Category Archives: Silliness

Guilty pleasure

The Blue Thumb folks would have my head for this, but after 16 years of refusing to wash a car for any reason other than increasing the vehicle’s value on trade-in day, I have fallen hopelessly in love with my local car wash.

I know that’s terrible, and that I ought to be washing the car over grass, with an old rag and a bucket of biodegradable castile-soap suds, but I can’t help it — I freakin’ love the car wash.

It all started innocently enough.

I took the Starlight Express to the car wash on Southwest Boulevard (a.k.a. Route 66) one afternoon a few weeks ago to vacuum the dog hair off the upholstery before I gave someone a ride to church. I had a handful of quarters left when I finished, and the car’s exterior was pretty dirty, so I decided to pull into one of the bays and hose it off while I was there.

I’ve never been a big fan of those automatic drive-through car washes. There’s just something vaguely unnerving about being trapped in the car in a little building with big cascades of water and giant brushes and enormous rollers bombarding you from all directions. But I have several fond memories of the hose-it-off-yourself kind of car wash.

Mom used to take me along when she washed the car when I was little, and I always thought it was cool to sit inside and watch the water hit the windows. Twenty years later, when Ron and I got married, my little brother and his best friend decorated Ron’s car in honor of the occasion. Ron eventually got tired of driving around with “WAY TO GO, RON! GIT ‘ER DONE!” all over the windows, so a day and a half into our honeymoon, he declared the graffiti a safety hazard and drove us to a car wash to hose it off. To this day, every time I see a car wash, I smile, remembering our honeymoon and Oliver and Aaron’s handiwork.

But it’s not just the memories. There is something innately fun about going to the car wash. I don’t know why. Washing a car with a bucket and a hose isn’t fun. But the power washer? That’s a whole ‘nother matter.

Maybe it has something to do with my Tim Allen-like affinity for power tools. Maybe it’s the fact that in this age of automatic car washes at every gas station, the self-operated car wash feels like a connection to another time. Maybe it’s just the realization that I’m doing something Mom did when I was little bitty, which is sort of an affirmation that I am, in fact, a grownup. (I had lofty aspirations when I was little, but my fondest dream was just to be a grownup.) Or maybe it’s just that I’m a hopeless nerd who finds happiness in really stupid places.

Whatever it is, it’s become one of my favorite guilty pleasures … right up there with Gretchen and deep-fried ribs.


On this very night …

Kindred tastes, motives, and aspirations are necessary to the formation of a happy and permanent companionship. The beautiful in character is also the good, welding indissolubly the links of affection.
— Mary Baker Eddy

One doesn’t normally think of claymation, big rigs, and parodies of Red Sovine songs as being the stuff romantic moments are made of … but believe it or not, the Large Marge scene from Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure figures prominently into what I consider one of the defining moments of my marriage.

I realize this sounds asinine, but bear with me.

Mrs. Eddy talks about “kindred tastes, motives, and aspirations” — what we might refer to as common ground — being “necessary to the formation of a happy and permanent companionship.” In my experience, that concept is most apparent in what I refer to as “Large Marge Moments.”

Shortly after Ron and I got married, we decided to watch Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure together. Neither of us had seen the film in years, but when Large Marge appeared on the screen, we both began spontaneously reciting the entire scene, verbatim, along with her.

Obviously we are hopeless dorks … but there was nothing dorky about the love I felt for Ron as we shared a hearty laugh at our discovery of yet another “kindred taste” (or lack thereof, as the case may be).

Large Marge Moments aren’t the starry-eyed, bells-and-whistles, forget-to-breathe-as-a-little-shiver-runs-up-your-spine moments that fill the pages of romance novels.

In fact, Large Marge Moments frequently look pretty dorky. But I think they’re absolutely critical to the success of a marriage. Romance can’t survive on infatuation alone. It has to be underpinned with genuine affection and solid friendship — qualities that often surface in uninhibited, joyful, exuberant moments full of hysterical laughter and unbridled goofiness.

Large Marge moments are the best-friend moments in which you discover each other’s weird little quirks and love each other not in spite of them, but because of them. They’re moments of sweet, easy, sometimes silly intimacy that fits as comfortably and naturally as a pair of well-worn Birkenstocks.

Cherish the Large Marge moments. They’re the ones that “[weld] indissolubly the links of affection” that will pull you safely from any “twisted, burning wreck” moments that come your way.

Yes, sir. Those are the best … moments … I ever seen.


Grateful monkey

I have no idea why I decided I needed a sock monkey with the head of a Grateful Dead Dancing Bear on it. I think we have established by this point that reason is seldom, if ever, a consideration in my creative outbursts. In any case, meet Owley:


Here’s a lightened-up closeup of his face so you can see the ears:


Getting that felt part to come out right was hard, but Owley turned out better than any of the monkeys I’ve made up to this point.

And here’s a closeup of the little monkey in his arms, which I made on my lunch hour yesterday, using a couple of fuzzy baby socks:


I was thinking it would be cool to attach monofilament to Owley’s arms and legs and turn him into a marionette so he could be a real Dancin’ Bear. 🙂

who obviously has way too much time on her hands lately …

Monkey business


I made another sock monkey tonight. I wanted to give it to Jamie, but I ran into some problems as I was making it, and it didn’t come out quite the way I wanted. I have two more socks like these (I mixed and matched between two pairs), so I’ll just keep this one and make a sturdier, better constructed specimen for Jamie.


Despite its flaws, I still think it turned out pretty cute.


Here it is with my first monkey, a traditional Rockford Red Heel specimen.


In case you are wondering, Scout is no longer speaking to me. She did not like sharing her chair with that sock monkey one little bit. She looks awfully cute with the monkey’s arms around her, though….


Bean check

Anybody in Tulsa who hasn’t been under a rock for the past week is aware that Friday was the day the city unearthed the 1957 Plymouth Belvedere that was buried under the courthouse lawn 50 years ago.

We found out a couple of days ago that water had infiltrated the concrete vault that contained the car. That should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the plight of historic gas stations, many of which have been orphaned by the insurmountable costs associated with removing leaking underground gas tanks from the property. Many of the tanks in question are — you guessed it — about 50 years old.

Several people have made comments online, suggesting that the water in the vault was somehow a reflection on the people who buried the car or on Tulsa itself — as if it is the organizers’ fault that 1957 technology wasn’t quite sufficient to protect a car from the ravages of 50 years’ worth of weather, jarring from traffic on the nearby street, and the innate permeability of concrete.

The upshot of the naysayers’ comments is that the organizers of the first Tulsarama! were stupid to bury the car and that the layer of rust covering the Belvedere when it was finally unveiled makes the entire idea an abject failure.

The organizers were stupid, all right: stupid like a fox. All 7,000 seats for the unveiling sold out weeks ago, and I’m told that the line of people waiting to see the car come out of the ground Friday afternoon stretched for blocks. I personally talked to people from as far away as Norway who had come to town for the express purpose of seeing the Belvedere. It seems like everybody I talked to Friday night was from out of town, out of state, or even out of the country. I have no idea how much money is flowing into Tulsa’s economy this weekend, but I suspect the number is going to end up in the millions.

Bury a golden car, dig up a gold mine. If that’s failure, I don’t want to succeed.

Besides all that, I get the impression that the whole buried-car idea was done largely on a lark, and I don’t think anybody who was around back then had any real belief that the car was going to come out of that vault looking like it just rolled off the showroom floor. I’ve always suspected the whole thing was done more along the lines of the infamous Herrin High School 1992-93 Art IV Bean Check.

When I was a senior in high school, four guys in my art class decided — for no apparent reason — to wrap a clump of cold baked beans in a paper napkin and hide them in a seldom-used drawer.

Every few weeks thereafter, when the teacher was out of the room, one of the guys would yell, “BEAN CHECK!” and the four of them would scramble to extract the beans from the drawer, examine their condition, wrap them back up, and put them away before the teacher had time to come back and see what they were up to. If you can imagine a cross between a science-fair project and a Chinese fire drill, that’s basically what it was.

I have a pretty strong hunch that the decision to bury the car and dig it up again 50 years later was motivated by something close to whatever insane whim got hold of my classmates 15 years ago. I really think that what we have here is, in essence, a Bean Check on a grand scale.

For my classmates, the joy in the Bean Check was not some ridiculous belief that the beans would survive in pristine condition. The joy was in doing something utterly silly — and in satisfying their curiosity about what would happen to the beans if they were stored in a wildly inappropriate location for an extended period of time. Same thing goes for the Belvedere: Tulsa got to do something utterly silly, and then 50 years later, it got to satisfy its collective curiosity about what would happen to a car if it were stored in a wildly inappropriate location for an extended period of time.

I think the Belvedere is great. It’s a history lesson that gives you a little insight into the sort of crazy things that captured the public’s imagination in 1957. It gives a bit of insight into the technology of the day — which is exactly what a good time capsule ought to do. It’s a bit of a science lesson — if we didn’t know it before, we are all now well aware that concrete is permeable. It even strikes me as being a sort of public art display, vaguely reminiscent of Prada Marfa.

And on a more practical note: While there are a few shortsighted individuals who think the winner of the car is getting a raw deal, I think the vehicle’s fame makes it a prime candidate for eBay; if the winner is unhappy with his prize, he should be able to get enough for it at auction to buy his own ’57 Belvedere in showroom condition, if that’s what floats his boat.

Personally, though, I would do no such thing. If that car were mine, I wouldn’t sell her, I wouldn’t put her in a museum, and I wouldn’t try to restore her to mint condition. If she were mine, I’d call up the best bunch of gearheads I could find and set them to work replacing her guts, installing hydraulics, and turning her into the sweetest rat rod you ever saw.

And then I would spend the next 50 years kicking butt and taking names at every car show in the United States. 🙂


UPDATE: The Tulsa World has video of the unveiling here. Something I consider even more precious and beautiful than the Belvedere was unveiled this weekend, too — and is in immaculate condition — but I’d rather show you what it is than tell you. Stay tuned; I hope to return with photos in a few hours.

It’s the ghost light!

I was headed to bed, but this is so funny that I just had to stop and post it before I forget:

Ron went to lunch at Napoli’s with some of the Tulsa Now folks today and came home with a present for me: A friend of his, who works with Tulsa’s awesome Metropolitan Environmental Trust, had given him a cool flashlight/radio/emergency siren/cell phone charger that works off a dynamo. You wind it up, and it charges the built-in batteries. It works a lot like a Freeplay.

Anyway, I have been talking about using an LED headlamp at night to save power, so it seemed worthwhile to carry this LED flashlight/radio contraption around this evening and see if it was bright enough to get me from computer to refrigerator and back without tripping over any dogs.

It worked just fine and is, I think, a marvelous renewable-energy alternative to keeping umpteen power-sucking lights on all night. (Yes, we use CFLs, but a 13-watt spiral bulb still can’t compare to a zero-energy flashlight.)

As far as I can tell, it has just one down side:

Songdog is terrified of it.

I have no idea what he thinks it is going to do to him, but he runs away from it every time I turn it on.

At first, I thought maybe the light was hurting his eyes, but even when I stand behind him and shine the light out ahead of us, so it just illuminates our path, he runs and hides in another room. The first time I turned the flashlight on, he ran and hid in his crate and refused to come out until I sat on the floor and invited him onto my lap, which is his favorite place in the whole world. He came out of his crate and immediately buried his face in my chest, trying to hide from the bad, scary flashlight. If I so much as touched it, he would look away and hang his head.

I shouldn’t laugh at him — the poor dog is obviously terribly frightened of this light — but honestly, his reaction was one of the funniest things I have ever seen. Very few things scare Song, but that flashlight has him totally cowed.

Fabulous prize

You had to know this was coming:


This is the fabulous prize for the trivia contest.

Actually, this is the prototype for the fabulous prize. I am making a sturdier, more neatly constructed sock monkey to be the fabulous prize.

I would have announced the prize when I announced the contest, but I wanted to wait until my socks came in and I’d confirmed that I could, in fact, make a monkey out of them and would not have to resort to Plan B (which involved a duct-tape wallet — a cool prize, to be sure, but much stickier and messier to make).

I think the socks arrived yesterday afternoon, but the mailman set them on a chair next to the porch, and I didn’t notice them until late last night. I am now busy making a monkey for the contest winner (or, more likely, for his toddler, who — if he is like most toddlers — will probably grab it and take off with it as soon as it comes in the house), along with a CD containing both the songs from the trivia contest and several other songs by those artists.

Sock monkeys are fun to make. I think they are also very cute. I intend to make a lot of them in the future. I will probably give away more of them on this blog, so watch this space if you would like to have one of your own. I might eventually make a duct-tape wallet and use it as a prize, too. Stay tuned.

Oh, and for those of you who missed it: Here are the answers to the trivia contest.

The question was: Two songs begin with the line “It was the third of June….” Finish the line for both songs, and name the songs and the artists who wrote and performed them.

The answer:

1. “It was the third of June, another sleepy, dusty Delta day.” From “Ode to Billie Joe,” by Bobbie Gentry, recorded in 1967.

2. “It was the third of June on that summer’s day when I became a man at the hands of a girl almost twice my age.” From “Desiree,” by Neil Diamond, recorded in 1977.

“Desiree” is not my favorite Neil Diamond song, but it’s one of my favorite songs to hear him sing in concert. It’s from the album I’m Glad You’re Here With Me Tonight, and I’d heard it — and largely ignored it — at least a dozen times before I attended my first Neil Diamond concert, where I stood in the front row and watched him do a killer live version that pretty much knocked my socks off.

The greatness of “Ode to Billie Joe” is pretty much a given. If you haven’t heard it, go straight to iTunes and download it, because it’s maybe the greatest ballad ever. The backing music — guitar and some creepy-sounding strings — is very eerie, and Bobbie Gentry’s voice is just sublime. Plus it’s loads of fun to sing at karaoke shindigs, because most people my age have never heard it, plus it’s weird and sad and written across a part of my range that sounds better after I’ve spent a few hours talking to friends in a smoke-filled room. 🙂