The Round Two Winner of Our Columnist Contest Is….

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7: Tales from the Heart — Wendy Hauptman

Another close round! We love hearing our readers’ opinions. Congrats to the other four finalists of Round Two. Keep writing!

Tales from the Heart will advance to the Final Round. Now on to Round Three!

This week we’re printing the next five of our finalists (from the earliest date of submission). Their columns will be numbered 11—15. Voting for Round Three will be the same. It begins Wednesday, April 18, and ends Tuesday, April 24, at 10 a.m. The winner of Round Three will be announced in our Wednesday, April 25, edition, and the next batch of five columnists will be printed for Round Four. The victors of each round will then go head-to-head in our Final Round to decide the new columnist of The Tolucan Times!

There are three ways you can vote for your favorite: by email, info@tolucantimes.com; by phone, (818) 762-2171; and on Facebook, www.facebook.com/TolucanTimes (be sure to “Like” us while you’re there). When voting, just notify which number (11—15) you think deserves a spot in our pages. If by email, put your choice in the subject line.

So without further ado, on to Round Three – it’s still your turn!

11: Go with the Flow

By Evelyn Deveraux

Most of the women in our apartment building are single without children but have cats they love reporting their latest antics as part of the morning gossip. The luckiest day of my life was the day Lucky adopted me to love, honor, and obey him for the rest of my life. He peeked up out of a box with six siblings as if to say, “Well make up your mind; you know I’m the one.” And he was right.

After examining his unusual mixture of round white spots mixed with grey hair, Lucky became the vision of an intricate tiger rug. The nice man giving him up told of how he took the kittens in after the mother deserted them, gave them their shots, milk-fed them with eye droppers, and let them sleep in his bathtub. His word of advice was, “Buy a clock for him to sleep on; he’ll think it’s his mom’s heart.”

The decision was made to take this little orphan home and give him the best upbringing I could. My mother had deserted our family and I knew how it hurt.

Lucky’s first night was spent at the top of my head digging a nest in my hair. The clock didn’t work. It didn’t take him long to lay down some rules to follow:

Rule 1: If he has a bad dream in the middle of the night, he’s allowed to come running full speed to my bed and settle into my chest while his ears get rubbed so he can go back to sleep. At 6 a.m., he’s looking down into my face, eyeball to eyeball, until I get up. The minute my feet touch the floor, I pick him up and rub his stomach all the way to the kitchen, where he’s fed. Then I can plug in my coffee pot.

Rule 2: Open the glass doors to the patio where an eight foot lattice green fence was put up to keep him from flying over the original six foot fence. He was caught midair on the runway the first time he attempted to take off. Crashing to the patio, he has never tried it again.

Just as I sit down to drink my coffee and watch Regis on television, he’s wanting back in again. This will continue until I decide the game is over.

Rule 3: Clean litter box, or he’ll just use my soft rug. Now my coffee is cold, Regis is over, and he’s run to his leash to be taken outside for his morning walk around the pool.

Lucky, who lived to be eight years old, left me a keep-sake I found behind the piano, only to sweep up in a dustpan to remind me:

“Ashes to ashes and dust to dust, we all end up the same, so what’s all the fuss?”

This column will provide a humorous twist to articles concerning the ridiculous to the sublime about music, bicycles, women, aging, health, famous musicians and entertainers, Southern cooking — all subjects connecting to you readers….

12: Can’t Torch This

By Mary Jean Tucker

For the third time this month she’s on her way to her nemesis place of business, Chuck’s Auto Repair. Her car barely running, smoking uncontrollably, and still making that same hideous sputtering sound, is precisely why she’s so ticked off. Tiny, not a small gal by any means but rather robust, with fiery red hair and a personality to match. She feels Chuck is one shady character and has put the screws to her yet once again. Although confrontation has never been her strong suit she’s been taken advantage of and pushed to the brink. She has no choice but to put the boots to him, so to speak.

Her teeth clenched and face almost as red as her hair she pulls up to the business with fury but, she’s too late they’re closed for the day. In a fit of rage she grips the steering wheel so tight her knuckles turn white and lets out a scream that could be heard for miles. Angry and as shaky as a $2 TV she decides right then and there that this gin joint’s goin’ up in flames. With no prior pyre experience, she wonders how to go about it. She has an old book of matches she found under the seat and that half bottle of lighter fluid on the floor. “Would that be enough?” she said out loud. If so, she needs to act fast. She sat back to ponder and polish off the two guacamole burgers and diet cola that she stopped for earlier.

With her belly full, supplies in hand, and panther like precision she leapt out of the car but, weighing in at three bills at best, this was no easy feat. Perhaps it was that second burger. She shrugged it off and took a deep breath. She then pulled on a ski mask and all went black; had she been “blinded by the light” as to the act she was about to perform on ol’ Chas or was it just that the mask was on backwards? As she stood there staring into darkness she pulled the mask from her head and “saw the light.” She was going about this all wrong and as much as the thought of going out in a blaze of glory appealed to her at that moment, it dawned on her that she knew absolutely nothing about setting a fire. So she got back into her barely running, non-stop smoking, and sputtering heap of a car to regroup and come up with an entirely new plan, something she knew a little something about. She smiled to herself and thought, “What would Spade Cooley do?” Hmm…. I have a feeling this won’t be the last of the likes of Tiny.

I love to write short fiction tales – that’s what my column would be.

13: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow — Seniors Speaking

By Lois Allen

Meet hip 87-year-old Joyce Bergloff. You’ll be glad you did. I was! If you see a perfectly coifed woman, wearing just-right make-up and a color coordinated outfit (emphasis on color), right down to the last purple ballet slipper — Joyce. During the holidays, keep your eyes peeled for a good-looking Santa posing for photos — Joyce. If you are one to partake in comedy, from time to time you will find her performing at The Mayflower Club. At age 75, her commercial career began. When Joyce told her much-younger male cohort “no tongue” during a scripted kiss, he “tongued” anyway. She laughed. Every Thursday night Joyce is at a dance selling raffle tickets and telling jokes, even having an occasional dance. Each Monday afternoon she reads another chapter from her memoir Would You to the members of her writing group. This is one busy woman, whose life story is filled with adventure, sometimes sadness and tragedy, and lots of laughs and good times.

Born in Brighton, Sussex, England, Joyce grew up along the shores of the English Channel where her childhood included stage performance from ages 5 to 16. When World War II broke out, she could choose to join the British Woman’s Army, work in munitions, or on the land replacing a farmer. Following in her brother Gordon’s footsteps, she joined up. When her husband of only nine days died in action and her precious brother in an accident, the pain from those losses did not stop her. She went from one front to another, serving in France towards the end of the occupation and for three years in Berlin investigating war criminal bank accounts. Joyce tells a story that while stationed in France she was guided to the proper place to get coffee by none other than General Dwight Eisenhower — described as a gracious guide. She and her friends were once joined by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt at Club 48, an American service club in Berlin — “48” referring to the number of states at the time. Mrs. Roosevelt’s pink nail polish was described by the wearer as “passionate pink.”

After having been home from her army service for only two months, Joyce informed her mother that she and a friend were immigrating to Toronto where, because of their war work, they had been promised government jobs. A trip to Ft. Lauderdale left Joyce hankering for palm trees and soon she was on her way to Florida where she married and her cherished daughter Shelley was born. Florida life was later traded for California living, eventually landing Joyce in Burbank where she now lives in a perfect little guest house with her daughter, son-in-law, and two grandchildren close by.

Her attendance at a recent garden party hosted by the French Consulate resulted in paperwork being submitted requesting that Joyce be awarded the French Medal of Honor.

Who knows what will be next.

As more and more of us reach “senior” status, whether it’s when AARP decides, or Social Security, or our kids, we want to be joyful when looking back and excited when looking forward. This column will touch on all of it — the reminiscing, the opportunities, and challenges, and how to make every moment count.

14: Dear Dad

By Gary Glasser

This is a series of letters to my Dad, who died in 1971, highlighting changes in technology, business, society, and me, as I’ve aged from 21 to 61+.

Dear Dad,

Wow, 40 years and 3,000 miles since last we spoke, so I have lots to tell you. You missed the computer revolution. Back in the day, working on Wall Street, we had a mainframe computer upstairs and sent forms with accounting changes for input. Now, everyone is their own data entry operator. The advent of “smart phones” might interest or surprise you. We had the one line phone but now most everyone has several. Your grandson, had you lived to meet him, has a cell phone for pretty much everything. You were a big reader (and writer) of Sci-Fi and you instilled that interest in me. Some of the ideas our favorite authors wrote of now seem to be everyday reality — how about that?

The work you did as a magazine editor with your multi-colored pencils is now called “computer graphics.” A myriad of programs facilitate this and it is studied in school. I still have some of those pencils you brought home for us to draw with.

You never drove, which astonished me, but the NYC transit system was a work of art, albeit filthy, smelly, and overcrowded. Here, most of us drive to work. I still favor those “muscle cars” you disapproved of. Your grandson inherited my love for them so we both drive hot cars today. He actually studied them and understands how they work. I only drive them. Technology in cars has improved, too, but you don’t care about that.

A lesson I learned in business, from my two careers (on Wall Street and the limousine business), is to be careful of people who blithely claim to have 10 years experience as if it qualifies them as an expert. I have found many people have 1 year of experience repeated 10 times. No growth, no depth, just a person doing a job. I bring this up because despite your many years of parenting, I am not so sure you ever got better at it. I am not sure of myself, but I consciously try to communicate with my son. I still wonder how you really felt about me and my sister. I guess I will never know for sure.

I recall you hated or disapproved of rock ‘n’ roll. Now, your grandson and I share a love for it, albeit he listens in “the cloud” while I still maintain collections of vinyl and CDs. Wait, you don’t know what a CD is! Let alone a cell phone…. This could take awhile, Dad, so be patient. I will try to think of any questions you might have and answer them as we go along.

Your son,
Gary

15: Purrspective

By Vickie Jackson

I challenge anyone reading this to become a cat.

Aside from the obvious changes — that is, growing a fine tail, fur, pointy ears, and whiskers perpendicular to each side of your nose, most of you humans simply couldn’t handle it. The superior senses of night vision, smell, and hearing are beyond your species, indeed. Then there’s the ability to bathe all over — yes, even the yucky places — with your tongue. You’d hock up far more than your own hairballs.

How about the retractable nails? Would you like to be whisked off to a vet to get them removed? (Aside from all the other stuff they want surgically separated from you!)

Most of all, humans lack the intellect to survive as felines. Which is why my observations of the bipedal residents of this neighborhood are being recorded here….

First, of course, there’s my adoptive Mama. I must admit, as far as her kind goes, she’s good to me. Mama does what I tell her, most of the time. She tickles my tummy while singing our special song. She feeds me, cleans my litter box regularly, and has a nice warm bed which I allow her to share with me. Mama recognizes that female cats are appropriately called “queens.” She also tells me she’ll pulverize anyone who so much as tries to harm me.

The others of her kind around here, though, are a mixed variety. Whenever I sit up in the front window, gazing at the lovely, no doubt delicious, birds, some of the neighbors go totally weird upon seeing me. Each one, every time, can’t resist tapping on the glass right in front of me. Silly creatures- — do they think I haven’t seen them? If I’ve ignored them as they block my view, do they honestly believe I’ll suddenly greet them with joy? I only paw at the window to shoo them away. Frankly, I find such behavior annoying.

Then there are those who kiss the window and generally make major fools of themselves. If only they realized how many other humans have kissed the same surface. Bugs crawl across there, too. I wonder if the other humans they kiss notice a funny taste.

Yet why, I must ask, do so many of the human species want to harm me? Above all, the youngest ones, who think it’s fun. Aside from the odd mouse, I’ve never hurt any creature. Mama tries to explain it’s because not all of her kind are good. Some merely exist to do wrong.

It would be better if all humans were cat-lovers; better still, if they acted like us. Sleeping eighteen hours a day, eating, drinking, washing, using the litter box, purring. Sounds like a great improvement, doesn’t it?

Lily stays home and watches her neighbors through the window. She makes observations about the humans she knows around there and at home (her Mama and visitors). Her remarks and stories would be about human nature as regarded by a cat, pointing out our faults and good qualities as well.

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