I Know You Are, But What Am I?

You know how when you were younger, you thought that when you became an adult you would know it?  Like something would automatically change within you that made you start acting like a grown up?  I’m turning 42 this week and I’m still waiting for that to happen.

I feel like an adult in approximately three situations:

1. When I buy postage stamps.

2. When I get my teeth cleaned.

3. When I get the oil changed in my car on time.

That’s pretty much it.

I can’t even go into very serious meetings and not feel like a tween who stole their mom’s smart pantsuit and is just wearing it around pretending to be 90s-era Madonna, who by the way, is my favorite Madonna incarnation.  The structured suits.  The bold red lip.  That weird lace shirt in the Vogue video that made it look like she had Barbie boobs.  That was the decade where Madonna truly became an icon.  80s Madonna?  Pop star.  90s Madonna?  BOSS.

I bring it up because someone just said, “I heard Publix has a special on boneless chicken thighs this week” and my first thought was, “I heard your face has a special on boneless chicken thighs this week.”

When someone asks, “Hey, can you hold that elevator door for me?”, my first thought is, “I don’t know, can I?”

I’ve had to literally leave a room on occasion because someone introduces themselves to me and their name is something like “Rod Burns” and I physically cannot stop laughing like Beavis and Butthead and I have to pretend I’m having a coughing fit.

It’s like every day of life I’m Dorothy just tra-la-la-ing along through the poppy fields in the Wizard of Oz, but the poppies are dick jokes that make me pass out from laughing.  And the Cowardly Lion is a dick joke.  And the Scarecrow is a dick joke.  Toto, tin man, the witch, monkeys – all dick jokes.  And the camera man, the on-set caterer, and the marketing rep at the movie studio – dick jokes.  I figure at this point, if the interior dialogue that acts like a 12 year old asshole is still the biggest part of my thought process, it’s a personality trait that’s pretty much set in stone.

I wonder sometimes how this came to be.  Is it because I watched Pee Wee’s Big Adventure too many times as a kid?  Is it because I didn’t have kids?  I would think having kids would kind of force you to start thinking like an adult, but who knows?

One of my favorite people, my friend Eric, has a kid and a similar personality to me with regard to comedy, which makes him 100% fun to hang out with, except for the next day when you feel like you’ve been punched in the stomach because he made you laugh so hard the night before.

Also because he actually punched you in the stomach.

Okay, not really, but I know the image of him telling a joke and then immediately punching you in the stomach is probably making him laugh right now, and making that guy laugh is like giving a birthday present to yourself.

Eric is also the owner of the funniest line I’ve ever heard in my entire life.  Ever.  Hands down.

(Sophia Petrillo voice):  Picture it.  Somewhere around 2008 maybe?  Eric is sitting on the back porch with me and a big group of friends at a house party.  Someone asks if anyone wants to leave the party to go to the goth club one town over.  A friend smirks and says, “No thanks, I’ve already gone through my compulsory goth phase.”

Eric looks at friend, then looks away in the distance towards the night sky and takes a long drag off a cigarette and casually says, “Your haircut would beg to differ” and then exhales the smoke.

I don’t think I’ve laughed so hard in my entire life.  Not before then, not since then.  It was like watching Michelangelo hit an uncut block of marble with a hammer one time and the statue of David magically appearing when the dust settled.

Also, in case you still have any doubt, he currently has a personalized license plate that says “LUV2BM”.

You can follow Eric on Twitter at: @ericsmellsfunny or you can find him at any Flanigan’s eating a Banzai Brownie.  Unless that asshole Chrissy is serving, and then she’ll just take his order and then not put it into the kitchen for fifteen minutes and then come back and say the kitchen is closed.

Go forth.  Find kindred dick joke spirits.  Make the world a whole lot dick-jokier.  I know you all have it…inside you.

Heh heh.

The Kid Thing

Here we go.

I started and stopped and started and stopped writing this post ten times because discussions that involve personal life choices with regard to the decision to procreate or not procreate have been known to ruin friendships, generate death threats on “The Twitter”, and take down large monarchies.

To be fair, discussions about prepackaged caramel popcorn preferences have also generated death threats on Twitter, e.g. “You’ll be dead and buried in a dumpster at the Cracker Jack factory before midnight, you Fiddle Faddle cuck”, because Twitter is absolutely fucking terrifying.

Just to be clear, I have no stated preference with regard to prepackaged caramel popcorn, so I encourage you to please put down your weapons.  I’m just a lady writing a blog, there is absolutely no need for bloodshed.

So, like most women, when I was between the ages of 18 and 39, I was routinely inundated with judgey questions about when I was going to start having kids.  These unsolicited interrogations came from every category of people you can imagine.  Family, friends, coworkers, doctors, clerks at the convenience store, strangers on the street – it seems everybody makes it their business to inquire about whether somebody will be taking up shop for nine months in your uterus.  The conversations usually go something like this:

“When are you planning on having kids?”

“I’m not planning on having kids.”

“WHAT?!  Why not?!”

“Well, it’s just not for me.”

“Why not?”

Then I will supply any number of personal reasons, like having zero maternal instinct, or loving my life just fine as it is, and the conversation will usually end like this:

“Well, I guess some people are just selfish.”

I used to try to argue with people that I was not selfish for not wanting kids, but after so many years of defending my personal choices (in arguments that I had not even initiated), I eventually just started saying, “Yes.  You are absolutely right.  I don’t want to have kids because I am selfish.  I am probably the most selfish person who has ever lived.”

This is the answer that works the best if you just want to shut down the conversation.  I’m of the opinion that these particular judgey types really do think people who don’t want to have kids are selfish, and even though I wholeheartedly disagree with whatever weird bullshit they’re trying to project onto me, I just agree with them so that they will go the fuck away.  It’s what they want to hear.  “Yep!  You bet!  I’m selfish as fuck!”

One of the glorious, wonderful, magical things that happens after you turn 40, is that people rarely continue pestering you about kids.  Occasionally, you’ll still get one that says, “So, uhh, tell me why you never had kids?” which is always astonishing to me, because Jesus Christ, that is judgmental as fuck and literally nobody’s business.

If you have kids, just imagine how fucked up it would be if someone asked you out of the blue, “So, uhh, why did you decide to have kids?”

Sounds offensive, no?

My journey down the road of childless-by-choiceness started when I was a child.  I did not enjoy childhood (who did?).  Not even one little bit.  I do not look back on it fondly, I do not think it was the best time of my life, and I do not long for the “good old days” of carefree youth, because I was a walking, shaking disaster of anxiety as a kid.

I was one of those kids who was so jacked up that I developed OCD by the time I was 6 years old, and spent an hour every night lining up my piles of stuffed animals in height-order in the hope that if I did so correctly, nothing bad would happen to anyone I loved.  I pretended that I just “preferred” to have them in order, because even at that young age, I knew adults would make you go to a scary doctor if you told them, “If my ET doll and Cabbage Patch Kid aren’t in the correct order, someone will break into the house in the middle of the night and kill my mother and it will be my fault”.

I was extremely good at either hiding my compulsions entirely or presenting them as harmless, kooky little things I liked to do.  I used to pretend I was just recreating a disco strobe-light when I flipped the light switches off and on (64 times), because confessing that you’re flipping the light switch 64 times in order to keep the house from burning down is a recipe for a visit to a guidance counselor.

I was a fifty pound bag of fucking anxiety, and spent more days hiding in the bathroom than I did running around outside playing.  I spent every waking moment of the day worrying, worrying, worrying.  What I wanted more than anything in the world was to have a sense of control over my life, but when you’re a kid, control is not part of the deal.

So, no, I don’t associate kids with carefree happiness.  I associate kids with a complete loss of control.

Allright!  So you’re still with me, right?  Sounds okay, and you’re happy I eventually got some therapy, right?  That’s good, because here’s the part where I will lose you.

I would be a terrible fucking parent. I mean, monumentally terrible.  The kind of parent that ends up being written into a memoir that eventually gets turned into a movie.  People are quick to think you’re just being self-deprecating when you tell them you would be a terrible parent, like you’re saying you look fat in your skinny jeans that day.  They’ll typically respond with, “Oh, no you wouldn’t!  I bet you’d be a great mom!” and while their hearts might be in the right place, they are dead fucking wrong.

Whatever the opposite of “nurturing” is?  That’s me.  I once returned a fish to PetSmart because I determined it was “too needy”.  Not being a nurturing person doesn’t make me a selfish human being, it just means that my talents lie elsewhere, as evidenced by my crack motherfucking skills at bar shuffleboard.

One of our favorite movies when we were kids was “Mommie Dearest”, the cult classic starring Faye Dunaway that’s based on Joan Crawford’s daughter’s memoir.  The movie focuses on the physical and emotional abuse inflicted on her daughter, Christina, at the hands of a clearly, mentally disturbed Joan Crawford.  When we watched this movie as kids, we were always blown away at how mean and cruel Joan was to Christina.  (It was horrifying treatment of a child, but Faye Dunaway’s over the top, wild-eyed performance made it hilarious and instant camp.  It’s a great movie.)

Joan Crawford beating Christina mercilessly with the Ajax can for not cleaning the bathroom to her exact specifications, the wire hanger scene, chopping off her hair when she found her making fun of her while she was playing in her expensive cosmetics, making her give away all but two of her Christmas presents.  All of it was just insane.

The one scene that’s the most striking to me, though, that I invoke often when my choice not to have kids has come up, is the scene in the dining room, when Christina and Joan are having lunch, and Christina is pushing on the bloody-rare steak and making a face at it, complaining that she doesn’t want to eat it.

Joan says to her assistant, “She negotiates everything like a goddamn Hollywood agent!”  Then she turns to Christina and says, “Christina, eat your lunch. You are not getting up from this table until you have finished that meat.”

Christina responds by making that face kids make when they’re starting a battle of wills, and shoves the plate away and glares at her mother.  (Oh, heeeeell no.)

Joan responds by making Christina sit in front of that bloody-rare steak at the dining room table all day and all evening until bedtime.  The steak eventually gets put in the fridge, so we assume the saga will just continue into the next day.

We thought this was so mean when we were kids.  Joan Crawford is a monster!  What kind of an asshole makes a kid sit at a dining room table for hours and hours just because she didn’t want to eat her lunch?  That woman should be kept in a cage!

So here’s a good example of one of the reasons I know I would be a terrible parent.  As much as I was outraged by Joan Crawford’s behavior when I watched that scene as a kid, the first time I watched that scene in the movie as an adult, the one thought that plagued my mind was, “Man!  Why’d she let that kid off so light?”

If I put food – that I bought and paid for – in front of you at the dining room table, and it’s not even something gross like squid or the macaroni with the powdered cheese, if I put an actual steak in front of you on a plate?  Guess what you’re gonna do, kiddo?  You’re gonna eat it. 

If you don’t eat it, and instead make a stinkface and shove the plate away?  Prepare to sit at that dining room table for the rest of your life, because, unlike Joan Crawford, I wouldn’t even let you up from the table to go to bed that night.  I wouldn’t let you get up from that table to go to school.  You wanna learn how to read and write and do arithmetic?  Then I suggest you go ahead and eat that steak.  Don’t come crying to me when you’re illiterate.  You should have thought of that before you decided to take it to the mat with me on this steak business because I will make it my life’s mission to wait your ass out.

You’d be wearing your prom dress ten years later, still sitting at that table in front of that steak.

Your wedding photos would feature your spouse on one side of that dining room table, and that steak still right there in front of you on that plate.

You would give birth to all of your children at that table.

You would become a grandmother, and a great-grandmother at that table.

Your first social security check when you reached retirement age would be addressed to “Christina Crawford, Dining Room Table, Hollywood, CA”.

I would pre-pay for a headstone for your eventual burial at a ripe old age, and the epitaph would read, “Just for the record, my mother buried me with that fucking steak.”

Joan Crawford?  Joan Crawford let you off light for that shit.

As Nicolas Cage says to Cher in another of my favorite movies, Moonstruck, “I don’t care if I burn in hell.  I don’t care if you burn in hell.”

I guess what I’m saying is that if somebody tells you they don’t have kids because they’d be a terrible parent, you should go ahead and believe them.

How To Not Be a Relentless Dick in The Makeup Store

There is nothing more cringe-worthy than when someone says something that they believe to be funny, and then they didn’t think enough people heard it, so they say it again.  And again.  And again.  I think the main issue is that they think nobody laughed simply because they hadn’t heard the allegedly funny quip, when in reality nobody laughed because what they said wasn’t funny.

If you say something you think is hilarious and nobody laughs, let it go.  If you have to convince someone that something you said was funny, you’re not making yourself look any better.  It’s like trying to talk your way out of being dumped.  Not only does it not work, now the person who’s dumping you also thinks you’re pathetic.  It works the same for music.  If you play a song and nobody claps, it’s because your song is bad.  It just is.  Now, to be truthful, even though I’m a pissy little so-and-so, I clap for anyone and everyone when they finish a song, even if it was terrible, because I know that gross, sick feeling of finishing a song and receiving crickets back.  But generally speaking, if nobody claps, you need to let it go and go back to the drawing board.  Chastising the crowd for not clapping just makes it even worse.  The world doesn’t automatically owe you applause for your creative endeavors, you have to earn it.

Bobby and I were walking through the makeup store, Ulta, one day and there was a guy there with his wife and teenage daughter, trudging through the aisles like he was being dragged off to his own hanging.  They were on the same aisle as us, so I guess this guy saw Bobby and thought, “Oh thank heavens!  Another man!” and loudly proclaimed to the air, “I’ve got a million dollar idea!  They should put a gun store next to this place so men can get away from all this girly crap!  I’m serious!  Is that a million dollar idea or what?!  HA HA HA HA HA!”.  We ignored him.

Of course, what I wanted to say to him was, “I know, right? And maybe a titty bar and a wack shack and a movie theater that only shows the Die Hard franchise so that we all know you’re not into putting penises into your mouth! Good thing you’re working so hard at letting all of us know that’s not the reason you’re in the makeup store! HA HA HA HA HA HA!” And then I would pull out a shotgun, cock it with one arm Terminator 2/Linda Hamilton-style and yell, “Now let’s see if we can get these Clinique bitches to bust out some titties, cowpoke!  Woooooo hoo!  Dangle jangle!!!” And then have Bobby start playing a wicked banjo.

😐

We heard this relentless dick repeat his gun store quip over and over and over throughout the store.  Nobody laughed any of the numerous times that he said it, and pretty much everybody rolled their eyes with a labored sigh.  I can only figure that:

A.  He thought this was a hilarious quip and wanted to make sure everybody heard it, because who doesn’t like a lot of loose gun talk in the makeup store (especially these days!); and

B.  He wanted to make sure nobody in the store thought he was there to buy makeup, as if the Guy Harvey fishing shirt, camouflage cargo shorts, and cop sunglasses around his neck on Croakies weren’t enough proof that he wasn’t there because he had a personal interest in lip gloss.  His leathery turtle skin told me he was the kind of guy who would have called someone a pansy for even wearing sunblock because a well-weathered sunburn is the only thing that keeps “The Gay” from seeping into your skin.  I’m sure he thinks that if you touch your face with anything but a razor and Barbasol, you might as well just go ahead and draw a dick on your chin.

And I know, isn’t it the WORST when the women threaten your life to make you walk around the makeup store with them?

Oh, that’s not how you ended up in the store?  You’re not being held against your will?

Then either shut it or get the fuck out.

News Flash:  Women would LOVE IT if you would go find something else to do while they walk around the makeup store, especially if your plan is to whine like a shitpants toddler the entire time.  You’re not doing yourself any favors with that behavior, by the way.  No woman has ever sat around a brunch table with her girlfriends and naughtily whispered, “So when we got home, I surprised him with a BJ because he was so good at whining while we were at Ulta!”

Feel free to stay in the car, stay home from the shopping trip, walk over to Walgreens and read some magazines or something, see if the Radio Shack is still there because, yes, it does take us “that long” to compare red lipsticks. It’s a tricky color that, while it can be flattering on most skin tones, if you get the wrong one you can end up looking like Diane Ladd when she went crazy in Wild at Heart, which is a lose-lose for everyone.  Aside from all of your bathroom towels and bed sheets being ruined with lipstick stains, people will be like, “Hey, when did your wife become a GODDAMNED DEVIL GOBLIN?”

So either be cool or get out.