The Love Boat Promises Something for Every Neurosis

I looooove television.  Not just any kind of television.  60s, 70s, and 80s television.  You can take your reality shows and stick ‘em where Sonny from Bosom Buddies don’t shine.  I would rather stare at a blank screen all day than watch a reality show.

Okay, fine.  Unless it was the first or second season of Bret Michaels “Rock of Love” on VH-1 because that shit was genuinely entertaining.  #TeamHeather

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Every Heather has its thorn. My god, I adore this woman.

I totally want to party with her, get arrested together, break out of jail, and live life together on the run.  Or at least break out of Catholic school with her.

Then we’ll get free stuff from gas stations and happen upon a strip club that has an amateur night, and I’ll dress up in a men’s business suit and hat, except I’ll be wearing carefully applied lipstick.  She’ll wear a white bellbottom outfit with a sparkly bra and enter the stripper competition.  I’ll pull off my hat at some point during her routine, revealing that I’m actually Alicia Silverstone.  Biker guys will swoon.  We will win the competition and use our prize money to get a motel room for the night.  The next day we will taunt a handsome man on a tractor.

I realize this is actually just an Aerosmith video that I’m describing, which doesn’t make it any less important as a personal goal.  Don’t shit on my dream.

When I went through my Howard Hughes OCD psychotic break in 1994 and stopped leaving the house for a few months, the one thing I looked forward to more than anything was when The Love Boat would come on at 3am.  I love that show so freaking much.  The problem was that between midnight and 3am, there was jack squat on TV.  I could buy some time if there was a good guest on one of the late night talk shows, but for the most part, it was a lot of sitting around and waiting.

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The first thing I bought for my new apartment seven years ago. Not even remotely kidding.

I suppose I could have done, I don’t know, something besides sit around and wait for a television show to come on, maybe read a book or “think about the future” or whatever, but I had fallen so far down the well I couldn’t even be bothered to shower more than once every two weeks at that point.  Reading a book or doing anything constructive might as well have been climbing a mountain.  Everything was too daunting.

I would get so anxious in those hours waiting for The Love Boat to come on, wishing and praying more than anything that time would just move faster.  This was before I got any kind of treatment for my OCD, so when I got anxious like that, I got extra compelled.

Obsessively compelled, that is.  Black gold.  Texas tea.

Shut up.  You don’t have to quote The Beverly Hillbillies theme song.  We get it.  You like TV.

Hang on, though.  This one’s my favorite.  Perfect Strangers theme song:

🎵 Standing taaaall on the wings of my dreams.  Rise and faaaaall, on the wings of my dreams.  Rain, thunder, wind and haze, I’m bound for better days.  It’s my life.  Myyyy dream.  Nothin’s gonna stop me now.  (Harmonica part.) 🎵

You are the literal worst.

Every four minutes between midnight and 3am, my OCD would make me do a security check in the house where I would go room to room to make sure all the windows were closed, all the doors were locked, and all cabinets, closets, bathtubs, and under-bed areas were free of psycho killers.  Light switches, door knobs, anything along the way had to be touched between four and sixty-four times until it felt “right”.

At every four minutes, this translated to fifteen security checks per hour.  But the number fifteen was deemed “bad” by my brain, so I had to do another quick check right before the hour was up to make it an even sixteen times.

Sixteen was a really good number that gave me momentary mental relief.  Nothing felt as great as the number sixteen.  Bad numbers included all prime numbers, particularly the number three, and anything that wasn’t divisible by four.

Bad numbers?  Oh man.  Bad numbers just simply could not be tolerated.  If someone on TV said the number thirty-one out loud, I would have to whisper, “Thirty-two,” or else I’d become extremely uncomfortable with that thirty-one just hanging in the air.

If someone else happened to be in the room, they would say, “What?  Did you just say something?” and then I would say no and tell them that they must just be hearing things.

Most people with OCD will tell you something similar to the above.  There are totally innocuous things that are arbitrarily classified as “good” or “bad”.  Numbers in my case, obviously, but I had certain electrical cords that I deemed bad for no reason.  Round foods were deemed good.  Square foods, bad.  Knocking on doors, good.  Doorbells, bad.

This is because the very technical scientific term for OCD is “broken-assed brain”.  Thankfully in my case, I was able to get it fixed later down the road (mostly).  My therapist said there was probably a reason buried deep somewhere that I had assigned good/bad to certain things, but that it ultimately didn’t matter.  OCD is illogical, and trying to apply logic to it is a waste of energy.

It was a shame I never had the cleaning compulsions that some people have or else my house would have been museum-spotless every night before The Love Boat came on.

Don’t get me wrong.  People who have the cleaning compulsions will often scrub floors until their fingertips split with gangrene and their nails crumble and rot down to the cuticle, so it’s no picnic, either, but at the very least you get a clean floor out of it.  The most my compulsions were doing for me was making sure that there wasn’t a miniature psycho killer crouched in my bathroom cabinet.  I mean, it’s a good thing to know there wasn’t one in there, but at the same time, the odds were generally pretty slim of one actually being in there to begin with.  My time could have been better spent, especially given the filth I was living in.

So I would do my routines for all those hours in anticipation of The Love Boat every night, night after night.  Walking around the house in my filthy Nirvana tour shirt with the glow-in-the-dark seahorses on it, checking and touching and checking and touching, and then I’d eventually put some nice, round Crispy Crowns in the oven around 1:32am (around means precisely or else you have to wait until 1:48am).  I would eat the Crispy Crowns in even numbers, making sure to chew each one sixteen times on each side of my mouth, and get ready for my show to finally start.

2:59am.

The show was about to start!

It was finally about to start!

I was so happy as the ending credits rolled for the show that was on before The Love Boat.  Yes!  My show was about to start!

Then the clock would strike 3am and the theme song for The Love Boat would come on.

🎵 Love…exciting and new…come aboard…we’re expecting yoooooooooou…. 🎵

I would be so elated, so relieved, and so relaxed it was finally on, that I would fall asleep halfway through the opening credits and sleep through the entire show and then be furious I had missed it.

Every night.

 

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Imma let you finish, but in 1994 I was more Angela Chase from My So-Called Life than Angela Chase was Angela Chase.

 

 

 

Butter Off Dead

There was this one time I didn’t brush my teeth in 7th grade.

For the entire school year.

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Any similar face that you’re making right now is completely warranted.  I’m making it, too.  As a responsible adult who enjoys things like getting regular dental care, brushing and flossing, and not having a dusty hobo mouth that bats fly out of at night, the thought of someone not brushing their teeth for that long is absolutely horrifying.

This has been one of my deepest, darkest secrets for my entire adult life, and it damn well should be, because it’s freaking disgusting.  You are actually the first ones hearing about it, sooo congratulations?  I bet now you’re happy you never got your birthday wish to make out with me in middle school, which by the way, I am certain nobody ever, ever wished.  Don’t make me remind you of acid-washed everything and the blonde perm.

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Merry Christmas from 13 year old me.  I know I look like Duff McKagan from Guns ‘n Roses here, which would have been really cool if I weren’t a girl.

I remember the exact day I made the decision that I wasn’t going to brush my teeth anymore.  I was getting ready for school, picked up the toothbrush and toothpaste that were sitting there at the bottom of the rusty medicine cabinet, sighed and thought, “This again?” and then I put them back down and walked out the door to catch the school bus, teeth unbrushed.  Somewhere between my front door and the bus stop, I realized what a time-saver I’d stumbled upon!

It also helped that I wanted to die.

That particular period was really rough in our house, and it had reached a point where clean teeth just didn’t feel all that significant in the grand scheme of things.  I was so low, that the idea of having to unscrew the toothpaste cap, dispense it onto a toothbrush, and then commence brushing was just more effort than I could handle.  I secretly wore dirty clothes every day and my showers consisted of me standing still under the hot water for five minutes and then just turning it off.  Soap?  Who the hell had the energy for that?  Sometimes even just breathing felt like an effort.  Most of my breathing came in the form of involuntary yawns.

Nobody noticed that I had stopped brushing my teeth, which was about on par for how invisible and dead I felt inside.

I would later learn that this was Clinical Depression, something I’ve dealt with off and on for as long as I can remember.  Genetic?  Situational?  That shit doesn’t really matter.  Whether you have it because your mother had it, or because of raging teenage hormones, or because your life is a shit pile isn’t really the point.  Depression doesn’t want to know how you got there.  It’s just so happy you’re there.

It has so many things to tell you!

Depression wants to make sure that you know that you’re not equipped to deal with anything because you are a lazy coward.  It wants to make sure that you hate yourself.  A lot.

It wants you to know that you’re just a bag of broken parts that are beyond repair and you are a bother to everyone around you.

It wants you to know that things would be so much easier if you weren’t around.

Depression wants to make you believe that you deserve to be invisible.

“Why, look at all those people out there!  Climbing mountains and building skyscrapers and laughing with friends over lunch!”

“And look at you!  You can’t even be bothered to brush your damn teeth, you lazy coward.  You can’t even be bothered to brush your own teeth.”

“You should be invisible, you worthless piece of crap.  You’re getting exactly what you deserve.”

This ^^ is how depression bullies you and pushes you down the well.  The descent happens too slow to notice it when it starts and too fast to stop it once it’s rolling.  At the point I stopped brushing my teeth, I had already fallen so far down the well that I couldn’t see my way out of it.  The light at the top of it seemed like a pinhole in the sky.

Months and months went by after I stopped brushing my teeth.  Towards the end of the 7th grade school year, someone had brought a bunch a bagels into Mr. McKenzie’s science class.  As we grabbed them up and started pulling them apart to eat them, I complained to my friend Suzanne about how there wasn’t any butter to put on them.

Suzanne took a bite of her dry bagel, shrugged her shoulders, and said very matter-of-factly, with her mouth full, “Well, you could always just scrape some off your teeth.”

I started brushing my teeth again the next day.

I’m sure Suzanne didn’t know it at the time, seeing as we were only 13 years old, but what she did that day was see me.  See me and make fun of me, sure, but she saw me at a time when I was certain I was invisible and that nothing I did – or didn’t do – mattered.  It turned out brushing my teeth actually did matter, and she noticed it, and she said something.  She snapped me back towards reality with one quick jab.

Obviously, there’s more to being pulled out of depression than just being insulted by a friend, but it did at least get the ball rolling for me that time.  Realizing that you aren’t invisible is a step in the right direction.  Giving a damn about even the smallest part of yourself can be a real start.

Since that day in 7th grade, I have used “The Toothbrush Test” countless times to determine whether I’m in a good place mentally.  Any time in my life when I’ve gone to pick up the toothbrush in the morning and thought, “This again?” and started to put it back down because it seemed like too much effort, that’s when I’ve known that I’ve fallen down the well again and need to get help.  Because we all need help sometimes, and there shouldn’t be any shame in admitting it.

If you have a friend who looks like they need help, get nosy.  Ask them how they’re doing and what’s going on.  If a friend who you know used to spend an hour getting ready for work in the morning suddenly starts showing up to work every day with bedhead, no makeup, a stained shirt, and food stuck to their face, chat them up.  Find out what’s changed.  Hell, start with a joke.  “What’s with the pajama pants at work, Lady Naps-a-Lot?”

If you’re reading this and thinking, “Well, I always dress that way for work,” then congratulations on your job in Silicon Valley, you moist nerd.  I’m sure you’ll own all of us in no time, so I have to call you a moist nerd while I still can, before you have the ability to send an army of android mercenary sex dolls to hunt me down.  Nerd.  Moist nerd.

You want me to say moist again.  You know you do.

Moist.

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When a friend seems like they’ve lost their way, make it your business to let them know that you see them.  Don’t be worried about coming off as pushy or sticking your nose into their business.  If someone is your friend, then checking in on them when you think something might be wrong is your business.

Even if it’s just to tell them that they have butter teeth.

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

Now that we’ve determined that you’re not Daryl, let’s talk about the lack of decent accommodations in the post-apocalyptic zombie world scenario.  No restaurants, no air-conditioning, no television?  What are you supposed to do all day?  Sweat?  Entertain yourself?!  WALK?  Ugggggh.  It’s like camping in Hell – and that’s before you even add the zombies-eating-your-face factor.

And even if the zombies all of a sudden died off simultaneously from some sort of disease, can you imagine the rebuilding process?  All that infrastructure that would need to be repaired or replaced before things got up and running again?  Who’s going to do all that work?  You know probably half the population got wiped out, taking out untold numbers of skilled service technicians.

As it stands today, when I call Comcast to come out and fix my high speed internet, they send someone out in three to five years.  I can tell you this much, it’s gonna be at least fifty years before you get streaming Netflix back, and I don’t care to even think about having to live in that kind of world.

Are you prepared for the return of dial-up internet?  Adjusting the tracking on your VCR?  Making your own avocado toast?  Because I’m looking at your wireless bluetooth earbuds and Starbucks Venti Mocha Lowfat Half-Caff Macchiato right now and I don’t think you are.

You couldn’t even deal with getting thrown back to 90s technology.  The zombie apocalypse?  Please.  You’re too soft for that hard reality, Taylor.  Own it.  Own it like a cashmere sweater wrapped in Charmin.

You don’t even know what a Motorola pager looks like, let alone how to work one.  You probably think Motorola is some kind of flavored seltzer made in Detroit that’s trying to compete with La Croix.  The kind that you’d drink with your “squad” while Instagramming photos of yourself wearing an ironic Dwight Schrute one-piece bathing suit, hanging out on the lake on a giant inflatable pizza float.  You woke up like dis, etc.

Even if you managed to survive the zombie apocalypse, you’d just be dead weight to the rest of the survivors.  You’d be too busy trying to break into the Sallie Mae office to destroy your student loan records to even bother helping everyone else forage for loose guinea pigs to eat.  Then, as previously discussed, you would shoot yourself in the face with a crossbow and ruin a perfectly good crossbow arrow.

Quit being so selfish and learn your limitations as a human being.  Take yourself out, Taylor.

Oh god – and the cleaning.  The cleaning!  Let’s just say they manage to get power back up and running to the local Cracker Barrel.  Do you know how much blood and guts and trash will have to be cleaned up in that place before you’d feel comfortable eating hashbrown casserole there again?

Okay, not actually that much for me, because that hashbrown casserole is so good I would inhale it from a possum’s belly button like it was a body shot on Spring Break, but for the rest of the people??

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People get uptight about finding an errant hair in their food.  Can you imagine how thrilled they would be to have to flag down a server to say, “Excuse me, but there seems to be half a rotting human face mixed into my hashbrown casserole?”

No thanks.

Finally, let’s talk about the catastrophe co-opter.  We all know this asshole!  This is the person who didn’t actually have anything bad happen to them, but still insists on interrupting everyone else’s actual grief so they can be upset about something bad that happened to their neighbor five doors down who they didn’t even know.

There’d be some poor woman with no legs, one eye, and 3/4 of an arm, crying and telling a reporter about how zombies ate her various appendages and all her babies, and the catastrophe co-opter would bust in like, “Oh yeah?  Well I lost my neighbor from five doors down! I lost MY neighbor!  You’re not the only victim here okay, Kathy?!”

The zombie apocalypse is so annoying.