A Cup of Heartbreak in B-flat

Someday, as your musician boyfriend will no doubt promise you, he is going to be rich and famous and he will definitely, absolutely, without a doubt, pay you back for all the stuff you’ve had to buy for his sorry ass.

Okay, that was a little harsh, not to mention, inaccurate.  Let me re-phrase that.

Add “by dumping you to bang indie actresses” after “pay you back”, and then replace “sorry ass” with “career that will eventually end with a poorly-received experimental electronica album”.  Hang on – I have included the mark-up below:

Someday, as your musician boyfriend will no doubt promise you, he is going to be rich and famous and he will definitely, absolutely, without a doubt, pay you back by dumping you to bang indie actresses for all the stuff you’ve had to buy for his sorry ass career that will eventually end with a poorly-received experimental electronica album.

One of the most hilarious, yet oddly enduring, grifts with regard to dating musicians is that if you love and financially support your unemployed musician boyfriend, after he “makes it big” and his album sells its first few million copies and he wins a couple of Grammy awards, the two of you will get married and move into one of those mansions in the fancy outskirts of Nashville where guys like Jack White will pop by unannounced to ask if they can borrow a cup of heartbreak in B-flat.

(I assume all of the successful musicians who move to those neighborhoods have a dedicated cellar in their mansions where they store heartbreak in various musical keys, because it’s mandated by Nashville’s city charter just above “2. Get down, turn around, go to town, the Boot Scootin’ Boogie”.  Also, I chose B-flat because it was the key Whoopi Goldberg had to figure out in Jumpin’ Jack Flash after listening to the song on repeat over and over again so she could get on the secure computer line with that British spy who was trapped somewhere in Eastern Europe.  When’s somebody remaking that movie?)

Regardless, it’s certainly better than having a dedicated cigar cellar in your mansion, which automatically means you are the most insufferable person on the planet, not to mention the stinkiest.  For the record, I have never seen someone smoking a cigar and thought, “I bet that’s a cool person.”  The only people who think you look cool with a cigar are other guys who are standing nearby also smoking cigars, and you think they look cool, too, so all you’ve really done is created one of those human centipede scenarios.  Now I’m just picturing three cigars attached to each other ass-to-mouth.  Thanks.

You’ll move into this Nashville mansion that’s got one of those pools shaped like a music note, adopt a bunch of rescue dogs and start a foundation in your spare time between your personal yoga training appointments and lunches with Drea de Matteo and Shooter Jennings, who tell you that while they are no longer together as a couple, they remain on good terms for the sake of the kids.  You’ll eventually become tennis buddies with them and “totally razz” Shooter when he comes out of the clubhouse wearing white tennis shorts with a wallet chain and a tall boy of local craft beer bulging out of his pocket.

Drea will throw her arms up and say, “I know!  You can’t take this guy anywhere!” and then you’ll all laugh about it later on when you go check out that secret after-hours show at The Bluebird Cafe where Miranda Lambert is trying out new material for her next album.  You’ll tell regular people you forget “all the time” that Drea was on The Sopranos, but you know damn well it’s literally all you ever think about anytime you see her, and you have to stop yourself from calling her “Adriana” every time you talk to her.  Anytime you think about that scene where Steve Van Zandt tells her to get in the car, and you know she definitely won’t be coming back, it makes you start to tear up, because you’re NOT MADE OF STEEL, FOR GOD’S SAKE.

The bittersweet memories of the beginning years, the tough years, the years when you had to work two jobs and sell your blood plasma to pay all the bills and get your unemployed musician boyfriend the guitar he wanted for his birthday, the “Livin’ On a Prayer” years, will be but fading images in the rearview mirrors of your fleet of fully loaded luxury automobiles.

His newest number one song that has rocketed to the top of the charts will be about you and how your never-ending love and devotion were sometimes the only things that got him through another tour of the Pacific Northwest in a broken down, leaky 1989 Chevy Astro van that his drummer had to push-start half the time.  This earned his drummer the nickname “The Pusher”, even though he likes to make up a story that he actually got the nickname from being an “enforcer” for the IRA back when he still believed in “The Cause”.  The Pusher’s rosary beads, that used to dangle so proudly from the rearview mirror, now reside in the glove box next to his St. Christopher keychain, because even when Catholics decide they aren’t Catholics anymore, they still believe that jewelry and keychains will keep other cars from crashing into them on the highway.

Your successful musician husband will surprise you on your second wedding anniversary with a tattoo across his back that says “Angel of Montgomery”, and it’ll be a portrait of you done by Kat Von D, depicting you with angel wings and your bought-and-paid-for, brand new bitchin’ rack of boobies.  Also, you are from Montgomery, Alabama or that tattoo doesn’t make any sense.

Your eventual children, Gunnar and Patton (twins!), will go to one of those preschools where people like Zac Brown send their children, and they will weave you a wine glass-cozy for Mother’s Day out of sustainably-harvested felted wool that says “Mommy Juice” on the side, and you’ll laugh one of those hearty, belly-type laughs even though you have rock-fucking-hard abs from all the Pilates you did with Nicole Kidman’s trainer that morning, as you sit on the porch with a glass of Rose’ that was made at your friend Jon Bon Jovi’s new vineyard.

Overlooking the gorgeous, lush rolling Tennessee hills of your rustic, yet palatial estate, you’ll remember all the times, all those years ago, that you overdrafted your bank account to make your unemployed musician boyfriend’s car payment and buy his gas, all the times you cried when you got your paycheck because it was already gone from having to pay the rent and all the bills by yourself, all of the times you picked up the dinner check while he looked down and fiddled with a pointy charm from his many black leather cord necklaces, and you’ll smile a knowing smile and think, “I loved him when he was nobody, and look at what we built together with that love.  It was all worth it.”

Then you will wake up from this dream in the rags you now wear for clothes, shake off the street-scabies, and push your bag-lady shopping cart down the street to get a bowl of soup down at the mission.  You will pass a store window with a television showing the live red carpet arrivals at that year’s Grammy awards, and the unemployed musician boyfriend you loved and supported all those years will be on the screen in a Tom Ford tuxedo and ironic high-top sneakers from the 80s, with someone Hollywood refers to as “The Next Jennifer Lawrence” on his arm.  He’ll tell Ryan Seacrest that he couldn’t have made it this far without her, and that even though they’ve only been dating a month, she is his “soulmate”, and you will go to the library so you can use their computer and free internet to post a one-star rating for her latest movie and point out her cankles.

He used to make fun of people who used hokey terms like “soulmate”.

You will shuffle back from the library to your cardboard box only to be served with a subpoena from the credit department at Guitar Center for all of the shit you were manipulated into buying for Mr. Grammy Winner when he didn’t have a pot to piss in, and then you will proceed to lie down and die penniless in the gutter, still with your original boobs that he used to call “just okay”, and a credit score of 480.

Welcome to FlavorTown

The only two varieties of Hamburger Helper that have ever been worth a damn are Lasagna and Cheeseburger Macaroni, in that order.  Trust me – I used to be an expert.  A real “white trash foodie”, if you will.

Anything that first requires you to brown one pound of ground beef is firmly in my culinary wheelhouse.  Anything outside of that is dark magic and is not to be messed with.  That’s how you end up becoming a whore gypsy – all those “herbs” and “spices”.  Next thing you know you’ll find yourself in a bus station in Istanbul trying to trade sexual favors for saffron.  I won’t lose another friend to it.  I just won’t.  It’s easier to just eat the Hamburger Helper.

Besides ground beef as your leading protein, I also know all the boxed starches you can successfully cut hot dogs up into and bake under a layer of crushed Fritos.

If you wrap a Pillsbury crescent roll around anything, you have officially baked something “for company”.  If you make the entire can and eat them all by yourself, you have something I used to call “Soft Dinner”.

“Crunchy Dinner” was when I would take an entire cookie sheet of Ore-Ida Crispy Crowns, burn them nearly to a crisp, and then cover them on both sides with Tom’s Barbecue Sauce and eat them over the course of an hour while I watched The Love Boat at 3am in the same t-shirt I’d been wearing for two weeks.

Fruit = canned fruit cocktail, and if you have enough money left over after getting your electricity turned back on, you can buy a jar of maraschino cherries and dispense a dozen or so into the fruit cocktail can and instantly turn it into a party in your mouth instead of settling for the two sad half-cherries the cheap motherfuckers at Del Monte tossed into the can at the factory.  I used to refer to this as “Going Off-Road”.

Do you care for spicy food?  Something exotic, perhaps?  Then allow me to go over to my packet drawer where I can retrieve your choice of either Hot or Fire Taco Bell hot sauce packets to accompany your meal.  Have as many as you want – Taco Bell makes it a point to give me 100 packets of both varieties for every single taco I’ve ever ordered, even after I have emphatically specified that I only need “Two Hot, please.”  I’ve said it so often I should have a license plate that says “2HOT PLZ”, but then I imagine that would get me more attention in the way of “strange wang in my car window” than I really wanted.

Hashbrown casserole contains two different kinds of canned soup AND a vegetable.  That means it’s health food, so there’s no reason you shouldn’t eat it at every meal.  If you want to change it up, put it on a piece of buttered Wonder Bread toast for breakfast, sprinkle crushed Funyuns on top of it for lunch and then, using your fingernail as the knife, julienne some bologna slices over it for dinner.

Green beans and all other vegetables are purchased at the peak of their canned freshness, cranked open and dumped out into a pot with a half a stick of butter and then turned up to a boil.  If you want to make it for a special occasion, you can add a little pickle juice to the pot and call them “Dill Green Beans”, and dazzle all of your friends who just got out of lock-up on a technicality.

^^  The above scenarios refer only to the times when I felt like cooking.  Most of the time I would just eat dry cereal out of my fist and call it a meal.  That old school gigantic biscuit version of shredded wheat can easily be eaten like an apple, but without all those gross “fruit vitamins” getting in the way of your enjoyment.  The dog will clean up all the millions of wheat-string-leavins that will run from one end of the house to the other.  Fiber is good for everybody.

All that aside, you should know that I’m a reformed white trash foodie now, since I was fortunate enough to marry a man who not only doesn’t consider Velveeta a fancy dairy product because it’s “brand name”, but also makes things like basted eggs over curried riced cauliflower, doesn’t tear open a paper packet to make gravy, and makes his own salad dressing.

I don’t mean “makes salad dressing” as in “takes the bottle of Kraft Zesty Italian that has half an inch of dressing left in it and dumps it into the half-empty bottle of Kraft French dressing”.  He’s got a spice rack and and fancy vinegars and oils at the ready.  He mixes, shakes, tastes, adds things, mixes more, tastes.  It’s amazing to watch.  His attention to detail, his desire to make something that actually tastes good.  It’s like watching someone paint a masterpiece.

Prior to our getting together, I had reached a point of culinary laziness that was so rich and so deep, I had convinced myself that I actually preferred my salads with no dressing at all, because that would mean I wouldn’t have to get up and go get the bottle out of the fridge.

Yes, I am that lazy.  Pre-Bobby, any time I would actually get up off the couch and go get a bottle of dressing out of the fridge, I would inevitably discover that it was a new bottle, meaning I would have to break the outer seal, unscrew the cap, and pull off a foil-protector disk to get into it.  This discovery would cause me to loudly sigh, drop my shoulders, and proclaim, “WHY ME?” and then put the unopened bottle back in the fridge.

I would gladly pay for a service at the grocery store where they remove all the tamper-safe packaging from everything in my cart before I leave the store.  I’m just putting that out there, universe.  Work your magic or something.

Now I’m just rambling.  I bet Guy goddamned Fieri is going to sue me for using the term “FlavorTown” and then use all of my money to buy more thumb rings.  Happy Monday.

The Band Thing

Does your new band have a new album out?  Yes, I would love to listen to it!  In the previous century.

So if you happen to have a time machine along with your demo MP3 or CD or whatever you’ve got there, I’d be glad to hop into it with you and take a listen, otherwise, I’m fine to just sit in my car and continue listening to this Van Halen song, thanks.

I don’t want to be that old person who thinks your new band sucks or is boring.  If we’re being perfectly honest here, and I would hope after all this time we’ve been together that we should feel comfortable being honest, I can’t even muster up enough interest in your new band to form an opinion on whether it’s boring or it sucks.  The distance between my finger and the play button might as well be a mile.  I cannot make myself care enough to even listen to ten seconds of it.  I just can’t.  I overdosed on new bands years ago and I had to quit cold turkey.  Even if nine out of ten dentists recommend brushing with your new band, I’ll be on the side of that one, lone-holdout dentist who refuses to even weigh in on the matter.

(Please note that I am only on the lone-holdout dentist’s side for this particular scenario only.  Otherwise those guys can all go straight to hell.  I have to assume the lone-holdout dentist in any of those dental studies is just one of those contrarian-types by nature, and will argue the other side of anything with anybody, just for the sake of being difficult.  If you put them in a room with a bunch of round-earthers, they’d say the world is flat, and if you put them in a room with a bunch of flat-earthers, they’d say Kanye totally has a chance of making a comeback after all this shit he’s pulled.)

The problem isn’t the new bands.  It really isn’t.  The problem is the years I personally spent in a band and The Wizard of Oz takeaway I got from it.  I made the long journey down the yellow brick road, pulled back the curtain, and was like fuuuuuuuuuuuuck.  Related – I have no idea why I’m so into the Wizard of Oz lately.

I wanted to be in a band from the time I was four years old when I saw Joan Jett on television for the first time.  I was standing in the living room on the shag carpeting, holding my favorite stuffed animal (Lammy Pie, who I still sleep with in the bed), and was truly thunderstruck.  Joan Jett.  I’d never seen a woman like her before.  I knew right then that I wanted to be whatever she was.  She was, and still totally is, the actual. fucking. coolest.

Fast forward many years and I was finally in a band – for ten years.  It wasn’t anything like I thought it would be.

That’s mainly because most musicians aren’t “cool” so much as they are goddamned insufferable.  They’re all the perfect 50/50 combination of massive ego and eggshell ego, which has long been the recipe if you want to make a big ol’ bucket of Grade A “Asshole”.  They require constant attention, constant reassurance and ego-stroking and expect everyone to hang on their every word because oh, they’re such brilliant and sensitive geniuses!  Nobody’s more clever or damaged than they are!

They also win the award for thinking they’re the only people in the world who ever shed a fucking tear.  Just wait until someone they were friends with for two days at summer camp, someone they haven’t seen in 20 years, falls down an elevator shaft or something and they’ll write a 12 minute magnum opus about how their “best friend” died and then they’ll walk around wearing all black for three months.  Oh god, the drama.  I assume November Rain was written about one time it got cloudy for like five minutes and Axl Rose stared out a window and thought, “NOTHING LASTS FOREVER”.

Being in a band is also a lot of standing around listening to all the other musicians talk about how great they were or how sad they were or how much they didn’t give a fuck – and how much everybody else falls short by comparison.  Lots of arguing over who got to be the loudest onstage, lots of secret volume knob-turning up after the argument had been settled, and non-stop jockeying for the most prime space on the bill and on the stage.

Or was that just the way I acted when I was in the band?  Wait, I think that was just me.

Wait, no.  It was all of us.  Most of us?  Be honest with yourselves, musicians.  If you’ve ever uttered the words, “Can I get more vocal in the monitor?”, you’re probably insufferable.  Don’t worry – it’s part of your charm.  Much in the way a skunk’s stink is also part of its charm.  It’s the thing that makes them remarkable.  Stinky, something you should avoid like the plague, and remarkable.

You have actually interrupted someone’s wedding vows to explain your bass rig to someone.  You know you have.

You have handed out your CD at a funeral.

You have non-ironically quoted your own lyrics in casual conversation.  Gross.

You have told people, with a straight face, that you really need to get your signature song, your “message” out to the masses.  Also, your signature song was written using a Webster’s Rhyming Dictionary, which I know for a fact you have, because you left it on the back of your toilet that time when you had that party.

If given the option to give up ten IQ points or finally achieve that perfect tone you’ve been seeking with your new guitar setup, you’d ditch the IQ points.

Also, I can think of approximately fifty trillion things that are more interesting to anyone in conversation than your guitar tone, so please, for the love of god, stop talking about it.  You are allowed to talk about your tone when you’re at the guitar store and the guitar store only.  That’s it.

And get this – nobody at the guitar store wants to hear about your tone, either.  They’re just waiting for their turn to talk about theirs.  Even if Eddie Van Halen did an in-store appearance and talked about his tone, you’d just be sitting there waiting for your turn to tell him about yours, like he gives a shit.

It’s like when you get a room full of new parents together, and each one is just waiting for their turn to talk about their baby and nodding politely until the other person stops talking.  They’re not listening to you and they don’t care about your baby.  They just want to talk about their own baby.  Then when they start talking about their baby, all you’re doing is waiting for your turn to talk about your baby again.

Bands ruined me for all subsequent bands.  I don’t want to hear about your new band, I don’t want to listen to your new band’s new song, I don’t want to know what the word “band” means anymore.

I thought people in bands were the coolest people in the world my whole life, until I made it into a band myself, pulled back the curtain, and instead of finding a wizard, I found a bunch of assholes preening and whining and pretending they didn’t go turn up their amp after everyone just agreed they needed to turn it down.

You’re allllllll stinky.  You’re stinky like a skunk.

Also, shut up.

Gene Gene, The Lunatic Cab-Driving Machine

My best friend Anne and I didn’t get cars until much later than most young people, which was a problem because we also wanted to have as much nightlife as possible.  This put us in many compromising positions over the years catching rides from other people (as you may have read about a few blog posts ago where we were nearly murdered in the woods), so we had to find other solutions for how we were going to get to the various bars and clubs that we needed to go to every weekend.  We were finally over 18, and we wanted to break free of only being able to hang out at places that were within walking distance.

We were both working full-time at shitty low-paying jobs ($7.00 and $6.00 an hour, respectively), but we had super low living expenses at the time, which meant we at least had a little spending money.  Not enough to buy a car, and we weren’t old enough to rent a car, so we had to figure out some other way to get around town to go out dancing.  We lived in a severely public transportation-challenged area in Florida.

The closest place to go hang out and dance to “alternative music”, which would also let us in as 18 year olds, was about a half hour drive away.  Every now and then we could convince a third party to drive us up there, but they more often than not would be of the variety that wanted to go home at midnight, and Anne and I wanted to stay until the sun came up.  We were budding party monsters, and we wanted to stay out all night every night.  You invest enough time gluing tiny crystals to your eyelids and you need to make sure you get as much dancefloor return on your investment as possible.

We decided we would start taking cabs to the club, which was far from ideal.  Not only did it cost $40 each way plus tip, but the cab service in our area was spotty, at best.  You might get all dressed up, call for a cab, and the dispatch place would literally say, “We don’t have any cabs available for the rest of the night.”  Sometimes they would show up three hours late.  Sometimes they just didn’t answer the phone at all.  When somebody actually did manage to show up, they would be the type of person described on America’s Most Wanted as “Last Seen in Florida”.

Also, pretty much everyone on America’s Most Wanted was described as “Last Seen in Florida”.  I don’t know why they didn’t just change the name of the show to that.

One particular Saturday night, we called the cab company and they said they had someone in the area who could pick us up right away.  We were thrilled, and we scrambled to finish getting ready.  The cab driver pulled up into the driveway a few minutes later and we hopped in.

His name was Gene, and he was an old school loudmouth-type from New York.  You know, the kind of guy who in the 70s, when his dad would hit him in the back of the head at the dinner table for talking back, he would yell back, “Would ya just watch the hair?! Ya know, I work on my hair a long time and you hit it.  He hits my hair.

But he wouldn’t even be quoting Saturday Night Fever.  If anything, Saturday Night Fever was probably quoting him.  Now I have to go watch Saturday Night Fever again.  For the 800th time.  Be right back.

Man, that movie is fucked up.  I hope they got some trauma counseling for Annette besides “head-shrinkin’ is for pussies”.  It never fails to turn me into emotional jelly when she sobs at Tony Manero, “All I ever did was like you!”

When we gave Gene the address of where we wanted to go, he said he was going to need the money up-front in order to drive us that far.  I guess he thought we were going to get to the club and make a break for it in our 60s throwback minidresses and white knee-high go-go boots and stiff him for the fare.  We would have been fairly conspicuous trying to pull that off regardless of our outfits, considering we would have collapsed fifty feet from the cab, because we both had the athletic endurance of a wet paper towel.

We didn’t have any real options, so we gave Gene the $40 fare up front, and then got on the road – where he proceeded to tell us his entire life story.  Something involving a union, a meatball, and/or Mussolini’s purported cousin who lived down the street from him.  Naturally, he let us know that he “knew a guy” who could “take out” anyone he wanted with “one single phone call”, because all of those guys know a guy who can take out anyone they want with a single phone call.

I’ve never understood why that’s a thing people brag about?  Also, I’m pretty sure if you brag about that sort of thing to strangers, then you don’t really “know a guy”.  I’m sure the “Know A Guy” Guy doesn’t generally like to murder strangers on behalf of cab drivers who tell people their life stories within thirty seconds of meeting them.  Loose lips sinking ships and what-have-you.

We got the impression Gene was a Grade A bullshit artist, but he was so intriguing as a 70s New Yorker stereotype, we were transfixed by his stories.  It was like having a cross between John Travolta and Travis Bickle drive you around town.

As Gene sped down the I-95 on-ramp, he became annoyed at a car he perceived wasn’t letting him in.  After he merged onto the main highway, he hit the gas and sped up to them, then jerked in front of them and slowed down, turned on the light inside the cab, turned his body towards us in the backseat, leaned over and stretched one arm waaay back, right between our faces, and stuck up his middle finger at the car behind us.  “Sorry about my reach there, girls – I had to make sure that fucker saw I was flippin’ his stupid ass off!  Some fucking people, I tell ya!”

Right after this triumphant flip-offery, Gene’s favorite song happened to come on the radio, which meant that Gene, now brimming with middle finger power, turned the volume up until the blown-out speakers crackled, slammed his foot down the gas pedal, took both hands off the wheel, and started playing furious air-drums, with a lit cigarette in one hand.

No, it wasn’t a Journey song.  If this were fiction, trust me, I would make it a Journey song.

It was the Red Hot Chili Peppers cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground”, and since Gene had all the windows down, his cigarette ashes were flying right back into the car as he air-drummed away.  We sped down the highway towards the club going a hundred miles an hour as burning snowflakes of cigarette ash whipped us in our glittery faces.  At the big drum finish at the end of the song, Gene got so wild with his air-drumming that the cherry from his cigarette flew into the backseat and landed on my lap and burned a hole in my dress.  I picked it up with my fingernails and threw it out the window as fast as I could.  Gene said, “Oh shit, did I get ya?  SAHH-REE!” as he lit a new cigarette.

Then a Sublime song came on and he said, “Fuck this shit!”, and turned it down. At the very least, you could say Gene certainly had his standards.

When we got to the club, Gene gave us his business card and said to call him when we needed a ride back home, I guess since he now knew we were: (a) good for the $40, (b) apparently didn’t scare too easily, and (c) hadn’t yelled at him for trying to set me on fire.

Did we throw Gene’s card away?  Hell no!  This is the part where I remind you that young Anne and Maggie were idiots.

We had an awesome night at the club and stayed until close.  We called Gene and he picked us up, as promised, and didn’t even make us prepay this time.  Apparently, we had “bonded” on the drive up, so now he trusted us.  He was a little more sedate this time, but still talked a mile a minute.  It was less of the variety where he told us he could have someone killed, and more of the variety where he told us about all the people in his life who had let him down.  It was the end of the night, so I imagine he must have been weary and tired at that point, and really, how many stories can you tell about how you kicked that motherfucker’s ass after he stole all your gold chains?  We were tired, too, so we stayed pretty quiet most of the ride.

As we turned down a street that connected the two main streets in town, Gene, as it would soon become apparent, caught his second wind.

The connecting street was lined with huge, old trees and beautiful homes with matching beautiful yards.  It was one of those really nice family neighborhoods with tree-swings and birdhouses that matched the main houses.  Just idyllic and gorgeous, like something out of Better Homes and Gardens.  It was also one of those neighborhoods that went to great lengths to keep people from using it as a cut-through, I assume because they had already had their fair share of cars racing down the street like a straight-away when their kids were just trying to ride bikes and roller-skate.  Every intersection, no matter how small or how close it was to the previous one, had a stop sign with speed bumps before each one, and the speed limit throughout the neighborhood was 20 miles per hour. Gene was not a fan of this as a concept.

Gene got the to first stop sign and speed bump combo, looked around and said, “Well, what the fuck is this shit?”

Gene then put two and two together pretty quickly and decided that this traffic control system was no mere traffic control system.  Not to Gene.  This traffic control system was the first shot in a class war.  A class war that Gene had, apparently, been fighting his entire life, and had built a boulder-sized chip on his shoulder to prove it.

He held down the horn, hit the gas and burned out the tires as he shot towards the next stop sign, intermittently laying on the horn the whole way.  He slammed the brakes and skidded a good twenty feet before he came to the next speed bump, stuck his head out the window, and yelled, “YOU LIKE THAT, YOU MOTHERFUCKERS!  YOU WANNA KEEP ME OUT OF YOUR FUCKING NEIGHBORHOOD?!  OH, YOU DON’T WANT PEOPLE LIKE ME CUTTING THROUGH YOUR PRECIOUS FUCKING NEIGHBORHOOD, DO YA?!  OH NO, YOU’RE WAY TOO FUCKING HIGH CLASS TO LET SOME POOR FUCK LIKE ME ON YOUR STREET!  HOW YOU LIKE THIS, YOU RICH FUCKS!  HA HA HA HA HA!!!!  YOU LIKE ME NOW, YOU FUCKS?!!”

Anne’s and my hearts were racing as we gripped each other’s hands and held on for dear life.  We figured at the very least, when the cops came it would be obvious that we were just customers and had no part in this, seeing as neither of us had a tommy gun or a feedbag of cocaine on our laps.

(Then we let each other’s hands go, because we remembered we’re tough guys who don’t hold hands.  In 27 years of best friendship, I believe she and I may have hugged twice.)

There were six more stop signs in the neighborhood.  You can just go ahead and re-read a few paragraphs up to find out what happened at each one.  He even made up a little melody to go along with his obscenity-laden tirades that he punctuated with his horn honking, like this:  “THIS – IS – WHAT – YOU – RICH – MOTH – ER – FUCK – ERS – GET – FOR – BE – ING – SUCH – FUCKS!!  YOU – CAN – GO – AND – SUCK – MY – DICK – YOU – FUCK – ING – FUCKS!!”

When Gene dropped us off at home a few minutes later, still breathless from his tirade, he said, “Listen.  Girls!  Keep a few of my cards, and call me direct the next time you need a safe, clean ride.  I don’t like the idea of youse girls getting into a cab with some of these guys.  Some of these characters are real nutjobs.”

You would think this experience would mean that we would never be calling Gene ever again, but Gene actually became our regular cab driver until Anne finally bought a car later that year.

You would also think that Gene wouldn’t repeat the honking and screaming obscenities out the window thing every time he drove us through that neighborhood, but you’d be wrong on that one.  He did it every single time.

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.

How I Bought My Very First Boyfriend

I’ve recently decided that it was time I learned how to play well with others.  I’ve had this problem for a little while (since birth) where people just annoy the shit out of me by, you know, existing and stuff.  It’s not their fault.  I realize that it’s not them, it’s me.  Chances are good that if you’re annoyed by pretty much every other human you encounter, you’re the one with the problem.  I get that.

One of the ways I’ve been trying to be more of a “people person” is by working on a solid fake laugh, because apparently people like it when you give them laughs, even if they’ve done ZERO work to earn them.  (Bitter?)

Too often I find myself completely stone-faced in a room full of people who are laughing at something unfunny that someone said, and I’m just standing there thinking, “This does not merit laughter.  Why are you people laughing?”.  I know, what a fun quality for a person to have!  As Sergeant Hulka would say to Psycho in the movie Stripes, “Lighten up, Francis.”

I started to wonder in these situations if people are just fake laughing.  I mean, they would have to be, right?  Is that it?  Maybe they’re ALL fake laughing?  And if they’re all fake laughing, how do they all know when to do it?  The cue for laughing is something funny happening.  If nothing funny has happened, then what’s your cue to laugh?  Is it just peer pressure?  Is it just ONE person who decides to fake laugh and then everyone else joins in because they think they’re supposed to?  Would nobody be laughing were it not for that ONE person who started to fake laugh?  Who is this person, and how do we root them out and put their head on a pike?

The whole concept is particularly tough for me because I am so, so, so morally and vehemently opposed to fake laughter.  To be honest, I am morally and vehemently opposed to even polite laughter.  Like most people who are total dicks, I have a high personal bar for what I consider laugh-worthy.  You want a laugh?  You better put the work in for it.

Don’t even start on me with my love for lowbrow comedy shows like Perfect Strangers and Just The Ten of Us, because that’s kitsch, and kitsch television is DON’T MAKE ME EXPLAIN WHAT KITSCH TELEVISION IS.

I am bothered when people laugh at something that isn’t funny, because it personally offends me.  I know, why the hell should I care?  I suspect this is the reason why so many comics hate each other.  It’s because someone getting laughs for something that isn’t funny is like watching someone walk into a Starbucks and pick up a coffee and leave without paying while you’re standing at the register with cash in-hand to pay for your own.  Even though Starbucks is the one who’s getting ripped off, it just seems unfair.  You get all indignant like, “Excuse me, sir!  If I have to pay for this coffee then you should, too!”  That’s the deal.  You pay for a cup of coffee, you get a cup of coffee.  You put in the work, you reap the rewards.  You say something legitimately funny, I laugh.

Laughter is transactional in nature.  It’s a form of social currency.  Okay, fine.  It’s a form of social currency for people who are emotionally-stunted assholes who are trying to keep their distance from you while barely holding themselves together because their entire self-worth is just rickety scaffolding that is entirely dependent on exterior reinforcements to stay up.

Uhhhhhhhh…

So ANYWAY, believe it or not, laughter was actually the currency that bought me my very first boyfriend.  Ooh, SASSY!

His name was Lou, and he was one of those boys in middle school who was actually nice to girls, instead of the usual variety who threw rocks at us and hid under the staircases to look up our skirts.  Lou was half Filipino and half eastern European Jewish, kinda nerdy in a cute way (he went to Space Camp – in the 80s!), wore those borderline-pervy “Big Johnson” surf t-shirts but actually tucked them in like a nice boy, had a group of fun guy friends who got along with everybody, and he played the saxophone in the marching band.

If you want to know what kind of saxophone he played, I can’t help you there.  When it comes to the musical instruments of men who have disappointed me, I can remember various brands and types of guitars, amps, and drums, but that’s pretty much it.

(Now I have to make a website and Instagram called “The Musical Instruments of Men Who Have Disappointed Me”.  I’ll go talk to my literary agent (my neighbor’s dog Cooper, therefore, Agent Cooper) about it after I finish writing this post.  Don’t steal my idea in the meantime, jerk!)

Edit:  I just bought the domain for it, drew the first four cartoons and wrote the first four captions, and you can now visit it at: themusicalinstrumentsofmenwhohavedisappointedme.com or TMIOMWHDM.com, so screw you!  Please also follow on Twitter and Instagram at: TMIOMWHDM and  thanks!)

So ANYWAY, maybe I would have noticed saxophone details if I’d ever seen someone rip out a solo at 200 decibels on one and then smash it onto the ground and set it on fire.  Because while the saxophone may be the bad boy instrument of the marching band, post-St. Elmo’s Fire it’s the straight-up Urkel of the rock ‘n roll world (unless you’re Clarence Clemons, who was a damn genius).  Little did I know that dating Saxophone Lou would kick off several unfortunate decades of dating musicians, but this kid was in the marching band, not Poison, so I had a misplaced sense of security about what level of dickhole he would turn out to be.  False advertising is what it was!

I know my dear friend Emily, who is a middle school band teacher and is much more acquainted with the personality types of marching band-folk, is reading this right now and saying, “Are you kidding me?  You didn’t know that the SAXOPHONE PLAYER would turn out to be a jerk?!”  Shout out to that woman, she’s one of my favorite people and I’m extremely fortunate that I get to be friends with her.

Saxophone Lou and I had been friends for a couple of years and got along really, superbly well.  We really liked each other, and were lucky that our last names were close enough alphabetically that we often got seated next to each other in class.  He was one of my favorite people to shoot the shit with, which mostly meant that I worked tirelessly every day to make him laugh.  I kept my material fresh, while pretending that I wasn’t working off material (that’s the con!), because my brain writes material 24 hours a day and sometimes wakes me up at night and I have to write it down in the dark.  It sounds like fun, right up until you sit straight up in the middle of the night and go, “Wouldn’t it be funny to call Patrick Swayze a dumpster-possum in dick-pants?” and then you can’t fall back to sleep for three hours.

When we were in eighth grade, sitting in Mr. Werdman’s English class, I was sitting next to Saxophone Lou, and I was quietly but savagely ripping on Mr. Werdman, a teacher we both couldn’t stand.  To be fair, literally nobody could stand him.  Mr. Werdman was one of those teachers who when you saw his name on your schedule on the first day of school, you groaned and grimaced and pouted over it for weeks and tried to get the front office to change your schedule.  He was a raging asshole.  Just everything you don’t want out of a teacher.  Mean, rude, unaccommodating, looked like Joe Piscopo, and constantly looked up my skirt.

Constantly.

He seated me directly in front of his desk both years that I had him as a teacher, even though it threw off the alphabetical order.  He would pull his rolling chair out from behind his desk and put it right in front of me and then lean waaaaay back into it so that his eyes were basically at my crotch level, and then look horizontally down his nose at me, with his legs spread completely apart and one of his legs thrown up over the side of the armrest, airing out his Dockers-clad teacher-wiener directly downwind of my face.  Every day of English Lit felt like I was visiting a khaki salami shop.

He started doing this when I was 11 years old, by the way.  I hated that fucker.  You should hate that fucker.  Everyone should hate that fucker!  It’s a party!  If it’s any consolation, my friends and I prank-called him relentlessly for years.  I’m thinking about prank-calling him when I get home tonight, actually.

Did I mention how much he looked like Joe Piscopo?  Fuck!

After I got done with that day’s rant about how much Mr. Werdman totally sucked, Saxophone Lou eventually stopped laughing and got this look that was completely unfamiliar to me.  It was this sort of drunken, sleepy-eyed look, like he had just woken from a dream.  I was confused, and thought maybe he was having one of those motionless seizures that you hear about.  You know, the kind where you just sort of freeze in-time?  I tried to look around for things to shove into his mouth so he wouldn’t bite his tongue if he fell on the floor and started seizing uncontrollably.  I had seen someone do it on an afterschool special or something.  A chalkboard eraser, maybe?  That seemed like it would work.

I’d never seen him make a face like that before.  I’d never seen any man make a face like that at me before.  There was a moment of silence between us that felt like it lasted an eternity.

Then Saxophone Lou sighed, rested his chin on his hand like they do in Shakespeare plays and said the best thing I’d ever heard in my young life, “My god, Maggie.  You are so funny.  Will you be my girlfriend?”

Holy.  Shit.

So that was how I bought my first boyfriend.  Of course, Saxophone Lou would be the same boy who later broke up with me because I was too afraid to French kiss him, but I kept that guy laughing for weeks before he dumped me.  There is no way he walked away from our relationship thinking I wasn’t hilarious, so I chalked that up as a win.  Granted, at the time when he dumped me, I was so devastated that I put on my purple Oakley sunglasses so nobody would see my cry-puffy eyes, crawled under the covers on my bed for a month and cried non-stop to Chicago’s “Look Away” on repeat (that I had taped off the radio), but I look back now on that relationship fondly.

Come to think of it, that’s the only past romantic relationship that I’ve ever looked back on fondly?  Ever?  I typically tend to flamethrow past relationships to the ground when they’re over and then throw the ashes into the dewd’s eyes like sand in a ninja fight, but that’s because I have a never-ending bloodthirst for vengeance and a penchant for holding grudges until the end of the universe.

And, I’ve gotta tell you, I know it’s not the kind of thing you’re supposed to be proud of or anything, but I really do have a natural born talent for it.

I mean, I’ve never been one of those bad-ass bitches who burned anyone’s house down or anything, but if you’ve ever wronged me and then “coincidentally” found a gigantic wad of half-chewed Big League Chew jammed up under your car door handle and melting stickily into the crevices of your door in the hot Florida sun, that would be me who put it there.  Good luck scraping that shit off your car, asshole!  (I’ve done the research, and Big League Chew is the most effective for this purpose.)  Have you found a lot of junk mail in your mailbox lately and tons of unknown numbers blowing up your phone and email?  I hope I didn’t put your name, address, phone number, and email into every “Win a Free Personal Training Session” box in town.  Oh wait, I did.  Petty?  Sure.  Immature?  Yep!  Pay me back all the money I spent on your stupid guitars and apologize for trying to bone all of my friends and I’ll consider a truce.

Also, no I won’t.

Hmm.  Is it possible that the compliment of Saxophone Lou telling me I was funny actually superseded the insult of him dumping me, thereby leaving him squarely on my good side?  Not that 14 year old boys are a tough audience or anything, but when you’ve heard your entire life that girls aren’t funny, when you’re able to make a boy laugh and he actually tells you, out loud, in front of people, that he thinks you’re funny, it feels like someone handing you a goddamned trophy.

You know what?  Screw it.  I changed my mind.  No fake laughing.

We Went to Jail to Try to Pick Up Guys

Anne and I had one major requirement when it came to dating in the 90s.  The guy absolutely, positively, must, must, must have long hair.

It didn’t have to be Sebastian-Bach-from-Skid-Row-long to their waist or anything (although that was the ideal), but it definitely had to be at least Whitfield-Crane-from-Ugly-Kid-Joe-shoulder-length.  We would often come home from high school, pop on MTV, and sit around and have conversations that went something like this:

“I just don’t think I could ever be attracted to a guy who didn’t have long hair.”

“I know.  When I see a hot guy with short hair, it just makes me sad.  I mean, how many years would it take to grow that out?  Would I be willing to wait that long?”

The problem was that we lived in South Florida, which wasn’t exactly Los Angeles or Seattle, where in the 90s you couldn’t swing a life-sized cardboard cutout of Chris Cornell without knocking over five guys with long hair.  In South Florida, post 80s, the long-haired man became a more elusive creature.  When Anne and I would see one in the mall, we would literally drop whatever clothes we were holding at Wet Seal and quietly chase after him like some kind of secret Beatlemania and then stalk him as he walked around the record store.  We would often be riding in the car with my mom, who greatly, greatly indulged us, and when we saw a long-haired guy walking down the street, we would force her to turn the car around so we could get another look at him and yell, “Woooooooo!” out the car window.  Also, about half the time it would turn out to be a woman.

“Being a woman” was about the only thing that would disqualify a long-haired person from being dating material for us back then.  We were willing to overlook just about anything in a guy if they had long hair.

Are you a jerk?  Yes?  Do you have long hair?  Then you’re not a jerk so much as you’re just “misunderstood”.

Are you unemployed and live in a van?  Yes?  Do you have long hair?  Then you’re not unemployed and living in a van so much as you are an “uncompromising freelancer nomad”.

I think it’s probably the same for men who chase after women who have those 48DDD Jessica Rabbit boobs, where you overlook your suspicions about her framing you for murder because tittaaaaaaays.

Anne and I would sometimes find ourselves in a dry spell, long-haired guy-wise, and on one particular night, we reached pretty far down the well to try to remedy it.  We went to jail.

My mom worked in a doctor’s office and had befriended the little old lady, Margie, who cleaned the office at night.  Margie was one of those little old ladies who had worked shit jobs scrubbing floors her entire life, and wasn’t even a little bitter about it.  She was a solid lady and was just delightful to be around.  She was so adorable, she used to run away from the lizards outside the office door while yelling, “I don’t like those bugs with tails!” in her thick, Pittsburgh accent.  Honestly, you couldn’t even write her as a fictional character, because nobody would believe it.  She was like a sugar-sweet version of Johnny Dangerously’s mom, Ma Kelly.

Unfortunately for Margie, she had a parasite named “Brett”.   Brett was her grown-ass, unemployed 30-something shirtless son who sponged off of her and sat around her apartment all day drinking and smoking weed with his fellow sponger-friends, routinely got arrested for drunk and disorderlies, and was an all-around low-life.  Margie worked full-time scrubbing floors, but had to be home by 5pm every night because that was when Brett expected her home to make dinner for him.  And do his laundry.  And give him pocket money for the bar.

Margie had a more forgiving view of Brett’s situation, which she often summed up as, “Brett can’t get no steady work”.

This somehow implied that Brett was looking for work, which he definitely was not.  We heard this refrain so often from her that we officially changed his name from “Brett” to “Brett Can’t Get No Steady Work”.  We lost touch with them over the years, but if I had to guess, I would say that Margie probably keeled over and died from exhaustion fifteen years ago while making Brett his favorite pasketti and he’s still storing her dead body in a freezer somewhere so he can collect her Social Security checks.

Late one Saturday night, Margie called my mom in a panic.  It seemed Brett Can’t Get No Steady Work had gotten arrested again, this time for starting a bar fight probably over whether it was produced “Viet-NOM” or “Viet-NAM”, and Margie’s vision wasn’t good enough to allow her to drive in the dark to go bail him out.

Anne was spending the night at our house, and when my mom said she would go pick Margie up and take her to jail to bail out Brett Can’t Get No Steady Work, we didn’t think that much of it.  That was, right before my mom was getting ready to walk out the door, and it dawned on me, “OH MY GOD.  DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY LONG-HAIRED GUYS THERE PROBABLY ARE IN THAT JAIL?”

Anne and I hopped up and threw on our sluttiest clothes and ran to get in the car with my mom, because teenage Anne and Maggie are idiots.  How our teenage years didn’t end with us being found in shallow graves or stuffed inside the septic tank of a tour bus is completely beyond me.

We figured that even if the long-haired guys were behind bars, they probably had friends or bandmates who would show up to bail them out, and being that this was county lock-up, some of those guys may have even been in there for a few months, so they would be hot to trot for a couple of barely legal types like ourselves, assuming their legs weren’t still shackled together.  Not that leg shackles would have disqualified a long-haired guy from our dating pool, of course.  We would have just said he was the kind of guy who “liked to take things slow”.

We primped and lipsticked in the car vanity mirror in the parking lot at the jail like we were getting ready to walk into a Warrant video.  We strutted through the parking lot, readjusted our bras for maximum push-uppedness, and flung open the door.

Much to our dismay, rather than the virtual Headbangers Ball we were expecting to find in the waiting area, anyone who was there looked exactly like Margie.  It was an exclusive club of old cleaning women who were there to bail out their good-for-nothing adult sons.  I was surprised they didn’t all know each other and settle into a game of Mahjong while they were waiting.  Instead, they scrutinized the cleanliness of the floor and offered up homemade business cards for their cleaning services to the cop at the front desk.  They probably should have used the opportunity to unionize.

When Brett Can’t Get No Steady Work made bail, we sad-faced trudged out of there and back through the parking lot, in full-on sullen teenager mode.  As we got into the car, defeated, Anne looked up at the tiny windows that dotted the side of the building and saw a long-haired silhouette wave to us from inside the jail and said, “OH MY GOD DID YOU JUST SEE THAT?!!!”.

I looked up and he was gone.  Like a shooting star, I had missed it.