Henry wanted to get his son Blake out of the house on Sunday, so we decided what better way to be all familial for free than to go to the fucking flea market.
I had no coffee in my system; my head was thumping and a sour scowl was perma-etched on my face. Henry was all, “OK, this shit ain’t gon’ fly” so he went to one of the snack bars for a remedy, commanding Blake, Chooch, and myself to stay put where we were. As soon as he turned his back, we did what any other miscreants would and wandered off into the abyss of redneck unwantables.
“Who the fuck would buy this shit?” Blake mumbled as we pushed Chooch’s stroller past a table of romance novels and metal scraps.
“That guy,” I answered, as some loser handed over a fan of bills.
We continued strolling along, taking turns complaining about how gay everything was. Then we talked about Chiodos for awhile, which briefly lighted both of our faces, until it occured to me that we had been led too far astray and Henry was probably walking in circles, crying into a Styrofoam cup of coffee. So we hurried back to where Henry left us, but he wasn’t there. We then made the mistake of leaving the Abandoned Child Depot in order to find Henry, which was fruitless since he was doggy-paddling in the sea of beer tee’d bargain hunters, hoping to find us.
Fuck you, assholes!
We made it back to our spot right as Henry called Blake’s cell phone. When he finally made his way back to us, we were all, “What the fuck, we were here the whole time, asshole!” Henry looked dumbfounded.
“I walked right past here and didn’t see you. Didn’t you see me?” he asked, eyes squinted with confusion.
“Probably, but everyone here looks like you,” I said. I don’t think he heard me, but Blake did, and as soon as Henry turned his back, we laughed like children.
We walked past one table weighted down with incredibly worthless junk, just as a very manly woman with the roughest smoker’s voice barked, “How much you want for that bottle of Eternity?” It seriously sounded like a knife-fight was happening in her throat. Her interest in a bottle of perfume tickled me so greatly that I was falling into Henry’s back from laughing so hard. She was with some social reject who had a lipstick print tattooed to his neck. God, what an asshole.
Just when I didn’t think anything could top those two, some broad petrified in makeup from 1975 began advertising loudly for the shitty cat nip mats she was shilling. “They make extraordinary gifts!” she called out jovially and I lost my shit all over again.
“Oh, they’re fucking extraodinary alright. I hope I get fifteen of them for my birthday. Motherfucker.” Then I thought about how much hate I had boiling in my belly, and I smiled.
Around the bend, some dumb ass colostomy bag of a broad was selling CDs and at the very top of one of the stacks was The Cure’s “Disintegration”. Henry pointed this out, probably thinking I’d go all Pollyanna and realize that the flea market really was a place for extraodinary gifts, but instead I grew angry. I mean, I was practically roiling.
“You don’t re-sell a Cure CD!” I bitched loudly. “WHO DOES THAT? An asshole, that’s who.” And I know that shitty old lady heard me too. SUCK IT, bitch.
It wasn’t until we fell upon some old dude slinging the mother lode of incense and natural soap that my edges began to soften a bit. I wasn’t too interested at first, until he stood up from the perch he had on his van and started teaching us of the miraculous healing properties of some shitty soap that sounded like “doo-doo” but was really something else that I just didn’t give a shit about. That was when I realized he was awesome. At first, it was because I thought he had a British accent, but then I think he was just slurring really bad from prolonged use of psychedelics. How nice of him to come to Trader Jack’s flea market straight from Woodstock.
“Buy some of this shit,” I hissed at Henry.
“Why?” he asked.
“Because that is one cool asshole.”
And so Henry bought some shit, that scared little bitch. He bought a whole heap of incense and found out later it makes him sneeze.
“This stuff is made in India. This ova’ here is from New Yorkkkkkkzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzsnore.”
Normally, I would try to be a little covert with my mean-spirited picture taking, but by this point I had adopted the “fuck a bitch, suck a dick” attitude and began walking RIGHT UP TO PEOPLE, stopping in the middle of the aisles, and holding my phone all the way out at arm’s length. Henry was not pleased. Especially when, afterward, I would justify my actions by shouting, “What? That person’s an asshole. They deserve this, and worse.”
Yeah, you count that cash, you cock sucker. Bet it’s going straight into some yeasty g-strings, you sex addict. SUCK A DICK.”
Speaking of sex addiction (a very serious plight not to be taken lightly), there seemed to be a LOT of porn there this time. Large cardboard boxes marked ADULT DVDS XXX in thick black marker were nestled smack in the middle of baby clothes and Care Bears. I desperately felt the urge to rummage and pilfer, but felt strange doing so with Blake with us. I’d like him to not speculate upon my sex life with his father.
Apropos placement if you ask me.
I saw a produce-hawker go apeshit on a pile of empty banana boxes. I don’t know what got all up inside his puckered sphincter, but he was hurling the boxes out of the back of his truck and plowdriving them into the gravel. His face was red and his fat lips were a’quake with obscenities. I stopped to gawk for awhile, savoring the terror that was arresting my heart. Violence makes me wet.
More flea market assholes, plus Chooch and Blake.
There was some girl there who was clinging onto her youth even more desperately than me. Quite possibly the oldest scene kid ever, and ridiculously so. As she pushed a stroller past us, she giggled and very coquettishly said, “I like your piercings!” to Blake. After she walked away, Blake mumbled, “Dumb bitch.” It was high-five worthy.
The only cool people there. Aside from Blake and me.
Sometimes, for no reason, I would growl. Say, for instance, someone in a Kenny Chesney shirt would push past me, in a huge fucking hurry to look at fake designer sunglasses, my arms would get all stiff and I’d just fucking growl. Ew, grr.
Henry wouldn’t buy me this awesome Jesus Loves Me hat. Now I’ll have to find something else to wear to the church fair. My garter belt and a Cannibal Corpse shirt, I guess.
Later that day, Henry was telling me that his mom asked him to take her to the flea market next weekend.
I laughed, it was an angry laugh, and said, “I think I’ll sit that one out.”
“You ain’t kidding,” he said. Supposedly I’m banned for life or something.
I don’t think I’ve missed hitting up the Three Rivers Arts Festival once in the past twelve years, so I dragged Henry, Chooch and Blake downtown to spend a leisurely Saturday evening perusing overpriced beaded jewelry and hopefully tripping over some knife-wielding homeless assholes. The arts festival is kind of like the summer kick-off here in Pittsburgh and I usually wind up spending exorbitant amounts of money on a piece of art that likely only cost $20 to make. Sure looks good on my walls though.
Blake has a pet rat tail now that he keeps tucked under his hat; it’s earned him about 146 scene points. 54 more and he can cash them in for a new white studded belt.*
It was slim-pickins this year though. Cheesy windchimes and generic photography (Pittsburgh in the morning, Pittsburgh at night, Pittsburgh under a cloak of fog, Pittsburgh who-the-fuck-cares) seemed to be the most prevalent wares on display in the rows of tents. Look, if I’m going to buy a photograph of the fucking shit hole I live in, it better depict faux-nuclear warfare and slutty clowns sucking dick atop the Mellon Arena.
There was one artisan that was peddling these amazing pieces of metal eye candy, which I could imagine making a cameo as a murder weapon in a Dario Argento film. Blake and I drooled over the aluminum display for like, three seconds (ADD, holla), but alas — neither of us brought our platinum AmEx cards to bloat with $2,000 purchases.
Blake bought a soft pretzel, though.
My stalking skillz were on the fritz that day. Every time I would covertly snap a shot of someone, the person next to them would send WTF rays right through my skull. I eventually gave up and reluctantly settled on shots of skylines and clouds. You know, like the shit that was being shilled inside all of those tents. But then Blake stepped up as a subject and I was happy again. I tried to get him to stab a cop for the sake of photography, but finally I settled on having him stand casually in front of things.
Like a wall of graffiti in a damp alley.
Seeing us slip suspiciously into an alley probably made the Dad Alarm sound inside Henry’s head. He backtracked a few paces, squinted into the alley, and asked, “What are you doing?
“Can I be done soon? It’s really hot over here,” Blake asked through gritted teeth.
“That’s because it’s STEAM,” Henry shouted, making me hurry up. I bet Blake’s mom loves it when he’s out with us. I have him loitering in seedy alleys in the middle of downtown Pittsburgh, climbing trains, enjoying natural steam baths: All things that Chooch has to look forward to.
There were two cops standing nearby and I was set off immediately by the fact that they were just STANDING THERE DRINKING GATORADE AND BEING LAZY ASSHOLES. Some ho was probably getting raped in a nearby alley, but at least these assholes are replenishing their flab with ELECTROLYTES.
Fuck, I hate cops.
Of course Henry tripped all over himself to defend them. “THEY’RE HELPING PEOPLE CROSS THE STREET!” he shouted desperately. Helping my ASS. They had their backs to the street-crossing pedestrians!
I kind of feel inspired to take senior portraits. Alternative ones, you know? “Listen here, high school cheerleader– I’m going to fashion a murder scene and you’re going to pretend to picnic off the bodies.” WHO WOULDN’T WANT THAT FOR THEIR SENIOR PICTURE?!
Back in the vicinity of the festival, I spied a set of stairs descending into the bowels of the city. I think it was some kind of utility thing that I know nothing about but I’m sure Henry does. It looked really desolate and cinder-blocky at the botton of the landing, so I urged Blake to walk down so I could take a picture. As soon as his foot left that final step, an ear-splitting siren went off, interspersed with a male computerized voice alerting the world of terrorists. Seriously, it sounded like BWAKBWAK WARNINGDANGERDEATHALERT BWAK BWAK and I almost shit myself.
Blake and I ran like hell and when we caught up with Henry, we tried to play it cool, but he saw right through our scared, blanched faces.
“Congratulations, you’re probably on video,” was all he said.
After leaving a trail of suspicious behavior through the streets of town, we hit up Point Park and made the mistake of giving Crazy Ass Chooch some freedom. Once he was out of his stroller, there was no catching him.
I was grateful that we had Blake with us, because he chased after him while I continued to be a lazy ass and complained about how badly my feet hurt. Cry for me.
Blake and I were walking ahead of Henry and Chooch and apparently some punkass skater bitch looked at Blake and said, “If that was my kid, I’d kick his ass.” Unfortunately for that kid, Henry was close enough behind us to hear that comment and proceeded to flex his muscles and spit poison-tipped darts into that fucker’s neck.
I mean, I suppose that’s what he would have done if his balls weren’t made of cotton candy and butterfly wings. Instead, he whimpered and kept on walking.
We lazed around the wall of the fountain at the Point and ogled a couple whose lips were scandelously fused together. Blake wanted me to take their picture, but the boyfriend busted me and let’s just say it wasn’t the first time in my life that I felt like a sexual deviant.
*I seriously, honest to God-ly love scene kids. Like, I want to hug them all and be their big sister and film a couple After School Specials about those rainbow sex bracelets.
The weather forecast for Saturday was rain, rain and more rain. I asked Henry, “Do you still want to go on that fantastically awesome scenic train ride, even in the rain?” and he said yes. At this point, my memory forbade me to remember all the other scenic train rides I had been on in my life time, and how extremely boring they truly are. (Unless, you know, you’re into that scenery shit.)
Schenely, PA is about an hour away and I was sulking for the majority of the ride. Just part of my nature. But then Henry stopped at a Sunoco and returned with a bag of mint M&Ms. I acted all ambivalent about it, but still drank down half the bag. Mood instantly lifted.
As soon as we boarded the train, it began pouring. Like any other sensible person, I chose the open-sided car so we could be treated to a natural shower and then simultaneously bitch about it for the hour long ride. There were about twenty other people who had the same idea.
While we were waiting for the 2:00 departure time to roll around, someone pointed out that one of the cars in the lot had an open window. It was the car right next to us, so Henry shouted out to the woman who owned it and then was thanked profusely by her and her husband. He sat there with a smug grin on his face, like he was some kind of fucking hero. I bet he did heroic shit like that all the time when he was in The Service, helping hookers climb out of vats of penii.
Imagine how tickled I was when the train kicked into motion and a woman’s voice filled the car from a speaker. Wow, a scenic railroad excursion paired with a guide enlightening us with local flavored fun facts? What a treat. Unfortunately, there was so much commotion on the train that her commentary came off sounding like the teacher from Peanuts. Every time I asked Henry what she said, it was always the same: “Something about the river. I don’t know.”
Chooch was really great for most of the first leg of the trip. He sat on my lap to avoid the torrential downfall that was attacking us from the sides. But then he had the itch to roam, and it all unraveled from there. Once he had his feet on the floor, it was like an open invitation for the other children on the train to come out and play. Chooch procured the four cars he brought in his backpack, and suddenly I had a horde of small children surrounding me: a one-year-old, another two-year-old (Sioux, like the tribe!!!!) and her six-year-old sister (Cheyenne, like the tribe!!!!), whose grandma was wearing a Kermit t-shirt and would not stop chatting with me the entire time and I was so nervous that I was physically clenching. And you know, with kids come parents. I really hate socializing with parents. Chooch was doling out his cars, only to confiscate them at his will. He seemed to take an immediate liking to the six-year-old, and was adament on giving her all the cars.
The one-year-old’s dad was wearing a Penguins hat, and I couldn’t help but notice Henry didn’t scoff, “Hockey season’s over” to him, like he does to me anytime I mention them.
At this point, I was unable to take in any of the trees and shit that we were passing, because I had to fulfill Mom duty and make sure that my son didn’t come to blows with anyone over a couple of fucking plastic cars. I hate this part of parenting. And you know what else I hate? Having to acknowledge other people’s kids. That Cheyenne chick kept standing in front of me and flapping her arms like a bird. “Oh. Uh, pretty,” I would try to placate her, instead of shoving her off on another parent like I really wanted. Another mother, though, she heartily exclaimed, “WOW! What are you, a bird?? OH COOL! You are so COOL! I LOVE KIDS! HAHAHAHA ZOLOFT!” Who the fuck gives a shit? Not me. Flap all you want, little girl. I’ll continue looking through you like you’re invisible to me. Because you are.
Chooch made me especially nervous around the one-year-old boy. I kept praying he wouldn’t push him off the train or choke him. (I had just taught Chooch that morning how to pretend-choke himself and quickly started to realize that I might wind up seeing repercussions to that act real quick.)
This guy told me what his purpose was when we first sat down. Something about doing something with the brakes? Who the hell really cares what his purpose is when he’s wearing some hot-assed overalls, though? Basically, he mopped us all off with towels and repeatedly noted that, “There are a lot of kids playing on this car!” and thank God for that play-by-play, because I really hadn’t noticed that my crazy kid was dominating over a trio of weaker-willed children.
After about an hour, I was stoked to see the station looming ahead. My hope was dashed as we turned around though, and headed in another direction. Apparently, you just can’t visit Schenely and not teeter precariously on a railroad bridge for fifty thousand minutes while a guide gives you muffled commentary about trout. And who would want to miss out on that?
It all looks so pretty, but on closer inspection below and to the left, I noticed that the camp site was dotted with Deliverance cast offs, who brought their laundry lines, rusted out pick up trucks, and large jugs to use as yard ornamentation; I’m pretty sure I smelled some hot incest from behind the jagger bushes, too. I can only hope Henry takes me there one day on our honeymoon.
Finally we got to leave and now I’m determined to remind myself every day that train rides are boring as fuck. I’m just glad Chooch didn’t call anyone an asshole.
One of them there interview memes was going around on LiveJournal, so I got my friend Lauren to interrogate me. Because I really like talking about myself. Could do it all the livelong day.
1. Is there any one thing that you feel fostered your macabre-ness?
I think it’s inherent. My mom was majorly into Halloween when I was growing up and my family watched A LOT of horror movies. It’s still my favorite genre, so I guess that’s probably the main external influence that holds hands with my macabre gene.
Nightmares have plagued me for as long as I can remember, as well, so I probably subconsciously draw from that a lot.
2. Which serial killer would you love to kick back a few beers with and why?
If this a dead or alive question, then Dahmer. I bet he’d have some killer recipes that I might need someday (see #5).
No. Wait. I’m changing my answer. Ted Bundy. Beers lead to sex and Jesus Christ, Bundy is hot.
3. Are you planning to have more children?
4. If you had to choose only one CD (that wasn’t a mixed compilation) that you could listen to for an entire year, what would it be?
13 Ways to Bleed on Stage by Cold. That album reminds me of the beginning of my relationship with Henry. We road-tripped a lot that summer to see Cold, my favorite band at the time (and still in my Top 5 even though they’re now defunct). He knew how much they meant to me and I’ve always thought it was awesome of him to go out of his way to make sure I could see them as much as possible. So, if I had to be reminded of the same memories for an entire year, I’d want it to be those ones, and that album.
Plus, we were still getting to know each other and he hadn’t begun hating me yet. Oh haha. Good times.
5. Would you ever eat meat on a regular basis again? I mean, you’re not living with your Mom, so her pork chops aren’t part of the equation.
Not if the meat came from an animal. Though, I can see myself in a fit of rage, hacking off Henry’s weener and then engaging in some passion-eating. And if anything is a gateway into cannibilism, it’s got to be a nice boiled cock. In fact, I’m dining on a thick vegetarian sausage right now and pretending it’s a juicy wang. So yes, I could chow on a person. Possibly even on a regular basis.
Today I was looking for Chooch’s juice cup and thought perhaps he left it on the window sill. When I pulled back the curtains, something small and grayish in color hit the floor with a plop. I screamed and jumped back. A few seconds later, I saw it jump underneath the TV stand. I called Henry immediately and reported to him that we had in the house what I assumed was a toad. “It’s definitely something that makes a plopping sound when it hits the ground, so whatever that is, that’s what’s in the house.” Happy birthday, Henry!
Chooch stood by the TV for awhile, lining up some of his cars on the shelf. Looking at his bare legs and feet, I figured it was probably not the best idea for him to standing so close to our house guest (whom I lost sight of). What if it wasn’t a toad at all? I entertained the idea of a brand new species hulking around back there in the corner, perhaps something with tentacles, venom, and red pubic hair. I pulled Chooch away from the TV and made him play somewhere safer, like near the basement steps, and continued flirting with that thought.
I kept my feet tucked underneath me on the couch for the rest of the morning.
Henry came home from work and pulled the TV back. “It’s a mouse, you retard.” Then he left to get sticky traps, because I was adamant about not killing it.
People at work have informed me that those sticky traps kill mice. “Sometimes a mouse will chew its own foot off to escape from those traps,” my boss said. I texted Henry: ABORT, ABORT. Henry says mouse removal is officially my responsibility.
“Tell me you’re not this worked up over a MOUSE,” Eleanore said disgustedly. I ate a good almond cookie.
Saturday, June 7, 2008
Diary, it is 1:00 in the morning and the mouse is perched above the screen on the front window! He’s really cute; I’m talking to him and feeding him shredded cheese. I don’t know what his name is yet so I’m just calling him “Hey little buddy.” It reminds me of when I was in elementary school and I taught a Praying Mantis how to count change. Henry said he’s a field mouse. “Like Secret of NIMH?” I asked. “Yeah, like Secret of NIMH,” he said, sounding a bit impatient. We’ve been watching it intently for fifteen minutes now. It just scratched himself and then stepped on the cheese I sprinkled. Every time Henry gets too close, the mouse tenses up and makes like he’s going to run — I’d get tense too if I saw a big bearded douchebag approaching me — but when I approach, he is calm and we make casual eye contact.
I’m thinking of the cozy house I’m going to build for him, with a little chimney and fresh daisies in a tiny vase, but then Henry just tried to catch him with an empty iced tea canister, causing the mouse to attempt suicide by leaping to the floor. Look Diary, that mouse is cute and cuddly, sure, FROM AFAR. But I guarantee if that thing starts scampering around my feet, it’s going to get booted into the wall. Losing sight of it, I tug on Henry’s shirt and hug him from behind and I bet he wishes I was wearing a strap-on. Henry is mad now because he “could have had it” but he couldn’t bend down with me grabbing at him like that. He was all, “GO STAND OVER THERE,” and if he had it his way, “there” would be at the bottom of the ocean with a few cinder blocks and a chain.
The mouse ran back behind the TV.
Hey, I haven’t seen that mouse in awhile. I can only hope it’s off making hundreds of babies somewhere in my house.
Sunday, June 8, 2008
A few minutes ago, I was treating my brain to some quality reality TV programming, as you do, when I heard a strangulated growl coming from the dining room. I looked up and saw Nicotina (aka Speck, Breakfast Nook, Pickles) with my little buddy IN HER MOUTH. At this point, I don’t know the mouse’s status (breathing, not breathing), but my rescue mode is activated and I start screaming bloody murder for Nicotina to release the damn mouse. Henry and Chooch are upstairs and probably think the house is on fire or there’s a hatchet lodged in my head with the way I’m flipping out. I yelled up to Henry what was going down and heard him mumble, “Jesus Christ.”
Cornering Nicotina on the back porch, I grabbed her just before Marcy came stalking through the kitchen to get a piece of the action. Marcy does NOT need to be involved in this. She scares me. Nicotina looked highly confused, her eyes said, “Is this not what I’m supposed to do?” I held my breath and snatched her, mouse and all, and keeping her at arm’s length, I ran with her to the front door. Before I had a chance to pull the door open, she spat the mouse out onto the couch and he scurried behind the pillows.
Henry and Chooch are downstairs at this point, and Chooch started crying; probably because he didn’t understand why Mommy was raving with bugged-out eyes like a woman scorned. I ordered Henry to help and he reluctantly grabbed a diaper and held it open like a catcher’s mitt, muttering under his breath about how he should have just killed the fucker on Friday. I put aside my desire to donkey kick him and focus on making it through the night with no casualties. The mouse ran off the couch and fell into one of Chooch’s toy bins. “PICK IT UP AND TAKE IT OUTSIDE! WE STILL HAVE A CHANCE!” I screamed. Henry threw the bin on the front porch and said, “YOU go out there and YOU dump it out.”
So I did. And the mouse ran to freedom. Nicotina wouldn’t look at me for the rest of the night.
I was so amped up after that, that I couldn’t sit down. Fuck, Diary, I wish you could have seen it; it’s the most amazing feeling to save a life. I highly recommend it. I kept wanting to talk about it with Henry, but he was thoroughly unimpressed. “Normal people would have killed it, but not you. You have to turn it into a Thing.” He won’t admit that I deserve to be knighted. I called Christina and she said the whole time I was telling her about it, she kept envisioning me as Dog the Bounty Hunter.
I think I want to do this for a living, this saving mice thing. I want to be on Animal Planet.
Monday, June 9, 2008
I’ve been telling everyone about my rescue success, about how valiant I am. Kim and Collin said something about me needing therapy, but I know they’re really just trying to downplay their awe. I showed Kim the picture of Frederick (that’s the mouse) and she admitted he was really fucking cute.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008 TODAY
Chooch just pointed to the floor in the living room and innocently asked, “Whassat?” A dead mouse, that’s what. Shit, isn’t this chapter closed yet? I’m trying not to panic, trying not to wonder if it’s Frederick. Maybe he came back for more shredded cheese. All I know is that he wasn’t there five minutes ago when I walked across the room to the couch. I asked Chooch who put it there and he said Speck. That bitch.
I called Henry and yelled SOMETHING TERRIBLE JUST HAPPENED. He told me to throw it outside, then hurried up and made sure I knew not to touch it with bare hands. So I wrapped it gingerly in a paper towel and placed it on the front porch.
THE MOUSE IS GONE. A FUCKING BIRD TOOK IT. I called Henry and, in quick-speak, relay to him the latest development. “….and so I had it on the porch so that you could bury it when you come home—” Henry interrupted me with genuine laughter. “–and now it’s GONE.” Henry gave me a talk about nature.
Bob told me there are probably a hundred more mice in my house.
"I’ve never seen the line this long before," Henry exclaimed when he called me from Club Zoo. "And we’ve been to a lot of shows down here!" He and his kids had left earlier than Christina and me, so we decided we better hurry up and get down there.
When we arrived, I saw that the line of dual-toned shellacked hair, skinny jeans, and black eyeliner was sort of long, but not nearly as bad as Henry was wanking off about. As we walked toward the end of the line, I called to alert him of our arrival. He told me that he and his kids were on the ramp near the doors, and that we should just cut. I hung up on him and while I was bitching to Christina about how I hate when people cut in line and surely was not about to do that myself, a burly man in a security t-shirt called out to us before we even made it to the end of the line.
"You guys got tickets? Then come with me." He escorted us all the way to the front of the line, past all of the bristling scene kids and Henry.
Inside the club, I called Henry and told him since they had tickets, they evidently didn’t need to stand in line, but he said it didn’t matter. Not wanting me to feel special about the random escort, he quickly added, "He probably just chose to let in you two because you’re OLD."
Finally, we were all inside together. Henry’s oldest son, Robbie, introduced me to his girlfriend, Bree, but she didn’t seem to like me.
And Blake swore that the girl he was with wasn’t his girlfriend, but she should be because they were really cute together.
During the opening band, The Color Fred (featuring Fred from Taking Back Sunday), Christina took pictures of the scene kids around us, Blake and his non-girlfriend ran off to the arcade (Club Zoo is an 18 and under club on nights that bands aren’t playing), and Robbie and Bree never said where they were going. Meanwhile, Henry leaned against a railing with his arms crossed and bandanna too tight, looking surly and awkward. This was the first time in two years that he wore a bandanna and I was like DO NOT LIKE, DO NOT LIKE all night long. Why did he have to tie it so tight? Jesus, it made his face look near-explosion.
It had been about four years since I was at this particular club, so I wasn’t used to the balcony area being VIP only. "But why? That’s so lame," I whined to Henry. He shrugged and said that there was a bouncer sitting at the top of the steps behind a rope.
"Do you really want up there?" Christina asked. Of course I did, it was off limits. Some older man in a security shirt and a hat walked by, and Henry pointed to him.
"That’s the guy you want to talk to," he said. I don’t know how Henry finds this shit out. It must be old man code or something.
So Christina goes up to the guy and the first thing she does is accidentally knocks his hat off. He doesn’t help us get in, but then she sees the original security guy from outside, whispers something in his ear and he motions for me to follow them up the steps. He whispers to the VIP guy, who obediently marks our hands and unclasps the rope to grant us entrance. Henry, Blake and his friend Stephenie were standing on the steps, looking betrayed and left behind, like we just snatched the last safety raft on the Titanic. But our security friend had retreated by then and the VIP guy wouldn’t let them through. Later, we lied and said they had to be 21 anyway, even though we never bothered to ask.
Henry waved it off and told us to stay up there, it was OK. What he meant was, "You’re so selfish, you little stuck up bitch, fuck you for making my favorite kid feel like shit!" So, I felt a little guilty. Not guilty enough to surrender my newly acquired VIP status though.
The VIP area was pretty boring. A couple of black couches scattered around and some slutty girls leaning against the balcony and pretending to give a shit about the band playing. We sat on a couch and acted like idiots for awhile, before deciding to go back down where the action was. "We’ll come back up for Chiodos," I said, and Christina agreed.
I failed to mention to Christina that I located Henry through the power of texting, so she somehow got left behind as I did my signature "I’m always in a hurry" march over to the doors. Apparently, she ran into Robbie (after MacGyvering a way for Blake’s friend that’s a girl to be able to see better) and asked him if he knew where his dad was. "Over there, looking like a creep," he answered. Possibly my favorite moment of the night, and I didn’t even witness it first hand.
Another favorite moment that I wasn’t present for was when Christina asked her security friend if she could leave to get her cigarettes from the car, so he marked her hand with a black "21" and sent her to the bar next door, where she felt obligated to order a $5 vodka and cranberry and drink it near a group of ten people who were all friends with each other and looking at her like she was an outcast. Only then was she able to retrieve her Camels from the car. I wondered why it was taking her so long. I mean, I know she’s Mexican, but I didn’t think she’d walk THAT slow.
We hung out with Henry for awhile at the back of the club, just in time for Drop Dead Gorgeous to come on. Christina made friends with two mothers, completely out of the blue, because she practically wears a neon sign that flashes "TALK TO ME, I’M APPROACHABLE." It’s obnoxious, really. Every time I turned around that night, she had someone sidled up next to her, telling her about their recent $8,000 boob job, or the fact that they were presently spying on their daughter and have an affinity for harder music, like Pantera. I guess no one talks to me because I either look: angry, boring, or superior. I’m betting on superior.
Henry was completely in pain during Drop Dead Gorgeous’s set. "All they’re doing is screaming! They suck! It’s like they’ve been playing the same song eight times in a row!" I liked them, but I have a lot of aggression brewing inside of me, so screaming in music is something that appeals to me.
I made the eerie observation that there were at least twelve other boys there that looked like the spitting image of Robbie. I swore I kept seeing him with a different girl every time, and then I would realize that it was some other skinny kid with a pierced labret. There was one instance where I walked past one of his doppelgangers and slapped his shoulder, only to realize it wasn’t him. I shared this with Robbie, the authentic Robbie, at the end of the night, but in true teenaged ambivalence, he half-laughed and then shrugged, and I felt lame.
We ditched Henry for the VIP area during MxPx’s set. Leaning against the balcony and looking down at the kids below, I realized that I didn’t feel very VIP. Where was the champagne? Why were there no hotties in my lap? I wanted to be down where all the action was, otherwise I’d feel like a fairweathered fan. And that’s something that I definately wasn’t. Fairweathered friend, maybe. I looked at Christina and said, "Let’s blow this joint." We flipped off the VIP area and went back down into the bowels of sceneville, where we found Henry outside socializing with security and parents. He tried to make me jealous by bragging that he saw Craigery of Chiodos, and I was kind of glad that I wasn’t there for that, because what would I have done? Cried and then felt shitty for the rest of the night, that’s what.
I decided that night that I want to do a photographical study on scene kids. That’ll be my next Craigslist ad.
While we were waiting for Chiodos to come on, Mike from MxPx strolled past. A small handful of kids clung to him, begging for pictures to use as default MySpace pics, and I urged Christina to do the same. "You really like him," I reminded her. "Go ‘head!" I implored, shoving her forward. There she was, standing next to him, and both of their faces seemed to display the same pained, frustrated expressions. I had no idea what they were saying to each other, but I took the picture anyway.
"That was the most embarrassing moment of my life!" she yelled, stalking back to me and Henry. "I had no idea what to say to him since I WAS PUSHED INTO THE SITUATION, but I wanted to find something that we had in common. So, I was trying to tell him about how I saw them when they were on tour with my friends Dan and Chrissy but I couldn’t remember the name of their band back then, and he had no idea who I was talking about, so he just said, ‘It’s nice to see you again, though.’"
"Element 101," I said. "That was the name of their band." Christina slapped herself in the head and I was doubled over in laughter. "And they’re not even my friends!" I reminded her, furthering her pain. Look at her face in that picture! Whenever I’m feeling down, I just look at that, and feel so much happier.
Just then, Fate dropped the perfect example of a scene girl down right in front of us. Christina was acting all shady, attempting to take her picture in secret, but I stepped forward and said, "Why don’t you just ask her, so you don’t look like a pedophiliac stalker?" Christina agreed that this was a great idea, and made up some story about how we thought her hair was really terrific and would like a picture for our cool hair scrapbook (the scrapbook part is what I would have said, because I’m better at lying than Christina is). The coon girl was all, "OMG I did it myself too so that really means a lot!" and vogued in the standard Internet profile pose before quickly retreating with her friends. It warmed my belly to know that we made her feel good about herself, because I know how nervous I was all the time back then about fitting in. No, seriously. I was all, "Are the bands of my braces the right color this time? Is it lame to drink 2 percent? Should I not be shaving lines into my eye brows? OMG suicide."
A tall man with long wavy hair walked past and Henry proudly boasted, "That’s my new friend. He likes Pantera." I guess Henry’s bandanna deluded that guy into thinking that Henry was worthy of chatting with outside the club. I told Henry that Christina had also befriended him earlier in the VIP area (seriously, I turned my back for five seconds to see if I could spy Henry down below, and next thing I know, my spot is lost to some tough-skinned man who surely owns a Harley, and Christina’s talking to him like he’s her favorite uncle). Christina tried to act like he was better friends with her, but seemed crushed that he only told Henry he has a prosthetic leg.
Seconds before Chiodos came on, Christina arranged for a photo-op with her favorite bouncer, who for some reason really took a liking to her. The spell she casts on people can be very annoying at times.
Chiodos. Oh, Chiodos. I don’t even know what to say, really. Of course Henry refused to follow us into the undulating wall of kids, choosing to keep his feet firmly planted at the back of the club by the red-haired merch girl who had shitty signs perched on her booth, making Christina decide to leave a comment on Chiodos’ MySpace, alerting them to the rudeness of their merch girl and that whoever’s dick she’s sucking, it’s not worth it.
I’m too old to be getting all up into the pit, too vain to be suffering a broken nose, and too aggressive to be warding off flailing limbs without landing myself in jail, so we opted for a spot with a great view and sufficient personal space. It was perfect.
Every time Craigery threw back his head and arched his back into a gutteral roar, I laughed, knowing that somewhere behind me, in the darkness of the club, Henry was grimacing and rubbing his temples. He’s admitted numerous times that he enjoys their music, but hates the screaming. I love it. I also harbor more aggression than Henry does though, as evidenced today by the bloody knuckle I left the house with.
The sound was so fucked up at the beginning that I couldn’t even tell what the first song was. They quickly got it straightened out and it was pure insanity from there on out. I had goosebumps up to my scalp and was on the verge of tears the entire time. Eventually, they played "Baby, You Wouldn’t Last a Minute on the Creek" and I lost it. Completely fucking lost it and I let the tears fall. It felt good. Clearly I wasn’t hugged enough as a child.
Toward the end of the show, a young kid who looked like Gerard Way pre-MTV exploitation decided to stand behind us and scream things like, "CHIODOS SUCKS! NEVERMIND, CHIODOS RULES!" and then he’d go on to chat with his friends like he was in a fucking coffee house about how he couldn’t believe he had to go to school the next day and all he wanted to do was go home and take a three hour bath. THEN GO DO THAT, ASSHOLE. Eventually, Christina turned around and said, "I paid $25 to hear this band play, so if you want to talk how about standing back there?" It was an awkward moment, the two of them staring at each other, before Christina finally turned back around. He stood there dumbly, with his mouth half-opened, like he really wanted to say something shitty but couldn’t think of anything. I figured at the very least, I’d wind up with some gum or a cigarette butt in my hair, but there was no backlash.
By the end of the set, I pretty much wanted to kill myself. I can’t explain what it is about those guys, but they make me feel so emotionally fragile. They make me want to simultaneously break a lamp over my head and hug a kitten. They make me wish I could run away instead of being a lowly data processor. They make me want to paint pictures with my own blood and then hold hands with someone I love.
Today I realized, "I would give up my tickets to the Cure to see Chiodos again" and it was a monumental moment in my life.
[I know not everyone is a fan of screaming, and this was the only song of theirs sans screaming that I could find a video for. See how I cater?]
“Your prescription hasn’t changed,” my eye doctor said, pushing the butterfly-shaped apparatus away from my face. I started to relax in the orange leather seat, thinking that I would get to leave sooner than I imagined.
He pulled out a pen light and some sort of magnifying glass and after blinding me while forcing me to stare at his ear, he started pressing down on my closed lids.
“Have you been in a car accident recently?” The question made me pause; I answered no.
“Any sort of trauma? Been hit with a basketball?” he suggested. I said no to both, but started wondering what Henry does to me in my sleep that would change the shape of my eye balls. Am I going to lose them now?
Then my doctor dropped the false concern from his voice, adopting instead a tone of mild irritation. “Oh never mind, it’s because you wear your contacts too much.” He wheeled his seat back behind his desk and began scribbling in my chart, shaking his head at my irresponsibility. He told me that my over-used contacts have caused an allergic reaction to my upper eye ball area in both eyes. The name he gave it sounds like an STD gone optical. The good news is that my medical insurance will cover it, because what was originally just a routine exam (back when the sun still shone and birds chirped my name) was now an appointment to treat a medical condition.
“I’m going to prescribe you some eye drops. Use it for ten days, then I’ll see you again to check the progress. Don’t wear any contacts for the next ten days! I’m serious. I’ll know if you’ve been wearing them.”
I’m certain this was the point during the exam where I gulped. I’d have rather been getting a pap smear right then.
The conflict lies in the fact that I don’t have any glasses. I broke my last pair in an Incredible Hulkulean fit of rage, instigated by my extreme agitation of viewing the world through lenses. But I couldn’t tell my doctor this because five breaths ago I was swearing that I alternate wearing contacts with wearing my glasses.
I’m sure he could smell the stench of bullshit seeping through my cheese-clothed lie. He’s an eye doctor, for Christ’s sake. But I’m stubborn, so I left his office armed with a prescription and no eye sight. I tripped a few times on my walk home, flopped down on the couch and proceeded to panic.
How would I drive to work? How would I see who’s walking past my area? How would I spy on the creepy cleaning guy? Oh yeah, and how would I work?
I cried to Henry about it, but received no consoling. “That’s what you get. You idiot. Just go back and tell them you need to order a pair of glasses.”
“No, I don’t want to pay for them! I just spent $150 on a contact supply,” I whined.
I slapped my old contacts in right before I left for work, so that I could at least see while driving. Except that the lenses have grown ornery in their old, abused age, and refuse to stay suctioned to the curve of my eye. I blink and they ride up, like my eyes are trying to reject them. Even my EYES aren’t as retarded as me. I had to drive with my head tilted back, peering down my nose. Christina, trying to find the bright side, pointed out that at least I’ve had a lot of practice with looking down my nose.
Work was long and arduous. I took my contacts out as soon as I got there, so I had to pull my monitor as far out as possible, without knocking the keyboard off the edge. I couldn’t slouch in my seat like usual or I would be too far away to see the screen through my furious squints.
The worst part of the night was when I tried to pay my coffee bill. The lady in charge of the coffee club was gone for the day, so I was instructed to give it to her friend Sharon. I’d never been to see Sharon before, but the coffee lady told me in an email that Sharon sits near her.
I did my best to walk over to their area of the building without reaching with my arms, an inherent reflex when vision becomes obstructed, or so I’m learning. Convinced that Sharon had an office and not a cubicle, I began pressing my nose up to the first several closed doors I came upon, squinting to see the names. The third or fourth door (blindness renders me dyscalculate, apparently) was open. I know this because a bright haze emanated from within, like I had finally reached Heaven’s gates.
I could detect a blurry outline of a human situated behind what I assumed was a desk. “Sharon?” I called out hesitantly. I jumped a little at the sound of my voice, which I had raised the volume on to compensate for my lack of sight, I suppose.
“No, this isn’t Sharon’s office,” answered the voice of a man. I squinted and brought my hand above my brow, like I was trying to see into the sun. This did nothing to sharpen the man’s outline. I know, I was surprised, too.
He tried to point me in the direction of Sharon. “No, the other way,” he said, as I turned to leave. I couldn’t see where he was pointing, so I was trying to fake it. He had to correct me THREE TIMES before I finally pivoted to the right and walked right into Sharon’s cube. He probably thought I was autistic.
On my way back to my desk, I took comfort in the fact that I didn’t even know who I was acting like an asshole in front of, so when I get my sight back, I won’t even know to be embarrassed if I ever encounter him again.
Until I inadvertently found out from my friend Jenn, who works during the day, that this guy in her department just got his seat changed. His name is David and I had a brief crush on him during our Christmas party, wherein I spent a good twenty minutes taking clandestine pictures of him sitting alone and brooding. After she mentioned that, it occurred to me that the man in the office sounded like him. I tried to imagine David with a blurred face. Later, when all the dayshift people were gone, I groped my way back to that office, stood with my nose an inch from the door, and read a line of fuzzy letters that spelled out “David [Hopefully-Erin’s-Future-Surname-But-Certainly-Not-Now].”
Today, I had planned to go to Goodwill and see if maybe they have a box of unwanted eyeglasses that I can pick through, maybe find a nice old man pair or fabulously over-sized owl-frames, in the style of Brett Somers. But Henry argued that Goodwill doesn’t just collect a box of prescription glasses to re-sell. “They probably send them to old people homes,” he reasoned. But how will the poor people see?
“Here’s a thought,” Henry posed over the phone this morning. “Why don’t you just call your fucking eye doctor and tell them that you can’t fucking see?”
“Because I don’t want them to know I lied! Ooh, unless! What if I call them and say that I left my glasses on the bus yesterday and I need an emergency pair?”
“Or, why don’t you just tell them you’re a re-re who has never had glasses.” When he came home from work, I had the bean bag pulled two feet from the TV and I was lurched forward, squinting to make out the undulating forms of Danity Kane. “Is this where the blind people sit?” he asked, with a roll of his eyes.
Once I’ve woven a tangled web, the lies and deception just get deeper and deeper; there’s no turning back now. And it’s stupid things I lie about too. I mean look, I’ve been writing on the Internet since 2001. You would think that if I was so into knitting ridiculous afghans of aspersion with a distorted reality fringe, I would do a better job constructing a polished image of myself. Like, maybe I would lie and say that I went to an Ivy League, perhaps Oxford, Photoshop my pictures and pretend to be in porn. But no, instead I’m like, “Hey, I’m a fatso! And a high school drop out! I’m not even awesome enough to have a hot boyfriend!”
But glasses I’ll lie about.
Henry sad he might have his old glasses, a pair of 1980’s aviators. I really hope he finds them, because I bet they’d cover at least half of my face. Until then, Christina is sending me her glasses.
I’m starting to lose sight (ha-ha) of my initial point. Why am I doing this again? Oh right, because I’m an idiot.
The first time I was there was the summer of 2000.
“There’s this Quaker cemetery out in Perryopolis. Supposed to be haunted or some shit. We should go.” It was one of those glimmering moments of spontaneity that, on a boring summer’s night, sounded a lot more interesting that the usual routine of getting drunk on my porch. I was a little wary that the person hatching this plan was my friend Justin, who had a bad track record of insisting he knew the exact coordinates of various haunted hot spots, and then like a bad repeating record, we’d inevitably wind up lost with the gas tank on E and a few empty bags of Corn Nuts.
Our friend Keri wanted to accompany us, so I felt a little better because she was always the responsible one. If you were going to get lost, break down, get a condom lodged inside of you, Keri was the girl you’d want with you. She also didn’t scare easily, so I quietly planned to wedge myself between the two of them once (if) we arrived.
Perryopolis is around 30 miles south of Pittsburgh, but the trip didn’t take long in my Eagle Talon, considering my propensity for driving it like a dragster. As we approached the town of Perryopolis, I silently hoped that we would be unable to find the cemetery in the dark, of that it didn’t exist, or that the Earth opened up to engulf it every night after midnight. Maybe there would be a fence too dangerous to scale, Hounds of Hell snarling and tied to posts at the entrance, an after hours admission fee implemented by Satan.
The area was rural. We coasted past a few farms and even fewer houses. The uneven asphalt was littered with loose pebbles and sticks, which clinked and snapped under the tires. The streetlights did little to alleviate my uneasiness. Unfortunately, Justin must have polished his navigational bearings, because after having me make a few turns, he told me to pull over.
“This is it,” he said, leaning in between the front seats and looking out my window. We kind of just sat there, real still, not speaking, until Keri finally went for the door handle. We all filed out and crossed the dark, quiet street. It was too dark to see the cemetery from where we stood, and after hesitating to see who would step up to lead us, we finally took the plunge in tandem and began climbing the slight hill before us.
Halfway up, we could make out a wrought iron fence, the kind you would expect to wreathe an old, small town cemetery. My eyes searched for the tombstones, the meat of the graveyard. That’s when I saw it, my first glimpse of the old stone house in the middle of the small plot of land. Suddenly, it wasn’t what lay beneath the ground that frightened me.
“I don’t like the looks of that place,” I whispered hoarsely to Keri and Justin.
“What the fuck is it, a church?” Justin asked no one in particular, squinting his eyes to adjust to the darkness.
“I’m not climbing no fucking fence,” Keri spat, arms crossed. She was always the kill joy of the group. Me, I’d go along with just about anything, no matter how terrified I was, mainly because my adrenaline would overtake my common sense every single time. But Keri, she’d get so far and then stop. Or conveniently conjure up a head ache. That girl has headaches more often than Seattle has rain.
Just then, the dull roar of an engine resounded from further down the road. We all turned to look. Headlights eventually appeared over the crest in the curving road, and the car began to decelerate. We continued to watch as it approached the base of the hill and slowed to a complete stop several yards away from my car, parked along the shoulder.
“Is it a cop?” Keri whispered.
The driver flashed the head lights. We were stapled to the soft ground under our feet. The driver blew the horn. We jumped. The driver laid on the horn, sending an atmosphere-rippling siren through the once-quiet night. All three of us screamed and turned to run back to my car. We shoved each other ruthlessly, none of us daring to be in the back.
My car was parked directly across the base of the hill. The rogue car still idled in the same position a few yards away on the opposite side of the road, continuing to blare the chilling horn. We made it to my car, slamming into the side of it. I fumbled for my keys. I dropped them on the road as I tried frantically to sort through the menagerie of plush over-sized key chains. Keri and Justin were swearing and screaming at me. I was crying.
The bully car continued to intimidate us with the horn-blaring while I unlocked my door and reached across the inside to unlock the passenger door. Keri and Justin both tried to get in my uterus-sized two-door Talon at once, prolonging their success. Once they were in, I gunned it, not even bothering to steal a look at the driver of the opposing car as we squealed past it.
We drove in silence until the poorly-lit country roads spilled us out onto the highway where we took refuge among the traffic.
Only then did anyone dare speak.
“I don’t know what you guys were so scared for. It was probably just some teenager having some fun, trying to scare us,” Justin said, leaning back with his fingers laced behind his head.
The weather was unseasonably spring-like on Sunday, so Henry, Chooch and I piled into the car and drove south to take some pictures and enjoy the rare opportunity to drive with the windows down. Our plan was to go out to Uniontown, a small town at the base of the mountains, and get some nice country photographs.
We took Rt. 51, which leads straight from Pittsburgh to Uniontown. It also passes through Perryopolis on the way.
“Hey, there’s this old Quaker Cemetery out here. We should try to find it,” I casually suggested, recognizing that the right hand turn into farm country was coming up. What better way to spend a beautiful Sunday with the kid and manservant? Field trip the haunted cemetery! C’mon boy, let’s get our desecratin’ on, I should have hollered to Chooch.
Henry found it without mishap (evidently the road it’s on is called Quaker Cemetery Road, so Henry figured it was a safe bet we were on the right road). When I reached the crest of the small hill, I spotted the stone house with it’s corrugated tin roof, ominously gaping front door and windows that stared out like empty eye sockets.
I wasn’t scared this time, finding bravery in the sunlight, and I marched right through the archway and started taking pictures. Probably, if I was someone other than myself, the first thing I’d do, I’d go straight inside that stone shack and start poking around. But I was cautious. I let Henry go inside first while I admired the various hues of beer bottle shards as they sparkled in the sun. The shards wrapped around the front of the house, like a moat in front of an alcoholic’s castle. I was sad that no one ever invites me to party in creepy cemetery houses.
Henry went inside first, getting some digital shots of the interior. I asked him if he felt scared when he was in there and he gave me that “don’t be an asshole” sneer. Still, I lingered near the door while Henry and Chooch retreated somewhere in the back, behind the house. I thought I heard shuffling coming from inside the house, but I shook the idea out of my mind and went in.
The inside was sheltered by a roof made up of thin wooden slats. It looked unstable, like I could be buried under it at any given moment. The walls were mostly blue and covered in graffiti. I tried to read it all, as much as I could before my bravery reserve was drained, but there was nothing very interesting. No Hail Satans or Human Sacrifice FTW!s to be found; just an abundance of generic “_____ was here”s and ambiguous initials.
Each end of the room had a fireplace. Henry said later that he had wanted to get all up in it and see what was going on in the chimney’s guts, but he never said why he didn’t follow through. Because he was scared, that’s why. I can only imagine how much clenching he had to do to keep from shitting his pants when he was in there alone.
Still afraid of the being impaled by a collapsing slat of wood, I started to walk out. Henry completely doesn’t believe me, and probably no one else will either, but as I started to step through the doorway, I heard a chorus of whispering coming from \the left corner of the room. I SWEAR TO GOD. I swore to God when I was telling Henry about it too and he was like, “You can’t swear to something you don’t believe in” so I changed my pledge of honesty to Satan instead and Henry started in on that bullshit about how you can’t believe in one and not the other and I was like, “Shut up, stop acting like you’re religious” and he said if there was no God and just Satan, then the world would be way worse than it is now and I said, “No, Satan’s just lazy is all” and that’s about as deep as the two of us get into theological debates. Our next one is scheduled for 2030. As if Henry will still be living then.
After the whole whispering episode, I was pretty much in a huge hurry to leave. If you buy into legends and ghost stories, it’s said that the meeting house was where witches were taken to be killed. I really hope the whispering I heard belonged to Glinda.
Later that day, I was reading a website about the cemetery and it says, “There are also stories of certain graves being cursed, meaning that if you stand at them, or read the writing on the head stone, you could have bad luck or die.”
I did a really Big Girl thing today — I made my own dinner to take to work. It was a delightful entree consisting of two slices of fifty billion grain bread (jetted here directly from France; the cellophane bag promises that it’s straight from a hearty hearth and I believe it), one hearty slab of savory mozzarella, and a couple shreds (the slice kept ripping when I tried to peel it out of the deli bag) of the most ambrosial American cheese your tongue ever did molest. Picture all of this off-set by the tangiest helping of dijon-flavored soy-mayo ever to sink into those tiny pockets in bread.
It was then plated with lots of love and care in fine tupperware with a bright yellow banana to add some flair to the presentation.
When I finished, I took off my toppling chef’s hat and stood back to admire my work. I bet Bobby Flay does that too.
But halfway here I realized I left it on the dining room table. I keep texting and email Henry, begging him to bring it out to me, but he won’t reply. I was nice at first, but then I started in all caps (I WANT MY SANDWICH!) and now I’m threatening to hold the damn Girl Scout cookies I bought from one of the dayshit employees (FOR HENRY) hostage.
Collin, more Pro-Henry than ever, doesn’t seem to think Henry should risk his life driving my lost sandwich to me. Why, because it’s snowing a little? "It’s just a sandwich," he chided. But it’s MY sandwich. I nearly gave myself callouses in its preparation. I might die if I don’t get to savor the amazing craftmanship that went into building that true artisan sandwich. I’m so upset that I’m chewing on my hair.
Why do I feel like Chooch is probably eating it right now?
Also, last night left me with some new insight: I don’t have friends, I have a cult following. It was probably one of the most flattering (and insane) things anyone has ever said to me, though I’m sure that wasn’t the intention.
shiny door prizes like panini presses and a magic wand for can-opening ease,
a chocolate fountain centered around an array of fresh fruit and lady fingers in scandelous poses?
Not our department holiday party.
No, we got cold cuts drowning in a mucous-like moat, cheese slices that needed the aid of Freddy Krueger’s nails to be surgically removed from each other, a bowl of frozen fruit slices, and a giant sheet cake that had nauseating pink flowers piped precariously around the perimeter. (I deduced at once that it was going to be an offensive supermarket bakery cake, so I walked past it with my nose in the air.) We got scratch off tickets and Tina’s hair collar and a platter of bland cookies that were at least moist and not stale like I had initially suspected.
The cheese lasagna was a real treat, though.
1. A dayshifter who sits next to me. I rue the days she works late because she laughs like an engorged elephant cock is lodged in her throat and she’s trying to summon her inner Vesuvius to phlegm it back up. She handles a runny nose like your typical Teamster: loud, wet and crackly, like a bowl of exploding Rice Krispies is draining down her throat. She’s nice though.
2. Hey Tina, ever since you switched to the day shift, something really confusing and alarming has arrested me: I think I like you. Not in a ‘Hey, let’s go French in a bathroom stall’ kind of way, but in a ‘You’re over here talking to me yet I have no urge to inflict any bodily damage.’ But no, I’m not sad that I wasn’t sitting at your table. And while I imagine playing games with a bullyishly dominate personality such as your own is a dream come true for some (like perhaps a tribe of indigents who have never played games before) I’m not jealous that your table was playing Taboo, as rousing and scintillating as it sounded.
3. Big Bob. He stole Collin’s Hot Pockets and made him cry.
4. Non-Big Bob’s plate of meat goods were a little too close to me. I felt violated and kept imagining someone gagging me with that slab of ham.
I was happy to be seated at a table of socially capable people — Lindsay, Bill, Brandie, and (Non-Big) Bob. However, we were joined by Stanley. I am fortunate to not have to deal with him because he works during the day and sits over by Bill and Lindsay. He has no filter, kind of like a child, and random strings of rudeness spray from his mouth in fairly consistent intervals. When we were walking up to the Mezzanine, one of the more heavy and elderly employees was up ahead, taking each step with deliberate slowness. Stanley yelled up, “Hey, Donna, we need to get you an escalator.” Someone behind him called him on his rudeness, only making him justify himself. “What? It’s true! Donna needs an escalator!” If I had to deal with that brand of idiocy for eight hours a day, one of us would have lost our job by now.
Stanley spent a good fifteen minutes diligently rubbing off five scratch off tickets, and even after inspecting them closely above his head, he still found reasonable cause to have Lindsay double-check. I took a picture of his crotch from under the table. Sadly, no boners arose from the rub-off frenzy.
And Bob, poor Bob; he stared off into the distance most of the time, mourning his other half’s absence. (Collin called off.) He seemed lost in thought, and I wondered if he was thinking about all the nights he and Collin spent playing their little celebrity chain game to pass the time while braiding daisy chain crowns for each other’s heads.
One of the games everyone (and by everyone I mean the Daytime Clique) was playing consisted of taping the name of a celebrity to each player’s back, and then everyone had to take turns asking a question to find out who they were. I told Bob it would be a good game for him and Collin to play and he lit up. “You’re right! I didn’t even make that connection!” Then he smiled to himself for awhile, probably rewinding the Collin-montage in his head.
Bill spoke of foreign-sounding things for awhile before I realized he was speaking in baking-tongue, while Lindsay smiled at me like an adoring fan and laughed at all of my antics, like when I took a picture of this guy who I have never seen before in my life, but supposedly he’s part of our department and works upstairs (if you want to take Bill’s word for it) and then ten minutes later I blurted out, “Oh shit, I think I made myself have a crush on that guy!” Lindsay giggled. In my head, I dubbed her my new work BFF. I’m not sure who the old one was. Bill perhaps, even though working opposing shifts has really driven a wrench in our rapport.
He doesn’t even bring me brownies anymore. I bet he brings some for Tina, in tiny baskets lined with rich Italian linen. Well, they can have each other.
Kim approached our table and asked why we weren’t playing games. Maybe it was just me, but I thought it was pretty obvious that our table was way too cool for parlor games, at least the ones that didn’t involve heavy betting and liquor. “We’re playing our own game,” I said. “It’s where everyone tells me how cool I am.” I smirked appropriately and Kim acted like she was about to be sick.
Since I pitched in a devastating twenty dollars to this elitist shindig, I gave myself a goal of “eat more than you paid for,” but the party started at 11AM and I just really wasn’t hungry. So in the end, I probably only ate $5 worth, which jacks me right off. (However, later on that evening, I had a piece of leftover lasagna for dinner. This is how it was made possible: “Tina, you know how you’re always looking for a reason to leave your desk?” Tina looks at me, slightly frightened, before cautiously saying, “……yes?” I jump in for the kill. “Will you get me lasagna?” What? I didn’t want to lift that big pan-y thing out of the fridge! So Tina did. And it was decent.)
Then it was time to go back to work. Most people offered to help clean up, but I just got up and left.
For the past week, I’ve been doing this really obnoxious thing where I brag about how awesome I am. Mostly this has been happening at work. Anytime I know the answer to something, trivial as it might be, I get all sore-winnerish and shout about how my innards are made of awesome.
"Did you just make coffee?"
"Uh, yes. Because I’m full of awesome."
I bet it’s really charming to be on the other side of that.
Tonight, I was telling Christina about how my son has been a little asshole lately. "He keeps grinding his teeth, and when I tell him to stop, he fixes his eyes on mine in a stubborn glare and does it harder," I complained.
"You know what they say," she schooled. "Your kids end up being two times what you are."
"So Chooch is double stuft with awesome?" I asked.