No More Magic Buttons

I shudder to think what kind of search terms I will get with this title.

It’s Halloween and Randy and I are hiding out in the bedroom. We didn’t buy candy this year, which really works out for me because I’m sick. I left work 3 hours early today. I came home and watched John Wick 2.

Spoiler alert: Ted “Theodore” Logan shoots a shit ton of people. 

I don’t know if it’s just cold and flu season or if working a bunch of extra hours took a toll or a combination of the two, but after lunch today, I had to admit I wasn’t just tired and achy. I’m goddamn sick. Usually, I stick that shit out, but not today. I’ve been exhausted. I needed a break.

When I’m sick, I crave Chinese food. I don’t get Chinese food often, because Chinese food makes the nerve damage in my feet sizzle up. I’m dealing with burning, tingling feet right this minute in exchange for some egg drop soup and General Tso’s chicken. It’s totally worth it.

Well, worth it until I opened up the fortune cookie. My fortune said: Depend on the predictability and steadiness of life to support you.

So, basically, I’m fucked. I need a magic button.

The kitties can’t read, so they couldn’t be bummed out by my fortune. Alfie the kitty is quite brave. Take out Chinese not only isn’t scary to him, he’s made the takeout bag his new club house.

But I really digress.

You’ll have to bear with me. My skin feels tight and hot and my thoughts are loopy. I’m getting there, though. I promise.

Last Friday, Randy and I were talking on Skype with Mountain girl and the Bass player, as we do every Friday. Sometimes, in the course of the conversation, Randy and I might hear stories from each other we hadn’t heard before, or if we had, so many years have passed we forgot. That doesn’t happen often, but sometimes.

Anyway, I couldn’t tell you what led up to this conversation, but I told them my tale of plagiarism.

I was in the third grade at Saint Augustine elementary school in Covington, KY and my teacher, Sister Jones, liked having us write stories.

Apparently, I was fond of using a common literary device of having a protagonist get out of sticky situations by stumbling upon and pushing a magic button, at which time, all her problems clear up. Easy peasy. Neat and orderly. Something goes wrong? Press the magic button. Fixes everything.

Sister Jones wrote a comment on one of my papers that I was never allowed to write another story about magic buttons.

She also pointed out that I misspelled “button” nearly every time. You guys, I still suck at spelling. Randy is really good at spelling. He just had to spell “plagiarism” for me. If he’s not around, then I use google. 

I was crushed. I thought my stories were amazing.

One day, Sister Jones had us draw a picture to show the definition of “exaggeration”. So I drew a car with an impossibly long nose. It had a telescope mounted on the hood because the car was so long, the driver would need a telescope to see the road.

Sister Jones loved it. She thought it was clever and amazing and she used my paper as an example of good work.

I was beside myself with happiness. I never got held up as the good example.

I was always the cautionary tale.

There was one little problem, though. I didn’t think up the idea. I drew a picture from memory from a cartoon in a magazine.

I didn’t feel bad when I was drawing the picture. I just thought it was a good example for the assignment. But when Sister Jones went on about how creative and clever I was, I knew I didn’t deserve the praise.

I didn’t stop her, though.

Deserving or not, I was digging the accolades way too much to set Sister Jones straight. I also knew I would not be congratulated for being honest. I would have been in trouble. Again.

Randy says he had never heard that story before. Probably, because I haven’t thought of it in a while. It’s not like I’ve spent the last 44 years wringing my hands over my act of plagiarism, but it did make a big enough impression I never forgot it.

I’m going to go ahead and give 8 year old me a pass on that act of thievery.

Now, excuse me, I’m going to binge watch the second season of Stranger Things while having a fever. Because my dreams won’t be weird enough tonight with just the fever.


Add your comments below. Profanity is encouraged, but not required. ;)
  1. Donna says:

    Picasso told us that “good artists borrow, great artists steal.”

    I always try to follow the teachings of the masters.

    Also, going home when you’re illin’ isn’t just a much needed kindness to yourself, it’s your duty to….em…Chinese restaurants of the world!

    • Michelle says:

      I really did need the break. I felt terrible. I got an annoying email at work and just said…fuck this. I’m leaving. And I did!

      After today, I have 3 days off after not having a day off in nearly 4 weeks. I can’t wait for this day to get over.

  2. Why was it wrong to write about magic buttons??

    It’s been so long since I commented on one of your posts, I had to type in the name of my URL. Which I FORGOT.

    I also thought it was a “cat” with an impossibly long nose, and I didn’t bat an eyelash when it had a telescope on its hood.

    • Michelle says:


      It’s not WRONG to write about magic’s just that I already get a bunch of super disturbing search terms and I figured that would just add to the mix. Like son seeks mother’s magic button or something like that.

  3. mydangblog says:

    What do nuns know about magic buttons anyway? Also, what’s in Chinese foot that bothers your feet? Just curious:-)

    • Michelle says:

      I have no idea. It just does. Booze also makes them flair up. I talked to my podiatrist about that and asked him if I should avoid booze and he said long as I don’t mind the hot feet. I DO mind the hot feet, but so far that hasn’t stopped me.

  4. BarbaraM says:

    Just as an aside – get some Nuragen PN (liquid – mix with mineral/baby oil) for your feet. My husband swears by it. Unfortunately, it smells like a dead body buried in an herbal forest. It used to be costly. Now it’s ridiculously expensive. On e-bay – scroll for better prices on getting 2 at one time.

  5. BarbaraM says:

    Well, I just left you a reply about getting Neuragen PN for your feet, but for some reason, it never appeared.

  6. Liv says:

    You know, I’m always about working “with” my ex and the kids, but if I had your magic button I’d be pressing the shit out of it today hoping that a plane was going to drop a piano on him. TMI? Maybe. Hope you’re feeling better sweetie. You deserve a break.

  7. Lisa K says:

    To me, ‘exhaustion’ and ‘sick’ have the same symptoms and both play off each other very well.
    Vicious cycle. (no squiggly line means I spelled it right, right? I wanted the word that means horrific, not thick and syrupy… )
    Except, exhaustion makes me not care about details, while sick makes me wonder if I missed a detail.
    Vicious cycle. (Damn. I must be sick, not exhausted… I CARE if I spelled the horrific teeth gnashing wrong, but Google says the form is correct…)
    Last night, when I got home exhausted after an exceptionally long day due to a guest author presentation and insomnia the night before, my son came to visit and saw that I wasn’t home yet and knew I’d be exhausted, so he fed my horses for me.
    I gave him $15 because I didn’t have a million handy.
    Enjoy/get better/relax today… I will need your delightful details tonight… I’m only exhausted, so have to work cuz exhaustion isn’t contagious…
    Oh…. and a friend of mine is using CBD oil for her foot neuropathy. Liniment style and oral. First thing she ever found that works. She’s approaching 80.

  8. Lisa K says:

    OOpps…. just saw you’re working, too. Tomorrow is your good day 🙂

  9. Doug in Oakland says:

    Peter Gabriel once said that artists steal ruthlessly from one another, and that it’s a good thing. He might have been thinking of the Picasso thing when he said that. Hard to tell what that guy is thinking sometimes.
    I once got a fortune advising me to try a different approach, which caused me to laugh so hard that my friend JT, who had taken me out to eat Chinese, had to ask if there was something wrong.
    Between gasps, I told him yes, there was definitely something wrong, wrong with my approach, according to the infinite wisdom of fortune cookies.
    I was homeless at the time, so the idea that I needed a different approach was fucking hilarious.
    Then, in 2015, after my dad died, I got a fortune from a Panda Express cookie that said I would soon get an inheritance, and I was trying to figure out how my sister, who was the only other person who knew about my dad, had ratted me off to the Panda Express Cookie People.
    Anyway, I hope you have a restful three days, and goddamn it it isn’t fucking fair that you got sick right before you finally got some free time.

    • Michelle says:

      Oh man..that is funny. Not the being homeless part or your dad passing…the fortune cookie parts.

      And thank you. I feel a little better today, so that’s nice. Either way…no work, 3 days. I am happy.

  10. Arionis says:

    As long as you don’t take credit for Eggos I’m sure we can all give you a pass on that one. 🙂

  11. Shani says:

    I hope you are feeling better!
    Getting praise, especially when it’s rarely given, is so important as a child. I can see why you were quiet.
    Hell, I still love to get praise

  12. Shani says:

    I just posted but I typed in my email address wrong so now I’m in “waiting for a moderator” mode lol. So I raise your can’t spell with a “these letters are too close together and why are the keyboard buttons so damn tiny anyway”. I am the queen of that.

    I hope you are feeling better!
    Getting praise, especially when it’s rarely given, is so important as a child. I can see why you were quiet.
    Hell, I still love to get praise

  13. Harry says:

    I tried so hard not to steal ideas in my writing for so long that it crippled my writing. It turns out that almost all of the artists I respect stole ideas. Well, borrowed. Whatever. It turns out that if nothing else, artists need jumping off points. At least good places t0 start from where they can go off on a tangent.

    I remember I was getting Cs in an English class when I was young, and to be a jerk, my next paper was written in overly simplistic form (5 paragraphs, 5 sentences in each, with an introductory and concluding paragraph and intro and concluding sentenc ein each paragraph), and I got an A.

    Sometimes you have to keep play to the teacher’s level.

  14. It’s a dirty little secret among artists that everybody steals. It’s how many of us get started. The first poem Dylan Thomas published–which even won a prize–was plagiarized. Dali, Tanguy, and Miro all went to art school together. Sometimes one of them would produce a painting that borrowed so much from the other two they’d all discuss which one of them should sign it.
    The point is that they, like you, started out copying but went on to do great, creative things.
    Not that any of that matters because the statute of limitations on your plagiarism has expired and also it’s not what’s making you feel sucky now, but I hope you feel less sucky soon. And thank you for reminding me that one of the great things about Stranger Things is how much shit they steal from other sources.

    • Michelle says:

      I am home today and not feeling great, but much much better. I am not at work and I’m not freaking out about not being at work. This is some excellent progress.

  15. Onlyme says:

    Hope you’re feeling better, both physically and psychic-ally (is that even a word? It should be). I have a feeling we’ve all plagiarized something, sometime, whether we realized it or not.
    Next time you have Chinese, ask them for no MSG. I think that might stop the foot issue.

  16. I am also a cautionary tale…..pssst….we have better stories. Hope you are feeling better.