I decided that since we were finally, for the first time ever, allowed to photograph the Passover seder, that if I snuck a picture of the table before anyone even arrived that the world would surely not end. I was, however, deeply mistaken. My grandmother, Savta, caught me and freaked the fuck out. I then tried to lie and dug myself deeper into the pit of hellfire I was already in.
"I'm photographing it for my cousins who couldn't come," I said, lying. Sort of.
This caused her to freak out more because they would not approve and they would be shocked and appalled at my abomination of taking pictures on Rosh Hashanah which is like Shabat (the sabbath) when mechanical devices like light switches and computers and cell phones and cars and pretty much everything that makes life convenient, are prohibited. I was screwed.
Then she panicked at the thought that maybe the mirror over the table had reflected an image of her in the background which would surely cause her to go to Hell. I assured her that she was not in the picture and she was deeply relieved. I was mortified and felt a combination of pissed off, resentful and ashamed of myself. Albeit this IS the way I feel most of the time during these events anyway.
All night long I felt like I was doing everything wrong and the truth is that there is so much about this religion that I don't know and don't understand and it's to the point where it begins to seem absurd after a while. I hate that in my grandparents' house that I have always felt like I was doing something wrong that was going to cause a major disaster. I have never lived down the time I used a dairy glass with a meat plate.
Because I was already going to Hell I snapped a picture of my grandmother's linen closet which I think proves that maybe her fervor is more than simple religious devotion. I've long suspected that in some ways Savta is batshit insane and has a raging case of OCD. She measures each of these sheets and towels so they are all the same. I should post a photo of MY linen closet for comparison. It is nothing like Savta's. I almost feel like a bad person. I don't measure my linens when folding. I lack this degree of devotion and precision.
I understand OCD. Cousin Bella has it. I was once diagnosed with it during a period of great stress. When I get stressed out even now I notice little neurotic symptoms creeping back, but my brand of OCD relates to germs and illness and I start to think that everything I eat is going to kill me. I think Savta suffers from scrupulosity.
Just last week I read Jenniger Traig's memoir "Devil in the Details" about her struggle as a teen with this condition. She too, was Jewish. I think we Jews are predisposed to OCD. The religion to me seems to encourage it, although Traig makes a distinction between religious fulfillment and pathological behavior. I think Savta kind of crosses that line though. I really do, as much as I love and admire my grandmother. I feel like her life would have been happier if she had been born in a different time and diagnosed and helped with the condition. I could be wrong.
But OCD is a fascinating topic. As the illness runs rampant in my family on several sides I have a lot of experience with it and the good thing about it is that as far as illnesses go, it's pretty freakin' hilarious sometimes. Bella and I laugh at ourselves constantly and Traig, in her book does too. The memoir is hysterical, on a few different levels. You gotta laugh at yourself to heal I think. Now let me go make sure my Purell bottle is full before I leave the house.
Jennifer Traig's book can be found here and if you are interested her website, which is not updated a lot is here. I really recommend the book if you have or love someone with OCD or even if you don't. It's just a good, funny, compelling and interesting read. I hear she has a new book about hypochondria which I plan to read too. Lord knows I definitely have that.
Happy New Year. See you all in Hell.
The next morning I woke up and had breakfast and started to feel guilty. I kept thinking about this poor guy who thought I was interested in him who flew all the way across the country only to see my family get into a fight and act like utter white trash. Then after all that I consented to cuddle with him (and why I would cuddle with a guy I had zero attraction to whatsoever I had no idea), and then refuse to kiss him. I felt like a royal asshole. I decided to spend lots of time with him that day while making it very clear to him that we were definitely going to be friends but nothing more.
Two things stood in my way. One, I was bringing Ethan the sunflower tattoo guy to the Boat Parade party at Abe's house. Obviously that was why he had called me three times the night before, right? To tell me he wanted to come as my date. The other issue I had was that I promised Abe that I would cater his party of 200 people myself and I had barely started prep work on that. Of course my family was helping me, but none of us had done anything and it was already ten in the morning. This is fairly typical behavior for us. Just call us the Last Minute Lawns.
I had a cup of coffee and called Ethan Sunflower.
"So you're coming right?" I asked.
"Umm, well. Last night I thought I was, but, ummm, well, I don't know if I can borrow my mom's car tonight because she's going to a party too and yeah. I'm kind of hungover. I got so wasted last night."
I could actually hear him doing bong hits and at that moment I decided that I didn't really want Ethan to be my date after all.
"Well that's ok," I said.
"Maybe you could pick me up?"
"No, I don't really want to. I'm too busy. I don't think I'll have time," I replied.
"Oh, well. Yeah. I didn't think I wanted to go anyway. Sounds lame. A bunch of boats with Christmas lights on them, whatever. Boring," he said.
After I finished my coffee I felt even guiltier for some reason. This is an inherent personality trait of mine. I feel guilty all the time. Sometimes I feel guilty for no reason and search desperately for something to feel guilty about. Like tsunamis.
I drove down the road to Abe's house to get San Francisco. I figured the least I could was hang out with the guy, who was, as I remembered, sweet and easy to talk to. I found him in Abe's backyard, blaring Christmas music and dancing around and singing as he decorated Abe's backyard with Christmas lights and garlands of plastic holly and fake pine for the party.
Gone was the nerd of the night before. This guy had his cute, mussed up hair back and he was dressed normal. I have to admit he looked a little skater-ish and I found that really cute.
"You look totally different!" I said.
He taped a glittery star to the back door.
"Look," he said, "I wanted to make a good impression on your parents, so I tried to clean myself up for them. I don't normally look like that, even when I go to work."
I nearly fell down in a fit of hysteria at that comment.
"MY PARENTS!!!! HA!!!!"
"Well I quickly realized and I spent the whole night feeling like an idiot in that outfit with my hair combed over."
"You look way better now," I said.
"Thanks," he said and I swear he blushed.
I explained to him my situation with the catering and he said that he would love to help me out. He had to finish decorating, so I went back home and within an hour he was in the kitchen beside me chopping and sauteeing like a professional. We listened to Christmas music all day as we rolled meatballs and made fruit platters. He made perfect risotto (it was an Italian themed party). All day long we laughed and cooked.
Later we realized that somehow we had forgotten to buy rolls for the sandwiches so we drove to Publix, but there was no parking and we had to drive around the block. Do not ask me how I managed this but I parked behind a fence that had no gate and the straightest shot to Publix was over the fence. I'm still trying to remember how this all worked and I can't remember exactly.
What I do remember was that it was late afternoon and the sun was the color of ginger ale. It was one of those chilly December days we have here where the temperature never gets above sixty and where you have to wear a sweater at night. There was a lot of traffic and noise because everyone was in a festive mood and people were rushing around at the last minute like we were, getting ready for parties.
I remember we came to the fence and I said that I had gotten confused and had lead us in the wrong direction and that we would have to walk a couple of blocks out of the way to get to Publix. When I said that he, very nimbly, jumped over the fence. It was a barbed wire fence and I was scared of it. It wasn't that tall, a little below my shoulders. If it had been waist high I would have stepped over it, but shoulder high scared me. I imagined getting hung up on it and flesh and clothes ripping, which after everything else would be just my luck.
"I don't think I can do it," I said.
"I'll help you."
He held out his hands and somehow lifted me up with such grace that before I realized what was happening I was safely on the ground on the other side of the fence with him.
"See," he said, "That wasn't anything."
"Do it again!" I said.
And so he lifted me up and put me back where I was on the other side of the fence, never once questioning my weirdness at wanting to do it again.
He did it again so I was back on his side of the fence.
"Wow!" I said, "That was fun!"
"You want to do it again?"
I said no. Twice was enough. And then we walked to Publix.
Looking back this was the moment when I knew that this was different. I knew that I wanted him to lift me over every fence I encountered. And while we were in Publix squeezing the Kaiser rolls, I made a very conscious decision to go against all of my stupid habits and patterns of going after bad boys and guys who used me, said I wasn't good enough and didn't appreciate me. I decided to give the good guy a fair chance. I wanted a life where I would always be carried over fences, and let me tell you, I am not a petite girl. San Francisco was only two inches taller than me, so lifting me over the fence was no small task. I'm no pixie waif. But he wasn't deterred by my height or my size or anything. So on the way back to the car he put me over that fence a third time.
To be continued... (I know, sorry, but I have to go to school!)
Aunt Kiki is one of the number one drunk dialing offenders in my family, but in all fairness she is definitely not the only one. So when I see her number popping up on the screen I always feel a sense of doom and dread because you just never know what on earth you're going to hear or if it will make sense. At times she makes perfect sense and sounds like an ordinary housewife. It's like she has multiple personalities - housewife in the suburbs Aunt Kiki or crack whore on the street corner slurring fucked up Aunt Kiki. Today I got an odd combo of both.
It seems that Domestic Housewife Aunt Kiki was making chili when Drunken Lush Aunt Kiki took over halfway through and decided that margaritas go great with chili - 16 of them to be exact. The resulting voicemail, which I have transcribed for you is the result.
A Public Service Announcement From Aunt Kiki:
"I made a big pot of chili today and I cut up about eight kinds of peppers, halla-peenas and them little ones that look like pumpkins and then my hands were burning and just would not stop. Then I went to the bathroom and my pee pee started burning. Then I picked my nose and my nose started burning. I accidentally rubbed my eye and I just about went blind. Now everything on me is burning and I wanted to tell you that if you're going to cut up halla-peenas to make sure you don't touch your pee-pee, your eyeballs or your nose afterwards. My whole body's on fire and I thought because you were a cook maybe you could help me out, maybe you knew a remedy. Can you call me back if you know of something to stop the burning?'
The moral of the story here, a lesson learned the hard way, wear gloves when handling hot peppers. And for the love of god do not touch your pee-pee afterwards, even by accident. No one wants a burning pee-pee. It's a terrible thing.
"He's going to Brazil in December and he's got a long layover in Miami. Called to ask me if Gabriella wanted him to take any Christmas gifts to her family for her. I said, ain't that thoughtful," Abe said.
"Did you ask him about me?"
"He was asking about you. He wanted to know if you had a boyfriend. I said I thought she was dating that lawyer. God damn is that guy an asshole, I said."
"NO!! I'm not dating him! I don't have a boyfriend!"
"Oh," said Abe, "I thought ya did."
"NO!! Tell him to come back!"
Abe was already planning his boat parade party, since at the time he lived in a three story, peach-icecream colored mansion on the main Intracoastal waterway, right along the parade route. He doesn't live there anymore.
"All right. I'll try to remember next time he calls. I told him call Gabriella closer to the date he'll be here and ask her again about the Christmas presents."
I was about ready to give up. I was also very busy. At the time I was busy with school and busy volunteering in both my school's garden and at a wildlife rescue facility where I cooked dinner for bunnies, squirrels, vultures and pelicans. One day I'll write about that experience.
Everyone was still bugging me to "GET OUT THERE." Finally after Thanksgiving I decided, what the hell, I'd go back on Jdate.
I ended up meeting a guy named Ethan who was profoundly good looking and liked Radiohead. We had long conversations where he told me all about his job as a graphic artist and finally we decided to get some thai food one night. I went out and bought a new shirt which I later was realized was extremely ugly and had quite a loud pattern. I don't know what I was thinking, except that it showed my boobs.
Ethan drove up in his mom's station wagon. I mean this literally. It had his mom's dirty travel mug with her work's logo on it, in the cup holder and her Celine Dion and Basia cds on the floor.
"I don't have a car," he said, "And since I'm living with my mom and all she says I can borrow her car on the weekends."
"So how do you get to work?"
"Oh, yeah. Umm, I don't work."
"You said you were a graphic artist."
"I used to be a graphic artist."
Readers, how many red flags can we count here? OK, so how many red flags did I count here? None. Because he was hot and liked Radiohead. No really, he was tall and had black hair and green eyes. So I decided to overlook the station wagon and the fact that he somehow convinced me that I had in fact asked him out and therefore was responsible for paying for the thai food. Yes, but he was hot. And wow the goodnight kiss. After that I almost asked him if he wanted me to take him out for some ice cream too and then maybe take him shopping for a new car. Shoot, I almost offered to give him MY car.
That same week I got myself heavily involved in planning a big Christmas party for a bunch of underprivileged children. There would be a Santa Claus, crafts, candy, games, caroling and a Christmas dinner. Then each child would get a real, wrapped present to open under a tree. I was beyond excited about the event and spent lots and lots of time wrapping and decorating and preparing for the party. Then Station Wagon called and asked for a second date and I decided that my life was finally complete.
For the second date he decided that we would have dinner and then drive around and look at Christmas lights. An hour after he was supposed to pick me up he called and said he was late because he was helping a friend move. I said that was fine and he said he'd still go out as long as he could take a shower at my house. I said that was fine too.
This was especially fine because I got to see him in nothing but a towel. To my surprise his whole back was covered in one big tattoo of a sunflower garden. I found this intriguing. It kind of made up for the station wagon and Basia cds and I began to call him Sunflower.
Sunflower couldn't decide where to go for dinner so we went to God damned Subway which I hate and I wouldn't eat anything (ughh the smell of Subway turns my stomach). Then we did actually drive around looking at Christmas lights, but we had nothing to talk about and he asked me if I wanted to get high and I declined. We had nothing to talk about so I invited him back to my room and we made out. I found him surprisingly gentleman-like and reserved in the making out department.
Then Sunflower tortured me by not calling for several days. Just when I thought I'd never hear from him again, he called. Then he did the same thing. Men, please understand that this is actually a form of torture. Don't do this to us.
One night I was driving around at night listening to Jeff Buckley and feeling the weight of the world. Sometimes I get really sad at Christmas and do this. I drove to the first house my parents ever owned together and looked at that. Then I drove to the house where Evil Ex grew up and I thought about how he was going to have Christmas with his wife and baby and I was going to have nothing. This was so unfair. Evil Ex lied and cheated and stole from me. He shouldn't be rewarded with everything I wanted while I had nothing but some idiot who drove his mom's car and wouldn't pay for my pad see ew. Maybe, I thought, maybe I would never have anyone. Maybe every Christmas I would be alone. Jeff Buckley was not helping, and a word to the wise here. When you're sad do not listen to Jeff Buckley. It only makes it worse.
Finally, the Christmas party for the kids came and was a huge success, which made me really happy, again proving my theory that when you're depressed doing something for someone else or something greater than yourself will make you feel a lot better. The Christmas party for the kids was the Wednesday before the boat parade. Each year the Christmas Boat Parade is two weekends before Christmas and always on a Saturday night. It's huge around here and everyone has big parties. It's really the event of the season for us.
When I got home from the kids' party, all tired and covered in frosting and sprinkles, Abe was hanging out with my parents.
"I got good news for you!" he said, "San Francisco's coming this weekend for the party!"
"Yeah, he'll be here Friday. He leaves Sunday and heads off to Brazil Monday. He's going to Brazil for a month."
"Really!!!!! He's really coming?" I asked. I was so excited.
Abe picked him up at the airport Friday night and brought him to Casa Azul. From there the plan was to go to a Christmas party that my parents' friends were having at a local restaurant. I decided to drive on my own for two reasons. If it sucked I could leave and if I wanted to be with SF alone we could go do something on our own. Because I knew I was going to want to be alone with him. Because he was my soulmate. I just knew it. And everything was going to work out and everything was going to be perfect.
The guy Abe showed up with was not the guy I remembered. He had been replaced with some kind of uber-dork doppelganger. As soon as I looked at him I knew I was in serious trouble and was about to be stuck for an entire weekend with some doofus guy that I would have no interest whatsoever in and who would certainly get on my nerves. San Francisco was not wearing a Hawaiian shirt this time, but he would have done better if he had. He was wearing a plaid shirt, tucked in, a brown belt, black shoes, white socks, strange black sneakers, ill fitting blue Dockers and the Buddy Holly glasses. All he needed was a pocket protector. I'm not kidding you. And his hair which had previously been kind of hipster tousled, was oddly parted on the side and slicked over with cowlicks preventing it from lying flat. His hairdo looked a bit like my uncle's (Bella's dad who is no bastion of style let me tell you). I was deeply troubled by this turn of events.
Once in my car alone with me, SF started rocking out to Jane's Addiction. I was embarassed for him.
"I love Mountain Song!" he said, "I used to listen to this when I went snowboarding."
For the life of me I couldn't imagine this dork snowboarding. Seriously, I thought snowboarders were cool.
Once we got to the restaurant I went in the bathroom and called Sunflower and begged him to be my date to the Boat Parade party the next night. This was my backup plan. This would also make the San Francisco dork see that I was not interested. Sunflower said he'd think about it.
But you know, he had opened the car door for me. He was really quite sweet, I thought. I should do my best to be his friend because, as I said before, it's good to have friends in cool cities. But then again he was putting his hand on my back as we walked through the restaurant and that was not ok. I didn't want people to think we were together or something.
I really hated the restaurant. You don't even know. Local readers will instantly know where I'm talking about. It's a Greek place where everyone dances on the tables, drinks Ouzo, screams and yells to bad Greek techno music and throws piles and piles of paper napkins. It is the most obnoxious tourist trap I've ever seen.
And then who was there of course but Free Food Larry and his new girlfriend. This wasn't that random as I got Larry jobs with several of my parents' friends who were all criminals in some way or another. The friend had invited Free Food Larry, I guess. More than likely he had recognized the potential for more free food and had invited himself. We decided to sit at a different table, and I was visibly disturbed. I hate seeing exes, even those that I dumped. I especially hate seeing them with 19 year old, 85 pound, anorexic, half-naked Puerto Rican hoochies. The girl looked like a hooker. Not a classy one you order from a website, but a real streetwalker.
As we picked at some moussaka Larry, because he was an arrogant asshole, came over to our table.
"How do you like my new girlfriend?" he asked us.
We all looked at him and blinked.
"How fucking hot is she? Oh my God, the body on her. And you know what, she eats like a horse and doesn't work out. She was born with a perfect body. Ad her tits are real. 32 Ds. Like a little Spanish goddess. Look at her."
We all couldn't help but look at her. She was dancing on a table in five inch, clear platforms and licking her lips at several of the waiters.
"Larry," my mother said, "You are the biggest fucking asshole I have ever met. How dare you bring this whore when you knew we would be here? What disrespect after all the free food we gave you and after how you treated my daughter. Have you no class or tact whatsover? I mean really. You know what I think of her. I think she's a fucking prostitute and that's exactly what you deserve."
And with that my mother stood up, grabbed a handful of ice out of my Sprite and busted Free Food Larry square in the face with it, giving him a bloody nose. It really was one of the finer moments of my life. It really was. We should all have a mother who would do something like this.
Right then Larry's girlfriend saw that he was in distress and clamored down from the table top and stormed over to our table. She assumed that I, being the ex-girlfriend, was the one who had injured her lover. She got right up in my face. The five inch heels helped. Without shoes she would have had to have stood on a chair to get in my face.
"JEW GOTTA PROLLUM WIT MAH BAW-FREN BEETCH??"
Oh my Lord the girl sounded exactly like Rosie Perez. This is not a good thing. A translation of what she said was:
"Excuse me please, but do you have a problem with my boyfriend, female dog?"
Very calmly I replied:
"No. I do not have a problem with your boyfriend bitch. You are the one going out with him. You have the problem now. I dumped him."
And then she decided to kick my ass right there in the restaurant, but before she could take a swing (and oh was she about to) San Francisco who remained silent up to this point, likely due to shock, grabbed me and ran out of the restaurant with me. Somehow in the melee he managed to get my car keys, so he gave them to the valet, with money and asked the valet to bring the car immediately.
Personally, I think I could have taken her on. I think I could have actually kicked her ass pretty good and my mom would have had my back. I've never been in a fight, but I've imagined a lot of them and I really think I could have done it. But dammit, San Francisco had to go and carry me out of the restaurant and now we'll never know what could have happened.
Once in the car my adrenaline subsided enough for me to realize that I should be truly mortified. This poor guy flew all the way to South Florida from San Francisco to see a girl he thought was interested in him only to witness this same girl, after less than an hour, nearly get into a public brawl. And the language. And her mother busting some idiot in the face with ice. It was like the Jerry Springer show. He must have thought we were total, absolute white trash. I felt guilty. This guy had paid a lot of money to come, so I thought I should make it up to him. I decided to take him to dinner. And I apologized 785 times along the way.
"I swear I'm not a redneck, really," I said.
"I hardly ever get in public fights like that," I said.
"I do volunteer work! I listen to NPR!" I said.
I took him to a restaurant that I love. Even though I don't drink, I needed a drink and this place has award winning prickly pear margaritas.
The hostess sat us in a booth and San Francisco did something in this booth that horrified me to my very core. He sat on the same side as me. I scanned the crowded restaurant to make sure no one I knew was there. I didn't want anyone to see me with this guy. As if he weren't dorky enough he was a same-sider to boot. A same-sider. It was unspeakable. I had spent years making fun of cheezy couples who were same-siders in restaurants. No one had ever same-sided with me until that moment. I was deeply self conscious about it and I didn't want him to get the wrong idea. We were not on a date. I repeat. We were not on a date. I was showing a tourist a local hot spot. That's it. NOT. A. DATE.
Except we were kind of having a really good time. Perhaps it was the margaritas, but this guy was really sweet and really funny. He refused to let me pay. Then he drove us home in my car because I had a drink and was smaller than him. He also smelled good. And wow, he was so nice. That meant that he would definitely let me crash at his place if I ever wanted to go to San Francisco. And we would probably be good friends.
I invited him inside because he was staying at Abe's house down the street and the door was locked because Abe was still out. We sat in my bed for a while talking and listening to music and he was pleasant and easy to talk to. Canela jumped up beside us and began to ferociously head butt him. He picked her up and kissed her. Did I melt right there? No I did not. I thought to myself: "I can't believe this dork is kissing my cat like this."
By then I had layed down and stretched out. It was late. I was exhausted. He took this as a signal to lay down beside me and spoon me.
Oh Jesus H. Christ, I thought. This dork is spooning me. How do I get out of this? This is awful. Except it's not that bad and he's not really making moves on me. Oh God. His hand is accidentally on my right boob. I don't think he realizes it. Does he know his hand is on my boob? I wonder if he means to be doing that? I don't think he does. How can I get out of this? Do I want to get out of this? I think I do. But it's a tiny bit nice.
Luckily my parents came home, noisily and I had an excuse to jump up and greet them. San Francisco jumped up too and before I could do anything he grabbed my face and tried to kiss me, although I quickly averted this by turning my head so that he kissed me on the cheek. I acted like this hadn't happened and opened the door.
We found out that Free Food Larry and his girlfriend had been escorted out of the restaurant by security for threatening people and causing a scene. My mother, inexplicably was left alone. I think this is because everyone, even the waiters, knew that Larry needed to be busted in the face with ice. He was just that big of an asshole.
San Francisco went back home with Abe. I looked at my phone and had three missed calls from Sunflower. I decided to call him in the morning and take Sunflower to Abe's party as my date so San Francisco would know I wasn't interested. I went to bed, plan firmly in mind.
To be continued again...
The summer of 2002 I half-assedly dated a guy who was a total fucking asshole and I knew it. I've already written about it and you may read it here. In fact, go refresh your memory with that story which tells how I dumped the idiot. I like that story.
So I was on a bit of a sabbatical from dating. I also had The Psychologist. For nearly two years The Psychologist and I had been going round and round and round. I met him on Jdate. He was cute and made great mix cds and played the guitar not that well but enough to impress girls. For far too long The Psychologist and I carried out a charade in which he said we were "friends with benefits" and I believed we were pretty much a couple except for the fact that he would not call us a couple. We were dating in everything except name. I had even met his family multiple times and he took me out at least twice a week and I slept over regularly and seriously, everything about us was a relationship except that he didn't call it one. I loved this. I loved this because it was agonizing and filled me with angst and woe and drama and because it provided me with a perfect arena to play out my whole saga of "I WILL NEVER BE GOOD ENOUGH!!!" If I had had any sense I would have dumped him the very first time he told me I couldn't be his girlfriend and that I wasn't his soulmate. My dumb, sorry ass thought I could change his mind if I worked hard enough and if I did everything right he would stop dating other girls and realize that he was truly madly in love with me. This never happened but I definitely gave the fantasy that it would a thorough work out. By the time Labor Day of '02 rolled around and I had about had it with both The Psychologist and The Asshole (whom I had really only dated to make the Psychologist jealous, which only kinda worked) I decided to swear off any further contact with men for a good long while.
I was busy with school. I hadn't been going for very long. The main reason I was going at all was because The Psychologist pissed me off by saying that part of the reason I couldn't be his girlfriend was because I was uneducated. Sometimes I hope The Psychologist knows about this blog and is reading it because I'd very much like him to know that in a few short months I will be just as educated as he is. At least comparatively, in my own field. In some ways I will be more educated. And this pleases me more than you can know because I have worked for six long, difficult years to prove him wrong. I'm crazy like that. If someone says something about me I take it as a challenge. When he told me I was uneducated I was so hurt and ashamed but at the same time I took it as a challenge. I was like "Oh yeah motherfucker. I'll show your ass some education. It may take me six years but by God I'll show you." And I did. Because I am that nuts.
But I'm digressing as bad as my grandmothers here. Anyway I was busy with school and swore off men and their games. Everyone who knew me felt that this was a bad idea. I was getting older after all. I wasn't getting any better looking. I needed to "Get Myself Out There." I heard this ten thousand times.
"You'll never meet anyone unless you put yourself out there. You've got to get out there!" everyone said.
I didn't even know where "out there" was. Wherever it might be, I didn't want to go. I had been on Jdate for the past 2 1/2 years and it hadn't resulted in anything but some consistent and emotionally painful sex with The Psychologist and about seventy five funny stories (which is something I admit). Dating had been exhausting and grueling and often depressing. I felt terribly about myself because I had been rejected a lot and often with a great deal of callousness. So many men lack compassion. I will never ever forget the guy who told me I didn't have the body type he preferred. But still everyone said I needed to "Get Out There!"
"I'm not going anywhere," I said, "Except to school."
Looking back this was one of the smartest decisions I have ever made.
"You're never going to meet anyone sitting in the house all the time," everyone told me.
"The perfect man isn't going to come walking through the front door, you know. You have to go find him."
I didn't really care.
One day I was sad and lonely and I sat down and made a very long and detailed list of all the qualities of my perfect man. I envisioned him so completely that I felt like I knew him and I did this because it made me feel less lonely. It was like I was Dr. Frankenstein, creating a real person to make myself feel better. I became very absorbed in creating my fantasy man so I included everything on the list, right down to his eye color (green) and the fact that he wore glasses and would speak more than one language. He would also like cats and have good taste in music and have traveled. He would be smart and kind and not a player. I wanted him to have a nice family and parents who were still married. I went on and on. The list was several pages. When I finished I put the list away and stopped thinking about it.
Labor Day weekend came and The Asshole came over looking for a free meal. We called him Free Food Larry. Another friend of mine, The Jamaican, was in town. At this time I lived at Casa Azul with my parents and The Jamaican stayed there. He is the friend who named Bomboclaat. The Jamaican said he would cook us an authentic Jamaican meal and he made a ton of food - jerked chicken, callaloo, peas and rice, escabeche fish and every yummy spicy, coconutty island food you can imagine. It was wonderful.
My parents decided to call Abe Kirchener who lived down the street at the time and had yet to marry Gabriella the Brazilian gold digging whore who has since cleaned out his accounts and financially ruined him. They invited Abe over for dinner and he said his friend's son was in town from San Francisco and wanted to know if he could bring him too. Of course that was fine.
Before dinner was served Free Food Larry the fucking asshole got sick from taking Vicodin and passed out in my bed. I was in my room trying to get Free Food Larry up and coherent enough to drive so he could leave when I heard a bunch of people talking outside my bedroom window. I peeked out and there was Abe with his friend's son who was sitting on a lawn chair with my mom smoking a cigarette. He looked to be about my age and he was wearing a God awful outfit of red shorts and a strange Hawaiian shirt with clogs and Buddy Holly glasses. He was the weirdest looking boy I had ever seen. I didn't know he could see me peeking out the window at him smoking cigarettes with my mom.
Although he was dressed peculiarly there was something really kind of cute and naughty about him. He looked eccentric and this appealed to me.
At dinner (Free Food Larry ironically missed the free food because he was still passed out) Hawaiian Shirt and I sat at opposite ends of the table and only shared a very brief exchange regarding music and then San Francisco. I thought I should get to be friends with him, whoever he was, because it's always good to have friends who live in cool cities. Also he was cute.
He's probably gay or a freak or something, I thought.
Abe had to leave early because he had to take Mr. Hawaiian Shirt to the airport in Miami and by then I had kind of dismissed him. He hadn't seemed interested in me and he didn't make any other gestures of wanting to know more about me so I was all like "Whatever, he dresses funny anyway."
Then I ended up having to drive Free Food Fucking Larry home and get him back in his apartment. And really I did this not out of any real kindness but merely to get him out of my damned bed.
I couldn't stop thinking about the guy in the ugly Hawaiian Shirt. I had no idea why. I was probably desperate. I didn't know anything about him. I could barely remember his name.
A few weeks later I asked Abe about him. Abe was from California and had been friends with this guy's parents just like he was friends with my parents.
"How old is he?" I asked.
"Your age I guess," Abe said.
That didn't really help because to someone who's sixty anyone younger than that is the same age. I feared Hawaiian Shirt might be too young for me.
"He's a great guy," Abe said, "I've known him since he was in kindergarten."
Then he told me all about how he had been a snowboarder and was in magazines and how he spoke three languages fluently and liked to cook and how he had moved to San Francisco a few years ago after college and had gotten a really good job.
"He just called me up and said he'd be in town and we could get together. How many kids do you know who'd remember their parents' friend and make the time in their vacation to come see them? He's a great guy."
"Tell him to come back," I said, "Can you call him and ask what he thought about me and if he might want to come back and visit again?"
"He gave me his number. I'll see if I can do that," Abe said.
"Don't forget!" I said.
"You interested in him?"
"All right. I'll call him soon as I can."
A month or so later, maybe a little more Abe said that the guy in the Hawaiian shirt had called him.
To Be Continued....
"I decided to write a little update. As you know we've decided to stay another month. Actually I fear we will stay longer. The reason being is we are in the middle of so much right now it would be stupid to leave. We are going through very crazy times and it appears the stars are perfectly aligned. Everything that we ever dreamed for seems to be happening at triple speed. In the middle of market crashes, financial devastations, bad news 24 hours a day, there is a crack in the sky where the sun is shining directly on us. I am thanking God almost every hour. I'm not even religious but when thanks is due we need to remember there is something out there much bigger than us.
Anyway this weekend will prove to be incredible. We are staying in Malibu starting Thursday night. Brooke and her family will be staying there too and we will all cook together. This amazing 30 Million dollar home right on Malibu Beach is a definite retreat from bad nerves. We all rock in old time rocking chairs with a fine crystal champagne flute filled with the finest of bubbly spirits. Oh how I love that. I don't care how bad your week was it disappears within an hour and life is just filled with goodness running over. The more bubbly the more stories people seem to tell. It goes from story telling to all out hysterical laughter. People don't seem to laugh as much as they should so I cherish these times. Being in Malibu is always an event because you never know who might stroll in. This weekend the cameras come out and pictures will flow. I will make sure, being you are not with me that you can at least experience the weekend through pictures. I am also going to get Brooke and some of the others to write you some letters for your blog. If you promise to help Brooke I will send never ending stories and pictures. Maybe it is time to notch things up a bit.
I also got the call today that I will most definitely be going to see Dancing with the Stars next week. We will be right next to Brooke's husband so you will see me often. They always direct the cameras toward him when she is dancing. You can do some freeze frames at home and freak the hell out. OH yes it is me live on ABC! You know I will be looking HOT! Your readers will be shocked by the way you describe me. I just had my 53rd birthday Friday as you know. I ended I do not know where but after your father drank two shots of absinthe, (He did not have a clue what that was, but I sure did). Coming from the country that wasn't much about liquor I didn't know. I decided I didn't want my face planted in a toilet a two in the morning so I stayed with a much weaker drink. Glad I made that decision after watching your father try to hold on to a tree then missing it by a mile, nearly hitting the pavement. Good thing Doug was straight as an arrow. Someone needed to drive that car. Anyway, he was fine the next day like nothing ever happened. My birthday was a blast. We spent most of it at Besos, Eva Longoria's new restaurant. The place was packed with partiers from all over.
Boomba has settled in Beverly Hills and is saying he hates Florida. He has 100s of friends and went from being totally antisocial to being the mayor. He can walk to the dog park at speeds unbelievable. He cannot wait to go and believe it or not, at 5:00 he knows it is time to go. He socializes with everyone and when he gets tired he just sits on a strangers lap like he has known them his whole life. This is amazing because this dog likes NO one but me. He is nice and thin, looking incredible. His breath still smells like a skunk's ass but hey, he is 13 and I should be thrilled he still has teeth and can still see.
I have an incredible story to tell you. It seems Doug met up with a few trans-sexuals that he thought were women. This whole debacle has been going on for six weeks now and it is so bizarre that I feel it is a story in itself. I could almost write a book about it. I will save the story for next week. I swear to you it will be incredible and your readers will freak the hell out. So will you! The reason you haven't heard about it is because I can't talk on the phone to tell you because he is always here and I really do not want to hurt his feelings. The story is so damn juicy that it is killing me. I want to tell you about it.
Next week your Papa will be home for the holidays. Enjoy it, I will be relaxing in Bev. Hills eating sushi and looking for new adventures. "
So the winner is that you all want to hear about how I met my husband and that's what you're going to get, but not right now because I have to get ready to go teach two classes. Maybe I'll write it tonight or tomorrow morning. In any case, I'm going to tell you all how I met my husband. I fear though that you might be disappointed. It's not that interesting perhaps, although on our first date a Puerto Rican girl threatened to kick my ass in public. Which was at least entertaining, even as it happened. I will warn you that, to quote my dear husband "everything about this flies in the face of all dating conventions."
A close second was what happened to my sister. I have decided to write about these topics in the order in which they placed in the poll. My sister has given me full permission, encouragement even, to write her story as long as I fictionalize the ending. She wants a new ending where she killed the guy and chopped him into pieces and threw him into the Everglades where alligators ate him. This fictionalized ending would make her feel very good as she read it. I said I'd write that for her.
After that it looks like we'll be hearing about the Chiropractor and the Toe Sucker.
But first we need to talk about my parents. Really, we need to talk about my parents. Ok, I need to talk about my parents.
They were supposed to come home October 1st. Their lease was up and they'd been out there for a while having the time of their lives. To me it seems that they live a healthier and more pleasant lifestyle - always at the dog park and taking walks and hanging out in beachfront bars in Malibu. Also the Ross is much better and they are only three hours from that mystical trailer park in Vegas that they love so much. But I do miss them a lot and I kind of wanted to go back to my apartment. Not that I don't love living in a gigantic waterfront home with a bathtub, a pool and oh good god a grill. I love that dang grill. I'm as bad as a man. I was out there making BBQ chicken the other day getting such a thrill. But anyway, I wanted them to come home for at least a little while, but at the same time I feel like they're better off in LA. But I was looking forward to having them come home.
Then my mother called and said they were staying and extra month. Then my dad called and asked me if I was TiVoing "Dancing With the Stars". As if.
"Why would you ask that?" I asked him back.
"I thought you loved that show."
"No, I watch 'So You Think You Can Dance', totally different."
"Oh, well you need to watch 'Dancing With the Stars'," he said.
"And why is this?"
"Your mom's new best friend is on it!"
"OH MY GOD IS SHE HANGING OUT WITH KIM KARDASHIAN AND HER BIG ASS TELL ME THIS IS TRUE PLEASE IS THAT ASS REAL????????" I said calmly.
Because I could really see my mom and Kim Kardashian getting along very well and then my mom could FINALLY be on that reality show she was meant for.
"No," my dad said, crushing my whole world, "It's Brooke Burke."
"Julian's ex-wife who dated Bruce Willis?" I asked.
I was referring to Julian McMahon because of course he and I are naturally on a first name basis and all. Ok, well, we were on a first name basis. I don't think he'd remember me now. Julian and I spent Thanksgiving weekend of '03 together in Mexico. Ok, while every word of that sentence is true, it is also written with a great deal of fantasy involved. Let me clarify. Julian McMahon and I were in the same place and ate dinner at the same table every night (breakfast and lunch too!) and really did sort of hang out for Thanksgiving weekend of '03, but I confess that I think he thought I was a Mexican maid and that he was so insanely hot in real life that neither my sister nor I could carry on a coherent conversation with the man and that whenever he came anywhere near us we would turn red and giggle and act like jackasses and have to leave the room to gush to one another about how hot he was. That is the real truth.
But I was mistaken, alas. Julian's ex-wife was Brooke Burns who was apparently on "Bay Watch", which should not be confused with Brooke Burke who was on "Wild On." To me there is almost no distinction whatsoever between these women. But Brooke Burke is now my mom's new friend. They met in Malibu and Brooke has like twenty-five children and my mom held her new baby and they just had a fabulous time and Brooke never even mentioned she was on "Dancing With the Stars" until she had to leave and her husband (baby daddy? not sure) told everyone present that she was going to her first rehearsal and they were all like, for what? Then he told them about it.
So my mother would like you all to please vote for her new friend Brooke Burke on "Dancing With the Stars" because she said Brooke Burke is a lovely woman, a very good mother and extremely warm and friendly and one of the sweetest people she has ever met.
Later I called and asked my mother if she was going to go see the show being taped to watch her friend.
"No," she said.
"Why not? Even I'd do that."
"You gotta wear gowns and tuxedos to that mess. They make you get all dressed up to go."
My mom is not about the gowns. She doesn't like skirts and dresses. Personally I think she should make the sacrifice and get herself a nice long dress at that fancy Ross and just go.
Also, I completely forgot to tell you this. My parents were back in Vegas last week at that trailer park and they were in a restaurant and who rolls up in his special little cart but Vern Troyer (aka Mini-Me) and he was with a very flashy, sexy girl who may or may not have been a hooker.
So to conclude, I don't think my parents are coming home. Please vote for Brooke Burke on "Dancing With the Stars" and umm...Julian McMahon thinks I speak great English for a Mexican maid.
My husband has gone to a wedding and I had to work and it was far away so I stayed home. Also partly because the friends were all here. One set of friends are in town because they are filming a documentary. For the past few days I found that more interesting than blogging. Right now everyone is gone - the sets of friends and my husband. My cat is having a fight with the neighbor's cat through the glass door. The cats are hissing and howling and throwing themselves against the glass. Cats have brains the size of almonds. Did you know that? Watching cats fight through a door, this seems obvious.
Because I was alone I decided to call my grandmother because she too was alone. I also called because all week long the baboon story had been bothering me and I wanted to see if she could confirm it for me. I had some trepidation about this because both of my grandmothers have this terrible habit of swearing that things didn't happen. You'll be reminiscing and then all of a sudden they'll break in with a "THAT DIDN'T HAPPEN" which no amount of "Yes it did"s will sway. There have been events that everyone else in the room remembers quite clearly but which my grandmothers will swear up and down never ever happened or even close to happened. I don't know why this is. I guess this happens when you get old and start to see merely an idealized version of the past because that's more pleasant. Maybe they perceived things differently. I can see my mother doing this here and there as well. We had a conversation last week where she told me a totally different version of a story that I remember as happening otherwise.
But the baboon story was bothering me, especially with the supernatural element and I want my stories to be as true as they can be so I called her up.
For fifteen solid minutes we talked about a curtain rod. She needs a curtain rod. The drapes are falling down. My aunt and uncle were going to take her but they had to drive down and they said there wouldn't be traffic and then there was traffic and she had bought a two liter of Mountain Dew because once they had said they liked it but when they finally got there to take her to get the curtain rod, after being stuck in traffic that they said there wouldn't be, they didn't drink the Mountain Dew and it's still in her refrigerator and also she got some chocolate popsicles and she was going to eat them. My grandmother's conversations are endless run-ons branching off into interminable tangents. If you were to draw a chart of a conversation with Mommom Jewel it would look like one of those glowing ball things of static electricity that have hundreds of mini lightning bolts branching out from a metallic center. You put your hands on them to feel the energy and your hair stands on end which is never not funny. I don't know what this thing is called but this is what my grandmother's conversations look like. And they also make your hair stand on end. Then she started going on about drapes and how she was getting her curtain rod at one store but a new Macy's had opened up an hour away and everyone had started going there but they have the same exact things as her store except every single item at Macy's is marked up exactly five dollars more than her store and she's not going there and she's going to her store instead because it's exactly the same and she doesn't care what anybody says about it. Like who would say something? Sometimes I want to ask her that. Who would say something? What would they say? That Jewel Holland buys her curtain rod for five dollars less? Would someone really say that? My mind drifted off and suddenly we were talking about Dr. Pepper. Perhaps it was a compare/ contrast between the Mountain Dew and the Dr. Pepper. I have no idea.
"Did you ever get the curtain rod?" I asked.
"No I most certainly did not," she said.
Then she told me why in exhausting detail. I will spare you what I had to listen to. By the end I wanted to tell her she should have tried Macy's. Finally I asked her if the baboon story is true, but I left out my theory about her being hung over because she would take that to the grave. I can't see my grandmother ever admitting to having had a hang-over.
"Oh yessir. That story most certainly was as true as I'm sittin in this chair," she said.
I can't confirm that she was sitting in that chair since we were on the phone, but I'll take her word for it that she was, indeed, sitting in that chair that she said she was. I guess that makes the story true.
"The car was really attacked by baboons?" I asked.
"Yessir it was. Oh it was awful," she said.
I asked her if I had exagerated the damage in my mind, being that I was little and all. It could have seemed worse.
"No. It cost us hundreds and hundreds of dollars even back then. Pop was so mad, he said he hoped we'd seen enough wild animals because he'd be damned if he'd ever go back to that place again."
"And the storm? That was true? And how I said rumble rumble-"
"NO DON'T YOU SAY THOSE WORDS!!!!!!"
"Yes it happened but DO NOT say those words. I have never seen a storm like that in all my life. To this day I've never seen a hail storm like that."
"Did I ever do anything else supernatural?"
"Oh Lord have mercy on you, you were the strangest child. Used to give me chills. I'd put you to bed, even when you were in your crib, just a toddler and as soon as I'd shut that door you'd start having full conversations. I asked you who you were talking to and you looked at me like I was a blamed fool and said to my face like it was obvious I should have already known and you said 'Mommom I'm talking to the people' and I said 'what people sweetheart' and you said to me and I will never forget this, you said to me that you were talking to the 'people from before.'"
"I said that?"
"Yes you did. And you would come and tell me things there was no way a child could have known or understood and I'd ask you how you knew these things and you'd tell me that angels told you or the people from before told you. I asked you who the people from before were and you said they came in the window and talked to you all night long and they were real nice and played with you and everything. It scared me so bad I quit asking you about it and just let you do it. One day you came to me and I was in the kitchen and you told me you remembered everything from before you were born and the people were your friends from then. I asked you if they were angels, these people, and you said I could call them that if I wanted to. Now what kind of child?"
Frankly, even writing about this conversation is creeping me out. I don't know what to make of it. But someone had asked in the comments if I had any other supernatural experienes as a child and I guess there's the answer. I apparently did. I don't remember it at all now though and I don't have these experiences now thank the blessed Lord in Heaven because I don't want to.
After that I decided to call Bella. This was a mistake. You always know you're in for trouble when the conversation starts with thirty seconds of background noise and a hip-hop song playing, followed by some shrill WOOOHOOOOs and then a bunch of semi-coherent hellos because whomever is on the other line can't hear you.
"BELLAA??" I yelled.
"WOOHOOOO yeah? HEY!!!! OH MY GOD IZZZ YEWWW!!! HEEEYYYY"
Bella was to' up. Bad. I guarantee you if I had not called her she would have drunk dialed me within the hour. I don't know why this is but I am a drunk dialing magnet. Whenever my friends and relatives get wasted they always seem to feel that it's the perfect time to call me.
"Bella, where are you?"
"Oh ok, I'll let you go."
"NO I HAS SO MUCH TA TELLL YEWWWWW!"
When Bella gets drunk she talks like a lolcat. It's actually very funny. She sounded like she was having a great time whatever she was doing so I persuaded her to hang up and call me at another time.
Then my sister called me. Last night I hung out at her new job. She's working at the Brew Bayou, a Cajun themed bar. While I was there I witnessed an altercation involving six cops and four suspicious young men in a souped up red Mercedes. At one point the suspects were all on the ground but then they let them all go. Tonight she told me that there had been another incident while she worked where a woman locked her infant in the car and someone had to break the window and the woman was in hysterics.
The cats are fighting again and I have managed to sufficiently creep myself out while alone in the house. Maybe I'll watch the rest of my Tivoed episode of "True Blood." Can I just tell you - new favorite show. I'm about to be obsessed. I can already tell. It's that heavy goth streak I can't get rid of. I feel like I'm 16 again, all about the sexy vampires. And oh, the vampire guy on this show is very hot. He instantly gained the number one spot on my top five. Sorry Mark Ruffalo, you are now at number two, also bumping Dan Abrams to the number three position. I don't know who the other two are right now. I'd have to think about it because I broke up with Clive Owen, who has nothing on a vampire. No, maybe if I watched that I'd get scared again, although I haven't found it scary just yet. Hmm, I'd consider making Casey Affleck number four. I don't know. I think my top five needs some work.
Ehn. Saturday night at home alone sucks. I'm going to go make a Whole Foods gluten-free pizza which will probably be as fantastic as it sounds.
I'm feeling bleh as hell. What do you all want me to write about next? I'm stealing this idea from Green. I'm just wondering what you all would say. Inspire me, dear readers.
This morning I caught Canela licking water droplets off the shower doors. Afterward she spit up on the floor and I don't know if that was from a hairball or soap residue, but she seems ok now. This cat, and for that matter, ever single other pet I've ever had has preferred what I like to call "alternative water sources" to the fresh cold water I put in their dishes several times a day. I am vigilant about giving my pets fresh water. I change it three times a day and wash the bowl in between. Husband has even spoiled Canela to the point where she won't even look at it unless it has ice in it now too. So now the cat gets ice three times a day. If it melts she stands next to the dish and looks at it and she'll do this for hours until someone relents and gives her new ice and new water. Then she'll take two little sips and go drink out of the toilet.
So I thought I should come up with a line of special, and extremely expensive, bottled water for pets (because dogs are even worse about this than cats) and that it should come in different flavors. The flavors would be: toilet, mud puddle, shower residue, human's glass of water, melted ice cube that fell on the floor, faucet, other pet's water dish and last but not least, fish bowl.
Then I decided to take it a step further and decided that I also needed a line of cat food that represents what cats actually want to eat, because in the wild cats don't go salmon fishing or haul home dead chickens and cows. So my new cat food line, which is still in development, will feature flavors such as: Blue Jay Dinner, Mole and Vole Combo, Garter Snake, The Other Cat's Food (the one who is on the special diet and has to eat separately of course), Dog Food, Gecko Surprise (allows the cat to leave the tails) and Ground Hog (meant for multiple cats only and also suitable for some dogs). Other flavors such as People Food, Extension Cord, Christmas Tree, House Plant and Every Poisonous Thing in the House That Cats Shouldn't Eat are also in development at this time.
It was late Spring and my father returned from a trip to Japan with the idea that we should all visit a wild animal park in New Jersey together, as a family. We should take the child to see wild animals roaming freely in New Jersey. She should see giraffes and lions and zebras in their natural habitat. Of New Jersey. After we take her to the wild animal park we should take her to a restaurant that has stone animals standing all over the roof because after seeing real animals walking around in New Jersey it's good to see stone versions of the same animals standing on the roof of a restaurant. Also in New Jersey. She should have this experience, he insisted.
New Jersey was far away. We had never been there, but my grandfather was up for a road trip because he had just purchased his dream car - an olive green, vinyl topped Chevrolet. He wanted to show it off, to really take it out on a highway, to go somewhere in it and what better place to take a brand new Chevrolet than on a safari? He was also enthused about the trip because he had heard that the restaurant with the stone animals standing on the roof was world-class, gourmet cuisine and he loved going out to dinner. His favorite thing in the entire world was taking the family out to eat and we always went to nice places; places with full salad bars and crocks of cheese spread to dip breadsticks in and spread on packets of melba toast.
We left for the wild animal park at six in the morning. It was still dark and my grandfather brought a camping thermos full of coffee with him that was nearly the size of a pipe in a drainage ditch. He wanted to stop at Mister Doughnuts and get breakfast but Mommom threw a fit. She had a headache and an upset stomach and the thought of smelling those nasty, greezy fried doughnuts would make her ill. This annoyed me tremendously because Mister Doughnuts had little doughnuts on sticks like lollipops and I loved them more than life itself. I would behave for weeks on end if someone had promised me a doughnut on a stick.
While we drove, I amused myself with my sketch pad and pencil. I drew a large thunderstorm with scribbled tornadoes, darkly shaded clouds and jagged lightning bolts that looked like unbent wire clothes hangers poking at a landscape populated with generously striped, stick zebras and stick elephants with trunks like graphite garden hoses. I showed Mommom the storm.
"Rumble rumble rumble. Pour pour pour," I said.
"Is that the sound your picture makes?" she asked.
"Yes," I said.
"What sound do the animals make?"
"rumble rumble rumble pour pour pour."
"No, that's the storm. What does the elephant say?"
"Rumble rumble rumble pour pour pour," I repeated.
Later, I remember my father getting into an argument with my grandparents about something. I also remember that the drive to New Jersey was longer than I had ever been in a car and we had to stop twice at rest areas. We crossed a huge bridge and the wind over the spans shook and slid the car, hundreds of feet above a blur of water and barges.
I recall wanting to eat at McDonalds and not expressing this desire because I had learned early on never to ever say that I wanted something. I really did want to eat at McDonalds though. I'm not sure why. We didn't have a McDonalds at home yet so I had never been to one. Perhaps I liked mustard color of the arches.
We didn’t get McDonalds. My family brought coolers on road trips, full of sandwiches that I hated, on white bread, dripping with mayonnaise. My father and Pop had Old-Fashioned Loaf while I ate peanut butter crackers with Mommom. We drank cans of 7-Up which is too fizzy out of the can and needs ice that we didn't have. McDonalds would have been much better.
Finally we arrived at the wild animal park. A huge sign at the entrance warned us, explaining that the animals are wild and could be unpredictable. Driving through the park was done at the guest's own risk and the park would not be responsible for injuries incurred to guests who refused to keep their windows up and their hands inside the car. Feeding and petting the animals was strictly prohibited. Getting out of the car would result in arrest or even death. Drivers must drive at ten miles per hour or slower and look out for animals darting out or crossing the roadways. Cars with vinyl tops should not drive through the safari at all and the wild animal park was not responsible or liable for any damage done to any car.
"I don't like the sound of this," my grandmother said.
Pop said he didn't want to drive through either and maybe we had better go straight to the restaurant with the much safer stone animals on its roof.
My father was upset about this and they all argued for a long time about how it would be a waste of a trip and how I would be disappointed and I had wanted to see the animals for so long. It wouldn't be fair to make a child sit in the car for all that time just to go to a restaurant and he kind of wanted to see the real animals himself for what it was worth. Those signs. They had to put them there in case something happened but nothing had ever happened. Lawyers made them put up those signs. They were there for stupid people who didn't have enough sense not to try to get out and pet a lioness or toss Funyuns to a jackal. Finally my grandparents gave in because it looked like it was clouding up and we had better just go ahead and do it before it started to rain and then we wouldn't have a choice anymore.
The lions were fucking. Lions don't mate or breed and they certainly don't make love. If you've ever seen lion sex it's definitely straight up, dirty and fast. It takes less than thirty seconds and then they do it repeatedly, so as we were stuck in traffic in the drive through safari we got to see the lions get it on at least thirteen times. "What are they doing?" I asked."They are giving one another piggy back rides and don't ask about it again," my grandfather said.
We saw distant gazelles, sheep with long, saber-like horns, giraffes who seemed to be looking for something and then we saw some disenchanted cheetahs. Elephants rolled in mud, all of the animals pooped as we passed, hippos lolled in a shallow pond that prevented them from completely submerging and finally, after all of this we arrived at the baboons.
A large group of baboons conferred as we approached and then without warning they descended like a raging dust-devil of red-assed ape. Later a park representative would tell us it was because the chrome of the new car was so shiny and enticing to them. Baboons blotted out the sun, hanging and humping; throwing themselves on and off every part of the Chevrolet. They dented the hood, weighed down the roof and shredded the automobile’s elegant vinyl top with their nails. They peeled off the chrome edging and emblem; attempted to make off with the license plate. They jerked off in front of the windshield and took hot yellow shits which ran down the windows. We couldn't do a single thing because the traffic was backed up and there was nowhere to go. Pop laid on the horn to scare the baboons but this just riled them up. He crept forward and slammed on the brakes to throw them off but they just jumped back on and pounded with their fists. Inside the car I huddled on the floor with my hands over my head to drown out the thumping, thudding and whooping of the baboons. My grandmother screamed and my grandfather swore in a way I never heard him swear ever again. In a last ditch effort I bellowed from the backseat:
"RUMBLE RUMBLE RUMBLE POUR POUR POUR!!!!!!!!!!!"
"Holy mother of God," I heard my grandfather say.
Suddenly the thumping, thudding baboons stilled. A deafening peal of thunder scattered them. I looked up through the dirt and crap smeared windows and the sky was green and bruised as a black eye. Then another thudding began but this time it was hail stones big as quarters. Later when we told the story it became fifty cent pieces and at one point years later it was Susan B. Anthonys.
The hail started like Jiffy-pop; a small sporadic crack here and there exploding into a roaring white noise of ice, streaking towards and slamming into the ground on sixty mile an hour winds. Though she would deny it later I remember my grandmother actually crying. No one else said a word. Rain like a real monsoon replaced the hail and the road was clear enough that we could creep along enough to get out of the wild animal park to the safety of a parking lot where we waited out the storm.
It ended about twenty minutes later. What the baboons hadn't dented and destroyed the hail had. The Chevrolet drove fine, but the outside was ruined. The mirror on the passenger's side was ripped off so as we drove off my grandmother had to keep looking over her shoulder and rolling down the window to check and see if it was safe for my grandfather to change lanes.
After all of this my grandfather said he was still going to go to the restaurant with stone animals on the roof. It was at least an hour away from my memory and he said before he dealt with the car and my father he needed a good steak dinner and a couple of Manhattans. No one else said a word, but as we pulled into the restaurant parking lot my grandmother turned to me in the backseat and pointed her finger at me.
"Don't you ever say those words again," she said with such seriousness that I nodded.
By then I had even scared myself.
The restaurant was closed. They were on vacation. My father had wanted to photograph the stone animals on the roof but now refused.
"Go on, you wanted all this so bad you better remember it. Go ahead and get a snapshot of it why don't you," Mommom said.
The ride home was silent. We stopped at a diner on the other side of the bridge and had fried chicken dinners. No one talked. I fell asleep so I don't know what happened when we got home. I don't know if my grandfather stormed in or if my father stood in the yard and looked with guilt and regret at the remains of his parents' car. I don't know if my grandfather went in and poured a drink from his stash by the basement laundry room. I imagine that my grandmother dusted a powder puff over her body and changed into an imitation silk, lace-edged nightgown and sprayed herself with Chanel #5 like she always did before bed. I don't know who put me in bed and flicked on my night-light. I don't remember what happened to the car. I just remember that when I was five my family was attacked by baboons and that I saved us by conjuring the worst thunderstorm any of us had ever seen.
I debated about writing anything today, as I thought maybe today should be a "post of silence" but then I thought it wouldn't be irreverent to write a little something before I run off for another long day. I've been getting home after 10:30 every night lately.
So last week one my close relatives in another state, who does not wish to be identified right now, had the privilege of serving Barack Obama and Joe Biden when they came to the restaurant where he works. They were on their way from one city on the campaign trail to another and stopped for lunch, being that they are actual human beings who get hungry. Secret Service scouted the place out for them an hour before they arrived, so apparently politicians can't just be all like "Hey that place looks great, let's eat there!" Everything has to be planned out. This would drive me insane. Remember to tell me never to run for office. Oh wait, I think I've long since ruined any chance I've ever had at a career in politics anyway.
By the time the whole entourage arrived at the restaurant the place was in a tizzy. A bunch of employees had called their relatives and told them to come in and eat so they could see the candidates and the place got really crowded. Barack and Joe ended up sitting down at a table with some regular patrons instead of taking their own table and since it was a table of old people, the patrons were awfully excited about this. Then everyone wanted autographs and pictures and they didn't turn down a single request and spent a lot of time talking to every person who approached them. Now I would have hated this, but again, politics is not for me. I would have shouted something like "God Dammit can't you all people see I'm trying to get a bite to eat over here?? Jesus Christ!!!" And then I'd be on CNN and Fox and on the cover of every national newspaper and no one would ever vote for me. I hate somebody trying to bother me when there's food around. I'm like one of those nervous dogs from the pound who growls over the food bowl and swears everyone wants to steal her kibble.
Barack Obama likes spinach dip. He also enjoys a good pretzel on occasion. He drank water, didn't smoke any cigarettes and held some girl's baby for a long time and played with it and kissed it on the head. The best part of all is that Barack Obama and Joe Biden each tipped my relative, MY RELATIVE, 50 percent. That's pretty nice. They also took a picture with him. My relative also reports that he found Barack Obama to be a pretty regular, nice guy who was very outgoing and had all the old ladies in the restaurant blushing and gushing. He also said that Barack Obama was very natural with the baby, who very much wanted to be held by him and that he didn't hold the baby in one of those fake politician ways and when he kissed the baby repeatedly on its little fuzzy head he did it in a sort of instinctive, not on purpose for a photo-op kind of way. He just liked the baby. I admit, I was touched.
Unfortunately I can't be very objective about this as it is highly unlikely that John McCain and Sarah Palin will visit the same restaurant. It was just a freak event. I'd also like to add that I had really wanted to be able to hear both candidates speak in person, but to date I haven't been able to do that because McCain hasn't been down here yet, at least not in a capacity where I could have seen him. I'm on both candidates' email lists so I can compare and I rarely get anything from McCain and get something from Obama at least every day. Barack Obama was texting me so much that I felt like he had a crush on me. John McCain sent me something in the mail the other day addressed to me as if I were a Republican, which annoyed me because I am an Independent. Isn't my vote crucial to this election? Shouldn't I be courted and wooed and all that? McCain needs to step it up a little. Maybe take me to dinner or something? A nice lobster perhaps.
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