Waking Dreams

Last Tuesday The Bean came home late, like he does every Tuesday night. I used to try and stay awake and say hi to him, but lately I’ve been too exhausted. I crawled into bed around nine and was asleep moments later.

Exhaustion or not, I’m a light sleeper. The Bean’s night class lasts until ten. Although he tried to be quiet, when he dragged himself through the door at 10:30 and stumbled wearily into our bedroom, I woke up.

Sort of.

The problem is that I have been having some horrifically bad dreams lately.

And, unfortunately, this time when I “woke up”, those evil, bad dreams melded with real life.

This is how I remember the next few moments:

I woke up and the Bean was standing by the edge of our bed, staring down with vacant, soulless eyes.

I tugged the blankets a little higher, waiting for him to say something.

He continued to stare at me, silently menacing, silhouetted by the dim light of the hallway. The Bean’s not really one to just stand there and stare, so I began to get concerned. Who was this person? What if it was some creepy psycho-rapist who just happened to look like The Bean?

I decided to be brave, so I sat up in bed, squared my shoulders, and in what I hoped was a strong, courageous voice I demanded to know, “WHO ARE YOU?”

The Bean continued staring eerily for a moment longer, then replied in normal, soothing tones. “It’s me.”

I felt my tension ease as I recognized his voice.

The Bean continued to stare at me, unblinking.

Sloooowly he raised his “arms”, reaching out to me with distorted, abnormally long appendages.

They looked kind of like this, but much, much worse:

They were misshapen and unnatural, the flesh peeled back in leathery, bark-like strips, the bones of the forearms brittle. Grey. Exposed.

My husband had evil branch hands, and he was trying to touch me with them.

So, naturally, I asked him, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!”

And he said, “Your cell phone. You forgot it in the kitchen.”

And then he leaned forward, slowly closing the gap between us, the barklike flesh flaking off onto the sheets as he continued to try to touch me with eerily long, skeletal, branch-like fingers.

So I scooted away and said, “QUIT IT. WHO ARE YOU? STOP THAT!”

After all, my mama didn’t raise no fool. Husband or not, “cell phone” (like I was going to fall for that old trick) or not, I was not going to touch those evil branch hands.

On the other hand, none of this made much sense. I was awake enough to realize that this was kind of stupid.

I mean, my husband doesn’t have evil, flaky, decaying, pointy, scary branch arms OR hands. I may not have the best memory, but this is one of those things that I was sure I remembered correctly. That’s something you might see in a stupid, B-rated horror flick. That kind of stuff didn’t really occur in real life.

On the other hand, I could see them.

But I knew he didn’t have them. It didn’t make any sense. People don’t have evil, scary branch arms, and if they did, they wouldn’t be standing there calmly at the end of my bed, talking about the cell phone I left on the kitchen counter.

It didn’t make sense at all.

But I could SEE them.

“Turn on the light,” I said.

The Bean paused, his six-foot long arms jutting jutting out motionless in front of him. He continued to stare, unblinking, eyelids peeled back from eyes that were no longer human. The warm brown of his normal gaze had darkened into something flat, black, and utterly alien, the vacant cesspools of color swallowing up the white of his eyes.

“Why?” He sounded sweet, reasonable, and calm.

But he had holes for eyeballs and branch hands.

This was so confusing.

“Look, Bean, just turn on the light, okay? I need to see something.”

“Sure, no problem,” he said amiably. He angled one of the arms awkwardly to the side, and I watched as the branch/bones of his forearm extended itself until he could reach the light from where he was standing.

CLICK.

The bedroom light filled the room, and there he was, looking down at me quizzically with his normal, blinking eyes and his nice, pink little arms and hands.

He handed me my cell phone.

“Here you go, Becky. I thought you might need this. Do you need me to set the alarm?”

“Uh, no. Thanks.” I took it from his wonderfully normal-looking hands and lay back down to sleep.

The Next Morning:


Me
: “Ummm, Bean? Do you remember coming in last night? Did you hand me my cell phone?”

(Did you suddenly grow creepy, evil long arms and holes for eyeballs that morphed away into normalcy when touched by the light?)


The Bean: “Yeah. When I came in the bedroom you sat upright, mumbled something incomprehensible, reached out and took your cell phone that I brought in for you, and then flopped back down and went back to sleep.”

All I can say is that it’s a good thing I don’t do drugs.

Laughter and Tears

Funerals are stupidly expensive.

Even knowing all the tricks of the trade, they’re still stupidly expensive.

In fact, I beginning to think they’re just stupid.

I know it’s a bit irreverent, but seriously— do we really need all this overblown pomp and ceremony?

The Saturday before my grandma passed my sister and I accompanied various other members of the family over to the funeral home to begin planning my grandmother’s funeral. It seemed a bit morbid, seeing as how she was sitting on the sofa in her living room, watching tv, but it was a necessary evil.

We showed up at the front door of what appeared to be an immaculate mansion, and nervously pushed open the nearly silent door.

There’s a stillness to the air of a funeral home that seems to suck the words right out of your mouth.

We huddled together in the chilly, overly-perfumed air, silently looking around the bland, non-offensive hallway before we made way into an equally bland, non-offensive meeting room.

A somber man with a serious goatee welcomed us with a small, serious smile. “Take a seat,” he murmured in comforting tones.

My sister and I perched on the edge of our chairs, backs stiff and uncomfortable.

What followed was a dizzying amount of options. Package A or Package A-C? Package C-A? Package B-C?

Kinkaid memorial books with the Lord’s Prayer or somber watercolor books with the 23rd Psalm?

Organ music?

Viewing room?

Embalming or refrigeration fee?

Pre-written obituary or something more personal?

The family and I looked at each other in brief, furtive glances, all of us studiously avoiding each other’s eyes lest we burst into tears. We murmured “I guess”es and “I suppose”es like they were going out of style. Our voices seemed muted and subdued, overwhelmed by the crappy, somber, tear-laden songs that played throughout the home.

I glanced at the memorial book in my hands, and at The Lord’s Prayer which was inscribed on the inside cover in flowery script. I didn’t really care all that much, but suddenly I heard myself asking, “Does it have to be the Lord’s Prayer? Can it be something else?”

I didn’t really have anything in mind, but I just couldn’t stomach the thought of commemorating my Grandma’s rich, full life with a series of impersonal choices we chose from the list. Package A… Memorial book C… Viewing option B… She deserved better than a Scantron-answer version of a funeral.

“Of course,” murmured the man in charge. “We have several options you can choose from, or we can incorporate some of your own words,” he said, handing me a large book full of quotations.

My sister leaned over my shoulder, and together the two of us flipped through plastic pages of funeral-appropriate sayings.

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want…”

“As we walk through this garden of sorrow, He is with us…”

“To everything there is a season…”

“Take me out to the ballgame, take me out to the crowd, buy me some peanuts and crackerjacks…”

Say what?

Suddenly, the funeral home’s somber atmosphere was shattered by the distinct sound of me snorting loudly through my nose.

My sister glanced up at me quickly, eyebrows lifted in question.

I pointed a finger at the bottom of page 15, and even hummed a few bars for her.

The peace of the funeral home was interrupted once again, this time by my sister’s horrified laughter.

At this point, our entire family was staring at us.

I turned the book to the funeral director, trying to hold back my laughter, and pointed at the song. “Is this for real? Do people actually choose this?”

He nodded. Somberly. Seriously. “Yes. Yes, it’s a popular choice for loved ones that have passed.”

My sister and I met each other’s eyes …and dissolved into helpless laughter.

The meeting went downhill from there.

Maybe it was nerves, maybe it was our way of coping, but suddenly, everything seemed just so incredibly funny. We couldn’t stop cracking jokes.

Within minutes, we had completely derailed the efficient planning of our Grandmothers’ funeral and were listening in horrified fascination as the funeral director gossiped eagerly about the latest fad— talking headstones that were activated by motion sensors.

It was too much.

Talking headstones.

Suddenly, I found myself almost disappointed that for my own death I am planning on a simple cremation with no ceremony. I mean… a talking headstone? Think of the possibilities!

People could walk by, and you could program it to scream out, “BOOO!” followed by creepy, ghoulish laughter.

You could have a recording of your voice annoying passerbys with lame knock-knock jokes followed by bad puns, “What, you guys don’t think that’s funny? Man, this place is dead.”

The rest of my family tried to soldier bravely on, discussing the finer details of the service.

Meanwhile, my sister and I were red-faced and breathless in the corner, giggling over stupid possibilities.

By the time we started discussing appropriate burial outfits for Grandma, even the funeral director had loosened up some.

“Just… make sure it’s appropriate for the occasion,” he said, shaking his head. “You wouldn’t believe the amount of little old ladies that are sent in with filmy nightgowns. You know they haven’t worn anything like that in decades, and yet it’s what their family chooses for them.”

“You’re KIDDING, right?” I asked in horrified fascination. “People actually do that?”

The funeral director leaned forward conspiratorially. “Actually, we did have one lady who actually wrote it out that she wanted to be buried in a lavender teddy, with lace and ribbons.” He shook his head, disgusted. “We had to put something underneath it since it was an open casket. It wasn’t… appropriate.”

The sound of jazz-infected Elton John was drowned out by the sound of our laughter.

Hey, it may not be the most appropriate way of releasing sadness, but it sure beats crying.

By the time we finished concluding on all the details, I felt like we might actually make it through the whole screwed-up mess.

With only the casket left to choose, the rest of my family went back to be with Grandma. My sister and I followed the funeral director into a large, well-lit room, with various caskets lining the walls..

“Take your time,” he said in a sorrowful tone, slipping back into the role of somber comforter. “I’ll be down the hall if you need me.”

My sister and I walked slowly from casket to casket, staring at astronomically high prices.

I stared at disturbingly fluffy, satin-lined interiors, and I couldn’t help but wonder— why? When you’re dead, you don’t exactly have to worry about getting a backache anymore, so why all the pillows?

It all seemed over-the-top. Garish. Almost overwhelming.

So, of course, my sister and I coped.

And by cope, I mean we laughed.

I’m hoping that the funeral director that the muffled gasps and shouts were cries of sorrow.

Somehow, I doubt we fooled him.

The longer we walked around the casket-lined room, the funnier everything became.

For instance— Casket Cap Panels. On the inside of a casket, there are cut-away sections in some of the cloth liners that are designed to fit personalized color inserts.

Most of the inserts they had on display were what you’d expect— a smiling, beatific Jesus, chubby little angels, rainbows, birds in flight, and the like.

What interested my sister and I was the fact that you could request this insert be any photo of your choice.

So, if you were burying someone you didn’t like, you could theoretically have this:

Smiling down at them for all eternity.

The idea has some merit.

Some of the caskets were so over-the-top that you couldn’t help but laugh at the price tag. They were rich-colored wood with gold-lined filigree edging the corners, their interiors lined with mounds of cush satin.

You could almost forget their purpose…. Except for this hideous little sign we saw leaned neatly up against one of the pricier caskets:

Yes, that’s a photo we took with our own camera. I swear, I’m surprised they didn’t kick us out. We were like obnoxiously loud, giggly tourists. I hope nobody heard us.

The longer we stared at that sign, the funnier it became. I think it loses something in the telling, and that it’s something you had to be there for. There’s something about the incongruity of massively expensive caskets, mellow, heart-wrenching music, the drifting scent of flowers… and then a sign that says, “Yeah, dude… you do realize that this coffin isn’t really going to work, right? I mean, you do realize that the worms are still gonna get ‘em?”

Anyways, I think you had to be there.

One of the strangest casket options were tiny little figurines you could post as sentry-like pillars around the four corners of the casket.

It may sound like a neat idea on paper, until you realize what it actually looks like in real life.

Fish.

Four giant, angry bass flopping around on the sides of your loved one’s casket for all eternity.

If you don’t feel like fish are the appropriate way to commemorate your loved one’s death, you could also choose from some of the other options:

A mallard bursting into flight.

A baseball glove.

A strangely stupid looking deer bearing the title “Majestic”.

I apologize about the quality of the photo, but by this point my sister and I were laughing so hard we couldn’t even stand up straight. We were terrified someone was going to come in and ask us to leave, so we snapped a quick photo before stuffing the camera back in our purse.

I’d also like to apologize that we didn’t manage to take a picture of a strangely expensive flimsy-looking blue coffin that we both SWORE was made out of paper mache.

It looked for all the world like a creepy, giant piñata.

I’ll leave it to your imaginations to figure out the line of jokes that resulted from that one.

Before we dashed out the door and lost it completely, my sister and I managed to let the funeral director know our choice of casket.

The bone-sapping Bakersfield heat felt like a warm hug as my sister and I tripped giggling down the stairs to the car.

************

That trip to the funeral home made me laugh harder than I have in months. Like I said before, I’m not sure if that’s an appropriate way to cope, but I know that my grandma would definitely have approved. I may have cried at her funeral and at her viewing this past weekend, but when I think of her I’ll always remember laughing with her.


I mean, this was the woman who once accidentally grabbed Ben Gay from the “Married” side drawer instead of the spermicide. She definitely knew how to laugh at life.


When I remember her, I remember the two of us sitting at the round, wooden table in the dining room, laughing so hard at a joke that we actually started to pee our pants. At 20 years old, I barely made it to the bathroom in time.


At 79 years old, she didn’t.


Somehow, that made it even funnier, and the two of us ended up collapsing in the hallway against each other, struggling to breathe through cramping sides and choked laughter. I can’t even remember what we were laughing about— it probably wasn’t even all that funny.

So, here’s to you, Grandma. Here’s to your marvelous paintings and your sensible nature. I already miss you and your sense of humor. And I definitely miss your “yella jelly”, your steak fingers and fried okra, your sweet tea and laughter.


I can’t wait to see you again one day.



Reasons Why I Hate Living In Orange County

For the record, I fully expect this list/series to have many, many entries:

The Spoiled Kids

aka: The Prostitots

The Bean and I celebrated our 2 year anniversary recently. Part of his gift to me was watching an angry, teething DragonMonkey while I went out to have a pedicure. It’s been almost a year since I had a pedicure. While I still enjoyed the pampering and the end result of my silky smooth feeties and my sexy, red, flower-painted toes, the experience was ruined slightly by the kindergartener wriggling in the giant spa-chair beside me.

“Mommy, I want Blue, not Pink.” She squirmed at the edge of the ridiculously oversized chair, feet dangling in the water, hands picking at the buttons on the remote. The back of the spa chair buckled, groaned, and writhed impotently, all of the massage functions set to the highest settings.

“But Sapphire, blue won’t look good with your dress, sweetie. You need pink.” Mommy-Dearest dropped the trashy magazine slightly, peering at her daughter over the top. “You need your nails and toes to match your dress. That’s why we’re here.”

I buried my face deeper in a trashy magazine of my own, trying not to gape. REALLY?

Sapphire stuck out her lip in a spoiled pout, but subsided into an uneasy agreement. She kicked at the water slightly, accidentally splashing the manicurist who squatted beside her. Mommy Dearest said nothing, probably because she saw nothing. She flipped the pages in the magazine slowly, engrossed.

Ignoring the splashing water to the best of her abilities, the nail lady did her best to distract the petulant child. “The pink will look very pretty!”

Sapphire pursed her lip, and heaved a long-suffering sigh. She wanted blue, and now she was being forced to wear pink. Life was SO unfair.

“It will look so pretty on your hands and toes! Do you want me to draw a flower for you?”

Sapphire sniffed, nodded slightly, but still refused to answer. I peered in horror from around my magazine at the sight of a fifty year old woman crouching subserviently at the feet of the demanding five-year old child, rubbing scented lotion on stick-thin legs. “Your hair looks so pretty! It’s so sparkly!” Sapphire’s fingers reached up to touch her intricately braided hairdo, each individual braid covered in a glittery sparkle that looked like it was desperately trying to rub itself off any every nearby object. “It’s your birthday, right? Are we painting your nails to match your birthday dress?”

“No,” sneered Sapphire in a remarkable impersonation of a seventeen year old, completely at odds with her dimpled child’s hands and baby soft face. “I’m going to a concert tonight, and my nails need to be pretty too.”

Book Fail

So, I have a little confession.

I used to like the Anita Blake vampire series (by Laurell K. Hamilton).

I blame my friend for getting me hooked on the series. She gave me the first two books in the series for Christmas one year. Now, for those of you that know me, I’m a book fanatic. Seriously. When people ask me what my drug of choice is, I usually tell them “book.”

Okay, I’m lying. Nobody really ever asks me what my drug of choice is. Wouldn’t that be kind of creepy? But if someone ever DOES ask me what my drug of choice is, I’m ready with my witty answer! Yeah. I’m cool like that.

Witty or not, reading has occasionally been a big enough problem in my life that I’ve had to take short breaks from it, just to prove that I can. Non-readers don’t seem to understand that reading can actually be just as destructive as any other bad habit. If I played video games 7 or 8 hours a day, people would stage an intervention. However, if I spend 7 or 8 hours a day absorbed in a book, people smile and encourage it. A lot of people don’t understand the narcotic effect of a good book. It can suck you in and leave you helplessly enthralled until you finish it. With a really good book, things like eating, or sleep, or even going pee stop being necessary bodily functions. They exist only as annoying interruptions that come between you and the next page.

Readers, you know what I’m talking about. It’s 4 in the morning, your alarm is set to go off in two hours, your eyes are hot, gritty, and feel like they’ve been sand blasted… But you just want to get to the next chapter! Surely the next chapter will have a stopping point! You slip out of bed, book three inches from your nose, hand trailing along the wall as you feel your way to the bathroom. You may have to pee, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop reading! The trip takes 5 times longer than it needs to, because you’re trying to figure out ways to rip the toilet paper with only one hand. (Voice of Experience: Pull out more than you need and use your elbow to hold down the toilet paper roll to rip.)

Yeah. I like books. I like books the way heroin addicts like their heroin.

So when my best friend handed me two brand new books, I felt like I’d died and gone to heaven. When she told me she’d bought me the books because the main character reminded her of me… Well, it was like throwing gasoline on an already raging inferno.

For those of you who haven’t read the Anita Blake series, I am here to tell you that you’re probably better off. Don’t get me wrong— if you look past the unnecessary sex, the series is fun, in that turn-your brain off, fun-fiction kind of a way. I mean, any book that is filed under the “Paranormal Romance” section of a bookstore isn’t going to be good for the brain. Still, I found the first few books fun to read, and doubly so because my friend said the main character reminded her of me.

I mean… COOL.


Anita Blake is a vampire executioner, necromancer, who is tough as nails, witty, doesn’t take crap from anyone, beats up the bad guys she doesn’t just shoot, and still has every guy panting after her for her hot little body!

Just like me!

(SNORT.)

The problem with the Anita Blake series is that somewhere around book three or four, the focus shifts. They go from centering on Anita Blake, vampire hunter to Anita Blake, BDSM porn star. It’s a gradual, sneaky shift. One day you’re enjoying scenes of killer zombies and police shoot-outs with the occasional mention of a sexy Master vampire or alpha werewolf… and then the next day you have an ah-ha moment and realize…Huh. I’m pretty sure I’m reading porn. There’s no real plot here, and everyone is having unbelievably disgustingly graphic BDSM sex with every one else in the name of furthering the non-existent plot line… wait a second! Why am I reading this trash again?

Sigh. What a waste of a series. I really recommend NOT reading it.

So, now that I have warned you that I DON’T recommend it, and you AREN’T allowed to judge me for having once filled my head with this trash…

I have a funny little story about it.

I was about 30 pages from the end of one of the books, totally absorbed. It was one of those climactic endings— everyone is about to find out whodunit, and why…. The bad guys have kidnapped some of the good guys, and have sent their representative with a little box containing a chopped-off pinky finger. (Ewwwww…. Cooooool.)

Anita and her posse have decided to fight fire with fire, and are going to chop off the fingers of the representative, one at a time, until he gives up the information on where they are keeping the kidnapped victims. (Ewwwww! Double coooool!). Anita has just realized that she can’t ask anyone to do what she’s not willing to do herself. She steels herself for the task, asking one of her team to hold out the man’s hand. She grabs the knife, setting its edge against the man’s finger. She asks him for the information one last time, and when she refuses, she…

Pushes her son down the street on his bicycle, marveling at the colors of the sunset, laughing in joy at the peace of the moment as she realizes how beautiful life truly is!

WAIT. WHAT?!

Rudely jolted out of the ether spell the book had put me under, I looked at the page I had just finished reading. Had I skipped a page? A really, really crucial page?

No, no…. There was Anita. Yeah, I remember that. And there was the bloody finger… yeah, yeah… And there was the knife, about to saw down and spray blood everywhere in a graphic, gory, totally awesome act of retribution….

And then right there on the next page, there was some random woman, with some stupid little kid on a bike, riding down some stupid little sunset-filled lane. WTH? I didn’t want sunsets and happiness! I wanted my dismembered finger! Frantic, I flipped ahead the last few pages… and to my horror, realized that the rest of the book was about the stupid woman, her stupid kid, and her stupid happiness with stupid, placid little life. Glancing at the page again, I noticed that it was different typeset. A glance at the top confirmed my suspicions: Some publisher out there had printed 412 pages of Blue Moon, and then finished it off with 20 pages of Turtle Moon.

It was 1:30 in the morning. All the stores were closed, I was less than 20 pages away from the end of a 400 page book, and I couldn’t finish the darn thing.

I was livid, pacing the floor of my apartment in my desperate need to know the end of the book. I tried to find it online, to no avail. I finally gave up, and lay down in my bed, setting my alarm to make sure that I had enough time to swing by a bookstore on my way to school in the morning.

The only thing that helped salvage the situation was realizing that somewhere out there there was a woman just like me… A woman who was about 20 pages from the end of her happy little book, smiling and teary-eyed at the beauty of the world…. only to turn the page and find someone’s chopped off finger flying at her.

I guess if I had to choose I’d rather be in my shoes. That had to be one heck of a shock.

Noisy Cocker Spaniel for Sale

Would anyone like to buy my noisy, noisy, oh-so-noisy cocker spaniel?

He’s a very nice dog.

He only pees in the house when he feels neglected or left out.

He’s crate-trained, but unfortunately he’s not very stoic. He’ll wake you up, whining in the middle of the night.

You’ll stagger out of bed to let him out of the kennel, and he dart out, slamming against door frames and walls, claws skittering against the wood floors. He’ll scramble for the door like his tail stump is on fire, body tense and eager as he bolts straight outside—- to take a drink of water.

When you’re thirsty, you’re thirsty, I guess.

Oh, and if he drinks water, you’ll be woken up in about 2 hours for him to go pee.

When you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go. I guess.

(Note: Do not ignore his whining, or you will be doing laundry and washing a dog the next morning.)

He’s sweet, but not very bright. He’s great with cats, kids, and babies, but did I mention he’s not very bright at all?

He’s not very bright. AT ALL.

In fact, would anyone like to buy my sweet, but very stupid cocker spaniel? He’s for sale! The first person who can promise me a full nights sleep can have him for a nickel!

Last night the DragonMonkey slept through the night. This is a rare occurrence in this household, and is usually accompanied the following morning by much cheering and celebration.

This morning I did not feel rested.

This is due in no small part to Max, the world’s nosiest dog with the world’s tiniest bladder.

After my third time getting up out of bed to meet his drinking and peeing needs, I decided to just leave the back door open and let him roam around the living room. I knew I was taking a chance that he might get into the baby’s toy box (also known as THE BOX THAT HOLDS ALL OF THE TASTIEST DOG TOYS IN THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE), but after my third time up I really didn’t care.

He could have eaten the sofa and I wouldn’t have minded, so long as I could get some sleep.

Surprisingly, he was very good about not chewing on anything. In fact, he didn’t make any messes at all.

What he did was become extremely depressed that he was stuck out in the cold, desolate, people-abandoned land known formerly known as the living room.

Here is a photo of Max and the DragonMonkey in the living room during the day:

Here is the living room at night, as it appears to Max:

Apparently, without humans the living room is a barren wasteland.

Apparently, without humans the living room is a torturous, depressing place to be.

Apparently, without humans, the only way you can survive the desperate, frightening feeling of being abandoned in the living room is to SIGH.

A lot.

Big, deep, gusty, riddled-with-depression SIIIIIIIIIIIGHs.

Seriously, how do you yell at a dog for sighing? You can’t, really, especially when they’re as dumb as Max is. All you can do is hope for it go away.

So I did that. I lay in my bed, pressing my pillow over my head, and listened to the symphony of noises that Max made all night long.

Tick, tick, tick, tick! (<— the enthusiastic sound of his nails on the hardwood floors as he approached our bedroom door. I try to keep them trimmed, but they grow at an absurdly fast rate.) Pause. (<— I swear I could actively hear him STRAINING to hear the sound of us waking up.) SNIIIIIIFFFF SNUUUUUFLE SCHLUUUFFF SNIFFFF. (<— the sound of him sniffing beneath the crack of the door, making sure we were still in there.) SIIIIIIIIIIGH. (The sound of him sinking into a depression. Apparently Mistress Becky and that guy who follows her around were still in the bedroom. But the door was closed. That must mean that they don’t love him. At all. They must hate him. They’ve abandoned him. The whole woooorld has abandoned him. He’s all alone, now. Forever. He’ll probably get eaten by wolves, but it won’t really matter, because he has no reason to live anymore.)

Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. (<—the slow, melancholy sound of him returning to The Barren Wasteland Formerly Known As The Living Room.) Once there, he would completely ignore the $50 dog bed with its orthopedic mattress and fluffy cover. Who can sleep on a comfortable bed when there’s no point in even living anymore? SIIIIIGH.

Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick (<— the sound of him making about 37 circles as he tries to fluff up the hardwood floors into something comfortable.) THUMP! (Flopping down onto the floor.)

SIIIIIGH.

Pause.

Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh.

Pause.

Realize the floor is actually uncomfortable. Perhaps he didn’t circle enough.

Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, FLOP! SIIIIIIIIGH!

I raise my head off the pillow, hopeful at the 30 seconds of silence from the living room. Sleep! At last! I turn over to my side, and steal back some of the covers from The Bean.

The sound of me rolling over echoes into the living room like a gunshot.

Tick, tick, tick, tick! Max trots down the hallway, enthusiastic. He heard something! He heard something in the cave that Mistress Becky has hidden herself in! He will be there to greet her as she comes out! She is testing his loyalty, and he will not be found wanting!

Pause. (The sound of his ear-muscles cracking and popping as he strains them.)

SIIIIIIIIIIIIIGH.

Repeat previous actions. ALL NIGHT LONG.

Does anyone want a noisy, tick-ticking, sighing cocker spaniel? Please?

Yoga Girl the Vomit Master

Scriiitch

“Ow.”

Scriiiiiiiitch….

“Ow.”

Scriiiiiiiiiitch.

OWWW.”

In retrospect, maybe it wasn’t as funny as it seemed at the time. Still, at the time, I thought it was fantastic. Four a.m. that morning found the peace of our bedroom disrupted by the quiet yelps of my husband as he attempted to shave— without soap.

Or water.

In the closet.

With only an old, dark mirror to guide him.

From the bathroom, where he had been peacefully shaving just a few moments before, came the sounds of retching as one of my coworkers deposited VAST quantities of semi-digested alcohol into our toilet.

And from the bed came the quiet sound of my snickering. I couldn’t have been happier.

I know that sounds evil, but in order to really understand my predicament, let me bring you back to the night before.

At my work, one of the bartenders is a gorgeous young redhead. I mean GORGEOUS. She’s got the long, wavy red hair (the exact color of hair I’ve always daydreamed of having), and a figure to die for. I mean, really… the girl’s a figureskater. And heavily into yoga. She’s a yoga figureskater with red hair.

I can compete with many things, but a yoga figureskater with long, indecently beautiful red hair is not one of them.

At any rate, due to a story that’s not mine to tell, Yoga-Girl from work needed a place to crash for the night. So I offered her a spot on my luxurious Ikea couch, and hurried to do my sidework and get off work. Some of the other bartenders/waitresses at the bar were feeling sorry for her, so they did what many people in the bar industry do to cheer other people up: They bought her free drinks.

Lots of free drinks. Many, many, hard-liquored shots.

When you take into account that Yoga-Girl weighs all of 115 pounds soaking wet, well… needless to say, by the time I got off of work she ended up being poured into the passenger seat of the car, more than anything else.

I raced for home as smoothly as I could (to avoid giving her whiplash), calling The Bean on the way to ask him to straighten up. By the time we arrived, she was more than ready for sleep, and collapsed on my sofa gratefully.

I finished up a few chores, and was just getting ready for bed, when I realized my mistake.

There, draped like the centerfold from a dirty magazine, on MY couch, was a gorgeous, yoga-master-figure-skating young redhead.

And there I was, fat and jolly on the other couch (the maternal version of St. Nicholas), muffin-top (muffin atomic bomb?) spilling over my extremely tight size 14 jeans as I used my oh-so-sexy breast pump.

What was I thinking, bringing home this gorgeous young treat for my husband to compare me with?

Yoga-Girl was dressed in a halter top and a long, tight, sexy skirt.

I was about to change into my mom’s old pajama bottoms she had loaned me until I could lose some of the baby weight and fit back into my own cotton, plaid pj pants.

Yoga-Girl’s tousled red hair lay about her in cascading waves, emphasizing the youthful glow of her taut skin.

The baby had spit up on my hair before I put him down for the evening, and I had just rinsed the ends off in the sink before throwing it back in a scrunchy. So I had damp, slightly crunchy spit-up hair.

Yoga-Girl’s sexy skirt kept magically traveling up her smooth, toned thighs, despite my embarrassed efforts to pull it down for her. And when I say that it was traveling up, let me assure you: Yoga-Girl’s sexy little lacy underwear matched her bra.

SIGH.

The night was unfortunately hot, so no matter how many times I tried to cover up Yoga-Girl, she continually threw off the covers. And again, unfortunately for me, the next morning was the morning that The Bean has his absurdly early math class, which meant he would be traipsing right past Yoga-Girl in her sexy, drunken pose on the couch on his way out the door at 4 am. With my luck, she’d probably have her sexy little skirt up around her ears by the time he left for work.

Disgruntled and drowning in jealousy, I realized that there was nothing I could do, so I went to bed.

At 3:30 am, like usual, The Bean’s alarm went off. He took his shower, dressed in his work clothes, and was just about to start shaving when…

In through our bedroom flew Yoga-girl, diving headfirst at our only toilet. The Bean had just enough time to gather his shaving supplies before last-night’s alcohol binge began its noisy journey into the toilet.

With a sigh, The Bean went to our only other available mirror to finish his shaving.

Scriiiiiiiitch. “Ow.”

HRAAAAAAAUUUUUGH!!!!!” (vomit sound)

Scriiiiiitch. “Ow.”

HRAAAAAAUUGGGGGH!!!!” (splatter)

Thank you, Lord.

I See Dumb People

For those of you that don’t know, my wonderful hubby (The Bean) is a finance manager at a car dealership. The car industry being what it is in today’s recession, he still sells a few cars on the side, mostly from repeat business. People like to buy their cars through him because he’s straightforward, no-nonsense, and because he has biiiig soft brown eyes that inspire a lot of trust. In fact, this is pretty much what he looks like:

In addition to his deceptively-innocent eyes (love you, babe!), he’s also a popular choice because he goes the extra mile for his customers.

Anyhow, onto the story: The other day, early in the morning, The Bean received a phone call from a very angry, very irate woman he had sold a car to the previous week. Apparently, she was stuck on the side of the freeway because the new (used) car she had just purchased from him was a LEMON.

Angry, irate woman: (rant,rant,rant,rant) and the car is now STUCK on the side of the road, because it has run out of COOLANT.

The Bean: What do you mean it has run out of coolant?

Irate Woman: There’s no coolant, and I’m stuck on the side of the road in rush-hour traffic! This is ridiculous! You sold me a car with some sort of a leak!

The Bean: How do you know it has run out of coolant? Are you sure that’s the problem?

Irate Woman: Because it says it right there on the gage! The coolant gage is on empty, THAT’S HOW!!!

The Bean (knowing full well there’s no such thing as a coolant gage): Coolant gage? Are you sure it couldn’t be the gas gage?

SILENCE

Irate Woman: I have to go. (CLICK)

Murdering Dogs

I think it should be legal to hire a hitman to “off” your dogs. You know, that way you could dispose of them and not actually worry about feeling guilty.

For all you crazy animal fanatics out there, I’m kidding.

Sort of.

I am currently the proud owner of a wonderful cocker spaniel named Max. Max is the perfect dog. He’s absolutely adorable, incredibly obedient, utterly fantastic with children, and quiet.

But he’s only quiet when he’s with humans, or when he’s alone.

When he’s with other dogs, that’s a whooooole different story.

Don’t get me wrong, Max is great with other dogs. He’s that happy-go-lucky dog you see that all the other dogs just love to be around. There isn’t a mean bone in his body. I’ve never met a dog that didn’t like him. The problem is that Max likes to talk to other dogs when he’s playing with them. Since he lacks the proper vocal cords to do this quietly, this translates into Max barking at other dogs whenever he plays with them.

It goes something like this:

“Bark.”

BarkBark.”

“Bark.”

BarkBarkBark.”

“Bark.”

In fact, it doesn’t go something like that, it goes exactly like that.

“Bark.”

BarkBark.”

“Bark.”

BarkBarkBark.”

“Bark.”

It’s those four same doggy phrases, repeated over and over again. In fact, as I’m typing this, I can hear him starting it up again. It’s not a particularly loud bark. It’s just a lazy, quiet kind of a bark that only gets annoying because it’s so pointless. It’s not even that energetic. It’s like even Max can’t get that excited about what he has to say. Remember that scene from 101 Dalmatians when the dogs are trying to decode that important message? “Fifteen…. spotted… puppies….” Well, Max keeps repeating the same message over and over, as if it has some importance, but I don’t think it really does. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve decoded exactly what he’s trying to say. When translated from bark-ese into English, this is how it goes:

“Hey.”

“Hey. Hey.”

“Hey.”

“Over here. Pay attention.”

“Hey.”

Annoying, isn’t it? The worst part is that he only does it when I am inside the house. That may not sound like an important part of this horrible, irritating scenario, but it is. Why is that so important? It’s because every time I go outside to scold him…. he shuts up.

Not only is he silent, but he is UTTERLY THRILLED that I have come outside to say hello. He wriggles. He spins. He wags his little stump of a tail so hard it looks like his back end is going to dislocate from his body and take flight. He is just so completely and utterly and SILENTLY happy that there’s no way I can scold him for his barking. You can totally see that there’s no way he’s going to make the connection. Barking? What do you mean “no barking”? Who’s barking? He’s not barking. He’s just SO THRILLED TO SEE YOU! You can practically taste the the joy emanating off him in palpable waves.

OMG. OMG! OMG.OMG.OMG. OMG! It’s her! It’s her! It’s her! She’s back! OMG! She’s here! Yaay! Yaaaaay! YAAAAAY! OMG! IT’S HER! IT’S HERHERHERHERHER! Oh, no! She’s leaving! Why is she leaving? She just came out here, stared at me, and then turned around and left! She’s gone! Oh, NO! I’m all alone! She’s never coming back! She’s been gone forever! I’m abandoned! I’ll never see her again! I’m all alone…. Oooh. Another dog! Wait a second… that other dog’s not paying attention to me!”

(pause)

“Hey.”

“Hey. Hey.”

“Hey.”

“Over here. Pay attention.”

“Hey.”

In order to truly understand how annoying this habit of his is, you need to understand that the dog he’s barking at is NOT in the neighbor’s yard. It’s not on the other side of the fence. It’s not tied up to a tree in our front yard, it’s not looking at him from inside another house’s window, or anything like that. The dog he is barking is it about six inches from the end of his nose, and the reason she is ignoring him is because she’s probably just as sick as I am of his useless, apathetic noise.

Now, normally I just keep him in the house with me (except for potty breaks) and never have to deal with this oh-so-lovely habit of his. The problem is that I am baby sitting my mom’s dog, who is only somewhat house-broken at best, and has a not-so-adorable habit of chewing on everything. I figure it’s not fair to keep her in the backyard by herself, so Max gets to stay with her and keep her company.

She gets to enjoy a big back yard, all the bones she can chew on, and endless places to piddle to her heart’s content.

Max gets to enjoy “Hey”ing to his little heart’s content.

As for me, I get to sit in my little apartment and envision hiring a hitman to make the insanity stop.

My Car Go Boom

I have decided to name this post “My Car Go Boom”, but in all honesty, that’s not entirely accurate. First of all, since my car went “boom”, I don’t really have a car anymore, and thus should speak of any vehicle-o’-mine in the past tense. Of course, if I did that, then the Title would be “My Car Went Boom”, and not only do I lose that neat-sounding pidgin English title, but it also makes it sound like my car suffers from flatulence.

(On a side note, since I’m so good at that… is using the word pidgin racist? I don’t know. If it is, please accept my apologies as well as my claim to ignorance, and realize that no harm was intended in the usage of pidgin. And now back to my not-so-regularly scheduled blog.)

Annnnyways, where was I? Oh, yes. Now I remember; I’m explaining my choice of titles. The other problem with saying that my car Go Boom is that it really didn’t Go Boom. It kind of just fizzled out, and then gently caught on fire.

Yes. Caught on fire. As in, the fire department came out and everything. Yes, that previous sentence was a fragment. I don’t care. Burning cars deserve a fragment or two, wouldn’t you say? I think they do. The car in question was a 1990 Volvo with 250,000 miles on it. Yes, that’s a lot of miles. From the looks of the car, they weren’t easy miles either. There were holes on the inside of the vehicle, and missing headrests, and a cracked windshield. I promptly dubbed her Little Miss Redneck and took great joy in driving her around my overly-snobby, affluent neighborhood. Much to my delight I actually had to hot wire her in order to get her running. She was fantastic.

Anyways, to shorten a really long, complicated, and vaguely uninteresting story, I was designated driver for bunch of 21 year old guys that I didn’t really know. I didn’t feel comfortable with them driving themselves home, as I’m sure they were all about twice the legal limit as far as drinking went. So, I decided to be a good Samaritan and drive them to their respective houses. This is more complicated than it sounds, as I can tell you that alcohol does not serve as a memory enhancer. I can also tell you that it really doesn’t serve that well as a communications enhancer either, and that getting the addresses out of my fine, drunken “friends” was extremely frustrating. Basically, the situation was kind of like this:

Me: “Okay, my car is leaving RIGHT NOW. If you guys want to walk home, that’s fine, but if you want that ride, GET IN.”

ten minutes later…

Me: “Okay, now that I’ve finally gotten you in my car, where do you guys live?”

five minutes later….

Me: “Yes, I’m sure that that episode of SpongeBob was great… but where do you guys live? This is getting ridiculous. I need an end location, not just “drive forward”.

ten miles later

Me: “WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU LIVE IN THE OTHER DIRECTION?”

So, there you go. The whole process took almost an hour, when I could have been done in twenty minutes. I was just in the process of pulling up to the last guy’s house when…

Me: “Do you smell that?”

Him: “Huh?” *burp*

Me: “No, really. Do you smell that? It smells like… burning rubber? Brakes? Cars aren’t supposed to smell like that, not even on a hot day. It’s the middle of the night. WHAT is that smell? Can’t you smell it?

Him: (sniffing) “Actually, yeah. I can. Whassit?”

Me: (increasingly worried)I don’t KNOW what it is. The car’s not hot…. it just smells… HOLY CRUMB, IS THAT SMOKE COMING OUT FROM BEHIND THE DASHBOARD?”

Yes folks, I’m here to tell you that it was smoke coming out from behind the dashboard. Actually, if you want the truth, it was actually smoke POURING out from behind the dashboard. This was actually very alarming to me, as can be expected…. but not nearly as alarming as the bright, cheery glow that began flickering behind my odometer a few moments later. It took a moment to register that smell + smoke + bright, cheery, flickery glow probably equaled fire. I mean, that kind of stuff just isn’t supposed to happen, so the information took a little longer than usual to register. I figured out pretty quickly that the source of the trouble was a happy, rather adorable little dancing flame situated juuuust behind the odometer. I could see it peeking out at me between a little crack in the dashboard area. It was a really tiny flame, and it was really frustrating when I realized I had no way of actually getting to it to put it out.

In an attempt to nominate myself for some sort of an honorary Darwin Award, I will admit that I did press my lips against the tiny crack in my dashboard and attempt to blow it out. Not only did I succeed in simultaneously giving myself a headache and looking like an idiot, but I also just succeeded in making the flame bigger. I swear I heard the evil little thing cackle at me as it wiggled around, avoiding my attempts at eradication. Heehee! You thought you could destroy me? Your weapons are useless! I thrive on oxygen! Ha-ha!”

Giving up, I ordered my drunken friend to exit the car. He stood on the sidewalk, weaving slightly, occasionally muttering “Whoa. Weird.” as I attempted to simultaneously dial 911 while salvaging things from my vehicle. I asked him to go get some trash bags from his house, because as luck would have it, I had about three thousand cubic meters of laundry in the trunk of my car. When I finally got through to the 911 operator, I tried to sound a lot more reasonable than I felt. It didn’t help that the operator who directed my call to the fire department sounded more shook up than I did. The call went somewhat along these lines:

“911, What is your emergency?”

“Um, I’m over here at ***** Cherry Ave in Long Beach, on the north side of the street. Uh, I think I need the fire department. My car is kind of on fire.”

Ohmigosh. Wow. Wow. That’s not good. Uh….. Hold on. Wow. I’ll connect you.”

See what I mean? I was nervous beforehand, but once I finished listening to her freak out on my behalf, I kind of got even more nervous.

By the time the fire department rolled up I had finished grabbing all of the necessary items from inside the car, and had moved onto emptying out the trunk of my car onto an unknown neighbor’s lawn. I’m sure it looked absolutely terrible. The Volvo could actually fit an astonishing amount of items in its trunk, and I had that trunk PACKED. I had almost all of my clothing in smashed back there in the form of clean laundry, several pairs of shoes, several boxes of books and various items that had been meaning to find their way down to goodwill (but, in reality, had been simply living in my trunk for almost a month), a backpack, a blanket, a laptop, a bridle, and, of course, a box of tampons that proceeded to jump out and announce their presence to every one who walked by. I mean, I kept trying to put those things deep inside a bag, but every time I turned around it would jump out on the sidewalk, wave it’s little pastel-blue arms, and holler, “Lookatme! Lookatme! Hey, you! Cute fireman dude! Trip over me and look down! YEAH! YEAH! That’s right. See that girl over there? She’s one of those. Yeah. She’s one of those menstruating-type girls. Isn’t that gross?”

I hate that box of tampons. I’ll never forgive it.

Anyways, by the time the fire department arrived, I had a mound of items sitting on the lawn beside my dilapidated, burning vehicle. I, of course, was not looking my best, having just gotten off of a nine hour shift at work. Between the state of the vehicle and the amount of stuff I had sitting beside it, I probably looked like I lived out of my vehicle. Oh, well. The firemen marched up to the car (which by this point had flames licking up the sides of the windows) and immediately started coating it in mounds of white foam. My drunken friend returned with trash bags, took one look at the flames, fireman, and foam, and shook his head. “Whoa. I, like, went in to get trash bags, and came back and the car is totally on fire. Weird.”

If I had been a little less frantic, I would have completely agreed with him. The whole experience was very surreal.

It didn’t take very long to put out the fire. They pried the dashboard off the vehicle, coated the inside of the engine with the foam, and then proceeded use the blunt ends of their axes to bash around inside the engine block to knock loose any embers. There was something rather practiced in the way they all went about it, as if they’d done it thousands of times before. Their nonchalance helped me retain my sanity (if not my dignity).

Anyhow, that’s my story. I thanked the fire department for demolishing my vehicle, lugged my bags ‘n bags of stuff into my drunken friend’s house, and spent the night on his sofa. Thankfully he didn’t turn out to be a murderer or a rapist, and was really quite chivalrous about the whole thing. I got up in the morning, took a bus back to my house, borrowed a car to return to the scene of the crime, and snapped a few photos of the dashboard before arranging to have Little Miss Redneck towed. Here are photos from the morning after:




Oh, and one last thing… did I mention that the police department ticketed me for having my rear bumper extending into an alley? Yeah. How nice was that? How could they not notice the blackened/charred interior of my car? Sheesh.

Anyways, that’s my story. I miss my car, but I guess it’s a fairly romantic way for a car to end it all. Here’s a photo of Little Miss Redneck I took on the day I bought her.


Goodbye, faithless little car. I’d wish you well, but you burst into flame on me.

Huh?

After enough years of serving food/libations, you kind of get a feel for what a person is going to order. Skinny little blondes tend to eat salads, chubby people order fish ‘n chips (and three thousand refills on their sodas), and so on, and so forth. (For the record, I have nothing against fish ‘n chips.)

That said, I had one of those rare customers the other day at work that completely threw me for a loop. It was a fairly slow day-shift at the bar/restaurant I work at, so I was actually a little excited to see a customer walk through the door to sit in my section. Now, I realize that it’s not very politically correct to refer to him as a “big ol’ black guy”, but I’m sorry. That’s exactly what he was. He was very big, and very black, and very tattooed. I’d say he was somewhere in the vicinity of 6’6″, and maybe weighed around 350 lbs. Of course, that 350 lbs wasn’t necessarily fatness. He was big in a linebacker kind of a way, with a powerfully imposing thickness that only Samoans and black people tend to manage. (Really big white people just look kind of squishy and jiggly to me.) Anyhow, much to my delight, his voice actually matched his appearance. Deep, gravelly, and with the faintest hint of a deep-south drawl and dialect, he immediately ordered a double order of hot wings and chili cheese fries. I kind of figured that was about what he would order, and was busily jotting it down…. when he completely and totally surprised me.

“I wanna order me something fruity.”

Confused, I looked up from my waitress pad. “I’m sorry… What?”

“I said I wanna order me some kind of fruity drink. What you got?” He looked at me expectantly. For a moment, I was so confused that I couldn’t manage an answer. I mean, the man had just ordered grease upon grease upon grease, with a side of ranch dressing to wash it down. Wasn’t this the point where he was supposed to ask me for some scary, manly drink that matched his tattooed, gigantic exterior? Something like a bottle of whisky, or maybe a beer with a couple of chest hairs thrown in to spice it up?

“Ummm…” It took a few moments before I could come up with anything. “Maybe a strawberry daquiri? Would you like one of those?”

He looked thoughtful for a moment before replying, “Is it slushy? I want me a fruity, slushy drink.”

“Oh, yeah. You can order it frozen. It’s basically a frozen, strawberry alcoholic drink.” In fact, before I discovered how tasty a margarita could be, strawberry daquiris where the only alcoholic drink I could stand the taste of. “It comes with whipped cream on top!” I added, brightly. Who could resist the lure of whipped cream? “Of course, you can always try a pina colada.”

He looked at me doubtfully. “What’s in that?”

I listed the ingredients both both drinks before adding, “You know, strawberry daquiris are my personal favorite.” I really wanted to add at that point that they were my favorite because I was a girl, and unlike him I could get away with liking foofy drinks like this without being ridiculed, and wouldn’t he like to try a manlier drink? I thought better of it, of course. I didn’t want to put him in a bad mood. Besides, even without his scary-looking tattoos he might not have to worry about people making fun of him for his drink choices. Once you’re 6’6 and 350 pounds, people kind of ridicule you at their own risk.

Well, since I’m sure you’re all dying to know, he went with the strawberry daquiri. The food order came up first, and when I was finally able to bring his foofy-girly drink to him, I made sure to nestle it in between the mountain of buffalo wings and grease-laden fries. It stood out quite conspicuously, looking absurdly pink amongst all that macho-ness at the table. I think I found that placement a great deal more amusing than it actually was, but what can I say? It was pretty slow that day at work, so I was getting my kicks where I could.