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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Enter the Chicken Woman OR Sometimes When I Shop I Run Intro Strange People OR OMG Calm Down, I Won't Freak Out If You Don't Know the Answer

Warning: No Chicken Women, cats, chickens, X-Acto knife blades, or illustrators were harmed in the making of this blog, but their ears might be burning.

Recently I went to Lowe's to find X-Acto knife blades.  If you do not know what a X-Acto knife is, do NOT fret.  I shall explain.  (Because it might be funny and I love to amuse myself.  Also because it might be really funny.)  These are little knives with handles about the size of pencils (the handles are the size of pencils, not the knives.)  They are used for arts and crafty stuff.  Once upon a time when Fat Woman was in the US Army (I was) and I was an illustrator (They did have those - 81E was the MOS, and that's Military Operating Speciality or something close to those initials.) (OKAY, I've been corrected.  MOS stands for Military Occupational Speciality.  Sheesh.  It's been decades since I was in the Army; I'm entitled to be forgetful.)
We had to do bomb checking and trimming rose bushes
because we were pretty much the bottom of the heap
and the job was considered so not-important that
we were kind of surplus. It was okay. I got pretty
good at trimming rose bushes. Too bad, I never
learned what a bomb was supposed to look like.
But if I had my X-Acto knife, I could have
cut & pasted the holy living hell out of it.
So I was like, a glorified graphic artist, except we did a lot of cutting and pasting.  There was no graphics program on a computer.  There wasn't anything computerized.  There was something called a Compugraphic 7500 (5500?  6500?  2 1/2?  Seriously, what kind of herbal remedy is it that helps with memory?  What was I saying?)  This machine made letters on paper.  You had to change the type faces by physically changing the typeface within the machine itself.  And, what I remember the most, you had to cut and paste a BUNCH!  (I'm getting to the point.  Stick with me.  Look, puns.  Point.  Stick.)  Well, the X-Acto knife was an illustrator's best buddy.  (Ask any 81 Echo from the seventies and eighties.  Well, find one first.  Then ask them.)  I might even have slept with mine.  (Might have slept with the X-Acto knife, NOT all the 81 Echoes.  Potty brain.)

We kept X-Acto knives by the dozens.  I believe we even hoarded the little bastards from each other.  Here's a picture:
Jeez, this is fuzzy.

Here's another picture that you don't have to cross your eyes at and then fill in the blanks (That's kind of like voting.):
There ya go.  Fond memories.  I could use that sucker
just like the guy at Benihana's.  (I sliced the crap out
of my hand once when I slipped, but it was only once.  See, I learned
from my mistake.)
You may be asking yourself, 'Why is Fat Woman showing me pictures of knives?'  I'm getting to it.  I've got an art project going on and I needed a sharp blade to do some precision slicing.  (It's a collage.  Lots of fun with Mod Podge and clippings galore.  Hey, I've got a 7 year old, it's summer time, and we can do collages or we can watch Spongebob until our brains internally combust in a way that involves brains leaking messily out of the ears.  What would you do?  And yes, only I get to wield the X-Acto knife blade with handle.)

Anyway, I went to Lowes to find more X-Acto knife blades.  I figure Lowe's has got stuff like that.  It's also got other stuff I needed at the time, so I combined a trip.  Plus Cressy likes to climb on the riding lawn mowers.  (She has a secret dream of riding one of those bad boys up and down the aisles and making people jump into the bags of grass fertilizers to avoid being mowed down like vacuous animals on an isolated road while she laughs like a deranged maniac.  Yee-haw!  Wait, maybe that's me.)

So I went to the proper locale in the store to find the smaller hand tools and I looked about.  Cressy was helpful.  Her: "Does it look like that?" Me: "No."  Her: "Does it have a green package?" Me: "No."  Her: "Does it light up and twirl?" Me: "No."  Her: "Is it bigger than a bread box?"  Me: "No, if you're quiet for the next five minutes, I'll take you to Dairy Queen for ice cream."  Her, innocently: "I didn't say anything, Mommy."

I couldn't find it.  There were box cutters.  Lots of box cutters.  In every size, shape, and variety.  (Clearly, they didn't get the 9/11 memo.)  There was refills for box cutters.  Lots and lots of refills for box cutters.  So I looked in the other aisles and I couldn't find them.  There was a convenient Lowe's clerk standing on one side restocking a shelf.  I asked her.

This was my mistake.  Somewhere an alarm should have gone off.  MISTAKE!  MISTAKE!  MISTAKE!  You know, kind of like Robbie the Robot flailing about and yelling, "Danger, Will Robinson!"
She was a fifty something old woman in the standard Lowe's smock, restocking a shelf, and studiously avoiding eye contact with anyone.  I should have read between the lines.  I did not.  Instead, I asked, "Do you happen to know where you keep X-Acto knife blades?"  I wasn't rude.  I wasn't demanding.  I was matter-of-fact.  She had the smock on.  It had the logo on it.  She had a name tag that I didn't read.  She worked there.  It was an undeniable fact.  Technically speaking, there was nothing wrong with asking her for a little help.

However, she looked at me and made fluttering motions with her hands.  Then she made a squawking noise that sounded like a chicken who has just been poked in the ass with something sharp.  (I won't explain how I know that particular noise but it has to do with growing up in rural Oregon and not having much to do in the summer.  See, collages = good.  Kids running around chasing chickens = bad.)
It was like Siamese twins separated at birth.  Really.

I swear to Colonel Sanders that she made a squawking sound.  May he come back from the grave and ban me from KFC forever if I'm lying.  (I really, really, really like KFC, so this would be a bad thing for me.  As God is my witness, I shall never be banned from a KFC.  Or as Will Rogers would have said, if he had been a middle aged, sarcastic Fat Woman, "I never met a KFC I didn't like.")
What does this have to do with Chicken Woman?  Not a lot, but
since I was thinking about it, I feel compelled to say
that Will Rogers NEVER met my neighbor.  I like
this joke because first, you have to know who
Will Rogers was ( a famous humorist/entertainer from
the early 20th century) and second, you have to
know that he's infamous for saying the above statement.
Also I'm pretty sure he didn't meet Charles Manson,
Sarah Palin, and Kenneth Lay.  But I'm digressing rapidly.
Then Chicken Woman began to bounce up and down in position.  Her head began to jerk out and back in.  Those hands kept twitching spasmodically.  Finally, she gathered herself and said, "What's a X-Acto knife blade?"

"It's just a little blade that you use-" and before I could finish Chicken Woman hopped down the aisle and pointed out the blades that one would use for a saw.  (Like the kind of saws used on a tree or in a horror movie.  Either one.  I'm pretty sure that Chicken Woman never saw that movie.  She would have plotzed.)

"That's not what I mean," I said slowly, starting to comprehend that Chicken Woman wasn't all there.  She took me to the location where they keep the axe blades.  She was following a trend here.  If there was a blade, possibly what I wanted was located near it.  If she showed me all of the blades, then possibly I would leave her alone.
Will Rogers never met MELLOW!
Okay, veering off the subject, but if I left Mellow out
she might get her feelings hurt.  (Mellow is my sister's cat and
the object of recent taunting.  I might be beating a dead horse.
But WTH?)
"It's a little knife that has a blade on the end of it," I said.  She squawked and fluttered over to the section where they keep the band saw blades.

"The handle is about the shape of a pencil," I added and she fluttered and pecked her way back to the box cutters.  (If only I'd had seeds and corn to throw to her.)

"It's not really there," I said.  "Do you know if you have..."  I trailed off because I think she realized that she wasn't going to be able to answer my question and her body began to shudder nervously.  Her hands palpitated up and down.  She said, "I don't know if I...maybe if I can...possibly it's in..." and I persued her quivering shape up and down the rows in the tool section.  At one point in time she looked at me as though I was about to explode.

I was being very polite.  I don't normally get rude with people who are genuinely trying to help.  But Chicken Woman got more and more flustered.  She didn't know what I wanted and she didn't know how to help me and she didn't have a check sheet of what to do if this was ever the case.  She stared at me, made little cluck-cluck-cluck noises and convulsively trembled.  I swear I glanced over my shoulder because I thought I would see someone standing there with a large sign that was directed at her, 'If you don't answer this customer's question correctly, you will be blown up by a bomb!'  But there was only Cressy there, thinking about Dairy Queen and ice cream.  (I don't think my 7 year old daughter could be mistaken for an explosive device.  Maybe when she's thirteen.)
Consider this as the background of the entire Chicken Woman event.
And would you believe this only made it worse.  At this point in time, I was just going to let it go because clearly I was upsetting this woman.  I really didn't want to upset her.  She didn't have the answer and I figured out that she didn't have the answer.  It wasn't a big deal.  I was going to say something like, "Well, I guess you don't have it.  I'll just go to Michael's or A.C. Moore's for it," but Chicken Woman squawked again and yelled spastically, "IT'S IN THE PAINT SECTION!"  Then she sprinted/hopped for that section not bothering to see if I was following her.

Well, I felt kind of bad for her, so I went along.  After all, she was giving it the old college try, or at least, some kind of try.  Cressy didn't care one way or the other.  Her little brain was dancing with thoughts of ice cream.  Voila, in the paint section there were NOT X-Acto knife blades.  There were these little mini-box cutter type knives.  (Apparently, they had fled from the larger box cutter society in the tool section to form their own society in the paint section.)

As trembling, shaking, knee-knocking Chicken Women was absconding back into the familiar territory of tool world, I said, "Do you know where a large metal ruler can be found?" before I could help myself.  I got that there, but only after a great deal of confusion about what 'a large metal ruler' really meant.  But I never got the stupid X-Acto knife blades.  I went home and used a box cutter.  Thffppt.

In conclusion, I don't have to make stuff up for blogs.  Nope. Nee nop ba nopity nopus.  No.  Why?  Because Chicken Woman is alive and well and working at Lowe's.


Leslie McGhee said...

I just loved your rant...perfect. Been there..done that.
I came to your blog to say thanks for a great read. I just Love Bubba and I can hardly wait for your next one. I laughed so much and found myself reading bits to my husband (who hates reading). That is my 'tell' of a good book...when I can read bits to my hubby. So thanks again...I just put your "Moon" series on my Kindle. Can hardly wait to get into them.

Carwoo said...

Thanks. I love ranting. There's always something to rant about. In fact, there should be an advanced degree in ranting. I would probably get it without actually taking classes. Be advised the Moon series isn't 'funny' like Bubba. Good series, but just not tongue-in-cheek.