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1. Raccoon, bear & bunny

2. Boiling in a pot

3. Frog gave his heart away


First of all, let me say that none of this is my fault. Nothing at all. I don’t even have kids in that school anymore. I was simply, as a favor to a friend, helping out with the PTA carnival.

When Connie came to me in tears and said that her Ways & Means chairman had up and quit, I gave her coffee with one of those fancy creamer things and opened my mouth when I should have locked it shut.

“I’m so sorry,” I told her, handing out Kleenex and back rubs. “I’d be glad to help you out if I could. You have to remember I’m not involved with the school. I don’t even know what a Ways & Means committee is; otherwise I’d be delighted to pitch in, of course.” I turned to reach for my purse. “Maybe a small donation…”

Before I could pull out my wallet Connie was tearless and hugging me so hard I had to pound her so she’d let go of me.

“Oh, you’re such a good friend, Carrie Ann!” she cried. “I knew even if no one else would help I could count on you to volunteer. It’s our biggest fundraiser all year. And don’t worry, last year’s Carnival Chairman will show you all the ropes. And everyone promised to pitch in as soon as we found a new Chairman.”

What had I said? I was very sure the word “Carnival” had not passed my lips. I was fifty years old, for crying out loud. My kids were old enough to have kids and I’d earned my freedom from school functions. At least that was my opinion. Connie seemed to feel otherwise. She patted my hand and told me, “You’ll be great. You have maturity on your side, and besides that, you’re the most organized person I know.”

She was smiling as she went out the door, leaving me with printed directions to the novelty shop where I could find appropriate prizes for five-to-twelve-year-olds. She’d also handed me a list of the positions I’d somehow have to fill with other gullible volunteers if the Bixby Avenue Elementary School Annual Carnival (Carrie Ann Wardlow, Chairman) was to be a success.

Somewhere in the mind-numbing conversation between “You’re a good friend” and “most organized person” I’d managed to gather that she’d be around sometime next week with costume patterns—raccoon, bear, bunny, frog. It seems that some of the older kids would be recruited as carnival helpers in cute little outfits. I quickly assumed this was not the idea of the 12-year-old kids themselves.

Still, what did I know? I hadn’t even known that Ways & Means meant making money. Maybe I should take a closer look at that congressional committee.