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BY Jodi

02/01 Direct Link

Kent enters my office mumbling to himself and self-flagellating with the wool scarf that he told me last week "itches the stitches" out of his neck.  He scowls at me in passing, and I raise an eyebrow back at him.  Behind his back, I bare my teeth and imagine the word "Hisssss" in a cartoon speech bubble.

I'm not going to guess what's bothering him this time.  That's not my job.  I want to taunt him and ask him if he's still pissed off at willow trees for no good reason, but refrain.

I am nothing if not completely professional.

02/02 Direct Link

The knock on my office door is impatient.  I recognize it as belonging to Peggy G., my 3:00, who usually arrives at 2:58.  Today it's 3:02.  Her knock suggests panic, as if it's 9:00 p.m. and everyone is gone for the day.

I let her knock several more times, the urgency building.  I smoke an invisible menthol cigarette, regard its tip, flick its ashes into my palm, and then tap them into the wastebasket.

I tiptoe to the door, peek through the peephole, and hear her mumbling, "Bobby Marinara, Bobby Marinara," her odd mantra.

I make her wait another minute.

 

02/03 Direct Link

Gary tells me he's suffering from "marginalia confabula retrodigitasma."  Apparently he has a thing for nonsensical polysyllabic words ending in "A".  I toy with telling him, but he's on edge enough as it is and I'm not a fan of witnessing him gnaw his cuticles and spitting flaps of skin into a Dixie cup, as he's doing right now.

"It's like everything I want to remember is on the edge of my memory and I can't quite put my finger on it," he says.

I eye his chewed-up index finger and think, "Ew.  Don't put that thing on anything, please."

02/04 Direct Link

"And in the background are yellow flowers.  I think they're buttercups or daffodils.  And there's this boy with bad teeth on the left and he's smiling because I don't think anyone told him anything about braces yet.  He's in a red and blue striped shirt.  Oh, and it's sunny with a 40% chance of heavy rain."

Rita is telling me about the photo that comes with the frame she just bought from Target.  I ask about the frame itself.  It's either this or more of last week's rambling about dreams.

"Who knows?  Metal?  Or wood?  Why does that even matter?"

02/05 Direct Link

"It's my money and my time, and if I want to spend the entire 50 minutes telling you about my lunch, describing for you the texture of the sourdough bread, it's my pejorative to do so!" Glenn says.

I would tell him he means "prerogative", but I don't want to hear him define either word for the next half hour.  I'd rather hear about his sandwich and his preference for Bugles over Fritos.

Of course, I keep my mouth shut about my preference.  (Bugles can't even come close to Fritos.  Please.)

Apparently the little matter of his bedwetting can wait.

 

02/06 Direct Link

"When I was a little girl," Rhonda starts.  My internal groan is manifested by a fake throat-rattling cough.

"Would you like a swig of my Yoo-hoo?" she says, unscrewing the lid.

"They still make that?" I want to say, but don't, to avoid hearing about how, when she was a little girl, she'd drink a bottle to "wash down" the Wise potato chips she'd cram into her face by the fistful.  I merely decline her offer.

"Anyway, I used to line my coat pockets with razorblades so I would curb my enthusiasm when dipping my fingers into the Russian dressing."

 

02/07 Direct Link

"As always, I had to be the voice of reason," Marina says.  "I had to say what I know everyone else was saying but was too scared to say!"

She peels a long strip of dried mucilage from her left palm and places it into a baggie "for later".

I want to know what she's referring to but don't want to let on that I do.  Fortunately she tells me without prompting.

"Everyone was cooing over Claire's baby.  I was the only one willing to tell her it was a pineapple!  And not even a very cute one at that!"

 

02/08 Direct Link

Yvonne and Dana don't know what the problem is.  If their boyfriends were made out of Snack Pack, they'd be happy to share with me.  I tell them to get their own pudding.  It's not my fault their moms pack them Dannon yogurt they have to mix up themselves.

"I like Jello chocolate better than Snack Pack anyway," Yvonne says.

"Um, I can hear you," Tommy Barletti says from where he sits in my left hand, expertly balancing the plastic spoon in his swirly center.

"Yeah, Yvonne.  Don't hurt Tommy's feelings," Dana says, thinking it'll earn her a spoonful.

(Wrong!)

02/09 Direct Link

This is the third week in a row I've refused to call him "Panama Phil, Everyone's Favorite Uncle" and the third week in a row that he won't stop calling me "Ma'am, Ma'am."

In January, I told him he didn't need be formal and call me "Doctor" and that if he didn't mind, I'd prefer to call him by his first name rather than "Mr. _____".  Anything to make him feel comfortable that didn't have him removing his shoes, which he said were "super heavy like killer submarines deep in the blue sea," which I didn't even want to question.

 

 

02/10 Direct Link

Who cares that Dairy Queen has named its new Valentine's Day offering "Single Blizzard Treat".  If you're seriously up in arms and think you're being singled out (OMGLOL) as a pathetic lonely unloved dusty spinster or whatever the male equivalent is of a pathetic lonely unloved dusty spinster, you're buying into the same marketing malarkey that commercializes silly ol' Valentine's Day in the first place. I'm just pissed that DQ thinks we single people who spend 14,000 hours a week in the gym just to attract a SOULMATE would want to desecrate our fine bodies with this oily putrid garbaggio.

02/11 Direct Link

Glenda's aunt, Bluma Ostrov, was born in a can of evaporated milk in 1948.  It was a nice place to lounge for a bit but she was relieved when her mother used a can opener to pierce two small triangles into the lid and poured it into a baking pan to make quick 'n' easy fudge.


"What if she didn't think to make fudge and forgot about the can in the back of the cabinet just like she did all the Junket?" Bluma says.

Glenda hopes nobody sees her spit her piece of quick 'n' easy fudge into her napkin.

 

 

02/12 Direct Link

Pam Watkins thinks she's better than the rest of us because her sheaf of wheat can talk and most of the other kids' can barely whisper.  Miss Gorsham, our third grade science teacher, tells us it has nothing to do with anything Pam did or didn't do, that some wheat develops the ability to talk sooner than others and some wheat is mute for life, preferring to simply observe and nod their quiet heads with solemn and dignified understanding.  Her fiance, she tells me apart from the other kids, is the silent kind of wheat and we're the lucky ones.

02/13 Direct Link

Marjorie Shankbinder is 15 years old and the president of her local 4H.  I ask her where in New York City one would find a 4H, and she says, "In my heart and soul."  I can't decide if I regret having engaged her in conversation as we wait for the bus or if I'm delighted to have made her acquaintance.

I confess that I don't know what the 4 Hs are.

"Home, Hubert, Ham Sandwiches, and Hachachacha," she says.

I laugh and say, "No, what is it really?"

"Home, Herbert, Huarache Sandals, and Hachachacha," she says.

Thank you, Marjorie Durante.

  

02/14 Direct Link

My cat asks me if she's attractive.

I tell her, yes, of course she's adorable and gorgeous and the most beautiful girl in the world.

"Yes (and thank you), but am I attractive?" she says.

I repeat what I just said.

She repeats what she just said.

"Yes, you're very attractive," I say.

"I am an attractive cat?"

"Very much so."

She asks what I find attractive.  I list all the things she and I have gone over many times, whispered at bedtime and on rainy afternoons.

I ask if I'm attractive.

"That's not for me to say," she says.

 

02/15 Direct Link

Well, the steel-cut oats have decided to boil themselves into a close proximity to concrete yet again.  They think it's funny.  I can tell.  When I lift the lid in anticipation of stirring, and am met with the scorched mass rather than the creamy delight I had expected, and let out an "Oh come on!" that is perhaps tinged with whininess, it says, "Well, what did you expect."

I tell it I expect it to cook like the package says.  I tell it that I followed Bob's Red Mill's instructions.

The oats try to blame the new oven.

It's mayhem.

 

02/16 Direct Link

My third grade class contained two girls named Yvonne.  I remember nothing about one of them.  The other I remember as pretty in an exotic way that perhaps wasn't readily apparent.  She was no Debbie Van Slyke, though, with her long straight blonde hair, blue eyes, and perfect teeth.  Yvonne was more accessible.  Except she smelled.  I don't recall what the smell was, but it was enough to keep most people away, which of course made her less accessible.

I wish I could see both girls now, 40-plus years later, if only to see if Yvonne evolved into a knockout.

 

02/17 Direct Link

Martha's fresh air sandwiches can't be beat.  At least that's what she thinks.  She thinks that just by saying it, the good people of Harlington, Delaware are going to believe it.  She's only been living there, what, a month, and already thinks she's gained their trust?  Please.

Truth is, hers are really good.  The bread is home-baked with just the right amount of salt and caraway seed, and the oxygen is top-notch, like nothing anyone in Harlington has ever tasted, but anyone who's anyone knows that lifelong resident Laura sets the standard, even if her bread is stale as hell.

02/18 Direct Link

 

No one in Spain is crowing "PERRO spelled backwards is ORREP!" in an attempt to show their allegiance, awe, and admiration of man's best amigo.

I used to think the DOG/GOD thing was kind of cute in a simple way, even though I'm only convinced of the existence of the first item in that pairing, until one day, while snowshoeing in the tiny country of Ecalppeudam, I paused to praise "God" for the magnificent sunset, but, not knowing their language's word, uttered their word for "Dog" backwards and was almost killed by a firing squad for insulting their president's mother.

02/19 Direct Link

"Something about it just drives me out of my mind," Donny says.  "You know what I mean?"

I don't answer.  I prompt him to continue, pretending to take notes on my pad, when really I'm jotting "Lentils, tomato paste, quinoa" so I don't forget to pick them up after this, my last session of the day.

When his time is up, Donny lingers, saying, "I'll walk you out!", obviously hoping to witness me tying and double-knotting my snow boots.  But no dice.  It's not my job to indulge his newly revealed fetish.  His insurance doesn't cover that kind of service.

02/20 Direct Link

I want to go rolling skating in quad skates in an old-fashioned rink.  I want to eat crinkle-cut fries with a toothpick from a red and white checkered paper container that was kept under a red-light heated lamp to keep it warm.  I want to go to a drive-in movie with the thing that hooks in the window.  I want to go bowling at lanes that use paper score sheets and wear cracked shoes with my size on the heel.  I want a cherry Slurpee.  I want a cola Slurpee.  Pringles.  I want a cake from an E-Z bake oven.

02/21 Direct Link

When I was growing up in the '70s, I obsessed over the clothing of the '50s, thanks in part to "Happy Days".  I'd look down at my junior high and high school duds and think, "No way is anyone ever going to be nostalgic about crap."

Until a decade or so ago, I said, of the resurgence of some of the styles, "If I wore it back then, I'm sure as hell not going to wear it again."

Fast forward to the last few years, and everything "new" in my wardrobe could have been plucked from by Mary Richards' closet.

 

02/22 Direct Link

WARNING, KIDZ!  MAY CONTAINER SPOILERS!


A this point I'm watching Downton Abbey just to get it over with, to see if Mary winds up with anyone, if Edith makes public the knowledge of Marigold's birth, if Robert's health scare pans out into anything beyond the alarming and disgusting burst ulcer, if Mrs. Patmore and Mr. Mason get together, ditto with Molesley and Baxter, and if Thomas ends up finding employment with Mrs. Patmore's new B&B or winds up killing himself, as I think we may be supposed to think he will do.  Meanwhile, I'm just happy for the new puppy.

02/23 Direct Link

Every Instagram photo filtered to high hell and low heaven and back again, so any line or fold or shadow or, gasp!, wrinkle is not merely muted, smudged, or softened but eradicated completely so the face appears so impossibly smooth that babies' asses feel threatened that they will be unseated as the sought-after cliché standard of skin perfection.

Faces appear to be cut out of untouched vellum, buffed to a velvety sheen, not flesh because, no, flesh is, horrors, imperfect.  I do not trust a philtrum-free face, a photograph that itself appears to been injected with a boatload of Botox.

02/24 Direct Link

I was never much of a fan of the elliptical machine until I used a certain one at the gym when the row of preferred treadmills was temporarily inaccessible.  This one offered a wide array of programs, so I chose "Glute Blaster Plus" because it was the one most worthy of a combo-pack reaction consisting of a dismissive eye roll and a derisive smirk.

With a little tweaking (that's an "a", not an "r") of the programs variables, it does earn its name, even as I cringe to see it on the display for the duration of the, uh, blasting.

 

02/25 Direct Link

The United States Parcel Service has now surpassed Time Warner Cable as being the biggest heap of garbage service/provider I have ever come in contact with, far far FAR surpassing many disappointments of years gone by courtesy of SEPTA and Amtrak and perhaps a bank or manufacturer or two whose identities, by now, have been forgotten, thus proving that although they were horrible at the time, their transgressions and shortcomings and failures were not egregious enough to warrant eternal memory.  "Going postal" doesn't just apply to it disgruntled workers anymore; it extends to customers as well.  Where's my fucking package?

02/26 Direct Link

It's his 50 minutes, so he can do with it as he pleases, but I wish Paul wouldn't waste one of his monthly sessions on show and tell.  Last month, when I suggested his time could be better spent dealing with real issues, he told me he had a "humdinger" for next time and promised that if I wasn't "wowed", it'd be the last.

So when he places a mason jar in my hands inside of which floats a fetus in fetu, who am I to say that every session next month has to deal with his crippling social phobia?

02/27 Direct Link

We are Those Kids in That House.  You know, the new kids with the long dark hair that looks like it should always have leaves in it, or squirrels, or tiny nests.  We're the three you think may be triplets of different sizes.  You wonder if that's possible.  You don't ask, though; you just stare at us and our bare feet and our long hair and our clothes that we think are groovy but which you probably think are far out in a not-so-groovy way.  You won't play with us, but that's okay.  We have our imaginations and each other.

 

02/28 Direct Link

Marina is exasperated.  Her mother has cut off her access to spoons since the last incident, saying she can't be trusted and it's just too dangerous.  Marina reminds her mother that she is 14, not a baby, and it's not like she's running around the room with them, scaring Mr. Fiddles the Cocker Spaniel from Planet Nushnik.  Her mother quietly opens a drawer on the sideboard and hands her her seventh grade school photo.

Marina says, "So?  I did a great job that year."

Her mom sighs and hands over the gardening shears.

"Here," she says.  "Please.  These are safer."

 

02/29 Direct Link

On a whim, I recently arranged the configuration of my apartment in a way that I thought was slight.  By angling some furniture and associated items in a certain way, the "flow" was altered and it now feels like the room has opened up and is somewhat larger.  I had always sort of raised my eyebrow at the notion of feng shui, and have no idea if what I've done has accomplished something positive within its tenets, but I do know I feel a lot more welcome in my own apartment, much more relaxed, and so much happier.  Fung yay!