The definition of wit arose in a discussion I had the other night over beer and hamburgers. As a general rule, I’m against wit when meat, cheese and hops are involved as the effort is rarely remembered the following day since the recipients of the wit are either still stewing in their cholesterol-induced brain swell or just hungover. I, personally, have yet to ponder someone’s witticism from the night before while my head is dangling over the porcelain throne, so I’m assuming no one else does either.
Truth be told, I’m rarely witty whether or not beef and Budweiser is being consumed. Why, you ask? Clearly, I’m a mammoth of intellectual funny-isms or you wouldn’t be reading this blog. The problem is that I’m slow to wit. I come up with clever epigrams approximately fifty-one minutes after the witty comment would have been appropriate. Granted, my observations are often much more adroit than the retorts made by my compatriots at the time, but they’re late. Way late. Running-out-to-the-24-hour-pharmacy-in-the-middle-of-the-night-to-buy-a-pregnancy-test late. This is fine if you’re writing a column or posting on Facebook, but I suspect that my friends may wonder if I’ve hired a ghost writer exclusively for those purposes because in person, my comments often tend to invoke the nervous laughter that is only uttered when others are uncomfortable or feel obligated to do something other than stare. You know what I’m talking about. Pity laughter – the awkward chuckle often heard in funeral parlors as friends and loved ones discuss zany things the deceased used to do when they weren’t so…well, dead.
Until recently, however, I’d always thought I was witty. Like everyone, I would have, on occasion, a particularly good evening. During these rare events, droll observations would drip off my lips like drool off a St. Bernard’s muzzle. Strangers would contemplate inviting me to dinner parties in the future. I basked in the glow of my sheer cleverness. My friends, on the other hand, would shrug and finally credit the alcohol. When I was having an off night (which in reality was a typical night), I consoled myself with the knowledge that I would write something incredibly astute and hilarious at a later date. Something that would be published. Something that would one day appear in quote books or, alternatively, quote websites or quote clouds as physical books will probably be extinct by the time I’m dead – and everyone knows the most surefire way to be included in a collection of quotes is to be dead first.
But back to the other night. A typical night, I might add, made even more typical by the fact that I was dining with a woman who has more degrees than a thermometer and was educated in Britain, the Birthplace of Wit; a gay man (Oh, step off your PC soapbox – if a gay man could carry a child in the uterus he doesn’t have, he would also be the Birthplace of Wit!) and my husband, perhaps one of the funniest people on the planet. I didn’t have a chance in hell. And they were talking about France and things that are French. If I was Sarah Palin, I’d tell you that I’ve been to France. But the truth is that I had a two hour layover in the Charles de Gaulle airport on the way to London. I did buy a baguette with brie on it and some Loreal hair conditioner, but I don’t think that truly constitutes having experienced the City of Lights. Unless, as I pointed out, you’re Sarah Palin – and then you wouldn’t have to buy a sandwich or hair products. You’d just claim you could see the Eiffel Tower from your First Class seat and go back to reading your magazine, the name of which would escape you.
My gay friend lived in Paris for several years, and my uber-educated friend is one of those artsy-types with an obsession for obscure European facts. My sole comment during this portion of the conversation consisted of something like, “What do you expect? They’re French.” This is my go-to statement when chatter turns to things francais because it applies universally. Doesn’t matter if you’re discussing the French’s attitude towards their politicians’ mistresses, their penchant for smoking from the time they can sit upright in a pram, or their insistence upon putting mushrooms in absolutely everything they cook. The easiest response for one who can’t come up with something witty is to simply chime in, “What do you expect? They’re French.” Following said statement with a knowing chortle is completely optional.
Grateful as I was when the discussion turned away from French cinema, I was disturbed when it turned to the topic of wit, generating a lively debate surrounding the word’s definition. Now, I’ve always ascribed to what is generally considered to be the most common definition of the word – at least according to those silly books that collect such information, a.k.a. dictionaries – and they define wit as “the natural ability to perceive and understand; intelligence.” As I have been perceiving and understanding things since I was knee-high to Tom Cruise, I was confident that I fit the bill. Hell, I possess a very expensive advanced degree and I’ve never failed a test in my life. Okay, that’s not completely true. I actually failed my first driver’s test, but I was set-up and, anyway, I totally aced the written portion. As I was saying, arbitrary tests that don’t involve operating something with a carburetor concede that I qualify as an intelligent human being. Then again, poop-throwing in chimps is considered a sign of intelligence, so the bar can’t be all that high.
Our dinner companions – my husband excluded as he does have to live with me – insisted that wit involves a timing component, and argued that if brilliance doesn’t strike as swiftly as lightning, it might as well not bother to strike at all. Granted, some dictionaries list “quickness of perception” or an ability for repartee or banter in their definitions of wit. But it’s never the first definition. It’s not the primary definition. Heck, on one website, it was subsection (d) of the third definition. Regardless, it was the meaning of choice for my friends. (And may I point out here and now that my gay friend is the same friend who once erroneously claimed that The Osmonds outsold Sonny and Cher in their heyday, so his perception is clearly warped). But, as former employer of mine used to say ad nauseum, “Perception is everything.” You can’t be witty in a vacuum. Wit requires an audience. In my case, I thought an audience of people with nothing better to do than read my meanderings was sufficient, but that evening I was informed that it was not the same. Apparently, in the Aesop fable, wit is the rabbit and the old adage of “slow and steady wins the race” doesn’t apply. My humor is the turtle and muddling along at a consistent pace just doesn’t cut it. Wit isn’t a marathon; it’s a sprint. If I can’t swiftly enunciate a zinger or amuse dinner guests with banter worthy of a Nora Ephron film, I might as well don a dunce cap and resign myself to eating Taco Bell in dark room by myself – maybe with with Carrot Top if I’m lucky. Actually, I think I’d rather eat alone. At least I’m funny on paper.
For days now, I’ve wallowed in this pit of dullard despair until someone recognized by millions as being remarkably witty – in fact, he’s paid quite a lot of money to be witty – appeared to take up my case. In a recent HBO special, comedian Ricky Gervais suggested that Oscar Wilde, the Godfather of Wit, also suffered from Dilatory Epigram Syndrome. When asked by a customs official if he had anything to declare, Wilde famously stated, “Only my intelligence.” Gervais suggested that the retort had probably occurred to Wilde sometime after an earlier encounter with a customs official. You know, one of those, “Damn! I should have said this!” moments. I know those moments well. Really well. Not on a first name basis well, but on a secret-birthmarks-that-no-one-else-knows-about well. According to Gervais, once Wilde had that moment, he stored it up and waited, crouched like a spider ready to attack. Please ask me if I’ve something to declare, he would think to himself. And finally, someone did. Wilde declared his genius. Then he died. Now he’s got entire books of quotes devoted entirely to things he allegedly said or wrote.
This may shatter many people’s perception of Wilde as the erudite dinner guest who spit out impromptu witticisms the way Americans spit out haggis into their napkins in a Scottish pub. If his initiation of a clever comment was machine gun rapid, I’ve always fantasized Wilde’s voice as luxuriously slow and languid. When he opened his mouth to speak, I imagine the guests’ forks would hover inches below their mouths because whatever choice bite was to emerge from Wilde’s lips was certainly tastier than anything on their plates. However, Gervais’ view suggests that the playwright and poet may have practiced his quips religiously in his state room, pacing the short length of the carpet reciting the verbal gems he would deliver should the appropriate question be offered. Perhaps he scribbled down all the things he wished he’d said at the previous evening’s dinner party into a little notebook, then rattled them off as soon as the opportunity arose again later in the week.
During the Victorian era, the issues of politics, English society, literature and the arts, and religion were popular topics in dining and drawing rooms all over Britain. It would have been easy for Wilde to anticipate future conversations and arm himself accordingly, loading his quips like bullets into a pistol and pulling the trigger whenever appropriate. When the subject of the Americas or politics was broached, he could rattle off, “Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people, by the people, for the people,” a statement which would have signaled uproarious laughter and tittering at any Victorian table. If the topic turned to fellow playwright, critic and frequent dinner guest, George Bernard Shaw, Wilde may have been well-prepped when he slung this backhanded compliment: “Bernard Shaw is an excellent man; he has not an enemy in the world, and none of his friends like him.” In a closed society, self-described by Wilde as one in which one only “has either to feed people, amuse people, or shock people…” in order to be admitted, amusing the cream of London society would have been a priority in order to ensure his continued success, both socially and financially.
So to those friends of mine whose synapses fire away quickly over appetizers, leaving the rest of us behind in a haze of smoke and clever diatribes, I say,” Erm…hold on second. It’s right on the tip of my tongue. Just give me a second. No, really. This is going to be hilarious.” Forget it, I’ll get back to you in about fifty-one minutes and when I do, prepare to die. Or maybe you’ll just blush or giggle or get a little embarrassed because I did it in print. Online. And everyone who knows me also knows who you are, so it kinda sucks for you, really. But I will do it. I’ll be witty and you’ll rue the day you ever said I wasn’t. The slow and steady spirit of Oscar Wilde inhabits me. Can I say that it’s a little uncomfortable because he was a large man? An awfully large man.
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If being a vegan is akin to belonging to a particular religion, then I must be Catholic-Lite Episcopalian. What? you say. Vegans are nothing like Episcopalians; they’re militant, strict, judgmental – and they’re anxious to convert carnivores. Rather, vegans are the epitome of dogmatic zealots, much like the speaking-in-tongues, snake-handling, Born Again, fire and brimstone Charismatics that pepper the deep hollers of Appalachia and star in the Super Congregations we see on Sunday morning television. And you, Miss Snarky Pants, are nothing like that.
And you would be right about one thing; I am nothing like that. Although I grew up neck deep in a Pentecostal Christian guilt so mucky I was sucked beneath its surface every time I so much as played a Hall & Oates album, I am no longer that person. To be clear, though I once believed that only the metaphorical blood and body of Jesus – aptly played during Holy Communion by Welch’s grape juice and a stale water cracker, respectively – could save my soul, deep down a part of me was always asking pesky questions:
But there’s, like, hundreds or thousands of religions. How do we know that we’re right? What if the Jews nailed it from the beginning – they’re awfully good with money and just look what they’ve accomplished in the film industry?
What kind of God would send innocent people to Hell just because they live in a third world country and have never heard of The Bible? Is it because they have rickets?
Why would God want elderly people living on Social Security to tithe 10% of their income when they can’t afford their diabetes medication? Is God punishing them for Supersizing one time too many?
Why does God only heal people who attend church on television? And why don’t they have diseases or injuries that we can see? You know, like leprosy or missing limbs?
Despite my early indoctrination into the Assemblies of God faith, I’ve never been much of a follower in other areas of my life. I mean, once you’ve committed yourself to serving an invisible, holey (pun most definitely intended) half-man half-diety, his oft angry dad with a penchant for dishing out natural disasters, and some sort of third-wheel ghostie, becoming a member of the drill team is a bit anticlimatic.
As it turns out, my prospects as a leader were nil. I didn’t like leaders; they were typically mean girls who were good at kickball and quick with insulting and alliterative nicknames for their victims. Though I’m sure I could have become skilled at the latter, my legs were created to bang into stationary furniture with sharp edges. Kicking a rolling ball in a particular direction was beyond my capabilities, prompting me to ask more of my pesky questions:
Why does God want me to be picked last for kickball every single day of my life? Why did He make me so smart that the other kids hate me for setting the bell curve? Why can’t I grow breasts? Does God hate me, too?
As I aged, my disinterest in either leading or following left me in a precarious social position. Though I was no longer unpopular, I refused to fully commit to any particular clique. One day I’d eat lunch with my Smiths and Psychedelic Furs-loving friends and the next, I’d hunker down with my buddies-of-color so that we could argue about which one of us was going to be Michael Jackson’s first ex-wife. Then there were my Journey-loving compatriots; I’ll spare you the painful images of these mullet-sporting, muscle shirt-wearing, air guitar-playing fans, all of whom wore gold eighth notes around their necks in honor of their leader, Steve Perry. Athletics were out of the question. I declined my invitation to join The National Honor Society. Drama only held my interest if I had a lead role which was, erm, never.
After law school, I experimented with multiple careers, but none – including legal practice – satisfied me in the way writing does, though all paid considerably more. I know…poor, little lawyer girl. I’d hate myself, too, but then, I’ve seen my law school debt – and you haven’t.
If I was a devotee of anything at all, it was cow teets. I loved dairy. Cheese was something that I could commit to – after all, it could be sweet, sour, stinky, melty, salty, chewy, stringy, sharp, mild, nutty and creamy. It was as diverse as my interests and never expected me to tithe. Until I was introduced to the chocolate martini in my mid-thirties, milk held the title as my favorite beverage. Sexy, huh? Nothing says “fuck me” like your date ordering a glass of moo juice with her filet mignon.
So when I suddenly decided to abandon the greatest love of my entire life second greatest love of my entire life (because, of course, Hubby is the first) to join the Church of Vegan, I can assure you that more than a few of my friends and family members were perplexed. After all, these are people who had, over the years, become accustomed to asking me, “What is it you do, again?” Hell, if I couldn’t dedicate myself to one career path, why should they believe that I would deliberately eschew meat and all animal products for the rest of my life just because it’s supposed to be healthier? That never stopped me from mainlining vodka.
However, as the weeks turned into months, it appeared that I had finally made a true commitment. I started cooking, posting photos of one vegan meal after another on Facebook like those people who have absolutely nothing better to do with their time. Hubby and I joined a gym. I gave up hard liquor. I became the poster child for the kind of person who had embraced a plant-based diet; a kinder, gentler Miss Snarky Pants. Through the Internet, I met other local vegans and soon I was inundated with invitations to attend one non-carnivore event after another. Vegans adore newbies. And like Pentecostals, they love to recruit. Why else would they have some kind of vegan/animal rights festival every bloody weekend?
Being vegan made me feel accepted by a closely-knit group of people who looked at the world with the same pair of eyes. Despite the fact that Hubby and I had only moved to Tampa a few months before my big conversion, new friends were practically crawling out of the woodwork, ready to hang out just because I’d abandoned many of my beloved food choices. At restaurants, I no longer had to worry that the waiter would think I was cheap if I ordered a vegetarian entrée. Nope, all I had to do was explain, “I’m vegan” and every bit of judgment on the server’s face would vanish – only to be replaced with fear. At Whole Foods, it was as if I was wearing a flashing, neon sign around my neck. As the cashier rang up my items, she would invariably ask, “Are you vegan?” Before I could do more than nod, she’d burst out into a huge smile, then whisper loudly, “Me, too! Isn’t Daiya soy-free, vegan cheese the best?”
If by best, you mean barely edible and tastes nothing at all like cheese, then yes, it’s the best!
Gradually, I discovered that worshiping at the Church of Vegan was complicated. Initially, I thought I was giving up dairy, meat and eggs, but there’s a whole lot of small print in the Vegan Bible. Did you know that gelatin is made of horses’ hooves and other disgusting stuff? Adios, Jell-O. Sayonara, marshmallows. See ya later, candy corn and jelly beans. Don’t even think about taking that Nyquil Gel Cap. And what about animal bone char? It’s utilized to refine sugar and turn crude oil into petroleum jelly. Oh, and it’s also used in making many kinds of BEER. Did I type that loudly enough? BEER. At least six thousand newbie vegans just said, “What the fuck?”
However, as a non-beer drinker, my first what-the-fuck? moment occurred when I was informed that I could no longer eat honey. “Why?” I asked a vegan friend. “The bees are just doing their thing. Making honey is kinda like their job…and the last thing we need in this country is a higher unemployment rate.”
“The bees are enslaved,” she responded, without a hint of irony. “They’re exploited by humans.”
Suddenly, my brain was flooded with images of bees humming “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” and picking cotton. I imagined them cringing in front of a white-hooded beekeeper, buzzing, “Don’t blow that smoke at me, Massa! I’ll eat mo’ nectar and vomit up mo’ honey!” It occurred to me that some vegans were more concerned about honey bees’ rights than they were about the rights of immigrant field workers – the people usually responsible for raising and harvesting the plant-based diet that sustains the vegan lifestyle.
Shortly after the bee incident, being vegan really hit me where it hurts the most: my liver. At a cooking party I was hosting, a guest advised me that the wine I was drinking may have been clarified with isinglass, a substance derived from fish bladders. Having given up the hard stuff, wine had become my slower, but still lovely, intoxicant. “You’ll want to go online and research the brands of wine that you enjoy. You might have to switch,” she suggested.
Seriously, God – you really hate me, right? You don’t just plant the “Become a Vegan” idea in my head, then casually – at a much later date – drop the wine bomb on me. Oh, and God, in case you’re wondering, I’m officially agnostic.
I realized that these people were serious. Veganism wasn’t a diet; it was an admirable commitment to living life in a way that doesn’t exploit animals in any manner whatsoever. Yet, as much as I respected my new friends for making this difficult, moral choice, I also recognized that I had to be true to myself…and my embossed leather Coach bags. If I didn’t opt for a more compassionate non-leather sofa, I’d soon be a hypocrite – not to mention, I’d spend every spare moment removing fur from a friggin’ cat hair magnet a cruelty-freefabric recliner. It became clear that I was not an ethical vegan, as most of my friends called themselves. I was doing this for my health – and unless the occasional teaspoon of honey was going to give me cancer or cause Bob Barker’s head to explode, I wasn’t really worried about it. Where did that leave me? Was I an unethical vegan? And, more importantly, why was I letting the word vegan define who I was and what I ate? Vegans aren’t like virgins – you can be just a little bit vegan.
Thus, in the interest of not being a vegan fraud, a hypocrite, a sober person or just plain grumpy, I’ve decided to start my own church: The Church of Vegan-Lite. With all of the health benefits, but only half the guilt and no rosary, a Vegan-Litist, as I like to think of myself, is mostly vegan, but makes exceptions here and there. For example, though I will inform food servers that I’m a vegan, I am quick to reassure them that I’m not militant about it and won’t douse them with a bucket of red paint if they suggest the steak tartare special to Hubby. Likewise, I’ve chosen to integrate certain foods back into my diet, but those foods can’t be too decadent or I’ll be required to self-flagellate like an albino monk. Thus, I’ve reintroduced egg whites to our refrigerator; after all, they’re fucking egg whites. Is there a less-offensive and healthier non-vegan food out there? Doctors practically prescribe them. Dr. Carrie Rubin, back me up here, will ya?
I’ve also discovered that if I drink a sufficient amount of vino, I completely forget all about fish bladders and bone char. Problem solved.
The only remaining issue is my hesitancy to lead – or follow, for that matter – which is why the Church of Vegan-Lite currently has only one member. So if any of you vegans out there are just jonesin’ to spoon some honey into your mug of cruelty-free, organic green tea, go for it. I grant you permission to become the bishop of your own Vegan-Lite parish. Just promise me one thing: switch the Welch’s out for a nice cabernet sauvignon, would ya?
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If you’re an ethical vegan, please know that I respect your views (and the fact that you aren’t, apparently, tempted by cheese every moment of the day) even though I don’t necessarily agree with them fully. So don’t be a hater. I really do love you guys!
I don’t recall how the discussion of vibrators arose. Only that it came up while I was riding home on a sweltering school bus filled to the gills with students of every age – as is often the case with private, parochial schools. A popular, older boy named Jerry mentioned that someone had a vibrator and his comment was received with fits of laughter from the more mature kids, all of whom were crammed into the last few rows – because the back of the bus was, is and always will be the coolest place to sit.
As a fifth grader at a new school, I was anxious for friends. Especially older friends. One’s market value could easily be assessed by how many older kids you knew. Particularly if those older kids didn’t give you noogies or shoot spitballs at you. And making people laugh was a good thing. Bill Cosby made people laugh. I could hear the audience roaring in the background when I listened to my father’s copy of Bill Cosby Is A Very Funny Fellow Right! on our record player. Fonzie made people laugh every time he told someone to Sit on it! And everybody loved Lucy, including the band leader with the Cuban accent thicker than my yet-to-be-tweezed monobrow. Being funny could garner me significant clout, particularly if the people chuckling were old enough to grow wispy mustaches or wear bras. Their laughter was my clue that something about vibrators was humorous. But what?
Fortunately, I knew all about vibrators. Our family shared a heavy one with a rounded, spaceship-style head the size of a large bagel and used it to massage the kinks in our muscles. After a long day at work, my dad would often say, “Cristy, go get the vibrator and rub it over my lower back, would you?” It worked wonders on my calves after a Saturday afternoon of riding my bike non-stop through the neighborhood. My mom stored it in one of the drawers of her nightstand, so technically I considered it to be her property, but I was permitted to use it whenever the need arose. As I balanced my small frame sideways on the edge of the bus seat, my book bag and Tupperware lunch bucket resting on my knees, I pondered why the kids around me considered vibrators so darned amusing. I supposed ours was funny looking in a way, but its appearance had never made me giggle out loud. Then again, if you used it on your neck and spoke at the same time, your voice sounded a bit like a robot. Perhaps that’s what all the fuss was about.
So without hesitation, I loudly announced, “My mom’s got one of those!”
Remember MySpace? Justin Timberlake and his $35 million dollar investment seriously wish you would. Though I didn’t spend much time in the social networking world during the mid-2000s, I did join and was thrilled to discover that I immediately had a friend in Tom Anderson. You know, Tom – the cute guy in the white tee who grinned over his shoulder at you with a whiteboard behind him. True, my excitement deflated a tad when I discovered that Tom Anderson was cozy with literally everyone on MySpace – apparently, he automatically became your friend the second you signed up. But still, just seeing his smiling face on my page made me feel better about the fact that he was the only smiling face on my page for awhile.
Fast forward to the year 2008. After being needled by our friends incessantly, I finally broke down and joined Facebook. For a day or two, my Facebook page just sat there. Lonely. Drinking hard liquor. Thinking dark thoughts. Finally, I asked my soon-to-be Hubby to friend me. My page couldn’t take the solitude. Then the friend requests and acceptances started rolling in, until I began deleting the friends whom I still couldn’t remember from geometry class and the ones who posted quotes by Ann Coulter without a hint of irony. For awhile, the banter was fast and furious. I played Scrabble with online friends, posted puns in a private Facebook group, reconnected with school chums, and ignored 18,000 requests to water my friends’ tomatoes or milk their imaginary cows.
Remember when bath salts made your skin soft and smell faintly of something like lavender? Remember when the worst thing that could come as a result of using bath salts was a UTI? Remember when bath salts were merely part of one of those crappy, bath product gift baskets you bought your great Aunt Edna for Christmas because they were cheap, but looked expensive, plus you could pick them up at any pharmacy you passed on your way to visit her at the old folk’s home. And, let’s face it, Aunt Edna smelled like urine mothballs – on a good day. Well, those days are gone, folks.
For years, experts have predicted that the zombie apocalypse would be brought about by a virus – one so powerful that it would render homo sapiens helpless to control their most savage impulses. Adrenaline rushing through their veins, the infected were predicted to exhibit an unusual level of endurance, lumbering at a slow, but terrifying and consistent, pace. As with all flus and viruses, young children and the elderly were expected to become the first casualties…mostly because they weren’t fast enough to outrun the newly-created zombies who would be thirsting for their blood. And just never tired.
But the virus never manifested itself. The zombie watchers got their panties all in a bunch when the H1N1 outbreak of 2009 petered out in mid-2010 – and no one went crazy and dined on their neighbors; they just died of respiratory failure. The books predicting the zombie apocalypse came and went out of vogue. Yeah, we all thought Pride, Prejudice and Zombies was a really clever idea. At least until it was followed by the release of another 8,000 dystopian novels about badass classic book characters/U.S. presidents/unusually attractive teens surviving a fictional zombie apocalypse. Sure, AMC’s The Walking Dead has been a big hit and World War Z is coming out next year, but let’s face it, zombies are quickly becoming passé. Like Paris Hilton and Robert Pattison, they are suffering from overexposure. Even my zombie-loving Hubby banned the undead from this year’s Christmas and Birthday Wish Lists after he received a zombie video game, several zombie-themed books, The Walking Dead board game, multiple zombie t-shirts, undead underwear and a birthday cake decorated with – you guessed it – glow-in-the-dark zombie figurines for the holidays last year.
Overall, the future of the zombie apocalypse didn’t look good. Zombies were destined to fall by the wayside just like vampires, werewolves and pathetically pale, whiny heroines from Washington. Until this week.
Last Saturday, a stark naked, 31 year old Miami man, Rudy Eugene, brutally attacked an elderly homeless man in broad daylight and chewed off his face. When police attempted to approach the real-life Hannibal Lecter, he growled at them and resumed, erm, eating the transient, Ronald Poppo. Even after being shot once by police, Eugene continued his meal. In the end, the officer was forced to fire multiple shots, killing the nude man and finally ending his gruesome feast. Armando Aguilar of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police told NBC that close to 80% of the victim’s visage was missing and confirmed that Eugene was “actually swallowing pieces of the man’s face.” Poppo remains in critical condition and doctors anticipate that his recovery will be a lengthy process.
A week prior, Dr. Zachary Bird, a Central Florida anesthesiologist was arrested on various charges including suspected DUI and battery on a police officer after the physician nearly sideswiped a state trooper’s vehicle, then failed a field sobriety test. Glassy-eyed and smelling of alcohol, Bird allegedly had at least $54,000 in cash on his person or in his car, two handguns, a vial of an unidentified liquid and prescription medications. But this is where the story starts to get crazy. After being cuffed and placed in the back of the squad car, the doctor went on a rampage, slamming his head repeatedly against the polycarbonate partition in the back of the car, causing his forehead to bleed profusely, screaming at the top of his lungs – over and over – for the officers to “stop stealing my money,” kicked the car door, and then, finally spit blood into the officers’ faces.
The following day, a New Jersey man reportedly stabbed himself in the abdomen, neck and legs with a knife while police watched. As Wayne Carter proceeded to disembowel himself, officers pepper-sprayed him – with no effect whatsoever. In fact, Carter responded in grisly fashion by throwing his intestines and bits of flesh at the police officers. It finally took a SWAT team to subdue the man, who is hospitalized in critical condition.
So besides each of these heinous acts involving people who were clearly batshit crazy, what do they all have in common? Perseverance. Endurance beyond that of a triathlon winner. An inability to feel or be hindered by pain. Like a zombie, perhaps? But what caused their zombification?
Police have revealed that the Miami “Causeway Cannibal,” as the press has dubbed Rudy Eugene, allegedly favored a particular drug: bath salts. No, not the kind you gave Aunt Edna. You don’t have to worry that she’s going to chew your ear off the next time you see her – at least not literally. No, these bath salts, labeled with benign names like Lady Bubbles and Ivory Wave, are a fairly new, toxic drug that is available on the streets, but often sold in tobacco stores and head shops.
A dangerous cocktail of MDPV, mephedrone and pyrovalerone, the DEA views bath salts as a similar to mescaline or ephedrine, while dealers claim that the drug can cause users to experience LSD-like hallucinations…for example, a homeless man’s face suddenly looks and tastes like a Thanksgiving turkey. According to a Huffington Post article, the drug “can cause severe agitation, rapid heart rate, high blood pressure, paranoia and symptoms of psychosis, including hallucinations and delusions.” In addition, the drug user’s body overheats – making their blood boil, both literally and metaphorically, so it’s not uncommon for him or her to strip completely naked.
Whether or not Eugene exhibited super human strength during his gory rampage is still unknown, but he did manage to beat and partially strip the Ronald Poppo before he began tearing the flesh from his face, eventually leaving only the man’s goatee intact. Hey, I don’t like hair in my food, either. However, Poppo did have a history of drug use and alcoholism; perhaps he was intoxicated and, therefore, was an easy target. Regardless of whether or not the transient man put up a fight, it’s undeniable that the first shot police fired at Eugene struck him…and didn’t do a damn thing. The Causeway Cannibal wasn’t relinquishing his face tartare for anyone.
Likewise, Dr. Bird was allegedly intoxicated at the time of his brutal head-banging, blood-spitting tantrum, but on what? I’ve seen booze make people crazy, but this man was still wearing scrubs when he nearly sideswiped that squad car. Did he stop at a bar – after visiting his bank and the hospital pharmacy – and down two dozen shots of tequila before hopping into his BMW – all because he was allegedly on his way to help his friend, Fred, who’d been “fucking with the wrong people?” What was he going to help Fred do? I suspect he wasn’t going to pay off Fred’s mortgage or lend him money for the plastic surgery he’d been wanting. After all, Bird founded a plastic surgery clinic in the small Florida town of Weston. Fred could have had calf implants, a nose job and his eyes done for cost. Considering the weapons, cash, assorted pills and mysterious vial of liquid in the Doc’s possession at the time, I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that alcohol probably wasn’t the only intoxicant in his system.
After all, the graphic video of Bird in the back of the police car shows him slamming his head hard against the partition six times in a row, opening up a large gash on his forehead. The physician then proceeded to smear his blood all over the partition (ick!) before demanding to be taken to the hospital, then chanting at the top of his lungs – ad nauseum – that the officers better stop stealing his money, sounding like an infuriated, overgrown toddler on a raging chocolate high. He wasn’t dazed. He appeared to feel no pain. He seemingly didn’t tire. Hell, I whacked my head on the corner of a kitchen cabinet yesterday, and I was whining like baby and cradling an icepack against my head for the next ten minutes. If I’d managed to bang my skull a couple more times in a row, I’d have been out cold.
The Deranged Disembowler, Wayne Carter managed to remove his own entrails and stab himself over 50 times, yet police couldn’t subdue him with pepper spray. In case you didn’t know, pepper spray is also used to deter grizzlybears from attacking! When the SWAT team has to be called in to restrain a man who reacts to pepper spray in the same way a model reacts to a spritz of Evian on her face, and who has severed an artery and whose guts are on the wrong side of his belly button…hello, he’s on something! Couple Carter’s unexplainable endurance with a history of mental illness and – surprise, surprise – drug use, and it’s suddenly not so inconceivable that a human being could tolerate that much pain and blood loss, yet still be able to lob his intestines across the room.
Thus, it appears that the zombie apocalypse is ON! The terrifying hallucinogenic properties of bath salts have been well-documented since 2010. Last year alone, the Centers for Disease Control reported over 1,000 calls concerning the use of this drug and there are dozens of stories of related deaths, but people continue to buy it. Reportedly, it’s inexpensive and users are willing to suffer bouts of extreme paranoia and horrifying visions in exchange for the temporary cocaine-like high. None of these warnings or tales of cannibalism seem to have any effect on sales. In fact, its use is spiraling upwards. Sure, these high-profile incidents will ensure that bath salts are banned at both the state and federal level nationwide, but that didn’t stop crystal meth from rotting the brains and teeth of idiots across the country.
Why? Because, let’s face it – some people are just stupid. When the CDC is forced to release a warning regarding the teen trend called the “Cinnamon Challenge,” in which kids are dared to swallow a teaspoon of powdered cinnamon without drinking any water, we’ve officially entered an age in which some people have become just too stupid to live. Not only do teens actually participate enthusiastically in the “Cinnamon Challenge,” there’s an entire website devoted to documenting their failures and successes. Do we need to post signs in schools that say, “Just Say ‘No!’ to Drinking Bleach” or “Setting Yourself on Fire Burns” or “Don’t Eat All The Nutmeg Because Your Mom Is Making A Pie Later”? Does the First Lady need to abandon the concept of getting kids to exercise more and focus instead on making sure they don’t eat the entire contents of their mother’s spice rack? Sadly, the answer to all these questions seems to be, “Yes!”
One of the latest bizarre news stories involves teens drinking hand sanitizer to get drunk. Have you ever tasted Purell? I’d rather eat bar-b-que chicken with bare hands that have been washed in a bucket of poo than risk licking a drop of sauce off fingers that have been recently sanitized in that foul tasting liquid. But teens will slug that crap down in order to buy themselves a brief high, followed by a trip to the emergency room for alcohol poisoning. At least getting drunk off of cough syrup, mouthwash or vanilla extract tasted good.
Now that our society has degraded itself to the point where people will go to these kind of lengths to get high, despite the chance that they will turn cannibalistic or rip their small intestines from their body, there’s little chance for a Robert Downey Jr. comeback. The combination of sheer stupidity and the availability of cheap drugs proven to make you batshit crazy is a lethal combination for humanity. And one for which the sane members of our society need to be prepared. So toss the cinnamon, the bath salts (for those with children stupid enough to eat colored, flavored Epsom salts – which will shut down their kidneys, btw), the Purell and the pepper spray, and buy yourself a hockey mask and a taser. Take up cross country or marathon running, and invest in a good pair of trainers because you’re going to have to be able to outrun and outlast these zombie motherfuckers. Consider befriending one of those wackadoos who believes the world’s going to end in December, and buy up all their guns, ammo, food and water for next to nothing when – on December 22nd – they realize that the Mayans just ran out of room on their calendar. Buy an RV. And a tanker filled with gasoline. The zombie horde is coming, my friends.
The undead may be slow, but they’re steady – and I don’t have to tell you who wins that race. Plus, these drug-addled zombies aren’t as unsophisticated as the virus-infected undead of lore. Nope, they have the manual dexterity to undress themselves (which makes horny men and Pentecostal preachers particularly vulnerable) and use weapons. These are the kind of zombies that make fearmongers the world over cream their panties. Glenn Beck? You listening? Zombies could get your fuckwit ass back on television – especially if you blame the homosexuals, Muslims and liberals for promoting a bath salt lovin’ agenda.
UPDATE: International fugitive and Canadian porn actor, Luka Rocco Magnotta, is being sought in connection with the grisly murder and dismemberment of Chinese student Jun Lin, whose body parts were mailed to the offices of Canadian political parties last week. Evidence of Magnotta’s alleged involvement includes a horrifying and graphic video depicting a naked and bound man being stabbed with an ice pick, decapitated, dismembered and sexually assaulted. This shit ain’t funny anymore! http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jun/02/canada-body-parts-victim-chinese
UPDATE: Zhang Yongming, known in China as the “Cannibal Monster” was arrested two weeks ago in connection with the murder and dismemberment of at least 20 people in the Yunnan province. Yongming allegedly sold the human flesh as meat and also served the remains to his dog. Authorities found human eyeballs in wine bottles and flesh was hanging from Yongming’s ceiling. This is getting weirder and weirder, folks.
UPDATE: A Swedish man has been accused of cutting his wife’s lips off and eating them. Reportedly, the man suspected that his wife was having an affair and ate her lips in order to ensure that they couldn’t be reattached. (Right, dude! You couldn’t just flush her pucker down the toilet?” Though the man’s name has not yet been released, it is reported that he is a former employee of the Karolinska Institutet, a Swedish medical university. Readers, are your doors locked?
This is a humor blog, but it’s important to remember that real people were involved in the events that I described in this post. Please take a moment to say a prayer or send some positive energy to the friends and family mourning Rudy Eugene; to Ronald Poppo and his loved ones; and to Wayne Carter and his family. As far as Dr. Zachary Bird is concerned – as a physician, that douchebag knows better and I hope some big ol’ queen makes him her bitch in prison.
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ignorant: (adj) lacking knowledge or awareness in general; uneducated or unsophisticated
stupid: (adj) lacking intelligence or common sense; can’t be fixed
dumb-ass: (adj) see stupid
– Oxford Dictionary
A couple of weeks ago, while celebrating my 1,000th subscriber, I hosted a contest in which my readers could post topics for me to write about. Though many intriguing suggestions were submitted, the clever and insightful blogger, Wandering Voiceless captured my interest by proposing that I pen a tutorial on “How to Deal With Stupid People When They Don’t Know They’re Stupid.”
Initially, I was puzzled. Are there stupid people who know that they’re stupid? You know, ones who don’t wake up one morning and say to themselves, “I shouldn’t run for President just because Pa did it; I’m a dumb-ass.” If so, I’d like to photograph them and, perhaps, write an entire book – a tome, if you will – dissecting the psyche of the stupid animal who possesses the self-awareness to recognize just how stupid it is. For years, I’d always assumed that, by definition, stupid people are clueless to the fact that they’re stupid. That’s what makes them stupid as opposed to ignorant, a condition which can be cured with information and a few episodes of The Rachel Maddow Show. And, as my grandmother never actually said, but it sounds folksy to say, “You can’t fix stupid.”
Case in point, the other evening my hubby and I were meandering around downtown investigating every nook and cranny of the most historic section of the city that we have recently decided to call home. A serial photographer, I was snapping away at the most banal things: chained doors, abandoned fast food bags crumpled in the dying light that seeped through an abandoned, spiderweb-draped shop window, local street art, and a turn of the century building constructed of coquina stone. A few yards ahead of me, a car pulled up and parked on the side of the road.
Since we were standing directly across the street from a small, fenced park where the homeless tend to accumulate on its shaded benches during the day (known by locals as the Hobo Gardens), I hesitated, curious if the vehicle owner was the as-yet-unseen person who chases the vagrants from their zoo-like existence in this little corner of respite, before locking the gates each night. God forbid, a transient dude should fall asleep on one of the benches. In the dark. I mean, it’s not like the City didn’t give him all day to catch up on his sleep. And I’m pretty sure they provided him with lavender-scented eye masks to block out the searing brightness of the sun. But like most urban outdoorsmen, he’d probably wasted his daylight hours in conversation with his homeless buddies or weaving dead palm fronds into rosebuds to sell to the tourists.
Allowing an intinerant to enter into REM sleep at night in an unlocked park that is entirely avoided by non-housing challenged locals during the day would certainly be a travesty. Clearly, the highest and best use of such a space is to snap a Master lock on it and force the drifters to wander the streets as shadowy figures who can then be enjoyed by downtown bar patrons. After all, when you’ve just finished off a few yards of Guinness, what better than to take a swing or two at a ragged, old man with spittle in the corner of his mouth who is enjoying a conversation with the three other voices in his head? Big fun, I say.
Moreover, by forcing the homeless to roam the darkened streets, our city is providing a once-in-a-lifetime adrenaline rush for many of the tourists visiting from places like Dubuque and Wichita and Billings, who rarely are assaulted by a request for spare change accompanied by the aroma of cough syrup mixed with the eau de parfum of general stankiness. In fact, it is said that many visitors return home with gallant tales of near death experiences which invariably involved the tourist tossing bills or coins at the bare feet of a transient – who, as per their description, was likely black, male, 8 to 9 feet tall, angry and foaming at the mouth – then running as the drifter chased them down a back alley, pounding his chest and bellowing, “Fe-Fi-Fo-Fum, I smell the blood of a Caucasian man.” Hey, moments like this are what vacation memories are made of.
I began to wonder what a person would say in order to extricate the vagrants from their little Garden of Not Eatin’. Dragging a billy club along the fence, would the Evictor-in-Chief evoke the memory of every prison movie ever made before sneering, “Git yer bum asses up and moving. This ain’t no Holiday fuckin’ Inn.” And he’d be right. The park is much nicer than a Holiday Inn.
Or would he approach the men and their assorted knapsacks and overflowing plastic bags with fear in his eyes, but the law on his side? “C’mon guys. You know, it ain’t up to me. Look, don’t make me pull out my cell phone. I’ve got 911 on speed dial.” When they ignore him, does he whip the flip phone out of his pocket, point it at them threateningly and say, “The safety’s not on. And once I dial the cops, that call will be recorded for quality assurance.”
Perhaps he’s read about Pavlov’s dog and has trained the park’s transients to simply haul their aching bones up at the rattle of his chains and lumber towards him, drooling like a lesbian at a sorority pajama party, their hands extended in anticipation of the small bottles of Mad Dog 20/20 he gives each one as they exit Vagrant Village. Regardless, this is a person tasked with a stupid job by stupid senior government employees who are told what to do by stupid politicians who think that locking up a lovely park at night makes my community better and safer. And I doubt any of the parties involved have a clue that they’re stupid.
However, after taking several more photos, no one emerged from the parked car. My husband strolled away to examine the old lettering on the side of a building, leaving me standing alone on the sidewalk. As I rounded the corner of the building, a young man wearing a knitted winter cap in 85 degree weather (I’m Stupid Clue #1), a tee shirt and plaid grandpa shorts hung so low the most experienced limbo dancer couldn’t squeeze between their hem and the asphalt (I’m Stupid Clue #2) jumped out of the car, skate board in hand, and began serenading me in a brash, intoxicated voice. “How can I get just one fuck? How can I get just one fuck? I guess it’s got somethin’ to do with luck…” (I’m Stupid Clue #3)
At this point he leaned towards me, dropped his skateboard and stretched out his arms, as though he was preparing to lunge at me, but I deftly sidestepped him, turned around and crooned, “But I waited my whole life for just one…,” before spinning back around and walking away. Behind me, I could hear his friends howling with laughter. The woman whom skater boy had figured was so white-bread that she’d shrink from him like a penis at the sight of a butcher knife could not only finish the lyrics to his crappy rendition of the Femmes’ “Add It Up,” but clearly wasn’t intimidated by the miniscule lump in his Scooby Doo boxers, either. Hell, that song had been my mantra when this kid’s mother was still smoking pot and giving out free hand jobs under the high school bleachers. I was tempted to return and inform him that until a decade ago, I’d regularly worn combat boots, but then I remembered my niece’s response when I’d told her the same thing in an effort to prove how cool I had been in my youth.
Me: Of course, I know who Jack White is. I used to wear combat boots practically every day of my life.
My Niece: (incredulously) Why?
Okay, now who’s stupid? It was a momentary lapse, I swear.
When I found my husband a moment later inspecting a chunk of exposed coquina shell, he asked, “What was that about?”
Shrugging my shoulders, I replied, “Just some stupid ass serenading me in the street.” It was obvious that the aforementioned stupid ass didn’t think he was stupid. He and his friends, I’d surmised, found him to be amusing, much in the way my orange tabby finds rubber bands endlessly entertaining. And my cat is stupid. We love him, but he’s a dumb ass. Everyone knows it…except for him. Just last night, while our other two felines – both infinitely more intelligent than our short bus kitty – were hanging out by the water bowls, one of them rolled her eyes and exhaled a deep purr before saying, “I caught Dumb Ass eating one of the fake plants. Again. I mean, there’s fresh fucking basil growing in a pot in the living room window and he’s chewing on a plastic cactus.”
“Well, at least he didn’t keep you awake last night licking the outside of the kitty litter bag,” the other cat replied, twitching his whiskers. “If he pulls that shit again, I am so gonna bite him on the nape of the neck and dominate his ass. Fucking retard.”
Considering that the plastic cactus in question has more bite marks than all the characters in The Twilight Saga combined, it’s apparent that stupid isn’t an affliction that can be easily cured. Trial and error has zero impact on those impacted by this disease.
As I thought about the subject of stupidity even further, I began to realize that stupid people not only fail to recognize their own stupidity, but they assume that everyone else is stupid. For example, yesterday afternoon, I’d traveled to the beachside town where we’d lived until recently for a doctor’s appointment. After having lunch with a friend of mine, I’d stepped out into the bright afternoon sunshine, smart phone in my hand. For those of you who’ve read my most recent post, you may recall that my husband and I recently met a couple from Atlanta who chose to move to this particular beachside town because they believed it to be sosafe. For the record, they also turned out to be pretty stupid.
I’d just made it to my car, when I was accosted by a hysterical woman with bleached blonde hair, smudged makeup, wearing hootchie mama shorts and a tank top sans bra stretched across her ample bosom, accompanied by a disheveled, tattooed, middle-aged man who smelled like a Mexican restaurant dumpster in mid-summer on the last day of a long, holiday weekend. “I just lost my iPhone!” the woman screeched, pointing a dirty fingernail in my direction. “I have to use your phone to call it.”
This was one of those moments in life in which I wished I’d had the time to order a coffee and sit down to ponder all the reasons why my phone would never, ever be released into the custody of Ms. Hootchie Mama Hot Pants. However, as the ho-with-no-phone was demanding the use of mine asap, I only had time to consider a few:
1) iPhones are expensive, but the color of this chick’s brittle tresses appeared to have been achieved by soaking the bottom ¾ of her hair in a sink filled with Clorox;
2) Neither of these folks looked like Mac users, though I was pretty sure they were using something that began with the letter M;
3) If Tits Mountain was to be believed, she’d already lost one phone. Why in the hell would I trust her with mine? Let her start with something small. Something no one would miss if it were misplaced. Like an infant.
“I’ll call it for you,” I replied, as my fingers curled themselves tightly around my phone. “What’s your number?” Tits Mountain’s face drew a blank.
“Okay, I’ll run over there and listen for it,” she finally said, trotting across the street and stopping at the corner. Her friend reached out his grimy, crusted hands, seemingly very anxious to hold my phone – as if it would make the iPhone reappear or, even better, turn into a naked breast.
“The number?” I repeated. Again, the man reached for my cell, his index finger actually stroking its corner this time. Clearly, he believed that his touch would magically relax my iron-clad grasp on my Android. Like I said before, not only do stupid people not know that they’re stupid, they think everyone else is stupid. However, the chances of me allowing him to dial a single digit on my phone at that moment was up there with the odds of Tori Spelling winning a Pulitzer for her 17th memoir entitled, MasturbaTORI. Taking a step away from him and the pervasive stench of rotting refried beans, I waited patiently. Finally, the man rattled off a seven numbers.
As the phone began to ring, Mr. Grabby Hands leaned towards me, greedily eyeing my phone, his fingers twitching like an amateur poker player’s eye. Ms. Hootchie Mama Hot Pants watched from across the street as I lifted my cell to my ear, then she proceeded to run around in several small circles on the sidewalk – not unlike a dog locating the best patch of grass upon which to squat and poo – before throwing up her hands in frustration and dashing back across the street towards us. Apparently, she believed – or wanted me to – that she’d lost her iPhone somewhere in the four foot radius of that particular corner. I mean, you never know. Perhaps she had an invisibility app on her iPhone? Maybe she was beta testing the iPhone 5 for Apple and the new phone was so slim, it was possible to lose it in a hairline crack in the sidewalk? I almost asked her, “Where was the last place you saw it?” but I had the feeling the answer would involve a motel that charged by the half hour or the discarded mattress lying next to the dumpster behind Mi Pueblo Restaurante.
When it became clear to Dumb and Dumber that the phone would have to be extracted from my hand with the Jaws of Life, they quickly dropped the charade, half-heartedly thanking me for my help. Within seconds, they approached a group dining outside – not more than three yards away – who, having just witnessed the World’s Lamest Scammers Ever Getting Hosed, picked up their steak knives and shook their heads. After unsuccessfully hitting up two biker types on the sidewalk with the same story, the couple finally admitted defeat. As I drove off, I passed them strolling hand-in-hand down the street – headed in the opposite direction of the corner where the alleged iPhone had been lost.
I couldn’t decide what was worse: that these grifters thought that I would fall for their scam, or that they continued to press forward with the hope that others in the immediate vicinity would not see through a story as transparent as a cheap dry-cleaning bag? Clearly, these were stupid people who thought everyone else was more stupider and, like George Dubbya, figured that we would misunderestimate them too.
So as it stands, I have failed Wandering Voiceless because there is no tutorial for dealing with the stupid. There are things in this life that are simply immutable. Sarah Jessica Parker will never have a petite, up-turned nose. Anderson Cooper will never marry…a woman. Kim Jong-un is never going to appear on the cover of Playgirl.
What you can’t change, you must accept. So stop sending dictionaries to New Jersey Real Housewife, Teresa “Ingrediences” Giudice. Don’t waste your time arguing with Trump about the validity of President Obama’s birth certificate. Desist with the petitions to have Ann Coulter lobotomized.
Unless Stupid is the name of your new puppy, you can’t fix stupid.
I am a tithing member of the Church of the Holy Crock Pot. Though I dutifully praise the Crock Pot’s glories on a regular basis, take it to all the best potlucks, and actively witness to others about how the power of the Crock Pot has changed my life, it occasionally lets me down. This was the case a few months ago when I was cooking a pot roast in the depths of my early 1990s era Crock Pot. The kind with three settings: Off, Low and Scorchingly Fucking Hot. It was a housewarming gift from my mother when I moved into my very first apartment – the one with mauve carpeting.
For readers under the age of 25, let me explain that mauve is a horrid color that infiltrated the décor of the late 1980s and early 1990s, much in the same way that a CIA mole recently infiltrated al Qaeda’s plot to detonate an underwear bomb during a US-bound flight. Except mauve didn’t have good intentions. Often accompanied by its evil cohorts, peach and sea foam green, it permanently damaged the retinal cones of senior citizens and Floridian condominium owners, forever impairing their vision and, thereby, reducing their decorating choices to creamy pastels, shell motifs and stucco.
Despite my devout Crock Pot cookbook study sessions every Wednesday night, one cannot expect the Holy Crock Pot to simply reveal the secrets of the universe to just anyone. Particularly when that universe involves pot roast. That evening, I’d clearly misinterpreted the scriptures in The Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook concerning the preparation of the sacred, potted calf, letting it simmer on Low, when it should have been bubbling away on Scorchingly Fucking Hot. With dinner not in our immediate future, Matt and I headed to a local restaurant with a great bar for a few cocktails.
As we slid into a booth in the bar, we noticed that seated to our left was a well-dressed gentleman accompanied by a woman who’d likely been a blonde bombshell twenty years earlier, but was now just clinging to her svelte figure by a thread on her leopard print blouse. As we sipped our drinks and pondered the appetizer menu, Matt and I couldn’t help but overhear our neighbors discussing their new waterfront condo and raving about how much culture they’d discovered in our seaside town. Yes, it’s true. In our little city, you can’t throw a stone without hitting an art gallery specializing in oversized paintings of a beachy sunsets that will perfectly match your sea foam-colored sofa and table lamps with sea shell-filled glass bases.
And then I saw her. Megan.
Memories of gatherings filled with hippie types came crashing back like a teenager returning home in his father’s purloined car after a keg party. I’d eaten my first piece of sushi whilst swinging in Megan’s Sky Air chair. I’d cheered her on as she’d scaled the interior stone walls of the infamous Generic College hangout, Coblin House, in order to reach the second floor, where she’d proceeded to dance barefoot on a slim plank of wood that framed the opening to the loft – even though the fall could have killed her. My date to Megan’s wedding was our mutual best friend, Todd, who had handed me tissues throughout the reception held on a boat cruising up and down the bay. And as soon as all of Megan and Jarrod’s elderly relatives had returned to their hotel rooms, we had converged upon their rickety wooden house that squatted on the edge of an orange grove for the real reception – a blowout that extended until dawn and didn’t officially end until the last drunken guest had awakened from his supine position on the dining room floor, and mumbled “Congratu-fucking-lations!” before stumbling out the door – and into my car. As vodka and I hadn’t yet been introduced formally, I’d driven a lot of people home that day.
And here she was. I hadn’t seen Megan in close to a decade. She was sitting with a short-haired man dressed in linen who resembled Val Kilmer. Where was skinny, long-haired, goateed Jarrod? Had they divorced? Quickly, I glanced at her ring finger to find her sparkler still in place. Was she having an affair with this man? For a few moments, I studied her body language. Always a flirt, Megan was leaning forward, smiling, laughing that husky laugh. For chrissakes, her pupils were dilated. She was into this guy. For a minute, I was filled with a loyal rage. How could she do this to poor Jarrod? He’d always been the Ethel to her grape-stomping, Vitametavegamin-swilling, Harpo Marx-imitating Lucy. Not a Ricky. Ricky would have demanded some “splainin’,” but Jarrod had always gone along with Megan’s antics because she was a light that couldn’t be dimmed. A flame that couldn’t be ‘splained. Was it any surprise that her favorite color was yellow and her preferred blooms were sunflowers? Megan glowed…and we all basked in her radiance and felt the better for it.
The moment we locked eyes, her lips spread into a brilliant smile. Within seconds, I was up and we were embracing one another, jibber-jabbering about how long it had been. Clueless as to why I’d bounded over to hug a woman he’d never met, Matt stayed planted in his seat, until I loudly announced that I was married and urged him to rise and meet Megan. Still slim and casually elegant, she wrapped her arms around my husband, her long golden waves shimmering in the warm hue of the bar lights. My slender figure was petulantly hiding back in 2005, mocking my chubba wubba voluptuous curves from the space time continuum. To make matters worse, I was growing out a pixie cut that was in desperate need of a trim and, instead of it drawing comparisons to Audrey Hepburn from the restaurant patrons, my hair was likely spurring sudden, subliminal desires to order the smoked mullet.
Once Megan released my husband, she gestured to Val Kilmer and chimed, “Matt, meet my husband, Jarrod.”
What? I gave the imposter-posing-as-Jarrod the once over, resisting the urge to blurt out, “ Look, Iceman…I loved you in Real Genius, but I can’t allow you to turn my Megan into a Jezebel.”
But as I studied his strong square jaw line and soft brown eyes, the Jarrod I remembered began to emerge – a hippie trapped in the body of a washed-up actor. Fortunately, it wasn’t the bloated Val Kilmer of late, but neither was it the shirtless, volleyball-playing fighter pilot whose photo had adorned many a dorm room wall. The worst part was that Jarrod didn’t recognize me either. Fuuuuuuuuuck!
“Jarrod, it’s me, Cristy.”
Without a flicker of recognition in his eyes, Jarrod nodded. “Umm. Yeah. Of course. You changed your hair, didn’t you?”
Yeah, but at least no one mistakes me for Molly Ringwald. “I was blonde the last time you saw me.”
“Oh yeah. That’s it,” he said, with a smile. That and the fat suit you’re wearing.
By then, the condo purchasers had become enraptured with our conversation…listening to every word while carefully staring off in the distance, but not so far away as to eclipse our presence in their peripheral vision. Once Megan returned her attention to me, she immediately asked about my writing. When I admitted that I had recently completed my first novel and was penning a humor blog, she broadcasted to the entire bar that I was a great writer, an introduction that could result in only one thing. Utter humiliation. The minute I revealed – to bar patrons who were complete strangers – that my novel wasn’t actually published and that I was looking for an agent, their interest level in me dropped faster than a toddler down a well. A dry well. I’m pretty sure I heard a thud as their enthusiasm hit the dirt like a skull.
As Megan and I swapped stories about the last decade, Matt began chit-chatting with our bar neighbors. Within moments, they were sharing inside jokes and laughing together as though they were frat buddies who’d hijacked the mascot of their school’s biggest competitor back in the day. Meanwhile, I began to get the impression that Megan’s life had not turned out the way she’d expected. A teacher for many years, she told me she’d quit her beloved profession and was answering phones part-time at a friend’s business. When I asked what precipitated her decision, Megan squirmed noticeably and offered a euphemism to the effect of, “Oh, I just needed a change.” She expressed an interest in writing. I encouraged her to keep at it and offered to read anything she was working on if she felt like sharing.
But then Megan began doing the things that Megan always eventually did. Compete. Complain. And charm the socks off everyone in the room…except for the people who know her.
“What happened to my glass of wine? It was right here. I wasn’t done,” Megan announced to the room in general. Waving the waitress over, she whined, “I had a full glass of wine sitting right here. Did you take it?” When our server denied responsibility, Megan refused to drop the issue – like a dog with a mouthful of stuffed, squeaking, faux dead duck. I swear she even shook her head from side to side vigorously – as if to break the waitress’ neck with the ferocity of her convictions. “Yes, you did. The glass was full. I’d only had a sip, ” she insisted, the alcohol on her breath strong enough to sanitize the road rash on the butt of a man whose scooter had collided with a fertilizer truck. “You need to bring me another one immediately.”
I was reminded that one of the reasons we basked in Megan’s glow so willingly was that the rest of the time in her presence could be like Juneau in the dead of winter. I wrapped my cardigan around me a little more tightly. Despite the fact that it was Megan and Jarrod’s wedding anniversary, our golden girl couldn’t resist an audience. So as she entertained our bar neighbors with a slew of stories I’d never heard about motherhood, dancing and cotillion, any hopes I may have had of sharing a meaningful conversation with her were dashed. Megan was driving this car, pedal to the metal, and we were passengers clinging to door handles just hoping she’d slow down before she ordered us to jump. Within minutes of meeting these people, Megan was throwing out invitations to Dexter-themed parties to come. And discussing country clubs. And yacht cleaners.
Country clubs? Yachts? What happened to the barefoot Megan who always had a daisy tucked into her hair?
And then Megan steered the conversation back to just the two of us. And Todd. Oh. Dear. God. We have a decade to catch up on and this is what she wants to talk about. “Whatever happened to Todd, Cristy? I haven’t heard from him in years.”
I know, I thought. If she had, she would know that Todd had gotten engaged. And married. She’d know that Todd had moved out to the West Coast and was working on his graduate degree. “You know, Todd,” I responded lightheartedly, not wanting to be the bearer of tidings that would likely piss her off. “He’s so bad about staying in touch.”
“Haven’t you heard from him?” she asked. I nodded weakly, admitting I had. “Oh. Well, I’ve left messages. I even called his mother and…nothing.” My smile was toothless and pained as if it had been painted on by an artist with Asperger Syndrome. Even I knew a call to Todd’s mother usually accomplished…well, nothing. In fact, for years, she called me for updates about her son. “Well? Where is he?” Megan demanded.
“Oregon. He’s in Oregon.”
“Why?” she persisted. “What’s he doing out there?”
Freezing his ass off. Carrying an umbrella. Gradually turning translucent. Getting all the really “in-jokes” on Portlandia. “He’s in school. He’s working on his graduate degree. He’s doing really well.” C’mon, just say you’re happy for him and drop the fucking duck.
But Megan’s competitive streak had reared it’s angel-faced head because I had the audacity to know something about Todd – a person she still considered her best friend despite the fact that they hadn’t spoken in a decade – that she didn’t know. “Why did he have to go to school out there?”
Because his wife is a huge Pink Martini fan and wanted to live closer to the band. Because that’s what people do…they move away. Because he’s not your minion, Megan. “That’s where he and his girlfriend moved.” It was only a little lie. Not really one at all. After all, Todd and Raina were only engaged when they moved out there. I mean, technically, Raina was just a girlfriend with an uber nice ring on her left hand.
“He’s got a girlfriend?” Megan hissed. And that’s when I realized it. Her claim upon Todd was as real in her mind as a forty-niner’s staked claim to a vein of gold in California. This was jealousy, plain and simple. And suddenly, it occurred to me that this conversation was never meant to be about catching up on our lives. It was an intelligence gathering mission about Todd.
“Ummm. Nooooo. Not anymore.” Though the terms girlfriend and fiance could easily be considered interchangeable, this was not the case with the word wife.
Megan’s face suddenly brightened. “Oh. So he’s single, then?” I prayed that Val Kilmer wasn’t overhearing this bit of the conversation.
Erm. Fuck it. My thighs were aching from dancing around the truth for the past few minutes. She needed to know the facts. And I needed to order another martini. Hopefully, she’d then move on to less stressful topics like tsunamis and waterboarding. “No, Megan. He’s married. He got married a couple of years ago.”
Though the conversations around us continued unhindered, the silence in the eight inches or so between our heads was deafening. Finally, Megan asked, “Why didn’t he call me?”
“I don’t know.” I didn’t know. The disintegration of Megan and Todd’s friendship had never been discussed. And I hadn’t asked. It was none of my business. “Maybe he didn’t have your number?” I suggested weakly. Maybe he found out that you are a possessive psycho friend prone to interrogating the innocent.
Megan insisted that her number hadn’t changed. “We haven’t even moved. He knew how to find me,” she spit, as though I had assumed the role of Todd’s personal correspondence assistant and should share in the responsibility of this faux pas. “Well, did you go?” Megan’s halo of blonde hair suddenly began to singe my corneas like an interrogation spotlight.
Awkward. If I tell the truth, she’ll be hurt and I’ll feel like a bitch. If I lie, Megan will eventually find out, and then I’ll be a lying bitch. I can’t win. “Yes, Megan. I was one of his best men.” Her face fell. Then her nostrils flared as the realization hit her that I had been a member of the wedding party. Which meant I must have been in on the conspiracy to keep her off the guest list. And I probably knew who shot Kennedy and if astronauts really landed on the moon. “Look, I don’t know what happened between you two–”
“I know what happened,” she interrupted. Then, leaning in even closer, she whispered, “You know, Todd was always in love with me.”
Of course, he was, I wanted to say. Because it’s all about you, Megan. At that moment, I realized I couldn’t remember ever spending any time alone with Megan. Just the two of us. No lunch dates. No girls’ night out. In fact, every time we were together, we were usually surrounded by her friends – friends who were typically straight, single men. Men who basked in her glory. I hadn’t just told Megan that Todd’s life had changed drastically without her permission input; I’d confirmed that he was no longer one of her back-up dancers. Someone else had captured his attention. Permanently. And he was happy. Really happy.
And who knows, maybe Todd had been in love with Megan eons ago. I was once a size 4 and strutted my stuff in a fashion show that aired on MTV. That and $14.50 will get you a mochaccino at Starbucks. “And now he’s in love with Raina,” I said firmly. “She’s his best friend now. That’s the way it’s supposed to be.” And I meant that. I’d included those words in my best man’s speech that romantic evening in New York.
Megan abruptly ended our conversation and returned her attention to our condo-buying acquaintances. It turned out that the couple were from Atlanta and had firm views on the MARTA, Atlanta’s public transportation system. “You know what MARTA stands for, don’t you?” the aging bombshell asked us with a wink.
Oh. Dear. God. How did Matt and I meander into a bar that could provide not one, but two really uncomfortable moments in less than a half hour? Give her the benefit of the doubt, Cristy. Maybe they’ve come up with something that isn’t incredibly trite and racist. “No. What?” I asked, my eyebrow cocked in warning. Don’t fuck with the eyebrow.
Tittering, the cougar whispered loudly enough for people in Georgia to hear, “Moving Africans Rapidly Through Atlanta.”
Oh, no she didn’t! Then I heard Megan giggling. Since when do hippies laugh at unimaginative racist acronyms? “Really?” I said through gritted teeth. “Funny, but the last time I rode the MARTA, I didn’t notice many black people on it. And the people I did notice looked like commuters and students. But then, Atlanta’s African Americans are some of the most educated and wealthiest people in the country. I’d imagine that most of them don’t need to take public transportation.”
The woman pursed her lips. “Well, the MARTA’s gotten really bad lately.”
“In the last five years?” I asked. Maybe they’d switched to really uncomfortable seats. Or worse, maybe they’d begun playing Muzak over the loud speakers.
“Oh, yes. It’s bad. Our friend won’t let his college student son ride on it.” I resisted the urge to ask her if their friend also believed in the Mayan calendar and had a basement stocked with automatic weapons, canned goods and bottled water in preparation for the end of the world. “In fact, we avoid the downtown area altogether.”
Stifling my laughter, I replied, “Heck, the last time I was in Atlanta, I used to power walk from my hotel downtown all the way to Olympic Park. It seemed perfectly safe to me.” My husband just sat there, stone-faced. He has little tolerance for racists, and even less for pussies.
Megan suddenly chimed in. “You’re brave. I can tell; you’re fearless.” Without a hint of irony.
Huh? Me? Walking around a city in broad daylight hardly constitutes brave. This was not the Megan I knew. For years, I’d admired her free spirit. Her willingness to dance on a strip of plywood ten feet above the ground without a care. Hell, a few minutes earlier, she was inviting absolute strangers to visit her home for a serial-killer themed party. But they were white. “Are you telling me you wouldn’t take the MARTA, Megan?”
“It’s not like New York, Cristy.”
Damn straight, it’s not. It’s a hell of a lot safer than New York. What was she trying to say? The population is, erm, darker in Atlanta than it is in New York City? “Okay, how about D.C.? You’d ride the Metro in D.C., right?” She couldn’t say no to that. Matt and I had just visited D.C. a year earlier. While my husband attended a conference, I’d ridden the Metro all over town and walked the streets alone…with only my lip gloss for protection.
All four of them – even Jarrod – just stared at me uncomfortably. Matt’s silence, however, was brought about by pure shock. He hadn’t been surrounded by so many pussies since he visited a strip club in college.
“You forget,” Megan said, viewing my furrowed brow and slack jaw, “that I was agoraphobic for two years. Jarrod and me – we got mugged in Tampa.”
“Really? I’m sorry to hear that, but I don’t think I knew you then.” Agoraphobic? Next thing, she’ll be telling me that she hoards newspapers, magazines and those little plastic round things that you pull off milk cartons.
“I think you did,” Megan insisted.
No, I’d remember knowing that someone is agoraphobic. I mean, how would I even meet that person? I’d have had to just go knocking on random doors and asking people, “Do you leave the house? No? Great, wanna hang out? I’ll bring Chinese take-out.”
The Atlanta couple was terrified of Tampa, hence their decision to buy a condo with 24-hour security in our safe little corner of Florida (which actually has a higher crime rate than Tampa…but let’s not allow silly things like facts and statistics to mar the absurdness of this story). They related a tale about driving to visit a particular business in Tampa. Supposedly, as they drove into the neighborhood where the business was located, white men wearing neon orange vests waved them on – away from their destination. Raising their eyebrows, the couple gave us all a meaningful stare. One that puzzled the fuck out of me.
“So who were they? Construction workers redirecting you towards a detour?” I asked hesitantly. The woman shook her head.
“No! They were telling us to move along because we didn’t belong there in the ghetto,” the woman declared. Her boyfriend nodded his head solemnly in agreement. Clearly, fear and stupidity are bedfellows. “And when we finally got to the right place, all the brothers were eyeing our hubcaps.”
Did she really just refer to African American men as brothers? “What do you drive?”
“A Honda. It’s a hybrid.”
As a hybrid owner myself, I notice that a lot of people eye my car. Some of them happen to be black. And, yet, my hubcaps have never been stolen. “Did it occur to you that the brothers, as you call them, might have just been wondering what kind of mileage your hybrid gets and whether or not it’s worth it?” Or maybe they were thinking, “Check out the cougar! If you whistle in the vicinity of her cleavage, I bet you’ll hear an echo.”
The couple exchanged glances that said, “These poor people are so naive.” The look on Megan’s face made it clear that she thought that Matt and I were probably paying the brothers for protection – and that’s why we’d never been mugged.
I couldn’t take another minute of this conversation. Downing my martini, I racked my brain thinking of an excuse to leave…immediately. The Holy Crock Pot turned out to be my savior. “Oh, honey! We’ve gotta go,” I exclaimed, slapping my forehead with the heel of my palm. “I nearly forgot about the pot roast.”
That night, the Holy Crock Pot had shared its divine wisdom with me. It had removed me from the confines of my home and my comfortable friendships with people who share my values – and placed me in the presence of people who no longer did. As much as I sometimes long for those carefree days of staying up all night reading poetry, playing drums, and discussing philosophers I really didn’t understand with Megan and other friends, I realize that I can never go back to those days. Or to high-waisted jeans. Make that any jeans that don’t include the word stretch somewhere on the tag.
Why? Because I’ve changed. I understand those philosophers now. Okay, I might have thrown away the books by the ones who bored me – which would have been most of them. Regardless, I stopped searching for who I was to become and simply became that person. A person who will sit next to a Muslim on a plane just as comfortably as I would sit next to a white woman – unless that white woman has a screaming infant in her lap. I’ll take being sandwiched between an overweight Muslim dude using a seat belt extender and a loquacious Born Again from Branson, Missouri on a non-stop international flight – riding in coach – to avoid that particular form of torture.
I became a person who doesn’t make the following announcement to every Indian customer service rep I encounter on the phone: If this call is being recorded, I want it known that these jobs need to go to Americans. You don’t deserve these jobs. You hear me! (Yes, I once had a boss who instructed me to do this. I refused. She, in turn, refused to believe that most of the customer service reps in India actually have graduate degrees – which they do.) I’m a person who doesn’t tighten her grip on her purse strap because someone darker than a latte is walking behind her on the sidewalk. A person who doesn’t believe in gay and lesbian rights, but in human rights – for all people. Because gays and lesbians are humans, first. And Kathy Griffin fans, second. A person who rejects fearmongering disguised as patriotism. Yes, Wayne LaPierre of the NRA – I’m talking to you. Obama’s not going to take away your precious Second Amendment – or your storeroom filled with freeze-dried astronaut food and gold bullion.
I know. I know. How mighty white of me to establish what an open-minded, perfect human specimen I am. But this is how I roll, and it’s how I rolled 20 years ago. But being mugged – and the fear that came with that act of violence – apparently caused Megan to just roll over, pull the bedspread over her head and hide. She didn’t evolve into the person I’d expected. If anything, she’d devolved into a person with irrational fears, still clinging to her youth as it’s wretched from her grasp – man by man. And fear is the basis of racism. Fear fuels the hatred that inspires acts of bigotry. How do I know this? Because one of the most respected entities in the universe said so: Fear is the path to the Dark Side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. – Yoda, Grand Jedi Master and yoga aficionado. You don’t argue with the owner of a lightsaber. No, the one you bought at Comic-Con doesn’t count.
So as you go about your day, allowing your fears or your past to guide your decisions, consider the rhetorical question posed so succinctly by my sage Blogging Bestie, Stacie Chadwick in a recent post: “When did taking the road less traveled morph into plotting the easiest path?”
And then answer this question in your comments below: When did taking the road less traveled morph into hailing a cab because you’re too afraid to take the subway?
As always, names have been changed to protect the innocent and the assholes.
As some of you may know, last week I hit a bit of a milestone. And not with my car. That was a wall and it’s really just a tiny scratch. I always thought four doors on a car was a bit bourgeois anyway.
No, as of last week, over 1,000 kool-aid swilling lemmings beautiful, intelligent folks out there with fucking amazing taste in blogs have subscribed to read my paltry meanderings. This made me feel like a rock star. No, not like Rick Astley, Kitchen Slattern – not that there is anything wrong with a little Rick-rollin’! And by “Rick-rollin’,” I don’t mean the You Tube meme; I mean dancing around the house in my underwear crooning “Never Gonna Give You Up” into the handle of my Swiffer.
But back to feeling like a rock star. I’m talking about someone like Pink. Especially when she sings the line, “So what! I’m still a rock star, I’ve got my rock moves and I don’t need you…” Except I do need you. It was you, my loyal apostles readers, who brought me to this point…dancing around in my underwear again, this time singing into my hairbrush while wearing fluffy pink pig slippers. And I just want to say, “Thank you!”
But people say “thank you” a lot. When they don’t really mean it. It’s just a thing you say when a store clerk hands you a receipt or someone holds a door open for you out of habit. It’s the phrase you spit through gritted teeth at your obnoxious co-worker who just pointed out a mathematical error you made in your TPS report during a meeting with your boss’ boss. Worst is when it’s said really snarkily – “Ohhhhhh. Thaaaaaaank Yew!” And in a blog, it’s hard to know what kind of thank you you’re getting. Because you can’t hear me. You can’t see me. You don’t know if I’m sneering or smiling or cleaning out my toe jam to save in a jar for tomorrow’s breakfast when I say, “Thank you!”
So, in an effort to prove the sincerity of my thank you, I have decided to turn over the reigns of my paltry meandering brain to you, my servilelackeys subscribers, for a single post. Instead of writing about what I want to babble about for 2000+ words, I’m going to write about a topic that you assignto me. But there are over 1,000 of you.
Thus, the Tell The Taller Than Average Woman What To Prattle On About Next Contest has been created. Between now and Tuesday, May 8, 2012 at 5 p.m. E.S.T., you can submit up to 5 topics in the Comments Section below for me to pen a blog post about. Topics can be broad (Kim Kardashian’s ass) or extremely specific (the amoeba who lives on the mole on Kim Kardashian’s left butt cheek). Nothing is forbidden, although any requests from Stacie Chadwick, my blogging bestie and uber-attractive author of the high-larious blog, Gemini Girl in A Random World, to write about her naturally gorgeous face and fit body will be utterly ignored.
I will be the sole judge, though I will likely consult with my hubby and/or a psychic, the homeless drag queen who dresses to the nines while pushing her shopping cart down the street adjacent to my condo, and the bottom of my crystal wineglass. Especially that last one. I may have to consult it daily. Several times. Bottles of wine that mysteriously show up on my doorstep with a worshiper’s subscriber’s name attached will not be considered…a bribe. Particularly if they are bottles of pinot grigio or a nice, unoaked chardonnay with a high alcohol content.
The lucky winner, of course, will be featured prominently in my post with a link to their blog. And a photo should they opt to send me one. Unless they’re ugly. I mean, it really wouldn’t do either of us any good to have a photo of an ugly blogger included in my post. Unless, of course, the winner is unusually ugly. People are drawn to freaks like handcuffs are drawn to Lindsay Lohan’s wrists.
And now without further ado, let the games commence!
Your Humble Blogger,
P.S. Part II of Yoga Is Not A Character In Star Wars will be published Monday morning. Set your alarm clock. It’s going to be a great day. Unless you’re me. I think I may have pulled something.
I’m not a cool yoga chick, a.k.a. CYC. You know, the kind you see wandering into a locally-owned coffee shop (CYCs don’t support corporations and, thus, boycott Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts) still wearing her yoga pants and skin tight tank top, her hair swept up into an untidy knot on top of her head that that looks so fabulous, Gwyneth Paltrow will sport the exact same do next week on the red carpet. A single bead of sweat perspiration rests on her forehead like a diamond bindi – sweat perspiration that says, “I’m a healthy, centered individual and so confident that my armpits don’t dare stink until I give them permission.” The kind who orders a cup of decaffeinated hot tea, then wrinkles her nose when her fingers accidentally brush the yellow Splenda packets as she retrieves a single envelope of turbinado sugar and sprinkles it into her tea. After all, she just did an hour of yoga in a 150 degree room; she can afford the extra 11 calories. And CYCs don’t use artificial sweeteners because everyone knows that they’re made from the ashes of dead babies. So not vegan.
No, I’m the kind of yoga chick who’s never done yoga. The kind who is more likely to quote Yoda than Buddha. The kind who thought downward dog was a sexual position. My idea of meditation is shutting my eyes as I take that first sip of a perfect dirty martini. As far as breathing goes, I’ll breathe when I’m dead. So when I joined a yoga studio online the other afternoon, I made sure to schedule mid-day classes because the 6 p.m. classes are smack dab in the middle of Happy Hour. And I have a feeling the instructor would frown upon me stumbling into class reeking of vodka and blue cheese stuffed olives, though I suspect my muscles would be substantially more…shall we say, relaxed.
To prep for my first yoga class, I figured I should limber up a little, so I rode my recumbent bike for ten minutes. The night before. In my pajamas. You know, to loosen up. For bed. And I had four glasses a small glass of wine. Again, to help me relax. So I could be rested for the next day. Don’t underestimate the importance of sleep in this whole equation.
Then I arose early so that I could tackle the slabs of leather otherwise known as the soles of my feet. One of the negatives of yoga is the whole foot conundrum. I mean, my feet are nice enough to look at encased in a pair of knee-high go-go boots, but if you think I’m gonna just put my soles out there for an entire room of people to stare at – not to mention my conjoined, fraternal twin (the one who was not absorbed at all completely in utero) also known as my “badunka dunk” – that’s another question. The bottoms of people’s feet just aren’t attractive. Mine are particularly fugly because we have wood floors – and I’m always barefoot inside – so the bottoms of my feet look like a Swiffer pad after one shitty day of swiffering. Before I crawl into bed at night, I have to rinse the accumulated cat hair, stray bits of kitty litter, small pebbles, dust bunnies, my husband’s toenail clippings, dead leaves that have been eaten by the cats then puked back up in a gray mass, pieces of shaved carrot, a Wal-mart receipt and a yellow Fiat off of the bottom of my feet lest my hubby kick me back out of bed.
I decided to shave my calluses off using a small, egg-shaped device that is essentially the equivalent of a cheese grater. Yes, the Ped Egg. It’s brilliant. This is what you have to resort to when your calluses are so tough, pumice stone turns to dust at the sight of them. The Vietnamese girls at the nail salon don goggles and pull out the Black & Decker electric sander when I come in for a pedicure. Still, after ten minutes of sawing the Ped Egg back and forth against my soles, my feet were as soft as a baby’s butt a well-worn catcher’s mitt. Plus, my calluses were reduced to what appears to be a few ounces of grated parmesan, which I saved in a Tupperware container to serve at a dinner party attended by my enemies dumped into the garbage can. Except for all the bits that didn’t end up inside the egg contraption, but immediately hooked up with my husband’s toenails for some kind of pedal reunion while waiting for me to swiffer them up later.
Then there was shaving to be done. The invention of the maxi dress had a dramatic impact on American society – it meant that women like me (i.e. the three women in the world blessed with sparse, light blond hair on their legs – don’t be a hater) stopped shaving their legs pretty much altogether. Okay, perhaps not entirely. There’s always special occasions that warrant a shave – like pap smears and the random key party- but usually no one notices that I have hair on my legs. Male readers, please stop fondling yourselves. I know this is crazy sexy talk, but have a little control. Unfortunately, my lack of experience with shaving means that I typically find myself with multiple nicks up and down my shins and ankles – each of which bleeds like a Russian prince – so I end up with small, torn bits of toilet paper with bright red splotches in the center of each glued to my legs. Dude! Put the trouser snake back in his house.
Once my stems were smooth and moisturized, I had to give myself a badly needed pedicure. Except I didn’t really get up quite early enough to give myself a full pedicure. Or a mini pedicure. Fuck, all I had the time to do is slap a single coat of bright salmon colored enamel over my chipped toenails and pray that two minutes under the hair dryer would prevent smudging. Unlike me, CYCs don’t fret over things like pedicures because they’re perfectly tanned from spending so much time weeding their organic gardens – and bronzed feet don’t need nail polish. I am not tanned. My toes are the color of Gollum and wrinkled like miniature elephant knees. They need polish in the same way that the Pogues need an orthodontist. It’s just too ugly otherwise.
Similarly, going to yoga class barefaced was not an option. As the Head and Shoulders commercial old adage goes, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Not only did I want the CYCs to view me in the best possible light (which is why I snuck into the studio the night before and changed the bulbs to soft white), I wanted to prevent innocent bystanders from being trampled by screaming CYCs, running like a herd of wildebeest at the sight of my naked visage, so I went against the CYC ban on foundation, and slopped on not one, but two coats. Hey, as with any form of exercise, safety first! Twenty minutes later, my skin was glowing, my lashes were thick and dark, and my lips were a natural, glossy pink (if natural means Las Vegas Sparkly).
CYCs are never growing out their hair. It’s either luxuriously long and knotted up on top of their heads like they hate how thick and naturally highlighted it is so they just have to get it out of their sight or they’re going to puke, or it’s uber short and pixie-like, a la Michelle Williams or Ginnifer Goodwin – because CYCs never have ginormous ears that stick straight out. If Obama was a woman, he’d never be a CYC. His ears disqualify him. As a person who is growing out one of those Mia Farrow wispy hairstyles (because I’m what Obama would look like if he was a white woman), my hair is too short to be pulled into a ponytail unless I want to go with the Samurai look and too long to stay out of my eyes unless I’m lying flat on my back. Assuming that most yoga positions won’t involve me being flat on my back because then they’d call it sleeping instead of yoga, I opted to do nothing but flat iron my dark hair super straight. I was bound to look Asian one way or another. It’s a good look for me because it makes my hair incredibly shiny – as long as it doesn’t get wet. Did I mention I am a head-sweater? It can be 45 degrees outside, but if I so much as wave at someone, my sweat glands are activated and immediately drain all fluid from my body – out through the pores on my scalp. Did I mention that I had to walk to the yoga studio? Several blocks in 80 degree Florida heat. No shade. Absolutely no shade…because Captain Idiot here scheduled her classes at NOON so that they wouldn’t interfere with Happy Hour.
I’m embarrassed to say this, but I came pretty close to calling my friend, Christine – who is both the author of the amazing blog,the book of alice and a yoga enthusiast (probably a CYC, but the kind I aspire to become) – to ask her what I should wear. Not a party or a wedding, but to yoga class. I’ve been to lots of parties and weddings, but I’ve only observed CYCs from afar. Truth be told, I only know Christine through the blogosphere, so I couldn’t even secretly follow her to a yoga class or sneak into her house and dig through her drawers (dresser drawers, you pervs!) to see where a CYC buys her gear. Initially, I had decided to go with my Ikea pajamas – black, drawstring cotton wide-legged pants and a matching black tee. Bought at Ikea for ten whole bucks. Came in a sealed plastic bag – kinda like a six pack of socks at Walmart. I know. I know. I’m a fashion plate, but let’s try to stay focused. But I am also accident prone (see The Bitch Is Back…And Shinier) and I started to worry that, while switching poses, I would trip on the excess fabric in my pants. Anticipating that my legs would likely be up in the air for much of the class (suddenly I have the strangest sense of deja vu), the other concern was that my pant legs would simply slide all the way up to my thighs and I would be left with a giant black diaper between my legs. While this would likely hide any incontinence issues that might arise, I was afraid that the CYCs would frown on my failure to follow appropriate yoga fashion protocol. Thus, I switched to a tight-fitting, knee-length pair of black workout pants that, in addition to giving me a huge muffin top and camel toe, also highlight my toilet paper adorned legs. Then I reached for my sneakers.
Except my sneakers reeked. They didn’t stink, they stank. Not stank as in the past tense of stink, but stank as in stink like a motherfucker. Stank is stink squared. This stank can permeate any sock in mere seconds. Which is why I immediately dropped my Converse lest their stank permeate my fingertips like The Bog of Eternal Stench, and reached for the only pair of open-toed, flat black shoes I own: delicate sandals adorned with tiny black diamante. Very sporty. In Monte Carlo. But CYCs don’t have stanky feet. When they remove their sneakers, the airspace around them is flooded with the scent of fresh grass, rosemary and sunshine. It is said that when Chuck Norris gets a little fatigued, he sticks his nose into a CYC’s sneaker, inhales and is completely rejuvenated.
As I picked up my gold Coach purse, I realized that no CYC in her right might would show up to class with a blingy designer bag, so I switched to a demure, faded black denim purse with a long strap that screams, I don’t care about brand names because brand names are created by corporations – and corporations burn babies, then stick their ashes in Splenda packets. Plus, this particular bag has a great story, so if a CYC casually says, “Great bag,” I could tell her how I bought it at the Portobello Road market in London. At a stand on the street. I even haggled with the vendor to get a better price. As CYCs are well-traveled and love outdoor market bargains, I felt confident that I had one acceptable story I could share during class. But what if we ended up ohming the whole time?
Maybe I could communicate all the crunchy granola-ness of my purse in sign language? If I’d had time, I could have typed up a card and simply handed it to anyone who complimented me. It would have read: I have taken a vow of silence for the next hour and a half. Thank you for your kind words about my bag. It has carried me through many countries that I’ve only seen on television. I haggled with a curmudgeon charming vendor in the Portobello Road market in London to get the best price. It’s made entirely of previously recycled materials and was sewn by hand by a blind Guatemalan woman who was paid a living wage for her services. If you see me using Splenda, it’s because I’m infiltrating the company to write an expose about them and the secret baby cremations. Thank you for honoring my vow of silence. Namaste.
Finally, before I headed out the door, I decided to follow the yoga studio’s recommendation that I eat either a banana, granola or peanut butter a half hour before class. As I sat on my sofa spooning Peter Pan into my mouth right out of the jar, it occured to me that the website was probably talking about unsweetened, organic peanut butter sold by some corporation-pretending-not-to-be-a-corporation like Whole Foods. It’s not that I don’t like organic peanut butter, I just think it tastes so much better after I add half a bag of Splenda to it. But I can’t tell the CYCs that. It’s best that I focus on my breathing and meditation. Whatever I do, I can’t think about the blog during yoga. Mustn’t write blog in my head during class – or worse – jot down notes onto my yoga mat with a Sharpie. Oh, and mustn’t laugh at how ridiculous people will look in absurd poses. Mustn’t shout out, “That’s what she said!” when the instructor croons about how amazing a stretch feels. Oh, most crucial, mustn’t fart in class. That would just be namaste.
If you enjoyed this post, please click here to read “Part Deux – Yoga Is Not A Character In Star Wars,” in which I experience my very first Flying Asana Anti-Gravity Swing Yoga class. Me + Yoga + A Swing + Camel Toe = Comedy Without Even Trying
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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.
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:
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.