Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Episode 61: How to Order Mexican Food

When I was in the seventh grade, I lived in Fort Worth, Texas. I attended Wedgwood Middle School and took Spanish. I was a terrible Spanish student, though I quite liked my teacher, Señorita Flores, who looked like a cross between Lily Tomlin and Rita Moreno. But I had come from North Carolina, where there were no Spanish classes and I thought it would be fun, like art class. I didn't know you actually had to learn it and I think the window had already closed on the new language thing for me. All I ever learned to say was "Cuando arrelgran me cuarto! No encuentro nada! Tia Luisa!" which might (or might not, shut up) mean "My room is a mess and I can't find a thing! Aunt Louise!" I don't even have an Aunt Louise so how dumb is that language?

But! We went on a field trip to Mexico! Can you imagine? Two teachers and thirty students on a bus, across a national border by dark of night (they woke us up and we had to go into a sad green room and get the fuck scared out of us by the Mexican police) and then in the lovely city of Monterrey for three days? It just seems crazy and un-doable now. Like it sounds illegal or something. The other teacher was the eighth grade Spanish teacher, Señora Ornelas and she was one miserable bitch, let me tell you. All of the meals were orchestrated and planned and they were all in the dining room of the Gran Hotel Ancira, which seemed fancy to my seventh-grade eyes but was probably just a normal hotel. All of the meals involved roasted chicken and one night there were a couple of us who wanted to try other things, you know, like MEXICAN FOOD. Señora Ornelas shut us down right quick and told us we were going to eat the roasted chicken because it was already PAID FOR and we were GOING TO LIKE IT. And she said it all in Spanish, and when I was later given a D on a Spanish test in the eighth grade, I tried to argue that a D simply wasn't possible because I had understood all the words Señora Ornelas had said that one time in Mexico. Señora Ornelas said "DG, you've made your bed and now you must lie in it." And I said "I choose to sleep on the floor." I was then sent to the office where I was paddled by the vice-principal, after which I vowed revenge against Señora Ornelas, a vow I have kept close to my heart all these years later and I swear to you if I ever lay eyes on that beady-eyed Señora Ornelas again, I will give her a piece of my mind. In fluent Spanish: ¡Tu cara de madre estas mismo mi culo!

ANYWAY. The day after being denied authentic Mexican food, we went to the neighboring town of Saltillo, where Señora Ornelas rode a sombrero-wearing donkey. Like most people who choose to ride a donkey, she looked like an idiot.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Episode 60: How to Budget

Well Christ on a cracker, people. Thanks to the monstrous, mind-boggling incompetence of, oh, every elected official since 1967, I'm now officially on a budget! And also it seems that my Great Drive Across America in early August wreaked (wroke?) a little havoc on a credit card I wasn't supposed to be using very much and now I am practically like a member of the goddamned Joad family, eating locusts for dinner and washing my clothes with a stick.

It's hard but I have discovered some ways to keep things cheap. The main one is: drink at home. You'd be surprised at how much money you can save by not going to bars. For one thing, the drinks are about 80 percent cheaper and for another, you aren't tempted by drinks that cost thirteen dollars in the first place because let's face it: you don't have any elderflower liqueur at home so you won't be needing to make any drinks that have that in it. You also won't be tempted to buy other people drinks, which I almost never am anyway because every single time I have done that, they're all happy with beer until the drink offer comes and then it's all "ooohhhh, could I see the wine list?" and it's all downhill from there; before you know it, you're pulling out the previously mentioned verboten credit card so you don't have to pay with loose change from your car. It really is surprising how many drinks I've paid for with loose change. Drinking at home also cuts down on the number of DUIs that might come your way, so it's win-win.

ANYWAY! Another way to save money on strong waters is to be friends with restaurant owners. You just show up and say "hey! Is there any sample wine? How about any marked-out-of-stock bourbon? Or wait, I know - GRAPPA!" And there always is and they hand it over like I have a gun to their heads. It's like magic. If magic involved putting a keychain in a hat and pulling out a dry Manhattan instead of a rabbit. Which it should be, as far as I'm concerned. I mean, let's face it - who the fuck needs a rabbit?

Episode 59: How to Change a Tire

Oh sure, I know what you're thinking. "Why changing a tire is as easy as pie! If those dirty mechanics can do it, surely I can as well!" And you're right...you can! But here is a cautionary tale, just in case you're getting a little too big for your britches.

My very first automobile was a 1972 Chevrolet pickup. Rust-colored. Not originally; I think she was brown first but gradually rust sort of became the overall color-scheme by the time she came my way in the early Eighties. Her name was Angel and she had a wooden bed. A bed made of wood! Gee, the Seventies were a long time ago, weren't they? Anyway, Angel was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and let me just say...nothing good ever came out of Tuscaloosa, Alabama and I have seen the list of things that have come out of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. So Dad and his friend Charlie went down to buy Angel for me - she cost ninety dollars - and hmmm, my mom or someone (this part's fuzzy) followed them back while they drank fifty six-packs of beer (it was the 80s!) and suddenly she noticed something...empty beer cans were falling from underneath Angel as Dad drove her back! No, Angel wasn't some sort of beer-can-laying magical hen - I wish! - no, she just had holes in her floorboards and the empties were falling out through them. The good thing was if Mom fell too far behind in the second car, she could just follow the beer cans.

So Angel was mine. We had many adventures together: I rear-ended an Indian family (dot variety, not woo-woo) on the way to a rock concert at the Armory. Once my friend Julie and I stole some blinking road signs and put them in the back of Angel and then we shoved them all under our other friend Greg's car so that when he started his car and put it in reverse, he'd tear his muffler off, which he totally did along with busting his gas tank. Oh ha ha ha ha, those were the carefree days of innocence, were they not?

But here's the story I am supposed to be telling: Angel once had a flat tire and since she was the sort of car held together with eight pieces of masking tape and a rubber band, it was easy enough to change the tire myself...twirl twirl, flap flap, switch. My parents were in the process of moving to another house, so after I changed my tire, I loaded up Angel and carried some stuff over to the new house and then on the way back, (cue dramatic music!) the front left tire just flew off and sped across two lanes of oncoming traffic! Sparks from the disc-y wheel-y thing flew into the open drivers' window as I slammed on the brakes and veered into the center turning lane. I hopped out and had absolutely no idea what to do - the tire had rolled off into a field, lost forever, and a good inch or two of that metal disc had gotten worn down. And having been schooled in the nighttime soap opera intrigue of Falcon Crest and Dynasty, there could only be one explanation for this latest turn of events: someone was trying to kill me. So I sprang into inaction and left Angel there in the suicide lane and walked home, where I fixed a lovely glass of strawberry Quik and settled down to watch a very compelling episode of Knots Landing, where an eerily similar plot was unfolding, when one Miss Jill Bennett committed suicide by tying herself up and gagging herself and putting herself in someone's trunk, where she died, thus framing the owner of the car for her murder. (Which might possibly have happened later in the run of Knot's Landing, but this is how I remember it).

Mom and Dad were quite surprised to see Angel in the middle of the street when they followed me home an hour or so later. Dad says he remembers cop cars there; Mom says he's exaggerating (which is a family trait, so....) but the end result was that Angel got towed home and I got in trouble (no one bought my murder plot explanation) and I also didn't get to watch the rest of that episode of Knot's Landing... so if someone could please tell me what ultimately happened with regards to the Jill Bennett plotline, that'd be great. And it was all because I didn't put the lug-nuts back on when I changed the tire. Hehehe. I said "lug-nuts."

Monday, September 15, 2008

Episode 58: How to Be Charitable

Okay, so this one time I went to this big fancy benefit for some charity or something and it was a dress-up thing, sort of costume-y or at the very least formalish. It was in different locations; you moved from one to another over the course of the night, which never made much sense because the event was sponsored by Absolut and they practically forced us to drink fifteen vodka cocktails at every stop and there were like nine stops, so you can just pull out your stupid iPhones and calculate that right up right now, whydontcha? A bunch of friends and I all decided to go together; the theme was something Vegas-y but also somehow Nashville-y so my friend Jeff and I decided to go as Siegfried and Roy Clark, but we couldn't find the right outfits so at the last minute we went as Liberace and an employee of Caesar's Palace, like maybe a doorman, dressed as a Roman centurion. Trust me, it made sense at the time.

So anyway, there were like ten of us and we couldn't quite figure out how to move everyone around from place to place, so we ended up renting a big U-Haul and putting my living room furniture in there (it's very safe, I'm sure!) and everyone piled into the back of the van while Liberace drove around town from place to place trying to figure out how and where you parked a giant U-Haul full of drunkards. We ended up just pulling in front of each place and unspooling the ramp and parading down the ramp into the various parties while everyone stared at us like Apollo 10 had just landed. But! Before we did that we picked up our friend, hmmm, Fleffanie (name changed to protect almost everyone involved) , who is one funny girl but when she has to go to the bathroom, this girl has to go to the bathroom. And, as it turned out, she had to go to the bathroom. So all my friends are sitting in the back of the U-Haul in the dark when suddenly there came a hissing/dribbling/peeing sound. Psssssssss dribbbyyy driiiibbbbyyyyy and then: sob sob sob sob. Sobbing crying. And deadly quiet from the other people in the back, who were all silently praying that there wouldn't be a sudden lurch forward. Which there was! And everyone backed up against the very front wall of the truck and stared through the inky black darkness in the general direction of the crying peeing girl.

So you remember that when some Girl Scout comes to your door trying to get you to donate money to her organization. You might end up with pee-feet. Sure it's a good cause but in the end, pee-feet are still pee-feet.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Episode 57: How to Stalk a Celebrity

I know, I know. You're thinking to yourself "gosh, after just learning how to use a fake ID I wonder if I can use those same skills to manufacture an all-access backstage pass to Suzanne Somers' upcoming county fair performance!" Devoted reader, I advise against it mainly because it's simply easier to just outright stalk a celebrity in his or her natural setting. In the case of Miss Somers, I suggest you start hanging around the Dairy Queen; she's surely due for her shift any time now.

Anyway, as I'm sure you can imagine, living in Nashville does have its advantages. Did you hear my eyes roll? One of them is that a lot of celebrities are here and I always enjoy seeing them doing mundane things. It's funny to see Emmylou Harris at Target looking at clock radios, which I did one time. Or Nicole Kidman enjoying a nourishing hot bowl of steam at a local bistro, which I have also seen. Tipper Gore - soon after the 2000 White House loss - once looked over my shoulder as I operated the computer at a restaurant. She seemed interested, but then maybe she was trying to figure out where her next paycheck was coming from and perhaps thought she should brush up on her skillset. Bonus feature: the valet reported that she was listening to an Usher cd in her car. I've managed to be in the same room as both Dolly Parton and Lily Tomlin (though not at the same time), thus inching me closer to the 9 to 5 trifecta. One Jane Fonda to go.

I waited on River Phoenix one year to the day before he died. He was with that snooty Samantha Mathis and it was the Halloween shift and I was dressed as a Sprocket (remember when Mike Myers was funny? Gosh, that seems so long ago!). He didn't laugh a single time at any of my touch-my-monkey jokes, but perhaps he was not a Sprockets fan. However he was a militant vegetarian and ordered everything all crazy complicated and we were super busy so I sort of forgot to write any of that down and when his pasta dish came out, he ate it all up, slurp slurp slurp, even though there were about two cups of chicken stock in it. And there's your Psychopedia lesson for the day: avoid canned chicken stock. It's a gateway drug that will eventually lead to your eventual heroin overdose on the Sunset Strip.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Episode 56: How to Tailgate

There are two deep dark secrets I have (hahahaha, no, there are like a hundred and seven) that seem to surprise people: I like to go camping (more about that later) and also I love NFL football. I don't know why those things are so surprising; I guess people think I'm just sitting at home obsessively polishing my Fabergé eggs and combing out kitty wigs. But no, I'm not doing either of those things, at least not on weekends - those are more like Tuesday-ish activities. The football thing seems to surprise people the most. I can't imagine what they'd do if they knew that I was also a fierce Fantasy Football participant (team name: Awesome Thunder, though it used to be Mincing Prisspots and before that, Beaver Patrol).

Over the last four years, I have been the beneficiary of free tickets to Tennessee Titans home games, and over the last decade, I have supported them through better and worse, richer and poorer, cheaper beer and not cheaper beer. NFL games are not really a place for liberal-leaning Democrats. There's lots of standing and praying and heart-covering and anthem singing and military plane flyovers and GINORMOUS waving American flags and, oh, I don't know, slitting of fingertips and mixing up all the white people blood. It's a lot of American rah-rah, and you have to mean it, or you get the hairy eyeball from every Klan member this side of Pulaski, TN - birthplace of the KKK - which is almost all of the people in my section, as far as I can tell, except for the delightful Catholic family I tailgate and attend with...and we all take a nap during the third quarter anyway, which is when all the white power snake charmers get up to their recruitment mischief, I'm sure.

It's super stressful right now to go to a game and endure all the enforced patriotism because of the upcoming Revolution or possible not-Revolution, where they just might sell us all into oil-company slavery but that's okay because Jesus wants us to drill offshore and ruin everything his supposed father spent all those seven days making all pretty and shit and... wait, what was I talking about? SEE? That's what happens at football games: you go to drink seven dollar beer and root for some two-digit-IQ-having-quarterback and a bunch of hulking guys who never wrote one single college paper and you end up signed up for a no-sex-before-marriage promise ring and you're singing backup for the motherfucking Mormon Tabernacle Choir. But! At least there are nachos.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Episode 55: How to Not Kill Yourself on a Friday

Bad things happen on Fridays. I just looked up a few of them. For instance, Peter the Great imposed a tax on beards on a Friday. Squeaky Fromme tried to shoot President Ford on a Friday. John Roberts was nominated for the Supreme Court on a Friday. On the Road by Mister Jack Kerouac was published on a Friday! And those are all just some of the things that happened on just the Friday, September 5ths throughout history! Imagine if you look at all the other Fridays how many that multiplies out to. (Um, upon fact-checking, I realize that I have it wrong; all those things happened on September 5th, not necessarily a Friday. But I'm not re-researching; that's for the lovely people at Alfred A Knopf or the kind gentlemen at Farrar Straus and Giroux to do. Hint hint.)

One thing I do have right is that you should never ever ever go to lunch with the boss on a Friday, especially if the boss initiates it. If such an invitation comes your way, I am here to tell you that you are about to be fired. This very thing happened to an old boss of mine just a few years ago, when her boss called her at home and asked if she'd meet him for lunch at a very fancy restaurant later in the day. Now my boss was a smart lady and she said "are you going to fire me?" and her boss said "we'll talk at lunch" and my boss said "fuck that; if you're gonna fire me, I don't want lunch...I want the fifty dollars lunch was gonna cost." She ended up falling in love, moving to Louisville and going to the Kentucky Derby, where she hit the trifecta or the doubledown or the quadraplegic or whatever it is those gambling addicts call that stuff. So you see, skipping lunch really pays off.

I myself never even bother going to work on Fridays just to avoid getting fired. So don't say you never learned anything from the Psychopedia.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Episode 54: How to Slice a Sandwich

Ugh. If there's one thing I can't stand it's baby talk, or more specifically full-grown adults who infantalize every word with more than three syllables. There is nothing grosser on this earth than listening to a forty-five year old otherwise normal person say "veggies." It makes me want to choke them, seriously. You can talk to a BABY that way or if you have a dog that weighs less than five pounds, maybe. Or if you've had a stroke and have to spell everything out with your blinking eyelid and that extra syllable or two really might cause some sort of irreversible eyelid sprain. Other than those exceptions, just say the goddamned word.

Another one I've noticed a lot of lately is people who say "samwich" instead of "sandwich." I can't decide if people are being cute or if they're just stupid; it's hard to tell because the line between those two things can be so, so fine. And don't get me STARTED on "sammiches." And I just KNOW that that is the sole responsibility of one Miss Rachael RAY and I suggest you don't bring HER NAME UP around me EITHER.

I think I'm ranting too much today. I better go eat some Lemonheads and calm down.