Notes From The Cactus Patch

Tall tales from Texas about characters I know and have known. Who knows, you might be one of them.

Archive for the month “October, 2019”

The Great Pumpkin Made Me Do it


I did something last night that surprised myself, and that’s always a good thing these days. I watched ” Its The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown” the preverbeal 1960s Halloween show.

It was comforting to see the old Peanuts gang looking so healthy and young. Pig Pen and Linus are still my favorites. Charlie Brown has a defeatist attitude, so I never got into him. I told my wife, Maureen, while watching that program, it rejuvenated my interest in Halloween and trick-or-treating. Things are going to be different this year I declared.

As a child, I fondly remember the anticipation of Halloween. When October 1st came around, the kids in my neighborhood counted the days until the 31st. Back in the day ( 1950s), we celebrated Halloween on the actual date and did our begging on that evening, in the dark and even if it was a school night. We were tough kids back in those days, staying up late and actually going to school the next day. We didn’t need a weekend to recover and didn’t know what a safe room was. Trick-or-treating was damn serious stuff for us, and we were good at it.

In a fit of nostalgia, I announced to my wife that I will go trick-or-treating this year. For now, she is going along with the idea as if I am joking. I tell her, I am not, and she can hide and watch. As for a costume, I will wear a black t-shirt, a black jacket, jeans and sneakers and possibly a Texas Rangers ballcap if the weather is inclement. I will not carry a glow stick or a flashlight, that’s for babies. If for some reason, I cant find a group of kids to walk with, I will trudge on by myself. I am determined to experience one last Halloween before that tall, robe wearing dude with a sickle knocks on my door. This has evolved into a bucket list thing and I must see it through.

I have given this some thought and have worked out the perfect plan that will be accepted in todays society. When I ring the first doorbell and a smiling man or woman answers, holding their bowel of candy, I will say trick-or-treat. Their first reaction will be to say, “where’s your grandkid, or what the hell is this.” Either one I’m ready. I will look them straight in their parental eye and say, ” I identify as a 6 year old.” I will either come home with a full bag of goodies or be bonding out of jail. Its going to be a good Halloween this year.

A Ride in A Time Machine


I attended my 50 year high school reunion on Saturday, October 19th. It was held in Plano Texas, the small town where I lived when I graduated a “Plano Wildcat” in 1969. Fifty years on, a town is bound to grow, but Plano has exceeded any of our expectations. Its now a part of Dallas, and that’s not a good thing for our formally small village.

I sent my money to the committee a bit late. Less than thrity days away, I was still unsure if we should attend. Trepidation is one of my worse faults and more often than not these days, it wins more than loses.

My wife, also knowing many of my classmates, urged me to go, or should I say pushed me to attend. She knows me better than myself and what will be good for my soul. She reminded me that I have recently completed cancer treatments and who knows if it will return and then I will have missed this chance. We don’t get many second chances at my age. So, reluctantly, I agreed to strongly consider.

One night, up late, while watching an old black and white melancholy laced movie that reminded me of my childhood, I made the decision to go. My heartstrings were in the right place at the right time, and I just went with it. Trepidation raised its ugly head a few more times in the weeks before, but I fought valiantly and won that battle.

Sitting in the parking lot waiting to enter the venue, once again, I panicked. What if an old friend now looks like the Elephant Man, am I suppose to say “you look great?” What if I don’t remember these people and they don’t remember me? I was to the point of chest pains, but kept that too myself. My wife is a cardiac nurse and I didn’t want her thumping my chest before we entered.

All the doubt and anxiety dissolved the moment we walked through the entry door. I didn’t need name tags to remember names or faces. I assume that during those fifty years, my brain had developed some CGI ability to project how we would look as old folks. There were handshakes, hugs, laughter and reminiscing. The high school antics and experiences were revisited and fondly remembered. There was more laughter than I have heard in years. Prizes, speeches, zingers, they were all thrown about with abandoned.

The ” Memorial” table was the clencher. The pictures of my fallen classmates, forever that age, now gone. Some died early on, some recently, but they were not with us, and that sadden me. Facing mortality is a bitch.

As the class was mounting the stage for the reunion picture, my old friend Jarry fell backward hitting the concrete on his back and taking a hard knock to the head. The jovial mood ceased, and lthough he insisted he was alright, he wasn’t, and 911 was summoned and Jarry was taken away to the hospital for testing. I believe at that moment, the group of us realized that we are not eighteen anymore. We are senior citizens and fragile in this world of hurry up.

God speed to my old classmates, and be careful. I hope to see you again in ten years.

Tupperware Is Not My Friend


It takes guts to admit to a phobia. I have more than one, but this one will do for now. I cant stand to touch plastic ware, mainly Tupperware or any brand that resembles that sturdy piece of American culture from the 1950s.

My mother, rest her soul and bless her heart, was a Tupperware lady. She hosted numerous parties in our home and the homes of her friends during those years.

It wasn’t until years later I learned the truth about these parties. They were a front for gossip and cocktails. In her old age, she admitted that it was a sham and the girls used it as a front to get away from us kids and husbands for a few hours. It was the perfect set-up. She made a small amount of money, had some good hi-balls and caught up on the neighborhood gossip. They were the forerunner to ” girls night out” which premiered in the 90s.

Our kitchen was stuffed to the point of bursting with the plastic-ware. It filled every drawer and cabinet and was neatly stacked to the ceiling on top of the ice-box. We ate on paper plates and drank from aluminum glasses. There was no room for real dishes or glassware; It was all Tupperware, everywhere. The ice-box was neatly arranged with meals sealed in Tupperware. We didn’t call them “leftovers” in our home, they were referred to as “future pre-prepared dinners.” I know for a fact that some of those dinners were on-call for a year or more. That’s the beauty of Tupperware, the food, if sealed properly per the manufacturers’ instructions, will last for years.

Now the explanation of the phobia. It’s complex and involves many layers of childhood anxiety. My therapist said it started with an incident when I was five years old. I don’t remember what I did, but it was severe enough for a butt whooping from my mother. While trying to escape, she grabbed one arm, a classic move that only mothers use, and wielded the nearest object she could find, which was an 8×10 Tupperware storage container. I had no idea plastic ware could hurt so damn much. The impression of the insignia on the bottom of the container lingered on my butt for days. Of course, I showed it to all my buddies and they were quite impressed and worried because their mothers owned the same Tupperware containers.

After that incident, I couldn’t bring myself to touch plastic ware in any form. That in its self brought more punishment because when helping with the dishes, I would retreat from the kitchen sink when a dirty piece of Tupperware was to be washed. There was nothing that could make me touch that vile object. That plastic dish scared me as much as the monster under my bed. My father realized that his only son was becoming a child neurotic, and stepped in to help my mother with the dishes, thus allowing me to enjoy a somewhat normal childhood.

Not much has changed in 65 years. I can be in the same room with Tupperware and have a few times, in the throes of hunger, removed food stuffs from the plastic demon to stay alive. My wife loves Tupperware. She has a comfortable assortment of useful containers that when soiled, she puts them in the dishwasher. That is another layer of my anxiety. I cannot take them from the rack. I use a dish towel to grab the cursed piece and then lay it on the counter for her to put away. I don’t care to know where she hides this stuff as long as I don’t come into contact with it.

My therapist is a cheeky fellow. He told me that being spanked with a Tupperware dish and all the problems it caused me could have been worse. My mother could have grabbed a PYREX dish.

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