Monday, February 28, 2011

Working at the Tanning Salon...

I was living beyond my means in Arizona when I got the job I always dreamed I would get...when I was 16 years old. Eight years,two bachelors degrees and 3,000 miles later, I finally made that teenage dream a reality...

When I was in eighth grade, I convinced my parents to let me tan a handful of times before my graduation ceremony..and that was all it took. I loved the way my skin looked so much healthier and vibrant after a little time in the sun. Not only that...once I discovered the way having a tan made all my lipstick shades pop; made my skin clear up almost instantly; and made my legs appear thinner, I was hooked.

I may have been an idiot, but I wasn't a fool. I knew the risks. Somewhere in the back of my mind was the fear of cancer and wrinkles, but I was usually able to squelch those thoughts with a fabulous new outfit that only looked good with a nice tan or a rationalization or two. "Wrinkles, Shminkles. I'm not above getting plastic surgery one day..." or "I only use the beds that have more UVA not UVB lights....those are the lights that aren't as harmful...or was it the other way around?"

Therefore, you can imagine my excitement when I thought a tanning salon right by my home might be hiring. I was on the way home from a friend’s house one day when a large red sign caught my eye. It read “Grand Opening” and in smaller letters underneath that it said, "TANNING". I parked, got out of my car and looked at the large glass windows lining the storefront. Inside, I could see two leather couches, a display counter with a cash register and a tv. As far as I could tell, no one was working. I wondered if they were open. I decided to try pulling on the door.

When it opened, I walked inside, calling out, “Hello?” An extremely tan girl with mousy brown hair pulled up into a messy bun came running out from the back of the store. Breathlessly, she said, “Hey, sorry…were you waiting long? You here to tan?”

I stepped forward with my arm outstretched. “Hi. I’m Erin. I noticed your sign out front, and I was just wondering if you guys were looking for help. I work at a school during the day, but I could work evenings and weekends.”

She shook my hand awkwardly and seemed confused. “What sign did you say you saw?” I motioned toward the front door. “The big red sign that says ‘grand opening’?” She rolled her eyes and started wiping down the display counter with Windex. “Oh…that. Shawn puts that out there every now and then to attract new customers. Never had anyone come asking about a job before though.” I realized there was probably no job for me here. I sat down on the couch, feeling defeated.

“How long have you worked here?” I asked the girl out of curiosity. “Oh, not long. I’m really an accountant. Shawn…he’s the owner….well, he’s my friend…actually…my husband’s friend…but anyways, I got laid off and Shawn needed a manager for his store so…here I am…for now, at least. What about you? Why are you looking for a job if you already have a job?”

For some reason, this girl and I had instant rapport. I felt like I was talking to an old friend, and when I answered her questions, I wasn’t in interview mode, I was just being myself. “I’m broke. I love what I do, but it doesn’t pay much. I’m going to school part time, too and I refuse to alter my life plan.” She raised her eyebrows. I rambled on about wanting to get my masters degree and the order of classes I needed to take. She sat there and listened quietly, asking questions every now and then. I came to learn that her name was Lori. She was married and had two girls, ages 6 and 9.

After about an hour, my stomach started to growl. She noticed right away and starting organizing takeout menus. “You hungry? Me, too. You like Chinese?" Without waiting for a response, she continued, "Let’s get some China Express. I’ll call and order it and you can go pick it up. It’s right next door.” I nodded eagerly. I was starving. As we sat and ate Kung Pao Chicken, Lori decided to create a part time position for me at the Happy Valley Tanning Salon. I was ecstatic. Not only was this going to be a cake job where I could catch up on my schoolwork, but I got to tan for free as much as I wanted!

I was working at the tanning salon from 4-10pm four nights a week and on Saturdays and Sundays from 9a-6p. Just as I had predicted, it was pretty easy. I was able to read my textbooks, make notecards to study for tests, and color coordinate my classnotes; I could talk on the phone for free as much as I wanted; and (as if that weren't enough) I got enough tanning in to make my face into a leathery mitt well before I’m in my golden years.

Most of the customers were girls my age, teenagers or older women of varying ages. There were the teens that tried to tan more than one time in a day during Prom season. There were the prima donnas who asked me to watch their tiny dogs while they tanned (which I did...for a reasonable fee.) There were the new moms who tried to tan with their slumbering baby laying in a car seat next to them (which is a 'no no' in case you were wondering...) There were a few normal people that came in often, but mostly there were ALL kinds of nuts that made the tanning salon their home away from home.

One of the first Saturdays I was scheduled to work alone, the store was busier than I'd ever seen it. There were ten 'lay down' tanning beds; one 'super' bed; and two stand up units...and EVERY one of them was being used. There were also eight more people waiting in the tiny lobby. There were two people on each of the leather couches; two people standing near the far wall, pretending to shop for lotion and two people studying the flimsy jewelry in the glass case by the register.

"Are these real shark teeth?" I looked up from the towels I had been folding and regarded the 30-something no-neck muscled man in front of me. I thought back to the day the necklaces had arrived; when I had asked Lori the same question and I remembered her response. "Well, there are 30 of these things in here and they are all the same size, shape and color...what do you think?!" In that moment, I had felt so I was some sort of niave boob. I decided to save this guy some, to be honest, I worked on commission.

"Yeah. They're real alright. The guy who owns this place goes deep sea fishing every year...he usually catches at least two or three sharks on each trip." I said this non-challantly as I continued to fold the towels.

No-neck's eyes widened. "Really?" I nodded confidently. "Cool! I'll take it." I told him he had made a good decision as I took his money. Then I upsold him a bracelet, some lotion and a pair of overpriced sunglasses that were way too small for his face.

I know what you're thinking...I'm a terrible, heartless salesperson. It's not true. I'll admit, I MAY not have treated all of the customers equally, but it was with good reason. When you're working in the customer service industry, there are some people who just take advantage and No-neck was one of them.

No-neck always came in post-workout: a sweaty, smelly mess. He would leave a puddle of sweat in the bed and the whole place would smell for at least an hour after he had left.

Whenever I saw his muddy, school-bus yellow jeep pull up, I'd groan as I started turning on fans and opening windows. He'd come sauntering in with his arms held at awkward arcs (due to his excessive muscles) and grunt his name at me with a number which represented the amount of minutes he wanted to be in the bed.

At first, I tried not to judge him based on his appearance, smell and demeanor alone, but then, it happened.

It was a Tuesday night, and I was a little behind on cleaning the beds because American Idol had been on the small tv that was positioned in the corner of the store. I'd been procrastinating as I watched Simon crush young hopefuls' dreams. "Seacrest Out!" I turned off the tv with the remote, grabbed some cleaning solution and a rag and I headed toward the back to start cleaning.

I knew No-neck had used the last room on the left before I even went all the way in because I could smell his signature stench. It was like a mixture of dirty feet, old ham and mildew. A gag escaped me as I crossed the threshhold and I plugged my nose and coughed as I tried to stiffle it.

Then I saw it.

I couldn't believe it. I thought it had to be anything else than what I feared it was. There...on the tanning bed was a dark brown streak that looked unmistakenly like...well, doodies.

That's right folks, not only had No-neck stunk up the joint, he'd left behind a SKIDMARK! Right there, due south of his disgusting sweat puddle was an actual shit stain.

I recoiled in disgust and let out an anguished, "YOU. HAVE. GOT. TO. BE. SHITTING. ME!!!!!" (The irony of my remark was lost on me in that moment due to my preoccupation with the unpleasant task at hand...) That night, as I took in the sight and the incredibly intense and unremarkable odor, I had NO jovial thoughts. Instead, an inner dialogue something like this ran through my head: 'MOTHERFUCKER..I cannot even BELIEVE I have to clean up after this nasty stooge! How much do I make an hour? Is it six fucking dollars or is less than that? Whatever it is NOT worth it!'

I sighed, took a deep breath and wiped down the bed as fast as I could. I then took the rag I had been using, keeping it at arm's length, and I ran down the hallway, screaming until I had whipped it into the open dumpster behind the building.

After that horrible incident, I thought of the skidmark every time No-neck came in. I couldn't help wondering if he intentionally left the streak behind. How did he not notice it before he left? Then again, why would anyone in their right mind want to leave poop stripes at a place they visit two or three times a week?!

I was DYING to ask him. However, I wanted to keep my professionalism. I couldn't rightly say, "Hey No-neck, thanks for leaving me the shit stain on your last visit, but I'm not allowed to accept tips."

Instead, EVERY time he came in following that day, as soon as his room was ready, I'd sweetly say, "We have a public restroom all the way at the end of the hall if you need to use it. You can use it ANY time...before OR after you tan."

If he had any self awareness about his own grossness, he never showed it. He even had the nerve to hit on me at one point! It was a Saturday, right before closing. No-neck was headed toward the front. (I knew because I could smell him coming...) I looked up from my textbook when he got closer and said, "See you next time!"

I realized he hadn't left yet after he had been standing in front of me for several minutes (like I said, his odor lingered so how was I supposed to know??).

"Studying?" Although this is what No-neck had intended to say, it came out more like, "S-uh-huh-ing?" I stared at him as I tried to figure out why he wasn't driving away in his Wrangler. "It's SA-TUR-DAY NIGHT!!! Wee oooh! I'm feelin pretty good!"

I had no idea what to say in response so I just smiled and said, "Mmmm Hmmm." I was trying to breathe out of my mouth without making it too obvious.

"I like to PAR-TAY on Saturdays!" He slapped the counter enthusiastically as he said this, sending a rack of lotion samples tumbling over.

"Cool." I said politely as I tried to refill the rack of spilled packets. My mouth was getting really dry from all this mouth breathing. When the hell was No-neck gonna get his stinky ass out of here???

"My buddies and I always go out to the bars in Tempe on Saturdays. So, you like to party?" I did a sort of half head nod/shrug which he took as a full out "YES". He smiled, reminding me of the kids at work that had just earned the right to dig through the candy jar. "You got a boyfriend?"

I was a little slow. It wasn't until that moment I realized No-neck Shit Stains was trying to hang out with me. FUCK. I wasn't prepared for this. I had no excuse ready and I was a pathetic liar.

"Oh...ah, well, no, not right now, and I would hang out with you guys, but I can't."

No-neck looked confused. I rushed on to say, "The owner has a strict policy, so..."
I didn't want to say too much (like I said, I'm a bad liar) so I left it at that, hoping No-neck would fill in the blanks and take a hint, but life is never that easy.

We were talking about a guy who thought it would be a good idea to hit on a girl when he smelled so bad, it took every fiber of my being not to gag in his presence.

As if I hadn't mentioned the owner's policies at all, No-neck kept talking. "You ever heard of 'Have a Nice Day Cafe'? It's not even really a cafe's a bar. They got these really strong drinks that they serve in fishbowls and they got these sexy go go dancers up in cages. If you stand in the right spot, you can see right up their skirts and guess what? Some of them don't even wear no panties at all."

He was almost giddy as he recounted the details of the his favorite drinking hole. Again, I tried to very graciously and politely decline his offer to join him and his friends for drinks at the cafe that wasn't really a cafe, but he would NOT take a hint.

What was it going to take to get rid of this guy?! Unfortunately, No-neck was persistent or I was stupid, but I agreed to meet him and his friends that evening. Five vodka and lemonades later, I was laughing hysterically as I told all of my new friends INCLUDING No-Neck the story of finding the stinky surprise in the tanning bed.

In the sober light of day, I felt bad about my indiscretion, but when I never saw No-neck again, I KNEW it had been worth it.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

How do you decide who you want to be when you are only 18?!

I've always loved to write. When I was a kid, I used to spend my free time writing and illustrating my own stories. It would take me hours...sometimes days to get my mini books just right, but I didn't was a labor of love. When I had finished, I'd read them to an audience of Cabbage Patch Kids, Care Bears and Pound Puppies.

I dreamed of writing novels that people would rush out to the store to buy. I pictured myself going to the book releases in a series of disguises so that I could hear people's true opinions of my work, unfiltered and raw.

Sometimes, I'd have a head scarf on ala Laverne and Shirley with oversized glasses and a fake mole. Other times, I'd wear a long, dark black wig, an eye patch and a fat suit. Another getup I had in mind involved a handbar mustache, a trenchcoat and a fedora. I kept a running log in the back of my journal and any time I saw someone who had an interesting look, I'd write it down as a possible future alter ego.

March 3, 1986: Saw a lady today with skinny arms and legs, but fat middle; looked like a walking candy apple or the apple guy from the Fruit of the Loom commercials. Could use pillow to simulate apple-ness?

March 28, 1986: Man wearing ski mask, a vest with running shorts and knee socks. (This was the best discovery I ever made! I was beyond thrilled when I was able to find everything I needed to make a duplicate of this guy's look soon as Chris left for bowling practice one Saturday afternoon, I snuck up to his room and got the mask, the socks, and the shorts. Then I went on to Katie's room and found a green and orange striped puffy vest. Bingo! I grabbed it and headed back to my own room. I put all of the elements of the outfit together, and I turned to regard myself in the mirror. I jumped a little. My dog hid under the bed. I smiled triumphantly and moved this disguise from number 37 straight to number 1...)

April 4, 1986: Passed a lady in the grocery store today who kept the hood from her sweatshirt jacket fastened tightly in a knot so that you could only see part of her face and none of her hair. She also had on leggings and high-topped Reeboks. (Not sure if hood wearing was intentional or if knot was too tight....)

Aoril 10, 1986: Mom had a new friend over today. She had Farrah Fawcet hair; small, circular hippie sunglasses; tight-rolled jeans; and an oversized sweatshirt that hung off one shoulder. (Note to self: Cut bigger hole in neck of Rainbow Brite sweatshirt...)

April 13, 1986: Woman at 76 gas station: hot pink floppy bow, white lace gloves and tights, off the shoulders half-shirt and a stonewashed jean skirt. (Actually, I just wanted to wear this outfit in general...not necessarily as a disguise...but my prudish parents would never allow that to happen...I was forced to wear Oshkosh B'Gosh until my freshman year of highschool...)

Anyway, I'm getting off on a tangent again...maybe it's a good thing I didn't pursue that writing career after all...

My senior year of highschool, I visited several colleges with my parents and eventually decided on Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. In the spring, we made the 2 hour trip south once again in order to meet with a guidance counselor. The purpose of the trip was to register for classes and to determine a major.

As I sat in the passenger seat of my mother's emerald green Chrysler Concorde, I listened to her give me the same lecture for probably the 89th time....that day.

"Education is so important. You need to take this decision seriously. Now, if you want to major in Psychology, that's fine, but you're going to need to make a committment to go on to graduate school otherwise you'll spend four years getting a degree...and for what? To work at JC Penney? I don't think so."

My mother had no shortage of opinions on a wide array of topics, and she never had any reservations about telling anyone who would listen exactly what she thought about pretty much anything. Her heart was always in the right place, but her delivery sometimes was a bit misguided.

Pamela Waterson was a heavyset woman in her 40s with yellow blonde hair that had been meticulously curled and sprayed. It was pulled back on either side with tortoise shell clips that were fastened behind each ear. She wore a red sweater with embroidered puppies on the front of it. The sleeves were a little short, revealing a gold watch on her left wrist that was barely visible between the massive amounts of skin on her arm. I noticed bumps on her other arm that looked similiar to the razor burn I got if I shaved right before I went swimming. I stared at the raised redness and wondered if she shaved her arms..and if she did, why.

"So we were thinking Psychology, then?" Pamela's voice reminded me of Mrs. Pool from The Hogan Family. It was sickening sweet, but persistent.

I cleared my throat and moved to the edge of my chair, resting my elbows on her desk. "Um, actually, I was thinking I might want to do creative writing instead."

Immediately, I heard my mother shuffling papers, sighing; looking confused and irritated at the same time. "We never discussed you doing writing. We talked about psychology, obviously, and you said maybe pharmacy?"

I rolled my eyes. "No, mom. You said pharmacy. I don't want to count out pills for people all day! I'm just not interested in that."

"Well, they do more than that, and they make really good money."

Pamela interjected. "Well, if you are thinking about Pharmacy, you will have to go over to the Health Sciences building. This is the School of Liberal Arts. Pharmacy is not a major in this school, I'm afraid, but if you wanted to do creative writing, I could definitely help you with that.

My mother sighed, crossing her legs, uncrossing them, then re-crossing them in the other direction. In a tone that was a mixture of thinly disguised disdain with a condescending flair, she said, "And what...exactly...does one do with a degree in creative writing?"

Pamela smiled, her cheeks flushing slightly. "Oh, WELL...lots of things. There are all kinds of opportunities out there! She'll just have to be creative!"

My mother rolled her eyes and shot me a look. Looking back at Pamela, she said, "I see. Well, we've spent a lot of time discussing this, and I think she wants to major in Psychology. I just worry because a girl at work has a son who majored in Psychology and now he's working as a bag boy at the grocery store." She paused, looking first at me, then at Pamela. My mom was a big fan of dramatic pauses. She waited for the impact of her last statement to soak in fully , and just as Pamela had taken a deep breath and looked poised to formulate a response, my mom continued, "We just don't want our daughter to waste a lot of time and especially money on a degree that isn't going to get her anywhere. There's no point in spending thousands of dollars on a college degree if you're going to end up working at the mall." With that, my mother crossed her arms and leaned back in her chair, apparently satisfied that she had made a point that was impossible to argue with.

Pamela looked uncomfortable. She coughed and looked up at the clock on the wall as she swiveled in her chair to look at her computer before shooting me a sympathetic look. "The School of Liberal Arts is a broad major with lots of possibilities. Why don't we just sign up for some of the core requirements for now and worry about pinning down a major later?"

It worked. We decided to table the discussion of my future career (for now), and 30 minutes later, we were walking out of Pamela's with schedule in hand; my mother with a renewed sense of purpose. Me bringing up writing had been a major blindside. My mother had mistakenly thought that whole "creative writing thing" was out of my system. She had no idea that I was still considering it as a major, and she definitely wasn't ready for me to drop that bombshell on the day we were registering for classes. On the flip side, I had niavely thought that the guidance counselor would convince my mother that creative writing was, indeed, a worthy major.

"Let's go to the bathroom. Then we'll go to lunch and discuss this some more." I nodded as I followed her into the public restroom that was in the hallway right outside Pamela's office. "Don't you have to go?" My mother looked surprised when I headed straight for the sinks instead of one of the stalls.

"No, I'll just wait out here for you." My mother shrugged and headed for the closest toilet. As she closed the door, she was talking again.

"Where do you want to go for lunch? I kind of have a taste for Mexican food..." I heard the door swing open behind me and turned to see Pamela. She smiled shyly at me as she headed toward the sink to work on a stain she must have just acquired on her pale green pants.

I pressed down on the soap dispenser at the sink next to Pamela when I heard my mother say, "Can you believe that lady? 'She can find a job. She just needs to be creative.'" My mother said the last part in a high-pitched, mocking tone that sounded similar to Minnie Mouse.

I swallowed, concentrating on lathering the soap in my hands. (Anyone watching me would have thought I was being paged for surgery..."Paging Dr. Erin...Dr, Erin, you're needed in surgery stat" which I'd respond, 'Tell them I'm scrubbing in, DAMMIT!

When I didn't respond to my mother's commentary, she started calling out to make sure I hadn't left her. "Erin? Are you still there? ERIN? ERIN!!! ERIN!!!"

Shit. My eyes darted toward Pamela, and to my horror, she was staring at me. I smiled apologetically, and yelled in my mother's direction, "I'm just going to wait for you in the hall."

As I walked out, I heard my mother shouting, "What? Why? How come you didn't answer me??" The sound of her voice faded as the door swung shut. I leaned against the wall and waited her to come out. The door opened. Pamela breezed by me and headed down the hall to her office without a word. A minute later, the door opened again and my mom walked out.

"Why were you ignoring me in there?"

I grabbed her arm and said, "Ok, ready for lunch?" I told her that I knew about a great Mexican restaurant on the other side of town and ushered her out of the building.

As soon as we had reached the safety of our car...the privacy of our car, I recounted the whole scene that had played out in the bathroom for my mother. Instead of looking just as humiliated as I felt, she roared with laughter.

I stared at her.

"Mom! It's not funny! I'm probably going to have to see her again, you know. That was so embarassing!"

This only served to make my mother chortle even more, tears spilling down her cheeks. It was contagious. After a few minutes, I found myself also giggling. Finally, she caught her breath, wiped at her eyes, and said, "I'm sorry, but it's true. Trust me. You'll thank me one day."

So, I ended up getting that degree in psychology...with a minor in creative writing. The semester before I was to graduate, I got a job at Charter Behavioral Health which was a detox center for recovering alcoholics, addicts and just plain ol' crazy folk. It was interesting, but not for me. I decided to stay for another year and a half as I added a degree in speech pathology to my agenda. Luckily, it, too, was in the school of liberal arts so I already had all of the core classes finished.

I also didn't have to switch guidance counselors...which I'm sure Pamela was overjoyed to hear...

Saturday, February 26, 2011

'Gettin Some Strange...' When married creeps cheat...

If it weren't for my Yahoo home page, I'd never know what was happening in the world. Whenever I check my email, I see a scrolling ticker of the top news stories which I ignore most days, but today, one particular story lured me in.

Congressman Chris Lee resigned last week after a shirtless picture of him hit the internet.

My initial thought upon reading this was: Did they mess up the pronoun? Chris Lee must be a girl...why would some old guy send out pictures of his chest??

As I clicked on the link, I was picturing a cougar with a fake rack, not an older man with hairy nipples. (Not that I wanted to see the cougar...but to be honest, both of them are like watching an intense argument you're not a part's awkward and uncomfortable, but you can't help gawking).

Chris is a 39 year old douche bag with a wife and a son who decided to get on Craigslist to get himself a little strange. ('Getting some strange' is a term coined by a guy friend of mine a few years back...he would say, 'Every guy gets a little restless in a long term know, they start wanting a little variety...they want to get themselves a little the sack!' I'd always shake my head and laugh, but now everytime I hear about a case like this, I think of that...'gettin some strange.'

Stories like this seem to be popping up in the media more and more often, and I can't help wondering why high profile people like Chris Lee leave such a paper trial (even though, in this case, it wasn't an actual paper trail per se...but more of a digital trail) in their wake.

They've got to be smarter than that.

But then I continue reading, and I think...Maybe not.

"I'm a fit, fun, classy guy."

This was the best pickup line Chris Lee could come up with. Perhaps that's why he opted to send the picture of himself? I guess he realized it was a weak comeon so he decided to fortify it with some silver chest hair.

I wonder how he decided on those particular adjectives..."fit, fun and classy". Did he agonize over the decision or was it an impulsive choice?? Was he in front of the computer for hours typing, erasing, re-typing..."active? No...amusing? Shit, no. Sophisticated? no..."

I can picture him there, deliberating by the glow of the computer screen....and then...just as he is at his wit's end, an ad in the lower right hand corner of the screen catches his eye.

Summertime Barbie! She's fit, fun and classy!

A lightbulb goes on over Chris Lee's big, fat head. "That's it!" he thinks. "I work out everyday so I'm definitely fit; everyone is always telling me that I'm tons of fun and of course, I'm classy! I'm a congressman for God's sake!"

I guess the chick he was wooing wasn't falling for that Barbie line so he had to up the ante. He went on to say, "I promise not to disappoint."

I heard the girl wrote him a message back that said, "Um...isn't it a bad sign when a promise has been broken before it's even spoken aloud?? Why would you send me this picture of your disgusting chest, old man?!"

To which he replied, "Just kidding...LOL"

Nice try, Congressman Douche's a little tip from the top, next time you're on the prowl for some strange, try not to be such an incredibly amusing and pathetic douche bag.

I heard former president Bill Clinton also gave him some advice regarding this matter. I don't have an exact transcript of the discussion, but I can imagine it went something like this..."Chris, take it from me. I've been cheating on my wife for years, and boy do I know what it's like to want some strange. Modern day conveniences can be tempting, but when you're in politics, you've got to be discreet, man! Kick it old school, bro. You're gonna need to go and find yourself a disguise and hit up Hollywood Boulevard for hookers like the rest of us."

It's such a comfort knowing we have such fine, respectable gentlemen holding the reigns to this great nation of ours...thankfully our biggest enemies have male leaders or we could've been in for some trouble over the years.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Things you don't want to buy at Walmart...

I painted the shit out of the first house I ever lived in....Thank God I didn't actually own it...

I was still dating Jerkface when I moved to Arizona, and he decided to move out here, too. I moved in January and he didn't graduate until May. While he was still finishing school, he gave me the responsibility of finding his furture home, painting it, and decorating it. Looking back, I can't help thinking...what was he thinking?!?! WHO DOES THAT?!?!

Based on the color of the tile throughout the first level, I decided to paint the living room, "Gentle Fawn" and the kitchen "Terracotta Terrace". I'd felt inspired one day when I was looking for lawn chairs at Walmart.

I was so excited when I realized that, for once, my impulsivity was being catered to! Looking up, I saw a large sign that said, "Paint Department". YES!!! I thought. I walked over, found my two paint colors and bought a few gallons of each.

I enlisted some friends to help me, and we were able to give both rooms two coats after one weekend involving hours of work. As I took inventory of our dwindling supply of paint, I realized that I was going to need to go back to Walmart for more if I wanted to even everything out.

Later that night, I headed back to Walmart alone. I approached the paint counter and was greeted by a young man in his early 20s. He was wearing a Phish shirt and ripped jeans. His hair was shoulder length, dreaded and every time he passed me, I was enveloped by the smell of clove cigarettes, patchouli and B.O.

I told him that I needed more paint, he nodded, taking out a giant 3 ring binder. He looked up the first paint color, then the second. After that, he got out two gallons of white paint. He took them both over to a large machine. He put them both under spout with a manual stopper that reminded me of the tap I had seen at bars on their draft beers. He added a certain amount of this color and a certain amount of the that color. Then he put a lid on both cans and pressed a button that caused them to start vibrating. After a minute, they stopped and he added more color.

As the cans were vibrating for a second time, another 20-something guy walked up. He had a short, spiky haircut and a goatee. He was wearing a red Marlboro sweatshirt and a blue Walmart apron. He stomped behind the counter with big Etnies sneakers.

"Dude, Brian told me that I'm supposed to like relieve you because I guess it's like time for your break or whatever."

Stinky dreads guy looked up from what he was doing, nodded his head, and started pulling his blue apron off, over his head.

"Cool. Thanks, man." he was already in housewares when he turned around and came back to the paint section. "Hey bro, I was mixing those 2 paint cans for this lady. I was on the wait, the 2nd cycle. just finish those up. They're like Fawn and something else. She knows." He pointed at me with his thumb as he walked away.

The new kid mixed my paint, rang me up and I headed back. I decided that we had spent so much time working on this that it didn't really need a full second coat. I would just go around and do "touch ups".

I climbed up on the counter and used a paintbrush to fill in a lighter spot I had noticed above the fridge. I swept the brush under the cabinets to fill in the textured white spaces that had been missed earlier. A dot of paint here, a smaller splotch there.

When I had finished, the walls looked spotty like a cheetah, but I figured it was because the new paint was wet. Once it dries, it will blend.

The next day as the morning sun hit the living room walls, I saw the same spots that had been there the night before. I ran up to the kitchen and touched it. It was DRY! I tried one of the living room walls. It was dry, too!!! How could this be?!? I got the same colors!!

Then I remembered the two burn outs that waited on me. Damn. I cried. I stomped my feet. I shouted belittling remarks about the Walmart employees. I vowed to boycott Walmart!

None of it made any difference. I still had to re-paint every stupid wall in the living room and kitchen. It was tedious and infuriating, but no one was going to do it for me. live, you learn...I learned a valuable lesson: Never decide to be frugal when the thing you are buying involves manual labor....NO AMOUNT of money is ever worth your sanity.

Now? When I buy paint, I splurge and hit up the Home Depot...and it's worth every penny, especially since I'm doing it for me, not some jerkface.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Teenagers who work on commission...who the hell thought THAT would be a good idea??

So, I'm at Blockbuster tonight, and I approach the counter with my movie. I'm immediately greeted by an overly enthusiastic kid that looks to be about 16 years old with acne and frosted tips. (Shit, he was excited! He was like a human poodle.)

"Welcome to Blockbuster! I see you've made a selection!!! Can I get you any popcorn or candy to go with it?!!!!" He's smiling so broadly, I'm pretty sure I can see ALL of his teeth.

I'm usually pretty perky myself so I try not to judge fellow Pollyannas*, but this kid was like me on crack...after I just won the lottery...and I just lost 20 pounds...and I just ate 50 candy bars before I fed myself 100 teaspoons of sugar.
(*A 'Pollyanna' is someone who is so happy ALL the time that the people around them can barely control the urge to punch them in the face. Pollyanna was a Disney movie where Haley Mills played this really smiley, happy little girl who annoys a bunch of townspeople until they stop being annoyed and get really pissed...but then she breaks her leg and they all feel bad so they decide to be happy and annoying, too.)

I shake my head. " thanks. Just the movie." What I really wanted to say was, "What the fuck, kid!?! Ever heard of the belly fat cure?? NO?!? Well, I HAVE...I've heard A LOT about it, actually...I'll just be's my life, and well, you see, it restricts my sugar. So, that means..."NO! I can't have any delicious skittles or delectable sour patch kids so QUIT drawing my attention to them!"

He was about to scan my movie when he noticed that the girl next to him was done ringing up her customer. He quickly returned my movie and said, "OH! Looks like Brianna just became available. You can go ahead and move down." Was I waiting for Brianna? Why couldn't he just finish my frickin transaction?! Then I heard him upselling the candy to the next person in line, and I knew...

I'm interupted from my reverie when the baby-faced girl in front of me says, "M'am? Your driver's license please?" I could tell by the way she said it that she had already asked me at least once. Oops.

I cleared my throat and said, "Oh sorry, Brianna...but I didn't hear you. You see, I'm not a 'm'am'. I'm a 'miss'..."

She looked back at me with wide, innocent, confused eyes. "Oh Sorry. I didn't know....M-Miss." I swallowed back a giggle and handed her my license.

"It's looking kind of bare in here. Spring cleaning?" I asked as I noticed that many of the shelves were empty.

This seemed to remind my first adolenscent friend, Chase, of another commission opportunity he had forgotten about...I know this because he sprang to life like someone had just stuck him in the side with a cattle prodder.

Before poor little Brianna could even answer my question, pushy little Chase had already taken over.

"We're going out of business. We're running a promotion can get any new release FREE and any older movie FREE, too! Are you interested?"

I considered this. Hell, why not? "Ok, what do I have to do?"

Chase dropped what he was doing and ran (I mean it, literally, he ran) over to where I was and breathlessly asked me to step over to the computer that was at the end of the counter.

When we were in front of the computer, Chase said, "Ok, so you just have to put in your name, address and credit card information, and you'll be all set!"

"But...Chase, we have a problem. You said all of this was free."

"It is! It's totally free!"

"Um, ok, but I guess I'm just wondering why you need my credit card information if it doesn't cost anything..."

Chase looked put out. "Well, technically, you have to sign up for which is like Netflix, but you can cancel it right when you get home if you want."

I smiled. I knew this scam. This was how I got people to sign up for stuff when I worked commission jobs as a teenager! "Ok, I can do that, but my pre-husband is actually waiting for me in the car right now. Can I just sign up online and get my free movies next time?"

Chase looked worried. "Well,'s kind of like a referral program, and well, like I only get credit if you like put in my employee number so..."

"You could write it down for me, and I could do it later..." Chase perked up and ran back around the counter, searching for a pen like his life depended on it.

I looked over at Brianna. She was leaning against the counter, studying her fingernails, looking extremely bored. "You only get credit if she does it in the store." This came out in a low, hate-filled monotone. I felt for Brianna. I was feeling a little on edge after spending less than 15 minutes with this peppy little pusher. I can't imagine what I would do if I had to spend an entire evening with him...especially if he was stealing all my commission!

Chase's face fell. "Sorry. I'll come back...don't worry." I smiled at him reassuringly and hoped he would just let it go and give me my last season of Dexter without any more guilt, food or exchanging of credit card information.

Thankfully, Brianna intercepted my dvd and handed it to me before Chase had a chance to launch into what was probably not a very convincing rebuttal.

I walked out the door and was just getting into Aaron's XTerra when I heard someone yelling, "Wait! Wait!"

I looked back. Chase. Shit. This little fucker was really persistent!

Chase had run (once again) to get to me before I left, and now he bent at the waist, resting his hands on his knees as he tried to catch his breath.

"Bri-gasp-anna, is -gasp- just a -gasp- will work at home. Here. Please take this." He shoved a crumpled up ball into my palm before he ran back toward the store.

I sat down next to Aaron and unballed the piece of paper. On it was written, 'Chase: Employee Number 5184. Thanks Bunches! Love, Chase'

Aaron looked over and said, "Got some dude's digits?" I laughed.

"Um...yes. Also, phone numbers are only four numbers now! It will be so much more convenient than the standard seven..."

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

People you know but DON'T know...

There are some people in my life that I am very familiar with, and yet, I do not know their likes and dislikes; I don't know where they live...Hell, I don't even know their names!

They are Repeat Nobodys. 'Repeat Nobodys' are people you don't know personally, but you still recognize them...and its not because they did something or they are somebody like a celebrity...they're nobodies just like you.

Some examples of Repeat Nobodys (RNBs for short) in my life are as follows: 'Wedgie Guy'; 'No Lips Lady' and 'Big Watch Douche'. Wedgie Guy is my fave. (By the way, I should probably mention...I like to name my RNBs based on some quality they have that stands out most to me...) Wedgie Guy is this middle aged man I keep running into at random locales, and everytime I see him, he is always wearing the same outfit! (That's probably how I started recognizing him in the first place...)

He wears these black umpire shorts (well, technically, I don't know for sure that they are real, authentic umpire shorts, but they look exactly like the ones they wear...) with a tight red shirt that says, "I put the Grrr in Tiger" tucked into the umpire shorts with white knee socks and gym shoes.

I'm embarassed to admit this, but I am not even entirely sure what Wedgie Guy's face looks like, but in my defense, he somehow always positions himself ahead of me in line, and those umpire shorts give him the biggest wedgie I've ever seen! It can't be comfortable. It hypnotizes me everytime!

No Lips Lady power walks everywhere she goes. I'm not really sure if she really has no lips or if she does really does have some, but you can't see them because she's always pushing them together into a hard, white line.

"Big Watch Douche' really gets on my nerves. He seems to find an excuse to touch me every time I see him, and when I give him the stink eye, he says something like, "Sorry Hun." or "Excuse me, Sweetie." or "Woopsy, Sugar!"

Everyone has RNBs in their's the old lady with the unibrow that always seems to be pushing the shopping cart next to yours; men; women; sometimes even kids; they pop up at the post office, you might even see them driving their car, and yet you never formally meet. After a while, you might start doing a little head nod, acknowledging that you are two people that recognize each other. You may even smile and occasionally say, 'hi' or 'hey'.

Every once in a while, RNBs pop up so much, you end up actually becoming friends with them. That's what happened to me and Aaron a few years ago with Red Cooler Guy.

We were living at an apartment place with a community pool that we liked to frequent on hot summer afternoons. It was almost always know, enough people to occupy most corners, but not so many that you get splashed sporadically while hearing snipits of five different conversations, and thankfully, there was almost always enough people to avoid the awkward 'we're sharing a community pool with one other couple that are recreating water-based love scenes on their end of the pool' too.

We noticed Red Cooler Guy because he would always chill in the same corner of the pool with a long, skinny red cooler. It was only as wide as a 12 oz can, and it looked like it held about 8 cans...all in a row like bullets. It had a shoulder strap and Red Cooler Guy was never seen walking without it on his right shoulder. He'd always have it filled up with cans of Bud Light and we'd watch him crack open one after another, shooting them out of that long red cooler like it was a giant pez dispenser.

One time we saw Red Cooler Guy out at a bar that was only a block from our apartment, but we weren't sure it was him. We'd never seen him fully dressed, out in a public place without the cooler. Aaron and I debated for about 15 minutes whether it was him or not.

I noticed that he noticed us checking him out. Shit. "Aaron, he totally sees us looking at him. He probably thinks we're crazy!"

Aaron started laughing and he nodded as he took a sip of his beer. "Yeah..."

"Well, maybe we should just go meet him. I mean, he IS our neighbor, right?"

Aaron gave me an incredulous look. "And how do you suggest we strike up a conversation? 'We've been admiring your long, skinny red cooler from afar for several weeks now?' or how about 'You live at the same apartment place as us. We know because we've been stalking you and your long, skinny red cooler.' or 'Hey, where did you get that cool, long, skinny red cooler?'"

Now it was my turn to laugh. "Well, when you put it that way..." I was hiccuping and cryinging as I croaked, "Do you think we should tell him that we call him 'Red Cooler Guy'??"

Aaron rolled his eyes in mock disgust. "Um...NO, but I DO want to see if he'll tell us where he got that cooler. I want one!"

That night, we did eventually meet Red Cooler Guy, and we came to find out that his real name was Jeff. Now instead of admiring his long, skinny red cooler from afar, we got to reach in and grab a cold one. We hung out with him at the pool a few times a week, and he'd often get up, heading toward the door like he was leaving, and we'd yell after him, "Heading home?" or "Bye, Jeff!" and he'd come running back over and say, "Oh, I'm not leaving. I'm just reloading." Then he'd hold up the infamous cooler.

Yep, it was a real RNB success story.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Waxing Story...

Surprisingly enough, pouring fire hot wax on your crotch and having a stranger stick paper to it, then rip it off is not that awesome...

I was in my early 20s, playing house with a jerkface I'd met in college, when I decided that I needed a vacation. We booked a trip to the Carribean for the following month, and I made a list of things I needed to get done.

1. Lose 15 pounds.
2. Buy new swimsuit.
3. Go tanning.
4. Order more contacts.
5. Wax the area.

Then I thought: That list isn't too bad, and I have plenty of time! I am so ahead of the game for once! Maybe I should just take care of everything right now...then I will be done. Hmm...nah! No sense in wasting today...I can do it tomorrow.

When there was only about 3 days left until we were supposed to leave for our trip, I consulted my list again.

1. Lose 15 pounds.---Shit. I stepped on the scale. Up 2 pounds. maybe I wasn't going to be losing any weight before this trip. Oh well...too late for that one.

2. Buy new swimsuit.---This is one thing I HAD taken care of! My new swimsuit was on its way. (Too bad the suit that came the next day covered about half of each nipple and only one butt cheek...I ended up packing one I already had.)

3. Go tanning.---Easy. Done. Going to a designated location to nap for 20 minutes was NOT a problem for me.

4. Order more contacts.---CRAP. Without contacts or glasses, I had to rely on my other senses to help me out. You know how they say, 'when you lose one sense, your other ones become heightened?' Yeah...that wasn't the case with me...I just hoped I could make the 2-week disposable pair that I'd been wearing for the last 6 months last just one more week!

5. Wax the area.---'Ok.' I had thought. 'I'll just get out the phonebook and see if I can get in somewhere. No biggie.'

I was wrong. It was a biggie. Every salon in a 20 mile radius was booked solid for the next week. I was contemplating Nair or a razor as I listened to the echo-y sound of the phone ringing at the 20th place I'd called that day. This one was it. It had to be! It was the last place listed that was relatively nearby.

"Oriental Foot Spa. How I hep you?"

"Uh...hi, do you guys do bikini waxing there?"

"Ya, we do was. You wan bwazillion?"

"Um, sure. Ok."

" come now?"

"Oh! Now? Well, um...ok, yes. I think I can. What are your cross streets?"

She told me where they were located, and I wasn't surprised that it was an area I wasn't familiar with (I had just moved to Arizona a few months prior to this). I mapquested it and was about to head out the door when visions of the last bikini wax I'd had came back in short, vivid bursts. I better take a Vicodin...last time it really stung.

When I turned off the highway, I immediately noticed an increase in grafitti and bars on the windows. I looked to the left and saw three liquor stores and a pawn shop. I looked to the right and I saw a 'Check into Cash' and a Kmart that had apparently gone under although there were still several shopping carts rolling haphazardly through the abandoned parking lot.

I consulted my directions and pulled into the next strip mall I saw. I scanned the store fronts. Psychic Readings; WIC; another 'Check into Cash'?!; Family Dollar; Aha! Oriental Foot Spa! There it was. I'll admit it, I had some reservations about giving my business to an establishment that used the word "Oriental" to describe anything but a rug....BUT like I said, there was a time crunch.

I parked my car in front of the salon and noticed two teenage boys hanging out in front of the Water & Ice store drinking beverages out of brown paper bags. I stole furtive glances in their direction as I hussled in. I pretended not to notice when they both lifted their drinks in my direction as if to say "Cheers!"

I stepped into an anteroom that had been painted a flamingo pink. There were paintings on the wall that moved when you moved. A waterfall scene became a picnic in the forest. A tiger came jumping toward you, then became a rabbit. Bamboo seeds suddenly sprouted into tall plants. Below the pictures were rows and rows of brightly colored nailpolish. In the corner of the room was a large fountain that had tunnels filtering water into three separate pools of cloudy water.

I approached a glass counter in the middle of the room, craning my neck to see if anyone was working. I was studying their menu of services when a middle aged asian man approached me and yelled, "Why you here?" I told him about the waxing appointment. So quietly that I could barely hear him, he let out three long, low sounds, followed by one high pitched, "Nu-YA!"

A pleasant faced older lady appeared behind the man. He turned around and they appeared to be arguing. Although I couldn't understand what they were saying, I could see their facial expressions and "fuck you" seems to be spoken in every language.

Abuptly, the lady (I know what you're thinking..."The lady? What was her name, Erin?" To which I must reply, "NFC!!!" translation for those unfamiliar with my personal acronyms: NO FUCKING CLUE...Everyone needs a name so I guess I will call her "Happy"). So anyway, Happy turned to me, smiled sweetly and said, " weady?" I nodded and followed her. As we walked back, I turned to her and said, "Oh, um, I was thinking. I know I said 'Brazillian' on the phone, but I think I'll just do a regular bikini wax."

She looked at me, laughed, and shook her head. I wasn't sure what this meant, and I probably should have asked for clarification at that point, but I was starting to feel a little nervous. It's true, when this lady was standing, the top of her head was right at the level of my belt buckle, but she had attitude. It was intimidating!

We walked into a small room with a long narrow table that was covered in the same kind of sheet they have at the doctor's office. She pointed at it and said, "Ok. I go now, but I be back. TWO MINUTES! You take pants off. Lay. Wait." I thought of at least fifteen questions and waited for her to give me an opportunity to ask them...but it never came. I was alone before I knew Happy was even thinking about leaving.

I looked around for the paper underwear most salons usually provided and I discovered that I had been provided with Oriental Foot Spa's equivalent: two papertowels taped together. (This was about the tenth red flag that had been thrown in my face, but like I said, I was under a time crunch!...AND at this point, I was still under the mistaken impression that I would be rocking the Victoria's Secret bikini I had niavely ordered in the smaller of my size spectrum logically thinking to myself when I ordered it that I didn't want the bottoms to be too big because I'd end up with a saggy butt...slightly off topic: I'm seriously starting to think I was delusional in my early 20s because the bottoms I got in the mail were SO far from saggy, no amount of wax could make them work.

I heard a soft knock and then saw Happy let herself back into the small room. I was laying on the table with the papertowels strategically positioned. Happy nodded at me and said, "Now we start. Jus Relas." She massaged my shoulders for a minute, and I was starting to get really worried that something had been lost in the translation when I asked for this procedure to be done. Little did I know she was trying to comfort me because she was aware of the incredible pain she was about to inflict.

I watched Happy dip what looked like a large tongue depressor into a container of hot wax. She then painted the wax onto the right side of my inner thigh. She pressed it with the tips of her fingers, smoothed it out with her palm and then pulled with all her might. I winced. Ouch. Damn, that hurt. It went on like this for several minutes. Paint. Press. Smooth. Rip. Repeat. Paint. Press. Smooth. RIP! Repeat.

I sighed, wondering when she would be done, looking down to check her progress and I noticed my two papertowel underwear was gone. Happy was doing the Brazillian! Shit. This was going to be awkward.

"Um...excuse me?"

No response from Happy. She was concentrating on her work. I tried to extend my arm, hoping to tap her on the shoulder. Instead, I twisted from the hip, disturbing Happy's work. She grunted and looked up at me, obviously irritated.

"Sit still!" She commanded. I did as I was told, wishing I had a bite stick and a shot of whiskey. In the twenty minutes to follow, Happy had one of my legs pushed up by my ear while the other one was pinned down at an awkward angle by her knee. I wondered why they didn't have stirups like they did at the gynocologist's office which made me think of my last visit there. Holy Shit! The next time I have to go there, I'm not going to bat an eye when she tells me I might feel something cold. If I make it out of this alive, I can live through anything.

When I saw Happy put the wax away, I breathed a sigh of relief as I propped myself up on my elbows, feeling violated and elated at the same time. I did it! It was terrible, but the most important thing was OVER.

"Almost done." Almost? What else was there? I laid back. Maybe a refreshing, cooling, soothing lotion or wipe of some sort? Yes, that was probably it. She couldn't wax anymore. I saw her put it away. I tried to relax.

I decided to close my eyes while I waited for her to finish cleaning up my area. There was probably some extra wax. That's when I felt the first poke. I jumped a foot off the table, screeching, "OW!"

Happy smiled condescendingly and said again, "Almost done."

I eased back onto the table, and said, "It's ok. You don't need to..."


I gripped the edges of the table as Happy used a tweezer to pluck EVERY wayward hair in my ENTIRE area including the back door. If my teeth weren't clenched shut in pain, I would have said, "'s ok if I have one or two hairs by my butt. PLEASE...seriously, I'm ok with that." In reality, I think all I managed to get out was: "Please!"

When she was satisfied that her assignment had been fulfilled, that she had eradicated all signs of hair life, she smiled at me and said, "We done. You maybe twy take Aspwin before you come nest time." Then she giggled an evil, evil giggle.

The door had already closed so I'm pretty sure she didn't hear my response.

"Should I take the asprin BEFORE or AFTER the vicodin?"

Lesson learned: If the name of the spa you're visiting also has the words "oriental" and "foot" in it, you probably shouldn't let them anywhere near your hoo ha.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Learning to Drive...WITHOUT Killing Anyone

Remember how badly you wanted to drive anywhere when you were 16 years old?

My mom could mention that we were low on milk, and from across the house, I'd come running in, saying, "I can run to the grocery store. Can I take your car?" I'd overhear my brother complaining that all his mechanical pencils had just run out of lead, and I'd pop up, "If you can get Mom to let me take the car, I'll go get you more lead." My dad would mention that it would be nice to be able to hang the new family portrait that Mom's been nagging him about, but there were no nails. I'd suggest that it would be more than easy for me to just take his car right down to the hardware store and pick those up for him.

Never are teenagers more helpful than when they have been newly indoctrinated into the world of operating large machinery.

I'd say, for the most part, I was no different. I was anxious to 'bear this right of passage'; to add another notch to my 'almost-an-adult' belt; to acquire a new skill, to get places quicker and more efficiently, but mostly I was hell bent on one thing: freedom.

When I was 15, my dad got a new car. He traded in his rusted-out, barely-running navy blue Chevrolet Chevette for a brand new, teal Chevy Cavalier. It was the basic model, no frills, but it was new. It had that new car smell...for about 15 minutes. Then, my dad drove it off the lot, lighting a Camel Regular and hanging his arm out the window as he bumped the bass to some rockin' Patsy Cline.

I also started taking tennis lessons when I was 15....mostly because I had a friend who was pretty good at it, and also because tennis was a 'no cut' team. When I was 14and I was a freshman, I had tried out for every sport I had played in elementary school and junior highschool (both were one and the same...they were at our church).

As it turns out, when you go to a junior high with 'no cut' sports, you may never know how much you really suck until you actually do try out for the same sport somewhere else. My brother, Chris, tried to warn me before I went to basketball tryouts. I was practicing lay ups in the driveway when he came out, shook his head, and said, "Erin, don't even bother. You're only going to embarass yourself." I looked at him defiantly and thought 'I'll show him!' (he was right).

I also tried out for Cheerleading which was an even BIGGER debaucle than basketball, but at least with basketball, I looked like I might have skill. I mean, I was pretty tall...but when it came to cheerleading, all the other girls trying out were about one to two feet shorter than me...and so was the coach.

I could tell you more about my many humiliations, but I must get back to the story at hand! So, when I was 15, I took tennis lessons and my dad would drive me every week. I guess my mom figured this would be our coerced and forced 'bonding time'. Every week, we'd drive there, listening to classic country or am talk radio. The way home was more of the same, and every week was also pretty much the same.

Therefore, you can imagine my suprise when one day as we were leaving my tennis lesson, he turns to me and says, "You want to drive home, kid?" I wasn't sure why he was offering this rare privlege, and I didn't care. I grabbed the keys out of his hand before he could change his mind and hopped into the driver's seat.

I put the key in the ignition and looked for the gear shift. "Now, wait a second! You need to adjust the seat and the mirrors first. You can't just jump in and floor it!" I nodded like this was obvious to me, and I had just forgotten. I was a teenager, after all...I knew everything.

Once my father was satisfied that the mirrors and the seat were in the proper positions, I was ready to get going. I moved the gear shift until the little box surrounded the 'd' for 'drive' and i gingerly placed my right foot on the gas.

Nothing happened. I pushed a little harder, but nothing still. My dad was staring at me. "Well, GO already!" I let me foot rest more forcefully on the pedal and the car shot forward.

"Well, you don't have to push that hard! Good Lord! Ok, why don't you take a few laps around this parking lot and then pull out onto this side street over here." My dad pointed to his right where there was a back exit that led to a neighborhood.

I did as I was told, and after about 10 minutes of driving up and down quiet, empty streets, my father turned toward me and said, "Ok, why don't you go ahead and take a right up here onto 45th Ave?" 45th Avenue was a regular, BUSY street with traffic signals, several lanes and other cars, lots of other cars.

I was terrified. "WHAT? I can't go on a busy street yet! This is my first lesson! I'm not ready yet!" My dad shook his head and said, "Eh, you'll never be ready. Come on. Let's go." I let my foot ease off the brake and inched up to the intersection. I looked to the left and I saw what looked like 80 cars coming at me all at once, rushing past us in a loud gush of motors, wind and wayword horn honks from disgruntled drivers, fellow drivers. I was a driver now!

The traffic seemed to thin out a little bit, and I saw my chance. I eased forward, ready to pull out...when I saw a large van pull into the far lane, zooming toward me. I hesitated, waiting for the van to pass. The van passed. I breathed a sigh of relief and got ready to go again, but now three more cars were coming, staggered across the two lanes of traffic. I waited again. Now it looked clear....but...wait, no, I saw something on the horizon. I hesitated.

My father was never one known for an overabundance of patience, and I could tell by his breathing, he was getting really irritated by the amount of time it was taking me to make this right hand turn. His once philanthropic attitude had gone sour when he realized he was going to miss the sci fi marathon he had been looking forward to all day.

He hadn't anticipated that his new pupil would be such a slow study. When I saw his fingers drumming on the dashboard of the car, and I noticed him craning his neck to see around me, to see for himself, what the hold up was...I knew I was in for it.


I looked at my dad with wide eyes.


He threw up his hands, muttering something about me being just like my mother under his breath.

"I said...GO! STEP ON IT! PULL OUT THERE! They're not going to hit you."

(The last part actually came out sounding more like "They're not gonna hit-cha!" It was not a nice, civil, well-articulated request, it was a heated, damn-pissed, Chicago-accented, 'six-word-sentence-that-actually-sounds-like one-long-word' COMMAND).

I swallowed and peeled out into the neareast permissable lane. I cringed when a cacophony of honking horns filled the car and my dad flung obscene hand gestures their way in response, yelling,


I couldn't help it. I started to laugh. The whole situation was just too funny...for me, at least. I couldn't say the same for dear old dad.

He looked over at me, still highly irritated, "And WHAT it so funny?" I kept my eyes on the road and my hands at 10 and 2 as I said, "You just get so mad...and the way you act toward complete strangers (a little giggle escaped)...Papa, it was my fault. I cut those people off. There was NO reason for you to shout at them like you did."

This only served to piss him off more. He told me my driving lesson was OVER.

"Pull over up ahead. Put the hazards on."

I tightened my grip on the steering wheel and looked in the rearview mirror. There were millions of cars lined up behind me.

"Uh...can we do a Chinese Fire Drill instead??" I asked, my eyes darting between the road ahead and the road behind.

"A Chinese what??"

I could tell he was growing increasingly agitated, but I wasn't sure how to pull over and I definitely didn't know where the hazards were.

"It' thing. Sarah taught me? Well, it's where you get out of the car when you are stopped at a stop light. Everyone gets out and changes places."

He was staring at me again. (I could see him in my peripheral vision...I didn't dare take my eyes off the road.)

"Pull over up here."

It was like he hadn't heard the Chinese Fire Drill description at all. I guessed it wasn't up for discussion. I thought about re-introducing it, but decided I better not.

"I CAN'T pull over. We didn't practice that part."

My dad threw his head back against the headrest in disgust. To him, it was the easiest thing in the world, and he couldn't comprehend how I could possibly not be able to make it happen.

"For Christ's sake! You at least have to go the speed limit!"

In the time it had taken us to debate the finer points of pulling over and Chinese Fire Drills, I had inadvertently slowed the Cavalier down to an awkward 30 mph in a 45 mph zone. Cars were flying by us on either side. I was getting overwhelmed. There were cars everywhere!


I could feel the hot prick of tears forming in the back of my eyes and fought to hold them back.

My dad was just about ready to lose his mind at this point.

"Turn right up here, into the Dunkin Donuts parking lot."

I saw it coming and tensed up as I prepared to expertly maneuver the car into the lot.

Unfortunately, I mistimed it, and I hit the curb.


I frantically pulled at the steering wheel as I tried to get it off the street.

"Shit. I probably have a flat tire now. PUT IT IN PARK!"

I did as I was told and scrambled over the gear shift to get into the passenger seat. My dad was outside, inspecting the right front wheel. Luckily, it was fine.

Incredibly, we made it home that day...not really sure how. I'm thinking that I blocked it out...kind of like when your body goes into shock to protect you?? That was my first and last driving lesson with my dad.

When we got home, I told my mom about our adventure, she dropped her knitting, and said, "Larry! Why on earth would you teach anyone to drive??!? You've been to defensive driving school almost every year I've known you. You are one of the worst drivers I know." (This did nothing for his mood.)

After about 2 months of begging, bargaining and making empty promises, I talked my parents into letting me sign up for Driver's Ed. Once they had agreed, I made sure we didn't waste any time. On the morning of January 24th 1993, we walked into the driving school on Indianapolis Blvd and met with Jerry Ryerson, the guy who owned the place, taught the classes, maintenanced the cars, and accepted the cash. He was someone that was always smiling and when he spoke, it was almost as if he had a twinkle in his eye. You couldn't wait to hear what he was going to say next. I liked him right away and flourished under his tutelage.

I later came to realize that Jerry had help being the one man show down at the driving school. As it turned out, he grew his own marijuana plants in the back shed which explains his many 'happy breaks', his neverending patience with young drivers, and his ever smiley attitude.

Maybe if my dad would have lit up a joint instead of a Camel, my first driving lesson would have gone just as smoothly as the ones to follow???

Sunday, February 20, 2011

'The Walgreens Bag Story'

What you are about to read is something that has been in the vault for nearly 20 years... (with the exception of a few moments of indiscretion caused both by a need for revenge and also when too much alcohol has been ingested). Now, for the first time ever, Katie has given her permission, her blessing even for this gem to be shared on a public forum. So...without further ado, I give you: 'The Walgreens Bag Story'...

I'm not sure why my dad decided to take us through the city that day, but as far as I can remember, we never took that route again after one sunny day in July 1984...

"I need my Cabbage Patch preemie baby, not Sally Mae." I sighed in annoyance as my mother tried to appease me with my old Cabbage Patch doll. I had just gotten a brand new preemie Cabbage Patch Kid for my birthday which had been on the 24th of that month, and you would think I would know exactly where he was, considering he was brand new, but I'll be honest, I was a pretty careless kid.

So anyway, I was looking everywhere for this doll. His name was James Sheldon. I know what you're thinking...pretty weird name for a baby, right? I know. I didn't name him. I adopted him. That's the way it worked with Cabbage Patch Kids. They were all the rage in the early '80s. Parents would wait in long lines during the middle of the night in order to get them. It was crazy! I heard one lady waited in line at Toys R Us for thirty-four hours, and when they finally opened the doors, she tripped...right there where the automatic doors had opened, and no one helped her up. They just kept right on pushing. It was a mob mentality. She got trampled. Broke 3 ribs and her nose. It was in all the papers.

When it came to Cabbage Patch Kids, people were serious and my mother was no exception. She told us that her and her friend Judy Kamlet once punched a person who tried to take the last doll from them.

Let me tell you, us kids? We were no different. We knew what was what. One kid I knew? His mom tried to pass off one of those craft fair look-alike Cabbage Patch Kids as the real deal one Christmas, but he knew right away and told her as much, too. I heard she broke down crying, saying that there just weren't enough dolls to go around. Tommy was still talking about that Christmas years later. It was a big deal in Indiana...and that was why I needed my new preemie Cabbage Patch, not just the regular, old kind.

We were headed to Kenosha, Wisconsin. Every summer, one of us kids, my brother, sister or I, got to go 2 hours north and spend one whole week with my grandparents at their house. It was a special treat, a chance to see how the other half lived, the kids that didn't have siblings...and the kids who got to eat sugar cereal. (As much as my brother and sister and I loved each other, we fought like cats and dogs! Any chance to get a week of attention with no competition was pretty awesome...)

It was a Saturday, and it was my brother, Chris' turn to be at my grandparents' house for the week. My dad was pacing in the kitchen, cussing under his breath about 'making good time'. I was, of course, looking for James Sheldon, and Kate was gathering a variety of markers, books and games to entertain herself during the long car ride. My mom was on the phone with my grandmother. "Yes, we're leaving in a few minutes. Ok. Yes. I know. MmmmHmmmm. Ok. Love you, too. Bye." As I heard my mother placing the phone back on its cradle that was attached to the wall, I started to panic. Where was he??

All of a sudden, I heard a loud thunk outside the playroom door. I ran out, and there was James, laying at an awkward angle, his legs pointing in either direction. I scooped him up and heard Katie yell, "I found him under your bed! Let's go! Papa's about to have a fit!" Despite being a little miffed about her callous treatment of my new preemie adoptee, I shouted back, "Coming!!!"

Twenty minutes later, we were packed into my father's Oldsmolbile Cutlass, on our way to retrieve my brother. I wondered what cereal he had chosen as we backed out of our driveway. (My parents only let us have Cheerios or plain Rice Krispies because they said all the other kinds would give us cavities. So, the week we spent up north, we got to pick any cereal we wanted...Actually, looking back on it as an adult, I think, 'Shit, we were fuckin' freaks...what kind of kid goes ape shit for Captain Crunch?? Us. We did. The Orth misfits, that's who...)

My mother sighed and lifted her arms to an awkward arc, holding her Sidney Sheldon book in front of her face in order to shield it from the smoke that was coming from my father. He was oblivious. He was too busy enjoying his Camel Regular as he tapped his fingers on the steering wheel to the Roy Orbison song playing on the radio. "Cuz I need you, I'll treat you right...come with me baby. Be mine tonight..." I caught my dad's eye in the rearview mirror as he pushed the words to the song out between pursed lips that were holding tight to his lit cigarette. He winked at me before sending a sparkler-like explosion out the driver's side window.

It was at that moment my mom seemed to notice her surroundings for the first time. "You're going through Chicago?" She made no attempt to hide the irritation in her voice. My dad never took his eyes from the road as he said, "Yep. Looks that way, doesn't it?" My mother crossed her legs, leaned forward to crack her window (back then, you had to work for fresh air...there were no automatic windows! You had to manually crank that shit down...) My parents were having one of their non-fights. They liked to pretend they weren't really fighting, but it was pretty much obvious that they hated each other's guts.

We had been driving for about an hour when my sister leaned forward (back then, cars were roomy! There was at least a full 5 feet between us and the front seat...) and she says to my parents, "I've gotta go to the bathroom." My dad checked his mirrors and started making his way over to get off at the next exit. My mom's head snaps up immediately, and she says, "Oh way. We are NOT stopping here. This is a bad neighborhood. Sorry. You're going to have to hold it." My dad shrugged and said, "Well, I'm sure..." My mom interuppted him, sayind, "YOU were the one who wanted to drive through the city..." This shut him up. He looked at Katie in the rearview mirror, and said, "Sorry...I guess we can't stop right now."

Katie let out an anguished whine and said, "But I really, really have to go!!!" My mother reached under the seat, pulled out an old Walgreens shopping bag and tossed it over. "Here! You can go in this!" She giggled at her own joke as the empty bag slowly floated down and landed between my sister and I on the burgandy, velour seat. She looked at me for a minute and then looked at the bag. She looked at me again, her face twisted as she crossed and re-crossed her legs. Finally, she picked up the bag. "Will you hold it?"

At first, I wasn't sure what she was asking me. I just stared at her.

"Hold what?"

She was exasperated.

"THE BAG!!! I have to go so bad! I can't hold it! I just want to try to go in the bag like Mom said."

My eyes bulged. I said,

"But...I think Mom was joking when she said that. I'm not so sure..."

She was growing more and more impatient.

"It's fine. Come on, will you do it? I'd do it for you."

That was the clincher. "I'd do it for you..." How could I say no? I shrugged and accepted the bag. (On a side note, this reminds me, I still have this IOU in my backpocket, Kate! Who knows when I'll decide to cash it in???)

I held the two plastic loops that served as handles at a wide angle as Kate unbuckled her pants. (How my parents were oblivious to this whole scene, I have no idea...but like I said, that car was a boat. The backseat was practically in Siberia!) Once she felt that she had done everything necessary to prepare, she looked at me and said,

"Ok, are you ready?"

I nodded solemnly.

I was six years old...what did I know? I was just honored that my big sister was trusting me with such a huge responsibility.

What happened next can only be described as absolute bedlam.

Apparently, my sister had overlooked one minor detail when she commissioned me for the bag holding gig. She let me assume that only pee would be filling up this temporary receptacle. However, that was not that case. She was not waiting to get rid of number 1 OR number 2. was a number know what I mean...ahem, soft serve? The big d? Scoots? Diarhea!!

When I first realized what was happening, I was in shock. (I had never been this close to something SO a curious kid, you always think you want a front row seat to whatever is matter how gross, but then once you get there you realize it really isn't that awesome... and then there's always some know-it-all adult there with his arms folded across his chest, nodding, mouthing, 'I told you so...')

My sister's first thought when she started going, was


Mine was


Instictively, I dropped the back and scooted myself back into the far corner of the car.

"Stop going! I dropped the bag!"

My sister looked over her shoulder and saw that I had left my post, betraying her.


I shrugged and looked at her sheepishly.

"You didn't tell me it was gonna be boo boos! STOP GOING!"

At this point, it looked like someone had put a jar of gravy in the microwave on high and it had exploded everywhere.

"I CAN'T!!!" she wailed.

A twinge of guilt nagged at me, and I thought about picking the bag back up, but the handles were now also covered with the brown liquid. I retracted my hands in horror, as I choked back a gag (I was known for being a loud mom always said I gagged like a 500 pound man. I tried my best not to let one of these escape me but it did and it still came out sounding like a bear in heat).

About 15 minutes into this whole ordeal, my dad, who had his right arm extended over the back of the front seat, casually glanced over his shoulder and quickly did a double take, as he let out a loud,

"JE - SUS CHRIST!!!!!!"

The car swerved and other cars honked. A semi truck let out a low, loud blast. My dad grabbed the steering wheel with both hands, regaining control after a few seconds. The jerking motion of the car caused my mother to looked up from her book for the first time,

"What on earth?? Larry, watch where you're going."

He ignored her as he stole another look back at us.


My dad had the turn signal on and was making his way over to the shoulder.

My mom finally turned toward us, and she, too, did a double take of the scene in front of her. Me, in the fetal position, backed into the corner of the large, now stained, burgandy, velour bench seat; and Katie, now sitting in the Walgreens bag, her pants in a crumpled ball in the back window. She looked up at my mom scornfully, her eyes narrowed,

"YOU said to use the Walgreens bag!"

As soon as she had said this, my sister burst into tears and my mother stammered,

"Bu-But...I was just kidding! I thought you knew that!"

My sister pushed her hair out of her eyes, and shouted,


Somehow, we eventually made it to Kenosha. When we got there, my dad took out the whole backseat, scrubbed it and hosed it down. I scrambled to get out of the car when we pulled into the driveway, partly because of the smell and partly because I couldn't wait to get into the house so I could be the first one to tell everyone what happened.

It was such a good story, I barely noticed the stains on my doll and pillow, but Chris didn't waste any time bringing them to my attention. I began to protest, squaking about the smell. My grandma led me into the bathroom and showed me how a little Soft Scrub and some elbow grease would take the splatter stains right out of James Sheldon's pale yellow romper (I was beside myself...he couldn't just ride home naked! He was a preemie for God sakes!!!)

Chris couldn't believe he had missed out on all the action. Katie was livid. To this day, she still insists that she could have gotten it all in the bag if I wouldn't have left my post. At which point, I blame my mother, asking her why she thought dry humor was a good idea when speaking to small children. So then, she usually blames my dad...because he was the bonehead that took the dangerous route through the city, and he usually blames my brother for being in Wisconsin in the first place...

So that's it. That's the famous Walgreens Bag Story. It has been the thing of legends now for decades. I have blackmailed my sister a countless number of times throughout the years with this one. (which reminds me, SORRY, KATE!!!! BUT look at it this, the story has lost its power...)

To anyone reading, I hope I didn't build this story up so much that it was anticlimactic. I tried my best to do it justice, but to really enjoy this story, you must hear it in person...told from all viewpoints of the Orth misfits.

Again, I thank my gracious sister for releasing one hell of a story...and to everyone else, let this be a lesson to you, if you're going to have someone hold a bag for you, give them an idea of what to expect!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A balanced diet is a cookie in each hand... :)

Aaron and I went to a bakery to taste cakes and cookies today (I'm pretty sure everything was sugar free and belly good...) We walked in and within seconds, we were greeted by a smiley lady named Arlene. "Are you here for the tasting?" We nodded and she told us to follow her to the "tasting room" (Fancy Dan!)

When we got there, she heaved 3 large photo albums onto the table and told us that we could start looking at pictures of cakes to help us decide what we wanted. Aaron and I exchanged looks. "Well...we were thinking about not having a cake, and instead having chocolate chip cookies. She frowned. "Well, most people at least get a 6 inch cake. Think about your photos. How will you get the picture of the bride and groom cutting the cake?? How will you eat a piece of your wedding cake on your one year anniversary??? This is something you should give serious consideration to."

All of this came out in a breathless rush and when she finished, it seemed that Arlene recognized her own exuberance because she looked a little embarassed. She smoothed her blouse and said, "But...of course, it IS your wedding. You can do what you want. Unfortunately, we don't have cookies to taste. You'll have to order those. We can still let you taste the cakes we have if you are interested."

I looked at Aaron, put my hand over his and said, ", ok. You make some good points. I guess we hadn't really thought of the photographs and other traditions. We would definitely still like to try some cake." Arlene smiled triumphantly. "I'll go get you some samples!"

She left the room and Aaron looked at me. "You really think we should get that little cake like she said?" I gave him a look and said, "No! Of course not! I still want to try some stuff though!" Aaron chuckled and said, "You think it's belly good or no?" I rolled my eyes and said, "Uh. Yeah...duh. Anyway, back to cutting the cake. Who cares about cutting the cake? We can dunk the cookie or break apart the cookie or something...we can do it our way." He looked relieved. "Oh good. Yeah, I think that's kind of dumb to have a cake just for that...and well, do you really want to eat old cake in a year??" I shook my head. "Hell no! That's gross. We'll have our own tradition. How about every year on our anniversary, we'll make homemade chocolate chip cookies together?" Aaron smiled and said, "I like that idea. When we have kids, that will be a good way to remind them it's time to get us a gift."

We were laughing when Arlene walked back in with a gilted tray. On it was a small, frosted cake and 8 little balls of mousse. She cut each of us a piece and explained that one half was chocolate with chocolate mousse and the other half was vanilla cake with cream cheese custard and fresh strawberries. The top was buttercream frosting and the sides were whip cream frosting. She then explained that there were eight varieties of mousse to choose from and a sample of each was provided for us. Then she left the room again. (Maybe she figured that people don't usually like it when you watch them eat...)

"Ok...I didn't think I liked cake, but THIS is delicious!" Aaron was licking his fork like he hadn't eaten anything in weeks. I stared at him, then smiled. "Are you going to pick up your plate and lick that, too?" He grinned and said, "Maybe. Wouldn't it be funny if she came back and everything was gone..." ---"and the plate was completely licked clean?!" I interjected. We both laughed and looked up to see Arlene approaching us with paperwork.

She explained the ordering process for cookies and asked us about our cake preferences. We both liked the vanilla, but we haven't changed our mind about not having cake. Cookies are a way better dessert for such a special least it is in our world. :)

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Pumping Story

Walking in on a stranger manually pumping milk out of her own breast is pretty disturbing, but when it happens to you at a preschool, it's really a shock.

When I was in my early 20s, I worked as an aide at a daycare. They wanted me to help manage students in their am and pm classes two days a week. I was still in college at the time and so was the person who hired me. Because of conflicts in schedules, we had to do a phone interview instead of actually meeting in person. The lady I apoke to sounded very pleasant. She was working on her Phd at ASU while also coordinating funding for this preschool. The job sounded pretty straight forward, worked with my schedule and would look good on my resume; so I accepted it sight unseen.

My first day, I was about 20 minutes early. I decided that was probably a good thing....but I was wrong.

I stepped into the daycare, looking around at the brightly colored classroom. I was surprised to see a few children already playing with blocks and several more riding tricycles just outside a propped open door. As I smiled and waved at the kids, I looked around and realized there were no adults in this room. I was already confused because according to MaryAnn (the lady who hired me) the daycare didn't even open until 9:00 and right now, it was only 8:20.

Suddenly, I heard a woman's voice yell, "You be sweet! Be sweet! Come on, now! BE SWEET!!!" I choked down a giggle at the irony of the lady's tone paired with her message. By the time she said, "be sweet" for the fifth time, her voice was so strained, she sounded like Miss Piggy from The Muppet Show.

I figured that the voice I had heard must be coming from Marsha, the person I was supposed to be reporting to this morning, so I walked over to the door and almost tripped over a woman in her mid 30s with an utter-like breast shoved into a funnel attached to a long plastic arm that she was working in and out like an old well. She was sitting on a child-sized chair with her knees spread apart as wide as they would go.

I was mortified. I stumbled backwards, doing everything I could to get the hell out of there as fast as I possibly could. "You must be Erin." Furious pumping continued, the pace never faltering for one moment as she said this. "I....uh, sorry I'm early. I didn't mean to..." She cut me off by making a loud lip smacking sound, "A bup bup! It's fine! It's fine! I'm just pumpin' real quick before all the rest of the rugrats get here."

At that moment, a blonde haired, blue eyed little cherub pushed his way past me and said, "I wa baba." To which Marsha shook her head (still pumping!), saying, "I already told you, Jet. No baba til breakfast! Now get!" The kid stamped his foot, crossed his arms and stuck his tongue out at her. Marsha's eyes bulged and the pumping slowed ever so slightly as she started to move to a standing position. That was all it took. He ran toward the door and I saw him dive into a bean bag chair on the other side of the classroom.

"EH-KNEE-way," Marsha said, exagerrating each syllable as she rolled her eyes and pulled the machine off her breast with a loud thwap sound. I tried to look anywhere but straight ahead as Marsha positioned the device over her other nipple and tried not to spill the yellow-y white breast milk that sloshed around in the attached bag (which I later learned was called a bladder BLADDER! (I just threw up in my mouth a little bit).

Without even resting, Marsha started pumping again. "You got kids yet?" I shook my head as I studied a stain on the carpet. "You're lucky. Want my advice? WAIT...and be smart about who your givin' the honey to if you know what I'm sayin'." With that she did a little head nod with a wink, giving me a wise, worldy, 'don't make the same mistakes I did' kind of a look. "Look at me! I gotta use this God forsaken machine morning, noon and night all because Todd decided to get boxed wine one night instead of condoms. If I don't pump like this, when I go on the bus after work, my titties are all wet." For some reason, at this point, she sat up and got a little more passionate about what she was telling me. It was almost as if she thought I didn't believe her. "God's honest truth, there is so much milk coming out of these fun bags, it soaks right through my bra and makes the whole upper half of my shirt wet! I'm usually so dead tired by the time I leave this place though that I don't even notice until I see some old perv across from me poppin' wood, thinking he's in the middle of some Goddamn "Girls Gone Wild" Video."

She sighed and said, "So...I pump a lot...that way, my jugs aren't all leaky and all 'Look at me! Look at me!' You know what I'm sayin, girlfriend?" I laughed uncomfortably. I had no fuckin' idea what she was 'sayin'. I breathed a sigh of relief when we were interupted by 2 boys that looked to be about 3 years old. One came running into the office holding a Fisher Price truck above his head. A second later, another little boy followed, eyes ablaze as he reached out, punching the other little boy in the back. Marsha positioned herself between the battling kids and said to me, "Grab that thing, will ya?" I did as I was told, apologizing as I pried it out of the little hands that were holding onto it for dear life. I finally was able to wrangle it away and I grinned at Marsha in victory. That's when the little brat kicked me in the shin! I bent down, clutching my ankle, letting out an anguished, "Ow--0--uch!" and dropping the confiscated toy in the process. The kid who'd been trying to get it didn't waste any time. He had that truck in his possession faster than a seagull who swoops down for a wayward french fry at the beach. The first kid screamed and chased after him out the door.

Marsha looked tired. "I hope you drank some coffee because that is how it's gonna be all day long. These munchkins are only here because their parents all give me an extra hundy under the table each week (huh, that answers THAT question)...which I would like to keep our little secret, if you know what I mean." She winked at me again, which I came to know as something that Marsha did constantly. I even wondered if it was involuntary for a while, but I decided it was way too context-specific.

The months that followed that first day were fun, unusual and definitely never boring. Marsha provided hours of unlimited entertainment. The level of inappropriateness I witnessed on a daily basis was awesome. I never did get used to seeing Marsha nonchallantly exposing her breasts for any man, woman or child, but I always felt lucky that she never asked me to assist in her in any way...because that could have made things really awkward.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Mean Girls...the wrinkled years

I just got done reading an article on MSN called "Mean Old Girls". It's a piece that someone wrote abhorring the blatant "mean attitudes" some senior citizens display in retirement villages, assisted living centers and nursing homes.

It may be a bad decision on my part to share my true feelings on this topic, but I just can't resist. This shit is tooooo FUNNY! I'm picturing the ensemble cast from Mean Girls (starring Lindsey Lohan)...50 years forward. "OMG, Helen, you totally have chin hair. Pluck that shit or you can't sit with us at Bingo tonight." or a gaggle of geriatrics in a huddle whispering about the new hottie that just moved in. "Do you think that he wears a toupee? ...Because I'm totally ok with that. Hands off bitches! I saw him first." It's hysterical to me..

Before you condemn me and say I'm a heartless, soulless jerk, hear me out. I love a cute old grandpa or a sassy grandma type as much as the next person and I certainly am not endorsing "bullying", but COME ON!!!! These are adults...yes, they're old adults...some might even be fucking old adults, but ultimately, they ARE adults.

The article tries to explain how bullying happens among the elderly. Adults are the kids that were bullies and seniors are the adults who were bullies....this is a logical way of figuring out WHY it happens. The real problem occurs when we start to ask WHY do we CARE it happens???

I am not UNcaring. I am not a bully myself (well, at least not most of the time...). I would actually consider myself to be a nice person, generous even. That being said, when I'm 85, if I don't want to eat lunch with some old bag because she tells annoying stories about her bratty grandkids and smells like Ovaltine, I shouldn't have to!!

I can sympathize with parents who want to protect their young from the psychological damage bullying could inflict. I've seen, firsthand, how cruel children can be to one another. It is a sad that requires intervention; guidance from a caring adult. I've stepped in and taught some youngsters that "strangers are only friends that we haven't met yet" and "when you exclude someone, it's just as mean as saying something mean to them..." I say lots of things to kids. I'm a good role model.

I've also seen old ladies cut in line at the nail salon, cuss out anyone with an accent and give waitresses a quarter for a tip. Not once have I felt the urge to intervene to give them a life lesson about how to treat others fairly.

Do you want to know why?? Because it's none of my business!!! They. are. adults!! They might be fucking old adults(...which, by the way, I'm going to shorten to FOA), but they are adults.

Even if some of these people that are complaining about being bullied are FOAs, there is still no reason to think they can't manage their own problems. They must know at least a thing or two about the way the world turns. They have managed to make it so many years on this earth that they have earned themselves an AARP card. They deserve our respect, not our rebukes! As for the old people that tattle on other old people, Pa-shaw! That is what I say to you!

The article references a 64 year old (64 is not even elderly in my book...) resident of a nursing home who says she got bullied by other women in her retirement village. She spoke in detail about the way they would not let her sit at their table and the way they would gossip about her. She's tattling on the girls in her village??? To the newspaper??? What a ingenius way to retaliate! Women are any age. (However, not everyone has my insight...most people probably feel sorry for this lady...I wish someone would step in and say, 'Just fuckin deal with it...')

People are always going to talk, especially when they are living in close quarters and sharing common facilities. In a perfect world, no one would ever utter an unkind word about any other person...but be careful what you wish for people!! No one's feelings would be hurt, but we would miss out on some very fulfilling belly laughs!!!

I make fun of myself on a daily basis...I also make fun of my pre-husband, my friends and my family. I love it...I'll admit it. Maybe I will be one of these old, saggy bullies?

At one point in this article, Renee Garfinkel, a psychologist from D.C. says, "Third party bystanders are part of the problem. If people see this, they should get involved. Speak up the same way you would if you saw it at a bus stop. Sometimes, people aren’t sure what to do because the bully might be impaired, not functioning on all cylinders. But you need to get somebody to come and help.”

If you would indulge me, I have but a few comments about what Renee Garfinkel has to say on this topic:

1. When she says, "Speak up just as you would if you saw it at a bus stop", WHO exactly is she addressing?!?! Who are these people that patrol bus stops breaking up raisin scuffles? Seriously?! Does this really happen??? ...because if it does, I want to go and watch! I cannot even fathom the idea, myself. Then again, I'm not a regular bus rider either. Is that the missing link? I don't ride the bus?? I have never witnessed 2 old broads getting into it at the bus stop, at the grocery store....Hell, I've never even seen it at IHOP and trust, me IHOP has no shortage of elderly folk. You can go into IHOP at pretty much any time of the day and see a plethora of wrinkled heads lowered to their plate, chowing down reasonably priced, dessert-like breakfasts.


2. "Sometimes people aren't sure what to do because the bully might be impaired"... the visual imagery behind this comment is almost too much for me. I'm picturing myself and a friend sizing up a situation, deciding to intervene, but then pulling back to discuss whether or not we think this guy is playing with a full deck. I picture the Uncle Leo character from Seinfeld...someone that was crazy their entire life and continues to be crazy as an old person getting judged and removed from a situation while someone tells him, "Look, I realize you are mentally impaired, but i just CANNOT allow you to bully that man." The look of confusion and disbelief would be AWESOME..."Wait, I'm not mentally impaired, I'm just crabby and quirky!! I swear!"

I could write for another hour on this topic...I have a whole scenario playing out in my head right now where a little old lady named Agnes gets ostrasized at lunch because her coral Avon lipstick is all over her dentures...she cries and sits alone in the back of the cafeteria and wonders why everyone keeps taking out their dentures, pointing in her direction and laughing hysterically...she thinks to herself, "Did I poop my pants? Why am I being bullied? I wish someone would intervene like that nice young man at the bus stop yesterday..."

Alas, it is almost time for my next client. I need to wrap this up and be on my way. Therefore I will leave you with just one parting thought: I hope one day I'm an FOA and if any little fucker gets in my way, I will not think twice about tripping him with my orthopedic shoe. What? What's that you say? I'm a bully? No...not yet, but I'm looking forward to it in my golden years...