, only to be told later by his mother that he had been praying for his hospitalized Uncle Willy. We asked the kid if his uncle had some type of eye injury in the hope that we would be praying for "one-eyed Willy" the next day. To our disappointment, his kidneys were failing. Despite the seriousness of the prayer intention, it was hard not to snicker at the addition of "Willy" for the next month. Sister Hairy Leggs had learned her lesson and wasn't about to challenge any name at this point. Even the name "Dong" was fair game now for fear it might be a Chinese relative or friend.

After time our names had been re-used so much they weren't as funny, so Darren decided to crank things up a notch. At the end of prayer one day, Sister Hairy Leggs asked if we had any other personal prayer intentions. Darren said, "Yeah, homos." Shockingly, the nun didn't say a word. I guess she was ahead of her time and implemented a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy regarding prayees. Darren subsequently repeated this prayer request every day for the rest of the year.

"I thought for sure that kid would end up in jail someday," my mother said, as she reminisced about my antics with Darren over lunch one day.

"Darren's Mom probably thought the same thing of me," I replied. "And she would have been right... TWICE!" [Author's Note: If beer in the park and loud party ordinance infractions count as legit jail time.]

I wondered if the Gafford on The Apprentice was somehow related to Darren. I heard about a website for John Gafford called I checked it out and discovered in John's bio that he had indeed grown up in Lake City. So I emailed him, asking if he was related to Darren and dropped a few names. Apparently I had him at Sister Hairy Leggs. John ended up writing back the same afternoon (below in italics is part of his letter):


Sure enough Darren is my cousin, I can relate to the sister cactus legs stories that chick beat the hell out me. You were also in class with my sister Mandy and if you attended 4th grade were more than likely instructed by my Mom.

Take care, thanks for the memories (albeit terrifying ones)

John M. Gafford

I thought it was very cool of him to reply. I may be many degrees separated from Kevin Bacon, but I'm only 1 degree separated from John on The Apprentice.

I did feel guilty for being a clone of Damien from The Omen movies at Epiphany and tried to make amends to the church by being an altar boy for 7 years. Something tells me if Donald Trump would have been one of the priests at Epiphany, he would have taken Darren and me in the "boardroom" and told us "You're excommunicated!"

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Jelly Belly Ache

When I was 5, I know at times I was a pain in the ass. I didn't always keep my room clean, I always picked on my big sister and didn't always listen to Mom and Dad. Usually a spanking or a grounding was enough to get me back in line.

My sister was babysitting the 5-year-old neighbor boy and discovered he had a rare speech impediment where he turned normal words into vulgarity. Ashtray became "asstray" and fire truck was "firefuck." Of course, my sister made him repeat the words 5,000 times during her six-hour shift, then collected $12 from the unsuspecting parents when they got home. The problem was, my sister had turned the kid into a parrot with a two-word vocabulary. The kid had to suck on a bar of soap for a month or so to help him clean up his act.

But that was then with kid "crime and punishment." What follows is the now (what appears in italics is from a recent Associated Press story):

5-Year-Old Cuffed and Arrested in Florida
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (March 18) - A 5-year-old girl was arrested, cuffed and put in back of a police cruiser after an outburst at school where she threw books and boxes, kicked a teacher in the shins, smashed a candy dish, hit an assistant principal in the stomach and drew on the walls.

Wow, that's quite a tantrum. Some people would say the hitting and kicking really crossed the line, but imagine how upset this little girl must have been to break a candy dish! In a 5-year-old's mind, where is the candy gonna' go if you break the candy dish? That's like slicing a hole in your trick-or-treat bag. The little spitfire must have been pushed over the edge like Drew Barrymore in Firestarter.

The students were counting jelly beans as part of a math exercise at Fairmount Park Elementary School when the little girl began acting silly. That's when her teacher took away her jelly beans, outraging the child.

It's easy to see why this escalated so quickly. When I was in school, the teachers were smart enough to avoid using candy in math exercises. They used apples or oranges instead. Spreading candy out in front of a 5-year-old is akin to spreading out a smorgasbord of Viagra, Cialis and Levitra at a nursing home and then taking them all away between bingo and bedtime. It just spells trouble. And what does it mean when a 5-year-old girl acts "silly?" Did she fall asleep on the comic pages and wake up with "Rex Morgan, M.D." and "Mary Worth" plastered to the side of her face? No wait... that'd be silly putty. My guess is she was so hopped up on jelly beans, she started telling knock-knock jokes non-stop. Or maybe just giggling or running or hopping around due to the excess sugar. The problem with using the word "silly" is that it leaves a lot open to the imagination. I guess you could say seeing a naked hobo with a soup can over his genitals singing Mule Train could even qualify as "silly." Obviously you should never be a jelly bean "indian-giver" when it comes to 5-year-olds. You'd figure a math teacher would know that only adds up to trouble.

Minutes later, the 40-pound girl was in the back of a police cruiser, under arrest for battery. Her hands were bound with plastic ties, her ankles in handcuffs.

OK, so she threw some books and broke a candy dish. She was kicking shins. They should be happy that she wasn't the daughter of a Rockette or she would have kicked someone in the "gumballs." But this is a 40-pound 5-year-old girl they had hogtied in the back of the squad car, not a rabid wolverine. I've had drinks in my car's cup-holder that weighed more than 40 pounds (Super Duper Big Gulp at 7-Eleven which comes in a collector's wastebasket). Maybe a better solution would have been to send in Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, to swat at the girl with a large stick for a while and assess the wild animal she had apparently become. "These 5-year-old girls are unpredictable. One minute they're having tea parties with their dollies and teddy bears, but take away their jelly beans, and they become more dangerous than spitting cobras," he'd say. "Let's see if I can get her attention with a few pokes with this stick. Ooo, now she's really agitated! But she's a gorgeous creature."

"I don't want to go to jail," she said moments after her arrest Monday.
No charges were filed and the girl went home with her mother. While police say their actions were proper, school officials were not pleased with the outcome."We never want to have 5-year-old children arrested," said Michael Bessette, the district's Area III superintendent. The district's campus police should have been called to help and not local police, he said. Bessette said campus police routinely deal with children and are trained to calm them in such situations.

What charges can you file against a 5-year-old and make them stick - like a wad of Juicy Fruit in your hair - unless making faces is now a felony? The kid definitely has anger issues, but couldn't the police have sent in a negotiator dressed up as Barney to defuse the situation before cuffing and stuffing this kid?

Under the district's code of student conduct, students are to be suspended for 10 days and recommended for expulsion for unprovoked attacks, even if they don't result in serious injury. But district spokesman Ron Stone said that rule wouldn't apply to kindergartners.
"She's been appropriately disciplined under the circumstances," he said.
The girl's mother, Inda Akins, said she is consulting an attorney.
"She's never going back to that school," Akins said. "They set my baby up."

Does every incident involve a conspiracy theory now? When I was 5, there were only a handful of conspiracy theories like JFK, UFOs and Jimmy Hoffa. All the other shit we had figured out. It also seems like behind every weird kid story, there's always an idiot parent. If I was the teacher I would have told the mother, who clearly has crop circles in her backyard, "Yes, that's exactly right, Mrs. Akins. We set that little bitch up with the jelly beans. I knew those Jelly Bellies would make her more huffy than a bike. Why? I was sick of reading "The Cat In The Hat" every day to her during story time. During finger painting, she used her toes and that was the last fucking straw! I conspired with the guy down at the candy store on how to take her out of my classroom once and for all. I suggested Rolos to roll her ass out the door, but the candy store guy assured me that after giving her jelly beans and taking them away, she'd turn into a miniature Tonya Harding."

It's unclear if the 5-year-old asked to re-start her tantrum because her shoelace was untied, but chances are the real teacher ended up writhing on the classroom floor clutching her shins and screaming through her Seabiscuit teeth, "Why?!? Why?!?"

Twelve years from now that kid will probably be chucking hubcaps at her prom date.