Friday, August 28, 2009

The Magic Incantation for Finding Things

The minute I say this out loud:
"I think [name] stole my [thing]"
it will magically appear and thus remind me that I'm a paranoid anti-social lame brain because it was right where I left it. Either in that special place where I'll remember it later. Or the secret drawer where nobody ever looks. That's why I can never accuse anyone to their face. I have to say it behind their back so that I don't owe anyone an apology. Because there's nothing worse than saying "I'm sorry." Except for maybe "I was wrong."

After I had finished removing the truckloads of trash from Ain't Diane's house and after the estate sale, we called in the Salvation Army to remove the final remnants of an overly gathered life. However, when I returned the next day I looked for my expensive vacuum and it wasn't there! I had specifically asked my mother to put a note on it and not let them take it. But no, it was gone. It was the final nail in my resentment coffin engraved with "Thanks a lot, Aunt Diane."

I was so full of self-pity and righteous indignation that I had to spend an hour composing myself before I even spoke to my mom. I tried to have a forgiving spirit. Then I tried to talk myself out of wanting it back because it was used to suck up all the rat shit while I kept saying in my head "they're only Raisinettes, they're only Raisinettes, they're only Raisinettes." I reflected on my poor mother's stress in loosing her sister and dealing with the estate. How could I expect her to keep track of my one thing? I tried to give the vacuum to the universe saying "It has gone on to someone who needed it more" and that just made me want to drive to Salvation Army and yank it from some poor person's hands. "Mine!" I'd say. Nothing worked.

At last, I reached a fake gentle tone in my heart and called my mom to ask about it. She was seriously apologetic and took it all on herself. My youngest daughter hugged me and said "I'm sorry the Army guys took your vacuum, mom." Sigh. My mom gave me $200 to replace it. Instead of saying thank you, I said something shitty like "Well, I suppose that will be a start. It was a very expensive vacuum, mom."

I researched my options on the Internet, reading reviews from consumers and experts alike. It took me three days. I went to three different local stores so that I could feel, lift, push, and open them. After all that, I simply went to Sears and purchased the exact same model I had before and it was less than $200. I asked for some bags because I hate running out and plus I wanted to spend all of that $200. Then they gave me the receipt which I had to drive all the way over to the loading dock. While waiting in the line, I tell someone who doesn't care that my vacuum was taken by the Army guys. Finally they brought out a large box and told me it was light enough for me to lift and carry myself. Thanks.

It was so cumbersome that it sat in the back of my car for another day before I lugged it in my front door. I brought the little plastic bag of vacuum bags over to my new hall closet to "put them where they go" and guess what was standing there staring at me? My old vacuum. I swear it was mocking me. My first instinct was: Hide it, nobody has to know.

I went with my second intuition (which seems to always be better than my first) and called my mom and confessed. She laughed so hard I could hear her eyes closing and I pictured her leaning way back in her little office chair. Like the good mom that she is she laughed at my ridiculousness. I returned the vacuum to the stupid loading dock which has all the ambiance of the Planned Parenthood office in B.F. Egypt.

As of today, I'm missing my giant cutting board that I just bought and my bread knife. I'm pretty sure one of my girlfriends snatched it either during a party or they broke in afterwards and ran away with it. So, now that I've officially blamed someone else, I'm ready to find them in some conspicuous place that makes me feel horrible about myself.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Lucky the Turtle

There's something about naming your pet "Lucky" that invites irony. This pet turtle lost his legs in a UFC fight with a raccoon but he didn't let that slow him down. His owners forked out $900 to to amputate his front legs and glue on these furniture sliders. Here's the whole story that I know you need to know about.

If I lost my legs in a fight with a raccoon, I'd like to have them replaced with one or two of the following prosthetics:
a) Giant springs
b) A replica of Cheryl Crow's legs
c) Machine guns (a la Planet Terror)

Now in my extensive research (i.e., Google) I've found a blog entirely devoted to animals in casts. Just for the record, I also love to watch people fall. Even old people. I'm wicked.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Steve the Turtle

Sean was five. He needed a pet like he needed candy. Bad. It took years for him to discover the truth about me: I'm incapable of keeping living things alive. Unless it makes noise it's doomed to a slow dry death. Crying and whining is an audible alarm system that nature has put inside children so that their parents will do anything to make them stop. Including, and not limited to, shopping, cooking, feeding, and cleaning.

Back then we lived in an apartment in a town that people made fun of. But it was affordable for me. Being a "renter" meant we were limited to the types of pets we could own. There was always a contractual ban on any animal that might be, in the slightest of ways, fun. Birds are too loud, fish tanks are to heavy, dogs are too destructive, cats pee too much.

Little Sean begged and begged to have a turtle and since this seemed like an inexpensive animal to own, he was given a little green box turtle with red marks on the side of his head. He looked pretty sporty. For a turtle. I thought it might be a hermaphrodite, or at least a-sexual. But we decided that he looked masculine. Most turtles do unless they have a bow on their head and even then, they just look like a bad present. So we named him Steve. We got a terrarium and a dish. The feeding instructions were simple: Fresh vegetables and water.

Perhaps Steve was happy in the beginning. When Sean picked him up his fat legs would wiggle up into the shell like four cold green weenies. Sean tried to teach him his name by sitting down on the carpet and slapping his thighs. "Steve! Here Stevie! Come on, Steve!" But the turtle couldn't learn anything. Quickly Sean lost interest and the turtle became sedentary, like a paperweight on Valium. Steve didn't know how to market himself. The tank became smelly and dingy. This made the turtle super unattractive to us. Sean would dutifully throw in some lettuce, shredded carrots and fill up the mayonnaise lid with water. But the turtle just sat there and stank.

One day, Bob, a friend who happened to work for Animal Control, visited. Sean was pleased to show off his pet turtle and he took Bob into his room. Quickly Bob stomped back into the living with an angry look on his face and said to me, quite rudely "Did you notice something was wrong with the turtle?" Besides being a stinky, boring, sexless, rock, no we hadn't noticed anything. "Well did you notice that it wasn't eating any of the food you keep dropping in?" Understandably one would assume that would be noticeable. "Or the smell? Didn't you notice the tank stinks like shit?!" Well of course that was quite noticeable but we were willing to accept the turtle's aroma since it didn't have other bad habits like barking or smoking.

With nothing but blank looks and shrugging shoulders in response, Bob finally got to the point "How long has that turtle been dead?!" He was disgusted with his discovery. Frankly Steve's prognosis resolved a lot of problems we had with him and he became more interesting.

That's why we don't have plants.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Attention Transvestites and Cross-Dressers

I was sitting around with my girlfriends the other night, before the Ain't Diane Estate Sale, boring them with the overwhelming details of trying to unload 70 years of unnecessary habitual collections and treasures in one week. One of the most difficult items to find homes for was her clothes. She was at least 6' tall, wore size 12 shoe, and her bra was a 42DDFF. Not everyone could just slip on one of her outfits and go on a job interview.

One of the girls suggested that transvestites and cross-dressers would really appreciate her wardrobe. Seriously brilliant! So I put an ad on Craigslist something like this:


Here's an estate sale for you!
Size 12 womens dress shoes
Size L and XL clothing for a 6 foot person
Plus Giant Bras!

I was thrilled at the prospect of placing Ain't Diane's clothing on someone spectacular. Someone in need. Someone with a size 12 foot! I fantasized about High School track coaches and Hewlet Packard engineers riffling through her beaded dresses and leather fringe jackets exclaiming "Oh My God! Can you believe this fits me?!" I wanted to see her giant multicolored sling backs on a big hairy man walking in the next Freedom Day Parade. I wanted to bring some adventure to these clothes. Ain't Diane would love it.

Before the estate sale, I received this message:

hi, wow you actually sell my size shoes-12....can you tell me what style shoes
and general condition as would have to drive from far away, do you have many ? thanks,

I just loved Bob already. I was warm all over thinking that he'd find some shoes that would fit him. I know how hard it was for Diane, so being a man it must be a constant process of disappointment. Too high, too narrow, too small, too boring.

On the day of the sale, I was waiting with great anticipation and enthusiasm for all the trannies and cross-dressers who'd arrive with their colorful tote bags and cash. I assumed most would arrive in their man clothing so they might be a little difficult to spot right away. But I'd look for big men with a little twinkle in their eye that said "I've got a secret." I watched for men who seemed nervous or uncomfortable and I was going to help them select some items and support them. I was ready for them.

Nothing. Only little tiny Mexican women were buying these tremendously gargantuan clothing. I couldn't conceive of what they'd do with a size 12 ladies shoe, but a buck is a buck. Then finally a large man walked in with a twinkle in his eye. His hair was all gerry curled out and his voice was sing-songy. Ah ah!!! Found one! He looked through things around the house with little interest and I wondered if he was trying to get up the nerve to rummage through the closets. I decided that I should take him under my wing.

"Excuse me, are you Bob?" I asked somewhat suspiciously.
"No. My name is Manny." and he looked at me like I'm crazy.
"Oh, can I help you find anything?" I said with hopefulness.
"No, I'm just here with my wife." Bummer.

It was sad, really. He would have looked better in the creme colored Liz Claiborne suit with the gold peek-a-boo sandals.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Ain't Diane

Please forgive me Aunt Diane. I'm about to lay it all out for everyone to share the experience of cleaning up after a lifetime of your gathering. I hope you are in an enlightened place where monetary items are laughable and watching your loved ones handle it is amusing.

When I calendar Aunt Diane on my iTouch, it comes out "Ain't Diane." Now that's true, isn't it? Because she ain't Diane no more. What's left in this house is some mementos of an exciting and energetic life. Too bad its mixed in with crazy stuff. Perhaps you can't have one without the other?

I arrive in her little mobile home village in a quaint little town and I park next to her car that we'll be lucky to sell for $500. I'm more inclined to donate it to the fire department for extrication exercises. It's a Ford Escort with a manual transmission. That's right, you have to shift it with your Starbucks hand. Maybe I could sell it to a Mormon.

I walk up to her large front porch with gigantic sprawling dead plants the size of a Janet Jackson. They're trying to stay alive, stretching out their tentacles to gather some moisture in the fake green indoor-outdoor grass/carpet that's tucked under the aluminum edges. But I stomp over the top of the leaves on the way to the front door because I don't have any extra time or energy to keep something alive. And I don't care. Because I'm mad that I'm here doing this.

My mom gave me my own key which slides in with all the ease of a porn star screwing Joan Rivers without lubrication. I just have to shove it and wiggle it until I get it far enough in that I can start cranking the little lock open until my fingers burn. The door opens and the smell wafts out and makes me recall my last trip to the zoo. I'm always disappointed when I open the door because every thing's still there. No robbery or fire yet.

Every room in the double-wide was filled from wall to wall and ceiling to floor with old boxes and stacks of papery things. There was a dark walkway that wound from the back door to the kitchen and then to the bedroom which was like walking in a cavern of garbage. The first time I entered was after she had died. I had never seen the inside of this home before, but the Sheriff's department warned me that it was bad. I could see it on their faces; pity for me because I was tagged by Fate "You're It!" and the smugness that they felt because they could just get in their vans and drive home but I was going to stay.

The first time I walked in I wasn't afraid of the mess, or germs, or the horrible things that come out of a body when it lays there for seven days in July. I was afraid of her ghost. [I watched too many scary movies as a young child and now I'm scarred for life]. I said out loud "I'm just here to help mom, she can't do this by herself" and since there was no answer i.e., bleeding walls, crashing dishes, or ectoplasm fountains coming from the sinks and toilets, I thought she approved of my presence.

I must say that after being there for two weeks, I was sort of disappointed that Ain't Diane didn't at least try and make contact. But then again, maybe she was moving things around the whole time and we couldn't tell.