Friday, September 26, 2008

A Stick of Butter Will Do Just That If You Toss It at the Ceiling

Ceilings. That's what they came up with. That was my topic. What could I possible have to say about ceilings?

During a lesson yesterday about expository writing, I asked my students to come up with a topic for me. I was going to demonstrate how they could come up with good attention grabbing openings for their paper. I taught them this whole long system and was about to model
how it would work, all I needed was a topic. I figured those innocent little sixth graders would give me something easy, something like kitties or football or school lunches or fast food restaurants. I figured they'd play along. Nope. They gave me ceilings.

I thought for a moment, which is way too long to pause in front of a group of rabid eleven year olds, and my mind went blank. I was empty. I had nothing. Crap.

Uh oh, here comes something.
Oooooo, there's something else.
And another.

Suddenly my mind started to fill with ceiling facts and ceiling information and ceiling quotes, ceiling questions, and even ceiling related anecdotes.

Then I realized that one of the most remarkable things about my life is the extraordinary number of strange ceiling stories I have. Literally dozens.

Ceiling fan stories poured in. They're the easiest, every one has a good ceiling fan story. I remembered using my parents’ fan to launch Nerf basketballs, stuffed animals, and rolled up socks around the room. A vivid picture of a party where I threw handfuls of pretzels at my friends through the spinning fan blades from the room above. My brother-in-law jumping up to celebrate a home team touchdown and accidentally reaching through the fan blades, quickly putting the kibosh on the end zone dance. My buddy Owen, intentionally reaching up to check if the fan was even on, during a high school strobe light party. The ceiling fan that sat half assembled in my bedroom, because I couldn't figure out how to wire it, for a year. I could go on and on about fans, but the memories kept coming.

I recalled a very disconcerting brownish colored stain that always gave me a feeling that something was looking at me on the ceiling of my first apartment's bedroom. I'm almost positive I saw it move once. There was also a particularly disturbing looking rust/water/jungle
rot stain in a Memphis motel bathroom. When I was student teaching, there was a waterlogged ceiling tile in the classroom that sat just below a leaky pipe. The tile soaked up and collected so many drips and drops that eventually it began to sag, making it look like my ceiling had a tumor. It eventually burst on a particularly rotten student. That was funny. They were all funny.

Even with all that, things that have been stuck to my ceiling seem to be the most prominent memories.

I suddenly remembered the picture of my friend Jim, an incredibly skinny, pasty white guy, standing in the hallway of my dorm in his cartoon heart boxers, striking an ridiculously feminine looking muscle man pose, a goofy "I just left nickle night at the bar" grin plastered across his face. I remember my roommate Ted and I laughing hysterically, to the point that we were rolling on the floor, crying, and holding our sides, when that one came back from the photo lab.
For some reason (probably alcohol), we decided to shove that picture into the tight space between the ceiling and the wood molding around the window. A little tiny bit of the corner stuck out so that some one off in the distant future might be able to enjoy Jim's moment of
shame as much as we did.

The next year, for some reason (alcohol, no probably, I'm certain this time), we decided to call our old room and tell them about the picture. When they answered the phone, we realized right away that there was a small party taking place in #1406. With the loud hip-hop music blaring in the background, as well as the carrying on and laughing in the room, it didn't take long to realize that the entire populace of the room was drunk/high, but I managed to direct them to Jim's glamour shot anyway.

Two seconds later, the phone dropped to the ground, and all I could hear was the cackling of a roomful of chemically altered college students as they screeched and hollered, one especially memorable (read: loud) voice repeating over and over, "white boy in tha unda wear, white boy in tha unda wear..." The maniacal laughing and "white boy in tha unda wear"s went on for a full ten minutes before someone over there picked up the phone, said "thanks, you crazy" and hung up.

Closely behind that gem, the memory of my childhood friend Aaron swearing that you could turn Diet Pepsi into regular Pepsi by simply adding sugar. One night, during a sleepover, Aaron refused to drink diet pop, but since that was all we had in the house, we had to self alter the recipe in order to satisfy my guest. A funnel was retrieved from the garage, sugar was brought in from the kitchen, and the sixteen ounce glass bottle of Pepsi sat open on the table, waiting.
We weren't sure how much sugar exactly needed to be added, so the plan was to do it gradually, stopping and tasting as we went. This was a bad idea.

The first tablespoon of sugar created a carbonated volcano. A violent burst of Pepsi foam shot six feet in the air, spraying and soaking the ceiling, the light fixture, my sister, a very unhappy cat, and an incredibly surprised pair of would be non-Diet Pepsi drinkers. It was unexpected to say the least, but it was so cool. We did it three more times.

The next day we were painting the ceiling while my dad lectured us about the physics of soft drinks.

You'd think the Pepsi incident would have taught me a lesson, but back in the day, I was not too good with the learning. Another buddy, Eddie, and I were rooting through the fridge during a sleepover. This is the same kid that helped me come up with the plan to use the back of the bubble gum cards and long distance 411 calls to find out the home phone numbers of our favorite ball players. It seemed like a good idea until one day my mom opened the phone several hundred dollar phone bill. Somehow I convinced her it must have been a mistake on the part of the phone company, but I never did get to call Jody Davis or Ron Guidry.

Anyway, that night, with the phone pulled off the wall and safely hidden in my parents' room, Eddie and I decided to see what happens when you throw a stick of butter at the ceiling. Let's just say that a stick of butter is aptly named.

The next morning we were painting the ceiling while my dad lectured us on the proper use of dairy products.

Finally, slamming into the back end of all these other memories like the last car in a highway pile up, I remembered the story of "My Dad and the Infamous Ketchuplosion".

For the life of me, I can't remember what we did to make him so mad, but one night at the dinner table, while eating something that required the giant Sam's Club "you could take laps inside of it like an Olympic swimming pool" bottle of ketchup to be on the table. One of the kids was probably making fart noises, because nothing got him madder than fart noises. I can't quite comprehend that, because even typing the words fart noises makes me kinda giggly. But, fart noises at the dinner table was his pet peeve. It drove him batty. One night he just had enough of them and he blew up. He grabbed that jug o' tomatoey goodness and slammed it on the table so hard the top shot off and the neck of the plastic bottle shattered in his hand. My dad is
normally a pretty calm guy, so this took everyone aback. If he hadn't been sitting there with an overflowing handful of Heinz, we probably would have even been surprised enough to stop laughing. It looked like there was more ketchup spread around that room than could have
possibly been inside that bottle. It was everywhere. The light. His glasses. The dog. The floor. A giant glob of it on his neck, A good portion of the table. My plate. Laps, faces, arms, the wall. Everywhere. Yes, like a thick goopy red cloud, there was even a gigantic splotch of it on the

The next day, he was painting the ceiling with my mom lecturing him about the detriments of condiment abuse.

Those rascally students. They probably planned this. I'm sure they conspired to come up with the most difficult topic ever. Why couldn't they have picked spatulas or bobcats or anvils or tuna salad sandwiches or something easy? Those are topics I could write a whole paper about. Ceilings? I don't have anything to say about ceilings. How the heck am I supposed to write a sample paper on ceilings?

Oh. I guess I just did.

To see what else will stick to the ceiling, vote here.


eve cleveland said...

You are hands down the best looking cartoon man that I have a cyber relationship with! Baby, you should have talked to me about ceilings. God knows I have stared at plenty of them wondering why I just did what I done!

Anna Lefler said...

Hey, Mike...

I loved your ceiling stories! It's nice to know that men have spent plenty of time looking up at them, too.

Don't tell my kids about the butter trick, ok? Seriously.

:^) Anna

PS Thanks for playing the HARO game on my blog!

The Offended Blogger said...

Haha! Do you have a copy of that picture??

Very funny and btw, I love the new colors! I do miss the monkey a bit tho. :)

Starcasm said...

Condiment abuse is very widespread, yet very few know its dangers.

That's why is hosting a Condiment Abuse Awareness Celebrity Fun-run Race for the Cure.

Bill said...

Hi Mike - amazing! Who would have imagined one could write so much about ceilings and make it interesting? Other than you I mean. lol. Added you to my blogroll :>)

My nephew once asked me to open a bottle of wine (he was 14)for the dinner. I did. Little bugger had shaken the guts out of it and it sprayed right up and all over the ceiling. Red wine. Imagine the stains are still there 30 years later.