Friday, July 24, 2009

"The Loose Button" from Rong-Chang




George wore a pair of blue shorts around the house. They were old, faded, and ugly, but they were comfortable. And when you are at home, you want to be comfortable. It wouldn't be called "Home, Sweet Home" if you didn't feel comfortable there.

But when he put on his blue shorts one morning, the button was just hanging on by a thread. That single button was the only thing that held his shorts up.

George could do two things. He could wait until the button fell off. When that happened, it would probably roll under the sofa and be lost forever. Or, he could sew the button on securely before it fell off.

He found his sewing kit. He threaded the needle and tied a knot at the end of the thread. Then he started the needle through the cloth. He directed it through one of the holes in the button. Then he reversed direction. He put the needle back through a different hole, and then through the cloth again.

He repeated this motion through all four button holes until the button was tight. Then he tied a bunch of knots in the last bit of thread and snipped off the excess thread. He put on the shorts and buttoned the button. It was strong.

Good for another ten years, he smiled to himself.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

"The Youthful Dog Tonic" from Rong-Chang



“My 10-year-old dog can’t even walk up two steps to get into the house,” Alicia told her new friend. “I have to carry Prince up those two steps. Late one night I saw an ad on TV for Young Again Dog Beverage. They showed an old dog trying to get into an armchair. It got only partway into the chair before it slid back down to the floor. They showed another dog trying to catch a Frisbee. The poor dog couldn’t even jump off the ground. They showed another dog going for a ‘walk.’ But instead of actually walking, the dog was sitting in a baby carriage that its owner was pushing. These were all the ‘before’ pictures.

“Then they showed the ‘after’ pictures—after the animals had drunk the Young Again Dog Beverage for one week. It was a miracle! I couldn’t believe my own two eyes! The first dog easily leaped up into the armchair. The second dog leaped almost four feet into the air to catch the Frisbee! And the third dog stood on its hind legs and pushed the family cat in the baby carriage!

“Well, of course, I was sold! So, I sent in my $19.95 to the address on the TV screen. After it arrived, I put 10 drops into Prince’s water dish each day for a week. Nothing happened. So I doubled the dosage for another two weeks, but Prince was still tired and weak.

“I called the company. They asked me what kind of dog I had. I told them that Prince was a mixed breed. They said the TV ad I saw was for purebreds only. They told me to order Young Again Mutt Beverage for $11.95. That was four days ago. I can’t wait till it gets here, so I can watch Prince run up and down those steps and start chasing cats again, just like the good old days!”

Friday, July 10, 2009

"Lenny's Haircut" from Rong-Chang




It was time for a haircut. Lenny didn’t even have to look in the mirror. Even though he was going bald, he knew that he needed to cut his hair every two weeks.

He had a "tongue" of hair on the top of his head. His hair was thinning at the crown. He still had plenty of hair on the sides and back. It was what they call "salt and pepper," a mixture of gray hair and dark brown hair. It was only a few years, he figured, until the salt and pepper became just salt.

He never let his hair grow for more than two weeks. The longer it got, the worse it looked, he thought.

He spread a newspaper over the bathroom sink so that no hair went down the drain. He plugged in the clippers and started cutting his hair. He started at the back of his head, went to the sides, and finished on the top. Every minute or so, he had to clean the hair out of the blades with an old toothbrush.

Finished, he picked up a hand mirror to check out the back of his head. Everything looked okay. He carried the newspaper back out to the kitchen and shook the hair clippings into the trash can.

Then he took a shower.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

"Shopping At The 99 Cent Store" from Rong-Chang




Once a week, Neil went grocery shopping. He always made a list, but he always forgot to put one or more items on the list. This used to anger him, but now he just accepted it. You're not as sharp as you used to be, he told himself.

It was Friday—shopping day. He went to the 99¢ store. Sometimes they had a lot of fresh produce, sometimes they didn't. He got lucky. There were fresh, packaged broccoli, celery, eggplant, and squash. Also, packages of peaches, plums, and apples. He easily had enough produce to last all week, if it didn't rot first. The produce alone filled up four plastic bags. Four other bags contained other items that were on Neil's list.

He drove to Albertson's, which sold milk by the gallon and at cheaper prices than the 99¢ store. Interestingly, the price of milk had soared in the last month. He used to buy 2 gallons of nonfat milk for $3.59. Now he was paying $4.69. Yet, the news media was silent—the same news media that reports a 2-cent increase in gasoline prices or even a 1-cent decrease. That's all over the news. Milk, he thought, just isn't sexy enough.

He parked his car in the carport and opened the trunk. Somehow he managed, as usual, to put all 10 plastic bags into his hands and lug them upstairs. What a drag shopping is, he thought. And then he mentally slapped himself: if you think it's a drag now, wait till you can't drive. Wait till you can't even walk up the stairs unless you use a cane. How are you going to get your groceries then? The older you get, he told himself, the more you'd better appreciate the fact that you can still do all these boring chores and errands.

"Red Flowers Make Her See Red" from Rong-Chang




“What are these flowers doing here?” Anita asked as she was about to sit in the car’s passenger seat. The towel that covered the leather seat had a couple of small red flowers sitting in a crease. The flowers appeared as she straightened out the towel before she sat down. She always straightened out the towel before sitting down, because Logan sometimes left his glasses, pen, or other items on the passenger seat. She didn’t want to break anything by sitting on it, nor did she want to injure herself by sitting on something sharp.

“What flowers?” Logan asked. “These flowers!” she said sharply, holding the two little flowers up to his nose. He said he didn’t know. He said he thought they had been there for quite a while. No, they hadn’t, she told him, as she put them into a tissue and then put the tissue in her purse. They weren’t there two days ago when she had last been in his car. Maybe they had been there, but she hadn’t seen them, he suggested. “Maybe you’re lying! Who did you buy flowers for?” she yelled at him. This was not the first time she had “caught” him cheating on her. She had never really caught him, of course, because he had never cheated on her. It was a little game she liked to play, just to remind Logan not to cheat.

“Well? Who did you buy these flowers for?” she asked again. He was trying to think. He was sure he had seen the flowers lying there for days, but he had no idea where they had come from. He told her that he had driven for a while yesterday with all the windows open, to freshen the car. “You know how windy it was yesterday. Maybe the flowers got blown into the car.”

“Ha!” she snorted. “If I ever catch you even thinking about cheating on me, we’re through! Got it?” On the one hand, Logan was too much in love with Anita to ever cheat on her. On the other, when she got bossy like this, he did think—however fleetingly—about moving on.