When Sheep Don’t Bring You Joy

I wrote this in 40 minutes before work at 5AM – please excuse any offensive uses or misuses of grammar.  mea culpa, mea culpa, mea máxima culpa. That Catholic upbringing was good for something, eh?

We moved out to Tucson, AZ from Long Island (NY) in 1978. My mom was Brooklyn born and raised. My father spent time in Ottawa (that’s in Canada for the geographically challenged) and then most of his life before marriage in Queens, NY.

My brother and I were products of suburbia; raised in a small village called Shoreham on Long Island.  Very idyllic, very Erma Bombeck.  As a child, I LOVED it.  Who doesn’t love playing kickball in the street with Billy Hannigan – and him running as if he was the Bionic Man (making the dadadadadada noise as he rounded every base?). We had block parties, tree houses, snow days, grass, trees, autumn, blizzards and hurricanes!  What’s not to love?

For my father, it was the daily 2 hour (each way) commute, taxes and the last two items on my “Love” list.  So it transpired that he decided to move us to across the United States to a place called “Arizona”.  My cousin seriously thought they had camels here – obviously the Sahara and Sonoran deserts are the same to a 10 year old New Yorker. You have to understand, NO ONE in my family on either side had ever moved away from New York. NO ONE.  My Mountain Man Camping Outdoorsy father had always wanted to be a cowboy.  I have to admit no one else in my family was interested in his fantasy.

The trip to Arizona was a nightmare – and that will be its own post one of these days…but for now, let’s fast forward to our actual move to Tucson, Arizona.  My father is trying to decide where we are going to live.  So one morning he takes us to BENSON, AZ.

On the drive there we were HORRIFIED. Benson has a population of about 12 people. In the middle of the desert:

Benson, AZ – Population 12

It has sheep.

We had just moved from this place:

My house in Shoreham, NY – see all that GREEN?

It had cannolis and other great Italian pastry. But no sheep.

So here’s the story.  My father is dragging us around (my brother age 12, me age 9 & my mother “Mom Age”).  We are looking at vacant lots in a vacant looking ghost town.  My brother needs to pee. So my father tells him to find a tree and go.  It’s the desert for God’s Sake – there are NO trees.  So my brother improvises and pees on an agave plant.

Sharp Freakin’ Needles! We had no clue they hurt…

We know ZILCH about cacti or succulents.  He manages to slice his ‘boy part’ (ok – PENIS) on the agave. It’s really painful – and those head wounds (ha ha) bleed a lot.

At this point, my father decides to take us for some food. Ah good… we see a place called “Pizza Hut” – we’d never seen a Pizza Hut before – but it’s pizza, right?  We go in…my mom is watching them ‘make’ the pizza.  She sees the guy put the dough through a machine to flatten it in to a circle and it’s just too much.  She starts crying… which in turn makes me start to cry and my brother is still crying from the agave incident.

My poor father – he’s happy as a clam to be in Benson, AZ and his wife and daughter are crying over the pizza machine and his son is bleeding out of his pants and crying.   Luckily my father realized at some point that his family was not cut out for life in Benson.  We drove back to Tucson and Benson was never mentioned again.

And that is my story.

About Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher

I'm a research librarian for Public Television, story teller, bike commuter, baker, music fiend, lover of reading & books, mother, wife, friend - and many more descriptive adjectives and nouns.
This entry was posted in Aversions, Childhood, Daily Prompt, Family, Humor, Random Thoughts, Story, Words, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

97 Responses to When Sheep Don’t Bring You Joy

  1. Pingback: Feature Friday: The Mercenary Researcher | Stuphblog

  2. Whoredinary says:

    I love this: “Mom age”….perfect!

  3. HOLY CRAP! Your brother’s penis. So wrong how hard I’m laughing.

  4. calahan says:

    Everybody should cry at the very idea of a Pizza Hut. Your mom was right to do so. Also, now I want cannoli.

  5. My my, what beautiful comment nesting you have…and your brother should be famous for being a missing link; rubbing your penis on plants was eradicated from the gene pool a long time ago.

  6. haha! It figures when I finally get over here it’s the reblog that I’ve read! I happen to love this one, so it’s all good.
    Hope you’re having a great day, Denise!

  7. twindaddy says:

    Haha! Head shot! Man down!

  8. La La says:

    I feel bad for laughing at your brother’s peen!

  9. Brigitte says:

    Ruta, I can see why you have so many more followers. You are hysterical. I hope your brother’s penis healed and I’m cracking up that that was the first time you’d ever seen a Pizza Hut! What a story. I’ve never been to AZ. My husband was born there and I think they lived there until he was about 6 or 7. Some parts of it look really beautiful and I’ve heard some cool things about those colorful canyons. I’m glad you acclimated and that you (and hopefully your bro) learned not too pee too close to those prickly plants. 🙂

  10. Elyse says:

    Earth Day is the perfect day for a recycled post. Especially one this good!

  11. MissFourEyes says:

    Yay for re-blog-it-monday! Great story! And I’m sorry about giggling at your brothers head wounds, poor guy

  12. Reblogged this on The Mercenary Researcher and commented:

    Welcome to a Re-Blog-It-Monday … where I re-post some of the stories I told when I had a reader-base of -10.

  13. Maggie O'C says:

    Ermegerd! this is squeeze my face, church laughing funny. I have to write more of my childhood stories because I know you will appreciate them.

  14. jiltaroo says:

    Ouch! But I have to ask…did you take out the ‘penis’ tag as some point? or is there just a ‘thing’ about sheet that needs no mention of penis. Or was it “agave” that set them on fire?

  15. lolabees says:

    My parents moved us from NJ to Denver back in the ’80s. We moved to a new suburban neighborhood, and our across-the-street neighbors were 3 llamas. No joke. A few times our little Maltese escaped and would chase the llamas. The real culture shock, though, was when my mom moved to small town Texas. She lived on a dirt road with cows everywhere. Oh boy. Luckily I was in college at that point.

    I did always love the way the Arizona landscape looked. It was so unique that I found it quite impressive. Wow. I thought your move couldn’t get any more traumatic after reading that post! Your dad was probably psyched not to have to do a 2 hour commute anymore! That would be enough for me.

  16. Me too! I’ve become a Mid-West girl over the years and have fully acclimated to this kinder gentler life. (I’ve been in Indiana, Kansas and Illinois for the past 25 years.) When I’m in New York now, I feel like I’m gonna have a heart attack. Too much stimulus and I don’t talk nearly as fast as I once did. I feel conspicuous, like a tourist. Ugh.

  17. Great story. I can relate with all of the emotions in this post. I still occasionally cry about Pizza Hut! Let’s face it, New York pizza is hands down, the best in the country. Sometimes I reminisce and my kids roll their eyes at me. They don’t really understand that food in New York doesn’t come from a franchise – it comes from family owned restaurants and deli’s.

    The West is still so unappealing to me. It’s so ugly and barren. As kids from New York, the culture shock must have been significant. haha!

    • I know – my mom was so upset that Tucson (at the time) didn’t have silver star Ravioli (sp) or Polly-o Ricotta. And cannoli? Not a freakin’ one…now it’s different – but there are only a handful of good pizza places and I make all my own Italian food.

      • hahaha! Polly-o-Ricotta!! That’s so funny! It’s scary to be away from the food staples that we know and love. You might as well have been on another planet. When my mom moved us to Texas, I freaked out, too. She eventually came to her senses, two years later, and we moved back to New York. (I will say, in defense of the southwest, they have the most amazing Mexican food.) Yum.

        • NY to Texas might even be more odd than NY and Arizona…
          I do love Mexican food and we now have a lot of great restaurants in Tucson. However, I find I’m more of a girl from the West – I love to make eye contact, smile at people, etc…when I’m walking around the streets in Brooklyn smiling at people, they look alarmed 🙂

  18. Pingback: Two Scenarios: from the Mind of a Writer from and the Mind of a Librarian | The Mercenary Researcher

  19. Maryann Graziano says:

    I think you guys were the first to “leave the nest” to some “godforsaken place”, as Grandma would say.

  20. Pingback: Kill Me! Save Me! | The Mercenary Researcher

  21. chaoshighway says:

    This is so hilarious. Only those who have experienced coast to coast transfer can appreciate the depth of the culture shock. And head wounds is quite possibly the best twist on words yet. I was rolling reading this. By the way, we live in a highly Italian East Coast area and my kids favorite pizza is Pizza Hut. There’s just something special about that thick buttery crust. Bleah!!!!

  22. Pingback: Up Jumped the Cholla 1-2-3 | The Mercenary Researcher

  23. You will Linda, you will!!! We have to laugh a things else we’ll go crazy

  24. Linda says:

    Great story. I just read it out loud to my kids, who’ve moved more times than any children should and have watched me cry during many of those moves.

    I hope someday they find their childhoods funny and turn them into wonderful blog posts.

  25. RFL says:

    Love this post! I can’t even believe you got “head wounds” and a traumatic first encounter with Pizza Hut in one post, but I enjoyed the story (although I am sorry for the tears that inspired it).

  26. Hahaha! Does your brother read your blog? There’s something so amusing about your brother peeing on a cactus.

  27. The Waiting says:

    I can just picture your family sitting at a table in a Pizza Hut, everyone crying except your dad. It’s the stuff that dreams are made of. Bad dreams, but dreams nonetheless 😉

    • We didn’t even MAKE it to the table – all the magic was happening in the ‘lobby’ area…I’m sure the guy that worked there is blogging the other side of this story right now…
      I hope my bro doesn’t read this post – he’ll not be happy about the penis part… hee hee…

  28. byebyebeer says:

    I use agave nectar in my coffee and suddenly don’t want to anymore 😉

    Great story and story-telling! I grew up on pizza hut and loved those red cups and greasy pizza. Took me awhile to get used to the real thing.

    • Ha ha – I use agave necter too – but I try not to think about my brother 🙂
      Thank you – I love telling stories –
      I have many friends that LOVE Pizza Hut b/c it’s not like any other pizza they eat. We used to eat at Shakey’s Pizza Buffet – the ultimate American Pizza! Red cups and all.

      • sherryd32148 says:

        Love me some Shakey’s! Had my first legal beer at a Shakey’s…oh wait…maybe that’s not so good after all. 😉

        Great post. Had me LOL’ing at work. I love it when that happens.

      • Kim says:

        I remember Shakey’s too! It was always the go-to place after my brother’s Little League games.

        Funny post! I had a similar but reversed culture shock moving from Tucson to Santa Barbara when I was 12. When we got to SB it was raining (and had been for days) and I thought we’d moved to the rainforest everything was so green and….wet.

  29. runningonsober says:

    So you almost really did LIVE IN A CAVE!

    Hilarious! I lived in constant culture shock moving so much with a Navy Dad. When I moved from Atlanta with my spouse to a tiny dust bowl of a town in West Texas, that took the cake though. Or the sheep, if we had any of those. We’re too small for sheep. Maybe that’s what happened to the sheep. It took a bit of my sanity too I’m afraid. Ha. But we do have a Pizza Hut. ::sigh::


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