The Norman Transcript

May 17, 2014

Butting heads with gargoyles

The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — There is a rather unpleasant characteristic far too many humans exercise, often on a daily basis. The Germans even have a name for such behavior, Schadenfreude. Schaden is the German word for “damage” or “harm” and freude means “joy”. Schadenfreude is the delight taken by someone in the misfortune of another.

Such secret or overt feelings and thoughts do not speak well of supposedly rational beings, do they? On the other hand, it is considered almost a virtue to be able to laugh at oneself, in particular when it involves embarrassing things.

Having said that, consider the following a glimpse into my virtuous side or just plain goofy events in my life.

We enjoy watching old movies and the TMC Channel offers an amazing array of them. Of course, for Hubby old movies include the old black and white westerns with a dash of more modern ones in color. In fact, even though we had a Latin Mass, I suspect our marriage vows may have included a subliminal Okie line “Thou shalt watch endless hours of westerns and end up watching them alone because he dozed off.”

Some of the movies set in France quite often had a scene where a character knocks back a small glass of Cognac and appears to enjoy it. Cognac is a type of brandy distilled in the town of Cognac in France.

It was such a sophisticated piece of stage business and had always fascinated me. By mere coincidence one of my brothers-in-law brought back a bottle of Cognac from a business trip to France. With glass in hand, I was determined to re-enact what I thought was a classy movie scene.

I raised my glass and tossed it back, but missed my mouth and received a Cognac facial instead. But a little of the spirit made it past my lips. This experiment proved that all too often there is a wide gap between intent and execution. Let me just state for the record that Brandy is good, Cognac not so much.

On other occasions, water or hot coffee did not arrive at the intended destination. Perhaps inattention or neglecting to part the lips was to blame, but it seems that I can actually miss my mouth. My first clue is the unsophisticated dribble of liquid down my chin onto my clothing. These are those moments when a disembodied voice should say “Don’t try this during an elegant dinner party.”

Some people glide through life while others race. I belong to the latter group. For some reason, I often run up the stairs. One particular moment is etched in my memory with painful clarity. I tripped on my way to class with half the student body close on my heels. To make matters worse, this happened at an all-male university. Not exactly cool and alluring behavior!

One may conclude that the preceding events could have been rehearsals for the main event.

I enjoy working in the yard, pulling weeds, mowing the lawn and planting flowers. The activity is mindless, productive and often sets the creative wheels churning.

Mother’s Day was no exception. I shopped for plants, but had to stop when Hubby growled, “Don’t you think you bought enough plants for today?” I smiled, shook my head, but wisely headed for the checkout counter. When you consider that my thumb is any color but green, one can never buy enough plants.

Back at the Funny Farm, while Hubby watched a ballgame I pulled pesky weeds and planted flowers. Reaching for another beckoning clump of weeds, I lost my balance and literally butted heads with a gargoyle. As I sat on the ground assessing the damage (mostly to my ego, my butt and my head), I wondered what ever possessed me to buy a gargoyle that resembles a winged Chihuahua rather than something more sinister.

Elizabeth is a freelance writer and author. Her latest novel Sins of the Father available on Website:

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