Sun Lakes Writers Group

Weaver’s Grocery Store

Gary Alan Rose

When I was little, there was a Mom and Pop grocery store just up the street and around the corner from my house. It was Weaver’s Grocery Store, very small, but with a covered front porch the width of the building. The owners, the staff, consisted of Gordon Weaver and his wife, who I fail to remember her first name. Kinder and more compassionate people I still have yet to encounter in my life. Full-size candy bars were 5 cents and those little paraffin bottles filled with a variety of colorful liquid were only a penny. By the way, I noticed my keyboard doesn’t have a “cent sign character.” If you happened to be a little short, or even a lot, the Weavers just said, “Close enough.”

Often during the hot humid summer, us boys rode our bikes up to the Athletic Park to play some baseball with gloves, bats and balls in tow. After the game we returned to Weavers, a little sweaty and plenty thirsty. Some of my favorite soft drinks, that we called “pop” back in central Illinois, were Green River, Dad’s Root Beer and RC Cola. Chatter among us ranged from flights of fancy like playing for a Major League Baseball team of our liking, to the dread of summer’s end and back to school. Of course none of us were anywhere good enough to rise above summer league baseball teams. But we were dreamers. All of our plans were short sighted, to say the least, but we really didn’t know any better.

Time marched slowly back then with no Internet, cell phones or video games.

There were no “Fantasy Sports,” only the real thing that sometimes included sprained ankles, bruises and occasional black eyes. Everybody got along and nobody got angry about losing. Winning was great, but just playing was enough fun in itself. Besides, what better way to learn taking defeat gracefully that life thrusts upon you as an adult. By the way, we considered 18-year-olds adults and anyone over 40 as old folks.

Oh, our bikes did have fantasy motors. All that was needed was a thick balloon attached to the frame and rubbing against the wheel spokes. For a while, until the spokes wore a hole in the balloon, causing it to burst, we had motorcycles. Some kids used their baseball cards for the effect, and though it lasted longer than our balloons, it couldn’t match the louder sound we had. One Christmas I got a green 3 speed bicycle. I really thought it was the end-all to biking. However, the low range was too low, causing me to pedal viciously getting almost nowhere and the high gear was too hard to pedal. So, the mid-range gear was pretty much all I used, negating the 3 speed back down to one.

Those were wonderful years with wonderful memories. They were carefree times with great neighborhood friends. No one argued to any extent, and life was easy. Weaver’s Grocery Store brought us together, win or lose; we really didn’t care. We were just children in the days before we all had to grow up. TVs were black and white, we mastered the hula hoop and we played with marbles when we weren’t reading comic books. We were young and healthy, blessed beyond our knowing!

They Pluck, Wax, and Nair…

George Stahl

To date, if you haven’t noticed, in both the Marvel Comic Universe and the DC Universe, there are far more male superheroes than there are female saviors of worlds and guardians guarding the universe. The reason, some so-called experts of these sort of things say, is that comic books were first geared towards a demographic of preteen, pimple popping, chewing gum chewing boys. Girls saw these things as nonsense and those who read them were nerds that they would never, ever, be seen talking to at school. Remember, those words came from experts. My how things have changed. Captain America, Thor, and even on occasion, Iron Man have been seen talking to their female Avengers as equals, and have even been seen having their backs saved more than once by one of these femme fatales on the big screen.

#femalesuperheroealert. In the real world, women do things that men could never do, nor would be willing to try more than once. Women are beautiful. No question. But at what expense? A huge one for sure. For instance, when a woman looks in the mirror and sees an eyebrow hair that is longer than the rest, she does not hesitate before picking up a pair of tweezers and promptly plucks that intruder from the tender skin above her eyelid. Ouch! Her counterpart, a guy, superhero or not, reaches for a pair of scissors and snip, it’s gone. No pain, no eye watering, and no yelling words not allowed here.

Yes sir, folks, women pluck, wax, Nair, and bear children. Along with the Viking like eyebrow grooming, the same lady, will make quick use of her moustache by repeating the same procedure on her upper lip. This time she will systematically pluck each unwanted hair, one at a time. In this case, however, Wonder Woman here, will need to take periodic pauses in the grooming process to let the pain subside enough for her to continue. Wiping the tears from her eyes, she gathers her composure and bravely resumes the plucking ritual. She resembles a person peeling onions at this point, and her lip is as red as Rudolph’s nose, but she must go on. There are more hairs to pluck. Some women who are not willing to go the route of the tweezer, opt out for using a product called Nair. But this too requires the aid of a girl superhero at times. Nair has a tendency to leave a burning, itchy feeling, along with a rash, hives, and swelling on some people. Nevertheless, that nasty girl moustache has to go before she starts to look like Tom Selleck, or at best, Groucho Marx, (Who?). Yeah, I know, some of you brave, fearless, stronger than dirt women will get the reference. “Just say the secret word.”

Waxing! OMG! What’s that all about? Take for example, leg hair. Oh man, use a razor for Pete’s sake already. Melted hot wax smeared on with a stick, and let dry. Then, go back when it no longer feels sticky, grab an edge, and yank really, really fast and hard. The hardened wax comes off and takes a swath of hair from the leg with it. There are a plethora of female razors advertised every day that have to be a better option than this sort of inquisition type torture to groom yourself. Use a razor blade, save a bee!

Then there is the ultimate in female superheroes. Thor, Hulk, Superman, Batman, Captain America, Black Panther, and Iron Man would never, ever do anything like this, even if it meant saving the world from total destruction. Child birth? Close, but no epidural. We are talking about the ultimate in sacrifice, pain, and possible heartbreak. Taking on the role of mother, wife, and W.I.C. (Woman in Charge). Every on screen superhero has an alter ego, and to have one that requires even more super powers than the lady who can fly, lift cars, and ward off bad guys is not something our fellas are willing to do. For the males of Marvel and DC, being a superhero is something they can turn off when the villains are at bay, but for our females, it’s a 24/7 gig. Superhero by day, super woman by night. Until…

Enter, S.H.E. (Superheroes Extraordinaire). Yes ladies of muscle and brain, it is time to unite under the banner of the S.H.E. and end this sort of discrimination once and for all. This is the biggest fight of your superhero careers. Time for the claws, swords, shields, capes, and cloaks of dome, and all of the out of this world super sort of high kicks, karate chops, lasso of truth, and whatever that ice stormy stuff is about, to come out and show these male super chauvinistic heroes what you are all about.

You do not have to keep in the background any more. This is the 21st Century, 2020, and high time people of the comic world realize that those same skinny, nerdy, boys that no girls would talk to are being replaced by 12-year-old girls who read these books and see themselves in the roles of Wonder Woman, Black Widow, Catwoman, and other heroes of womandom. They are demanding that these are allowed to take their rightful places in the Marvel/DC world.

Wow. Explosive! Look out world, 2020 could be the year of the Female Superhero, in the comics, on the screen, and even better, in the households of America. As Tony Stark might say, “I am Irony Man.” Not to be confused with the Black Sabbath song of kind of the same name. Later.

Quite Alarming!

George Stahl

Your alarm clock on the table next to your bed demands that you get yourself up every morning. It does not suggest that you roll out from under the warmth of the covers and casually get going. No, this device screams, “Get up! Get up! Get up!” over and over, until you muster up the resolve to reach out and push the button to turn it off. Funny thing, when you held that same clock in your hands the night before and you checked the setting, and gently placed it back on the nightstand, that device that you want to crush in the morning, was your friend. You put all of your trust in the fact that it would not let you down in about eight hours.

Somewhere in your mind, your ally turned into the enemy while you slept, and you just want to see it die when you hear it in the morning. You will probably come into contact with at least one other alarm sometime during the day, you have no idea what type it will be. You know for sure though, it will be loud, obnoxious, and irritating.

What do you feel when you hear the word alarm? Just now, did you get a sense of anxiety? Maybe just a little? Impatient, like with the morning wake up buzzer or radio? We have been conditioned to feel an urgency with regard to alarms. Smoke alarms, fire alarms, security alarms, and alarms warning of other dangers all have a shrill, unwelcoming sound that penetrates our ears and causes our brains to go into a state of emergency. In other words, no matter what you think about alarms, they do their jobs to protect us. However, like that alarm clock in the morning, they only work if we pay attention to them. You’ve heard the saying, “This is for your own good.” How many times has something that feels good come after someone tells you that?

Since these alarms are for your own good, what if we add an alarm to this list that could equally be for our good? What if, and I know personally, I could use an alarm like this, what if we had an alarm on our brain that would emit a warning siren when we were about to say or do something really stupid, wrong, insensitive, or questionable? Not necessarily a conscience alarm, that would be more of a moral issue alarm, but some sort of thought warning alarm. Only you could hear it, and maybe it could help cut down on the anxiety and stress we bring on ourselves by stopping us from going into areas of a conversation where no man is advised to go.

“Think before you speak” is easier said than done too often. Think after you have spoken is more of what happens and then your next thought is, “Oh man, why did I say that?” This is usually followed by a lot of excuses, back pedaling and what you consider, reasons. Just think of all of the heartache you could save, for yourself and the person you are talking to, if you only had a thought alarm hooked into your brain.

Imagine, you are having a conversation with someone and you are forming an opinion of what they are saying, you have a thought brewing in your mind, you are about to put words to that thought, and just before you open your mouth, “Stop! Stop! Stop! Warning! Danger Danger…” followed by a quick burst of an annoying sound fills your head, and you close your mouth. No words come out, your neck contracts, your head nods, your lips pull to the side and you smile reassuringly in agreement. The alarm quiets, you sigh, and confrontation has been averted. As a bonus, because of the alarm, you have been a given a chance to think of a response, you speak and without sounding stupid, rude or thoughtless, you are able to convey your feelings on whatever it was you were talking about. Wow, you actually sound good as you listen to what you are saying. That second part is not a guarantee, but a plausible outcome.

Will that alarm in your head go off every time it is needed? Like the other alarms you encounter, it depends on two things. How often you check the batteries, at least once a year, and make sure the alarm is still functioning like it should be. Two, do you listen to it when it sounds, or do you reach out in the darkness and punch either the button that turns it off, or hit the snooze button. Alarms are only as good as we let them be. They can warn us of the danger we cannot see, but they cannot grab us and pull us out of the way.

If you look on the Internet, you will see that there are alarms on the market called personal safety alarms. These are designed to help when something has already happened. “I have fallen and I can’t get up!” type of situations. Most of us have used alarms like that in our minds already. “I have said something really stupid and I can’t take it back!” But a thought alarm could help you stay out of that situation altogether.

“So, how do I get one of these thought alarms?” you ask. We all come with one since the day we are born, all you have to do, is activate it. There is no phone number to call, no email to register with and no self-addressed, stamped envelope to return. The next time you think you might need one, simply, listen for it, before you are about to speak. What you do with it after that, is up to you.