Monday, October 22, 2007

How It All Started

Just for fun I wrote the beginning to Binge, Bitch, Fuck. And don't freak out on me. We never really had to shock the dog. Not very much anyway.

My first morning in Florida I woke up way too early. When going through a traumatic break-up which involves your fiancé, with whom you have lived for seven years, changing the locks on your house while you are visiting your grandparents and moving in his new girlfriend, I firmly believe that you have every right to sleep in. In fact, if you would like to sleep for seventeen hours straight and not move from the bed for a solid week, I am perfectly OK with it. But no. I was not afforded this luxury because, having nowhere else to go in the entire world and fearing that my fiancé in Atlanta was going to kill me, actually kill me, I ran home to my parents in Florida and at their house, I would never be able to get a full seven nights’ sleep.

I could not sleep in for several reasons. None of the reasons made me feel any better about my unfortunate situation. First, my parents have an inexplicable aversion to any sort of window treatments, so if you’re staying at their house and you don’t get out of bed before 8 am, you’re in danger of getting a blistering sunburn from the intense concentration of ultra-violet rays which blaze through every window in the damned house making it feel like it’s about 125 degrees. I nearly burnt alive in the guestroom bed with the scratchy, bedazzled comforter that my mom got on closeout. Could my mother possibly own something that was not covered in sequins, beads, rhinestones or large plastic jewels? Just something? Couldn’t she for once just purchase a simple cotton bedspread that was not printed with an elaborate scene involving an epic battle between what appeared to be snow leopards and…robots? That couldn’t be a robot, could it? Why would snow leopards fight robots? Why would snow leopards fight robots on a bedspread? No wonder it was on closeout. No, it wasn’t robots, it was just a weird configuration of beads that ended up looking like a robot when your eyes were swollen shut from sobbing for two solid days, you were sleep deprived and when you were practically blinded by the sun, because although your mother could buy bead encrusted bedspreads, she could not buy window shades.

The second reason, well really the second and third reasons, that I could not sleep had to do with my father who was listening to the classic rock station on the radio and had The Who turned up so loud that the bass was literally rattling the windows. As if that were not enough he sang while he cooked eggs and onions. In our family, you don’t even dare eat an onion unless it is shriveled and black beyond recognition, so my dad burns his onions first and then mixes them into scrambled eggs. I have to admit, the eggs and onions are pretty good, but they stink and that morning the entire house smelled like burnt onions.

The sun, The Who and burnt onions would have been enough to rouse even the deepest sleeper, but readers, there was more. This was Casa Azul after all – my parents’ house, so of course there was more. Light, noise and bad odors were mild. In addition to these three things the dogs were barking so frantically that I almost thought intruders had stormed the house and were stabbing my mother and sister to death while my dad made eggs, but my mother was already enjoying probably her third or fourth cigarette of the morning, so I knew she was alive. I could smell the smoke mixed with the burnt onions. The phone rang, a door slammed (probably my sister, equally as irritated as I was about being woken up), and torrents of water fell from somewhere with a deafening roar that nearly drowned out The Who.

Where was this water coming from? Was someone pressure cleaning the roof? If so they were making a mess because from all the water you would have sworn it was raining. It couldn’t be raining though, because as I mentioned earlier, the sun was shining all too brightly. It looked like rain. It splattered on the patio and poured from the eaves and the calm surface of the pool was dappled with spatters and speckles like raindrops. Water beaded on the Saint Augustine grass in the side yard, dripped from the date palm’s fronds and puddled under the oleander bush. For all intents and purposes, it was raining, but there were no clouds in the sky. Not a one. And it was so bright that we may as well have been on the sun and not light years from it. This did not make sense. I had to get up and see why this was happening and if I could immediately make it stop, because this was not OK. It should not rain with the sun out under any circumstances and especially not when I was going through the worst breakup in the history of all breakups and had just lost my house, my cats, my stuff, my jobs and my fiancé.

The instant I opened the bedroom door my parents’ psychotic, 150 pound Doberman lunged for me, hackles raised and teeth bared. I nearly peed my pajamas, and slammed the door shut so the dog wouldn’t disembowel me before breakfast. This dog was certifiably wacko, something about him growing too large and his brain being too big for his skull. Dobermans are not supposed to be 150 pounds. Regular sized they are scary enough, but at that size I can assure you they are the most terrifying thing you have ever seen. The dog had attacked several people already and more than one vet advised that he be put to sleep because DUH, he was extremely dangerous. They sent him to special dog training schools and all of the trainers agreed.

“This dog has to be destroyed. He’ll turn on you one day,” they said.

My parents did not listen because they are not in the habit of listening to things involving common sense. They loved the dog and the dog loved them. They couldn’t imagine him turning on them because he was a 150 pound teddy bear when he was alone with them. Yeah, I thought, a 150 pound teddy bear with fangs bigger than my index finger and a taste for fresh blood. I wasn’t a fan of the dog, clearly.

In order to avoid being forced to put the dog down, my parents had him fitted with a shock collar and they each carried its remote control wherever they went. That way if the dog went ape shit on someone, before he could maim or dismember a person, one of my parents could essentially taser their dog, knock him out and save whomever the dog had been attacking. It’s a great mental image, isn’t it? A one armed child and a tasered dog. Beautiful.

Trapped in the guest room I began to scream for my mother to come get the dog, to shock it, to hold it or whatever she had to do in order for me to be allowed out of the guestroom to see why water was falling from the sky.

“What is the matter with you?” she asked through the door.

“Your god damned dog won’t let me out of the room!!”

She laughed hysterically, or maniacally. Pick one.

“I got him!”

I inched out. She held the dog by his collar while he growled.

“Cut that shit out! Do you want me to taser your ass? Stop it. That is your sister!”

Yes, over night I had become the older sister to a one year old, 150 pound Doberman with a serious mood disorder. That sounded about right. For my whole life my parents had been referring to their pets as their children. Growing up I had three monkeys as siblings; actual, honest to god monkeys. By this point the monkeys had gone to live “on a big farm” somewhere where they were rumored to be playing with lots of other monkeys in monkeyfied bliss.

My other brother came running, a hundred miles an hour down the hallway, his black nails skidding on the tiles, sending him slamming into the baseboards before he latched onto my leg with his very sharp teeth. The small dog was probably equally as psychotic as the big dog, except, when a dog is only eight pounds its psychosis just doesn’t merit the same degree of concern. This one I just shook off in the way that you might brush some toast crumbs or a Daddy Longlegs off your pants. The small dog definitely instigated the big dog. He totally egged him on because as soon as the small dog arrived the big dog resumed lunging and snarling, while the small dog jumped straight up and down yapping as viciously as an 8 pound Miniature Pinscher can manage.

The small dog was an exact, scale replica of the big dog – his Mini-Me, as everyone liked to joke. I had to admit it was kind of cute, but just kind of, because honestly how cute can anything be that wants you dead?

“They just need to get used to you.” My mom said, “Let them smell you.”

I let them smell me. Big dog lunged and growled. Small dog jumped and yapped.

“I’m going outside.”

“It’s raining.”

“The sun is out!” I argued.

I opened the front door and stepped out into a veritable monsoon. It rained so hard that the tissue thin blossoms of the red hibiscus collapsed in upon themselves and crowds of grey lizards huddled beneath the ledges of flower pots waiting for it to end.

I looked up at the sky. The sun was out. If there was a cloud I couldn’t make it out. I started down the driveway, having no idea why or where I was going, only that I needed very desperately to get to the bottom of why it was raining with the sun out, but as soon as I took one step off the walkway and onto the patterned concrete, I slipped, fell hard on my ass and went flying. The driveway was like a Slip and Slide. I spun around and flipped myself over, but I couldn’t stop. By now I was soaking wet. I looked like someone had picked me up out of the shower and thrown me across an especially slick driveway where I was now testing out the whole object in motion tends to stay in motion rule of physics.

The end of that rule is “unless acted upon by a net force.” My net force was a brand new, gleaming, silver, hard topped convertible Mercedes S600. The Mercedes, parked at the end of the circular driveway was the only thing stopping me from hurtling into the street where a UPS truck that had just turned onto our street surely would have flattened me.

“FUCKING NEAL!!!! God Dammit!! I told him not to use that driveway sealant. I knew it wasn’t the right one and now look!!” I heard my mother yelling.

She called for my dad who stopped burning onions and came to see why she was swearing.

“Are you Ok baby?” my dad asked.

My mom stopped him from coming to my rescue lest he slip too.

“Did you dent the car?” she asked “Please tell me you didn’t dent that car!”

I stood up and looked at the car door. It wasn’t dented because I hit the tire. I reassured her.

“And I’m fine too, by the way. I mean, in case you were wondering,” I added, rubbing my ass.

Throughout all of this it had not stopped raining and the sun had not stopped shining. I tiptoed very carefully back to the front patio where my parents stood protected by the front door.

“What were you doing?” my dad asked.

“Why is there a Mercedes S600 parked in the driveway?”

“Oh that’s Mohammed’s,” My mother replied as if I should have known that already.

I looked towards my father, who nodded.

“Who is Mohammed and why is he parking his Mercedes in your driveway?”

“He lost a bet with me,” My mom explained, “Then that motherfucker tried to tell me he wasn’t gonna pay up and I said I will tell you what Mohammed your ass better give me that god damned car unless you want me calling your wife and telling her what you did in the champagne room at the Bubblegum Kittikat and by God he brought that car over here at 4 ‘o’ clock in the morning last night and took a cab home.”

“I see.”

I knew better than to ask what the bet was on. Some things you just didn’t ask when you were at Casa Azul. Many things you were better off not knowing. Instead I asked “Why is it raining with the sun out?”

“Oh lord, it always does that,” my mother said before she went back inside.

“Baby you’re in a different world now,” said my Dad, “A Mercedes appears in the driveway overnight and it rains with the sun out. The rules are different here. Welcome to Florida.”

“There are no rules here!!!”

“Make your own.”

He patted me on the head and went back in the house.

Welcome to Florida, Baby. The rules are different here. If you don’t like them, make your own. And that my friends, is exactly what I did. And the first rule I made up was that I was allowed to drive Mohammed's car.


Maya said...

Wow. I have GOT to come to Florida! (No sarcasm here, this just sounds...fantastic in the real sense of the word) No hallucenigens required, huh?

misha said...

thats an excellent rule!

misha said...

i knew there was something else. I adopted my parents dog and I used to take him to the family office with him. A UPS guy once asked whose dog he was and I answered he is my son and my brother. He was a bit confused LOL! Only in the animal kingdom. He was also my parents son and grandson I guess..

Moi said...

Ha ha ha! I LOVE your random stories, absolutely brilliant!

Anonymous said...

Did you ever get your cats back?

Anonymous said...

I was THERE.

Yep. You are that skilled. I'm sure there is no holding you back, you are
on the list of the female Kate Chopins' of this century.

~ another Anonymous reader

Anonymous said...

whoops..I meant "female" writers then
swerved over to Kate Chopin, um some
how forgot to edit and well you know what I'm trying to say!

Anonymous said...

Okay, I have to ask. Is all of that true, or just the very original and extremly funny beginning of your book? Either way, loved it!

Subservient No More said...

Yes it's all true.

No I never got my cats back.

Melissa said...

Awesome first chapter for your book. I can't wait for the next installment.

Vic said...

You really should write the book.

Alessandra said...

That was a lovely first chapter, SNM.

MP said...

...your ex was such a psycho asswhole. not that I know who he is but that trying to kill you, knocking up the whore..stealing your cats. I don't like him one bit!
I love the visual of the mini me dogs..classic. Damn that bed was uncomfortable, I can feel it.

Miriam said...

I love it! I need more. I crave more!

Anonymous said...

I lived in Florida for 1 year and then got the hell out! That was enough for me.

Sparkling Cipher said...

I soooo want to meet your mother.

And my boyfriend and I refer to our dogs as our children, too. When we speak to them, we refer to each other as "Mama" and "Daddy." I come by it honest, though. I've shown up at my mother's house and heard her tell her dogs, "Oh, look, your sister's here!"

Chiada said...

As always, another great story. Your first chapter was very entertaining, and it left me wanting to read more at the end. Keep it up!

Green said...

You, your parents, all live in a very different part of Florida than I ever lived in. Every single thing in Florida was so dull and boring and normal when I lived there that I had to resist the urge to scream while urging people to stop wearing badly-fitted coral capris.

JDogg said...

That painted driveway got me too, it *was* dangerous!

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to read the rest! Even if I have to wait a year's time, and then buy it at the bookstore, I will definitely be the first in line to purchase your book!

New York Times Bestseller List, here we come!

C in Clearwater said...

I want to meet your mom too. Beautifully written.

A Margarita said...

Hahahahaha! You're such a riot, and it's all real, which makes it even funnier.

goingRAWr! said...

hey sweetie.
been reading your blog for yonks now and it's always enjoyable, you write in a very readable style.
i was reading "the glass castle" by jeanette walls and i thought of you.. have you read that book? i highly recommend it.. i am not going to read 'eat, pray love' because i think even the premise is a load of crap, as much as i love india and have travelled there extensively.
can't wait for your book to come out!
goingrawr :)

BoB said...


This is an honest critique, not an attempt to bash your writing.

I think it's too busy. Don't be in such a hurry to talk about all the details. Develop the craziness over time. Start with what you see/hear/smell/feel/think, not with what you already know. You can take the entire book to flesh out your parents and the general wackiness, introduce yourself and your situation first.

Just trying to help.

Leonesse said...

I think there may be a great deal of craziness that happens when you live in a state that produces too much sunshine. There were some real nuts in Arizona, too! And Cali too.

Alex said...

And it was so bright that we may as well have been on the sun and not light years from it.

Could you please make that "light minutes"? We are light years from the stars, but our sun is only about 8 light minutes away.

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