The Small Things . . . And Blow-up Dolls

Strange how it’s the small things that create lasting impressions. Small things that make you absolutely screaming crazy while the big things roll off.

It’s why I try to incorporate the small things into my writing. The gestures, the nuance of a crooked smile, the stroke of a warm hand down an arm to tangle fingers, a thumb in a belt, a chin lifted in greeting. They individualize characters, make friends of them. Have the reader laughing and saying “I do that too!” or “Oh my gosh! That could be John!” The familiarity creates a bond.

Then as relationships advance, the ‘small things’ take on different meaning. Usually with first names, brown eyes, skinned knees or freckles. Two such small things got my baby sister this past weekend. She’s been stretched thin and took some time with her girls to relax at my brother’s house near Jackson. The Farm. I’ve always maintained you sleep with one eye open with children around. Bekah took advantage of the first opportunity for a daytime nap she’d had in forever. Emma and Tom Jr’s little girl took advantage of the nap.

Rebekah woke with a mustache and unibrow, having slept through their application. Either she was really tired, or those girls have mad skills. Personally, I’m excited because I see the delicate touch of budding neurosurgeons or bomb squad personnel. (Thank heavens they used washable markers.)

Met with friends and conversation turned to past occupations and the most hilarious incident of each. While working as a musician, I had a lead guitarist who was magical in his talent. He was also in the Air Force. His wife packed up the kids in a snit and moved back to Arkansas. After the required length of time to reclaim residency there she filed for divorce. Her grounds? Desertion. This poor guy was in the service, stationed at Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi, with another three years to go where he’d re-upped at her request. To have accompanied his wife he’d have gone AWOL. Thank heavens for reasonable judges; she didn’t get away with it. I don’t know how it ended, but he finally transferred closer to where she was.

The short tale I have is from his time here alone. Our band was like a family. So when his birthday rolled around we jumped on the opportunity to torment him.  The owner and clients of the lounge we played at loved this guy, so they went along with our machinations, each bringing a tacky gag gift to ‘comfort’ him during his crazy divorce. Hubby’s and my contribution? A cheap blow-up doll in a kneeling position. Problem is they come flat in a cellophane package. Hubby declared there was no way he was blowing the thing up by hand. Uh, mouth. So just prior to the first set we pulled into a beachfront gas station advertising an air hose.

Since we had to keep the doll hidden for it to be a surprise, Hubby decided to inflate it in the back seat. Package ripped open, he crawled into the back while I leaned over from the front seat to help spread her out like a plastic Flat Stanley.  Hubby located her filler tube, connected the air hose then nodded for me to drop quarters into the machine.  I jumped back in the front.

No sooner did she start to plump than a station wagon full of kids with beach rafts, floaties and an assortment of inflatable toys pulled in behind us. But with the compressor rattling Hubby never heard the vehicle pull up. He glanced out the back window to find an audience. Right about the time an arm popped up in the air. His eyes bugged, and he smacked it down hissing, “Help me!” Hubby gets flustered so seldom I started to laugh. He still had the air hose on the fill tube so she kept inflating. I looked at the woman in the station wagon whose horrified gaze was locked on the plastic head and shoulders slowly rising above the back of the seat like some rouged-and-lipsticked demonic entity. 

Both of them had perfect circles for mouths.

I laughed harder, over her expression and Hubby’s frantic efforts to disconnect the air hose. Wasn’t happening. And once I start laughing I’m good for nothing but limp arm gestures and snorting when I try to breathe.

Hubby threw a leg over Plastic Polly’s torso in an attempt to force her down out of sight. All that happened was her bent legs popped up either side of his hips, her little pink feet waving in the air. I’m laughing hysterically, he’s red-faced and yelling for me to help him, and the little kids are hanging out every window of the station wagon trying to see what’s going on and pointing.

Hubby and the doll were thrashing around in the back seat as he kept trying to disconnect her. The poor woman finally came to her senses, found reverse, stomped on the accelerator and squealed out of the parking lot. Sure hope those kids got their toys aired up. Hubby clambered over the now fully inflated Plastic Polly, exited the door and turned off the air compressor.

The birthday party was a raging success, two Seabees escorting Polly in between them on signal. (Navy men will do anything to humiliate an Airman, and vise versa.) Hubby was so embarrassed being caught by little kids and the fact I didn’t help him, that he didn’t speak to me until the end of the second set. Every time I looked at him, I couldn’t help it. I’d remember his face and hiccup or snort into the mic, to the point the owner asked “Is she okay?”

And yeah, I’m going to use that in a book. Everyone thinks I make this stuff up any way.  If they only knew.

Keep writing everyone! Love’s worth every keystroke!


**Of special note: Hubby had a stress test last week. It came back abnormal. So did the EKG he had done today. (Thursday, since I set my posts a day early.) It raised enough concern he’s scheduled for heart catheterization and possible stint(s) next Friday. I’d appreciate y’all giving a shout out to The Man Upstairs for him. I’ll let you know how things go. Yes, I scared. The man is my world.

Visit Runere at or friend her on Face Book. Follow her on Twitter@RunereMcLain

12 Responses

  1. Sorry, sorry. Wait a second…I have to stop laughing. *deep breath* Okay…that is one of the best stories ever. You have to put it in a book. Have. To.

    And yes, I’ll be praying for him!

  2. Thanks, my Cajun friend! I gots ta get that man well. He’s just too entertaining! And I still LIKE him after 28 years!

  3. ROFL, Runere. How can one woman experience so many exciting and funny circumstances … and be able to convey them so well?
    Yes, your hubby is in my prayers.

    • Thanks for the prayers, Jeff! As far as the question, I really don’t know how things keep happening to me. I’m going to go with large family, proportionately high odds for strangemenss. lol

  4. OMG, that’s hysterical! 🙂 thanks for a Friday chuckle. 🙂

    Will be thinking if you guys next week. Keep laughing!

    • Glad you enjoyed it, Jamie! (Steve sure didn’t while it was happening. *snicker*)

      Grateful for good friends and their good will for Hubby! Will keep you posted with his procedure..

  5. Too funny, and your both wonderful have to keep you both in our lives so prayers are sent.. much love sister

    • You’ve experienced my life personally. We defy the definition of normal. Will be wilder as of Sunday after we pick Tyler up at the airport. He’s coming straight here from Washington.

      Steve wants to spend a little extra time with him so he won’t worry so much about his Poppa. You know how close those two are! Please keep the prayers coming.

  6. I’m praying for you all, Lois.


  7. I’m SO upset, I’ll worry all week. Let us know how things go. Y’all are in our prayers. HOWEVER, other than the upseting news this was truly a rolling on the floor laughing post. Rita Bay

  8. Appreciate your concern, Rita. And all your prayers! It’s serious, but it could have been worse. He could have had an outright heart attack and it may have been too late then. I’m taking my blessings where I can!

    Glad you enjoyed the post. HUbby’s never gotten completely over my fit of ‘desertion’ in his time of need. His eyes still get really blue when he shoots me a look over telling it! lol

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