Monthly Archives: April 2013

Littlefoot (A Short Story)

LITTLEFOOT
by Marie Millard

The prince was having a ball. All the young ladies in the kingdom were expected to attend so that the prince could choose a bride.
Littlefoot was sitting in her room embroidering when her sisters burst in.
“Littlefoot! Did you hear about the ball? Whatever are we going to do?”
“I don’t know about you, but I plan to hide in the cellar.”
“No.” Benedella shook her head. “They’re sending the king’s men around to herd us all to the castle.”
Kindra nodded.
“But,” Littlefoot said, “I hear the prince throws tantrums when he doesn’t get his way. I’m trying the cellar. Maybe they won’t look there. Worth a shot.”
Kindra nodded again. “And when his carriage comes by, his mouth is always hanging open. Like this.”
Littlefoot and Benedella laughed.
“I’ll try the cellar, too,” Benedella said. “But I’ll be wearing my ball gown just in case.”
“Not me,” said Littlefoot. “They can make me go to the ball, but I’ll be wearing my gardening clothes.”

Two weeks later, Littlefoot and her sisters sat quietly in the dark cellar, waiting for the sounds of the king’s men. Benedella and Kindra had decided on ball gowns, not to impress the prince but to impress the other townspeople, should they be forced to the castle. Kindra planned to sneak out of the castle and find a stable boy. Littlefoot wore her gardening clothes and tiny, mucky garden shoes. Just when she thought no one was coming for them, she heard horses’ hooves and the cry of a king’s announcer.
“Come to the ball! One lucky maiden will marry the prince! Come to the ball!”
The girls held their breath, listening to footsteps and knocking. Finally a knock on the cellar door.
“Spinach and chard,” Kindra swore. “They found us.”
The door opened and the girls filed out and trudged to their carriage, the announcer skipping to his own carriage announcing, “Lucky ladies!”
In the carriage, Littlefoot crossed her arms, then uncrossed them in order to rat her hair.

Up the lighted castle steps the girls climbed, delighted by the melody of the king’s musicians, but careful not to show it, lest their simple joy make their faces attractive to the prince. At the door, Kindra winked and veered off into the darkness, whispering, “I’ll find my own way home.” The guards greeted Benedella with a smile, and Littlefoot with undisguised horror.
“Here’s a bench in the corner,” Benedella whispered.
They sat and pinch-facedly enjoyed the music, trying not to make eye contact with the prince.
“Where is he?” Littlefoot would occasionally ask without moving her lips.
Benedella would peek up. “By the fountain. Dancing with Lily, the dressmaker’s daughter.”
“What time is it?”
“There’s no clock. Now stop asking questions so I don’t have to look up.”
Littlefoot groaned. “Too late. Here he comes.”
The prince stopped in front of Benedella. “How could I have missed this beautiful face all evening?” He asked in the even tone and meter of a new reader. He never blinked. “Would you like to dance?”
There was no refusing a prince, so Benedella got up. Littlefoot gave her a look of sympathy, while also congratulating herself for having chosen gardening clothes.
“Wait!” the prince shouted, looking back at Littlefoot. “Are you a girl?”
“Umm,” said Littlefoot.
“I thought you were a servant boy to this young lady.” He pointed to Benedella.
“Umm,” said Littlefoot.
“I choose you! I choose you for my bride! You won’t think you’re too good for the prince.”
“Spinach and chard,” thought Littlefoot. “I can’t win.”
A crowd had gathered in their corner, and Littlefoot’s armpits got sweaty. The prince didn’t know her name. If she escaped now, he couldn’t track her down. She bolted through the crowd, out the front door and down the steps.
“Wait!” she heard Benedella yell.
She stopped halfway down the steps to wait for her sister. Benedella took the steps two at a time, laughing and yelling, “Hurry!”
A snort escaped Littlefoot, and she continued down the stairs, not stopping for the shoe that flew off behind her.

The next day, Kindra woke Littlefoot before dawn.
“Did you hear?”
Littlefoot tried to open her eyes. “Hear what?”
“The prince is sending his men through the kingdom looking for you.”
“They won’t know who I am.”
“They have your shoe.”
Littlefoot sat up. “Spinach and chard. Curse my child-sized feet!”
“You could run away. Or eat a lot, so your feet spread.”
“Then he’d marry some poor ten-year-old. No, I think I’m going to be a damned princess.”
Benedella shuffled into the room in her nightdress. Kindra told her the news.
“How do you know?” Benedella asked.
“The stable boy.”
Just then, the king’s men arrived. Littlefoot let them in and resignedly showed them her other garden shoe. They kindly invited her to come to their carriage.
Littlefoot gasped. “Wait!”
She hurried past her confused sisters and quickly washed at the sink and ran to Benedella’s room. Benedella followed her in.
“Benedella, where’s your best dress?”
Benedella flew into action. She had her tightest, shimmeriest dress on Littlefoot in seconds. She swept Littlefoot’s hair into a twist and fastened a strand of gems around her neck. Littlefoot ran to her own room for shoes, and when she rejoined the king’s men, they looked around the room for the Littlefoot they remembered.
“I’m ready,” she said.
Littlefoot blew kisses to her sisters and said, “Wish me the best,” with a wink.
The carriage took her away and up to the castle, where she walked up the steps again and into the ballroom. One of the king’s men fetched the prince, who came tromping in on his heavy legs.
“Hello, my love,” cooed Littlefoot. “I hope you know how to treat a princess!”
The prince looked scornfully at the king’s men. “This is not the girl.”
“I am the girl, my love, but I’m afraid you caught me on a bad night at the ball. But now I am ready to begin life as a princess, and to be treated princessly.” She turned to a servant. “May I have some strawberries, with cream? And whatever jewels await the bride of the prince, bring them now.”
The prince paled. He said simply, “I have changed my mind. Take her back.”
One of the king’s men said, “But Prince -”
“I don’t want her! Take her back NOW!”
The king’s man started and grabbed Littlefoot by the elbow, whisking her out of the castle to the serenade of the prince’s tantrum.
“My lady,” he said as he helped her into the carriage. But he stopped, because one does not apologize for one’s prince.
“Never you mind, sir,” said Littlefoot. “Somehow I will go on.”

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Awareness Awareness Month

Millions of people suffer from excessive awareness. Learn the signs here.

1. Extreme randomness throughout January. No, not random acts of kindness. January is National Random Action month. When Jenny Frost’s* brother Frank* sang “I Feel Pretty” in the shampoo aisle on January 2nd, Jenny thought it was funny. But by the 20th, Frank’s randomness had escalated. To incorporate Healthy Weight Week, he volunteered advice to random overweight strangers wherever they went, and Jenny knew he had a problem.

2. Insufficient personal information on Twitter and Facebook. February has 29 awareness topics. The danger, for the overly aware, is that they will only have time to post helpful information, and their friends won’t know what they ate for dinner or who has offended them now. Excessive awareness sufferers have trouble distinguishing between the important (Heart Disease Awareness Month) and the topics their friends couldn’t care less about (World Salt Awareness Week). Even posting about important problems on social media sites is unnecessary, really. If someone doesn’t already know that doughnuts for dinner and cigarettes for dessert aren’t good for his heart, a Facebook meme will probably not help him. So go ahead and tell us what you bought at Target today. We either already know about your awareness topic, or we won’t care about it. Exception: Go ahead and advertise that February is National Condom Month. That’s just plain funny.

3. March Madness Guilt. If your husband used to enjoy watching NCAA basketball every March, but now he stares blankly at the screen, feeling bad for people with colorectal cancer, he could have a problem.

4. April is Autism Awareness Month. Although I encourage knowing the signs of autism, call your pediatrician if your three-year-old knows what “echolalia” means.

5. Watch for these signs in May: Absurdly erect posture, trying to contract hepatitis, buying expensive furniture for pets, suddenly thinking you have arthritis. Note: hypochondria of any kind is indicative of excess awareness. Excessive awareness doesn’t just affect the excessively aware person. Consider doctors and nurses who tend to the long lines of women expecting a checkup on May 10th, National Woman’s Checkup Day. Or in July, unsuspecting recipients of sudden massage during Everybody Deserves A Massage Week. May I add my own awareness event in July? Everybody Also Deserves Personal Space Day.

6. A few other things to keep an eye out for: Men trying to breastfeed in August, spontaneous yoga in September (really? Yoga needs an awareness campaign?) and fake stuttering in October. Also, reckless commuters on October 9th, when Drive Safely To Work Week is over.

If you or someone you know shows these or other signs of excessive awareness, such as tweeting the symptoms of their anal fissures, immediately direct them to places that encourage ignorance, such as large groups of seventh graders or politicians.

*Not a real person
Sources: awarenessdepot.com

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How To Find Hot Guys On Facebook

One of my favorite pastimes is deleting the ads that run along the right side of my Facebook page. Click the ‘x’ in the upper right corner, and they give you several options as to why you want to replace it with a new ad. (Because of course you can’t just have no ad there at all.) You can click “uninteresting,” or “offensive,” but I usually choose “other,” so that the little typing box comes up and I can be more specific. Some things I have written are, “repulsive,” and “I don’t want to look at Paul Ryan’s face.”
Facebook seems to know a lot about us, so I was surprised the other day when an ad popped up for a smooth jazz cruise to Mexico. Now, like most musicians, I only speak with disdain about smooth jazz, and in a word association game, if you said “cruise,” I would say “norovirus.” I prefer to stay at home, cook (the hell out of) my own food, and listen to Clark Terry.
Instead of exing out of the ad, I decided to try a new tactic. I started to put the words “hot men” at the end of all my status updates, in hopes that Facebook would get the hint and at least my ads would be pretty to look at. All that happened was my brother in law and my friend Joe from church commented, “You called?”
When my husband got home from work, he asked me what the whole “hot men” thing was about. I explained.
“I think it depends more on what pages you ‘like,'” he said.
Props to Sean for trying to help me get hot men ads on my page. He’s very secure in our marriage. Like the old song says, “If you want to be happy for the rest of your life, never make a pretty woman your wife.” I’d like to think he’s secure because of my loyal nature, but I’m sure he just knows I have no chance with “hot men,” except for him of course.
Anyway, I don’t want to ‘like’ pages because I hear they sell your information. I guess it’s ridiculous, because the whole point of my blog is to blab my information anyway. I don’t know, there’s just something creepy about ‘liking’ I Love Jesus, a page created by God knows who.
A straight male friend reminded me about the gay cruise ads he got when he accidentally clicked that he was interested in men when he first signed up for Facebook. For a long time, he assumed he got those ads because he lived so close to San Francisco. Then his gay Facebook friend asked him out, causing much embarrassment before he figured out the Facebook problem. But that’s another story.
The friend’s point was that I could change my Facebook marital status to “single,” and maybe then hot men would appear. But if I did that, all my aunts, uncles, cousins, and men who never stopped loving me would innundate me with phone calls. Not to mention the virtual jilting of my husband.
Alas, just because I never found hot guys on Facebook doesn’t mean you can’t. You may have to ‘like’ Muscle Magazine and claim to be single, but it might be worth it. You’ll have to tell me if it works for you.

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When Funny Doesn’t Cut It

When I decided on a theme for my blog, I considered parenting, The Bible, music, writing, anti-exercise, and more. One reason I went with humor was because with any other theme, I knew I would eventually find myself puttering around the dark cellar of my depression and generally bringing you, my readers, down with me, and not to my cellar (that would be too social) but to your own cellar, where you would putter around and we wouldn’t even have the benefit of a friendly hug.
I would pick up an old, dusty box and say, “Hey, here’s my loneliness!”
And reading that, you might go down to your cellar to find your loneliness, but I wouldn’t be there to hug you. I’d be logged out, reading, or parenting, and definitely not exercising. Maybe still puttering around my cellar.
“And my fear! Gosh, this one’s hardly dusty at all,” I might write in another post.
I would write about my fears, send them out into the cyberworld and log off, and I bet you wouldn’t have any trouble finding your own box of fears. And I’d be responsible.
So I chose humor.
But today something very unfunny happened in the world. I know that unfunny things happen every day, but this was one we all saw on TV and felt the horror of together. I don’t think any of us is in the mood to be funny. It’s days like today that I wish I would have chosen The Bible as my theme. I just want you to know that this world is not the end of the story. There is a perfect heaven waiting for us, and we get to go if we follow Jesus, no matter the shames of our past. And whether or not we exercised.
Tomorrow maybe I’ll go back to being funny, but for today, friends, I just want to say I love you.

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FAQ

I thought long and hard about what questions people most frequently ask me. Here they are.

Where did you get that shirt?
The outlet mall.

What the heck breed is your dog?
Best guess – basset hound and springer spaniel.

Pirate or ninja?
Ninja. Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life (sounds too germy) for me.

Have you ever done any modeling?
Just kidding.

How do you have such a successful marriage?
Don’t marry a jerk.

Do you want a mint?
Yes.

What’s your favorite book?
Fiction. Watership Down, nonfiction The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom

Favorite color?
Blue, wait wait, about the last question, replace The Hiding Place with The Bible. Okay, carry on. But still, read The Hiding Place.

Glass half full or half empty?
Half empty. I passed a billboard the other day which said, “You’re next!” I couldn’t make out the picture, but I thought it was going to be the grim reaper. When I got closer, I saw that it was a woman who had won big at the casino.

Can we have some candy?
Sure. The grim reaper’s coming soon anyway. I saw it on a billboard.

Can you come to my party?
Maybe.

Do you like your Vibram Fivefingers? I’ve been thinking about buying some.
Do it. You’ll never want to wear regular shoes again. The more of us who have them, the better the chances they’ll be considered acceptable footwear for formal occasions.

Do you need some cash?
Yes. Thanks Mom.

Where is the bathroom?
First door on the right.

How much do you charge for writing/editing projects?
Depends on the project. But I will make sure you are satisfied with the results!

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Dress Codes, a discussion with myself

Last week, a local junior high banned skinny jeans and leggings without skirts or shorts over them. All the girls were herded into the gym and told that these pants were a distraction.
Well, those leggings ARE too tight.
But boys wear skinny jeans, too. Why weren’t they in the gym?
Good point. Maybe the girls should start catcalling when boys walk across campus, and then the boys will be included in the dress code.
Very funny. I concede that the boys should be included, too, but don’t you agree that leggings show too much?
This from the girl who said she wishes Adam and Eve wouldn’t have eaten the apple so that we could all be nudists.
No fair. No one else knows I said that. I’m not even sure I said it out loud. Sacramento was a really hot place to grow up. And anyway, Adam and Eve did sin, and boys (okay, SOME boys) are distracted by girls wearing certain kinds of clothing.
Show me the study. I bet boys perform just as poorly on a grammar test in a room full of girls with regular jeans as in a room full of girls with skinny jeans.
But girls that age don’t know what boys are thinking. They need a little guidance.
Maybe it’s the boys that need the guidance.
Well fine, let’s give the boys guidance, too.
We’d better, because once a day, during the swim unit of gym in the spring, we make the girls change out of their appropriate jeans and parade themselves in front of the boys in swimsuits. Aren’t leggings better than swimsuits?
That’s different!
How? Hey, I bet boys would actually perform BETTER in their swimming classes because they’re showing off for those swimsuit-clad girls they can’t take their eyes off. Maybe we should even put the girls in swimsuits in English class. Seriously, have they done studies? We might get some great new poets.
Nice objectification of women!
Nice curtailing of women’s freedoms!
We’re both for women’s freedoms, you know that.
I know. Darn you, Adam and Eve.

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Birth Order and You

When I got to my writing critique group this week, J and R were talking about birth order. I butted in (the only way youngest children get heard) and told them how I have always been fascinated with the subject, and how when I was engaged I read a book that said that my husband (also a youngest) and I would have a good marriage but that neither of us would discipline our kids. (Turns out we’re okay at discipline.)
An aside, the book suggested youngest children marry oldest children since they’re already used to being bossed around. Middle children are okay with any marriage partner, and I don’t remember about only children. Maybe they should marry each other since they’ll understand each other’s need for time alone.

Anyway, we moved on to talking about whether to change our meeting place. S (not present) likes The Bagel Shop, a new place we’ve tried, and R prefers our usual, The Coffee Shop. We’re also talking about trying another new place, The Bakery. I said I didn’t care much where we met, and we laughed at my typical youngest kid response. Not that I never got to make any decisions about my own life growing up, but I did get told how to do things properly all the time, and you just resign yourself to getting told what to do. Even as an adult, if I try to help in the kitchen at holidays, I wash the strawberries too early or start the meat cooking too late, according to my sisters. And in other group situations, I find my suggestions usually aren’t the ones the group ends up going with, so I might as well not suggest anything. Anyway, J laughed and said, “Okay, youngest child, why don’t you decide what we should do next week.”
“Well,” I said, “since R is going to be out of town, why don’t we do The Bagel Shop, since S likes it, and then the following week, when everyone will be there, we can try The Bakery.”

We left it at that and critiqued each other’s writing, R sweet as always and J hilarious as always (Oh this is the beginning of a novel? Good, cause I thought it was a short story and the ending sucked!) and then, as we wrapped it up, J summarized our discussion about meeting places.
“Okay, so next week we’ll meet at The Bakery, and if we like it we’ll go again the week after, and R can see if she likes it.”
I just laughed to myself and thought, oh J, you are so going in my blog.

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