Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Crazy Ass

When I was about 12, my mom dropped me off at the movie theatre so that I could see the Disney flick Gus. It was about a mule that played football and I was not interested in either topic. My agenda was escape from my mother and my house where there was never anything to do. However, when I arrived at the multiplex in the mall, I was consumed with all the self consciousness that a 12-year old girl can muster. I was beset with internal questions: “Was I the only one buying tickets to this baby movie? Am I too old to see a Disney movie? I’m practically a teenager! What if everyone in the mall found out and laughed at my childishness behind my back, or worse, to my face?” (A totally improvised illusion based on self-loathing)

After I'd purchased the ticket from the intimidating cool teenager at the ticket booth, I thought I'd implode with shame. I purchased the usual snack bar accoutrement, Junior Mints and a Coke. This was 1976 when those foods were still good for us kids. After all, our breakfast cereals were called "Sugar Smacks" and "Sugar Frosted Flakes." I think they must have taken all the sugar out now because they're just "Smacks" and "Frosted Flakes."

I slipped into the theatre and found it totally empty. I was just standing there with my soda, my candy, and my anxiety-ridden preteen hormones. It quickly came upon me that I had made a gargantuan social mistake, like a booger dangling off the end of my nose. It was inevitable that some cooler, more mature kids would peek into this theatre and I'd be sitting by myself watching a talking mule movie ... and I didn't even like football! I had to get the hell out of there. I turned right around and walked out.

In sheer panic, I ducked into the next theatre without looking at the title and sat down toward the front of the theatre so that nobody would pass by me and find out that I'd snuck in. There were about 20 people in the theatre and they were all adults. So I stayed because I was earnestly hoping I could fit in.

The movie was about an insane asylum in the 1800's. The inmates had taken over and had been torturing the doctors and nurses, but they deserved it. At one point, some of the inmates left the facility and attacked a passing stagecoach with a woman inside. They stripped off her clothes, tied her to a tree and attacked her. I was riveted.

It was during the nudity scene that I really started to be aware of my danger. I was imagining the much cooler teenage theatre employee dragging me out of my seat yelling "Hey! Who let this kid out of the Gus movie!" So I sat on my foot to be taller and practiced different facial expressions in the dark in case they came in and recognized me from the ticket booth. I could not pay attention to the movie because of my concern that I'd be arrested and thrown into mall jail. I could not leave because I couldn't let anyone see me. So there I sat, in my first R movie.

In hindsight, I can see that this movie had quite an impact on my life. I have always tried to avoid insane asylums and mules.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

"Hello?"

Have you ever walked up to a person to say ‘hi’ and then realized that they were probably trying to avoid making eye contact with you? I think that just happened. I was standing in line for a cup of coffee, then I made my way over the milk and sugar island, at last I found a table in the corner, next to the window. On my way to the coveted table, I passed a mom that I just met. We had a few things in common like motherhood and sports. But that’s where it ended. She is definitely not like me. Cool and stuff like that. I stopped on my way to the table and stood behind her for a minute. Nothing. Then I tapped her shoulder and said, with a big stupid grin “Hi, remember me?” She was slumped over with her head in a group of people, having a conversation with people who wore glasses. In other words, they look much smarter than me.

As she turned around, she did not have a look of surprise, it was more like a look of embarrassment, like I just caught her smelling her armpits. She said “Oh, I thought I …. Yah, that that was you”.

Alright, I’m not a striking beauty or an ogre. I’m pretty much vanilla pudding in a white cup. Boring, but probably pretty easy to recognize if you just met me YESTERDAY and had a 30 minute conversation with me. That’s when I realized that she had been hiding from me, I think. It really looked that way anyway. I’ve done it lots of times before. Where I’ve spotted someone I just didn’t want to spend one minute conversing with for whatever reason. Be it hatred or just have an in-my-cave day.

In addition to that look of discomfort on her face, I also noticed that her friends were not introduced to me. Her part of the greeting was quick and dismissive and I felt an overwhelming need to retreat, like I had just come up on the cool kids and realized that I had toilet paper on my shoe.

So I bid farewell and planted myself at the little window table with me and my friend, the laptop. I’m blogging, writing, brainstorming, and basically looking like every other wannabe writer in the place. It’s humiliating, really.

However, if I was to call my best friend Kathy and tell her all about it, she would say “The only thing you’re guilty of is being friendly”. Guilty, as charged.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Where's Johnny?


This is Johnny ... perhaps. Okay, not really.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Hot Closet

When I was young and working in a small law firm, I was sort of adopted by one of the lawyers. Her name was Ricki and she absolutely fell in love with my son, Sean, who was only two-years old at the time. Since we were very poor and struggled with things like gas money and food, she would try and help us out whenever we had an emergency and that was weekly.

I recall that I admired here soft cotton nightgown once and the next time I came to visit, she had bought me one too. So not only did she help me with emergencies, she also recognized the importance of having something nice. She was another one of my Fairy God Mothers that I received from the Universe.

Her husband was a veterinarian and she was a lawyer. They had a big house, nice, cars, and two out-of-control children that I would babysit sometimes. I've never been naturally great with children. Mine, yes. Yours? It depends. But she helped me so much that I simply had to.

One afternoon, the little girl Chrissie was bawling and screaming and completely hysterical over the disappearance of her Barbie. I ran all over the McMansion hunting for Barbie. Out of frustration and necessity I employed the assistance of an expert, her big brother, Johnny. "Do you know where Barbie is?" I pleaded. Without making eye contact, he shrugged his shoulders with all the enthusiasm of a DMV employee. "If you help me find her, I'll pay you a QUARTER!" Kids are so easy to exploit.

He got off of the sofa and casually looked under the cushion he had been sitting on, then he walked over to the table and calmly looked at it. Suddenly he broke into a nervous fast paced walk down the hallway but I was hot on his tail because I sensed guilt and fear from him. With his head hung low, he opened the linen closet door and backed away.

I drew my breath as I witnessed a petite sex scene in progress. Upon the middle shelf, splayed out on a pile of fluffy ivory towels, Barbie lay naked on her back with her legs straight out and her little toes forever in the semi-point position. Her triangular tits at full attention were just a little less confident than usual. Despite her painted pink smile, I sensed that she was there against her will.

She was mounted by an action hero on steroids. His clothes were painted on so that he didn't have to suffer the same unimaginable shame that poor Barbie had to endure. He was obviously overcompensating with muscular overgrowth and that douche bag grin on his face. He likely suffered from impotence and tiny testicles from all the steroids he obviously shot up. No, he was not her American hero.

A small flashlight was turned on and balanced high on top of a washcloth stack, thus making the perfect spotlight for the hot action. I couldn't tell what I had stumbled upon: a plastic porno, a rape, or an excruciatingly well-lit and uncomfortable sleepover. I grabbed Barbie before Chrissie could see the damage and gave little Johnny a look of great disappointment and a quarter.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Barbie Hates to Ski


My very first trip to the snow was a wonderland of winter beauty. My mother and I rode a Greyhound bus. I suppose it was easier than putting chains on our AMC Hornet station wagon, although I’m sure my mother could have done it, she could do anything including fix a broken toilet. Gloria Steinem was proud.

A greyhound bus ride when you’re seven-years old in the 1970’s was a journey of euphoria. I would imagine it to be pretty creepy in this millennium but that’s just my cynical suspicions. I was positively freaking out on the inside of my skin and could hardly hold still in the big stiff seat with no seatbelts. The bathroom in the back of the bus was like a visit to a world where everything was my size. There was a tiny toilet with dolphin blue water and a sink that I didn’t even need to get on my tippy-toes to use. I loved the sound that the door lock made when it slid into the “occupied” position. The magical light automatically illuminated and the smell of sweet urinal cakes wafted through the air.

Back in our row, I was allowed to sit by the giant window even though I could hardly see anything down below the aluminum window frame. As we ascended the mountain I could start to see the dirty sludge on the side of the road. It wasn’t at all what I had expected the snow to look like. It was nothing like the Christmas shows on television but I was still bouncing up and down in the seat saying “There it is! There it is!” If they would have let me out of the bus, I would have splayed right out in the brown/black sludge and made a defiled snow angel. But as the miles dropped behind us and our mighty Greyhound downshifted up the mountain, there grew a white wall of snow beside us. It looked like a giant knife had sliced off the messy edges of a towering meringue pie and left the bus with a clean black road to drive on. I sat on top of my feet so that I could see more out the window which had become very cold to touch. I secretly licked the window when my mother was busy reading a book with no pictures and it tasted like dirt, salt, and tin foil. It was marvelous!

A sign on the side of the road read “Soda Springs, next exit” and my mother told me we were almost there. This was the question I had been repeatedly asking for the past four hours and the answer was, to my continuous frustration, vague until now. I had been tuned into Barbieland for the past hour. She had been changed in and out of 35 different outfits reflecting her perfect versatility from beach to evening to flight attendant. None of ensembles matched what was left of her shoe collection though: One yellow pump and a black boot. Like me, Barbie pulled off her own unique style.

It was dusk by the time we arrived at our lodge. Through the window of the bus and in my memory now, there was an unusual electric blue cast on everything leaving only two colors; blue and black. It was stark and supernatural. The driver pulled the mighty Greyhound into the parking lot covered with snow and slush. I was not allowed to leap from the bus the moment it stopped, as I had planned. We had to gather our travel activities, make sure Barbie had her boot on, and give the other passengers a chance to exit. I had been practicing standing in lines and taking turns in elementary school, so I understood the theory, however, I always felt like I was the only one not cutting. I still feel that way.

My first step on real snow crunched and gave me a false sense of stability. The second step was a little less confident. Each step toward the front door of the lodge brought more doubt and fear. I could see that this trip to the snow was not going to live up to my na├»ve Hollywood expectations. I was not a graceful faller due to my skinny giraffe-like legs and boney butt. In life I avoided anything where I might fall or get hit by a ball. That’s why Barbie was such a good companion for me. She hated all that stuff too.

The next morning we headed for the slopes so that I could play in the snow. My mother had found magical overalls that kept all the snow and water out, even if I sunk all the way up to my armpits. This sinking game lasted for a while and was hilarious until I started to feel funny. My head felt as if it was beating with my heart drums and they were getting faster and faster. Sweat was quickly forming on my face and under my beanie with the big fluffy ball on top. I couldn’t catch my breath and felt like I might throw-up. I looked over at my mom for help and the next thing I knew I was waking up on my back in the snow with my mother fanning my face. I fainted. I’m a fainter.

As I got older, there would be at least one opportunity each year to go to the snow. And each year I’d pretend to like it. Simply put, I’d will myself to be excited because it was too embarrassing to admit that I was the Strange One visiting here from another planet where snow was punishing and scary. Everybody else loves the snow, they love to ski, and they’re good at it. Even geeks and little old ladies are good at skiing but not me. I’d rather play with Barbie.

Friday, January 9, 2009

What an Innocent Angel


Look at him. Isn't he pretty? That's my 22-year old, Sean. Children are always lovely when they're sleeping, even when their adults. Awe, an angelic sight.

Last night he called. It seems that his girlfriend who works in a very high end spa had invited some friends from work over to their apartment. I'm sure she was really excited about getting to know some new people. Alaska in the winter is brutal unless you're addicted to frozen dinners and QVC. Her new girlfriends brought their significant others. I'm so happy that she's making friends in their new town.

Someone suggested watching a movie so Marlee (Sean's girlfriend) flipped on the tele and guess what popped up on the screen? One hardcore porno right it mid action (they usually are stopped in a very critical point). He reported to me, without any detail, that it was a super raunchy film and at just the worst part. Everyone sat their with their mouths hanging open while his girlfriend frantically tried to eject the humiliation.

Atta boy, son. You make your mother proud.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Mystery on the Beach


In a very nice Northern California coastal town called Capitola, my boyfriend Alex and I went to a club called Margaritaville. I was only 22 in 1987 so the thought of going to a club at the coast seemed like something Molly Ringwald might do, so I was in.

I had this sweet little halter dress made of army green cotton with a big wide belt to accentuate my tiny waste. I wore my favorite pale pink pumps that I bought on one of my last credit cards before they all got cancelled after my separation from my husband. My earrings were two and a half pounds each, a la’ Paula Abdul. I put on extra hair gel and cheap hair spray so that I would make a grand entrance at a nose bleeding 6’2” height, which is 5’9” tall + 3” heels + 2” of vertical hair. I had a few drinks before we even started off for the hour drive. I had lots of self-confidence when I left my apartment, but I was definitely thirsty for some more by the time we got to Margaritaville.

We drove up in my 1979 Datsun 210. Its paint job in its last life had probably been a vibrant red, but now, after years humiliation, it was trying to slowly become invisible one shade at a time, finally fading into the color of a toilet plunger. My mom bought me the car for $750 after I totaled my last car. It was really generous of her, but I couldn’t get past the roof lining that had separated from the roof and continuously rested on my head. I would keep sticking the fabric onto the old gummy roof and in 15 minutes it would start touching my head again, slowly getting lower and lower until it looked like I was wearing a giant grey water bottle on my head.

By the time we got there, some of the shine had worn off my “woo hoo” attitude and I began to feel the real sense of me. The poor single mother with no prospects and a rubber hammock resting on the top of my spikey, fluffy hair. Nonetheless, Alex was always trying to impress me with what little he had. He would always get the car door for me, which is just silly when you’re getting out of a car with all the class of a cigarette butt floating in a stale beer.

I sauntered, yes positively glided up the front door of Margaritaville and could hear the Huey Lewis and the News blasting from inside. Just then the dread started to set in so hard I couldn’t ignore what was to come. I could sense without even opening the door that this would not be my crowd. My crowd was at the Green Lantern – a shithole bar with a shuffle board, juke box, and an old upright piano which I’d play after I got totally drunk. I don’t know how to play anything except a Boogie Woogie kind of song that my mom taught me so that I’d learn how to use both hands. Whenever someone would try and stop me, I'd say "Now I have to start all over again!"

No, Margaritaville would offer no comfort to me. At the Green Lantern you’d find El Caminos, Ford Fiestas, and a Country Squire with bald tires. But parked along the beautiful winding scenic streets of Capitola there were BMWs and Porches. Alex opened the heavy swinging wood door for me and I tried to maintain my confidence but I immediately felt my shoulders sag and my feet fell into a self-conscious shuffle.

Everyone there knew each other, or at least that’s what it felt like. There were beautiful blonde girls with toasted almond tans and Heather Locklear teeth chatting exuberantly with Calvin Klein underwear models. They could smell my funk and I could taste their success. I hated them so much that I wanted to be just like them. But that would never happen because rich people look different. They’re born that way and it doesn’t matter how much money you spend on trying to look just like them, they’ll sniff you out and recoil at your averageness.

There was only one place for me in this club, the bar. This is where I could reconnect with my self-esteem, or at least pass out trying.

Later on that night, after sitting at the bar with Alex for a couple of hours with our eyes darting around to watch the Lovely People, trying to chit-chat and laugh as if we were in on some kind of interesting conversation, I finally gave up. “Fuck it, let’s get out of here!” I slurred loudly at Alex and dragged him outside. Being the welcome mat boyfriend that he was, he just went along with whatever I wanted.

We headed down to the beach only footsteps away, but I was too drunk to walk in my heels anymore so Alex would carry them for me. He would just follow behind my staggering steps picking up my dropping personal items. First my shoes, then my wide belt, then my earrings, then my dress.

By the time we got to the beach, I was drunk and naked because those two things go hand-in-hand. If you’re going to be naked on the beach in Northern California, you really should be drunk because unlike Southern California beaches ours drop down to a bone chilling 12 degrees with windchill at night. The beach was empty and dark but the moon was full. I rolled around in the sand and ran up and down the shoreline while Alex watched. I was crazed with freedom. But then I decided to take a little swim and again unlike the Southern beaches, our water is freezing and dangerous so I opted for a swim in a watery hole that had been filled from many a high tide night. We could see the restaurant patio diners eating dinner, which I suppose meant that they could see me.

I tried to be very sexy and mysterious but even Alex, who would do anything I asked, would not skinny-dip on the beach. But I was full of courage and vodka and simply insisted on it. I slowly walked into the little pool of water. The water was warm enough to swim in so I dove in and splashed around, making a ruckus and singing to the music from the club above me. But as I romped around I started to notice some dark splotches on my arms. I could wipe them away with water but then they’d come back after another dip. I was starting to smell something that was like a cross between ammonia and seaweed. I walked up to the shallow part to look at my whole body which, by then, was covered in these dark spots and they were quite slimy.

Then I recalled when we first arrived at the romantic swimming hole that there had been some large aquatic birds swimming around in it. Like geese or pelicans or something? I couldn’t quite remember, but that would explain the warm smelly slimy things all over my naked wet body … Shit! I was covered in shit. I screamed and ran from the water but had nothing to clean myself off with so I threw back on my cute little halter dress which then clung to me like green wet toilet paper. My hair was matted and smelly and horrible. My eyeliner was running down my face, I was sure, and I had unfortunately sobered up.

We walked back up to the street and passed all the pretty people in the clubs, dining in the restaurants, and sitting in their German cars. They’d gawk at the horrible barefoot peasant in the shit covered dress with her man-servant carrying her knock-off purse and pale pink pumps. I threw up outside the car and then got in the passenger seat for the long ride home.

You see, this is difference between rich people and poor people; a rich person would have had a towel.