Monthly Archives: July 2014

Should Educators Sue the Mississippi Legislature?

Habitual criminals are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, so if Mississippi legislators fail to fully fund MAEP, which is law, year after year, wouldn’t they fall under the heading of habitual criminals?  This appears to be the question asked by a growing number of school districts across Mississippi as they contemplate joining three Mississippi law firms in a suit against Mississippi legislators who have fully funded MAEP only twice in the past seventeen years, which certainly puts them in the category of habitual violators of the law.  On the surface a lawsuit seems to be a logical course of action to collect money the state owes by law to struggling school districts, but it could be a risky course of action as well.  State legislators may have short memories and shallow pockets when it comes to education, but when it comes to someone standing against them, who’s to say their memories won’t be long and unforgiving?  Therefore, it is wise for school districts to be very cautious and deliberate prior to joining this lawsuit.

Some argue such litigation is unwarranted since the economy has been difficult for everyone since 2008, and like everything else, underfunding schools should be expected during hard economic times.  That may be true, but what was the excuse for underfunding schools in nine of the eleven years prior to 2008?  Legislators claim each year that there is not enough money to go around regardless of any funding mandates established by law.  In other words, when it comes to financial accountability to education, in the minds of state legislators they are off the hook if state finances are weak or lethargic.  They claim they can only play the hand dealt them, and they have little or no control over how much revenue the state will collect in any given year; therefore, the law does not apply to them when they are dealt a bad financial hand.  That is all well and good, and there may be truth in those claims, but if educators are to buy that, shouldn’t educators be allowed to play by the same rules?

For example, teachers are expected to be accountable for the progress of their students regardless of the hand they are dealt.  It does not matter if a child comes to them weak, lethargic, bruised, or broken, teachers are still held accountable for each and every child’s success in the classroom.  It does not matter that they have little or no control over the physical and mental condition not to mention the preparedness of the children who walk into their classroom each year.  Regardless of the conditions, they are responsible for growing children no matter where they might fall along the learning continuum.  Therefore, if educators are to accept the legislative mindset that the law requiring full funding of MAEP does not apply when there are inequities in state revenues, why shouldn’t educators be allowed a break from being held accountable for the progress of children who come to them less than physically and mentally prepared, eager, and ready to learn?  Of course with teachers, regardless of how their students come to them, overall they bust their backsides to ensure children get the nurturing and support they need to learn.  When was the last time the state legislature other than an occasional token raise busted its backside to consistently provide the nurturing and support teachers need to do their jobs?

It is a shame educators have come to such a place that they feel they have no recourse but to sue their state legislators to collect delinquent educational money that by law rightfully belongs to the children and teachers of the state.  Mississippi senators and representatives do a lot of talking about what is wrong with education in Mississippi, and they spend a lot of time and money writing laws as to how to address educational pet peeves, but when it comes to putting up money to improve education or to at least sustain it, they often ignore the very laws they have written.  So, even though caution is advisable before jumping on the lawsuit bandwagon, it is understandable that when it comes to education, people are getting tired of the lack of accountability shown year after year for education in the Mississippi senate and house, and they are ready to take whatever steps necessary to do something about it even if that means suing the state.

Nevertheless, there are some wise people who argue that the best way to settle this issue is not through lawsuits, but rather through the vote.  However, after 15 years of struggling to keep their schools afloat, educators are left wondering if their vote really counts.  Year after year, they are forced to cut their budgets just to get by, so when relief in the form of a lawsuit is dangled in front of them, they see a possible light at the end of a long dark tunnel.  It may not be the best answer to get what they have been promised, but it is better than nothing.  They may be grasping at straws, but education in Mississippi is in a financial mess, and many educators feel the time has come to do something about it whether it is by the vote or in the courts.

JL

©Jack Linton, July 26, 2014

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Mississippi Crybaby

Mississippi Crybaby:  Saga of Sore Loser

Author’s Note:  Recently, I came across a short online survey published by www.cryyoureyesout.com with an introduction by Frederick Stoner, PhD that dealt with the recent Mississippi Republican Senate run-off election between Chris McDaniel and Thad Cochran.  After taking the survey, I felt it would be worthwhile to share it with my readers, so I have included the survey and the introduction (with permissions from Dr. Stoner) in today’s blog.  I believe readers will find the survey to be very insightful, so please consider sending a letter of appreciation to Dr. Stoner as well as the National Whiner’s Institute (NWI) for their support and gracious funding of the survey.

Stoner’s Reality Check Survey

By Frederick Stoner, PhD

A Brief Introduction

Recently, Chris McDaniel and Thad Cochran ran a hard as well as ugly campaign for the Mississippi Republican Senate nomination.  I will not dwell on the campaign other than to say both sides should be embarrassed by the national negativity once again thrown Mississippi’s way.  Both sides could have and should have done a better job of positively promoting their plans to move Mississippi forward if elected rather than spending millions of dollars to sling mud back and forth.

However, Thad Cochran won the run-off election with 51% of the vote, so all that is now water under the bridge, or is it?  Chris McDaniel refuses to throw in his bruised and bloody towel.  He refuses to accept the will of the very people he campaigned to represent in Washington, D.C.  Of course, he claims it was not the will of the Republicans for Thad Cochran to move a step closer to returning to Washington, but rather it was the will of rogue Democrats out to sabotage the integrity of the Republican election that put Cochran back in the driver’s seat.  He has cried loud and often for the whole nation to hear how the election was stolen from him by illegal crossover Democrats.  Since Mississippi has open primary elections, anyone can vote in the party election of his/her choice as long as they don’t get caught voting in both party elections, which is exactly what McDaniel claims happens.  Most people would agree that if that is the case, appropriate action should be taken to make the election right.  However, it has been nearly a month since the run-off election was held, and McDaniel has yet to provide substantial proof of wrong doing.  Most people, even some who once supported him, are growing weary of the McDaniel Fishing Expedition.  Each day that passes without proof, fewer and fewer people are buying his story.  In fact, the longer he squawks the sillier his story sounds.  His story sounds more and more like sour grapes, and his whining makes him appear more like a crybaby than the young politician with a bright future that he was once nationally touted to be.

Unfortunately, nothing I or anyone else might say is likely to help Chris McDaniel understand that he needs to let go and move on.  I believe the man truly believes the election was stolen from him, and he will not stop with the whining and crying until the election is given back to him.  He will do whatever it takes to go to Washington, even if it means destroying his career and taking down the Republican Party with him.  However, Chris McDaniel needs to slow down for a moment and ask himself one question, “Is this about me or the people of Mississippi?”  If it is about Chris McDaniel, he needs to continue whining and crying and who knows he might prove once again the squeaky wheel gets the grease.  However, if it is about the people, Chris McDaniel needs to pull on his big boy pants and do a reality check because the people have spoken in favor of Thad Cochran, and no amount of crying is going to change that fact.

[Disclaimer:  The NWI and Dr. Stoner acknowledge individuals with dysfunctional or self-serving egos may not satisfactorily respond to instruments such as The Stoner Reality Check Survey.  Therefore, the institute as well as Dr. Stoner cannot guarantee what impact if any the survey may have in regard to the subject/individual.]

NWI Reality Check Survey

  1. Chris McDaniel lost the June Mississippi Republican Senate run-off election because
    1. 51% of Mississippi voters preferred Thad Cochran over Chris McDaniel
    2. He beat himself with irresponsible comments during the campaign
    3. He beat himself because he got too cocky during the run-off campaign
    4. Cochran understands politics is more about people than party lines
    5. All of the above

 

  1. Chris McDaniel lost the June Mississippi Republican run-off election, but claims there was voter fraud because
    1. He is grasping at straws
    2. Mississippi has open primaries
    3. He is trying to land a talk show job with Fox News
    4. He is a crybaby
    5. All of the above

 

  1. Why hasn’t Chris McDaniel shown proof of voter fraud
    1. If there was voter fraud, it was too insignificant to make a difference in the election
    2. His $1,000 reward offer for evidence of fraud isn’t enough to buy the proof he needs
    3. He likes the attention he is getting
    4. He’s a crybaby and his claims are little more than sour grapes
    5. All of the above

 

  1. Chris McDaniel has been Chairman of the Senate Election Committee in Jackson for three years, but found no reason to revise the election laws – why?
    1. He felt everything was fine with the election laws as they were written
    2. He did not have the clout to get the election laws changed
    3. He felt the election laws do not apply to him
    4. He is a crybaby and thinks he can cry and whine his way to victory
    5. All of the above

 

  1. Why does McDaniel say the Republican Party needs to be purged?
    1. The Tea Party has purged itself of support for McDaniel and he is angry
    2. He believes the Republican Party has conspired against him.
    3. He believes he is a martyr for the Republican Party
    4. He is a crybaby, and crybabies cry when they don’t get their way
    5. All of the above

 

  1. Does Chris McDaniel have a political future?
    1. No, if he continues to ignore advice to put the election behind him and move on
    2. No, if he continues to alienate voters along racial lines
    3. No, unless he wishes to confine his political office dreams to Jones County
    4. No, if he continues to whine and cry over spilt milk
    5. All of the above

Thank you for participating in the NWI Reality Check Survey.  You may send your responses to mcdanielrealitycheck@cryyoureyesout.com. The survey results will be sorted into the following categories:  Get a Life and Move On; Oh, Really?; Reality Check for Simpletons; and Who Cares Anymore.  Results of the survey will be posted for review and comment in the indefinite future at www.cryyoureyesout.com and www.nwi.org.

Once again, thank you for your time, but unless your name is Chris McDaniel, it is now time for you to use your time more wisely and move forward with your life.  In other words, the election and the survey are over, so get a life.

Frederick Stoner, PhD

Other related articles by Dr. Stoner:

Get Over It: Next Steps for Chris McDaniel www.cyryoureyesout.com/stoned/getoverit/cmcdaniel

When It’s Dead, Bury It: The McDaniel Saga www.nwhinerinst.org/diggingit/whenitsdeadburyit/cmcdaniel

After Three Days It Smells:  Why McDaniel Can’t be Resurrected

www.nwhinerinst.org/itsmells/cmcdaniel

 

JL

©Jack Linton, July 20, 2014

Use Duct Tape to Eliminate Plumbers Crack

I have been told that duct tape and panty hose are not proper towing equipment, and though I don’t know if that is true or not, I do know that in the South the two have been used on more than one occasion to get a Southerner out of a jam. According to my wife, there are plenty uses for panty hose other than covering legs and bottoms. You can stretch a piece over the end of a wet-dry shop vacuum and vacuum your fish tank, you can use panty hose to store mothballs in your closet, you can use panty hose to tie up your tomatoes, and you can even use panty hose to store onions to keep them from rotting. However, the king when it comes to useful as well as useless personal and home uses is duct tape. (Note: Duct tape is the generic name for the product while Duck Tape is a popular brand of the product.)

In the South, the first rule of home repair is duct tape it; if it is not supposed to be broken, sagging, or leaking, duct tape it; if it is sparking, duct tape it; if it is moving or sliding and not supposed to be, duct tape it; or, if it has a crack or is cracking, duct tape it. If you were raised in the South, you understand that outside God and family duct tape is the best friend you may ever have. Duct tape will not let you down, especially if you apply enough of it. That is why any Southerner worth his Whistling Dixie ID card will at all times have at least one roll of duct tape in his home, and if he (or she) is really a hardcore Southerner, there will be a roll in every room of the house, in every vehicle, and a case in the camper.

There are so many uses for duct tape that it would be near impossible to list them all. Of course there are the standard uses such as taping windows during hurricanes, taping over a broken car window, reinforcing book bindings, repairing a vacuum cleaner hose, taping the sole back on your shoe, taping busted car stereo speakers, and taping cracks in the dashboard of your truck, but what about the not so standard uses for duct tape? There are uses for duct tape such as duct taping the mailbox back together after your teenage daughter backed over it or using duct tape to repair the tile in your bathroom that many people would never think of unless they were connoisseurs of redneck engineering. However, if you are going to live in the South, it is imperative that you have that innate Southern instinct of how to use duct tape to resolve any problem.   Now, if you are lacking that instinct (maybe you are not as Southern as you thought), you could buy a book (written by a true Southerner) devoted to the use of duct tape, take the time to put together your own list of duct tape uses, which I do not advise unless you are one-hundred percent certain of your Southern heritage, or you could simply use my minutely researched and personal experience duct tape list. With my unmistakable Southern drawl, culinary love of grits and anything fried, and penchant for writing overly long nonsensical dribble, my Southern heritage has never been in question. Whichever you do, it is important for you to become familiar with the various ways duct tape can be used to improve your quality of life even if you are a Yankee.

As I said, you can always create your own list, but why not save yourself a lot of frustration and grief when you discover at the most inconvenient time that your list is missing an idea or two that could get you out of a jam. Therefore, hang my list on your refrigerator and be done with it. However, please remember that all uses for duct tape on my list should be undertaken only with a little Southern know-how, common sense and under the direct supervision of a responsible adult – preferably the wife and/or mother of the house. Men and boys tend to get a little carried away when using duct tape; for example, my two boys used duct tape to brush their teeth until they were in their teens – my wife and I always wondered why they didn’t lose their baby teeth earlier. Therefore, use and enjoy the list, but if possible try not to get too carried away regardless of the temptation.

Linton’s Ultimate Duct Tape List:

Category 1:     Duct Tape Uses for Family and Home:

  1. Use a strip of duct tape under your nose to prevent nasal drips. Warning: This duct tape solution could lead to suffocation, so prior to placing the strip under your nose use a toothpick, icepick, or scissors to make two holes in the tape so that the wearer can breathe. Warning: Never use the toothpick, icepick, or scissors to make the breathing holes while wearing the duct tape strip.
  2. Use duct tape to tape a diaper back together. The great thing is that duct tape works just as well on cloth diapers as it does on disposable diapers. Opening the diaper to check if junior has a dirty diaper and then repackaging it with duct tape is a lot more sanitary than sticking a finger inside the diaper leg to check if junior has done the dirty.
  3. Use duct tape to tape busted luggage together after the airlines have thrown and tossed it around. NEVER fly without a roll of duct tape in your carry-on or purse! Besides being handy for putting your luggage back together, duct tape can be used to tape your head to the back of the seat to keep it from drooping while you are napping on the plane or it can be used to tape yourself to the toilet if you are caught with your pants down in turbulence.
  4. Use duct tape to tape the side view mirror back on the car after your teenager ripped it off pulling into Sonic. If you are in a rush, and do not have time to vacuum, you can also wrap Duct tape around your hand with the sticky side out to pick up the crumbs and fries your son and his date dropped in your car. However, don’t tell his mom that you found the majority of the crumbs and fries in the backseat.
  5. Use duct tape to make cardboard robot helmets for the kids or grandkids. They rarely ever wear or play with the things, but it is a great activity to show your sensitive family side and maybe even get you nominated as dad or grandpa of the year.

Category 2:     Duct Tape Uses for Family Camping:

  1. Use duct tape to patch a hole in your tent. Of course, if the kids had listened to you and the ranger about not leaving food in the tent in the first place, the skunk would not have chewed a hole in the side of your tent to get to the Cheese Whiz and chips they “forgot” and left inside the tent.
  2. Use duct tape as band aids. Duct tape is a great band aid for outdoor cuts and scrapes, but unless you are still angry that the kids left the Cheese Whiz and chips in the tent and want to literally peel the hide from their bones, do not stick the tape directly to their tender skin – use gauze or moleskin next to their skin.
  3. Use duct tape to fix a leaking sewer hose on your RV or travel trailer. However, DO NOT be cheap and store the repaired hose in your camper for the next camping trip – trash the taped over hose ASAP! The duct tape will do a great job of stopping the leak, but the tape will also absorb the crap. If the repaired sewer line is stored in the sun heated compartment under your camper, the next time you take your camper out everything in the camper may smell like a grease trap at McDonalds.
  4. Use duct tape to catch pesky flies. If flies are a problem, and they usually are on a camping trip, hang strips of duct tape around your camper. The duct tape acts like fly paper and will trap the flies. If the flies are really bad, tape a quarter or half a watermelon to a tree, or even sit it on the ground about 20 or so feet from your camper. Either way wrap three of four strips of duct tape around the watermelon with the sticky side out, and then sit back and watch the fun as the flies migrate to the watermelon and get stuck.
  5. Use duct tape to tape suitcases and camping gear to the top of the car when traveling. There is no need to invest in expensive luggage carriers for the top of your car. Simply lay two or three rubber kitchen mats on the top of your car and then place your luggage on the mats (You may wish to place your luggage in large garbage bags if there is a chance of rain). Next duct tape the luggage to the roof of your car. WARNING: Although this is also tempting for kids, please refrain from duct taping kids to the roof of your car even if it is just a short family trip.

Category 3:     Duct Tape Uses for Men:

  1. Use duct tape to remove hair from your chest or back. This absolutely works, but be warned, it is not the easiest way to remove body hair, but it is the manliest way.
  2. Use duct tape to repair holes in underwear. Wives are continually trying to throw their husbands’ underwear in the trash the moment a couple or three or four comfort holes appear. This is absolutely unnecessary! If the holes accumulate to the point of the bottom being completely blown out, two to four strategically placed strips of duct tape can easily be interwoven across the bottom to extend the life of the underwear. If wives would only listen, their husbands would tell them they want their underwear to breathe. There is nothing more exhilarating to a man than having his bottom caressed by a cool summer breeze while wearing a pair of well ventilated underwear.
  3. Use duct tape to keep underwear like new and prevent skid marks. For those wives who insist their husbands get new underwear when their old underwear gets a little worn, a strip or two of Duct tape placed in the bottom of a pair of new underwear can reduce the day to day wear and tear that produces holes, as well as prevent skid marks from occurring.
  4. Use duct tape to relieve stress. A strip of Duct tape applied evenly across the mouth of a nagging spouse can drastically reduce stress in a man’s life. It has been estimated by the Middleburgh International Health Institute in Germany, that a regular regime of duct tape could extend the average length of marriage by 15 to 20 years, and extend the lives of both men and women by as much as 30 years.
  5. Use duct tape to do away with plumbers crack. By placing a piece of duct tape vertically along a man’s exposed bottom crack when he bends over or squats, one of mankind’s greatest eyesores can be avoided. According to the United Nations, concealing butt cracks is one of the most humane uses for duct tape. In fact, if duct tape ever wins a Nobel Prize, it will probably be for the elimination of butt cracks.

Category 4:     Duct Tape Uses for Women

  1. Use duct tape to enhance cleavage. Television is filled with commercials touting so called wonder bras with steel reinforced wire cups that give women the cleavage they have always wanted. However, if women are looking for more cleavage, duct tape is the answer. By wrapping a roll or two of duct tape around her body and working her way up under her breasts, a woman can push her assets as high and expose as much as she pleases. In fact, I saw a woman the other day in the mall who was obviously using duct tape for that very purpose; her boobs were pushed so high her nose was a part of her cleavage.
  2. Use duct tape to make a thong. For the daring young woman who wants to make a big splash at the beach, duct tape can be used to make an awesome thong. The only caution is that she should be absolutely certain none of the sticky side of the tape is exposed. A thong with the sticky side exposed would probably not only be painful, but may cause severe constipation as well.
  3. Use duct tape to make a club. By rolling a magazine or catalog into a tube and then wrapping it with duct tape, the woman of the house can make a club to beat her good-for-nothing husband until he gets his lazy butt off the couch and makes himself useful around the house.
  4. Use duct tape to remove warts. According to research into the effectiveness of duct tape, this actually works. First, cover the warts with grey duct tape every day for six days. Second, on the seventh day, soak the warts in warm water and exfoliate them with an emery board. Finally, repeat this process for as long as two months or until the warts are gone. Of course, if you have a wart on the end of your nose or chin, you may have to be content with hiding it under the brim of your black pointed hat or with the green blush.
  5. Use duct tape to fix the leaking drain under the sink. Actually duct tape does a fairly good job stopping leaking drains; however, the question here is shouldn’t this duct tape solution be under “Duct Tape Uses for Men?” The answer is simple – the only way this one gets on the man’s list is if the woman makes and uses the club described in #3 above.

So there you have it, practical duct tape solutions to all your problems or least to your most important ones. If you are a true blue Southerner or a smart Yankee (a rarity, but it happens), hang my list on your refrigerator, and then run to Walmart and buy a case or two of duct tape. As long as Southerners are armed with prayer and duct tape there is nothing we can’t handle, so happy ducting.

JL

©Jack Linton, July 11, 2014

The Mosquito and The Secret of Life

Late one night as I reclined in my favorite chair reading a book, I heard a faint buzz in the air. Looking up, I spotted a mosquito flitting around the room. It wasn’t really bothering me, so after watching it for a moment, I returned to my reading. Suddenly a voice boomed, “Don’t you ever get tired of reading?”

I shot out of my chair! There was no one in the room but me! My wife was staying the night with her elderly parents, so I was alone in the house. My heart was pounding, but then it hit me; I must have dozed off and started dreaming. Laughing at myself, I sat back down and opened the book.

“Don’t you get tired of reading?” the voice boomed through the room once again.

I jumped from my chair certain I was not asleep this time. “Who’s there?” I growled looking for anything I might use as a weapon against an intruder. I still couldn’t see anyone in the room, but it was obvious I was not alone.

“It doesn’t matter who,” said the voice.

“It matters to me,” I said looking frantically around the room for the intruder. “Where are you hiding?”

“I’m not hiding,” said the voice. “I’m right here.”

The voice seemed to be coming from the window next to my chair, but no one was there at least on the inside. Suddenly, it dawned on me that someone must be outside the window! I grabbed a plastic baseball bat one of my grandchildren had left on the couch, quickly unlatched the back door, and raced outside to confront whoever was there. The deck was covered in shadows. The only light was the faint light from my reading lamp inside the house shining through the window. I heard a movement in the azalea bush just off the deck to my left. Instinctively, I swung the plastic bat as hard as I could at the bush. Something hissed and moved away. Immediately, I started beating around the bush hoping to chase whoever was lurking there out into the open. A black demon screeched wildly and came tearing out of the azalea toward me! I screamed, and quickly retreated, swinging the plastic bat, which was now bent and flopping back and forth. The creature spit at me and jumped clear of the deck to the walkway below. There it turned and crouched, its beady glass eyes glowing in the dim light. That is when I recognized the creature as my black cat. I felt terrible. I wanted to go to him and apologize, but he promptly stood, stuck his tail in the air and walked off indignantly.

“Have you gone absolutely crazy?” I heard the voice say from inside the house.

A chill raced down my spine changing to a soft warm sensation as it ran down my legs. I have heard of people wetting themselves when scared, and I can tell you it happens.   Quickly, I squished my way back into the house slamming and locking the back door behind me. Not smart! I was now locked in the same room with the intruder who for all I knew had a gun or at worst a wooden baseball bat. I was not only scared, wet, and defenseless, but trapped as well.

“Would you please relax,” said the voice.

“Where are you!” I demanded loudly trying my best to sound intimidating, but my voice broke like I had just entered puberty resulting in a laughable squeak. Out of frustration, I began swinging the plastic bat blindly around me.

“Hey, cut it out!” shouted the voice. “You are going to break something.”

“I’ll break you if I find you!” I squeaked as my fear turned to rage. I swung the plastic bat wildly breaking a blue vase sitting on an end table next to the couch. I had had enough. “I’ll tear this place to pieces to find you if I need to!”

“Whoa! Buster. No need to go all postal,” the voice said. “My shrink says I carry things way too far, and I guess I have done it again.”

“You think?” I said. “Where are you?”

“Relax. Put the bat down, and I will show you.”

“How do I know you don’t have a gun or even a bat of your own?”

“If I did, I would have already used it on you with the crazy way you’ve been acting?”

I looked around the room wondering where someone could possibly be hiding. I no longer knew if I was dreaming or if this was real, but either way, I was ready for it to end, so I reluctantly dropped the bat.

“I really am sorry I let this go on so long,” the voice said, “but sometimes I just can’t stop when I get in a groove.”

I looked all around the room, but I still could not see anyone. “Where are you?” I asked.

“Over here,” said the voice, “by the window.”

There was no one by the window. “Stop playing games!” I said. “I can see there is no one there.”

“Look at the window real close,” said the voice.

I could clearly see there was no one near the window. What kind of sick game was the intruder playing? “I can plainly see you are not next to the window,” I said.

“You can’t see anything in this light from where you are standing,” the voice said. “You have to come closer.”

I didn’t know what to expect. Maybe, the intruder was outside after all, trying to lure me back to the window, so he could see me clearly and attack.   Visions of camouflaged snipers flashed before my eyes. Whatever his intent, I knew I had to get to the bottom of the mystery, so I cautiously approached the window. I imagined a red bead focused between my eyes as I stood nervously in front of the window looking for my tormentor. At first I saw nothing, but then, I caught a slight movement. Sure enough as I bent closer, I saw a small green figure waving to me from the latch handle on the window. I bent closer for a better look, and there sat a mosquito in a green dinner jacket with his legs crossed holding a megaphone, smoke from an ultra mini Cuban cigar slowly circled his head. “Well,” he said eyeballing me, “what do you have to say for yourself?”

“My wife doesn’t allow smoking in the house,” I stammered. “It stinks and is bad for your health.”

“I’m bad for your health,” he shot back.

“I should mash you into a greasy spot after what you’ve put me through.”

“Hey, don’t be so dramatic. I did apologize.”

“How do I know I haven’t fallen asleep reading, and you are nothing more than some garbled print stuck in my subconscious?”

“I hate doubters,” the mosquito mumbled rather loudly into the megaphone as he unfolded his wings. Carefully snuffing out the smoldering cigar on the bottom of his foot, he launched himself into the air with a buzz.   He buzzed my head twice, and then dove for my neck.

“Ouch!” I snapped swatting at my neck.

“Hey, you could have killed me you nit!” the mosquito chastised me as he settled once again on the latch handle.

“You?” I countered rubbing the growing whelp on my neck. “What about me? I could get some nasty disease from your bite and die!”

“For heaven’s sake,” the mosquito said. “I’ve had my shots, and I brush and gargle three times daily. Besides, you now know for sure you are not asleep.”

“I wish I was,” I mumbled still rubbing my neck.

“Well, you’re not, so let’s get on with it,” the mosquito said holding up a silver and gold plated hand mirror to admire his reflection. Straightening his collar, he glanced toward the window. “I have some special guests arriving any minute now,” he said, “so we need to hurry.”

All matter of trouble raced through my mind. Special guests? What next? Talking beetles, or maybe singing chipmunks? What diabolical atrocities lay in store for me?

“Quit worrying,” the mosquito said. “No one is going to hurt you. My guests have no interest in you whatsoever. On the other hand, they are very much interested in me, so if you don’t mind, I would like to finish here as quickly as possible. No disrespect intended toward you, but my guests and I need privacy.”

“Privacy? You’ve got to be kidding me,” I said still not fully believing I was awake in spite of my itching neck.

“Yes, privacy,” the mosquito said. “Just because we mosquitos travel in clouds of thousands doesn’t mean we do everything in a swarm.”

My head was spinning.   Why was I talking to a mosquito in a green dinner jacket? Was this West Nile? Was this the first stages of malaria? Was this delusional insanity?

“Because it is the polite thing to do, and no, no, and no,” said the mosquito sniffing each of his armpits.

“What?” I asked totally confused.

“The answers to what you were thinking,” the mosquito said producing a brush from his jacket pocket and combing his wavy hair. “And yes, I do need a haircut.”

“How do you know what I am thinking?”

“I have connections,” the mosquito said looking at his watch and frowning.

“What connections?”

“That information is on a need to know basis,” the mosquito said, “and you don’t need to know, so will you please hurry to the obvious question. My friends will be arriving any minute.”

“How am I supposed to know what the obvious question is?” I asked. “Why don’t you just read my mind?”

“I read thoughts not minds,” the mosquito said checking his watch again.

“There’s a difference?” I asked.

“Lord you are dense,” the mosquito said shaking his head in dismay. “Of course there is a difference. There are active minds full of thoughts, and there are passive minds without thoughts. One can be read – one cannot.   Would you care to guess which?”

“I suppose the mind with thoughts can be read,” I growled growing very tired of the conversation.

“Genius!” said the mosquito tapping a foot impatiently on the window handle. “Maybe, now you can ask the obvious.” He cocked his head to the side listening for my response, but I didn’t know how to respond to what he obviously thought was so obvious. The tap-tap of his foot against the window handle increased steadily until all of his eight legs were tapping impatiently against the handle. “I’m waiting,” he sighed. Finally, he couldn’t take it any longer. “You idiot!” he shouted jumping to his feet. Grey-green frustration covered his face. “The obvious . . . ,” he started then abruptly stopped. He cast a hurried look to the window and then looked at his watch. In the distance, a faint whining buzz could be heard. He looked at me, and then back to the window. The buzz became a bit more distinctive. “Ask the obvious,” he shouted looking again at the window. “By rules of the ridiculous, I can’t proceed unless you ask the question!” There was a fluttering motion on the outside glass, and his face drooped in sadness.

“You know,” he said shockingly calm, “I get six maybe seven days at most to do what you humans get to do in seventy or so years, and I am about to miss a golden opportunity with some very special friends because you can’t ask the obvious question. Man, if you haven’t figured it out by now, there’s a swarm of female mosquitoes waiting for me outside your window and a bucket of stale water nearby, so how about asking the freaking question. It’s obvious!”

“I am sorry,” I said, my brain completely fried.

He looked out the window one more time where the wings fluttering against the glass had now multiplied at least a dozen times. “I’m not supposed to tell you,” he sighed, “but I’ve got fans waiting. The obvious question is very obvious. What am I doing here?”

“How am I supposed to know,” I asked.

“No, no, no, no,” moaned the mosquito. “’What am I doing here?’ is the obvious question you are supposed to ask me!”

“Oh,” I said. “That is rather obvious isn’t it?”

“Very,” said the mosquito eyeing several female mosquitos primping outside the window. “So will you please ask the question?”

“What are you doing here?” I asked.

“I thought you would never ask!” the mosquito shouted, and jumped to his feet beating his wings ecstatically. He flew straight toward me, but this time I ducked thinking he was going to attack my neck again, but he stopped and hovered inches from my nose. His voice boomed through the megaphone, “I’ve got a message from the Big Guy. He told me to tell you to seek not life’s Holy Grail, the silver bullet of success, or the secret of perfect banana pudding.”

“Banana pudding?” I questioned.

Trying desperately not to be distracted by the multitude of wings beating against the window, the mosquito shook his head to clear his mind. “Well, maybe not banana pudding,” he said, his eyes darting back and forth from me to the window. “I can’t remember the third thing he said, but it doesn’t really matter because he gave me this sponge scroll that contains ‘The Secret of Life.’” The mosquito pulled a tiny scroll half the size of a child’s fingernail from his back pocket.

“The secret of life?” I asked. “Wait a minute! Out of all the creatures under the sun, why would the Big Guy entrust ‘The Secret of Life’ to you?”

“He held an election.”

“An election,” I laughed, “and they elected you, a self-serving blood sucking mosquito?”

“Well, kinda, sort of,” shrugged the mosquito.

“Either you were elected, or you weren’t,” I said. “Which one was it?”

“Kind of both I guess,” the mosquito replied waving to a female admirer rubbing herself seductively against the outside of the window.

“You either won or you lost,” I insisted, “you can’t have it both ways.”

“You sure?” the mosquito said. “You feed the monkey long enough anything can happen.”

“What?”

“Well, you see,” said the mosquito, “there was this primary election that I deserved to win and did, that turned into a runoff election that I deserved to win but didn’t, that turned into a lot of hoopla about nothing, that I would not let die, that everybody got so tired of hearing, that they finally figured out the only way to shut me up was to hand me and my dead horse the election, which of course I accepted.”

“Did you stop to think that may hurt your credibility?”

“Who cares as long as I win,” the mosquito shrugged.

“I see,” I said, “it’s all about priorities.

“Yeah, that’s pretty much it,” the mosquito said throwing a kiss to a fellow blood sucker outside the glass. “Oh, I think I remember the Big Guy saying something about not worrying him with the small stuff, so he can deal with the big things like earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes and famine.”

“He said that?”

“Something like that,” the mosquito said, his eyes fixed on the females outside the window. “Well, I think that is what he said,” he continued less confidently while loosening his collar. He could hardly focus on anything but the growing pitter-patter of wings against the outside glass. Every time one of the female mosquitoes lay a kiss on the window leaving the red outline of her lips smeared on the glass, the poor little guy moaned heavily and wiped his forehead with a tiny blue handkerchief. “It doesn’t really matter?” he moaned pitifully as his whole body began to quiver. “Here, take this,” he said thrusting the scroll at me.

“How can I possibly read something this small?” I asked raising the tiny object directly in front of my eyes.

“Just add water,” the mosquito said, staring longingly at the window.

“Water?” I questioned.

“Yeah, water,” he said his wings beating faster. “If you haven’t noticed, the scroll is a sponge. Do you have any other questions?” he asked impatiently.

“Don’t think so,” I mumbled looking at the tiny sponge scroll.

“Yes!” the mosquito shouted pumping his fist, and with a furious thrust from his wings flew off the handle and spun in joyous buzzing circles about the room before heading back toward the window. His female friends cheered and called excitedly to him from the other side the glass. The party was on! His long awaited prize was finally within his grasp. He hurled himself blindly toward their outstretched arms. Unfortunately, he slammed full speed into the glass window pane never knowing what hit him. The female mosquitoes recoiled in shock and disgust as green and red splatter oozed slowly down the glass. Hovering around the bloody spatter, which a simple DNA test would have shown to be blood from my neck, they assessed the situation for a moment and then sped off in search of a livelier male partner.

After cleaning the mess from the window and flushing it down the toilet, I took the tiny scroll to the kitchen and used an eye dropper to apply a single drop of water to it. The scroll swelled until it reached the size of a legal sheet of paper. On the enlarged scroll four lines of print could be easily seen. At first I was confused by the simplicity of the message on the scroll, but the more I read it, the more the wisdom of the Big Guy showed through. Later against my wife’s objections, I framed the scroll and hung it in our bedroom.

To this day, the first thing I do when I rise each morning is read those four insightful lines. As a result, I strive to be straight forward and to the point when I speak, I try not to let my ego get the better of me, I try my best to keep the women in my life happy, and I strive to be slow to anger. I don’t always succeed in all these things, but every morning I am reminded to try harder, and who knows maybe one day I will get them all right.

The Secret of Life

  1. Thou shalt always ask the obvious question first. Avoid beating around the bush.
  2. Thou shalt not feed the monkey. Even an ego can be an addiction.
  3. Thou shalt never keep female admirers waiting.   A man’s happiness depends on the happiness of the females in his life.
  4. Thou shalt be careful before flying off the handle. Remember the old adage – Think before you leap.

JL

© Jack Linton, July 4, 2014