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My cat, Shana a/k/a Dash Mouth, and I have been together for nine years today. She is considerably more robust than she was nine years ago and feels a lot more comfortable around me. Whereas when we first met, she would drape herself across the sofa, dolled up in pink satin pajamas and kitten heels, now she lolls spread-eagled on the rug in front it, slobbed down in a multi-color polyester muumuu ("mew-mew") and rubber flip-flops. I wonder if it's a coincidence that her slovenly approach started when I stopped serving her Evian exclusively in favor of plain tap water.
I have too many "junk drawers".
In my kitchen, the primary function of three of the four drawers is to house who-the-fuck-knows. It wouldn't be terrible if I ever had any intention of using the stuff. But I don't. If I did, I would have used it in the 2-3/4 years that I've lived here, right?
Several of my dresser drawers are crammed with clothing I haven't worn since moving here. I don't even wear it when no one is looking.
I want to get rid of everything for which I have no use. But I don't. Instead, I panic.
Dear 33-Year-Old Me,
Did you learn nothing from your experience with Mr. Jet Black Turbo Saab and his Italian suits over a decade ago? Must you really allow yourself to be swayed by another smooth-talking, pseudo-suave slickster, this time a tan floppy-banged blond in a red convertible Porsche?
You don't deserve to roll your eyes when the new one says, within two minutes of your meeting, "I have a boat" or deserve to think, "Oh, c'mon, does this idiot really think I'm impressed?" because three minutes later, you're accepting his offer to go out.
I'm now Facebook friends with a girl from my brother's high school class, two years ahead of me. Her body was born to wear Sassoons, her hair could've taught Farrah's a thing or two about feathering, and her eyelashes were so lush that I didn't know if I'd hate her more if they were natural or if they were the result of absurdly expert mascara-wielding. She moved in circles I could never penetrate.
I found her through a mutual friend, and she took to me immediately (my brother was so cute!!!). At long last, I'm in with the in crowd!
"One good thing about your father," Barbara's mother said on Sunday morning before he picked Barbara and her brother up for their usual diner breakfast. "The bum's got a nose for business."
"C'mon, Babs, eat up," her father said an hour later, nodding at the untouched French toast turning cold on her plate. He bumped his nose with the knuckle of his right index finger. Damnit, would the kid stop staring at his schnoz already? Was something hanging out?
Barbara waited until a tiny secretary and Dictaphone fell from his nostrils into his eggs, and then sliced into her food.
Marla and Trudy stoop-stumbled into the kitchen, their still-crumby hands grabbing at the fabric of their Brownie jumpers, mouths open, tongues lolling floppy-flat and even drooling, eyes watering and almost crossing.
"Oh, what is it now, girls?" Marla's mother said, arching an eyebrow toward Trudy's. "Bubonic plague? Black fever? Cirrhosis?"
Trudy's mom swallowed her coffee. "Pregnant?" she mouthed to Marla's with a matching eyebrow arch,
"Butterflies in the stomach!" Trudy said with a sob and gasp.
"Butterflies!" Marla. "We have butterflies!"
"I don't know about that," Trudy's mom said. "This is a bit much for butterfly-stomach. Too dramatic."
Continued from 4/6
"You girls did much better with last week's affliction," Marla's mom said.
"Oh, absolutely," Trudy's mom said. "For ants in your pants, you managed a perfect balance of squirming, scratching, and grimacing."
"That was probably your most impressive one to date," Marla's mom said, lifting her coffee cup and clinking it against Trudy's moms.
"I must say, though, that as over the top as this one is, I do appreciate the drooling," Trudy's mom said. "That takes practice."
Marla wretched, puffed out her cheeks, and pressed the fingertips of her left hand to her lips.
Trudy, however, wasn't as quick to act. She was doubled over, beanie askew, arms clenched over her stomach. She lifted her head to look at her best friend and belched hard enough her eyes teared.
Marla didn't laugh.
"Say excuse me," Trudy's mom said.
Trudy struggled to turn her eyes toward her mom.
Marla's mom smiled, hoping to catch her daughter's eye so they could laugh. Trudy's mom could be uptight!
No one was laughing.
Trudy's eyes fluttered. With a quivering jaw and twitching lips, she opened her mouth with great care.
And out flew an enormous butterfly.
Continued from 4/8
"'Scuse me," Trudy muttered between her fingertips, now pressed against her lips like Marla's.
"What in the world was that?" Marla's mom said.
"Is that papier mache?" Trudy's mom said. "Or origami?"
Marla's eyes teared with the effort of keeping her mouth shut. But it was too much for the little girl to take, and she coughed a cough as vigorous as her best friend's belch.
"Is it the magician's assistant's turn now?" Marla's mom said.
Her eyes widened as two butterflies exited her daughter's wide-open mouth and joined the one that Trudy had produced.
Continued from 4/9
I'm going to keep you in suspense and not tell you what happens next with Trudy and Marla and their respective moms, Trudy's mom and Marla's mom. Or with the butterflies. You will just have to sit tight until next month, when I may or may not (yes, those are the options!) continue it in this forum. If I don't, you can look for it, in a full-color illustrated version, in the Children's Horror section of your local neighborhood book shoppe. The book will come with instructions for making your own butterflies, both papier mache and origami!
She can't help but notice him today. Sure, she'll pretend to be busy at her desk, peering at the form Last Will and Testament she's just printed out, the tip of a flexi-straw held between her teeth as she takes another phantom sip from the can of Diet Coke finished a half hour ago, but he knows it's a ruse. He knows she sees him and his Fun Guy in Accounting red socks jogging like a real athlete on his way to the copy center. By now her peripheral vision is well-developed from months of pretending not to notice him!
As she approaches the corner, Tara gambols like an Old English Sheepdog pulling its person on a leash. The moment she rounds the corner, where well-dressed ancients sun themselves in front of the retirement home in motorized wheelchairs or on the benches beside their canes, she switches to a loose-limbed stroll.
"Look at me," her steps brag. "I'm young and limber. I can even run in these heels. Admire my effortless stride! Remember when you could do this?"
"Silly fool," the ancients think. "She has no idea how quickly the years run by, and soon she'll be one of us."
Sometime between her first and second trips to the Indian buffet, it hits Melinda like an enormous fist: She wants "out". Later she'll tell her friends she can't pinpoint the moment -- was it during the overflowing spoonful of chana masala dumped on her dish or the likely gloppy spoonful of palak paneer -- and they will tell her that detail doesn't matter. Right now it's enough that she knows it happened during the $11.95 all-you-can-eat buffet.
But how to express this? Does she tell him over the actual lunch? Does she wait until sometime later that night?
Continued from 4/13
Why'd it have to happen over Indian buffet? Now her favorite food will forever be tainted by the memory of when she decided she'd finally had enough -- not of the food but of the relationship she'd endured way past its shelf life -- and she'll have to switch to another cuisine.
It's her pattern. She realizes she'll never love her current man as much as the food she's about to eat, and thus, in an ironic twist, she'll no longer enjoy that food due to its association with the realization.
It's the worst eating disorder imaginable!
It wasn't until I'd passed the graffiti to realize it was worth a second look. Had I just seen what I thought I'd seen? Could it be? Was it even worth backtracking to confirm it?
I skipped backwards on Fifth Avenue, pausing in front of the poster that, although protected in glass, was still vulnerable to vandalism. And there I saw it: Two local newscasters' faces, Sharpie-enhanced with Benjamin Franklin glasses, French artiste curlicue mustaches, and one blackened tooth each.
Ahh, such a far cry from the glut of fat, bulging cocks and balls pointed toward the subjects' mouths!
"French fries or a side salad?" the waiter asks, after scribbling L's order, fried eggs, onto his pad.
"Fries," she says. Her voice wavers between ellipses and a question mark, her lips curling into a grimace-smile hybrid. She turns to her right to gauge my response. Tilts her head onto her right shoulder, which she shrugs.
"Fries," I say. Period.
The waiter grins his approval and leaves.
"That's not gross? After the mashed potato appetizer?"
"Please," I say. "I'm disappointed we didn't order them simultaneously. I could've dipped the fries into the mashed."
Where potatoes are concerned, I'm fully committed.
In the two hours or so between dinner and "The Partridge Family", my biodad insisted that my brother, sister, and I plant plugs of grass into our not so grass-friendly back yard. Into each little grave created by our spades, we were to insert a prepackaged scoop of new dirt topped by new grass, like little sod-plots. I suppose this was supposed to look more natural than the sod that many of our neighbors used as a solution.
It looked fake. It reeked of desperation. Indeed, even then I recognized it as a fine metaphor for life with my biodad!
"Women are too picky," Carl says. "I don't understand why they have to be so difficult."
Beggars can't be choosers, I say, especially if they've resorted to internet personals, as he has. It goes both ways.
"Yeah, I know, and I'm no prize, either," he says, looking to me to rush in with protests and compliments.
"But really," he continues. "I just want a pretty Jewish girl who not only understands that I refuse to be photographed eating pancakes but honors my request not to even try."
"I see your problem," I say. "Have you considered a Presbyterian?"
Back when I thought she was a tomboyish lesbian, thanks to her reed-thin body, all jangly with angles, onto which she would drape cargo pants and black T-shirts, very short raven hair held back with a single clip, her lone concession to girlishness her always-red fingernails, I was in lust with my young Polish manicurist.
But now that she has gained about 25 pounds, on purpose, and her once prominent cheekbones aren't well-defined, her pants are full of an ass that has given her the shape of an overripe Bosc, and I spied a bit of cleavage, it's all over.
Dear 13-Year-Old Me,
I know you think you won't be able to go on living if Mommy won't let you see "Carrie" upon its release, but trust me, you will. In a few years, after you've stopped identifying with Carrie White and drooling over John Travolta, something called the VCR will become all the rage, and you'll be able to watch at home. You'll feel worse for the pig whose blood was spilled than you do for Carrie. And eventually you'll let boys touch your
. You'll never go to a prom, but who fucking cares.
I didn't need my sister to thunder through the front door and bolt to the kitchen toward vodka haven in order to gauge that day's status of her relationship with D. I didn't need to see him skulking a few safe yards behind her. All I needed to see was the length of his hair. Given the ferocity of her entrance, I knew his hair was cropped.
I never knew which came first -- the arguments or the hair-cutting. Did he cut his hair in retaliation for a fight? Or was a haircut the cause of the fight?
Continued from 4/21
It was kind of like the old chicken-and-the-egg thing. But without as much universal appeal.
Eventually, my sister stopped seeing D and met S. S had thick brownish-golden hair that reached his shoulders, as shiny and lush as a Breck girl's. On their wedding day, a sunny September afternoon, he wore it pulled back in a gleaming ponytail. My sister beamed.
She remained friends with many of her old boyfriends, including D. Most showed up for the wedding.
I grinned like a madman when D ambled to the backyard for pre-wedding mingling. His head was completely shaved.
The basement door is adjacent to the front door of my apartment, and whenever my landlord's keys jangle to unlock it, a twinge of mini-panic grabs me. I freeze at my desk and anticipate the sound of the key sliding into my lock instead. I expect his face to burst into the room, an apology to spill from beneath his beard upon finding me here. I've taken to using the chain lock, too, which is not really a deterrent, since the fear isn't of him actually entering the apartment but of him thinking nothing of trying to gain entry uninvited.
I've been keeping a secret from you for years. I've often wanted to let you know what's in my heart, but I wasn't sure if my need to be honest was more important than shielding you from the pain that would no doubt result from that honesty. However, holding back is causing me grief, and since I know you want only the best for your children, I'm finally breaking the silence.
The food from that Chinese restaurant near you, the stuff you rave about and insist on ordering almost every time I visit, is absolute garbage.
Susie and I are at our usual club. Since it's the '80s, we're rockin' at least one cinch-belt, miniskirt, and cropped black military-esque jacket whose shiny buttons boast a crest that signifies nothing. Our hair is trying to remain poufed despite the humidity produced by our slick dance moves fueled by all-you-can-drink drinks that, thanks to a bartender friend, aren't watered down for us as they are for the other the Robert Smith/Siouxsie Sioux wannabes. Although heartbroken over a recent breakup, I'm allowing myself to take note of the one guy in the room I find marginally appealing.
Continued from 4/25
This unsuspecting guy has no idea that my alcohol-drenched brain and the dim lighting render him an almost dead ringer for Christopher Walken. All he knows is that some chick who's trying hard to pretend she's not from the suburbs is paying attention to him. And then she's dancing with him. And then she's making out with him on the dance floor.
I doubt he would've cared that I was trying to forget the boyfriend who dumped me, the one who, in this same light seven months earlier, I regarded as David Bowie, complete with British accent.
So, my sister's boyfriend, who came to live with my parents and sister in March, has proven not to be a mass murderer so far. My mother raves about him -- he's boyishly adorable, he's very funny, he's enormous help in and outside the house -- but I can't help but think, yeah, but she also raves about that bland, gloppy, poor excuse for Chinese food from the restaurant near her house. I can't wait to meet Mr. Not A Mass Murderer, when I visit soon. I'll know within five minutes, tops, if he's more exciting than subpar lo mein.
I'm sure someone is going to barge into my apartment and attempt to do something (beyond, even, breaking in) that would necessitate my making an emergency call, so I make sure that before I place myself in bed, my cell phone is at arm's length. I'm not so crazy as to sleep with it under my pillow (I don't want to confuse the tooth fairy, who still makes occasional courtesy visits even though we no longer do business), but I need to be able to reach it from where I will be sitting, bolt-upright, when the intruders make their move.
Dear 15-Year-Old Me,
Although you pride yourself on being somewhat more sophisticated than many other teens, you don't yet realize that these two glossy-haired dancer-boys, always well-dressed and -coifed, who appear to be joined at the slinky hip, and whose lockers are right next to each other (and next to yours!), are more interested in your fashions than the body beneath them. Years from now, you will realize that the time you eventually wrangled one of them into dancing with you to "Handy Man" at a school dance, he was no doubt daydreaming about the other one.
It's 1972, and we're all in my stepfather's well-worn hunter green Volvo. I have no idea where we're going. I'm beginning to think no one does, when my stepfather shouts, "Wawa!"
"Wa-a-a-ah-a-Wa-a-a-a-ah!" my mom sings, and they laugh. I don't dare ask what it means.
The stepfather thing is new to us kids, but my mother'd had time to pick up his hip lingo for a while. I'm convinced "Wawa" is code -- for "horseback riding," which I'd tried and hated even more than ice-skating.
I have never been so happy to see a convenience store in all my life.
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