Monday, October 28, 2013

Extreme Service: College Hills Halloween Carnival Edition...aka...Scaring the crap out of little kids in the name of "service"

Last time in Extreme Service, I talked about my days doing Meals on Wheels. This time, I'm going to attempt to explain why there is probably a whole generation of kids in College Station, Texas that wet the bed long into (or past) their elementary school years, thanks to Halloween terror caused by my APO friends and me. 


Flashback to 1993: College Hills Elementary contacted APO for help with their annual Halloween carnival and I got the chance to be project chair. In the meeting with a teacher at the school, they asked that we #1) make a bunch of confetti eggs for their fundraiser (kids buy confetti eggs to bust over their friends’ heads and they think it's fun???) and #2) help with the hay ride and #3) create and man their spook house. Fun stuff, right? 

Tim and Stacy volunteered to take care of the hay ride, so I never really had to think twice about it because I knew they had it under control. And what kid wouldn't want to ride a hay ride with the Hulk and his cute little bunny pet?

My work started with the confetti eggs. The first calls were to the local copy shops that printed study booklets, bound Masters Theses and whatnot. “Hello, this is Shelley with Alpha Phi Omega. Can you save all of your hole punches for me?” Apparently that wasn’t a common request, because I had to explain over and over how I needed the hole punches to use them as confetti for confetti eggs. Some of them said they didn’t think they could GIVE them to me. My “well then, how much do you sell them for,” would always get the answer “We DON'T sell them. We throw them away.” I love my Aggies, I truly do, but sometimes the reason that Aggie jokes hit a little close to home is because there are Aggies like those copy shop clerks. Eventually they agreed to save the hole punches for me when I suggested “if you can’t GIVE them to me and you won’t SELL them to me, I guess I’ll just dumpster dive for them in the evenings.” 

After the confetti was secured, I had to collect some eggs. I called EVERY grocery store in Bryan and College Station asking for egg donations, then drove to each store to pick them up. I even got it approved to offer a service hour to each active or pledge who donated two dozen eggs. When it was all said and done, we had collected 144 dozen eggs. For you who like math, that’s 144x12, or 12x12x12, or 1728, or a real shitload of eggs.

Once the eggs and confetti were collected, we had an egg draining “party” at Jeen-Marie’s and Nikki’s apartment where a handful of us sat in the living room, punched holes in the bottom of the eggs and drained the guts into big trash bags. In hind sight, we should have planned this in conjunction with a massive breakfast for the homeless, because we wasted 1728 perfectly good eggs. To this day I feel guilty about the waste…and the fact that their apartment’s dumpster no doubt smelled pretty disgusting by the next day. 

So, the drained eggs dried, we stuffed the confetti in them and taped the bottoms up and I delivered 144 dozen confetti eggs to College Hills Elementary. (And I vehemently vowed to NEVER be involved in confetti eggs EVER AGAIN.) While I was there to drop off the eggs, they gave me the tour of the building that would be used for the spook house, and that’s where the previously-mentioned bed wetting begins. 

The spook house would be in a small building with hallways that made a “T” shape. There would be an entryway, and then the “big kids” could go right down the longer part of the building. The “little kids” could go straight through a shorter, less-scary hallway. (See below.) 

The problem with their explanation of how the spook house should be set up was that by “big kids,” they meant fourth and fifth graders, but didn't spell that out to me. To a bunch of college kids, "big" kids are teenagers, not fourth graders. We MIGHT have definitely made the spook house a little waaaaayyyyyy too scary. 

On the day of the carnival, we got to spend the early part of the day putting the spook house together to have it ready for that evening, and it was one of the most fun days I ever had working on a project. We had music blaring, James was on “dry ice patrol” to make sure we had plenty of smoke and fog, there was lots of laughter and gallons of fake blood. (Entirely too much fake blood for an elementary school spook house.)

Major job function of "dry ice patrol" was entertaining the rest of us

And then the carnival started and we had our first visitors. 

We greeted them with a mad scientist.

Dr. Wendell is SO happy to have you in the lab.

Then creepy things came out to get you at the junction of the little kids’ hallway and big kids’ hallway. 

Going straight through the little kids’ hallway would take you through a cemetery, but I didn’t get a picture of it because zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz................

Going through the big kids’ hallway would scare the crap out of you.

First, there was the “Quack Shack” which is the quaint name we had for the old student health center at A&M. (I went there when I fell off Kyle Field and broke my foot.) It wasn’t THAT bad…the student health center, I mean.

Our Quack Shack really was THAT bad.

Then there was the part that was like a really bad LSD trip with fluorescent lighting.

Then there was the Undertaker with his pet. He had dinner all ready to serve.

Eventually the Undertaker (Thom) married his pet (Jen).

Dinner is served. It might talk back though.

If you’d made it that far with your eyes open, you’d be greeted by “Hanging Amy” who would make a point to sway a little bit and bump into the taller spook house guests as they walked by. 

And finally, Dracula would open his eyes and sit up in time to tell you goodbye, or to suck your blood, or something.

It just LOOKS like a bucket of beer in the coffin with him, but I'm mostly sure it was the dry ice. 

Needless to say, we scared those kiddos pretty badly. Many times during the evening, I went through (and the College Hills staff went through) to remind everyone to “tone it down.” During one of my passes, I went through behind a dad and his three little Ninja Turtles. Unfortunately, I was dressed as a clown with big spots on my costume, and they noticed me behind them right when we were in the fluorescent drug trip room. I hadn’t considered how creepy a clown can look in that kind of lighting. I probably resembled something from their nightmares. 

Scary clown me. 

(In case you’re wondering, Coulrophobia is the excessive fear of clowns. I’m pretty sure little Donatello Ninja Turtle probably has Coulrophobia to this day.) The kids were terrified and the dad was even a little freaked out, too, but he hid it well. It wasn’t until nearly the end that his poker face failed him. Hanging Amy brushed against his shoulder as she swayed in the breeze and that was the final straw that made him visibly shiver. I remember that shiver vividly all these years later. 

So yeah, there were probably many nightmares and a lot of bed wetting for awhile in the College Hills Elementary school population. My friend John tries to make me feel guilty about it all over again every year around Halloween, and I do...for a minute or two. I console myself by remembering those kids all had a metaphorical badge of courage and a great story to tell at school the next day and are all pushing 30 now and hopefully remembering it fondly. The biggest pang of guilt I feel is over the fact that future generations of APO brothers didn’t get to have the same kind fun we had because we never got invited to do the College Hills Spook House again. EVER.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

I should probably stop naming the creepy crawlies.

For a few days after the apartment complex sends the pest control guy around, the bug population is a little stirred up. They pop up everywhere. Just in time for Halloween. Yay.

On a related note, I have a new roommate.

Zoomed in as much as possible from as far away as possible. So much for my future career in nature photography.

Since my new roommate has eight legs, and because he is at least spider number five to pop up in the last couple of days, and because it's football season and because he's really annoying, I have decided to name him Chad OchoCinco. 


Roommate update: Prior to publication of this post, Chad OchoCinco (the spider) met an untimely, though very satisfying death via leather footwear. Because really, who hasn't wanted to smack Chad OchoCinco (the athlete) with a shoe?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Hitting the bottle early

It's a rough Tuesday morning in Shelleyland, folks. The Rock and I are hitting the bottle early.

Y'all have a great Tuesday. I plan on doing the same. As soon as I wake up.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

There should at least be cartoons.

It's a well-known fact that I AM NOT A MORNING PERSON. At all. Not even a little bit. My perfect Saturday is one where I can sleep in until at least noon.

Today, it's a chilly morning. The kind of morning that makes staying in bed that much better. And I don't have to work. I don't have plans with friends or family. I have a football game to watch at 11am, but that's it. Last night I set my alarm for 10:35am (three 5-minute snoozes would still have me awake 10 minutes before kickoff). And this morning I slept in until....8:30am???

I woke up starving. I was so hungry there was no going back to sleep. I actually put on clothes and went to the donut shop for sugary doughy goodness. I came home to eat my donuts and watch Saturday morning cartoons.

I was kind of excited to get to watch cartoons. I didn't watch them much as a kid because I always slept through. So got the remote and started flipping through and....Where the hell are the cartoons? I only found two channels with animation and they were LAME.

This sucks. I didn't get to sleep in. I didn't have enough milk to drink with my donuts. And today's cartoons are boring.

And now to add insult to injury, my alarm is mocking me...I mean, my alarm is going off. I need a nap. And some Bugs Bunny.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Happy Birthday, Billy!

Today's my friend Billy's birthday. He's kind of a local celebrity. And yet, he's never been the feature of a blogpost by any blogger. I rectify that omission NOW.

Billy is a great public speaker. His deep baritone sounds like the voice of God over a microphone. Or maybe it's the Godfather of Soul. I forget.

He is also the master of the slow clap.

He's pretty much the bomb dot com. (That just seems so wrong to type or say. But, I got that from one of my former students, so surely that's what the cool kids are saying these days.)


Sunday, October 13, 2013

I love ya, but The Walking Dead comes back tonight....

That's right. The Walking Dead comes back for season four tonight. I won't be answering phone calls. Or texts. Or the front door. 

I WILL be obsessing over every little detail.  I will be live-chatting it with my Facebook group. I will probably be tweeting a lot of "OMG" and "Ewwww." 

And I will also be waiting for Daryl and Carol to confess their love for each other. And I will be watching how Rick and Michonne handle becoming allies. And I will be hoping that everyone in the group gets at least one shower this season. 

I will also be watching to see if any of my predictions come true. I think that within the first two episodes we'll have a major bloodbath that gets rid of most of the people they picked up in Woodbury last season because that's just too many people for us to keep up with and care about. I also predict that we may not see the Governor in person during the first couple of episodes, but we will see his handiwork. And I predict Daryl will be a badass in a sleeveless shirt. (Okay, that last one is more of a wish than a prediction.)

So yeah, you probably shouldn't call unless you have a true emergency. I love ya, but The Walking Dead comes on tonight. 

What are your predictions/wishes for the season four premiere?

Monday, October 7, 2013

Port-a-potties, family and the goat cook off

I have never, ever in my entire life spent as much time talking about port-a-potties as I did last weekend. I didn’t think there could be that much to say on the subject, but as often happens; I learned how wrong I could be.
You see, last weekend was the twenty-somethingth annual Colorado City Volunteer Fire Department World Championship Boer Goat Cook Off. (If you’re wondering what exactly a boer goat cook off is, well…’s a lot like a chili cook off, just with more rednecks and fewer frat boys…and the presence of many members of my family.) And when 55 teams of beer- and/or sweet tea- drinking rednecks camp out and cook goats, there is a major need for port-a-potties.
Anyway, I took off work early on Friday so that I could get to the goat cook off and my Dad’s camp/cook site in time for supper because he and my cousin Ty were cooking burgers and hot dogs, and I don’t ever miss a meal when my Dad is grilling if I can’t help it. And because my Aunt Bobbie was bringing her most excellent chocolate cake (Screw the LOW SUGAR VEGETARIAN DIET for a weekend). But, before I got to the park, I stopped at the nearby Gas ‘N Grub for an iced tea and to use their wonderfully clean and indoor-plumbed bathroom.  
I got to the park and greeted my parents and all the aunts and uncles and cousins and second cousins and third cousins (we had four generations of the family represented) and all the friends that were there. (FYI, the final count of family and friends to stop by was 36!) By the time I’d said hello and hugged everyone (yep, I’m a hugger) it was just about Johnson Standard Time (JST aka “time to eat”). While we were in line for food, one friend mentioned this blog and I told her I’d be blogging about the goat cook off for sure. She asked if I “would change the names to protect the innocent.” I just recommended that she not do anything I could poke fun at and she wouldn’t really have to worry, would she? I figured everyone there must have overheard that advice because then they all seemed to be on their best non-embarrassing behavior after that. And I was totally kicking myself……
Until the toilet talk started. My cousin's boys (aged four and a half and two and a half) seemed to need to go to the bathroom a lot. Like constantly. I was kinda starting to worry about them, like “what on Earth have those boys been eating” when one of my aunts or maybe my Mom explained that the boys liked to use the port-a-potty because they “thought it was neat.” Boys are so weird.
And THAT started the port-a-potty discussion.  I confessed I had stopped at the gas station so I wouldn’t have to use the port-a-potty because I most definitely don’t think they’re neat. In fact, I think they’re just big boxes of germs that make me gag if I think too hard about what’s inside them.  Mom pointed out that they “weren’t bad yet. Actually, when the breeze brought the scent on the air, they were quite fragrant.” Yes, you read that right. We were not only talking about port-o-lets, we were now rating their smell. So I asked Clayton, the-four-year old, “what did the port-a-potty smell like”, since he liked to use it so much and was therefore the expert. “Did it smell like flowers?” He looked at me like I was asking the craziest question ever (which in his defense, I kinda was) and told me it smelled clean. Okay. If a four-year-old didn’t take the opportunity to say that something smelled like poop, then it must have smelled pretty good.
At this point, I realized we were seriously discussing the port-a-pots and I ridiculed all of us into changing the subject. My Mom and aunts moved on to recipes. As a girl who doesn’t cook, I really didn’t have much to add to the conversation and kinda wished I hadn’t been so hasty to find a new topic.
But a little later, Clayton brought us back to the outhouse, figuratively speaking. It was getting late and a few folks were starting to leave. His Great Granny came to say bye. I guess she mentioned something about bathrooms, I didn’t hear her part of the conversation, but I sure heard Clayton’s. He belted out for everyone to hear “Granny, that toilet over there (pointing to the port-o-let), that toilet DOESN’T FLUSH!” Even people at the next camp could be heard chuckling over that one.
The evening ended and then we were all back at the park again early the next morning. Some earlier than others….I made it there by 10am, which is a new record for me. I don’t do mornings. But I digress….
 A little before lunchtime, I took the little boys for a walk around to check out some of the other cook sites. Being little boys, they pointed out the pickup trucks they saw, the fire trucks (“wow, that ladder’s almost TEN FEET TALL”) and EVERY port-a-potty. Clayton even remarked on the volume of toilets available to goat cook off participants. “There sure are a lot of toilets out here for the goat cookers, Shelley .” And he was right.

In case you’re wondering about the actual goat cook off, it was a great weekend. We got to visit with family we don’t always get to see as often as we’d like.  We fed the ducks and tossed washers. We cooked and ate and laughed. We made memories. And we used the stupid port-a-potties.