You’re Too Soft for That Hard Reality, Taylor: Part One

I saw a grown adult drinking a grape soda the other day so I ran outside, put both of my arms out to the side Michael Jackson-style and yelled, “Ahhhhhhh!” and waited for the onslaught of zombies to sweep through the city.  The world, clearly, was ending.

Hang on.  World’s not ending?  You mean you’re gonna drink grape soda with plans to live? That shit is a zombie apocalypse beverage!

Grape soda is the thing you drink either right as the apocalypse is happening because “screw it” or save for after the apocalypse when every other form of liquid on Earth has already been consumed.  You only drink grape soda if it’s your last resort before drinking Florida pond water which, by the way, is currently 90% zombie particles as of the date of this post.

I wouldn’t be around very long for either scenario, so I guess I shouldn’t really care.  That’s because any time I watch a post-apocalyptic zombie movie or TV show, the following fact is made abundantly clear to me: I have no will to live.

It’s not from an underlying case of depression, although my built-in, super deluxe, ultra luxurious, wall-to-wall nihilism is a fun quirk that makes me a real hit at baby showers.  Everybody loves it when they open a pack of bibs and some asshole says, “You should keep those around for when you’re old and frail and unable to feed yourself after this kid has zapped 10 years off your life when they decide to skip college in favor of selling hacky-sacks at Dave Matthews Band shows.”

The main problem can really be traced back to straight-up laziness.  Back when I used to watch The Walking Dead, before it got SO GROSS that I had to stop watching it, I was always amazed at how much work people were willing to do to stay alive.  And not “work” to stay alive in an awesome world that’s like a permanent disco with free waffles.  “Work” to stay alive in a world that thoroughly sucks.

A sucky world that’s like, “Oh, I hope I survive through this day of bashing in zombie heads and barely escaping with my life and eating rats and fighting factions of cannibal survivors with bad teeth and foraging for expired antibiotics…so that I can do the same shit tomorrow.  And the day after that.  And the day after that. And don’t even get me started on Carl’s hat.”

Did they kill Carl’s hat yet?  Please tell me they killed Carl’s hat.

Honestly, if you’re still alive on that show it’s only because you’re some kind of shitty, overly-optimistic Pollyanna.  You took that “Which Sex and The City character are you?” quiz in Cosmo and it said, “You’re a Charlotte!”  You refuse to accept reality.  You’re living in a dream world.  Everyone is tired of your shit.  Just die already.

And I tell you what else – I don’t do well with jump-out scenarios at all – and I imagine zombie world is chock full of jump-out scenarios.

Ask Bobby.  Even if I know he’s home, and he walks into a room and quietly says, “Oh, hey…” I scream and nearly jump out of my skin.  Then I have to sit down from the head rush.  The possibility of post-apocalyptic jump-out scenarios alone would be enough to make me go leap off the top of a tall building at the first zombie I saw, even if the zombie was just on the evening news and I was otherwise safe inside the building at the moment.  I’d be too jacked-up to deal with any of it.  I know this about myself.

I’m too soft and I’m too lazy and I startle way too easily.  I’m not going to burden you with rescuing me.  I will take myself out to save you the trouble.  It’s a gift to you.

I’d see the zombie on the TV screen, all wrangle-jangled up tearing the entrails out of someone, and I would be like, “Huh.  Well would you look at that.”  Then I would chug a bottle of copier toner, or whatever was nearby, and pitch myself off the top of the building, because no.  Not dealing with that.

Even if they said there were zombies in Guam that were nowhere near mainland U.S., I would still go sit on the roof of the building and pop open the cap on the copier toner just in case.  The moment the evening news said “At least one zombie has gotten out of Guam,” I’d yell, “It’s Go Time!” and begin my last meal of copier toner and eventual dessert of high-speed sidewalk.  Because I know my limitations.

Plus, on top of everything else, my sensitive skin would never survive the zombie apocalypse.  If I didn’t have access to clean water to wash my face twice a day, I’d be all splotchy and fugged just like *that*.  So besides dealing with zombies, now I’d be hideously ugly, too?  I’d have to start using my “personality” to make friends and influence people?  Fuuuuuuuck.  GREAT.  JUST GREAT.  This post-apocalyptic world just keeps getting better and better! Why don’t you just have a couple zombies chomp off both my ass cheeks while you’re at it and make me learn how to do math to survive?!

Stay tuned for Part Two…

In Defense of Hair Bands

This, dear friends, is the exact moment that a frontman in a hair band locked eyes with me for the very first time.  (Please note the super boss Metal Edge magazine t-shirt.)

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This particular frontman is CJ Snare from Firehouse.  A great triumph of mine in recent years was finding a karaoke list that included Firehouse “Don’t Treat Me Bad”, and I sang the shit out of that song.

I’ve drifted apart from many things of my youth – things that I thought I’d love forever.  Winn-Dixie Superbrand individually wrapped cheese slices, white Fayva high-top sneakers, respect for Corey Feldman as a dancer, but the one thing I’ve never parted ways with is hair bands.

If you’re wearing red and black tiger-striped spandex leggings and suspenders with no shirt and preening around a stage singing songs about (a) strip clubs, (b) the Sunset Strip, or (c) strip clubs located on the Sunset Strip, then hell yes.  Count me in.

If your band name is filled with deliberate misspellings and needless accent marks, names of cities in east Asia even though you’re from Scandanavia, or is simply the last name of the person who has the coolest last name in the band – I’m all about it.

I was thinking about it last month when Anne and I went to see Poison for the tenth time, or as most of my “cool” musician friends refer to them, “Do you seriously like those bands?  I have lost all respect for you.  Don’t ever talk to me again.  Ever.”

Fact:  The only reason I ever took my Poison door poster down was to put up a Skid Row one, that I promptly covered with red lipstick kisses.  The Skid Row door poster was surrounded by posters of Kip Winger.  I bear no shame, and I shame no bears.  Related, Kip Winger is an unapologetically hairy man.

My cool friends will often accuse me of just trying to be “ironic” by liking these bands, even after I assure them that I’m not, and pull out my collection of Winger t-shirts, much to their horror, as proof.  My love for all things hair band runs as deep as the swimming pool in the L.A. Guns video for “The Ballad of Jayne”.

It blasts forth from my heart like a fire hydrant in the Slaughter “Up All Night” video.

It is as pure and platinum as Matthew and Gunnar Nelson’s long, blonde locks.

That’s right.  I’m at Nelson level hair band fandom.

Nelson.

I feel like you really need to know the depths to which my feelings lie, or else this entire conversation will be for naught.  I don’t want you walking away from this thinking I’m talking about rock bands like Van Halen, a band that managed to be the perfect hybrid of wicked fun and incomparable talent.  I don’t want you to think, “Hey, that Maggie sure does like AC/DC!  What a cool lady!” and then call it a day.

Motley Crue is, in fact, the most cerebral band I like from the 80s.

I want you to know what you’re getting into here.  If you put on an Enuff Z’Nuff video, my eyes will glaze over and I will sing along.

Hair bands came along at a time in my life when things really couldn’t have been worse.  Poison, in particular, came around when I was in middle school, the literal worst.  The god awful, miserable, worst of the worst.  The onset of the hideousness that was puberty, living in a house with caved-in bathroom walls and falling-down ceilings, carpets blackened with ground-in cigarette ashes, and piles of old furniture rotting in the yard.  Where when you flipped on the kitchen light, you could be assured that at least 200 cockroaches would scatter for cover, and at least one of them would stand there, defiantly, like “Fuck you, kid.  This is my house,” and you’d know that, deep down, they were right.  Getting shipped off to live with out-of-state relatives when the shit really hit the fan at home.  Getting groped in school nearly every day when the going attitude was, “Ignore it.  Maybe all these guys with their hands all over your body just like you!”

Having a goddamned perm at the exact same time as 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioner became popular.

Mr. Belvedere being cancelled.

Middle school in the mid-to-late 80’s:  It was a real crap festival.

No matter how shitty things got, when I turned on the television, I could be assured that Bret Michaels would be there wearing leather chaps, fingerless gloves and a bandanna, literally humping his way up a microphone stand while singing about bops that were unskinny and dancing with laser beams in the shape of ladies.  You could always count on fun times with those bands.  And as a matter of fact, as a singer my entire vocal affectation can be directly attributed to the thousands of hours I spent singing Poison songs as a tween/teen.  I wanted to be Bret Michaels.

Fun was always part of the package with hair bands.  They were like a candy necklace around the bag of garbage that was my life.

I’m not telling you this to get your sympathy for my troubles.  I’m telling you this to get your sympathy for hair bands.

Hair bands provided me with an escape from the misery of my life, and I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.  I know it because I can see it on the faces of the thousands of people who still show up for the reunion tours, who still scream like it’s Beatlemania when Kip Winger walks out onto a stage in his leather pants, and to women like me who feel proud to see Lita Ford still tearing that shit UP.

It’s the pageantry.  The wink-winkiness of it all.  The pointy guitars and choreographed moves while ripping out scales at nearly supersonic speeds.  The men in frosted pink lipstick and thigh-high red boots and the women in flamey leather jumpsuits pouting for the photographer in Circus magazine.  The frontman wearing a pair of cow-print chaps and doing high-kicks onstage.  My god, how could you not love it?  How could you not love every single second of it?

I mean, it’s just rock ‘n roll. Why you “cool people” gotta be so uptight about it?

And I’ll tell you this much, smartypants, the fact that I love hair bands doesn’t detract from my love for “ooh serious bands” like Wilco and Dinosaur Jr even one little bit.  Just because you love sumo wrestling doesn’t mean you can’t also love greco-roman wrestling, or professional wrestling, or mud wrestling.  The love for one thing doesn’t detract from the love for all the other things.

That being said, if Jeff Tweedy from Wilco and CC DeVille from Poison were both tied to train tracks and I could only save one of them…

I’m just saying the guy doing the high-kicks in the leather pants is probably not going to be the one who ends up becoming train meat.

First Time? No, I’ve Been Nervous Lots of Times.

We’re flying to New York for vacation.  I like to repost this old story sometimes when I’m about to get on a *plane.  Mostly because posting it is a ritual, and OCD is not really “curable” so much as “treatable”.

I’ve also been touching a particular stuffed animal on the right foot eight times every day for the past week, but we won’t get into that yet.

So it’ll take a couple hours to fly to New York, which means a couple hours of me white-knuckling the armrest, rocking back and forth and saying, “What was that noise?!  Did you hear that?!  We’re crashing aren’t we?!!!  We’re crashing and you know it and you just won’t tell me!!  You would tell me if you knew something, wouldn’t you?  WOULDN’T YOU?!!!!  No, don’t tell me.  I don’t want to know –  unless you know something!  Why did you just look at the wing?!  Is there smoke?!  What the hell was that noise?!  What was it?!!”

This is after popping a tranquilizer (or two) before the flight.  Good thing, too, because otherwise I might become a real asshole on that plane. 😐

So I have a few phobias, flying is obviously one of them, but all of them revolve around some kind of hideous, improbable death caused by things like plane crashes, serial killers, and flesh-eating bacteria.

My New Year’s resolution in 1999 was to spend an entire year studying the world’s religions and pick one that I thought would suit me, so that I could finally stop being so scared of this stuff.  I was raised in the Protestant church (sporadically), but something about it never sat quite right with me.  Probably the whole “Jesus loves you – unless you don’t love him – in which case fire will rain down on your tortured soul for all of eternity” thing.

Man, talk about a guy who has a problem with rejection! Even when you have the misfortune of dying, there’s still all that judgment!

Just got decapitated on a ride at the fair?  Seems pretty bad, doesn’t it?  Well, you better pick up your bloody head, your list of sins, and get in line for the pain train straight to Hell.  You’re gonna be all, “I just got my head cut off!” and he’s gonna be all, “Remember that time you hit your thumb with that hammer and yelled out my name in vain?  Time to pay the fiddler, my child.”

Also the “no dancing” thing.  But not unlike putting Velveeta in literally everything, that’s really more Methodist/Baptist specific.

So I sought out a religion that would give me something to believe in, without the threat of burning in hell for all of eternity because I had an impure thought about the rhythm section of Duran Duran ONE TIME.  After much reading and research, I settled on Hinduism.  You know, like every other navel-gazing white girl asshole in their early-20s.

I studied every text I could get my hands on, started meditation classes, became a vegetarian, and visited the local Hindu temple.  I carried the Bhagavad Gita around with me like a newborn baby.  When I became tense or frightened, I would chant, “Amaram hum madhuram hum” which means,  “I am immortal.  I am blissful” – and after a while, and for the first time in my life – I believed it.

I no longer had an obsessive fear of death, because what was death but a doorway?  Was I afraid to walk through a doorway?  Of course not!  I became incredibly centered, calm, and really annoying to be around.  Nobody likes a 23-year old who thinks they’ve got it all figured out.

After a year of religious enlightenment, I had to take a five hour flight to Las Vegas.  This was going to be the big test!

Balanced, centered, and fearless – I refused a tranquilizer for the flight.  I said to my mother, “There’s nothing to fear anymore.  Does it really matter if I die?  What is this body if not a mere switch-plate for my soul?  You and I have found each other so many times in the past after being separated.  We’ll find each other again.”

She pursed her lips at me and said, “Uh huh.  How about you take one just in case, Maharishi?  You can crush it and sprinkle it over your tofu.”

I dismissively waved my hand at her, gave her a hug and a “Namaste” to which she replied, “Whatever.  Just try not to sell anyone any flowers at the airport.” I boarded the plane and placed my carry-on bag in the overhead compartment, sat down, and fastened my seatbelt.  I had never felt so in control…

…until the plane started down the runway.

Sometime between take-off and landing, the Bhagavad Gita became a paperweight, and my new mantra was, “I’M SORRY, JESUS!  PLEASE DON’T LET THIS PLANE CRASH, JESUS!  OH MY GOD WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!!!!!!!!!!”

Thankfully, the nice old lady in the seat next to me was kind enough to give me her barf bag to hyperventilate into, and she even loaned me her crucifix-embroidered handkerchief, which I attempted to return to her after I’d wrung it out several times with my tears and sob-drool.  She politely told me to keep it.  I later dropped it into the trash at the airport, along with the bindi that was on my forehead under my bangs.

 

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“It was at that moment that I first realized Elaine had doubts about our relationship. And that, as much as anything else, led to my drinking problem.”

 

*I realize that by posting this before a plane trip that it’s going to make it double ironic if we’re in a plane crash.  You’re all gonna be like, “Oh my god – SHE KNEW!”

One of the most important things to know about dealing with OCD is that you do not have the ability to control things with your mind.  Seriously.  Here’s the treatment for OCD:  Stop acting like you can control things simply by thinking about them or saying them out loud or touching inanimate objects X number of times.  That shit will make you crazy.

I also realize that by pointing out said double irony that it’s actually going to be triple ironic if we’re in a plane crash.

Damn it.  See you in Hell.  I’m off to touch a particular stuffed animal on the right foot eight more times.