The Bad Corey

I used to have a special gift for finding the biggest project in the room.  The insufferable, destructive ass hat.  The one that was equal parts narcissist, emotional trainwreck, unemployable, and leather pants.

Any time a guy would walk into a party backwards, still peeing on the front porch, zip up and drop a cigarette from his mouth onto the carpet, and grind it out with the heel of his boot while yelling, “It’s not my fault you were dumb enough to put white carpet in here!” my ass hat spidey-sense would go off and the little hairs on the back of my neck would stand at attention.

Then some random girl would walk up to him, throw her drink in his face for some unrelated reason and storm out the door, and I would think, “Well, this is obviously the guy for me.”

Had I known back then that I could cut out the middle-man known as “Misplaced Hope”, I would have just walked straight up to any of these types of guys and said, “So where do I fill out an application to worship you, pay all your bills, have you steal money from me and then cheat on me with one or more of my friends?  I am accustomed to disappointment from every man I’ve ever known and, on a subconscious level that I won’t uncover for many years, your brand is as comfortable and familiar to me as a mother’s perfume is to her child.  Maybe I can fix the past by fixing YOU!”

Like so many girls who sprang forth into adolescence headfirst down a hole of despair and emotional depravity, it all started with The Bad Corey.

This may come as a big surprise to you (except not at all because hello), but in the late 80s I was all the way into The Coreys.

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That would be Corey Haim and Corey Feldman, in case you’re not familiar, and if you’re not familiar, I don’t even know where to start with you.  Maybe somebody is offering Remedial Corey classes at your local night school.  I highly suggest you bone up on this information, because it will be on the test.

Calculators are only permitted for the “Box Office” portion of The Coreys Test, where you will have to figure out how much money the “Meatballs” movie franchise lost when they cast Corey Feldman in “Meatballs 4″, a classic sequel to a sequel to a sequel, as the “hottest water-skiing instructor in town.”

I don’t know how that conversation went around the producers’ table, but I assume it started and ended with, “Let’s do this thing!  Oh god kill me now please please kill me what has my life become.” <sound of Drano being chugged>

It’s not one of the better Corey movies.  All Corey movies are graded on a curve, by the way.  It’s not fair to grade them against “other movies”, or what some people refer to as “good movies”.  It’s only fair to grade Corey movies against other Corey movies.

Were you your best Corey in this film today?

Could you have Corey-ed it up some more?

What did I learn about Corey in this movie that I didn’t already know?

I tell you what, though, and I seriously, seriously am not even remotely kidding here.  Corey Feldman should have won the goddamned Oscar for his performance as “Teddy”, the abused kid with the burned-off ear in “Stand By Me”.

When he calmly informs the junk man, who’s insulting his father for being crazy, “My father stormed the beach at Normandy,” before eventually exploding into threats and tears as the boys drag him away from the junkyard, it GUTS me.  Give it a re-watch and see if you can make it through the emotional complexity of that really terribly abused kid actually defending his abusive father without wanting to just die inside.

Yes, of course I read his autobiography, “Corey-ography”, so knowing how badly Corey Feldman was abused in real life as a kid, that scene makes me want to curl into a ball on his behalf.  That may have just been a scene in a movie, but that abused kid in that scene was very, very real.  That’s a hell of a big ask for a kid on a movie set, and I can only imagine how tapping into whatever he had to tap into to pull off that scene must have torn him to shreds.  He was just a kid, for god’s sake.  That would have hurled most adults into a 72-hour hold.

Hey dramatic departure!  Let’s lighten it up a bit, huh?

You didn’t really have a choice in the matter when it came to loving Coreys in the 80s – they were everywhere.  You would never ask a twelve year old girl if she was into The Coreys.  You just asked her which one.

Now, you would think with all my gushing over Corey Feldman in “Stand By Me”, that would mean that my Corey of choice was Corey Feldman, but you’d be wrong.  Despite being the long-haired Corey, the bad attitude Corey, and the damaged Corey, there was someone far, far, far more damaged.

Someone who seemed to be a shiny, jangly, pretty boy, who later turned out to be a bottomless pit of screaming, soul-ripping darkness.

Corey Haim, for his pretty boy face and the adorable smile that made America fall in love with him in movies like “Lucas” and “The Lost Boys”, would surprisingly end up becoming The Bad Corey.

I always liked cute Corey, sweet Corey, Corey who just wanted to take Heather Graham out on a nice date in “License to Drive”.  I liked him just fine.  But the moment The Bad Corey publicly emerged?  Goodbye to Sandra Dee.

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Tell me about it, stud.

I remember the moment it went from a “like” of Corey Haim to a “love”.  It was in the old movie theater down the street from my house, watching “Dream a Little Dream”, and my formerly sweet-faced, blonde highlighted Corey Haim, the one with the cute smile where his lip kinda curled up at the corner like Elvis (and don’t even get me started on Elvis), the Corey with the clean jeans and high-tops, appeared onscreen before me, looking like this:

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Smoking cigarettes?  Check.  Hair dyed an unnatural color?  Check.  Ludicrous clothing and accesssories?  Check.  Foul-mouthed?  Oh god.  Check.  The pasty, lifeless complexion of a person who is clearly on drugs?  (angel harp music) Check.

My Corey?

My Corey had blossomed into The Bad Corey.

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I got chiiiiiiiiiiiills, they’re multiplyin’. And I’m loooooooooooosing control-olll.  ‘Cause the power, you’re supplyin’, it’s electri-OH MY GOD LET ME SAVE YOU FROM YOURSELF.

What was that?  LET ME SAVE YOU FROM YOURSELF?

You know that’s the one, right?  That line?  That’s the one that leads so many women down that road.  “Fixing the broken guy” road.  “Giving him a reason to live” road.  “Being the one who makes him see that the love and devotion of a woman will make him stop destroying himself” road.

The alternate name for this road is, “You will spend a lot of time and money in therapy after this guy has ruined your life.  You cannot fix a broken past by breaking your future.”

I don’t know if I can adequately express to you just how much I do not recommend this road, especially when “Nice Guy Who Doesn’t Snort Prescription Diet Pills Because His Coke Dealer is in Lock-Up” roads are also nearby, and won’t cause the kind of wear-and-tear on you that will leave you stranded on the side of life’s highway with an empty wallet and a vaguely itchy crotch.

I’m not going to tell you these roads are always easy to find, sometimes you just have to get lucky, but as my therapist told me in not so many words many years ago, they’re much easier to find if you stop driving your car in circles around Sodom and Gomorrah with a bullhorn out the window shouting, “Free girlfriend, money, psychiatrist, and laundry service here!  Standards nonexistent!”

And I won’t even charge you a co-pay for that bit of counseling, sister.

The Puberty Detective

I was a tomboy growing up, as shown below by the ludicrous black high top sneakers that I’m sporting with those thoroughly 80s aquamarine-colored highwater trousers.  Those aren’t jeans, kids.  Those are straight-up trousers. And you can’t even blame this sartorial choice on the family, as you can see my sister Bonnie is pictured on the left in clothing that is not from the Pouting Dude section at Zayre.

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What’s the saying?  Little girls are made of sugar and spice and black high tops and trousers?  As you probably already know, I eventually grew out of it and became a bona fide painted-up hussy.  A real trollop.  A genuine slut-puppy supreme with tramp fries.

But enough about what I have in common with your MOM.  Ohhhhhhhh!!

Seriously, though, even today my “conservative” office pants are so tight that my dry cleaner returns them to me pre-tipped with dollar bills already sticking out of the waistband.

That being said, in the years between the tomboy and slut-puppy phases, the most disgusting thing happened to me.  The worst, most horrifying thing that had ever happened to anyone.  The most god awful, hideous, terrifying event:

Puberty.

I shuddered just thinking about it.

As a tomboy, the entire process of puberty felt like a personal affront to me.  I tried my best to escape it, but there it was, inescapable and right there in the mirror.  My widening hips no longer fit into my skate shorts, and my skin was as greasy as Danny Zuko’s hair.  I sometimes cried for no reason because I felt “emotional”, whatever the hell that meant.  It was no longer socially acceptable to spend all my time raising tadpoles in the old baby pool in the backyard.  Climbing trees became greatly frowned-upon.  Legs would have to be shaved.  Lips glossed, hair tossed.  Still waiting for the boobs to really come in, though.

Oh god.  I was turning into a teenage girl.  No, no, no, no, no.  What could be worse?  What could be worse than that?!

I’ll tell you exactly what was worse.  The Puberty Detective a/k/a My Grandmother.

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Let me start off by saying the disclosure that you always have to make when you start a story like this:  I love my grandmother.

Now that we’ve dispensed with the disclosures, I can tell you about the nightmare hellscape this woman attempted to inflict upon me between the ages of 10 and 16; the tenacious, torturous pit of Hades that became my existence every time I visited her.

Did she beat me?  No.  Did she withhold dessert when everyone else got some?  Never!  She did something way, way more heinous.

She had questions.  Oh god, the questions.  Not just any questions, either.

Puberty questions.

I had been given a heads-up on this by my older sisters, who’d told me that when they were my age, our grandmother would routinely bust out with gems like, “So have you gotten your period yet?” or “Are you wearing a bra yet?”

I was already in a constant state of panic due to my ever-increasing hormones and related identity crisis, and the mere thought that another human being might ask me these kinds of questions made me want to unzip my skin and run out of the room a skeleton.

I couldn’t very well pack up and leave the country, so I did the only thing I could do.  I formed a plan to thwart the Puberty Detective’s investigation at every turn.

The plan was that I would work diligently and tirelessly to avoid ever being along in a room with my grandmother until the coast was clear.  I figured the coast would be clear around age 16, when it would have been silly to ask those kinds of questions, so I had six years to play “Keep Away” with her.  I could do that.  Hell, I’d been hiding the fact that I actually liked boys from everyone for years already, despite the fact that I was one of the founding members of The Against Boys Club (ABC, y’all) in elementary school.

Laugh if you will, but after enduring years of physical torment and harassment from the boys in our neighborhood, The Against Boys Club successfully planned and executed a bus stop takeover one morning where we totally beat all the boys’ asses.  Don’t let anyone tell you that organized crime doesn’t pay.  Those little 9-year old bastards never even saw it coming.

Now that’s a brag – and I’m braggin’ it.

So for those six years between the ages of 10 and 16 years old, any time I found myself alone with my grandmother, I would find a reason to have to run out of the room.  We’d all be sitting on the patio and I’d see that the other people were getting up from their chairs to walk back into the house and I would go on red alert:  You better find a reason to leave this room and find it NOW.  Then I would say I had to go to the bathroom or something, and flee the room.

Sometimes I would misjudge the timing and The Puberty Detective would actually start to ask one of the dreaded questions, “So, Maggie, have you gotten your…” and I would jump up and disappear like Houdini before she could even get the word “period” out.  One time, I actually did the classic “What?  What?  Did I just hear someone call my name in the other room?” before sprinting out of the room.

I look back on all of this now and wish we had been able to be closer, and that we hadn’t lost all those years to me running out of the room, but I was so freaked out by this Puberty Detective business, she became my number one persona non grata.  The same woman who quietly sang hymns while she vacuumed, who wore one of those flowery bathing caps in the community pool at her 55-plus community, became the person I feared most in the world.

She wasn’t menacing, she was just curious.  Her inquiring mind just wanted to know, but I mean, come on.  Puberty is bad enough without having to field questions from reporters.

Besides, had anyone known what they were in for, they would have never wanted to see THIS come to fruition.

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A Day in The Life of Filthy Mouth and Smart Mouth

Jenny and I were on the swings down at the park one afternoon, doing what most kids did on the swings, which was swing as fast and as hard as possible to see if we could go higher than the bar at the top.  The only thing that set us apart from most kids you’d typically find on the swings was that we were shouting obscene song lyrics the entire time.

Warning:  This post contains explicit lyrics.  Dun dun DUUUUUUUNN!!!!

We couldn’t help ourselves.  Jenny and I were 12 and 11, respectively, and the most exciting musical group of our young lives had broken big in South Florida, and was about to break on the national stage.  A musical group so exciting, in a couple more years the government would actually briefly ban the sale of their album in the United States.  That group was Miami’s very own 2 Live Crew.

(I could spend three or four paragraphs describing the events surrounding the rise of 2 Live Crew, but you’d do much better to look it up on Wikipedia.  That shit was crazy!)

Jenny and I, and all the other delinquents we knew, were obsessed with 2 Live Crew.  It wasn’t because we were superfans of the group; if anything, we were solid hair metal fans and we merely dabbled in what was called “rap music” at the time.  We liked LL Cool J and RUN DMC just fine, but we weren’t completely nutso over them or anything.

We were obsessed with 2 Live Crew for the same reason any kids our age were obsessed with them:  Because their songs were filled with dirty words.  Super dirty words.  Jenny and I sang those songs constantly and relentlessly.

That particular afternoon, Jenny and I had been loudly singing call-and-response rounds of, “Heeeey we want some puuuu-ssay!” from the swings for a few minutes or so before Jenny said, “Whoa, whoa, whoa.  Wait.  Stop.  Stop swinging.  Stop.”

I dragged my bare feet across the sandy gray dirt back and forth a few times to slow myself down and came to a stop.  I looked at Jenny, concerned, and asked, “What’s wrong?”

Jenny looked puzzled and leaned the side of her face against her hand on the swing-chain.  “Do you think we should change the words since we’re into dudes?” she asked.

I pursed my lips to one side, chewing on the inside of my cheek in contemplation over the very important question Jenny had just posed.  Changing song lyrics was serious business.  All song lyrics had to be sung with exact precision or else someone might accuse you of not knowing the words, which was an unforgivable offense.  Not knowing the words meant you were a poseur, and nobody would ever let you live it down.

I replied, “Well, it’s not like we’re not taping it or anything.  Everybody already knows we know all the words.  I’m cool with changing them if you are.”

Then we started swinging again, pumping our legs as hard as we could to get back to our previously lofty heights, now singing rounds of, “Heeeey we want some DICK!”

We were charming little girls.

The flow was all wrong on the song now, though.  I looked over at Jenny and yelled, “Stop!  Hang on.  Stop swinging.”

We both slowed to a stop again.

I said, “The words don’t sound right with the melody now.  It cuts off too soon.  I think we need to add a word or syllable or something.  I mean, ‘pussy’ is two syllables.”

Jenny agreed.  We tried out a few filler words over the next couple minutes and finally came to a decision on one.  Then we started swinging again, hard and fast as we soared skyward, this time singing, “Heeeey, we want some biiiig diiiiiick!”

We had only gotten a few rounds of our new, improved song lyrics shouted out when a woman marched up next to the swings, planted her hands on her hips and yelled, “Hey!  I need to talk to you!  Both of you, get off those swings NOW!”

Jenny and I gave each other the “Uh oh” look and slowed our swinging to a stop.  We sat on the swings with our feet in the dirt, scrunching it between our toes while we sized this woman up.  She was probably around 35 years old, had a full-on lady mullet haircut, and was wearing peach stretch pants and an oversized Tweety Bird t-shirt.  She looked like every 35 year old woman in our neighborhood, except that we had never seen this particular 35 year old woman before.

Let me just interrupt for a moment here to tell you what it meant that we had never seen this woman before.  In our neighborhood everybody knew everybody, which meant that if we didn’t know you, you must be new in town or just visiting someone, and probably didn’t understand the kind of neighborhood you had just walked into.  Dirty words were going to be the least of this woman’s troubles.  Hell, the first time I was held at knife-point by a group of teenage boys I was 6 years old.  Had she ridden a bike to come and confront us that day, it would have been stolen before she even got off the damn thing.

Jenny, the braver of the two of us, spoke first.

“Can I help you?” Jenny said, as snottily as any tween girl could because, oh my god, nobody does “snotty” like tween girls.

The woman’s eyes narrowed.  “Oh, you can just hold your smart mouth right there, honey,” she replied.  “I can hear you two spouting off that filth from four blocks over!  What on God’s green Earth is wrong with the two of you?!”

I piped up, “We were just singing a song.  We didn’t write it.  Well, not most of it, anyway.”

(Look at me, age 11, already trying to finagle a writing credit for changing ‘puuuu-ssay’ to ‘biiiig diiiiiick’.  Typical.)

The woman took one hand off her hip and pointed her finger at us.

“I don’t care who wrote what – it’s FILTH!  IT’S ALL FILTH AND YOU BOTH NEED TO SHUT YOUR FILTHY MOUTHS RIGHT THIS MINUTE!!”

Assuming incorrectly that we must have been sisters (another clue that she wasn’t from our neighborhood, my sisters were notorious), she continued, “How would you like it if I go tell your mother about what you’re doing right now?  That her little girls are yelling such filthy things and have a couple of real smart mouths, too?  You know what?  That’s exactly what I’m going to do!  Where do you live?  Tell me your address!  I’m walking over there RIGHT NOW!  I bet your mother will be VERY interested to know what her little girls are doing down here, spreading filth with those filthy little mouths.”

I pointed towards the north and sheepishly said, “We live on Cheshire.  Two blocks that way.”

She said, “Oh, that does me a lot of good.  So I guess I should just go walking up and down the street to try and figure out which house?  What’s the house number, smart mouth?”

Jenny’s tone softened as she said, “It’s 4275.  We’re sorry.  Please don’t tell our mom.  Can you please, please not tell our mom?”

Jenny worked up some light, convincing tears.

“Please.  We don’t want to get in trouble.  We were just messing around.  We won’t do it again, we promise.”

The woman smirked at us and haughtily said, “You should have thought of THAT before you ran your filthy little smart mouths,” and then marched off in a huff towards Cheshire Street to rat us out.

As we watched her walk away and fade into the distance, Jenny smiled.  She lit a cigarette and said, “Pffft.  Let’s get out of here.  I’m bored.”

We shared the cigarette as walked south, in the opposite direction of Cheshire Street, to our separate homes that weren’t on Cheshire Street, neither of which were numbered 4275 (there were no houses numbered 4275 in our neighborhood).

The irony, of course, was that even if we had given that woman our real addresses, neither of our mothers would have given a rat’s ass about our shouting obscenities from the swings.  Anything less than being brought home in a police car was considered “kids just being kids” and was no cause for concern.

Before parting ways down my street I took a drag off the cigarette and passed it to Jenny.

I exhaled the smoke.  “Adults are so dumb.  What was that lady’s problem?  It’s just a song.”

Jenny took the last drag, flicked the cigarette into a canal and said, “No shit, huh.  Tomorrow we’ll sing “Throw The Dick”.  Later, filthy mouth!” and took off towards her street.

I gave her a small salute and replied, “Later, smart mouth!”

And I turned out JUST FINE.

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Prologue:

It took everything I had to not title this story “Pussy Is Two Syllables”.

You’re welcome.