Steel Maggie-nolias

I threw away my old Doc Martens combat boots after 27 years of ownership.  As I pitched them into the trash and they clunked towards the bottom of the can, they yelled, “Do they have a steel toooooooooooooooe?!” on their way down, because after so many years of excellent service, this was unfortunately the memory I associated most with them.  Because teenage boys.

Oh!  Do tell, Myrtle!

I remember the day I got my Doc Martens in 1992.  Grunge was now all the rage, and no teenage grunge queen was complete without a pair of Doc Martens to go with her sundress, tights, and flannel shirt.  They were all I wanted in life that year, and I begged my mother to buy them for me.

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Fine, these flowers aren’t magnolias, but spoiler alert, those are Doc Martens on my 16-year old feet.  And a cigarette in my hand, but that’s neither here nor there.

Things had finally started to turn around in our household, our roof had been fixed up after Hurricane Andrew (thanks to insurance) and Mom had landed a better-paying job.  Plus, it was just me and her left in the house since my sisters had both moved out.  We were no longer destitute and there was even a little left over for spending.

I told her I needed a new pair of shoes, so we hit the mall.  Just a few years before, besides my yearly pair of $15 sneakers from Fayva the discount shoe store, my two sisters and I shared a single pair of black flats that we fought over mercilessly.

Three teenage girls, one pair of dress shoes, you can imagine the carnage.  You could make ten full wigs out of the amount of hair we pulled out of each other’s heads over those black flats.

As Mom and I stood in the shoe store, she flipped the Doc Martens boot over to see the price tag and said, “Ha!  $120?!!  Not in your wildest dreams, kid!”

She started to walk away, so I had to jump on her to present my proposition.

“Okay, okay, I know this seems nuts, but just listen to me!  If you buy me these boots, I promise I will wear them every single day for the rest of high school.  For two years!”

She said, “You have almost another two years of high school, and you’re telling me, you’re promising me, that you will wear these stupid, ugly things every day?  EVERY day?”

I nodded my head like a maniac, “Yes!  I promise!  Every single day!”

The next day, I swaggered into school in my black sundress, red plaid tights, and my brand-new Doc Martens.  I felt like the coolest mofo on the planet – until the first teenage boy saw me.

“Nice Docs,” he said, pursing his lips and folding his arms.  “I bet you got them at the mall.  Do they have a steel toe?”

(Like he got his Doc Martens trying to fight the Krauts back from the border of Poland in World War II.)

I looked down and said, “No?  Why would I need a steel toe?”

He laughed, “Heh.  Well, mine have a steel toe, so…”

Soooooo…what?  What the hell did I care if his OR my Doc Martens had a steel toe?

“I’m just saying only poseurs wear Docs that don’t have a steel toe.”

He walked away, still laughing.

I had never spoken to this guy in my life, and we didn’t even know each other’s names – but he felt compelled to walk up and insult me.

Were we doing construction work there in the 11th grade, where steel-toed boots would be the only thing standing between me and a pile of broken toes?

As it would turn out, in the two years that I wore my Doc Martens to school EVERY DAY JUST LIKE I’D PROMISED, this was an unsolicited question I was asked by teenage boys on a weekly basis.  I got so tired of having the steel toe conversation, I considered just writing, “No Steel Toe” across the top of one boot in white-out and “Poseur” on top of the other to save myself the time and aggravation.

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Look who’s still wearing those Doc Martens a year later at 17!  Never mind the beer, it’s neither here nor there.

It’s so funny, too, looking back on the whole thing and realizing what stupid ass hats those guys were.  My shoes bothered them so much that they felt the need to barge up to me, a stranger, to interrogate me about them and then try to make me feel like they were better than me?

I don’t think I’m better than anyone except Melissa’s mom, and everybody knows that.

They acted like they had somehow “earned” their combat boots as teenage boys and I was merely trying to game their system.  Like they were wearing them for actual combat when I was just wearing them for fashion, even though it was the 90s and we were all just wearing them for fashion.

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18 years old!  Still wearing those Docs!  I was SO HIGH IN THIS PICTURE, but that’s neither here nor there.

And what are we even talking about here?  Did they think I wasn’t cool enough to be into grunge?  Is there even such a thing as a person who isn’t cool enough to be into grunge?

I present this photograph of Jeff Ament and Mike McCready from Pearl Jam, as Exhibits A through Z in my case:

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These two look like what would happen if Gallagher had sex with a dreamcatcher on top of a deflated beach ball in the middle of a Spencer Gifts in Omaha.

If you’re reading this and realize you were one of these steel-toe jerks back in the day, I want to impress upon you how obnoxious I thought you were then, and still think you are today.

I hope your closet is filled with nothing but ill-fitting, moose-knuckle khakis, GREG.

I hope you have a neverending hangnail that catches on your pants every time you put your hand in your pocket, JASON.

I hope it burns just a little every time you stop peeing, like you had to cut the stream short even though you didn’t actually cut the stream short, MATT.

I hope you have the short stream burn, Matt.

The short.

Stream.

Burn.

Years later, I got a job at that same shoe store so I could get the employee discount on further Doc Martens purchases, but I had to quit after my first day because of herpes.

Stay tuned for that one next week.

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19 years old.  First office job and wearing Doc Martens at the reception desk.  Also sleeping on the job while clutching a stuffed animal, but that’s neither here nor there.

The Lord of The Dirty, Dirty Keychain

Once upon a time in 1988, there was a keychain.  A dirty, dirty keychain.

A keychain so dirty, so coveted by all of the middle schoolers in town, had this story taken place in Hobbitville or Dorkville or wherever those Lord of The Rings movies happened, any one of those damp, sexless nerds in cloaks would have tossed that ring off a cliff to get their hands on it.

That’s not fair.  Maybe they’re not all damp, sexless nerds.  I think maybe the Elves weren’t damp, sexless nerds, but I can never remember because I fell asleep during all three of those movies.  In the theater.

Know why?  Because those movies, like most movies these days, are:

  1.  TOO.
  2.  LONG.
  3. ALL MOVIES SHOULD BE 90 MINUTES.
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Photo of Golum or Yoda or something.

Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure the Elves were hot in that classy, useless way, like Gwyneth Paltrow, where they look beautiful in long, silk gowns but you have a really hard time imagining them humping.

Don’t send me weird emails about this.

Which brings me back to the keychain, or as I shall hereafter refer to it:

The Keychain.

I first heard about The Keychain from my friend Jenny, who’d taken a babysitting job for the then-current holder of The Keychain, Marlene.  Marlene was a divorced single mom to a well-behaved child named Justine.  Jenny loved babysitting for Justine because she was a cool kid and Marlene paid well.

Jenny was babysitting Justine one afternoon when she had to search through a kitchen drawer for some Scotch tape.  In the back of the drawer, under a few layers of miscellaneous stuff, resided The Keychain.

As the story goes, Jenny pulled it out of the drawer and said, “What the hell?” as she inspected it.

The Keychain was made of a bronze-colored metal, and featured two cartoonish people – a man and a woman – in profile.  The woman had huge boobs, and the man was standing across from her with his pants down and his…you know…ding-dong…sticking straight out.

Justine rolled up and said, “Oh, you found Mommy’s keychain.  We’re not supposed to play with that.”

She took it from Jenny and said, “Hang on.  I can show you how to make it move, but then we have to put it away.”

There was a mechanism in The Keychain where if you pulled on a lever at the bottom of it, the man’s hips moved forward and his…ding-dong…appeared to go into the woman’s…hoo-hah.

The Keychain was no ordinary keychain.  The Keychain was the dirtiest keychain in the world, or as I shall now hereafter refer to it:

The Humping Keychain.

Jenny was stunned. She had never seen anything so magnificent.

Obviously, Jenny had to have it, but despite the fact that she was a filthy-mouthed little thief (which is why we got along so well), she knew better than to take The Humping Keychain that day.  Justine had just seen her with it, so she would’ve been able to testify in a Court of Dirty Keychain Law that Jenny was the last person seen holding it.

Jenny told me about The Humping Keychain in vivid detail.  “You won’t believe it,” she said.  “It’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.”

I knew Jenny’s filth standards were high, so I took her at her word.  After all, she was the one who discovered a cornucopia of “marital aids” at our acquaintance Tricia’s house, hidden away in Tricia’s parents’ nightstand, and chased Tricia around the house with something that looked like a red zucchini (barehanded!) yelling, “Dude! Your mom’s teeth marks are on this!”

We were not invited back.

The next time Marlene called Jenny to ask her to babysit, she asked if she could bring me along.

We hit the kitchen as soon as we arrived.  Jenny pulled The Humping Keychain out of the drawer and it was everything she’d described and more.  The cartoon sex people even had these goofy expressions on their faces and the man’s eyes were all bugged out of his head, something Jenny had, surprisingly, neglected to mention.

The Humping Keychain wasn’t just sex.  It was sex and comedy.  The total package.  As far my dirtbag middle school comedy tastes were concerned, Andrew Dice Clay might as well have been standing right there in the kitchen.

We put it back in the drawer when we heard Justine coming out from her room.  That kid wouldn’t leave us alone for a single second for the rest of the evening.  That may have been the night I officially decided that I never wanted to have kids.

Jenny wasn’t available the next time Marlene needed a babysitter for Justine, so she directed her to me – and this was going to be an offsite, awesome babysitting job.  Marlene worked at a beach club a couple towns over, and since her boss wouldn’t be around that day, she was taking Justine to work with her.  She just needed someone to watch her in case something came up.  I was going to get paid to hang out at a beach club all day!  It was like one of the lesser orphans in “Annie” getting a spa day.  I was going to steal SO much food.

Marlene asked if she could come pick me up at my house, and then I remembered:

The Humping Keychain.

As much as a day at the beach club sounded like the best thing ever, it did lack a certain sex/comedy element that only The Humping Keychain could provide.

I told Marlene I would just walk over to her house instead of her picking me up, since it was only two blocks away from my house, and we could go from there.

Naturally, I stole The Humping Keychain within five minutes of my arrival at Marlene’s.

Also, naturally, someone must have hipped Marlene to the fact that I had stolen it, because even though we had a great time that day at the beach club, I was never called to babysit for Justine again.  That kid must have put two and two together, realized I was the last one in the house, and then went turncoat on me and told her mother.

Don’t care.  Worth it!  I was now in possession of The Humping Keychain.

But stealing is wrong!

Is it, when you really think about the circumstances?  If anything, I was saving poor, impressionable Justine from having to live in a house where something as disgusting (hilarious) and pornographic (double hilarious) as The Humping Keychain was just left in a drawer for anybody to find.  I stole The Humping Keychain because I was concerned about the welfare of that child!  How dare you question my morals as a thief?!

I later traded The Humping Keychain to another sixth grader after an excruciatingly complex and protracted negotiation.  I had recently watched both “Working Girl” and “Baby Boom”, and I fancied myself a tiger lady businesswoman.

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If you’re not already following this blog because you have “standards” or whatever, please feel free to click the Follow button on the home page and you’ll get an email anytime I post some of this hogwash, usually around once a week.  You can find me on “The Twitter” as well under the name RomComDojo.

“Nobody appreciates your sense of humor, you know. As a matter of fact, everyone’s just about to puke from you. If you’ve got a hard-on for trash, don’t take care of it around us.” – Steff McKee, “Pretty in Pink”

You, You, You, Otter Know!!

Look, maaaybe I’m guilty of blocking children’s view of the otters at the marine conservation center.  What is that?  A CRIME?

(Please note in advance that this post is what is often referred to as “a joke”.  Your children are adorable, some of my favorite people are children, blah, blah, blah, etc.  Do not send a Mom Mob after me.  I’ve got enough problems trying to get the Beauty Battalion off my jock for insulting their lie-brows and suggesting that “contouring” is over.  They already wrote “You’re dead, bitch” in bronzer across my driveway and came back later with highlighting powder to really make it pop.)

I get way more enjoyment out of the otters than your kid ever will, and I can say this because your kid can’t be bothered to put down his Nintendo Switch long enough to notice the otters to begin with.  Ignoring otters?!  THAT should be a crime.

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Yeah, we’re all reeeally excited that you rescued the Fortnite princess from the Tetris castle or whatever, Bryson/Greyson/Flotsam.

My attention to otters can best be described as utter otter devotion, and should be rewarded as such by naming me “Honorary Otterkeeper” for the day, where I will get to wear a glittery badge and feed shrimp to the otters from a souvenir bucket that I get to take home with me that says, “That’s an-OTTER story!” on the side with a picture of two otters reading books and wearing glasses.

I would get a personal invitation to the birthing of all baby otters and unlike SOME PEOPLE who have “Little League practice”, I would actually show up every time.

I would give the baby otters interesting names, too, like “Ottermatic For The People”, “And Then There’s Maude-er”, and “Genesis But Before Peter Gabriel Left The Band”.  I wouldn’t give them some totally lame name a kid would give them, like a cat with white paws named “Socks” or the tiger-striped cat named “Tiger”. You’re really breaking the creativity bank there!  What are you, 8?

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Oh, so you actually are 8?  NO EXCUSE.  NEXT!

Don’t worry, you’ll get your turn at the otter tank, Bryson/Greyson/Flotsam – not that you even care!  Your parents are the only ones who are having a conniption over me blocking the tank, anyway.  You were probably here last week and you’ll be back again the next week because for some reason children get to do all the vacation things ALL THE TIME now.

Know where we went when I was a kid?  School.  If school was out?  Home.  You only got taken to an otter tank if your parents had some kind of hideous news to spring on you, like you were moving to Goober, Idaho (Shout out to my fellow Overboard fans!),  or had an incurable form of Leukemia.

Curable Leukemia would only warrant a trip to the McDonald’s drive-thru at best, and there would be no special orders.  You’re getting crushed peanuts on that hot fudge sundae even though you don’t want them, because THAT’S the way it comes.  Hell, you’re getting them even if you’re allergic to peanuts!  “Toughen up, Sally!” is what they’d say as you turned purple and lost consciousness.

If a kid had asked to go swimming with dolphins, any of our parents would have just pointed to the open ocean and said, “Go for it, asshole.”

If you ever, ever made the mistake of saying, “I’m bored!” it was immediately met with, “Then go clean your room.”  (This was a brilliant parental move, by the way.  We figured out pretty quickly to stop complaining that we were bored.)

I mean, for the love of Mike, people.  Otters don’t cut it with these kids?  If your kid is non-plussed by the glorious sight of frolicking otters, I have serious concerns for how they’re gonna feel someday down the road about doing their taxes.

Come to think of it, if I took a kid to an otter tank and they rolled their eyes like, “Whatevs!” I would make them actually do my taxes that year as punishment.  You think third grade is hard?  Wait until you see U.S. tax code.  And I better be getting a fat refund, kid, or your ass is grass.  Orphanage City, sonny boy!

Now, I have heard it’s good to provide children with “motivation”, so I would at least be kind enough to leave my to-do list next to the tax papers:

  1. Take ungrateful kid to that orphanage in the sewer with the scary clown in it
  2. Pick up dry cleaning
  3. Order cake for celebration now that ungrateful kid is living in that orphanage in the sewer with the scary clown
  4. Turn ungrateful kid’s room into otter habitat

(The foregoing are just several of the many reasons I am not permitted to have children.)

All right, hate-mailers, put down your weapons.  I’m sure your kid who can’t be bothered to fawn over otters is going to turn out just fine.  Everyone knows that bored, demanding children only become more pleasant to be around when they become teenagers.  Enjoy your time in Hell, is what I’m saying.

Fine.  So like all old, childless people, I think a lot of “kids today” are spoiled.  That’s a new one!

“The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room.” – THIS IS AN ACTUAL SOCRATES QUOTE FROM LIKE 450 B.C. SO GO BLAME HIM FOR STARTING THIS

If you want to get uppity about it, just know that for my punishment I will have to train an otter family to change my diapers for me when I’m old, I’ll die with no heirs and will be tossed into a shared hobo burial pit, and the only proof that I even existed will be a souvenir bucket with “That’s an-OTTER story!” on the side with two Winger cassettes inside, so relax.  I’ll get mine.