Friday, March 5, 2010

A rose by any other name -- flash fiction

Whiling away an afternoon on the patio of my favorite bistro was quite pleasant, right up until the moment a passing waitress tripped and spilled a pitcher of ice water onto my laptop. The ensuing smoke and black screen of death told me that I was once again going to have to blindly rely on the geek speaking kindness of seventeen year old strangers to get my computer resuscitated. I've never been good with technology. Come to think of it, I've also never been good with water. I don't even like to drink the stuff. It's probably because I've almost drowned twice in my life. And there was no alcohol involved either time. There was stupidity involved, but no alcohol.

The first time I was seven. I couldn't swim, but I had a friend who could, and he convinced me to float out with him into Lake Michigan on a log. The lake was choppy and we drifted against some rocks. I got trapped under the log against the rocks. I was rescued just as everything got sparkly and angels started singing. Then there was an ambulance, lots of doctors, a stay in the hospital, and bowls and bowls of strawberry ice cream. To this day I can't eat strawberry ice cream without smelling antiseptic.

The second time was about six months ago, and it happened because of my love of architecture. I love gargoyles. I've photographed hundreds of them throughout the country. I never go anywhere without a camera in case I run across an interesting old building hunkered down hiding itself from the eyes of a lustful wrecking crew just itching to tear it down and build a Starbucks or a Subway. It seems like there's one of those on every corner these days, sometimes even on opposite corners, so that you never have to go more than fifty feet in any direction without the possibility of bacon or caffeine.

But I digress….

I was telling you about the second time I almost drowned. I was near another lake. This one was mostly frozen because it was winter. I was trying to get a really spectacular gargoyle in frame while backing up slowly and zooming in and out. Well, apparently I backed too far and backed myself right off the edge of the boardwalk and right into the lake. Luckily my camera strap got caught on the piling and I was able to hang on to it. Unluckily I was alone in a frozen lake with no purchase for my scrambling feet.

I had gone numb by the time two young Swedish girls found me hanging from the piling with only my nose and eyes above the water. The girls were touring with a group of nuns looking at old churches in the area. They shouted for help and the nuns came running. Several of the girls had phones and called 911. Unfortunately the phones were also camera phones. The girls did a great job filming the rescue and lots of people have enjoyed watching me being pulled from the frozen lake by a paramedic and two nuns in full habits on YouTube. The last time I checked the video had 290,000 hits.

The thing that makes it popular?

My clothes froze and stuck to the piling and the paramedic had to cut them off of me to free me. Did I mention that I was blue by that time? Did I also mention my name? Let me introduce myself. My name is Harold Ball. The caption for the YouTube video?

Nude, Blue, Harry Ball Handled by Nuns.

I'll never live it down.

47 comments:

Karen from Mentor said...

For Merilee, Maria, Linda Cassidy Lewis, Rachel, Lauren, Judy, Cat, Daniel and Frank...yes, you're right, this is a reworked Bare Bones Story. You're not having deja vous or any other type of psychic issue.

Although you do suddenly have an overwhelming urge to bake me some cookies....

Laurita said...

Oh Dear Lord. I almost fell out of my chair laughing at this one. I love the chatty tone.

Eric J. Krause said...

YouTube. It's how we get famous nowadays. Whether that's a good thing or not is subjective...

Good story!

pegjet said...

A real charmer. I too like the tone.

Laura Eno said...

Hey, you're famous...or at least your Harry persona is. ;) As Laurita said, fabulous chatty tone!

Marisa Birns said...

I'm still laughing as I type!

Nuns! Why is it that they're always the cause of great embarrassment? It's become a habit with them. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Um. Ok. Will go have coffee now. To go with those cookies you mentioned. *looks, looks, and looks*

Great piece! *still looking*

Cynthia Schuerr said...

So funny! I have my own story involving nuns, but not quite that funny.

Nice Piece!

Karen from Mentor said...

*snort* at Marisa, what with all the puns, restructered solar systems and sporks flying about today I'm not surprised that you had to go the habit route.

Karen from Mentor said...

Yay! Laurita. I've just shipped you a custom Miscellaneous Yammering bungy cord for use while reading from now on. You'll have it in 5-7 business days.

Karen from Mentor said...

@ Cynthia, Laura, Peggy and Eric... thank you all so much for coming in and for taking the time to comment!! I'm glad that you enjoyed the chatty tone, and LONG LIVE THE INTERNET!

[poor harry]

bwahahahahaha

Diandra said...

I liked the way the story was constructed, from one event to the next... so very smooth.

Jodi MacArthur said...

Oh My! LOL. You crazy gal! You told the story so seriously. Brilliant set up for the ballsy blue ending!

estrella05azul said...

Oh, good. Now that I've read your first comment, I feel sane again. And after getting to the last sentence of it I now know why I baked so many cookies...

Interesting turn of events in the flash, love it! The video caption is hilarious, of course you already know that :))

Karen from Mentor said...

Oh I'm sorry Estrella, you weren't in the comment thread the first time back in August of 2009, so I didn't know this was a repeat performance for you too, but GLAD the submliminal cookie suggestion still worked.

[rubs hands together gleefully-- oh, hey, did you make enough for Marisa too?]

Karen from Mentor said...

Yay Jodi! I got you twice in one day.
[head swells] glad you enjoyed both this and the story at Flashes in the Dark.

Come back anytime with a "brilliant" in your pocket.

:0)

Karen from Mentor said...

@ Diandra? I'm thinking of adopting smoooooooth as my middle name.

Karen Smooth Schindler.

Has a nice ring to it doesn't it?

Thank you for stopping in and taking the time to comment.

:0)

estrella05azul said...

Always enough for Marisa too :)
I've read the original bare bone story later than posted and didn't comment.
Oh and I just remembered: did you see the sandy balls video? (the caption just makes me think you must have. Let me know if you haven't :P)

Karen from Mentor said...

No I haven't....and I'm almost afraid to open my email now....

[grins at you]

estrella05azul said...

*huge grin* it's coming!

Buddhapuss Ink said...

Too funny! Thanks for cheering up my Friday.

Bryan Two Balls Borland said...

Fabulous! You can't read this without smiling. Now I just want to know what happened to the other ball? But I'm sure *that's* another story!

Karen from Mentor said...

Ah, see Bryan? I just knew that if anyone was going to appreciate the subtle highbrow humor of this piece that it would be you.

My work is done.

And thank you for changing your moniker to match the story..... oh man...giggling...

Karen from Mentor said...

@ Buddhapuss Ink you are most welcome.

:0)

~Tim said...

Too funny. Have you been on Twitter again? That always seems to make you work blue....

Cathy Olliffe said...

You had me SO conned with this story and then, wham with the blue balls. hahahahahahah!!!!
Fun for the whole family!

Mark Kerstetter said...

Admit it. You've been sitting on that nude blue line for years, just waiting for the right story to come to you. I'll bet you have boxes of them.

Karen from Mentor said...

*howling with laughter*

-- dashes tears from eyes......

boxes of what Mark?

Karen from Mentor said...

Tim,
I was on twitter earlier today. But not when I wrote this story originally.
[I was still shunning the dark side then]
So I don't know what my excuse was for writing this rather off color story.

But it may have been Harry's fault. Once I knew what his name was, it just kinda rolled from there.

Karen from Mentor said...

@ Cathy,
I like lulling the reader into a false sense of security where the punch line not only sneaks up on them, but they're delighted that they didn't see it coming.

That's a win/win.

So glad you enjoyed it.

:0)

John Wiswell said...

So that's how blue balls caught on. Good to know!

J. M. Strother said...

I just love your sense of humor. As always, another terrific piece.
~jon

judy said...

It's good the second time around, too. ;-)

MM said...

Like everyone else I enjoyed the chatty, relaxed voice and really liked the smooth flow as you transition from the spilt water to the back story of almost drowning twice!

Great, fun story to read.

Anne Tyler Lord said...

That was a romping good time! I really want to see the video! Your sense of humor never ceases to amaze and delight!

Kris said...

At first I thought I was going to be able to relate to the main character, what with the tragic destruction of a laptop and the love of gargoyles. But fortunately that's where the simnilarities end!

I have to admit, even though I was expecting a refreshingly warped ending from you, I never suspected the story was a setup for a punchline! I loved it!

Jared Branch said...

Ha. Everyone's a perv, and everyone wants to see the innocent succumb to pervery, too.

lindacassidylewis said...

Laughed again. Snickerdoodles seen appropriate.

Mark Kerstetter said...

Why, delicately contoured little spheres of alliterative fun. What did you think I was talking about?

PJ said...

You have a wonderful sense of humor - this is a side-splitting piece. well done!

jdcoughlin said...

I loved that! That is so funny! What I love most, what I find absolutely intriguing is writing that makes full use of language. And I don't mean using big words. Hate that. I mean just using the right word. The exact word that will move and convey and open up a scene. Love that. LOVED yours!!!

Melissa said...

Awesome. I SO needed this laugh tonight. Nice commentary on technology and contemporary life, too!

Karen from Mentor said...

Yes we do little in private these days Melissa. That's why I try to do the really dodgy or embarrassing things in rooms that are swept for bugs and cameras twice a week.

Karen from Mentor said...

@ JD, that's so great of you to say. Thank you.

@ PJ, wow "slide splitting"....nice.
[but truly hope that you're ok now, stitches, some super glue....]

Karen from Mentor said...

@ Jon and John and Mel and Anne thank you all so much for taking the time to read and to comment!

And Judy and Linda? Thanks for doing it TWICE!

All of you guys rock!

Karen from Mentor said...

Heh Kris, I wrote this way before your overnight guest spilled cereal and milk into your laptop, but when I posted it on Friday I thought of you.

I'm glad that you enjoyed the set up to the punchline. Harry's a pretty funny [but terribly unlucky] guy.

:0)

Karen from Mentor said...

@ Jared, please see the comment before yours. We'll remove "pervert" ...giggling....and replace it with "refreshingly warped" ....there doesn't that sound way better? [and I'm SURE the nuns never saw the video. They don't even have internet in the convent]

but speaking of warped.... Mark? still giggling at you....

Thanks so much guys for coming in and taking the time to comment. Really appreciated!

Carrie said...

It was a joke! OMG, how funny! This made me chuckle!