Thursday, September 9th, 2010
I find that as I approach “a certain age”, it’s as though I’m going … or growing … backwards. I want to work less, fool around more, and make stupid jokes. I want to wear jeans and tight shirts (“don’t tell me what I can and can’t wear….”). I really don’t care if my hair gets messed up on the roller coaster. I clear my throat, giggle, and ask “um, what was the question?” more often than is really permissible. I sometimes wonder if I could still get a job at the Dairy Queen. And I forget things. A lot of things. A lot of the time.
As a teenager I remember forgetting things (OK, perhaps I don’t *really* remember this, but it all comes rushing back at me as I observe the teenagers who come to volunteer at the farm). The problem is, that whereas an adolescent can often get away with a sullen “um, I forgohhht” with a downward twist of the mouth, this technique really is unbecoming in a mature, dare I say middle-aged, professional, self-sufficient, all grown up woman. So …. I keep a library of excuses for my forgetfulness.
Now, having been a teacher (in a jail, no less), I have heard some remarkable excuses. The students’ stories were so creative that I started writing them down. Think about it: when you’re in jail, you can’t rely on the tried and true line that “my grandmother died” – because OK, so you teleported to the funeral? And dogs eating homework – not gonna happen.
Creativity is the mother of survival. Or something like that.
Anyhow, while I have adapted (and heck, used) a number of truly creative excuses from our local inmate population (don’t even think about asking me what they are – I might need them for *you* one of these days), I also have a number of my own. Most of them bearing the initials MNG. Quick now: a free unpeeled carrot for the the first ten people who immediately detected that this stands for Mr. Newman Goat.
“I can’t pay for the toll, my goat ate my money” (a bunch of dollar bills in a manilla envelope – a sad tale I shan’t tell here). “I can’t send any thank you notes, as the goat ate the stamps” (an entire roll of 100… chewed, swallowed, digested, twice (think: self-sticking stamps in goat rumen – I’m not liking it). “Sorry my house looks like I come from white trash, but the goat ate it” (yes, he ate part of the house but I admit this excuse is getting old as we’re going on 3 years of ugly plywood and hairy insulation sticking out of the exterior of my dwelling place).
Then there are the official institutions with whom I’ve had a, shall we say, brush. “Geez, I didn’t even KNOW I got a speeding ticket…”. “I”m sorry, but the goat got into the car and ate the cover off this very fine library book. Can I still return it?” “My check to the IRS? Yes sir, well, I thought I mailed it. You say you didn’t get it?” (months later I found the half eaten envelope and uncancelled stamp out in the east pasture).
The thing about Newman is that no matter what else goes wrong, no matter how many of life’s details we forget, there is always Newman. Shoot, I haven’t gotten a Valentine in years except from my Dad, but my mailbox fills up in early February with red envelopes addressed to “Mr. Newman Goat c/o Farmer Anne”. Recently I posted a query on a technical list asking for assistance with a knotty problem – the response I received via email included the missive, “and give the goat a kiss”. Everyone remembers Newman! Except not always. Today, in fact, someone posted to another list I’m on asking the following: “I think someone in our group has a farm up in Maryland (with a Mr. (Something) Goat)….” Can you imagine? OMG, that almost trumps the time I couldn’t remember the name of that amazingly sexy Spanish actor… you know, the one who played Zorro… what was his name… but not quite.
NO ONE forgets Mr. Newman!! Well, I chided this (really very nice, as it turns out) lady for not knowing his name, and while she has really no good excuse to offer, she did say repentantly, “Please give my apologies to Himself.”
Till next time,
Star Gazing Farm 501(c)3
A haven for retired farm animals and wayward goats http://www.stargazingfarm.org
tel: (301) 349-0802