Posts Tagged ‘the bad economy’

Sorry, Charlie

Sunday, December 19th, 2010

By Tiber

As you know, my parents’ housekeeper, Mrs. Brunty, has been worried that Dad would fire one of the maids due to the economic crunch. Then, she read how when the great writer Shirley Jackson’s husband didn’t like her getting so many cats, she just starting adopting cats who were all the same color and her husband never knew how many of them they actually had.

So Mrs. Brunty did the same sort of thing and, for quite awhile now, she’s had all three maids wearing identical wigs, in the hopes that Dad wouldn’t remember how many he’s still paying,

Today, though, Dad actually confronted Mrs. Brunty about it and Dad hates confronting Mrs. Brunty about anything. She is always “Mrs. Brunty,” even to Dad, by the way. She is always Mrs. Brunty even to her husband, Mr. Brunty. Mom thinks it shows a real old-world respect. I always think it shows why there are no little Bruntys.

But back to the maids in wigs!

Dad told Mrs. Brunty that he respected her efforts and he was doing everything possible not to fire any of the girls  but he did know there were three of them so they could stop wearing the wigs.

Actually, he said, it was having the opposite effect to what Mrs. Brunty intended because it made Dad feel that every time he looked up, the “same“ maid was doing all the work, while the other two were off having a smoke or something.

“Oh, dear!” cried Mrs. Brunty.

So the wigs came off immediately and Taffy, for one, was thrilled. Taffy, accident-prone in the best of times, claimed that the short, dark, wig was turning her into another person entirely, one who fell down even more and looked goofy in the process.

I laughed and said, “Yes, I thought you were looking more and more like The Little Tramp!”

Taffy burst into tears, ran away and later had to be coaxed out of the broom closet.

I was talking about Charlie Chaplin, of course, but I can see how she may not have taken it that way.

The Bicycle Thief – The Sequel

Thursday, December 16th, 2010


By Tiber

You may recall when Mom decided to bring in some extra cash too and she got a job in the office of the soup kitchen where she normally volunteers.

Of course, as she pointed out at the time, since she was then working there and not just volunteering, she couldn’t very well ignore that the food and the table settings weren’t that good.

So Dad started getting new bills for catering, linens and the dreaded “Trevor’s Floral Fantasies.“ When Mom ordered 25 ergonomic chairs for the job training room, though, Dad’s head exploded and it was decided that Mom, while a wonderful rich person to have around, did not do “budgeting” well at all and her career at the Mission was quickly over.

Now, she’s done it again.

A friend of hers, who volunteers at a charity thrift shop in one of the nearby towns asked Mom to help out since, sadly, there are a lot more customers these days. Mom would again just be volunteering and taking customers’ money, so that seemed safe enough on the expenditure front.


Mom, to her credit, really got into moving the merchandise and she got more than she had expected from selling an old bicycle.

The problem was, the bicycle had not been for sale. It had belonged to a little boy who was across the room, picking out some small, used Christmas gifts for his only family member, his poor, invalid grandmother who raised him.

Charles Dickens came by the shop and said, “Dear God, no, this is too sad for even me to write about.”

You can imagine how bad Mom felt. That bicycle was the family’s sole form of transportation so, obviously, she had to buy the boy a new one. Plus, a helmet. And some new sneakers. And socks. And a plasma flat-screen TV because poor Grandma had always dreamed of one, so that even though she couldn’t afford to buy anything on the Shopping Networks, at least she could finally see all of the beautiful things people kept talking about.

Therefore, Mom’s day of volunteering at the Thrift Shop cost Dad a little over $2000.

He tried explaining the term ”thrift” to Mom. “It’s even written on the front of the store, Gwen!!!”

But, finally, he just gave up.

What was he going to do? He didn’t want the kid to be without transportation either.

Of course, Mom may or may not know that her own transportation options are now going to be much more limited. Dad has been trying to con all the rest of us into playing, “this really fun Christmas game I heard about! It’s called ‘Who Can Be The Most Successful In Permanently Hiding Mom’s Car?'”

With baseball or holiday decorating, all it takes is a bat and some balls

Monday, December 13th, 2010

By Tiber

To save money this year, Dad has put a ban on buying any new decorations for Christmas. Of course, we’re very lucky since we not only have a lot of old ornaments but we also have a lot of trees on the estate, so we’ll be fine.

This weekend, we were all dispatched into the woods to bring back lots of tree branches to get that “boughs of holly” thing going for the doors and mantelpieces. Dad assumed most of us would get bored and wander off but no one did and, soon, we had a huge mound of tree branches filling the back hall.

I’m not sure how much holly we had in it but something was in it because the whole stack started moving. Dad, forever channeling Teddy Roosevelt, marched right in and began heaving away the top boughs.

And a big bat flew out.

Dad ducked as fast as the rest of us did. I think what people are not supposed to do when a bat is flying towards them is move. What’s the first thing all human beings do when a bat is flying towards them? Move!

Of course, in our case, we had some people running screaming away from the bat, some people running screaming towards the bat, the dogs wanting more than life to play snout-hockey with the bat and the cats doing flips and howling, “BIRD!!!”

Thankfully, the bat managed to change course and fly right out the back entrance and away from all of us, squeaking all the way.

Iris Nell said he was saying, “And a Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!”

That’s not what I heard. I distinctly made out what that bat was articulating, It was, “Dear God, please let me make it to Times Square in time for New Year’s Eve. That, at least, will be a lot more calm and subdued than this.”

There will be no dancing at the wrecking ball

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010


By Tiber

As you know, my sister, Iris Nell, does not cope well in the real world but she wants to bring in more money too so when one of the nearby little villages decided to do some town tours to drum up tourism, Iris Nell went over and got the job. She loves history and anything old.

The problem is, there’s not much left that‘s old or interesting in this little town so her planned “Local Architectural Jewels” segment really was more of a “They Destroyed That for This?!?”

At the new sewage plant, all Iris Nell could do was pass around a picture of the beautiful little Victorian hotel that had stood there before.

At the current “Bonanza Pete’s Dented Cans Discount Store,” she showed her group a photo of the Palladian-styled library that had been wrecking balled for it.

“It‘s such a shame,” Iris Nell lamented so a group member tried to cheer her up. “Those dented cans are a real bargain, though!“

Things picked up slightly in passing a local bar, where the tour group knew the most memorable town moment all by themselves.

“Hey, when they shot that movie here, isn’t this where that starlet got hammered and threw up on the mayor?”

Iris Nell wasn’t going to mention that bit of town lore but the group was more excited than it had been all evening so she finally nodded and pics were gleefully taken of the pavement.

She finished up her tour at the town cemetery. At least there are still old things there and the people are the same.

Our much youngest sister, Erin, who’d come along for a laugh, thought the tour was dying even here, so she grabbed a white skirt from her car and went floating around the graves in the distance. That got everyone’s riveted attention – especially when the “ghost” took a header over a marker and smashed into the ground.

There was a pause. “That ghost just fell over a tombstone. Can’t they go through things?”

Furious that she could lose her job, Iris Nell ran after the “ghost” who quickly leaped up and pirouetted off into the woods.

“My God, you’re brave!,” the group told Iris Nell. “You just chased off a ghost!” But she waved off the praise.

“I happen to know that particular ghost and though it won’t stay grounded in the graveyard, I have ways of getting it grounded somewhere else.

Going full Superman, going full Supermonty

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

By Tiber 

My younger brother, Kru, still has his cat sand delivery business but he decided that maybe he could bring in even more by making up a new superhero persona and then doing stunts and personal appearances. So he asked the family for ideas on who he could be.

I thought, “Come on, dude, you know us! Don’t you know we’ll either a) hurt your feelings or b) get you killed?” And yet he persisted.

Duncan suggested Kru become “Intensive Care Man” in honor of where so many of his stunts have landed him in the past.

Iris Nell thought he could be “Sadman”.


“Because sometimes you are!”

She came over and gave him a hug to make him feel better but I still think seeing a big, old “Sadman” signal in the sky would just depress everybody.

Erin had the best idea. She came up with “Recession Man.”

“Don’t come around here, Kru, because we’ll all vomit but ‘Recession Man’ could be the first superhero who doesn’t even have the money to be able to afford a suit! And believe me, even though it’s you, there are bound to be people who will pay to see that.”

I feel like the hyena, not in on the joke

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

By Tiber

Since losing my job, I’ve acquired something else. Now I feel out of step. I feel out of step with the world.

Maybe I defined myself too much through my work and now the universe is prodding me to find value elsewhere. If that’s the case, it isn’t working.

All I think about now, is how out of step I am.

I feel like the cannibal who just wants a salad.

I feel like the panda who makes children cry.

I feel like the pea that is pod claustrophobic.

I feel like the bat who’s afraid of the dark.

I feel like the yeti who wants to be famous.

I feel like the Great White whose teeth are in braces.

I feel like the leopard who doesn’t like prints.

I feel like the penny that’s saved but not earned.

I feel like the clown who prefers bigger cars.

I feel like macaroni that’s lactose intolerant.

My guess is, somebody in the family may go out and find me a job. Otherwise, I could keep coming up with these forever. 

Reality bites…Just somewhere else

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

By Tiber 

As I’ve said before, Gabby, one of my parents’ maids, is our expert on all things “celebrity.”  The way things are trending in our culture, she may end up being the most important person in the house.

Recently, she expressed an idea over in the staff wing that quickly made its way over here. Since Dad needs more money, why didn’t we do our own reality show?

Iris Nell, whose brain has dug out certain well-worn trenches, naturally thought first that “maybe a prince will be watching and then want to marry me.” This prince thing has seriously got to be stopped. There can’t even be enough of them to go around, even if they were handing them out.

Honor heard about the idea and said she would never consider putting the triplets on any show because of the bad influence. We all knew, of course, that  the “bad influence” would be on the entire crew of teamsters the kids would end up taking out, causing us to be sued for a lot more than we were making.

Dad was initially all for a reality series since he seemed to picture it being more of a sophisticated talk show with him as the urbane host, rather than the much more likely scenario of demonic edits and close-ups from a toilet-cam.

Mom was the one who put a complete stop to it, though. In another of her sudden reveals of “things we never knew about Mom,” she brought out a clutch of ribbons she’d won in college for sharpshooting and murmured that anyone bringing a reality producer anywhere near the house could draw his or her own conclusions.

I’m thinking it’s a no-go. 

“What doesn’t kill us just makes us…weird”

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

By Tiber

When you lose your job, suddenly everyone starts driving up in the big, old cliché-mobile.

“Well, Tiber, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade!”

The problem with that, though, is that life didn’t give me lemons. (On a piece of fish – delicious) It gave me crap. I guess I could make crapade out of it but my guess is, the demand would be limited.

You’re also told another classic, “But when one door closes, another one opens.”

This, of course, presupposes that all open doors are good. Remember, there’s a door to solitary confinement, a door to the dentist’s office, a door to hell. You get my point.

I’ve also been “comforted” with “Well, just remember, there are lots of people who are worse off than you are.”

Great. Now, besides feeling sorry for all of those other people, I also realize there’s even farther for me to fall.

But the most popular remains, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.”

Oh, yeah? I’d had a few beers, granted, but the other night, I came across an antique Edison cylindrical record that my father has, and started commiserating with it.

 “You poor bastard. You never make music at all anymore, do you? Well, nobody can hear my song now, either! Tell me this, if your job is outsourced in a forest, can you still hear your paycheck?”

Erin and Vanessa stumbled on me talking to the little tube. They took one look at each other and immediately exited by opposite doors.

I don’t think, “Tiber seems so much stronger now,” was exactly the thought they went out with.