Sunday, April 24, 2011

What they've bean up to

Each year it becomes harder and harder to top the last, and Mrs. Hall was hoping to come up with something out of the ordinary for the children's Easter treats. But the only thing she could think of was how much she missed the egg cracking contests that used to take place at home. Her imagination being the wanderer that it was, her brain was filled with images of the children vainly attempting to re-create the same game with their friends. Unfortunately, every time she tried to conjure that scenario, it always ended the same way: the aggressive nature of the game escalating into a full fledged food fight, with eggs flying all over the room. Suppressing a laugh, she looked around the office to make sure no one had seen her, and then upon reflection, tried to consider the possible down sides of such an event.

Colored eggs should probably come with some sort of warning, she thought, to prevent that. And that's when she thought of an idea for their boxes. Downloading all manner of warning labels, she printed off the more humorous ones and using some common white household glue, pasted them all over the eggs. Mailing boxes were loaded with grass, jelly beans and peeps and off they went, to the post office. Mrs. Hall was sure that there would be such an infusion of sugar into their little bloodstreams within a week, that she'd be able to hear their heart arrhythmias clear back at the Hall.

Happily, when word got back to her that they had received them, the children all had updates to report.

Master Christopher had achieved Airman First Class, but the local scuttlebutt was he was in line for a promotion to Senior Airman by June. He was enjoying his work in the Honor Guard duty, but still was finding time to get away for some side trips in his little blue convertible.

Mistress Colleen was busy sending off applications for internships all around the country, in the hopes she could land one during her summer break. Because of her work supporting the Students of Color Coalition on campus, she was invited to join them on a special tour of the Pixar Studios in Emeryville. Pixar is notoriously secretive about its workings and rarely allows outsiders in, so Colleen was thrilled to have scored such a coup.

Master Ian was continuing his education at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey. His classes had begun in earnest now and he was really hitting the books. He must have impressed someone with his work, because he happily announced that he had been recently promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal.

The troops having reported in satisfactorily, Mrs. Hall was able to relax. "Everything's fine," said Mr. Hall. "Now, I'm a little bit hungry for a snack- how 'bout cracking some eggs with me?"

Saturday, April 16, 2011

April is a taxing month

“I don’t know why the Grand Matron insisted on all of us wearing white shoes. It’s impossible to find any this time of the year. And wearing them before Easter-… well, I mean, really!” Mrs. Hall was fretting over dressing again. Every weekend had been taken up with traveling to meetings and the Halls had begun to realize their lives were not their own. “I’ve worn through my last two pairs- we have to find another pair of white shoes before Friday.” Mr. Hall shook his head- that tone of voice could only mean one thing; a trip to the mall was imminent. For the most part, Mrs. Hall could always be trusted to purchase consistently conservative wear, but when it came to shoes- all bets were off. Something in her brain seemed to short circuit- there were times when her whimsy got so much the better of her, Mr. H. was scarcely sure he knew her. After fruitlessly blazing a path through every shoe store they could find, Mrs. H. was nearly distraught. An inspiration came to her and she dashed into a store for teen prom dresses. Mr. Hall saw her do a little dance. “I’ve got them!” she cried, “and I may just take the pink ones, too.” A horrified look crossed Mr. Hall’s face. She must have caught a glimpse of it; she reluctantly replaced the pink pumps on the shelf, but insisted on taking the white patent leathers. “I may not have any control over the dresses,” she said, “but no one can stop me from wearing these shoes.” The Shrine Circus was in town again. After taking care of business at work, the Halls had hoped to hop over to the fairgrounds and catch the 2:30 pm show, but the fates, and local traffic, were apparently against them. Finally parking somewhere around the perimeter of the fairgrounds, they waited for the shuttle to ferry them to the Coliseum, nearly a mile away. The weather was unseasonably warm and apparently everyone decided to do the same thing at the last minute; when the Halls arrived at the doors, the house was turning folks away. Mr. Hall greeted the gentleman in a fez at the door, and shook his hand; he showed him his complimentary pass and the gentleman hurried him through the turnstile into the stands. “If you let the potentate know you’re here, I’m sure he’d want you in his box” said the gentleman. Mr. Hall waved him off- “Thanks for the offer- but I see some seats right up there.” Mrs. Hall was tugging at his sleeve- the tigers were already performing. “Let’s go get some hot dogs!” he said. The circus was particularly good this year and it was a joy to see the seats groaning with happy families enjoying the show. Mrs. H. recognized the albino boa that was being handed around for photo ops as one she had held before, allowing Mr. Hall a sigh of relief. The big finale was a terrific elephant performance, and it would have been fun to stay and see the whole thing again, but the Halls had more meetings to make that day, so they walked the long way back to the car and raced on home. Last weekend, several of their visits were scheduled around the Albany district. The forecast was so inviting, Mr. Hall made a suggestion. “Pack lightly my dear- I think we should take Winston out for a spin!” Mrs. Hall was thrilled. Despite the fact that Winston was a 6-speed standard and Mrs. H’s high school driver’s education had been woefully inadequate in that regard, she had been making significant strides in her driving. Nevertheless, Mr. Hall enjoyed piloting the newest member of their fleet himself, and not a few times Mrs. Hall had caught him zipping along somewhat faster than the recommended posted speed. The last meeting that weekend was in Saratoga. The racing devotees that populate the area are notoriously fond of not only fast horses, but sleek and sporty wheels as well, and it was a true joy to put the top down and join the other sports cars on Main Street. Having an hour or so before they had to get ready, the Halls walked down to their favorite diner for lunch. They were on their way to a wonderful milliner’s shop in town where Mrs. Hall was determined to look for a straw boater for Mr. Hall, when they passed by a tack shop window and something caught Mrs. Hall’s attention. For a second, a glazed look came over her, and her left eye twitched ever so slightly. As in a dream, she began to step inside when Mr. Hall caught her arm and shook his head “no.” “You would regret it in the morning,” he advised, even as she looked back longingly at the zebra striped vinyl cowboy boots calling to her from the shop. “I know for a fact I would,” and he slid her into the diner for lunch. The clouds came in that afternoon during their meeting, and by the time they wearily packed for home, the cold winds were reminding them it was still only April. The Halls slid themselves back into Winston, and in a jiffy he had them home and safe in the hanger again.

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