Friday, December 23, 2011

Chapter 28: Memory Flash

Just a short interlude...

Memories are a funny thing; when you really need to remember something, it's almost impossible to conjure up all of the details on your own. Usually, you can call someone who was actually there, but sometimes a person has to wait around for a smell, sight, or sound to jog their aging brain. This is actually the best case scenario. The worst case is when memories come back without permission. You could be sitting on your couch watching Law & Order, when all of the sudden (between a delicious bite of Pringles), a memory sneaks into your conscious mind, causing you to press the pause button during the tense scene between Ice-T and Doorman #1, because you're now choking on a piece of reconstituted, potato-like chip. So rude.

Usually, the sneak memory is pretty harmless and fleeting. But within the last couple of days, I've had to go to DEFCOM 1. I can't get this crap out of my immediate thoughts. It all started when I bought that can of tuna...Starkist was patient zero. And so began the not-so-complicated string of associations, beginning with that rather innocuous little can--like 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon...only with tuna. 

Here's how the associations went: Says to self, "Hmm, I feel like making a tuna salad sandwich. I wonder if there's any dolphins in this can. Dolphins are rapists. So the wife on American Horror Story was raped by the rubber guy...meh. The house in the show looks like the place in St. Louis that Marie and I stayed a night in. I wonder if Marie is really a lesbian pirate? That reminds me of 'fat naked neighbor guy' in Portland that dangled himself (and his bits)--along with a can of tuna--out of his window every morning. I can't believe it wasn't obvious to him why his cat never returned." 

Result: Brain now executes a very colorful montage of the many instances of unsolicited flashing/indecent exposures/genital puppet shows from over the years. I say unsolicited--and this is a very important distinction, as you well know. 

I think I'll stick to egg salad.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Chapter 27: Christmas Music Is Evil
It's not even December 1st yet, but my ears are already being tortured by holiday music. Christmas music, to me, is akin to religious music--neither genre has produced more than a couple of songs that are actually worth listening to--or are at least tolerable. Think about many religious songs can you name that aren't entirely stupid? For me, it's not just the phraseology of the content within the song; I'm hard-pressed to find any song in possession of a pleasantly constructed verse and melody that makes me want to sing along without giving myself an instant migraine.

I remember this gem of an example from Christian camp: "I am a C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N, dot the i!! And I have C-H-R-I-S-T in my H-E-A-R-T, so I will live E-T-E-R-N-A-L-L...Y..." Yep; the last part doesn't even fit within the timing of the measure. But before you say, "Come on, what about Stryper!" I suggest that you first slap yourself across the face, and then go stand in the corner.  Seriously, I'll wait.

But to be fair, holiday songs are generally more unforgivably offensive (unless they also contain religious lyrics). It's not just the traditional ones that cause insane fury (Frosty the Snowman, Santa Baby, I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, et cetera), but when popular music adopts this theme, it produces a hideous group of offspring. 

Let's make a list of some of the offenders who are ruining humanity...and my peace of mind:

Crime against mankind #1: "We Are The World"  is created by Quincy Jones.
Result: Sung by a bunch of poorly-dressed, misguided pop artists, and the song is destined to torment the customers of airport lounges and grocery stores. 

Crime against mankind #2: "Baby It's Cold Outside" as sung by Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson.
Result: Makes children with Down Syndrome feel suicidal.

Crime against mankind #3: Blasting "I'll Be Home For Christmas" as sung by Michael McDonald.
Result: Like giving Kryptonite covered in Syphilis to Superman. 

Crime against mankind #4: "Jingle Bells" as sung by Barbara Streisand.
Result: Makes people WANT to watch Yentil, which probably makes Ms. Streisand an evil genius.

Crime against mankind #5: "Simply Have A Wonderful Christmastime" as sung by Paul McCartney.
Result: Responsible for AIDS.

Crime against mankind #6: "All I Want For Christmas Is You" as sung by Mariah Carey.
Result: The reason why some whales are nearing extinction.

Crime against mankind #7: "Yellowman Rock" as sung by Yellowman.
Result: Being an albino reggae singer isn't scary enough, apparently, so he went big, and made up a dumb reggae holiday song that even frightens hippies.

Crime against mankind #8: "Please, Daddy (Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas)" as sung by John Denver.
Result: Confuses millions of southern people when children ask that J.D. be given to their booze-guzzling fathers.

I could go on and on, but you get the idea. 

And just to scare the crap out of you, here's a little song called "There's No One Quite Like Grandma by St Winifred’s School Choir. Can anyone say, "Village of the Damned?"

And finally, if you think I'm overstating the silliness of religious music, I dare you to listen to "Millennium Prayer" by Cliff Richard

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Chapter 26: Holiday Family Massacre
Another year has passed, which means the holidays are quickly approaching. For some people, the holiday season is a joyful time with family and friends; for me, it ushers in a two-month period of heavy drinking, awkward and sometimes explosive family conversations, badly chosen (and received) gifts, along with emotional eating--leading to a pronounced tightening of my little pants--which can make a person more than a little irritable. 

Strangely, I always think, "This year will be different." And then I remember all of the holidays past. However, I've decided that stories of my family's dysfunctional behavior can be a gift to the world--a new way of spreading seasonal cheer (just like Herpes). And why not write a children's book, while I'm at it? You're welcome. 

My family is comprised mainly from a blend of Italian and Spaniard ethnicities, although our blood is diluted by a touch of English, French, Dutch, and of course, polygamy. Sadly, no Irish Spring. This does, however, make for the worst kind of mix; really, it's like gathering a bunch of recessive genes--not far from that episode of X-Files (about the hillbillies). Members of my family usually have the following qualities: highly intelligent, yet certifiably insane, a tendency to have explosive fits of rage over small details, alcoholism (which always leads to extreme conservatism or libertarianism), prone to tearful emotional outbursts, bizarre obsessions with weapons or fascists, and did I mention polygamy?

One of my earliest memories from a family holiday involves my grandfather Oz. He was a singular man, possessing an even more singular talent. Oz believed that he had special powers. Namely, he could look inside a person, and see their "genie." I was about 9 at the time, so I can't be sure if he meant that everyone is actually possessed by a magical, mythical Arabian creature, or if he just had cataracts. Regardless, he was convinced that his gift was the basis for Sidney Sheldon's TV show, I Dream of Jeannie. And although Sidney Sheldon profited largely from the series, he chose to cheat my grandfather out of his share. Really.

Other holidays seemed normal enough, until the mashed potatoes showed up on Nazi china, or until my father found a stash of pills/wine/beer/paint thinner. Naturally, the gathering would descend into mayhem when my father decided it was his civic duty to deport the next-door neighbors we'd invited, because they "look like illegals." Before my sister and I could refill our vodka sodas, squeeze our eyes shut and chant, "Please tell us we're adopted," my mother would begin screaming about how poor people don't need to eat the white meat (they should be happy with the dark), which launches my father into a diatribe about the criminality of black people (giving the side-eye to my black boyfriend at the time). And because my Aunt Mary has not received enough attention, she begins to cry while she commandeers the rest of the cranberry sauce.

But the real fun happens when gays make an appearance at my family's gatherings. My father, always the diplomat, sets the tone of the evening by declaring, "I'm not into guys, so if I get an erection, it's because I'm thinking about my girlfriend." And if there is a gay person present that has a spray tan,  he will assume that our gay guest has AIDS. Ironically, this seems to soften my father, and he will begin to inquire after the estate of the "stricken" man--possibly because he may or may not convalesce dying relatives to swindle them out of their savings (it's never been proven).

But once these dinners are over, my family always relaxes for a moment, enjoying the over-stuffed satisfaction that only comes as a result of inhaling a high-calorie meal; there is always one perfect moment of silence; within this moment, I am seized by a rare moment of clarity; and as I glance around the room to behold the vast imperfection of my family, it dawns on me...they actually are an eclectic mix of beautifully damaged specimens, and they are just doing their best to exist within a world that clearly amuses, yet disappoints them; perhaps it's not so terrible to be related to these people. 

But then my father staggers back into the house, after huffing some gasoline from the tank of his decrepit motor home, and while brandishing one of his many pistols, he declares, "The Jews ruined prostitution and Chinese food."

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Chapter 25: "Deep" Thoughts Ruin Lives

If I were a scientist, I'd find a cure for over-active brains--mine, to be specific. In my case, it's a curse to have so much going on inside the brain. That sentence might sound arrogant, but trust me when I say that such a declaration is hardly meant to be boastful; the truth is, there isn't much difference between me and the lady on the corner who accused me of giving her husband gonorrhea. PS, If she had been wearing pants, it might have caused me to pause.

To be fair, there are plenty of people in the world whose kinetic minds produce meaningful contributions to the world (thankfully), but I am not one of those people. In my case, a perceived acumen (whether true or false) leads to episodes of painfully awkward exchanges. I simply can't focus long enough to catch every unfiltered thought. And the consequences can range from slight to catastrophic. 

Not long ago, I met a man and a woman at a party. They were standing quite near one another, so it seemed only natural to assume they were, in fact, coupled up. The woman had announced that she was pregnant. As I listened to the story, my mind was also calculating the  possible number of jelly beans I could fit into my mouth at once, so I missed the obvious non-verbal cues of the pair in front of me, signifying that their relationship was not amorous. When I snapped out of my reverie, I blurted out, "This is good news, right? Or does someone need a ride to the clinic? I can only fit three in my car."

On another occasion, I was at yet another party, when I started to notice just how many exes were also there. I admit that a situation like this would vex even the most grounded individuals, but I'm fairly certain that they would be a tad more tactful than I. While being introduced to an exes's new spouse, I noticed her rather sizable ring. As I admired the dazzling gem, I asked, "Is this a blood diamond?"

It is not my intention to be so insulting. I just have a tendency to lose track of conversations, and so when I finally emerge, it is often with a mind that is still somewhat detached. Even as I type, I'm thinking about how many ways Dabney Coleman can vary his mustache. 

In an attempt to catalog the minor transgressions from over the years, I'm inspired to write a short, cautionary "How to Avoid Being Perceived as an Asshole" guide (perhaps it will help others):

1. When you see an old acquaintance, it is polite to inquire about their spouse. It is not polite, however, to express your extreme dislike of this spouse, especially if the acquaintance tells you that he/she is dead.

2. If someone you know is thinking about adopting a child from China, do not remind them that many children from that country have worked in sweat shops, and therefore will have very nimble fingers that will open more than just drawers.

3. After finishing a sexual act, do not whisper to your partner, "That'll do, pig."

4. When speaking to a do-gooder about the merits of their hybrid car, do not quote statistics that undermine their resolve. They don't need to know that their car batteries are poisoning the ground water of some third world village.

5. When on a date, under no circumstance, do you tell your prospect that they'd be more attractive if they spoke less.

How cathartic; I can feel the personal growth about to happen...any moment now.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Chapter 24: Theraflu Should Be Classified As A Narcotic
It never fails that if I have something amazing planned over a free weekend (like this weekend past), I'll get some variety of flu or cold virus that knocks me on my barely-there ass. While my mind is up for anything, I sometimes wonder if my body isn't quietly judging these plans, secretly plotting to willfully thwart my attempts to partake in these activities; culminating into a bold rebellion at the last minute. Stupid family values body.

To exact my revenge, I make sure to treat my body in the most awful manner while I'm sick. I drink Mrs. Butterworth's straight from the bottle, eat large amounts of ice cream sandwiches, and take three times the amount of medication (in this case, Theraflu)...with a vodka chaser. I tell my body, "This is going to hurt you more than it will me." However, that is clearly not the case; I now remember why Theraflu is evil. Taken in quantity, it besets its consumer with vivid and troubling hallucinations. 

Now, I'm no stranger to hallucinogenics; like many people, I may have imbibed them often in high school--and now I know that my language arts teacher really did have a glass eye, but truthfully, I've never suffered any ill effects. But apparently, I'm just not able to handle the power of the Theraflu. For me, this artificially-colored, gritty powder (that is supposed to dissolve in clear liquid, but never does--especially in vodka), brings out the most frightening mental images. 

Usually when I am sick, I make a viewing list of some of the movies that I think will pass the time easier. And since I'm generally feeling sorry for my sick self, I'll pick movies with unhappy endings, or ones that cause me to throw my tissues at the screen (because they are so ridiculously bad). This weekend was no different; I gathered all of my necessities (tissues, blanket, phones, a snapshot of Vincent Price, and a variety of cold medicines). I settled in,  took my first dose of Theraflu, and started watching Monsier Hire. After 30 minutes, I didn't feel any different; however, I love French films, and this film is especially good; (Spolier Alert!) a peeping tom starts becoming obsessed with his neighbor, professes his love for her, and she promises him they could have a life together (sucker!). Meanwhile, her boyfriend may have killed someone, so she uses the peeping tom as the patsy...totally pinning the crime on him in the end. Oops...lingering Therfaflu in my system makes me digress.

Anyhow, I take my second dose, and finally I start to feel a lovely tingly sensation in my hands, but my body is still achy, so I quickly gag down another dose. This is when things begin to get weird. About a third of the way through the film, I started to realize that I can't tell the difference between being asleep and awake; that my dreams seem to be playing out in front of me while I am watching the film. In a flash, William Burroughs appeared next to me and I (naturally) began to comb his rather luscious head of hair, while he drank the rest of my Mrs. Butterworth's--which in hindsight, is just rude. And then to my astonishment, he said, "Shake out the blanket...I don't like wrinkles." And then he just disappeared.

I tried to get a hold of myself. I dragged myself into bathroom, but it wasn't my bathroom. The room had been transformed into the outdoor area of a Lutheran church that was the sight of my community service as a youth. I had been caught in an epic shoplifting bust at 14, and was ordered to work off my guilt to the sum of 25 hours (a stiff penalty back then). Along with scrubbing church pews, I was instructed to work the 'Carnival Day'  at the corral. The corral was actually a giant circle of mud, its diameter pierced by a large flagpole. Attached to the pole by weathered ropes were a trio of belligerent and grossly malnourished ponies.  Pushy, loud children lined up in a long, unrelenting line. It was my job to get these righteous little bastards onto the ponies and lead them around the circle. This might have been a reasonably boring task, except that with each rotation, one of the angry ponies would bite, kick, slobber, or defecate on my person. This went on for many hours. I can't say the experience prevented me from ever shoplifting again, but it did put me off ponies...probably forever.

When I found myself back on the couch again, the clock showed the passage of many hours. My rational mind deduced that I had been dreaming, but what about that empty bottle of Mrs. Butterworth's? I don't remember drinking it, and I think it's a little suspicious that Cities of the Red Night just happened to be sitting open on my coffee table.

Next time I get sick, I think I'll stick with Nyquil. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Chapter 23: Living Single...

People often ask me, "Why are you single?" or "I can't believe that you don't have a boyfriend....are you sure you're not gay--I know some lesbians who will love you!" I usually tell people that I'm frigid, or that I have been ruined by Syphilis--just to end the conversation. But the truth is, most relationships and me are like fast food for Americans; it may taste delicious, but it's ultimately pretty unhealthy.

Now, I'm not the girl that makes a hair doll out of a date's chest hair while he sleeps, or scratches the words 'Property of...' onto his car window with my fingernails, or leaves ten thousand voicemails about our future life plans on his machine. I'm just a little tired of the loser parade that ends up revolving in and out of my life. But I like the company of suitors, so it leaves me in a bit of a pickle.

So just what is a girl to do in my predicament? Be a serial dater, of course! Because in the end, it's all about beginnings. Who doesn't love the idea of potentiality? Forget about how quickly it wears off--just concentrate on the moment. And since nothing I do is without some sort of incident, I thought I'd chronicle some of my experiences here (no names, of course). And even though I'm new to this city, I've managed to have a string of unfortunate dates. Thank you, Los Angeles.

Date #1: My office park is a singles mixer

My most recent foray into corporate america has been rather singular. The campus I work at shares its square footage with several companies. Consequently, there's a nice blend of people. And interestingly enough, there's a lot of action happening in the smoking area. Usually, this area is filled with social outcasts and middle-aged women with bad perms--but not this one. It's sometimes filled with hotness. This is where I met suitor # 1. Although he was much younger than I, we went out. Now, I'm not a big stickler for tradition, but if you sup at a fine dining restaurant, you might want to decide against a t-shirt and shorts.You might also decide to refrain from telling a person about the ex who gave you more than one STD. But by all means, tell your date that she is "so brave," followed by a shoulder squeeze, whenever you get the chance.

Date #2: Old Man River's Grecian Formula just wore off

I have this fantasy that someday I'll meet a silver fox. You know, the gentleman in his thirties/forties whose hair has turned into liquid silver...with the right combination of features, it's sheer hotness. I thought coffee-shop guy might be one. Turns out that he's just an old guy; he actually talked about his arthritis, during which he pulled out a tube of stinky cream and began to apply it to his pained areas. 

Date #3: I thought I was bitter

I live near a haven for douchebags. They all gather in a little cluster of bars and restaurants, making them douchebag cantinas. I didn't feel like travelling very far, so I met my next date at one of these places. He seemed like he might be cool; we had a lot of the same interests, and he was fairly charming. Apparently, that charm wears off quickly. In the middle of his diatribe about the city, its people, and ex girlfriends, a woman approached our table, began to call him by many names (none of which were his Christian name), and tossed her drink in his face.The best part of the date: He calmly wiped off his face, and asked me about the weather.

Date #4: You might be gay if...

If someone shows you a picture of someone that they think you should go out with, just say no. The person NEVER looks like their picture--especially if the picture makes them appear manly and dangerous. What they actually very prone to using feminine gestures--and talk about how he and his four roommates often wake up in the same bed together. Now, my genetics would probably allow me to grow a beard, but I don't want to be anybody's beard.

Date #5: Jungle Fever 

Anyone who knows me, knows I like a little dark chocolate. Too bad I don't really remember what happened on this date, but I'm pretty sure it was PG-13...I think.

Date #6: Guest Story

OK; this one isn't mine, but I just had to share. A friend of mine in NYC went to a speed dating function. She cycled through many guys, until finally, a fairly handsome man sat at her table. He talked about how he was an actor. She kindly asked if she would've seen anything he's done, so he pulled out a DVD from his backpack and gave it to her. On the cover was the title...Forest and His Stump. Yep, he gifted her his own porn movie. He's a keeper!

Date #7: The Drive-By

Have you ever agreed to a blind date? Of course you have. Have you ever seen that date in the window, and just decided to get back in your car and flee? Well, if they bring their mother/child/sibling/friend/pet along with them on the date, it's totally appropriate to do so. Just sayin.' 

To be continued...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Chapter 22: Burn Barbie Burn!
Lately, I've been furiously working on my book, which chronicles some of my childhood. So, I thought I'd post an excerpt from a chapter draft. Enjoy! PS, this is based on a true story...which basically means it might be made up.

...Since I was the youngest, I was lucky enough to inherit not only my sister’s Barbie toys, but my relatives’ also. I had over 30 dolls, 4 houses, two cars, horses, pets, and various other play sets combined; these toys resembled a little town. Every weekend, I settled in for another afternoon of fantasy playtime, but for some reason, I was feeling bored with the same old story line—Barbie and Ken practice Satanism, Barbie and her friends have an orgy party, Ken gets dementia and wanders off …blah blah. I wanted something exciting and new. I glanced around the yard for inspiration. My sister and her friends had wandered inside. My father and brother were in the side yard shooting their pellet guns, while my mother had drifted into a booze-induced nap.  I spied the barbecue. There, on the side of the grill, was a large box of matches. And then it hit me. I grabbed the matches and rushed back to assemble my townsfolk.

The Barbie townhouse was the least attractive of all the dwellings. My mother thought it looked like a ‘shanty’ because it was worn and about to topple over at any moment. For months, she’d tried to throw it away, but I’d sneak into the trashcan and retrieve it each time. Carefully, I placed five of the saddest looking Barbie dolls into the townhouse (two on the first floor, two on the second, and one on the third floor). Next, I put two of my Ken dolls on horses (they would be the sheriffs), and set them in front of the townhouse. Now I needed an angry mob. I took the rest of my dolls and spread them out around the townhouse. I raised their arms so they might appear riotous, and placed a white shirt in the hands of one of the townhouse dolls (a sign of surrender). Last week, my mother told my sister that she looked like a hooker (after she came downstairs wearing too much makeup), so I decided I would rename the townhouse ‘The Best Little Barbie Brothel.’ That would definitely incite a crowd.

It was so easy to create the story. I could hear the townsfolk yelling, “We don’t want their kind in our village! Sheriff, are you going to do something about these harlots?” The sheriffs would attempt to placate the crowd by saying, “Calm down everyone. No one is breaking any laws, so just settle down and let the law take care of this matter.” Worried cries could be heard coming from the townhouse. “Help us! We’re innocent!” But the crowd would not recede. It only grew angrier and angrier. “Burn it to the ground! Burn it, I say!” And the lawmen were soon overcome. The crowd rushed at the building with burning pitchforks and torches. Before I knew it, I’d struck several matches and thrown them inside the townhouse. Because it was made of rotting cardboard, it immediately caught fire, and soon resembled a towering inferno. Sensing I was in some serious trouble, I yelped and fled the scene—hoping to take refuge under the kitchen table.

The first thing I heard was the voices of my father and brother. “Sir, I smell smoke,” my brother said. “Me too,” my father agreed. From under the table, I saw their legs run by the sliding glass door. “Oh shit! The Goddamn toys are on fire. Tod, get the hose!” By this time, most of the dolls and other houses were on fire. I watched in horror as the fire consumed my little village. After several minutes, however, the fire was extinguished. I heard my father begin to approach the sliding glass door. I began to shiver and whimper. My father’s stern voice said, “Jenifer! Where are you? You better get your behind out here right now!” “Ah crap,” I thought. “I’m so dead.”

My brother forced me outside and into a plastic chair. He smiled as he said, “Can we tie her up and interrogate her?” He got really close to me and said, “Better yet…how about I kill you and bury you in the backyard, and tell mom and dad you ran away?”

My father interjected with, “Alright Tod, quit it. We already know she’s guilty.” He turned to me and said, “Listen missy, I found the matches—the jig is up. Do you know what happens now?” I looked up at him slowly and whispered, “Is it time for me to give my dolls a funeral?”

“No! Take a look around kid. You’ll never be given another Barbie…ever! Now, help us clean this up before your mother wakes up.” And thankfully, my mother slept through the whole event. She woke up around dusk, none-the-wiser…still clutching her highball glass.