Tuesday, December 11, 2012

What does Christmas mean to me? Getting people the F'd up stuff they ask for...

When I was 9, I tested my parents love for me.

It was 1987, and the makers of the world-famous Teddy Ruxpin doll came up with a new creation: Julie. It was an interactive doll that would recognize your voice and respond to movement, light and temperature.

From the moment I saw the first commercial, I knew I wanted one...and I would stop at nothing to make sure that doll was mine.

Why I wanted a creepy interactive doll is unknown to me. It's not like I didn't have interactive friends. Maybe I wanted to practice my babysitting skills... or...maybe it was because I was the youngest and I wanted someone I could boss around for once....or maybe I secretly wanted to simultaneously annoy and scare the living daylights out of all the adults in my family...no one can say for sure.

I was a kid on a mission. I saw three extra department store Santas that year just to be sure I could tell him about my creepy doll request...and of course, I made sure to tell my parents every morning and every night.

Christmas finally rolled around, and my parents decided to have a little fun. They knew that I was no dummy. I cased the presents around the tree from the minute they arrived, handling each package clumsily, shaking it til the contents were broken, and even partially unwrapping boxes til I could see some sort of label. Knowing this, my parents addressed the box containing my doll to my grandpa. Then they watched me open every gift...none of which were the coveted Julie doll...and grinned like idiots as they asked me if I got everything I wanted. I lied and said yes.

They let me sweat it out for a few more minutes...probably hoping I'd at least burst into tears for their amusement. Then they brought it out. They said I had one more present...and I knew it what I'd been waiting for. JULIE!

I was so excited I almost peed my pants. I couldn't wait to have long conversations with my new interactive doll! The commercials promised that she would recognize my voice and sing songs to me and basically be the most amazing playmate I'd ever known.

The reality of Julie was something much different. My whole family was pretty much terrified of her from the minute we took her out of the box...with good reason.

This was a doll that talked without warning; a doll that sang eery children's music: a doll with moving eyes that looked right through you. If you covered those eyes, she would say, "It's getting dark in here!" and when you shook her, she giggled and told you to stop tickling her.

I played with her everyday... for at least a week....then I tossed her into a giant heap of beheaded barbies, sat down and started my list of demands for the next major gift-giving holiday.

I guess I owe my parents one.

Maybe there is a creepy interactive nurse for seniors that I can invest in this holiday season...

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Siblings...can't live with them, can't be a hobo (when you're a kid).

My siblings...they have enriched my life, they are my eternal mentors and friends, they grew up with me...aaaaaaand they also made my life a living hell.

There are too many stories to list and I don't have a lot of time...also, I'm seriously distracted by the middle aged black dude sitting next to me at the public library singing about "motherfuckas" in a falsetto...so I'll be brief.

The one story that does come to mind involves my dear old sister Kate...

It involves one of my first "boyfriends" (I use word "boyfriend" loosely...I was 13. Boyfriend basically meant we held hands occassionally, passed notes at school and talked on the phone excessively).

We had been going "out" (i.e. "dating" within a school environment) for about a month, and things were going great. He was totally romantic. He wrote me notes with lots of "xoxo's" on them; he won me a deformed teddy bear at the school carnival and he even made me an awesome mix tape with tons of emotional songs on it like "RunAway Train" by Soul Asylum and "Love Hurts" by Tesla. (I would listen to it every night...before my sister's hand-me-down boom box ate it.)

We talked on the phone for 2 hours every night...if I was able to get to the phone before my sister...and even then, she'd do her best to get me off because she had REAL boyfriends to manage.

It was a Thursday night, and we were discussing in detail the finer ascpects of Tom and Jerry and how the show had never been the same since they gave Jerry a bowtime and made him friendly. (Serious stuff...)

I was twirling the cord of my light blue phone around my toes as I listened to him talk about Butch the dog and the "crambone" song when I heard the knocking begin.

Without opening the door, I knew it was her.

"Be off in a minute!" I yelled, trying to mollify her.

I heard the knob jiggle.

Ha. I'd locked it...so much for her snatching the phone out of my hand and "accidentally" hanging it up like she'd done in the past.

I continued talking ignoring the loud demands coming from the other side of the door.

"ERIN! Get off the phone!!! You have already been on for an hour and a half and all your talking about is stupid tv!!!"

I ignored her and hoped that my boyfriend hadn't heard.

More knocking, more door knob jiggling, huffing, puffing, stomping...then... silence.

I smiled at my reflection in the mirror, and thought to myself, "Good. She gave up."

That's when I heard the unmistakeable click of someone picking up another extension in the house.

Immediately, I tried to get rid of whoever it was.

"I'm on the phone! HANG UP!!"

More silence.

My boyfriend tried to reassure me that no one had, in fact, picked up the phone, but I knew better...

And that's when it happened.

"Erin, Mom just wanted me to tell you to stop flushing your maxi pads down the toilet. No one can use the bathroom when you are done in there."


I was horrified. Frozen. MAXI PADS?!?! IN FRONT OF A BOY?!? How could she?!

I was gulping for air, not sure how I would recover from this disgrace.

I couldn't find words so I just hung the phone up as fast as I could.

"Maybe he didn't even hear her...." I tried to tell myself.

I started pacing my room, simultaneously plotting her ultimate demise while trying to figure out how I could do some damage control...when the phone rang.

Without thinking, I lunged for it. "Hello?"

"It's me." I heard my boyfriend's voice say.

"Oh! Hi!" I tried to sound casual. "Um...sorry. I accidentally hung up on you."

"Oh, that's ok." he said.

I breathed a sigh of relief. He bought it. He probably didn't even hear her!

Yes, yes...that must be it. He didn't hear her.

I instantly felt better.

I sat up straighter, and was about to start talking about the mammy character on Tom and Jerry when he said, "So...why do you flush your pads down the toilet?"

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Rage...ain't it amusing?!

Growing up, my mom cooked almost ALL of our meals...partially because my dad worked A LOT, but mostly because whenever he decided to cook, he made an unbelievable mess. I'm not exaggerating. It was brutal. When my dad had finished making something as simple as a fried egg, it looked like 3 crazed toddlers had crumbled bits and pieces of meat on the counters and floors; cracked eggs while spinning around (ballerina style) and then spread a fine coating of flour over it all.

Therefore, on the days my mom had to work and was unable to be our chef for the evening, she tried her best to encourage my dad to take us "out" to eat. Nine times out of ten, we visited the scariest clown on this planet...that's right...Ronald Fuckin' McDonald.

If my dad was feeling energetic, he'd let us go inside this fine dining establishment and we would come close to breaking our necks on the rusty hamburglur playland as he read the newspaper; but most of the time, he was exhausted from work and just wanted to hurry home to watch Star Trek...so he would zip through the drive thru.

On one particular evening, we didn't exactly zip through...it was more like waiting in traffic during rush hour...in downtown Chicago...when he President was in town.

Star Trek started every night at 6:00, and this was way before the age of DVR. My father would rush home to watch an episode he had most likely seen at least 8 times before...and then he would try to engage anyone who would listen in a conversation about "the fascinating galaxy" (...a topic most kids are super enthused to talk about...)

So the night of the slow line at McDonald's started like any other. My dad hurriedly asked us all what we wanted and put in our order. He then gunned it to slam on the brakes.

As we waited in line, I watched my father get more and more agitated as he stared at the minutes creeping by on the digital clock in his old Chevette.

Curse words were escaping his lips in increased succession as the line failed to move. Most likely, he was thinking about the famous opening line that he was worried about missing...because of course, everyone knows you can't watch a show about dorky grown men wearing unitards unless you hear an inspring explanation of WHY they like to wear these tight scuba suits and shoot guns that looked like super soakers at scary looking muppets.

If you didn't notice...I fucking hated that show, but even I have to admit, that intro part is nice and dramatic...I still remember that whole schpeal.

Space...the FINAL frontier. These are the voyages of the Star Ship Enterprize...blah, blah, blah...to BOLDLY go where NO man has gone before. (Cue corny music...)

My dad is huffing and puffing all the way to the head of the line, and finally about 20 minutes later, we made it. It was 6:01 and my father had officially missed the beginning of his favorite show and he was PISSED.

As the little doors of the window jerked open, he wasted no time in letting his complaints be known.

"I thought this was supposed to be FAST food!!"

The teenager waiting to take our money looked so startled, I half expected him to drop the money my father was shoving into his hand.

"Um? Sir? What? Um...the total is $16.79 please."

My father shook his head, exasperated.

"I gave you a 20 dollar bill!"

The boy's face turned purple with embarassment as he looked down at the bill in his hand.

"Oh...right. Um...ok. Hold on. Sorry."

A few more minutes passed until we had our change and our food. The mini window had barely closed before my dad was flooring it out of that parking lot, almost running over a family of four on his way out.

We pulled into our driveway, my dad threw the car in park and hustled into the house, dragging me behind him.

I couldn't wait to tell my brother and sister what they'd missed.

"Papa freaked out in the drive thru and yelled at the guy who gave us our food!!" I whispered excitedly.

My brother looked unamused by this as he shoved fries into his mouth, but my sister froze and stared at me in horror.

"No. No he didn't. How old was the guy who waited on you?? What did he look like?!"

I did my best to render a police artist sketch for her which didn't seem to help much. (I was 8. The drawing basically looked like a goat with a gorilla's body...)

In between bites, my brother said, "Oh, stop worrying. I'm sure it was no one you knew. You don't know EVERYONE, Miss Popularity."

Katie rolled her eyes and said, "Yes I do! Shut up!"

It was then that I realized that my Chicken McNuggets were no where to be found. I tried not to panic (I know what you're thinking..."panic"?! That's a bit extreme, isn't it?! Not for me...Look. Back then, I had a list of about 10 foods I deemed suitable for eating, Chicken McNuggets being one of them...and I knew our house did NOT have any of the other items...I was hungry and I was irrational...now that I'm 34, I'm up to at least 15 items of food I will eat so I've totally improved.)

Once I realized that..indeed, there was no food for me (to be said in the soup nazi's voice..."NO FOOD FOR YOU!", I did the best thing I knew how to do back then. I burst into tears and complained to the head honcho.

"PA...PA!!!!!!!!! You didn't get me my chicken nuggets and now I just have to STARVE!" (Some may call this dramatic, but I like to say "enthusiastic"...)

My dad looked up from his Big Mac, annoyed to tear himself away from Dr. Spock.

"What? They're in the bag...aren't they?"

"Noooooooooooooooooo!!!!" I wailed.

At that very moment, a commercial for McDonald's ironically popped onto the tv. Ronald McDonald was tickling a small child as he addressed us, the viewers, saying, "Hi there! Do you wish there was place to get an inexpensive meal for your family? You're in luck. Come to your local McDonald's...it's a good time for the great taste of McDonald's."

That was it. My dad was off the couch and in the kitchen, flipping through the phone book in a fit of rage.

My sister was eyeing him suspiciously. "Papa? What are you looking for??"

He didn't answer her. He just started jabbing at the keys of the phone hanging on the far wall of the kitchen.

"Yeah. Hello?? Yeah, you can help me. I just went through your drive through, which by the way took FOREVER, and now I'm home, just trying to eat and relax and my youngest daughter is crying because you assholes didn't give us her food!!!"

Now my sister looked like she was going to cry, too.

"You baby! Why did you have to make such a big deal about it?! I KNOW people who work there!!!! Great. Great! ERIN!!! Why did you have to make such a big deal about it?! How am I supposed to go to school tomorrow?!"

Now I felt guilty.

"Maybe they won't know it was us..." I ventured.

Just then, I noticed my dad's voice getting louder.

Uh oh.

"YEAH! YEAH, you can have my name! It's BLAH!. Larry BLAH!!!!" (of course, "blah" is a substitute for our actual family name...)

I looked at my sister again. "Ok, so they know our name now. Maybe it's not so bad..maybe..."

My dad was on a roll now. He was still yelling into the phone when we heard the familiar Star Trek theme coming from the living room.

Trying to be helpful, I pointed this out to him in an effort to get him off the phone. He must have heard it though because he was coming to the pinacle of his tirade.


That was that. My sister nearly died of shame the next day, and I'm pretty sure she spit in the Lipton Soup she made for me that night, but on the bright side, we bust a gut laughing about it when we recall that story nowadays.

Ah...rage...ain't it amusing??? (20+ years later...that is.)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Ghosts of Birthdays Past...

Because today is my birthday, I couldn't help reminiscing about birthdays from the past...and one in particular came to mind...

On my 10th birthday, my mom decided I was old enough to have a nice little chat about menstruation...I know what you're thinking...<i>What's that? What did you just say? Did you mean to say "the mall"?? No... Did you mean to say, "Magic"?? No...
"Muppets?!" Nope....

You heard me right the first time.


For some reason, my mom decided there was no better time than right before junior high to scare the living day lights out of me.

The day started out like any other 10 year old's birthday...I got up, smiled at myself in the mirror, checked to see if my boobs had gotten any bigger, brushed my hair 500 times and then went downstairs to eat Lipton Soup for breakfast.

TOTALLY typical.

It was at that time that my mom sat down across from me at the kitchen table with an ingratiating smile. I pretended not to notice her while I read my Babysitters Club book, occassionally stealing glances at her as I slurped my soup. Finally, I couldn't take it anymore.

"MOM! Why do you keep staring at me with that goofy smile stuck on your face?!"

She got a little teary eyed as she said, "It's just that you are not my baby anymore...you are almost all grown up!! Before we know it, you'll be starting your period, you'll be off to college, married, and having your own babies." (These apparently are the big milestones in a woman's life...)

I had heard the word "period" before but I wasn't exactly sure why my mom was talking about it now. (My teacher always said you had to put it at the end of sentences if it was a declarative, but if you were excited, you used an exclamation point. I prefered to be excited about everything I wrote, therefore, it was the only form of punctuation that existed in my world. I mean...in my world!!!)

She must have sensed that I needed further explanation because she went on to say, "Pretty soon, you will menstruate every month. An egg will drop down from your uterus and one day, that is what will make it possible for you to have babies!"

I stared at her, open mouthed. My spoon had only made it halfway to my mouth, and when I coughed and sputtered in surprise, soup splashed all over the table.

My mom jumped up to get something to clean up the mess I had made. Casually, I asked, "What's a uterus?"

She laughed and said, "That is where a baby grows inside of a woman! Of course, you won't be having a baby for a long time." I let out a big sigh of relief, not realizing I'd been holding my breath. I mean, don't get my wrong...my Cabbage Patch doll was cool, but if there was a rockin game of Pong being played on the Atari, I flung that yarn-haired sack of stuffing under the nearest bed! This was NOT the time in my life when I wanted to be tied down with responsibility...

I thought our discussion was over until my mom went on to say, "But that doesn't mean your body isn't getting ready...pretty soon, it will be making eggs."

She looked like she was going to say something more, but the phone rang and our conversation ended there.

I raced up to my bedroom and stared at my crotch in the mirror. "OH...MY...GOD..."

I had never been so terrified in my life. What would the kids at school say when I started laying eggs??? ...And what was I going to do with all the eggs I would be making? Would someone give me a container to store them in like the eggs at the grocery store?! ...And...Oh GOD...what if...would we...be EATING them?! I pictured my brother demanding a 'dip in' egg and my mom commanding me to lay more.

I was FULL of questions, but my mom had settled in for a nice long talk with my grandma, and there was no way she would be getting off for follow up questions any time soon.

So I went to my sister. I knocked on her door, trying to make myself be heard over the blaring sound of Richard Marx. She cracked her door after 55 knocks and said, "Happy Birthday....what do you want?"

I swallowed, and got myself ready. I could tell she did not have an abundance of patience at this time. "Katie, where do you put the eggs you lay each month?"

I don't think she heard me because she immediately answered, "In the sink!" as she slammed the door in my face.

I ran back downstairs to check out the sink. No eggs. I wonder when she puts them in there? I'll have to keep my eye on her...

I paced back and forth thinking about what I would say when i did finally lay an egg in someone else's presence. "Oh, it's my time of the month...I'm a woman now so my utrass is just shooting out eggs like crazy."

I practiced witty comebacks if anyone teased me. "What? You never saw an egg before? What planet have YOU been living on?!"

I tried out different positions for optimal egg laying. (Squatting seemed to be most appropriate...)

FINALLY...my mom hung up the phone...and I bum rushed her. "Mom! MOM! Listen. I need to talk to you about this egg situation..." I began.

She looked at me, befuddled. "What?"

I was getting aggrivated. I needed MORE information! I went on in a stressed out slur, "When I menslate, will I know that the egg is coming? Will I feel it beforehand or will it just pop out? ...and what if it breaks in my pants? Will the yolk stain? How big will my eggs get? Is it much bigger than the eggs we use to make cookies? It's not like that dinosaur egg we saw at the Field Museum...right?!"

It took her several minutes before she understood what I was referring to....and when she had stoppped laughing hysterically, she explained that, No...I would NOT be laying an egg like a chicken. I would just be bleeding for 5-7 days straight...which was much, much less traumatizing.

As an adult, I just have one question...

How am I not living in a mental hospital right now?!?!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Running, Booze and Hobos

MANY years ago, my friends Lulu and Sheila talked me into running a 10K, which for the layman means 6 miles of pure hell. I protested at first...claiming that I was not a runner and that I wouldn't be able to keep up, but they were not taking 'no' for an answer...and well, if I'm being honest, I have to admit...I'm easily persuaded by friends...and others. You know that saying, "If your friends were jumping off a bridge, would you jump, too!?" My answer is...It depends...on just how badly they really wanted me to join them...jumping is fun sometimes!

So, anyway... I prepare for this race by doing my regular workout routine and I run a little bit, too. A week before the race, I'm up to about 3 miles without stopping...and I'm starting to feel a little nervous. How was I possibly going to run SIX miles?!

I expressed my concern during lunch one day, "You guys won't leave me behind...right??" Sheila and Lulu both shake their heads with exuberance. "OF COURSE NOT!!!" I breathe a sigh of relief and relax somewhat. Lulu goes on to say, "This is going to be fun...Guess what?? I heard that everyone dresses in crazy costumes for this thing so I was thinking we could all get something together!" Sheila starts nodding, obviously excited. "Ooh! I just saw this BRIGHT pink t-shirt at Target that says in huge letters: 'RELAX! DON'T DO IT!!!' What if we all got those and wore them??" Lulu and I are liking the sounds of it, and I add, "Ooh! And how about skirts with knee socks!?!" More nodding. Then Lulu says, "And...how about if we all wear our hair in 2 ponytails with cowboy hats???" That was it...we had our crazy outfit for race day, and we were psyched.

A week later, we all pile in the car and head up to the mountain town of Prescott for the big event. It's a Friday night and the race is on Saturday. We eat dinner, have a low key night and head to bed early. As we pull up to our hotel...well, actually it was a motel, we survey the scene.

I look at the building warily and say, "Hmm...this place looks a little sketchy, Lu." She shrugs and says, "It was the only place with vacancy! I guess we waited too long to book a room. Oh well...I bet it's not as bad as it looks." We all nod, and head in. It wasn't as bad as it looked...it was worse.

The lobby is minimally decorated and as we look around for the front desk so we can check in, we notice that the cashier is behind THICK bullet-proof glass next to a sign that says, "ABSOLUTELY NO PETS!!! NO DOGS! NO CATS! NO BIRDS! NO GUINEA PIGS! NO LIZARDS!!" I was tempted to ask if I could have my pet monkey stay, but I refrained once I saw the unfriendly expression on the motel clerk's face.

The next morning we wake up early. We all get dressed in our matching outfits and head to the starting line. As I'm stretching, I take stock of the crowd around us....and I notice that no one...i mean NO ONE has said "crazy" outfits on. It was standard running gear as far aa the eye could see, Sheila, always the optimist said, "Hey, on the bright side, we will probably make the paper!" (She was right...we DID make the paper and the website...Lulu and Sheila are smiling like beauty queens and I look like a 300 pound heffer that just got poked with a hot iron...)

So the race begins, and I'm feeling pretty good, and I think to myself, "Wow...this isn't so bad! I can run! I'm a runner!"....and then we turn a corner and the next 5 miles are up a STEEP hill. I feel myself hyperventilating as I'm desperately trying to keep up with my friends.

After 10 minutes (ok, it was 30 seconds), I slow down to a walk, and grab them, signaling for them to remove their headphones. They look at me with befuddled expressions. "I (gasp) need (cough) to (sigh) walk (huff) for (puff) a (wheeze) minute." They look annoyed, but they agree. A minute passes. I've caught my breath, and Lulu says, "Ok, ready to run??" I nod, begrudgingly.

We run for a few more minutes and I feel like I'm suffocating. I slow down again, and Sheila also slows down, tapping Lulu. At this point, I'm doubled over. I shake my head, and barely manage to get out, "You...guys...are...freaks. Just...go without me." They shrug and start to put their headphones back in.

I'm incredulous.

"YOU'RE LEAVING ME?!? I KNEW this would happen..." They laugh, and walk with me again...aaand this goes on for the rest of the race. I'm fairly certain we finished DEAD last, but I have to say..I was just thrilled that I FINISHED!

So, we cross the finish line, and immediately head to the pub across the street to toast our victory. One toast turns into a few.

We finally decide to tear ourselves away from the local watering holes so we can shower, get ready and head out to more bars for the night. As we are walking back to our motel, we see a homeless guy sleeping in the park, and I point him out. "Hey, look! A hobo! Reminds me of Chicago. Speaking of bums, how come no one ever says 'hobo' anymore??" Somehow, this discussion escalates into me wanting to become ONE with the hobo so I announce as I'm running toward him, "I will spoon you!!!" I cozy up behind him, resting on the soft, green grass, laughing hysterically... when suddenly, he wakes up...none too pleased to be canoodling with the likes of me. He sits up and starts flailing his arms as he yells, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!!?!" Instead of answering him, I scream and run away.

This is what extreme exercise does to me. I run uphill for 6 miles, and suddenly I'm assaulting innocent homeless men... defenseless hobos just trying to take a nap...

*Names have been changed.

Footnote: When I told my mom (who happens to have a touch of the OCD and is an extreme germ-a-phobe) about this incident, she reacted with complete and utter disgust. "ERIN ELIZABETH!!! You could have gotten fleas!!!" NOT you could have been knifed by a homeless dude's homemade shiv....FLEAS. I said, "Um...Mom, I don't think he had fleas." She wasn't convinced. "Yes, yes they do. Everyone knows that." I laughed. "PEOPLE have fleas?!? Since when??" She realized her mistake. "Well, body lice..." Leave it to my mom to use any situation possible to teach me the merits of good personal hygiene...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Have you ever wet the bed...and you weren't alone??

There is a tradition at Purdue University called "Breakfast Club". All the bars open at 7 am on Saturdays during football season so everyone can get rip roaring drunk before heading to the stadium to cheer on their beloved Boilermakers...OR...if you were like us, you would drink all morning, pass out BEFORE you made it to the stadium and then stumble out of the bushes and head home.

We were not your average day-time drinkers though...we didn't want to just do the status quo. We thought bigger, brighter, DRUNKER. We were overachievers in that way. Hell, if you're going to get up at 7 am on a Saturday to drink...why not take the edge off by drinking to the wee hours of Friday night, too??

I lived with my best friend, Sarah, in a basement apartment (Laverne and Shirley style...seriously...our view was feet, bushes and bumpers). Lucky for us, we had many neighbors and friends who also shared our affinity for consuming mass amounts of booze....and somehow, our fanciful cellar home became the drunk tank for friends, acquintances and an occasional stranger or two. We never locked our door, and it wasn't uncommon to walk out of your bedroom in the morning to see 3 strange men canoodling on the couches and floor. I never batted an eye...until Sarah took it the next level.

Apparently all available sleeping spots had been spoken for so Sarah suggested to our friend Mike that he go pass out next to me... in my bed. I wasn't there for this suggestion (obviously I was sawing logs in a room nearby), but according to witnesses, she said something like, "Oh just go crash next to Erin. She's been asleep for an hour already. She won't even know you're there."...and she was right. I didn't. (Don't worry, this isn't the beginning of an after-school special-esque report of date rape...)

I, being the most responsible train wreck of the group, always remembered to set my alarm for important events like class and scheduled all day drinking outings. It was 6 am and Tina Turner was asking what love had to do with it LOUDLY...I groaned, opening one eye and trying to remember what class I was late for. It was then that I realized I was not alone....mostly because my back was all wet. I assumed it was my boyfriend, and was shocked to see a boy that looked vaguely familiar drooling on my pillow. What the...did I? Did we?

I squinted, trying to get a better look at my sleeping companion, and I realized it was Mike.


He popped up looking startled.

"What the fuck are you doing in here and why the hell are you so sweaty?!" Before he could answer, I jumped out of bed and yelled over my shoulder, "If you're coming with us to Breakfast Club, you better get up. I gotta shower. You sweat like a beast! Sick!" I pounded on Sarah's door, yelled at the sleeping people in the living room and headed to the bathroom.

When I came out, almost everyone was ready...
except for Mike.

Dressing in bizarre costumes is part of the tradition of Breakfast Club. You can't just go in regular clothes...

and thus was the dilema.

I walked into Sarah's room, catching the tail-end of a heated debate. Sarah was shaking her head as she said, "Look, all I've got is this hot pink genie costume. Take it or leave it."

Mike begrudgingly accepted the costume, asking if he could change in Sarah's room. A few minutes later, we were on our way. It was sunny and 70....a perfect day for drinking heavily. We only lived a few blocks from the bars so we made our way on foot.

We had just ordered our first screwdriver when Sarah stopped mid-drink, staring at Mike's crotch. The genie costume was made of thin nylon and was basically see-through. "Hey! I have those boxers. Weird." Mike shrugged and tried to change the subject, but Sarah's wheels were turning. "They're pretty old...like from 8th grade. That's crazy that you have the same pair." Mike shrugged again and started talking about shots. "Wait...are those MY boxers??"

Just then, Sarah was tackled by someone we knew that was hugging her like she HADN'T just seen her earlier that day at 3 am. For now, the subject was closed.

Fast forward several hours...I'm in the kitchen cooking us a healthy dinner of Ramen and nachos when I hear a blood-curdling scream. I run to Sarah's room...and there she is...her arm outstretched, high in the air, holding the evidence on the end of a pencil. "Look! Just LOOK!!! I KNEW those were my boxers..."

There...dangling from the end of the pencil was a wet, crumpled up pair of men's underwear...more specifically...tightie whities. I leaned forward, taking a closer look. "What... the.. fuck is that?" Sarah held her hand over her nose and said, "What do you think?!" I scratched my head, befuddled.

Then... I got a whiff. "JESUS! Those smell like an old folks home! Where did they come from?!" She gagged, shook her head, and whispered, "Under. my. bed. Those boxers Mike was wearing WERE mine!!!! These must be his!!! He peed on his and needed new ones!!!!"

I was confused. "Wait...when did he pee?? Wait. No. Please tell me it isn't true." I made a mad dash for my bedroom.

For the first time since that morning I took stock of the disaster that was my bedroom...and there, under the covers...was a GIANT, disgusting pee stain!!!

More gagging...more yelling...basically, complete and utter bedlam ensued. Mike hadn't been sweaty...he'd been pissy....and I was too God DAMN drunk to notice.

Just thinking about it makes me need a beverage or two right now...while I ponder how I shall repay my dear old friend. What's that they say about revenge being a dish...or in this case, a bodily function...best served cold?? (Like old, cold pee...)


Exercise. Blah. That about sums it up for me.

Growing up with no coordination, rhythm or hand-eye coordination may or may not be to blame for my lack of enthusiasm on the subject. (Let's just say anything involving movement then or now is a wee bit of a challenge.)

Amazingly enough, as a child and in middle school, I was incredibly well rounded considering my lack of skill. Somehow, I managed to be on the basketball team, the softball team, the cheerleading squad, the dance team, and the tennis team...AND I only got hit in the face twice. (Disclaimer: all of the above NOT actual teams)

I know what you're thinking...WHAT ABOUT HIGH SCHOOL?? (You get that question a lot when you're in your 30s...)

So, as I'm cruising through high school, checkin' out the scene, I decide that I am pretty badass. I see flyers posted, announcing tryouts, and I'm Marcia Brady-ing it. I'm snapping off tabs, taking notes, scribbling dates...you name it. I am ON it!

Tryout number 1: Cheerleading...

The flyer said that tryouts started at 3:30. I got there at 3:25....in jeans, a vest, and penny loafers. I sat biting my nails as I waited for the show to start (that's right..I said "show"...because that is what I thought was happening. I thought a demonstration or pep rally of some sort was about to occur. I didn't know people sat in a row and expected you to do stuff that they would then judge. No clue. (quick background: I went to a small religious school prior to high school) I had no knowledge of "tryouts"...I came from a place where EVERYONE made the team! I figured "tryouts" meant "try out" like "try this sport out and see if you like it." (and of course...I KNEW I liked it...I'd been doing it for like the last 3 years...duh.)

This place was packed. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a familiar face. I rushed over to her to say "hello", grateful to have someone to talk to (these were the stone ages people...no cell phones= no texting, no web surfing, no Facebook, no app shopping...just paper...that's it. Paper for writing. Paper in books. Paper texts (we called them "notes"), paper games of tabletop football (which I never played so I'm not sure why I'm mentioning it...). Paper, paper, paper!)
Footnote: actually, paragraph note: All of the above sentences in parentheses should have been read in an uppity, judgmental, highly irritated British accent. Go back if you need to...I've got time.

So anyway, I see this girl that I don't actually know, but I recognize her from some class we have in common (or she rode my bus...or she sat near me in the cafeteria...) and I run up to her, calling her by name. "Betsy! Hi! Hi Betsy!" (this is the best I could come up with...) Betsy starts digging in her bag, adjusting her laces, tightening her hair tie, fixing her mascara...doing anything she can to avoid eye contact with me. Hmmm. She quite obviously does not have as clear a remembrance of me as I her...but I'm persistent. She must not have heard me. I reach out and touch her to get her attention, and she looks up from folding her sleeves, stunned. "Hi?" She greets me with an embarrassed, rushed question, worried someone might notice us mingling...right before the show. I smile back at her, racking my brain for something relevant to say when she looks me up and down in full elevator style before saying, "Aren't you going to change? I mean...you can't try out like that."

For the first time, I noticed her clothing.

Umbros...(I think they are soccer shorts...? They appear to be for working out...). T-shirt. Sneakers. Sweatbands...sweatbands?! Uh oh. What kind of a show was this?!

I could feel myself starting to sweat. Ok I'm not gonna lie. I. WAS. FULL OUT. PANICKING!

It was 3:28 and I had NOTHING to wear. Suddenly I noticed EVERYONE had Umbros on...and no one...I mean NO ONE had jeans and fucking penny loafers on. My elitist acquaintance saw her opportunity to be rid of me. "I mean...well, I guess you could just put your gym uniform on or whatever."

I took her suggestion as an order and booked it to my gym locker. I changed as fast as I could and was horrified to discover that my favorite pair of Keds was NOT there. Drats! Oh! I do remember now...I took them home to wash! (Yes...this is true....and yes, these are the kind of thoughts that went through my head at age 14...it's almost like someone plucked me right out of that old timey tv show Little House on the Prairie...which coincidentally was on my parents "approved" list..)

What could I do?! TIME...she was a-wastin! I pulled up my gym shorts, tucked in my gym shirt, caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, untucked my shirt and then put my penny loafers back on. I was a stylish vixen...a sight to behold...ready to KILL this "try" "out".

I stepped back into the designated area, and heard my name being called out by an elfish girl with a clipboard. After the announcement was made that I would be next, I let out a loud "Whew!" A couple girls looked over at me so I waved.

I was RELIEVED to have made it back in time! I watched the girl before me jump and flip and punch the air and yell...and I thought, "Hmm. I wonder if she really wants to try this out or not."

The judges called me forward and I flashed them a blinging, reflective silver smile, grateful my lips didn't get stuck on my braces.

As they looked me over, they were so impressed...they were speechless.

An older lady with a blonde bob and a sour expression cleared her throat and said, "Toe touch?"

I happily and proudly obliged, barely jumping off the ground and stretching my fingers just beyond my thighs before feeling my feet slide out from under me. Damn penny loafers...so fucking slippery! and then...I'm not perfect, but I am enthusiastic! (I even cheered myself on in my head! I was made for this gig...)

More throat clearing. (As an adult, I now realize they were most likely doing their best not to bust out in belly slapping guffaws, but back then, I said, 'Those three...they all must be smokers..habitual smokers...that stuff will kill you, you know...'

The person sitting in the middle was a girl in a sports bra and Umbros that didn't appear to be much older than me. She stared at me, starting with my head and working her way down to my penny loafered feet, then said, "School Fight Song."

School Fight Song?!? Who knew the words to that?!

I bowed my head, thinking frantically. I cleared my throat, stalling for time. Then I started clapping and side-stepping (Sweatin to the Oldies style):

Munster Mustangs!
We love you!
You're a horse...and that's pretty cool!
Munster Mustangs!
We love you!
You'll win of course, of course, of course!

(Disclaimer: not the actual lyrics to said fight song.)

It was the third lady's turn to tell me what to do. She looked like an older, tanner version of the middle girl...in the same outfit. "Can you do a back hand spring?" My face must have said it all because she hurriedly went on to say, "How about a flip? Any flips? How about a cartwheel, honey?"

I couldn't do any of these. I thought about offering a somersault....

Fast forward...make sure you are sitting down...because this...THIS...is will be a shock for you, I'm afraid...

I didn't make the cheerleading squad that year.

I know...I'm still confused and writing letters to the school board also.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Who is he???

My sister and I were talking today.

We talk everyday...and... as usual, our conversation turned toward...well, discussing the sandman...I'm sure you can relate.

(Whenever there is a lull in the conversation, that's what people talk about...the sandman...or Abraham Lincoln.)

Anyway, my sister made the argument that The Sandman or "Mr. Sandman" is a nice guy who helps you sleep.

Um...I don't mean to sound ignorant, but I want to know two things. WHY and HOW COME??

My best guess?

He fills up all your pockets with as much sand as he can, then throws you in the lake so you can "sleep with the fishes...see?" ...OR

He buries you in the sand until your breathing slows down...waaaaay down.

My sister insists that none of these could possibly be the reason because they all seem too scary...but when I looked it up on Wikipedia, my ideas are not even HALF as scary as the truth.

Are you ready for this?

According to the world wide web, "Mr. Sandman" is 'a mythical man who creeps into children's rooms at night, blowing sand into their eyes to help them sleep.'


How did this ever catch on as something you tell your kids to comfort them????

It seems more like a threat, really. "You better get to sleep or I'm going to send the Sandman in there!"

If I thought some weird little man was going to be skulking around in the shadows, just waiting to spit gritty shit into my eyes, I would have been fake sleeping INSTANTLY.

I think this is why Metallica wrote that scary song about him....

'Sleep with one eye open' indeed!