For close to a decade now, it’s been our mission here at Allred Farms to spread doom and gloom during this annual time of merriment. It is a gift originated by the original grump – Robb – to be sure you don’t get the typical, syrupy-sweet holiday letter reporting all the amazing things that happened in the year past.
With that, we hope our year of disasters makes yours seem a little brighter!
Compliments of Lightning, the wild horse, I tore tendons and ligaments in my left shoulder, forcing me to take a hiatus from kickbox instruction. The doctor says I need surgery. Our cat, Suzy, was lured across the street by a little girl who had been specifically told not to lure our cat across the street and the little feline was killed by a car. Then Pete killed our other cat, Seven. Tommy badly burned his feet walking barefooted across a day-old burn-pile. He also got ringworm and liked it so much he decided to share it with all of us. It really is the gift that keeps on giving. Gross and disgusting or, as Tommy likes to say, disgrossting. Kerri has begun wearing makeup, much to Robb’s dismay; Katie wants to be a rock star, singing “Man, I feel like a woman”; and Tommy wants to be “a hippie.” Tommy also has an interest in singing Broadway tunes, although we don’t know where he is learning the lyrics.
I got banned from Katie’s school and was not allowed to attend her award ceremony for being the only girl in the 5th grade to get the Presidential Award because I took her home after a school field trip when it was 100 degrees outside and the buses were running late. Robb had his truck’s tailgate stolen from our own driveway. Worse, the police caught the guy, but he won’t give up any information except to say he was selling stolen tailgates for drug money, and the police made a deal with him allowing him to keep the secret. Robb continues his quest, however, to find his tailgate – driving us all crazy in the process. He swears he can identify his own tailgate and will steal it back if he finds it.
Driving to and from the Allred family reunion was a test of my patience. Robb constantly blurts out lyrics from random songs no one has even heard of, many of which, given his passion for heavy metal music, sound like threats. He told Katie in song, “If you cross the Canadian River, I’ll cut out your liver.” What?! Suddenly, Katie was looking worriedly around for a river outside the window. What did he just say?!
He announced that he wants the distinction of being bitten by a rattlesnake. We were driving along in Wyoming when he shared this newest and grandest desire. Personally, I would have just settled for something to eat other than two-day-old bologna sandwiches. To be clear, however, he wants to die at the paws of a bear, but ONLY if there is clear evidence of a struggle. His fear is that local press will get hold of the story and defame his character: “Local man, Robb Allred, was killed by a bear. It appears that he simply rolled over and let the bear eat him. Friends say this was his way….” Should he ever meet his demise by way of bear, there will be signs of a fight! Preferably, the bear will be injured.
Overall, the trip was a great success although there were weird moments. We hiked, trekked, and trudged through more mud, muck, and rain than most Yellowstoners. If anyone ever hopes to “do” Yellowstone with us, they’d better get a doctor’s note first. Hey, Robb will suggest, there MIGHT be a moose four miles from here, one way, uphill, in a rainstorm. Who wants to go? During one such hike, we suddenly came across an usually tall, skinny man who was really, really tan – George Hamilton scary tan – and wearing nothing but Speedos. I don’t think he was wearing shoes. I was distracted by … those itty, bitty Speedos.
I was suddenly thankful Robb was with us. But when I turned to find my tough-guy support system, I found Robb, scowling and recoiling in growing homophobic terror of the moving black Speedos.
Oh, sure. He’s ready to meet his doom in the woods against a hairy black bear, but throw just one hairy tan man at him, and it’s all “Akk! He’s looking at me! Make him go away! Make him go away!”
Other than that, this does seem to be the year of getting or being hurt. Besides my horse hurting me and Tommy burning his feet, I fell down the back stairs of City Hall in Fort Worth, which was made more embarrassing by the fact that this stunning athletic feat was witnessed by two police officers who had to fill out a “promise-not-to-sue-us” report. A brown recluse bit Robb, and Nala unsuccessfully fought a swarm of bees. Twice. And Captain Denial, a.k.a. Robb, got a toothache.
But Robb does not like the dentist. Robb did not want to go to the dentist. So, right off the bat, it was one complaint after another. “A mall dentist? We’re going to a mall dentist?” Dr. Daniels is not a mall dentist. He’s with our insurance plan, is really good, and, yes, just happens to have one of his offices in a strip mall. Robb’s examination determined he would have to have a root canal. The office manager could see that he was distressed and left the room so that we could talk privately. Robb poked his finger at the dental paperwork. The cost. Too expensive. “But you have to have this,” I said. “It’s not like you’re thinking about liposuction.” He scowled again and began making excuses about why he could not have the procedure done that day.
“Robb, you can’t put this off. Dr. Daniels said your tooth is infected.”
“This isn’t the shirt I wanted to wear.”
Excuse me? “You’ve got a special going-to-the-dentist shirt?”
“They’re going to give me a shot,” he went on.
“In the mouth!!”
“Well, it’s not going to help to get it in your rear end!”
We went back and forth over his wallet. Should he keep it; should I take it? Finally, he decided he should keep it in case he should suddenly be rendered unconscious and the staff didn’t know who he was. I said, “I think they already know who you are, Robb.”
“What if there’s a shift change?”
“This isn’t a factory!”
He did get the root canal. Now he needs knee surgery.
At back-to-school physicals, our beloved Dr. Jones walked in and asked, “So, does anyone have poison ivy?” Katie shot up a hand, proudly. “I do.” I said, “Wow, is there some kind of outbreak of poison ivy?”
“No, I just ask you because someone always has poison ivy in your house.” Ahh. Between the creek, horses, cats, and hay, one of us is always itching. And, once, we were nearly attacked by a zombie possum.
To set up the zombie possum, let me first explain that a few years ago while watching family videos, I pointed out my pregnant self to Tommy. “Look, Tommy. You are in my tummy there.” Tommy was horrified. “You ate me?” It was cute, and we all laughed, never really providing a satisfactory answer. This spring, Katie (unbeknownst to me) explained to Tommy that females grow babies in their tummies, and once the baby is big enough, it will just come out. No one really knows when. It just comes out, and there’s no stopping it.
Tommy, Katie, and a friend were by the creek when they spotted a neighbor’s Labrador, Flower, who was very pregnant. The other child commented that Flower was going to “explode” she was so pregnant. “She’s gonna have those babies any minute!”
“Wait! What?! Babies?” Plural? Panic! Run, run, run! She’s gonna blow!”
“Local boy, Tommy Allred, was brought down in a hail of puppies. The explosion was fierce and disgrossting. He also has puppy breath. He never had a chance .…”
Since then, Tommy has been a little concerned about going to the creek. Never mind the coyotes, snakes, owl, buzzards, our rogue bobcat, and various strays. You can NEVER be too careful about exploding Labradors. So, when he wanted to check on a large turtle we’d previously rescued from the highway – and, by the way, you would be amazed by the velocity, veracity, and volume with which a frightened turtle can urinate on you – his sisters had to go. That’s when they saw the possum. Lying on the ground, not moving. Playing possum? “Poke it.” “No, you poke it.” “No, you poke it.” “Hey, let’s get Tommy. He’ll poke anything. Here—” handing stick to Tommy, “Poke it, Tommy.” Poke. Poke. It moved!
This, in and of itself, could have been very exciting, but when you are a little feller who watches Scooby Doo and Zombie Island obsessively, this is waaaaay beyond exciting.
“IT’S A ZOMBIE POSSUM AND ZOMBIES NEVER DIE! ARGHHHH!”
Big surprise, when I went back to check out the zombie possum, it was gone. Try explaining to an imaginative seven-year-old that it’s not coming back when, in fact, this is what zombies do.
Katie got into reading the kid-friendly-yet-scary Goosebumps series. Her first book was about a pair of ghost hands that play a piano in the attic. She was jumpy for days. For this reason, I guess, it was in bad taste to put Katie to bed, play the piano, and then run out of the room before she could see me. She slept with Robb and me for days.
Finally, while we are now goatless, Robb brought home a new puppy. She appears to be some kind of Rottweiler or Doberman mix. She was starved and half dead. But, he cautioned us all, we are NOT keeping her. Still, while we nurse her back to health, he expects us all to call her “Cleave” because (sigh: are you ready for this?) she’s a dog “you can cleave to.” Her name is Sadie Cleave Sue Allred. She’s great friends with Pete, and we’ve had her for two months, but we’re not keeping her.