This Valentine’s Day, Oh Poo!

Shannon Kernaghan valentines-oh-poo This Valentine’s Day, Oh Poo! Adventure Challenge Culture Dating Humor Lifestyle Memories Relationship Sex

 

If you trace the origins of Valentine’s Day, you won’t find a pretty picture. One legend claims that a Roman priest named Valentine was executed on February 14, 269 AD, for marrying couples against the advice of Emperor Claudius II. He figured single men were more enthusiastic about fighting his battles than family men. Somehow this grim tale resulted in heart-shaped cards, chocolates, red roses and candlelit dinners on February 14.

Humans are hopeless romantics, considering all the quaint love-infused traditions. Many I heard as a child. For example, if you twist the stem of an apple, you can predict the last name of your future love interest. Each rotation represents one letter of the alphabet. My search for sweethearts was restricted because the apple stems generally broke off at the letter D or E. I wonder how many eligible Xangs, Youngs and Zedenkas I overlooked in my quest for romance.

Another example features birds: if a robin flies over your head on Valentine’s Day, you’ll marry a sailor. Finding a sailor in my prairie city was no simple feat. If sailor was a misprint for tailor or wholesaler, my chances might have improved. The maddening catch with traditions is that they’re tough to apply universally.

Continuing with the legend, if a sparrow flies overhead, you’ll marry a poor man but you’ll be happy. Based on personal experience, poor men are always plentiful, no matter where you live. So are sparrows. Erect a birdhouse in your backyard and see what stakes a claim first, yellow canaries or sparrows.

But if a goldfinch flies overhead on Valentine’s Day, you’ll marry a millionaire. The legend doesn’t expand on whether you’ll be happy with your millionaire. Apparently hooking up with one is reward enough. Since I don’t know what a goldfinch looks like, that sweet bird of opportunity might have flown past without my knowledge.

Now, let’s say you’ve met Mr. or Ms. Right and you’re ready to start a family. How many children will you have? Go back to that dubious apple, the one missing its stem. Cut it in half and count the seeds. If nothing else, I know why we’re statistically producing 2½ children in each household. All of this apple-dividing is giving us fractional kids.

Despite the strange legends, Valentine’s Day holds a special place in my heart and funny bone. It was February and I was staying in a hotel for a work project in Prince Albert, Sask. Waiting next to me at the elevator was a cute young man. When the door opened, we walked in together and pressed our floor numbers. Simultaneously, we glanced down at fresh dog doo in the corner.

“Did you do that?” he asked.

“No, I’d remember that.” He eventually convinced me to go out with him. And the rest is history.

I wonder if there’s a romantic legend about discovering your sweetheart over dog poop.  If not, I should start one. It worked for me because a few years later I said, “I doo!”

Copy That, Crispy Chicken Lady

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Once upon a dance floor I partied late into the night, and I garnered the occasional nickname. Sometimes I was called Peaches, and for a brief period I was Sweet Thing or Honey Bunny. One guy called me Foxy Lady, which may or may not have been a compliment. Did he mean I was sly?

Except for those pet names given to me by males in search of a fruit salad, I didn’t have many lifelong labels. Why? Because the name Shannon doesn’t rhyme with anything besides Cannon, or sound interesting when shortened.

“Hey Shan, over here,” my friend would shout above the crowd. But I didn’t enjoy the abbreviation. Made me sound like a cleaning agent. “Try Shan for your pans to get the grease out!”

My husband Paul had a few of his own while growing up. When he introduced me to a group of old camping buddies, they immediately called him Pig Pen. I never asked why; I didn’t want to hear any dirty details.

I always figured I’d share my life with a dude called Brain (smart) or Duke (rich) or Moose (athletic), not Pig Pen. At least Paul had cleaned up by the time we met.

Now my nicknames have nothing to do with fruit or sweetness levels, proven when I walked into one of my favorite restaurants and took a seat. I wore sunglasses and a ball cap pulled low on my face, but that wasn’t enough camouflage.

“Hey, it’s the Crispy Chicken Lady!” called out the serving person. Crispy Chicken Lady – my new nickname. Great. I’m not sweet and fruity anymore, and gone is any sexual spin. I’m a daily special comprised of poultry and hot oil.

While I’m not one to give people a nickname, Paul refers to everyone he works with by a tag – from Boom Box (loud), Coconut (bald), Bullet-Proof (flies under the radar and avoids trouble), Titanium (beats me) to Top Shelf (self-named; the best brands of booze at the top of a bartender’s shelf).

What am I saying? I do have a nickname. My husband started calling me 2-J, my CB radio handle for when I have my “ears on.” The meaning? Won’t say, but at least it’s spicier than CCL (Crispy Chicken Lady).

“Pig Pen,” I called out last weekend, “come and move your pile of clothes and magazines. I can’t see the floor!”

A-ha! Pig Pen, the light just went on. Smarty Pants finally gets it.

Wait a second . . . poultry? . . . hot oil? . . . maybe I AM still hot, if I reach a little.

Where’s my cell? With all this talk of food, I need to order something. CCL over and out.

High Sticking with Goldfinger 

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In my early twenties I accepted a date with a man I met in a night club. He owned a major business and I recognized his face from news articles and TV profiles. Although I wasn’t attracted to him, my girlfriend convinced me I’d have fun, that I should “go for it!”

Date night didn’t begin well. He phoned ten minutes before his scheduled arrival to say he was running late and I’d better take a cab to the hockey game.

While seated at the stadium he ignored me but enjoyed the game, leaping and roaring with delight or disgust, punching the air.

I sure didn’t remember as much gold when I met him several nights earlier. For hockey night, “Goldfinger” wore a lot of jewelry. Even the sheen of his hair and skin seemed unnaturally bronzed.

When the game ended, we headed to the parking lot. A group of people had gathered around his expensive foreign car. As we approached, he leaned over and whispered, “They’re not looking at you, they’re looking at my car, Sheri.”  Rude! And Sheri is not my name. Tack these onto the list of bad date indicators.

My middle name was hopeful . . . make that stupid. I should have listened to my intuition, not my girlfriend. Questions: 1) why didn’t I escape to the row of idling cabs outside the arena and 2) why did I agree to stop at his office when he offered to show me “something special”? Sheri’s decision-making skills were sorely lacking that night.

“Take a seat,” he said, pointing to a couch. He went to a wall unit and pulled out a key ring from his pocket. Then he removed his shiny gold baubles – the bracelets, watch, necklace and two jumbo rings he had to lick before they’d budge. He placed them inside a drawer and locked it.

“I’m not going to steal anything,” I called out. He mumbled about them getting in the way. “In the way of what?” I asked. No answer.

With my coat still buttoned, I watched him disappear behind a door. Suddenly his office lobby transformed – the bright lights dimmed and a gas fireplace ignited with a pop. Next, the couch vibrated. I jumped up. It quickly expanded to a semi-circular bed.

My fight-or-flight instinct kicked in and I started to breathe heavily. Got to get out. The moment I fast-walked to the door and hauled on the handle – locked! – another door opened, releasing the smell of damp cedar. There stood Goldfinger in a short brown robe.

“Here,” and he tossed a matching robe at me. “Get comfortable.”

I let the robe fall to my feet. “I want to go, you said we weren’t staying!”

He stretched across his couch-cum-bed.

“Come on Sheri, let’s relax in the sauna.”

My back hugged the door. “No, I want to go. Now!” I pulled out my cell phone and quickly punched the number for a cab. I didn’t have Goldfinger’s address but knew the company name and added, “Please hurry!”

He remained on the bed and thumbed through his phone, probably looking for a replacement to slip on his guest robe. Sheri was a disappointing dud.

Finally, he threw the ring of keys at me. With shaking hands, I tried several before the cylinder clicked.

Glorious freedom! I left the key ring dangling in the lock and fast-walked to the road. I’d never felt so relieved to be done with a date.

As for that “something special” Goldfinger promised to show me, I assumed it was a memento from his trip to Africa, not what was under his short robe. I wonder if it was covered in gold?

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Hula Girl Chucks Her Chastity

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I’m in the mood for another stagette. At my last, the highlight prop of the eve was a metal chastity belt for the betrothed. This locking chain device was straight from a tickle trunk of the Spanish Inquisition. The belt didn’t stay on our bride-to-be for long. I tried it; sitting on cold rigid metal isn’t as sexy as it sounds.

The Hawaiian costume we brought stayed on a little longer. My friend was adorable in the colorful leis, hula skirt and flower-covered bra she wore over her clothing. Not surprisingly, she attracted plenty of interest from men in the bar.

As the evening progressed, we moved to a club where we danced long into the night. The betrothed removed her grass skirt, and then off came the floral bra. At some point I slipped on the bra and leis to become the latest Hula Girl. The details are a little hazy, Your Honor. I blame the light show and loud music. Tack on the trays of shooters.

The night was packed with learning lessons.

Lesson one: hang out on the dance floor with attractive young women and men will quickly orbit. I danced with a cute guy who turned our fast dance into a slow, touchy-feely tango. The imprint of his plaid shirt stuck to me for days.

Did I feel flattered that a much younger man wanted me to join his table? Sure, for 30 seconds. But I’m not stupid. I knew where I stood, or tangoed, in the wild kingdom’s pecking order. On the dance floor I was the older antelope of the herd. If a man – let’s compare him to a lion – was unsuccessful in capturing a younger, prettier member, he figured he can pick off me, the slower one.

Lesson two: I look better to people who imbibe. For an instant ego boost I shall spend more time in places that serve liquor. Lots of it.

Lesson three: a little costuming goes a long way. Countless men reached out and stroked, poked or squeezed my Hawaiian bra as I walked past. The first few times I was shocked, since I forgot I was wearing it. By the tenth man to cop a feel, I realized that it doesn’t take much to stir up that lion’s den.

When I later complained to Paul how men felt entitled to grab me simply because I draped a few plastic flowers across my chest, he answered, “Then why didn’t you just take it off?”

Um, good point. Again, I blame those shooter trays.

Now where did I leave that Hawaiian get-up? I hope to wear it again soon. I might be an aging antelope, but I’m still running with the herd.

Check out Shannon’s books on Kindle $2.99 eachShannon Kernaghan books-row-display-800 Hula Girl Chucks Her Chastity Culture Drinking Hawaii Hula Girls Humor Parties Sex Tropical

Great Escape, Skimpy Dress Code 

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A few years ago I read how a chimpanzee named Judy escaped from her cage at the Little Rock Zoo in Arkansas. She had her chance when a keeper left the door of her sleeping quarters open. Judy’s flight to freedom wasn’t all that dramatic, considering she did little more than raid the zoo’s kitchen cupboards.

But she disappointed me during her few sweet moments of liberty. Instead of hightailing it for the open road, she picked up a toilet brush and cleaned the bowl. Then she wrung out a sponge and wiped down the front of her keeper’s fridge. Turns out Judy had been a house pet before the zoo acquired her in 1988, so scenes of housekeeping must have been the norm. If I’m ever caged and have the chance to escape, sure, I might grab a handful of cookies en route to the front door, but I won’t hang around to finish any domestic duties.

I equate travel to escaping the self-made cages of everyday life. When traveling, I’m forced to leave my comfort zones, those familiar places that feel safe yet don’t offer much variety. When my trip is over and I’m back to the usual schedules and humdrum routines, at least I can enjoy the videos I’ve taken, the photos I’ve snapped.

My husband’s favorite shot from a road trip isn’t captured on an SD card but chiseled in his memory. The image he savors is from Arizona. The location is nothing as impressive as the red rocks of Sedona or the golf courses of Scottsdale.

Instead, it’s one where he waits for me in a grocery store parking lot. We’ve stopped at a little town and I’ve run in to pick up some snacks before we park our trailer for the night. When I exit the store he watches me grin as I walk across the lot towards our truck. I grin because the check-out line is mercifully short and the beverages are pleasingly cold.

He grins at the sight of my new cowboy hat and boots, tight jeans, and the 12-pack of Miller Lite I carry under each arm. I also carry a few bags of snacks. My husband won’t recall the snacks. Not when a woman featuring tight jeans and 24 cans of cold beer is bearing down on him.

As I spot his happy expression, what goes through my mind is, “Travel is really healthy for a relationship.”

Turns out my husband is thinking the same thing, in his own male format: “Shannon should forget to wear her bra more often!” There it was. We were on slightly different sides of the psychological fence, yet we were both happy. For him, all it took was a dusty parking lot and the sight of me holding beer. And the no-bra factor.

I have my own favorite snapshot, make that two, from the photo album. The first is one of my husband standing in the desert between two gnarly cacti.  He’s also wearing his new cowboy hat and boots. A few props are added to the arsenal – a frying pan he wields above his head like a weapon and a green chef’s apron. The next picture shows him in the identical pose, except I’ve walked around to the back of the cacti to take a rear shot.

Did I mention my husband wasn’t wearing anything besides his hat, boots and apron?

Unlike Judy the chimp who was returned to her cage after a dose of sedatives, I don’t need caging or sedatives for an excuse to avoid housework. Testimony is the inside of our microwave. It resembles an execution-style crime scene. And when I reached for the TV remote from our bed’s headboard last night, my hand came away gray with dust.

I wonder what Judy’s doing this weekend. Our place could use a good cleaning. I’ll even throw in some lite beer and snacks.

Check out Shannon’s books on Kindle for $2.99 eachShannon Kernaghan books-row-display-800 Great Escape, Skimpy Dress Code  Humor Memories Relationship Sex Sex and Food Travel