God’s Mistake

I’ve always been taught that God makes no mistakes.  That whomever you are, whatever your condition, your lot in life,  what you have, don’t have etc…this was all God’s plan.  We were made in his image and therefore unmistakably perfect.  Well, I just found one little flaw in this theory; an anatomical mistake that God, Allah, mother nature, the universe or whatever crap you believe in overlooked in the grand design of the human body.

But before I let you in on that little discovery, I need to back up a bit and give you some background so you can understand how I figured this out.  If you know me… you know this, if you’ve read my blog… you know this, if neither of these apply to you, then I’ll just tell you:  I’m crazy.  Not the straight jacket, institutionalized kind of crazy.  Not that I wouldn’t mind a few days in the mental ward, the rest alone would do me wonders.  I’m quite jealous of celebrities that get to check into the hospital for “exhaustion.” How the fuck do you get to do that anyway?  Do you think if I rolled myself into the ER and said, “Y’all!  Check me in STAT- I’m exhausted!” that they would?  As greedy as big medicine and insurance companies are, I think not.  They’d probably tell me what I just tell myself all the time and probably what the celebrities need to be told as well, “If you’re tired, get some fucking rest.”

Its also not the doomsday prepper, Ruby Ridge, militia making, manifesto writing kind of crazy either.  That is, unless you call this blog my manifesto.  Perhaps it is, but I don’t think it quite measures up to all the great manifesto writers of our time like, I don’t know, Karl Marx or the Unibomber.  With all the whining my “manifesto” is filled with about my folks divorce, alcoholism, the cult, laundry, the fucking elf on the shelf- I’m pretty sure the Unibomber would look down his hooded little, bespectacled nose at my manifesto in disgust.  I mean really, I haven’t included any of the top manifesto topics like big government, conspiracy theories, the apocalypse, or how women should know their place.  One more thing to add to my list of failures:  poor manifesto writing.

Its my own special crazy or I guess just the regular kind- I don’t know… I’m not a psychiatrist, asshole.  Yes, I know there are millions more like me out there- but can you just let me feel special about one fucking thing here?  For the love of Pete, I’m asking for my own special kind of crazy- I don’t think anyone is going to wrestle me to the ground for the title of “craziest.”  So get off my back already. I’m not going to share all the gory details but let’s just say, my crazy includes bouts of deep depression that I expertly hide behind a lot of smiles, jokes, sarcasm and general gaiety.  I figure my “gift” is to use my misery to amuse others- done and done.

Anyhoo, being depressed is a pretty shitty place to be and I’ll try anything to get out of that black hole.  I’ve tried all the “tips” they give on the good old world wide web for curing the blues- well and the ones they tell you not to do too…pills, drinking, drugs, holistic healing, sex, prayer, massage, yoga, exercise…you name it, I’ve done it.

Recently, I went for my second Qigong massage.  If you’re not familiar- as I’m sure most of you are not- Qigong massage works with your meridian lines (whatever the fuck those are) through the use of pulsating acupuncture points and massage.  It releases all negative energy from your body and the effects last for weeks.  (I know it sounds like flake city- but it works, so you can go suck it.)  The first time I did it, I was completely blown away.  Its a powerfully emotional experience, most people will cry during the session and then boom- he somehow lifts all of that negativity away and you slip into an almost trance like relaxation.  (again- I know its sounds like total bullshit- but you can, again, go suck it).

At my most recent session, as he gathered my negative energy I found myself literally crying right there on the massage parlour table.  Tears were streaming down my face as he whispered in my ear and gathered the negative energy through the lightest of touches.  And guess what, I figured out God’s anatomical mistake.  When you’re laying down flat and crying, your tears stream directly into your ears.  Its quite uncomfortable if you’re trying to achieve your zen like trance, because all you want to do is interrupt his magical massage and say, “Can you hold on a minute while I get the tears out of my ears?”  So this time, I was so focused on the itchy, wetness in my ears that I couldn’t fully concentrate on the massage.  Argh…I can’t do shit!

So there you have it.  The big mistake is that your tears roll from your eyes directly into your ears.  I know, when you read the title you were expecting something way deeper, way more controversial.  But, what can I say?  I still believe the spirit in the sky doesn’t make many mistakes- but I think I got him or her- its probably trans-gender- on this one.

BTW- just in case all that shit the cult teaches is real…big ups to God.

Life Lessons

My father has always been under the impression that everyone else in the world is getting older except him.  That he is invincible and will live forever.  He runs everyday, swims in the summer, drinks like a fish, travels the world and lives life to its fullest.  I want nothing more than to feel the same way throughout my life.  He is approaching his 80th birthday and old age is finally beginning to rear its ugly, age spotted, gray haired bald head.  Nothing really horrible, just forgetfulness from time to time, the occasional unsteadiness on his feet, high blood pressure, low blood pressure, old people smell…you know, old people shit.

He’s had a few health problems as of late and went in for a check up a week or so ago.  The doctor took a blood test and told him to lay off  “the alcohol” for a week until the test came back.  Well, everything is looking hunky dory, and the doctor gave him the go ahead to “go back on the alcohol.”  However, he suggested he cut back his evening drinks from 3 shots of alcohol per drink to 2 shots per drink.  Btw, one drink for my dad is the equivalent of 4 for any normal person- if you’ve read this blog before, you’ll remember- he’s a professional.

So, after he told me the doctor’s “suggestions” regarding his alcohol intake I asked him if he was having a drink.  It was almost 9pm- an absolutely acceptable time.  Remember, he’s a professional, he doesn’t drink during the day- he has rules (alcoholics do not have rules, professionals do), 9pm is the magic hour- and then he only has TWO drinks.  Ahem- like I said two is the equivalent of four.  Anyhoo, when I asked if he was drinking he said, “Well, yeah.” (as if I’m an idiot) “But, its just wine- not whiskey or anything.  Wine is like juice.  It doesn’t do anything.  I’m only having 3 or 4 glasses.”  I love it- “WINE IS LIKE JUICE.”  Technically, he’s right- its grape juice- only fermented.  And isn’t 4 glasses the whole bottle?  But, who am I to tell an 80 year old man to part with his best friend?  Hell hath no fury like an 80 year old (or a toddler) who’s had his JUICE taken away.

This got me thinking of all the wise advice my parents have given me throughout the years.  Drugs are pretty much straight forward, don’t do them.  After all, my mother told me, “Marijuana killed Judy Garland.”  Well, if Mary Jane is what killed Dorothy then I definitely wanted to stay as far from that as possible.  My parents pretty much missed the 60’s entirely, being busy raising little ones of their own at that time.  So I don’t think she ever understood the difference between a joint and, I don’t know, shit like heroine, cocaine, prescription drug abuse…but whatevs.

She would also remind me every time I left the house on a foggy night, “Be careful, remember how Jayne Mansfield died.”  WTF?  First of all, Jayne Mansfield was a star about a million years before I was born and how the hell am I supposed to know how she died???  I’m pretty sure most of you are unaware as well.  So fyi, in case you’re ever on Jeopardy or something, on a foggy night her car went under a truck and she was decapitated.  Got it, Mom.  (Btw, I haven’t fact checked that- I’m just trusting that she knows her shit.)  Now, every time I see fog all I can think of is Jayne Mansfield’s decapitated corpse- yay- happy thoughts!  But, I digress.

Of course, my Dad was the expert on advice for alcohol or more like friendly suggestions.  I remember very vividly when Tylenol began coming in child proof bottles, I was about 8 and his “go to” for opening that shit.  One time in particular, as I popped the bottle for him, he told me (again I’m 8), “if you ever drink too much, just take two Tylenol before you go to bed and you won’t have a hangover.”  Good to know, Dad.  I followed this sage advice all throughout college.  That is until they figured out that- oopsy daisy- you could die of sudden liver damage by combining those two things.  Thanks, Dad!

My other favorite piece of advice from dear old dad is regarding drinking and driving.  Now to his credit, his story has changed as he has aged and he will NEVER drive after even one drink now and will not allow me to either.  But, as a kid, I really can’t remember a time when I didn’t have to kick beer cans out of the way to climb in the back seat of his mid-life crisis sports car. One time we were weaving down the road and were pulled over by our local Barney Fife and he asked him, “Sir, have you been drinking?”  Always the honest man, he said yes.  There my sister and I were, bouncing around the back seat, no seat belts and surrounded by empty beer cans and all the officer said was, “Well, I suggest you be careful and get those girls home right away.”  Thanks, officer!  For you youngins, it was the 70’s and they didn’t really take all that shit seriously.

In high school he told me a full proof way of getting out of a drunken driving arrest.  No matter that the legal drinking age was 21 and I was in high school- he is a realist so I guess he was trying to be helpful.  His advice went something like this, “Act real innocent and just tell the officer, ‘Oh my!  I never drink.  I just left the company party and they must’ve had something in the punch!'”  Yeah, I know you’re shaking your head, so am I.

A really great piece of advice they both gave me, and I mean this in all seriousness, was to major in something I loved in college- because once you get into the real world, unless you’re going to be a doctor or rocket scientist or something- nobody is going to give a shit what you studied or how well you did.  You should study hard but have fun, because the real world is a bitch.  I’ve been quite successful in my career and it wasn’t until just the past couple of years that the folks I work for figured out I majored in Theatre.  See, people don’t even read that little “education” part on your resume- its all the other bullshit you put at the beginning that matters.  Having majored in Theatre and had no jobs related to my field of study, I know, my friends, that this is advice you can take to the bank!

Watching them both, I learned that you have to let shit go, NOT CARE WHAT ANYONE ELSE THINKS, and go for it no matter what.  They didn’t always demonstrate these qualities, sometimes they did- but they showed me in their joy and their sorrows that life is meant to be lived….the best lesson of all.

And fuck, I just read that last paragraph- it sounds like they’re dead.  No…rest assured, they are alive and well and still giving me “awesome” advice all the time.  I’ll be sure to share it with you another time.

What will my children say?

If you’re a loyal reader or are new to my blog, you’ll find that I talk a lot about my parents, their shortcomings, their divorce, their impact on my psychosis- you know the usual crap we’re all dealing with.  You’ll also know that I know, even though they drove me and continue to drive me bat shit crazy, that they love me.  Since I started a few months ago, I’ve had friends ask me on more than one occasion, “what do you think your kids will be blogging about you?”  Yikes!  I’m sure it will be filled with things like, “yeah, she sure yelled a lot” and “that woman could put away some vodka” and “all the cuss words I know I learned from dear old mom” or “she wasn’t real good at filing”.  I can only hope they remember that despite the yelling, drinking, cussing and paper piling bullshit, they will also remember how much I love them.

The one image I hold in my mind of my mother is of her asleep on the couch.  The woman was depressed, beyond depressed and downright tired ALL THE TIME.  She was always “resting her eyes” on the couch.  I am quite certain that when my children look back, their mental image of me will be of me standing in front of the dryer, folding clothes- because that seems like ALL I DO EVERY SECOND OF MY LIFE!!!  Grant it…I have a full time job, I write this amazing blog, I am an actor, a runner, a Girl Scout Leader, a mom, a wife, Bigfoot Hunter, tv addict, ghost whore, Alien chaser and all around busy gal.  But, that damn laundry basket is NEVER empty.  I mean come on people- if you’ve had something on for less than an hour, fold it up and put it back in the goddamn drawer, for Christ’s sake!

And don’t even get me started on clothes that are inside out.  Why do you have to turn a shirt or socks or underwear or fucking anything all the way inside out to take it off?  I don’t do that- but for some reason everyone in my family seems to think that turning it inside out is the only way to remove clothing from their bodies.  So then I’ve got to not only, wash and dry the flipping clothes, but spend extra time turning them right side out so I can fold them and distribute them to their rightful owners.

Now, I know, I’m a complete idiot when it comes to this whole laundry thing.  As soon as I was tall enough to see over the machine, my mother had me doing my own laundry, her laundry, my sister’s laundry- really anything that needed to be washed.  And my oldest is plenty tall enough to take on this task herself.  But, with all the yelling, drinking, cussing and paper piling I do- I feel like this is one of the few ways I can show my children I really love them.  (I know, I just looked back and read that- and I’m a total lunatic- one day my kids are certain to say, “yeah, mom was a total bitch, but I know she loved me because she did the laundry”).  Ahhh….my head is hurting from my eyes rolling so far back in my head.

And with all my talk about laundry, you’d think I’d have the whitest whites, all our sheets would be pressed and every drawer neatly organized.  Boy, are you a dumb ass!  I don’t treat stains unless it is on my own clothing.  I figure if you’re not smart enough to either point it out to me as I’m putting it in the machine (not two days before when it happens) or better yet- DO IT YOURSELF, then I’m not treating it.  You can live with that stain on your clothes for the rest of your life.  A scarlet letter of what a sloppy eater you are for all the world to see.

Secondly, if you’re pressing your sheets, you are wasting your life.  Please just fold that shit up and shove it in the linen closet like the rest of us lazy asses.  You’re going to lay down on it to sleep, why the fuck do you need to iron it?  I find once I stretch it out over the mattress, the wrinkles pretty much take care of themselves. Furthermore, you’re going to put a comforter or blanket or something over them- so even if someone does mosey through your room- they will not be aghast at your wrinkly bed sheets- because they won’t fucking see them, asshole.

And lastly, everyone in this family has way too many clothes.  And despite all my good intentions of cleaning out the closets and drawers with each season to update our wardrobes for the appropriate weather (like Martha Stewart tells me to do)- let’s get real here- that’s never going to happen.  So I basically just keep shoving shit in until either the drawer breaks- or I have a mental break down because I can’t close the fucking drawer anymore.  Then I’ll start flinging shit out of the drawer, cussing with every shirt, sock, and worn out, pilly bra I come across until its complete- I’m organized for at least 2 days- or the next load of laundry gets done.

Ok- so this post started out as some kind of altruistic, introspection of who I am and how I want my children to remember me.  And it turned it to a rant about laundry.  My kids are so fucked.

Reflections

As the new year approaches, I feel the need to reflect on 2013.  At least that’s what Facebook told me to do and according to Mark Zuckerberg the highlights of this year included a lot of drinking and dragging my kids from place to place.  Yay me!  Carrying on the family tradition of drunk parenting.  Humph.  I hate you Facebook.

In all honesty, its been a very good year for me, I created my own position within the company I’ve worked for for 13 years, started performing again in a most fulfilling way, continued to hone my improv skills, reconnected with lots of old, positive friends, made new friends that support me in a meaningful way and started writing seriously again.  And yet despite all that I’ve accomplished and all I have to look forward to in 2014, the terrible monster inside me that tells me I’m not good enough is still lurking inside.  A friend of mine told me he calls his Carl.  I’ve decided to call mine Nancy, as in Negative Nancy.

Nancy is a real bitch.  She is constantly telling me I’m not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough, not wealthy enough, not thin enough, not anything enough!  Despite many great triumphs this year, she is harping inside me that this is all a facade and that everyone will figure out I’m really just a scared 14 year old girl who doesn’t know what the fuck she’s doing.  And Nancy is right.  Most of the time, I’m totally faking it.  I don’t know what’s going on, I don’t feel confident, I don’t feel good enough, I’m heavier than I should be, I’m don’t manage money well, I can hardly manage my day to day life….but if I just keep telling Nancy to go fuck herself long enough to get through whatever it is, then things are okay.

Nancy has been with me my whole life. Not in that fucked up Sybil multiple personality kind of way, but you know, the regular fucked up way.  I grew up in one of the wealthiest counties in the US and we were far from being anywhere close to the median income.  Thus Nancy started out very early in life comparing everything about me to everyone else.  My parents were the first of anyone I knew to divorce.  Nancy made sure I knew what a freak I was about this and used every opportunity to point out whenever another parent would look at me with pity.  If there is one thing I despise most it is pity.  I’m strong, I stick up for myself and even though I may end up in the fetal position crying my eyes out from time to time for no apparent reason, I don’t want to be pitied.

Nancy whispers into my ear all the time that everyone I know is having a “let’s have fun without Amanda party.”  And she’s right.  I’m sure there’s a party going on right now somewhere, where everyone is toasting and yucking it up over how much fun they’re having simply BECAUSE I’m not there.  You sons of bitches- if I ever walk in on one of these parties- well I don’t know what I’ll do- but the party will definitely be over, because…well, I’ll be there and then what’s the point of the party?  So there.

Nancy second guesses every compliment I ever receive.  Now, I do have some manners.  I know that when someone gives you a compliment you should just say, “thank you.” But inside, Nancy is telling me they don’t really mean it, they’re just saying it to be nice, they really just feel sorry for you and what a fool you are.  Fuck you Nancy!  Why can’t I just receive a compliment and enjoy it?

Nancy is even looking back at me every time I look in the mirror.  She is sure to point out every imperfection.  She especially likes to turn the mirror to the magnifying side so I can get a real close up look.  Ahhh..I’d never noticed that one little black hair that’s growing out of the wrong place on my face, or those fine lines beginning to form around my mouth and eyes, or the black heads that go unnoticed by everyone else, but in that magnified mirror, well they’re like the goddamn Alps.  She sees every dimple in my thighs, every stretch mark, every scar, every new spot (my mother calls them age spots- I like to think I’m just super hip and am developing a leopard print on my face- because, ya know, leopard print really never goes out of style).

2013 is the first year that I made a New Year’s resolution and actually stuck to it.  Now, it wasn’t very hard, but at least I accomplished it.  I ate on the fine china every goddamn day of 2013.  And even though Nancy was against it from the get go, she did not win!  I’ve even become a bit superstitious about it.  If I have something extra special happening that day, I make sure I eat off the fine china or I fear things may not go so well.

I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to fully kick Nancy’s ass.  I’m pretty sure she was born with a black belt, nunchucks, and chinese throwing stars.  But, I’m going to try very hard in 2014 to ignore her nasty comments, to tell her to go fuck herself everyday, to tell her she’s the one with the complex and to evict her from my head.  They (whoever “they” are) always say you should make resolutions that are attainable to achieve a sense of accomplishment.  I’m pretty sure Nancy will be with me to the grave, but if I can just learn to duct tape her ugly little mouth shut more often- well I’ll take that as a success.

Elf on the Shelf

Disclaimer:  If you think the “Elf on the Shelf”  is the greatest thing since sliced bread- then beat it sucker- this post ain’t for you.  If you’re a relatively new parent and considering purchasing an Elf on the Shelf- then let this post serve as fair warning.  And for those of you like me that have stuff to do, I don’t know, like earn a living…you’ll appreciate this (I hope).

It all started out so innocently about 7 years ago.  My eldest was a lonely only and just 3 years old.  I was still bathed in the hope that I could be the mother I always longed to have; create cute family traditions, wear an apron and greet my children with cookies and milk when they got home from school.  Ahh…what a fool I was.  I don’t know why I thought the fact that a child had grown in my womb would somehow change my crass and cynical personality.  But, when your little one is still just being naughty by not eating her peas, or saying no all the time, you somehow think you can still achieve the unattainable.

The most wonderful time of the year was swiftly approaching and I was starting to feel the anxiety of creating the best Norman Rockwell holiday season for my small family.  My boss lady/dear friend and I were having lunch at a beautiful gourmet restaurant, surrounded by the city’s most fashionable.  I was telling her of the trials and tribulations of the terrible 3’s (the terrible twos are just a myth- created by someone who couldn’t find some good alliteration to go with the number 3).  And then she so kindly offered some friendly advice that she had just learned of from a friend of hers:  The Elf on the Shelf!  It was the latest and greatest parenting tool that you could only find in the most elite boutiques.  The Elf would magically appear just after Thanksgiving and then keep an eye on your little ones and report back to Santa.  An easy peasy way of getting your little ones to behave- right?  Wrong!!  Mind you, she’d never done this with her own child, who was practically grown at this point, so she was blind to the terrible horrors she was about to unleash into my life.

For those of you unfamiliar with this little demon spawn, let me explain.  You (the parent) are supposed to read a cutey patootie booksie about a cutey patootie elfie that the jolly fat guy himself has somehow sent to your house – but don’t tell your friends because they might not be as special as you and have their own private elf.  Each night after your little one is so sweetly tucked into bed… after fifteen trips to the bathroom, 47 bedtime stories and 75 billion other excuses for not sleeping….you’re supposed to REMEMBER to go move the fucking elf to a different location.  Then, oh what fun, when they wake up each morning they get to search the house to find this little motherfucker hanging out somewhere.

Well, soon word began to spread, the elf was no longer available exclusively in high end boutiques.  Every fucking card shop, drug store and convenience store was selling these little shitbirds.  And soon, moving the little fucker- which I could barely remember to do anyway, was no longer good enough.  Pictures were popping up on Facebook with the elf getting into mischief, eating cookies and spilling milk, taking a shit on the toilet, or tearing up long rolls of toilet paper.  What the fuck??  I thought this little shit was supposed to make my kids behave by reporting back to Santa- not SHOW my kids how to misbehave.  And besides all that, I can barely remember to move the blessed thing each night to a new location- much less give him creative activities.  You know who has to clean that shit up??  Me- that’s who!!  Like I need one more thing to do in my life.

And how many times, have my children asked forlornly, “Look mommy, the elf is in the same place as yesterday. Do you think he forgot to go see Santa?”  The answer is too many to count.  Fuck- knife to my heart- just one more item to add to my long list of parenting failures.  “Oh no, sweetheart, I think he just found that spot so comfy he decided to go back to the same place.”  Yeah, they only buy that lie one time- but when you’ve forgotten for 3 or more nights in a row, well let’s just say the magic starts to wear off.  Even they stop looking for him- the bastard.

Now, I know, I have a lot of very talented friends.  They love to post cute things their little elf is doing around the house on Pinterest and Facebook.  Some of them even find time to move the little motherfucker several times a day.  I’m happy for them that they get such a kick out of tricking their children and creating more work for themselves.  But, stop making the rest of us losers feel bad.

And on top of it all, I’m now hearing that having one elf is not good enough.  Oh no…-you must have an elf for each of your children so they can take it with them when they’re grown and shove this beautiful, consumer-driven tradition down the throats of their own little ones.

Today is the day after Thanksgiving, and I’m going to have to have that little shit show up sooner or later.  I look forward to the days when my children can look back and laugh- or perhaps they’ll just be crying in therapy.  Either way, at least I won’t have to move the fucking elf anymore.

Locked Out

For the past 10 years, my best girlfriend and I have escaped our families and gone to the mountains.  We eat, drink, smoke, talk, do puzzles, giggle and generally everything we can’t do on a day to day basis.  I know you think “doing puzzles?”  But, if you have small children you know that completing an actual puzzle is a monumental task.  This annual retreat is full of sweat pants and granny panties, no make-up and no cell phones; full on nitty gritty girl time.

We stay in a little cabin in the mountains of SC miles from any kind of real civilization.  The closest place is a gas station about a mile down the road.  Its really more of a convenience store/gas station/hamburger joint with an antique, home furnishing and jewelry department.  The burgers are the greasiest, best burgers you’ve ever tasted.  And since there is no cell reception, they have a nice pay phone outside for convenience.  Its really the only time in my life I ever have an opportunity to use a pay phone anymore- so that’s a nice trip down memory lane…but we’ll save that for later.  The convenience store/gas station/hamburger joint/antique, home furnishing and jewelry store is really one stop shopping for all your mountain needs.  Honestly, the person who came up with this place is a pure genius.  “Yes, I need gas, a beer, some beef jerky, a burger and a shabby chic refurbished chest of drawers.”  Done and done.

Now the clientele are what you might call “mountain folk”.  Let me apologize in advance to any mountain folk who are reading this.  But really, what are the chances?  You can’t get cell reception there- so I’m pretty sure the internet connection ain’t too great either. This is supposed to be a funny story- so keep your moonshine drinking, jug blowing, banjo pickin’ hate mail to yourself- and get a sense of humor already.  (please don’t hurt me)

I’m sure there are many beautiful mountain gals out there, let’s not forget the beautiful Charlene Darling on the Andy Griffith Show.  She could’ve easily taken the crown for Miss Appalachia.  I know she was gaga for Andy- but really, Barney would’ve made a good catch too.  He was young, employed, breathing- what more could a girl ask for?  But alas, I’ve never laid eyes on anyone as good lookin’ as Charlene Darling in this neck of the woods.  So, needless to say, the best part of visiting the gas station/convenience store/hamburger joint/antique, home furnishing and jewelery store is that for a few minutes each year, no matter how bad I look, how fat I am, how much my roots are showing…. I am the prettiest girl in town.

I believe it was our second year on this annual retreat, when the unthinkable happened.  We mustered up the energy to walk the five feet from the bed to the rocking chairs on the porch.  We were still in our pajamas, I had slippers on, she had only her socks, we’d settled in to play cards, drink coffee, smoke ciggies and enjoy the morning.  Eventually, one of us had to go back in to get something and we realized our fatal mistake- we were locked out!

Remember, no cell service, no landline, no keys to the car, no fucking keys to the cabin, a mile from the gas station- SHIT!!  We both decided this qualified as full on EMERGENCY situation. I mean we could die from exposure!! What the fuck were we going to do????  So I had a brilliant idea.  We throw the coffee table through the window.  It seemed like a perfectly logical idea to me, how else would we get in?  But, as she always does, (bless her heart) she talked some sense into me.  And suggested we walk for help.   So we grabbed our smokes and began the mile long walk to the gas station/convenience store/hamburger joint/antique, home furnishing and jewelery store seeking aid.

Now, we had a long rocky dirt road to walk down hill first before we even reached the paved road.  Remember, I had my slippers and she only had socks on.  So we compromised and I gave her one slipper.  Thus, we began our journey with only one slipper on for each of us.  Still in our pajamas, with one slipper on each foot, we casually walked the mile down the country lane with truckers and bikers whizzing past us.  No one seemed to find it unusal that two women would be walking along side this road dressed in pajamas- which by the way also means- NO BRAS- boobs were bouncing all over the place.

On a side note, I’ve known this chica since college.  We were in sorority together.  And anyone who’s ever been in a sorority knows there are certain rules of conduct one must uphold at ALL times- whether you’re in college or not.  There were very specific rules about smoking cigarettes.  Apparently, these rules were written before the whole lung cancer scare began- what a bummer.  Anyway, two of the biggest rules pertaining to cigs were that one should always roll your ashes into an ashtray in a ladylike manner- never tap!  You know, those disgusting women who tap there cigarettes- such trash.  They’re also the same women who wear tank tops with no bras and feather their hair- yuck.  The other rule was to NEVER walk down the street smoking a cigarette.  Honestly, what could be more unladylike then walking and smoking?

Well, she decided having a smoke while we walked seeking aid for our full on EMERGENCY would be a fine idea and offered me one as well.  Always the lady, I politely declined.  And she was all, “what the fuck?”  I gently reminded her that in our sorority a lady never walks down the street smoking.  Again, she talked some sense into me, waving her arms around and said, “Who the fuck are you trying to impress?”  She was right, we were walking down a road in the middle of nowhere, in our pajamas, with no bras, one slipper on each foot…really I don’t know why I thought smoking was going to hurt my reputation.  So smoke it up I did.

We finally reached the gas station/convenience store/hamburger joint/antique, home furnishing and jewelery store and realized we had no money for the pay phone.  There was a Southern Baptist church right next door (sorry I forgot to mention that early- but really who the hell cares).  Again, I apologize in advance to my Southern Baptist friends, but hey, I’m a cradle Catholic and we don’t understand all your jibber jabber.  It was a Sunday and the parking lot was packed.  I thought we would definitely find someone to help us in there.  But, again, always the sensible person- she convinced me that if we went in there they’d be trying to save our souls, laying on of hands, speaking in tongues, handling snakes, baptizing us in giant pools of water- you know everything but helping us get back in the cabin.  And she was right- we had no place in a church that morning.

So we went into the gas station/convenience store/hamburger joint/antique, home furnishing and jewelery store and asked to use the phone.  The teenage boy behind the counter offered us his cell phone.  What??  A cell phone that worked out here in the middle of nowhere?? Apparently, only one carrier had conquered this highly lucrative market.  Being a full on EMERGENCY, we immediately dialed 911.  And then before they answered- hung up.  Because you know, a 911 call coming from a gas station/convenience store/hamburger joint/antique, home furnishing and jewelery store is never suspicious.  So of course, they called back and we had to explain the whole EMERGENCY.  The dispatcher kindly suggested we call a locksmith.  God bless the dispatcher- she was a GENIUS!

So we used the PHONE BOOK- I know- where the hell do you even get one of those things?  And called a locksmith.  Of course, he was in church handling snakes at the time and said it would be at least an hour before he could come.  We told him to meet us at the gas station/convenience store/hamburger joint/antique, home furnishing and jewelery store.  So we sat outside and patiently waited in our pajamas, no bras, one slipper wearing, cigarette smoking glory.

Upon his arrival, with his mountain wife in tow, he suggested that he follow us to our destination in his van.  Then we had to explain that we had no car and could we pretty please have a ride?  Hesitantly, he agreed and we sat on the floor of a locksmith van.  Keys, picks and other tools of the trade jingling all around us as we directed him back to the cabin.

In just minutes he had us back in our humble abode and we wrote him a check.  He had saved us from this life threatening EMERGENCY and we were ever so grateful.  The landlord now keeps the key in a coded lock box outside the door.  Please God don’t let me ever forget the code!

By the by, I don’t smoke anymore.  Just want to make sure y’all know what a lady I am.

Jazz Hands

Since the day I was born I have had one ambition in life: to be an actor.  Okay, I’ll admit, I don’t remember my exact thoughts on the moment I left the warmth of my mother’s vagina.  I’m sure my ambitions at that moment were something more like, “I need a boob to suck on, ASAP!” and “Someone please wipe my ass!”  In fact, I’m sure I know more than a few guys who that’s still their prime ambition.

I am certain though, that as soon as they brought me home from the hospital, I looked around that crap hole and thought, “there has got to be something better.”  And as I got older, I found myself more and more in the land of make believe- which is the essence of acting.  Thus began my lifelong love affair with the theatre (that sounds so gay- and I don’t mean that in a homophobic way- I mean it in my 4th grade mind sort of way…ugh, you know what I mean!!).

Every chance I got, I’d be in the school play, take acting classes, go to drama camp; I was and still am a total Drama Club Nerd.  I even went on to major in Theatre in college.  One semester, my dear old Dad asked me what classes I was taking.  So I told him: Acting, Voice, Movement, Ballet, Yoga, Feminist Theatre, African American Theatre and Spanish.  “Jesus Christ, what the hell am I paying for?” was his supportive reply.  But, he paid the bills and continued to let me pursue my pie in the sky dream.  Despite all his shortcomings, he has always believed in me.

Well, as every former and current Theatre major knows, directors only cast their favorites.  And guess what?  I was not a favorite.  I am proud of the work my alma mater pursued, many avant garde pieces featuring people covering themselves in oatmeal and swinging from giant rings.  I would have LOVED to be in these productions, but alas I was never chosen.  They did very little traditional theatre.  However, they did do one musical while I was there, West Side Story.  And no, I was not in that one either.  Not that I’m bitter or anything (well maybe a little).

However, one of my dearest friends, Brady, was cast as the starring role of Tony!  Brady was born for musical theatre.  He could dance, sing and act.  He made me laugh to no end and we got into trouble in many an acting class for giggling.  Brady was also gay.  I know, a man in musical theatre being gay is really just too shocking to believe, but its true.  My best girlfriend, Brady and I were quite the trio and when he took to the stage as the macho Tony, she and I could barely contain ourselves.  It was just too funny to see our flamboyantly gay friend in such a macho role.

Gay men truly are a girl’s dream come true.  They can charm the pants off of you.  And the best part is, the last thing they want is for your pants to come off at all.  They tell you your beautiful, they’re supportive, they listen, laugh and gossip with you just a like a girlfriend- except better.  Now, just the other day I had a girlfriend argue that they can be very bitchy too.  But, in my experience, I’ve found some of the greatest support and love from the gay men in my life.

Brady was definitely one of those men.  Brady was not only a talented stage dancer, but he could ballroom dance like nobody’s business.  When you danced with Brady, he would twist and turn you in all the right directions.  Even if you’d never danced a step in your life, he could make you feel like the belle of the ball.  In my experience, most straight men cannot lead at all.  I guess its because they just don’t teach boys to dance properly anymore.  However, I am lucky to have married a man who loves to dance and can trot me around the dance floor as good as any gay guy.

This idea that gay men are just better dance partners struck me the other night as a gay man lead me around the dance floor.  His arms were strong and his stance commanding.  It reminded me so much of dancing with my dear friend Brady.  BTW, I was rehearsing for a play- I know- I finally convinced someone I was good enough to cast.  Its only taken 39 years, but hey, at least I’m persistent.  (God, please don’t let me fuck this up).

The play I am so blessed to be a part of now is a burlesque musical revue in the style of 1930’s and 40’s Hollywood movies.  Brady would have eaten this shit up with a spoon and licked the bowl!!  The directors have truly inspired me and reignited my love for theatre, which I had been sorely missing for too long.  And guess what?  They’re gay too.  Like I said, musical theatre….gay men, shocking I know.

The day I auditioned, I had two major signs from God, Allah, the universe or whatever you believe in.  The first signal I got was my audtion time: 4:20.  Now, for those of you that know the significance of that time then you know what my favorite past time used to be.  For those of you that don’t, well I’m not going to be the one to fill you in.  Suffice it to say, it is a lucky time of day for me.  I even have a clock on my desk that has no battery in it and I have it set for 4:20 all the time.

The second big NEON SIGN that came at me, was from my best friend.  She called to wish me luck at the audition and remind me that that day was the 3rd anniversary of Brady’s death.  Brady joined the army to help pay off student loans.  He served valiantly in Iraq and Afghanistan. And I believe he fell victim to PTSD.

Now Brady always loved to drink and party.  He was the life of every party.  But after returning from the war, alcohol and drugs became his best friend.  Even after suffering from pancreatiis and being told by every doctor that if he continued to drink he would die, he did.  He was in a toxic relationship with a man who took full advantage of every penny Brady had saved.  He went AWOL on more than one occasion and was punished by his hire ups.  But still he could not put down the bottle and that is what finally killed him.

When she reminded me about that, I knew this was it.  I knew Brady was smiling down on me from heaven and I channeled every bit of his Jazz Hands into my audition.  I am so blessed to have had him in my life and am reminded of him now every day in rehearsal.  I feel his support, and dry sense of humor coming out in all kinds of ways.  Thank God for Brady and his beautiful Jazz Hands.

Flashback

This morning, I’m sitting in Starbucks after meeting some other marketing peeps catching up about who to know, what to do, what bullshit works, what doesn’t.  Its been a while since I’ve visited this particular coffee shop.  I haven’t purposefully been avoiding it, but based on my last experience, I probably should, and sitting here has brought back one particular “flash” back.  Don’t get me wrong the service is great, and my Peppermint Mocha fancy pants $5 overpriced coffee is delish (don’t ask me what size because I still don’t understand the whole tall, grande, super gigante, snooty size system they have).  But, the last time I was here, was a visit I will never forget.

I’ve been selling advertising in a local magazine for many years.  And about a year ago or so, I had the final layout of the magazine to proof.  I found myself a nice quiet corner to sit and get my work done.  It was a very cold day- which in Charleston, SC means its below 60 degrees.  I mean, I had to put on a sweater and everything.  So we’re talking super cold.

Like I said it was a cold day for our little sub-tropical paradise and everyone was bundled up.  A gentleman came in and sat at the table next to me.  He was wearing those super short running shorts; you know, the kind Richard Simmons wears.  And I thought, “gosh, he must be cold” and went right back to my work.

He was reading the newspaper, and every once in a while I would glance up and we would make eye contact. He never smiled or said anything and he would return to his paper and I’d return to my work.  As I sat there working, things started to change and when I say change, I mean CHANGE.  I glanced up and noticed part of his BALLS hanging out of the bottom of his shorts.

“Okay, stay calm”, I told myself, “surely he doesn’t know his balls are hanging out of those ridiculously short shorts”.  I quickly averted my eyes and returned to the work at hand.  I put my hand on my forehead to shade my eyes so I wouldn’t accidentally look at him.

On a side note, I have a major staring problem.  It can be anything unusual or out of the ordinary and try as I might I just can’t help but stare.  One time in 6th grade, we had a new student come to our class.  He was fresh off the boat from China and did not speak one word of English.  He was also 14 years old and wearing a lettermen’s jacket that had a big old Chinese letter on it.  I was completely fascinated.  I’d met people from foreign countries before, but never anyone so new and different.

His name was Ying Hua and our teacher introduced him and asked us to all make him feel welcome.  He sat two rows behind me and once he entered the room, I could NOT take my eyes off of him.  I literally was turning around so I could get a good look and soak it all in.  And soak it in I did!  I remember his shiny black hair, cut in a bowl hair cut, he had red shoes and the lettermen’s jacket was gray- and if I could read Chinese I’m certain I could tell you exactly what letter that was on his jacket.  But, as we all know, staring is rude.  Poor Ying Hua, as if he didn’t feel out of place enough, here was this weirdo girl turned around staring at him like he’d just come from Mars.  Well after what seemed like an eternity (to him at least and not nearly long enough for me), I’m sure it was less than a minute, my teacher quickly corrected me and told me to STOP staring at him.  Okay- hint taken.  I turned around but every chance I got to  steal a look in his direction I did.  This is just one example of my staring problem, I’m sure there are many others, but that’s not what this piece is about.

Anyway, back to inappropriate shorts man.  I was about half way through proofing the magazine and I looked up just to have a little mental break.  Well now I notice it is not just his balls hanging out- but the tip of his penis is peaking out of his shorts as well!  “Surely, he just doesn’t know,” I told myself in a desperate effort to calm myself.  So the hand returned to the forehead and I went back to proofing.

I was getting close to finished and sat up straight to stretch my back and look around and then I SAW IT!!  The thing I can NEVER UNSEE!!!  He was sitting two feet from me with his shorty shorts pulled down and his penis pulled out just going to town and looking right at me!  What the fuck???  I stood up and yelled, “OH MY GOD!” and quickly pushed passed him, scared out of my wits and went running to the safety of the effeminate barista.  In broken, breathless words I yelled, “there’s a man masturbating upstairs!!”  Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the gentleman (yes, I use the term loosely) go darting out of the shop.  Actually, it is sort of impressive that he could go from masturbating with a full on hard-on to sprinting in a split second, so I guess I should give him props for that.  The barista turned to his fellow coffee coworkers and yelled, “He’s BACK!”  He’s BACK???  What the hell?? This man is here on a regular basis beating off?? Does he have a coffee fetish?

They called the police and an officer came to interview me for all the details….what did he look like, how tall, who were his parents, where did he go to school, is he saving for retirement?  Shit, I don’t know how to describe this man at all!!  All I know for certain, is that he was wearing shorts and his PENIS was out!!  I really can’t tell you anymore than that.  Despite my staring problem, I was not looking at his face and so that information was not emblazoned in my mind.  The officer went on to tell me that this particular gentleman had pulled (no pun intended) this stunt in several other area Starbucks.  So, I guess he did have some kind of coffee fetish- weird huh?

We’re Not the Rockefellers

My dad grew up poor, dirt poor, poorer than dirt, maybe middle of the earth molten lava type poor.  He was born during the Great Depression, the son of a plumber and a nurse in Charleston, SC.  The Holy City, as locals call it, had still not recovered from the “Late Unpleasantness.”  For you Yankees or foreigners, that’s Southern speak for the Civil War.  There was little money to be had and even less opportunity for any kind of advancement.

My Papa, (pronounced paa paa- like what a sheep says except with a p; that’s Charlestonese for grandpa), was not a very good plumber.  In fact, I think he hated every minute of it.  My father was his right hand man on most jobs and Papa dubbed him “Colonel Brokem” because apparently all he did was break shit.  They didn’t always have enough to eat and sometimes my dad would sneak over to the Star Gospel Mission (run by those heathen Prodestants) for a free meal.  He was poor, but he wasn’t stupid.  Well, apparently, that never sat well with my Irish Catholic Papa because if he found out, Dad would get an ass whooping like nobody’s business.

My Mama (again pronounced like what a sheep says; Charlestonese for grandma), hated being a nurse.  She graduated first in her class from nursing school, despite the fact that she had smacked the head nun in the face at some point, according to family lore.  I think Mama (not yo’ mama- remember like baa baa) and I must have had a lot in common, because I often find myself wanting to smack people across the face.  To date, I can report I’ve been mostly successful at refraining from doing so, mostly.  Anyway, my Papa used to say that the only part Mama liked about being a nurse was pulling the sheet up over a person’s face.  That means they were dead and she could go home.  I always like getting off work early too.

So like I said, they were poor and like all parents Papa wanted a better life for his children.  He knew the way to a better life for my father was to go to college.  At that time, all you needed to get into the local municipal college was a recommendation from your high school principal.  Being good Catholics, my father had spent his entire educational career in the parochial system;  being beat up by nuns and told how he was going to hell for even thinking about anything at all.

On a side note, he has always insisted that that was the main reason he made sure we did not go to Catholic school.  Although, I’m pretty sure it was more the fact that you actually had to pay for it when we were coming up, and the man was thrifty.  Okay, thrifty is too nice a word, let’s just tell it like it is, he was cheap.

Anyway, as senior year came to a close my Papa marched my father over to Father Manning’s office to request a recommendation for college.  Apparently, not only was my father good at breaking shit at home, but he also had a reputation for being down right stupid at school.  Father Manning told my Papa that he would not write a recommendation for my dear old dad because he was too stupid for college and suggested Papa continue training him in the plumbing trade.  God bless my Papa, because he insisted on the recommendation on the grounds that my father had to go to college because he was too stupid to be a plumber.  Remember this was  the early 1950’s and really nobody gave a shit about your self esteem or crap like that.  Sometimes, I think we all need to be a little more frank about shit like this- honestly, telling people the truth can be all the motivation they need to stop acting like a complete asshole.

In my dad’s defense, he went on to be a commissioned officer in the Navy, a high ranking government official and traveled the world has a high paid bullshit consultant.  So, for being so “stupid”, he did pretty good for himself.

My father made all of us painfully aware of his poor upbringing to make sure that we were thankful for every single cent he ever spent on us.  He never understood the fact that teenage girl’s needed to have the “right clothes” and try to “fit in” for their mental wellbeing.  All he could see were dollar signs.  He constantly behaved as if we were two pennies away from the poor house and as he said about EVERYTHING…”if we buy that we’re going to lose the house!”  Really, we’re going to LOSE THE HOUSE, because you won’t buck up an extra $20??

I remember one time I needed a pair of sneakers, so he decided Sam’s Club would be the perfect place to go buy my new kicks.  I don’t know if you’ve ever been shoe shopping at Sam’s, but shoe selection is not their strong suit.  If you’re in the market for giant industrial tubs of peanut butter or huge bags of rice that could feed all the people in China then they’ve got your back, but shoes, not so much.

I ended up with the dorkiest, ugliest, off brand sneaks you’ve ever laid your eyes on and I cried in the line to pay for them, I cried on the way home and I cried every time I had to wear those stupid sneakers.   And did my father care that I didn’t like these shoes?  Not one iota.

In college, cell phones were in their infancy.  My very best friend and roommate was the daughter of a highly successful urologist.  And therefore in my opinion- RICH!!  She had one of those fancy cell phones.  Now for those of you that are under the age of 30- you may not know this….but cell phones didn’t always fit in your pocket.  No, hers was in a giant leather bag that you had to carry around with you and plug into the car every time you wanted to use.  Have you ever seen those old war movies, where the army guys in the heat of battle would call into their COs on the giant wind up phone?  Yep, it was pretty much like that.  Oh, how I envied that bag phone.  I vowed then and there that I knew I would be successful in life when I was able to buy my very own bag phone!  Even though, I’ve now got my nice little smartphone that lets me do a billion more things than that bag phone, I’m still yearning a bit for the posh notoriety that came with carrying that giant bag.

Anyhoo, I decided I couldn’t wait until I could buy one for myself.  So I put together the pitch to my father on why it was so important for me to have a “car phone”.  Yes, back in the olden days we didn’t even call them “cell phones”, they were “car phones” because of course the only time you’d need to use it was inside your car.

The pitch included all the important talking points: safety, safety and of course safety.  I didn’t dare mention the word “cool” in the pitch at all.  I knew very well that my father did not give a shit whether we were cool or not.  But, as you can guess, the pitch went no where.  It started out, “Dad I’ve been thinking I need to get a car phone…..” end of conversation.  He just completely freaked out and said, his favorite retort for everything I’ve ever asked for, “No! What do you need that for?  We’re not the fucking Rockefellers!”

So, no, I did not get my car phone and am fully aware that I am in no way or will ever be a Rockefeller.