The $5 School Cake…

© Les Becker, 2010
Taken November 21, 2010 with Nokia N97 Smartphone

When Ruby was a young girl, her school in Northland had a fair once a year, in the spring. It offered the usual school fair “stuff” of the era; games of chance, 4H projects, etc., and students could show off (and sell) their needlework and baked goods.

One year, Ruby won a needlepoint contest – got a trophy and everything. Another year, she and her sister Joycie entered a singing contest. They won 10 cents each for climbing up on the back of a hay wagon and singing “The Little Shirt My Mother Made for Me.”

The real killer year for Ruby, though, was The Year of the $5 School Cake.

She and her sisters each baked up something to sell at the school bake table every year. This year, Ruby had baked a chocolate layer cake. It was a beautiful cake and she was really proud of it.

On the walk to the fair, Ruby fell behind a little, walking veeeerrrryyy carefully to make sure her cake survived the journey intact. She was just coming to the edge of the fairground, far behind her sisters, when a stumbling drunk guy comes reeling towards her, and stops her.

“Hey,” says the drunk. “Whad’ya got there?”

Ruby tells him she’s got a chocolate cake to put on the school bake table.

The drunk says, “Yeah? I’ll give you $5 for it.”

Ruby, not being stupid, promptly handed him the cake. $5 richer, she went wandering around the fair grounds until she found her father at the ice cream stand.

Her father loved ice cream. He looked forward to the school fair every year, just so he could get an ice cream cone. He also loved children, and every year, he bought every kid that came along an ice cream cone too.

When Ruby found him, he asked, “Did you sell your cake?

Ruby said, “Yup,” and told him about the drunk, and showed him the $5.

Now, Ruby’s dad had probably just blown (at 5 cents a cone over 20 or 30 kids) around a buck and a quarter. Ruby, on the other hand, had just gained $5 by scalping her own school cake. All her father could think of to do was laugh.

Ruby has no memory of what she might have spent that $5 on, and it drives her crazy that she can’t remember.

“That was an awful lot of money back then,” she says.

All I can picture when she tells this story, is the drunk – stumbling through the woods and across fields carrying a chocolate layer cake…

Not-So-Random Song-for-the-Day: “The Little Shirt My Mother Made for Me” – Marty Robbins

Bloody Mary Doesn’t Live Here Anymore…

Is it Any Wonder I Can't Sleep at Night?!
Is it Any Wonder I Can’t Sleep at Night?!

My immediate surroundings are a little on the macabre side. I’m speaking here of my space, my attic loft, my Belfry – where I tend to hibernate.

My own little Narnia wardrobe...
My own little Narnia wardrobe…
It’s a cool space – to a degree. I don’t mind having a secret panel in the wall – that part of things is pretty frickin’ groovy, but the bloody handprints on the walls have got to go.

Same with the mod green rope lights.

And the staples. Thousands of staples. Why for they’re there I don’t know, but they gotta go, too.

I’m gonna need paint. Lots and lots of paint. I’m going to put a base coat of plain white on all the wall panels, and go from there as far as a colour scheme, but before I can do that I have to take down about 200 feet of rope lights that are screw-nailed into the walls.

And then I gotta pull all those F-ing staples out.

I’ve tightly scheduled in time next Friday and Saturday to get the walls “paint-ready”. A pair of pliers, a bottle of rum, and about 4 hours oughtta do the trick…

I’ll keep you posted.

Random Song-for-the-Day: “Please Don’t Go” – Mike Posner

Karma, Zen, & a $60 Waste of Cellophane…

Cartoon filtered photo of two teenaged girls dressed in Batman and Robin Hallowe'en costumes and striking dramatic poses

Holy $60 Cellophane Hallowe’en Costume, Batman!!

Seriously. SIXTY. DOLLARS. I mean, really: Holy shit!

I had to remind myself (repeatedly) through Hallowe’en week of my recently adopted “Zen” Attitude. Throughout the scrubbing of ketchup and peeling of chewed-up chewing gum from doorknobs (actually, I thought that was hilarious, but that’s just because Ky, AKA Robin, was the one to turn the knob and gross out), to the near-heart attack over Continue reading “Karma, Zen, & a $60 Waste of Cellophane…”

Magic – Chapter 1: The Lamp

magicCover of the novella, "Magic", by Les Becker.

magiccoverHe walked along the beach, shivering a little in the chilly spring wind that blew off the channel. He was supposed to be ruminating about his next steps in this brand new life, but all he could think about was how nice it would be to sink into the hot tub in the new place. His shoes were full of sand and his hands were freezing, even tucked into his jeans pockets. He looked out onto the choppy water, and his loneliness engulfed him.

He’d always been lonely. He often wondered why he wasn’t used to it by now. He’d spent his entire adult life waiting for the perfect woman, stubbornly not settling; nope – one annoying habit, one sarcastic remark, one little argument, and the girl-of-the-moment lost any chance she might have had to become Mrs John Dunster. The only person still willing to play cupid to his heart was his sister, Felicity, and now he swore under his breath at her for talking him into moving here.

“It’s a new start, John,” she had said to him. “I’ve found the perfect house for you. It’s a nice little town, and I’m here. What a bonus for you!”

“Yeah, now you can fix my life face to face instead of over the phone.”

“Stop it. You need change. Big change. You have no job now, and you have to fill up your time with something. Fill it up with something new.”

And that was the big difference between them. Felicity was always moving faster than everybody else; a new house every two years, a new career every five. The only thing she kept from one new version of Felicity to the next was the same old husband, whom she loved dearly, probably because he sat still and let her run everything.

Felicity’s latest big career change had put her into real estate, and she threw herself into it with her usual passion, flipping houses up and down the coast, and raking in money and prestige all along the way. She was also the first to admit that she would tire of it eventually, and find a new passion. She could never understand how her brother never got bored with geology. When he started teaching at the university, he considered it a huge change from being in the field, or in the lab.

“Yes, but John, it’s still geology! You’re still staring at rocks. Now you’re teaching other promising human minds to spend their time staring at rocks. A career should be challenging. Yours is boring. Admit it.”

John found geology anything but boring. Although it didn’t exactly set him on fire, he found his studies, then working in the field, and finally, his lab work to be comforting. Geology was an interesting pursuit, and it suited him. When he got the chance to teach, he jumped at it. He loved teaching, and when he finally gave up his search for that perfect woman, his students made up for his disappointment. He would have been content to teach until he died. And then the money for his program ran out. He took the settlement offered, and that, along with his investments, and the money his parents had left him, allowed him to stay home for the time being, and mope about his loss.

When Felicity insisted he buy the house she’d found for him, and pull up stakes and move to a teeny-tiny coastal town to start over, it seemed like a good idea. There was nothing left for him where he was, but to stare at the University every time he drove by it, and feel sorry for himself.

Now that he was here, though, he felt more lost and lonely than ever. He hadn’t made any friends, a fact that didn’t particularly surprise him, really, but there wasn’t anything to occupy his time. He wasn’t used to the whole town closing down at six o’clock in the evening. “The whole town” consisted of a barber’s shop, the post office, a gas station, a five-and-dime, a grocery store, a bakery, and a dusty bowling alley sporting three warped lanes. The only venues open on Saturdays were the bowling alley and the bar that operated on the floor above it. He spent most of his evenings after supper strolling on the beach just below his new house.

And that’s where he was, freezing, hands in his pockets when he tripped over the rest of his life. Continue reading “Magic – Chapter 1: The Lamp”