Jul 312010
 

OH MY GOD.

All of this is happening simultaneously:

  • My brother Corey is sitting next to me, eating yogurt and telling me about a safety video he watched at his summer job at Columbia Gas (our dad works there too AND THEY SAT TOGETHER).
  • Chooch is dangling my charm bracelet (guess it’s not so prized after all!!) in front of me, exclaiming, “A NEW BRACELET? MOMMY YOU GOT A NEW BRACELET? COREY DO YOU LIKE YOGURT?” Oh my god, he just almost dropped my camera.
  • Alisha is at the door dealing money to the pizza guy (I’ve forgotten to eat all day; Alisha has rectified that.)
  • Henry is hovering behind me, breathing

Oh my god, so much is going on, my head is spinning and just now, I started to cry.

Corey and Chooch are looking at my old pictures of dead pets.

It’s a sobering moment.

Now Corey is telling me that he was in the garage attic looking for something for our mom, who called up to him, “You know, your dad used to have a big glass bong in that corner over there, see if you can find it!” Unfortunately, it must have been something our dad remembered to take with him after The Divorce.

Tags: , , ,
Jul 312010
 

THIS IS WHAT I LOOK LIKE NOW. This is before the tears and the hair pulling and the sweating and the crazy laughing and the self-injury.

OH THANK GOD ALISHA IS HERE NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!~!! And she brought me iced coffee and breakfast. Oh my god, she just tried to feed me sausage.

Tags: , ,
May 252010
 

macaroons

One of my co-workers is the antithesis of me. Her name is Kaitlin, and she’s really good at baking. The downside to working in the evening is that usually by the time I get there, everything  she’s brought in for the office has already been devoured, so I’ll have to sit there and listen to everyone’s verbal orgies about the lingering tastes in their mouths from Kaitlin’s delicately baked cookies.

As a self-proclaimed expert on the tastes of baked goods, keeping a polite smile on my face is hard when all I really want to do is start skulking around for crumbs.

But yesterday Kaitlin and Barb were thoughtful enough to make a little sample plate for me and stow it away in the fridge. It even said “Treats for Night Train” on it so no one would try and steal it. I’d have felt better if they booby-trapped it, or hired a ninja to crouch all spider-like against the ceiling in the kitchen, but if you’re confident a flimsy strip of Scotch tape is enough, then whatever.

“They’re macaroons,” Barb informed me before leaving for the day. I was a little let down. I was hoping for something more amazing, like something that maybe Lady Gaga could be found dunking in a delicate cup of Earl Grey with the Queen. (Something not from a sex toy line. We’ll save that for Sunday.) Something ritzy. Something exotic. Something made with lavender because I am still on a lavender kick and keep trying to convince Henry to put it in everything. (Lavender, not his dick.)

When I think of macaroons, I think of my Sunday school teacher wearing a shawl, surrounded by eighteen cats. (What? You don’t still think of your Sunday school teacher? You’re weird.) I think of hard coconut things. I think of your grandma’s wake.

I decided that I was going to just wait and take the plate home with me. Kaitlin has been saying that she wants to learn to take photos of her food and I was like, “OK! Just let me learn how to do that first. Then I will try to act like I know what I’m doing and teach you.” Originally, she was going to teach me to bake in exchange, but I think I would rather her do all the baking herself. Ovens don’t agree with me.

There I was, sitting at my desk, trying to get my work done, when two of the analysts decided to stop right next to me and gush about the macaroons. Now, these were two guys and not some blue-permed Eloise and Matilda wearing puffy-painted cat sweatshirts and fanny packs.

“Oh my god, did you try the coffee one?” the one asked the other.

“No, but I had a raspberry one and it was so fucking amazing,” the other answered back. There are raspberry ones? I thought.  I like raspberry things.

“I expected them to be hard like rocks, but then I bit into it and it was the perfect crisp, AND SHE MADE THOSE HERSELF!” the first one exclaimed incredulously, like this was the dessert version of Jesus Christ, getting Nazareth all up in arms. Let me remind you that they were right next to my desk, getting their bakery ejaculation all over my stapler. I couldn’t help but wonder if they were taunting me, trying to get me to cave and eat through the refrigerator door for my own set-aside allotment of macaroons.

Later in the night, one of the processors stopped by with two of them on a napkin (macaroons, not guys talking about them). “Special delivery for you!” she smiled. “I wanted you to get to have some before they’re all gone!” I examined the two round cookies as she placed them in my hand. “There’s a lemon and a chocolate,” she pointed out. “Sorry, I ate the last raspberry one! It was too good to save!”

I was about to mention that Barb had set aside a plate for me in the fridge, but now that these macaroons were eight inches from my face, I forgot all about honesty and was overwhelmed by glutton.

When she walked away, I tapped one. The shell felt hard, but its answer to my tapping was hollow. I took a small bite of the lemon one. The shell broke away crisply just like the one guy had said, but inside it was moist, cakey.  The filling between the two domes was light and lemony, which is a good thing since it was a lemon macaroon. I actually murmured (MURMURED!), “Oh my god.” The only other time this has happened was the first time I tried a cupcake from Vanilla Pastry Studio. The stack of conflict checks on my desk eschewed, I began thinking about putting Kaitlin and the Sugar Fairy into a ring and have them bake-off for my love.

I quickly placed the macaroon back down on my desk. This was clearly not the sort of delicacy you pop in your mouth and ingest in one bite, like some fucking mini Chips Ahoy.

Then I picked it back up. I looked at its innards real close and marveled that someone I know in real life could make something so fragile in her own kitchen, as opposed to being made by a magic French baker from 1874 with an oven heated by elves fanning burning coal. And of course I use “magic” as a codeword for “Satanic.”

Try to imagine back to that time a fairy gave birth atop your tongue to pure bliss and a sack of crack-coated laundered money, how happy and rich you felt with minimal cleanup.

Now you know what it was like to eat one of Kaitlin’s macaroons. Happy and rich, obviously, since I have to spell it out for everyone, everywhere, all the time.

Happy and rich. Like I should have been wearing pantaloons and drawing a mole on my face while waiting for my turn under the guillotine. Who cares about death when there are MACAROONS.

Clearly, whatever I originally thought was a macaroon is not a real macaroon. I’m also pretty sure what I thought was a macaroon came packaged in cellophane from the grocery store and was made with cheap ingredients that even paupers would scoff at. (I’m also an expert on things paupers scoff at, as I’m dating one.)

As my taste buds panted in the afterglow, I began firing off a flurry of customary emails to Henry, informing him that he needs to learn to make macaroons because it’s the only thing I’ll be eating from now on.

Do you know how painful it was not to eat the entire fucking napkin afterward, like a goddamn goat?

And to come home with the plate Barb had left for me, only to spend another half hour setting up the lighting and fucking with the camera settings to get a photo for Kaitlin, when all I wanted to do was forcefully masticate the shit out of those little pastel bitches? In the end, I didn’t even care how the photos turned out. Chooch and I were too busy wading in saliva.

I think Kaitlin’s ‘roons* have rendered me retarded. The only thing I can say about the raspberry one is that I’d give up sex for life if someone promised me one of those a day. There was a REAL RASPBERRY IN THE MIDDLE! I was totally not expecting that and I really almost died.

I have big plans for Kaitlin. She just doesn’t know it yet.

*This is what we experts call macaroons. Also, I am so much of an expert, that I didn’t even realize I was supposed to be calling them “macarons.” I win at French stuff.

Tags: , , ,
Aug 032008
 

 

This year, Henry had the pleasure of taking his two favorite kids to Warped Tour: his son Blake, and, well…me. I kept ducking while we were stuck in concert traffic because I didn’t want the surrounding carfuls of scene kids to laugh and say, “Oh god, that girl is going with her dad, how gay.” When we entered the parking lot, we drove past the drop-off area and Henry said, “God, those parents are so lucky that they don’t have to go in.” Then he tried to murder me with a look of disgust and resentment.

It was nearly noon by the time we managed to park the car. Blake didn’t have a ticket yet so he and I stood around idly outside the entrance to Post Gazette Pavilion while Henry went and bought his ticket. We were approached by the singer and guitarist of Uh-Oh Explosion, who were toting around a box of their CDs. Making small talk, the singer asked if Blake and I were “together.” Instinctively, we both took a step apart and emphatically answered “NO.” Trying to figure it out, he squinted his eyes and guessed, “Brother and sister?” We shook our heads. I saw Henry lingering a few yards away, knowing better than to walk over and lame-up the convo. I pointed to Henry and said, “OK, see that guy? That’s his dad, and my boyfriend.”

This kid (he was only 17) thought this was so fucking fantastico for some reason. “That’s so awesome! Like, talk about closeness. And you guys all came to Warped together!” He paused for a second, before sending my stomach to the meat grinder. “So do you guys have threesomes too?”

RECORD SCRATCH.

I was ready to whistle for the cement mixer to come and seal up my sex organs for real. So disturbing and awkward. I still bought their CD though, because what I heard sounded good and proceeds went to the animals. And what’s a little quasi-incest discourse in the name of stray cats, am I right.

Once we got inside, I was like a kid on Christmas. My eyes had a veritable scene kid feast as we weaved our way to the main stage, where Sky Eats Airplane was playing. Blake and I have the same taste in music — the more scream-y the better. Henry, however, shits himself when he hears hateful bellows, so he took this as an opportunity to go and find a set schedule and then conveniently lose us. Sky Eats Airplane was a good way to start the day.

In between bands, I got to ogle more scene kids. I was wondering why I was so fascinated with them when it dawned on me: If that scene was around when I was a teen, I’d totally have been the first on board. I used to make fun of them,  but now I want to like, write a book about them or something. I’ll start with Blake.

Averting the Hare Krishnas, we went to the Highway 1 Stage to catch From First To Last. Henry was all, “I’m perfectly fine standing all the way back here” and sent Blake and I into the crowd to get pummeled without adult supervision. Anyway, FFTL’s singer Sonny left two years ago and it was a little strange watching them perform without him. Their new material is a little too easy-to-digest and mainstream for my liking, but they ended the set with “Ride the Wings of Pestilence” which always makes me want to sacrifice a shack of Mexican prostitutes. And drink some of Henry’s blood.

Not interested in any bands playing right after FFTL, we walked around and looked at t-shirts and other merch for awhile. Henry, who had bragged on  the way there that he NEVER gets sunburned, started complaining about his nose getting burnt. He kept trying to sneak away and pose under trees in his signature old man-stance. Blake and I would pause and hunker down over the schedule, trying to determine which bands were must-sees and which ones we could skip without losing sleep that night. I kept trying to include Henry, but he would grumble, “I don’t know, does that band actually SING? Then NO, I don’t want to see them.” Perhaps Henry should have just went to that twanged-out Jamboree with Tina instead. Fuck.

 

  • The Bronx: I almost got trampled trying to push my way to the stage to see them, only to leave after ten minutes to run to another stage far away to see Alesana. They were really good and made me want to continually punch Henry in the balls. I always forget how much aggression I have until I go to shows like this. I just found out that they’re going on a tour of LA Mexican restaurants as a mariachi band and oh, who I wouldn’t kill to see that.
  • Alesana: They were playing on the main stage, and Henry was like, “Thank god, now I can sit my weary bones down!” So Blake and I begrudgingly sat down too. I realize that I enjoy bands less when I’m sitting, because I become too distracted with people-watching. Because of this, I don’t remember if I liked Alesana live or not. All I remember is that Blake picked up an Underoath CD release poster from the ground and gave it to me, making me  think he wanted me to keep it, so I ended up lugging it around all day in my backpack only to wind up throwing it away the next day.
  • Human Abstract: Another main stage band, but at least this time Henry allowed himself to be dragged down to the floor by the stage. I had never heard their music before, only seen the ads in Alternative Press for their new CD, so I really wasn’t sure if I was going to like them. Even aside from the immediate crush I developed on the keyboard player, I ended up liking them a lot. They were nice and heavy, but had an interesting melodic side as well. Blake thought they were just alright and stayed sitting down next to his old man for their entire set. This was also around the time that I considered slamming my camera to the pavement because it was taking such shitty pictures, but after Henry inspected it for three seconds, he deduced it was because I had a giant finger print on the lens. I didn’t hate my camera after that.

After the Human Abstract, it was nearly time for Pierce the Veil. They were the main reason I was there and all day it felt like butterflies were fornicating in my belly. It was either Pierce the Veil anticipation or the residual side effects of being asked if my vagina is friendly with both generations of Robbins. Henry once again stood in the sidelines, but I weaved my way as close to the stage as I could get. Which was fairly close since they were still sound-checking.

To show his unwavering adoration, Vic vowed to wear his Jaws shirt every day for the duration of Shark Week. He kept going on and on about sharks and I know this is going to make me look bad but I’m going to be honest: all I could think about was Tina’s vagina, gnashing against flailing legs. Thank God they started playing right after thhat because fuck — my mind disgusts me sometimes. And holy shit, their set was fucking fantastic. It was so good, that I didn’t even mind the heat or having two bitches dropped on me (thank God for Blake, else they’d have hit the pavement). They basically just play a blend of alternative rock, with some screamo-lite thrown in for scene cred, but what makes them stand apart for me is their lyrics. They’re smart, morbid, sad, and just overall clever. At the end of one of their songs, they segued right into a thirty second cover of “Bleeding Love” which was a million times better than the original we’re guaranteed to hear every time we walk into a grocery store. They also threw in a cover “Beat It” which was energenic and really fun to watch, and they ended the set with “Party Like a Rock Star” gone metal.

I did NOT want that set to end. Even Blake admitted that he was surprised how good they were live, and Henry was like, “Yes, fine, I liked what I heard all the back there in Parent Alley.” It was one of those moments where you want to call everyone you know and give them a hyper review in a shrill voice, but you know no one will give a shit. So then you’re just depressed.

We had a lot of time to kill after Pierce the Veil, so I bought a five dollar soft pretzel while wishing for once I ate meat so I could get a corn dog for $3.50 — the cheapest foodstuff there. Henry got nachos which looked like slop. Henry’s demeanor seemed to uncurdle a bit while he was coating his ‘stache with cheese sauce. He even smiled a few times and I think he laughed once.

While we were chilling out at the picnic table, Blake proposed that he move in with us. Maybe it was just the contact high of being with someone who actually gave a shit about music, but I declared that this was the best idea I had ever heard in all of my life, even better than my idea to direct porn, so now he might be moving in with us. It would make my scene kid research easier, for sure.

Blake was so sad that we missed Katy Perry while we were foraging for discounted sustenance. He even pulled his hat down low to hide the tears. But maybe it was because he saw kids he knew and was embarrassed of Henry.

  • Evergreen Terrace: I liked them alright but there was nothing mind-blowing that made me want to scour Ebay for rare memorabilia. However, during one of their songs, they chanted “I want you dead” and maybe there’s something wrong with me, but I thought that would be such a romantic sentiment to have engraved on wedding bands.
  • Classic Crime: Another band that sounds good in stereo, but didn’t hold my attention live. Instead, I stared at this really surly girl who was like an overweight scene Sami Brady from Days of Our LIves. She was climbing over rows of seats and even though she was struggling to swing her trunk-legs over, she didn’t let it deter her from scaling the next row, until eventually she lost her momentum and wound up clotheslining her crotch. It brought me joy, lots of joy.
  • 3OH!3: I wouldn’t have sought this band out normally, but we wanted to see the band that was coming on right after them, so we hung out for their set. I thought I was going to hate them at first, because that wave of white boy rap-rock-electronica kind of annoys me. But they ended up being so fucking fun and there was a really hot blond chick dancing on the side of the stage, so they kept my attention for sure. During their last song, it basically turned into a chaotic dance party on stage, and even Blake’s girlfriend Katy Perry was up there dancing with her man Travis from Gym Class Heroes (who I walked past earlier and wanted to say, “Your gf is a gaybo” but I wasn’t feeling assholey enough. Plus, I like Travis.). Anyway, I’m going to have 3Oh!3 play at my Sweet Thirtieth Birthday Orgy Masquerade. It’s gonna be tight.
  • Bring Me the Horizon: Blake ran into some of his friends right as they came on, so we were officially ditched. Henry and I hung around for a few songs, but Henry looked like he wanted to call out for his mommy, so I spared him. I really liked BMTH though — they made me want to fillet a cop.
  • The Devil Wears Prada: Sans Blake, things were pretty gay. I wanted to get closer to the stage but Henry was all OH HELL NAH so I was like, “Fuck this then” and went to buy a shirt instead. Henry, you pussy.

The day was coming to an end by this point, and Blake had re-joined us in time for Dr. Manhattan. I was torn, because they were playing at the same time as Norma Jean, side-by-side. And I love Norma Jean. Norma Jean blocked out Eleanore’s nerve-prickling coupon-cutting many a night for me. But I chose Dr. Manhattan, along with fifteen other people. It was sad! But you know a band is good when there are OTHER bands in the crowd watching them. And they were good — they were quirky and fun and energenic and they made me laugh out loud a few times. Unfortunately, Norma Jean was one stage over, luring people into their crowd. They had gigantic black beach balls and I won’t lie — I’m a sucker for a beach ball. At one point, I yelled to Henry, “Hey, do you want to go over and watch Norma Jean for the rest of their set?” but right then, two people left Dr. Manhattan’s crowd and the singer — in the middle of a song — stopped and yelled, “Hey! Where are you guys going??” It was so sad/cute/scary that I looked at Henry and said, “Never mind!”

At the end of their show, some of the bands in the crowd started chanting, “One more song!” but they weren’t allowed because of time constraints. So the singer started chanting back, “One more crowd!”, the retardedness of which made me laugh. I was also dehydrated, though. Overall, I was glad I stayed loyal to Dr. Manhattan, because their set was rewarding.

And that was it. We walked back to the car and already I started to feel the body-dragging effects of post-show depression. Then I thought about how all day long I had been talking about all the bands I wanted to see, but by the end of the night, all I wanted to see was Chooch.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Aug 012008
 

So here I am, my last night at work, and I’m feeling alright. Everything has been pretty anti-climactic. When Eleanore left at 6, our big farewell-for-ever consisted of her tossing a "be a good girl" over her shoulder as she trudged away. Not even a hug. Really, Eleanore? We’ve sat together for a YEAR AND A HALF and not even a hug?

No really, I didn’t want one.

Joe left me with two peach Swisher Sweets, which made me happy. Thanks Joe! And Jenn, who used to work at night but has been on dayshift for the past year, left me a note in my mailbox and that made me smile. Thanks Jenn!

Tina decided she was leaving at 7:30 instead of toughing it out until midnight. This may be my last night here forever, but this is also the last night of evening shift (which is the main reason I resigned); you’d think we’d have had a party or something, the three of us. Maybe have a kegger in the parking lot, who the fuck knows. But apparently not.

As she walked past me, she paused and wished me luck and said that she wants me to send her occasional photos of Chooch. I said of course I would, and then as I heard the door shut behind her, something WEIRD happened. I mean, some crazy ass fucking shit – legitimate sadness happened. I even whispered, "Aw, Tina" quietly to my monitor. Then promptly slapped my hand over my mouth. It kind of felt like I had just been touched by an uncle AND LIKED IT.

I ran into Kim’s cube and blurted out, "I THINK I’M GOING TO MISS HER!" Kim laughed the word, "What?!" Then she got a good look at my sniveling face and exclaimed, "Oh my god, what’s wrong with you? You look like you’re going to cry!"

AND I FEEL LIKE IT, TOO. Tina, of all people. Tina and her gooey scabs. Tina and her codpiece. Tina and her man-stance. TINA I’LL MISS YOU.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,
Jul 282008
 

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.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Jun 262008
 

 (Final version of a dumb essay I wrote for my Creative Non-Fiction class last fall, and never posted because I forgot.)

You might not know it, but North Versailles, a town once thriving during the height of the steel mill boom, is the home of a veritable Valhalla for thrifters, crafters, and peddlers. Residing in the old Loews Theater — forced into bankruptcy in June of 2001 by an over-zealous eruption in the multi-plex industry — Rossi’s Pop-Up Market Place is a glorified flea market for the twenty-first century. It’s a place where one could find an entire table lined with quilted purses, looking foreign outside of the Bingo hall; no less than two tables selling staplers amidst collectible spoons and cookbooks; cardboard boxes brimming with broken toys and stuffed animals; and racks of black-and-gold feathered boas. Situated on thirteen acres of paved land, vendors come from all over to set up booths and tables inside the vacated theater and all along the once-desolate back parking lot.

The weather was dreary on the day I visited, with showers bullying the outside vendors in sporadic episodes. Even with only a third of the back lot being utilized and the omnipresent threat of rain, the hardcore flea marketers were not deterred, as evidenced by the number of times my boyfriend was forced to circle the main lot in search of an empty parking space.

            It was still relatively early on a Sunday morning, yet the parking lot was already a-bustle with shoppers darting in and out of traffic on their way back to their vehicles, arms pregnant with loot. I was at once awash in a sea of fanny-packs and spandex-sausaged torsos, Steelers jerseys and trucker caps, high-waisted seersucker trousers and Hawaiian-printed shirts; they scurried in erratic patterns like locusts during a Biblical plague. Two of the locusts — a visored elderly couple, one of whom toted an old lamp in grotesque shades of the Seventies — crossed in front of a line of moving vehicles, with little regard. If this is any indication of the pedestrian carelessness in flea market land worldwide, I’m not surprised that a young boy was killed in the nineties when a truck backed into him when this market used to be located down the street at the now-demolished Eastland Mall. In its previous carnation, the flea market was called the Superflea and with the local mall now in ruins, the people of North Versailles basically had only Wal-Mart to rely on for their Olympic-shopping needs. But in 2005, the denizens of the defunct Superflea were invited to utilize the empty space of the Loews Theater by the building’s owner, Jim Aiello. What did the Superflea vendors do during the interim of Eastland’s demolition and Aiello’s metaphorical handing over of the golden key? Thank God for eBay, I guess.

The inside of the converted theater harbors the booths and tables for the more high-brow set: Racks of clothing that haven’t been worn before, handmade crafts, baked goods — generally nothing that has been previously worn or used. I decided to tackle the back grounds first, so we quickly bypassed the frustrating stop-and-go traffic flow of bargain hunters determined to scrutinize every last piece of price-tagged merchandise.

Posted to the back door was a typed and laminated sign that insisted “No heelies to be worn inside or outside.” My boyfriend obsessed over the meaning of “heelies” for most of our visit (wheeled shoes, you dumb ass), but I had more important issues vexing my mind: I needed to know who Rossi was.

Upon exiting the back doors, I was immediately barraged by a goulash of dueling aromas: teriyaki chicken and soul food duked it out to my right, while the best of Poland’s delicacies sparred to my left with the hot sausage sandwich heavy weight over at Mike’s Neighborhood Grill (also notable for his award-winning Philly cheese steak). Two food trailers competed with the controversial spelling of kielbasa. (Or is it kolbassa?) At nine o’clock in the morning, haluski and fried chicken were not the most nasally pleasing scents. If it was afternoon, and, you know – I ate meat, I’d have been in my glory.  Interspersed between so many savory selections were trailers shilling funnel cake, and the Slushie King was doling out sno-cones to children who displayed such a caricature of excitement that I wondered if they had never delighted in frozen sweets before. It was like Rossi’s very own carnival midway.

In spite of this festival of food, the rest of the parking lot gave off the vibe of a ghost town. If tumbleweed had blown past my ankles, it would have been suiting. There were tables lined up, but the hearts of the people manning them just weren’t in it. No one yelled things like, “Two dollars! Two for three!” or “Are you looking at that weed whacker?! It works! It really works! You can see for yourself, FOR TEN DOLLARS!” Walking past a table stacked with old issues of Woman’s World and a paltry selection of VHS dramas (Steel Magnolias was a steal of a deal for a buck), two middle-aged women sat slouched over in lawn chairs. Staring straight ahead with glazed-over eyes, the one whose mouth had yet to become mummified by boredom’s glue mumbled, “I can’t believe we have two more hours of this shit.” It never occurred to me before that these people are taking chances when they rent out lots. If the weather, so notoriously unpredictable, is sketchy that day, the vendors could potentially lose out on a lot of money, breaking even if they’re lucky.

The weather hadn’t managed to put a damper on everyone’s day, though. I walked past one woman, fresh from purchasing a VHS chockfull of show tunes. As she trotted back to her group of fellow flea marketers, I heard her squeal, “And it has ‘Luck Be a Lady’ on it too so we can all sing together tonight in the living room after dinner!” A small part of me hoped she was being facetious, but mostly I derived a perverse pleasure in imagining that some families do functional things like after dinner sing-alongs, maybe while wearing bonnets, and then I imagine myself watching from behind a bush, laughing and taking video to post on You Tube.

I was making my way down the third aisle of tables and still hadn’t found a single item that was worth parting ways with the crumpled dollar bill stuffed into the pocket of my jeans. In the past, a lone dollar bill had gained me a nudie mug, a chipped metal bangle bracelet that leaves a bruised band around my wrist, and a 1940’s 8×10 school portrait of one of the table vendors. That was my favorite flea market find, I think. I made up an elaborate back story about how he was my vampiric Uncle Otis who was haunted by chimeras of his ex-lover; I couldn’t imagine why my friends didn’t believe me.

Oh, I had seen such sights on this day though, like an entire table piled with hats of all styles and varying degrees of camouflage. Some of the hats went a step beyond and boasted embroidered John Deere patches and one had a real knee-slapper of a slogan draped across it: “Remington: Size Matters!” Had I been there alone, I’d have gladly set up camp and waited all day just on the off-chance that I’d get to spy the lucky person to score that gem.

Other tables are decorated with children’s books that look suspiciously five-fingered from the library, like “Why Am I Going to the Hospital?”,  and yellow-paged mystery novels by Dean Koontz and Nora Roberts and I know without getting too close that they come complete with the musty stench of a grandmother’s basement. Laid out on ratty and frayed bath towels are a downtrodden array of rusted shovels, hoes, hedge clippers and spades — a serial killer’s wet dream. Or a gardening fetisher’s. An entire table was devoted to glassware that must have looked really good when it was used on the set of “Mama’s Family.”

A woman hawked jewelry draped along the hood of her maroon Alero while next door, a burly man sporting a sleeveless American Legend shirt and a rustic beard stood cross-armed over his collection of tools and Harley Davidson bric-a-brac. I definitely wasn’t interested in any biker memorabilia.

Every few minutes, the oldies tunes – the elevator music of flea markets — blasting from outdoor speakers would cut out and a booming voice bubbling over with a showman’s enthusiasm would remind us shoppers to stop by Teresa’s Treasures, formerly known as Frick and Frack, for some fresh baked goods; or he would promote the aforementioned Mike’s Neighborhood Grill, who must have slipped the MC a Hamilton because there was a real urgency to his voice every time he would tap on the mic and remind us that hey, Mike’s still over there in the red and white trailer frying up some of that award-winning grub of his. OK, we get it: Mike rules.

Intrigued by this bodiless voice, I abandoned the garage sale fare of the outdoors for the more glamorous vendibles inside. Also, that’s where the bathroom was.

The main difference I observed inside was that each table has its own niche. Unlike the tables in the parking lot, the merchandise here was new and laid out in a neat and eye-catching array with glitter-painted signs that yelled, “Hey look Real Stillers shirts here! Tags still on!” and “Ninetento [sic] tapes $5-$8!” Above the storefronts of the indoor vendors hang wooden signs with their store’s name burned into it. Coincidentally, the maker of those very signs had his own booth set up, with a TV – squatting in the midst of charred wood signs — airing a running loop of his workshop. I paused to watch it, but became bored after three seconds. I’m sad to see that Eileen’s Crafts & Whatever: Home of the Special Angels is closed, because maybe I might have wanted to buy a special angel, or a ‘whatever.’

Later that day, after lamenting the fact that I couldn’t even find one single coral necklace or macramé pot holder amongst the knoll of orphaned junk to bring home, I dwelled once again on Rossi. At this point, I didn’t even care about meeting him. A tiny blurb on a website would have sufficed. Or perhaps a MySpace profile.

Google searches for Rossi’s identity only bring up individual websites of several of the vendors, such as Deanna’s Mountain T-Shirts. She is very excited to announce via her webpage that you can find her brand-new Betty Boop and race car shirts at Rossi’s every Saturday and Sunday! When she’s not slinging those and her new and gently worn jewelry, she designs websites. I hope they’re as visually pleasing as her website, with all of its seizure-inducing emoticons and gifs. I mean, if I’m paying for a professional website, I better get a blinding background and lots of waving American flags, and maybe a cheery midi file droning on as the page loads.

Determined to find answers, I revisited Rossi’s a week later. The sun was shining bright and the temperature was September’s signature crisp and clear; in other words, the venders were easily excitable and rearin’ to go.

Admittedly, I wanted to catch a glimpse of this elusive announcer, too. My boyfriend laughed and said, “Um, you walked right past him and his podium last week when you went to the bathroom.” I wasn’t sure if I completely believed my boyfriend that the MC’s voice was not really the product of a tape playing in a loop. I wished for a twist ending where I would tug back a heavy velvet curtain or at the very least a moth-eaten sheet of burlap, to find that Rossi and the announcer were one and the same.

I had to employ the Cardinal rule of flea markets: do not make eye contact with sellers if you’re not trying to waste money. They’re like puppies in a pound – you toss them the tiniest bone of a glance, and you’re taking their shit home with you.

Sometimes this doesn’t work, usually when you end up idling past a seller who is overly-anxious to be rid of his cache. A mustachioed man, noticing my small child in the stroller, spastically lunged into his pile of corroded tapes and waved a Barney video at me. “Barney video, one dollar!” he barked. I smiled and kept walking. I’m sure it was full of titillating moral tales, and my child will obviously grow up into a puppy-kicking plane hijacker without the guidance of a purple dinosaur in his life, but no thanks. He wouldn’t give up. “Barney tape, for free!”

Not one to pass up free swag, my internal dialogue was a’swirl.

                       It’s free!

                      But it’s Barney!

                      But it’s free!

“Oh, thank you, but I don’t have a VCR,” I quickly stuttered, shifting my eyes. He was still blurting out offers when I nervously jogged to another table, far away, that wasn’t shilling free children’s tapes. Why don’t the elderly ladies shilling fantastically kitschy costume jewelry make such offers? Further down, another man looking as though he were visiting from the mountains of Appalachia, caught me pointing to his luxurious collection of dented, rustic oil cans and asking the boyfriend what the hell they were.

 “Are you looking at my fan? Two dollars! And it works!” I recoiled slightly at the sight of his mouth rot.

No, I was looking at your shitty rust receptacles, but thanks.

As I was toeing the line between boredom and frustration, unable to give a shit about tattered cook books with coffee rings and cheap sunglasses framed in fluorescent shades, the sky parted, golden rays of second hand angel dust rained upon our heads, and the voice of the announcer reverberated through the lot.

 “Wayne and Ellie Jackson, there is a situation at your vehicle that requires immediate attention.”

Wayne and Ellie’s vehicle could have been taken over by pygmies playing horse shoes and on a normal day, I’d have been the first one on the scene to get the 411, but I could not shake my preoccupation with the MCs voice. So instead of rubber-necking out in the lot, I made my way past stacks of ugly abstract art, discount candy, and unripe produce, until I was inside the market place, boyfriend and baby trailing behind. I thought I heard my child whining, but my pace didn’t falter; sorry son, but Mama’s on a mission.

Once inside, it was all a blur. I hurried past the lady manning a table of bread and gloves (although I did slow down a bit to see if the gloves were the kinds with the rubber nubbies on them as I have a slight fetish); I bumped into a man looking at baseball cards and vaguely recall him grunting a reply to my rudeness; I paused briefly to demolish a sample of apricot pastry. Always pause for pastries.

As I rounded a corner, my boyfriend pointed. “There he is right there. MC Rich K.”

Standing behind a podium, all wrapped up in a snug leather jacket, loomed the body behind the voice. I had every intention of talking to him, asking him about this supposed Rossi character, but my voice was caught. I had built him up so much in my head, maybe as much as Rossi by that point, that he had become my own Wizard of Oz, and now he was standing there before me, yelling into his cell phone like some hot shot Wall Street power broker.

 “I just gave you an ad! Didn’t you hear it?” he shouted disgustedly.

This was the body of the voice coated with Santa-caliber merriment? If I were a vendor, I’d invest in a bullhorn and do my own publicity before relying on that asshole.

Intimidated, I instead grabbed a brochure from the information kiosk next to MC Rich K, playing it off like that was why I had come barreling toward him, and then I went home. I guess I wasn’t too determined after all.

The brochure ended up being a poorly edited odyssey down comic sans lane, and of course any information regarding the enigmatic Rossi, now fabled in my mind, was furtively omitted. Maybe Rossi isn’t even a person. Maybe Rossi is the dead childhood goldfish of property owner Jim Aiello and it’s a tribute in the same vein of Snickers, the candy bar named after a family horse. Food Network taught me that.

Or maybe I should just take a nap and wake up with a new futile obsession.

Regardless, even though my pressing questions about the flea market’s namesake went unanswered, I’ll be sure to go back the next time I’m in the market for a purse with sequins so big, it could solar power an entire house on its own.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Jun 162008
 

 

 

 

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.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Jun 122008
 

Today, Chooch and I went to lunch with Janna and my brother Corey. We walked several blocks to Tom’s Diner, which was fine until the way back when Chooch was too tired to walk so I had to carry him in 179 degree weather and he stunk of sweat and curdled milk. Anyway, at Tom’s, he made a fist and held it out to everyone who walked past, and said, "Punch. Punch." Most people ignored him, but a fat old man wearing a big mother-whompin’ ring made a fist on his way out of the diner and shouted, "Gimme some knuckle, kid" and Chooch had this expression of "Fucking finally!" 

Chooch and I both had grilled cheese and fries, but he was more interested in stealing potato chips and pickles from Janna’s plate.

A woman came in with approximately 18 children (fine, four) and as soon as they sat down behind us, a really old should-be-fucking-dead-by-now man hobbled over with a hunched back and passed out saftey suckers to each one. "I just really love kids," he exclaimed to their mom, and then he went back to his table.

Now, this lewd display of favortism went down behind my back, so I sat there and funneled my disgusted sighs and angry scowls at Janna and Corey. "So what, Chooch doesn’t qualify? Why didn’t that elderly douche balloon give my son a fucking poison treat?" I swear to God it made me so angry that I could feel my adrenaline rushing, blood crashing like cymbals in my ears, and I wanted to approach him in the worst way. Me, approaching an octogenarian over a sucker. And then what? Cause a scene over candy that would wind up dirt-encrusted and dropped on the floor after three licks? I have a really ridiculously skewed sense of entitlement.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
May 232008
 

VI: The After Show

Corey and I couldn’t think of a better way to cap off such an amazing concert than by returning to our luxury motel. Pulling into the lot at 11:30, we were greeted by several shifty denizen who chose to congregate outside their rooms with beer and cigarettes. Corey wanted to get a picture of the Pennant Night Club next door, because it was country night and this amused him to no end, but he made me go with him. It was at this point that I realized I was probably more suspicious than anyone else in that lot, what with the way I stopped dead in my tracks, hunkered over to suppress giggles, to stare at a couple across the lot.

Corey gave me this look that screamed, “What the fuck, are you crazy? You can’t just stop and STARE at the crazy townies having sex around their clothes out front of their room!”

I snapped out of it and followed him to the street.

“This place has wi-fi?” Corey asked in amazement after we reached the front of the motel. “How does a place like this have wi-fi?”

“They probably steal it,” I said, shrugging, and then we both laughed and couldn’t stop because the Giddy Sibling Bug had bit us.

Back inside our room, I called Christina to tell her that the state she was born in sucks. She was really hurt by it, and Corey shouting things like, “New Jersey is gay!” in the background only wrenched the knife further, because she actually is gay. I mean, she has a tattoo of New Jersey on her leg, that’s how proud of it she is.

“Where exactly in New Jersey are you?” she asked. I couldn’t remember the name of the town, other than the fact we got lost and ate at Pat’s Pizzeria in Gloucester, and that we saw a lot of signs for Camden.

“Um, no wonder you hate it. Camden??” That’s when I learned that Camden had replaced Detroit as the most dangerous city in the nation. “You should be OK as long as you’re not in a gang, though,” she reassured.

Meanwhile, Corey was debating whether or not he wanted to take a shower. “I mean, did you see the shower curtain? It has burn holes in it,” he whined. But he finally manned up and conquered the shower stall. He came out of the bathroom a walking cautionary tale.

“I don’t even want to think about all the dirty New Jersey sex that was in that shower before me,” he spat with disgust. “And just so you know, the water smells like fish. Have fun with that in the morning.”

We got comfortable in our respective knife-slashed beds with the local Gloucester channel on TV. Backed with all the best soft rock hits were still-ads for the local cemetery, a middle school talent show, and a list of the honor roll students. It was a sweet surprise when the ads were pre-empted with some small-scale recording of a youth fishing competition. It was awesomely terrible and we couldn’t stop watching.

“This almost makes me want to live here,” I said. Then we laughed.

“I’m so afraid to close my eyes and sleep. This place scares me. Have you ever seen No Vacancy?” Thanks, Corey. Thanks for making that the last thought in my head before I fall asleep.

Around 1:30am, a nearby door slammed. “Oh goodie, our neighbor’s home!” Corey facetiously enthused. Then he got up and put his face up to the peep hole. I was paranoid he was going to get shot, so with the covers pulled up to my chin, I hissed for him to get away from the door.

I woke up in the middle of the night, thinking I heard a car alarm. I wasn’t sure if I was dreaming or not, but I remember thinking I should probably check to see if my car was still in the lot but I was too afraid to go out there. (The window of our room overlooked the back of the property, not the lot.)

The next morning, we gladly turned in our key and Corey snatched a covert picture of the miserable desk clerk who hated us.

VII: Cereality

Aside from seeing the Cure (and eating at Pat’s Pizzeria), the only other thing I refused to leave before doing was getting breakfast at Cereality, located on U Penn’s campus in Philly. I was proud that I finally forwent using Henry as an atlas and tapped into my Blackberry’s resources to find the place, nary a wrong turn. But first, we filled up the gas tank in Gloucester. I tried to get it myself, thinking I could get away with it, but an older Mexican swooped in and grabbed the nozzle off me. Foiled.

As soon as we crossed the threshhold, I was in my happy place. “Rock Me Amadeus” was playing when we got there and Corey, who is in AP Euro and should maybe try acting like it, said, “Huh. We had to listen to this song in my history class.  I think it’s supposed to be about someone historical?”

Siouxsie and the Banshees’ “Kiss Them For Me” came on just in time to aid me in tuning out the disgusting trucker-caliber sniffling and snot-suckering taking place behind me. Mmm, yummy — just what I want to hear while I’m trying to decide what I want to EAT. A nice bowl of bubbly snot? A mucous smoothie? There’s not enough froth on my coffee, would you mind blowing your nose in it?

Fucker.

At home, I have a healthy bowl of oatmeal every day, with a hearty handful of flax seed sprinkled in for good measure; so I decided to live large and ordered a bowl (it’s actually served in an over-sized Chinese take-out container) of The Devil Made Me Do It. Basically it was the most disgusting, stomach-turning house-blend on the menu and I was entirely too overwhelmed to come up with my own concoction without at least six months prior planning. Cereal is some serious shit.

One of the people working there was this awesome Goth chick with spiky blond hair and black lipstick. Corey and I simultaneously fanned ourselves.

“She’s like, so cool,” I enthused, and Corey concurred. It doesn’t take much to impress us. Evidently, just some bleach and a faceful of kohl.

After I paid for my container of diabetic shock, I went to the milk counter and, as if to apologize to my body for what I was about to funnel into it, I squirted skim milk onto the cavity-making mound.

Joining me at a small outside table, Corey blurted, “Guess what that Goth girl talked to me!”

“Oh my God, LUCKY! What did she say??” Sadly, I really was jealous.

“She said, ‘Did you pay for that already?’” We squealed over that for a few seconds, and then he added, “And her name is SIMONE!”

My cereal consisted of Cocoa Puffs, Lucky Charms, malt balls, and chocolate syrup. I don’t even like malt balls, but goddamn all cereal should have them. It was the best ever, but after five spoonfuls, my belly tried to reject it. Of course I forced down almost the entire thing and got sick as soon as we hit the turnpike. Corey was smart (and boring) and got something healthy that was made of Life, strawberries and honey or some shit.

While we ate our cereal, “Just Like Heaven” played and we were like, “What the fuck, best breakfast ever.”

Five hours later, we were standing in my living room, blabbering on to Henry about our motel and the people we saw there, Pat’s Pizzeria, all the strip clubs, being lost, not understanding how to get gas.

“I feel like there should be a movie about this: When Well-To-Do Kids are Forced to Fend for Themselves.”

[Part 1][Part 2][Part 3]

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
May 192008
 

III: Pat’s Pizzeria

Corey and I had time to kill before the show started, which was a good thing because our breakfast and lunch consisted of sharing a bag of Munchos in the car. Driving down the main drag of whatever shit hole we were in, we passed strip clubs and adult video stores, liquor stores and dance studios (the exotic kind) on every block. Every couple of intersections, I would start to pull into a parking lot, and then say, “Oh, never mind, that’s just a bait shop” or “Oops, I thought that was an IHOP, but it’s just another whore house.” Holy shit, New Jersey is made with a crust of perversion, filled with a gooey center of booze and g-strings. No wonder Christina is so sleazy — she was BORN in the center of it all.

When the going gets tough, the tough call Henry.

“We need you to find us somewhere to eat, somewhere that’s not too far from our motel, and somewhere that has grilled cheese,” I ordered, skipping the salutations.

“I AM IN PITTSBURGH,” Henry growled. “Find your own damn restaurant, you’re capable. USE YOUR FUCKING BLACKBERRY.”

“Yeah, OK. So, we passed a sign for Camden, if that helps. Find us food establishments, thanks.”

Henry, probably realizing that I was just going to keep calling him until he fulfilled my wishes, found us some family restaurant back in Gloucester. I followed his directions part-way until I grew tired and nervous that he was leading us straight into a river or over a cliff with dynamite in our mouths, so when we came upon Pat’s Pizzeria, Corey and I both agreed that it’d do.

Despite the neon “Open” sign, Pat’s didn’t appear very inviting. There were no other cars in the lot and a large section of the entrance was cordoned off with yellow Caution tape. We were hungry and running out of time, so we dropped the spoiled siblings act and went inside. But I mean, we REALLY had our hearts set on grilled cheese, just so you know.

We must have missed Pat’s hey day by a few years. It looked like it could have been a decent establishment at some point, but then maybe the owners stopped caring because it’s probably just a drug front anyway. Who cares if the vinyl booths have switchblade slashes in  them and the floor hasn’t been mopped in weeks when you’re hustling kilos and illegal arms out the back of the storeroom.

A shifty guy named Yianni waited on us, never once making eye contact. He seemed surprised that we opted to dine in because apparently the locals eschew Pat’s disheveled dining room for their own. I ordered cheese ravioli and I won’t lie — I was excited to try the edible delights of Gloucester’s famed pizzeria (there’s an advertisement for it on the underpass leading into  town, so you know it’s good).

Somewhere in between spying a shirtless fat man sitting down with a beer in his house across the street and sending pictures of Corey looking scared and miserable to our mom, an older woman who appeared to be a few food stamps safe from vagabondism sat down behind me with a double stroller. Her frizzy red hair was streaked with gray and she was wearing a billowing man’s overcoat; her lips were unable to meet past her buck teeth. We paid no attention to her, and then halfway through our meal, she set her sights on us. She was undeterred by the fact that, moments earlier, Corey loudly postulated, “I feel like this town is swimming in AIDS” and proceeded to solicit us with small talk.

“What is tomorrow? I feel like tomorrow is something special,” she asked aloud, looking directly at our table. I turned slightly and told her it was Mother’s Day, but apparently the proper reaction would have been to box up our food and finish eating in the car, because once we took her bait, she refused to  throw us back to sea. There was a vibe about her, I can’t put my finger on it, but she seemed slightly unstable. Her eyes seemed unfocused, glazed; and I mean, I’ve been known to pick up hitchhikers without a second thought, so my feeling nervous about someone speaks volumes. Corey was unnerved by her too.

She asked Corey and I what we were getting our mothers, and I explained that we’re siblings and have the same mom, and that my present to our mom was getting Corey out of her hair for the weekend, that this was our first sibling road trip and we were there to see the Cure.

“The Cure?” she repeated, brows furrowed. “No, I ain’t heard of it.” Feigning incredulity, I told her that they weren’t a new band, they’ve been around since the late seventies.

“Oh, that’s before my time. I wasn’t around all that long ago.” I was hoping she was being facetious, but something told me she was a little off-kilter. This was around the point where Corey started kicking me under the table.

“Let’s get the fuck away from the crazy broad, plz.”

She began bragging about her older kids. One daughter, who is 21, is in charge of three WaWas. THREE WAWAS, you guys. I wasn’t aware that this was a huge accomplishment, but her face fell a little when I didn’t applaud, so I hurried up and said, “Oh wow! That’s great.”

“Oh yeah, I know! And she just graduated high school last year.” She smiled and shook her head proudly. “My other daughter is nineteen. She just graduated this year. You probably know her,” she said to Corey. “Crystal?”

Corey, who refused to engage her, continued staring in the other direction, so I reminded her that we weren’t townies. Every time I caught Corey’s eye, he widened them into angry and impatient saucers, imploring me to stop talking to her. He finally took matters into his own hands and went to the counter to get takeout boxes off of Yianni.

“Oh right!” she said, remembering. “You guys are musical. I forgot.” I don’t know what she meant by that, but Corey had returned to the table with takeout boxes, which we sloppily scraped the rest of our food in. Before I left, she pummeled me with sweet sentiments, asking God to bless me and urging me to take care of myself. “Please tell your mother I said Happy Mother’s Day!” she shouted as I shirked quickly through the door. Hey Mom, some crazy fisherwoman from New Jersey might die if you don’t have a blessed Mother’s Day.

I feel like if I had been any closer, she would have stuck me with a pin to have a drop of my blood to keep as a memento.

When we got out to the car, Corey breathed an exaggerated sigh of relief. “What the fuck was wrong with her? She didn’t even order any food. She was just SITTING there the whole time, like she was lost.”

As we pulled back into the motel’s lot, I theorized that she was probably there to get her weekly fix. The guy who was fighting earlier with his girlfriend no longer was wearing a shirt, and was staring at us from the door of his room. As we got ready to leave for the show, we reminisced of past European vacations. “And look at us now!” I shouted cheerfully, waiting for the bathroom light to warm up.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
May 152008
 

When Henry and I arrived at Club Zoo last night, one of the doormen cracked a big smile and called out, “Hey! How ya doin’, buddy?” in Henry’s face. Henry has no friends, so of course I was a little suspicious. And amazed. I whispered, “How do you know him?” After puffing out his chest a little and grunting, Henry informed me that they became fast friends at the Chiodos show, when he was outside pouting because there was too much gutteral screaming emanating from within. I wonder what they talked about that night? Bandannas? Judas Priest? Sixteen-year-old girls in tight jeans?

The crowd at this show was a little older than what we’re used to, with only a handful of scene kids scattered in the mix. I pointed this out to Henry, hoping he would feel less sore-thumbish, but he countered with the fact that he still had a good twenty years on the majority of the fans. And he was right. And I laughed.

Henry and I hung out upstairs for awhile, pretending to like each other. Then I got upset because he wouldn’t look at me when I was talking to him. Because I’m ugly, that’s why!

Before long, the opening band, the post-hardcore Pelican, took the stage. I was curious to see them live after hearing some of their stuff over the years, and made sure to remind Henry that they don’t sing, so that I wouldn’t have to field his predictable questions once they started. For the next thirty minutes, the venue was blanketed with the intense droning that could easily be mistaken for murder’s soundtrack, or Armageddon’s dinner bell. It was loud, dramatic, powerful and I loved it. It made me feel a lot of hatred in my heart though. Henry complained at one point that they sounded like a slowed-down Black Sabbath, that he felt like he was on downers, that it all sounded the same.

But Henry is also a thousand years old and really lame.

We went down to the floor after their set to prepare for Circa Survive. “When they come on, can we at least go a little closer?” I begged Henry, who doesn’t like bumping bodies with people half his age. (Though that’s how Chooch was made, oh!)

“You’re going to throw me right into the middle of that crowd, aren’t you?” he grumbled, but obligingly followed me a little closer to the stage.

My view was gloriously unobstructed until halfway through the first Circa Survive song. First, a midget meandered over and stopped a few feet in front of me. Then, his tall female friend with a mushroom-shaped head of blond curls planted herself right in front of me. She looked old from the back, like she was his mother. I kept calling her Penelope Ann Miller, even after she turned around and I learned she was really just a teenager. Some other guy who was with them took her place obscuring my line of sight with his ultra-thick neck and proceeded to drink his water like it was a can of beer. I hated him, too. Times like this call for a sickle.

I was able to see enough to know that Anthony Green was definitely fucked up and I desperately wanted whatever it was he was on. It was like he was possessed up there, he was arching his back, undulating, and throwing up his arms; it was almost like watching someone have sex with air. It’s like his body is going to blow up with emotion. I don’t know how you could stand there and witness that, and still walk away not liking Circa Survive. It just scares me, because every time I’ve seen them, Anthony has seemed so wasted and unpredictable (not always in a good way); the first time I saw them, he spent the majority of the time singing from a supine position on the stage. I just worry that something terrible will inevitably happen. (I’m looking at you too, Jonny Craig.)

My throat closed up as soon as those first words left his mouth, my eyes burned with tears, and I thought I was going to die. I guess this is how fanatical God people feel when they’re doing that gospel shit.

They  mostly did material from their latest album, but when they treated us with songs from Juturna, everyone went crazy. They played two of my favorites, “Great Golden Baby” and “In Fear and Faith,” and my heart felt so battered. I used to hole up in the cemetery and listen to that song over and over back in 2005.

I’m sure Henry enjoyed standing behind me through their set. He still doesn’t like them, but at least he doesn’t hate them anymore. (He doesn’t like Anthony’s voice, at all, and he’s not alone. People either love it or hate it. Personally, it’s like a drug to me.)

When they left the stage, I momentarily yearned to kill myself, and then we hung out by the merch table and made fun of people. I caught Henry texting his work boyfriend, Dave, and I was all, “Ooooooh, Henry’s work boyfriend, Dave!” and it made him angry. I kept trying to see what he was texting, but he shrugged me off and took a few steps away. I’m sure whatever it was, it was spelled wrong.

I think Henry was hoping we could bail after Circa Survive, but I was really anticipating Thrice, too. I’ve liked them for a really long time and have managed to miss them every time they come through Pittsburgh. My kid is essentially named after their drummer, for Christ’s sake. I didn’t think Henry would mind Thrice too much, because their new material is on the mellow side, and even their old stuff is less screamo, more rock.

They started off quietly, softly; I’m sure Henry was thinking, “This isn’t too bad. It’s ok,” but then it was like BAM! Bright orange lights flashed on and the band just fucking exploded. It was INCREDIBLE. Their guitarist, Teppei, is one of the most talented and distinctive guitarists ever. They kept a good balance between new and old, mellow and heavy, but the highlights for me was definitely when they pummeled through material from their album The Artist In the Ambulance. That album helped me block out a lot of idiocy when I was working at Weiss Meats.

Toward the end of their set, a young boy ran up to me and very excitedly whispered in my face. He had his hood up over his head and I’m pretty sure he was high. It really freaked me out because:

  • I don’t like it when strangers talk to me
  • What if he had a bomb in his backpack?
  • I felt like he was going to stab me
  • Or OD at my feet
  • I’m pretty sure he was like, 12

Evidently, what he was saying was, “I’m hiding!” because before he had the chance to repeat it a third time, security swooped in and chased him out the door. I have no idea what he did, but I’m glad he didn’t get the chance to involve me further.

The show ended shortly after that potentially dangerous episode. We walked past Henry’s doorman friend on the way out, and he was all, “Hey! Have a good night, buddy!” and Henry smiled all big and goofily and stammered, “You too.” I allowed us to get a few feet out of earshot before I started teasing him.

“Stop it! This is why I don’t have friends, because you get so annoying.”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Apr 232008
 

 

The thought of the zoo usually brings to mind smiling families, ice cream stands, fluffy animals, and tasty pizza; but then I get there and remember that really it’s full of screaming kids, air that’s heavy with fecal fumes, asshole mothers carting around wagonfuls of screaming kids, exhibits blocked by screaming kids, screaming kids in buses, screaming kids wearing  matching school district t-shirts, restroom entrances flanked by screaming kids, moms in ill-fitted jeans screaming at the screaming kids, balding dads blocking out the screaming kids by fantasizing of beer and slutty babysitters. Oh, and old people. Old people on foot; old people on tram, old people in motorized wheelchairs running over screaming kids and old people on foot.

Let me break down my zoo jaunt for you:

Car ride: Are we there yet, are we there yet.

<20 minutes: Oh my god animals look at the tigers oh my god ice cream oooh Dippin’ Dots!

<30 minutes: I’m bored. I’m hungry. I’m bored. I’m hungry. Ew, it smells.

<45 minutes:  When are we leaving?

The worst thing for me is how predictable it is. I know that around that bend is the monkey house. I know the kimodo dragon won’t be out. I know I will hate everyone there. I know I will have to restrain myself from punting kids over fences. I know I’ll be disappointed by the food at the cafeteria and I know that Henry will act shocked at how expensive everything is.

Maybe the zoo can change some shit up, create a theme. Like, maybe The Zoo Takes Harlem. So instead of feigning astonishment and adoping a face full of wonder when I witness the requisite elephant-takes-a-dump scene, perhaps my reaction would be genuine if I stumbled upon the elephants warming themselves in a front of a garbage can fire with a cluster of hobos. Perhaps the zebras could throw some dice in an alley with some inner city kids, maybe the monkeys could smoke some crack under a bridge. I’d love to see the bears and the ostriches in a gang war.

Maybe schedule some human sacrifices. I volunteer the albinos. Who would really miss a few hundred albinos per season anyway, am I right Pittsburgh Zoo?

Chooch was mainly interested in the other children. "Yeah, but look at the LION," I would say, but he would laugh and point at the kids around him, thinking they were there for his amusement. Wait, I guess he really is a lot like me.

 

 

At the polar bear exhibit, some little mother fucker squeezed out the last bit of juice from a juice box and then tossed it onto the ground. I was appalled. I vocalized my disgust by scraping sound off my throat and scowled at him and his asshole mother as they walked away. I wanted to say something, shove my fist through their faces, make a citizens arrest.

"He’s like, six years old," Henry pointed out, concerned that I was considering physical punishment.  I didn’t care! Littering is littering and his vagina-faced mother is allowing him to ruin MY WORLD.

 

 

We ran into them again before we left, in the reptile house, where I noticed that his t-shirt said, "Make pizza, not war." Making sure the little littering asshole was within earshot, I said smugly to Henry, "I want to make him a shirt that says ‘Empty juice boxes go in the garbage can, not on the ground.’" Henry rolled his eyes and continued along with Chooch.

The next thing I knew, the asshole’s equally assholey mother came barrelling around a corner, shouting, "Bram! Bram!" Her miniature litterer broke through a crowd of kids, tears streaming down his face — and in those tears my vindication manifested — and he ran into his mother’s arms.

"That’s what happens to kids who litter," I said loudly to Henry. "They get LOST." Henry told me to drop it, but I wasn’t done gloating. And it figures his name is Bram. Bram. Ha! I scoff at you, Bram.

Our last stop was the Dippin’ Dots stand, where we shared a dish of banana split freeze-dried balls of ice cream that cost FOUR DOLLARS PLUS TAX. Fuck you, zoo. It’s freezer-burnt ice cream crumbs, for Christ’s sake. As we were finishing, a partially-crippled woman sat down at the other end of our picnic table. We got up to leave and I said to Henry, "I hope she doesn’t think we left because she’s degenerate." I was actually concerned about someone’s feelings for once!

"I would never leave just because someone sat down beside me. Unless it was you," Henry said. And then we left.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Apr 112008
 

Last night I needed a short break from my loneliness, so I went outside and called Christina. While on the phone, a car crept into the lot. The headlights were suspiciously out. It only took me .3 seconds to yell, "Oh my god, DRIVE BY!" into the phone before taking off like a cartoon blur. It could have been gang initiation or something. I could have died so some asshole could become a Crip.

Once inside, I lingered in the hallway by the guard station. The loading dock door was open, and I saw the shady car pull into a spot up front. The lesbian security guard saw me huffing and holding my hand over my chest and she laughed at me because it was just one of the cleaning people.

But like that’s any better! There’s a new person on the cleaning staff and he appears to be straight out of the Pen. Last night, as he emptied my garbage can, as he lifted that garbage can with the same hands that maybe have garroted a hooker or stabbed a dealer, I politely thanked him. He grunted at me. GRUNTED at me. You know I whimpered audibly. 

Bob replied to my frantic email today and said the new cleaning guy is probably going to abduct me Buffalo Bill-style and now I’m full of fear and paranoia. Thank you, Bobby!

I guess it won’t matter that I’m all alone here at night once I’m DEAD. Because I doubt Eleanore will hear my screams over top of her coupon-cutting frenzy. Where’s Tina when you need her, you know?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
Apr 072008
 

Henry and I took Chooch to Round Hill Park yesterday since the sky took a day off from blanketing us with seasonal depression. We let Janna come too, because sometimes we try to make her feel included. Plus, I knew she’d keep an eye on Chooch so I could take stupid pictures with my Holga. Probably, everyone there thought she was the mother, and that’s OK. Probably embarrassing for Chooch though.

On the way out there, I sat in the back with Chooch (he freaks out if anyone else does) and played Backseat DJ. Then, forgetting that Henry had just adhered one of those lame pull-down sun shades on both backseat windows, I put the window down and the bottom suction cup is now lost inside the car door and the window got stuck in the down position, causing Henry to pull over and manually yank it up and seethe, "Do not touch the window!!!" because now the window is broken. I denied that it was my fault. I’m still denying it. It wasn’t my fault.

Continuing our slow cruise around the winding park roads, I told Henry to pick a sublime pavilion. Leaning forward between the seats, I asked, "Do you know what sublime means, Henry?" and he scoffed to show that I had really insulted him. Passing by well-maintained picnic plots with sparkling swingsets and bright yellow slides, we stopped at a really sad pavilion with splintered picnic tables and a depressed swing set, proving that Henry really doesn’t know what sublime means. We then tried to accomplish one of those picnic things that normal people are wont to do, but we usually fail and wind up eating bitter words and break-up threats instead. Then I made the mistake of complaining that Henry put yucky stuff on my sandwich, so now he claims I’m going to have to start doing everything for myself, but he was just trying to look tough in front of Janna. Chooch threw most of his food over his shoulder, and I flicked the unfavorable portions of my sandwich underneath the table (except for the cookies which Chooch and I were enthusiastic about) and then we proceeded to the petting farm portion of the park.

I don’t know why I get so excited to come here. Maybe I’m secretly hoping that one of the hens will lay a golden egg full of crack cocaine while I’m visiting, or that I’ll get to see a kid get its hand bitten off by a dragon, but it’s always the same thing: bitchy hens, a feral cat, petrified duck shit, stinky hogs, and lots of shitty mothers with organic cookies and condescending sticks up their mom-jeaned asses.

While Janna held my son’s hand and taught him things like, "The sheeps go BAAA" (which is probably good to balance out my serial killer teachings), me and some other kids took pictures with our plastic cameras. Mine will probably be much better than theirs, because kids suck and I rule.

Chooch liked the pigs best, probably because their snorting and grunting reminded him of his oft-slumbering father. They smelled like him too. Janna made sure Chooch bathed in Purell on the way out of the pig pen.

While checking out the cows, I left Henry’s side for a SECOND to take a picture. In that short amount of time, some whorish mother with a nasally voice and ugly kids sidled up next to Henry. Her stupid kid was like, "MOMMY IS THAT COW A BOY OR A GIRL???" and she was all, "Oh I don’t know. It has horns. Do girl cows have horns?" She looked at Henry innocently, crinkling her slutty nose and punctuating her flighty inquiry with sex-glazed giggles.

Henry was all, "Oh my God, a real life broad is talking to me," to himself, and after flexing his muscles and rippling his poorly executed tattoos, he disguised his voice to sound like a real man and said, "Why I don’t know, let’s ask my dickie, he has the answers to everything," and then he pulled out his dick and wagged it around like a limp pinkie and the two of them giggled together like two fucking assholes and I want to murder that dumb douche now (both of them).

Really, Henry said nothing at all because he went into shock at the idea of another woman acknowledging him, and I took that as my cue to attach myself to Henry’s side and shout, "HEY, HOW’S IT GOING WITH THE AIDS?" so that she would fuck off and die. Then after she left I said, "Ew" and quickly took five giant steps away from Henry.

Meanwhile, Chooch — who thought that the other kids there were part of the attraction — kept trying to poke some little girl in the butt and then got all excited because her jacket was pink satin with a glittery Barbie patch on it and the girl’s parents were laughing and I kind of died a little and started whispering things about King Kong, tits, and machine guns in his ear because I might kill myself if he develops a Barbie fetish. And not even because of that whole "Boys should like trucks and blood and shooting and killing!!" bullshit, but because Barbie is really fucking stupid.

Over by the duck pond, some frizzy-haired douche-mom scolded me for letting Chooch come close to touching baked duck poop that was coating one of the benches and it was totally Henry’s fault because when I saw it, I asked, "Is that duck poop?" and Henry sounded very positive when he assured me it was a very sanitary natural bench cushion made of nature’s love and children’s giggles, and then he immersed himself in fiddling with the camera because he thinks he’s a professional photographer or something.

Then I realized that Round Hill is really fucking gay and we left.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: