Humor

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A little over eight years ago, I wrote a story about my sister, Caryl Reed and how my sisters, Cheryl Masterson, Alena Stevens, Allyn Hadlock, and I used to attack her and give her the “tickle torture” on a fairly regular basis. Little did I know then, the impact that story would have on my readers. In the eight years the story has been up, it has received 1016 comments, which is far more than any other story I have written. I have had countless numbers of people tell me their own stories about being tortured or being the torturer. Several have suggested that I need to write another story on tickle torturing tales, and with that, Tickle Tales was conceived in my head. I thought I might highlight some of the funniness that has been born of the Tickle Torture craze.

One friend, Suzy approached me with some ideas to get her siblings, and after enlisting the help of her particularly devious brother-in-law, the tickle “chair” was born. The tickle chair really isn’t a chair at all, but is a portable set of “stocks” to lock the victim’s feet in place while the torturers tickle away. Now I’ve never had this done to me, but I can tell you that anytime you can’t kick or get away from your tickle attacker…the situation becomes a true form of “friendly” torture. While some people might think this harsh, their family loved it, and even made bets on things, like football games to decide who the next victim was. As far as I know this is now a new tradition in their family.

A couple I’m friends with, Mike and Ashley asked me for some ideas to get started on their own betting scheme. After a number of times at being Mike’s victim, Ashley and her girlfriends finally exacted her revenge. Mike had made a habit of taking a nap on the couch…an “unfortunate” mistake for him, and so the girls managed to place ropes under the couch and tied his hands and feet to the legs of the couch. Helpless to fight them off, the girls gave him the tickle torture of a lifetime. Mike is a good sport, and even being given a pedicure by his captors didn’t upset him. It did, however, make him decide that revenge was the only logical response to this. He got his revenge using feathers on Ashley’s feet, while her toes were tied together. Their current bet involves the loser on this years’ football games, and a Super Bowl Revenge that will be carried out over the course of the Super Bowl game…the whole game…when they score, or commercial breaks, half time show, and of course, the game ending finale!! Yikes!! I pity the loser in this competition!!

Tickle Torture is a great way to keep life interesting, and as long as everybody is a good sport about it, can bring a lot of laughs. The thing I find funny is that even while being tickled, very few people get upset, because tickling isn’t, after all, painful. And it does make you laugh!! I don’t think that Tickle Torture will ever be a thing of the past. It’s just too much fun!! Have you tickled someone today?

My nephew, Sean Mortensen is a very busy guy. If he is not working, he’s outdoors in one capacity or another. He and my niece, Amanda Reed have a 15 year old daughter, Jadyn who is very busy with horses, and that means the family attends lots of competitions. Sean and Amanda are very supportive of their daughter’s dreams, and they will do whatever they can to help her accomplish them. Sean loves his girls, and they love him. They are a wonderful family unit, doing lots of things together.

Sean and Amanda also have a great group of friends, and they all love to go camping, boating, skiing, snowmobiling, 4 wheeling, or any other sport you can think of. Rarely do you see a family who is so outgoing, all the time…nor one that is good at so many types of sports. They always have fun. Recently they all went camping for nine days. They went with a large group of people and everyone had a wonderful time, even Carp shooting. I wouldn’t have ever thought of fishing that way, but these guys seem quite skilled at shooting a fish with a bow and arrow. Sean’s brother, Tyler and his wife, Heather were among those who went. These two couples have a great relationship. They enjoy being together.

Sean is an active guy, who enjoys being very goofy, but then so do their friends. Everything from goofy wigs to wild outfits. He’s up for anything that will get a laugh out of his friends. Still, when it comes to work, Sean is all business. Sean has worked at Sinclair Oil Refinery for a while now, and is good at his job. There are many reasons to work carefully and observe safety regulations in a refinery, and Sean is diligent in both work and safety. After all, he has two great girls to come home to every day. Today is Sean’s birthday. Happy birthday Sean!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand niece, Zoey Iverson is an amazing child. Zoey is just 4 years old, but she has taken on a task that is far beyond her years. Zoey is getting ready to start pre-school in the fall, but she is already a teacher. I’m sure that seems incredible, but it’s the truth. Zoey’s older brother, Lucas, who is 8 years old, was born with Down Syndrome. To Zoey, Lucas is her big brother, and she loves him, and that is all that matters. Zoey knows that her brother is older than she is, and she also knows that he needs help with things. Zoey has assigned herself the task of being his helper and his teacher. That is an amazing feat for a 4 year old girl…and nobody told her to do this!! She just has a loving heart, and wants her brother to have the best chance there is.

Zoey’s current project is helping her brother learn how to talk more and to use the bathroom more. At this point, Zoey and Lucas share a bedroom, so they play together all the time. They love to watch movies, hang out on the bed, look at books, cuddle, and play. They love their room. It is a sanctuary for them…their own space to do kid things. Zoey has been such an integral part of her brothers progress. From helping him learn to walk, to talking, to balance, to playtime, Zoey is very active in her brother’s progress.

Of course, Zoey loves to help her mommy, Cassie too. They do a lot of yardwork together, which Zoey really enjoys. And Zoey is not afraid of snakes in the yard either, although, she makes sure it’s ok to pick it up before she touches it. At snakes…I have to draw the line!! Eeeeewwww!! Zoey loves doing things with her daddy, Chris, like fishing. She also has a kitten that she loves to play with and nurture. She has a very loving, kind heart. Her mom also informs me that…once in a while, Zoey likes to talk back and be a total of four-year-old. I guess that is pretty typical of all kids now and then. Maybe it’s because Zoey is such a mommy type, herself. When she is playing, Zoey likes to dress up in her princess dresses and play a lot of pretend games. Like all little girls, being a princess is paramount in their lives. Today is Zoey’s 4th birthday. Happy birthday Zoey!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

I think most of us who have mowed the lawn in our day will attest to the fact that even if you have a self propelled lawnmower or a riding lawn mowed, if you done do that job early in the morning or on a cloudy day, its hot out there. Its usually so hot and sticky, in fact that we have to take frequent breaks to head indoors to cool off in front of the air conditioner. Finally, in the 1950s, someone decided that the world needed a cooler way to mow the lawn. So, they added what can only be described as a giant popcorn popper to a riding lawn mower. They gave it its own electric generating system for operating running lights, a radio telephone, air conditioning, and even a cooling system to provide a chilled drink on a hot day. The assumption was that people could see its value beyond the lawn. It was described as a useful tool for many purposes. It could mow the lawn, weed it, feed it, seed it, spray for insects, plow snow, and haul equipment. It was even touted as a machine that could be used as a golf cart.

The old style push mower could only be classified as a workout machine, if you ask me. It took more muscle than some of the equipment many of us pay dearly to use at the local gym. And as to speed…well, it was nonexistent. Those old rotor style lawn mowers were brutal machines, and when the job was done, you needed a hot tub, a massage, and Excedrin, not necessarily in that order. The motorized lawnmower that most households have today is considered to be an amazing tool. It makes mowing something that even kids can do. The self-propelled mowers are light weight, and actually have an engine that maneuvers it forward, with a lot less effort than the older gas and electric mowers.

I’m sure that the inventor of the air conditioned lawn mower of the fifties had visions of everyone mowing their lawns in comfort and style, but the reality is that the cost of one of the newfangled machine was far beyond what most people could afford, so it never really took off. As mowers became more and more lightweight and easier to use, the necessity of a way to keep cool has lessened, be it slightly. Still, the newfangled airconditioned riding lawnmower of the 50s was simply not cost effective, and so it was not a widely purchased or even widely known item. In one advertisement I found, it was called the “Lazy Man’s Power Mower.” I’m sure that kind of advertising didn’t exactly make people want to run out and buy one. There are air conditioned lawn mowers today, but they are mostly on industrial mowers, which makes sense, since people might spend hours at a time in one.

In a world where we have all become professionals at photography, carrying our cameras with us all the time, because they are built into our phone, the selfie picture has become the norm in society. We use every version of facial expression from a smile, to a pout, to a look of shock, to a look of anger…real or faked. We use no smile, a toothy grin, or a soft closed-mouth smile, or we might even pucker up, or stick out our tongue. The idea of the unusual or even ridiculous smile is as commonplace as is picture taking itself.

It wasn’t always so, however. When we look at pictures from the early days of photography, the people almost always appear straight-faced, and almost angry. Many people theorized that they didn’t smile because they had bad teeth. It was all too common prior to the days of modern dentistry. As it turns that wasn’t the case, since there were plenty of individuals who had fabulous teeth, yet still kept their mouths shut during pictures. Not to mention, humans can smile without showing their teeth. Another theory was that that because the cameras of old took time to set up and had a long exposure period, anywhere from five minutes to more than 30. It was impractical to hold a smile so long. While that idea does make sense, it doesn’t explain why subjects were rarely depicted smiling in old paintings or why people didn’t start showing their pearly whites in the 1840s when exposure times for photos were under a minute. While these issues might have prevented some from smiling, the major reason for the serious looks was because most people thought smiling made them look ridiculous. Ultimately, the real reason folks didn’t smile was because they thought it made them look stupid. Many people don’t think they have a great smile. They think their smile makes them look goofy, and they didn’t want that to be how they were remembered. Mark Twain summed it up best when he said, “A photograph is a most important document, and there is nothing more damning to go down to posterity than a silly, foolish smile caught and fixed forever.”

These days, that thought is ridiculous. People smiled and laughed in those days, so how could it make them look ridiculous? I find it funny that in different eras, different things are cool or not cool, or even ridiculous. It would seem that each generation has their own uniqueness, and often the prior generation things they are crazy…as do the future generations. According to Nicholas Jeeves, who wrote an extensive article on the topic, by the 17th century “it was a well-established fact that the only people who smiled broadly, in life and in art, were the poor, the lewd, the drunk, the innocent, and the entertainment.” These days, we smile in photos to show happiness or warmth, but back then it was viewed as the equivalent of duckface…a look no self-respecting Victorian would want recorded. As photography advanced and became more common, folks didn’t have to choose a single expression to serve as their memorial for the ages, which opened them up to showing a range of expressions in photos. Still, we can only imagine what the people of the past would think of the hundreds of thousands of pics that are now taken every minute, complete with our foolish smirks, photobombs, and even goofy filtered selfies.

As a little boy, my grandson, Caalab Royce was always smiling, laughing, telling jokes, and of course, teasing his sister, Shai Royce, who didn’t always appreciate her younger brother’s sense of humor. In fact, there was a time when she was very willing to sell him at auction!! Shai was sure that she would never get along with her brother, and she would always want to send him back, sell him, or ship him off somewhere. The teasing never has stopped, but Shai’s dislike of her brother certainly has. These days she thinks of him as her best friend, and she knows that his teasing is just who he is and that he will always love his sister.

Caalab has a smile that lights up his whole face. And whenever I saw it, my heart would just melt. He was one boy who grabbed a hold of your heart and hung on tight. It was hard to be angry at his antics, when he flashed that smile. I think that might have been what Shai finally saw in her brother too, once she got beyond the “annoyance years.” That time came when they were teenagers. I remember stopping by their house one day, and there they were, sitting on the steps, actually talking…not fighting. It was a shocking moment, but also a wonderful moment. It was a moment I knew would come at some point, nevertheless, it was still unexpected.

These days, Caalab is all grown up. He and his sister are still best friends, but much has changed in life again. Caalab, who works full time at Red Robin in Bellingham, Washington is a responsible man who can always be counted on at work and with people. That part really hasn’t changed much, because Caalab could always be counted on. Now what has changed is that he is so busy and lives so far away, that I don’t get to see him nearly as much as when he was a kid. I miss that very much, and sometimes I still tear up over that…but, I get to see him very soon, so that makes me very happy.

Caalab’s family all tell me the same thing about what’s going on in his life. They say, “He works a lot.” I told them that “all work and no play, makes Caalab a dull boy,” but I think there must be more than that. I think it might have something to do with a certain girl named Chloe Foster. Caalab and Chloe have been dating for a while now, and I have a feeling that all of that “lost” free time is being spent with Chloe. I can’t say that I blame him though, because I have heard nothing but good things about Chloe, and I can’t wait to meet her when we visit them. Recently Caalab took a little bit of time off from his busy schedule and dating life to stand as best man for his buddy’s wedding, and he sure looked very handsome. Today is Caalab’s birthday. Happy birthday Caalab!! Have a great day, and we will see you soon!! We love you!!

The current generation of kids probably have no idea what a phone booth is, besides maybe a place for Superman to change into his costume. From the time phones first became something that was provided to the public for a fee, phone booths became a common sight on city streets. Then in the 1950s, a new fad began. Much like the fad of stuffing as many people as possible into a car, people decided to stuff as many people as possible into a phone booth. My guess is that like most of these strange fads, this one too, was practiced mostly by young people.

Phone booth stuffing first gained popularity outside the United States, but once it arrived stateside, in spring 1959, kids couldn’t help but join in. Basically, people would cram their bodies into the narrow spaces like sardines in a can. Some adopted other methods, such as stacking themselves horizontally. Just imagine being the guy on the bottom of the stack. All I can say is, “Hurry up, because I can’t breathe!!”

As with so many other crazy fad, phone booth stuffing became something to set a world record for. People began trying to outdo the prior record. The word record for phone-booth stuffing came in March 1959, when 25 people in South Africa piled into a booth. I can’t imagine how they could possibly fit 25 people in a phone booth, but while they were all in there, the phone rang. Of course, nobody answered the phone, because nobody could move enough to reach it. Sadly, the trend died by the end of 1959. Of course, that doesn’t mean that some of the other stuffing trends didn’t continue. I think people are still stuffing as many people as they can into a car. I just hope they don’t try to drive that way.

Shortly after our daughter, Amy (Schulenberg) Royce was born, we knew that she was destined to be…little, but only in stature. At just 4 feet 10 inches tall, Amy is quite short, a full 3 inches shorter that her not very tall sister, Corrie (Schulenberg) Petersen. Nevertheless, when it comes to her personality, abilities, intelligence, and her kind heart…she somehow packs a whole lot into that tiny frame. Amy has always lived her life well beyond her size, and nobody ever tried to tell her she couldn’t do something, because she knew that she could do anything she put her mind to.

When Amy met her husband, Travis, she was very quickly sure that this guy was the one who could keep the fun and laughter in her life, and he certainly has done that. His favorite nick name for her is Midget, and I must admit that it fits. Partly because of her size, Travis loves midget wrestling, which has become a thing these days. Who would have known. That’s the thing she loved about him. He could turn most situations into something fun and full of humor.

Amy first began working in the insurance industry at the young age of 15, when she worked in the office I worked in doing filing, phones, and typing. I was just trying to help her get a job as a kid, who knew that it would be the beginning of a future lifelong career for her. During her teen years, she needed more hours than we could give her, so she went to work in fast food, and then on to daycare, the hotel industry, and an office job in an industrial training facility. Then her journey came full circle, when she was hired in the insurance office I was working at then…The Stengel Agency. It was there that she got licenses, and became an excellent insurance agent. When her family decided to move to Washington state, her insurance background netted her several job offers. Now things have come full circle again…so to speak, because her daughter, Shai Royce, who also worked with us at The Stengel Agency, is now working at the same agency that Amy, her mom, works at now…Rice Insurance, and they are both very excited about that. Sometimes it is all in who you know, but I think insurance is in their blood, because if you can’t understand insurance, you will never be a good agent. They both understand insurance, just like their mom and grandma…me. Today is Amy’s birthday, and I am very excited for this new aspect of her life…sharing a career with her daughter and friend. Not bad for a midget!! Happy birthday Amy!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

I suppose that most of the time, when someone sets out to invent something, they have a specific plan in mind, but maybe not. A number of inventors were trying to invent something completely different from what they ended up inventing, or they weren’t trying to “invent” anything at all, but ended up making something very cool.

One day in 1853, a chef at the Carey Moon Lake House in Saratoga Springs, New York, named George Crum was at work, and making a meal for a customer. Apparently this customer was rather picky, which I can understand when it comes to certain things. The customer had ordered a plate of fried potatoes, and since my mom, Collene Spencer often made fried potatoes when I was a kid, I can attest to how great they tasted. Fried potatoes, however, must be correctly cooked to be really good, and I suppose that there are many differing views as to which way of cooking them is correct. Sometimes, its just a matter of personal preference.

Chef Crum fried the potatoes in the way he had always done so, but found that he was apparently unable to please this particular customer. Anyone who has ever worked in a restaurant knows that it is really frowned upon to have food sent back to the kitchen. The chef is given a goal of almost reading the mind of the customer…and expected to get it right. I know that this can be difficult from my own experience. I love what I would call extra crispy bacon, but when I tell them extra crispy, I usually end up with bacon that is floppy and, in my opinion, disgusting. I have long since learned that if I want to get truly crispy bacon, I must tell them that I want it burned. Only then will the bacon come out “crispy” enough for me, which, by the way, never has any black parts that would indicate that it was burned.

On this particular day, Chef Crum was having a bad day, at least from the perspective of pleasing the customer, who sent the potatoes back many times, asking that the potatoes be thinner and crispier. Finally in a fit of temper, Chef Crum sliced the potatoes insanely thin and fried them until they were “as hard as a rock,” before sending them back out to the customer. To his astonishment, the customer absolutely loved the potatoes, and wanted more. Now, for anyone who likes potato chips, the request for seconds comes as no surprise, because it really is hard to eat just one potato chip, as the saying goes. Since that day, I’m sure that these new fangled potatoes were a menu favorite at the Carey Moon Lake House. They must have been, because as we all know, they are still available to this day, and they show no sign of losing their popularity now either.

My nephew, Rob Masterson is a busy father of four children. His oldest, Christina is grown and living on her own in Colorado. The other three, Raelynn, Matthew, and Anna still live in the family home…which recently changed, by the way. They had been living in an apartment, and now they are in a house…much better for a family. The really nice thing is that the new place is much closer to where Rob and his wife, Dustie both work…Sam’s club. This is a great change for this family, and we are all very happy for them.

As a boy, Rob grew up in a house full of women. His mom, my sister, Cheryl Masterson was a single mom, and of her five children, Rob was the only boy. I’m not sure for whom that situation was the worst. Rob was definitely outnumbered, but I don’t think that the girls, Chantel, Toni, Elizabeth, and Jenny, ever really got the better of their brother, who was the middle child. These days they all joke about the antics of those years, and in reality, it’s all pretty funny. Nevertheless, I don’t know how pleasant it was at the time, especially for the other party in this boy verses girls show of power…their mom. I’m sure that there were many times Cheryl wanted to send them all to their rooms, but there were likely just as many times that the antics brought great bouts laughter in the house, because lets face it, the antics of kids can be very funny.

I think that the antics Rob pulled as a kid have never really left him, because his own son seems to have had some inherited many of his dad’s abilities…or maybe, it’s just a boy thing. Whatever it is, sisters have “suffered” the consequences of it for generations. Still, eventually those boys grow up to be men, and I think that sometimes the ones who picked on their sisters the most and pulled the most pranks, make the best dads. Today is Rob’s birthday. Happy birthday Rob!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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