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  1.  (10731.1)
    All right. We're going to try this again. Listen very carefully:

    Memories are all that stand between us and Galvani’s frogs. Here is where we burn our anecdotes onto the face of the Interweb and persuade history we’re more than twitching amphibian meat machines.


    1. Recount a tale on the below topic. You have 300 words. Anything more than that will be flambéed with the righteous heat of Deletion. Repeat offenders will be banned.

    Linking to a longer version of the story, or posting subsequent chapters, or anything which indirectly pushes it past that 300 word limit, will be similarly nuked.

    2. Read – and comment on – the other entries, before you post your own. Partly that’s because you’ll look like a plum if your story is a rubbish shadow of someone else’s. Mostly it’s because you’re not an impolite shit, are you?

    [3. Additional emphasis: “Topic.” TOP-IC. That means your anecdote should revolve around a specific subject, yes? The one below, in fact. Not just any old tale you care to share. Deviation = maggoty pee-hole disaster.]


    By telling us your story, it’s in the public domain. Don’t get pissy about that.

    Right now you’re in a pub, surrounded by writers, artists and socialites. If you recount an interesting tale to entertain and endear yourself to your fellows, you do not get to bitch about it if a twisted version of the same tale shows up 30 years later on the other side of the planet. Stories are contagious. My advice? Be honest. Don’t make shit up. Don’t treat this like a fiction thread. It’s a chance to entertain and move us with your life experience. That’s plenty good enough.


    OLD! PEOPLE! (do the funniest things.)

    [Let me repeat, for the sake of the dinlows out there: YOU HAVE 300 WORDS.]
  2.  (10731.2)

    It was 1997. I was assistant editor of a company magazine, and I'd been sent to an old people's home to cover a tea party being put on for the old folks by staff from the company. No, I didn't get the glamorous jobs, and yes, my youthful dream of being the next Hunter S Thompson was crashing and burning against the hard rocks of reality, never to recover.

    Old people's homes and me don't mix. Along with hospitals, they absolutely wig the hell out of me. It's like there are big signs up saying 'THIS WILL BE YOU'. I start getting low level panic attacks the moment I walk into one. And on this day, the first thing I saw was a sign that said 'Today is: MONDAY TUESDAY WEDNESDAY. The year is: 1997. The weather is: SUNNY CLOUDY WINDY.'

    They hadn't even updated the board. This sent me into a tailspin of existential despair. I took some workmanlike pictures of old people singing 'We'll meet again', which was just gut wrenchingly sad because one of them was moving to a different home, and they probably wouldn't, unless there's an afterlife.

    And then as I went to leave, an old Jamaican guy stopped me and asked: 'Where's de BOSS?' 'I, eh, don't know!', I stammered back, 'I don't work here and I'm just leaving.'

    'Where's de BOSS?' he repeated. 'Just tell me where de BOSS is'. Was thinking, Christ, what have I done, was it the camera, have I upset him somehow... 'I don't know - I'm sorry, I don't know who the boss is, so I can't really help.' Then I saw a nurse. 'Hey, that guy looks like he works here, I don't think HE's the boss, but he can probably help you...' I flagged the nurse down. 'This man would like to see the boss'. The old man shook his head and said to the nurse: 'Oh thank God. Dis guy is a total IDIOT. Just tell me, where is de bus - to Lewisham'.

    I scurried off, suitably chastened. I kind of want to die peacefully in my sleep before I end up somewhere like that.
  3.  (10731.3)
    @JP Carpenter: Hah, didn't know a West Indian accent could confuse you that much.

    As I used to work at a retirement community, I should have a story.
    • CommentTimeJun 24th 2012
    Here's some starter material: After my dad died (2009), we continued to field phone calls from customers of his that had missed the news stories and the obit. One call was from a lady named Katerina, who lives about 40 kilometres away. My mother took that call, and, after relaying the news, Katerina made an offer of tea and conversations. So we went.
    This was about a week after a tornado had run through the area; no deaths, but a few injuries, and lots of damage. Katerina and her husband (whose name I can't recall) had the roof ripped off their barn. So we took a quick tour of the farm, noted the mess. Then we got inside and met the boxer puppies. Apparently the old couple (in their late 60s, early 70s) had spent a couple thousand on a purebred female, who had just popped out a litter of nine. Apparently these things sell for $800 a pop, so, as cute as they were, we tried to be gentle. So far, a relatively generic, if weirdly timed, visit.
    Then we spent an hour or so talking about colloidal silver. Katerina's husband had apparently cured his prostate cancer with it, and had downloaded all sorts of fascinating documents off the Internet, which he had discovered a year earlier and with which he was enamoured. He had essentially printed off the entirety of this website and handed us a stack of literature for homework. And then another twenty minutes of talking about assorted things.
    All in all, outrageously friendly and enthusiastic people living the proper Hermiting Life: a lot of self-sufficiency and a little paranoia. It was definitely a pleasant/distracting way to spend an afternoon, with people who were too self-occupied to waste our time with excess sympathies.
  4.  (10731.5)
    Old people are funny, in a kind of horrifying way. In my family, it seems to be that cooking tends to evolve as one gets older into a strange half-drunk game of ‘put shit together, set it on fire, hope it works and say you followed a recipe’. This has lead to the discovery that you need water, or SOME liquid to make Mac ‘n cheese, that toothpicks are NOT the best of objects for holding stuffed chicken together, even if they make it look like porcupines and that’s cute, and that making a cake out of milk products is not good for a family that’s lactose intolerant. We have also learned the hard way that you can re-enact backdraft using a kitchen oven, though I don’t think anyone remembers what was being cooked that night; and once upon a time I had an aunt who made jello ‘salads’ that were rather horrifying concoctions invented in the time when jello was new, and people hadn’t realized making it into every meal was probably a bad thing, unless you were trying to grow new ways to give yourself food poisoning.
    I think this explains why I don’t eat much at home anymore (Or anywhere else really)...and why I’ve trained family members to order out. Although this seems to have resulted in a weekly pattern of the same foods ordered at the same times, at least it hasn’t caught any of us on fire, and I’m able to write at the end of the day instead of praying for my stomach to stop trying for the Olympics gymnastics team.
    • CommentTimeJun 26th 2012 edited
    @rootfireember oh, yes, ordering so much pizza must really bring the whole family together. (Although one time we found a tooth topping our dinner at Pizza Hut, so if you feel the desire to gamble your stomach's safety ground)

    In the early stages of my grandmother's Alzheimer's, she was agreeable enough. Sitting in her rooms smoking cigarettes and petting the dog, she was so upset that she couldn't live on her own that she mostly stayed by herself.
    I don't recall much of our relationship at this point, I think she was so befuddled that she must not have been able to place where she knew my sister or myself from.
    When her coughing fits finally overwhelmed her to the point of exhaustion the doctor prescribed she quit the smokes. It wasn't her decision, she made clear, often screaming and yelling with my mother about the packs. This would end with everyone screaming at one another and doors being slammed shut. At first my grandmother was able to hide boxes in her room, but as my mother continued to take over the role of caretaker for her, Nana lost even those thin shreds of humanity.
    Sometimes my Nana Loll would get lost. I would be upstairs trying to feed a pet Florida snake, my sister playing with the girl Melanie, upstairs in her room, my mother at work, my father driving back from his job teaching in Bluffton...well, I never noticed that she was lost until someone came home and exclaimed, "Where's Nana?!"

    "She's an adult...doesn't she know what she's doing?"

    Now, whoever has called out these words strikes the rest of the house into a clamor and we all pour out of the house looking for our lost Matriarch, Olive.
    I combed the back alley, shouting loudly at the neighbors without a response. One of our parents would go North along the street while the other looked Southwards, popping their head into the Hardee's down the street where Loll sat with a stranger, nursing a cup of coffee and a cigarette.

    Now we knew she got lost that we could find her plying her maiden's song onto the hapless workers, crooning a smoke from one a kind passerby and, suddenly, growing old and losing your mind, it didn't really seem all that different from growing up.
      CommentAuthorcity creed
    • CommentTimeJun 26th 2012
    My Grandpa used to say, "when all else fails, read the instructions."

    He's dead now.
  5.  (10731.8)
    @citycreed- o,o I knew someone was hiding the instructions for life somewhere...
    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeJun 26th 2012
    @City Creed

    Apparently, someone didn't want those instructions to get out.

    Many people who knew my father when I was growing up would assume, if they spent any time with him on a project, that I learned to swear from him.

    They would be incorrect.

    I learned to swear from his mother. My grandmother Anne, who was born shortly after her mother came here from Yugoslavia, was the matriarch of the family. She was the daughter of fruit orchard workers and ranchers, could out-shoot anyone else in the family, and taught me nearly every curse word I know with the possible exception of "fuck" (which I think I learned from my father). I still remember when she taught me how to say "shitty dog" at the age of seven, giggling to herself and then laughing at the expression on my mother's face when she found out what I was saying.
  6.  (10731.10)
    My aged father has a habit of buying old, broken down computers from car boot sales, frankensteining their insides together until they boot up and then badgering me to install Microsoft Flight Simulator on them. Occasionally these hunks 'o junk have CDs left in the optical drives which he generally hands over to either my brother or myself (the sole reason there is a Waylon Jennings CD in my apartment).

    A few years back he mentioned to me (over the phone) that his latest acquisition had come with an album by "The Hitler Death Band". He'd offered this to my brother who didn't want it but suggested that I might be interested. In equal parts intrigued and concerned (there's a "Hitler Death Band"? My brother thinks I'd like "the Hitler Death Band"?) I agreed to take a look at it.

    It turned out to be a copy of "Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables" by the Dead Kennedys.

    I really don't want to know why my father equates the Kennedys with Hitler.
    • CommentAuthorflecky
    • CommentTimeJun 27th 2012
    The Hitler Death Band were naff when I saw them. Churchill's Coventry Collapser are far superior :)

    I worked in a old people's home, and saw some shit (literally!)

    We caught one gentleman, sitting in a day-room and surrounded by oblivious members of the fairer sex, having a wank. He didn't care who saw him, and it was quite funny. Actually, he was OK.

    This other bloke was a lot harder work. Whenever I would pass him he would raise a hand and moan, "Nurse! Nurse! I've shit meself!" I would lift him from his chair, wheel him to the toilet, usually to find that he hadn't shat himself. It became like a horrible game; me running around sorting other people out, and him... looking up from his beady glasses, proclaiming to have shat himself when he hadn't. I could handle him, though.

    But this third guy was bad; constantly nipping female staff's bums, hitting people with his stick, shouting etc. I took him to the pub once, and he manipulated me into letting him get really drunk. It was awful. Anyway, I came to work one day and all hell had broke lose. Apart from another lad and I, the staff seemed to have had taken enough and had quarantined him in a room. We went in, and he was all naked-and-foul. And yeah, there was poo-poo everywhere. On the ceiling. On the walls. We did our best, and cleaned the snarling bugger up.

    A few days later the staff were walking around smiling, laughing and singing. Because he was no-more. Neutralised. Extinct. Chemically whacked. Disincorporated. Gone.

    I love getting old.
  7.  (10731.12)
    Oldhat me old lusher, I suspect that might've ended-up in the wrong place.
    • CommentTimeJun 27th 2012


    • CommentTimeJun 28th 2012 edited
    Well, no long story to tell.

    My grandad, who was a government engineer (at the level where the Prime Minister used to call him at home) and had an IQ up in the stratosphere, was sharp as a tack until he died in his early 80's, but was kind of eccentric and absent minded. Occasionally my grandma used to ring me to come over and clean the kitchen ceiling because Grandpa had taken the weight off the pressure cooker and sprayed stewed quince all over the kitchen at high pressure. My favourite memory of my grandfather is from his 75th birthday party, where he forgot to use cement on his dentures and spat them out onto his birthday cake while blowing out the candles. Happy Birthday to you . . . . eww, gross!

    Sorry, I'm extremely drunk.
  8.  (10731.15)
    Back in around 2000, when I was working at the private prison outside Austin, TX, I was working as a rover officer on a housing unit on the East wing. One of the teachers called the picket control officer to report that one of his students didn't show up. I was given the inmate's name and number and room assignment and told to bring him to class.

    I walk in the unit to find Inmate Smith, and when I get to his room, I find him still in bed, asleep. I wake up the inmate and tell him, "Mr. Smith, you need to go to Education."

    The elderly inmate sits up in bed and yells back, "I'M EIGHTY-FOUR!! I AIN'T GOT NOTHIN LEFT TO LEARN!!"

    I get back to the picket, and report exactly what the inmate had said, and nobody made him go to school.
    • CommentTimeJul 2nd 2012
    ^ Heh, if I make it to eighty-four, I'm totally getting that put on a T Shirt. Or whatever modern, futcha equivalent is.

    My great uncle V has a permanent place in my mind as the quintessential Mysterious Ancient Person. He can't have actually been all that old when I first met him, but I can't remember him being anything other than utterly wizened and decrepid. He used to be a gamekeeper, so his house was full of arcane contraptions, strange looking tools, and chemicals of dubious provenance. He always wore a beaten up old tweed jacket, and smelt strongly of pipe tobacco. His eyebrows were magnificently wiry affairs which reminded me of a snowy owl.

    Like many Mysterious Ancient People, he always had an air of mischief about him. For years, whenever he came to visit, he'd ask me how my girlfriend Penelope was doing, and how our courtship was progressing. We both knew full well that there was no Penelope, of course. However, there's one thing he told me and my father which was a little less innocent and whimsical, and to this day I don't know whether he was serious about or not. For some reason he decided to tell us that his home visiting nurse had taken pity on him one day, and so had given him a "helping hand" while washing him in the bath. Whether it happened or not, he certainly seemed very pleased about it. I guess some secrets are best taken to the grave.
    • CommentTimeJul 5th 2012
    A true story.

    When he was about 70 years old, I was visiting my Dad and he told me this joke. It works a lot better spoken than read, but we gotta make do with what we've got:

    There were three old guys in a nursing home, comparing their infirmities. The first guy says "Every morning, eight o'clock, I go into the bathroom, and for an hour, I try to take a shit."

    The second guy says "Ah, that's nothin'. Every morning, nine o'clock, I go into the bathroom, and for an hour, I try to take a piss."

    The third guy cackles and says in a loud voice, "Every morning, eight o'clock, I crap like an elephant! Every morning, nine o'clock, I piss like a racehorse. Every morning, ten o'clock, I get up."

    Dad and I got a good laugh out of it. Then he said to "When I'm senile and in the old folks home, I want you to come and tell me this joke every day." Well, Dad is now in a nursing home, and his memory is going. And he lives 300 miles away, much too far to see him every day. But every time I get down there, I threaten to tell him the joke. Usually, no joy - he still remembers the punchline. But a couple of visits back I asked if he wanted to hear the joke. "What joke?" he replied. So I told it to him. After the punch line, he sat there stone-faced and confused for a few seconds. Then he got a big grin on his face and said "You still can't tell it for shit," and laughed his fool head off. I did too.
    • CommentTimeJul 5th 2012
    I was never particularly close to my grandfather as a kid. Franky, I was scared and intimidated. I was the bookish, awkward nerdy type and he was from Missouri during the Depression. Tough guy who could fix anything. He was never overtly mean or anything, but I was still kind of scared of him.

    When he was in his very early 80s, Alzheimers finally made him bedridden and he was forgetting most people. I flew from Oregon to Southern California to visit and probably say good-bye to him. He stunned me by remembering me and my brother immediately. I got to introduce him to my then-infant son as well. We sat and talked to him for hours and hours. Alzheimers had brought down the walls that had been built over the years. He asked me how I liked Oregon and what kind of work I was doing. He told us about how he and his brother had jumped trains and rode them all the way to Oregon once. He told us how they skipped class to drive somewhere with girls, then how they managed to get away without their parents finding out. About how he finished "eleventh in his senior class of ten." It was the best conversation I'd ever had with him. It only whetted my appetite for more information about his life.

    He died not too long after and his widow (a saintly woman who took care of him in their home until the day he died). She told me that he talked about me all the time and was so proud of me. I still cry thinking about that. She asked me to give his eulogy. Through tears, I told everyone there about how he used to rake his "lawn" every day. He got sick of trying to keep his grass alive, pulled it all out and just had a plain dirty front yard that her raked in a very zen garden sort of way. People laughed through their tears while recalling this with me. Turns out that I loved that crazy old guy.
    • CommentAuthorflecky
    • CommentTimeJul 7th 2012
    @scs: HaHaHa :)
    • CommentTimeJul 15th 2012 edited
    I hope this kind of counts as a story, as it is more of a series of descriptions than an actual story.
    The pizza production place I work at is pretty much run by my boss and her father, an Italian who grew up near Milan during the two world wars and is now 79. He has a Masters in Math and a PhD in Psychology, and even worked for NASA at one point, but now he makes pizza sauce, grates cheese, and other prep work (and loves it). He does math tutoring for middle and high school students, and used to be a substitute math teacher for the local schools (I've been told he was better than the regular teachers). He will listen to just about any kind of music except rap and 16th century Baroque as it is too repetitive and predictable. He particularly hates harpsichords and accordions. He was an officer in the Italian Air Force, for which visited Texas for some training, where he met his wife in an officer's club. As English is his second language, he occasionally comes up with charming names for things. The pastry bag we use for the stuffing of the hot crust has been renamed "magic squeegee". Too be fair, I'm not much better sometimes (and I don't even have the excuse he does), as I accidentally named one of his dough inventions "dippy things". I guess it made him laugh.