Click any letter for a look at my prize-winning essay from the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition. You don't even have to buy a vowel.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Survivor: College Loans

“I’m desperate,” Laudy insisted, knocking back black coffee the way a Cadillac guzzles premium unleaded. “I’ve got one kid in college and one scattering and smothering at the Waffle House to pay back student loans. I have two more who think the Tuition Fairy is going to pick up the tab for collegiate aerobics classes. It’s time for drastic measures.”
Laudy took a close-up look at the American dream and found out the silver lining is made of promissory notes. A savvy mother of four, she surveyed the situation, consulted her checkbook, and collapsed in a state of cardiac arrest. Recovering quickly, she realized the obvious. She would either have to come across a pair of spare Hannah Montana tickets to sell on e-Bay or win some quick money. Since our family’s luck doesn’t tend toward surprise acquisitions of valuable property, Sis decided she would grab some easy money from one of the reality shows on T.V.
“You would have to eat something live and squiggly,” I winced.
“Have you ever eaten french fries off a toddler’s plate?” she patted my hand. “Caterpillars are nothing after that.”
She had a point. I have two boys. I’ve palmed chewed gum in church and plunged my fingers into slimy mouths to chase semi-digested cigarette butts.
“You have to form secret partnerships to outwit the others playing the game,” I reminded her.
“Easy enough. I’ve orchestrated surprise birthday parties that actually turned out to be surprises, and supervised four children on Christmas shopping trips where nobody found out what the others bought.”
I whistled. “How did you manage that? I can’t buy control top pantyhose without my two revealing the size and color to everybody on the Eastern seaboard. Usually if they’re talking to strangers, they throw in my age and weight for free.”
Laudy nodded and patted my hand. “All I know is that after raising one child that ate only baked beans and pizza, one that ate potato skins and ranch dip, one that ate the chicken out of her sandwich and rolled the bread into dough balls, and one that survived for ten years on a diet of macaroni and cheese and Fruit Loops, Survivor would have to be as easy as scraping egg off the ceiling.”
“That easy, huh?”
“It’s all in knowing how to do things the simplest way. Like spraying the ceiling with no stick-spray. Besides, I’ve been practicing.”
“How do you practice surviving on a deserted island?” My idea of roughing it is buying salad by the head.
“I’ve been foraging for food. Just yesterday I cut up a chicken. I bought corn with the hair still on. And I’ve been cooking on the grill instead of in the microwave. It’s just like cooking over an open fire.”
“How did it go?”
“Great. I didn’t realize what a quick response time we had with the fire department around here. Did you know that you don’t need lighter fluid if you use propane?”
“Okay, you’ve got mealtime covered. What about laundry? Ready to beat your clothes clean on river rocks?”
“Well, I’m still using that old washing machine Mama gave me when I got married. It doesn’t spin by itself any more. You have to grab the tub and whirl it around like one of those little merry-go-rounds at the park. I lose weight every time I do the wash.”
“Sounds like you’ve got what it takes all right,” I said, edging toward the door. There’s just one thing that could get in the way of success.”
“What’s that?”
It was cruel, but I’m her sister. I had to let her know. “On Survivor, they don’t have toilets.”
She looked at me with innocent doe eyes. “You’re kidding.”
“Nope. It’s just you in the outback becoming one with nature.”
“You know, there’s something honest and noble about working for a living.”
“Well, that’s a lesson these kids will just have to learn.”


plaidearthworm said...

You've done it again! A post that would make Erma Bombeck laugh til she peed. Thanks so much, I really needed the laughs today!

wordsmith said...

OMG, that was great. I'm totally ROTFLMAO. (Beverage far, far away from the laptop.) I love especially the comment about eating the french fries off of a toddler's plate...the only thing "catapillarier" would be when they feed you the one they started to eat, but changed their minds about.

Mysti said...

Absolutely fantastic! LMFAO!!! I have to concur with plaidearthworm! Bravo!

Dawn said...

LOL!! :) Awesome!! :)

Carolyn Erickson said...

Amy, I thought I already commented, but it didn't show up and now wordsmith said what I was going to say! :D

Oh well, I'll say it anyway... ROTFLMAO!

Melanie Avila said...

Hilarious! But I'm surprised she'd have a problem with no toilet - from what I've seen at my sister's (I don't have kids) you pretty much squat in front of the entire family anyways!

Kate Boddie said...

Hey, no one said you had to work at Waffle House in order to pay back student loans. Temp agencies pay much better. I'm closing in on $73k with compounding interest. I've already consolidated my federal loans. Now I have to work on the private loans. Never the two shall meet, unfortunately. I guess the Feds don't want their money touched by Sallie Mae, aka the devil. A word of warning, when you (or your children, whomever's name is on that loan) starts getting the bills when the loans are in repayment, whatever you do, DON'T look at the projected amount after 20 years at minimum payments. There aren't enough jumper cables to restart your checkbook when you see those figures.

wordsmith said... just means that great minds think alike! :)'ve been tagged. :)