Kansas Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - December 1, 2023


Last week, husband Art completed his 30th Thanksgiving dinner for our family and friends. But he was concerned the turkey was going to be dry because it didn't generate much juice in the roasting pan. He kept thinking about the turkey in "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation." His fear was unrealized, and our turkey was golden on the outside and moist on the inside.

But the reverse does sometimes happen. We can be going along feeling everything is fine ... and then it isn't. These might be called "Oops!" moments. Here are several examples:

1. Like many youngsters, daughter Mariya had a keen interest in the super-hero genre from an early age. And also like many youngsters, she balked at going to bed. But we found an 8 p.m. bedtime made the following day go more smoothly. On this particular Saturday night, I was traveling for work, so Art was holding down the fort. He was about to alert Mariya that bedtime was approaching, when a television promo announced a special premier showing of "The Flash." It included snippets of the main character using his super power - moving so quickly from point A to point B that he seemed to vanish from one place and appear in another. Mariya was intrigued, so Art figured it wouldn't hurt if she stayed up an extra 30 minutes.

It all went well until a scene where the flesh "melted" from this fellow's face, leaving just the skull. Oops! It was over before Art could react, but he was relieved Mariya seemed completely unfazed by it. When the show was over, she went through her bedtime routine and off to bed.

When 11 p.m. rolled around, Art called it a day, but as he was passing Mariya's room, he looked in on her. He was surprised to see her lying in bed wide-eyed!

"You OK?" he asked.

"Uh huh," she answered, albeit not very convincingly!

Art said something to comfort her, but he said he couldn't stay long as he was afraid he'd break out into laughter! Oh, I might mention it didnít dent her interest in super-heroes one bit!

2. When Mariya and her younger sister Katie were in school, they would climb into Art's car in the morning and he'd take them to the end of the street to meet the bus. On the first day of high school, Mariya was nervous, unsure of what to expect. In an attempt to ease her mind, Art asked if she'd like to hear what happened to him on his first day of high school. When she said she did, he replied, "Absolutely nothing. The day was completely unremarkable and I remember nothing about it."

But Maryia? Well, not so much. She had fainted in the middle of her first class and awoke to people staring at her. Oops! The combo of a hot, late-August day and an un-airconditioned woodworking shop made for a most remarkable first-day-of-high-school she remembers to this day.

3. We had taken the girls on a trip to London, where the plan was to see all the well-known sites. On this particular day, the primary attraction was the Tower of London. The tour was led by one of the Beefeaters dressed in their iconic black-and-red coat and broad-brimmed hat.

In his introduction, he mentioned that back in the day, folks who crossed the king were dealt with in a pretty brutal way. He described how one fellow was beheaded and his head was placed on a sharpened pole for public display as a message to other potential trouble-makers.

It probably would have been OK if he had stopped at that point, but he continued, describing in increasing detail how the head looked as the days passed and birds began to pick out morsels. At that point, Art noticed that Katie was beginning to look a bit green about the gills. He did his best to spirit her away from the area, but was a tad too slow. He never expected to see her lunch again ... and certainly not all over his shoes! Oops!

4. On this particular day, Art and I were sharing a car. As often happened, he worked late and he gave me a call when to pick him up. He knew I was a creature of habit, so he was confident of the route I would take to where he was working. His plan was to get some exercise by walking and wave me down from the curb as I approached.

But at the moment we passed by, Mariya said something to me. I looked at her and completely missed Artís frantic waving. Oops!

This was well before the days of cell phones, but no worry! He figured when I saw he wasn't at work, I'd retrace my route. What he didn't take into account was my first husband had been stricken suddenly with a fatal brain aneurysm. So when I got to his work and I couldn't get anyone to answer the door, I began imagining something similar happening to him with his lying helpless somewhere inside on the floor. A shop light someone had left on in an area he sometimes worked in supported my worry.

A frantic trip to one of the company's owners followed, and together we went back to the building. Of course, he wasn't anywhere to be found!

His boss eventually found him, walking along the highway at about the halfway point to our home.

I love stories like these - although probably not so much at the time they are happening. I wrote about a recent "Oops" example from our trip to Austria, when we "lostĒ Art on a train.

Now I'd like to turn the tables. In the past, I've sometimes asked readers to submit similar personal stories of plans gone awry. Given the season, I would love your stories about the holidays, but I'll take any you might like to share. I have a doozie I've been keeping for just the right moment.

Send one or more to my "Comment" e-mail address below. I'll not identify you, other than in a general way, and edit as needed.

Left: In the top photo, Katie and Mariya are ready to leave for school on the first day of Mariya's high school career. Below, Mariya stands next to the bookshelves she made in the class she fainted in. Right: the top photo is Mariya and Katie as the Beefeater approaches to make his presentation. Below, the Beefeater points to where the head was on a pike. Mariya can be identified by her blue jacket with the yellow lining. Katie?

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