14 April 2009

April 2009 FFC: FOOL

This is the best FFC thus far, folks. We have ELEVEN!!! writers this month. Woohoo! Please comment on everyone's if you're in the group. If you are not in the group, you are welcome to leave comments here or in the other blogs linked to below. Comments are to be constructive and honest and are moderated to avoid spammers and flamers.

In alphabetical order:


B. Anonymous

Melanie Avila

Terry Atkison

Ian Chamberlin

Jeanette Cheezum

Kat Frassrand

Helen Peterson

Barbara Quesnell

Synchronistic Catalyst

Pamela Twining

B. Anonymous: Fool Fascination

“Well, I’ve about decided his lactose intolerance is all in his head. Ever since I’ve been making my own butter, he’s been eating it every day and hasn’t had one bellyache. But bring a pizza into the house? He gets all accusatory and has three hissy fits. ‘You’re trying to kill me, woman! You know I have a game tomorrow!’ Then he’ll go have a long sulk in his office and pretend he’s working on his business interests when all he’s doing is playing video games. I love him, I do, but he’s a trial.”

Tisha fingered the new sports-themed butter molds her favorite gourmet supply store in east Memphis had ordered in just for her. The folks at The Culinaria did not understand Tisha’s obsession with the frou-frou molds, but the high price point quelled any questions they might have had.

“Men are babies, Tisha. My mama always told me that when I was a child and so far I have yet to meet one who belies that bit of wisdom.” Michael Jones, Tisha’s best friend among the team wives, reached for a set of miniature flower-form cake pans and placed them into his basket. “Heaven knows Juan is. When he left for the game in Milwaukee yesterday he was missing his lucky socks and I had to FedEx them overnight so he’d have them in time for the game tonight. You’d think he was gone to summer camp and forgotten his teddy bear or somesuch!”

“Shane’s the same way. But for him it’s his pillow. If he doesn’t have his special pillow to sleep on the night before a game, he gets into a funk and decides there’s no way he can win. Coach and I finally got together and we have it fixed now so I have several pillows in the spare closet all the same and Shane has no idea there’s more than one. All he knows is he has his pillow and that he will wake up on game day ready to win. Silly, silly man.”

Smiling at her friend, Tisha looked past his shoulder and saw a display of serving bowls by a sign reading: For Your Favorite Fool.

“These are so pretty! But I don’t understand. What’s a fool? Maudie! Yoohoo! Can you come over here, doll?”

Maud, who owned the shop, nodded and walked over, ending her phone call with, “I’ll be sure to let you know when we get those in, Ms. Neely. Now then, what can I help you with, Tisha?”

“These new bowls. What are they for? And don’t people get mad when you call them fools?”

“Oh! I see what you’re asking. These are serving bowls for the dessert called a fool. It’s a really old whipped cream-based dish from Renaissance times or even earlier. I discovered fools in cooking school when I needed a simple dessert using fresh seasonal fruit that would do for a Madrigal dinner we were preparing. Fools go back to cookery books dating to the Sixteenth Century.”

“Wait a sec. So what do you do? Is it just some Cool Whip with fruit in it? My Aunt Trudy used to serve us that all the time whenever we went over for a visit.” Michael was not impressed.

“My soul, no!” Tisha shook her head. “Now that you’ve reminded me, I remember reading about fools in one of the dairy books I found when I went up to Michigan with the team last fall. I wanted to try making one, but Shane and his lactose issues kept me from it. I think they have wine or some other liquor in them, not just cream and fruit.”

“Girl, it’s simple.” Michael smiled conspiratorially and said, “All you have to do is tell him you used Cool Whip and not real cream and he’ll never know. And if you’re worried, just grind up some of those little white pills with some chocolate shavings and sprinkle them over the top. That’s what I do with Beano when Juan insists on having beans and rice. The man will not take a pill, but if I tell him it’s part of the spices on top of the dish, he’ll gobble it right up.”

“Ooh, you’re conniving, aren’t you? But I like the way you think.” Shifting her attention to the storeowner, Tisha added, “Maud, I’ll take a set of these. That big one and six of the smaller ones.”

“I’ll wrap them up for you right away. Can I do anything else for you?”

“No, that’s all for now. The butter molds and the bowls will be just fine.”

Once she was home again in her apartment overlooking the Mississippi River, Tisha carried her laptop to the table on the balcony and began looking for fool recipes.

“Gooseberries and elderberry wine. I wonder where I can find those here in Memphis. Maybe that British import shop will have some.”

Tisha picked up her phone and pressed 12 on the speed dial. Her new butter molds forgotten, she scrolled through web pages. As soon as she heard the British accent that answered her call, she knew the theme of her next dinner party.

“Tell me, Miss Percival, do you have any Anthony Newley music on hand? And what about gooseberries?”


Congratulations! I am pleased to offer you admission to My University for the upcoming fall term. Your academic profile confirms that you are, like most of your classmates, appallingly ill prepared to cope with the rigours of higher learning, but we recognize that you didn’t get here alone. Rather than bemoaning the failures of your parents, teachers, and the intellectual collapse of society at large, we at MyU prefer to take a more constructive approach, teaching you fundamental academic skills that we know we shouldn’t have to teach you at this stage, but better late than never, don’t you think?

At MyU, your education begins with a reality check. We believe that early disillusionment is the key to our students’ success in the real world. Yes, we know you’ve been told since you were five that you can be anything you want to be when you grow up, and we think it’s fantastic that you’ve held on to your Olympic dreams along with your 10th place ribbon collection, but here at MyU, we are more concerned with your learning than your self esteem. If you need to be coddled, go back to kindergarten.

We believe that a spoon is an eating utensil, not a learning utensil. Learning requires thinking, and thinking requires that you actually do something more than occupy the seat. Assignments aren’t suggestions, deadlines aren’t negotiable, and no, we won’t tell you what to study for the final exam. Figure it out yourself. And while you’re at it, figure out how to manage your time so you don’t need to waste ours asking for a two day extension for that term paper you had eight weeks to write.

If you find you need help with that term paper, we are pleased to direct you to any one of the campus’ libraries. Remember the library? It’s that place with lots of books and trained professionals who can help you with your research. Why yes, you could just use Wikipedia, but you could also get an F. Your choice.

We pride ourselves on a grading system that still means something. At MyU, if you get an A, it means something. If you get an F, it also means something and we hope you get the message. We know you desperately want to get a degree and get on with your life, but we firmly believe that disguising your D effort in a B-plus isn’t going to change the fact that you haven’t learned enough to make it. If you don’t like it, try studying harder.

Here at MyU, we recognize that post-secondary education is expensive. Really expensive. And while we are deeply sorry that increasing tuition may jeopardize your plans to spend Reading Week drinking yourself stupid at an all-inclusive Mexican resort, we also wish to remind our students that simply paying your tuition will not guarantee that you learn anything. YOU still have to do that part for yourself. We don’t want you to waste your your parents’ money, but if you insist on wasting our time by not learning anything, we won’t feel bad about how much it costs.

At My University, we care about what you learn, not what you pay.

Welcome, and good luck! See you on campus!

PS...April Fools!

Pamela Twining: Laundry Day

The door wasn’t locked. In fact, it wasn’t even closed, as Ellen discovered when she kicked it hard with her foot, hoping to get one of the kids to come open it for her. It swung open, creaking eerily, into the empty foyer. The silence that followed was palpable. An apartment where three children live is never silent.

Ellen crossed the foyer cautiously, still carrying the heavily loaded basket of clean, folded clothes. The quiet grew, becoming a living thing that seemed to swallow everything, consuming birdsong, engine noise from the road outside, even the sound of her breath. A sharp gasp at the sight that met her eyes momentarily punctured that bubble of silence.

The living room was a disaster. The desk had been rifled through, papers and knick-knacks scattered about, a lamp knocked over, the TV, the computer and even the wooden box containing her mother’s wedding silver, gone! Wires hung from the wall like mindless tentacles, disconnected from the appliances they served. And, OH GOD! the sturdy body of Jesse, her 9 year old son, was lying half on, half off the couch, his head tilted at an unnatural angle. He seemed shrunken somehow, and his pale skin had a bluish tinge.

In shock, she turned to her right; her daughter, Miriela, aged 11, sprawled on the dining room floor, beneath an overturned chair, blood pooled beneath her head from a hideous gash above her left eye. Farther on, in the hallway, was her youngest, Christopher, hardly more than a baby, perhaps caught in the act of running from his assailant. He lay all askew, crumpled like a marionette dropped by a careless child, one little shoe cast off, resting on it’s side near his body.

As if in a daze, she walked slowly down the hall towards the bedrooms. Christopher almost seemed to twitch as she passed by, but she appeared to be in some altered state, oblivious to the children or to any of her surroundings. Ellen set the basket down on the bed. The silence lengthened.

Then, incredibly, there was the sound of humming, a minor key, no-name tune, and drawers being opened and closed, as the clothes were put away.

From the dining room, came a loud Thud! and a staccato of footsteps. Miriela ran from the room, her face dripping with Vampire Gore.

“Darn it, Chrissy! I TOLD you she’d guess if you didn’t keep perfectly still!”“I did, M’wela! I didn’t move at all, not even a tip of my toe!”

A smaller Thump!, this time from the living room, and here came Jesse yelling, “You did too, Chris! You’re such a baby!”

“Am not!”

“Are too!”

Before the pummeling started, Ellen peered around the corner from the bedroom door. “It was much better than last year, when y’all put salt in the sugar bowl and sugar in the salt shaker! Though, it was worth something to see your father’s face, when he took a sip of his coffee.” She laughed at the memory. “Now, you children clean up this mess and put those things back where they belong, before Daddy gets home! I swear; I don’t even know how you managed to get Nana’s silver down from the sideboard or carry those heavy things. You are all very lucky nothing got broken!”

Chorus: “Awwwwww, Mom!” The children rumbled together, down the hall towards the bathroom, to wash their faces. Miriela was a genius with make up.

“Safe.....until next April,” Ellen sighed, turning back to the bedroom, to finish putting away the laundry.

Helen Peterson: When Even The Neighbor's Cat Feels Sorry For Me

I listen to "The Fool on the Hill"
To forget that I am the loser in the duplex
scrubbing enchilada crumbs
out of the corners of the pan
my hands wrinkling with the effort
getting younger is not in the cards
at this point illusions swirl
down the drain white with flour tortilla
salsa sunspots dancing in the light
cast by a tired afternoon reflection.