Thursday, August 28, 2008

Episode 53: How to Use a Fake I.D.

I recently ran into a college sophomore who insists that college students don't have fake i.d.s anymore and it was all I could do to not call up her dean and have her expelled for wanton stupidity. But then, she's in the science club, so who knows; maybe science students are too busy trying to come up with cold fusion to really need a Long Island Tea. But I mean! No fake i.d.s on a college campus! Hahahaha. Okay, good luck with that research paper, Einstein.

Anyway! I used to work at a restaurant where we had this rich spoiled kid come in to drink all the time. His name was Jaime and he was small - like not midget-y small, but Garanimals small - and we all knew he was underage but we were all so drunk ourselves we never carded him so he drank and drank until his little tiny body couldn't hold any more drinks (so like three drinks total) and then he would get in his Trans Am and squeal the tires all the way home to wherever he lived, the orphanage or something. This went on for years and years and one day one of us said "wait, he's been drinking here for years...surely he's legal now!" and then we dared another of us to card him. Turned out he was 27, so we had been thinking he was underaged the whole time when really what the deal was was that he was one of those people who stop aging, like Joan Rivers. Turns out he was also a big time drug dealer who I suppose went to schools and sold drugs because he'd fit right in with the K-12 crowd. The whole thing freaked us all right out, let me tell you. But not as much as it freaked us out when Jaime went missing and his decapitated head turned up in an elementary school sandbox a few weeks later.

So there's your lesson for today! Act your age or you end up headless.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Episode 52: How to Pass a Psychological Evaluation

I know a lot of crazy people, but they're not crazy in any sort of medically measurable way. They're more nutty than crazy, I guess. Eccentric, one might say. I mean, I know one person who makes a living singing funny songs about skunks. I know someone who brought along a month's supply of Cipro on vacation to Charleston, South Carolina four years ago during the Democratic National Convention - which was where? NOT CHARLESTON! - because she was certain we were all going to get anthraxed to death that week. I know someone who doesn't like Mark Twain. I know someone who wears her hair in a beehive shape and isn't doing it to be funny; it's just the way she likes it. I know a guy who is obsessed with fish ponds - and I mean obsessed, like he is one step away from putting on a mermaid suit and swimming around in there with his stupid bug-eyed carp. I know someone who drinks Courvoisier and Sprite...together. I know someone who leases his car. Totally nuts, right?

But sometimes I think how it would be really easy for any of them - us, really - to go just that one extra step and look or be certifiably committ-able if a stranger were to size us up. Sometimes I catch people giving me the stinkeye and all I'm doing is like walking down the street wearing one of those giant Vietnamese rice paddy hats (I usually do it without the ox, though), and I just know that they think I'm a menace to society and so they lock up the children when they see me coming. So I'm thinking of not calling people "crazy" any more because I'm worried it'll bounce back and stick to me. But I can't come up with what the new word I call them will be. "Retarded" is definitely out, because the word police say so. I'm going to have to put my thinking cap on and come up with one. My pointed, Vietnamese rice-paddy thinking cap...

BY THE WAY. Did you all know that some dumb company called Google has stolen my idea? Mmmm hmmmm, they have How-Tos every day on the little iGoogle home page! Two of them every day that link to WikiHow, whatever the fuck that is! And maybe they did it before I started this. BUT! I go every day to see what they're doing and then I make sure I don't do that. But today was close, because I have a How to Stop Being Jealous in the pipeline and they already did it (WITH A QUOTATION FROM THE BIBLE!) and now I'm in a quandary because it'll look like I'm copying. In a quandary, I say!

Episode 51: How to Ride a Horse

I've only ridden a horse once that I can recall and let's just say it did not go very well. I was young, like seven or eight and I was visiting with my cousin T-Bird. People sometimes ask if I'm making that name up but no, that was his name. I'm sure he had some other name but I don't know what it is. He was just plain old T-Bird...and I can't really think of what that might be short for, so who knows? And I'm not sure if he's my cousin. His father (who we call Uncle Sam even though he's not an uncle) and my mother were cousins, so actually I think T-Bird and me are third cousins. ANYWAY. T-Bird lived with Uncle Sam and Aunt Nancy (who isn't really an aunt, because...oh, nevermind, you get the picture) on a tobacco farm outside Raleigh, North Carolina. And I was summering there, and that might clue you in as to exactly what kind of eight-year old I was - the type that used the word "summering" with some regularity.

So one day on the farm, T-Bird teased me about never having ridden a horse and to show him, I climbed up to prove I could do it. I don't recall the horse's name but I'm sure it was something like "Child-Hater." I also don't remember anything about the riding part of it because I was pretty focussed on figuring out why I was all-of-a-sudden face down in the briar patch. I think I was only on the horse for like five seconds before he threw me off.*

Two other things of note happened to me this same summer. The first was when Uncle Sam made T-Bird and me move a stack of boards from one side of the road to the other to keep us busy one day. I ask you why reading a good book wouldn't have achieved the same thing but I suppose that's neither here nor there. I ended up stepping on a nail on purpose so that I wouldn't have to move the boards anymore, but then I had to go to the doctor and get a tetanus shot, so that little scheme didn't quite work out as planned, and this is a character trait I still have, the "oh, I'll do this thing!" and forgetting that there are consequences, which I will probably finally realize one day when I burn down the house or something.

Then a couple of days later, Uncle Sam asked me which I would rather do: go pick tobacco in the field all day with him or would I perhaps like to stay behind with Aunt Nancy and bake blueberry pies all the livelong day? Even at eight years old, I was fully aware this was the dumbest question ever asked in the entire history of question-asking and I jumped up and stood on a step-stool and quickly began rolling out dough as fast as possible.

Which pretty much explains how the rest of my life worked out, now that I think about it. Sigh.

*Honestly, this might or might not have happened. I have told this story so many times I can no longer remember if it happened to me or to T-Bird but I needed to tie this post to the drawing you get a slightly embroidered version. The other stuff is totally true, though!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Episode 49: How to Be the Craziest Person in the Neighborhood

I admit that I do not have the absolute craziest neighbors in the world. Some of them are odd in that way neighbors are always odd, like the lady who keeps asking me what church I go to (exactly how she keeps forgetting my NO COMMENT reply I have no idea) or the guy who has a twenty-foot-long yacht in his yard just sitting on its keel. It's been there for ten years without moving but this is the same guy who's always trying to start petitions about cleaning up the neighborhood and I never sign them because I think he should look in a mirror just ONE TIME. I also think he's the one that put all the anti-John Kerry stuff in my mailbox, but that's a different story for another time. And I have a nearby house or two where there might be a chicken...or at my hopeful best, a goose. And we did have a guy for a while who had a wooden cut-out of Santa holding an AK-47, which he put up the Christmas after 9/11 and sort of misses the idea of Christmas in almost every way but whatever, I guess.

But I am jealous of people who have a true nutcase or two next door. My parents did when they lived in California; they would just turn out the lights and stand in their darkened kitchen and watch the shenanigans next door, where it was like Cops or Jerry Springer every night. Hours and hours of entertainment, seriously, that would go on until the lady couldn't get another cork out of a bottle and would literally fall down for the night after banging into the side of the refrigerator one too many times. They finally moved away to Southern California, where all the crazy people end up anyway.

I do hold out hope for my new back-diagonal neighbors, though. They're circus-folk! Or carnys or something. There's a tightrope in their front yard, about five feet off the ground, and they have people over all the time, odd-looking but interesting (but not midgety or inappropritely-bearded or anything) who all jump up on the wire and start doing stuff. Jumping and looping and hopping and falling off and making jazz hands. They also have a bicycle built for three, which is just enough to start edging into crazy, if you ask me. I sort of want to befriend them because I do have a thing about circus people but I'm afraid if I do, other neighbors will see me and think I'm the craziest person in the neighborhood. Which might be what all this is about, now that I think about it.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Episode 48: How to Be a Vegetarian

This Episode is brought to you in the interest of fair play. Since I instructed you how to order a delicious, died-for-your-sins steak just one episode ago, I realized that some of you may be toying with the foolish notion of becoming a vegetarian, so here's some advice about that.

I used to work at a natural foods market in Memphis - the Squash Blossom, in case any of you are reading from that god-forsaken city. I worked in the kitchen of the deli, cooking up vegetarian delights for all the no-deodorant-using-hippies in a fifteen-mile radius. This was back in the days before SUV-driving lady-types clogged the aisles of Whole Foods, when the only people at these sorts of markets were unwashed art-school students and that skinny lead singer of R.E.M. Anyway, my boss was this nice lady named Bonnie, who taught me all the vegetarian voodoo lingo - rennent and stevia and Spike and cilantro and tempeh and tofu and tamari - and in almost no time flat she had me being a vegetarian too! Because it was convenient and at hand because I worked there and also because it was basically free - whoops! I made too much vegetarian lasagne! Better box that up! - it was really easy to do. Plus Bonnie was quite evangelical about it. It was sort of hard to ignore her; it was just easier to do what she said than to have to listen to her rattle on about it every day with no apparent end in sight.

So months went by where I pretty much ate shredded kale excelsior and bean sprout gelato and one day I went into the kitchen pantry to get some chickpeas to make fifty-something gallons of hummus and sitting there on a crate of asparagus was Bonnie....stuffing about eleven beef tacos from Taco Bell into her mouth! I pointed a fourteen-inch daikon radish at her and hissed j'accuse! and she mumbled through a beef-taco-stuffed mouth, "Forgive me! I couldn't help it! They were only forty-nine cents a piece!" So I sat down and helped her finish them off. And that was, as they say, the end of that.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Episode 47: How to Order a Steak

On recent occasion, I found myself "lucky" enough to be spending the night in Dodge City, Kansas. I know what you are thinking, I do! "Gosh, how lucky can one person be?" And you'd be right in thinking that; it is indeed a veritable Garden of Eden, especially if the Garden of Eden is actually where all those nutty Mormons think it is - like in Ohio or something - and also if it had been burned up in a grass fire and/or hit with a meteorite. Other than that...Garden of Eden!

After I had visited the fake Olde West Towne and the fake Ye Olden Photographie Shoppe and Deputy Dawg's Authentique Funnel Cake Factorie, I was vexed about a place to eat; there really were not many options besides Miss Kitty's Jitterbug Dance Hall and Mashed Potato Bar. So I called my friend Chris and he called his father, who I think is from there, and he didn't know, so he called HIS friend who still lived there and then the guy next to me's phone rang, so that was probably him. ANYWAY, I got sent to this little steakhouse and I strolled in and it was as expected until the waiter said "we get our meat from right across the street!" and I looked up and out the window to see a bunch of cows staring at me right as I started to saw with a knife and fork into their distant cousin Phyllis. It did make it a little hard to eat. But! Not impossible. It was a good steak. A strip, which they call a Dodge City strip, though they call it a Kansas City strip in Kansas City and a New York strip everywhere else, but since it came from across the street, Dodge City strip sounded about right, though they really should just go the whole nine yards and call it an Across the Street strip, I guess.

Then the bill came. An Across the Street strip, a baked potato, some corn, a creme brulee, two glasses of red wine ("This Little Penguin cabernet is delicious...I think you'll like it!") and a glass of scotch came to....$34. I almost laughed out loud. I actually said "I don't think I can pay you just this much." I felt especially badly about it since those cows were still looking at me.

So if you're ever in Dodge City, I do recommend Casey's Cowtown Club. Just don't sit near the window.

P.S. Did you know it used to be illegal to put ice cream on cherry pie in Dodge City? WELL IT WAS.