There are certain professions that have earned public scorn over the years – and rightfully so. Deep down, we all hate lawyers, realtors, drug-peddling doctors, used car salesmen, mimes, politicians, the talking heads at Fox News, mortgage bankers, and those bitches who work in a high-end retail stores for ten bucks an hour, but still look down their noses at you when you walk in wearing frayed jeans and flip flops. Having been an attorney and a realtor, I’m a bit of an expert in the field of despicable professions and, hence, I’d like to add one more to the list: grocery store cashiers, hereinafter referred to as “cashiers.”
Before I get into the nitty gritty of why these seemingly innocuous people who merely slide food across a barcode scanner thousands upon thousands of time a day should be lumped in with the scum of the world, it’s essential to understand why we hate people who are employed in legitimate, yet contemptible, professions.
Attorneys have long topped the list of most despised people in the professional world. After all, it was Shakespeare who wrote, “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” But what it is about the men and women whom we also refer to as counselors that irritates people more than Gilbert Gottfried’s voice? Is it because we perceive them as dishonest? Is it the scandalous fees they charge for services billed in six minute increments? Is it because they act like they were born with an encyclopedic knowledge of everything in the entire world and the rest of us weren’t? More likely, it’s because they pepper their conversations with words like hereinafter and quid pro quo. I know, I know – I’m the absolute worst offender. I did say I was an expert in this field. In fact, I have an encyclopedic knowledge about it…and a few other things.
Realtors – talk about wolves in sheep’s clothing. Dressed to the nines, they’ll drive you around in a glossy Mercedes or Lexus, show you the home of your dreams, buy you lunch if you’re lucky and conveniently forget to mention that the shambling building next door to your new place is a half-way house; that the odor you smell is not the realtor’s fart as she claims, but the nearby landfill; and that US Airways’ flight path passes directly over your house – and will rattle your windows, send the fragile salt and pepper shaker collection your grandmother left you crashing to the floor and cause you to miss half the punch lines when you watch The Big Bang Theory.
Physicians are one of the only professionals who are regularly rewarded for being mistaken. Thus, we dislike them because they keep their exorbitant fees – even when they misdiagnose us. Hell, if Dr. Gregory House was a real doctor and not a television character, I’d avoid the dude like the plague – even if I had the plague. He spends the first 50 minutes of each show being wrong. If an attorney was wrong that often, they’d be disbarred, forced to watch every episode of Matlock at gunpoint, drawn and quartered, then their body parts would be displayed on spikes outside the courthouse. Granted, I might survive if I let House treat me, but before he cured me I would likely: (1) bleed out my eyes; (2) have my head shaved for unnecessary brain surgery; (3) be accused of infidelity with a monkey in a foreign country; (4) suffer through at least one round of chemo; (5) become so jaundiced that House begins to call me “banana head”; (6) have my home illegally rifled through by Chase and Foreman looking for an “environmental” cause for my illness, but the pervs are really just sniffing my panties; (7) be prescribed high doses of steroids so that my face bloats up and House begins calling me “spaghetti squash head” instead; (8) have a kidney, my appendix and gall bladder removed; and (9) tell House to fuck off, at which point he’d refuse to treat me, so I’d stomp out of the hospital, my bare, yellow butt on display to the world as my flimsy gown flaps in the wind. The following day, the nurse practitioner at the walk-in clinic would correctly diagnose me with the common cold, but I’d die anyway because my immune system would be shot from the chemo I didn’t need in the first place. So that’s why people hate doctors. That and the fact that they’re just so damned smug.
Mimes offer a unique reason for our loathing – they’re just so annoying. Yeah, we get it. You don’t talk, and yet you’re communicating with us. Sort of. Whoopdee doo. Most deaf people don’t talk either, but I don’t pay them for keeping their mouths shut. You don’t see them out in the park with a jar in front of them, signing to me a plea for my spare change with their rapidly moving fingers. And they don’t feel the need to paint up their faces like an effeminate goth to make sure I know that they aren’t going to talk to me. And what’s up with you guys getting stuck in clear boxes? What’s wrong with you? I’ve never been stuck in clear box. How stupid can you be? Maybe if you got a tan, ditched the striped shirt and the beret, and used your words, the people manufacturing the clear boxes would stop trying to capture you.
Now that you have a general understanding of the reasons we abhor those employed in certain occupations, I again suggest that we add cashiers to the list. Why, you ask? They’re underpaid, forced to stand on their feet all day, and are often completely ignored by grocery store patrons – we should feel sorry for them, you say. I don’t think so. I agree that cashiers have a fairly menial job. It’s repetitive. It’s boring. There’s only so many times they can say, “So, did you find everything you were looking for today?” without gritting they’re teeth and suppressing the desire to jump across the register and rip our heads off. Still, when employed in profession so simple that you could, potentially, do it in your sleep, it really chaps my ass when cashiers do it poorly. And when it comes down to it, cashiers are as annoying as mimes, incompetent as doctors and deceptive as attorneys.
Example 1: Magazine Browsing
If you read my earlier post, Salman Rushdie Will Never Write For Cosmo, then you know that when it comes to magazines, any whorish rag with the skinny on Lindsay Lohan’s recently inflated face or the nookie that got Snookie knocked up will leave the grocery store with me and end up in my bed later that night. And I know I’m not the only one. By 2011, People was ranked the 11th most popular magazine in the country and had a U.S. circulation of over 3.5 million readers per issue, with US Weekly trailing behind with a U.S. circulation of over 2 million per week. Despite this fact, any cashier I get – brand new, experienced, young, old, male, female, black, white, mime – behaves as though no one has ever purchased a single trash mags from them. Ever. In fact, they act as though they have never seen one of these magazines before. It’s as if by buying a copy of Life and Style, I’ve opened up an entirely new world of pop culture for them. Suddenly, Earth is populated by starlets and boy bands and plastic surgery and reality television, when before it was a dull gray place, infested with dusty books to be read by candlelight.
Let’s take my most recent visit to Publix. I carefully place my four magazines on top of my BOGO cans of corn and watch patiently as they make their way down the conveyer belt, towards the mechanically moving arm of an experienced, middle-aged cashier I recognize from several previous visits. She slides my ice cream across the glass plate without even looking. Then my sour cream. A gallon of milk. Four boxes of Skittles. A bottle of KY Intense. Okay, three bottles of KY Intense. Not once does she pause. Not once does she look at me. In fact, her eyes have the same glazed look to them that I know mine take on during an episode of The View. Then her fingers graze the cover of Us Weekly and it’s as though she’s received an electric shock. Suddenly, she’s pert and interested. Instead of sliding the magazine across the glass, she holds it up and pores over the cover intently.
“Who’s this?” she asks, turning the front of the cover towards me and pointing at the raven-haired woman with her arms wrapped around her three younger girls on the cover, directly under the headline “Scary Skinny Demi Moore To Divorce Ashton Kutcher.
Hmm. That seems self-explanatory. “Demi Moore,” I say.
“Oh. She’s pretty, “ she responds, “but a little on the scrawny side, dontcha think?”
Really? Was it the photo of her drinking straw thin arms or the headline proclaiming her “Scary Skinny” that gave Demi’s emaciated figure away? “Umm. Yeah. I guess it’s all the stress from the divorce.” I desperately want to jab at the words on the cover and say, through gritted teeth, “It says, right here, that she’s getting divorced. It’s all in the headline. Everything you need to know is right here in one convenient location.”
A look of concern crosses her lined face. She shakes her head in disappointment. “She’s getting divorced? What a shame. Kids just don’t know how to stay married these days. I hope it won’t get dragged out. It’s so hard on children. She does have children, doesn’t she?”
“Yeah. Three.” I stare at her hard. Maybe she’s illiterate. But don’t you have to be able to read to get a job as a cashier? I mean, how do you fill out your application or read coupons? Just ring up the fucking magazine, I think, wishing I could reach across the space between us and perform a Vulcan mind meld on her.
“I wonder if she’s got a pre-nup. I sure do hope she gets to keep her kids.” She presses her lips together and furrows her brow, shaking her bleached-blonde do again. “She definitely needs to eat though. Can’t keep your energy up if you don’t eat. Poor thing.” You’d think she was talking about her neighbor or some lady she knows from church. Two seconds ago, she didn’t know who Demi Moore was and now she’s worried about the star’s weight and whether or not she’ll get custody of the kids. Finally, she drags the cover along the glass plate and I hear a satisfying beep come from the register. One down, three to go.
Of course, not all cashiers have been living in the Dark Ages, which makes buying my rags an even more arduous process as some of these men and women insist on discussing – ad nauseum (yes, I realize that is another obnoxious lawyer word) – their opinions about everyone on the cover. If I had a dime for every time a cashier said to me: “Insert Female Celebrity Name Here is one hot mess!” or “Now Insert Male Celebrity Name Here is all that and a bag of chips,” I’d have enough money to buy Time, Inc. and make the editors of People report all the celebrity news to me first – in person – while a masseuse rubs my feet as I lounge by my infinity pool situated behind my massive, ocean-front estate.
These are the same cashiers who possess the audacity to actually thumb through the magazine while I stand there. Waiting. Hello – that’s my magazine you are bending and creasing and (ugh!) licking your fingers in order to make the pages turn more easily. I am cautious to select virgin periodicals. If the cover is curling or has the tiniest of rips, I choose another one – usually from the back of the stack. And after watching a cashier rub her saliva all over the corners of my magazine, all I want to do is pluck it out of her fingers, toss it in the closest garbage bin and select another pristine copy to take home with me. To be clear, no one pops my magazines’ cherries but me. I love the crisp sound of the pages and the creaking of the stapled binding as I crack my copy open for the very first time. If I want a germy, beat-up-like-you-sassed-back-Chris-Brown copy of Us Weekly, I’ll steal it from my doctor’s office like everyone else.
Annoyance factor: 8. Incompetence: 3. Deceitfulness: 5 (By mangling my magazines, they are encouraging me to steal from the doctor’s office).
Example 2: Bagging Is Not A City In China
I have never been a cashier at a grocery store, nor have I ever bagged groceries professionally. However, I used to work in retail and there are basic rules to bagging any product that are just common sense. Cold, wet items are to be bagged with other cold, wet items. Canned items with canned items. Produce with produce. Heavy items shouldn’t be bagged with soft, squishy items.
For the record, I am an awesome grocery cart loader and unloader. As I shop, I cluster dairy items together, canned and boxed items together, vegetables and fruit together, frozen items together and meats together. I unload them in the same way to make bagging my groceries as idiot proof as possible. In fact, it surprises me that not a single cashier has ever commented on this fact. I know other shoppers don’t unload as carefully as I do. I’ve seen how they plop a package of hamburger meat right on top of a box of laundry detergent or mix canned foods in with their dairy. I take the extra time to make the bagging of my groceries as easy and simple for the cashier as possible. Still, week after week, I see bagged combinations such as this:
1) Sweating gallon of Breyer’s ice cream next to my mother’s Valentine’s Day card – make that stuck to my mother’s Valentine’s Day card
2) Gimongous cans of stewed tomatoes on top of my Pepperidge Farms loaf of bread
3) My untainted copy of People literally wrapped around a quart of milk like a Snuggie
4) Oozing package of raw chicken on top of celery because who doesn’t like a little salmonella while dieting
5) All fifty cans of cat food in a single, bag weighing approximately 18 pounds
6) Four bottles of relatively expensive pinot grigio in a single plastic bag – with a hole in the bottom of it that won’t break open until I pull the bag out of the trunk when I get home
7) Light bulbs sandwiched between two jugs of Ocean Spray cranberry juice
8) Can of Raid roach spray packed with fresh produce (I rarely buy organic, so my veggies already have enough insecticide on them already, thank you very much!)
9) Bakery department cake thrown into a bag sideways
10) Ripped open bag of baby carrots (the cashier actually picked up the few loose pieces that had found their way onto the conveyor belt and threw them into the grocery bag), two basil plants and a bottle of bleach
Are cashiers not trained in the fine art of bagging? I mean, if you are skilled enough to remember the codes for hundreds of produce items, shouldn’t you have figured out that a gallon of milk is fairly heavy and, that while bread may have iron in it, it isn’t actually made of iron and, therefore, should not be placed beneath the milk? Perhaps they aren’t tutored in this skill because it’s assumed that every idiot knows the basics of bagging. Last I checked, a degree in physics isn’t required to obtain a cashier position, so bagging can’t possibly be all that difficult. After all, I know how to bag properly and I’ve never even studied physics. Heck, I haven’t even mastered the metric system and I’m still a little fuzzy when it comes to multiplying numbers above 10.
Annoyance factor: 10. Incompetence: 10. Deceitfulness: 3 (Now they are stealing from me because I have to return to the store to repurchase items that were smashed or contaminated).
Example 3: What Knot To Do
Plastic bags are not sneaker laces. Do not – I repeat, do not – tie the handles of my plastic grocery bags into little knots to prevent items from falling out. Why? First, if you didn’t overfill the bags in the first place, you wouldn’t need to knot them. Second, do you have any idea how long it takes to untie 17 knots in 17 plastic bags – all of which were tightened into locks by the extreme weight of their contents? For-fucking-ever.
Third, after I struggle to untie the first few bags, I become frustrated and begin ripping the bags open. This is a bad thing because I actually reuse my plastic bags to dispose of kitty poo and litter each night. When you force me to throw away over a dozen bags that could have been recycled as poo holders, it makes me want to take the torn bags back to the store, place all of them over your head and tie them into a big knot. Have fun getting it untied in time. Fourth, by tying the handles into knots, you negate the purpose of the handle – to be large enough for me to utilize them as a carrying device. How can I slide the handles of the bags up and down the length of my forearms so that I can minimize the number of trips between my car and my kitchen when you’ve created new handles that are effectively the size of the eye of a needle? I am not Demi Moore and, thus, my arms are not that skinny.
Annoyance factor: 7. Incompetence: 6. Deceitfulness: 5 (Clearly, they are also working for the manufacturers of small animal poo bags and this is why they knot my plastic bags up so that they can’t be utilized for kitty poo disposal purposes).
Example 4: Forgotten Coupons
I am not a coupon clipper. Hence, on the rare occasion when I do manage to make it to the store with a coupon and present said coupon to a cashier, along with the appropriate item, I expect to actually have the amount indicated on the front of the coupon deducted from my bill. It’s a proud moment for me. I remembered to bring a coupon to the store. I can’t wait to see that small portion of a dollar with a minus sign in front of it on my receipt. I shouldn’t have to ask, “Did you remember my coupon?” Nor should I have to remind the cashier to remove coupons from the tops of cans or the sides of boxes. It’s his or her job. And when the cashier forgets to ring up my coupon, being sent to the front desk to stand behind a long line of lottery ticket and cigarette buyers in order to collect my 35 cents really pisses me off. Waiting in line is right up there on my list of favorite things to do, along with peeling the cover of my magazine off a wet milk carton, and eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on bread that’s been squashed to the height and width of a kid’s plastic ruler.
Annoyance factor: 5. Incompetence: 10. Deceitfulness: 5 (Do you really think that they truly forgetto use those coupons or are they just saving them for themselves or cheating the poor consumers as a whole?)
The other day, I was shopping at Walmart and, low and behold, I encountered an amazing cashier. She didn’t flip through my magazines or waste precious minutes lamenting the loss of Whitney Houston. Everything was bagged perfectly. I watched in amazement as she grouped my cheeses and dairy together in one bag, deli meats in another and vegetables in yet a third. I didn’t strain my back lifting the bags filled with cans because she didn’t overfill them. My wine bottles were first placed in slim brown bags before being double bagged and handed to me so that I could set them in the child seat portion of the grocery cart. Not a single plastic bag was knotted – and she removed the $1 off coupons from my wine bottles without me reminding her and successfully subtracted the appropriate amount from my total. I could swear that the exposed beams above me opened up to reveal angels singing a beautiful melody and a golden beam of light shone down upon this plump woman wearing a blue Walmart vest.
“Wow!” I cried. “You really know how to bag. I’m so impressed. Do you have any idea how many cashiers can’t bag for shit?” It was ridiculous, really. It was like complimenting someone for breathing well or not falling down while walking in sneakers.
The cashier smiled and nodded her head. She’d clearly been commended for her skills before. “I know,” she replied. “I try to teach the new ones, but they’re just clueless. But you made it real easy too – the way you grouped your groceries together and all.”
I knew it. Finally, the fact that I have mastered the art of unloading had been acknowledged. I cluster correctly. Cold with cold. Meat with meat. Produce with produce. And someone appreciated it. But most importantly, I’d found my perfect cashier – the Atticus Finch of attorneys, the Marcus Welby, M.D. of physicians, the absolutely nobody of mimes – and I needed to know more. Without hesitation, I asked, “Can I get a copy of your work schedule?” as I carefully jotted down the name on her badge – Shirley. She nodded her head and retrieved a Xeroxed copy from a stack at least an inch thick beneath the counter. Shirley had obviously been asked for her hours before. I tucked the piece of paper into my purse, still marveling aloud at how easy it would be to unload my husband’s favorite Yoplait yogurts directly into the fridge since she’d bagged them all together.
“You certainly have an eye for detail,” Shirley observed with a smile. “What do you do?”
“Oh, I used to be a –“ I replied, stopping myself just before I uttered the word, lawyer. Shirley wouldn’t understand that I had been to attorneys what she was to cashiers – a reason not to hate an entire profession. As a lawyer, I hadn’t cheated my clients or lied…much (I was a contract attorney – it’s called bluffing when utilized in the art of negotiation). In fact, I’d worked for the government, which meant the average grocery store manager earned a hell of a lot more than I did in a year. Finally, I grinned back at her and said firmly, “I’m a writer. I’ve got a blog.” Now there’s an honorable profession.
If you aren’t sick of reading by now, here’s the link about Denise Farley’s win as a champion Ohio bagger.
The day I was Freshly Pressed, the gifted author of The Book of Alice - an utterly charming blog about parenting by the mother of an adorable toddler named Alice – bestowed upon The Paltry Meanderings of a Taller Than Average Woman , the highly-coveted 7×7 Link Blog Award. After gushing and blushing appropriately, I came to realize that I was now expected to do something. What, you ask? Hire Brad Goreski (screw Rachel Zoe and the toothpick she rode in on) to select the perfect couture gown for me to wear to the awards ceremony? No. Write a sanctimonious acceptance speech in which I take credit for killing Osama bin Laden and inventing paper clips? Uh-uh. Polish my golden statuette? Nope. Apparently, I don’t get a shiny trophy to set on my fireplace mantle – which is a good thing because then I’d have to go out and buy a fireplace. With a mantle. This blogging thing is getting expensive. But I do have to do something. Twenty-one somethings to be exact:
1) Reveal seven things about myself that you don’t already know (a.k.a. PART ONE);
2) Link seven of my posts to the following categories: Most Surprisingly Successful, Most Underrated, Most Popular, Most Beautiful, Most Helpful, Most Controversial and Most Pride-Worthy (a.k.a. PART TWO); and
3) Bestow this tremendous award – and responsibility – upon seven other bloggers and share with you why I believe they are so deserving (a.k.a. PART THREE).
Now, PART ONE is simple. I know thousands of things about myself. Billions, really, since I’m not a Creationist. PART TWO was a little trickier until yesterday. See, the day I won this award, I only had five blog posts – and one of them barely counts because it’s just a photo, followed by an excuse for not having written a real post. Now I have a few more and that should make my responses a little more interesting. PART THREE was also a challenge because I hadn’t had the opportunity to read many blogs yet – and I’m not one to run around, handing out 7×7 colored stars willy-nilly to random people just ’cause they’ve got a catchy blog name and know about RSS feeds (which I don’t!)
This first part has got to be my favorite. Why? Because I’m going to pretend that I’m completing the “20 Things You Don’t Know About Me” questionnaire that’s published every week in US Magazine, but I’m going to stop at number seven. Not really, but I’m going to keep the other thirteen in my jewelry box until the tabloids come a callin’.
1) My first crush was William Shatner. I was five. I can prove it and that makes me cooler than all the hipsters out there who have suddenly discovered my man, Bill, in the last few years. Yeah, I’m talking to you, Seth MacFarlane.
2) Though I’m sure my cats all know my actual name, I think they call me “Food Lady” when I’m not listening. But they spell it “Fud Ladee.” At least that’s how they write it on my birthday cards.
3) When I was in high school, I’d planned to have seven children. As it turns out, I have no kids, but I’m very fond of dwarves and little people. Also, I’d consider renting someone’s child on occasion in exchange for blood or a spare kidney, should the need arise.
4) I saw Stephen King tonight at the movie theater. This is the second time we’ve passed through one another’s orbits. The other time was at Barnes & Noble. I thought about talking to him that night, but what would I say? “I’m batshit terrified of clowns and it’s all your fault.” Like he’s never heard that before.
5) I’m the direct descendant of the second and third people (and first married couple, ever) to be put to death for witchcraft in America. So don’t piss me off ’cause that magic shit might be genetic.
6) If I was filthy rich, I’d pay someone to ride a horse up and down the cobblestone street in front of the fabulous London townhome I’d own every night until I fell asleep. The sound of horses’ hooves on stone is like rain to me. Oh, and the rider would be naked except for a thong and a sombrero. That last part’s just for kicks.
7) My husband and I sleep under a red, plaid blanket emblazoned with the Hogwarts coat of arms every night. It’s soft, it protects our pretty comforter and the cats like to knead it. I like Harry Potter. There, I’ve said it. I’ve read all the books and own all the movies. I identify with Hermoine Granger. Butter beer is amazing (especially served up with a butterscotch garnish) and one of our cats looks a lot like Mrs. Norris. Wanna fight about it?
Most Surprisingly Successful: Why I Hate Witty People I’d have to say that this is my most surprisingly successful post because it was catapulted from absolute obscurity to the front page of Freshly Pressed without warning. In fact, I wasn’t really sure what Freshly Pressed was, how one made its pages or if I even wanted to be there. For the record, I’m no longer confused about the latter; it was an awesome ride and I definitely would love to be there again. People keep finding this post and identifying with it in one way or another (apparently, there are an awful lot of unpopular witty people out there) – and that is just Wilde. Ha ha. I did it. I inserted a pun and there’s nothing you can do about.
Most Underrated: In Search of ”The Holy White Man” This post was actually doing pretty well until I was Freshly Pressed, and then Why I Hate Witty People kinda stole its thunder. I’m wondering if people think that this is some spiritual piece about my search for Jesus. It’s not. In fact, Jesus is ruled out early on. And, for the record, I’m not searching for him. I’m agnostic. But there may be a Holy White Man out there – a “being” to whom my friend’s aunt used to pray and call by this incredibly racist name – and I’ve got some theories about who this dude could be. And it’s not Chuck Norris. Ever since he endorsed Newt Gingrich, he’s become a pussy in my book.
Most Popular: Based on the sheer number of hits and “likes,” Why I Hate Witty People remains, without a doubt, the most popular post on my blog so far. That said, my page Copyright Stuff has garnered a surprising amount of interest. People, it’s just basic copyright language. It says that you don’t get to steal my stuff and, if you do, I get your first child’s kidney. Why so interested? You planning on stealing my stuff? Has your firstborn been annoying the heck out of you and only has one kidney? Erm, that’s murder, you know. Bloggy don’t play that!
Most Beautiful: I suppose if I was a really arrogant little twat, I’d say my About Me page is the most beautiful – because it features a photo of…well, me. But, honestly, people, the photo of me with my recently-deceased Uncle Danny in Farewell, My Favorite Redneck is much cuter, so check that out instead. Oh, yeah, I guess it’s also my most beautiful post because it is my heartfelt tribute to my favorite redneck, Daniel Drymon, whom I’ve known and adored since birth. If you want to see a sliver of who I am and where I come from, this is the best set of window blinds to peek through. It’s also an opportunity to discover what a groovy guy my uncle was…even if none of the stuffed dead animals in his living room agree with that notion.
Most Helpful: Considering the number of sauce addicts who have admitted their problem in the Comments section alone of my post, Hittin’ The Sauce Hard, I’ve got to assume that I’m helping my readers with this one. Admitting you have a problem is the most important step, right? Writing this post helped me come out of the pantry as well. Now that people know about my little problem, they’re going to ask that bottles be removed from tables at restaurants and they’ll raise an eyebrow the next time I order a filet mignon. I suspect I will also receive a number of spoons for Christmas next year. Didn’t get that last reference? Then read the post, silly. In the meantime, I’ve got to run to the store. I hear there’s a BOGO on A1 Steak Sauce at Publix!
Most Controversial: Without a doubt, 5 Reasons Why God Loves Short People Best seems to strike readers in the very marrow of their bones. It can’t be helped that some people’s bones are longer than others. Dozens of shrimpy, little half-pints have taken the time to comment on why they disagree with my belief that the Christian God loves them in the same way he loves the Jews – they’re His chosen people. They’re His favorites. Likewise, lots of lovely, lanky tall people with their ankles exposed to the elements also commented that they agreed heartily with this proposition, though most seem happily inclined to remain the minions of short people, forever handing the squatty ones jars of mustard off the shelves they can’t reach. Actually, I seemed to have garnered a number of both tall and undertall readers with the post – and I’m grateful. Like I said earlier, I’m quite fond of dwarves and little people.
Most Pride-Worthy: Ever created something so heinous, so awful, so painfully bad that you know it will never bring joy to another human being (Kathy Hilton – now’s your time to speak up!)? Back in college, I did such a thing when I wrote – against my will, I might add – the sonnet, “How Ironic,” about my dead dog, Daisy. In my post, The World’s Worst Sonnet About A Dead Dog Ever , I discovered that I now understand, though still loathe, iambic pentameter, and that I can make people happy by sharing with them the most God-awful sonnet ever written. Ever. Anywhere. Think Ishtar. Think Gigli. It’s the literary equivalent of Lindsay Lohan lying drunk in a ditch. It’s Tara Reid with her boob hanging out of her dress. It’s Megan Fox’s man thumbs. You can’t look away. Why does this make me so proud? Because by dissecting my sonnet – much like a science class frog pinned to a slab of black wax – I’ve been able to determine exactly what makes it so bad, make a few people giggle in the process, and dissuade others from embarking on such an endeavor. Thus, my excruciating poem has now brought joy to others in it’s own ugly little way. Sniff. Makes a momma proud.
Can I just point out, here and now, that I am officially more qualified to become President than Rick Perry? Okay, moving on…
Here are the seven bloggers whom I have determined, solely on the basis of talent, favoritism, political-leanings, ability to trill the letter R and other important criteria that have slipped my mind, are worthy of the 7×7 Link Blog Award. These blogs are not listed in any specific order – other than the amount I was paid by everyone who made the list. Not in advance. These bloggers don’t even know they’ve won this award yet. I’ll send them their bills later.
The chain letter of blog accolades, the 7×7 Link Blog Award was created by someone, sometime after the year 2000-ish (probably) to honor those who apparently blog. I personally think it should be renamed the 7x7x7 Blog Award or the 7×3 Blog Award or the 7 Cubed Blog Award or the 21 Things You Now Have To Do Blog Award, but regardless, you seven bloggers are now: IT!
1) Gemini Girl In A Random World : This sharp and witty blog is the creation of Stacie Chadwick, my new Blogging Bestie. In it, she posts about life as a mother of three, the wife of a man who is learning the art of non-verbal communication, and being the groovy Gemini that she is. I like it because, in addition to being HIGH-STERICAL (she lives in Denver and that was pun number 2) and extremely well-written, this dual-natured Gemini Girl regularly takes me down memory lane to visit the likes of skating rinks, the original Wonder Woman (Lynda Carter lives on, my friend), Charlie’s Angels (again, the original), and Melrose Place. Andrew Shue, sigh. Also, her blog made my husband laugh. And that ain’t easy, lemme tell you.
2) The Shared Brain of Baggott, Asher and Bode : As I’ve already admitted previously, I’m a blogging newbie. Not only did I not blog, I didn’t really read other blogs – except this one. I was turned on to the alternatively hilarious, literary, twisted and compelling voice of author Julianna Baggott (and her alter egos: Bridget Asher and N.E. Bode) by a mutual friend and became immediately hooked. Though I’ve never met her personally, I’m convinced she lives in a Willy Wonka-esque factory manned by Oompa Loompas who are all incredibly prolific writers. No one can write this much, this well, raise a veritable army of children, and teach – creative writing, no less – at Florida State University (Go, ‘Noles!). Read this blog. More importantly, pre-order Baggott’s new post-apocalyptic novel, Pure – due out next month and bound to be the next Hunger Games.
3) The Adventures of Trans Man : This is a brand new blog by an extremely prolific and talented author whom I am proud to say I’ve known for well over twenty years. When I knew him eons ago, he was a woman. Now, he’s not. This is about his journey and it’s a must-read for everyone. Everyone! Yes, you over there reading your Bible. And you, the one with the question about what’s between Chaz Bono’s legs. I’m not even being funny, here. Trans Man knows what you’re thinking, has heard it all before and, now, in his witty, addictive, compelling voice is going there. This is a rare opportunity to actually understand an incredibly brave man who made the decision to be true to himself – so he could be a better person and a better parent. Yep, he’s got kids. And he’s single, ladies…
4) Jumping In Mud Puddles : Looking to reminisce about someone else’s childhood because yours sucked? Join Vickie as she explores, with plentiful humor and jocularity, her idyllic past as a fascinating, but domineering, color-inside-the-lines kind girl who hated her remedial reading group, probably has mercury poisoning from regular exposure to Mercurochrome, and was secretly-tranquilized by her mother – daily – because she was hyperactive. I thank God my mom didn’t know her mom. If she’d known she could drug me legally, I’d have slept my way through elementary school. Try not to pee your pants when you read this because, if you’re like me, your mom never remembered to send you to school with an extra pair of undies either.
5) Bringing You Beirut : This blog chronicles “the adventures of an English girl in Lebanon” and is luxurious in its language and sensuous in its imagery. Blogger India is well-educated and her work as assistant to her calligrapher boyfriend, freelance journalist, translator and babysitter have given birth to some of the most interesting perspectives of a beautiful and exotic country. Until I became familiar with this blog, I never processed the fact that Lebanon has snow – and skiing. Don’t expect an over-processed travel journal, here. These are the real life experiences of someone experiencing all the true flavors of a foreign country – savory, sweet and bitter.
6) Kitchen Slattern : This blog is written by a pro. Though she claims to be a mere “housewife, mother and writer who lives in Brooklyn,” I suspect she’s been Freshly Pressed more times than the shirts in my husband’s closet. And he likes to iron. A lot. As a person who finds my corkscrew the most useful tool in my kitchen, I don’t read a lot of food or cooking blogs. C’mon – I eat A1 out of a bowl with my finger. Wine is good if it costs less than 10 bucks and even better if it’s Buy One Get One Free. However, this blogger had me sold the moment I discovered that Martha Stewart makes her “ass ache” and that she recommends being drunk before you tackle cleaning the bathroom. This is funny stuff, folks. She’s my kind of broad.
7) Live Clay : Few bloggers are truly talented in multiple arenas, but Laura Bruzzese is an accomplished artist – both with a brush and a potter’s wheel, a writer and… a creator of funeral urns. If only I’d known about her when my dog died all those years ago. I could have named my sonnet, “Ode on a Canine Urn.” A single mother living in New Mexico, Bruzzese’s experiences raising a teenage daughter, coupled with her artistic eye that always seems to be seeking out the unique and beautiful everywhere she travels (most recently, Haiti) makes for intriguing, substantial posts that both charm and inspire. She’s also developed a method for making her three young nieces WANT to clean. Compete to clean. If there’s only one reason to read this blog (and there’s thousands), that’s it!
That wraps up the 7×7 Link Blog Awards presentation. Ladies and gentlemen, start cracking on that list of 21 Things You Must Now Do. I’m gonna watch It’s a Brad, Brad World and try to forget that this post took me at least twelve hours to write. Congratulations…suckas! No, seriously. Congrats. It’s apparently a really big honor. Truly. Thank you again, The Book of Alice . Erm, I think.
While I was studying poetry in college, I was forced to write a sonnet. Forced, you say? Was a gun held to my head? Did a professor surreptitiously slip a pinless grenade into my palm, step back cautiously and demand, “Write the damned sonnet!” No, but my instructor did string my GPA up by the neck with a thick noose and threaten to kick the desk out from under my GPA’s feet if I didn’t write the stupid thing. Even though I write free verse. Exclusively. Rhyming is not one of my super powers. People who’ve heard me attempt to rap know this. My instructor didn’t care. You apparently can’t be a well-rounded poet unless you master the sonnet. Kinda like those chefs who think you can’t truly call yourself a cook unless you can boil water. Snobs.
For those of you who have never written a sonnet, you’re lucky bastards and I despise you. That said, hang in there with me even if you’re not a huge poetry fan because I’ll be humiliating myself in a big way in just a few paragraphs. For those of you who have written a sonnet and who have also successfully repressed “the rules” of sonnet-writing, let me re-awaken the slime-dripping, fang-baring monster that likely haunted your every dream throughout the semester you were enrolled in Poetry 101.
Shakespearean Sonnet Rules
For my purposes, I will be referring exclusively to the Shakespearean (or Elizabethan) Sonnet.
1) A sonnet must consist of exactly 14 lines.
2) Each line must have exactly 10 syllables.
3) A sonnet must consist of exactly three quatrains (four lines) followed by exactly one couplet (two lines).
4) The rhyme scheme in a sonnet must be exactly as follows: ABAB CDCD EFEF GG.
In English, this means that in the first quatrain, the first and third lines must rhyme and the second and fourth lines must rhyme. Same goes for the second quatrain, but it’s critical to note that the rhymes must be unique from the first quatrain – C and D can’t rhyme with A or B. Same goes for E and F and G.
Note: We haven’t even made it through all the rules yet, but the word exactly has already appeared FOUR times. Starting to see why sonnets and Satan both start with the same letter?
5) Each line must be written in iambic pentameter.
If your response wasn’t “Huh?” or “I only speak a little Spanish,” then you’ve clearly written sonnets before – and enjoyed the process. Before things get ugly, you should just muddle on over to the Mensa website because we won’t tolerate any of that Shakespearean-sonnets-are-the-bomb attitude here.
If you’re still going, “What the hell is an i-am-buck pentacle,” then you’re in the right place. First you have to know what an iambic foot is. Though it sounds like something a podiatrist would diagnose and prescribe a brace for, it simply means an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. da-DUM. Iambic pentameter consists of five iambic feet in a row: da-DUM-da-DUM-da-DUM-da-DUM-da-DUM. Or for those Dirty Dancing fans out there, remember that scene where Patrick Swayze tries to teach Baby rhythm by tapping his chest in time with his heartbeat? ga-GONG-ga-GONG-ga-GONG-ga-GONG-ga-GONG. Yes, Swayze was a hunk and his heart was a master of iambic pentameter. Basically, this is just one more thing that you have to worry about when writing a la Shakespeare – if the correct syllables aren’t stressed in the proper order, your sonnet’s pretty much crap.
So why did you need to know all this? Why did you read this far without anything really, truly funny happening? Because I am now going to share with you the World’s Worst Sonnet Ever! It’s horrible on so many levels, but before I go into detail, I will simply allow you to read it and let it speak for itself.
By the way, it is also my sonnet. Yes, I wrote it. Twenty-two years ago. I am responsible for this flaming pile of poo. Thus, there is absolutely no need to try to console me or assure me that the poem isn’t shit in your comments below because I fully recognize that I have made the world a far worse place by writing all 26 lines of the following sonnet. What? Twenty-six lines, you say? But I thought a sonnet had 14 lines. There you go…you’re already discovering why this is:
The World’s Worst Sonnet Ever
When I saw her, she was shrunken hollow
her body pressed to the back of the cage.
Eyes enormous, spittle wetting the hair
beneath her blond muzzle, six months of age.
Driving her home, our pygmy Lassie peed
on the plush velour seat and my bare skin.
I laughed. She shrank further inside my arms
and froze, ears perked, a doggy mannequin.
She learned to sit, roll over, beg and jump
on command. She could climb up my knees, legs,
elbows and shoulders to the top. Her paws
on my head, eyes open, ready to beg.
She never learned how to play dead until
last week. It took fifteen years to teach her,
fifteen years of loyal love and wet licks
on my hand, as I softly stroked her fur.
Every girl’s dream come true was my Daisy,
even as she aged and became a weight
upon our shoulders, a burden to scorn,
a family member we grew to hate.
Alone I cry as Mother speaks of cysts
which invaded her body like Martians,
feeding it death as they grew in numbers,
her life chained to a grave by Lilliputians.
Daisy plays dead now like an Oscar nominee
As she lies wrapped in sheets beneath our dogwood tree.
I’ll give you a moment to recompose yourself. Take a second. Wipe the vomit off the front of your shirt. And, you, stop ROFLing all over the carpet. Nobody really ROFLs. An LOL would have been satisfactory. Have some dignity, man!
Yes, I wrote this poem about my dead dog, Daisy. I remember trying to write the darn thing about at least ten other topics like flowers and forests and unrequited love because that’s the kind of crap that sonneteers, as they were called, wrote about. But let me clue you in – these aren’t things I spend much time writing about. Really? But that seems so unlike me, right? I’m all about spending 14 lines of poetry to describe the curve of a rose petal and the sharpness of its thorns as they pierce my fingers – and metaphorically, my heart. Here, let me hand you a bucket. Keep that thing handy, would ya?
As the author of such gems as “Amputee,” “I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar” (about a transgendered person involved in a standoff with the police), and “Upon Seeing Jesus Christ in the Dollar Store,” flowers and unicorns rarely find their way into my verse. Since I detested – no, loathed – all the rules and sonnet regulations, I found the only way I could get through the process with an ounce of sanity was to pen a poem about something I actually cared about. In the process, I ended up with the worst tribute in honor of a beloved pet ever written. In fact, it’s so God awful that Daisy now haunts me like Jacob Marley, weighed down by the forged steel links that the Lilliputians used to chain her to the grave. She claims that if I don’t repent my poetic sins and buy some lame dogs a turkey that they can rip apart at Christmas, I’ll die forgotten and alone. As if my sonnet hasn’t already assured that fate.
Why My Sonnet Sucks
1) It’s Bad! You read it, right? It’s just bad. Really bad. So horrendously bad that it’s the Lindsay Lohan of poetry – a train wreck so terrible that you just can’t look away from the carnage. You’ve got to re-read it again and again to reaffirm that it’s as heinous as you initially thought. Don’t do this to yourself. It doesn’t get any better and you’ll get acid-reflux from all the puking. Or rug burn if you’re one of those people doing the whole ROFL thing.
2) Abominable Descriptions and Similes:
- “our pygmy Lassie peed” – Daisy was a Sheltie. You’d think I could have used the word Sheltie and avoided the word pygmy - which makes people think of short Africans, not miniature Collies. And she peed. This may have been the inaugural usage of dog urine in a Shakespearean sonnet.
- ”a doggy mannequin” – Really? This was the best I could come up with?
- The entire second octave - Could I have listed more body parts? How did I leave out breasts, collarbone and ears?
- ”Alone I cry as Mother speaks of cysts which invaded her body like Martians” – You know those Martian cysts, right? They’re black, can only be destroyed by the Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator, and will make you “very angry, very angry indeed.”
- ”Her life chained to a grave by Lilliputians.” - What do little people who live in a fictional land have to do with this? Maybe if Daisy had been named Gulliver this would have worked. But then she would have likely had gender issues or people would have called her “Liver Lips.” You can’t put a dog through that just so you can use a word in a poem after she dies.
- “Daisy plays dead now like an Oscar nominee” - Though I’m sure that Meryl Streep can play a corpse like nobody’s business, the hard fact is that Oscar nominees don’t win awards for lying motionless on film. In most movies and television shows, extras and unknown actors play dead people. Dogs who can play dead in the movies may, in fact, deserve Oscar nominations, but the Academy does not yet recognize the contribution of canines to film.
- “As she lies wrapped in sheets beneath our dogwood tree.” - For the record, Daisy wasn’t buried beneath a dogwood tree. It just sounded ironic – or what I thought was ironic at nineteen. I don’t actually remember what kind of tree it was. The truly ironic thing is that it died too. Good dog; bad fertilizer.
3) It’s Not Really A Shakespearean Sonnet
- It has 26 lines and six quatrains – What part of ” a sonnet must have exactly 14 lines and three quatrains” did I not get? Why would I write 12 lines more than I needed to? I must be a masochist. Or maybe I was punishing my professor. You gonna make me write this crap; I’m gonna make you read a lot of it, a whole fucking lot of it. It will feel like it’s never ending, much like the Star Wars franchise. Perhaps the first three quatrains are actually the prequel for the final three quatrains. And the couplet, that was the animated version. You don’t like it; blame George Lucas.
- Use of the word “Lilliputians” put me over my syllable limit - For 23 lines, I stuck religiously to the 10 syllable rule and then I broke it so that I could use the most ridiculous word in the entire sonnet. Seriously, Lilliputians? Sounds like stooped-over, little old ladies who collect Lilly Pulitzer dresses and meet for tea on Worth Avenue.
- Final couplet has 12 syllables per line - Just couldn’t shut up, could I? Drag the agony out a little bit longer.
- My Rhyme Scheme Uses Most of the Alphabet – If you recall, the rhyme scheme should follow this format: ABAB CDCD EFEF GG. My sonnet’s rhyme scheme is as follows: ABCB DCEC FGHG IJKJ LMNM OPQP RR. Now I know my ABC’s, next time write a longer sonnet so we’ll get to Z.
- I thought iambic pentameter was B.S. - To be blunt, I just didn’t even try. It was too much work, and it became clear very early on that this sonnet was a box of hardened fudge nuggets wrapped with a decorative Shakespearean ruff. Editing this monstrosity would have been a futile exercise in turd polishing.
So now that I’ve borne my soul naked and bare for you, sharing my most embarrassing writing endeavor with the world, I ask you to do the same. I would love and appreciate your comments on The World’s Worst Sonnet Ever, but I also invite you to share your worst poem – sonnet or otherwise – right here on my blog. Just post it into the comments section. Let’s make this a celebration of suckiness. Let’s make a pact to strive for mediocrity so that one day we may post The World’s Most Average Sonnet Ever.
As I await your responses, I’d like to dedicate this post to my dear friend, Evan, who loves “How Ironic.” In fact, he claims that it’s his favorite of all my poems. Of course, he eats babies for breakfast, lives in Portlandia and thinks he’s a trickster God, so what do you expect? Anyway, yesterday was his birthday. Happy Birthday, you freak!
Now let the comments and sucky poetry commence!