Saturday Night TV

This Short Humor piece of mine originally appeared in Woman’s World Magazine, and I have updated it. Hope you like this read free online short humor…

There’s a conspiracy in the works. It’s a sinister plot created by those people who make up the program schedules for Saturday night television. I have spent a weekend or two in front of the mindless eye, and I’m now convinced programming providers are trying to bring husbands and wives closer, to get them talking again.

Last Saturday night, one channel had a made for TV movie scheduled. The TV listing said, “Ishmael comes to rescue  Todd and Christy when they are kidnapped by a neighborhood drug king pin while searching for an answer to the rabid squirrel problem in Baton Rouge. (Repeat).”

In the same time slot were re-runs of Swamp Detailers, and it turned out if we watched an old police procedural drama we could see how “Rory, Cal and Captain Lopez team up to hunt down escaped death-row inmate Wilton Ray Dalton, who has stolen evidence against JJ.”

The major programs left were the last half hour of a documentary on Women Who Cook Found Food and a rock concert. Due to teenager pressure, we had dutifully sat through the antics of Eddie Leadpoison and Spleen once, and I liked some of the melodies that rose from the substantial overbite of the lead singer’s mouth, but not all of them.

My husband is not so cordial. After one quick look, he snapped, “A man that age can’t get away with prancing in red plastic pants.”

“Well, what do you want to watch?” I asked.

He shrugged wearily.

“How about we talk?”

“Talk?” He seemed to wake up a little.

“Tell me,” I pressed on, “Why do you feel men our age shouldn’t be seen wearing spandex?”

“Not all men,” he said thoughtfully. “It wouldn’t bother me if Leadpoison didn’t have such big teeth.”

I didn’t see the connection, but it didn’t matter. He was opening up. We were communicating again.

Once Miss Last Chance – Part 4

Here is Part 4 of your read free romantic short story…

“Then come on. I’ll give you a lift home.”
A half-dozen cowboys grip the steel gate, ready to swing it open for the next rider. One of the bulls batters the chute, his head and hooves a solid match for any six men. The cowboys tug and shove to get him back down. The rider signals. The buzzer sounds. The gate opens. The bull rider hangs for a whirling few seconds, then loses his balance, falls to one side. The pick-up men on horseback in the ring can’t rescue him until the clowns steer the bull away. The rider drops to the ground. The bull turns and, in a spinning frenzy, pounds a hoof into the boy’s thigh. Our acrobatic clown races to the fallen rider and lifts him onto the rail just as the bull circles back. One of the pick-up men ropes the bull, catching him by the snout. The cowboy on the rail is saved. The crowd cheers.
The announcer quips, “Catch a bull by the nose and you’ll need a bath towel.”
There’s a collective, “Ooh, ick.”
Mindy says, “That’s disgusting. Then, as an afterthought she asks, “Mom, when you were Miss Last Chance Gulch, what did you wear?”
“I’ll tell you in a minute. Here comes another bull rider.”
Ketchum’s truck was parked in front of my house when we got there. Ketchum fidgeted in the cab, stewing.
Bill opened the door for me and took my arm, as if it didn’t bother him at all that Ketchum was sitting there. Ketchum jumped down and stormed over to me and Bill.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Ketchum asked me.
Bill gave my arm the softest squeeze, as if to say he’d let me handle Ketchum any way I wanted, but he wouldn’t leave me to do it alone. No one had ever touched me that way before.
“I’m going to change for the fireworks.”
“Well, hurry up,” Ketchum said.
“I’m not going with you.”
Ketchum glared at Bill, then at me. His nostrils sort of flared like a bull. His cheeks got red. He cleared his throat.
“Then I guess I’ll talk to you tomorrow,” he said. “Maybe.”
When the bull riding is finished, Mindy turns to me and asks, “Did you wear anything fancy?”
I describe the get-up. It’s easy. It’s not the sort of thing I’d ever forget.
“Was it strapless?”
“Yes. Push-up bra and all.”
“Oh, and did I mention the red ten gallon hat with the stars and stripes hat band?”
“Oh, brother,” she says, turning her attention back to the arena below.
“Tonight,” the announcer says as the spotlight searches through the crowd, then centers on one man near the bucking events gate, “We’d like to present a special award to a man who’s helped make this rodeo the grand show it is, a man who’s made a name for Central Montana State on a national level, a man who gives his all, Coach Ketchum Wydell.”
Mindy and I applaud. Ketchum bows. Success sits well on his shoulders. He still looks great.
 I’d never seen fireworks so pretty before. Bill kind of draped his arm around me and explained they were a new kind from mainland China. They looked like sparkling silver and gold waterfalls in the sky. He and his friends were as kind as they could be to me, but I kept thinking about Ketchum.
The next morning, early, while my parents slept, Ketchum came by. We sat on the porch swing. He was calm. That surprised me.
“I’ve been thinking,” he said. He took off his hat. “I was wrong. You can wear anything you want. I just don’t like anyone else looking at you. And, I should have asked you to the fireworks. I got no right assuming you’d go with me. I’m gonna treat you right from now on.”
He rocked back and forth for a minute. Then he looked at me with those huge eyes.
“I’m serious,” he said. “I’m asking if you’ll marry me.”
My head swam. I couldn’t think straight.
“Well, Ketchum,” I said, “You’d do well to have a wife like me.”
The crowd is filtering out of the Field House. Rows of seats stand empty now.
“Mom, everybody loves Daddy, don’t they?” Mindy’s questions never stop.
“You bet. Especially you and me.”
I see my husband jump over the arena fence and climb toward us.
“Did Daddy know it was strapless?”
“What?” I ask.
“The tube top,” Mindy says. “Did Daddy ever know you wore that in a parade?”
Bill ascends the stadium seats two at a time. His big blue coveralls billow with every hop. Mindy pinches his red ball of a nose. He squeezes my shoulder gently and gives her a wink.
“You bet, Mindy, Honey. He knew.”

Once Miss Last Chance – Part 3

Hope you are enjoying Part 3 of this romantic short story…

The rodeo clowns dash out into the empty arena. My favorite clown rolls a neon orange barrel to the center of the ring. He does a couple of cartwheels, then leaps onto the barrel in one bound. Mindy and I gasp with the rest of the crowd.
A recording of Queen’s “We Will Rock You” blares over the loudspeaker. That amazing acrobatic clown claps in time with the music, shaking his hips in giant blue overalls, encouraging the audience to join the unison rhythm.
Mindy blows kisses and hoots. Her eyes sparkle with admiration and delight. My little girl teeters at the brink of adolescence. The joy of anticipation and dread of teenage rebellion play tug-of-war with my heart. I pray she’ll get through those super-charged years more gracefully than I did.
When the parade was over, Bill held my waist and lifted me down from the truck.
“Thirsty?” he asked. He handed me a can of lemon-lime soda. “A bunch of us are going to the fireworks show tonight at the fairgrounds. Would you, um, want to come with me?”
I thought about Ketchum. As far as I could see, he hadn’t thought beyond himself and his own convenience. It felt warm and sparkly to be asked. I thought of Ketchum again. He’d be mad at me if I went with someone else. He’d say we had an understanding. The Adam’s apple in Bill’s throat kind of jumped up, then settled, as if he was waiting for me to answer, nervous-like, but he wouldn’t push me.
Ketchum’s idea of our understanding, I supposed, was that Ketchum would tell me what we were doing, if we were doing anything, then I’d agree to whatever he said. I looked at Bill.
“Yes. I’d love to go,” I answered.
Bill smiled. A really big smile. Then he tilted his head and said, “You don’t have to change out of that costume, unless you want to.”
I looked down at the stockings that left a lot of skin showing, and at the glittering boots.
“I want to change,” I said.


Once Miss Last Chance – Part 2

Here is Part 2 of “Once Miss Last Chance,” a free romantic short story. Hope you enjoy this short romance…

Ketchum stood with jaw torqued, chest out, arms flexed in his tight roper shirt, Wrangler jeans dip-starched, cowboy boots shining. He’d come to take me to the parade. He had folding chairs in the back of his truck, not just hay bales. The only thing he had neglected to do was ask me to go with him before the moment he arrived.
“Does that mean I’m not you’re girlfriend?”
He tightened his fists. “I can’t believe you’d give me up,” he said, “So you can go out in public pretending to be Charlene.”
I may only be Miss Last Chance Gulch by default, I thought, but I’m plenty good enough to fill out the costume and ride in the parade. Ketchum had pulled his taking me for granted stunt for the last time.
“Believe me,” I said, “I don’t want to be Charlene.”
Mindy and I watch the goat-tying and she says, “This is so stupid, Mom. How come women don’t do steer wrestling?”
“I think they should, Honey. Your dad and I have been lobbying for it. Rules can change, you know.”
The Fourth of July parade was at two. I climbed up on the flat bed of the decorated Jannsen Van & Storage truck. Red, white and blue crepe paper flowers and streamers flowed from the roof and the rails. I took my place near the back window behind the cab, by the replica of the Liberty Bell mounted to the wooden truck bed. Bill Jannsen, the owner’s twenty-one-year-old son, gave me a wink. I hung on, fingertips clutching the thin lip of the truck’s rain gutter while the float moved forward. When we slowed, I pulled the clapper on that bell, smiled and did a parade wave just as though I were a bona fide beauty queen.
The little kids on the street waved at me like crazy. That may have been because Bill was tossing them Tootsie Pops from the truck window. Two high school boys from the farm and ranch supply store yelled something about me not being Charlene. I saw Ketchum’s truck parked about half way down the parade route. He was sitting in the truck bed alone on a hay bale. Two little boys in scout uniforms were sitting in Ketchum’s chairs on the sidewalk.

To be continued…

Once Miss Last Chance – Part 1

Here’s Part 1 of Once Miss Last Chance, a free read romantic short story as a way of saying thank you.  Hope you enjoy. It will appear in four parts…
“Mommy, were you ever a rodeo queen?” my daughter Mindy asks. She stares in awe as the opening rodeo performers, the Helena Bits & Spurs Mounted Drill Team, ride into the arena. Each of the riders carries the state flag of one of the college contestants, and the colors flutter, a rainbow in motion. Our seats in the stands of the Central Montana College Field House could only be better if we were kin to one of the contestants.
“I was Miss Last Chance Gulch, for a day. Does that count?”
“Are you serious?”
Mindy and I and fifteen hundred other people stand for the national anthem.
All those years ago, I wasn’t elected to wear the Miss Last Chance Gulch banner. The switch happened at the request of the Historic Helena Junior Chamber of Commerce. Charlene Hunnabacher, the real queen, turned up good and pregnant. Five months, by July Fourth. That morning, one of the Jaycee-ettes phoned me, a woman whose children I baby-sat, before I turned a sophisticated 18. She suspected I’d fit into the costume, what with my being so tall. No one else knew anyone who could wear the size nine boots. This was an emergency. The parade float was at stake.
I would never have entered the Miss Last Chance Gulch competition. I was a loner, didn’t hang out with a crowd. But the woman begged, said I’d do them proud, and I just thought why not?
The chute gate opens. The senior from Texas A&M bolts out on a saddle bronc. His chaps fly, slap his face. He holds his free hand out like a pro. The crowd roars. He loses his grip, soars high in the air, lands on the back of his neck. The eight-second buzzer sounds. There’s silence. He shakes his head, stands up, dusts himself off.
“When you lead with your head like that, partner,” the announcer’s familiar voice echoes over the public address system, “You’ll never have to worry about spraining an ankle. Folks, let’s give that sorry cowboy a hand!”
The costume slipped on with no trouble, except for the trouble I got from Ketchum Wydell. He’d been a half-hearted boyfriend. Making plans. Breaking plans. Then he stopped by when I was getting dressed for the Independence Day Parade, saw me in that get-up, and acted as if I’d agreed to wear it just to make him mad.
“You’re kidding, right? You are not planning to wear that, are you?” He asked, but it didn’t sound like a question. His stare inched up from the blue sequined cowboy boots to the fishnet stockings, to the blue bikini-cut half-leotard, the red-and-white striped bare midriff cotton tube top and red ten gallon hat.
I’d never worn anything so skimpy in my life. I kind of liked it, especially since it was just for a day. And there was something about his mocking tone that just frosted me.
“Yes,” I told him. “I promised I would.”
“No girlfriend of mine is going out dressed like that.”

To be continued…