Tuesday, December 30, 2008

7 Beginnings to Short Stories I Never Finished

1. She had two hours in which to make him love her again. These were his criteria: The proof must arrive in the form of a small envelope or package, she must not deliver it herself, it must arrive between the hours of 8 and 10 a.m. She went about it systematically.

2. When they were several feet from shore, they dispensed the cows to swim the last stretch by themselves. Children on shore waited with sticks to switch the cows to safety.

3. He kept sending her videos of himself performing the most mundane of tasks— shaving, pouring the breakfast cereal, mowing the lawn—and now she felt it was time for him to stop. That morning a videotape of him sleeping in a lawn chair had been delivered to her home. She did not want to watch that video. Despite this, she watched. The video was entitled “Lawn Chair.” It was the most relentlessly dull film she had ever watched. The only discernable action was when he awoke, briefly, and swung at a bumblebee that had alighted on his thigh. The sequence had been relooped so that he awoke, again and again, blinked his eyes, and flung a big hammy hand in a scooping motion toward his leg. She counted, eight, ten, twelve times. Then she snapped off the tape with a vicious impatience. She would call him tonight after dinner, and tell him clearly but politely that his films were no longer of interest to her. Admittedly, her curiosity had been piqued by the first one, which was an hour-long shot of his feet shuffling along a wooden floor, back and forth, back and forth, until the shuffling sound had become almost hypnotic. She searched the film for some hidden message traced by his feet, but they shuffled in one direction only.

4. He was a little man, and she was a big woman. The first time they arm-wrestled she won handily, striking his knuckles against the wooden bar table. They had a conversation that was hardly appropriate for a first date.

5. That was the day that the saints were unashamed to perform little miracles, and they stood on the street corner selling blessings two for a dozen, and the fat old women danced to earn some; because they smiled so nicely they got a few cheap ones for nothing. They took them home and tossed them in their dinners and the grouchy old men ate them without blinking an eye.

6. Beneath the wide compass of her thighs her son Peter crouched like a struck stone. She was conscious of a deepening embarassment, as if she had whelped him right there on the floor, amongst the shifting conversations and cocktail glasses. He was too big to be here anymore, though he didn’t know that yet. He was soon to learn. He was almost ten.
“Peter, go upstairs,” she said, nudging him with an ankle. He crouched closer to himself, and moaned audibly. She took a deep drag of her cigarette.
“Peter, I said to go upstairs,” she said, as she saw Mrs. Moody approaching.

7. He was calf-deep amongst toasters, fans, baby strollers, his hands tearing at a bag of discarded clothes, when something deep underneath gave way. Marcy, on the street below with the flashlight and the bag, yelled something out, but he didn’t hear what it was under the rasp of sliding metal. His arm came up against something rough and serrated, and he pulled it up sharply, opening a thin groove in his skin. It was a rusted saw, small—small enough for a child, really—and he jerked it up and out and onto the pile.
“Marcy?” he called, and he heard a banging, and then her head appeared above the edge of the dumpster. She wore disposable green gloves, and her arms were stained brown with rust and grime up to the elbow.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Suck This, Berkshire Country Day School!

Note: The post below has been changed to protect the privacy of the middle-school bullies I originally mocked in it. I have now given them all more suitable names, rather than using their real names. Although bullies deserve to be outed (and flogged ruthlessly through the public square), I'm getting tired of deleting the spammy comments that have poured in from some loser with too much time on his hands who clearly didn't like seeing his name here. Hereafter, he shall be called Jujyfruit Assbat. The name of the school, however, I ain't changing. They deserve the sucky press that comes when teachers don't protect kids from being bullied.

The original post with edits is below!

Because of the vagaries of the Facebook universe, I recently came across the name of a fellow classmate from 9th grade, when I attended a special little hellhole called Berkshire Country Day School.

Let me tell you about this school. I arrived as a 14-year-old, having moved from Greece (where my family spent about a year due to my father's work at the time). I was naive, awkward, and completely unaware that I had the smoking-est body of my entire career (which I swathed in chamois and LL Bean couture). I had horses on the brain and often waded around in stables. I sat around at night musing about poetry, and generally wondering why my lot in life was to go to BCD.

There were exactly 9 kids in the 9th grade class; all had been together since kindergarten. Let's just say they were a tight-knit bunch. There was one hose-beast named Baconback Dix, with an emphasis on the DIX (she sort of looked like she might have one, or several). Two trashy chicks named Slutteree Dinglebrack and Angela Iddlethwap, who wore tapered jeans with zippers near the ankle. And a horsey lady named LaLa Lovelace. She was all right, sort of. The males consisted of a lovable, goofy guy named Boofah, a strange and goofy guy named Heehaw, a brace-faced Blue Oyster Cult lover named Lump (who briefly and sadly became my boyfriend), a pretty cool and weird guy named Frog, a redheaded fucknut named Sludge, and one all-star mutherfuckah named Jujyfruit Assbat. The latter is the very same whom I encountered on Facebook. The only person out of that group I might want to say hello to these days is Frog. Like I said, he was a pretty cool guy. I guess I'd give old Boofah and Heehaw and Lump a handshake, too. Maybe I'd nod at LaLa Lovelace.

This school was just a rotten place. It might have been nice for those in "the club," but for outsiders it was very, very bad. The funny thing was, all my siblings had attended this school years back and had loved it. Loved it! They thought the place was the cat's ass. Of course, my sister later revealed that she hadn't liked it very much, really. And I never heard my brothers talk so highly of it, either. So I think my parents were delusional. They specifically went out of their way to send me to this fuckhole. They thought they were doing me a big favor.

My classmates decided I didn't fit in (thank god, in retrospect, because they were grade-A assfaces) and so some of them would make fun of me. And here's the kicker--one of the teachers, whose name was MISS JUICY FATBACK, decided she would laugh right along with them when they made their stupid cracks! Miss Fatback was a big, fat, swollen lump of a woman. She was pretty young; I think she got a kick out of the 9th grade boys liking her. They called her (inexplicably) Miss Taboobstake. And she liked that! One of the ways she got them to like her was by laughing at their inane jokes, even at the expense of a poor lil' 14-year-old girl. Her ass was about the size of Ohio so I think she was a little insecure. I mean, what kind of place is it when teachers join in on the bullying?

Then we had Madame Slap, the French teacher. I took tutoring with her because I was placed in a higher class than I should have been. She was so old, my sister had also had her as a tutor. When you got an accent mark wrong on your French compositions, Madame would reach out and viciously scratch a pen mark on your arm. If you did really badly, your arm would be cross-hatched with ballpoint marks when you left her little studio.

There were probably some decent teachers there--I seem to remember liking the English teacher a good deal, and the science teacher wasn't so bad, either. The art teacher I deem worthless because I have bad memories of being tormented there, too, and the teacher blithely ignoring it. Teachers who don't defend kids deserve a special place in hell. Yes, you, Miss Taboobstake.

BCD was a very bucolic-looking campus, with small buildings dotted around a large expanse. There were cross-country ski trails on the property, and a swimming pond. It felt like I had to take about 8 buses to get there because it was so far from the farm-like homestead where my parents had temporarily set up shop. I think it was a 40-minute journey in all, and every bit of it rotten. The bus ride was like a classic movie in which the cool kids combed their hair and talked about their inane lives, while I sat hunched in my seat with a kid two years younger who decided to be my friend. I think his name was Tate. He was a good kid, all right. It plays very well in the movies, these mismatched friendships. We used to make up puppet shows with a pair of mittens.

Lots of kids at the school played Dungeons and Dragons. In retrospect, the place was lousy with geeks. And also jocks. The athletes were spilling out of the woodwork. Since I'm channeling Holden Caulfield tonight, I'll just say they were a bunch of crumby phonies, the lot of them. Just about every kid there felt entitled, and acted like a prize monkey. The kids would hang around in big groups and pick on other kids who were smaller, or who looked different, or whatever. It was frightful. Jujyfruit Assbat, the rotter whom I encountered via Facebook, would dance after me down the walkways shouting "Ugly! Ugly! Ugly!" This really happened, people. (He's an "actor" now, but I deleted the link to the heinous photo of him with hair as big as a wolverine's pelt. Funny, a friend of mine was casting a movie not so long ago, and who should show up in the stack of resumes but....our friend Jujyfruit Assbat. He was summarily recycled. Oh yeah, Jujyfruit, it's always wise to be nice, because I could have helped you a wee bit in your dumb career. I won't even explain how or it would make you cry in your soup. But I'm not enough of a bully.)

For a long time after the miserable six months I spent there (the latter half of my ninth-grade year) I received solicitations for money from the school. I have never had less inclination to give money to anyone. Although I haven't thought of it much in years, I take a special pleasure now in slagging the joint. Thank you and good night!

Friday, December 12, 2008


This just in. Reason Number 346 that we are relieved to have left New Rochelle.

Perhaps another tartly-worded letter to New Ro Superintendent "Dick" Organisick (sic) is in order from yours truly?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Eviction of the First Son: Chapter Four

Oh all right. Here it is!

They keep counting to ten. I keep holding my breath, pushing. Between contractions I fall asleep, or pass clean out from the pain. I wake up to see Husband and the doctor patiently waiting for me to start again. One time, I wake up and its just Husband and Nurse Helene; the Doctor has wandered off to check on someone else. Who’s going to catch the baby now? I think, and pass out again. When I wake up Doctor H2 is back and I wonder if I dreamed her absence.

Someone suggests a mirror. I never wanted a mirror. In fact, I was appalled by the thought of a mirror.

“Okay, the mirror,” I say, and they roll one in on cue. It’s a big mirror on wheels with a wooden frame. Funny, I’d always envisioned a slender vanity hand mirror, perhaps held by a manicured medical student whose only role is to tilt it in the right direction. In the mirror I can see some wrinkled part of the baby’s scalp, with a little bit of blond hair darkened by wetness. It’s terribly close to the exit.

The mirror does the trick. I know one thing: This pain can be over in a matter of moments. There is only one surefire way to make this pain end. I really do push with all I’ve got. I realize a few days later, when I collapse in tears after walking four whole blocks, the extraordinary physical effort of this moment.

The baby’s head pops out. I see it in the mirror but it looks like a purpled lump, and I can’t see very straight. Could be the Stadol goofing with my senses, or my eyeglass lenses steamed with sweat. No one mentions that the shoulders don’t feel so good coming out. For a few seconds, someone down there manipulates them through. And then the whole baby is through and out.

A door opens to another universe, and through this door a living human being is placed into my arms. I don’t know who puts him there. Past the door’s frame I do not see. He is accompanied by light. His eyes are dark and big and his face is nothing but light; he is light itself. His arms pedal. There’s a flash of red near his legs (genitals), a flash of pale, milky blue (umbilical cord), an overall slippery sheen of wetness. He gazes right at me, a little outraged. His eyes are dark blue, blinking. Already, he has a stare that evaluates and questions. His brow furrows and his mouth opens.

Expecting a shriveled little raisin of a baby, empurpled and cone-headed, we are completely stunned by his beauty. There is a rift in the air, and I don’t think to look up and through it, from where he came. For a moment he carries a trace of the eternal world, the world of pure ideas. He brings it in with him like a trail of light.

(Two weeks later he sometimes gazes at the edges of rooms, where shadows go missing. He stares and bicycles his legs and looks sometimes frightened, sometimes mesmerized. Husband says ghosts. I think perhaps there are ephemeral gaps and tears through to that other world, and he sees them opening and closing, invisible to the rest of us. By the time he can tell us of them, will his gaze will brush past them, favoring solid shapes and sharp lines?)

Nurse Helene lifts the baby off my chest and deposits him in a clear bassinet in an alcove off to my right. He scrabbles and clasps the edge of it while they try to pin him down for his first-ever assessment test, the Apgar. This one is feisty, and strong. Husband and the baby lock eyes, and Husband tells him things in French. They seem like they are in another room, a well-lit room of soft upholstery and fine music. Meanwhile, Doctor H2 is depositing the placenta in a plastic tub. Then I’m getting stitched. (Two stitches only, despite that eggy-headed baby! Perineal massage: a good idea.) I don’t feel the stitches at all. I’m watching the baby and my husband. Why are they so far away? I feel a mild, dissociated sadness, as if the parade has moved on and I’m no longer needed.

But soon the baby is back for his first grab at the breast (assisted by Nurse Helene’s rough, overly vocal ministrations). I’m not sure how I feel about him yet. It’s all too strange. A few days later, I will know.

There’s more to the story, of course. There’s Tao, the hospital’s lactation consultant, who comes around to affix the baby’s maw properly to my breast. Tao is much gentler than Nurse Helene, but her instructions make no sense since her English is poor at best. She also teaches a complementary postpartum class at the hospital which may as well be in Chinese. We learn absolutely nothing, except that the other babies born during the night look like squished lumps of uncooked dough. I feel even prouder of our handsome infant, despite a blotchy red rash that he’s developed during the night. In the middle of the class, Tao asks me how I’d feel if my baby had jaundice.

“Not great, I guess.”

“Your baby have jaundice!” Tao shouts. “How you feel?!”

A large, redheaded nurse from Slobovia or some such country comes by later with tips on how to rouse a sleepy baby at the breast.

“Should I tickle his feet?” I ask.

Slobovian nurse looks outraged, as if I’d suggested prodding the baby with a fondue fork.

“Oh, noooo!” she cries. “You NEFFER teeckle a baby!”

During our stay at the hospital, we’re given six different opposing instructions on how to care for the baby’s circumcision site—from “don’t touch it” to “drizzle water over it” to “apply gauze squares, one per diaper change.” I’m offered a vile meatloaf studded with peas or similar greenish items (it’s so gross, we actually take a photo of it). My husband clogs the toilet in the room, and a disgruntled janitor shuffles down the hallway with a plunger (did I mention that the brimming toilet—which WILL overflow with the addition of one more droplet of pee—is also filled with blood, like something out of the film The Conversation?). It’s clearly time to go.

My mother-in-law helps me pack up our things and we head for the elevators. Husband waits below in the car. On the way out, a young Chinese nurse waves goodbye.

“See you back next year?” she asks brightly.

“What? Oh. No, no I don’t think so.”

We take our baby out in the world. He’s tucked into his car seat like a small, curled bean. All that night and all the next night, too, I dream his face in the few minutes I sleep. And when I’m awake I see his face as well, as if burned into my retinas by that shocking moment when he arrived in my arms. So sleep deprived that I begin to hallucinate, I see his face in the curtains, in a twist of bedspread, in the shape that a stack of books makes in the dark. For a time, I imagine that my face has taken on the shape and dimensions of his own; that we are one and the same. I wear his face. I lose all sense. I sleep heavy and dream fantastic, multi-chaptered dreams for the first time in months.

He sleeps, and flexes his back. His fist bunches near his ear and shakes, as if he’s clenching a tiny bell. I realize how he almost wasn’t. And then again, how he had to be, and how every small event has led to him. Every past decision now makes sense. That is why I turned south or north that day, that is why I paused, that is why I (and we) came back. He is. He exists.

The Eviction of the First Son: Chapter Three

My thanks to the fantastic Liz Hoover Moore for inspiring me to finally post the rest of this. For installments One and Two, see:

Chapter One
Chapter Two

I’m hooked up to the monitor again, sometime in the middle of the morning. The kind nurse on that shift allows me to stay in the rocking chair. I watch the contract-o-meter rise and fall, up to 70 and beyond, down to 5. An endless pink sheet prints out the history of my pain and the vibrancy of the fetus. His heartbeat sinks and rises as he turns within, swims deeper away from the constricting bands. Depending on how I sit or move, the level of the contract-o-meter’s readout changes. Sometimes the pain is deep but the contract-o-meter doesn’t register it. I want to jar the needle so that it shows the jagged peak I feel, not some pudding-shaped lump that suggests a bad hair day rather than a fierce pain. It should jump and shimmy like I’m telling wild lies, damn it! Then I will get the epidural…yes, the epidural that I have all-too-suddenly decided I must have, and have now. It’s 5:30 a.m.

I grip husband’s knees and tell him of my epidural desires. I have a thin sense of shame but the pain supercedes it. No one gives you any medals anyway, damn it. He understands. He calls the nurse station.

Doctor H. arrives for a status check.

“Great progress!” she announces brightly. “You’re now at two centimeters.”

She has got to be kidding.

TWO centimeters, after an entire night of pain—pain, mind you, that I had decided to withstand like a hero. If I’ve hit a two on the pain scale on the way to ten, then I consign myself to eternal cowardice.

But Doctor H. smiles sadly. “I’m afraid it’s just too soon for the epidural. We like you to be at least a four.”

She decides to give me another dose of the misoprostrol to “speed things along,” and offers me a Stadol drip in the IV so that I can sleep for a couple of hours. Stadol is something like Demerol, and I’ve been told to avoid it. Rumor has it that you can still feel the pain, but you’re doped up and goofy. The promise of sleep is too tempting, however, because I know I’ll need my energy soon enough. How many hours away that might be is still unknown. I accept the Stadol.

Of course, it takes at least an hour for someone to arrive to administer the stuff. Evil Nurse drops by with a surgical mask around her neck to inform me that she’s been at a delivery and “that’s more important than you; you’ll have to wait.” I’m so desperate for help that I actually thank her. Hey, Evil Nurse, thanks for stopping by!

The next thing I remember, a bearded male doctor appears in my field of vision. I see him upside down. He looks like a youthful Santa Claus. My husband later suggests that he is creepy and beady-eyed, but to me he is a kindly gentleman, a lovely dapper fellow. He is the drug pusher, the savior. He carries a needle of potion, and an unknown nurse fumbles with the IV while I thrash on the bed. The fumbling goes on for an impossibly long time. Then the Santa Claus doctor is leaning over me, suggesting that I will soon drift away. I think I see my husband on the couch. I think inexplicably of white paper, tumbling in the wind. I sink beneath a softness that obscures the pain.

I next wake up into darkness and think that I am alone. Lying on my side, I search for my husband’s presence on the couch, but I don’t see him. Although we’re deeper into the morning, the room seems darker. And I have hit a ten on the pain scale. The problem is, I think it’s a ten at the time, but it’s only going to get worse. In retrospect, I’d call it an eight. They have a chart on the wall for non-native speakers, with cartoon faces expressing varying levels of pain. “Tiene un terrible dolor!” says the face under the number ten, which is weeping copiously. I can still speak, so I don’t think I earn a ten.

I call to husband and he tilts upright from the couch, with a sputter like someone caught sleeping under an office desk.
“Should I call the nurse?” he asks, bending over me. My glasses are wedged in a crevice between the mattress and the bed frame. My fingers pick at them—maybe if I can see sharp edges I can tame the pain. It’s so fierce and so incessant that I can’t catch a breath. (Already I have forgotten it; it seems dull now, like cotton wool.) My only sane thought is that this is an absurd outrage. How completely over the top! I really don’t think it needs to hurt this much to be effective, and Mother Nature has made a very bad error.

“Yes, call the nurse.” Maybe I’ve made it to four centimeters now, and I can have the epidural. That’s all I’m counting on.
Right around then—but it might have been a while still—Doctor H2 arrives for her morning rounds. Again, I see her upside down, a dark and kindly shape framed by light. She goes to check my cervix, and I don’t feel a thing. I don’t remember how she gets there or where her hands go or anything.

“Well,” she says, like she’s been told a good secret. “You’re at nine centimeters. You’re going to be ready to push in a few minutes.”

“Epidural?” I might have croaked. At least I did so silently. But I know the painful answer. The window of opportunity for the epidural has closed for good. By the time an anesthesiologist is alerted and arrives, the baby will be breathing his first breath. Ouch, au natural! That’s not what I intended—it’s sort of like twisting a 180 degree turn while canoeing through a particularly rough set of rapids. Best to just turn your head downriver, plunge your paddle in, and stern your way through backwards. I’ve done that. It worked then.

Almost immediately a panoply of nurses rushes in and out of the room; I sense wheeled things being pushed hither and thither. There’s a general bustle right outside my range of vision. I can focus on a circle in front of me about two feet in diameter. Beyond that it’s all a blur.

That’s when Nurse Helene arrives. I meet her at an odd juncture of pain and anticipation, and I don’t have any idea what she really looks like until the next day. She’s more a voice and a presence. That, and a bulbous nose shaped like a root vegetable. She’s there suddenly, fussing around me.

Nurse Helene’s personality falls somewhere between a Nazi and Mother Teresa. It’s okay to love her, because she changes your disposable underwear and super-industrial phonebook-sized maxi pads after delivery—as many times as they need to be changed. A droplet of blood on the bed padding? Underwear change. Shift in room temperature? Underwear change! Patient looking fidgety? Change the undies. I was eternally grateful for her administrations to my nether regions.

But then, she had a bad habit of putting her face close enough for me to count chin hairs and nattering away in a know-it-all fashion. And she had a really, really bad habit of grabbing me under the chin like an irate grandmother while she lectured and blithered at me. This earns her a bus ticket to Hades in my book.

The next few minutes—or maybe it’s an hour—pass rapidly. I feel an intense pelvic pressure and tell Nurse Helene I have to go to the bathroom, but it’s hard to even make it there. She tosses a blue hospital chuck on the floor and bids me to squat there and take care of business. (Some scraplet of dignity prevents this horrifying outcome.) I don’t know where to go or how to arrange myself to accommodate the pain. In a creeping effort to escape it I crawl up on the bed on all fours and scream. Yes, this is a ten. Tiene un terrible dolor!

“Screaming like that won’t do anybody any good,” chides Nurse Helene. I can’t see her because I can’t even lift my head. And I definitely can’t connect my fist with her chin, as I’d like, considering I can’t see her. Instead, I scream even louder. She tucks her head in close to me, like a bird, and squawks at me to quiet down. Bony fingers reach out and grab me by my chin. Ack! My response is to scream even more furiously. In fact, I consciously decide to scream as loud as I possibly can. A small part of me thinks uncharitably: “Get an earful of this, you motherfucker nurse!” I hope everyone down the hall can hear me. I hope those women at one centimeter are quaking in their laundry-thinned nighties. Nurse Helene backs away with a “tsk”ing sort of sound.

Doctor H2 decides to nip my operatic performance in the bud by asking me to get in pushing position. I lean back on the bed. She breaks my water; a hot rush. It happens very fast. The doctor takes my right foot and plants it on her hip. She directs Husband to take the left foot and do the same. For a second a “Who, me?” expression flits over his face, but he quickly does as asked. So much for any ideas of him staying up near my head while the “action” happens discreetly below.

Doctor Halpern explains that when a contraction comes on, I’m going to push. Okay, good. I feel the first one rising, like a wave in a dark sea. It starts somewhere deep in my back and hums its way to the top. Then I start to push. I get about three good pushes per contraction.

For some stupid reason they want me to hold my breath during the pushes, but this is so counterintuitive I don’t get it at first. I want to puff out. They shake their heads. No. I keep trying, but I still think it’s impossibly stupid.

Nurse Helene’s face appears about an inch in front of mine. At this distance I can’t get a read on her features; she’s mostly nose. I see beady eyes glittering above the nose. And then—everyone’s worst nightmare—she starts to count to 10! This seems so clichĂ©d that it should be funny, but its not. It’s very bad indeed. I wish fervently that this nurse would descend down a chute into the bowels of the earth, where she would be prodded repeatedly with hot devilish sporks dipped in acid.

I’m very bitter about the counting nurse, but my hands are busy gripping the bedrails and I don’t have the energy to throttle her. I keep trying the moronic breath-holding technique, and at some point I finally catch on. (It’s quite strange how, when in pain and in the presence of medical professionals, one will accept such directives.) For some reason it seems to help. The doctor announces that the baby’s head is actually in sight.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Buddy the Anthropomorphic Lump

Over the weekend we were invited to another little girl's birthday party, this time at an establishment called Great Play on Central Park Avenue in Scarsdale.

I loved this party. And the reason I loved it is that it has a mascot named Buddy, who kind of resembles a square of chocolate with bulbous eyes. In some lights, he looks kinda brown. And then he resembles well, you know...a turd. But in reality, Buddy is supposed to be a space alien.

Greay Play has this thing called Interactive Arena that is pretty cool. There are a series of interactive screens around the room, and different images are projected on them throughout the course of the party. The kids can throw a ball at a screen and try to make various images move, make noise, and so on.

The young woman leading the party invited the little princes and princesses to walk down a red carpet of sorts, whereupon they would be transported into a magical kingdom with castles and other magical paraphernalia. And there, among the pink-clad princesses and turrets, was Buddy--projected on all four surrounding walls. Riding on a horse. Later, he appeared as a space alien kicking a soccer ball. Because of the size of the imagery and the sheer amount of virtual Buddies replicated on the walls, it was hard to look anywhere without seeing a big, orangish-brown lump with eyes. Someone near me said, "I wish I had brought the shrooms."

Then Buddy's photo was blasted all over the walls while the kids ran from end to end, trying to "catch" the photo and "tickle" it. They were supposed to be tickling Buddy's feet, but because of the height of the projection, they really ended up tickling his nether regions. "Tickle Buddy!" shouted the assistant. "Tickle his nads!" I wanted to shout.

The other freaky thing about the party was that the young male who ran it sounded very much like Bobcat Goldthwait, complete with weird head jerks and gesticulations of the mouth. It was like he'd been studying the man's moves in an effort to BE Bobcat. "Come on kids," he'd splutter in a maniacal, retarded fashion. "LET'S GET BUDDY! brawhahahahwwww!" And then he'd stomple around frenetically, arms waving, like Bobcat did when he wore the Godzilla suit in the film One Crazy Summer. He sounded JUST LIKE THIS. The kids followed him around like he was the pied piper.

By now we were all tripping. One little girl screamed and said that Buddy scared her. But on the way home, my boys said that they loved the party. And they loved Buddy best of all.

More photos of the event forthcoming.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Felling of the Great Tree

We watched from the upstairs window,
swinging ropes thick and draped
before the bark. One rope thin
and pale, others robust, red, blue.
(Later when the tree humbled
itself on the ground they were
coiled in fat malevolent heaps.)

The man made one heroic leap
from bifurcated branch, his eyes
widened as he clung with boots
to the thick trunk. My son said
he hoped the squirrels had fled.
Then he said: Let's run for our lives
if it falls the wrong way.

They hooked the ropes to pulley
and branch, and stood in a line.
There were fine wood shavings
in the air, like snow. It was cold.
They carved a sharp wedge
from the trunk. The boys leaned closer
and blackened their noses on the dirty glass.

The rope went taut, and the chainsaw whined
as he tucked into it, and it wouldn't
be long now. We all felt lurched, upended;
I know they felt it too. The little one said
that he would miss that old tree.
He would miss walking around on the roots.
We were up high, as if in the branches.
We saw the sky opening up.

We had watched the triumvirate moon
from that window, two planets spanning
the width of that trunk. Now the trunk shuddered,
and it was something like those buildings coming down
in the very moment before it went.
It shifted, and we all breathed in, and then
it went over like a hero, hollowed and burned with rot.
It hit the lawn and drove deep divots
in the grass with its canted weight, and the highest
branches slammed down just shy of the far fence.

It seemed to go over more than once. It seemed
that the deep roots sent a tremor through the old house
and something of sadness rose and fell away.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Kids Say the Gayest Things!

Thanksgiving morning. I'm lying in bed, and my two elder sons stomple in, rubbing the sleep out of their eyes.

Me: It's Thanksgiving Day today! Our relatives our coming. Maybe we should dress up in our nicest fancy clothes. What do you think?

Middle son: Ooh yes. Let's dress up like ballerinas!

Eldest son: And pwincesses!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Which Personality Type Are You? A Quiz

Answer each question as truthfully as possible. Then tally your answers to find out your personality type!

1. Which vegetable would you rather be pelted with while running, naked and afraid, through the streets of Larchmont?
a. Beet
b. Rutabaga
c. Turnip
d. Cauliflower

2. Others perceive you as what kind of animal?
a. A prowling, sensual wolverine
b. An herbivorous donkey
c. A jellyfish
d. A fire ant

3. You are at a party at a fancy club in Mamaroneck and someone offers you shellfish. You're allergic! Do you:
a. Punch the nearest person in the eye
b. Throw the shellfish out the window
c. Eat the shellfish, and die dramatically
d. Poop in the punchbowl

4. Your firstborn son's name would be:
a. Testicles
b. La-La-La Phoofa
c. Jiggles
d. Rump

5. Your firstborn daughter's name would be:
a. Vagine
b. Juicy Greenteeth
c. Arfy McWoof-Woof
d. Dave

6. You come home to catch your spouse snacking on a doo-doo he/she just fished from the toilet! Do you:
a. Yell, "I was saving that for a midnight snack!" and then laugh uproariously together
b. Stare quizzically, yet penetratingly, at the offending object whilst raising your right eyebrow ever so slightly
c. Turn around to leave the house, and quickly drive off the nearest bridge
d. Start singing and dancing to an impromptu jingle that begins: "Everything tastes better with butter!" Get a brainwave to launch a butter empire.

7. Your idea of the perfect date is:
a. Makin' a baby
b. Egging a neighbor
c. Fornicating
d. Toilet-papering the statue of Thomas Paine

8. Your favorite charitable cause is:
a. "Everything Tastes Better With Butter!" (tm) Campaign to Bring Butter to African Children
b. Help for Middle-Aged People Who Are Funny-Looking and Portly
c. Scataholics Anonymous
d. Support New Ro's Wild Shopping Cart (WSC) Population

9. If you ran for office, your campaign slogan would be:
a. Cheaper Cigarettes for the Elderly
b. Make My Mama Proud
c. I'm Here to Burn Your Village
d. Hot Buttered Everything for the Poor

10. Your favorite toy as a child was:
a. Fuzzy, the Carnivorous Whelk
b. Daddy's gun
c. That gnawed-on, disembodied Barbie Doll head
d. An ancient, cursed amulet that brings with it 600 years of blight

11. You live in Southern Westchester because:
a. Snuggly opportunities on the commuter trains
b. Good cheese
c. You're just that wealthy, damn it
d. The sex offender registries in some other communities are more stringent

12. Your favorite local merchant is:
a. Silkies Saloon
b. Craftform Apparel and Mastectomy Supports
c. That New Ro brothel that went out of business (no thanks to your generous patronage)
d. Silly Little Fripperies for Your Other Summer Cottage

If you answered:
Mostly As: You are ruthlessly unappealing and are shunned at nearly every social gathering. Someone will soon try to poison you.
Mostly Bs: People with pitchforks and flaming brands are currently approaching your place of residence. I would have said it faster but I didn't want to give you a head start.
Mostly Cs: You are an noxious mugwump with questionable hygiene. Expect someone to send you a turd by U.S. Priority Mail in the coming weeks.
Mostly Ds: You are an unlikable lumpen. People are signing a petition asking you to leave the country.

Friday, November 21, 2008

My Memphis Sojourn

Part 1: I arrive at La Guardia Airport and wait at the security checkpoint. An older woman who has clearly had "some work" done arrives and demands to be taken to the front of the line. She carries about 18 Louis Vuitton sacks and satchels and wears a conspicuous diamond-crusted bracelet. The man behind me shouts "Well, aren't we special!" When I board the plane, there she is in First Class. Gosh, I think, people can still afford First Class! Things aren't so bad!

Part 2: I arrive at my hotel in Memphis, The Crowne Plaza. As I'm checking in, the man behind the desk excuses himself and disappears for about 10 minutes. "This hotel is just as lousy as they say!" I fumed. Back he came, only to announce that the hotel had no room for me as was overbooked. But! They would put me up at another hotel downtown for free, shuttle me there, and buy me a cocktail or two to make up for it. Things were looking up! I enjoyed some wine at the bar and then the manager of the hotel drove me to my new destination.

Part 3: I ventured out from my new hotel, The Holiday Inn Select, and headed down toward Beale Street to get some food. On the way, an aggressively friendly gentleman leapt out and inquired as to my business there. "Why, just looking around," I said. "You going to Beale Street?" he asked. "Sure," said I. "This way!" said the gentleman, and made a quick left down a dark and abandoned street that was in no way the direction of the famous Beale. Dark and abandoned street? Strange town? I sure wanted to follow him! But, a police officer hove up and chased the fellow off, with many rude words.

Part 4: I sat down to dinner at the Blues City Cafe. Fantastic! They served something called Texas Toast, which is like toast, but made with lard instead of wheat. It's really good dipped in garlic butter. I also had some gumbo. I read my book while I ate, until the guy at the next table yelled out "Whatcha reading? Good book?" I normally think such questions are deeply criminal--who wants to be disturbed while they read? But he was so friendly my annoyance fled. And then he and his wife talked to me for the entire course of the meal. Welcome to Memphis!

Part 5: The next day, I visited the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Absolutely amazing place. Give them all your money now. The hospital was founded by the entertainer/comedian Danny Thomas after he made it big. While we were on a tour through the place, I spotted a familiar-looking "worked-upon" face. "Hey, that woman was on the plane with me," I said. "She's the one who cut the line!" Our tour guide didn't miss a beat. "That's Marlo Thomas," she said. That Girl! Free to Be You and Me!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Dead Rodents "R" Us

Today, my nanny reported that she had discovered a dead squirrel next to the (dead) tree in the backyard. It was lying on its back with limbs curled, affecting a realistic "dead" look. The deceased creature did not respond to any noise or human traffic. It lay there for several hours, proving its deadness. Looking to spare the boys, our nanny forbade them from backyard play.

Later, she returned to find the squirrel had vanished. Foul play? Is this something to do with Creepy the Squirrel, our basement friend? Or was the squirrel carted off by something more formidable and carnivorous? WHY WOULD A SQUIRREL CORPSE VANISH?

I have to go to Memphis tomorrow and, due to new corporate budget restrictions, am staying in the Crowne Plaza. I have just read a series of reviews that list "splattered poo around bathroom, an unidentifiable stench, a hooker in the elevator, and a decayed and rotting rodent in the hotel room." Hookers are one thing, but a decayed rodent? That is very bad! That is a very bad thing to have in one's hotel room!

Is this where cost-cutting measures have left us? First, they cut the coffee service. Next, the holiday party. I can live with that. But decayed and deceased rodents in one's hotel room go a step too far. This shall not stand!

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Stash-Hole, and Other Things They Left Behind

Now that we are the proud owners of a new house, we have spent many happy hours exploring the nooks and crannies of the old estate to discover ITEMS OF EXTREME VALUE that were unaccountably left behind by the sellers. I have been cataloguing these treasures and I would like to say one important thing. Clearly there is either cash or drugs (or both, or a quantity of valuable JOOLS) hidden in my home and I INTEND TO FIND THEM.

First of all, we know that the previous owners of our house kept things of extreme value around because they had what we now refer to as THE STASH-HOLE.

Over the weekend, while tearing away a particularly hideous railing in the living room faux-foyer, we revealed this secret cubby hidden beneath the top of a built-in bookshelf. Was it filled with Depression-era cash? Jewels? Pot? No! But if you were a drug mule or a gem thief, wouldn't you want a little stash-hole like this for your stash? No doubt the booty had recently been removed. But we are now wise to the game. Armed with my crowbar, I went prowling.

And I found this. Creepy the Squirrel!

Was he really sitting on the circa 1953 Speed Queen washing machine? No silly, I placed him there for the photo op. But look at the blackness of his black, beady eyes. The vacant hopelessness. Drugs, yes? Notice a theme? I searched inside Creepy the Squirrel's orifi but found nothing of interest.

Also discovered in an abandoned fridge in the basement: This fresh bottle of Rheingold Ale. Just as good as on the day it was fermented. Juicy good fun!

In the "Blair Witch" category, this birdcage dangling in the basement shadows, next to what looks like a miniature noose. It used to be in an upstairs bathroom. Now it's down there. Weird! I'm really sorry now that I drank so much of that Rheingold, because things are getting freaky. The bird's various orifi were also free of smack, crack, goofballs and downers. So where was the stash?

[Now we pause for a brief message from our sponsors.]
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Anyway, I thought for sure I was onto something when I found this "antiseptic." Isn't this for, like, people who shoot up and stuff? To clean their grungy old needles? This was out in the garage. We immediately used it to cleanse a number of minor flesh wounds we had incurred in the search for DRUGS AND CASH.

I went back for another slug of the verdammnt Rheingold (Gott in Himmel!) and noted this potential "stash" area. Meat-Keeper? My arse!

I don't want to talk about what was in the Meat-Keeper. Can you say "38-year-old pork product?" More Rheingold, please!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

My Peter Pan Birthday Party

Astute readers of this blog know that The Pony has long been known as a hater of kiddie birthday parties. So it seemed particularly ironic (a la a black fly in one's Chardonnay) that Yours Truly was the lucky winner of a birthday party contest on The Loop.

I gloated about my win. The party was being offered by It's My Party, which then went out of business. It was later taken over by their partner, Applause. Applause runs Broadway Babies and Broadway Superstars, which offer classes and parties built around popular musicals, including High School Musical, Annie, The Sound of Music, and Grease.

Oh, this kind of twee gaiety would be ripe for my pen! Boy, was I going to slag these people! But then, a moral dilemma: How could I possibly be snarky about some nice folks who were offering me a free birthday party? How could I be the meanie that I am accustomed to being?

I went down to chat with the Applause folks and plan my party. When I arrived, a bunch of wee babes were experiencing a Broadway Babies class. The drooling infants were being serenaded by a lovely young blonde in full makeup and a buff, steel-jawed actor who looked very freshly bathed. The woman who ran the place was all smiles and excitement: "We just can't WAIT to have your party!" They were so earnest, so Broadway! I expected a chorus line of Zac Efron lookalikes, all abundantly gay and wearing mascara.

I had, in fact, been offered High School Musical as a theme, but I decided that was too, too much for my five-year-old boy, who doesn't know Sharpay from a Shi'Tzu. Instead, I chose Peter Pan. Flying! Pirates! Lost boys! Crocodiles! How could it go wrong?

Oh, I wish I could say that the party had scarred me, my children, and all their friends for life. But no, dear readers. The party was an absolute delight. The three young performers, all actors from NYC, sang, danced, and engaged the children with songs from the Peter Pan Broadway musical. Before the party even started, my two boys were dancing madly to a CD of tunes from The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, and other fodder that makes my husband cringe and gnash his teeth.

A young woman played Peter Pan, and she whispered to some children early on that Captain Hook was terrified by the sound "Tick tock." The children went wild over this, and proceeded to attack the actor playing Captain Hook with a delighted frenzy (After har-harring and fleeing the scene repeatedly, he wound up at the bottom of a pig pile after being pelted with beach balls to the head. I suspect his "My Career Sux" blog will read more rudely than mine will). Wendy, in a white nightgown, backed up Peter at every turn.

From the start the children were transfixed and thrilled. They loved every moment of the show, and you could see it on their faces. Gosh, it even warmed our cold and prickly hearts to see them all leaping about the room with shiny pom-poms to the tune of "I Can Fly." My almost 6-month-old infant nearly flailed right out of his diaper in an effort to join the festivities.

After the show, they served pizza (Sals, overrated as it is) and juice boxes to the kids, and then a giant cake with my son's face embossed on its chocolatety surface. He laughed most uproariously when he saw himself on the cake. Then the kids all walked the plank, shouted out their names, and received goodie bags.

I confess that at times during the show I wanted to be a part of it all. Performer! Birthday guest! It didn't matter. Everyone was made to feel welcome and it was just a lot of gosh-durned fun. I batted a ball toward the ceiling and popped bubbles with my infant's toe. I found myself smiling with glee. Aw, ain't life sweet? And I'm old and withered, too!

The cost for all this hilarity? The party that I won would have run us a nice four figures. Plus tips for the performers. I can fly, indeed! Because I'm on crack! Well, if you have the dollars floating around, it's pretty swell.

Note: Send someone up the street for a box of Dunkin Donuts coffee. The caffeine makes the party extry-special.

Photo Credit: Cristina Costa-Cerone

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I Just Turned 40

Today I was reminded by a friend that one day my blog may disappear--left untended, it may be swallowed into cyberspace or, if I'm lucky, sit unnoticed for year upon year and finally peter out when the entity that manages it goes defunct in the year 2056.

I sort of thought my blog was eternal. But now I feel the need to make a paper record. I like paper. It has the peril of forever attached to it, although moths and mealyworms may render it worthless. When humans go extinct (as they surely will), won't there be some wan scraps of poetry still floating about? Maybe, for a time. But I doubt the bound printouts of my blog will survive much, printed as they are on non-archival paper unprotected from the onslaught of fire, water, mold.

Why so dire, little pony? Maybe, upon learning that the best friend of a friend has died yesterday, I renounce my earlier proclamation that Death Is a Media Conspiracy. I don't know too many people who have died. Mostly the very, very old. Someone who is 30 is not supposed to go. Oh hell, I don't like to be proven wrong! Can someone show me the death certificate?

The other night my friend said "I just turned 40. Soon I'll be 50. Then 60. And soon I'll be dead." I laughed most heartily, but then I stopped.

I went to a funeral earlier this month. It was for my godmother. I brought my young baby, only 5 months. I walked down the aisle before the ceremony, and saw old face after old face. All of them were tearful, pinched, hunched--looking as if their best friend had died. Oh gosh, people, why do you have to look that way, I thought, as I wheeled my baby down the aisle. They all must be about 98 years old! What was their problem?! Their best friend had just died.

Everyone loved that the baby was at the funeral. I felt it was OK to bring him, because a baby at a funeral just says that things are going to go on. The big circle of life and death and all that. When my godmother's brother, a dear man who is a pediatrician, saw the baby, he clutched him to his chest and would not let him go. Other people clutched him, until he had been clutched in a circle of young and old, hoping to smell his sweet baby hair and feel his hands pulling at their lapels.

I'm continuing this post the next day and I just have to say "What a bummer, man! Why do you have to go on and talk about death and all that shee-ite? Just stop, man! Man!" (I'm not a man but I like to use the word "man.")

I thought that I might send this blog dark, because I'm gittin' real old and if I don't work on my novel now I am going to RUN OUT OF TIME AND DIE. But then I realized:

Without humor we are lost
I don't have the wherewithwhatever to work on my novel yet
Drunken typing fingers do not produce novel
Novel can be %^$^%#$%^ published on my ^^&$%^ blog if I so choose, blow ye all!
Novel sucketh? No, it's brilliant, and there's the rub.
Too many bottles. So little time.
Cannot type without serois mispellings.

Death come quick like dagger!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Exposed Breasts, the Rabbi, and the Ham

Live election blogging! Or, just something to kill the time while I gnaw my nails.
Unfortunately, I just shared a bottle of champagne to celebrate the closing of our house. Ah, yes. Let us revisit this bizarre and heretofore unparalleled weirdness that is our new home purchase. Several months in the making, it's a story involving;

Holes dug on the premises
A garage 1 foot and 2 inches from the neighbor's property (variance required 2 feet)
One skunk
A weird living room addition built in the 40s to house an old auntie/uncle
A missing land survey
Electric lines so low a child could grab 'em
A swollen laundry hose, about to explode and flood the basement
A dryer that vents into a crawlspace
A bad cop, a good cop, and a cop with a difficult-to-observe hair appendage
One sweaty guy who ran the open houses
A master bedroom with no doors
A bathroom with no shower
Doorknobs that pop off when you touch them

[Obama now showing a 55% advantage in Florida. "You can see where the night is going" says CNN.]

But first! The story of my birthday party. This blog goes everywhere! It laughs at non sequiturs!

The party started off strong at about 7:15 p.m. when the first neighbors rolled in. We drank, we passed the cheese. All was very pleasant.

The party went on. Our neighbor banged out a Happy Birthday song on the piano to much raucous singing. My husband made a movie-worthy speech from the stairway landing, and delivered unto me a house for my birthday gift. I would like to add here that I will never forget that.

The party went on. Several infants arrived in baby-carriers, and were googled over. A pinata arrived, but I was cautioned not to hang it from the acoustic-tile ceiling. A spiral-sliced ham was heated and plopped on a plate.

Midnight arrived, and I was ready to go to bed. But just then! A silhouette of a strange figure appeared in the back door, as I sat in the back yard. She drew closer. I saw that it was S____, my best friend from CA, fresh in from a delayed flight from Rome. Glory be! S____, for those who know her, lacks inhibition.

She quickly gulped down two large glasses of whiskey, and the conversation between the late-night partygoers (gathered at the picnic table in the back) went horribly awry. I would like to apologize for the following snippets of conversation that the neighbors may have overheard. I also apologize for anything overheard by their impressionable children:

"Some people have their anuses bleached."
"My pudenda are dangling in the wind."
"Do you ever get into girl-on-girl action?"

Sometime around then--or was it before?--the Rabbi arrived.

To be continued!

[New Hampshire will go for Senator Obama, says CNN.]

Monday, October 27, 2008

I Explain Politics to my Children

Me: Boys, next Tuesday will be a very big election. We get to decide the President of the United States. The two candidates are Barack Obama and John McCain.

Elder son: Bwack Obamer?

Me: And John McCain.

Elder son: John McCain!

Younger son: I need some Bwack Obamers for my house that I is building. I go find dem in the living room!

Elder son: Did you say Bomb Iraqas? [he really said this]

Me: No, Barack Obama. Bomb Iraqas is John McCain.

Elder son: Mommy, is the President the one who runs the Halloween Parade?

Me: He runs the whole country. He is the leader of all the places we have driven--Cape Cod, Lake Placid, Maine. The whole big country of America.

Elder son: Oooh, that's big.

Younger son: I have 18 Bwack Obamers now. I git more!

Me: Do you think you would like to be President one day?

Elder son: I would have to be a lot bigger, Mommy!

[2 minutes pass]

Elder son: I don't like Bwack Obamer. I don't think that he should win.

Me: Why not? You don't know anything about him. You first need to listen to what he believes and his views, and then make a decision. You can go with me and vote.

Elder son: Yes, my teacher said I should do that.

Younger son: Bwack, Bwack, Bwack Obamer! Bwack, Bwack, Bwack Obamer! Bwack, Bwack, Bwack Obamer!

Me: Did you know that Barack Obama is black? Like Ty? [a friend of ours] Well, his mommy is white and his daddy is black so he is half and half.

Elder son: Oh! Well! If he is black then okay! I like him fine!

Democracy in action.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Oh Mighty Linens-N-Things, Farewell! Farewell!

Amidst all the financial ruin and collapse, surely the most poignant loss is that of Linens-N-Things. While I have been unable to find many linens there, the "things" have always been profuse indeed. "Things" such as chocolate fondue fountains, revolving spice racks, nubbly pillows in rainbow hues, and those fuzzy toilet-seat covers.

I went to the Port Chester branch today to get me a bargain or two. Unfortunately, the place was pawed over and the "things" were all in disarray. Since I had no cart, I wound up toting an aerobed on my shoulder, a dino-raptor (marked to $21 from $60!), two lampshades, and a blanket, as well as my fat five-month-old in a Baby Bjorn. I walked out, sweating and in pain, and noted the local pizza place was called "Pizza 'n' Things." Oh yes, things! Perhaps, in a nod to the mighty Linens-N-Things franchise, all the local stores in that shopping plaza could have honored it as such:

Dress Barn-N-Things
Knockoff Chinese Crap-N-Things
The Vitamin Shoppe-N-Things

Oh, great Linens-N-Things. Attention must be paid! God rest ye, great store of wine de-corkers and Teflon-coated cookware and "slidey" things that move one's furniture around. Where will we go for this stuff now? Bed, Bath & Beyond? It's a matter of time before that behemoth falls, and takes with it (like so many dominoes) all its followers:

Butternut Squash & Beyond
Discount Toilets & Beyond
Mammograms & Beyond
Masking Tape & Beyond
Toys, Firearms & Beyond

The outlook is dire indeed.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

My Obsession With DJ Lance Rock Has Gone Too Far

I have spent an unseemly amount of time looking for the following items for my Halloween costume:

Fuzzy orange hat
Black, lensless Buddy-Holly style glasses
Orange tracksuit

This, all in the pursuit of transforming into the entity known as DJ Lance Rock, star of the children's show on Noggin, Yo Gabba Gabba! The show, which rightly should be called Yo Grabba Bong-a, features five weird, colorful monsters by the names of Toodee, Brobee, Foofa, Plex, and Muno. Stop pointing out that I know how to spell their names. My kindergartner made me spell them ALL last night so he could write them on scraps of paper.

DJ Lance Rock, an omnipotent sort of puppeteer, carries the group around in a case styled as a boombox, bringing them to life with the words “Yo Gabba Gabba!” and a slew of confetti. DJ Lance is so super-cool that not only do I want to be him, you will too…soon enough. He wears a clingy, lean little orange tracksuit circa 1972, white tennis shoes, and a fuzzy orange cap with goofy stars. And square black glasses. He’s a black dude with big, sparkly eyes. His teeth are admirably white. And he can dance! And so can you!

I like the monsters--they sing about nice things like good manners, and their dancing is infectious. Songs include "Don't bite your friends!", "There's a party in my tummy (so yummy, so yummy)" and "Jumpy Jump Jump"--a song with only those lyrics that goes on, and on, and on until you find yourself singing it over the breakfast eggs.

But it is DJ Lance Rock who, as deus ex machina, is the lifeblood of the whack-a-doodle world that is Yo Gabba Gabba. He’s up there in the heavens, grinning down at his little dildo-like monsters with a supremely beneficent air. He’s always happy. Why wouldn’t he be, looking that damn sweet in his orange tracksuit? Damn! Why was I not born under a different star—the star that pays you money for dancing around maniacally and grinning like a mad hatter?

I want to BE DJ Lance Rock. Halloween is coming.

At first, thinking that this show was hot! hot! hot! I imagined that costumes would be available online. But some knucklehead in marketing forgot to get that memo. I would have paid $29.95 for this costume, and I have paid that much thus far: Old Navy (orange garb), Brewers hardware (colored duct tape to make the stripes) and H & M (an orange scarf too ugly for words which I will fashion into a hat). Now, the sideburns and the glasses. They shall be mine.

I asked my son this morning if he thought that applying blackface would be going too far. "Yes, mommy," he said. "That would be going too far." And clearly, this has gone far enough.

Next up on Party Pony! A catalogue of Halloween costumes from years gone by.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I Have a Rabid Skunk

Living on my property! And if that's not a sell to get YOU to come and visit, I don't know what is.

His presence has been made known several times under cover of night. He wanders about rather drunkenly, exuding scent. We've seen him cross the front lawn and scuttle along by the back fence, usually disappearing into the neighbor's yard to the south.

The other day, however, Msr. Skunk came out in broad daylight and began sashaying around in a carefree, bon vivant way, oblivious to human activity. He pranced back and forth across the lawn several times, stinking up the joint something awful. I strode over to the neighbor's to ask his opinion, and there I met a workman.

"Thing's likely got rabies...or mange!" he pronounced. "Mange'll make 'em attack. Mange. They go right after you." My little three-year-old quailed behind my legs.

Mange? Isn't this a skin condition?

The neighbor got wind of the skunkeroo and called--who else?--the police! They came in a durned hurry.

"I can't just shoot the thing," said the cop.

"Why not?" asked my nanny brightly. "You've got a gun, don't you?"

The cop told us that we could request a trapper come out to deal with the animal, but as long as it was on private property we would have to pay for the man's services. I cooked up a scheme in which I would "shoo" the skunk out to the public street, where he could be dealt with at taxpayer's expense. However, I soon thought better of this stupid plan. Meanwhile, the skunk had slunk behind the woodshed. Skunk poo was later sighted in the vicinity.

Later that day, two Village of Mamaroneck guys pulled up, wearing what looked to be bright orange Hazmat suits. I rushed out to greet them.

"Skunk patrol?" I shouted, with some exuberance.

"Yar?" one said.

"Har!" the other said.

"Oh good!" I was relieved. "He's just out back there. Behind the shed."

"Yar!" they said in unison, smiling broadly. Then they went down the street to work on the road drainage system. Skunk Patrol, my arse!

The skunk still roams free, although I have not scented the beast lately. Perhaps the resident owl pecked him to death? I have also heard that a mommy deer and two babies have visited the back yard in the past few days. Born free, free as the wind blows! Who knew that Mamaroneck was such a haven for wild beasts of every make and mark?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I Can See Your Uvula When You Scream Like That

Potential titles for my forthcoming book about raising three boys (please vote):

The Bucket of Badness and Rotten Soup
Oops! He Spat Up On Me!
Life in Penisland
Nuggets and Sludge
Crossin' Swords
Turtleheads and Potty Trees: A Diary of Expulsion
I Can See Your Uvula When You Scream Like That
"I Think About Butts," and Other Darndest Things Kids Say 356 Times in a Row in a Sing-Songy Voice at 6:36 a.m.
Bad Parenting Magazine's Worst Parenting Moments of 2008
Come Git The Brownies, and Quit Yer Whining
Winkie Party
Distinguish Yourself Out There! A Soccer Mom's Memoir
My Son Won't Cuddle Without Poking My Eye Out: A Self-Help Manual
Sharp Elbows, Knees Like Knives
Killing Me Softly With His Shriek
Angel in School, Devil at Home: The Secret Lives of Boys
Waking Up Soaked With Urine in America
Is It Morning Time Yet? The Long Road to the Empty Nest

On another note, The Pony apologizes for the lack of posts in these last few weeks. The blog will rise again, like an errant winkie! Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Terrible Bird Incident, and other tales of wildlife

After abandoning the New Ro shopping cart herd to their relentless mating and dominance behavior, I feared that I would be bereft of wildlife in my new environs. Not so! Here in Mamaroneck, the wildlife is out, and it is about. There are herds of bad-ass squirrels, and the other night we spotted a skunk drunkenly sauntering across the front lawn and through the neighbor's hedge (Run! Be free!) The last time I saw a live skunk it was in New Ro and it had a Carvel ice cream cup stuck on its head. It had poked its snout right through the big plastic straw hole and was weaving about on Jackson Street, shaking its head madly. I was about to go and rescue the animal but my husband gently reminded me that it was, after all, a skunk.

Right now, as I sit on the porch, I can hear a Screech Owl hooting gently every few seconds. After each hooting call, something answers with a small clucking hiccup. What that something is is unknown, but it sounds an awful lot like a duck. Yes, a duck. Now admittedly, there is a "duck theme" on our street as the owner of Mamaroneck's Duck Inn lives down the way, with a profusion of ducklike and swanlike objet d'art in the front yard. There may be a mating quality to the back-and-forth interchange, or maybe the baby duck is gonna get et. The hooting and the clucking have now set the neighborhood dogs to barking, so the place is alive with noise! People are drifting out of houses in their nightgowns to see what's amiss.

On our first night here, there was The Terrible Bird Incident. In the middle of the night, we heard shrieks and horrible caterwauling. It went on for a while, and made sleep difficult. During the fight, we heard a loud and tinny "bang! bang! bang!" noise which added to the creepy mystery. The next morning, we discovered that the backyard was peppered with feathers. Some creature had come a-cropper, and had been pecked clean of its plumage. Several days later, we discovered the tail of a fish lying in the grass. No doubt the winged beasts had clashed over the prize, and only one lived to tell the tale (although we never found a beak or other evidence of truly foul play).

The squirrels are another matter. They are a lively and wily bunch of scalawags, and can be heard outside the windows as they gnaw incessantly on Black Walnuts. Sometimes they chase one another over the lawn, cackling madly, and hide up in the treetops to survey the property. They are feisty, sharp-toothed, and rather plump. I fear their numbers are growing. They like to hurl the Black Walnuts against the tin roof of neighbor's shed, which sounds like a shotgun going off. (Hence the "bang! bang!" sounds during the bird fight, which the squirrels must have observed with infinite pleasure, enjoying their walnuts like popcorn.)

If the birds and the squirrels decide to get together, we are all doomed.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Pony Ain't Got Nothing to Bitch About No More, So, Sorry Mom

Now that I have moved to the Nicest Neighborhood in Westchester, I really don't have much to be mad about anymore. Since moving in, we have totalled:

1 banana bread with chocolate chips
1 apple pie
1 champagne (still chillin')
1 bottle white wine (large, already gone)
1 offer to come and take whatever perennials we need from neighbor's garden
1 offer to walk into other neighbor's house at any time of day or night and take whatever we need
1 invitation to a delightful Sunday evening "ice cream social" down the block
1 invitation to a delightful kids' pool party complete with wine for adults
Umpteen visits from neighbors who have "popped by" to welcome us
1 promise to host a "beer and hotdogs" welcome party for us with "the works"

What is a Pony to do in such an environment? Accuse these nice people of a sinister, Stepford-esque quality? I thought about it, my faithful readers, and I still might go there. But not today.

Seeking a victim at which to poke gentle fun, I shall turn to my dear mother. She is visiting from out of town this week and is, I must say, an enormous help. Almost 80, she's been out in the yard chopping at bushes with big loppers, tearing at weeds, and dragging the refuse to the curb (yes, I tried to stop her). When not engaged in this activity, I have caught her sweeping, scrubbing at the kitchen floor, tidying toys, and poking and prying into every drawer and closet in the house.

My mother is a Nosy Parker of the highest echelon, perhaps the Grand-Dame Poobah of Nosy Parkers in the Western Hemisphere. If your dresser drawer is a millimeter open, that's an invitation to peep inside. Maybe she'll find a pack of cigarettes! Or birth control! Or a diary containing lurid descriptions of smoking and indulging in activities that require birth control!

She also has many opinions. Among them:

"That front porch is downright dangerous. I don't feel comfortable walking on that porch. You ought to do something about that right away." [The front porch is sagging and will one day cost us 30K to fix. Right on that, mom!]

"Your oven is a problem. Why, you can't even tell what temperature it is. How on earth can you bake anything? Something might get too hot and GO UP IN FLAMES. That could be dangerous! Here, let me tinker with the dial and fix it!" [The flimsy dial pops off and I can no longer get the oven to go on. I eventually fix it after much tooth-gnashing.]

"The screaming these children do. It's frightful! MY children never made such a fuss, not once! I have no recollection of behavior this awful! I am embarrassed. The neighbors are going to wish you had never moved here! Maybe you ought to close all the windows?" [When I questioned the validity of "my children never made such a fuss" she finally admitted that her eldest son had had "one or two tantrums" as a toddler. I know this fellow and I believe he had more than one or two button-popping incidents as a tiny youth.]

"The baby's spit-up looks rather phlegmy. And he spits up SO MUCH. Do you think there might be something wrong with that? Maybe you should mention it to your doctor. [I tell her that the doctor and I spoke at length about the spittling infant.] Well, maybe you should mention it to your doctor AGAIN. It can't hurt!"

Meanwhile, my dear neighbors watch her valiantly hacking at the weeds in the hot sun, unable to resist the call of duty. She fits right in, they say. She's so durned helpful and nice!

Friday, September 12, 2008

My Volunteer Spirit Breaks

My kids just started school, and the amount of tree-felling paperwork is unbelievable. I joined the PTSA so I think I will protest that this is not "green," but I'm sure if it's online only no one reads it in a timely fashion, resulting in missed snacks and unfinished homework assignments. And panic attacks!

The scariest pack of paper I received was the American Greetings fundraiser pack. According to this, I should solicit gift orders from everyone up 'n' down the the block for wrapping paper and other sundries. This would be essential to the life of the school! I was sweating beads over it when my husband arrived and pulled it from my clenched fingers.

"This is for mothers who do not work," he said, and placed it firmly into the recycling bin. I felt much better.

The K homework has begun. Admittedly, it does not involve calculus. But it's one more thing to worry about every evening. "Have you filled out your yellow circle sheet?" I asked older son, who jumped to the task because he's the kind of kid who will always do his homework right-on-time. I check the folder every day. I also have to prepare a nutritious snack every morning and make sure it's in that blasted backpack.

Volunteerism for my middle son's PreK is mandatory, because it's a parent coop. It's pretty cool. Everyone is earthy crunchy and wears Birks or Keens, and when you serve the fruit for snack you have to wear disposable gloves. Plus, no peanuts! No sunflower seeds! No crackers made in a peanut factory! No nothing that has been ever in contact with a nut in its entire lifetime! No meats! No carrot sticks! No chokey-chokey foods! It's all good, dude, but when I cut the apples at home I DID NOT WEAR GLOVES. I hope the kids will be OK. My fingers are dripping with liquid LSD. Gragagh!

My volunteer spirit broke today when, as a Special Events Committee Member for the Larchmont Newcomers Club, I realized I did not have the wherewithal to organize the Manicures and Martinis events I had concocted in my own brain. Why? Well, when I entered a couple of nail establishments and mentioned the idea, the women looked at me like I was a lunatic. I think the language barrier did not help. I begged off. I am under so much stress right now that I am physically vibrating. Organizing an event with martinis is difficult to do when you need 8 martinis just to survive at night. And 8,000 cigarettes.

Grhrhrhrhrhrh. Postpartum depression ain't pretty. What everyone needs in this instance is a husband who will say very sweetly and gently: "That's not for you right now, honey." And place the offending item--whatever it may be--in the recycling bin.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Calling My Invisible Hermaphrodite on the Mermaid Phone

Over Labor Day weekend in Lake Placid Eldest Son discovered a Little Mermaid cell phone in the room where he was sleeping, the item the property of a little girl who stays there as well. A fierce tussle with Middle Son ensued over the phone and Eldest Son retained possession, much to the grief and ire of the smaller boy.

He started to place calls on the phone to Harry O, his invisible friend. Harry O is smaller than the head of a pin and invisible to most, but he does travel in his own miniature car seat when he goes with us on trips. He can also fly, and his plane's gas tank is larger than our house. Sometimes Harry O likes to hang out in light fixtures and ceiling fans.

Since he kept interchanging his pronouns when referring to Harry O, we asked him if he/she was a boy or a girl.


"How can he be both?" said my friend.

"Well, he was born that way. So were all his friends. They are all boys and girls, both."

"So, they are all hermaphrodites?"

"Why, yes."

He picked up the Ariel phone and dialed with a self-important air.

"Harry O!" he barked into the little pastel-colored unit. "You are going in time out if you don't listen! I put you in a time out!"
He got off the phone with a small "harumph."

"Dat Harry O! She is 14 years old," he announced, and went off with the phone in his pocket.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Sals versus Fratellis: Pizza Cage Match

In our new locale of Mamaroneck, Sal's is reputed to be 'the bomb.' But we have to say that in our former New Ro locale, a little joint called Fratellis was actually superior. It's right there on Huguenot as one approaches the New Ro cityscape from the Northeast. Here are some essential differences:
1. Fratellis delivers to your door. Sals does not.
2. Fratellis features fresh shrooms. Sals are canned.
3. Fratellis: Less greasy. Sals: Leaves a greasy patina on the hands from the undercarriage of the pizza.
4. Pepperoni: In this regard, Sal's may triumph. Their pig circles may be crisper. But Fratelli's pig circles are undeniably tasty.
5. Overall flavor: Sals seems doughier and less spicy. Fratellis had that "I must eat it all NOW TONIGHT" flavor.
Overall, Sals is a very solid pizza worth some acclaim. But Fratellis deserves some props for its superior quality and taste-a-riffic-ness.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Santa's Motheaten Workshop

Over Labor Day weekend we went to Lake Placid, which is remarkably close to the wonder that is known as Santa's Workshop. Boasting its own post office (North Pole, NY), it's a theme park for all things Christmas and kitsch. The dreadful fact is that Santa and his motheaten reindeer have seen better days. A train rumbles by tumbledown cabins. Santa and the Mrs. sit in a little house with a fake, electric fire in the hearth. And there is even a sketchy-looking mini-rollercoaster and a ferris wheel for infants! The cost for two adults and two children? A painful 77 bucks, and I enjoyed every penny, I tell you! Herewith, my photo essay.

Frosty, the stuff of nightmares.

Mrrrranda Mouse. Note the gnawed-upon nose.

Chris Moose. Stoned teen: "Hey Chris, got yer stash?" Moose: "It's in my sock."

Sam and Sandy, the singing duo of Rag Doll Romp. I have never heard such horrible singing.

Feral reindeer with glued-on antlers. We fed them wafers as they sat fat and filled with hate in their pens.

Rowdy Reindeer. Headed to the Pain Cave for a smoke break, man.

Weird nativity play performed with no thought for the nearsighted, on a hillside far, far away. Stoned teens' acting is astounding!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Great Raids in Carpet Removal

We are officially in our new house, and it feels worlds away from the old one. No longer can I call myself New Ro's own blogger, so I will have to content myself with a new title (to be determined at a future date).

The house we moved into, in Mamaroneck, had acres of the thickest, dustiest, driest shag carpet available to man or beast around the late 60s. The color in the living and dining room was a putrid and virulent green—a color I actually favor when it comes to little cocktail dresses, but not on the floor. In the family room/den, the carpet was rust-colored; coupled with the dark wood paneling and small then-in-vogue windows, the room seemed to suck up all available light and deliver a Stygian black gloom suitable only for decadent key parties. It also features a dry bar and a dropped acoustic tile ceiling. Yeah, baby!

We happen to have about seven of some of the best relatives and friends on the whole darned planet, because they arrived this weekend and tore that carpet up. Every last stitch of it, every tack board, every staple in the floor. From about 8 a.m. until cocktail hour arrived on Saturday, our friends sweated and pried, toted pounds of dusty carpet padding, and rendered the carpet fit for trash removal. One large chunk from the dining room was so hefty that we called it The Beast; it took five people to hoist it out to the garage. The stairs alone took two hours of prying due to all the tacks and nails.

While all this was going on we also managed to fix a broken section of fence, repair a broken toddler bed, sweep the area behind the garage for sharp glass, and tamp down the dumpster in the driveway (one demented soul jumped up and down on the carpets shrieking like an ape—not very wise considering the crevasses between the broken old cabinetry shifting beneath, but rather amusing all the same). Other crew members entertained the children by singing songs, molding Play-Doh into a lifelike plate of spaghetti and meatballs, and dragging around blocks of concrete attached to ropes. And everyone actually got fed.

By five p.m. all that carpet was gone, revealing pristine hardwood floors beneath. One team member swabbed the floors with Murphy's Oil Soap and we retired for cocktails and take-out food. As we sat on our new front porch, nary a shopping cart nor a speeding car came into view. And this was good.

What kinds of friends do this sort of thing? Some might say: The insane kind. I say: The rarest and best.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Nature Red in Tooth and Handlebar

Today was an exceptional day for observing the local shopping carts in their native habitat of My Neighborhood. I followed the herd throughout the afternoon and was able to capture these photographs at extremely close range. When I say that my scientific interest was aroused, it's a vast understatement! It was such a pleasure to wander the streets and see the carts over hill and dale, foraging for refuse and left relatively undisturbed despite our proximity to an urban center.

This is the stallion I call Dreamcloud. His pride is evident in his bearing as the Alpha male of the herd. His pelt is extremely glossy due to an abundance of Colt 45 in the area. I was able to creep quite close before he startled and galloped away, rattling down Rhodes Street.

I also observed this young male lurking at the edge of the herd. Clearly an outcast with lower status than the rest, he sought to challenge Dreamcloud's authority but sullenly shied away, the bottles he carried (among them Miller Lite, Snapple, and the ubiquitous Colt 45) clinking ominously. I shall call him Black Sheep.

Finally, I captured this mating couple with a telephoto lens as I lurked behind a tree. The female, on the left, is skittishly backing away, while the male attempts to woo her by spinning its wheels and using other tricks in its sexual arsenal. (Note how it is rearing up on its right flank in a display of power and aggression.) If we are lucky, these two will come to an agreement and we will see a new brood of tiny shopping carts come next spring!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Brenda the Stubby-Legged Bride

So a while back on The Loop, I got a lot of flak for dissing New Ro shopping with cruel barbs and rude photographs. Just to show that I'm an equal opportunity kind of girl, I hereby present Brenda the Stubby-Legged Bride, discovered just this morning in the window of Larchmont Floral Designs on Chatsworth Avenue.

Her icy stare belies her quaking—and very stubby—legs beneath that flowing white skirt. Actually, maybe she has no legs whatsoever and is planning to trundle herself up the aisle on a rolling cart! What lies beneath the skirt? 'Tis a mystery that only her beloved husband will discover as he lifts the skirt ever so gently skyward...and Brenda giggles shyly.

Her left hip appears to be dislocated, but because this is Larchmont and not New Ro it most certainly is the result of a fall rather than an abusive incident at the hands of her fiancé.

[Disclaimer: I bear no ill-will toward stubby-legged, legless, leg-impaired, leg-challenged, and multi-legged peoples of any race or nationality.]

Right next door at K-9, the groomsmen are leashed and ready to attack anyone who dares to interrupt the ceremony. The guy on the right wears dark glasses because the bachelor party went really, really late. His hangover is so fierce that he's a-gonna bite cha!

Also sighted in the window of the Citibank on Palmer Avenue: This misplaced pink lovey, desperately beating itself against the glass in an effort to return to its small and grieving owner. Note the panic in its eyes! Trapped like a rat, it can only hope that someone will release it to run wild and free yet again. Many patrons of the bank turned aside for fear of getting mauled by the creature, and rushed to deposit their money elsewhere.

More to come, oh brave citizens of Larchmont.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Same 10 Questions I Always Ask Myself, Part the Sixth

1. What are you wearing?
Shorts in a size I STILL don't wanna be. And a shirt that failed to escape the latest Reflux Rage of the Incredible Spittling Infant. There is a big puddle of milk on my left shoulder. I just noticed it.

2. What's the nature of today's hypochondria?
This may not qualify, but a fear that the chestnut tree in front of our house will be torn down during a thunderstorm and will crush us like bugs. I think that's a phobia, really. Okay, so...Cancer. That will do.

3. What was today's workout?
The cool skate-y cardio machine at NYSC. While watching a silly movie called Malibu's Most Wanted starring Taye Diggs. Taye Diggs is amazing. Rent Daybreak on Netflix. This is an awesome show that ABC canceled but you can view the whole first season on DVD. Taye Diggs rocks! He can be comedic as well as serious and it's all good!

4. How do you do what you do and stay so sweet?
The sweet chortles of the Spittling Infant and his madly flailing toes.

5. What's that burning smell?
The smoking remnants of yesterday's 10-hour hypochondriacal weepy wine-sodden Code Red panic attack.

6. If you were an animal, what kind would you be?
A small, carnivorous whelk.

7. What are you drinking, and why?
The Little Penguin Cabernet Sauvignon, in the big bottle. $10.99. You get what you pay for. They know me at Jay's Wine and Liquors. I go in there after my workouts at NYSC, sweaty or showered. They are polite enough not to say, "You again?"

8. In what ways hast thou offended?
I let the Extremely Overtired Spittling Infant "Cry It Out" for ten solid minutes tonight. He fell asleep. I justify it this way: On a long car trip he cries sometimes for a few minutes in the car seat. And then he falls asleep. What are you going to do, stop every single time he squawks and nurse him for an hour every single time at a truck stop? Up yours, Doctor Sears! (Note that the Infant sleeps in our bed most of the night on most nights and I wear him in a sling when I cook dinner, and I breastfeed like mad, so I get hippy-dippy points.)

9. What's the next big thing?
God will stomple through New Ro, thwapping aside new construction with a flick of His mighty fist. He might tear up a few trees for good measure and then retire to The Tilted Kilt or Juniors for a cold one. He will disobey smoking regulations. He will get in a fight with one of New Ro's less-than-stellar citizens and receive a whack on the head via a pool cue. Mighty thunderstorms, tornados, hail, fire, brimstone, etcetera will be the unfortunate fallout.

10. Music selection?
My husband is playing this awful Portishead: Third. Look, I know this is apparently the music of choice for all the music rags, but it's like being aurally raped by a crack-addicted goat. Look at the photo of these people. They look really depressed, man. After listening to this I feel depressed, too. I want to run amok, wailing and gnashing my teeth, until I drown in the sludgy Long Island Sound.