You guys get to enjoy (pretend for me, please) a vintage LiveJournal post because I have been working on the second county fair photo book and those things melt my brain and sear my contacts to my eyeballs. I’m not very good with tedium.
For the record, I have been waiting all week for Henry to make good on his Valentine promise, which was to finally finish answering those questions for my blog, but after 11 years, I’ve grown accustomed to what a broken promise feels like. Not that I’m bitter or anything. I mean, I only BAKED HIM A CAKE.
(originally posted June 2007)
Everyday, I like to give myself challenges. Nothing too ridiculous though, like donating to charity or smiling at babies, but moderately attainable goals such as holding the door open for Tina, making a sandwich all by myself, picking up after Chooch rather than leave it for Henry. I mean, this is all on top of maintaining fresh and tight rhymes, which is an every day thing.
(Oh I hear all ya’ll hatas, talking yo’ shit. “This bitch ain’t writin’ no rhymes” — I write raps like nuns finger bang.
That is to say, religiously. Walk it out.)
Yesterday’s challenge was keeping up the facade of a happy family dynamic while lunching at Eat n Park. I did a little self-kicking after choosing this one, because faking a healthy camaraderie in a public atmosphere isn’t one of my strong points. But I reminded myself that this is why it’s a challenge, you see.
After we were served our beverages, my mission began to look grim as Henry launched into mindless blathering, using his hushed Restaurant Voice because he’s convinced that every asshole gives a shit about his feelings and thoughts on very important matters like running out of diapers and paying the electric bill. And of course there’s the confidential job dissertation. “Everfresh, Faygo, Faygo Faygofaygofaygo, Everfresh, Red Pop….” OK, I get it, I got it, Henry. You work for a beverage company.
Could I possibly endure an entire meal, watching his mustache bristle as he masticated his cheese steak? Could I restrain myself from meat-fisting him square in the jaw and choking him on his own eyeballs?
And then two angels sent from God Himself arrived and were seated in the booth next to us. It didn’t take long at all for me to realize that they would serve as the best form of distraction — the ridiculous “Is this shit for real?” kind.
When the waitress shuffled over to take their drink order, the woman facing me announced loudly that she would like to be enjoying a glass of ice water, go easy on the ice though and that her friend prefers an ice tea, NO ICE!, please bring the ice in a separate glass on the side!
It was that moment that what very well may be one of the biggest decisions of my life was made: I’m going to start ordering for Janna every time we dine out.
I noticed that the skimpy ice woman, who was clearly the harbinger of this pairing, spoke for her friend every time the waitress came back. I thought maybe her friend was mute or retarded, but it turned out she was just being oppressed.
“Don’t tell anyone I told you this, but did you hear that the President has ordered all the doctors in America to kill the Baby Boomers? Oh, yeah. He did. And also the senior citizens, too. You know, three of my kids are Baby Boomers. I told my son and of course he wanted me to tell him how I found out but I told him, I says to him, ‘Boy I can’t tell you, you know that!’ and then I told him he better not let them give him any more shock treatment*. The pills should be enough, you know?”
*(This is not an embellishment.)
Henry and I exchanged wide-eyed glances and then he hunkered down in quiet laughter, leaving me exposed. She looked right at me several times, but this woman was too deluded to realize that I was blatantly laughing at her.
Even when she acknowledged Chooch, it wasn’t with the rosy-cheeked smile of America’s favorite flour-dusted apron-wearing grandmothers, but more of a matter-of-fact bob of her gray-curled head and a firm “Yes yes, hello to you too, sir” like she was brusquely addressing a door-to-door salesman and not a smiling baby eating strawberries at a nearby table. This was not the kind of woman who would serve up sugar cookies and biscuits with marmalade, but more so the type of woman who might purposely mistake a can of Fancy Feast for her Dinty Moore stew every now and again. But really, who doesn’t do that?
When she would pause to sip from her not-too-much-ice water, the table would fall silent; her friend not daring to contribute much probably for fear of saying the wrong thing and having her friend alert the President that she has a senior citizen primed and ready to be snuffed.
In what I mistook for a moment of clarity, Crazy began regaling her silent friend with an update of who I guessed to be her granddaughter. “…and the commencement ceremony is next Thursday, so I had to go out and buy a dress…” A winded description of her dress followed and I lost interest about as fast I do with crushes, so I actually paid a little attention to my kid, can you imagine?
My ears perked again, though, when I heard Crazy casually extend an invitation to her friend. You know, if I was graduating from somewhere, I would really appreciate if my derailed granny brought along all of her fellow nursing home escapees, too.
Why do I have a feeling that this isn’t an academic commencement, but more along the lines of “My granddaughter’s being released from the hospital next week after recovering from her botched suicide attempt, let’s all drink Pine-Sol spritzers and commence!”
Still unable to hear her friend, I didn’t know if she said yay or nay until Crazy retorted with a very agitated, “Oh. I was hoping you would say no because I don’t have any room in the car.” I felt proud to realize that this is the same way I treat my friends, too! It’s nice to know my Crazy Car is puttering down the right path.
As we were getting ready to leave, I overheard her fussing about the tip. “I’m taking this seven cents off the tip. She was a dummy.”
I walked home with a smile, finally knowing the kind of woman whose wrinkled skin I strive to grow into, and feeling good about winning another challenge. For the casual observer, Henry and I appeared to be exchanging loving glances and coy smiles and smirks, like we were in love or something equally as far-fetched, when really we were enveloped in a WTF cloud and growing delirious off the wacky fumes. What the hell, it counts. I think I was mean to Henry again as soon as we walked through the front door, but the statute of limitations had expired by that point.
I hope Henry shrivels into this brand of mentally-razzed prune. I can already adoringly picture him waxing nostalgic about the days when he fought in a fake war with the Air Force. But people will probably think all of his talk about the Thai prostitutes is the part that’s made up. Only we’ll know the truth.