Wednesday, June 29, 2016


Apologies for the blogging blackout. I was doing maintenance & experimenting with Blogger settings when some friends & company showed up unexpectedly, & I got distracted. I didn't realize that I had changed some settings the previous night until I logged in the following evening. Things are back to normal now, though I may continue tinkering with the blog in the future. Next time I shutdown the blog for maintenance, I'll be sure to post a notice here about the scheduled blackout.

Speaking of blackouts, I never understood what people meant by blackouts when drinking. I've never experienced a blackout--where I don't remember my actions or events because I drank too much alcohol. I've passed out before, but I've never blacked out. And if I don't remember anything, that's because I was passed out when the events happened, not because I'm mentally blocking out events that I experienced or witnessed.

Sure, I've woken up in strange places, amongst strangers in a strange environment before--rooftops, livestock pastures, abandoned warehouses, & once in between shipping containers at the harbor. But that's because I passed out there, & in an hour or less, all the memories (& shame) usually come back to me (& no amount of scrubbing in the shower can remove that shame nor those embarrassing memories). Some filth you just can't wash away, no matter how hard you scrub & how much soap you use.

The point is, I pass out if I overindulge in spirits. I never blackout. I've also been very fortunate enough to have never, ever thrown up nor experienced a bad hangover from overindulgence. I know when I've had enough--the goal is to experience a buzz, not poisoning. You know when you've had enough. If you don't, try slowing down! Savor the flavor. Don't chug & blow chunks.

And if I pass out from overindulging, it's because I wore myself out, tired & spent (probably from doing something silly/stupid/ridiculous/reckless). Remember: Alcohol lowers inhibitions, making you take more risks & make very poor decisions, like skinny dipping on a freezing, cold night or making love on a beach in the middle of the night.

Don't do it! Sand hurts! It scratches & cuts the skin, especially the knees & elbows! You're gonna feel it the next day. Use a beach towel or some sort of blanket to protect yourselves from the grinding sand. And be aware that mosquitoes & other biting insects leave itchy welts on the tender parts of your exposed body. Don't operate heavy machinery, don't operate any vehicles, don't make any significant life choices (like wedding proposals, family planning, or getting a tattoo) when you're drunk.

There are important life lessons to be learned the morning after a night of overindulgence. For one thing, leftover pizza is just as delicious cold or when warmed in a microwave. And the pizza, cold or hot, tastes better when enhanced with a topping of nacho chips or corn chips. Chicken wings are better warmed in a microwave or a quick stir fry in a pan on a hot stove. Leftover fried chicken is delicious when eaten chilled, right out of the fridge. Toasted, warm bread is always more delicious when smeared with butter or dipped in leftover pizza tomato sauce or garlic butter sauce. Drink lots of water. Hydration is essential the morning after a night of overindulgence.

Friends/overnight guests will appreciate whatever you feed them. If they don't like what you're serving, then they shouldn't have drank so much & crashed overnight at your place!

If I can't remember certain things & events from the night before, it's definitely because I passed out when these things & events took place. I don't blackout. I pass out. And this explains my current conundrum.

I had a hankering for some Frijoles Refritos (aka refried beans--although, well fried is the more accurate term). But I couldn't find my chili powder. It wasn't in the spice rack where I kept all the spices. It wasn't anywhere in the kitchen nor the dining room nor living room. I even searched the bedrooms & bathroom & the linen closets, all the unlikely spaces. Hell, I even dived in the trashcan to see if I had thrown it away. But nope. Nothing. No chili powder in sight.

I know I had some. I just bought a new bottle this past weekend. I remember opening it last night to make sangritas to chase the tequila shots. Hell, this morning in the shower, I washed off the chili powder & salt mixture stains off my abs & nipples from when we did body shots. So I know I had chili powder, a brand new bottle, & there's no way we could've used it all! Especially when we ran out of limes & switched over to doing sweeter tequila shots, licking sugar (not salt) off the body, gulping the tequila in one shot, then biting into an orange wedge (no limes).

Whatever happened to the chili powder happened after I went to bed & passed out. I suppose I could call my friends & try to figure out what happened to my chili powder, assuming they remember. They are no strangers to suppressing memories & experiencing blackouts. I don't suppress; I compartmentalize & move on. Live & learn.

But now, I wonder, do I really want to know what happened to the chili powder? Why was some of my furniture moved out of place? Why is there a pile of crumpled sheets in the laundry basket? I just did the washing on Sunday. There shouldn't be any laundry piles yet! Not til Wednesday at the earliest! Alcohol makes you do crazy things, & I wasn't sure I wanted to know what crazy things happened after I went to bed & passed out afterwards. The surprise stinging pain on my back when the water washed over my raked skin was a sharp, jolting reminder in the shower this morning that I may have done some crazy things as well.

One tequila. Two tequila. Three tequila. Snore. Wake up the next day, & you're gonna feel sore.

Maybe it's just easier to buy some chili powder after work. Let sleeping dogs lie. Sometimes, it's a blessing to be left in the dark. In fact, that's what I'll do. Buy chili powder & move on. After all, one of the most important lessons one learns the morning after a night of overindulgence is definitely: The less said, the better. Some things are better off forgotten!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Temp

The unexpected loss of a coworker has caused some problems in our operations at work. The coworker just quit, without telling anyone. She just didn't show up for work, & when we called her at home to see if she was all right, she told us that she quit. No two week notice, didn't even bother coming in to let us know, not even a courtesy phone call. Well, good riddance to bad garbage. If you act like rubbish, that makes you trash.

Naturally, we had to find ways to take over her job, sharing the work & finding a new replacement. I cancelled my long planned vacation so my coworkers & I could all work together to get things done. And while we're screening applicants carefully--cautiously after the last replacement turned out to be such a dud--we've had to rely on hiring temps on a weekly basis.

I don't mind temps. I've actually done a few temp jobs myself over the years. Most temps are competent, & that's why they're hired in the first place. The good ones get rehired for the following weeks. The great ones are asked to join us permanently.

When I was a temp, I loved the freedom & anonymity. No office politics; no backstabbing; no rumor mongering. I just clock in, keep my head down, do my work, clock out, & get paid. Sure, the job was temporary, & I might be assigned to a different department every day. But I loved that! If I hated the work & environment, I knew that it was only for a short while, then I could move somewhere new. And I liked working different departments everyday, because I got to do different things--same tasks, just different locations & new people, & I learned what each department focused on, tailoring my skills to meet the goals of the department.

I met a lot of good people that way, did a lot of repeat contracts, & I was offered permanent positions at those places I temped at. But at the time, I rather enjoyed the freedom & liberties being a temp offered me.

As a temp, I was not a threat to the staff--who're constantly squabbling for promotions or what they perceived as more prestigious positions. So they ignored me as they sabotaged each other in the daily grind. I kept quiet, so nobody noticed me, & I only spoke when asked a question by the others. The low profile let me glide through the workday without any conflict or being drawn into interpersonal conflicts & office drama. These people didn't know me, & truthfully, I didn't want to know them, especially when I witnessed just how horrible they were to each other.

Still, a few times, I did stick out, because I did excellent work & because while I was quiet, I was also courteous, & I didn't hesitate to help out a coworker when they needed assistance. That courteousness & professionalism earned me some respect & a few friends, or at least friendly relations with the staff. We'd even share a few happy hours together after work, drinking & laughing at a nearby bar.

But I still made sure to remember that no matter how friendly they were with me, I was not one of them. I was a temp, & they were staff. And when it came time to handout cheap freebies or holiday gift trinkets to the workers, most times, a staff member would make it a point to state that I wouldn't get anything, because the freebies/trinkets were for staff only. Not that I cared or wanted the cheap pens or keychain rings or mugs. I wasn't there to for trinkets. I was there to get paid. So long as I got paid for my work, then that's all that mattered. Surprisingly, the managers I worked for always gave me the same freebies & trinkets the rest of the staff got. Not that I bragged about it or even cared. But it was nice to be acknowledged as a valuable worker.

Still, those episodes served to remind me that as friendly as the staff was to me, they would not hesitate to throw me under the bus if it made them look good at work. So I kept my mouth shut, didn't trash talk anyone, & drank enough to be pleasant, fun, social company, and not do anything too outrageous that could be used against me. This meant that I was fun to be around with, & people told me their secrets, & I learned all the dirt & gossip about the others.

I became keeper to many private, shocking, scandalous details, & I wasn't above using this newfound confidential knowledge to subtly manipulate work to my advantage. Nothing too evil. I just learned who I needed to talk to so I could get things done & how to win certain people over, making my temp job a pleasant & enjoyable experience.

And there were always a few horrible people who went out of their way to point out that I was a temp. And I gladly acknowledged it, much to their surprise. There are always losers, terrible monsters in every office that only feel better about themselves when they put someone else down. And I've run into these idiots a few times. And it always frustrates them that my immunity to their taunts only made their peers dislike them even more, further cementing their status as outcasts.

Having grown up as one of the youngest in a really large family of overly opinionated, smack talking, mean, moody older brothers & sisters, I learned to deal with conflict & trash talking. Nothing phases me. You got to have thick skin--heavy armor--if you want to survive the war zone that was called childhood, growing up with awful older siblings who were moody, selfish, idiotic, hormonally driven teens who resented missing out on parties because they were stuck babysitting us young'uns, & we just couldn't resist provoking the teenage beasts!

Honestly, it was fun making our older brothers & sisters mad. It was like a power we possessed, & we loved using it, because it was a type of power. And when you're a little kid with low status in the hierarchy of sibling authority, any power, however insignificant or dangerous, was a great power to be wielded, to remind the others that you had your own mind, free will, & you can affect them, too! It was a small measure of control that kept you from being totally helpless when the older siblings started bossing you around.

Yes, we knew that we'd get pounded if the angry siblings caught us. But we teased & aggravated our older siblings anyway. We couldn't help it. We were too curious to stay out of their rooms, rifling through their stuff, & we were too excited to ignore provoking our monstrous teen siblings, because we knew we could! The drawback to this power to provoke was that you had to be fast--to run away & hide when the mad beasts come after you in anger. You better be quick enough to find Mom or Dad to hide behind, disappear into a safe place til the monsters cool off, or talk your way out of it when the monsters caught you.

As small children, finding Mom or Dad or a sanctuary was the best bet. Talking didn't calm the beasts, & it didn't help that our vocabulary was limited. But as we got older--& having been deemed old enough to know better by Mom--our vocabulary, reasoning, observation, & smooth talking (bullsh*tting) skills got better with age. Soon enough, I got really good at observing people, reading them, & predicting how they'd react. This survival skill has been a great tool for me, & I use it everyday to solve problems & successfully overcome challenges.

When dealing with office bullies, the first way to stop them is to not let them get to you. Be neutral. Don't let them bait & aggravate you. Remember, they're only singling you out because they feel threatened by you. Ignore them. Be professional, & let them make an ass of themselves. Just do your work, & keep records of all your excellent work. Record keeping is important.

If ignoring doesn't work, then be prepared to step up & confront the bully. I'm not talking about a physical confrontation. Though, I admit it can be effective, as the last bully I had to fight was way back in high school, & I kicked his sorry ass. When I say stand up, I mean have a sit down & have witnesses present, especially a boss or someone with authority. I had a few bullies try to slander me, but the evidence of my hard work & a sit down with the boss & human resources usually led to the bully apologizing & never bothering me again, especially when I made it clear that I was not going to put up with a hostile work environment nor harassment nor threats from hostile coworkers.

Twice, at two different companies, I had bullies slander me when something went wrong. Both times, they were trying to pin the costly mistake on me, thinking that management would pick them, the staff member, over me, the temp. Both times, I had evidence that not only exonerated me, but also exposed the lies of the bullies. I had kept records of all my communications & the work that I had done, & in both cases, the bullies were fired for lying & incompetence, & I was asked to stay on contract for several months, after I turned down the company offer of a permanent staff position.

Temping is hard, but I enjoyed it. And I still fantasize from time to time about getting back to the freedom & adventure that temping offered me. But at this point, I'm a staff member, though the boss keeps making me her deputy, pushing me to leadership positions that I don't want. I hate management positions, because I hate dealing with other people's crap! I do it well when the occasion calls for it, but I avoid management positions, no matter how much money they offer to entice me. I like being responsible for me & me alone, & maybe for the new orientees under my mentorship for a short while.

And while I don't actively seek out leadership roles, the fact is, I'm the respectable one at work! I'm the most professional worker, because I don't bring any of my personal drama to work, & I don't gossip nor trash talk anyone at work. I'm the neutral, fair, courteous, helpful party. I'm the one people confide in because I keep my mouth shut, & I'm the one they like to hang with because I make them laugh, & I help them when they need it.

I'm the one who remembers birthdays so I bring cupcakes & cards for the birthday peer; deliver flowers & visit sick colleagues in the hospital; deliver small gift baskets to congratulate the coworker on being a newborn baby's parent; & I'm the one who shows up with a casserole or flowers to a staff's family funeral; & I'm the one who shows up to a fellow worker's wedding with a gift & hearty congratulations to the new couple. I do these things because it's courteous & because I was raised this way, to treat people right.

It always makes me chuckle to see the surprised then grateful looks from the stunned coworker who wasn't expecting support nor kindness nor a gift for whatever significant social event they were experiencing. And I earn their respect & loyalty for as long as we have a positive work relationship.

But then, I sometimes feel sad that they are so surprised that I did any of these things at all. Back home on the remote coast, in my small beach & farm town, this was normal social behavior--to show support or provide appropriate gifts to people who were experiencing significant life events. We celebrated the good events & shared in the hard times, to let the coworkers know that they weren't alone, that we supported them.

If someone had a birthday, you wished them a happy birthday; a newborn baby, congratulate the parents & give them at least a pack of diapers--baby necessities are expensive!; a funeral, show up at the service to show your support, bring a casserole to the reception, if you can, for comfort; for a wedding, bring a gift--a picture frame or drinking glasses, something small but useful to the new couple starting out. These acts were common practice when I was growing up, & it makes me sad to see that common courtesy & common sense are critically endangered, on the verge of extinction.

Still, I hold on to these fading customs, not because they are ingrained in me, but because they still have value. They are worth practicing & passing on to the next generation. Common courtesy makes social interactions more pleasant & positive experiences. Common courtesy makes us think before we speak, look before we act. Saying please & thank you, & being courteous to each other makes us a better, more thoughtful, kinder, & wiser people.

My coworkers count on me & trust me, & in return, they work hard to keep my trust, which kind of ends up putting me in a leadership role, especially since I'm not afraid to question policies & stand up & speak up to the authorities when I don't agree with their policies & actions. This puts me in a uniquely delicate situation, into an unofficial yet vastly influential position of power. The staff sees me as a trusted leader, & the bosses know & respect my skills & my excellent work, yet they fear this power & influence I have over the others. Hence, the higher ups not only know who I am by name & position, but are always scheming to move me over into management, where they can keep a closer eye on me & limit, if not use, my persuasive powers to control the staff.

Every couple of months, I'm offered a "promotion" to one of the many management positions in the company. There's a high turnover rate for managers, especially at the lower, line level. It's the most demanding position, because you've got upper management stomping down on you, demanding you do more with less; & you've got your staff complaining that they need more resources to do the ever more demanding jobs & tasks. More responsibility means more money, but also more problems & more stress. So, thanks, but no, thanks. I like where I'm at.

I try my best to remain fair & neutral. I remember what it's like to be a new worker or just starting out, so I try to be fair & helpful to new staff & temps. Most times, my help is appreciated. But every now & then, I'm reminded that sometimes, people don't want your help, even if it's for their own good.

This week, we've had to hire a temp to fill in & help us at work. We've worked with her before, which is a good thing & a bad thing. Good because we know what to expect & she knows what to do. Bad, because we are familiar with her work--barely competent--& her attitude--obnoxious. I'll call her Sourpuss, because she always looks like she is scowling, & she's so snippy & grumpy in her interactions with us.

We've worked with Sourpuss before on three separate occasions over the past year. Each occasion was worse than the one before. Thank goodness the longest we've ever had to work with her was three days--three long days that now seem incredibly short compared to being stuck with her all week. But I've a feeling she won't be around next week or back any time soon.

I don't know why she is such a Sourpuss. The first time we worked with her was only for one day. And she managed to rub us the wrong way, frequently saying, "I know what I'm doing! I don't need any help!"

But apparently she did, because all the work she did was entered on the wrong forms, & we spent the next day fixing her mistakes. The next time we worked with her was for two days, where she struggled with the fax/copier machine. And once again, she refused our help, telling us, "I know what I'm doing! I didn't ask for your help!"

Then she broke the fax/copier machine, by taking out the ink cartridge & putting it back the wrong way! Why? Because she claimed the fax machine was broken, because it wasn't printing out a confirmation page into the top tray, even though the display screen reported confirmation page printed. She thought the machine either needed a new ink cartridge or there was a paper jam or the machine was just broken. Why she decided to troubleshoot & take out the ink cartridge herself, I'll never know. She wasn't qualified, & all that happened was that she got ink all over her hands, some files, & her dress.

The machine wasn't broken. It was working fine. The confirmation page--several of them from Sourpuss repeatedly pressing Print--was in the lower tray! Had Sourpuss just asked for help, hell, accepted a coworker's offer to fax her papers for her, she'd've realized which tray the confirmation page prints into, & we wouldn't have lost a few productive hours, getting backed up, waiting for tech support to fix the machine. Not that tech support showed up. They were backed up, & the boss said we had to take the elevator to the other departments to use their fax/copier machines. Oh, hell no!

Luckily, after two hours of waiting for tech support, I was able to examine & discover that the ink cartridge was misaligned. After a few minutes of adjusting, I was able to get the machine back on line & we could resume our work. And while my coworkers & boss congratulated me, Sourpuss just griped that the machine was outdated--it wasn't; it was the latest (most expensive) model. And what's worse, she didn't even apologize for causing this ruckus that cost us valuable time.

But the worst was a few months ago, when we had to rely on Sourpuss for three days to cover for a coworker who experienced a family emergency. The first day, she kept to herself, & we left her alone, having learned our lesson from the previous encounters that she didn't want any assistance.

But before lunch on the second day, I noticed we were getting a few complaints from customers, reporting how the first person they talked to seemed curt, then hung up when they said they were transferring the caller. A few questions clarified that the customers were calling Sourpuss but she was not transferring the calls. I suspected that she was not familiar with how our phones operated.

But how do you solve a problem when the person causing the problem refuses help & willfully denies that they are the problem? Believe it or not, I've dealt with situations like this before. The best approach is to share information, a solution really, without drawing attention to the problem, saving face for the person causing the problem.

I printed out a copy of simple instructions on how to transfer calls. It was from my Guide to Work binder, which is a collection of policies, how-to instructions, shortcuts, tips, & very useful hints that made mastering the equipment & finding the right forms & procedures easy. The coworkers called it my Cheat Sheets, because they loved it, & everyday, someone always used it to get some work done.

See? I told you keeping records was important. Everytime I learn a new policy or how to operate a new piece of equipment, I save the instructions, simplify them, & save them in my Work Guide --which sounds much more professional than Cheat Sheets & less sacrilege than the Work Bible, as some colleagues & management call it.

I printed out a copy of telephone operations for Sourpuss, casually paused by her desk, & told her, "You know, I can't remember if I've shared this before, but I like to hand out this page on how our phone system operates to everyone who works here. I can't remember if I gave you one before, but I give one to everyone. Anyway, here's a copy, just in case."

I left her the copy, then smiled at her & walked away as she looked at me suspiciously. During a coffee break that afternoon, I was stirring my two tablespoons of sugar in my half coffee, half vanilla ice cream cup of coffee when who should approach me but Sourpuss.

She actually thanked me, begrudgingly, for the paper on telephone operations, stating that it was very helpful. I told her that she was welcomed. Then out of nowhere, she suddenly unburdened herself to me.

I learned that she used to be management for one of the smaller rival companies that was bought up by one of our smaller, medium sized competitors. She took early retirement & the severance package they offered. But instead of travelling or moving somewhere to enjoy retirement, she decided to open her own staffing company, specializing in supplying temp workers in our field. And she kept it going for two years. But it became too much. And she had to close down.

Having spent all her severance pay on the failed venture, she had no choice but to reenter the workforce. Ironically, the only company that would hire her was a staffing company, & the work she was relegated to was the entry work. The management experience she had was outdated, & the position now required a college degree, which she didn't have nor wanted to get. Actually, over the past decade, the position started requiring a college degree, to meet the new challenges in the field.

She was grandfathered into her old management position at her old company. That old company was absorbed into a larger company several years ago. And she'd been in management for so long that she barely could keep up with us, lacking the new, important knowledge & skills that had evolved & changed in our field.

Suddenly, I understood why she was so bitter & hostile. Life had dealt her a harsh blow, & she hadn't quite figured out how to recover or move forward. I'm not sure if she even wanted to or had the energy or will to move forward. She took a big gamble & she lost big time. And now she was paying the price.

Failure is a hard pill to swallow. And she's definitely angry at herself for her failure, at the world for changing & her inability to adapt, & she was mad that even after so many years in the field--a good chunk of it as management--she was reduced to doing low entry work, barely able to keep up with the changes & seemingly fast paced, younger, possibly brash, energetic workers, most of whom weren't alive when she first started in the field.

I suppose that should've earned her some sympathy. And it did, for a short while. When she learned about my Work Guide & my penchant for sharing it with others, she said, "You'll never get ahead working like that, sharing important skills with other people who might take advantage of it." 

It was kind of ironic, this backhanded way of telling me to advance at work by not sharing knowledge & not helping coworkers, yet she herself took advantage & benefitted from my help!

Any progress we made that second day was quickly eroded the third day. It was Friday, & my coworkers & I decided to work through lunch, because we wanted to get off early & enjoy the rare three day holiday weekend. If we got our tasks done early, then we could leave early, & we were determined to leave early!

As I happened to be the leader of the project, I took it upon myself to motivate my crew & complete the project ahead of schedule. I decided to order us some pizzas for lunch, so we could eat & work at the same time, to get the job done early. Everyone loves pizza, & my crew dived in & ate pizza & worked their hardest through lunch. It was a very motivating, fun experience, sharing a meal & working together to get the job done.

We all had a good time, laughing & pulling together, knowing we had exceeded our goal & we would leave early after finishing our project. Everyone was uplifted & we felt good. But our rhythm & flow was slightly hampered by Sourpuss!

First, she went to lunch. She wasn't on the project team so we didn't care. But when she came back, she wanted to know why we didn't go to lunch & why were having a pizza party without her. She seemed offended, but we didn't care. Even after she was told that I had bought the pizzas, she wanted to know why. She didn't seem to grasp that this was my way of thanking & motivating my team. She didn't understand why I was being so generous, grumbling that I was wasting money. As if her opinion on how I chose to spend my money was any of her damn business.

Finally, to shut her up, I just told her that it's not about being generous, but about showing my team how much I appreciated their hard work & for going above & beyond the call of duty to get it all done a week earlier than planned. Whether it was ordering pizzas, picking up sub sandwiches, or bringing homemade cupcakes to work, I always made an effort to reward & recognize my team for all their excellent, hard work. It fostered camaraderie, loyalty, & success.

That seemed to shut Sourpuss for now. And my team & I finished our work, then clocked out a few hours early, with enough time to go hangout at a nearby bar that started happy hour early for the holiday weekend. We had a blast, drinking margaritas, eating Tex-Mex, just laughing & ribbing each other. We all ready made plans to get rides home & pick up our vehicles the next day, so we were free to imbue & celebrate the holiday early.

Imagine our surprise when a few hours later, who should appear & approach our jovial table but Sourpuss! I didn't remember inviting her, but she just joined our table, ordered herself two margaritas & an appetizer, sat there & listened to us crack jokes, & tried to small talk with us. It was a little weird, because all she did was complain about work. But we were drunk, feeling good, & we knew that we didn't have to put up with Sourpuss come next week.

Eventually, she excused herself after she finished eating to use the restroom. We didn't pay her much mind, but we should've, because the next thing we know, the waitress brings us Sourpuss's ticket, expecting us to pay for it.

We were like, 'Um, no. We're not paying for her. She just showed up uninvited, ordered her own drinks & meal, then just left without telling anyone!' The bitch skipped out on paying for her order! She tried to stick us with her ticket! Oh, hell no! Can you believe the balls on that bitch!?!

We felt sorry for the waitress, so we gave her Sourpuss's business card. She had given them to us everytime she worked with us. For someone who hated working with us, she sure did go out of her way to make sure we'd contact her if we needed any more temps at work. We told the waitress to give the card to the manager & have him call Sourpuss directly or inform the cops.

We stayed a few hours more, having fun, laughing, eventually dancing, & finally paying for our orders, closing our tab, & generously tipping our waitress when we were done celebrating at closing time. Turns out, the manager did call Sourpuss, & she came back to pay her tab--after he hinted the cops would be involved. We didn't see her, but we didn't care at this point. That bitch tried to screw us over, but it came back to bite her in the ass!

After that despicable stunt, any sympathy that I had for her was gone. I may understand the reasons behind her hostility, but that was no excuse for her to act so evil & try to screw people over. And I was about to learn just how evil Sourpuss was & to what lengths she would go to screw people over.

This week, our new regional company president came to tour our facility. He came to introduce himself to our branch, try to establish a good leadership reputation, & make some sort of effort to reach out to us, & find ways to improve working conditions (& increase profits for the company).

Usually, the higher echelon operates beyond our work areas, & they stick to the more polished, carefully designed, manicured areas we present to the public & clients. Rarely does upper management deign to visit the bowels of hell where our department was located. And we like it that way! We didn't have the time nor inclination to stop our work & kiss ass! We had jobs to do!

So imagine our surprise when my coworkers, boss, & I come back from an early lunch & caught Sourpuss rifling through my desk! Even more dumbfounding, the new regional president, our chief executive officer, & chief financial officer, & their secretaries & other upper management administrators were hovering near my desk.

Sourpuss looked shocked at seeing us. She looked suspiciously guilty, hands caught rifling through my desk, shuffling through my paperwork! She hadn't expected us to take an early lunch & come back to the office earlier than usual. She tried to ease away from my desk but we all saw what she had done. Our boss asked both upper management & the higher echelon if there was something that they needed help with.

Imagine our disbelief when the new regional president explained that Sourpuss was telling them, the higher echelon, of this fabulous work guide that she had put together to educate new workers & find all the important policies & how-to instructions on using the equipment.

That did sound impressive, quite a feat! Except my boss, my coworkers, & I knew that Sourpuss did NOT have a work guide of any sort. The bitch was lying! She was trying to pass off my work as her own, in an effort to make herself look good! She was a liar, a thief, & a backstabber!

Unfortunately for that evil bitch, she didn't know where my Work Guide was, as evidenced by her rifling through my desk without any success! We had caught her red handed!

Sourpuss tried to backpedal, saying that it wasn't her Work Guide, which confused the upper echelon. She said that she meant that my Work Guide was very helpful to her, & she wanted to share it with others. My boss & coworkers looked furious! I was just surprised at how evil this demon bitch was.

Upper management looked displeased. They could smell her bullsh*t. They weren't stupid; they despised wasting their time, & they knew when someone was full of crap. You can't make it up to the higher echelon without being able to spot the liars & backstabbers & survive their assassination attempts on your career.

To break the uncomfortable silence, our CEO asked if there was a guide. I said yes, I did have a Work Guide. When the president asked to see it, I surprised the higher echelon when I led them to the fax/copier machine. I picked up a binder that was in the bookcase next to the copier. This was my Work Guide.

The higher echelon was surprised that I kept such an important tool out by the copier, in a public space where anyone can look at it. They were even more shocked when I told them that was the whole point. I left my Work Guide out in public by the copier, so any worker could look at it, & they could make copies for themselves, to help them do their work.

I also made copies of my Work Guide to pass out to any new workers that I was orienting or mentoring, to help them learn the job faster & work more effectively. The job & tasks were so much easier once you knew which forms to fill out; which policies & procedures were pertinent to your tasks; & the instructions on how to use & troubleshoot the equipment & machines were simple & easy to follow.

The stupefied looks of surprise on the higher echelon & their secretaries' faces were too funny. But those looks of disbelief turned to understanding, then excitement. Yes, my Work Guide was a very powerful, valuable tool--it contained important knowledge & essential operating procedures. But even more impressive, I freely shared that knowledge with others to improve our work, & it made things so much easier for us.

My Boss chimed in & said my Work Guide was also known as the Work Bible or Cheat Sheets. And that three other departments out of the six in our branch, all ready have copies of my Guide, & frequently check my original Guide for updates.

The president & our upper management seemed flabbergasted that, one: such a powerful tool existed--one that contained essential procedures & operations, simplified policies & how-to instructions; & two: that such a valuable tool would be used & shared so freely to help all workers!

It definitely improved productivity & increased efficiency in our department, my boss & coworkers testified. Instead of wasting time & energy scouring through the disorganized, unhelpful, confusing database for policies & procedures, or waiting for tech support to return our calls or stop by to show us how equipment worked, my Work Guide brought all that essential information together in one place, simplified things, & was easily accessed by any worker needing that information quickly to get the work done right.

I explained to the higher echelon that the Work Guide was my way to keep track of the important policies, procedures, changes, & equipment operations. It made me a better worker & helped me when I needed to do something but wasn't sure what to do or where to look. And since it helped me, I figured my coworkers would appreciate the help, too. And they did!

Suffice it to say that by the end of the day, my Work Guide became our branch's official Frequently Asked Questions guide on our network, with its own folder on the company home page screen! Those tech support guys work fast when the president asks them to do something. The president plans to spread this FAQ & hard copies of my Work Guide to the rest of the region's branches, even taking a copy to present at next week's meeting with all the other national/top level corporate officers. He said that my Work Guide was going to be integrated at the corporate level.

My Boss & coworkers congratulated me. The president & higher echelon wanted to reward me by offering me an upper management position in human resources, which I politely declined. But I am getting a nice raise, which I gladly accepted. And the higher echelon has already given me full credit for my Work Guide, with my name as the author on the FAQ folder & hard copies. And they are even incorporating my idea of keeping the hard copies out in public, by the copier where any worker could have access to it & make copies if they needed to. They were also going to use my Guide in orienting & training new workers. Not bad for keeping good records. Good record keeping is important!

I have to admit, while I usually eschew hobnobbing with the higher echelon because I had better, more productive things to do, I was enjoying the recognition of my work. It's always nice to be recognized for good work, whether you're a staff member or a temp. Good work is good work, & it should be acknowledged.

Speaking of recognizing temps & their work, in all the hubbub & excitement of incorporating my Work Guide company wide, Sourpuss had managed to disappear. She was very good at sneaking away. But just because she was out of sight didn't mean we had forgotten what a terrible, awful, lying, thieving, backstabbing piece of crap she was!

We were all ticked off at her betrayal & shameless (failed) attempt at stealing my work & trying to take credit! No wonder bad things were happening to her. She was a bad person! You reap what you sow! If you do bad things, well then bad things will happen to you!

Before we clocked out for the day, my team & I ran into Sourpuss as she was exiting the ladies restroom in the main hallway. She probably hid in there for the past few hours. She looked terrible, a mixture of scowling & crazy eyes glaring & embarrassment showing on her face, her dress was all wrinkled, & she seemed fidgety, nervous, & twitchy.

As I was about to tell her something important, she rudely cut me off. She wagged her knobby finger at me & said crankily, "I'm not going to apologize. I don't need your help. I know what I'm doing. And those people--", she raised her hand to point at the conference room where the higher echelon was meeting with all of management behind glass walls, "they're going to remember me! You wait & see! They're going to notice me!"

And with an upturned nose, she harrumphed, turned away from us, & stormed down the hallway, passing the glass walled conference room--where the higher echelon, management, & all the other workers in the hallway & adjacent departments definitely noticed her as she stomped by. Diva moment! Drama! She was aiming for defiance, but it turned out to be a disaster, a hilariously sad tragedy!

My team started giggling, & I had a hard time keeping a straight face. I said, "Well, I tried to tell her, tried to help her out..."

"Yeah, but she sure didn't want your help, did she?", said a team member who was struggling not to laugh.

"Nope. Like she said. She don't need any help from us," I exaggerated her disapproving finger waving, causing some team members to laugh out. "And she was going to get noticed!", I said, then imitated her upturned nose & harrumphing, glaring comically at my team, which caused the rest of the team to burst out laughing, & I heartily joined them.

Sourpuss was absolutely right. The higher echelon definitely noticed her, as did the all the other workers & management present. Unfortunately for Sourpuss, what everyone noticed as she marched by defiantly was the sight of the back of her dress, roughly tucked into the top of her pantyhose, exposing the entire backside of her red granny panties to everyone as she stomped down the hallway. She'll not only be remembered as a lying, untrustworthy, backstabber, but the sight of her exposed butt crack flashing everyone was a poignant, poetic reminder to the entire company that this woman was a gigantic ass.

And while an ass is a valuable, essential beast of burden for doing heavy workloads, this woman was a different kind of ass. She was a total butt. She was full of crap & hot air, & she was the discarded remnant of a bad habit, a hazard that was foul, costly, & harmful in the long run. And while it might seem that being a total ass is a requisite to be in upper management, I'm afraid that the company all ready has an excess of a$$holes, & we aren't looking for anymore to stink up the place.

Ah, karma. What goes around, comes around. Do the right thing. Treat people the way you want to be treated. If you do good things, then good things will happen to you. If you do bad things, then bad things will happen to you. For every action, there is an equal & opposite reaction. It's a universal law.

Sometimes, some lessons are best learned the hard way. And I learned that some people are just awful people; & some people just don't want your help at all, so just leave them be. And it doesn't matter if you're a staff member or a temporary worker. What's more important is that you do good work & have a good character. Actions do speak louder than words, so act wisely, honestly, & conscientiously, & your hard work & excellent character will stand out, making you a more valuable, trustworthy, respectable, outstanding person & an extraordinary leader.

You've got power. How you use it is up to you. So use that power wisely. When you do good things, good things will happen to you. When you do good things, the world becomes a better, more fun, & more wonderful place.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Wisdom, Faith, Hope

I had a different post scheduled for Sunday, but I could not bring myself to share it. Perhaps I'll share it later in the week. The joy of blogging for me is the escape from the real world to a virtual world where I connect, share, & learn new things from wonderful people all over the world. It's nice to have an escape, a place to worry not so much about real life but enjoy the company of real people a world away, coming together to share ideas, support, & just to laugh. But sometimes, the real world cannot be ignored. And it needs to be acknowledged, in order for us to move on, to continue living.

By now, many of us are aware of the terrible tragedy that happened in Orlando. It made me feel sad, & I mourn for all those people who were killed & wounded. I cannot imagine the terrible loss of these lives. And I felt numb, because it was just too terrible to accept such hatred & evil still exist.

I didn't know what to do. So I looked for advice, for words of wisdom, I looked for comfort & guidance. And I found it as always, in the beautiful, meaningful words of those who were wiser, more talented, & gifted us with their hard won knowledge--born of experience & epiphany, revelation, inspiration, & realization.

Whenever I come across a difficult problem, I remember the Serenity Prayer:

God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and Wisdom to know the difference.
~*~Reinhold Niebuhr, American theologian (1892–1971).

Most times, the Serenity Prayer is enough for me to realize what I must do, & I can move on. But other times, I need a little bit more. And in times of tragedy, I've always found strength & wisdom from the following two poems, to help me grieve, to mourn, & to continue on:

No night without

There is no night without a dawning
No winter without a spring
And beyond the dark horizon
Our hearts will once more sing…
For those who leave us for a while
Have only gone away
Out of a restless, care worn world
Into a brighter day.
~*~Helen Steiner Rice, American poet (1900 – 1981)


If I should die before the rest of you,
Break not a flower nor inscribe a stone.
Nor, when I’m gone, speak in a Sunday voice,
But be the usual selves that I have known.
Weep if you must,
Parting is hell.
But life goes on,
So…….. sing as well.
~*~Joyce Grenfell, actress and writer (1910 – 1979)

So I'll mourn the terrible loss, & I'll grieve for the victims. But now I find strength & anger that there are still evil cowards trying to destroy innocent lives. This bigoted terrorist struck in a safe haven during a time meant to celebrate & remember when the few, marginalized, oppressed minority decided to stand up & fight for their rights.

So I renew my commitment to stand up for justice, for equality, to defend the rights & liberties of the oppressed, to do what I can to end discrimination & do the right thing. So long as we have the strength & the will to stand up for freedom, justice, & equality, we keep fighting on. And as long as we have hope, we have the strength to keep fighting, to move on, to overcome, & to triumph.

Keep the faith. Don't lose hope. Together, we are strong.

Eskimo Legend:

Perhaps they are not the stars,
But rather openings in heaven where
The love of our lost ones pours through
And shines down upon us to let us know they are happy.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Loose Lips Sink Ships Act IV: Homecoming

Act IV: Homecoming


In case you were curious, I did go out the next morning with New Guy. Though, I did explain to him that I wasn't what he was looking for. It was a little awkward at first, but we laughed at the misunderstanding once we cleared things up. And we still decided to go out canoeing anyway. Why waste a perfectly good activity? It was a great way to enjoy a rare holiday.

We had a blast exploring the rivers, canals, & bay, spotting some fantastic wildlife & plants as we made our way towards the outer beaches & sandbars. We saw various birds, dragonflies, foxes, turtles, fish, & even a few dolphins! And it was fun negotiating some of the more challenging areas where the rivers got a bit fast & rough. But we pulled through & it was exciting. It was a very Bro-mantic experience, lots of fun & with such amazing views. It was certainly much better than scrubbing greasy, dirty pots & pans!

When we finished our canoeing adventure, we put the canoe up at New Guy's place before we met the others for a boat ride on Serenity, the newly renovated, reinvigorated, revitalized ship. The girls were there, giving me dirty looks at first. They didn't exhibit that sense of joy & satisfaction that one usually displays after a completing a community service. I suggested that perhaps if they did a few more community service projects, they'd find that joy that comes from giving.

The guys thought it was hilarious & laughed out loud. The girls tried to push me in the deep waters...twice! Both times, they claimed it was an accident, that they accidentally bumped into me while trying to get their sea legs. Liars! Assassins!

I thought it best to stay away from the rails of the ship & tighten my life vest. I had that feeling of danger nearby, like there were sharks in the water, checking for weaknesses, & they'd attack me when I'd least expect it.

I thought it wise that I ought stay in the middle of the group. Though, towards the last half of the boat ride, I felt safe enough to venture towards the rails, so long as the girls were in sight & a safe distance away. Though, sooner or later, when I wasn't looking, they'd strike back at me, & I would certainly pay dearly when they unleashed their vengeance. They were very patient, these shrewd, scheming, smart sharks.

And finally, Sailor Jack reports that all is well on the foul mouthed neighbors front. It seems that a few days later, the neighbors made up, forgave one another & reunited in their love. Sailor Jack heard them moaning before he looked out from his ship over to the neighbors' yard, where he saw the two of them intertwined & doing it loudly & drunkenly in their hammock. We took it as a sign that his party had won their hard fought campaign. Huzzah!

Sailor Jack reports that before he could look away, the hammock broke, & they fell onto the grass! But they kept going. Well, who are we to judge? That's love. And every returning sailor or traveler deserves a special homecoming celebration after a long journey. And so ends the holiday weekend, & we start the summer off with a bang.

Related Links
Loose Lips Sink Ships Act I: Cast Off
Loose Lips Sink Ships Act II: Shipshape
Loose Lips Sink Ships Act III: Safe Harbor
The Feast of Predatory Beasts

Loose Lips Sink Ships Act III: Safe Harbor

III: Safe Harbor

When venturing to new places, be they on new roads or unfamiliar seas, it's always good to find a safe harbor. You need a safe place to rest, reassess, & figure out where you're going in life. And a safe harbor is more than just a place. It's also people--good people who look out for you, care for you, & help you when you need it. Safe harbor can be friends who you've known for a while, & they know you, because you're their safe harbor.

I knew Mrs. Bud & Countess from the summer before college. We had all signed up for a two week math & science camp, a sort of prep course for college level math & science. We ended up in the same class & formed a team that worked really well together. Mrs. Bud was then known as Topaz, because her eyes were blue like topaz, & the same gemstone was mined in her hometown. Countess was from the central part of the state, a region known for being a bastion of liberal ideas, free spiritedness, art, & progressiveness in a state better known for being conservative. I was surprised both had chosen to attend the small university. But they were both drawn here for the same reason I was: Excellent academics & the beaches!

By the time regular fall classes started a month later, we had become friends. Within a year, both pledged to & then became members of a sorority. By then, we had gotten to know each other very well. I wasn't part of the Greek system like they were & another of my guy friends. But that didn't keep us from all hanging out. As a matter of fact, I often attended a lot of Greek system parties & activities because of them, especially the girls. And before I knew it, they were my link to some really good times.

I'm not going to lie, it was a lot fun. I was somewhat a regular figure at Greek system activities & events. I helped out when I could. It was the least that I could do after eating their food & drinking their alcohol. Plus, they were a fun bunch to hang out with.

Sure, I didn't buy into all their ideas & way of life, but the Greek system members & I maintained a good relationship & understanding. The Greek system wasn't my thing, but we could still have a good time together. And I can honestly say that learning the Greek alphabet names of each sorority & fraternity did help me out when I went to Greece some years later.

I recognized a few of the letters from science & math classes, like Δ delta & π pi. But most of the letters I recognized from the Greek sorority & fraternity names, like Α α Alpha, Β β Beta, or Γ γ Gamma. Knowing those letters actually helped me find my way around Greece, venturing to where only the locals go, outside the touristy areas. It made the whole trip a lot more fun, adventurous, & meaningful.

The point is, I've known Mrs. Bud/Topaz & Countess for a long time. I knew them before they joined the Greek system, & still hung out with them long after we graduated college. I was familiar with their personalities & knew them pretty well. And they knew me. Still, people surprise you from time to time.

Bud & I met through a mutual friend that first semester. We hung out whenever possible, but he had responsibilities at the family business, so we got to hang out between classes & one weekend a month those first two years. But by the third year, he had trained his younger brothers to handle more responsibilities. Now we hung out a few times a week, even doing road trips & vacations together with the rest of the guys.

Our trip to Florida was particularly influential on Bud. He loved the Caribbean & the more international vibe of Florida's big seaside cities. It was a whole different kind of excitement & fun, meeting new people, especially the locals, & having fun, new experiences. Bud was determined to move to Florida after college, even securing an internship that summer before our last year.

We were pretty sure Bud was moving to Florida. But that last semester, as Bud was interviewing for jobs & looking for an apartment in Florida, I dragged him to a Greek system party, & there it all changed. He met Topaz for the first time. And surprise, surprise, they actually hit it off!

Bud was quiet, chill, & laid back while Topaz was loud, energetic, & always so active in so many things. They seemed like total opposites, but from the moment I introduced them, they were set. They started dating the next day. And when we graduated, Bud abandoned all his Florida plans to be with her. After two years together, they got married. And Topaz became Mrs. Bud, & they've been happily together ever since. Life happens & surprises you in the most unexpected way.

I met Sailor Jack the second semester of our second year in college. He was a transfer student from an out of state college. His navy family was reassigned to our part of the country, & Sailor Jack followed them. One, because they were his family, & he wanted to be close to them, especially as his father had just gotten back from a long deployment overseas. Second, he, too, was attracted to the excellent academics of the small university & the wonderful area beaches.

Sailor Jack was my lab partner. After that first class together, I introduced him to the rest of my friends. And we've been friends ever since, hanging out almost every day with the others the rest of our college years. He introduced us to his family, & pretty soon, we were spending holidays, events, & doing activities together as often as we could.

Over the years, we've remained close. And though we don't always find the time to hang out as often as we used to because of life, we still make an effort to keep contact & get together as often as we could. And this Memorial weekend was the perfect opportunity to hang out & enjoy each other's company.

Before we sat down to eat the delicious BBQ brisket Sailor Jack had managed to grill & smoke perfectly, Captain turned on the strings of party lights in the yard while his wife turned on some music. Now it went from a BBQ to a party with people dancing.

Countess & I were dancing. I knew what she liked. So I spun her around then dipped her while she let out a squeal of joy. We've done this many times before, a signature move we practiced & perfected at numerous Greek system dance parties. It was our signature move that won us several dance contests held for fundraisers or social activities hosted by the various sororities & fraternities.

When I raised her back up & swung her around, I noticed New Guy was looking in our direction. No doubt he was probably impressed at our spin & dip move. But most likely, he was drawn to Countess, who looked gorgeous as always.

But Countess's beauty was best enjoyed from afar, unless you wanted your heart broken. Many have made the mistake of trying to capture her brilliance, mistaking her for some ethereal firefly to be caught in a jar. She was no firefly. She was a fierce firebird who scorched the flesh & bones off those foolish enough to try to catch her.

I was worried that poor New Guy was like a moth drawn to Countess's flame, & if he got any closer, he risked getting burned. But I wasn't sure it was my place to warn him or if it was any of my business who he decided to go after. For now, I'd stay out of it.

Still, I felt bad for the guy. As soon as Countess & I left the dance area, she sat down on a bench as I went to get us some cool drinks. I noticed New Guy had gone over & sat down next to Countess. They were really close & seem to be having an intimate conversation. Soon enough, New Guy got up & went inside the house, leaving Countess alone by the time I reached her with our drinks in hand.

I gave Countess her cool drink & sat down next to her. I couldn't resist asking her, "So what's up with you & New Guy?"

Countess said, "Nothing. Just showing him the ropes."

"Tying him down in bed all ready? Isn't it a little early for kinky stuff in the relationship?", I joked.

"I was talking about work, you bastard," she said.

"Well try to keep it in your pants at work," I said. "Anyway, I'd hate to see the poor guy get crushed by you. He seems decent enough."

"Who's decent enough?," asked Mrs.Bud. She had walked in on my conversation with Countess & sat down on the bench with us.

"He was talking about New Guy," explained Countess, then she got that evil glint in her eye. That was my warning, "Yes, he was just telling me how I shouldn't sleep with New Guy, because he seems decent. I suppose I should limit myself to indecent guys."

Mrs. Bud, always ready to defend her friends & sorority sisters said, "Why is it any of your concern who she sleeps with? If she wants to sleep with him, that's her business. She should feel free to sleep with him if she wants to."

"Yes, well that's all fine & good, but we all know that she's not actually going to just sleep with him. Rather, she's going to do some very filthy things with him (or to him) using her, shall we say, 'secret lady arsenal', & it's the ditching him afterwards is what really concerns me," I said.

"You make it sound like my vagina is some sort of deadly weapon," said Countess.

So I immediately replied, "Well, given the vast devastation & numerous casualties left in the wake of its deployment, it's really more like a Weapon of Mass Destruction. I'm surprised the United Nations hasn't sent down an inspection team to investigate the dangers & damages posed by your vagina."

Countess countered, "I'll have you know my vagina is a sacred & exalted place that brings ecstasy to those who are fortunate enough to be chosen to worship it. It is as beautiful as the evening star, it is Venus!"

"More like a Venus flytrap!", I declared, "Given the amount of unsuspecting victims it's devoured over the years!"

"Bitch, please!," said Countess, "You've drilled down more filthy holes than ExxonMobil! Let's not forget the disasters that resulted from you exploring those hazardous holes! At least the men I've been with are intelligent & have class."

"Oh, please!", I scoffed, "You've dated idiots!"

"And you've dated skanks!", chimed in Mrs. Bud.

"Yes, I have!", I acknowledged, "But a good number of those skanks were your sorority sisters!"

"Oh, we know!", replied Mrs. Bud, "And we love our skanky sisters! It's the other filthy skanks you mess with that you ought to be ashamed of!"

She gave me an accusatory look. And for moment, I briefly panicked. Did she know? Then I thought, 'Nah, how could she? There was no way she could've found out!' Nobody knew what went down. I kept my mouth shut, & no way were my activities that last weekend were going to be revealed nor shared outside of where they happened.

I was thinking about the previous weekend, where I ditched our planned night out together as a group. At the last minute, I decided to leave town. I told my friends that I was heading out to see an old buddy, who was visiting relatives in a city that was just a few hours drive north. They were disappointed that I would not be going out partying with them, but they understood that it was important to see old friends whenever possible, to seize the opportunity when it came, especially if the friend lives far away.

But I knew that they wouldn't be so understanding if they found out that the friend I was seeing was Queen. The girls disliked Queen. The guys thought she was fine. That only made the girls dislike Queen even more. So the guys have learned to shut their mouths whenever Queen came up in conversation, which was rare, as if speaking her name would invoke some great & terrible evil.

It's hard to explain why the girls dislike Queen. It could be because she was in a rival sorority. They can get pretty competitive between sororities & fraternities in the Greek system. And the competition got more intense in the games & activities ran by the governing pan-Hellenic council, whose goal is to unite & show off the benefits (& power) of the Greek system, to motivate & instill pride & unity in the Greek system, & attract new recruits & members. The games & festivities meant to unite the Greek system members only fueled the drive by the individual houses to out do each other, beat out the rivals, & win as many contests as they could. Each house wanted to be the best! And the competition can get extremely fierce.

The girls were in a top tier sorority. Throughout the years, they ranked number one, earning their place from the sheer number of wins they accumulated from raising the most money for charities, earning & maintaining excellent grade point averages, & being champions at almost every athletic team events, & winning top honors for social activities like best decorations for various holidays, best house parties, & best themed floats for the various parades they took part in. They seemed unstoppable, winning every competition they entered. Well, almost every competition.

The girls' sorority won every competition that they entered in, except for the ones that were based on individual entries. They won all team events, & some of the individual events. But the top three individual honors eluded their house, always coming in second. And the person who beat them the most to first place was none other than Queen.

Queen was in a rival sorority. To be honest, it was a second rate sorority. Its merit was based mostly on being the oldest sorority on campus. Its membership was comprised mostly of old money--girls whose families have held wealth & power in the state for at least over a century. Some of their families reach as far back as when the state was part of the original Spanish empire in the aftermath of conquering Conquistadors, who laid waste to the natives who once lived in these lands before European disease & slaughter wiped out their ancient civilizations.

The girls in Queen's sorority were all legacies. That means they each earned membership because their families were members of the house from previous classes, throughout the history of the sorority. Blue bloods, in a way. Naturally, you'd expect them to be snobs. And a lot of them were were. But not all of them were ignorant nor snooty. Some were actually very nice. And Queen is actually one of them.

The first time that I met Queen was during the set up for the Homecoming Dance. I had just reached the front door of the ballroom when I noticed this beautiful, tall brunette, with a yellow bandana headband, forming a halo on her head that showcased her stunning eyes & fine features, full lips, & lush shoulder length, onyx black hair that danced in the air as the wind played with it, sweeping it from side to side. She was gliding effortlessly towards my direction & my heart quickened a beat. I felt my breath taken away & time stopped. A radiant goddess had walked into my life, & I was ready to fall down upon my knees & worship her glory.

She & I had shown up early, & when I opened the door to let her pass through first, she expressed that she was pleasantly surprised that some men still do this. We had a good laugh & joked about the changing times & mores. We worked & laughed the whole time, taking lunch together, & parted on good terms. The whole time we were working, we talked about everything from college classes to tv shows to camping & outdoor adventures. We talked about the places we've seen & the places we wanted to visit.

We talked about everything & anything that came to mind. Everything & anything except the most important topic of all. Imagine my surprise at finding out later that evening that she was representing her sorority at the Homecoming Dance. And she won, being voted Homecoming Queen! That's why I call her Queen.

I didn't realize she was a sorority girl. She didn't realize I wasn't in a fraternity. Though the pan-Hellenic council was co chairing the Homecoming activities with the Athletics council under the auspices of the Student Body Government, any student was welcomed to volunteer to help set up the activities. While dating outside the Greek system wasn't frowned down on like at some other places, here, the Greek system members generally dated each other, because that's the dating pool they were exposed to through their events & activities calendars.

After getting over the shock that the down to earth, funny, smart, adventurous girl that I had spent a few hours laughing with earlier was from the snootiest, most boring, & second (well, third tier to be honest) rate house on campus, I worked up the courage to ask her to dance, right after she finished dancing with the Homecoming King as tradition dictated. The whole time she was on stage & throughout the first dance with the King, we locked eyes on each other.

And when we danced together for the next few songs, we were lost in each other's eyes. We got to know each other better. I congratulated her on winning & how beautiful she looked. She laughed & thanked me & asked me why I wasn't in a fraternity. I asked how she guessed that. She told me it was because I wasn't wearing a fraternity pin, nor was I wearing any of the other houses colors or bars.

I looked around & began noticing that most of the dressed up fellas were sporting their pins, the house cofa (coat of arms). A few decided on the bars instead. Queen was smart & sharp & I loved it. I told her that the Greek system wasn't my thing. And it explained why our paths hadn't crossed earlier.

Her house held mostly mixers with a few other fraternities. The guests were limited to those invited house members only. Basically, they operated like a private club, not surprising given their exclusive nature & long, storied (& winded) history. It was only during large public activities sponsored by the pan-Hellenic council did her house participate in these mixed public events. And I'm so glad that they did. Otherwise, I would've never met her.

Though we were from different worlds & heading for different places, somehow, in this time, we found a common place to rest on our long, unknown journeys, a sanctuary from the storms, a safe harbor to enjoy the serenity & joy of each other's company, however improbable & brief it may be.

And if her friends & mine had anything to do with it, we wouldn't have spent any time together at all! They'd've gladly exiled us to opposite ends of the world. And a few have certainly tried to assassinate our relationship a few times over the years.

Her house thought that she could do better. And I agree. She certainly deserved more than I could ever have given her. Her sorority sisters would rather see her matched up with one of the more appropriate fellas from the other houses, especially the wealthy & well connected ones. It's not that they were outright rude or mean to me. They just had different expectations & goals & lifestyles. Their values weren't mine, nor were they Queen's.

But when I pressed her as to why in gawd's name would she join such a snobby, spoiled, classist sorority, her answer was simple. Because her grandmother was a member, as was her great grandmother, & she loved them both. Joining the sisterhood was a link to those independent, strong, wise women she loved with all her heart. Listening to her talk about her family like that only made me feel closer to her & love her even more.

I'd like to clear things up now to say that while her sorority might've thought she could do better, if she had chosen to be with me, they'd've accepted it. Begrudgingly, & I would've been expected to do twice as much work & gain twice as many achievements as the other more acceptable fellas from the approved houses. And even then, I'd've been judge more harshly & my successes would've been recognized at only half their value when compared to the legacy born suitors.

The message was clear. I was going to spend the rest of my life trying to catch up to over a century or more of history & prestige. And even if I managed to outshine them all, I would always be reminded that I wasn't one of them, that my acceptance into their roll call would come with an asterisk by my name, with a note reminding people that I wasn't born noble, that my children, & their children would rely on their mother's name to grant them access & standing in the social hierarchy of their exclusive society.

But my friends were just as opposed to our relationship. Well, the guys were fine with it. But the girls were absolutely NOT ok with what was going on with me & Queen. That she was the surprise winner of Homecoming Queen, while their representative was first runner up, irritated them. It was the first loss their house experienced. Up until then, they were on a roll, winning everything else.

The following year, the same thing happened, only this time, it was the school wide Spring Queen event that Queen won, once more rendering my girls' house to second place. Again, stopping their winning momentum. And if they didn't like her before then, the girls really disliked Queen after she won Greek Queen during our last year in college.

Queen had done what no one had ever done before, winning all three honors. If she were a race horse, she'd've been award the Triple Crown! And even more amazing, she was the last minute replacement for her sorority's representative, a girl who got drunk, fell down a flight of stairs, & busted her ass. She literally busted her ass! Her sacrum was bruised in the landing. The bad news was, she was out of the running. The good news is that her big hair managed to hold up well after the hospital released her from treatment--well worth the price she paid to get her hair done for the event. The best news: Queen won, earning her sorority their only win.

To say that my girls were pissed off at Queen winning Greek Queen, the highest social honor in the pan-Hellenic world, was an understatement! They were furious, especially since Queen had no time to prepare & wasn't expected to win. Their own entry had done a cheering demonstration as a talent, complete with a uniform & pom-poms. We were impressed with her yelling & jumps & flips. The other competitors were excellent, too, showing off their talents. But Queen was, without a doubt, the best overall. Poise, beauty, grace, talent, a sense of humor, & smarts, she had it all.

And I'm not being biased here because I had a thing for her. When she stood up on that stage in a silky, midnight blue, sparkling dress with a gardenia in her well coiffed hair, she was gorgeous! And when she opened her mouth to sing, we heard an angel, a siren, a mermaid summoning us, bewitching us, luring us with her enchanting, mesmerizing, sensuous voice. No one said a word. All were transfixed as she sang out seductively, soulfully, magically the song that she loved to sing, At Last. And we all felt that we were the love that she was waiting for, the one she longed for. Well, the guys & lesbians felt that way for sure.

My girls were impressed, no doubt. But they were really pissed off when I joined Queen to do one of our duets, our favorite song, Unforgettable. Her talent was comprised of two selections from the number of love songs we like to sing to each other, in private & several times at karaoke bars that no college student would ever venture to sober! But it's those out of the way, hidden places where we were free to be with each other & have fun. And we were pretty damned good, having won several karaoke contests over the years, even doing a gig with a band one weekend.

The happy wedding party was passing through on their way to their wedding venue in a small, picturesque town two hours away. The best man was also the band leader, & so impressed were they by our performance, that they asked us to sing our duet covers of old love songs at their wedding that weekend. Queen & I had a blast. More importantly, the happy couple & guests were surprised & enjoyed our performance very much; a few even asked for our next performance dates! It was a wonderful experience, one that we will cherish forever.

Seeing us on stage singing our duet, it was obvious that we had done this before, & we did it so well. More importantly, there was a deep connection there that permeated the way we sang to each other, radiated from the way we looked at each other, & it resonated with the way we moved together. It was a deep, intimate, special connection. It was a connection that my girls were ready to sever!

If they weren't angry before, they were really mad now, especially after I helped Queen win the coveted Greek Queen crown for her house, once more dashing all hopes of a sweeping win for my girls' house. Hard as it was to swallow, Queen really was the best, in a superior class of her own. While the other contestants did cheer routines or dance numbers or sang pop tunes or rapped, Queen was the classiest, most moving, most electrifying, & most wondrous performer of the night. She elevated the contest from beauty pageant to art!

I wish that being in rival sororities was the root of my girls' dislike of Queen. But the truth is, I don't know for sure. And I doubt my girls understand it either, even when I pressed them for answers a few times. What came out was just a general, unknowing dislike. Honestly, I just think it's one of those cases where women just hate other women. Or as my guy friends like to refer to it as Bitches hate Bitches. Must be an alpha dog (or alpha bitch) thing. All I know is, I'll probably never understand it.

Or maybe like Queen's sorority sisters' mentality, my girls might've thought that I could do better, that I deserved better. I don't know how, but maybe my girls wanted something more for me, something that wouldn't put me in the crosshairs of conflict. But I'd've gladly taken a bullet for Queen. I would do whatever it took to protect her, to keep her safe, to make her happy.

And I suppose I made things worse when I chose to spend summer break with Queen when my friends decided to go on a cruise. The guys understood when I told them after we got back to school, but the girls were furious that I chose to spend that time working on Queen's ranch instead of doing body shots in Mexico with them. But I have no regrets.

And I suppose I keep fanning the flames of discord by saying things like how much I enjoyed spending time with Queen, & when asked who I'd rather be with, my friends or Queen, I automatically said Queen. Mostly as a joke, to see the irritated looks on the girls' faces. Sometimes they'd swear at me & throw things at me. But a small part of it was true. And when pressed what I'd do if Queen asked me to go with her, what would I do? I'd say I'd go with her.

And when the girls asked one time, What if she asked you to not talk with us anymore? I said, Well, it's been nice knowing y'all, but I'd ditch y'all to be with her!

The guys thought it was hilarious. They knew Queen & liked her. And she would never, ever ask me to turn my back on my friends like that. But my girls did not like my answer, even if it was meant as a joke...probably because underneath that joke, a part of me meant it. All Queen had to do was ask, & I would do whatever she wanted.

Maybe that's why my girls didn't like Queen. She had a powerful, irresistible influence on me. Not that she ever wielded it. But it must still be unnerving for my friends to realize that independent, free spirited, stubborn, hardheaded, carefree me could fall so easily under the sway of another. They couldn't understand this weakness, this thing between Queen & I.

But you can't always understand why life is the way it is. Sometimes, we are attracted to people for reasons beyond our understanding. We connect with people because there is an instant connection, a feeling of something bigger, something powerful, something that just feels right. You don't always understand it, but you recognize it. And you embrace it. You experience it. Hold on to it for as long as you can. Connections like that don't happen very often. And very often, they change your life.

But my connection to my friends was just as important to me, which is why I keep my rendezvous with Queen a secret. No need to inform them of my plans, especially when it would raise objections & possible interference. No, my time with Queen was my own. We kept it quiet, & we liked it that way.

This feeling between us has never gone away, & we see each other whenever we can. Though we live in different parts of the country, our paths cross every now & then. And when they do, we make the most of it. Though life has taken us in different directions & far away places, the passage of time has only strengthened our bond, the flames of passion we have for each other blaze brighter & more intense than ever. Time stops, & once again, we are in a world of our own, nothing else matters. We cherish these rare moments with each other, & we kept them our own, away from the prying eyes of the other people in our lives.

Queen was in a city just two hours north of me. Her cousin was getting married. I was asked to be her date. We chose to spend a few days together alone before & after the wedding day. And it was bliss. I told no one of what had happened. And Queen kept our secret.

So I breathed a sigh of relief that my girls didn't know, & they would never know. I certainly didn't want to listen to their shrill objections or deal with any nagging complaints. Also, I felt a little guilty, because not only did I skip out of our group outing as planned, I also ditched our plan for that Saturday: we had signed up to volunteer to pick up trash on the beach, as part of a community service project. As a matter of fact, the person in charge of the beach clean up was here at the BBQ.

I'll call her Sister Sledgehammer, & it wasn't just because she often wielded a sledgehammer during the Habitat for Humanity house building projects for those in need. Sister Sledgehammer was actually a former nun, who left the convent when she fell in love with a military man.

I know, right? Sounds like Maria from the The Sound of Music. Except, this wasn't Austria, so no hills to run & twirl around on; the man was a navy officer but he wasn't a widower nor had any children (other than the ones he had with Sister Sledgehammer later on); & unfortunately, no singing nor dancing nor puppets nor curtain play clothes were involved.

But there was hiking involved, as Sister & Mister Sledgehammer loved the outdoors. It's why they organized the beach cleanup for the neighborhood, & they love doing charity work. As they were Captain & Serenity & Sailor Jack's neighbors, they developed a good relationship with each other. And soon enough, we were invited to their gatherings & activities & we invited them to ours.

In fact, we consider them family, just as they consider us family, & we liked doing good things to improve the community. Only, I chose to do good things for myself instead of the beach cleanup last weekend. But I had it in my head to make up for it by volunteering for the local shelter's breakfast program the next morning. Sister & Mister Sledgehammer were running the shelter feeding program the rest of the week. They were retired now, & charity work was their passion.

As I sat on the bench talking to Mrs. Bud & Countess, I saw Mister & Sister Sledgehammer sitting in the kitchen, talking to the other guests. I also noticed New Guy was looking our way, probably mesmerized by Countess talking all that smack animatedly at me. When Countess got riled up, she used her hands & head to make pointed gestures, emphasizing her points & making it known that she was not to be trifled with.

I said, "Don't look now, but the poor guy is looking right at you, probably pining away, clueless that you'd chew him up & spit him out without a second thought...or is that swallow him without a second thought?" I jested.

"Listen here, slut," Countess addressed me, "Not that it's any of your damn business, but New Guy is not my type."

"Really?", I mused, "Wasn't your sorority's unofficial motto: Everyone is our type!"

Mrs. Bud answered, "No! Our motto was: We are everyone's type! Get it right, bitch!", she admonished.

"After seeing the multitude of strangers that have paraded through the temple entrances to your sisters' altars, I'm pretty sure that I said it right the first time," I teased.

"Whatever, bitch!", said Countess, "You shouldn't be making judgments on people's private affairs, especially considering the sluts & bimbos you've been with over the years."

"Hey!", I defended, "What I do is a community service! Giving of myself freely to those in need of a good time!"

"What you do is service the service community!", Mrs. Bud said, "Honey, you're nailing sluts! Not hammering up houses for the homeless!"

And we laughed at that. "All right, lets just agree that your private business is your private business," I said, "I just wasn't sure if I should warn New Guy about not getting hooked on you, because you're like a drug. It's a high when they're with you & a bad crash when you're gone. It's going to require a lot of work & time & effort just to get you out of their system, if that's even possible."

"Are you saying my Venus should come with rehab?", asked Countess.

"I'm saying it should come with a warning," I said, "May cause dizziness & drowsiness. Do not operate heavy machinery after ingesting."

And we laughed at that. Then a pop song from the past played, & the three of us got on the dance floor to reenact those dances from the past. It was fun.

When we finally got off the dance floor, I noticed New Guy was sitting at the bench, looking at us. I nodded at him & he nodded back. The girls headed over to sit with him while I went indoors to use the restroom, then wash my hands. Sailor Jack was slicing up the brisket, & after all the crap that Bud & I gave him, I gotta admit, that brisket smelled awesome & it looked great! There was a line forming at the food table as I went indoors to use the restroom.

After washing my face & hands, I came back out & headed to the coolers, where I met New Guy. He was fetching drinks for himself & Countess. Poor guy, I thought.

He looked at me kind of nervous. He asked me, "Is there something going on between you & Countess?"

Ah, I thought. This was a question that, without fail, all of Countess's suitors ask me. They were unsure if Countess & I were hooking up, given the closeness of our relationship & the ways we intimately teased each other & how we often spent time together--dancing, laughing, mostly hanging out. It's difficult for some of them to understand that we're just friends.

A few of her past suitors have actually gotten jealous & refused to believe that we were just friends. And a small minority actually blamed me when Countess discards them, as if somehow my relationship with her was closer than it seemed, like she was just using them to make me jealous. But that's not what it is at all. It's hard for people to accept the truth sometimes, especially when they are looking for an excuse to explain their own failures.

Misunderstandings can cause a lot of unnecessary heartaches. So I thought I ought straighten things out with New Guy before he got the wrong idea. I've given this speech before, because the question of the nature of my relationship with Countess comes up so many times. So to end any confusion, I said, "Countess & I are just friends. She's a beautiful girl, but I'm not attracted to her at all. I love her like a friend, because that's who we are, friends. Just friends, none of the other benefits."

I chuckled then to ease the tension. And New Guy seemed a bit relieved.

"Oh, good," said New Guy, "I didn't want anything to get weird or misunderstand the situation. I didn't want to come between you two or cause any trouble."

I picked out a ginger ale & said, "We're good. No trouble. I'm glad we cleared that up. Don't be afraid to ask me any questions. I'll be glad to answer if I can."

I felt good, because I felt like I had done a good job of explaining things. Whatever happens between him & Countess was between them. I would have no influence at all on the outcome. If I felt any smug, I can blame it on the alcohol that was all ready in my system. It was giving me a nice buzz, but it was also getting to the point where it was slowing my reactions & making things a bit cloudy, if not slow for me. That's why I was picking a ginger ale to drink.

Pride comes before a fall. Maybe if I wasn't so drunk, I would've seen things clearer. But then again, sometimes, I can be blind & clueless to the things that are right in front of me.

"Listen," said New Guy, "I have something that I want to ask you."

'Here it comes', I thought, 'he wants advice on how to approach Countess & ask her out.' A part of me just wanted to say, 'Just buy her some dinner & drinks & you're all set buddy!' But I chided myself as I chuckled at my own joke. This was just drunk me thinking silly, drunken thoughts. It was a good thing that I decided that I've had enough alcohol, & I should just focus on hydrating myself & keep myself from doing anything embarrassing or anything that I'd regret the next day.

I thought, 'If New Guy wants to ask Countess out, then I ought to be polite & give him the best advice to make the best impression on Countess.' Besides, who am I to judge love? We don't always understand it, but it happens. And for all I know, this could be the real thing! And if I can do anything to help love along, then dang it, I'll do whatever I can!

So I said to New Guy, "Ask away," as I started to mentally list all the things & places that Countess enjoys.

New Guy asked, "What do you think about canoeing tomorrow on the bay, on the way to the beach?"

'That sounds promising', I thought. Countess did like outdoor activities. She also loved white water rafting. I was sure that she'd love a canoe date on the water. Hell, it was almost romantic, just the two of them in a small boat in the water, surrounded by beautiful nature & great weather. So I said, "That sounds like fun! Is there anything else that I can help with?"

New Guy looked happy. Then he said, "Great! The canoe is in my garage. It just needs to be loaded tomorrow. Should I pick you up or do you want to meet at my place?"

Huh? Now I was confused. Why would he want to pick me up or meet him at his place? Did he need help loading up the canoe & finding a good launching spot on the bay? I guess I could do that. I've done it before with other friends. I hope Countess appreciates what I'm doing to help her have a great canoe date!

So I said, "I'll meet you at your place. Give me the time & address to meet up."

We exchanged information & decided to meet early in the morning. Then New Guy said, "Great! I'm looking forward to it. Maybe we can have lunch after."

"Sure," I said automatically. New Guy looked happy & headed over to where Countess was. No doubt, he was off to ask her to join him on a lovely canoe date. I stood there, about to open my ginger ale, when it suddenly dawned on me.

'Wait a minute, does he expect me to meet them for lunch after their canoe ride? Does he need help putting the canoe up? I'm sure Countess can help him put the canoe up. Or does he expect me to join their canoe ride as some sort of chaperone, then we all get lunch after? Huh? That's strange,' I thought.

Then a horrible realization dawned on my drunk, slow mind. I reviewed the conversation in my mind. And the more I thought about it, the clearer things became, & the clearer they became, the more complex they got!

Oh. Dear. Gawd. Sweet baby cheeses! There was no way around it. New Guy wasn't asking for advice on taking Countess out. He was asking me out on a date! And I had said Yes!

Sure enough, when I turned to look over at them, New Guy was talking to the guys, while Mrs. Bud & Countess were gleefully smiling back at me.

Those Bitches knew! They knew New Guy was gay, & they knew he was eyeing me the whole time & had probably planned to make a move on me! Those damned demon cows! Those wicked, sneaky bitches! Oh, hell no! I've been set up! Those scheming skanks!

I was surprised that they could be so devious at my expense. Then again, I should've know better. It's not the first time they've pulled a prank on me. And had I been sober, I might've spotted what those two whores were playing at. But I was too wasted to see what was happening, and now, I set myself up on a date with another guy!

I wish that I could blame the alcohol for my failing to realize that New Guy was interested in me, not Countess. But really, it's my own fault. I have no gaydar or any kind of orientation radar. I honestly cannot tell who is gay or straight or some other place in the spectrum. I've made too many mistakes misidentifying people's orientation, so I don't bother guessing. I figured the best way to know for sure is to just ask or wait for the person to tell me what they are. And it's a system that works fine most of the time. Except for those few times when mistaken assumptions are made, like today. Usually, it's resolved quickly, often with laughter. But this was the first time it has led to a date!

Granted, other guys have asked me on dates before, & we all laugh about it when I explain I wasn't the type of person they were really interested in. I admit, it's flattering to be asked out, even if it's under mistaken impressions. I joke that when you look as good as I do, of course people are going to ask me out. Usually the girls groan & roll their eyes at this point while the guys laugh. Sometimes, humor is gender specific.

And I have been on dates with women inadvertently. How does one date a woman without knowing? Easy. When she asks you out at work to join her for drinks after work at happy hour or for lunch, & you mistakenly assume everyone else from work is going. Only, it's just the two of you that show up. And it doesn't help matters when you pick up the check. You might do it because it's what you've been taught, because you're feeling generous, or because you're naturally chivalrous. But to the woman, it's a sign that you're interested in them, even if you're really not! Prepare for awkwardness at work! Relocation & reassignment is necessary & preferable.

I didn't think relocation nor reassignment was going to help me out of this situation. I wasn't sure what I was going to do. But I did know one thing. I was going to head over to where those two bitches were sitting & give them hell for setting me up like that! I'm about to curse those bitches out in language so foul that it was going to make the potty mouthed, cussing neighbors next door sound like they were doing scenes from Shakespeare's plays! Vengeance will be mine!

But before I could execute my revenge on those two scheming bitches, I ran into Sister & Mister Sledgehammer. Any vengeance I planned would have to wait until I dealt with the good Sister & Mister Sledgehammer. I maybe furious. I maybe drunk. But above all else, I was courteous & raised to act appropriately in social situations involving elders. And courtesy & custom demanded that I spend time talking with these two elders & make every effort to be polite to them.

And that was a very difficult thing to do, given that I could see those two conniving bitches across the yard, giggling out loudly everytime our eyes met! Oh, it was on sisters! One way or another, vengeance would be mine! Payback's a bitch!

When I finally ended my conversation with the elders, I made my way over to the table where the girls, Bud, & Sailor Jack were waiting. New Guy was done eating, & he was actually in the sun room, playing pool with Captain & few other guests were with them, enjoying the game & camaraderie. I noticed Bud & Sailor Jack had saved a plate of food for me. That's why I loved them. They looked out for me, like friends do.

As for these two skanks! Oh, it was on! "You bitches!", I said, "You knew he was gay, didn't you!?!" I accused them.

Those bitches just laughed out loud!

"Who's gay?", asked Bud.

"New Guy is gay", I answered.

"What!?!", both Bud & Sailor Jack were surprised, just as I was. "How do you know?", asked Bud.

"Because," I declared, "he asked me out on a canoe date!"

At this point, those two whores cackled & giggled even harder! Their eyes were actually tearing up from laughing so hard!

The guys looked stunned. Then Sailor Jack asked, "Dude, how does that make you feel?"

And I honestly replied, "Like I'm the prettiest girl at the ball!"

Now they all laughed! And heartily did they laugh at my expense. When they finally all calmed down again from the laughing fit, I said to those two sluts, "I can't believe you bitches knew he was gay & didn't tell me that important piece of information! I made a complete ass of myself!"

Those two bitches laughed again before Countess said, "That's not the only of important piece of information we have. And it's not the only time you've made an ass of yourself!"

Now I was curious. What else where they hiding?

"Bitch," started Mrs. Bud, "We know your lying ass ditched us last week to go be with Queen!"

Now I was stunned! How the hell did these bitches know that? I was over two hours away in a city up north & posted no pictures nor shared any of that information with anyone! And I was pretty sure that Queen kept quiet about our weekend, too.

Mrs. Bud explained,"Thought you could keep it on the down low, your wedding date with Queen!?! Well guess what bitch!?! Cheerleader was there! Her husband is a fraternity brother of the groom. And she not only recognized Queen, but she recognized you, too!"

Cheerleader? That loser from the Greek King & Queen contest? That bitch did more than just tattle! She actually took fotos! And Mrs. Bud & Countess were showing those fotos on their phones! There we were for everyone to see, me & Queen holding hands when we arrived at the church, sitting together with our heads touching, dancing on the dance floor, & sitting at the table, just laughing or holding on to each other. They were actually very lovely fotos, except for the fact that they were taken by a sociopath who shared them with her psychopathic sisterhood!

Well, my secret rendezvous was out, exposed for all to see. Damned those snitching sorority sluts! Those evil gossiping bitches! I asked, "So setting me up was your way of getting back at me?"

"Oh, we were just going to give your ass a hard time, but then you started messing with our sorority & when we realized you were clueless about New Guy, well, then we just went ahead & planned this little set up," said Countess.

Oh, these clever bitches! While I had spent the last few hours getting plastered, they concocted an elaborate plan to embarrass me & get back at me for insulting their slutty sisterhood!

Mrs. Bud added, "Your ass deserves a whole lot worse!"

"I make no apologies for my decision to be with Queen!", I stated proudly.

"No, but your sorry ass needs to apologize for ditching us at the beach cleanup. While we were sweating under the sun picking up filthy trash, your ass was just dancing & partying at a wedding!", said Mrs. Bud, "You trash! If there was a dumpster here, I'd push you in it for ditching us & lying about it! Slut!"

I was not going to apologize! No regrets! If I was sorry, it was only because I had been caught. Next time, I'll keep a better lookout for spies!

"Now, we're even,  bitch!", declared Countess, "That'll teach you for ditching us & making fun of our sorority!"

Then those two bitches called out their sorority name, did their "secret handshake", then high fived each other over their victory.

But if those bitches thought that it was over, then they had another thing coming! They may have succeeded in setting me up for embarrassment & punishment, but I was about to drop my secret weapon on them. So I said, "Well enjoy your laughs now, sisters. And make sure you get enough sleep tonight. You both have a big day tomorrow that starts bright & early at six in the morning!"

The two harridans looked confused, "Why the hell would we be up at six in the morning? The boat ride doesn't start til ten," said Mrs. Bud.

"Oh yes," I agreed, "the boat ride starts at ten. But you two have to get up early & be ready to do some work."

"What work?," asked Countess, "It's a holiday tomorrow!"

"Oh, it is a holiday," I conceded, "And since you're free tomorrow morning, I volunteered your services to help set up & feed the people at the shelter tomorrow. Sister & Mister Sledgehammer were so happy to learn that you two wanted to volunteer your time & energy doing good works! You're both going to look lovely in your hairnets!"

"Oh, you bastard!", "You muthaf*cka!" They cursed at me. "You better tell Sister & Mister Sledgehammer that we can't make it!"

"You tell them yourself," I challenged, knowing full well that these two wouldn't do anything to break a commitment to do charity work with Sister & Mister Sledgehammer.

Game over, bitches! I won! I may have been too drunk & too stupid to see the trap they had set for me. And my secret rendezvous may have been exposed. But I was not going to take this lying down without a fight!

It was very fortuitous that I ran into the elders at the coolers before I proceeded to confront those two skanks. The conversation with the elders & their charity work & needs led to a strategy. Being courteous to elders does pay off sometimes! And it gave me time to cool down & think things through.

Resolved that they were stuck with an early morning date to serve meals & wash pots & pans on their day off, the girls cussed me out & vowed vengeance.

Yes, one day soon, they would strike again. But I had won the day. I had won the war. The guys chuckled at the turn of events. Then Mrs. Bud said, "Well, at least your ass will be right there with us, scrubbing pots & pans!"

I said, "Oh, did I not mention it? I can't join y'all tomorrow morning at the shelter. I have a previous engagement."

The girls turned their murderous eyes on me, Mrs. Bud said, "What previous engagement, you lying bastard!?! You don't have any plans for tomorrow, so your ass better be there or I'll call you in the morning & put Sister & Mister Sledgehammer on the phone!"

"But I do have plans!," I said.

"Liar!", declared Countess, "What the hell are you doing tomorrow morning?"

I looked them straight in the eyes & said, "I have a canoe date!"

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