Humor From The Backseat

Years and years ago, I was driving down the freeway with 12 year old Liz and three of her friends, Britney, Alison, and Jessica under a bright blue, sunshiny day. I am sure Roberto was in the car, also, due to the fact he would have been very young, and still completely dependent on me.

Anyway, I am speeding along, heading towards our destination when I mention that when I was a young kid, about their age, I remember driving with my mom and my sis, returning from a mini vacation. I detailed the story explaining that it was a dark evening, aside from the brake and head lights bouncing off all the other traveling cars. Suddenly, not too far ahead of us, a small car tumbled, bursting into flames. We gasped, completely taken back by that strange, unexpected, and horrible, occurrence.

“Oh, my gosh!” one of the girls said, after I finished my story. And then a discussion ensued. Freeway memories of their own.

“I remember once when I was driving with my dad, we saw a mattress fall out the back of a truck,” Alison commented, “right in the path of speeding cars.”

Another discussion picked up. About the consequences of a rather large piece of bedding blocking travelers. What chaos it would cause.

And just as serious, just as concerned, Britney spoke. “Well, once, my dad’s hat flew out of our car!” she exclaimed.

For a second. Just a slight second. Everyone was quiet. Trying to grasp what Britney just said. Then suddenly, we all busted out laughing. Laughing about how funny her comment sounded within the context of the conversation, and even more so about how serious she was.

freeze frame

Two people.

A man.
And a woman.
Driving along.
In a racing green Jaguar.
A convertible.

He with his hair pulled back in a ponytail.
Loose strands whipping his face.

She with a brimmed red hat.
Tied under her chin.
Shading her porcelain skin.
Complementing her blue eyes.

The sun is shining.
A breeze is blowing.
As they drive along.
Down the wide open road.

Both laughing.

That image.
Is a memory.
I hold within my thoughts.

Of two people.

My dad.
And my mom.

Long ago.

Innie and Outie

Approximately five years  ago,

as I drove, with Liz next to me, sitting shotgun, the boys ages 19 and 11 were having a discussion in the backseat of the car…

Roberto: “I have an innie.”
Brad: “I have an outie.”
Roberto: “You do? No you don’t.”
Brad: “Yes I do. I’m an outie, like you.”
Roberto: “But, I’m an innie.”

At this point Roberto looked over at his brother, curious. Wondering what Brad was talking about.

Roberto: “Do you even know what we are talking about?”
Brad: “Yeah. Innies and outies.”
Roberto: “But do you know what that means?”

Brad starred at him for a minute. Confused. Wondering what Roberto was talking about.

Roberto: “You don’t do you? You don’t know what we are talking about.”
Brad: “Vaginas and penises?”
Roberto: “Oh, my gosh!” No! Innies and outies are the kind of belly button you have.”
We all laughed. All at once. Me. Liz. Roberto. And then Brad.


Rudy arrived early to work, as usual, and sat at his desk, going over the day’s expectations. As he quietly nibbled on a light breakfast, while checking emails, he overheard a nearby conversation.

“Oh. You’re early this morning!” an employee exclaimed, speaking to her manager.

The employee was decorating her manager’s cubicle with balloons, hoping to surprise the higher up for her birthday; a tradition throughout the department, to celebrate people’s special day. The employee had just inflated one of the several balloons, and was pinching it so that the air would not escape.

In the meantime, Rudy continued to work while eavesdropping on their banter.

“So, how does it feel to be 50?” the employee asked her manager.
“I’m not 50, I am only 43!” the manager responded firmly, with attitude; yet, embarrassed.

Just then, the balloon the employee was holding left her grasp, deflating, making a slow blub-blub-blub sound, as it spun towards the floor.

“Oh, I thought…,” the employee tried to redeem herself.
“I guess!” the manager responded.

Rudy slapped his hand over his mouth, holding in the laughter that was trying to escape. His body began to shake as he tilted his head back, opened his eyes wide, and continued to press his now-fisted hand onto his pursed lips. He lowered his right elbow onto his desk, then the left one, and slowly lowered his face into both hands, sucking in air, then slowly exhaling.

“Awkward!” he thought as he slowly shook his head to and fro, while the manager stomped off.

Sorry, #R.L.Stine, BUT I Had to Laugh

zombieOctober is the month of scary, and what better way to intrigue my fifth grade students than with a spooky thriller. Something about Zombies, something by the best-selling children’s author R.L.Stine. And based on past experiences, with other groups of students, kids love this stuff. They literally sit on the edge of their seats, wanting more, telling me, begging me to keep reading. “Please don’t stop, Mrs. Romero!”

So, there it was, mid-October, pre-Halloween.

I pulled out the Zombie book, held it up for them to observe the gruesome twosome on the front cover, building up excitement. “Wanna get freaked out!” I bellowed. “Oh, yeah!” everyone shouted back.

Several students raced to the light switch. “No lights?” they simultaneously crooned in low growling voices. “Yes!, Please?” their counterparts hollered, everyone looking to me for the final vote. “Of course,” I calmly said.

First and foremost, background knowledge necessitated a 10 and 11 year olds understanding of what they knew before I began the titillating tale. “Raise your hand if you know what a zombie is.” All hands shot straight into the air. “Okay then. How many of you are familiar with the TV show The Walking Dead?” All hands popped back up. “Cool beans. So….who actually watches the show?” Everyone. For a moment, I took a silent pause, thinking these fifth graders have the upper hand here. I have never watched the show. Never will. (Just doesn’t interest me, in case you were wondering.)

Alrighty then.

Many kids clung to each other, opened their eyes wide, dropped their jaws, and held their breath throughout each chapter, yelping for more when I left them hanging, stopping the story so that we could move on to more educational avenues. But, after about fifteen chapters several outspoken kids began to claim, “So predictable. Boring”, only because nothing ever really happened. Lots of buildup, sure, but it always turned out to be a skinny friend grabbing someone’s shoulder, not the boney hand of a monster, or the hot, bad breath of a dumbfounded character, not the foul stench of a dead person sneaking up, who was just about to chomp on the neck of the unsuspecting. I agreed with those students, but in silence, so as not to deter the kids who hadn’t quite grasp the concept of boring read.


It was four days after Halloween. And I had had enough. I was so over the story, the supposed zombies, and nothing really happening – and plus I had Thanksgiving on the brain. You know, being thankful for what you have not preying on the fears of others. Scary was so last month!


So, that’s when I exclaimed I was going to simply breeze through the rest of Stine’s zombie story, and read only the quotes. And boy, unexpectedly, I cracked up!

As I was reading, I kept questioning the validity of the story line – “The zombie ran away from the guy? Come on. Class? You Walking Dead people? Really? Would a zombie run away?” I laughed, uncontrollably. Seriously, tears sprung from my eyes. The kids laughed because of my laughing.They caught on, grabbed hold of my antics and began having as much fun as I was, sadly at the expense of Mr. Stine. (Sorry, dude.) A spooky tale, told in a darkened classroom, with the sound of laughter. Who would have thought?

“Oh, geez!”, someone called out when I read the part about a girl who was finally freed from the basement, no longer human, but a full-on, grossed-out, ugly zombie who was mad that she had been locked away for so long. I just had to demonstrate what she looked like. I knitted my brows, squeezed my eyes, and pierced my lips. I threw my hands in the air, and walked away with a swivel of my hips, shouting ‘What-ever!’ The students busted out roll-on-the-floor laughter.

“What-ever!” they repeated.

“So fake!” someone added. The kids began comparing the book to the TV show, not realizing (or maybe just not thinking about it) that both were equally fake. Meaning, the show, though maybe more realistic, is just as silly (presumably). Which made me laugh even more!

In the end, when the final word, in the final (finally!!) chapter was read, the students cheered and clapped, just as the end-of-the-day bell blared.