This is another one of those short-short stories for the fiction for charity thing that ended up being longer than I intended. So much longer, in fact, that it's become a work in progress. In in the interest of getting these stories up in a timely fashion, I'm going to post Part I of Death Has No Name )tentative title). To be continued.
This one is for Dorkafork, who has unfortunately stopped blogging.
383 Hillside. 383 Hillside. Danny kept looking at the card and then looking at the house and each and every time, they matched up. It didn’t look like a temp agency. All the agencies he had been to before this were housed in brick buildings, except for the one that was in the sub level of the mall. That was the last one he had been to, and they had sent him here because they were closing up for summer vacation. What kind of business goes on summer vacation? Well, no matter. At least they were kind enough to send him somewhere else. Maybe he looked desperate. Maybe they could smell the Eu de Loser that seeped from his pores. Sure, yea. They felt sorry for him, what with the joblessness and the hopelessness and penniless, pitiful state of his wallet. So they sent him to....this house. Which was supposed to be a temp agency.
Danny knocked on the door. Sort of. What he actually did was brush his knuckle along the wood, so as not to make too loud a sound so when no one answered the door he could walk away and not be berated by Dina later on for not trying, because he did. They just didn’t answer. It wouldn’t be a lie to say he didn’t knock. There was knuckle meeting wood and as far as he was concerned, that was a knock and not a lie.
Too bad for Danny that someone inside that house had really good hearing because just as he was about to turn around and head back to his car, the door opened.
“Good day.” A middle aged woman with large breasts and a high, tight ass stood in the doorway. Danny didn’t mean to notice her breasts and ass. That is, he intended to look her in the eyes and say hello, but his brain pulled a fast one on him and directed his eyes towards first the breasts - which looked firm and full and encased in a push-up bra - and then to the woman’s ass, which was heart shaped and rose up in just the right spot and which Danny imaged he could bounce a quarter off of.
“Good day,” she said again.
“Uhh.. Good day. Indeed.” He struggled to stay focused on the woman’s face, without exactly focusing on the way her freckles seemed to form into a kiss. “Is this uhh...,” he glanced at his card and again at the house.
“Forrester Temp Agency. Yes.”
The woman opened the door a bit more and Danny took that as a sign to enter, even though the woman never actually said come in or do you want a job or would you like to bounce a quarter off my ass?.
It really was a house, with a welcome mat in the foyer and a living room that opened into a kitchen, where children’s drawings hung on the walls, hundreds and hundreds of drawings all taped and curled and faded and torn. Danny got his bad feeling, the one where his skin got all itchy and he automatically reached his hands up to his neck, where he began to scratch until he realized the woman was watching him, head tilted.
“Yep, yep. Ok.”
“Ok, because you look uncomfortable.”
Well yes, Danny thought. I’m uncomfortable because your ass is making me sweat and your wall homage to decades old children’s art is making me itch and oh, I just got this fleeting feeling that the worst decision I ever made in my life was to walk into this place.
“Oh, no. Just a little warm, is all.”
“Well, take off your coat. Mr. Forrester may be a minute, anyhow.”
The woman waltzed over to Danny - no, really, she waltzed - and deftly grabbed the sleeve of his jacket as she swung her arms out and over and the jacket waltzed away with her to the other side of the room, where she tossed it on a wall peg.
"Please, sit." She motioned to the couch, which was olive green stitched with a gold design, which made Danny think of the early 70's, which made him look at the drawings again, which he was sure was from the same decade as the couch. He sat straight upright, spine perfectly aligned, fingers folded together in his lap; a gentlemanly pose. The woman stood in the center of the living room, arms crossed, sizing up Danny. She was actually hmmming and mmhmming as her eyes traveled up and down his body and Danny started scratching his neck again and he knew that under his gray turtleneck, his skin was now blotchy, welted and pink.
Her hmmms and mmmhms were strangely musical, making Danny think of violins and concertos. When she spoke again, only to tell him to sit still, her voice had taken on a quality Danny didn’t notice before; sweet and light and not unlike a flute. This woman was a veritable orchestra! He started straight ahead at her as she continued to tilt her head and sway her hips and hmm and mmhmm and her breasts and ass moved in time with the her musings. He found himself thinking of a quarter rolling down the woman’s left breast and up the right breast and down her sides and hips and over her ass, where it deposited itself in her crack, where it developed an eye, which winked at Danny as if to say, come on over and fish me out of this bitch’s ass.
Danny was alarmed at the raciness of his thoughts, as his mind very rarely traveled in that direction. But alarmed as he was, that did not stop him from feeling a pleasant, warm sensation caress his body when the woman suprisingly touched his cheeks and kissed his forehead. He closed his eyes and embraced the moment - sure, Dina would kick his ass if she ever found out about this, but there was no way he was going to spurn a woman with a body like that, especially when her lips felt like fire and her hands like a hot bath running over him and yea, he had lost all control of himself.
Later, he found himself laying prone on the green and gold couch and the woman nowhere in sight. He had no idea what happened after she had touched him with hands that seemed to melt his skin right off. Did he do it with her? Did he make out with her or get his hand up her sweater or pull a quarter out of her ass? Oh jesuschristalmighty. He made it, did it, got down with a gorgeous babe and he had forgotten the whole thing. She must have drugged him. He immediately searched his pants pocket for his wallet, sure this whole thing was just a ruse to rob him, even though he was broke and there wasn’t much to rob. But his last dollar bill was still folded up in the wallet, his last two pennies tucked in the bottom of his pocket and his over extended credit cards still in place. Something was very, very wrong here and Danny knew that he knew the wrongness of the whole scenario the second his knuckled refused to knock hard on the door, because his gut feelings were always right in the end. If only he had learned to heed those feelings. If only the woman wasn’t so perfectly shaped. If only his head didn’t ache like Daffy Duck had just dropped an anvil on him.
He ran his hands over his body, from top to bottom and side to side, making sure that all his extremities were still intact. Yea, they were all there, even that one. And then he unbuttoned his shirt and checked for the tell tale scar of kidney removal. Danny believed that all urban legends were based on real events and even though he didn’t wake up in a bathtub filled with ice, he wanted to make certain that the woman hadn’t removed any of his vital organs while he was passed out.
When he was sure that he was as complete a human as when he entered the house, Danny sat up slowly and decided to make some decisions. That was the way Danny always did things - first he would decide upon what he was going to do - and actually say to himself, ok I have decided to do such and such - and then he would make the logical next set of decisions. Here, it meant sitting very still on the couch until his head cleared. Then he would grab his jacket, go out the door, get in his car, dig his cell phone out of the glove compartment, call the police and smoke a cigarette while he waited.
And what would he tell the police? Oh, yes. This beautiful woman with a killer body seduced me by humming at me and then I woke up. Well, yes, I guess you could say she molested me. No, I’m not quite sure if she did more than kiss me because I was passed out. Yes, officer, I still have my kidneys (because surely they, too, would suspect kidney thieves) and my $1.02 is still mine and so I’m not really sure what they did with me. And then he made the decision to not call the cops at all because somehow Dina would find out and then he’d be really, deeply screwed.
After a few minutes, when Danny’s head had gone from throbbing with pain to dull ache, he made another decision, this time to walk around the room and observe. And then he would leave. He would need to be able to describe his surroundings in great detail when he told this story at the Friday poker game. Details made a story believable and this one was not believable by any stretch, so he would have to bring in as much minutiae as possible.
He tiptoed into the kitchen, so as not to disturb the woman, who was probably lurking in a bedroom somewhere down the hall. Danny realized he knew the layout of the house. It was a cape, the same kind of house Dina’s mother had. He peered down the short hall which was off the kitchen and nodded to himself when he saw the familiar set up. Bathroom on the right. Closet, basement entrance and small room on the left. Another room straight ahead. At Dina’s mother’s house, the room on the left was the tv room and the room at the end of the hall was Dina’s childhood bedroom, left intact with the purple curtains and Cabbage Patch dolls and wicker laundry basket, in much the same way parents of dead children often left their bedrooms untouched, unmoved, like a forever shrine to their child. Danny wasn’t stupid. Well, not that stupid, anyhow. Dina’s mother was waiting for her to come to her senses, leave that no good husband of hers and come back to her purple room and Cabbage Patch kids. Forever 12. Dina once told Danny that when she got her period at 13, her mother cried for two days straight because it meant Dina wasn’t “her baby” anymore. Danny probably should have run at that point, but it’s kind of hard to run when your fiancé is holding your balls in a death grip.
So there he was in the hallway of this strange yet familiar house, having just woken up from a forced nap that might have been two minutes or two hours or a Rip Van Winkle amount of time. He touched his hand to his chin and it was still smooth and hairless, so he knew it was probably still the same day as when the woman kissed him. God, I hope I felt her ass before she knocked me out.
He turned around again, back into the kitchen and faced the wall of children’s art. The first one he examined was by Ezekiel, age 6 ½, who scrawled a picture of what appeared to be a caped mean with giant head and sticks for legs. Underneath the drawing, Ezekiel wrote: Dear Mr. Death, thank you foryur vizit and for beeing so nise. Luv, Ezekiel. The boy had dotted the drawing with tiny X’s and O’s all around Mr. Death, a hailstorm of love raining down on his big head.
Danny looked at a couple more drawings. Some of them were dated. Love, Andrew, July 1976. Kisses, Bettina, 1982. There was one on blue construction paper, a yellow crayon/white chalk masterpiece with the big headed guy front and center, standing in a garden of daisies, a crowd of stick figure kids gathered around him. Dear Mr. Death, you are cool. Thanks for the gum and stuff and I hope I can work for you some day. Love, Jaime, age 12.
Danny was about to let his imagination run away, far, far, away, when he heard a small, feminine cough behind him. He spun around and she was there, the woman, her breasts and her ass. Danny was torn between screaming and staring. He chose staring, as it presented less of a problem. The woman smiled at him.
“The kids just love Mr. Death. Such a shame he has to retire. They’ll miss him so.” Her voice was lilting and wistful and nearly rocked him into a state of euphoria.
“Yes. Yes, they’ll m..m...miss him. Mr. Death. Y..y...yes.” Danny silently admonished himself. Stupid Danny. Stupid Danny. You sound like a blithering idiot, a starstruck school boy, a damn bedwetter. The more coherent side of Danny’s mind quickly reminded him that they were faced with a rather strange situation and it was ok to stammer, even in front of a beautiful woman who may or may not have molested him while he was passed out.
“We’ve done the necessary study on you, Danny. We’d like to hire you.”
“For the Death job? Hire you?” The question marks in her voice made Danny feel like an idiot. And perhaps he was, because he had no damn clue what she was talking about.
“I was looking for a temporary accounting job. I think I was sent to the wrong kind of agency.”
“Hmm.” She put a finger to her lip, her hmmm still sizing him up. “No. Joe never makes that kind of mistake. Or any mistake. No. No. No. Joey sent you to us for a reason, I’m sure.”
“From BestTemps?” Again with the questioning tone. This time the woman raised her eyebrows, which only added to the effect of her speaking to a retarded person. She sighed. “The agency. In the mall. That sent you here.”
“Oh, yea. That one. But I applied for an accounting position, not an acting job.”
The woman laughed. She threw her head back, her red ringlets dangling in the air, and she opened her mouth wide and laughed. Her hands were on her hips and when her head leaned back like that, her breasts pointed straight at Danny. He thought of a display in a hands-on museum and for a brief second he imagined a “touch me” sign on hanging off the woman’s sweater. She was still laughing and leaning as Danny shoved his hands in his pocket, forcing himself to control his impulses. He always had a hard time with that. Dina told him he had ADD, but he shrugged it off as Dina’s way of saying “you don’t pay attention to me.”
The woman stopped laughing abruptly and faced Danny again. Her look was serious, nothing like the playful amusement that he had seen on her face since he first arrived. Her eyes were hard, her lips pursed and her arms crossed in front of her chest.
“This. Is not. Acting.”
to be continued.
I am no longer going to update this post - it is already time consuming trying to keep the post at TCP updated. Please check this post at TCP for ways to help - the list is constantly being updated and includes local as well as national agencies, in addition to smaller charities and organizations that are starting relief efforts. Also listed are numbers to call if you or anyone you know is searching for friends or relatives missing in the area. If you are linking to this post, please link to this one instead.* India: Prime Minister's National Relief Fund, by bank transfer, or by credit card * Sri Lanka: Reliefweb (United Nations office) * The Canadian Catholic Organization for DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE (CCODP) is accepting funds to aid victims * Sustainable Development and Ecological Development Society seeks to raise $100,000 for affected population in India. * Canadian Red Cross is calling for cash donations To be updated - if you know of any rescources for sending donations, please leave a link in the comments. * Red Cross/Red Crescent is accepting donations * Via Tim Blair: Jay Manifold has a list of relief organizations you can donate to; Indian blogger Chanakya has some links, also. Updates - 12/27 7am EST * Here's a list of banks in India that are taking donations * Oxfam is taking donations * Save the Children is creating an Asia Earthquake/Tidal Wave Relief Fund * CARE Australia has launched an earthquake appeal * From the TCP Forums:
Thai Red Cross Siam Commercial Bank - Red Cross Branch Acct: 045-248899-3 Swift: SICROTHBK Have your bank use the note section to note that the donation is for Relief in Phuket. The Thai Ministry of Health is the lead agency, and they are looking for volunteers, especially those who speak Italian, French or German. There is a shortage of medical supplies and storage facilities for bodies. All donations are appreciated.* AmeriCares is accepting donations Update: Local residents have set up the Southeast Asia Earthquake and Tsunami Blog, which has lots of information on how to help the victims and important phone numbers, as well as updates on the situation. ---Updates 12/28 6:30 am EST----- * Oxfam donations page * Mercy Corps * Singapore Red Cross * Indian Red Cross * AID India * The Tamil Association of Colorado is collecting relief funds. Make checks out to: Tamil Association of Colorado. In the memo, write "Tsunami Relief Fund." Send to: PO Box 270243, Littleton, Co 80127. The organization's e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.orgTo donate to the International Red Cross, call 800 HELP NOW, or log onto DenverRedcross.org and designate funds for "International Response Fund." [via TalkLeft] * Stand Up For Penang relief fund * Indian Association of North Texas Religious Charities: [List via Ilyka] *Christian Aid * American Jewish World Service * Catholic Relief * American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee * International Orthodox Christian Charities * Islamic Relief
Jason didn't like the deal, either, so I'm not alone in not mourning the passing of the Randy Johnson as a Yankee dream.
Besides, if I really wanted a big unit, I'd ask Santa to bring me one of these (NSFW).
[it does occur to me that non baseball fans may be wondering what the hell the 'big unit' thing is all about. I'll let them wonder, it's more fun that way]
Update: Baseball Crank writes:
So, after all the speculation about Javier Vazquez not being able to pitch in New York, Vazquez apparently scuttles the Randy Johnson deal by refusing to report to the Dodgers for a physical.....he seems to have decided that he'd rather try to make it here, and prove he could make it a-ny-whereAnd Ed in the comments says:
And if it turns out that Javier Vazquez was in any way responsible for the deal falling apart, he has as much future in New York as Jason Giambi, anyway.
The plot thickens.
Dec 20.He asked us to leave comments on the paper, so I wrote: OMFG! LOL! WTF?? Underneath that, he drew a frowny face and wrote [listening to: the saddest song EVER] You probably had to be there. It was funny, really.
Today I made a PB&J sandwich. Then I farted.
Today I made a tuna sandwich. Then I farted. TWICE!
And so another year of my love/hate relationship with snow begins.
I do love the first snow of the season, especially when it happens overnight. You wake up to a world of beauty; everything white and sparkling and quiet. There's something about snow that hushes the world up. All you can hear is the soft sound of the swirling flakes on the window.
Unless, of course, the snow is mixed with ice. Like today. Then it's a whole other world. The sparkling that looks so pretty when it's from powdery flakes now looks like shards of glass have covered your lawn. You hear the organ music of horror movies in your head, bursting out a staccato, ominous tune. You hold your hands to your face Macaulay style and scream. AAAUUUGHHH!
Well, that's what I did today. Because I know my fellow Long Islanders well enough to know what I'm in for this morning, traffic wise.
I'm sure their panic went into full attack mode yesterday afternoon, when it was announced that - hold onto your hats, now - we would get one to two inches of snow! Gather the children! Man your posts! DEFCON ONE! And, like a sea of panicky lemmings, they drive en masse to their local delis and supermarkets and Dairy Barns, stocking up on milk and bread. Yes, milk and bread. It's an interesting phenomenon and I'm not sure if it's indegenous to Long Island, but it's been around for as long as I can remember.There must be some forgotten urban legend that wove its way around the Island decades ago. A suburban family wakes one morning to find that it has snowed. The patriarch of the family cautiously goes into the kitchen only to find that there is only a half quart of milk and two slices of bread left! The horror! The family screams in unison, the children start crying, the mother frantically tries to pump milk out of her breasts even though she weaned the youngest eight years ago. And oh, irony of ironies, the deli just two blocks away has one gallon of fresh, whole milk left and one loaf of white bread on the shelf. If only there were some way to get two blocks away with having to trudge through the monster snow storm that dumped two inches of the white stuff all over town!
That would explain the way people head out in droves to the store when a storm warning hits. Innate fear, left over from the telling and retelling of the fate of the poor Levittown family who had to eat each other's flesh and drink each other's blood to stay alive during the great snow dusting of 1931.
I'm not trying to disparage those who feel the need to prepare for a snow storm. If the weather channel says we're going to get eight inches of the white stuff, it's a good idea to have the things you need in the house. It's just the whole milk and bread thing that's perplexing. I worked at my uncle's deli for about seven years and every winter, it was the same thing. Snow alert equals run on milk and bread. No one bought anything to go with the items. No cheese or ham for the bread. No boxes of hot chocolate or cereal to go with the milk. No one bought toilet paper or soda or cans of soup. Just milk and bread. It would get to the point where a line would snake around the deli and I'd be ringing the customers up as fast as I could, to get them in and out before a fight broke out over the last loaf of Wonder bread. He's buying a gallon of milk and he lives by himself! Lynch him, that selfish pig! Flaming torches and pitchforks ensue.
As I look up and down my street, I notice that every house has at least one SUV parked in the driveway. Here are all these people with four wheel drive on their behemoth mountain vehicles (disclaimer, I have an Explorer), yet they are afraid to go out the door as soon as the first flake hits the street. And those who eventually do venture out fall into two categories; the overly safe driver, who clutches the steering wheel in a death grip and takes each turn as if she were navigating Mt. Washington, and the No Fear guy, who does 90 on an icy road just to prove he's a man. Meanwhile, all the other people are ensconced in their homes, rationing out the milk and bread. They eye each other suspiciously and the oldest sibling, who has been designated family captain by the father, has to escort each family member to the bathroom, making sure that no one is trying to make a break for the kitchen try and steal someone else's ration.
Never mind that there's six pounds of chicken in the freezer, two dozen eggs in the fridge and a Poland Springs cooler that offers hot or cold water in the kitchen. We're talking milk and bread here. No one wants to end up like that long ago family, turning into cannibals and then possibly zombies because they were unprepared for the storm at hand.
Two inches, baby. A little ice, a little snow, which will all disappear by noon today. Still, I'll stop at 7-11 on my way to work, as I do every Monday, to get a quart of milk and a can of coffee. There will be no milk. And then I will have to inch my way to work as a thousand drivers in their Navigators and Expeditions make the treacherous drive through some dirty slush, everyone riding their brakes and fighting off panic attacks as the sprinkling of leftover snow hits their windshields.
Go ahead and laugh at us, Buffalo and Syracuse. Smirk at us, Montana and Minnesota. We deserve it.
Busy. In a word, my life right now, like millions of others. I just know there are people out there like me, people who, in their mind, concoct the perfect Christmas from the trimmings right down the perfect presents. We start our plotting and planning in October, as soon as the ghosts come down and the fake leaves on the front window go up.
It's ingrained in us somehow. Christmas is perfection. Christmas is snow on the ground and a home that smells like gingerbread and a tree that takes your breath away. It's little girls in blood red dresses trimmed with white lace and little boys barely breathing in tightened bowties and buttoned dress shirts. It's Silent Night playing softly in the background, and garland hanging from the ceiling beams and platters of cookies pile high on the counter, waiting for the colored sugar frosting. It's aunts and uncles and laughter and everyone loving their gifts, all smiles and appreciative kisses and hugs. It's a warm, cozy day that ends with the little children shuffling off to bed, the plastic bottoms of their feetie pajamas scraping against the polished wood floor and the clutch their brand new dolls and trucks and sleep with them because they were that good of a present. The children dream of elves and reindeer and the parents sip late night drinks and stare at the tree and sigh. Another Christmas come and gone.
It plays out that way in mind every year and sometimes my memories are clouded with my ideals. I imagine our Christmases as if we were plastic figures in a snowglobe, always in the same position, making the same faces, surrounded by the same things. Oh, we were always happy on Christmas, we always wore stiff dresses and hugged our aunts who smelled like formaldehyde and smiled for the 8mm camera. We have the grainy film to prove it.
But I don't think we baked cookies all that often and I know for sure that my mother has never, ever made gingerbread men and we were more likely to hear Elvis's Blue Christmas than Silent Night.
So I don't know where I got this image of the perfect Christmas from. Or do I? All my Christmas childhood memories are good and warm and happy, yet somehow I've taken those memories and warped them to an extent, inserting recipes from Ladies Home Journal and decorating tips from Martha Stewart Living into them. I've taken what the magazines and tv shows tell you what Christmas is supposed to be like and merged it with what Christmas was really like.
When I came to this conclusion yesterday, I stopped myself from buying all the essential gingerbread ingredients - I am the world's worst baker anyhow, so what's the point? - I gave up on hanging the garland from the beams and I stopped looking for the perfect gifts for everyone and decided to buy what was on their lists.
I did manage to do the one domestic thing yesterday that's important in order for me to enjoy Christmas. I cleaned like a madwoman. The floors were sparkling, the counters scrubbed, the dishes all done and the laundry finally completed. I sat in the living room at 11pm and watched the lights on the tree blink on and off. My neighbor's Christmas lights gave a nice backdrop to my tree and I stared at the scene in front of my window for a while, feeling good about the holidays, feeling warm. The kids joined us in the living room and we stayed there until midnight, no fighting, no whining, watching Aqua Teen Hunger Force episodes until we all fell asleep.
I'm still not finished shopping, nothing has been wrapped and my Christmas cards are still sitting on the kitchen table waiting for stamps. But I finally felt the spirit, maybe enough of it to carry me through today, through another trip to the mall, which tends to suck all of the holly, jolly Christmas tidings out of my soul.
I was just reading an article where people related their perfect Christmas memories. I thought of the year I got the Chrissy doll, the perfect doll whose hair grew when you pushed a button. And the year I got K-Tel's Super Sounds of the 70's albums, two discs of rock and roll with Black Sabbath and Yes songs that I played so much I thought I would burn a hole in it. I remember those two things so clearly that I could tell you what kind of pajamas I was wearing when I opened the presents, what song was playing in the background. They are sense-filled photographs in my mind, with my parents yawning and the smell of coffee and bacon wafting in from the kitchen and my little sisters tearing into their own gifts, searching for that one perfect present they knew would be under the tree. Santa never disappoints.
And really, Christmas never disappoints. Even without the gingerbread, without Silent Night, without aunts and uncles long gone, with me in my parent's place as the yawning, coffee drinking grownup watching kids unwrap boxes with glee, it never, ever disappoints. It's the charm of the season. Everyone is happy, everyone is laughing, everyone feels good. An aura of glad tidings does indeed exist around here. Even with Cartman's O Holy Night replacing my mother's Elvis, and store bought sugar cookies and a house that smells like strawberry scented Windex instead of gingerbread, it's a version of perfection I'm willing to accept. Because it's ours.
I just wonder if some day my kids will be in their own homes with their own children, getting ready for the holidays and wondering why the smell of Lysol and the voice of a belligerent milk shake will be part of their vision of the perfect Christmas.
Well, I asked Santa for a decent Yankee pitching staff for Christmas. Maybe I should have been more specific. As in, a decent pitching staff that will have an impact for years to come.
Randy Johnson is thisclose to becoming a Yankee. Is it a good deal? If you're into instant gratification, sure is.
I'm not sure I like giving up Vasquez for a pitcher who probably has one good year left in his arm, though. I know, I know. Vasquez had a great first half, a fading second half and was the goat of the World Series, more or less. But, still... Johnson may be a five time Cy Young award winner, but he's over 40 years old. I'm more into building for the future than throwing 20 million dollars and a decent player at a team just to get one ring. But that's juts me and I'm not Steinbrenner.
Depending on which story you read, the deal is either done, near done or not even close to being done. It's either a two team deal or a four team swap fest. No one knows for sure yet, but this is the closest the long running Johnson to New York rumor has gotten to the front pages of the local papers, so I
m assuming this is imminent.
I wish I could be as giddy as everyone else is over this, but that much money for that old a guy, no matter how golden his arm will be for the Yanks in 2005, keeps me from celebrating too hard.
Well, at least I can look forward to an entire season of making "Big Unit" jokes.
No rhyme or reason, I just think it's a beautifully sad song. I might have to add it to the list.
Brand New - The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot (MP3)
[sorry, download has expired]
Lyrics below. Go ahead, sing along.
(I've plugged this Long Island band a million times. On this track, they remind me a lot of my favorite Canadian, Hayden)
The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot
If it makes you less sad
I will die by your hand
I hope you find out what you are
Already know what I am
And if it makes you less sad
we'll start talking again
and you can tell me how vile i already know that i am
i'll grow old
start acting my age
ill be a brand new day in a life that you hate
a crown of gold
a heart thats harder than stone
and it hurts a whole lot
but its missed when its gone
call me a safe bet
im betting im not
im glad you can forgive
im only hoping as time goes
you can forget
if it makes you less sad
i'll move outta the state
you can keep to yourself
i'll keep outta your way
and if it makes you less sad
i'll take your pictures all down
every picture you paint
i will paint myself out
its as cold as a tomb
and its dark in your room
when i sneak to your bed to pour salt in your wounds
so call it quits
or get a grip
say you wanted a solution
you just wanted to be missed
call me a safe bet
im betting im not
im glad that you can forgive
im only hoping as time goes
you can forget
you are calm and reposed
let your beauty unfold
like the skin stretched over your bones
spring keeps you ever close
you are second hand smoke
you are so fragile and thin
standing trial for your sins
holding onto yourself the best you can
you are the smell before the rain
you are the blood in my veins
call me a safe bet
im betting im not
im glad that you can forgive
im only hoping as time goes
you can forget
It's interesting that because so much mass of the guitar's body is carved away (a bare bones guitar), the entire instrument is LIVE. Touching the neck is like tapping pole pieces on the pickup. Running your fingernail over the ribs makes a sound like a xylophone. Excellent sustain. The jack is located at the end of the tailbone, and while some guitars have coil tap, this one has a spinal tap.This would be a perfect gift for my son - it combines his two favorite things; guitars and horror. The price isn't listed but I'm sure it's equal to the GNP of a small country. Larger image Specs Update: I'm definitely looking at it from a conversation piece point of view, not for usability. I think this is something that would go in a glass case in the living room. When I win Lotto, of course.
Men, do this experiment. Next time your one-and-only is watching HGTV, stand in front of the television (if you dare), and wave a thousand dollar bill, all the while screaming “Free shopping spree! Here’s the cash! I’m watching the kids!” She will decapitate you as she responds, “Move, dumbbell, Candice Olson is describing why she stenciled a polar bear next to the fireplace!”Well, my husband has never waved a thousand dollars in front of me and most likely never will, but if he did, we'd probably get naked and roll around in the money before we headed out to go comic book and video game shopping. Stenciled polar bears, be damned. I'm just a bit tired of men thinking that all women they date and/or marry represent every woman. Just because you dated a woman that sucked your bank account dry or married a woman who was more interested in his tools than your tool doesn't mean some of us won't get it when our husbands say they want their wood polished. * [Comments have been closed - I already deleted ten and I'm not going to leave this space open for people so people with the dignity of barn animals can just make stupid jokes at the expense of others]
Every Christmas Eve we go to my aunt's house. All the kids make a huge mess and lot of noise and we eat until the grownups say how full they are and they are going to puke, but then my aunt brings out dessert and everyone keeps eating. Then the grownups start drinking and we all exchange presents and the grownups act like idiots while the kids mess up the house some more. Then my poppy takes out the video camera and tapes everyone doing embarassing things and then the babies start crying so everyone leaves. It's the most fun day of the year.Eating, drinking, puking, acting like idiots. The basis for all family holiday traditions around here.
It's been quite a few years since my kids believed in Santa. Rather than taking the magic out of Christmas, their non belief has made the holidays even more fun. We certainly couldn't we sit around and make up horrible stories about the jolly old man if they thought he was real. From dreaming up tales about what that coal in your stocking is really made of (packed ashes of little children that didn't complete the requisite 70 hour work week at the North Pole), to watching Silent Night, Deadly Night, our Christmas traditions have become somewhat warped. What do you expect from a family that are experts in zombies?
When I read yesterday about Santas run amok, I smiled. I'm sure there are a lot of people worried about the fragile psyches of the children who witnessed a hundred drunk Santas running through the streets, but I wonder how many of those people realize that their own Santa traditions are nothing more than fucking with a kid's head, anyhow?
At some point in history, Santa Claus went from some guy who helped poor women get dowries to a fat man with a voyeur fetish. Perhaps to children, Santa is still a jolly old man who bestows gifts upon them and performs magic that can make reindeer fly. But to parents, Santa is nothing more than a convenient scapegoat.
I'm convinced that the modern version of Santa was put out there by an underground cabal of irresponsible parents. If they could blame this Claus guy for the shitty presents under the tree, there would be no need to tell their kids that daddy spent all the Christmas money on hookers and beer. Instead of waiting on line five hours at PlayWorld for Betsy Wetsy, mothers could just blame the absence of the doll on the fat man. Who cares if little Suzie harbors a resentment towards Santa for the rest of her life? Mom could save tons of energy by avoiding fights in Suzie's teenage years that would stem from her latent anger over not receiving the doll that pisses her pants.
By using Santa as a scapegoat, parents do run the risk of setting themselves up for disaster. Eventually we all have to explain the standard parent lies of Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, but by blaming every bad or absent present on Santa, you'll just exacerbate the situation. Some day at a large, drunken family gathering, someone will be telling a story about the time you got plastered at your office Christmas party and called your boss a tightwad bitch so she fired you on the spot, and a light bulb will flash in your son's head, at which point he'll stand up and shout "You god damn liars! You told me I didn't get the Ewok Village that year because Santa was disappointed in my report card!" Estrangement ensues.
This is what happens when you use a gentle little fib, one designed to make children happy, and turn it into a full scale lie, complete with intricate webs of deceit. I've seen many a parent go down that road when their kids asks for the unattainable. Can I get a pony for Christmas? Instead of just saying No and that's the stupidest thing you ever asked for, the parents says We'll have to ask Santa. We'll see. To a child, the words we'll see mean the opposite of yes. He didn't say no! He said we'll see! So that kid spends weeks and weeks keeping her fingers crossed for a pony from Santa and when Christmas morning comes and all she gets is a few dresses and My Little Pony coloring book, she starts crying. But the parents absolve themselves of any blame. Eh, Santa fucked you but good, Sally!
One Christmas we were performing our tradition of putting out some salt for the reindeer and some Jack Daniels for Santa. Natalie seemed extra anxious that year and I asked her why. Apparently, she had written a letter to Santa asking him to put a baby sister in my belly for Christmas.
I was a single mother then. I hadn't had sex in over a year. I though to myself, if Santa comes down that chimney and say let's make a baby, I'm going for it. I spent that whole night waiting for the sound of sleigh bells on the roof. Sure, I stopped believing in Santa when I was seven, but sometimes, when you are in the throes of desperation, your mind plays tricks on you.
Which is probably why my daughter, 14 years old and desperate for a $500 digital camera, has taken to writing letters to Santa again. Which she delivers to me. And I promptly destroy her Nikon dreams, resulting in a rush of foot stamping, whining and petulance.
Santa sucks, she says. I know she means me. In fact, she let on a few years ago that she always knew I was the one who bought the presents. She never fell for that elves in the workshop crap because she always managed to find the "Made in China" stamp on her presents. She did believe in Santa, but she thought he was just some overlord who bossed his workers around and shopped at flea markets for her gifts. DJ, who is observing our whole conversation, chimes in that he always thought the elves were really zombies and Santa was an alien who controlled them some with kind of radar machine.
All those years, they never once believed in Santa as the benign, jolly old man. Which explains why in every single picture I have of them sitting on Santa's lap they are screaming in terror.
[ed note: How the hell did I get from the opening paragraph to this? Let's try to connect it all here]
This is also why my kids would never be shocked to see an anarchist Santa having his way with a piece of sushi in a Japanese restaurant. Or why, many years from now at a drunken family gathering, they will only laugh when my sister tells them the story of that Christmas night when I mistook a friend's jingling car keys for sleigh bells.
Ho, ho, ho indeed.
I, BLOGGER (to the tune of....) I am blogger, hear me roar, About hot dogs, about war About the state of music pop, About my noisy neighbors -- Stop! Send me traffic, send me comments, but no Spam! About elections, not erections, About Saran Wrap's deselections, And the Tupperware that turns green eggs to ham! About my kids, about my job, About bloggers who are snobs, And refuse to link to those that rank below them! About my life, about Iran, I've Andy Rooney in a can! And I grew him from some cells without a stem! About reform in education, About depression and elation, And how a latte always beats a coffee perkus! My opinions are all mine And I'm glad you've found the time To let me tell you why you too should hate the circus. I am blogger! Hear me roar! -----I could probably go and put a link to match every word, but today has me collapsing under the weight of the Worst. Headache. Ever. Thank you, Gerard. You're all that and a bag of honey mustard pretzels (I don't really care for chips). Update: Managed to put some links in.
I have decided to give up raising money as an indivdual blogger. Winds of Change has made me an offer I can't refuse: Basically, join them and make more of a difference than I've made on my own. So as of now I am part of Team Pajamahdeen, which has already raised over $1500 for the Arabic Blogging Tool - Viral Freedom project via Spirit of America. I will no longer be offering stories to those who donate, as teaming up with WoC would make that an overwhelming endeavor. I still have two stories to write, so those will be coming up shortly. Thanks to Joe Katzman for offering me the opportunity to help make a difference in Iraq. I bring them my $705.00 (thank you again to everyone who donated) and my promise to help raise a bit more. You can read more about it here.
Gimme the keys I'm drunk, and I've never driven a truck But I smoke dope in a cab I'll stab you with the sharpest knife I can grab Come back the next week and re-open your scab (YEAH!) A killer instinct runs in the bloodPantera:
I wonder if we'll smile in our coffins while loved ones Mourn the day, the absence of our faces, living, laughing, Eyes awake. Is this too much for them to take? Too young for ones conclusion, the lifestyle won. Such values you taught your son. That's how.Did I pick and choose which lyrics to use? Sure. Don't you think the media does the same? All you'll hear today is how Pantera's lyrics were hostile and angry, how they motivated angry kids to act out their immoral thoughts. Most of the articles will speak in general terms. Very few will cite specific references. And if they do, you can bet no one is going to quote Cemetery Gates. The need to make more out of this story than is there, the need to sensationalize and give it Weekly World News headlines is far greater than the need to be honest. Of course, they will point to Abbott's nickname of Dimebag. They'll look at the Pantera DVDs and a see bunch of hard drinking, hard partying guys. And they'll conclude "the metal lifestyle is a dangerous one." And tomorrow on Page Six, there will pictures of some pop music princess with a bottle in her hand and her tits hanging out of her dress or a some boy band star holding a bottle of Jack Daniels and spitting at the camera. But, hey. They're just having fun, right? Pop Stars Gone Wild! What a riot! Give that guy some long hair and a guitar and suddenly he's a wild eyed beast who wants to eat your children. It's not just the music of heavy metal that's misunderstood. The fans also get their share of the lies and distortion. We're all emotionally disturbed individuals with deep psychological problems, bad parents and broken homes who draw pentagrams on their bedroom floors and torture the neighbor's cats. I grew up listening to metal. I was all of nine years old when I first heard Paranoid and War Pigs playing on my cousin's stereo and became hooked. It wasn't the lyrics which, at nine, I didn't understand at all. It was the music. It was the screeching guitars and pounding drums that reached out to me in some primitive way. I didn't know what Ozzy was singing about, I only knew how that music made me feel. Even at nine, I knew I was hearing something powerful that would stay with me forever. More than 30 years have passed since I heard my first Black Sabbath album. I haven't killed anyone. I never attempted suicide. I haven't sold my soul to Satan. Like millions of others, I appreciate the music (and yes, the lyrics) without becoming so involved in it that, like Nathan Gale, I can't separate myself from the entertainment. There are millions of people who play Grand Theft Auto who will never see the game as an impetus to go steal a car and mow down a few innocent people. But the one person who does see the game in that way will cause a posse of hyperventilating parents to claim that all video games are evil, none of them ever stopping to think that maybe this kid had mental issues that prevented him from separating reality from fantasy. Games and music are always convenient scapegoats, especially when some morality group can use an otherwise sad news item to strike up publicity for their agenda. And so today's papers will all say the same thing - yea, Gale was a little nutty, he had been acting strange for a while and hey, did you see the lyrics to Fuckin' Hostile? Then the article will veer off on some tangent dealing with terrible lyrics and angry undertones and somehow, Gale will become the victim and Abbott will have died by his own sword. Instead of quotes from fellow musicians talking about Dimebag's talents and friendship, instead of references to the fact that he was one of the most influential guitarists in rock music and he was murdered in front of his own brother, we'll get chapter and verse on the wild lifestyle and brainwashing lyrics of heavy metal. disclaimer: I know that not all of today's articles on the death of Darrell are saying these things. I've mainly read through the links sent me in email last night.
Look at me now. I'm broken. Inherit my life.
Dimebag Darrell, guitarist for Pantera and Damageplan, was one of at least four people fatally wounded during a bizarre shooting at a concert in Columbus, Ohio, on Wednesday night.Dimebag, formerly known as Diamond (back in the Pantera glam days), whose real name was Darrell Abbot, was the brother of Damageplan/Pantera drummer Vinnie Paul and the son of country singer Jerry Abbott. It's a bizarre kind of story. Not only did the gunman intentionally single out and kill Darrell, but he shot blindly into the audience, killing three people. The gunman himself was killed, so we'll probably never know what made this guy freak out. And I'm sure I'll get a lot of "who the fuck cares?" comments/emails, and they'll all be deleted. Because, as a fan of his work, I care. According to the Damageplan message boards, a bassist from the opening band tried to shield Darrell and was shot. Also, they are reporting that another member of Damageplan, Pat Lachman, has died and one of the other victims was a security guard. DJ had just picked up a Guitar magazine last week that came with a DVD of Dimebag giving guitar tips. He was in awe of Darrell's talents. R.I.P. Dimebag - you will be missed. Andrew has more on the story, over at Blogcritics. Update: I can't confirm the death of Lachman - there's a lot of conflicting reports. NBC4i seems to be keeping up with the breaking news. The Damageplan website has apparently been overloaded, and is down for the count, as is almost every Pantera fansite and message board. See also, Say Uncle, Diggers Realm, Six Meat Buffet. And Walk just came on my Launchcast station. Damn. This is really upsetting. Updates: The gunman has been identified as Nathan Gale, 25, of the Marysville area northwest of Columbus. And I swear, if this starts a news wave of "your children are not safe at rock concerts!" stories, I will go ballistic. Dave Mustaine on Darrell Martin Poppoff on Darrell More updates: Read more about Darrell here, and why he was such an influential guitarist. More on Dimebag here. Police say gunman had hostage when he shot Dimebag. There's a rumor going around that the gunman killed Darrell because he was upset over the break up of Pantera. He shot the wrong guy, then. Just saying. I'm not going to believe this until I see some proof of it, like friends or family who knew the guy went batshit when Pantera officially broke up. And even if it's true, I don't understand why he blames Dimebag when Phil is the one whose ego and death-defying drug habit ruined the band. Dallas Stars issue statement (Pantera were huge hockey/Stars fans) Tons to read over at Zakk Wylde's message board Words from Scott Ian
Those of you who have worked retail during the holiday season will understand my reluctance to speak about this before now. The memories are horrific, brutal and sometimes cause flashbacks that leave me curled up in a fetal position, sobbing and begging to be sedated.
1983 was my first holiday retail experience. It was a baptism by fire, as I landed a job at the busiest record store at the busiest mall on Long Island. Record World, Roosevelt Field, a/k/a/ RF#1. On my first day - two days before Thanksgiving - I was handed the requisite blue vest, a name tag and a few whispered words of advice: don't let them get to you. My co-workers were referring to the barrage of customers that were at the gated entrance to the store fifteen minutes before opening and still clinging to the cassette racks as we were trying to close. You have not seen a whirling dervish in action until you have seen someone hell bent on getting everything on their kid's Christmas list.
I, however, was no wimp. I could handle any customer, any crowd, any cash register breakdown or old woman sobbing over the Julio Iglesias albums. I immediately volunteered to work the irons - the opening to closing shift - nearly every day. From Thanksgiving until Christmas, I would not have a day off, and most of the days would be the full work shift.
In the beginning I had superhero powers. I never got tired from the long hours. I manned every spot in the store; the cash register, the cassette department, the imports. I spent time downstairs unpacking boxes upon boxes of shipments, sorting albums, slapping stickers on them and writing the title, artist and store # on the plastic sleeve of every record with a blue sharpie.
By the second week in December, I was spending more time on the floor, helping customers find exactly what they were looking for. During the holiday season, this usually consisted of frazzled mothers trying to remember exactly what it was their son or daughter had asked for. This resulted in a lot of guesswork, humming and/or singing. It also involved many loud gasps of horror when the mother matched the title of the record with the album on the wall (the wall was where the albums were displayed in rows of pockets). So many dropped jaws and wide eyes as parents spied the cover to Quiet Riot's Metal Health. That's what my child is listening to? Oh My God! He's a devil worshiper! I knew it!! And the mother would run screaming from the store and head straight over to Catholic Supplies, where she would beg for some holy water.
The kids were just as bad. They would come in without a list, trying to buy music for their parents. Getting the title of a song out of them was like pulling teeth. How about if I sing it? Yea, sure kid. Sing away. A tuneless dirge would emerge. No words. Just la la humm hum la da dee. I begged for lyrics. Just one or two would do. Uhh. Love. And umm...heart. I would lean in close to the kid and say sweetly, Well that narrows it down. And as soon as the kid smiled I would yell, To about 3,000 songs! Eventually I would convince the kid to settle for a Billy Joel or Lionel Richie single, unless the kid was really rude and obnoxious, in which case I would convince him that the song he was humming was actually Frank Stallone's Far From Over , knowing full well that I would be going to hell for inflicting such pain on an innocent person.
The closer it got to Christmas, the more of a frenzy people were in. They fought over the last copy of Synchronicity. They mobbed us when we opened a new box of Madonna cassettes. And every once in a while, I would have to step over some fur-coated, blue-haired grandma who fainted when she saw the larger-than-life cardboard cut-out of Julio. And I started to feel the result of all work and no play. I was tired, cranky and I lost my voice.
My co-workers made signs for me to hold up so I could still help customers. Two days before Christmas, the only sign I had to use was "Sorry. We are out of that title right now." I faced the wrath of customers who, through no fault of mine, had waited until the very last minute to pick up that Echo and the Bunnymen album and sorry, we are out of that title right now. I listened to the complaints that the register lines were too long (this is when everything was done by hand) and the store was a mess and the floor people were rude. We had to chase people out of the store ten minutes after closing and even as I was vacuuming and closing up cases they would say "oh, are you closing?" I lost my patience and I lost my fixed greeting smile. No longer was it "Welcome to Record World, how may I help you," but "What you really want to buy your kid is clothes. Go to The Gap and leave me alone."
This was all played out to the constant background music of the crapfest of pop music that came out that year, especially Huey Lewis and the News's Sports album which, to this day, makes me break out in hives.
Had I known that the next year I would be doing the Record World Christmas stint again and would be subjected to the non-stop playing of Do They Know It's Christmas, I might have appreciated Huey a little more.
I tortured myself through Christmas of '86 and decided that I was going to retire from retail after that. I could not handle another holiday season of bitchy parents and surly kids and girls screaming and drooling over New Kids on the Block albums. I had used my holiday bonuses and store discounts to accumulate a nice collection of imports and that almost - almost - offset whatever mental damage that job caused me.
Despite all that, I still refer to my term at Record World as the best damn job I ever had. But I never did work retail again.Don't forget to vote for me. And Meryl. And Silent Runing>.
Every year I am dragged, kicking and screaming, to the firehouse Christmas party. I have been going to this thing since I was a baby, stopped when I was about 14, and then was forced to start going again when I had kids. Every year, I say no. And every year I get the lecture about the "firehouse family" and traditions and how the kids look soooo forward to it. My ass. They're crying to go home five minutes after we get there. And with good reason.
When I was little, the party was ok. There were food and games and prizes and songs and a generally festive air. Somewhere along the line, the party deteriorated into a 4 hour, mind numbing trip to hell.
Satan's minions must have been out in full force today. Hell was never hotter nor more terrifying. The party started at 1:00, and we were left to our own accord until a little after two. The kids ran around like crazy, fortified only by burnt Bagel Bites and gallons of soda. We gave them handfuls of quarters and sent them to the room with the video games, only to have someone kick them out ten minutes later.
It should be noted that save for my family, I do not like most of these people. Hell, I don't even like my family sometimes. But these people are so low-class, so low on the totem pole of life, that the only analogy I can really offer you is this: Think Clark Griswald's family in Christmas Vacation.
So there we sit, waiting for some form of entertainment, watching the clock for the time Santa is supposed to arrive so the kids can get the presents that I brought for them and we can get home. I'm sitting there minding my own business, trying extra hard not to look like I might want to talk to one of these cretins. But they have these radars. Like a homing system that let's them know a captive audience is just waiting for some incredibly boring conversation. The woman that got me is a mother of one of DJ's classmates. So she automatically assumes I want to talk to her, I need to talk to her, I live only to hear her drone on and on. She chatters about the field trip and the class bully and then repeats verbatim her monologue from last year when she described in full detail how wonderful her son, her neighbors, her whole block is. As my eyes started to roll in back of my head and my brain began to short-circuit, she told me this story:
So I was taking Adam and his friends to play mini-golf and one of the friends, Brendan, starting talking about how there is no Santa Claus and the other kids were yelling at him and he was insisting that Santa is just fake. Fake! The nerve of him telling my kid that! So after I dropped Brendan off I asked the other boys how they felt about what Brendan said and they were all so sad and shocked so I acted quickly and figured out what to tell them. I said 'guys, Brendan is a different religion than us. He's Jewish (emphasis hers). They get so jealous of you this time of year, so they act out by being mean and telling you there's no Santa. Of coures he's lying. It's just because he's Jewish.'
She then smiled at me, this grin that made me think she was awfully proud of herself for coming up with that winner. She waited for me to tell her how ingenous it was. Instead I looked at her and said, "You really are as stupid as they say!" I didn't wait around for a response.
The day then descended into the fourth level of hell, the one where you are surrounded by costumed characters that look nothing like the beloved children's characters they are supposed to be representing. There was a blue dragon, a 7 foot tall Elmo, my brother-in-law dressed as Clifford the Big Red Dog and pinching my ass the whole time, and this big brown walking piece of dirty fur that was supposed to be Scooby Doo but looked more like just the Doo. At one point he bent down to say hello to a little girl and his head fell off. Much crying and screaming of little children ensued.
Then there was the face-painting lady in the green and purple Jester's hat and hair that was such a hideous shade of orange I thought it was fake at first. When she walked in, she spotted DJ and a friend laying on the floor by the door, lulled into a coma by the dull festivities. She walked over to them and kicked Michael on the edge of his foot. This conversation followed:
Lady: Hey, I'm gonna paint some faces now. Come on, get up.
DJ: I don't want my face painted.
Lady (menacingly): Everyone gets their face painted when I'm here, ok?
Michael: I'm not getting a stupid flower on my face.
Lady: Hey! I don't do flowers! I used to do the make-up for Cats on Broadway!
Michael: Cats sucked!
Lady: Well the make-up didn't.
DJ: Why didn't you do Les Mis? (he puts on his fake old lady voice now). It's better than Cats! I'd see it again and again!
DJ and Michael go into fits of hysterics, rolling around on the floor.
Lady: Well fine, I see you don't like me. The hell with you, then!
She turns and sees me standing there and it dawns on her that I must have been there the whole time.
Lady: These kids are rude!
Me: Your hair is on fire.
So then Santa finally came and the kids got their presents and I was scrambling to get the kids out of there as fast as possible. As I was dragging the kids out the door I was thinking that no one could have possibly enjoyed the party less than me. Then I saw a fireman standing talking to the big brown Scooby Doo and handing him baby wipes as they talked. "I'm sorry," the fireman said to Scoob. "I didn't know when I put her on your lap that she had diarreah."
Ok, so there was someone who had a worse time than me.
My least favorite Christmas song is not a holiday tune at all, but rather a lame pop song from the late 70's that reminds me of what was my Worst. Christmas. Ever.
The year was 1978. It was tumultuous year; the death of Keith Moon (not to mention the Pope), the Jonestown Massacre, the debut of Garlfield, Saturday Night Fever. For a 16 year old, I had an acute awareness of the world outside of my own little high school/town. I knew everything that was going on in the world in regards to culture, politics and news. Too bad I had no inkling what was going on right in front of me, in my own home. I would have put a stop to their evil plans sooner.
I do believe the plan was sprung on me at the last possible minute so as to avoid a protracted, dramatic reaction from me.
"We're going to Florida for Christmas!" Dad says this in a tone of voice that is trying to be both firm and jolly. As in: We are going to Florida and I know you think you'll hate every minute of it but the decision is final and you better make the best of it for the sake of your sisters and your mother or I will kill you. Kill you dead.
"But...but....," I manage to stammer.
I flee to my room, throw myself on the bed and cry in the way that only a 16 year old who thinks the world is supposed to revolve around her can cry. How dare they not consult me? I have a life, too. I have Christmas parties to go to. I have friends to exchange presents with. I have a boyfriend!
I tried explaining all this to my mother, who just answered me with lines that had obviously been practiced. Your cousins really miss the family. It would be nice to spend a holiday with them. Just think, it will be warm on Christmas! We can go to the beach!
The beach? This is supposed to make me feel better? I'm sure people in warm climates don't think twice about going to the beach on Christmas, but I am a New Yorker, damn it, and we don't do sand, surf and sun on a winter holiday! No snow. No wind howling down the chimney. No bulky sweaters. No itchy wool hat pulled down over my eyes as I run through the mall parking lot with my friends, trying to find the right bus home. It just wasn't right.
Of course, there was the whole boyfriend thing to deal with. Bobby was what I called a Cling-on. He followed me around like a wounded puppy that needed constant petting. I attributed this to his youth. He was, after all, just a 14 year old freshman (obviously, my thing for younger guys started early). I had tried several times to break up with him, but I always backed off when he hinted that it would destroy his very existence if I were to leave him. I hadn't yet developed my crusty, hardened shell necessary to not care if he slit his wrists. Which was all just puppy boy talk, anyhow. So I figured this would be a breaking point for him. If I were to take off to Florida for the Christmas break, he would get all mad and petulant and maybe he would be angry enough to break up with me! Finally, a silver lining in the Christmas in Florida dilemma.
I'm sure my parents were confused about my sudden turnaround. I was all sunshine and smiles as I packed my suitcase for the trip. I had found a way to make this trip work for me, self centered teenager that I was.
So, after waiting for my little sister to tearfully compose her postcard to Santa informing him that she would be elsewhere for Christmas (she was terrified that Santa wouldn't forward her presents to Florida), we took off for the great green south.
The first thing I noticed about Pompano Beach, Florida (I had been there previously, but I was too young at the time to take it all in) was that everyone within a five mile radius was either a crackhead or a senior citizen. There was no in between. Even my cousins - former New Yorkers - had taken on that slight glow of Florida craziness. Their neighbors to the right had no teeth. Their neighbors to the left had no furniture. The people around the corner sat on their rickety front porch all day and night, drinking beer and throwing rocks at passing cars. Everyone spoke in a slow, monosyballic drawl. No one knew anything about the world outside of their own block and, even worse, they didn't know who the Ramones were.
Making matters worse were the palm trees decorated for Christmas. It was a holiday twilight zone. Colored lights strung from coconuts. Flowers blooming amidst the cardboard cut out reindeer. Pictures taken with a surfer Santa on the boardwalk. It was wrong.
I was pining for New York, pining for my friends and, worst of all, pining for Bobby who, while annoying and clingy, at least had all his own teeth and listened to good music.
Music. Oh, there was music playing all the time. My cousins had the radio blasting at all hours. No Christmas music, for which I should have been grateful, but some top 40 radio station where the disc jockeys had fallen in love with Toto's Hold the Line.
If you've never heard that song, be thankful. It's pop dreck at its worst. The band consisted of several studio musicians who had played with some of the most popular bands of the 70's (Steely Dan and Cheap Trick to name but two). I think they were using Toto as a pretentious nod to the masses, as if to say "you guys don't appreciate musical perfection, so maybe if we wrap it up in some dumbed-down lyrics and candy chords, you'll buy it." Or maybe they just thought that putting all that talent together in one place meant they would be assured of chart victory. Think of them as the New York Yankees of 70's radio.
It's not in the way that you hold me It's not in the way you say you care
It's not in the way you've been treating my friends
It's not in the way that you'll stay till the end
It's not in the way you look or the things that you say that you do Hold the line
Love isn't always on time
Repeat that to varying degrees for a few minutes and you have Toto's first hit. It really wouldn't have been so bad if it wasn't playing on the radio - I swear to you- every half hour. And it certainly wouldn't have stuck in my craw the way it did if it wasn't the background music for my Christmas in Cracktown.
Everyone was singing it. The old, the young, the toothless, the drunk, the surfing Santa. It was almost robotic, in a sense, like these people had been subliminally poisoned into believing that singing Hold the Line was going to make their clothes brighter, their cars faster and their beer stronger. I seemed to be the only one impervious to the horror.
Christmas Day arrived. 80 degrees and sunny was the forecast. I laid in bed that morning dreaming of a White Christmas and not at all anticipating going into the sun room to open presents with the lovely bunch of coconuts on the palm tree peeking in the windows and the warm ocean breeze wafting in.
I took the grin and bear it route for my little sister, who was overjoyed to see that Santa had indeed gotten her postcard and delivered the presents to Florida. Whee. Yay. Merry Christmas, everyone. And the gods of eternal summer bless us all.
Bobby called my aunt's house Christmas afternoon. He missed me. He wanted me to come home. Christmas was depressing without him. And I was just about to give in and start crying and sniffling that I missed him, too, and I wanted to be home with him right then and he blew it. Completely and utterly blew it.
He told me to hold on, that he had a present for me. I waited. What kind of present could he give me over the phone (this was in the days before anyone heard of phone sex and really, phone heavy petting just doesn't have the same ring to it anyhow)? In a few minutes he came back on the line. He was strumming his guitar. Said he had a song to sing for me. Oh, you know what's coming, don't you?
It's not in the way that you hold me. It's not in the way you say you care....wooOoooo.
Something burst inside me. I could not take it anymore. I thanked Bobby for the song and told him we had to talk when I got back to New York. I hung up and made the decision right there and then to break up with him when I got back, death threats to himself be damned. That song was a sign that things were just not going to work between us (and in an historical footnote, this wouldn't be the last time that I would make a break up decision while in Florida).
I spent the rest of Christmas break walking around the streets of Pompano Beach making observances of the strange breed of people that lived there for future novel-writing reference. I was relieved to finally get home to the cold, yellowish gray New York snow. I think I kissed the ground at the airport.
I broke up with Bobby the night I got home. I said nothing of Hold the Line. I just told him honestly, in a 16 year old's version of honest which is, I guess, brutal, that he was too clingy and whiny and he was smothering me. He responded by singing Hold the Line into the phone until I hung up. Oh, and he did try to kill himself, sort of. Rumor had it that he spent five hours under the sunlamp in his bathroom thinking he could burn himself to death. Which would explain why he came back to school looking like he took a bath with a cooking lobster.
I've carefully avoided the Toto song until now. And I have no one but myself to blame that it's careening through my brain at the moment, bringing back all kinds of memories of surfing Santas, lit up palm trees and crackhead Floridians.
*I'm not sure crack was even invented in the 70's, but you can substitute your drug of choice. Crack just reads better than mescaline or speed or Boones Farm wine.
There it is again! Comfort food. Am I the only person in the world to whom this reference is completely meaningless? What is this strange phenomenon around certain foods? Why is 'baked ziti' considered ordinary (therefore not comforting) yet the seemingly cherished 'mac & cheese' the stereotypical comfort food of all comfort foods?? Aren't they in the same genre of foodstuff?As I tried to explain to him in his comments:
Comfort foods are foods that give you comfort not in a taste sense, but in that they remind you of good things, like sweet childhood memories.....My favorite comfort food is pasta and meatballs because it always reminds of me of Sundays at Grandma's house. It's like eating your memories. Or something like that.Would you, dear readers, please help me explain Charlie what a comfort food is and why we eat them? Oh, mashed potatoes. Talk about comfort. I could fall asleep in a pile of garlic mashed.
I had another in a long line of post apocalyptic dreams last night. This time, I kind of brought about the apocalypse myself. I was furious at the world and was walking around like a monster run amok, smashing down sign posts and tearing tree limbs from the ground with my bare hands. I didn’t talk or even scream; I just growled and roared and people scurried out of my way like I was Godzilla unleashed.
I came to rest at a supermarket (the local Stop ‘n’ Shop), where I laid down in aisle 6 (cereal, fruit bars and votive candles imprinted with images of Jesus and Mary. The candles, not the cereal or fruit bars). Anyhow, I fell asleep somewhere between the Apple Jacks and Honey Bunches of Oats and when I woke up my neck was stiff and everyone was gone. Everyone.
There was no sign of struggle, no dead bodies, no overturned shopping carts. Just silence and emptiness. I walked outside the store and the parking lot was devoid of humanity. Lots of cars, some of them idling. Filled carts, carts half emptied, a pair of boys’ sneakers next to an SUV as if a child had been lifted right out of his Vans.
I checked out a few nearby stores - a GameStop, a pizza place and a CVS just to make sure this wasn’t something that happened only at Stop N Shop. But the silence was everywhere. I walked around town for a bit, opening doors to homes and yelling inside for people. I ate a ham sandwich at one house and drank chocolate milk out of the container at another. And wiped my mouth on my sleeve.
In the dream, I kept thinking about Burgess Meredith in the Time Enough at Last episode of Twilight Zone. I waited for something to come and ruin my one chance to be truly alone. I thought that the only thing that could destroy my serenity was being hungry, so I went back to the supermarket and started loading up carts with non perishable food. Then I found the As Seen on TV Aisle and used the vacuum sealer and the food compressor to store as much fresh food as I could. I hooked all the carts together (at one point, I held up a box of Parmalat milk and said ‘what a great invention,’ the only words I said in the whole dream) with string and led a parade of canned goods and boxes food towards my house.
You would really like it if right about now I told you that all the can openers of the world just up and disappeared, just like the human beings and now I was left with barely anything to eat. Wouldn’t you?
Well, the dream ended abruptly, right there with me walking the chain of food down the street and I woke up wanting a ham sandwich and chocolate milk.
See, I know there’s a lot going on in this dream beyond the hoarding of food. It’s a whole “I need my space” theme which gets revisited again and again in my dreams.
Anyhow, I think I might turn this one into a story.
Speaking of stories, thanks to the few of you who have already donated to Friends of Iraq through ASV.
If there's anything I'm learning from this endeavor it's that things can change an awful lot in a few months.