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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Surprised (09/06/07)

TITLE: Under Cover
By Dianne Janak


Now that I have been inducted into the club of Grand ma, ( which I refuse to be called, as it sounds like obese hillbilly), I have started to ponder.

There are two types of ponderings. Regret ponderings, and future ponderings.

One regret is the belly laugh I gave a man who works at a Computer REUSEIT store. When my mouse died, I called and asked if they sold refurbished mice. Apparently, it made his day.

One of my future wondering ponderings is, what would it be like to be an undercover cop? Without that experience, my life seems incomplete.

My biggest problem would be, I’d want feedback on how well I was doing… you know, a written weekly report on how great I fooled them, when I messed up, and how to be a better thug.

One day while doing some past pondering , I had an Oprah moment. I realized I have been going undercover as a normal my entire life, which explains the exhaustion. Faking normal is hard work.

A few years ago, our new lay counseling ministry took a trip to Nashville to the National Christian Counselors’ Conference. I volunteered ( cause I’m nice) to room with Matilda, the professional MFT, who would be overseeing our group . She was new which explained her excitement about rooming with me.

There was great pressure on me from my precious peer lay counselor buds, to be a normal, ‘cause I represented our church.

Matilda had given us permission to have a few issues when she said “we all walk with a limp, and that is why we can counsel.”

I didn’t ask how bad the limp could be, because ignorance is bliss. Not wanting to be our group’s first amputation, I needed a strategy.,

I practiced normal in front of the mirror for weeks before we left, with the discovery that I could be quite boring, if I kept my mouth shut.

My first hurdle came when I had to preboard because of claustrophobia on planes. I need the aisle seat, 3rd row, up front, to the right. Matilda kept asking me the whole way in a counselory voice how I was doing. I was fine, cause I was on Zanex. I made a mental note however, not to mention drugs.

So far, so good. I stifled myself at the hotel, on a crowded elevator of Christian professional counselors. I was so tempted to holler loudly when door closed…”Im having a panic attack. Help me.” Just to see if they were really counselors, and really Christian. But I was quiet. The normal thing was starting to kick in.

Things went smoothly undercover 'cause I never saw Matilda until at night right before bed. We reviewed our day, what we learned, I asked the proper questions to let her know I am teachable and was going to be a real asset to the program.

I’m so tempted to pun that last sentence.

I so wish I could lie and tell you this is fiction, but obese hillbillies are supposed to set examples.

The very last night of the conference I went to bed with great relief. I had pulled NORMAL off well. ( in my humble opinion) Then the unthinkable occurred. A TOTAL shock! There was a rat in my bed.

I felt it on my pillow as it scampered under the covers. Looking back I’m amazed at my incredible ability to stay calm under cover. Our church rep was at stake, and so was my new ministry.

I needed a flashlight to prove I’m wasn’t hallucinating. Can you even imagine the pressure? I WANTED the rat to be there.

Having no flashlight, I remembered my cell phone. I was desperate and also brilliant. As I discreetly looked under the covers for the rat I prayed would appear, Matilda woke up.

“What on earth are you doing?”

“Matilda, I’m not on earth. You are having a nightmare.”

I had to stall her to find the rat. Just between you and I, there was no rat, and I still counsel people.

The next day when she told me she dreamed I was looking under my covers with my cell phone, I changed the subject.

“Matilda, have you ever pondered about what’s the plural of computer mouse? I think about stuff like that.”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Linda Watson Owen09/13/07
Oh, what a treat! You had me all the way. Reconditioned mice! What a hoot! It's great to end a hectic day with a laugh. Thanks ...laughter IS the best medicine!
Jacquelyn Horne09/16/07
I can tell by your story that this was a hard assignment, being NORMAL.
Jan Ackerson 09/16/07
Absolutely hilarious!
Dee Yoder 09/17/07
Ha! This is entertaining and funny! I like the sentence about WANTING there to be a rat. Clever, but not normal writing, thank goodness.
Joy Faire Stewart09/17/07
Love your MC voice and your humor. This is delightful!
Joanne Sher 09/19/07
What fun! I love love love your voice (as usual) - perfect title in more ways than one. You should do stand-up!
Loren T. Lowery09/19/07
A delightful "tongue-in-cheek" story. For a while I was thinking, and probably still am, that Matilda is actually an alter ego. "Faking normal is hard"...what a great line.
David Butler09/20/07
Got a smile out of that. Yet underneath the gentle satire I can see some slightly sad truth. e.g. "..faking normal is hard work.." I liked that bit about the limp as well.
Have you ever written for magazines? Your style kind of has that feel about it. I reckon you outshine any columnist I've ever read.