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.

Powder Bad, Broadway Bad

Antiquing.  This can be either: (a) a thing you do when you visit quaint towns on vacation, or (b) what happens when you heavily apply pressed powder to your entire face after the age of 40.

After you hit 40, pressed powder is something that must be lightly dusted onto minimal areas of your face as sparingly as you might sprinkle uranium into your drinking water.  It should be like a tiny lady fruit fly accidentally inhaled some powder and then coughed it onto your face through a tiny fruit fly handkerchief and said in a tiny lady voice, “Oh, I’m ever so sorry, I just can’t seem to shake this fruit fly cold!  Can I trouble you for a tiny teacup of hot water and lemon?”, and then you give it to her despite the fact that she is vermin, because she’s so goddamned adorable.

I mean, don’t let me stop you if antiquing is something you’re into, or if you work part-time as a ghost tour guide in a southern city and it’s your intent to frighten tourists from Canada (like that’s hard).  Or even if you just want someone to mistake you for Paula Deen, then feel free to spackle it on.  It’s not like you can really see her face under the pointy white hood anyway.  Go ahead, give yourself a biscuit face.  What the hell do I care?  I’m not the police!  (Yet.)

Now, if you must know, I am the oiliest person who has ever lived, so this antiquing thing creates a real dilemma for me in the oil-slick-on-the-face department.  Noooobody needs powder more than I do.  As it is, I am probably single-handedly financing the CEO’s yearly bonus at the blotting tissue company.  My face gets so shiny, birds fly into it like it’s one of those all-glass buildings.  If I don’t put any powder on at all, I will be as reflective as C3-PO within 20 minutes of putting on my makeup.  People will look at me and make clever remarks to each other such as, “Shit!”, or “Is it just me or does that tin man have A-cups?”

I’m thinking you’re catching what I’m throwing here.  I’m shiny.

That being said, if I do put powder on, it will gravitate and collect in my fine lines within twenty minutes and look like I have drawn whiskers on my face with white chalk.  Not that I don’t ever draw whiskers on my face with white chalk, but not usually for work, or casual evenings out, or any activities where I’m not in the Broadway revival of Cats.

Semi-related – and just throwing this out here so that I can set the record straight once and for all – I do not enjoy Broadway musicals.  Like, at all.  I’m not sure where things went wrong with regard to my feelings on the subject though, because most people I know wrongly assume that I enjoy Broadway musicals.

I don’t think Broadway musicals are a crime against humanity or anything, they’re just not my scene.  As soon as someone walks out onto a stage and takes that big “theater voice” diaphragm-breath, arms outstretched, with their eyes and smile all wide to really belt out that first note, I mentally go, “NEXT!”  If I could hit a button to make a trap door open under them before they could get the first note out, that’d be ideal.

When my chorus teacher took us to see the traveling Broadway production of Les Miserables in middle school, while everyone else was oohing and ahhing, I was sitting there going, “WHEN IS THIS OVER??”.  Then I bought the Les Miserables t-shirt in the gift shop, because I always have to buy something from the gift shop, because I’ve been told by society that women be shoppin’.

People have really tried to get me to come around on this, too.

“I know you say you don’t like musicals, but wait until you see Avenue Q!”

Hated it.

“I get it, you don’t like musicals.  But this one is different!  You’ll love Wicked!”

Hated it.

I know that even right at this second you’re thinking, “Well, I bet Hamilton would change her mind!”  You would be wrong.  Not because I’ve seen Hamilton and hated it.  I haven’t seen it.  I have no plans to see it.  Because I do not like Broadway musicals.  Because I know that no matter what, there is no way someone doesn’t walk out onto a stage at some point and do that big “theater voice” diaphragm-breath, arms outstretched, with their eyes and smile all wide to really belt out that first note.

This is surely confusing for you given my publicly-proclaimed love of Grease 2, but the only reasons I love that movie are because (a) it was never a Broadway musical, (b) it was a movie starring a movie star, and (c) Michelle Pfeiffer does not have an even passable singing voice, which is a quality I love in a singer more than anything.  Also, if we’re being perfectly honest here, Adrian Zmed makes me uncomfortable in an entirely satisfying way, like when you press your knuckle into your gums just a little too hard and you’re thinking, “Why am I doing this thing that kind of hurts?  Because I can’t not do it, that’s why!”

And, my god, that jacket on Michelle Pfeiffer.  The first time I saw that movie, on that part during my favorite number “Cool Rider”, when she flips that pink satin Pink Ladies jacket inside out and we get to see that it’s black leather on the inside, I thought my 6-year old heart was going to explode out of my chest.  I knew right at that moment, that jacket was a perfect representation of everything I wanted to be in life.

It’s like that episode of Sex and The City where Harry shows Charlotte the photo of the baby they’re adopting from China and she looks at the photo and starts crying and says, “That’s her.  That’s our baby.”  But way more important.  Hello, people?  There are billions of babies in the world!  How many reversible jackets are there out there with pink satin on the outside and black leather on the inside?!

It almost makes a tin man with A-cups believe in miracles.

A Dumpster-Possum in Dick-Pants: We Revisit “Dirty Dancing”

I watched Dirty Dancing last week for, I don’t know, the 580th time in my life?  I’ve written many “hot takes” on it over the years, so I didn’t expect to have any new takes on it this time around, but what do you know?  A new one presented itself, and here it is:

Johnny Castle is the ultimate pick-up artist, and should be killed with a rock.

Now, if you know anything about modern pick-up artistry, it’s that you should be really mean to the girl and she will then go hog-wild for you.  It’s called “negging”, meaning that you say negative and mean things to the girl and bludgeon her self-esteem until she feels like such a lowly loser that she’s willing to lower her standards to sleep with a goddamned lowly loser like you.  It’s a really mature way to conduct your life, and Johnny Castle is apparently an expert at it.

I was nearly halfway through this movie when I realized that Johnny hadn’t said a single kind word to Baby since the moment they met.  Not one!  Also, within moments of their first meeting, he rubs his very adult wiener on her teenage body under the guise of “dancing”.  Without asking.  So there’s that.  Does she walk away from the experience thinking he’s a gross pervert?  Nope!  She stumbles away, drunk on his boundless, vagabond wiener and craving for more, further proving my theory that older men like young women because young women are so stupid.

Thereafter, things that Baby then does to impress Johnny (who is NEVER nice to her) include, but are not limited to:

(a) Lying to her own father so she can borrow an exorbitant amount of money in 1960s dollars to pay for Johnny’s friend Penny’s back-alley abortion.  For this favor, Johnny repays Baby by insulting her, acting like a passive-aggressive dick while swigging a beer and looking in the opposite direction, and then incredulously telling Penny that she should take the money anyway.  He’s a real king of the “no-win situation”, which is a classic narcissist move.  Oh, you wish there were some way to pay for this abortion, but there isn’t one.  Oh, there IS one?  Oh, it’s not in the form of payment I was hoping for, so fuck you, teenage girl who’s only trying to help!  Oh, Penny, why aren’t you taking this money that I just insulted the very notion of?  Bitches be crazy!  (Note, he is the only person who is acting crazy.)

(b) Bails his ass out filling in for Penny by learning how to do a complicated mambo routine on a moment’s notice for the sole purpose of him being able to keep his standing gig at the Sheldrake Hotel performing the mambo once a year.  How much money could this possibly pay to make it worth the hassle?  It’s a 2 minute dance routine that happens once a year!  What is it?  Ten bucks?  While training for this dance routine, Johnny acts like a total dick 100% of the time to Baby.  A total dick.  He rolls his eyes, he huffs, he literally yells at her, day after day.  He only starts kinda-sorta being nice to her while she’s changing in the backseat of the car and he’s trying to spy on her nudeness with the rearview mirror.  And after completing her dance assignment, does he say, “You’re amazing” or “You’re the best”?  Nope!  He says, “You did real good.”  While being a peeping tom.  Oh, be still my heart!  Baby stands to gain zero from volunteering for this mambo assignment by the way, besides the possibility of gaining a super virulent form of herpes.  They should change the name of this movie to Unsanitary Dancing.

(c) Risking her relationship with her father in order to save Penny’s life after the abortion goes wrong (surprise plot device!).  While it appears that Johnny is grateful that Baby went and retrieved her father in the middle of the night to save Penny, he ultimately repays her for the favor by putting his very adult wiener into her teenage body.  Because nothing says, “Thanks for saving my friend’s life, teenage girl!” like making hot, sweet unprotected love to her on a dusty cot.  I don’t care if she made the first move.  She’s a teenager and he’s a grown man for god’s sake!  Later, he gives her a compliment by telling her that her real name “Frances” is a “real grown-up name”.  I know when I am lying in bed in a post-coital state, what I really want to hear are condescending observations about my birth name.  I also assume that by pointing out that her real name is “real grown-up”, this means she’s “aged out” for him.  Bring on the Tiffanys!

(d) Admits to everyone at the hotel that she let Johnny give her the hot beef injection, in order to provide him with an alibi for Mo Pressman’s wallet going missing, thereby wrecking everything for her and her family, but keeping Johnny out of jail (for the time being).  I’m pretty sure jail is an inevitability in life for Johnny, what with all of the uninvited wiener-rubbing on teenage girls combined with his sporadic-at-best employment. Baby has basically just hit the snooze button on his eventual incarceration, at the expense of her relationship with her family.

Then Johnny leaves like, “LATER!”

At the end of the movie, he comes back and says a couple of nice things about her – in public, even!  Then he immediately undoes this kindness by rubbing his wiener on her some more, but this time in front of her mother and father, because what girl doesn’t want her parents to see that?  And I tell you what, the folks LOVE it.  Because every parent wants to see the human equivalent of a dumpster-possum in dick-pants grind all over their intelligent, Seven Sisters college- and Peace Corps-bound teenage daughter.  You name one parent who doesn’t want that.  One!  Go ahead.  I’m waiting.

You Are Jealous of My Tribal Tattoos

You know I hate to brag, but I have a shit-ton of tribal tattoos.  You’re trying to think of a time when you’ve felt more jealous of a person than you do right at this moment, but you’re coming up blank.  I know it.

The mid-90s were a magical time to be a young person.  People had finally given up on trying to make John Stamos a pop star, the dot.com bubble had yet to burst, and a new era in tattoos began.  An era when bored white people with no real ideas could spend hours on-end getting tattooed with a variety of black-stripety pointy-whatevers.

Someone would always ask, “Hey, what does your tattoo mean?” and then you would be able to completely appease their curiosity by simply responding with, “It’s tribal.”  No further explanation required!

Occasionally, you would get some joker who would try to antagonize you by asking what tribe you belonged to, but you could just wave them off and move on with your day listening to Pavement (Letters to Cleo) on your Sony Discman (Circuit City no-name knockoff of Sony Discman), knowing that deep down inside, they were just jealous of how motherfuckin’ badass you looked with your black-stripety pointy-whatever tattoo.  What tribe.  Puh-lease – it’s called the tribe of lookin’ cool?  Oooooooh.

I did always kind of enjoy the irony of someone asking me if my tattoos were tribal, and I would roll my eyes at them like, “Uh yeah?  Duh!  What did you think they were?  Tattoos that actually mean something?”

I can tell you this much, though, my lower back tribal tattoos, in particular, did actually mean something.

In 1995 they meant “Maggie drinks free when she wears a bra top and JNCO jeans to the Goldfinger concert”.

In 1996 they meant “Maggie drinks free when she wears a bra top and 70s bellbottoms to the Superdrag and Nada Surf concert”.

In 1997 they meant “Maggie drinks free when she wears a bra top and bootcut jeans to the Our Lady Peace concert”.

In 1998 they meant “Maggie drinks free when she wears a bra top and lowrider corduroy pants to the G. Love and The Special Sauce concert”.

In 2018 they mean “Maggie drinks free really super late at night only on weeknights in select areas of central Pompano Beach with low-lighting”.

And, honestly, I’m trying to think of something that bores me more than tattoos that “mean something”, but nothing is coming to mind.  It’s not necessarily that the concept itself always bores me, so long as your story is simple, no problem.  It’s having to sit through long-playing version of “the meaning of your tattoo” story, which is approximately as interesting as that dream that you told me about that one time.  You know, the one where you’re you – but you’re not you, and you were at my house – but it wasn’t really my house, and then these people showed up – but you didn’t know any of them, and then we all ate hummus – but it wasn’t really hummus!  What an intriguing dream!  Thanks for sharing it.

“This tattoo symbolizes my connection with the ocean because as a child I would often find myself staring into it and really grasping my place in the world…”  DING DING DING!!!  YOU’VE JUST WON THE PRIZE FOR ‘NOBODY CARES’!

You wanna know why I got tattoos?  Because I thought (and still think) they look cool.  I think they look bad-ass.  I suspect this is why most young people get tattoos, but they couch it in “this tattoo means something” because it is supremely uncool to say that you did something cool just so you could look cool.  The cool thing about tattoos is the air about them that says, “I don’t give a fuck.  I’m a fly-by-night guy/gal.  I plan nothing.  I’m a cowboy.  On a steel horse I ride.”

I couldn’t freaking wait to turn 18 so I could get my first tattoo, and even after years of anticipating the big day, when it finally happened, I walked into the tattoo shop, had no idea of what I actually wanted, and just picked something from one of the posters on the wall.  I like that kind of tattoo, the kind that’s done on a whim and not really thought through all that much.  It feels right to me, like it pays respect to tradition.  We’re talking about paying someone to draw something on your skin with a needle.  You’re not getting a kidney transplant.  You’re basically asking to become a human bathroom wall at a dive bar and handing a Sharpie to a well-paid stranger nearby.  You’re not changing the world, you’re just decorating your part of it.

Anne and I used to wake up on any random Saturday afternoon in the mid-90s with a serious tattoo jones and drive to the tattoo shop with ZERO in mind as to what we were going to get, and then one hour later, bam, we’re both in tattoo chairs getting something permanently drawn onto us.  It was the most fun.  Theeeee most fun.  Now that I’m older, when I look at those tattoos that were picked off the wall and done on a whim, it reminds me of how impulsive and fun Anne and I were when we were young.  What a fantastic time. (Please note we are still impulsive and fun.  It’s in our blood contract.)

Now when I get tattoos, as an old person, it’s a months and months long process of research and design and appointments have to made weeks in advance.  And the Googling.  My god, the Googling.  I worry that the tattoo will look stupid, or that it’s played out, or blah blah blah, which is hilarious because all of my old tattoos look stupid and are played out – yet I wouldn’t change them for the world.  I don’t know, there’s just more at stake when you’re old enough to know better.

And I definitely do not believe in cover-ups, not for me anyway.  If you want to cover up that frog making the peace sign that you got on spring break, that’s fine.  But you’re erasing a part of you that was the most fun, that didn’t give a fuck, and probably had a pretty awesome night when you got it.

I like remembering the mistakes of my youth, because that was usually when the most memorable stuff happened.  Every truly great story begins with, “Remember that time we were sooo stupid?”  I can’t think of any great stories that begin with, “Remember that time we were sooo smart?”

Nobody has an epic story of that time they took the S.A.T. and studied an appropriate amount of time beforehand, or a crazy story about how they waited to “really get to know” the guy who ran the Gravitron at the fair before going back to his trailer with him and the Hot Wisconsin Cheese lady to huff white-out until her boyfriend showed up from running the pirate ship ride and beat Gravitron guy with a turkey drumstick until his glass eye fell out RIGHT INTO YOUR HAND.

That last one is just ridiculous.  As if carnies would have access to white-out.

I’m still lobbying to be called SwagBag, by the way.

I came up in the time of jailbait.  Of Bobbi Brown in the “Cherry Pie” video.  Of Winger’s “Seventeen”.  Of Kelly Bundy.  I worshipped them in all their studded leather bra top, ass-shorts, thigh-high boot-wearin’ glory.  I thought they looked like a million spacebucks.  They were rock ‘n roll.

I spent the entirety of my teenage years being as close to naked as possible without actually being arrest-able.  If the top weren’t either essentially a bra or an off-the-shoulder half-shirt, and the shorts weren’t skintight and racked up my buttcrack like a doorstop, I bet most people wouldn’t have even recognized me.  Even my black leather motorcycle jacket was cropped.  I couldn’t even commit to a regular length jacket in cold weather, that’s how dedicated I was to my craft.  Every day was like an audition for a Warrant video, and it was awesome.  I wish my classmates would have rightly recognized this awesomeness and called me something totally cool like “DangerGirl” or “SwagBag”, instead of what girls actually called me, which was “I’m Gonna Kick That Slut’s Ass” or what guys called me “You Definitely Don’t Have A Dad At Home.”

And I tell ya, except for all the guys who continuously groped me and tried to drag me off into woods and alleyways against my will, it was a fine time to be alive.  My sexuality felt like the most powerful thing in the room, and I reveled in it.  I had never felt anything even remotely close to power in my entire life, so I was having as much fun with it as possible.  Up to that point I had been a social leper growing up, so I loved turning heads for the first time in my life.  Even if it was for superficial reasons, I still loved it.  Who wouldn’t?

Hell, one time when Anne and I were 16, we were walking into a gas station on a Friday night, and a guy literally crashed his car into the ice machine outside of the building, and when he climbed out of the wreckage, he yelled to the attendant, “Sorry, man!  I was looking at those two girls instead of the road!” Anne and I looked at each other like, “Whoooa.”  (I made a mental note of what I was wearing that night and made sure to repeat it as often as possible:  Black halter-top catsuit, black knee-high boots, whore-red lipstick.  Done.)

(Sidebar, I think a lot of the reason that women are discouraged from wearing things that are “too revealing” is because the power of the female body is too threatening to the existing power structure.  Even I’ve gone back and forth on it several times in my life, it’s that much of a mind-fuck.  As Sheena Easton so correctly sang, “Nations go to war over women like you”, because women’s bodies are powerful as fuck.  If the male body were as powerful as the female body, literally every man would walk this Earth naked and nobody would think any less of them for it.)

As the youngest of three girl children, not only did my mother not try to stop me from leaving the house dressed like an extra from Reform School Girls (because by the third kid they just don’t give a shit anymore), but she encouraged it.  Any time I would come out of a Contempo Casuals dressing room dolled up like a Hollywood hooker, she would literally applaud and exclaim, “Ha ha ha ha!  You look AWESOME!  Strut it, kiddo!  You’re only young once!”.  She thought it was an absolute hoot.  She had a real devil-may-care attitude about it that I really appreciated at the time.

As it turns out, I appreciate it even today, because I have a wardrobe that still consists mostly of jailbait-wear.  It’s not a hard habit to break – it’s a habit I refuse to break.  Even when I try to dress reasonably and put on a t-shirt that merely “fits” and doesn’t appear to be three sizes too small and sprayed onto my body, the first thing I think is, “Frump Town!  Looks like a dewd!” and then change into a half-shirt.  I assume that if I’m not wearing something nakedy, that I immediately transform into Burt Lancaster.  I think slutty-looking clothes just look good.

A few months ago, as I walked around Forever 21 and realized that I was old enough to be the mother of literally every young woman who was shopping there, I started to worry that I had turned into that pathetic older woman.  You know, the one who still shops in the juniors section and wears plastic barrettes and doesn’t hear the whispers behind her back.  The one who desperately clings to her youth as it’s inevitably slipping away.  The one who thinks those high school boys are still checking her out when what they’re really thinking is, “Is that Tyler R’s grandma, or Taylor B’s weird older stepmom?”.  The one who doesn’t realize that people are just being cheeky when they say, “Wow, you’re old enough to drink?!”  A brief moment of fear enveloped me…

…riiiight before I realized that I don’t give a fucking shit.

I am old enough and wise enough to accept that jailbait is who I am.  It’s the tiny, tight, spandex fabric I’m made of.  If anybody has a problem with it, they can feel free to avert their eyes, because you can have my slutty-looking clothes the day you pry them off my dead, slutty-looking body.  Hell, not even then!  Please, by all means, bury me in spandex.  With cut-outs.

Also, it helps that anytime I pass by someone and I hear them say, “Isn’t she a little old for that half-shirt?”, I deliberately mis-hear it as, “Isn’t it a little cold for that half-shirt?” and I think, “How nice of them to be concerned about my comfort!”

tl/dr:  Wear what you want, tell the world to fuck off. – Love, SwagBag

I Can’t Eat That

We were driving home from dinner one night last year, and I was pretty sure I was having a heart attack.  Not one of those “OMG I was having a heart attack because of a cute outfit someone had on”.  A “heart attack” heart attack.  I knew it definitely wasn’t a panic attack, because ohhhh man, do I know exactly what those fuckers feel like.  This felt like someone had hit me in the sternum with a sledgehammer and was holding it there for safe-keeping.

As we were driving, I silently contemplated at what point I should ask Bobby to turn around and take me to the emergency room.  I started thinking about all the trite, facing-your-mortality stuff, and reflected back on my life.  A lone tear started to form in the corner of my eye.  My god, I wished I had spent more time watching television.  I looked to the moon, its pearly glow all glowing it up and stuff, as the theme from Three’s Company played through my mind.

Down at our rendezvous.

Three’s company, too.

You’re probably thinking I was an idiot for not just asking him to take me to the emergency room to get checked out “just in case”, but I grew up poor with no insurance and unless you think you are literally, actually, dying and have blood spurting uncontrollably out of your ribcage, you do not go to the emergency room under any circumstances.  Even now that I have insurance, good insurance, that seed is still firmly planted.

I have gone to bed with a broken foot before because I have been so thoroughly trained to not go to the emergency room.  When I was hit by a car when I was 15 and broke half my body, I refused to let anyone call an ambulance and just had my idiot friends load me into their backseat and take me home to my mother instead (who then sped me to the emergency room) because you simply do not go to the emergency room.

Bobby and I got home from dinner and I laid down, and the feeling eventually subsided after a couple of hours.  Man, what was all that about?

Oh, what was that all about?  I’ll tell you exactly what that was about.  I had eaten raw green pepper at dinner.  Old person rookie mistake!  I might as well have just chugged gun powder, or maybe a handful of thumb-tacks.  Raw green pepper.  Why not just crack my chest open and let toddlers play mini-golf inside my stomach lining?

One of the loud, fun things that happens as you age, is you start developing an ever-growing list of things you can no longer eat.  I remember when I was a kid and my grandmother would take us to a restaurant and she would have a huge list of things she couldn’t eat because they didn’t “agree” with her, and I had absolutely no idea what the hell that meant.  I thought she was maybe just super picky, or had too much Jesus in her life to make room for onions.  I’ll tell you this much, though, you’ll know exactly what that shit means by the time you hit 40.

The first time you drink a glass of orange juice and then take a nap and wake up with your thorax in flames is usually a pretty good indicator that you’ve “arrived”.

Eat two slices of French bread and wait for the “So when is your baby due?” questions to start rolling in, followed by people patting your distended belly and saying, “You’re pretty old to be pregnant, huh?  What’s the name of your fertility specialist?”.

Drink a lot of cheap vodka and tell me how that works out for you and your shredded colon the next day.  You will wish you had never been born an alcoholic.

(Green peppers have a special kind of double-fold torturous effect due to two things called Solanine and Flavin.  I will not go further into that, because who gives a shit.)

So anyway, I can’t eat green peppers anymore because they don’t “agree” with me.  I also can’t drink well liquor anymore.  Cheap beer – nope.  I also can’t sleep on my left side or I will wake up clutching my chest in the middle of the night.  Orange juice – out.  Tumbleweed onions – maybe.  Also, bread is public enemy #1 – for any number of reasons, though.

To be fair, I also can’t pull off all the midriff-shirts I buy at Forever 21, but I’ve given up on caring about that in favor of living under the delusion that I can still totally pull it off, but we’ll talk more about that later in the week.

Why Don’t We Get Drunk and Screw Yourself?

One of the benefits of being a Dusty Old Crusty (D.O.C. y’aaaaaall!), is finally being able to hold my liquor.  As a matter of fact, learning how to drink without humiliating myself is probably the biggest accomplishment I have to-date.  Granted, you can still always count on me to challenge people to a push-up contest after three cocktails, but the up-side of that is a stronger upper body, and who doesn’t want that?  It’s about fitness.

Now, if you know me, you have no doubt heard the upcoming anecdote several times, so you’ll have to humor me for the next paragraph, but I’ll at least give you the shortish version.

When I was 15, I had the moony-eyed, pathetic crush of all crushes.  My own personal Jordan Catalano.  One night when we were hanging out at a house party, I drank somewhere in the area of 3-4 beers.  When I felt that hurling was imminent, I got up from the couch and walked towards the bathroom, only to find a line of people waiting to get in.  I stood in the hallway, drunk and swaying, and totally threw up.  Except that right when this started to happen, my crush just so happened to walk up and start talking to me, so instead of throwing up, I threw…in?  I stood there and held the puke inside my mouth so that he wouldn’t know that I was throwing up inside my own mouth.  He kept talking, I kept nodding and smiling, holding a mouth full of vomit.  He eventually made me laugh, the hurl came streaming out of my nose like a dual-sided volcano, he yelled “Gross!!!” and ran away from me.

To summarize, Jordan Catalano yelled “Gross!!!” at me.  And then ran away.  Like any vomiting out of your nose story, it’s a pretty good one.  /smug

You can repeat this story, changing a few of the details, and this would describe my first 10 years of drinking.  Making out with a Dockers-wearing P.E. coach with a Caesar haircut I had just met at a wedding before excusing myself to throw up for the next 8 hours in a crushed velvet babydoll dress was probably the low point (hello 1995!).  On a related note, it is nearly impossible to get vomit out of crushed velvet.  The only thing that’s worse is trying to get vomit out of faux fur, but thankfully the faux fur trend didn’t come along for a few more years, so I had time to plan ahead.  If you vomit on something with sequins, just throw it out.

I just could never figure out my limit, and then even if I did, I had to figure it out again depending on how empty my stomach was and what kind of alcoholic beverage was being served.  Beer 3, wine 2, mixed drink 2, Zima 3 and subtract one from each if it’s on an empty stomach.  This is also why I hardly ever do shots, because it throws off all of my pre-established metrics.

So!  Young lushes!  Here’s what you need to do:

Eat.  Something.  I don’t just mean eat a granola bar and then head out to an all-night bachelorette party.  If I know I’m going to be engaging in a high-level drinking event, I eat like a goddamned machine before I go.  Pack it in like a lumberjack hamster.  A pudding cup is not going to cut it.  Think eggs, hashbrowns, sausage, biscuits and gravy.  Soooo much gravy.  Then eat mini-muffins on the entire drive there.  Bacon double cheeseburger.  Do it up.

Second, resist the urge to “pre-game” at somebody’s house.  If you’re picking up your friend on the way out for the night, and she says, “Let’s do a couple shots before we go!”, just say no.  If she persists, tell her she reminds you of an 2004-era Lindsay Lohan “in a bad way” and that should nip it in the bud.

If the effects of alcohol tend to sneak up on you like they do on me, alternate alcoholic drinks with a glass of club soda.  Most bars won’t even charge you for it, it has zero calories, and this method has saved my ass on numerous occasions.  It will also help to keep you from feeling like you got stomped on by a donkey the next day.  Hydration, people!  It’s a cure-all.  You will never wake up the day after you drank 3 gin and tonics and 3 club sodas and wish you had just had 6 gin and tonics instead.  Trust me.

Lastly, there’s the ol’ Coyote Ugly trick, where if someone surprises you by buying you a shot, you pretend to do it, and then clandestinely spit it out into an empty beer bottle.  This is what I have done with literally every shot of Jagermeister anyone has ever bought me, not because I was afraid of getting too drunk, but because Jagermeister is fucking gross.

Related – I imagine that when Bridget Moynihan was in that Coyote Ugly movie she thought it was a pretty low point in her life, but then years later she married Tom Brady, got impregnated by Tom Brady, and then dumped by Tom Brady for Gisele Bundchen – while still pregnant – yet still has to raise his icky vanilla-demon spawn.

Related – Tom Brady is the literal worst.  The WORST. He is the Tom Paris of football.

And come to think of it, when Bridget Moynihan was in Sex and The City, she married Mr. Big (who insisted she walk down the aisle to a saxophone solo of “When a Man Loves a Woman”), and then got dumped by Mr. Big for Carrie Bradshaw, who was like 10 years older than her and dressed like a literal clown, who also incidentally never had to walk down a wedding aisle to a goddamned saxophone solo.  What does the world have against Bridget Moynihan???

I wonder if that’s the way you test someone’s personal limits and whether you’ll be able to use them as a doormat?  You just say to your soon-to-be bride, “I think you should walk down the aisle to a non-ironic saxophone solo of “When a Man Loves a Woman”.  If she says, “Uhh, okay?” then BINGO.  This woman will let you steamroll her for the rest of your life, because if she says yes to that shit on her wedding day?  Oh man, she will say yes to anything.

Go ahead and move your teenage mistress into the house, she won’t care.  Tell her she could stand to switch to salads for a while.  Tell her to go out and get a second job so she can pay for liposuction on her saddlebags.  Suggest to her that she buy her pants at Lane Bryant and her bras at the “Limited Too” kids clothing store which by the way some assbag actually suggested to me one time.  If at any time she offers resistance to your whims, just start playing “When a Man Loves a Woman” on the saxophone and she will become all Pavlovian-catatonic with PTSD, remember where she stands in the hierarchy of your relationship, and start folding your laundry the right way for a change.  Chicks!

I need a drink.  Happy Friday!

Vacation All I Never Wanted

Of the approximately one million things I am too old for, agreeing to stay with you at your place when I’m on vacation is pretty near the top of the list.  Near.  I don’t foresee it overtaking “having to endure long conversations with junkies about Jim Morrison” anytime soon.

It’s not just that I’ve become particular in my old age, I have just never enjoyed crashing at someone’s house.  It was different in my 20s when I was so full of hope and optimism, I was willing to give it a chance. Now I’m just too old to hold out any hope that it’s not going to be a living nightmare.  I’ve learned my lesson.

The main problem, as it turns out, is that I am an asshole, or rather, I have asshole expectations.

Expectations that you would mention to me, prior to my agreeing to stay with you, that you don’t actually have any room for me, but that’s okay, because you’re “sure I won’t mind just sleeping on the floor” (although this also falls under a general category of “You forgot to mention that you have no furniture”).

Expectations that include things like having a guest towel.  I don’t mean a towel that is fancy, embroidered, or professionally laundered – far from it.  I’ll take an old beach towel, no problem.  I mean a towel to use on my own body that isn’t the same one that you just used on your own body five minutes ago, and that isn’t covered in mold and poop spores from being stored on the wet bathroom floor curled up against the toilet.

While I am absolutely an animal-lover, I would generally expect that you would have mentioned to me that you had recently taken in a large, vicious, stray dog, and that it will growl and snap and bite at me and try to shred me and my belongings into dead meat the entire time I’m there, oh, and that you will do absolutely nothing to stop it.  You will sit there and pretend it’s not happening. That’s something I would have liked a heads-up on.  What can I say?  I’m an asshole like that.

Aside from expectations, I am also an asshole because I do not enjoy sleeping on someone’s couch only to have them come into the kitchen at 5am and start using an electric coffee grinder five feet away from my head and then when I wake up, look at me quizzically and say, “Wow – you must be a light sleeper!”

I do not enjoy the fact that you never mentioned to me that you were a drug dealer in your spare time, and that you deal out of the living room which is, coincidentally, the same room I am trying to not get shot in.

And even though we’ve known each other for years, I had no idea that you couldn’t sleep unless you had the local classic rock station blasting throughout the entire house all night.

Or that you are some kind of cocaine monster who only exists on two hours of sleep a night, and will never let me actually go to bed.

I also had no idea that your entire family was in town and were also staying with you, but that’s okay because your pervy dad only feels me up when he’s drunk, which is every night.

I realize all of this may sound like “Hey Maggie – take a hint!” and that people just desperately wanted me to NOT stay at their houses and were just trying to blast me out old school style like Noriega, but that’s not the case.  I have never, ever enjoyed staying at people’s places when I’m on vacation, and have only ever done it after the person has literally begged and pleaded with me to stay with them and eventually psychologically wore me down into saying yes.  By the time I very begrudgingly say yes, I have already said no so many times that I should have “No, really, I am much more comfortable in a hotel” tattooed on my forehead just to save my strength.

Yes, my own personal discomfort is the biggest factor in my not staying with you, but besides that, I think I’ve just reached an age where, as friends, I don’t really want to know how fucking weird you are.  The way you conduct yourselves inside your respective homes is weird.  So weird that there’s a reason you never show this side of yourself in public.  I enjoy the mystique of thinking you might not be so fucking weird because, seriously, you are so fucking weird.