Sunday, July 25, 2010

Episode 93: How To Go to the Post Office

One time I went to the post office. This doesn't happen a lot, as the post office near me is clearly some sort of way-station for people training to be brain-damaged greeters at some Wal-Mart of Doom located on the banks of the River Styx. It really is the most unnerving experience to go to this post office because you just can't believe that these people made it to the post office without being hit by cars or swooped up by birds that pick on lesser beings. It takes about eight seconds to see that half of the people in there have mis-buttoned blouses and drool down their fronts. And that's just the postal clerks.

ANYWAY. One time I went to the post office and the lady several people front of me set two wine glasses on the counter and asked that they be packed up and sent to her sister. Here is a transcript of the ensuing conversation:

Postal Clerk: I'm sorry ma'am, but I can't pack those up for you. We just mail things.
Lady: But I have to get these to my sister before her gift gets to me.
Postal Clerk: That's fine but that's not what we do. Some supplies are over on the counter there, feel free to use them and then we'll get this on the way to your sister.
Lady: FINE. (stomps over to counter and packs up wine glasses by stuffing them in a Priority Mail pouch and returns to counter)
Postal Clerk: (sigh) Well, I'll tape this up for you, I guess. Now we'll need an address.
Lady: (sighs) I don't know it. She's right down the street, two houses down from this post office.
Postal Clerk: Uhm, then since these glasses- packed like this - are going to break anyway and since it's so close, why don't you just deliver this lovely gift to her in person?
Lady: Oh, we haven't spoken in thirty years.

With that, the postal clerk figured out the address, taped up the box, took her money and threw the package in the big canvas cart behind him, where I could clearly hear both glasses shatter upon impact.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Episode 92: How to Be Modest

So this one time, when I was in art school, the entire student body lost their minds at the same time and elected me as the Secretary of Student Council. My friend Russell ran as President, my future roommate Allison ran as Vice-President and my current roommate Dani ran as Treasurer. We all won, swept into Manchurian-Candidate-level power on what could only be called the "Hi, We're Drunk" ticket. I don't think we did a single thing during our term except throw a Halloween party (I went as an Arab) at an abandoned body shop where everyone had to sign an insurance release in case the floor collapsed. We also had a lot of "meetings" that were lavishly catered by Pizza Hut. So when you want to know where your "student activity fees" are going, college students, look at the waistlines of your elected officials because I can assure you some things never change.

Anyway. The Vice-President Allison and I had to go on a local cable access show to promote an upcoming student show. Vice-President Allison brought this incredible book she had made that was shaped like a three-dimensional hand and I brought an abstract drawing drawing I was working on that was from what came to be known as "The Drunken Smudgy Series, With Scratchy Bits." Vice-President Allison talked and talked so eloquently about her book and then the badger-faced TV hostess turned to me and the drawing I was holding and asked "and who did this drawing?" Somehow I knew this was not the time to shine a light on myself. So without missing a beat, I said "Lady, I have no idea." Which turned out to be fortuitous because the hostess then held it up to the camera - upside-down - and said "I don't get this at all! What is it? Is it a cat?" and I repeated what I had decided was now my mantra: "Lady, I have no idea." And she went on for ten minutes about how "art is such a mystery, isn't it?! I mean, anyone can do anything and say 'It's art!' and who are we to argue, right?"

Lady, I have no idea.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Episode 91: How to Know Where You Are

So this one time I went to a wedding in Wisconsin. I was the plus-one. I sort of knew the groom and I knew the person I went with and I knew one other person who also knew the person I went with but, hmmm, not everyone was talking to each other, so needless to say it was like a wedding from Lifetime TV where Tori Spelling plays someone and then someone else either cries, dies and/or sleeps with danger. Oh and the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile was there.

Anyway, Wisconsin was really beautiful. I had no idea before I went that it would be as pretty as it was. I thought it was all going to look like where Laverne and Shirley lived before they moved to California (which they shouldn't have done, right? Am I right?) and I thought it would smell beer-ish, but no, it was bucolic and all rolling-hillsy and blue skies and dairies and there was a mustard museum (did you know you can spend ninety dollars on mustard? Well, you can. It was in Mt Horeb but I just looked it up and it has moved to Middleton, which is where the wedding was! So don't go to Mt Horeb looking for it, though there are also big statues of trolls there) and The House on the Rock, which is like porno for hoarders.

But Wisconsin was missing two things: salad and black people. Seriously, this food. I mean. I've never seen so much meat and cheese in all my life. I was so excited when I went through the food line at the wedding, and there was this GIANT bowl of salad. And when I went back through it a half hour later, the exact same amount of salad was still in the bowl. No one was eating the salad. But oh my goodness, they enjoyed their various sliced meats and stuffed meats and meat on top of meat and meat wrapped around meat, washed down with some meat and then some meat for dessert, with a meat sorbet thrown in there somewhere. And then they cut the wedding cake, which was made of meat.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Episode 90: How to Go to a Craft Fair

Ok, so in theory I should really love craft fairs. I like hand-made things and I like chicken gyros and you can usually find both of these things at a craft fair. But I do not like craft fairs. I keep going to them, trying to figure out what the big deal is and I have come to the conclusion that there is indeed no big deal at all. I mean: if I wanted to see grown-up hippie women wearing no makeup, I can just go to nice air-conditioned Whole Foods...I don't need to traipse around in the hot July sun looking at butter churns made out of petrified corn-husks to do it.

Another thing about them that makes me crazy is that while yes, I admire the raku salt and pepper shakers (and I do), I do not have to respect the fact that they are $110. Do they pour out salt granules in some fancy way? Does the pepper fly around the room after coming out of one of the porcelain holes? Because for $110 dollars, it better. In the end, they are still just salt and pepper shakers and you have to draw the line somewhere. Some things are only supposed to cost $5 and they should never ever cost more than that. I am also looking at you, heirloom tomatoes. You're a fucking tomato. One dollar.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Episode 89: How to Beat the Summer Heat

OK, so I went to college in Memphis. I know, it sounds so genteel and Southern and wouldn't it be great sitting around on porches and singing "Hound Dog" all the livelong day but let me tell you something: "Memphis" is an Egyptian word that means "hot as fuck." I have no memories of my four and a half years in Memphis that do not involve me attempting to cope with the sweltering, overwhelming heat. One January, it snowed six or seven inches and my memory of even that is that it was still ninety-seven degrees. In the shade.

I was also incredibly poor during my time there. I would eat Nabisco Saltines and Peter Pan peanut butter for weeks on end - to this day, I get queasy if there is too much peanut sauce on my Thai food. Anyway, one summer - the hottest summer in the history of summers; a summer so hot the glass in the window panes slumped - I was so poor that the electricity in my apartment got turned off. I was in-between paychecks, so I couldn't run right down to Memphis Light, Gas and Water and have them flip the switch, so I had to suffer ten long days without my window unit air conditioner or my little box fan or even ice cubes from the freezer. I passed the ten days and nights by filling up the bathtub with cold water and lighting a few candles and clambering in the tub and reading "Lolita" and then "Jude the Obscure." Both benefitted from my near delirium brought on by heat-induced brain-fever and both are now among my favorite books. And now both of those books are fused together in my brain, each one a parenthesis around the hottest ten days of my life.