Tagged: literature

The Meanest Of Them Sparkled

The Meanest Of Them Sparkled (Image by favim.com)

Now that we’ve gotten to know each other a little better, I’d like to share something with you that I’ve never revealed to my 1200+ subscribers: my novel. However, as my manuscript is fairly high concept, I’m going to post a chapter that deals primarily with Macy, my barista protagonist, and her goth, Indian co-worker, Fred’s (short for Fareed) relationship which is secondary to the plot.

Of course, I expect that it will be a little difficult to catch on right away, but then my readers are unusually intelligent. Maybe I’m biased, but you guys seem to get me and what I write, so let’s see what you think.

“The Meanest of Them Sparkled is a Young Adult/Literary Fiction hybrid, intended to appeal to both older teens and adults alike. And no, I’m not going to let you know what the novel is about. Let me know if I’ve been successful in capturing your attention. Your comments are golden to me! I only sent this manuscript to a handful of agents and received an extremely positive response – and I’m preparing to begin sending it out again – so I’m very open to any constructive criticism you have to offer.

The Meanest of Them Sparkled

Chapter 11

 I can’t believe it. I am officially one-third of the way done saving the world! I feel like a rock star. I walk like a rock star. Swaggering down the street, I’m not sure if I’m Pink or Mick Jagger or Johnny Cash, but every step has got rhythm. I keep expecting glitter to flutter around me like a swirl of happy snowflakes, and for the clouds to part so that a single ray of golden sun can shine down on me – my own personal spotlight.

Instead, the morning crowd of suits and skirts jostles against me as I take up too much space on the sidewalk, my stride big and wide like I own the putty cement slab that leads me to my coffee kingdom. Fred’s already inside, brewing beans. I bang on the front door like I own the place – another no-no as employees are supposed to use the back door only – but I don’t care. In my mind, there aren’t two more tasks ahead of me. There is only the one behind me. I’ve saved at least 2 billion people today, believing in my rock star dream world that I can somehow fraction off a part of the Earth’s population and tuck it into my pocket, keeping it safe from devastation. Which country – no, countries – have I rescued from certain death? I wonder to myself as Fred approaches the door, furtively glancing over his shoulder to make sure Peter, the part-time baker and general tattletale, doesn’t see my bold display of rule-breaking. Certainly, the United States. Charity starts at home, right? I could save all of China. Gotta save the U.K. ‘cause that’s where all the really great music comes from anyway.

Fred carefully holds the brass bell attached to the handle as he unlocks the bolt and inches the door open, wide enough for a ballpoint to slide through. “You’re supposed to use the back door,” he hisses through the crack – like he never breaks the fucking rules – then slews his eyes towards the kitchen meaningfully.

I can’t help it. I burst out in giggles. Me. Giggling. Really. “Open the fucking door, Singh,” I cackle, leaning against it heavily, my momentum and sheer force of will nearly toppling poor Fred on his skinny little ass. Nothing will ruin my day today. I have preserved Kung Pao Chicken for all of eternity!

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Setting The Snark Aside

Me And Grandpa (Image property of Cristy Lewis)

Last night I started writing a post about my maternal grandfather, whom I called Grandpa. A nostalgic sort, I tend to sometimes dwell in my memories and the stories told to me by my family. Those places that are sepia-toned and a bit soft around the edges. Tales in which truth and embellishment have become interwoven into the same long braid.

For today, I’ve set the snark aside and offer these instead.

Ma Ma, Me-Ma And The Brood (Image property of Cristy Lewis)

the burial of older men


in the darkness

before the sky cracks dripping yolk sun

she hovers the room

the coffee maker clicks          dribbles

an appropriate dress hangs on the closet door

it is black

with sensible shoes

lined up neatly as pall bearers

***

her father scoffed at time

the today show congratulated william whitted

for inhaling, exhaling, defecating for a century

it is an accomplishment to survive

it is a failure to die

two days ago, her brother – jimmy – failed

he was three years older

***

when she was four

jimmy threw a rock at her head

on purpose

she married young

her limbs scarred as worn out nylons

she married before she reached full height

she married before her underarms needed shaving

she married so someone else could watch

for flying rocks

***

her husband, too, was older

ernie drove the fire truck

sang with velvet throat

walked like a rooster

walked like a snake

depended on the legs the whiskey was wearing

***

she grew older

ernie left

jimmy shook his head

her father just shook

she has yet to bury a man

her mother and daughter were boxed up

and sent off to god

***

she is old now

she hangs from this cliff

with one knobby hand

her husband zips her dress

she combs his hair

today she throws back her first rock

it lands with a thud

somewhere above jimmy’s head

***

Gran Gran And The Brood. (Image property of Cristy Lewis.)

The Last Days


You may have escaped me,

the marble that rolled under the sofa

hidden for years.

I knew your tanned legs and feet,

the palms of your hands -

smooth as tumbled river stones -

the watch face that rested against the inside of your wrist,

your penchant for painting all the furniture

dark brown.

Your sentences often started somewhere

in the middle.

I learned to follow along,

but failed to query

when your kidneys, your heart

failed you.

I never discovered the source of  the incessant ticking,

the wound spring

controlling your breaths,

the truths that kept you going.

What did you think about

blanched and shrunken in a hospital recliner,

cable out because of a storm?

The last time I saw you,

I combed your hair,

bought you a paper,

but forgot to ask what you were thinking

the other twenty-three hours of the day.

Maybe I was afraid you’d start somewhere in the middle,

and – sometimes – a teaspoon of water

can be worse than none at all.

***

“the burial of older men” and “The Last Days” are copyright 2007 and are the sole property of Cristy Carrington Lewis.

***

The snark shall return later this week. If you liked this post, please follow me on Facebook by clicking here.

The 11th Reason Why David Sedaris Won’t Marry Me

David Sedaris – Loves Owls. Hates Dogs And Pussies. (Image via Newyorker.com)

If you’ve read my previous post listing the 10 reasons why David Sedaris, the uber-talented writer and humorist, won’t marry me, you’ll be interested to know that tonight I met the object of my affection in person…and proposed.

Okay, I halfheartedly suggested that he enter into marital bliss with me, knowing full well that our love would be a lie and, in the interest of full disclosure, admitted to him that  if he agreed to make me Cristy Carrington Lewis Sedaris, both us would both likely be charged with bigamy – a third degree felony – by local authorities in the State of Florida. In the unlikely event that it was the fear of an unattractive mug shot that was the source of hesitation on David’s part, I was prepared to present him with a well-researched, legal defense, complete with a loophole and lots of Latin words – all of which would be written in italics to make them more intimidating. Florida law states that “Whoever, having a husband or wife living, marries another person shall, except in the cases mentioned in s. 826.02, be guilty of a felony of the third degree…” Sounds pretty cut and dry. Except that the very first exception mentioned in s 826.02 (1), Fla. Stat. indicates that the bigamy penalties shall not apply to someone who reasonably believes that their prior spouse is dead.

As I would technically be the bigamist in the relationship, it would appear that any reasonable uncertainty about whether or not my husband, Matt is dead would serve as the loophole which could permit David and I to marry without being charged with a felony. How you may ask? Am I planning to take my husband sailing, toss him overboard like in a bad Ashley Judd film, then claim six weeks after his body fails to resurface that he must have become a tapas treat for a giant octopus (Matt loves calamari and payback’s a bitch)? After all, Matt possess a nice, lean body – attractive to a wide variety of deadly sea predators. But no, that’s not the tack I would take. The idea is to avoid criminal charges – and the badly lit photographs that accompany them – not to incur a six page spread in People magazine dedicated to nothing but David’s and my mug shots. Plus, I’m a girl who wants her cake  and wants to eat it too. Otherwise, what’s the point of having a cake, if you think about it? I mean, if all you can do is look at the cake, that’s so fucked up. People like that are  masochists, salivating over cream cheese frosting they’ll never allow themselves to taste. David may be my key lime pie, but Matt is my chocolate lava cake – and both have their place in my life.

Schrodinger’s Cat Theory – Me Learn Quantum Mechanics Watching The Big Bang Theory (image via wikipedia)

No, I propose that we simply confuse the court with science. Why wouldn’t that work? If you’re a Republican, you are likely already befuddled and all I did was write the word, science.  Specifically, I suggest utilizing the Schrödinger’s cat theory, which purports that if you place a cat in a box, you can’t know if the cat is alive or dead while it remains in the box. It could be either dead or alive, and both possibilities are entirely reasonable. Schrödinger clearly didn’t use any of my cats while  proving this theory because they whine, screech, and use their cage as a litter box to signify their dissatisfaction when confined to a small, locked space (the opposite of a “dead” give away, I suppose). Moreover, the longer this experiment goes on – assuming that the cat box is not opened to provide food, water or air – at some point in the future, the odds of the cat being alive  go from 50/50 to 99.99/.01, and not in the kitty’s favor. Regardless, I suggest that we put Matt in a such a box, drug him and seal his mouth with duct tape  to ensure that I really have no idea of his status on this earth. Alive or dead? Who knows? And in that entirely reasonable moment, I could marry David Sedaris without censure. When Matt emerges alive, albeit irritated as hell that I’ve put him through this all so that I can marry a homosexual man who doesn’t know me and collects owls, I doubt there’s a court in the world who wouldn’t let me keep them both. And David has lots of room. We could move in with him. He’s apparently downsizing his owl collection – and then there’s all that space between his teeth.

In the alternative, I did propose to David that should he choose to reject my offer to become his betrothed, he could provide me with the 11th reason as to why he and I will never get hitched. The bastard chose the latter.

So, without further adieu, here is the 11th reason why David Sedaris won’t marry me:

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk, Not A Vagina (Image via Cristy Lewis)

As David Sedaris sketched this vagina with his Sharpie, he said, “Well, I assume this is what it looks like.” Close enough, David. Close enough.

I Don’t/Couldn’t/Wouldn’t Give A S**t/Flying F**k/ Rat’s A**/Damn (PG-Rated Version)

This Poo-Throwing Chimp Definitely Gives A S**t!

If you’d like to read the R-rated version of this post (the one without all the f**cking asterisks), click here.

As a person who studied literature and writing, I’m troubled by our rampant and incorrect usage of profanity. To be clear, I don’t give a s**t if people cuss, but it’s critical to the further development of civilization that we know what we mean when we say, “I don’t give a s**t.”

Americans are quick to let others know when they don’t care about something or someone. Many a comedian has joked about the fact that we often say, “I could care less” (which isn’t saying much as we typically can care less about most things), when we really mean, “couldn’t care less.”  For example, I couldn’t care less if a monkey throws poo at some random kid at some random zoo somewhere – as evidenced by my use of the word “random.” I’m so uninterested that I can’t be bothered to Google an example of this occurring, even though I’m sure it has. I’m also pretty sure that the victim of the chimp s**t tossing event looked like Augustus Gloop from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.  On the other hand, I could, indeed, care less about our inability to express ourselves more clearly when it comes to our interest or lack thereof about practically anything. Most irritating are the popular idioms that express apathy using the words s**ta**, f**k or damn to communicate just how much the speaker doesn’t care. Let me clear – I truly have no issues with profanity, as it’s called by many a Born Again Christian. I abhor censorship, except when it applies to Tea Party members – in which case, it should be applied liberally and to all words spoken – as everything they believe in is pretty much profane in my book.

Michele Bachmann - Stop Talking! I Know You're Just Reading The Phone Book, But It Sounds Like Non-Stop Cussing To Me (Image via Wikipedia)

ANALYSIS

I don’t give a s**t: (Alternative version: I wouldn’t give a s**t) An idiom often used to indicate that the speaker is apathetic about something, this expression is troublesome because it begs the question, Why would anyone give someone a piece of poo? Perhaps the speaker is referring to a specific, valuable kind of poo and, hence, he is unwilling to give any of it away. For example, panda poo is used to fertilize green tea leaves that are eventually sold for $35,000 a pound. Why is the dung of these adorable black and white critters so expensive? Apparently, the panda’s digestive system isn’t the efficient machine we may have assumed it to be and only absorbs about 30% of the nutrients consumed. As bamboo, a plant chock full of vitamins, minerals, fiber and anti-carcinogenic properties, is the primary diet of the panda, it is believed that panda dung enhances the benefits of green tea leaves grown in it.

Other examples of pricy s**t include the poo of the Asian Palm Civet, a cat-like animal that eats coffee berries for their fleshy pulp, then defecates the actual bean that is used to brew Kopi Luwak coffee – which sells for up to $600 a pound. Even your run-of-the-mill cow manure goes for about ten bucks for four pounds – less expensive than coffee, but more costly than sugar. Then, of course, there’s human poo – and you can’t give that s**t away. You really can’t. It’s illegal. Thus, in order to communicate effectively, the speaker should be extremely specific about the s**t he is referring to when he says, I don’t give a s**t. If he really, truly doesn’t care at all about the subject or person and is unwilling to give them anything at all, he could say, I don’t give a panda s**t, and if he cares just a tad more than that, I don’t give a civet s**t. If he’s on the fence, he could say, I don’t give four pounds of fertilizer grade s**t. While I don’t give a human s**t would actually mean the speaker is quite interested, but doesn’t want to admit it.

Asian Palm Civet - C'mon, You Know You Want My S**t! (Image via Wikipedia)

1)      I couldn’t give a s**t: An alternate to I don’t give a s**t, this expression implies that the speaker can’t afford to care. Perhaps he’d really like to, but he has no panda poo or civet dung to offer. Likely constipated, this person can’t even eek out a chocolate channel chewie of his own. Studies indicate that one utilizing this expression is worse off than a person who doesn’t have a pot to piss in, as the latter can still urinate, even though he doesn’t possess a container in which to store his tinkle.

2)      I don’t give a flying f**k: (Alternative version: I wouldn’t give a flying f**k) Implicit in this idiom is that fact that the speaker is unwilling to relinquish a flying f**k – that’s just how uninterested he is. Prostitution is often referred to as the “oldest profession,” demonstrating that some form of value – whether it be monetary or in goods and/or services – has long been attributed to f**king. Wired Magazine looked into the sex trade in early 2011 and determined that your typical streetwalker earns $75 a transaction, while escorts garner twice as much for their services. Upscale escort agencies may charge a john upwards of $4,000 – half of which will go to the call girl. Unfortunately, the cost of a flying f**k was not addressed; however, I’ve crunched the numbers myself and here’s what I’ve come up with:

Tandem Skydiving or Flying F**k? (Image via Wikipedia)

A tandem skydiving experience runs approximately $300, so if you were able to locate a tandem instructor who was also a prostitute, I’d estimate the entire flying f**k would run you approximately $3300 unless an agency was involved, in which case, the price would likely double. Even though the average call girl charges only $2000, a flying f**k is decidedly kinky – and extra pervy sex always costs more. Plus, I factored in additional monies for the sheer danger involved and the fact that your prostitute would have had to become certified in skydiving. Of course, she’s going to pass that expense on to you. And it’s not like skydiving hookers are hanging out on every corner, cooing to johns, “Hey Baby, wanna flying f**k?” Now if you’re sentimental and would prefer that your flying f**k experience involve someone you actually love or care about, both of you would need to become certified skydivers  – at a cost of $1500 to $2000 each, not including gear rental and jump costs. In the end, you’re looking at paying close to five grand to experience a flying f**k with your significant other. If heights make you, erm, nervously flaccid, add in another $50 for a doctor’s visit and a Viagra prescription. It appears that the meaning of I don’t give a flying f**k makes perfect sense as flying f**ks are innately valuable – and really shouldn’t just be given out willy nilly.

On the other hand, if your definition of a flying f**k involves two half-dressed people in a cramped bathroom on a plane at 35,000 feet, it may not be all that expensive. Jet Blue regularly offers $57 dollar one-way trips to places you’d rarely want to go, but if you’re antsy for a flying f**k, shelling out a few hundred bucks for you and your partner to board a plane headed for Omaha may just be the ticket. Then again, if you’re a celebrity or just incredibly good looking, you could cut the expense in half by seducing a flight attendant – but there’s plenty of risk involved there. You might get the fugly B crew or a bunch of virginal Bible Thumpers on any given trip – and jacking off by yourself in a bathroom the size of a closet isn’t the same as doing the nasty with a 21 year old, former-beauty-pageant-contestant-turned-flight-attendant-named-Bambi. If joining the Mile High Club was that easy, there’d be an International Mile High organization, conferences, lapel pins and a New York Times Bestselling How-to Book.

Okay. Apparently, There Is A Book (Image via dfarley.com)

3)      I couldn’t give a flying f**k: Again, this expression suggests that the speaker either can’t afford to give a flying f**k (particularly the pricier skydiving flying f**k), is unwilling to attempt a flying f**k by jumping out of the penthouse of a large skyscraper as it would most likely end in certain death as opposed to orgasm, or is simply afraid of heights.

4)      I don’t take no s**t: This is the idiom of an extremely proud person – someone unwilling to accept handouts of s**t from anyone, whether it be panda, civet or human in nature. If this person wants s**t, he’ll make it himself. If this means binging on an entire pot of chili, half a dozen bags of Lay’s and entire chocolate cake in one evening, that’s alright. He wants no charity, even if the only s**t he can produce is his own and utterly worthless. Unable to be bribed with the promises of the riches that come with possessing Panda dung, it is unlikely that this person is employed as a politician, local government employee or within the legal profession.

Rick Santorum - Got Panda S**t? I'll Take It! (Image via Wikipedia)

5)      I don’t give two s**ts and a flying f**k: Avoid this person at all cost. They are not interested in anything you have to say and will never share their s**t with you. And you’re certainly unlikely to convince them to give a flying f**k.

6)      I don’t give a rat’s a**: (Alternative version: I wouldn’t give a rat’s a**) Again, we are faced with an expression that challenges us to determine the value of something – in this case,  a rat’s a** – and ascertain why so many people are unwilling to give their rats’ a**es away. Despite extensive research on my part, I was unable to find a value assigned to a rat’s bunghole, nor did I find a market for real rat tails, as opposed to the decorative ribbon of the same name. On the whole, however, there’s definitely a demand for rats worldwide for use as food, pets and laboratory test subjects.

Rat Meat - All The Rage In Cambodia (Image via Reuters)

In fact, in 2008 Reuters reported that the demand for rodent meat in Cambodia resulted in a fourfold price increase to 5,000 riel ($1.28) for a little over two pounds of meat up from 1,200 riel in 2007. Though this price may seem inexpensive to those us paying up to $6/lb for raw chicken breasts, escalating rat meat prices meant that many poor Cambodians were unable to enjoy the “spicy field rat dishes with garlic” that are apparently quite popular in Mainland and Maritime Southeast Asia. Likewise, in West and Southern Africa, the Greater Cane Rat is considered a  pricy delicacy, superior to rabbit meat, that is served in restaurants and raised as micro livestock by locals. Unfortunately, despite exhaustive research, it is unclear as to whether or not the rat’s a** is discarded or eaten. Assuming that it is consumed,  a person hailing from Ghana or Nigeria who says, I wouldn’t give a rat’s a** may have stated such because it would be akin to asking Anthony Bourdain to part with an ounce of beluga cavier or black Périgord truffles. Not gonna happen.

If a young child announces that he don’t give a rat’s a**, then we might assume he has a filthy mouth and needs a sound beating that it’s because kids like rodents and think they make wonderful pets. After all, he’s probably never heard of the Bubonic Plague or read the article about rats chewing off the upper lip of a four week old infant while she slept in her crib in Kansas City. One day, rats will be just one of the many phobias for which he has to take medication to control, but today that boy is just a child who wants a furry white critter to call Whiskers and one more way in which to torture his younger sister.

Pets possess an intrinsic value for the people who love them, regardless of whether or not that translates into dollars and cents. And though the typical fancy rat costs less than $15 – even from a reputable breeder – many rat owners willingly pay thousands of bucks a year to feed, cage and medically care for their “ratties,” as they are called. As a previous pet rat owner, I can testify to the fact that rat fanciers – particularly in adult form – are amongst the most zealous of animal owners. Because their pets-of-choice are often derided as disease-spreading, cheese-stealing, beady-eyed, fanged monsters responsible for everything from famine to making New York City’s sewers uninhabitable, you’d be hard pressed to find a rattie lover who’d give up any rat’s a** in their possession.

Even At The Karni Mata Temple, Brown A**es Are Worth Less Than White Ones (Image via lovethosepics.com)

Likewise, Hindu worshippers of the Indian mystic , Karni Mata, treat the of rats who inhabit the temple that bears her name like royalty, offering them prasads, a candy-like food, in the hopes of sighting one of the rare white rats that live alongside over 20,000 brown rodents. It is believed that the darker rats are the reincarnated souls of Karni Mata’s tribespeople, while the albinos are either Karni Mata herself or her immediate family. As such, it’s unlikely that any Hindu who makes the pilgrimage to the Karni Mata Temple would ever consider offering a rat’s a** to anyone. However, in order to distinguish how emphatic they are about their unwillingness to anger Karni Mata by giving away one of her temple’s rat rumps, it would be helpful if devout Hindus would specify whether or not they don’t give a brown rat’s a** or a white rat’s a**. As is the case in America, white a**es in India are treated with more respect and assigned significantly more value than brown a**es.

Finally, we broach the issue of the laboratory rat. Millions – perhaps even billions – of rats are used to test everything from cosmetics to pharmaceuticals to insecticide. Though most people consider experimentation on animals to be an evil act, albeit a necessary one, few would consider the average lab rat to be worth much. Forget about its a**. However, further investigation reveals that these furry white critters with their Satanic, glowing red eyes have been used for decades to study human disorders of the anus – yes, a** diseases – such as rectal cancer and hemorrhoids. Thus, these rats’ a**es are worth a fortune to the real devils out there: pharmaceutical companies. So when the CEO of Pfizer says, “I don’t give a rat’s a**!” it’s because that particular rat’s a** might be worth a billion dollars in revenue. The irony is that many of us consider pharmaceutical executives to be worth far less than a common sewer rat’s keister.

My Hemorrhoids Are Killing Me! (Image via Wikipedia)

7)      I couldn’t give a rat’s a**: This idiom suggests a plethora of reasons for the inability to offer up a rat’s cornhole. Perhaps the speaker is a follower of Karni Mata and is fearful of angering the incarnation of the Indian goddess, Durga. Maybe he’s a Preparation H sales rep – and a**es, along with the rats’ a**es that help improve his product line – are his business. He could be one of the few highly-specialized veterinarians out there with a focus on rattie rectal cancer or he might be reluctant to give up his family’s dinner at the Rat A** Café in Ghana. Either way, rats’ a**es are a lot more valuable than you probably ever thought possible, so think before you offer to give one away.

8)      I don’t give a damn: (Alternative version: I wouldn’t give a damn) Depending on your religious affiliation, damning can be a serious business. In fact, many people believe that being damned involves some sort of eternal punishment in a broiling pit of heat and misery (a.k.a. Miami in August).  This statement suggests that the speaker can’t be bothered to damn the subject. Perhaps she believes the person is already damned and further damning on her part would be redundant (i.e. “I’d damn John Mayer to Hell, but he’s such douchebag, Satan’s already got a lava-lined armchair just waiting for him”) or she’s concerned about karma and is simply content to hold her tongue. Perhaps the best example of someone really meaning it when they said, I don’t give a damn, is Rhett Butler’s final words to a whiny and pathetic Bella Swan from Twilight Scarlett O’Hara in the film, Gone with the Wind. By walking off into the fog after replying to Scarlett’s whimpering question about what she should do and where should she go with the classic parting retort, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn,” Rhett Butler left with viewers with little doubt about the fact that he didn’t care if Scarlett rotted in Hell, or in her delusional world in which she returns to Tara and dreams of Rhett coming back to her – and giving a damn.

Scarlett O'Hara - Rhett Doesn't Give A S**t If You Rot In Hell Or Not (Image via Wikipedia)

9)      I couldn’t give a damn: Widely utilized by those who are unable to damn someone because they are atheists, agnostics or just pussies.

Stay tuned for Part Two of I Don’t/Wouldn’t/Couldn’t Give A S**t/Flying F**k/Rat’s A**/Damn – which will likely be called something else entirely and will likely be posted next week, unless I decide that I don’t give a s**t/flying f**k/rat’s a**/damn, in which case it’ll be posted whenever I feel like it.

If you decided to read this with all the asterisks and you’d still like to read this post or share it without them, the R-rated version is available right here or you can just scroll down a little and you’ll come right to it.

I Don’t/Wouldn’t/Couldn’t Give A Shit/Flying Fuck/Rat’s Ass/Damn

This Poo-Throwing Chimp Definitely Gives A Shit!

As a person who studied literature and writing, I’m troubled by our rampant and incorrect usage of profanity. To be clear, I don’t give a shit if people cuss, but it’s critical to the further development of civilization that we know what we mean when we say, “I don’t give a shit.”

Americans are quick to let others know when they don’t care about something or someone. Many a comedian has joked about the fact that we often say, “I could care less” (which isn’t saying much as we typically can care less about most things), when we really mean,I couldn’t care less.”  For example, I couldn’t care less if a monkey throws poo at some random kid at some random zoo somewhere – as evidenced by my use of the word “random.” I’m so uninterested that I can’t be bothered to Google an example of this occurring, even though I’m sure it has. I’m also pretty sure that the victim of the chimp shit tossing event looked like Augustus Gloop from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.  On the other hand, I could, indeed, care less about our inability to express ourselves more clearly when it comes to our interest or lack thereof about practically anything. Most irritating are the popular idioms that express apathy using the words shit, ass, fuck or damn to communicate just how much the speaker doesn’t care. Let me be clear – I have no issues with profanity, as it’s called by many a Born Again Christian. I abhor censorship, except when it applies to Tea Party members – in which case, it should be applied liberally and to all words spoken – as everything they believe in is pretty much profane in my book.

Michele Bachmann – Stop Talking! I Know You’re Just Reading The Phone Book, But It Sounds Like Non-Stop Cussing To Me (Image via Wikipedia)

ANALYSIS

I don’t give a shit: (Alternative version: I wouldn’t give a shit) An idiom often used to indicate that the speaker is apathetic about something, this expression is troublesome because it begs the question, Why would anyone give someone a piece of poo? Perhaps the speaker is referring to a specific, valuable kind of poo and, hence, he is unwilling to give any of it away. For example, panda poo is used to fertilize green tea leaves that are eventually sold for $35,000 a pound. Why is the dung of these adorable black and white critters so expensive? Apparently, the panda’s digestive system isn’t the efficient machine we may have assumed it to be and only absorbs about 30% of the nutrients consumed. As bamboo, a plant chock full of vitamins, minerals, fiber and anti-carcinogenic properties, is the primary diet of the panda, it is believed that panda dung enhances the benefits of green tea leaves grown in it.

Other examples of pricy shit include the poo of the Asian Palm Civet, a cat-like animal that eats coffee berries for their fleshy pulp, then defecates the actual bean that is used to brew Kopi Luwak coffee – which sells for up to $600 a pound. Even your run-of-the-mill cow manure goes for about ten bucks for four pounds – less expensive than coffee, but more costly than sugar. Then, of course, there’s human poo – and you can’t give that shit away. You really can’t. It’s illegal. Thus, in order to communicate effectively, the speaker should be extremely specific about the shit he is referring to when he says, I don’t give a shit. If he really, truly doesn’t care at all about the subject or person and is unwilling to give them anything at all, he could say, I don’t give a panda shit, and if he cares just a tad more than that, I don’t give a civet shit. If he’s on the fence, he could say, I don’t give four pounds of fertilizer grade shit. While I don’t give a human shit would actually mean the speaker is quite interested, but doesn’t want to admit it.

Asian Palm Civet – C’mon, You Know You Want My Shit! (Image via Wikipedia)

1)      I couldn’t give a shit: An alternate to I don’t give a shit, this expression implies that the speaker can’t afford to care. Perhaps he’d really like to, but he has no panda poo or civet dung to offer. Likely constipated, this person can’t even eek out a chocolate channel chewie of his own. Studies indicate that one utilizing this expression is worse off than a person who doesn’t have a pot to piss in, as the latter can still urinate, even though he doesn’t possess a container in which to store his tinkle.

2)      I don’t give a flying fuck: (Alternative version: I wouldn’t give a flying fuck) Implicit in this idiom is that fact that the speaker is unwilling to relinquish a flying fuck – that’s just how uninterested he is. Prostitution is often referred to as the “oldest profession,” demonstrating that some form of value – whether it be monetary or in goods and/or services – has long been attributed to fucking. Wired Magazine looked into the sex trade in early 2011 and determined that your typical streetwalker earns $75 a transaction, while escorts garner twice as much for their services. Upscale escort agencies may charge a john upwards of $4,000 – half of which will go to the call girl. Unfortunately, the cost of a flying fuck was not addressed; however, I’ve crunched the numbers myself and here’s what I’ve come up with:

Tandem Skydiving or Flying Fuck? (Image via Wikipedia)

A tandem skydiving experience runs approximately $300, so if you were able to locate a tandem instructor who was also a prostitute, I’d estimate the entire flying fuck would run you approximately $3300 unless an agency was involved, in which case, the price would likely double. Even though the average call girl charges only $2000, a flying fuck is decidedly kinky – and extra pervy sex always costs more. Plus, I factored in additional monies for the sheer danger involved and the fact that your prostitute would have had to become certified in skydiving. Of course, she’s going to pass that expense on to you. And it’s not like skydiving hookers are hanging out on every corner, cooing to johns, “Hey Baby, wanna flying fuck?” Now if you’re sentimental and would prefer that your flying fuck experience involve someone you actually love or care about, both of you would need to become certified skydivers  – at a cost of $1500 to $2000 each, not including gear rental and jump costs. In the end, you’re looking at paying close to five grand to experience a flying fuck with your significant other. If heights make you, erm, nervously flaccid, add in another $50 for a doctor’s visit and a Viagra prescription. It appears that the meaning of I don’t give a flying fuck makes perfect sense as flying fucks are innately valuable – and really shouldn’t just be given out willy nilly.

On the other hand, if your definition of a flying fuck involves two half-dressed people in a cramped bathroom on a plane at 35,000 feet, it may not be all that expensive. Jet Blue regularly offers $57 dollar one-way trips to places you’d rarely want to go, but if you’re antsy for a flying fuck, shelling out a few hundred bucks for you and your partner to board a plane headed for Omaha may just be the ticket. Then again, if you’re a celebrity or just incredibly good looking, you could cut the expense in half by seducing a flight attendant – but there’s plenty of risk involved there. You might get the fugly B crew or a bunch of virginal Bible Thumpers on any given trip – and jacking off by yourself in a bathroom the size of a closet isn’t the same as doing the nasty with a 21 year old, former-beauty-pageant-contestant-turned-flight-attendant-named-Bambi. If joining the Mile High Club was that easy, there’d be an International Mile High organization, conferences, lapel pins and a New York Times Bestselling How-to Book.

Okay. Maybe There Is A Book (Image via dfarley.com)

3)      I couldn’t give a flying fuck: Again, this expression suggests that the speaker either can’t afford to give a flying fuck (particularly the pricier skydiving flying fuck), is unwilling to attempt a flying fuck by jumping out of the penthouse of a large skyscraper as it would most likely end in certain death as opposed to orgasm, or is simply afraid of heights.

4)      I don’t take no shit: This is the idiom of an extremely proud person – someone unwilling to accept handouts of shit from anyone, whether it be panda, civet or human in nature. If this person wants shit, he’ll make it himself. If this means binging on an entire pot of chili, half a dozen bags of Lay’s and entire chocolate cake in one evening, that’s alright. He wants no charity, even if the only shit he can produce is his own and utterly worthless. Unable to be bribed with the promises of the riches that come with possessing panda dung, it is unlikely that this person is employed as a politician, local government employee or within the legal profession.

Rick Santorum – Got Panda Shit? I’ll Take It! (Image via Wikipedia)

5)      I don’t give two shits and a flying fuck: Avoid this person at all cost. They are not interested in anything you have to say and will never share their shit with you. And you’re certainly unlikely to convince them to give a flying fuck.

6)      I don’t give a rat’s ass: (Alternative version: I wouldn’t give a rat’s ass) Again, we are faced with an expression that challenges us to determine the value of something – in this case,  a rat’s ass – and ascertain why so many people are unwilling to give their rats’ asses away. Despite extensive research on my part, I was unable to find a value assigned to a rat’s bunghole, nor did I find a market for real rat tails, as opposed to the decorative ribbon of the same name. On the whole, however, there’s definitely a demand for rats worldwide for use as food, pets and laboratory test subjects.

Rat Meat – All The Rage In Cambodia (Image via Reuters)

In fact, in 2008 Reuters reported that the demand for rodent meat in Cambodia resulted in a fourfold price increase to 5,000 riel ($1.28) for a little over two pounds of meat up from 1,200 riel in 2007. Though this price may seem inexpensive to those us paying up to $6/lb for raw chicken breasts, escalating rat meat prices meant that many poor Cambodians were unable to enjoy the “spicy field rat dishes with garlic” that are apparently quite popular in Mainland and Maritime Southeast Asia. Likewise, in West and Southern Africa, the Greater Cane Rat is considered a  pricy delicacy, superior to rabbit meat, that is served in restaurants and raised as micro livestock by locals. Unfortunately, despite exhaustive research, it is unclear as to whether or not the rat’s ass is discarded or eaten. Assuming that it is consumed,  a person hailing from Ghana or Nigeria who says, I wouldn’t give a rat’s ass may have stated such because it would be akin to asking Anthony Bourdain to part with an ounce of beluga cavier or black Périgord truffles. Not gonna happen.

If a young child announces that he don’t give a rat’s ass, then we might assume he has a filthy mouth and needs a sound beating that it’s because kids like rodents and think they make wonderful pets. After all, he’s probably never heard of the Bubonic Plague or read the article about rats chewing off the upper lip of a four week old infant while she slept in her crib in Kansas City. One day, rats will be just one of the many phobias for which he has to take medication to control, but today that boy is just a child who wants a furry white critter to call Whiskers and one more way in which to torture his younger sister.

Pets possess an intrinsic value for the people who love them, regardless of whether or not that translates into dollars and cents. And though the typical fancy rat costs less than $15 – even from a reputable breeder – many rat owners willingly pay thousands of bucks a year to feed, cage and medically care for their “ratties,” as they are called. As a previous pet rat owner, I can testify to the fact that rat fanciers – particularly in adult form – are amongst the most zealous of animal owners. Because their pets-of-choice are often derided as disease-spreading, cheese-stealing, beady-eyed, fanged monsters responsible for everything from famine to making New York City’s sewers uninhabitable, you’d be hard pressed to find a rattie lover who’d give up any rat’s ass in their possession.

Even At The Karni Mata Temple, Brown Asses Are Worth Less Than White Ones (Image via lovethosepics.com)

Likewise, Hindu worshippers of the Indian mystic , Karni Mata, treat the of rats who inhabit the temple that bears her name like royalty, offering them prasads, a candy-like food, in the hopes of sighting one of the rare white rats that live alongside over 20,000 brown rodents. It is believed that the darker rats are the reincarnated souls of Karni Mata’s tribespeople, while the albinos are either Karni Mata herself or her immediate family. As such, it’s unlikely that any Hindu who makes the pilgrimage to the Karni Mata Temple would ever consider offering a rat’s ass to anyone. However, in order to distinguish how emphatic they are about their unwillingness to anger Karni Mata by giving away one of her temple’s rat rumps, it would be helpful if devout Hindus would specify whether or not they don’t give a brown rat’s ass or a white rat’s ass. As is the case in America, white asses in India are treated with more respect and assigned significantly more value than brown asses.

Finally, we broach the issue of the laboratory rat. Millions – perhaps even billions – of rats are used to test everything from cosmetics to pharmaceuticals to insecticide. Though most people consider experimentation on animals to be an evil act, albeit a necessary one, few would consider the average lab rat to be worth much. Forget about its ass. However, further investigation reveals that these furry white critters with their Satanic, glowing red eyes have been used for decades to study human disorders of the anus – yes, ass diseases – such as rectal cancer and hemorrhoids. Thus, these rats’ asses are worth a fortune to the real devils out there: pharmaceutical companies. So when the CEO of Pfizer says, “I don’t give a rat’s ass!” it’s because that particular rat’s ass might be worth a billion dollars in revenue. The irony is that many of us consider pharmaceutical executives to be worth far less than a common sewer rat’s keister.

My Hemorrhoids Are Killing Me! (Image via Wikipedia)

7)      I couldn’t give a rat’s ass: This idiom suggests a plethora of reasons for the inability to offer up a rat’s cornhole. Perhaps the speaker is a follower of Karni Mata and is fearful of angering the incarnation of the Indian goddess, Durga. Maybe he’s a Preparation H sales rep – and asses, along with the rats’ asses that help improve his product line – are his business. He could be one of the few highly-specialized veterinarians out there with a focus on rattie rectal cancer or he might be reluctant to give up his family’s dinner at the Rat Ass Café in Ghana. Either way, rats’ asses are a lot more valuable than you probably ever thought possible, so think before you offer to give one away.

8)      I don’t give a damn: (Alternative version: I wouldn’t give a damn) Depending on your religious affiliation, damning can be a serious business. In fact, many people believe that being damned involves some sort of eternal punishment in a broiling pit of heat and misery (a.k.a. Miami in August).  This statement suggests that the speaker can’t be bothered to damn the subject. Perhaps she believes the person is already damned and further damning on her part would be redundant (i.e. “I’d damn John Mayer to Hell, but he’s such douchebag, Satan’s already got a lava-lined armchair just waiting for him”) or she’s concerned about karma and is simply content to hold her tongue. Perhaps the best example of someone really meaning it when they said, I don’t give a damn, is Rhett Butler’s final words to a whiny and pathetic Bella Swan from Twilight Scarlett O’Hara in the film, Gone with the Wind. By walking off into the fog after replying to Scarlett’s whimpering question about what she should do and where should she go with the classic parting retort, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn,” Rhett Butler left with viewers with little doubt about the fact that he didn’t care if Scarlett rotted in Hell, or in her delusional world in which she returns to Tara and dreams of Rhett coming back to her – and giving a damn.

Scarlett O’Hara – Rhett Doesn’t Give A Shit If You Rot In Hell Or Not (Image via Wikipedia)

9)      I couldn’t give a damn: Widely utilized by those who are unable to damn someone because they are atheists, agnostics or just pussies.

Stay tuned for Part Two of I Don’t/Wouldn’t/Couldn’t Give A Shit/Flying Fuck/Rat’s Ass/Damn – which will likely be called something else entirely and will likely be posted next week, unless I decide that I don’t give a shit/flying fuck/rat’s ass/damn, in which case it’ll be posted whenever I feel like it.

10 Reasons Why David Sedaris Won’t Marry Me

David Sedaris - The Man Who Won't Marry Me! (Image via Newyorker.com)

So the inevitable factoid finally came up: Gay marriage is legal in New York, and yet David Sedaris still won’t marry me.

Why? I’m perfectly nice, reasonably intelligent and can type more than 60 words a minute. I also make a mean rosemary roasted chicken and don’t need to refer to directions in order to operate an unfamiliar microwave oven. I once saw Liza Minnelli on the sidewalk in Manhattan and didn’t ask her for her autograph or attempt to snap an unflattering photo of her – due in part to the fact that I didn’t have a cell phone back then and only CIA cell phones had things like cameras embedded in them. A podiatrist once claimed I “have really nice feet” and I always say, “God bless you!” when people sneeze, as I think Gesundheit! sounds pretentious. My salt and pepper shaker collection is a sight to behold. Proficient at alphabetizing, I’ve organized my DVDs so that a poo-throwing chimp could locate my copy of Sliding Doors in three seconds flat.

Despite my impressive attributes, I’ve been told that there are a number of reasons why David Sedaris would reject my marriage proposal:

1)      David Sedaris is a gay man. I am a straight woman. And yes, I realize that the legalization of gay marriage really has nothing to do with whether or not David Sedaris can or will marry me…but it was a great hook.

2)      David Sedaris has a partner named Hugh. I have a husband named Matt who already tolerates the fact that I have one gay husband (okay, it’s not legal. Geez, like I’d become a bigamist for someone who isn’t David Sedaris).

3)      David Sedaris is a famous writer who has sold over seven million books. I’m a famous writer (and probably a stalker, in the mind of David Sedaris) who has sold about seven copies of a chapbook entitled, Mind the Gap .

4)      David Sedaris speaks French. I eat French fries with gusto and can, when pressed, use words like quiche and voilá appropriately.

5)      David Sedaris has a famous sister. I have a cousin who lives in a trailer with two of her three grown kids and several of her grandchildren.

6)      David Sedaris charges 55 bucks a head for decent seats at one of his readings. I ply friends, acquaintances and total strangers (some shoeless) with the promise of free liquor and sandwiches in order to warm a few seats at one of my poetry readings.

7)      David Sedaris has a Tweet-a-Day Fan Site with 17,000 followers (he follows zilch – not a single, solitary person – not even Alan Cumming, who follows him). My Twitter account is followed by 62 people, at least 12 of whom are employed in the sex industry (I follow 86 people, including Alan Cumming.)

Alan Cumming - Probably My Competition For The Heart Of David Sedaris (Image via ptownfilmfest.org)

8)      David Sedaris reads his essays aloud on This American Life and on David Letterman’s show. When I read an essay aloud to my husband in the privacy of our living room, he demands that I hand him the computer so that he can read it himself because “I’m a terrible actress.”

9)      David Sedaris has given up smoking. I’m thinking about taking the habit up because it might be the best way to lose weight and/or fool others into thinking I’m a supermodel if I do it while sipping champagne and whining about what a bitch Gisele is in person.

10)   David Sedaris lives in London. I live in Florida, but insist that my husband – gay or otherwise – reside in the same country I do, otherwise it makes playing board games and sharing popcorn difficult.

London - Wouldn't Mind Popping Over Twice A Year For The Harrod's Sale (Image via Cristy Lewis)

It’s probably all for the best. I’m sure after a few long years together, I’d tire of David Sedaris saying all the clever, pithy things first. As he ran out of humiliating stories about his own family, he’d inevitably begin scrabbling through the plethora of material available about mine – and then what would I write about? “No, David, you can’t write about my first period. I don’t care if it’s funnier when you tell it.” Our perfect, asexual life of shared erudite magazines and talking about his latest book deals would eventually sour like a pitcher of sweet tea left out on the counter for too long. I’d eventually stop reading his essays altogether, and would start rolling my eyes above the rim of my martini glass as he told the one about my father challenging the school bully who punched me at a football game to a round of kung foo fighting – I know, it’s funnier when he tells it – to our friends over dinner. It would end badly. His Grammy (by then, he would have finally won) broken on the floor, copies of my chapbook thrown into the fireplace, and Matt and Hugh, standing side-by-side, arms crossed against their chests, shaking their heads in a way that says, It was never going to work. What were they thinking?

David Sedaris' Future Grammy - Let's End This Now Before I End Up Breaking Your Golden Gramophone (Image via Wikipedia)

So by not marrying me, David Sedaris, you’re doing us both a favor. Years from now, I’ll still be enjoying your books, and Matt won’t have left me because he became sick to death of hearing “David this” and “David that,” as I bitched about your continued success and the pressure of living in your shadow. I don’t know where you’ll mine your new material, but I suspect we’ll be hearing about the first time Hugh had a wet dream, at some point. And that’s okay. Because it’s funnier when you tell it.

My First Grade Judas Kiss

"The Judas Kiss" by Gustave Dore (Image via Wikipedia)

While discussing the topic of dishonesty with a friend who chronicles the unbelievably funny and charming things her toddler, Alice, says in the course of everyday life in her brilliant and wonderfully concise blog, the book of alice, the topic of first lies (not first lays, you pervs!) arose. Of course, there are two kinds of first lies: (1) the one your mother will remember forever – since her heart shattered just a little that day upon discovering that you were well on your way to becoming a full-fledged heathen – but you won’t recall it because parents don’t typically beat you until you’re at least four or five; and (2) the one you remember – probably because you got your bottom whipped or at least got sent to the “naughty chair” for engaging in the deception.

As a person who is guilt-wracked when I commit the most minor of offenses, my first lie haunts me much in the same way that Scrooge was plagued the chain-rattling Jacob Marley. Due to a move to Miami early in my sixth year, I joined Mrs. Cupman’s first grade class about nine weeks into the semester, at which point I was introduced to the dreaded, blue plaid parochial school jumper paired with a baby blue, Peter Pan-collared blouse beneath. Stiff and most certainly interwoven with steel threads, the tartan fabric was made to withstand Florida’s hurricanes, falls from the monkey bars and daily instructions to sit in the lotus position on the school’s concrete sidewalks. It is rumored that the needle used to sew our jumpers was actually a long, sharpened diamond mined from Chuck Norris’ bone marrow, though I hear the current method of construction involves lasers and cold fusion. Regardless, I understand that my voluminously-pleated uniform came with accessory tent states and a portable Coleman grill.

X-Ray Vision Glasses - What? They Don't Really Work? (Image via tomvision.com)

Despite the relative strength of the blue tartan and the fact that it was so dense it could have been used to make black out curtains during WWII, my mother insisted that I don a silky, white half-slip trimmed in lace beneath my uniform. An avid comic book reader as a child, my mother may have been operating under the belief that the x-ray glasses advertised in the back of her cherished copies of Casper the Friendly Ghost really worked and that some pervy boy in my class possessed a pair. Though talkative, I was still a bit shy as “the new girl,” but managed to befriend another kid who resembled me in every way. Long light-brown hair with bangs. Check.  Gap in smile from missing front teeth. Check. Female. Duh. Scrawny with bony knees and a thin, pixie-like face. Check. Michelle quickly became my best friend. I believe the conversation went something like this:

Michelle: So, you’re new, huh?

Me: Yeah. And I have a puppy. Her name is Daisy. And I have a cat, too – named Pumpkin, but she doesn’t really look anything like a pumpkin. She looks like she stepped in paint. And she scratches. (Holding out my arm.) See. And my parents are divorced, but they’re getting married again. And I’m gonna be the…

Michelle: If you stop talking, I’ll be your best friend.

Me: For how long?

Michelle: I dunno. Forever.

Me: I can’t stop talking for the rest of my life. I’ll get in trouble when Mrs. Cupman calls roll and I don’t answer. And then there’s reading class…

Michelle: No, just shut up for a little while. I’ll be your best friend forever.

Me: (Lips pursed together tightly, I nod in agreement.)

With over two months of first grade under her belt, Michelle was a pro and she clued me in on all the vital information a newbie like me would need to know in order to succeed in this initial year of my education.

First rule: Never buy the school lunch. Even if the best your mom had in the fridge was a shriveled apple and a lettuce and mustard sandwich, you were to demand that she wrap it up in a paper bag and bring it to school. Unlike in kindergarten, bathroom breaks were not a right, but a strictly-scheduled privilege – and to eat the school meatloaf was to risk soiling one undies, not to mention gaining the nickname, “Poopy Pants” for the duration of the school year.

Second Rule: Do not commit any capital offenses. In first grade, capital offenses were amorphous crimes, and, at Westwood Christian School, could include:  taking the Lord’s name in vain, hitting, spitting, biting, kicking, sassing back, lying, cheating, stealing, failing to follow the line leader, calling the line leader a “passive-aggressive bitch,” and kissing. The latter was rumored to cause everything from pregnancy to hiccups that would never go away. Ever. However, my resulting avoidance of kissing had nothing to do with my prevailing fear of never-ending hiccups, but the punishment doled out by Vice Principal, Mrs. McCranie. A meaty woman with cold, squinty eyes emphasized by her metal, cat-eye glasses, I’m pretty sure her sole responsibilities at the school involved yanking students away from the water fountain by their collars if they drank too long, and wielding The Paddle. A medieval torture device carved from wood and drilled with multiple holes in order to ensure that no amount of oxygen could wend its way between it and the bared butt of a young child, The Paddle was discussed only in hushed tones. Tales of surviving Mrs. McCranie and her paddle were legendary. Those who returned to class from her Chamber of Horrors office, often became mute for months, staring vacantly at the wall with the eyes of someone who’d looked death in the face - and now wanted only to behave and graduate on to a nice office job, perhaps in accounting

"The Paddle" - A Disciplinary Tool Or Medieval Torture Device? (Image via thewilbournegroup.com)

Third Rule: Avoid the boys who practice the art of “picking and sticking” – a.k.a. the removal of one’s boogers with one’s fingers from one’s nose and then the act of sticking said boogers onto the exposed skin of the nearest female student. Without a doubt, the list of infamous “pickers and stickers” was crucial, memorized, then chewed and swallowed. Why? Because Michelle told me to and she was a Ms. Bossy Britches. Still, to this day, you’ll never catch me anywhere near John Nealy.

Despite my burgeoning friendship with Michelle, my efforts to chummy up with the rest of my classmates were largely rebuffed. The only exception was a fat boy (I really wish I could say he was just chubby or husky, but that would be a corporal offense) named Ronald who made a habit of deliberately missing his school bus once he laid his eyes on my mother. Back in the day, she was a hottie; if not a prude when it came to her daughter’s attire. Poured into a pair of skin-tight cut-offs and a tube top, Mom was a long, tall drink of Southern iced-tea in a pair of platform heels. Tanned the old-fashioned way with waist-length, Marsha Brady hair and the face of a fashion model, she was the center of attention the second she arrived in the pick-up line, driving our sparkly purple dune buggy. Ronald was a goner. Once he discovered that we lived nearby, he began missing the bus regularly and pawning rides off my mother, who allowed him – much to my dismay – to sit in the front seat, where he had an eagle eye view of her golden-brown stems. This mutual affection for my mom – though mine was based not on transportation and sheer lust, but on a desire to be fed, bathed and clothed at appropriate intervals – served as a sort of bond between Ronald and me for the next four years. And despite the fact that Ronald’s primary interest in me was as a source of information about my mother and her likes – her favorite color, her favorite number, her favorite television show – it was still interest.

Purple Dune Buggy + Tanned, Leggy Cut-off, Tube-top Wearing Super Fox = First Grade Boners (Image via wichita.olx.com)

Which brings me to the ominous day that I became a liar. The afternoon had begun inauspiciously. I’d inhaled my cheese sandwich, thrown my apple into the garbage as I always did, and relished my Tupperware bowl of chocolate pudding. After recess, Michelle and I had returned to our seats in the classroom – mine directly behind hers – and we’d begun our studies in mathematics, focusing on the whole adding and subtracting phenomena that was to eventually captivate the nation. As I stared inattentively at the alphabet chart strung above the green chalkboard, my jumper skirt inadvertently slid upwards, revealing the lacy hem of my slip. Behind me and to my right, I heard the boys, chuckling. Someone hissed, “Yeaaaay,” under his breath. Glancing around, I realized that at least six pairs of eyes were focused on my thigh and my exposed bit of nylon. Finally, a taste of what my mother experienced every day of her life – the admiration of the male species. Except, I didn’t particularly care that they were boys; I just wanted attention. Ignored for several weeks now, I craved to be the center of anything.

Realizing that it was the bright whiteness of my nylon slip against the starkness of my pristine jumper that was causing the ruckus, I casually crossed my legs and allowed my elbow to rest against the starched plaid fabric. Shifting my arm backwards a bit and sliding my jumper with it, I allowed a few more inches of my slip to glow in the flickering, overhead lighting. More snickering. More eyes – some of which now belonged to girls whose mouths dropped open in delighted, faux shock. The boys exhaled a collective sigh. Like my mother, I was incredibly naïve. Apparently, I thought my teacher was both deaf and blind – in my defense, she was pretty old – and wouldn’t notice that my skirt was slowly easing its way up towards my hipbones, at the encouragement of the entire class. Except for Michelle. Directly in front of me, she was clueless as to the shenanigans going on behind her.

“Now, who can tell me what four plus four equals?” Mrs. Cupman asked, turning her kind, lined face towards her pupils. As she scanned her students’ faces, she slowly realized that their attention was not on addition, but on subtraction – namely, the subtraction of my uniform from my sexy, lacy slip. “Cristy Carrington!” she shrieked, her face taking on the wailing, pained quality of the figure in The Scream. As her hands clutched at her cheeks, she demanded to know, “Are you showing your slip to the boys?”

Mrs. Cupman Upon Seeing My Bared Slip. Nooooooooooo! (Image via Wikipedia)

It was a question for which there was only one obvious answer. I didn’t hesitate. I didn’t think. “No!” I replied. “Michelle did it.” In the split second it took for me to become a liar (No!), I also became Judas betraying Jesus with a kiss (Michelle did it.). I was Abigail Williams in The Crucible accusing Goody Osborne of witchcraft, when I was the one who had danced naked around the fire in the woods and communed with spirits. I can’t explain it. I can’t justify it. My gut reaction was to deny, deny, deny, then attribute blame. I’m willing to bet I could have been admitted to law school on this act alone. In the single moment it took to be accused of the crime, I had realized that Michelle and I resembled one another. Perhaps the near-sighted, Mrs. Cupman would believe that Michelle had committed the dreaded sin of slippery, instead of me, I’d thought. My best friend became a mere pawn in my sophisticated game of deception – one to which I might have been new, but one which I inherently understood. Michelle was my scapegoat, and to this day - I swear it happened in slow motion – as if my treason had somehow hindered Time itself. Michelle’s long hair splayed out, fan-like, as she whirled around to face me, confusion in her blue eyes. Behind her, Mrs. Cupman’s head shook back and forth slowly, as if she’d never encountered such a villainous Jezebel. And such a dumb one – considering I was the only girl in the class wearing a slip.

"Goody Osborne Associates With The Devil!" (Image via livingbehindthegates.wordpress.com)

As the realization dawned on me that my lie, coupled with my false accusation, had only worsened my situation, I dropped my eyes from Michelle’s steady, injured gaze and into my lap. I slid my plaid skirt towards my knees. My slip was no longer in sight, but Mrs. Cupman’s vision was also no longer in question. I’d been caught. And if kissing was a capital offense, certainly showing the entire class your slip – something that was, in the Seventies, considered part of your underwear – was worse. Much worse. I half-expected that the black and white linoleum flooring would open up to reveal an escalator headed only one way – down –  to Hell. The other half of me was worried that my class would suddenly erupt in a harmony of hiccups that would last much longer than my friendship with Michelle.

My Ass After Mrs. McCranie Finished With It (Image via beefretail.org)

In the end, it was my rear end that suffered the most. Pentecostals love their corporal punishment. Mrs. McCranie made short work of my poor Granny-panty clad rump. Had my parents been sufficiently angry – the note from my teacher that accompanied me home didn’t help – my butt would have been thoroughly tenderized and ready for roasting. Luckily, as I was a generally honest child, my parents’ bought my story: the slip incident was an accident. I simply hadn’t realized that my skirt was bunched up around my waist. It happens. To prostitutes. And girls on Spring Break. And as I’d never been accused of a school infraction in the past, I’d made a mistake and tried to place the blame on someone else. I regretted it. And I really did.

Though Michelle and I remained friends, it wasn’t forever and it was never quite the same. Not that it mattered. My ballsiness earned me the respect of my classmates and I enjoyed their friendship for the next four years. Yet here I am – thirty-seven years later – relating my guilt surrounding this event to a friend from the blogosphere. For me, the lie isn’t nearly as bad as the betrayal. Michelle, if you’re out there, I’m sorry. Then again, if you’d also been wearing a slip, I probably would have argued that you were the trollop of Mrs. Cupman’s first grade class until the end, challenged my teacher’s vision, and requested a change of venue based on the fact that Mrs. McCraine was biased as she had pulled me away from the water fountain only one week prior using a hank of my hair instead of my collar. Clearly, I would one day become a lawyer and, soon thereafter, would feel really guilty about it.

I Love The Smell Of Napalm In The Condo (Or How I Farted And Got Away With It)

Scene Of The Alleged Attack (Image via sarasota101.com)

As I open the condo door, I immediately notice that the space is flooded in darkness. One arm outstretched to prevent my clients from entering the unit and breaking something that would best remain unbroken, I feel around blindly with my left hand, my fingers searching the wall for the light switch. Click. A vintage fixture with warty bumps spread across the surface of its milky glass – likely original to the Kennedy era with its our-President’s-so hot-we- should-buy-a-place-at-the-beach attitude – flickers brightly for a moment overhead, then dims slightly, casting the foyer in a jaundiced glow.

My clients’ eyes travel the arc from hall closet to ceiling lamp to light switch, unimpressed. “Did you see that flicker, Josh? We should have the home inspector take a look at the wiring, don’t you think?” Marlene blinks at me several times, apparently waiting for me to agree.

“Absolutely,” I say. “That’s, uh, what a home inspector does. If he thinks there’s a problem with the electricity, he’ll definitely recommend that we bring in an expert.”

“Expert?” Marlene echoes, frowning. Now Josh is staring at me, his head cocked like a supermodel who just heard another two syllable word she couldn’t comprehend.

“Yeah, an electrician.” I nod. No response from the Peanut Gallery. “You know, an expert. On electricity. An electrician.”

Josh’s neck remains bent at a perfect 30 degree angle. Pursing her lips, Marlene finally asks, “Well, then why are we paying for a home inspector? I mean, if he can’t fix it…” She turns to Josh. “Am I right? For three hundred bucks, he should be able to fix a stupid wire.” Returning her gaze to my face, she blinks again. And again. And again. How can one person blink that often? You’d think her eyelids would tire and close from fatigue. “So why can’t he fix it, Cristy?”

“Because he’s a home inspector, not a home fixer. He’s going to check out everything: the A/C, all the appliances, the plumbing, the windows, the roof, the electricity. Everything,” I reply, resisting the urge to say: Because he’d have to be a goddamned genius to be able to repair all the things he inspects, and geniuses cost a hell of a lot more than three hundred bucks an hour. I find myself blinking in time with Marlene’s eyes. It’s contagious. Like yawning. I hope our periods aren’t also synching as we stand here in the friggin’ doorway. “Why don’t we head inside? I’m sure you can’t wait to see the place again.”

Leading the way, I begin the ceremony of turning on the air, clicking on lights, and opening curtains and blinds. Sunshine streams through the windows, illuminating the fact that the faux-bamboo dining room set that was long ago painted yellow and speckled with brown paint to give it that chic Seventies antique finish is hopelessly ugly. And not the least bit antique-looking. More like freckled. Why would anyone want a freckled set of furniture? Just looking at it reminds me that I need to make an appointment with my dermatologist. “Like I mentioned before, if you want to get top dollar as far as rentals go, you’ll want to go ahead and update the decor.” And the flooring. And the cabinetry. And the appliances. And the – oh, just gut the damn thing and start from scratch.

Freckles - Fine On Faces, Not On Furniture (Image via Wikipedia)

Crossing her arms against her chest, Marlene shakes her head of bouncy dark curls. “Oh, I don’t think it’s so bad. And the rental figures looked pretty good to me. Am I right, Josh?” Her husband nods. Clients never listen. Yeah, the numbers aren’t bad, but they could be fantastic. But these people are cheap. And stupid.

For what it would cost to buy some new furniture, they’ll hire a photographer to bring in professional lighting and snap fish-eyed pictures of the rooms so that they appear wider and brighter. He’ll avoid close-ups of the artificially pigmented chairs. With Photoshop, he’ll texturize the matted, rust-colored shag so that it looks like a high-end, stained concrete floor or, maybe, custom terra cotta tiles. His kitchen shot will be taken from a boat floating in the middle of the bay, so that he can get far enough away to disguise the fact that the cabinets are made of cheap, peeling formica, and that their brass handles are rusted and have taken on the patina one usually only finds on Greek coins discovered in shipwrecks. Oh, and the dishwasher is avocado, but the refrigerator is not. Think Harvest Gold. Think disco.

Of course, my clients will get suckered into paying for a Virtual Tour, a travesty of the technological age designed to make one both dizzy (from the circular spinning motion originally intended for rides involving flying elephants) and thirsty (from the tropical, steel drum beat that accompanies the tour and subliminally instructs the viewer to make themselves a frozen drink doused with half a bottle of rum). Apparently, head spinning and drunk, the viewer will inadvertently hit the “Rent” button on the Virtual Tour and won’t sober up in time to take advantage of the 12-hour cancellation policy. The problem with this scheme is that my clients won’t garner many repeat customers. Once a tenant discovers that the full bay view can only be seen by leaning over the balcony railing and craning one’s neck while holding a mirror, he or she is unlikely to return, especially when the décor screams Three’s Company.

Three's Company Set - Would You Want To Vacation Here? (Image via diynewlyweds.com)

I wave my hand, signaling my clients to follow me. With the hard heels of Marlene’s designer sandals already clicking and clacking on my last nerve, I head towards the smaller of the two bedrooms – the one I call The Green Room. Interestingly enough, the only things in the room that color are the sheer drapes. If it’s possible for something to be both translucent, yet saturated with a color so intense, it’s hypnotic, then such greatness was achieved in the manufacturing of these curtains. Looking at them is much like staring directly into the bottom third of a traffic light – that’s as bright as the sun and only five inches away from your nose. Even though you feel your corneas melting, you can’t peel your eyes away. Shielding my own peepers with my hand, I quickly whip the sheers apart and yank the blinds upwards. As the light hits the curtains, the room bursts into color, the walls, the bedding, the lamp shades, the dresser all drenched in an electric lime shade that won’t be quelled by anything but the blackest of nights – or a blow torch.

“I really think the curtains should go,” I suggest firmly. Hearing no response, I spin around to discover the Manescos transfixed, irises aflame. At least Marlene has stopped blinking. Physically, I turn them around and steer them towards the closest bathroom for cold compresses and a few out-of-date Tylenol I discover in the mirrored medicine cabinet.

I leave them admiring the Land Rover-sized walk-in closet (the one thing a vacation rental doesn’t need) in the master bedroom with its I Love Lucy double beds, as I return their water glasses to the kitchen. It’s then that I realize I’m in trouble. Earlier that morning, my rather sensitive stomach had thrown a tantrum, as troubled, misunderstood organs often do. Having calmed it with Rolaids and positive affirmations (“What a good tummy! No one digests better than you. You have the strongest enzymes I’ve ever seen.”), it was now acting up again, except this time it recruited my intestinal tract in some sort of digestive system mutiny.

Some people cry prettily. Some people look fabulous the moment they wake. Some people can experience abdominal distress with no apparent outward symptoms. I can’t do any of the aforementioned. If even one miniscule tear dares drip its way down my cheek, my face reddens, puffing up as though I’d eaten a bucket of peanuts while subjecting myself to a thousand bee stings simultaneously. Moreover, my eyes swell shut, so not only am I temporarily blinded, but I resemble Sylvester Stallone after he’s had the shit kicked out of him – or so I’ve been told. I couldn’t see myself in the mirror to confirm this fact. It’s dangerous for me to watch a film as benign as The Notebook since strangers in the theater have been known to rush me to the emergency room against my will, claiming I’m suffering from anaphylactic shock and or that I’ve just lost a prize fight.

Professional Boxer Or Me After Watching The Notebook (Image via thebiglead.com)

So as I stand here in the kitchen, rinsing the glasses in the chipped enamel sink, I know I will not be able to hide this problem for long. Much like Jim Carrey’s seemingly-elastic face, my abdomen has the ability to stretch at will, distending itself to the point that I am, once again, often rushed to the emergency room by complete strangers who insist that I’m either about to give birth to sextuplets, or I’m the whitest and most malnourished African person they’ve ever seen. Either way, they’re certain I need a doctor. The strain of my rapidly bloating tummy against the unyielding waistband of my skirt is becoming painful. I can feel the fabric cutting into my flesh and hear my abdominal muscles snickering in front of my back: Wish you’d done a few crunches now, dontcha Flabby?

There is only one way to prevent my clients from demanding to know how I became impregnated with multiples in the short time it took to walk to the kitchen and rinse their glasses. No, I can’t stand behind the sofa or carry a large briefcase in front of my belly for the rest of the season. I don’t own a briefcase, my purse is the size of a Hershey’s Miniature, and the sofa’s one of those nubby vintage numbers that only comes up to my knees. One solution exists. What is that? As my Aunt Kay likes to say, “Better out than in.” I have to release the pressure. Yes, I’m going to fart.

No biggie, Cristy, I tell myself. Just let one rip right here in the kitchen and no one will ever have to know. The Manescos are way on the other side of the condo, holding cold washcloths over their eyes while oohing and ahhing about all the bathing suits their guests will be able to hang in the walk-in closet they can only see with the tips of their fingers. I know I’m right. Pavarotti could come back from the dead right this moment and belt out “Nessun Dorma” from Puccini’s Turandot in front of the Harvest Gold refrigerator, and Marlene and Josh wouldn’t hear a thing. But then I remember The Morning Incident.

Earlier in the day, when only my most pwecious tum-tum was rebelling, I had also passed a little gas from my ass in order to zip up my plaid skirt, so I could jump in the car to head off to meet my clients. To say that the impact of my decision to float that air biscuit was devastating to not only my olfactory nerves and the glaze on the bathroom tiles, but fatal to my window herb garden, would be an understatement. I say this because I sprinted from the house as though it was ablaze and I haven’t been able to fully assess the damage yet. I can’t even let myself think about Fluffy. Stop it! Don’t think about her sweet, formerly-whiskered face singed beyond recognition. Seriously, cut it out! They’ll grow back.

Fluffy - Just Moments After The Morning Incident. Forgive Me! (Image via randomgoofiness.com)

Needless to say, the stench from The Morning Incident had been incredible – a combination of rotting eggs, Limburger cheese, skunk spray, wet dog, sulfur and Egyptian-era toe jam, tinged with a straight shot of shit and Cool Ranch Doritos. As my husband likes to say, “What crawled up your ass and died?” Don’t think about Matt! I’m sure he made it out in time. He can hold his breath for several minutes. There is no way I can be flatulent in this kitchen without my clients being exposed to the toxic odor and, possibly, suffering irreparable neurological damage – if not worse. And I’m pretty sure my Errors and Omissions insurance doesn’t cover death by butt burp.

Suddenly, it occurs to me that a solution exists. I need merely to make it outside. Though the fetid fumes will likely linger even in the open air, they can easily be blamed on car exhaust, nuclear disaster or a recently discovered open grave filled with thousands of rotting corpses just down the street. Waddling past the pantry and down the hall as fast as my bulging belly will allow, I realize this may be a mistake. Though hot air typically rises, in this case, my tightening waistband is acting as an intestinal tourniquet. That, combined with my rapid side-to-side movement, has made farting no longer a kind choice on my part, but an immediate order issued by a not-so-benevolent dictator, a.k.a. My Digestive Tract. And at this particular second, My Digestive Tract is making Hussein, Mussolini, Stalin, and Gaddafi look like a bunch of little girls with blond ringlets whose worst offense is burning ants with a magnifying glass.

Was St. Anthony Plagued By Demons - Or My Farts? (Image via Wikipedia)

Tightening my sphincter and squeezing my butt cheeks together as tightly as possible, I hurry my steps, the front door finally in sight. As my fingers brush the rounded knob, I feel a sense of relief pass over me. I made it. I can relax now. Oops. No, I can’t. Not just yet. But it’s too late. Out it comes. There’s no need to describe the birth of this particular fluffer doodle. One need only know that it was born with cloven hooves, fangs, talon-tipped wings and horns that could gore the fastest and strongest of matadors. Silent, but deadly, it clawed its way from its anal womb and immediately soared around the foyer, spreading its evil scent throughout the room in the same way a tomcat marks its territory. Don’t think about Fluffy!

Before I can open the door, wave my arms and scream, “Napalm attack. Everybody run for cover!” I hear the sound of footsteps. In particular, the distinctive click of Marlene’s Jimmy Choos on the tiled hall floor. There’s nothing I can do.

“I don’t know what Cristy is talking about,” comes Marlene’s distinctive whine. “Green is perfect for the bedroom. Such a soothing color. Conducive to sleeping. Am I right?” Though I can’t see him yet, I imagine Josh nodding – then gasping for breath and scratching at his throat with his fingernails as the gas burns through his esophagus, slowly suffocating him. The only reason I’m still alive is that I’m somewhat immune, having been exposed on many previous occasions.

A moment later, Marlene and Josh round the corner, the first, blinking once again, and the latter, nodding wearily. I can’t believe it. No reaction whatsoever to the fog of Agent Orange hanging in the air like a veil of pungent death. Perhaps I’m oversensitive. Perhaps Marlene has her own digestive disorder and has developed a similar immunity. But wait. No. There it is. The wrinkling of Marlene’s prominent nose. The grimacing of her glossed lips. “What’s that odor?” she shrieks. “Omigod! It’s awful. Am I right, Josh?” This time, Josh doesn’t nod. Instead, his head rears back like a panicked horse who’s just encountered an angry diamondback rattling its tail less than a foot away. Except the rattlesnake is my barking spider.

Go ahead. Say it. It smells like a goddamned fart. Say it, Marlene. Ask the question you’re dying to ask.

She sniffs the air. I must admit that she’s braver than I thought. Taking a few short steps toward the closet, she inhales another whiff. Thrusting out her hand, she yanks the louvered door open and sniffs again. The woman deserves a medal. And then she asks the question. “Is there something wrong with the A/C? It smells bad. Like sulfur. Am I right?”

Okay, that wasn’t the question I was expecting. I was thinking more along the lines of: “Did you break wind, Cristy?” Yeah. I may have also broken a few light fixtures in the process. And your lungs. “Umm, I don’t know, Marlene,” I respond hesitantly.

“Oh, God. You don’t think there’s mildew or something in the HVAC system, do you? I’ve got really bad allergies, you know.” Her forehead creases and the blinking commences. “You’ll have the home inspector look at it, won’t you?” she asks, her eyelids suddenly fluttering so fast they’ve turned invisible like a hummingbird’s wings. There’s now an oddness to her face, but I can’t quite place what it is.

“Of course.” Is this woman serious? The tragic photo of the young, naked Vietnamese girl running, arms outstretched, after being severely burned in a napalm attack is more along the lines of what I was anticipating, but Marlene’s only concern is whether or not there could be mold in the air conditioning system. “I don’t think it’s mold, though. It doesn’t smell like mold,” I say. “Mold smells – you know – moldy.”

Horrific Napalm Attack Or Moldy A/C Unit? (Image via Wikipedia)

Then it occurs to me that, perhaps, Marlene has never farted. Apparently, there are people who simply have never experienced anal acoustics. Considering that Josh is the most passive-aggressive, hang-dog man I’ve ever met on this planet, I doubt he’s ever served Marlene up with a Dutch Oven while in a playful mood. If he had, she’d have ripped his eyes out with her sharpened, two-toned, acrylic nails, then shrieked, “How dare you? I’m not some common trollop who’s interested in your sexually deviant behavior! What are you gonna do next? Pee on me?” But there is a real beauty to her ignorance.

“Well, something is definitely wrong. I don’t know, Josh. First, the wiring. Now the A/C. Maybe this is a sign. A sign from God.” Yeah, I sign that I shouldn’t eat Cool Ranch Doritos and bean dip before bed. Hands on her hips, Marlene shakes her head as though she just can’t decide what to do. Josh, on the other hand, knows exactly what he wants to do. Run.

Pushing past Marlene in perhaps the boldest move he’s ever made, Josh elbows me out of the way, jerks the door open and dashes into the open air, breathing deeply. You’d have thought he just finished the Boston Marathon by the way he’s leaning over – hands clenching the skin just above his bent knees – and sucking in oxygen like we’re scheduled to run out of it by tomorrow afternoon (actually, we’ve got at least another week).

Marlene doesn’t budge an inch. “Josh!” she calls after him, a note of irritation creeping into her voice. “I was talking to you. Do you think it’s a sign? Do you think we should back out of the deal? There’s somethin’ funky with the A/C, I’m telling you. It didn’t smell like this when we first walked in. Am I right?” Josh merely waves a hand in her direction – a signal that could mean anything, but I suspect it means, Fuck off, Marlene!

Can An A/C Unit Really Smell THAT Bad? (Image via championac.com)

I have to do something quick. I can’t allow these people to lose their opportunity at second home ownership because I blew the butt bugle. “Umm, I just remembered that I turned the air on when we came in. It’s been off for awhile, so that’s probably why it smelled just a little. Happens all the time. Trust me, it’s no biggie.” I smile brightly, confidently. All the while, I’m jealous as hell of Josh – who’s outside, inhaling fresh air.

“Really?” she asks. “But you’ll still make sure the inspector checks it out?”

I nod.

“And he’ll bring in an expert if there’s anything wrong with it?”

“Yep.” And that expert is known as a gastroenterologist.

“Alright.” Seemingly satisfied, Marlene strolls out the front door and waits with Josh while I lock the place up.

On the elevator ride down, Marlene turns to me and, making a strange twitch with skin above her right eye, says, “I still think it smelled like mold.” That’s when I realize what seemed odd about her face earlier. Her eyebrows are gone. Completely singed off. Makes her look like Eugenia, my neighbor, before she draws hers on in the morning with a brown pencil. “Am I right, Josh?” she asks.

The Mona Lisa - Were Her Missing Eyebrows A Fashion Statement Or Exposure To Air Biscuits? (Image via Wikipedia)

Her husband leans back against the wall of the elevator, arms folded against his chest. His eyes travel the length of her face, taking in the absentee eyebrows. Calmly, he says, “No, you’re not, Marlene. You’re not right.” Then he closes his eyes, inhales the clean air deeply and smiles to himself.

Nice People: Driving Mankind To Extinction

Hippies! We Were Nice First!

We’re all taught to be nice to others. To treat people as we would like to be treated. Bumper stickers proclaim “Mean People Suck” and “Mean People Are Mean.” And while not terribly eloquent and apparently created by four year olds, their message is dead-on accurate. Mean people suck. But without them, humanity will wither and, eventually, die.

Though some would disagree, many believe that people are becoming more pleasant. Particularly here, in the United States. The manner in which we debate politically evidences this fact. Our politicians actually sing, they’re so happy with one another. They call each other by cute nicknames like “Mitt” and “Newt” and “That Black Interloper in the White House.” One group of conservatives who seems particularly desperate to reach out to others calls themselves “The Tea Party.” Clearly, it’s an invitation. Come on over. We’ll talk tax cuts and why it’s nobody’s fault but your own if you don’t have health insurance, and drink a cup of chamomile (No English Breakfast Tea – they’re bloody Socialists, dontcha know?). I bet they’d serve cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off if you requested it.

Tea Party Members - Why Do People Call Them Crazy? (Image via Examiner.com)

This level of friendliness has also impacted the manner in which our country deals with other nations. When U.S. troops visit other countries – without their permission –  and in large numbers, this is no longer considered an invasion or war, but an “Operation” – i.e. Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Desert Storm. We no longer kill our enemies, we neutralize assets using smart bombs and surgical strikes. I don’t know about you, but sometimes, I’m not sure if we’re running a war or a MASH unit or fixing kid’s cleft palates. The whole thing sounds so civil and professional and medical. Even when we lose one of our own, it’s often to “friendly fire.” Did the deceased soldier feel that the bullets or bombs that took his or her life were particularly amiable? He or she must have because, otherwise, a term like friendly fire would almost be insulting to the families those heroes left behind. And nice people don’t insult widows and orphaned children. It’s inherently NOT nice.

Overall, this may be one of the nicest decades in history. According to Steven Pinker, Harvard psychology professor and author of The Better Angels of our Nature, “Today we may be living in the most peaceable era of our species’ existence.” What? We’re less violent today, you say? That’s just crazy talk! We’ve got non-stop wars going on. We’re armed to the gills. Our ghettos are infested with gangs. Schools employ the use of metal detectors. Someone threw glitter at Newt Gingrich. Paula Abdul was canned as an X-Factor judge. Kim Kardashian has to travel with multiple body guards. Paris Hilton’s house is continuously burgled. Jimmy Fallon’s band insinuated that Michele Bachmann is a “lyin’ ass bitch.” It’s a cruel, mean world.

Newt Gingrich - Politician or Glitter Princess Fairy? (Image via msn.com)

Au contraire, says The New York Times journalist, Nicholas D. Kristof, who recently examined the warm-and-fuzzy worldwide trend in his article, “Are We Getting Nicer?” Actually, he didn’t really say, “Au contraire.” But he would – if he was here sitting next to me right now as I write this blog. Which he isn’t. He’d also say, “You know, it’s really late. Mind if I take a little nap?”  What he did say is that in the 20th century, a time “notorious for world war and genocide,” only about 3% of all deaths involved “such man-made catastrophes.” By comparison, in Native American, hunter-gatherer societies, 13% died as the result of violence, and the 17th century’s “Thirty Years’ War reduced Germany’s population by as much as one-third.” Now either Kristof, like Bobby Fischer and David Duke, doesn’t believe the Holocaust occurred and is leaving out a whole lot of dead people in his calculations – or humans used to be much, much, much more violent. We were bad asses. A few centuries ago, “Oh, no she diddddn’t” was inevitably followed by the previously-referenced “she” person’s head being paraded around the town on a stick. Three hundred years ago, the Grimm brothers wrote fairy tales – for little children - involving cannibalism, the severing of various limbs, a talking dead horse head, kidnapping, murder, imprisonment in tall towers, and talking drops of blood. S&M wasn’t a sexual fetish; it was a religious conversion technique.

Not A Groovy New York City Fetish Party. Nope, Just A Demand For Confession And Conversion (Image via wikipedia)

Further supporting the theory that society is becoming a kinder, gentler place is The U.S. Department of Justice’s 2010 report, Crime In the United States, which indicates a steady decline in violent crime over the last five years. Between 2009 and 2010 alone, there was a 6% decrease. And since 2006, the incidence of violent crime has dipped over 13%. If this is true, then surely – at this rate – we’ll all be dancing naked and banging drums around bonfires singing Kumbaya in another twenty years, and living in an Egalitarian society in which all food and goods are gifted to one another on the basis of need.

Kumbaya My Lord. Kumbaya. (Image via Jewishjournal.com)

However, if you’re like me, you don’t trust the numbers. Former British Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, may have put it best when he said, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.” Numbers can be manipulated and our country’s leaders are quick to point that out. For example, Rick Perry emphatically stated in his book, Fed Up!, that global warming and the science supporting it is “one contrived phony mess.” Likewise, fast-food expert Herman Cain recently weighed in on the same issue, calling the whole thing “a scam.” Granted, neither of them possess an actual background in climatology, but they’re wealthy men with good jobs – and they recognize manipulation when they see it. One of them has years of experience running a corporation in which lobbying, greed and corruption are not uncommon, so he’s familiar with collusion; the other is an expert in numbers manipulation himself, most recently with his 9-9-9 Plan (though I personally think he stole it from a Beatles’ song). Just as these political giants dismiss global warming, I’m certain they’d disagree with all these crazy statistics that claim our world is gradually becoming a nicer place.

Make Sure You Get The Sweat Stains Under My Flipper Pits (Image via dailymail.co.uk)

Perhaps some anecdotal evidence would be more convincing. Halloween is a perfect example. Unlike the Seventies when children were encouraged to go strangers’ doors dressed in strange costumes and rudely scream, “Trick or Treat!” into homeowners’ faces on an annual basis, parents now shepherd their rugrats to the mall, where they now shout “Trick or Treat” into the faces of mall employees. Wait! Isn’t this evidence of the fact that parents are worried about their children’s safety because the world is NOT a nicer place? No. No. Not at all. This is merely indicative of the fact that parents have recognized the burden that Halloween places on the average person. How rude is it to allow your kids to bang on some old lady’s door thirty or forty times in one night and threaten her with a “trick” if she doesn’t give scary looking children (who, in her mind, might be demonic dwarves) candy that she really can’t afford on her fixed income? Especially when she’s trying to watch Hot In Cleveland. You can’t miss a second of that show ’cause Betty “Don’t Buy Me Green Bananas” White could go at an any minute

Betty White - Odds Are 7 to 1 She Goes Today! (Image via Wikipedia)

By taking children to the mall instead, parents are attempting to mitigate the impact of Halloween’s expense and inconvenience on others. Unlike the elderly woman I mentioned, mall employees aren’t watching television, so the children aren’t interrupting them doing something important. And they’re paid to be yelled at. In fact, they’re hollered at regularly (though less than before, because we are getting friendlier) and they don’t have to bear the expense of the candy distributed to the ankle-biters to get them to run along and harass someone else. This cost is absorbed by Corporate America and I don’t care what anyone says, they aren’t people and I don’t have to be nicer to them.

Not Here To Save The World - Just Here For The Candy And To Annoy The Mall Cops (Image via thejustinbiebershrine.com)

Assuming the statistics and anecdotal evidence supporting the Amiable Argument, as I like to call it, are correct, how is this a bad thing? Won’t we, as a society, be happier? Isn’t this what we’ve been aspiring to as humans – evolving over the years into more civilized creatures capable of empathy and love? It looks as though we’re almost there. We’re right on the cusp of Utopia, ready to fall off the precipice into the gorge of universal peace.

Peace Out! (Image via blog.driftsc.com)

Yeah, okay. Lemme know when you’re done huggin’ that tree and are willing to put the patchouli incense away. Please. It stinks. Oh, and that crystal you’ve been rubbing under your armpits – not working. It’s like being downwind of a pair of Larry King’s Depends first thing in the morning before his babysitter wife has changed him. Oh, and you – radical conservatives who doubt anything that God didn’t handwrite Himself in your translated-a-billion-times-over King James version of the Bible, I’ve got a question for you. If God created everything, then He created the metaphor, right? Why would the universe’s greatest super hero invent a linguistic tool, inspire one of the best-selling books of all time and not use a single metaphor anywhere in that very, very long book? C’mon – can’t we agree that maybe everything shouldn’t be taken literally? Maybe Christ wasn’t really a vine. Or a door. And maybe seven days is more like seven million years.

So back to why nice people will be the death of us all. Darwin. Natural selection. Oh, let me guess. That’s more poppycock, right? Darwin’s theories are up there with global warming and the Holocaust and the moon landing. Crazy talk! Fine, but the dinosaurs probably dismissed him as well and it didn’t turn out so well for most of them now, did it? No, I’m not saying that being amiable will be the catalyst for the natural disaster that will spawn another Ice Age – for which we are sorely unprepared.

What I’m saying is that when everything’s good, when everything’s easy-peasy, is when our DNA becomes complacent. Instead of developing opposable big toes like Beast in X-Men: First Class or the ability to communicate with one another almost entirely through pheromones like ants, we’re doing nothing. We’re letting our technology do our thinking for us, sitting in front of our computers all day while our muscle tone slowly dwindles, and our girths expand until width is the term used to describe one’s size, not height. I’m no wack-a-doo soothsayer, either. Pixar foretold this future a few years back in WALL-E.

No Way This Could Happen To Our Society, Huh? (Image via the-void.co.uk)

Think I’m crazy? Visit any Wal-Mart or grocery store and see how many of those scooters are now available for shoppers. Twenty years ago, they didn’t exist. They were called wheelchairs – and you brought your own with you. Because you were crippled – not fat and lazy.  One upon a time, heavy-set people just waddled up and down the aisles like the rest of us. For us, it was shopping; for them, it was an aerobic workout, but it was better than sitting on your  ass because you might get a tad out of breath. Now you have to be careful where you walk at a theme park because you’ll get run down by someone who can’t be bothered to get off their butt (or just wants to get to the next ride faster – those friggin’ scooters have some serious horsepower). And this is bad for us as a species. When apex predators get fat and lazy, they get eaten by new apex predators.

Still So Sure This Couldn't Be You One Day? (Image via crappingpoetic.com)

Without mean people, the human race will lose it’s only predator. As apex predators, we are remarkably similar to sharks and crocodiles, neither of which has changed much since the K/T Extinction Event that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Still, a long time ago, both were quite a bit larger, but after being the big guys on campus for so long, they inevitably began to take it easy, evolutionarily speaking. Imagine an crocodile thinking to himself millions of years ago, “Wildebeest aren’t getting any bigger. I couldn’t probably lose a few inches of tail, spend a little less time at the gym and a work on my tan more often and still get plenty to eat. Same with sharks.  For 14 million years, the 50-foot long Megalodon was, literally, the big motherfuckin’ fish in the big motherfuckin’ pond. Though some dispute that the Great White Shark is a descendant of the Megalodon and the reason for this monster’s extinction has never been determined, it’s possible that Mega Mouth just got tired of chewing (My husband often claims that it’s the most boring of activities) and filling its enormous belly. Maybe he thought, “If I dropped a good 35 tons, I could still rule this roost no problem and I wouldn’t have to feed all the darn time. I could take up Scrabble or write that novel I keep talking about.” And The Great White Shark was born.

We're The Equivalent Of The Megalodon. But It's Extinct And We Will Be Soon If We're Not Careful. (Image via Wikipedia)

Regardless, these apex-predators of the oceans and rivers are in trouble. The Great White is now more endangered than tigers. In the United States, alligators were endangered for years and are now a protected species. Numerous species of crocodiles across the world are currently endangered. Why? Ultimately, because we are the Uber Villain in the comic strip called, “Earth.” We hunt them, we steal and pollute their habitat, we make awful films about gimongous versions of them. Except, as we get lazier, spawn fewer evolved children and destroy our DNA with crystal meth, the chimps out there are eating well, throwing poo (a sign of intelligence and one step away from learning to use an uzi) and are fashioning and using weapons. Whaaaaaat? Weapons? Yep. Santino, a chimp in the Furuvik Zoo in Sweden, began creating disks out of concrete and collecting stones – even after hours – to throw at annoying tourists while the zoo was open. Scared yet?

Poop Today. Ninja Throwing Stars Tomorrow.

So keep it up, Nice People. If you do, Planet of the Apes could be your future. Mean People keep you on your toes. They pick on you so that you’re too embarrassed to ride around on that scooter, hogging the damn cereal aisle. They mind-fuck you at work to keep your synapses firing, and cut you off in traffic to keep your eye-hand coordination intact. They beat you up in the playground to teach you how to defend yourself, mug you in the alley so you understand when to fight and when to flee, and steal your girlfriend so you learn to treat the next one like gold. Mean people make your books and films interesting. Conflict is what makes the world go round…not conservation of angular momentum. That’s just more science poppycock. Back me up on this one, Rick Perry.

Seven More Things? Really?

The Versatile Blogger Award!

This will be my shortest post ever. Except for Savannah Glasses – which I won’t even provide a link for because it’s just a photo and an excuse for not writing. Why so short? It’s very late. I’m extremely tired. I’m not funny when I’m sleepy. Actually, I am funny, but it’s because I snore and, according to my husband, it’s an entirely different kind of funny. More like You Tube funny. I hope he doesn’t read this post. Look, if you see a You Tube video out there entitled: “Hilarious Female Blogger Snoring Like a Water Buffalo” – don’t watch it. But flag it for inappropriate content. And send the poster a nasty, threatening email.

The relative briefness of this post will likely be a relief for many of you who have become accustomed to my marathon blogs – one of which, by the way, was read by a runner while competing in the Boston Marathon, but he couldn’t finish it in time – my post, not the marathon. But I don’t think he was a very fast reader. Just ’cause you have thighs of steel and can move them as rapidly as a hummingbird’s wings doesn’t mean there’s anything snapping and popping up there in your gray matter. What, you ask? Am I ever going to get to the point or will I pen 2000+ words on the shortest post I’m ever going write?

Fine!

The ever-so-kind and most recent recipient of The Versatile Blogger Award, ksnapped - who also loves shiny and sparkly things – has nominated me for…The Versatile Blogger Award. I’m simply verklempt. In less than a month, the wonderful wordpress.com blogging staff and/or community has seen fit to Freshly Press me (which made me no thinner, but smoothed out some of my cellulite), and award me both the 7×7 Link Blogging Award and, now, The Versatile Blogger Award.

As with the 7×7, these awards are essentially the chain letters of the blogging award industry. Still, I never win anything. Even my husband dissuades me from buying lottery tickets because my luck is abysmal. So, secretly, I’m thrilled. On the outside, I’m jaded and sighing over the fact that I have to do this again so soon. Don’t you want to kill me right now? I would. What a total ass, huh? Go ahead. Seriously. Do it. If you do, I’m done with the post. Done. I’m free. Maybe I’ll be reincarnated as one of Ricky Gervais’ pets. No takers? Pussies. My offer is rescinded.

THE RULES

1) Add the Versatile Blogger Award to your post. Done

2) Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link back to their blog. Done

3) Share 7 completely random pieces of information about myself. See Below

4) Include this set of rules in your post. Done

5) Nominate 10 fellow bloggers for The Versatile Blogger Award in this post. See Belower  (I know it’s not a word, but it should be.)

6) Notify each of the nominees by posting a comment on each of their blogs. I’m going to cheat here and send them all an email if possible. Why? Because then I can send ONE email.

PART THREE

I must admit that part of me is reluctant to reveal another seven personal things about myself. After all, you know what a private person I am. I hate to talk about myself, my past, the terrible dresses my mother made me wear, my addictions, my dead dog, my hatred for people who can be witty at a moment’s notice, my dislike of sonnets, and my love of little people. So, of course, sharing this kind of information gives me the heebie-jeebies. But, as always, I am willing to suffer for my art.

1) I used to play the flute, but the only thing I ever learned to play well was the theme song to Mork and Mindy. This comes up often at parties. “C’mon, Cristy. Na Nu, Na Nu. Take me back to Ork,” but my time as a flautist is over. Stop asking, Robin. Williams. You can’t go back in time. Take the rainbow suspenders off, you hairy freak.

No, Mork. I Don't Have The Power To Send You Back. Go Back To Stand-Up, Man! (Image via Wikipedia)

2) If I wasn’t already happily married to my true love, I would marry Jimmy Stewart. Yes, I realize he’s dead, but that wouldn’t stop me. I’d dig up his corpse and use whatever scientific means possible to reanimate his lifeless body until we could consummate our relationship. Nothin’ wrong with zombie love.

3) The first poem I ever wrote was entitled, “Punk the Skunk.” Even as a young child, my future was paved with combat boots, ripped fishnets and black eyeliner. Sometimes, I wonder if my father is The Clash. Not any particular member. The whole band. (Sorry, Mom!)

The Clash - Dad? Dad? Dad? Dad? (Image via Wikipedia)

My First Car. Really. Type Gullwing Mercedes As The Security Question Answer And See Where That Gets You (Image via Wikipedia)

4) I’m pretty sure these awards were started by identity thieves who troll our blogs for personal information so that they can answer security questions proffered by our banks and credit card companies. I’m gonna make it easier for them. My birthday is July 4, 1776. My mother’s maiden name is Doe. My best friend’s last name is Kardashian. (I think I just lost a little bit of my soul by writing that.) My husband and I met at a naked car wash. My first car was a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Alloy Gullwing and it sucked because I really wanted a new car. Oh, and my Social Security number is 111-11-1111. Really. Hello, look at my birth date! You know I had to be like the first person to get one…ever.

5) I voted for President Obama. I’m going to vote for him again. That’s not a joke. Remember, during the last election, when conservatives used to make fun of our President’s first name? “What the hell kinda name is Barack?” At least our President isn’t named after a lizard or something you use to remove a hot pan from the oven. Talk about throwing stones at glass houses.

Newt Gingrich - Didn't He Ruin Christmas Or Something? (Image via Wikipedia)

6) When I was a senior in high school, I told Judd Nelson he “f**king sucked” after he was rude to a friend of mine and made her cry. I’ve since forgiven him for the incident. I haven’t forgiven him for getting a crew cut or for the film, Lost Voyage. Floppy hair works for exactly two actors: Hugh Grant and Judd Nelson. If you have the floppy hair gift, it is a sin to mow your tresses as though they were grass. Judd, you’ve been warned. Don’t make me blog about you again. I’ll curse you out. You know I will. I’ve done it before.

Yes, Judd. I Will Train You Like A Dog, If Necessary, To Grow Your Hair Back Into This Amazing Floppy Do (image via supamov.net)

7) My first 45 record was “Sir Duke” by Stevie Wonder. Yes, I picked it out all on my own. I was six or seven. A little white girl with soul. This makes me cooler than almost anyone. Not hip, but cool. If your first 45 was by Hall & Oates, don’t even respond to this post. I mean it. I’ll curse you out. I cussed out a movie star when I was seventeen. I have no fear.

PART FIVE

1) Gemini Girl in a Random World -  Talented writer. Brilliant. Clever. Gorgeous. Recently Freshly Pressed. All words that describe me…and my blogging bestie, Stacie Chadwick. Okay, maybe some of them describe just Stacie – and not me. Be an Accuracy Nazi why don’t you! Check it out or I’ll cuss you out. You KNOW I’ll do it. Especially after you were all up in my face about not being gorgeous and brilliant and clever.

2) Jasper Writes - He’s English. He’s a lawyer. He blogged about the law in a Family Guy episode. He’s insanely smart. Just read it. His most recent post will make you hungry. Don’t read it while grocery shopping or if you’ve just gone swimming. Wait at least a half hour.

3) The Chronicles of Creepy Pants - Ever wonder what the creepy, but strangely funny guy in the cubicle next to you is writing about? You. Better read this ’cause you might be sharing a fridge – and a stapler – with this dude.

4) Retention - Seriously funny. If you don’t know what steampunk is, put on your hipster glasses and read this blog. It will heal your arthritis and works wonders on hemorrhoids.

5) You’ve Been Hooked - One bellman’s stories of life in the hospitality trenches. You’ll laugh so hard you’ll wet your fanny pack.

6) I Can’t High Five - Another very recently Freshly Pressed blogger, this chick cracks me up with her irrational fears of mashed potatoes, nose whistling and high fiving. Congrats, girl! High five! Erm…I guess not.

7) Today in Heritage History - Don’t be fooled by the name. Their logline is “Smart. Funny. And Almost True.” I can’t do this post justice with a description. Just trust me.  (How does a lawyer say fuck you? Trust me. But I’m a recovering attorney, there’s a difference.)

8) Listful Thinking - Another recently Pressed chick (I don’t recommend losers, people), this blogger will keep your sinuses cleaned out of snot. I’m not sure what that means, but I think it means that water will shoot out of your nose because you’ll be laughing so hard and the boogers will be rinsed away with it. Think of her blog as a Neti-Pot. Which means who really should plan on drinking slightly saline, filtered water when you read it. She’s how I’d write if I was hip. Which I’m not.

9) The Book of Alice - This mommy blogger who shares short, pithy stories about her adorable four year old daughter, Alice, will become addictive. She’s that miniature Snickers or Lifesaver you need at 3:30 in the afternoon. Just a little fix and you’re good for the rest of the day. Also, she’s the kind soul who awarded me the 7×7 Award. Payback’s a bitch!

10) Live Clay - Even though she recently won the 7×7 Award as well (and hasn’t done her required 21 things yet…tick tock, tick tock, Clarice), I’m nominating this funny, talented, artistic chick for this award because I figure she can kill two birds with one stone – and just write one blog post accepting both. And she deserves it….blah, blah, blah.

Alright, folks. Now you have no excuse to do anything but read blogs for the rest of the day. No more of this whiny, But nobody’s writing anything good lately. Waaaaaa! These bloggers are worthy of your valuable time. But they’ve gotten enough of mine today. Off to pen the Great American Blog Post! Or maybe do some dishes and laundry. Or shower. I should shower.