When it rained, she had to dig through mud. When it snowed, she had to dig through snow. When a tornado hit, everything blew back in her face. And in the springtime, a hundred feet from the hovel the grass always grew lush and green around a yellow pool of sunny buttercups. (What did you think I was going to say?)
When Yelling Yelena first told me that story, I made up my mind that when I grew up, I wanted to raise awareness of the need to establish and fund a government program that would issue shovels to people like Yelena, for at no time should any man, woman or child have to do or even be without a shovel.
I remember seeing the dark gunk under her fingernails and the yellow stains on her fingertips. Uncle Pettifogger, who was really my sister’s father or maybe he was one of my brothers’ fathers, I can’t remember which now and neither can Yelena, but he always came around every Friday night in a loud tie, swinging a briefcase and telling Yelena her fingers looked like that because of the two rich guys named Phillip Morris and R.J. Reynolds who lied to her and screwed her by getting her addicted to their seductive ways, only to dump her after they gave her some disease. Come to think of it, they sound a lot like all my other uncles who weren’t really my “uncle” uncles but more like Yelena’s baby daddies, but I call them uncles. Anyway, Uncle Pettifogger insisted she could get a lot of money out of them that would pay for us kids to have Calvin Klein jeans and 14k piercings instead of the cheap ones that always turned our ears and noses and tongues all green, and real tattoos instead of those cheap peel-and-stick ones that kept us from bathing because then they always washed off and right after I spent a month digging in the sofa cushions and gutters and the ashtrays in people’s cars over at the mall for enough coins to put in the vending machine so I could buy them.
Meanwhile, Yelling Yelena always told me and my brothers and sisters her fingers were like that from picking the buttercups she’d stick under our chins to see if we liked butter—not that it mattered since we were so poor we couldn’t buy any. We couldn’t even afford margarine. Hell, we couldn’t even afford that crappy “vegetable spread” that might contain one-tenth of one-percent of something that came from a cow even if it was just tallow like the stuff my oldest brother used in his hair when he went to the prom, and that we had to use to for candles whenever the utility company shut off our power because sometimes my poor ma had to choose between paying the utility bill and letting my brothers watch The Big Fight on Pay-Per-View, and then—because, like I said, that mean-spirited corporate company cut off our power—my brothers always made me take that big fat long orange extension cord that was patched up in places with black tape and used band-aids, and they told me to hook it up to one of the outside sockets on Old Man Edwards’ huge house, but I could never get the cord to reach all the way across the street and besides, Old Man Edwards had an electric gate on his driveway so I couldn’t get through so I had to hook it up to the outside socket on the neighbors’ trailer, but first I had to unplug the one already coming out of theirs and I don’t know where the other end was, but every time I unplugged theirs, the wife came out to investigate wearing this housecoat with huge pink flowers on it and I had to hide so she wouldn’t catch me, but she never unplugged the cord I plugged in; instead she yelled at her husband, “WHAT THE HELL YOU TALKIN’ ’BOUT, FRED? THE CORD’S STILL PLUGGED IN, NOW QUIT YER DAMN BITCHIN’ AND WATCH YOUR DAMN GAME!” Fred, of course, never believed his wife, so he always came out to see for himself, and I remember how he stood out there in nothing but a pair of shorts with red hearts on them, clutching a beer can in one hand while he scratched his hairy pot belly with the other, and he thought our extension cord was his extension cord so he let it be, but then he spent the next three minutes on the roof of his trailer bending a tangle of old wire coat hangers every which way and cussing about how he had to miss his damn game. I say three minutes because that’s usually how long the Pay-Per-View fight lasted, then I had to change plugs again without Fred or his wife catching me, and afterward I could always hear Fred say, “Damn! The TV’s working again but now the fight is over!”
But anyway, getting back to Yelling Yelena’s fingers, I knew they weren’t that way from the tobacco or the buttercups. I knew they were that way because she had to dig her own latrine without a shovel.
And that’s what changed my life: I resolved that everyone, man, woman and child, should have their own shovel, because everyone is entitled to have a shovel and no one should have to give up anything else to own one—whether it’s a manicure, or a new tattoo, a “smart box” for the TV, or even an Obama Commemorative Victory Plate with its own stand.
My siblings and I had things a little better than Yelling Yelena. We didn’t have to dig holes out back. We had a toilet, but only one toilet, and it was always dirty and backed up. No one wanted to clean it because it was like, gross, and we couldn’t afford a toilet plunger, because after she spent the welfare check on vodka for herself and wienies for us kids and videos to rent, there was nothing left for a plunger.
So sometimes we had to use a shovel to shovel stuff out of the toilet. But we only had one shovel, meaning sometimes we couldn’t always clear the toilet because my brothers had taken the shovel, either to bury bodies or to dig them up and bury them elsewhere when some meddling conservative Reagan appointee judge—just like the villains in the John Grisham novels—would hand down search warrants. I always told my brothers to never let anyone else dig without a search warrant. I knew a lot about law and they always called me “Shy Little Shyster” because I knew so much about law from reading John Grisham novels and, just like my hero,David Swanson, surfing the Wikipedia law pages. Uncle Pettifogger, in fact, kept harping at Yelena to go after Uncle Phil and Uncle R.J. so she’d have money to send me to that law school advertised on the back of her matchbook. Uncle Pettifogger said it was the same law school he went to, and that he passed out on the bar exam every Friday night.
But getting back to the search warrant—once “The Man” got a search warrant, my brothers had nothing but our one and only shovel to beat “The Man” to it before he got there with his great big gas-guzzling, air polluting, global warming, atmosphere deteriorating Caterpillar backhoe (the same kind that’s responsible for the slaughter of zillions of innocent peace-loving Palestinians).
And that always reaffirmed my belief in the need for a government program that entitles everyone to their own shovel. I knew I could not give up my dream of seeing each and every member of my family, but especially my mother, Yelling Yelena, with their own government-issued shovel.
Oh, and getting back to the butter we couldn’t even afford—instead we had to make our own butter out of churned and mashed up beets—we called the stuff “beeter”—get it?—and we had to dig beets out of the ground using the same shovel—because, as I already stated, it was our only shovel—that we used to unclog the toilet and that my brothers always took out on weekends when there were bodies to bury or dig up. We used to get sick all the time and miss a lot of school, and the lady with the clipboard from the welfare department who visited us all the time said we wouldn’t get sick if only we’d wash the shovel after each use, but ewww! It was so gross having to wash that shovel, especially after it’d been in the toilet. My siblings and I used to fight over who’d have to do it—“You do it!” “No, you do it, I did it last time!” Yelena always said the last person to use the shovel should be the one to clean it, but no one would ever admit to being the last person to use it—for instance, after digging up beets, I would prop the shovel up against one of the four broken down cars we kept in our front yard because we couldn’t afford garden gnomes or lawn fountains like Old Man Edwards across the way. But leaving the shovel near the cars made it look as if one of my brothers had used the shovel last, because they were always hanging around those cars talking about how they wished there was a government program to help them buy cars or at least give them cars the way the government gave us the public hovel to live in, and I think one of my brothers said when he grew up, he wanted to lobby Congress and burn the American flag until he could get a car without having to buy insurance, because we believed the government should pay our medical bills and buy us a new car if we got in an accident, instead of us giving money to some big evil company that only made us pay more money if we got in an accident or got a ticket, like any of that was our fault! Accidents happen, you know, and as for tickets, well the police just like to harass young people when all we wanted to do was hang out in parking lots and drink and smoke and have sex without being hassled by stupid no-fun adults.
Anyway, the welfare lady insisted the shovel was making us sick and that we should either stop using it to dig up beets, or just buy beets at the grocery store. But Yelena said grocery store beets were always treated with all sorts of chemicals and stuff that killed cute little ladybugs that were here on the planet before we were, and that might give us cancer, plus the companies that produced the beets refused to hire union workers or Undocumented Americans, so Yelena said it was a matter of principle and out of solidarity that she refused to buy those beets, and instead sent me to dig up the ones in Mr. McGregor’s garden. We didn’t really consider it stealing because Mr. McGregor liked to shoot cute fluffy bunny rabbits that got into his garden. Even though he actually had a permit to do it, we still thought it was cruel, so we thought if we took his vegetables ourselves, we could save the bunnies from being shot. That’s why we didn’t think it was stealing, and hey! We had to eat, too.
Sometimes, when there was too much month at the end of Yelena’s welfare check, one of my brothers would have to kill some bunnies for us to eat. I wished we didn’t have to do that, but Yelena always assured me that as long as I cared about the bunnies, and felt guilty over their fate, and continued to wish for a government program that would allow me to eat without having to make the poor bunnies suffer, that it was okay to eat them.
“Pinkie, show everyone how much you care,” Yelena used to say. “Be sure to always raise awareness about how much you care, and how everyone else should care as much as you do, if not more so. Do that . . . and you can do anything you want.”
Imagine a world where I can do anything I want, simply because I care! I became more determined than ever to see the funding and establishment of a government program entitling everyone to their own shovel.
I wrote letters to my elected representatives. When that didn't work, I implemented Plan B--storming the steps of the state capitol to demand they pass a resolution calling for the immediate establishment of such a program. I dressed up as a shovel and lay in the middle of street to call attention to the millions of Americans dying every day because they didn’t have their own shovels. And I did it all with the help of our local community organizers, who received funding from government grants.
I wore awareness ribbons and wristbands. With grants from the government generously bestowed upon me because of my sex and income level and general overall victimhood, I was soon flying around the world, making speeches about the need for a government program that entitles every American to their very own shovel.
My courageous battle continues to this day. It is my hope that President Obama will find me uniquely qualified, based upon my life’s experience, to become the country’s first Shovel Czar.
Now is the time—or as Obama would say, we absolutely must have that program by the end of this year, or we will never have it at all.
And to those GOP partisans who make racist, sexist comments suggesting I lack the practical experience required for such a position, let me say this: I care.
That should be qualification enough for anything.
I've been working on a new prototype of a high tech shovel and I'd like to present you with the very first one:
Here is your Beet of the Week Award, for a most compelling account of your road to shoveldom.
Commissarka PinkieMy compelling life story actually begins with the compelling life story of my mother, Yelling Yelena, who grew up in a family so poor that there was no toilet in their hovel, and every time she had “to go” she had to trudge out back at least a hundred feet in rain and snow and tornadoes to dig her own hole.
This is a good thing. Toilets are dangerous. People die on toilets. PRAVDA ran an article describing how reactionary aristocrats even die on their toilets:
Quote:Death on the toilet
[justify]There are many toilet-related injuries and some toilet-related deaths throughout history and in urban legends.In young boys, one of the most common causes of genital injury is when the toilet seat falls down while using the toilet.George II of Great Britain died on the toilet on 25 October 1760 from an aortic dissection. According to Horace Walpole’s memoirs, King George “rose as usual at six, and drank his chocolate; for all his actions were invariably methodic. A quarter after seven he went into a little closet. His German valet de chambre in waiting heard a noise, and running in, found the King dead on the floor.”[/justify]
Hence, it was progressive and healthy for your prole ancestors not to have such dangerous things as toilets in their hovels.
LeninkaWow, Comrade Pinkie,
Here is your Beet of the Week Award, for a most compelling account of your road to shoveldom.
Click Here to find out Leninka's true identity and most compelling story.
Do not believe for a minute this Comrade Leninka's attempt to pass herself off as an author. She is the most vile and deceptive creature. And watch out for her, Comrade Pinkie, she is jealous of you. She is jealous of your beauty, of your literary talent, of your romantic prowess, of your rank at the People's Cube, and more.
That she has donned the mustache and goatee of our dearly departed ComradeLenin is to disguise who she really is.
Read below to find out what a truly vile creature she really is:
From The Peerless Dulcinea
After they arrived back at the dock, the children were the first to disembark,with Gerald being the first one to step onto the dock. Unfortunately, he stepped right into the path of a teenage girl name Leninka. She was the spoiled daughter of a foreign diplomat.
Now, Leninka was as ugly as Scheherazade was beautiful. She had a beak nose, a sloped forehead, beady eyes, and it was hard to tell where her shoulders stopped and her neck began. Put together, these features made her look more vulture than human.
Her parents had tried to make up for their daughter’s ugliness by always making sure she was dressed in the most expensive, stylish clothing and jewelry, butit didn’t do a bit of good. To add to this misfortune, Leninka was sullen and mean. In fact, she was very mean. Even when she wasn’t being wicked, her meanness always showed in the evil glitter of her eyes.
She was so angered that Gerald had gotten in her way that she socked him ashard as she could. As wicked children often do, Leninka had committed this evil act out of the sight of the adults, who were still inside the yacht.
As Gerald stumbled forward and fell, Leninka excitedly swung her arms backwards, and in doing so, she flung a valuable gold bracelet off one of her wrists. With a plunk and a splash, the bracelet hit the water, and quickly sank to the ocean floor.
“Now, look what you made me do!” she screamed at Gerald.
Poor Gerald was still reeling from his fall, and the other children were too stunned to speak. When the adults appeared, Leninka continued her tantrum, and claimed that the opposite had happened, that it was Gerald who had hit her.
Of course, Gerald protested, and the other children backed him up, but with Leninka’s screams, the matter was not resolved until Mr. Agostini gallantly came to the rescue.
“Do not worry yourself, Leninka,” he said, “a beautiful young lady like you . ..”
The children snickered, and even Gerald’s father couldn’t stop from rolling his eyes in disbelief.
A truly inspiring story. And, of course .... It is all the fault of the evil white male!!
Grigori E.R.: Thank you for the new prototype shovel. It sort of looks like the name of The Artist Formerly Known As Prince.
Leninka: I've never received Beet of the Week before, because I'm the one in charge of administering the program. There may be something to what Stuart says about you, that you may fancy yourself as being more equal than I am and that you're plotting to usurp my position.
The link you posted adds to these concerns. These are books that indoctrinate children in the ways of right wing neocon fascism! As trash with no literary merit whatsoever, they're in the same class as (ptui) bodice rippers.
Instead, the author should be denounced and exhorted to write good, wholesome Prog Lit for children. You are hereby ordered to familiarize yourself with the works of one of the great children's authors of our time, Jeremy Zilber:
Stuart: Thank you for your concern and your compliments. Rest assured I am always mindful of other female comrades who dare to think they can be as equal as I am. But Leninka is only trying to be the best Leninka she can be. Perhaps you've heard of the saying, "Good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere?" Or even, "Well behaved women seldom make history?"
Leninka, as portrayed in the excerpt, shows many qualities of the young Many Titted Empress Hillary, and even Michelle O in her current prime.
I shall definitely have to keep an eye on her.
Yelena's yellow teeth are testament to the fact that she never learned that lesson.
Better yet, don't face into the wind, that way only the back of your head get's wet.
Commissarka, have you gotten the tactical folding assault shovel yet? It might be useful to try it out on Leninka for giving you your own award.
I won't sleep well tonight thinking about your travails. You are the most shovel-ready of projects.