Thursday, September 5, 2013

Episode 112: How to Go to Rehab

OK, so rehab is funny. I don't mean "oh, that's weird" funny. I mean "uh-oh I am going to puke in a minute because I am laughing so hard" funny. In a lot of cases, that latter type is wildly inappropriate because it always happens like right in the middle of someone spilling their guts in a very intimate way and they say something like "oh, I was very upset because when I was one my kitty-cat died because she had been sleeping in the washing machine and one day my mother turned it on and drowned her and to this day, clean clothes upset me." I made that one up because I believe in other peoples' anonymity, but I am not disguising many of those facts too closely. Rehab is exactly like sitting on the porch of a country store where that porch is filled with old, crazy people telling stories that don't make any sense, only instead of a country store and old crazy people, it's a flourescently-lit room and a bunch of twenty-two year olds. And you.

One of the things that stressed me myself and I out the most was the part where I had to sit in front of everyone in my group ("group" is the word that they use in rehab for a group) and share (rehab for "talk") all of the consequences and repercussions of my substance abuse. I was nervous because I was in a large-ish group of what I can only call over-achievers when it came to the consequences department. I listened to everyone's awesome, dramatic stories about DUIs and car wrecks and houses burning down and whatnot - all of which I wrote down for my upcoming class in screenwriting - and kept thinking, gosh! They are so lucky to have all these stories to share! It makes sharing so easy! And then it was my turn and all I could think of was stuff like "oh, I was once so drunk I made a friend cry when I served Earl Grey as a morning tea at a bridal shower." Or "I was epically fucked-up when I didn't tip the mailman last year, so now he throws my mail on the ground." It was quite a quandary to be in to have all those eyes on me, waiting for the good stuff, and coming up blank. After some really hard thinking (read: when the detox meds wore off), I did manage to remember a whole bunch of terrible stuff, but there was a moment there when I thought I might get kicked out of this very exclusive club for not being thug enough. But I rebounded with my terrifying rock-bottom tale of drinking a glass of Corbett Canyon wine. That was well and truly too much for anyone to believe, and all of my group members shook their heads in disgust and admitted me to their ranks and, newly-forever-bonded, our eyes turned to the new fella, who was going on about something over there in the corner, something about being so drunk that he accidentally took all of his vintage Charlie's Angels dolls out of their original packaging and you could see it on our faces: some people are just beyond help.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Episode 111: How to Have a Cleaning Lady

So I have this cleaning lady now and it makes me feel funny. I used to do all this household stuff day-in, day-out (with the help of my sister/housemate) and now here I am watching someone else do it. Sometimes I am here while she's cleaning and I try to look super-busy because it would feel weird if I was sitting around watching "Dynasty" reruns while she was swabbing out the bathroom, right? Sometimes I go to the library, or to the mall and just walk around until she leaves. I love her, but it's weird. I don't want to come off as a 1%-er. Last winter, I used her Friday visits as an excuse to go to the movie theater and I managed to see nine of the ten nominees for Best Picture, which is why I almost won the Oscar pool this year (fuck you, Christoph Waltz, for losing it for me). Sorry, "Amour," I didn't see you until the new year.

I inherited this wonderful cleaning lady when a friend died in a freaky accident - seriously freaky - and I am ashamed to admit it, but it was not too may days after the funeral before I poached her. I am a bad person! But you know what? My bathroom is clean. But every time I come home from the movies - or the job I have now - on every-other-Friday when she comes, I walk around I look at all the dusted picture frames and all the fluffed pillows and the grease-free-stovetop and think of my lost friend Jay - especially when I come upon the freshly polished mosaic backgammon board he made for me -  and I thank him for the cleaning lady. And oh yeah, the time we had together, blah blah blah, insert touching moment here.

Whatever! Clean toilet! Every time I flush, I think of Jay!  Hahahahahah, he would like that. Seriously, he would.

Episode 110: How to Mow the Lawn

When I was like 13 or something, I got forced - sorry, hired - to mow the lawn of my neighbor. This was in the early 80s, and they paid me $35, which was kind of a lot when you think about it. But it was also four or five acres and at the time I only had access to a push mower. It took a while each weekend, and this was before I had a Walkman or anything, so I would sing songs while I did it. I only knew the words to two songs: Bette Midler's "The Rose" and Juice Newton's "Queen of Hearts."  There might have been some others that I had a faint grasp on - I remember quite a bit of Hall & Oates' "Private Eyes," but I couldn't sing it all the way through if you threatened me with a wedgie. Also, maybe that Aprilwine song that I now can't remember. But it seems like I knew that at one point.

ANYWAY! I would sing "The Rose" and "Queen of Hearts" over and over while I mowed, trying to figure out how long it would take me based on how many times I could sing them. Ten times! PAY ME! Eight times! PAY ME!

This neighbor also had a leaky septic tank and that was funny/disgusting to be singing "The Rose" while skirting the stinkfest of their backyard. The man of the house was a district manager for Shoney's and sometimes even now when I have had the misfortune of being in a Shoney's, I steal all the packaged condiments from the all-you-can-stuff-in-your-face bar just to get him back for making me march through his sewage, even though I am sure he's long dead.  I've got a box full of pancake syrup big enough to turn the US Olympic team into diabetics.  As if singing "The Rose" over and over for three hours wasn't hard enough on your pancreas.

Episode 109: How to Get a Job

Oh, I know! I'm the last person who should dispense advice about this. Or at least that's what my sister, sitting upstairs pecking at her iPad pretending to be on is thinking!  Hi Meg!

Getting a job is hard. My first job was dispensing ice cream cones at Opryland USA, a long-gone amusement park where I had to wear a double-breasted VEST in shades of yellow and olive (with red trim) and since I was positioned at a shop in the front of the park, I had to give a lot of directions. "Across the bridge and to the left!" was all I ever said; the park was circular....they'd eventually get there.

My third job was at a natural foods store in Memphis - I worked in the kitchen and let me tell you...vegetarian is one thing. Healthy is another. Because we put ten pounds of butter and/or sour cream in EVERYTHING. Even smoothies, I think. So ha ha vegan weirdos!  Also? I was so poor during this period that I ate a baked potato every day as my only meal. The big miracle is that I didn't crap French fries on a daily basis.

My fifth job was as an assistant manager at Waldenbooks. One time I had to tape all the windows because Hurricane Hugo was coming. Based on the inventory of the store, I couldn't blame him for wanting to blow the windows in. Show me fifty copies of "Dianetics" and "The Shell Seekers" and I'd want to go on a highly windy killing spree myself.

My seventh job was at a restaurant where I made three hundred dollars a night waiting tables. But somehow I only got home with about fifty. You can see how this happened on the upcoming show "Law & Order: DG, WTF?"

My tenth job involved me photo-editing and doing graphic design for a respected online news magazine. They fired me, so y'all can quit reading it now!

My new job has me in a kitchen again - full circle! - though not dipping ice cream. I'm making marshmallows and let me tell you....that shit is NUTS. Who knew you could do such a thing?

Anyway: there's jobs, y'alls. Go get one!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Episode 108: How to Get Your Own Reality Show

Oh, I know, you think it's easy! I mean, everyone has a reality show these days. I wan't even surprised yesterday when I turned on the tee-vee to see my neighbor mowing her lawn for three hours. Then I realized I was looking out the window and not at the tee-vee at all but nonetheless it was a riveting three hours. I should pitch that to Bravo. "Middle Class Mowing with Saggy-Boobed Sally."

My friend Beth and I had this idea about fifteen years ago for a television show called "Cooking With Booze." It was pretty much as titled, where we would cook a meal and at the same time drink a little and talk about the day's gossip. We thought it was an awesome idea and even had contacts high up enough to pitch it but no one thought it was a very good idea. And now practically every tee-vee show is like this, not to mention that My Drunk Kitchen girl to whom I will not even link because I am still so resentful that she got a very similar idea to work that I am going to go have a drink right this very second and it is only 11:41 in the morning.

After we gave up our lifelong (well, ten-minute-long) dream of "Cooking With Booze" we had an idea to do one called "Sloooow Food" where we would cook one meal over the course of eight episodes. And then at the end we would sit down and eat it for four more. It's like an Andy Warhol-type idea, or filming paint actually drying. Ooooh, paint-drying, mental note. But if you watch HGTV, you see the home-redo equivalent of that same idea with that one lady re-doing a house over the course of a season. And we would have done it without the bitchy assistant.

Anyway, you should think of a reality show to have. Because someone, somewhere is interested in what you are doing. I mean: don't look at me; I could not BE less interested! But don't underestimate how many brain-damaged people there are out there just starved for information about your life. I mean, hellllo, Facebook.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Episode 107: How to Piss Someone Off

The list of ways to piss someone off is a long and varied one, but there is one surefire way that shows up as #1 on almost everyone's roundup: towing someone's car. I'm not sure why it makes people so mad, but it certainly does.

When I worked at a restaurant years and years ago, we had a very complicated parking lot and if a patron didn't pay attention to the signs as he or she parked, it was quite easy to block in fifteen or twenty cars. When it happened, we would try to find the person responsible, but it was a big place with several rooms and it was hard to keep up with who was driving the giant Hummer. I guess we could have asked "who has the smallest penis in this room? Ah, you sir, your Hummer is blocking in all the cars, please move it." But frankly, it was just easier to call Slappy Steve's Citywide Towing and say "load it up!"

So we did. Time and time again. And every single time the tow-ee got ratcheted up to Level Five Million on the anger level. Which always struck me as a funny tactic; what were we going to do? Say "gosh, your red face certainly makes a convincing argument, sir! I have seen the error of my ways and I will turn the clock back in time to before you were a complete asshole and too stupid to read the parking signs!"

About half the time, they'd pull the "I know the owner" routine, which at the time was like saying "I have feet," because everyone knew the owner; he was standing right there waving at everyone. The other half of the time, they'd threaten to kill us -- which at that particular time in my life would have been a welcome mercy. "Bring it," I would think. Alas, no one ever brought it.

I had a friend who was known as the Parking Nazi at the restaurant where he worked. He would tow a pregnant, one-legged blind lady's car if he had the chance and he'd twirl his mustache and cackle while he did it. That was the same restaurant we later trashed during a Christmas party by putting pool balls in the toilets. Heh heh heh. That's another way to piss someone off: fuck up the toilets. Heh heh heh. Pool balls in the toilets. Good times.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Episode 106: How to Navigate Sibling Rivalry

So my sister and I are almost three years apart in age; I'm older chronologically, but she's older in all the responsible aspects. Like for example: she has a savings account ... while I still practice my Oscar speech. Because 44-year-olds break into the movie business and rise to the top all the time. I'm sure I'll think of one in a minute.

Anyway. When we were teenagers, we were very different in another way. She liked Loverboy, I like Olivia Newton-John. Her room was plastered with giant posters of Mike Reno's red-leather-clad ass, mine was covered with Livvy's pool-deep eyes, beckoning me to come take her hand, she is maaaagic, she won't let her aim ever strayyyyyy....nothing can stand in our waaay..... she'll be guiiiiding meeee. I mean, when I wasn't drawing pastel portraits of her exercising, I would sit around and kiss album covers with her on them and I was old enough to have hair on my legs, so that was something pathetic, lemme tell you.

It was two worlds that could never, ever meet and that difference manifested itself a lot of times - we fought constantly. Not just sit-around-the-fire tossing witty insults sort of fighting, but real fighting. And one time, we got into a monster fight and I threw a ladderback chair at her, and then she hit me in the head with a cast iron skillet. That really is the etching Currier and Ives forgot to etch and hand-color, if you ask me: the two of us locked in mortal embrace brandishing weapons that could only be found in an Amish kitchen.

So that fight got us in trouble, needless to say, because our mother really liked that chair. We were both sent to our rooms, which were next to each other in the hallway. We tuned our respective radios to our favorite stations - she was 103 KDF, I was Kix 104 - and laid down on the floor with just our head sticking out into the hallway so we could continue to taunt each other. "You're a drama nerd," she hissed. "Your hair is jacked up like a furry, tire-less Camaro!," was my witty riposte. "No one likes you or your stupid new nubby-weave double-breasted jacket, you nerd," she said, attacking my quite confident fashion sense, the usual low road for blunt types, if you ask me. "And besides," she continued, "Olivia Newton-John is a lesbian and she will NEVER LOVE YOU."

All lies! LIES LIES LIES! Now that I think about it, I will never forgive her for these lies, even all these years later! She is sleeping upstairs right now and I have a brand new smothering pillow from The Company Store. Hang on ... be right back.