When Sheep Don’t Bring You Joy – DPChallenge

This is a fast story today for the Weekly Writing DPChallenge – the Best Medicine

Some of you might have seen this before – and if you have – you can relive the memories with me again. For those that are new, enjoy ~

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…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?

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

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...

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.



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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.
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42 Responses to When Sheep Don’t Bring You Joy – DPChallenge

  1. Pingback: When Is A Vacuum Not A Vacuum? | My Daily Prompt Blog

  2. The Hook says:

    My lord this was freakin’ HILARIOUS!
    It may have sucked to live through this, but the retelling was awesome!

  3. Rohan 7 Things says:

    Man, even at Domino’s pizza we didn’t use a machine to flatten our pizza bases! That’s just sick.

    I have to admit I got a little squirmy at the mention of your brother’s injury. I’ll have to be more careful peeing in the desert. Talk about a head shot…

    Your family alone would have increased the population of that town by 20% or so, at least if you moved there you could have bragged about that!


    • I can’t even imagine what my life would have been like growing up there –

      I can’t believe you worked at Domino’s – and that there’s Domino’s in Ireland – why do the worst foods make it other countries (also including McDonald’s)????

      Hee hee – keep yer parts away from the cacti.

      • Rohan 7 Things says:

        Well actually I worked at Domino’s when I lived in Australia, from the ages of 14 to 16, my first and last “real job” lol. But yeah, we have them here to. The mid boggling thing is I an get a beautiful hand made 16″ seafood pizza from just around the corner for 11.95, but there’s no way you’d get a 16″ pizza from Domino’s for under 20 bucks!

        How on Earth did fast food become a luxury product?!

        I just don’t get it…you’d think that if it’s crap food it would at least be cheap, nope!

        I’ll be keeping my parts very far from anything sharp!


  4. Daile says:

    That took a (painful) turn for the worse and went downhill very quickly!

  5. Marie says:

    You mean not ALL deserts have camels? Why even bother calling it a desert?

    I’m born in Ottawa too, your dad probably knows me.

  6. djmatticus says:

    As someone who grew up in a small town in the desert, I can definitely say that Benson sounds fantastic… Gag!! Run! Run far away… but, you only made it to Tucson, so you are still in the desert and now you are surrounded by a whole bunch of people (comparatively). I think I may have been happier in Benson.

    • NO!!! NEVER BENSON! I am far to liberal for a small desert town unless it’s Flagstaff 🙂

      • djmatticus says:

        Flagstaff isn’t a desert town! They get snow… they even have a ski resort! Nice try there, throwing out a random AZ town trying to fool me. 😛

        • djmatticus says:

          I’d prefer Prescott over Flag… can’t even really define why, other than I just like the sprawling feel of the town. I could also really see myself hanging out in Sedona with the red rocks.

        • Prescott is nice – a little on the older side for me and Sedona is nice for about 2 days, then the people start to get to me – they are very ‘fake’ new age.

        • djmatticus says:

          People? Wha…? You mean people actually live in those places? Okay, that changes everything!! 😉 In my mind Prescott will always be a college town – I spent way too many drunken days and nights partying it up there for it to be anything else. And while I get the desire to avoid the “fake” people in Sedona, the red rocks would go a long way to alleviating some of my irritation with them.

        • I’m kind of a city chicken – sort of….I don’t like desolation – I like small and quaint (and liberal) – but I like a place with a good morning vibe.

          Prescott was named a desirable place to retire in Forbes 🙂

          Where did you go to college? I know you lived in a small place in Cal – right?

        • djmatticus says:

          I went to UCSD for college. 😉 My brother, however, went to Embry Riddle in Prescott. And I spent several weeks with him every summer (and sometimes over the winter). So, maybe that’s why I enjoyed it – because I was only there in small doses. If I actually lived there year round perhaps its little quirks would be less charming.

        • I didn’t even KNOW there was a college in Prescott – except for Prescott College – which you can attend in various places in Arizona.

          Sorry – bad memory for everyone’s background 🙂

          I think Prescott is beautiful in the winter- it looks a little like my home town in NY.

        • djmatticus says:

          Prescott College – you can attend in various places? I thought that was University of Phoenix?! 😛 Just kidding.

          Alas, stuck in Tucson… which looks nothing like NY any time of the year…

          When my dad convinced my mom to move to the small desert town I grew up in, he promised her it would only be for five years – 35 years later they may finally be moving to Los Angeles in a couple months.

        • http://www.prescott.edu/ (it has little ‘campus’ places around Arizona… But Phoenix University is quite different. Hee hee… I went to the U of A –

          We were originally slated to go to Cal but my Dad got a better offer in Tucson – go figure. No one but my Dad wanted to go to Arizona. Sigh..

        • djmatticus says:

          I applied and was accepted at U of A… If I hadn’t fallen in love with San Diego when I went to visit the campus I probably would have ended up there.

        • I’d have made the exact same decision. It was not even discussed that I would apply for anything but the UA since it was in Tucson (my parents were getting divorced and my mom was struggling with a bagel deli that was expanding faster than she could handle). Now that I’m older, I would have done things differently in retrospect!

          San Diego is gorgeous but I hate driving – so that would been hard for me.

        • djmatticus says:

          Ah, family obligations. They are the best.

  7. jmlindy422 says:

    I have these live-with-the-sheep-raise-chickens fantasies. Never gonna happen. Sigh. I do remember, though, my brother hitting a rock, sailing over the handlebars of his bike, but not quite high enough, and slamming his penis into the handlebar stem. My sister and I laughed. Our mother didn’t. Our brother was in too much pain to care.

  8. Marsha says:

    I would cry too leaving behind cannoli’s and all that great Italian food. : )

  9. Teepee12 says:

    Gee. I moved from Hempstead to Jerusalem (Israel). In 1978. But (funny about that) I did it voluntarily. They say it’s a DRY heat. I thought it was just unbelievably hot and entirely, terribly, horribly BROWN. Great story. I relate.

    • Wow – that’s some huge culture shock! Yes, I’ve gotten used to people saying “But it’s a dry heat”…. yes, yes it is… But I do like it better than 110 degrees (F) with 100% humidity…

      Brown – yes, very brown in places. You learn to appreciate ‘rare beauty’ and look for it and hold it close.

  10. El Guapo says:

    I bet your brother still carries teh (mental) scars from that agave.

  11. Carrie Rubin says:

    Oh, yes, I remember this story, particularly the agave. Ouch.

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