Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Oeuf Room

This just in: We now know where babies come from before they are but mere lusty sparks in their parents' eyes! I was reading a book to my two sons called On the Day You Were Born, by Debra Frasier. It's a lovely book featuring the green sea turtles and the magpies and all the ocean whelks and such welcoming the new babe to the lovely green planet, with song and dance, under the shining sun and waxing moon etcetera etcetera. Nice cut-paper style illustrations!

Anyway, my eldest son asked something nice and profound such as "How did the baby get to the earth?" So I turned to youngest son and asked "Well, where were YOU before you came here?" I figured he might have some pithy little tale to report.

He answered without hesitation, in a shy little voice with a perfect French accent. "The oeuf room."

"The what?"

"The oeuf room," he said, a little louder and wth great confidence. I asked him to repeat this one more time, so sure he seemed of his origins.

"Oeuf. As in...the egg room."

"Yes, da egg room."

I turned to eldest son and inquired where he might have been passing the time before descending on this fair planet. He, also, answered with a second's hesitation: "The Dick Room."

"Did you just say 'The Dick Room'?!"

"The Dick Room," he said emphatically. A thoughtful silence followed. They both looked very philosophical and solemn, as if remembering their time in that pre-dawn netherworld, not yet quite human, just before they broke free from their respective rooms and found themselves suddenly here, alive and on our planet.

"What was it like in your rooms?" I asked. This was going to get somewhere good, and I would have lively information to report to science journalists everywhere! But just then the two boys promptly leaned in and gave each other a good, cracking headbutt, which ended the evening's conversation.

Monday, October 22, 2007

New Rochelle Melee!

I love the word "melee." It gives a dignified and European air to what is otherwise a tawdry spectacle of teenage loathsomeness. I am quite behind the times in reporting and discussing our Very Own Local Melee, but I hope readers will forgive. The concept of 50 or 60 teens brawling in the streets--and that's a large number of nasty post-pubescence in one city block--effortlessly reduces my property value to a pile of poo-poo pellets. I can be forgiven, yes, for retiring into a short funk?

Plus, I really look forward to the day when my sons, whose nicknames may as well be Caspar and Whitey, get to go to New Ro high school and spend most of their days avoiding beatings and brawls. Is this ignorant and racist of me to say this? I really don't give a crap; I don't want poor little Caspar and Whitey (who will be big, strapping Caspar and Whitey by then) to get swept up in any sort of "melee" whatsoever. I don't want to send them to some hoity-toity 100% whitebread private school either. There must be a nice, normal school...somewhere...anywhere.

Anyway, everyone is calling this delight a "melee," or at least the local Journal News is, in repeat news stories that discuss the police presence or lack thereof. When I think of melees, I think of cocktail parties with a heavy-handed bartender and too few cheese platters. Or maybe a herd of bovine animals, milling about and gnawing at one another in a desultory fashion. Clearly, I had it all wrong. A melee can be quite violent! It can result in an overexcited teen thrusting his arm through a plate-glass window in the heat of battle!

In other teen news, New Rochelle has a well-known Haunted House that runs every weekend in October, and it's not far from where I live. I thought it would be cute and campy to attend this year, until we drove past on Saturday night and saw a virtual melee of New Ro youth waiting to get in, tossing their McDonalds wrappers hither and thither, guzzling sugary soft drinks, and sneering fitfully at one another. "That doesn't look so fun," said I, but I still thought I might go with a friend or two who are visiting soon. After all, what's Halloween without a few bats, a bubbling cauldron, and a few out-of-work actors dressed up as mummies and zombies?

"Um," said husband, "I can guarantee that that haunted house is like SAW FOUR and THE HILLS HAVE EYES kind of stuff. Like, they will be out to scare the living BeJayzus out of you."

"It won't be like the Grange Hall in Norwich, Vermont?"

"No, it will not be."

I am starting to really dislike New Rochelle.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Houses Have Eyes

Yesterday, I had cause to visit a neighborhood not far from my own to deliver some wayward mail that occasionally gets misdirected to our address. It was on my way to the grocery store anyway, and I figured I'd do the residents a good turn since all of the three siblings that share the house have a disablity of one kind or another. Indeed, they are quite likeable people. But they are also very strange people.

This is the kind of neighborhood that seems fairly sweet and sleepy upon arrival, but soon certain things pop to the attention. One, there are peculiar mixed-breed dogs either tied up in yards or wandering about, looking like they were drawn by a four-year-old child. Occasionally, there are peculiar humans, also seemingly the work of a young artist with a tendency toward rotund, rather than straight, stick figures. Their heads shoot up as soon as you park your car, and their expressions are not what I would deem friendly. If you were in the South, you would definitely be hearing creepy fiddle music. But, this is Westchester, NY, so the fiddles are stashed away. Then there are the ominous eyes that peer at you from behind curtains that are quickly twitched back into place as soon as you turn around.

I tweren't scared, but the place was unsettling. I got to the house where I needed to deliver my mail and spotted K, tooling around in his driveway in a wheelchair and so hopped up on steroids he could barely stop talking to take a puff from his ever-present cigarette. Then out stepped P, his sister, who invited me inside for the "grand tour." Recently recovered from a bout of "the cancer," P was looking pretty healthy, especially compared to her brother. A third sibling--whose mail I was delivering--was not at home. "That idiot," said P when I asked after him. "He's an idiot." (This brother actually happens to be "slow," so calling him an idiot did seem a bit uncharitable.)

The grand tour of the house made me feel pretty sad. It was dark with the shutters drawn throughout. There was a tiny railroad kitchen, stacked high with detritus; a smoky and stained bedroom for K, another for the "idiot brother," a living room that did not invite laughter and conversation, and a simply awful enclosed "front porch" that was darker than a tomb and about as wide as a cat's hips. "We like to spend lots of time here hanging on the porch!" said P, brightly. But...it's...not a porch. It's dark! There's no...light. "We like our porch, too," I offered. How poor, wheelchair-bound K even maneuvered around this place--filled with old, sticky furniture--was beyond me. P was embarrassed to show me the bathroom because of the color of the tile, but since the entire home was wood-paneled and covered with ugly vinyl-like tiles from stem to stern the bathroom's perky green tiles seemed like a nice break.

A friend was there tearing out K's carpet because K so often lurched about and spilled food on it from his wheelchair. He nodded curtly at me as he carried out a giant sack containing about 1,253 cigarette butts and other detritus.

"Want to see my room? It's pretty cozy," P said. Where could it be? The whole house was no bigger than a breadbox. Ah, the basement! We went down the stairs into a low-ceilinged and yes, wood-paneled area. The bed was piled high with clothes and the place smelled musty and depressing. There was a large pile of Cheez Doodles (the puffed kind) spilling out on her sheets in a strange, orange tableau. "And there's my potty!" said P, pointing to one of those portable toilet seats that the disabled sometimes use, with arm rests--and no plumbing whatsoever. Only a bucket of some kind.

At this point I was about to get mad. When people suffer through a bout of "the cancer," they shouldn't have to use a potty with a bucket under it, for gosh sakes. They should have a proper potty with a flush mechanism! But who is going to pay for P's plumbing, or move her to a bigger house with a nice, sunny front porch where she can sip cool lemonade and watch the world go by, lazy and content, flush with Cheez Doodles?

So we went back upstairs, where she started to fix lunch for K and the friend who was helping to tear out the dreadful old carpet. She cut some nondescript, pinkish-grey meat off a loafy-shaped thing and slapped it on some buns, tearing off the extra fat with her fingernails and leaving it in a little, pink pile on the mustard-colored countertop. The men chomped into those things--yum! yum! I was deeply afraid that she would offer me some, but she didn't. She did offer me a drink, but I said no thanks. I'm afraid some deep-seated nausea kicked in and I didn't even want to drink a can of Dr. Pepper out of that fridge. There were also tons of wild animal figurines from K's room that had been cleaned and left to dry haphazardly all over the kitchen. A falcon in the dish rack. A wild deer and a bear perched on the bread loaf. All with beady, black eyes and wild wings and claws and fangs.

The funny thing is, the reason that I have these people's mail in the first place is that they used to live in our house. For 45 years, the three sibings (plus another) shared the place with their parents and an ancient great-granny who took up one of the only three bedrooms. At one point, the kids were stacked in one of the bedrooms in neat rows, like sardines. There were so many mattresses in the room that the floor was just one, big mattress. Another year, their parents moved into the dining room to accommodate another elderly relative. That must have been the year that they boarded up the beautiful 1905 leaded glass window in that room--for privacy.

They loved this house. When they sold it to us, they cried. Their initials are etched into the basement stairway and they used to jump from the landing on the stairs to the floor, just like my two boys do now. When they lived here, they had the same ugly old furniture but they had a proper front porch, with sun, and big windows, and hardwood floors (that they covered with hideous tile that we had to tear up, but let's not get into that.) Eventually, after the parents died, they had to sell it, partially because K couldn't get up the stairs into the house nor up the stairs to his bedroom anymore. They owned the house outright after all those years, so it makes me wonder:

What have they done with all the money?

And I also wonder at times, mostly in the middle of the night: What's in the water? Sure, I haven't seen the fourth sibling since the closing and I can't remember her at all, but something tells me that she's not the pinnacle of health, either. It's just a guess. I just don't picture her as a veggie-eating marathon runner.

I think about moving a lot, but I know when our For Sale sign does go up K and P will be the first to hear about it. (They knew when we redid the bathroom, planted the sod, and tore up the patio that K put down at age 16. They see it all. The houses here have eyes, too.) They'll be concerned about who is coming, and who is going to take care of the old house.

After my visit to deliver the mail, they asked me to come back, please, anytime, and bring my kids! Like I said, these are the nicest people in the world, so I wouldn't mind paying them a visit or two down the road. I just keep thinking of that little pile of pink meat strips on that old countertop, and the guys sitting there with the dust motes floating in the one, narrow ray of sunlight that's coming in through the window. Then I glance out at my own front porch, and remember that they grew up clattering across it, and clambering up the stairs after school, and watching the snow fall out the big front window.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Fondue, Anyone?

This item was recently sent to me under the title "Another Chinese Toy Recall." Of course, this slur against the Chinese people shall not go unnoticed. They are right now developing a new series of toys, all lead-paint free, in order to avenge honor and give pleasure to rapacious American consumer. Look for these in your Christmas stockings, kiddos!

Stacey Skates ‘n’ Stabs
My Size Coffin
Tubby, the Stuffed Beet
Make-Your-Own-Sausage Factory
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtleheads
Little Wiener, the Penis Doll (with lifelike noises!)
My First Taxidermy Kit
Littlekins Power Saw 'n' more
Thomas the Tanked Engine (comes with engraved Island of Sodor flask)
Dora the Down-There Explorer
Catch-a-Poo Home Fishing Kit
Fuck-a me Elmo

Monday, October 8, 2007

Our (not so..?) Paranoid City

Last Year, 1,944 New Yorkers Saw Something And Said Something!

This poster, observed during my morning commute today, did not fill me with bon vivant humor and joie de vivre, although it did make me speak in cliched French phrases. What was I supposed to take from this message? That 1,944 New Yorkers averted a terrorist attack by spotting abandoned bombs sitting at the edge of subway platforms, and reporting them obediently? Is this scary or not? And what about those who didn't see and didn't say?

It is my feeling that this poster was attempting a bit of gentle chastisement of these folk, much like a dowdy schoolmarm urging children to use the potty. "Nah, I won't report that bomb today, because I am apathetic." Grade: F! "I think I will report that swarthy-looking furriner, who looks somewhat like an A-rab." Grade: A+! Next time, do your duty, and report it!

Here is a record of just a few of these seen/said events in the past year.

January 5, 2007: Some really unattractive shoes.
Um...not so much.

February 14, 2007: Waterboarding, head slapping, and exposure to extreme cold.
Hey, look at that extinct emu flying past the window! What shackles? I don't see any shackles.

October 3, 2007: 10 million low-income children seeking healthcare.
Aw, fuck the little brats.

Addendum: I can't finish this post at present; there are some swarthy-looking gentlemen of another race walking down my street. What is the number I am supposed to call to report this sort of thing?

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Gee, I'm sorry I've been so grumpy, but it really is all your fault

It has come to the attention of The Party Pony that some of my recent posts have been a touch, shall we say, mean-spirited? Perhaps a bit dark, obsessive, and madly brooding on ways in which to drive my enemies weeping and naked into the nearest body of water? Mayhap a titch too drenched in ire and ill-humor, and lacking that G-rated buoyancy which has at times--in the quite distant past--been my trademark?

Yes, all of these accusations and more are true. The Party Pony has been in a foul humor, but how can I possibly be blamed, besieged as I am by the malignant and stoopid Proletariat of the world? How I can I be even one iota at fault when, in fact, my sunny disposition has been marred by the existence of a lumplike creature who, when apple-picking, tosses a receipt, an empty Gatorade bottle, and a woman's flip-flop 'neath the tree? You would gnash your teeth, too.

We did go apple-picking today, and it was lovely (despite the disgusting record-breaking heat). The boys couldn't reach a single apple, but they loaded up the bag like champs. We got a whole 1/2 peck of apples or something in that vicinity. I have no idea how to eat all these apples, but what I really want to discuss is the deep, inner compulsion that drives someone to litter wantonly while picking apples in a serene, pastoral setting. I try to think of the best of humanity: Yes, when they were reaching high to pluck apples, some refuse just "spilled" out of their pockets onto the ground below! Or maybe, they were picking apples on their way to the dump and, attacked by an errant bird of prey, fled in terror with their garbage cascading out across the hillside as they went! An even more remote, yet possible theory: the garbage fell out of a small Cessna passing overhead, and scattered in small, neat pockets under each apple tree.

Sadly, after several experiments and much stealthy observation, I have determined that none of these possiblities can be true. I don't care HOW unedumacated you may be, there is simply no excuse for this type of nonsense. If I catch you at it, I'm going to pull out all the stops from Level 1 of my Self-Help course in Human Loathing. You will be beaten with plastic offal, besides.

All that aside, wasn't it a fine Sunday? (Yes, little one upstairs, there is no need to weep over the fact that your sippy cup has tilted over and that the sticker you stuck on it has unstuck itself and furled up.) The sky was blue, and there was a lithe wind over the apple downs. The smell of hot, roasting turkey legs drifted up from the parking lot of Outhouse Orchards (named after its founder, Johnny M. Outhouse), and crowds of happy harvesters clambered astride pumpkins. Doughnuts dropped into burbling, hot grease. Bees swarmed over fallen, trompled apples, and children shrieked and swung their arms to ward off the insects. The cars came onward, in a steady stream of insatiable pickers and hay-riders, all grinding gravel and kicking up clouds of dust.

Don't tell anyone, but I broke the rules today and climbed an apple tree. Climbing trees is the best darned kind of fun you can have. I didn't stay up long, just enough to feel that slippery, hand-scratching, unsurefootedness and then the drop down atop a pile of ankle-turning windfall apples. Next time, I will go higher.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Milk o' Human Loathing: Self-Help Course Level 1

I have decided to start a "self-help" course in self-expression for those of us filled with angry, bitter thoughts. My course is simple, and has one basic premise. Don't keep those feelings inside! Let 'em out. Let 'em free. Try one on your favorite fatass fellow commuter today! You have now accessed Level 1.

As you progress, write in for Level 2 of my course, "Mean Thoughts Can Set You Free as if on the Wings of a Virulent Pigeon," Level 3: "Fuck those fucking fucks", and Level 4: "Fuck 'em and the cunts they rode in on" [gracious thanks for course name due to husband. Please direct all shocked offense at the use of the "C" word to him. I take no responsibility.]

Here, a short list of phrases to "test" on the annoyees of the world.

Entree level. Try these phrases on a stranger who has peeved you past the point of endurance.

On a train! "What part of no ho-BAGs on the train seat do you not understand, Wrinkles?"
In a Deli! [to the tune of Mr. Sandman] "Mrs. Fatcakes, don't eat that roll...."
On the sidewalk! "Shut your pie-hole, cockmonkey."

Next, move on to the main course by verbally insulting family members, friends, and acquaintances. At this level it is best to be short, sweet, and to the point in order to insult as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time.

To an aunt! "Fat! Fat! Fat!"
To a neighbor! "Hey, pigfucker!"
To a cousin! "Assface."
To a former friend! "Prozac-addled whore!"

And, dessert. One's coworkers, clients, and supervisors. When dealing with this last category, however, it is wise to disguise one's rage in the form of art. The loss of one's livelihood will lead to further rage and invective hurling--which, while enjoyable, may start to taint even the sunnier portions of one's life. "The Milk o' Human Loathing: Self-Help Course Level 1" recommends these media: poetry, a dance using numchucks, an oil painting, or perhaps a thinly veiled autobiographical novel. Your choice!

To a supervisor: "I know you attend the Plushies convention in a stained Care Bear sex suit."
To a VP: "Fat tard! Flaccid mugwump!"
To a client: "You pear-shaped, unimaginative, Lumpen fool."
To a colleague: "Hey, etiquette tip, Piggie McGee. It might not be the best idea to chaw on celery and carrots with your maw WIDE OPEN during a conference call."

The test on this course is next week. Practice.

Meanly yours,
The self-help guru

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Shuffles Redux

Tonight on my way home I spotted our neighbor Shuffles, shuffling her way along our street with her wiglike dark hair bobbing as she moved. Her trim little bluejeans were much too high around the ankles and she wore black running sneakers and a nondescript blue sweatshirt. I stalked her in a stealthy manner, noting once again the similarities between her visage and that of a Cabbage Patch Doll. Not once did she turn, but I sensed that, yes, she knew I was there. She felt my beady eyes at her back, my hot breath upon her neck. She seemed to twitch when I darted behind this tree and that shubbery, although she thought it merely the wind's vagaries that caused her an involuntary flinch.

I know ye, Shuffles. I know that you stole my little cat Potatoe exactly two years ago, and keep him close by your side in your darkened house with drawn shades, the house that smells of old cabbage and bunions. I know you read your horoscope this morning, and it alerted you to the possibility that a stranger will spot you bagging groceries at the Stop and Shop and whisk you off to Hollywood, where you will star as a stripper in a low-budget remake of Showgirls.

I am aware that you set out your black running shoes next to your white this morning and thought: "I shall choose the black. Today, I shall choose the black." And that Potatoe curled around your bony white ankles as you sipped your weak tea and ate a fried egg, and the egg dripped down over your chin and you wiped it with a rag that was once a pair of faded, grey Granny undies, consigned to the cleaning supply closet. You read OK magazine as you ate, and entertained rude thoughts about Britney's midriff, and agreed with the poll that suggested her career was ruined. And yes, Shuffles, you let yourself gloat in the fact--for one quick moment--that your stomach is flatter than Britney's can ever now be. That decision not to fall in love, marry, and have children--a doom-laden sequence that leads inexorably to midriff spread--has its rewards, and they are sweet rewards indeed.

After you ate your breakfast you sorted your cutlery, brushed your wiglike hair, and wrote a letter to the mayor of New Rochelle demanding redress for all sorts of ills, including the noxious sounds emitted by the cement trucks that pass along the 95 entrance ramp. You also spoke firmly about the need to replace the stop sign at the corner with one that does not have a sticker on it reading: "No Jesus, No peace. Know Jesus, Know Peace." Not that you have anything against old Jesus, but enough is enough with the grafitti. WWJD indeed, Shuffles--why, he'd be an upstanding citizen, just like you!

I think we are sympatico in a way, Shuffles. I'll bet that you wouldn't fit in with those Pelham moms, either. You'd find them distasteful, as I do, and you would spurn their SUVs with many rude hand gestures, if you only had a car yourself and weren't forced to shuffle, shuffle everywhere. You would give them that owl-eyed stare from behind your giant, round glasses--smeared with fingerprints--and think to yourself: "Poo. I don't like them one bit." I applaud your dignity, Shuffles!

I think you don't think much of our neighbors, either. Some of our close companions here are Lumpen, unassailably stupid, and built like brick shithouses. Not all, mind you. You know what's what, who's good, and all that. You are a shining beacon of hope, Shuffles.

Except there was that odd moment the other night when, on your way home in the darkness, you stopped right across the street from our porch. You turned and stared--for a long, long uncomfortable minute. You stood still like a hunting dog, poised to lunge. I stared back, but partially shielded by one of our porch columns, so that you couldn't see the whites of my eyes. What were you looking for? I held my breath. Would you step across the street, that great divide, and confess your misdeeds?

"I'm sorry I took your cat," you might have said. "I was just so dreadfully lonely." But you said nothing. You left, eventually. Back to your home with the green shuttered door and the crappy peeling paint, head down and shoulders hunched, flipping your hair over your shoulder like some hoochie teenager and moving with that perplexing gait...shuffle...shuffle...shuffle.

I guess you can keep my cat, Shuffles. He piddled in our basement anyway, and he was as dumb as a post.