Woolgathering With Rod Serling
by Nicole Freire
MAN! Can you guys believe that it's 2010? It's taken a decade, but I'm finally not freaked out by being in the 21st century. And many happy New Year wishes to all of you. Oh, and if anyone is wondering, I'm going with saying, "Twenty Ten". I don't know why people were even having that discussion. Oh no! What should we call it?
photo by Wikipedia
The holidays were wonderful -- lots of good food and a pie. And I discovered what happens when you give a 3-year-old boy and a 7-year-old boy wooden swords and custom made shields for Xmas. Mayhem! And Legos. And Santa made my daughters almost vomit with excitement when they found out that Santa, too, shops at the Apple Store.
As much as I love Xmas, I do have a soft spot for the New Year's holiday, even though you wouldn't know it by listening to me. I will tell anyone within earshot how much I don't like it, how I don't (can't really -- I'm old) like staying up late, that champagne gives me a headache and blah blah. I secretly like New Year's, because of one thing: My man, Rod Serling. Two days of a Twilight Zone marathon! God, I love television so much sometimes. Luckily, the rest of the family agrees with me, that lying around the living room and fighting over the couch while in various stages of pajama wearing is a perfectly acceptable way to spend those last days of the year. Every year I find one I haven't seen before, and every year I cry over that episode with Burgess Meredith. Where he loves to read, but his wife blacks out all his books? And then there is some sort of attack and he lives and is elated to find himself sitting on top of a pile of books and then his eyeglasses BREAK? It is the saddest episode ever.
However, watching hours and hours and hours of Rod Serling smoking and scaring the heck out me also leads to some odd fugue states during which I become slightly obsessed with things that might seem silly but are suddenly VERY important. Like these ones! With their own little titles and everything.
(Oh, and then at the end, I have a little game if you want to play along.)
WHAT IS IT WITH POLICE HORSES?
Horses are big animals and beautiful, but I try to stay a respectable distance from them because horses can, you know, KILL YOU. By kicking you in the head. Or deciding that they don't want you on their back anymore and throw you off. To the ground. And then they can still kick you. Now, I have been on a horse a few times, usually one of those trail rides with old horses and nervous riders, and the horses just walk behind each other thinking, "Jesus Christ, how much longer until we get back to the barn?" And racehorses, oh my, they are exquisite creatures. And one awesome time, I got to ride a sleigh, in the snow, being pulled by a team of those Budweiser beer horses. But let's get back to the killing and maiming part. It's not that they're mean, it's that they can be spooked easily and can rise up quite alarmingly on two of their gigantic legs that may or may not come crashing down on your foot or your head.
Now --- and this is a genuine question, and if you have an answer, please tell me. How, HOW, do they train horses to be police horses? When they bring in the mounted police, it's not just for show, those officers mean business because they can use their batons on unruly protesters and use the horses to control crowds. But how do they keep the horses from freaking out? If people are rioting and throwing rocks and bottles, why do the horses not start kicking people? How do they not get spooked by loud noises and crowds of people losing their collective minds? Seriously. Please tell me.
I suppose this question also applies to the same thoughts I had while watching the battle scenes in the Lord of the Rings movies. How do they train them to do that? Pretend to be in battle and down onto swords? These are the same animals that you need helmets to ride, right? Now, I know that there are Edhat readers who ride horses, and can probably tell me. Or they're just going to tell me that their horses are nice and well trained, and if they invite me to ride one, they will promise I won't die. I'll do it, but I still want answers.
EVERYONE SHOWER TOGETHER
Ok, this is another bit that just drove me crazy for a few days. I was in the shower, which is an excellent place to woolgather. It's also one of those things that you do without thinking, because you do it every day. It's like driving home from work. You pull into the driveway and say to yourself, "Did I just drive here? How did I get home? Because I don't remember any of it." And then you realize it's time for the Simpsons, and you get out of the car and go on with your evening.
But I was soaping up in the shower (ok, STOP IT RIGHT NOW if you are thinking anything but perfectly innocent thoughts. What kind of website do you think this is?), and I washed my right arm, and was suddenly seized with a weird fear. Do I always start with my right arm? I know that I always wash my body in the exact same way every time I take a shower. I don't just jump in one day and think to myself, "Hey Nicole, let's start with the legs first this time!" Nope, I have a system that I use. But as I washed my right arm I thought, well, maybe I always wash my left arm first? And since I've stopped in the middle of my automatic showering routine, did I just freak out and start with the wrong arm? I haven't even tried washing my left arm first yet, because I don't want to erase some lifelong routine that my unconscious mind uses, just because my conscious mind decided to jump into the action.
Does everybody do this? Please tell me that you all just jump in the shower and wash all your body parts in the same order each time. No one is changing it up from day to day, right? My husband drinks coffee in the shower however, a practice I find quite alarming because one day, he's going to put the cup of coffee up on the precarious ledge and it's going to fall and break and my husband will slip and get cut on coffee mug shards.
I know what you're thinking -- that perhaps I am suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning. Or still taking painkillers for the shingles. Nope, just my curious mind that has a question that it won't shut up about until it gets some type of answer.
On a related note, I am right handed, so when I put on my shoes or my socks I always start with my right foot. So, left handed people................do you always start with the left?
I swear, sometimes it's unbelievably obvious that I have insomnia. I have all these silly questions and just lie awake and think about stuff for hours. And I don't feel like they're real conversation starters, so I must appeal to my readers for help. Because wouldn't it be awkward to be talking with me about your weekend and what you did, and then I jumped in with, "Hey, how do you think they keep police horses from killing people in public?"
OH THIS WILL BRING ON THE COMMENTS
You know what? I just found out that you can listen to police scanners online -- from other cities and other counties. Wild. I would actually like to have a police scanner, because I am nosy, and wish I could memorize radio lingo and say things like, "Whiskey Tango, I've got a 907, or whatever, in progress". But the reason that I don't is the same reason that there are some episodes of CSI that I won't let my kids watch -- because it would scare them. And maybe it wouldn't be a good thing for me, as I am by nature an anxious person, and my kids are too. Whoo, way to go with the gene pool! Maybe when they leave for college, I'll get one.
AND NOW FOR A GAME WE ALL CAN PLAY
How does that saying go? That money can't buy you happiness? Or good health, or good friends? Well, I am all for not being greedy for greed's sake, but sometimes baby needs a new pair of shoes -- or a bag of groceries. Anyway, the only New Year's resolution that I made (that I'm going to tell you about) is to do that hippy dippy thing where you open your heart to the universe and ask for what you need. So I am just going to be pragmatic and ask the universe for money. But I like to lie around and think about what I would do with a lot of money -- everyone does that. But I try and temper my greedy thoughts by balancing them out by thinking of an altruistic one. So, I imagine a yellow house with a yard, and then imagine what charity I'd like to support.
This year I am playing the California lottery -- one ticket at a time, for 52 weeks. That's um, $52, right? So, I'm buying a ticket every week, from the same gas station. I always have the computer pick the numbers, because I read once that the computer-generated numbers win more often than ones people pick themselves. And I'll be checking online to see if I've won, because I watched some 20/20 or news thing where they did lottery ticket stings where they caught store owners stealing the winning tickets from customers. So, online it will be. Any winnings under $100 will go into the kitty. Anything over $100, I reserve the privilege to spend as I choose. Any enormous winnings will simply be announced by a picture of me lying in a hammock in Hawaii, drinking a fruity cocktail. I'll keep a running total every week, so you can all follow along. At the end of the year, I'll take all the winnings (if there are any), and will donate them to a charity of my choosing. If I'm running at a negative, I'll be giving some good organization the original $52. I'll post the results every week, so you can keep me honest.
This week's numbers were 20, 24, 31, 41, 47. So this week, we're down to $51.
Also, Rod Serling smoked like a chimney, and he died at age 50. Keep that in mind, kids.
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Nicole Freire is a freelance writer who lives in Santa Barbara.