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The doctor tells Erica that “lip service” won’t do. He needs her to actually do what he says, not just pretend and dispense prefabricated moans, the way the others do. He’ll know if she’s trying to trick him, because, as a doctor, he’s no stranger to respiratory variances. Even over the phone, he can distinguish between fake heavy breathing and genuine.
“Promise you won’t lie to me,” he says to faceless Erica.
“I promise, Jack.”
“And I know your real name isn’t Erica,” he says. “What is it? I won’t use it. I just need to know.”
“Cindy,” Janice says.
IMPORTANT PROGRAM NOTE:
In the preceding entry, I inadvertently used the name “Janice” at the end instead of “Erica”. I apologize for any head-scratching, “what the fuck”-ing, epileptic seizures, aneurysms, heart attacks, hysterical blindness, emotional distress, or general confusion that may have resulted from this oversight, and beg for your forgiveness.
So now you know my secret. I am fallible and make mistakes. I know this comes as a shock, because, until now, you were convinced I was some sort of perfect robot. I apologize. But please know that my manufacturer has been contacted and will make the necessary adjustments.
Fellas, in case you’re wondering which personal hygiene activities you can and cannot perform in my presence, I’ve put together a chart for your ease of reference. Please take note, and proceed accordingly.
* Apply deodorant
* Brush your teeth
* Clip your nails
* Floss your teeth
* Trim nose/ear hair
* Brush/comb your hair
* Apply hair “product”
* Shave. In fact, please feel free to let me see you with the classic “beard and mustache” shaving cream application, especially after the first swipe/stroke of the blade through it. This I find particularly sexy, perhaps because it is a 100% male procedure.
In junior high, I was obsessed with keeping my skippy li’l Keds white enough to restore Stevie Wonder’s sight. I went through so many small plastic bottles (with applicator brush built into the lid!) of something I think was called Shoe White (or Nurse’s White?) to maintain their pristine, unused appearance.
From regular use, the sneakers were weathered and dingy beneath the near-daily layers I’d applied. What I didn’t foresee was the white stuff itself compromising the shoes’ usability. After countless applications, it cracked the canvas, and gashes appeared where the shoes had strained to flex to accommodate normal activity.
One of my friends used to be a big list-maker. Every time we were out and about, she’d produce a large spiral notebook in which she had everything neatly printed, each task proud to be included on the list and anxiously anticipating its completion, which would be rewarded with a neat little check in a box preceding it.
By the time she met up with me, several checks would already be entered in the book. I’d admire her accomplishment, but only until I saw the items checked. “Make the bed”, “Put dirty clothes in hamper”, and “Check weather on TV”.
I have yet to meet that fabled child who dreams of running off with the circus. Everyone I know would call that a nightmare, and instead of running off with it would run away from it.
It’s common knowledge that the clowns are drunks, the midgets perverts, and the animals miserable even without the input of the drunk clowns and perverted midgets. The elephants aren’t alone in remembering abuse.
(And here’s where, if I were even remotely political, I’d say that if kids want to dream of running off with an organization, they could only do worse with the military.)
I don’t know what was worse: having some idiot pull up outside my parents’ house and wait for me to run out, or having some idiot actually come inside my parents’ house and wait for me to come downstairs. Either way, my dad wouldn’t approve. Either way, he would sit silently, gazing straight ahead at the TV, Chivas in hand, and refuse to acknowledge that his oldest daughter was getting involved in any capacity with these jerk-offs.
My dad didn’t have to offer to show anyone a “gun collection”. His silence and non-participation was a more insidious and effective threat.
After long and careful consideration, I move that we remove the term “sleeveless T-shirt” from circulation. Because, see, when the part that defines the garment – the sleeves that, when spread out on either side of the shirt’s body, form the cap (or arms, if you prefer) of the letter “T”, thus giving rise to the name of the shirt itself – is removed, we are left only with a stumpy, capless (or armless) base denuded of the distinguishing feature that makes the thing what it is.
After this term is removed (amid fanfare), I will petition for abolishment of “white chocolate”.
Erica is prepped about her next caller. Vince’s great love is “come” (or “cum”, as she’s sure he spells it). He’ll want to talk about the quantity and quality. There’s tons of it, yeah, and he’ll refer to it as “ropy”.
Erica is nauseated by Vince even before taking the call.
Vince is thrilled to have a new girl to unload his ropy come onto. The excitement in his voice is as thick as the ropes he describes to her.
“Vince, that’s disgusting.”
“Great word,” he says, his voice catching. “Say it again. No one has ever said that before.”
I loathe the term “etiquette”. It smacks of Victorian ladies, prim in lace from neck to toe, sipping tea from delicate cups, raising eyebrows at the one rogue who dares to not extend her pinky outward in a sign of contrived propriety. Or a mother who dresses her sons like little salesmen, in miniature blue blazers and ties, her daughters like little housewives, instructing them to “sir” and “ma’am”, bow and curtsey, because that’s what proper ladies and gentlemen do. Meanwhile, the Victorians were secretly licentious, and the mother holds contempt for most of the people she “sir” and “ma’am”s.
Everyone was thrilled when Carol finally took up a hobby. It’d only taken the suggestion of two therapists, the insistence of a neurologist, and divorce threats from her husband (“and a partridge in a pear tree!” she’d later joke, ad nauseam), but hey.
Now, six years later, everyone wishes she’d revert to pre-hobby Carol. Impatient, controlling Carol who would’ve sneered at the now omnipresent glue gun that facilitates creation of the enormous, overblown wreaths she’s given as gifts for every occasion. Because vestiges of the old Carol remain, in commands that everyone hang every one somewhere she can see them.
“Fun size”. What a misnomer! There’s nothing festive about a Three Musketeers the size of my thumb, nothing celebratory about a Milky Way no longer than a lipstick. How much fun can it be, knowing the thrill will last only one bite – two, tops, if you’re being delicate? (Note: Delicacy has no place in the fun-time arena.)
During the six seconds it takes to wolf down a “fun size” candy bar, all you think is, “Is that all?”
If you were to come up with a sexual parallel for “fun size”, it would be a two-second blowjob in an elevator.
Erica decides to shake things up with the client who insists she’s the only “girl” who “does it” for him. She cannot bear the thought of another hour of blindfolds and whipped cream. She’ll come up with something so vile, he’ll be sure to switch “girls”.
“So,” he says. “You wear Depends under your dress. You only use the bathroom for checking your lipstick. When I get home, I check the contents of your diaper and clean you like a baby?”
Yes, that’s it, Jack. Now, can you please switch “girls”?
“Oh god. That’s so fucking hot,” he says.
The lout wants to make sure that everyone knows he’s intent on maintaining the coveted title of King Cell Phone. Well, bravo, you royal pain in the ass. Please allow me and the rest of the Whole Foods patrons to be among the first to pat you on the back with a sledgehammer.
An older woman tells this ogre to please quiet down, so he gives her lip. Tells the person on the receiving about this rude lady. I tell him she’s not alone in her assessment and that nobody cares to hear his conversation. He cowers. And shuts up.
We always hear, “She looks like a young Catherine Deneuve” and “You know who she reminds me of? A young Meryl Streep.” But we don’t hear, “She looks like an old Paris Hilton” and “She reminds me of an old Mischa Barton.”
Is it because people don’t want to admit that their favorite vapid, talent-free starlets will, one day, oh god no no no, be “old”? Because youth-and-frivolity-obsessed celebrity sniffers can’t imagine a day when Paris will tarnish and Mischa will turn to mush?
Or is it because, thanks to plastic surgery, none of the current crop will ever age?
In three days, my grandfather would’ve been 98. Or 97? Although we’re sadly sure of the year of his death (1993), we were never sure of the year of his birth. In 1979, he claimed to be 70, because, my mom insisted, he wanted a special party. We gave him one, with balloons and party hats, because, really, who could deny him festivity?
My mom tells me she sees a lot of Poppop in me. This I take this as the grandest compliment anyone could ever give me (even more cherished than praise for my skinniness and long blonde hair!).
I skip gym for weeks and hide out in the newspaper office. I’d rather write than be subjected to the inevitability of being picked last to play kickball, the overall pointlessness of “steal the bacon”, and the trauma of tits and ass and worse in the locker room.
However, this does not come without a price. Toward the end of the school year, I’m told I’ll fail gym and thus not graduate unless I make up the time.
So every lunch hour, instead of pretending to eat, I run around the track non-stop. Oh, yeah. Real punishment for anorexic me.
Humming. Not quite loudly enough to discern the tune (or if there even is one).
Buzzing. Not quite insistently enough to cause alarm.
Simmering. Not quite vehemently enough to indicate an imminent cross-over into boiling.
Each of these a component in the ubiquitous low-level anxiety that tints my waking moments and colors many of my sleeping ones. Even when I’m not actively conscious of it, it haunts my subconscious – which is perhaps even more insidious.
It’s a radio show trapped in a station I can’t tune in on an old console-type set, the focal point of a 1940s living room.
I don’t get the point of trophies, commemorative T-shirts, or medals. Symbols of an accomplishment, all, but why the need? And why the need to display them?
When I was going to houses with my boyfriend during his hunt, one of the places we toured was owned by a bodybuilder who had on display at least 100 bronze trophies, all about the same size and look, lording over the living room and den/office. Miniature representations of overdeveloped men flexing miniature muscles. I don’t know who was the bigger poseur – the statues themselves or the person who had been awarded them.
In the year we were together, I suspect he never washed his cat’s food dish. He’d just heap more wet food atop whatever she hadn’t eaten the day before, thus allowing the formation of a rather charming crust so unbudgeable that it seemed to be part of the bowl itself.
So, upon visiting his house for the first time in a month and encountering a small swirl of hair in the tub in “my” bathroom, my suspicion of “another woman” was short-lived. I mean, if he never cleaned the cat bowl, why would he clean a bathroom once a month?
At first Arnold can’t determine which of his ladies would’ve left her cell phone behind. Because he’s smart and resourceful, though, he calls the number listed as “Home”. When Spanish voicemail answers, he knows it’s the maid’s.
Everyone’s got cells these days
, he chuckles.
When she calls back to ask if her husband can pick it up en route to work that night, Arnold says no, he’ll bring it to her himself.
“Great place,” he says when the maid answers the door. “You almost done work? I can take you home since your husband’s working.”
“I AM home,” she says.
Ahhh, yes. Those three little words. How they send a shiver up your spine, make you shudder and sigh. And make you want to run screaming into the streets -- exchanging stilettos for fluffy socks first, of course.
Old married couple
Oh! Gah! Never!
He saws wood while she stays up with her “itty bitty book lamp”, reading an innocuous novel. She stirs white sauce while he clips his toenails within earshot.
I don’t want us slouching into this kind of stagnant situation. However, I must confess to being quite enamored of our gin games, despite the overpowering OMC overtone!
“A mile is a mile whether you run it in ten minutes or six,” one of Reebok’s new print ads says (paraphrased). “Slow down.” Then this little shoulder shrug: “REEBOK. I am what I am.”
And what you are, ten minute man, is mediocre. Aspiring to be average. A ten-minute mile is an easy jog, nothing to write home about, whereas a six-minute mile is an all-out run, something to not only write home about but to use the good stationery for, complete with calligraphy.
Is the next step to hire “real” people to appear in its ads, like Dove?
In case you’re wondering how my Dressed To Thrill project is going (and no, I didn’t give my recent foray into dress-wearing a name until now!), please know that it’s going swimmingly. In fact, it’s going so well that I’m wondering why I’d shunned dresses for seven years! In fact, I’m digging dresses so much that I wish I sewed, so I could create my own using my grandmother’s old (from the ‘20s, I think!) Singer machine, with the iron foot trestle, following vintage Butterick patterns from the ‘40s and ‘50s. Alas, I cannot even sew a button by hand.
Animal faces in clouds are too cliché for us. We’ll find them in the ceiling fixture above the bed, where we’ve already discovered at least two horses. Two impassive horses, captive to the escapades several feet below them, unable to close their eyes to avoid witnessing what I’m sure they would call “horseplay”, if only they had mouths.
If we were outside, though, we wouldn’t be looking for camels in the cumulus, anyway. You’d have my face pressed into the grass, damp with dew and my breath. And it would be the clouds’ turn to see what they could see.
I don’t know what grossed me out more: that, at 17, he kept his stuff in a zip-around “toiletry kit” or that he called it that to begin with. Either way, seeing this during a trip for the school newspaper was enough to deflate my crush.
The zipper sounded so self-satisfied when it was led along its track. And he seemed so smug about his “toiletries”. What kind of teenager doesn’t just lump all his crap into a silent, standard-issue zip-lock bag?
I’m pretty sure this is one of those unsolved mysteries of the ages, like the ol’ chicken-and-egg thing.
I know we’re in for a wild night when, bucking vegan tradition, we decide to order the dish that features egg noodles.
“Livin’ on the EDGE!” I say, lifting my arms heavenward in a gesture of blissful abandon.
Two hours after the noodles pass our lips, we’re on my patio, dark except for light from three candles and occasional flashes of lightning, silent except for the rumble of thunder. The lips that allowed egg noodles to pass between them are now canoodling. Several thunder-rumbles later, I’m a writhing nudling, allowing all sorts of delectable things to pass between my lips.
A lifetime ago, I spent an entire weekend doing things so uncharacteristic of me that they may as well have been done by someone else.
Late 1996. My then-boyfriend, the hairy-backed bastard, and I, along with six or eight other people, all in a large mountain house. Flannel everywhere, and all the makings of a thrilling “reality” show. That I did *anything* in a group was strange enough. But the cigar-smoking, the hiking, the sit-down dinnering? The only familiar, “me” activity was that which left me looking like I had been assaulted overnight. In that, at least, I recognized myself!
Today would’ve been my grandparents’ 73rd anniversary. They “only” made it to their 55th. In total, though, counting the years they courted (yes, this is what I insist on calling it since it happened so long ago!), they were together about 60 years.
Unbelievable. The mind reels. To imagine everything they went through, coming here from Cuba in the ‘30s with the toddler version of my mom and their few possessions in tow, learning a new language, struggling to build a life far from their original homelands of Russia and Poland … all of this, together.
Happy anniversary, my lieblings!
How anyone can help but look at her is beyond me. Still, it seems no one is. She’s just another filthy, black rag-draped street-person, after all.
My time is limited, so I must take in as much as possible before my bus passes the intersection. She stands on the corner. Looks left. Right. Straight ahead. Produces a white cup, the size Starbucks dubs “tall”, and, with both hands, places its rim between her teeth. Removes her hands with a flourish, spreads her palms upward, a silent “ta da!” Her darting eyes seek applause.
“Bravo!” I say as the bus passes.
Hello, I am breaking the FOURTH WALL!
Please do not tell my patients I did not include them in this month’s “batch”. Their baseline low self esteem would be shattered and their paranoia magnified tenfold if they knew they were, in essence, disregarded. However, because I’m not as heartless as I’ve been accused of being, I feel it’s only right to mention them here, if only to mention that I didn’t mention them. Except for this one entry, which only notes their exclusion. Next month, however, the freakfest continues.
After all, I wouldn’t want to be responsible for any suicides.
The Tip Jar