Humor by Jan Nieman
Jan Nieman Biography
Author of Going to the Dogs: Confessions of a Mobile Pet Groomer, Jan Nieman, was born in Milwaukee, WI and graduated from Towson University in Towson, MD. Abandoning her stressful job of supervising a Social Security branch office, she entered the unfamiliar world of entrepreneurship and became the owner of a mobile pet groomer business. Abandoning five grown children twenty-one years later in 2006, she retired to Ft. Myers.
“How adorable; how cute,” exclaimed my daughter and went on to describe the two rabbits brought home for my grandchildren from the “Bunny Rescue” organization for Easter.
“Really? You paid for rabbits? How does that happen that rabbits are rescued?” Ignorant of this amazing process of sheltering rabbits instead of eating them, I foolishly added, “How much does one cost?”
Astounded by the figure she mentioned, I didn’t add any clucking or tsk-tsk noises over the phone, but figured I’d now heard everything.
Curious about this development, Hubby phoned her and asked the questions I couldn’t. “Where are you keeping them and what do they eat?”
Our fourth grade class paraded through the tunnel connecting our parochial school to the church, marched down a side aisle and climbed the stairs to the church balcony. It was our turn to sing at a funeral and had been well coached on reverent behavior.
Carmen and I sat in the front row and peered over the rail at the coffin up front. Below us sat a very hefty woman wearing a hat topped with artificial flowers. As the organist played the first hymn, Rock of Ages, she became overwrought and as her head shook, her hat trembled along with her bulk.
We glanced at each other, raised our eyebrows, eyes wide and smirked. Our sharp-eyed teacher, Mrs. Fox, noticed and glared, but it was too late. Our smirk turned into a smothered hic-cup and our chests heaved with constrained chuckles. We struggled for control, but at that moment the grieving mourner began audibly sobbing, her immense body heaving. Her hat’s flowers magically bounced up and down as though riding out an earthquake.
“You see what I mean?” I asked Hubby while stretching over the bathroom sink examining my locks in the mirror.
“Yeh, I guess.”
“Here, let me show you.” I plucked a couple of strands to prove my point and swished them in front of him.
No, I wasn’t going bald from chemo or some hereditary wicked gene. I knew exactly what was causing my defoliation…work! Supervising twenty-nine employees and juggling impossible demands to produce 200% quantity and quality was stressing me to the point where I began job-hunting.
Meanwhile, Child #4, had returned from her first year of college and announced, “Mom, Dad, you’re spending a lot of money on tuition and I don’t really know what I want to do. But, I’m wondering about becoming a pet groomer. What would you think about sending me to pet grooming school?”
Are you as confused with your Smart-Phone (SP) as we are? When our old cell-phone contract expired, Hubby and I bought into the latest technology. A complicated love-hate relationship with our GPS and computer made us wary of another piece of leading edge equipment, but everyone has one. Right?
Our savvy sales rep said, “I can transfer your phone and email contacts to the new SP and here’s the tutorial website for everything you need to know.”
By Jan Nieman
‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
We went off to church and left both pets in charge
And upon our return, was a mess very large.
Kris burst into tears and cried, “Where could they be?”
“The chocolates I bought aren’t under the tree.”
The four Hershey bars for her brothers were gone,
And Gypsy and Chessie knew they did wrong.
I had a perfectly good reason to be excused from jury duty; but that word “duty” resonated with my fifth-generation German-American DNA, not to mention I’m just plain nosy. I set the alarm for 6:00 a.m. and drove to my destination.
The courthouse doors were locked and several other rain-drenched arrivals and I huddled under a miniscule overhang. Finally, we ambled in and waited for numbers to be called from the jury pool.
When we learned our daughter’s spouse, Jim, was nominated to attend War College, I blurted, “Really? They have a college for war?”
Kris answered, “Oh, yes. It’s quite an honor and we’ll be living there for a year. We’d love to have you come up and visit.”
Hubby and I proposed we child-sit Laura, age six and Daniel, age four, while their parents relaxed at a nearby resort for the weekend. Having raised four boys and a daughter how difficult could it be to entertain, feed and keep two small children in line?
The family Jeep squealed away leaving the four of us coughing exhaust at the curb. In an attempt to assuage our grandchildren’s anxiety Hubby said, “We’re going to have a rockin’ time, Kids.”
My children’s eyes grew wide the first time we visited the neighborhood candy store. They were greeted by banks of heavy glass cases filled with endless varieties of sweets – jaw breakers, candy cigarettes, gum balls, Bit O Honey’s – a child’s paradise (and mine, too). A quarter allowance went a long way toward fulfilled their sweet-tooths…and ours.
An entire store devoted to candy within walking distance was one of the perks of residing in a city with 50,000 residents. But, horrors! Hubby was transferred from Appleton, Wisconsin to the suburbs of Baltimore, Maryland where no one walked anywhere. The Mayflower van hadn’t quite cleared the driveway when Daughter plucked at my shirt-tails. “Mom, where’s the candy store?”
“Ah, I don’t think there’s one in this neighborhood” …and probably not anywhere in Baltimore. Inspired, I suggested, “How about we purchase candy from the grocery and we can have our own candy store right here?”
I cleared out two hutch drawers and stocked them with a variety of sugary goodies including an upgrade to candy bars for ten cents. Great plan, right?
As college newlyweds Hubby and I inhabited an antique thirty-eight-foot trailer sans air-conditioning. Although wedged between train tracks and Milwaukee’s answer to a beltway, we were positive this early-marriage launching pad was temporary and we didn’t mind one bit living on wheels.
Along with an upper-level education we learned:
1. Never chip away solid soot in the kerosene-heater if you plan on relighting it.
2. A canary will not survive a torrid summer day if your forget to open a window.
3. A unit built in Alabama is not recommended for a Wisconsin winter.
Several years and three children later, we rented a trailer to vacation out West.
The toilet overflowed and a dust storm sifted into every crevice. Plus, my nausea and pregnancy with Child Number Four didn’t enhance the holiday.
Emil’s thumping the Wurlitzer and the vibrating bases drive the rhythm through your body. A boy at the roller rink’s edge skates over and places his arm around your waist. “You want to do the next dance?” Giddy with teenage delight you skate off together. It’s Friday night at the rink and where, if you don’t fit in at high-school, your social life begins.
High-school years for my friend, Grace, and me became bearable because of those evenings. The bus carried us overMilwaukee’sNorthAvenueBridgeto the Riverview Skating Rink. Steep concrete steps led down to the river’s edge where a shabby monster of a building belched out Emil’s beat. Inside, rolling wheels bruising wood planks created a dusty, nostril assaulting odor that clung to your clothes, and yet, beckoned us.