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Don’t Let Flat Stanley Drive the Bus November 19, 2011

Posted by J. in Genius.
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Since I’m tearing through my 50,000 word magnum opus like a raped ape and am well on my way to winning NaNoWriMo for the first time, let’s talk about books.

It’s reported that I could read by the time I was four, which I honestly don’t doubt.  Both the girls could read by the time they entered kindergarten, and Dave at three, while he can’t talk, acts out books he knows by heart, so I know he’s on his way to being an early reader, too.  And I think that is awesome.

But here’s the damnable misery of it.  It’s the books you have to read over and over again.  I know that it’s a normal part of reading development, and it’s for damned sure they come by it rightly anyway.  Part of the weirdness of being me is that I can read a book and months later not remember much about it.  I have no real powers of retention, especially when it comes to fiction.

It sucks hard when it comes to having to remember what I’ve read because it’s information I need to absorb.  Believe me though, if I’m interested in what I’m reading, it does tend to stick with me.  But fiction?  Not so much.  I have taken books out of the library, all excited that there’s a novel that sounds like something I’d like very much, only to get home and realize that part of it seem oddly familiar to me.  And sure enough, when I get back to the library and ask if I’ve ever had it out before…yep.  You have.  Twice, in fact.  In two years.

The librarian thinks I have a brain injury.

But it’s not familiar enough that I can say “Hey, I’ve read this.  I know what happens!”  Usually, I pretty much don’t.  I get a lot of mileage out of my favorite novels that way.  Do you know how many times I’ve read James Michener’s Hawaii, Gone with the Wind, or QBVII by Leon Uris?  Lots, man.  Lots and lots.

Coming up fast on books I’ve read more times than I can count is the Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems.  It’s an awesome picture book and it’s Dave’s current favorite, and if I’ve read it once today I’ve read it fifty times.

I took three more of the “Pigeon” books out of the library last week, so I’ve spent the past 8 days rotating the first one with The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog, Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay up Late, and The Pigeon Wants a Puppy.  I’ve read them so many times that I’m starting to change the words just to amuse myself.

“Hi!  I’m the bus driver.   I have to go smoke a bowl right now, so could you keep an eye on the sauce hound passed out in a pool of his own urine until I get back?  Great, thanks!  Oh, and remember, don’t let the pigeon drive the bus!”

It’s not like Dave can repeat them at school and prompt a visit by CPS.  Which is good, especially in light of my rendition of The Pigeon Solicits a Transsexual Prostitute.

For Mary it was Goodnight, Moon and we read that every night until my eyes bled.  I read that so often that I actually hid the book.  I hid it so well I still can’t find it.  Luckily for us, Emma didn’t have that kind of literary OCD, so we got a reprieve with her.

No, Emma’s in the middle of the annual second grade Flat Stanley project.  For the uninitiated, Flat Stanley is a book about a little boy who gets squashed flat, and when the airline won’t let him fly (because he’s flat), he gets mailed to his destination instead.  As a tie-in social studies project, the kids cut out and decorate a Flat Stanley of their own and mail him somewhere, where he has adventures with the person he visits.  Then he gets mailed back full of information about where he’s been.

Mary’s Flat Stanley went to New York City to visit Bob and never came home.  My theory is, if the pictures are any indication, that he’s joined the road company of Wicked and is living with a Brazilian chorus boy who speaks little English and has a penchant for light bondage.

But I’m just guessing.  He never writes.

Emma’s Flat Stanley went on a road trip with Aunt Bunny.  Bunny and Bruce are snowbirds and when the weather in Belmont gets chilly, they get the fuck out of Dodge.  This year, Flat Stanley went with them and saw most of the Eastern Seaboard from the window of the Sequoia.  Aunt Bunny just sent her Flat Stanley material back and it should be noted for the record that she may have surpassed the project requirements a bit.  It’s more than 40 pages of travelogue, and quite frankly, it’s entirely too good to just send to school without sharing.  So while I’m pounding out the last 15,000 words to my novel before November wanes completely, I’ll let Aunt Bunny entertain you with the story of Flat Stanley’s trip to Florida.

Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome guest blogger, Aunt Bunny.

The Adventures of Flat Stanley

as told by Aunt Bunny

(with circles and arrows and paragraphs explaining what everything is)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Belmont, New Hampshire

6:00 a.m.  Beep, beep, beep!  The alarm clock sounds and no one is thrilled with the early hour, especially Stanley.  As he wiped the sawdust from his little paper face, he informed me that, whereas he certainly was looking forward to his three day road trip to Floria, he felt that perhaps a 10:00 departure would be more to his liking, and promply rolled back over in bed.

“Yes,” I replied, “as as much as Bruce would love to see you and I heading towards the airport right now, whatta’ya say you go run an eraser over your face and we go climb in the car?”

“But I’m going to miss iCarly at 9:00!” cried Stanley.

“Uh huh.  Guess who’s missing Project Runway this weekend?”

“Let’s go!” hollered Bruce from somewhere within the house.

“Just get on the bus, Gus.”

7:00 a.m.  Gone!  Goodbye to 29 Highcrest Drive.  See you in eight months after the the snow and sleet have pummelled you like Ali did to Liston at the “Thrilla in Manila” back in the ’70’s.  I’ll be in flip-flops and shorts beginning this coming Monday while most people n New England begin tearing apart their closets looking for their fur-lined flap hats.

7:05 a.m.  First pit stop, Dunkin’ Donuts.  That didn’t take long.  I believe this set a bad precedent for Stanley as he thinks that perhaps this is going to be standard procedure.  Oh, nay nay.  Stanley would like a large black coffee, but settles instead for  a hot apple cider and flat bread sandwich, the irony of which  seems completely lost on the counter girl.  Soon we are back in the car, buckled up for safety, and our journey begins.

“Make a new plan, Stan.”

Massachusetts

8:15 a.m.  We’re making good time, being Saturday and all, but it has begun to mist.  Trying to bring a little bit of state trivia into the trip, I decide to chat it up a bit.  As we spend the next hour and 15 minutes driving south and fending off the highly renowned Massachusetts driving force, I attempt to explain to Stanley the monumental collapse of the Boston Red Sox during the month of September.

By the time we are passing through the charming city of Worcester, Stanley is zoned out and doing origami with his Dunkin’ Donuts napkin, and the volume of Bruce’s talk radio keeps growing louder.  At this point, we are so close to the Connecticut border I give up on my effort.  I don’t even bother to mention Paul Revere, the Big Dig, or the New England Patriots.  I’m thinking that perhaps I should have opened my discussion with Chinatown and the Combat Zone.

“You want table or boof?”

Connecticut

9:30 a.m.  Of course it started to rain harder; we’re on a road trip.  Not much to say about this state except a lot of my ex-husband’s relatives lived in a city called Meriden.  They were nice people, but the city was kind of a dump, so I’m happy that I don’t have to visit there any longer.

About the only other place in Connecticut that I have ever spent any time at would be Foxwoods Resort and Casino.  Now this casino is quite lovely, but please be forewarned that one goes there with one purpose in mind: gambling.  When Aunt Bunny and her girlfriends were there, we were offered free alcoholic drinks so that our common sense would be affected, making us want to spend tons of money on slot machines, blackjack and craps.  This free booze scheme actually worked on 3 out of 4 of us.

Now I’m not saying that gambling is a bad thing, because you can sometimes make money while betting.  However in checking last years records, Foxwoods Casino paid out one billion dollars and raked in 27 billion dollars.  This is what we call “lousy odds.”  Sort of like if Mommy drove you to Groveton and dropped you off and told you to walk home all by yourself.  Odds are pretty good you wouldn’t make it.  If I have confused anyone with odds, etc., you should check with your parents because odds are very good that they themselves purchase scratch tickets and play meat bingo at the Elk’s club.  Oh, and don’t worry about being driven far away and being abandoned.  I’ve got money that says it’ll probably never happen to you.

“Run, you number seven dog, run!”

New York

11:00 a.m.  We enter New York State and immediately drive past the Reader’s Digest Headquarters Building.  Very impressive and very big.  Stately, almost.  When I was a kid, I used to look forward to having the new issue arrive at the house, where it was to remain in the bathroom so that everyone could receive their fair amount of time to peruse it.  At first glance, this seems to be a very fair policy, but when one considers that four daughters and two parents had to share one batrhroom, the actual working of this plan was terribly flawed.

The first few weeks of every month, there was an increase in yelling and tap-dancing outside of the locked bathroom door due to unnecessary lingering on the toilet.  As chance would have it, all four of us turned out to be excellent dancers, but, I will quickly mention, that we are also plagued by hemorrhoids.  I do not believe that childbirth gave me or any of my sisters hemorrhoids.  Actually, one of them never had kids!  In fact there was a time…wait, where was I?  Anyhoo, I used to love the magazine with its three page stories and all the jokes.  I have not picked up an issue in many years.  I may just may go back to reading this publication since I find that I have developed the attention span of a gnat.  Were was I?

I told you all about the RDHB, but I failed to tell you that it is located in the town of Chappaqua.  This is where former President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary Rodham Clinton reside.  Hillary is currently our Secretary of State, which means she is never home because she is always overseas trying to keep the peace between countries that have been shooting at each other, mostly over land and religion, ever since time began.

The US has been sending ambassadors to try and help out ever since someone started taking notes or began watching cable television.  You would have to ask Anderson Cooper.  Or better yet, wait until tenth grade because it will be a required subject.  You’re going to hear much more about Bill Clinton in ninth grade civics class as well, but once again, I don’t really want to delve into that.

Stanley thought it would be great to swing by announced.  Let’s see, Hillary is more than likely gone and Bill is home alone?  I think not.  Pretty soon we are crossing the Tappan Zee Bridge and heading towards Joisey.

“Remember me to Harold Square.”

New Jersey

12:00 p.m.  Did I mention that it’s still raining?  You know how we refer to New Hampshire as the Granite State?  Well, New Jersey is called the Garden State.  Certainly not due to the route we are on, or the New Jersey Turnpike, and least of all the city of Parsippany, where Bunny was forced to spend two weeks while training with FedEx many years ago.  It is a tiny little state, but evidently quite fertile, because it manages to produce a ton of fruit and vegetables that we enjoy while waiting for the 12 feet of snow to leave our fields.

One very exciting thing about New Jersey is that it is illegal to pump your own gasoline.  So what, you say?  I can have my gas pumped right here in Laconia if I want.  That is correct, but you will also pay right through the nose for it.  But here in New Jersey?  It’s cheap!  No more rain, snow, sleet or hail.  No more below zero wind that blows up your skirt so bad you curse yourself for not wearing a snowmobile suit to work that day.  No more 97 degree days where you wish you could pump gas wearing only your underpants, but you know you would be arrested on indecent exposure charges.  Trust me, kids, it’s always good to sit in your car.  Unless, of course, there is a runaway propane truck barreling down on you, then you might want to think about leaving your vehicle.

It was so easy to delicately slide my credit card out of the window and quickly withdraw my hand back inside.  “Oh my goodness, was that a raindrop that just hit my hand?  Please step back, Mr. Gas Station Attendant Guy, so that I can quickly roll up my window so that my hair does not frizz!”  I love this feature!  Just not enough to make me move here.  Free gas and lights wouldn’t get me to move to New Jersey.

I’m just saying.

Clinton, New Jersey

1:00 p.m.  Only six hours into the trip and everybody seems to be getting a bit touchy.  I use that word loosely.  Empty bellies are starting to grumble.  Stanley has his face pressed against the wet window.  I have a sore hip from braking, even though I’m riding in the passenger seat and Bruce has announced that he’s tired of Sirius radio.  Yes, that Sirius, the one with 200 stations.  Yup, it’s time for lunch and a book on tape.

Drastic measures are in order and I need to dig deep, but I have no other choice:  Cracker Barrel.

The home of the 20,000 calorie serving of anything.  The gift shop with so much potpourri that a migraine will instantly hit you the minute you step foot onto the front porch.  It’s a place where a quick lunch can drag to over an hour.  Where I’m always told to find a “really great” unabridged 14 hour murder mystery in the space of five minutes, when there are at least 200 books to choose from  The place where I inhaled my lunch in order to find that exciting book, only to be told later, three miles down the road, “Oh, I read that one.”

But not this year.  Nope.  Nada.  I ate; I read the jacket covers and found the perfect book.  I also lost track of Stanley in the immense candy section.  Melissa and Jesse who work there were kind enough to help me finally nab him in the Halloween candy section.  There was a chase that ended only after Stanley had wound his way through the Christmas candy section, the Olde Time candy section, the lollipop section, the chocolate candy section,the miniature candy section, and was getting ready to bolt for the candied nut section when he was finally brought down.

“I LOVE this place!” said Stanley.  “Will we be eating lunch at Cracker Barrel again tomorrow?”

“Only if I slip into a coma just before noon,” I said.  “Besides, tomorrow we have to eat at Shoney’s.  It’s Uncle Bruce’s favorite, so I suggest you try and get a good night’s sleep and rest up.”

“I don’t understand.”

“You will tomorrow.  Any chance Emma made you a helmet?”

To be continued…

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Comments»

1. Kathleen Pascuzzi - November 19, 2011

Oh. My. God! That is the hilarious! I can’t wait to read the next installment.

2. Pippa Posey Peanut Butter Pants - November 20, 2011

Bunny certainly does tell an excellent story. However, as one of the four sisters mentioned (the one without kids) I would like to take this time to point out that I do not suffer from hemmi…hemmaro…piles. While it could be said I have my own fair share of equally fascinating middle-aged afflictions – I do not have rhoids. However, as I am only 56 years old…there’s still time.

I’m on the edge of my seat and looking forward to the next installment of Flat Stanley, but if Bunny insists on mentioning other ‘interesing’ family traits, I may consider changing my name and moving to Schenectady. (I wonder if Eddie Clark is still kicking around)

3. itdepends - November 21, 2011

Hilarious! I’m so happy we moved on from the “If you give a mouse a cookie” books so I can relate.


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