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Paper Bag Prison

Paper Bag Prison

A Story by Carole

Telling on myself... :-) Admitting our weaknesses is healthy.



Paper Bag Prison


I’ll admit it...  I’ve spent a whole lot of time in the brown paper bag prison.  It’s not a big diversion from where I live in the Southwest desert off of the ever famous-Route 66-in Albucrazy-(Albuquerque), New Mexico.  It’s brown.   Very brown.  After awhile, you get use to it.  Doing time in the paper bag prison is and has been quite a conventional experience for me.  It’s every day life-MY life!


I can’t even begin to wager a guess on the innumerable times I have said, “I couldn’t find my way out of a brown paper bag!”  Telling on yourself is tough for some people.  Me?  It’s not that big of a deal.  After all, I do have strong points.  Who doesn’t?  We can’t all be good at the same things  It’d make for a very humdrum world, wouldn’t it?   


My multifarious prison life was a more obvious issue before the days of Map Quest, and for some of the luckier drivers, the GPS Navigator. MapQuest has proved to be quite lucrative for me these days.  But, I am not talking about now.  I want to reminisce a bit.  The days BMQ or BGPS 


I remember taking my three children on a field trip.  We were meeting our Home school group on the other side of the city out in the boon docks, at a place called Shady Lakes.  They were going to try their hand at fishing. Being the daughter of an accomplished fisherman, trained up at a very early age, I had gotten the whole thing down to a science, even taking the slimy little suckers off of the hook with a stick.  I had the rare opportunity of witnessing my mother's prize-winning casting manuever when she'd cast out into the deep blue and snagged my dad’s right ear with a deadly hook, lure and all.  Being a licensed cosmetologist, I couldn’t have pierced his ear with greater precision.  Mom nailed him nicely. Her face turned three shades of ghostly white, her eyes practically popped out of her head, and her hand went over her mouth as she was ready to faint from the sight of the bright red droplets of blood covering my dad’s light blue shirt. That furry little yellow lure with dangling red beads and a dazzling shiny silver accruement filled up with blood in a flash.  It was a sight to behold.  Being an army Corpsman in his younger years, blood was nothing to my dad, but since it went all the way through, we had to get our butts in gear. After cutting the string with his fishing knife, we quickly pulled up the anchor, fired up the engine, and headed for the shore to take a quick trip to the emergency room. Neither my mom, nor I had strong stomaches.  There wasn't going to be an emergency surgery with wire cutters on the boat.


My teen years wrought me a slight deviation from fishing to sunbathing on the boat.  You see, I needed a tan. It was a prerequisite for a young, teenaged girl wanting to impress the guys. You don’t wear a bikini on a boat without that exact intention.  Being a multi-tasker, I had previously sized up my options and decided I could easily handle both simultaneously, my priority being the most important of the two: Sunbathing! I’d don the sun tan lotion, prop the pole near by and wait for the BIG ONE. Closing your eyes and soaking up sun rays, doesn’t equate to good fishing. The BIG ONE came and went, and so did my fishing pole.  I was quickly jostled out of my afternoon siesta as my pole was pulled over the edge of the boat with a brisk, ker-plop!   As I sat up, I saw the black handle of my red pole rapidly sinking out of sight, not to mention my reach!   My dad said a few choice words while chewing my butt, as we both looked over the side of the boat contemplating the ten pound Walleye we had obviously just missed. I took my verbal beating like a young woman should, sighed, and immediately returned to my sun bathing, while steam was coming out dad’s ears like a steam engine on the railroad tracks.  I could have cared less. He’d break down and buy me another one anyway.  That’s just something an avid fisherman does.  Everybody in the family had to be well supplied with all the gear.  It was life.  Sustenance!


My kids were excited about the fishing adventure we were about to embark upon, and so was I.  I wasn’t about to miss this field trip. Not after all of my painstaking on-the-job-training with witnessing an ear piercing, sun bathing, and the Big One stealing my bait and landing my fishing pole on the bottom of the lake. The truth be known, I probably wanted to go more than the kids. 


Like I said, this was literal light years away from Map Quest so this excursion was like a blind person trying to find their way in the dark.  After driving and driving and driving some more, the red flag went up.  Something definitely wasn’t right.  My gas tank was rapidly moving toward empty and it was time to stop for directions.  Unlike my male counterparts, I am not opposed to asking for directions.  A wise navy wife, Janie Brannon, once told me, “If you get lost, just stop and ask for partial directions. This way you never have to remember much.  And ask for landmarks, lots of landmarks. Don’t stop until you reach your destination.  You see Carole, it’s really no big deal.  What do they know?  They don’t know how many places you have stopped along the way to ask how to get where you are going.”  Janie was speaking from years of experience.  She was very familiar with our handicap and had been around this same mountain umpteen times.  She was also privy to the fact that I had a serious issue in this area that called for serious intervention. I needed all the help I could get and she knew it.   


Either this nice gentleman at the Circle-K didn’t know his right hand from his left hand, or I didn’t follow him, but I never found the lake on his set of directions. I ended up a hundred miles outside of Albuquerque, before I realized that this dude didn’t have a clue, or I was just enjoying a little time in the very brown state penitentiary.  I was right smack dab in the middle of that brown paper bag prison AGAIN!  Well, we did make it, eventually.  The kids still got to fish.  My frustration subsided, and I seemed to forget the scenic detour fairly quickly.  And, the kids?  They couldn’t have cared less.


Did you know five-year-olds are not necessarily directionally impaired, and can help you find your way out of the paper bag if a situation warrants it?  I had gone to the base to get gas.  In those days, it was considerably cheaper, and worth the drive. It was one of the many perks of having a husband in the U.S. Navy.  I drove onto the base and suddenly realized this particular base was a whole lot larger than I had anticipated.  The very few times I had been there, I wasn’t driving.  Every one knows that some people are notorious for not paying attention, if they are not in the driver’s seat.  I was no exception to the rule. I didn’t know which end was up and where on God’s green earth I was?  After mumbling out loud to my son, Shawn, and my 2 ½ year-old daughter, Michaeli, “Mommy can’t find the gas station,” Shawn matter-of-factly said, “Mommy, go down this road until you see the flag on the corner and turn left.”  By god, the kid was right.  A lesson in humility?  A-yeah!  Twenty-six-year-olds need lessons in humility, too.


Then there was the time in San Diego when I took my mother to the airport and ended up in the country along a hot air balloon landing.  I didn’t know at that time that San Diego had country.  But, I had seen hot air balloons on several different occasions and I had wondered where the balloon landing was?  Handicaps can be blessings in disguise, you know. More than likely, I could never get back to that landing I happened upon that day, but that’s beside the point!


I’ve learned to never, and I mean never, drive any where with another woman that likes to talk and has the same identical handicap.  Two wrongs darned sure don’t make a right.   And the paper bag excursion makes for a few more detours and a whole lot more frustration.  They don’t call me the “Turn Around Queen” for nothing!  I have visited darned near every driveway in Albuquerque. Awe well. 


Map Quest has kind of taken the adventure out of my life.  And after listening to the monotonous and redundant voice of the GPS’S Vannah White on two recent vacations saying “Recalculating Route” after missing turns anyway, I say-trash that blasted contraption!  My brown paper bag prison isn’t so bad after all!



© 2009 Carole

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This was a fun trip. And I love to fish. Had that happened to my dad, the hook going all the way through, he would have clipped off the barb, pulled it out, washed off the blood and went back to fishing. My brother-in law got hooked through the lip in the same fashion and we fixed him up that way too. I sliced my foot open on a broken piece of glass, poured some whiskey in the wound (and a little in me) and went back to fishing. We Franklins take our fishing very seriously! And why waste all that money on a trip to the emergency room that could be spent on bait? lol This was a wonderful read and just beautifully written. Now, I've got to oil up my reels...I've got the fever! lol Oh, the day I sliced my foot, I caught a six pound largemouth bass. I have a picture of me holding it up with a big grin on my face, a bloody strip of t-shirt tied around my foot. It really should have been sewn up, left a nasty scar, but hey, I got my fish!

Posted 10 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


Great story telling. This did justice in the realm of getting the message across. Great message. There's lot of times where a story can have a great message to aim for, and have a lot of under lining things but then no one gets it, and if no one gets it, then the point has failed. But in my opinion this did well to get the message across. You made it clear, which is why I think it's good. Keep up the good work. What was also great was that I could imagine the story as I read it, and that is also a strong point of stories. The ability to have the reader imagine it because after all we're reading not watching it, but it was as if I was there as I read this, and that is great. Great visuals and great story telling. It had plot and substance. When you add substance to writing it gets that much better. It gets the reader hooked on it and make them feel as if they are part of it. As long as their is that emotional connection between the reader and the story then it's good. The connection you were able to established in the writing gives the reader a sense of comfortably that they are in tune with the writing. So that way when the writing is over, the reader wants more, and wishes it didn't end. I feel the same way when I watched a movie or tv series that I get so attached to, I never want it to end. And for this writing, I didn't want it to end. You had me hooked, and I am sure everyone else who read it was hooked as well. That is good, that is what you want for people to keep wanting more. The way you put the story together makes me feel like my life is different for that moment in which I read your story. I love it, and it was beautiful. Just keep posting stories like this, and you'll have a good following.

Posted 2 Years Ago

Now, where shall I start? Oh yes--fishing. Some of my Navy buddies told a story about a bass plug called a "Brown Bomber" getting stuck in one of their unlucky cheeks. It was especially funny, so it was explained to me, because the corpsman at sick bay wrote "Brown Bomber stuck in cheek" on the medical file. Hilarious, yes? No? Sailors and beer--you're probably not familiar with that.
Once while driving to my new duty station in Mississippi, the road got narrower and narrower, until it ended in a cornfield. I looked for Rod Serling's cloud of cigarrette smoke to rise from the rows, but his zippo must have gone dry. I was really, really lost, so I decided. Mississippi didn't have road signs in 1968. You just had to grow up there to know where things were.
All kidding aside, I'm bad at getting lost, so try not to feel bad, Carole. At least you weren't born with that gene that won't allow you to ask for directions.

Posted 10 Years Ago

I usually do not read long postings like this one, but I am happy that I did read it. I enjoyed your exploits, and your bouts with youth. I have my own memories of fishing trips, but we will leave that for another day. Let me just say that it is good to know you were the average teenager, and turned out to be a good human being. I enjoyed how you phrased your passages, and how you brought your past to life again. Nice work!

Posted 10 Years Ago

This is one of the funniest stories I have read in a long time. It rates up there with Fannie Flagg's work. Excellent job! Coming from the Great Northwest Version of "The Turn Around Queen" I totally identify with you ( I can get lost in my bathroom). I always thought I should have a bumper sticker that said "I'm not lost, I'm exploring" I hope you will be writing more stories like this one.

Posted 10 Years Ago

It is on rare occasion that I ever read a non-fiction story on the cafe that is engrossing, entertaining, and well-written. You have a very nice way with words that does not overload the reader and provides them with a great picture of what I imagine is running through your hed. I apologize for not having read anything of yours before. Generally I don't look here for things to read, but when I find a short story like this, I wonder why I don't do it more often. Nicely done.

Posted 10 Years Ago

Carole ~
This was a riot in events and rites of chilhood an passage so many can relate too.
Myself...I'm not a GPS owner ...but am a great fan of adventures in navagating "road-trips"

love the comments of your kids " Mommy can't find the gas station "...and the hot air-balloon fluke...and the reference to your girlfriend like-handicapped ...had me of my two best friens has ADH as do I the other has anxiety an OCD ...Our roadtrips are always good for some stand-up comedy material.

In all a feel good message about ...vainity...ego...keeping us from the prize....but somehow...I like you...treasure these moments in life ... despite it all....provide us with indelible lessons and priceless treasure.

Now..I want to go fishing...
Fab write...kudos


Posted 10 Years Ago

Oh this was so great...and why do all the other reviews look green? Sorry...we're dealing with colors in this piece, and I couldn't help myself. Maybe it's just cuz I'm not wearing my rose colored glasses. I love the whole concept of telling on yourself, as I'm big on that myself. Why should everyone get to laugh at me but me? Just not fair!! lol It's a great tale told with no holds barred and I'm so glad you let the cat out of the bag. Such great details in this wonderful tale of fun and adventure. Yeah, throw out that GPS and just go where your car takes you!! Excellent piece, you've successfully put a smile on my face....and that is no easy task today!! Thanks for sharing this!! Much love~~

Posted 10 Years Ago

Wow! What a great story!

I live in a city which is surrounded everywhere with mountains and it is entirely covered...You may say it is my "paper bag" but often when I goes somewhere else...I do feel the same thing, I found it very close to me...

The entire story has been naratted so beautifully and it's also very entertaining :) The humor in it had added an extra punch!
It was really a great adventure of yours! And I really enoyed reading it :)

Posted 10 Years Ago

I use to live in Albuquerque I understand the paper bag theory you are writing about...I truly got lost in your story as the imagery was there within your words. Nice read....look forward to reading more of your keep me entertained. Thank You!

Posted 10 Years Ago

Great story, brings back memories. I've been fishing in Minnesota - been a long time since I've gone fishing....never had much luck. One thing I remember about my trips, my uncle and my cousin and i all went fishing and when my uncle threw in his favorite lure a seagull came out of no where and took the lure. I dont think the seagull realized it was not a real fish. But my uncle ended up losing his favorite lure.

Great write!

Posted 10 Years Ago

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24 Reviews
Shelved in 4 Libraries
Added on May 22, 2008
Last Updated on January 1, 2009



Rio Rancho, NM

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