Tag Archives: friends

Hop to It!


The day seemed normal enough for the Curtis family as they made the trek to a Saturday afternoon birthday party. The kids were tucked in the backseat of the truck as they ambled down the country road, and Shannon sat in the passenger’s seat, giving the three girls a rundown of the upcoming phone call. No one had any idea that they were moments away from a vicious attack.

“Now Uncle Rusty may not be home, but we still want to leave him a happy birthday message on his machine.”

“Don’t you think it’s funny that we’re going to a birthday party and Uncle a Rusty is having a birthday in Louisiana?”

“Umm huh,” Shannon replied as she scrolled through her contacts. “Now wait for my cue, girls, before you start singing.” She half turned in her seat. “It’s ringing.”

“What time were we supposed to be at this party?” Nathan wanted to know. “At this rate we won’t get there before . . . Whoa!” He suddenly slammed on the brakes and threw the front seat as far back as it would go. “What in the devil?!”

“What is it?” Shannon demanded as she watched her husband start a swatting frenzy. “Is it a spider?”

“My lord!” Nathan yelled as he attacked his jeans with gusto. Shannon still couldn’t see the assailant, but Nathan flailed as if he’d kicked over a hornets’ nest. The girls joined the screaming enthusiastically, and suddenly an inch long grasshopper appeared, bouncing across Nathan and ricocheting around the dashboard. It was at this moment that Uncle Rusty’s voicemail picked up.

A real killer ...

A real killer …

“Hey there, Rusty! It’s Shannon, Nathan and the girls.”

“I see him, Daddy! He’s on the gear shift!” shrieked Savannah.

“Now he’s on the window!” yelled Sadie.

“Don’t kill him! You’re going to kill him with your palm!” wailed Sydney.

“We were just calling to wish you a happy birthday!” Shannon said, holding the phone in one hand and clamping her ear to her head with the other. “The girls and I want to sing to you just as soon as we get our act together.”

“Get this bug out of here!” Nathan bellowed as he punched buttons for the windows. The grasshopper had now made it to Shannon’s side of the truck, and as soon as he landed on her collarbone, she pinned him with her free hand and prepared to return him to the wild. She would have sung “Born Free,” but they were supposed to be cueing up a different ditty at the moment. Nathan stomped on the gas right as Shannon got the prisoner’s discharge papers in order, and this unfortunate burst of air rushing past the passenger’s window caught the little hopper right as she made the toss and propelled him right through the girls’ back window in a marvelous boomerang effect.

At this point it’s just hard to describe the joy that ensued, but Shannon said she’s pretty sure Uncle Rusty’s birthday well wishes sounded like something out of a Stephen King movie. I’m picturing the one with Kathy Bates and the sledge hammer. I guess you never know when terror may strike.

Happy birthday from The King of Horror!

Happy birthday from The King of Horror!

© 2014 – Traci Carver



Friend or foe?  Or new family member?

Friend or foe? Or new family member?

I can still remember a time when you walked out the door and left technology behind you. Sure, you got into a car and walked into stores with air conditioning, but you left the gadgets at home. Phones rang endlessly because no one was at home, and you missed whatever was playing on television because you went out to socialize instead. Losing the programming from all two of those channels was no great loss anyway. From May to September you were living off reruns, and Sunday afternoons afforded nothing better than golf – the dregs of entertainment. Even kids lost all interest in that magical box other than Saturday mornings, when cartoons reigned supreme for four hours. These days children have access to entire stations that stream talking sponges nonstop. Oh, the progress we have made. But perhaps we have also ensnared ourselves with our modern conveniences. Now instead of being able to leave your work at the office, you can access your email on a screen the size of a saltine cracker right from your purse. And instead of leaving that ringing contraption at the house, friends and family members expect you to answer the phone anytime they deem to hit the Call button under your name. I don’t really think we have a grip on technology; I think it’s the other way around.

I ate supper with my best friend a few nights ago in celebration of her birthday. While the restaurant may be modest by New York standards, in my small town the local Japanese steak house is one of the premier places to feast, so I marveled as I watched the family of three across the reflective grill. The wife never took her eyes off of her phone.

About thirty seconds after they sat down, she got a call. She proceeded to talk for the next twenty minutes. She chatted through the drink and meal order, through the wonton soup, and through the salad with the yummy ginger dressing. Her husband and daughter talked briefly to each other, but it was hard for them to compete with her. Shannon and I were having a hard time, and we were clear across the steaming pit, at least four paper lanterns away. She was even still talking when the chef rolled out his cart and started tossing eggs in the air, but when flames rose three feet off the grill and threatened her Lifeproof case, she finally told Jojo she’d call her back. As if there was anything left to say at this point.

And now you’re thinking that after leaving her family in a communication desert for the length of time that it takes to watch a Big Bang episode that this woman would shape up and mind her manners. You’d be wrong. As soon as she ended the call, she went head down, totally absorbed in her screen. The only time she spoke to her daughter was to point out an interesting update on somebody’s Facebook page. She missed the onion volcano, the Asian fireworks, and the pulsing fried rice heart spatula. I think our chef could have set himself on fire and she wouldn’t have noticed, although her poor husband looked bored enough to give it a try.

At the end of the hour, the husband finally pulled Mrs. Facebook away from all the interesting posts on the latest in fabric softener and the calorie count consumed by the “friend” she’s never really liked anyway, and they rose from the table, her thumb still on the move. The wife left behind an entire plate of steak and shrimp since she’d been too engrossed to eat. She should have just tossed her $25 on the grill and watched it burn, but I doubt she could have spared the time away from her network.

“You know,” I said to Shannon as I chased the last of my fried rice with chopsticks, “I hope we never get to the point that we can’t have a conversation because our scrolling gets in the way.”

Shannon nodded. “At least if the chef had torched my eyebrows, she would have been Johnny on the spot with 911.”

© 2014 – Traci Carver

Cupcake Confessions

I'm pretty sure I shouldn't mix brands, but I was like a severely depressed person getting dressed - who cares if your shirt and pants match?

I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t mix brands, but I was like a severely depressed person getting dressed – who cares if your shirt and pants match?

“So Savannah was wondering if you’d be willing to make cupcakes for her birthday party.”

The request wasn’t surprising since I’d helped out with this very endeavor a couple of times before, but I needed to clarify something before I could commit. “Wait a minute, does she mean those horrible box cupcakes that I made the first year, or can I whip up something from scratch? I could even do a lovely Coca-Cola cake that the kids would love. It’s so moist.”

“Well . . .” Shannon replied.

“At least ask her, ok? If she really wants the kind you dump out of cardboard, I’ll do those.” And this, ladies and gentlemen, is what you call a grand concession. It’s not that I have anything against working moms who need to cut a few corners to save time or even those parents who simply don’t want to spend even five more minutes than they have to in the kitchen. But I love to bake. And I’m a darn fine baker. I may not be able to decorate a five-tiered wedding cake or sculpt the Golden Gate Bridge out of fondant, but I can make some mean brownies and my cream cheese pound cake always draws a compliment. So when the response came back that Savannah wanted the cupcakes that I had made in the past, I sighed and wrote “cake mix” on my shopping list in deepest black.

Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Why not just make cupcakes from scratch and never tell? What are the chances a child would notice?” Well, if they’re anything like my teenagers, they can spot the difference between homemade and store bought the way my friend’s Doberman knows that there’s a pill hidden in a pinch of bread. And here’s the part that should peel the enamel right off your teeth: they prefer store bought until you train them. I’ll never forget the day a group of my kids turned their noses up at my peach cobbler and then cheered when a classmate brought in a plastic tray of Walmart cookies, complete with radioactive green icing. It took me a week to recover from the trauma.

So I swallowed my pride and stood in front of the Duncan Hines section of the baking aisle, throwing furtive glances over my shoulder like a shoplifter with a Rolex down her blouse. I bought something with confetti in it and tossed a can of chocolate icing into my cart that probably has a shelf life that will postdate the next nuclear detonation. At least the roaches will have something to eat.

I baked and delivered my wares and received a report a couple of days afterwards that the party was a roaring success. At least I was in St. Augustine at the time, so I had a perfectly solid alibi against baking crimes committed that day.

© 2014 – Traci Carver